Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Tortoise and the Hare......in honour of my girls

Yesterday was the school sports day. My girls were both to take part in an 80m sprint. Lucy was up first. There were only three children in her heat (herself included) but as the start whistle blew, you couldn’t see Lucy for dust. She was metres ahead of the opposition, crossing the finishing line in record time.

Two summers ago, this ability to sprint so fast earned her the nickname ‘Forrest Gump’ from my mother. She was amazed at how Lucy would just bolt, knees high, arms pumping. Her energy seemed to know no bounds. Indeed, this is still the case today. Probably more so, if I’m honest. She is what I call my little ‘energy bundle’. She is always on the go, rarely sits still, and needs (much to my dismay), very little sleep. Even a case of childhood asthma has failed to slow her down. So siree, she’s unstoppable!

I do sometimes wonder how much of her energy comes from nerves, and how sustainable it is in the long term. She’s always been fairly highly strung. She frets and worries openly. She fusses and pesters. She would try the patience of a Saint. Sadly, to my detriment, I have failed many of Lucy’s patience tests. I feel we are perhaps too alike in many ways. We often clash, both of us having a strong will. She has staying power though, and I can foresee trouble ahead when puberty kicks in. But for now, as a seven year old, she is as open as can be. After one of our clashes, I’ll invariably receive a note or a drawing: ‘Sorry Mummy. I love you’ she writes, to which my heart melts, and all is well again.

She is the most openly affectionate and demonstrative child I have ever known. She will happily give her adoration to anybody who crosses her path. If a person appears in her life and stays around for more than a couple of days, they are rewarded with unlimited supplies of Lucy-love. She knows no inhibitions when it comes to expressing her feelings of affection. It is a joy to behold when a child behaves this way, because in her innocent openness, she commands so much love and affection in return. Everybody loves Lucy. It’s hard not to. I hope she remains as loving and giving as she is now. Although, as she grows, I’m sure that this innocence will diminish, so I guess I should learn to appreciate it whilst it lasts. I should learn to get better at the patience tests, and work on relaxing through the clashes, and extending the periods between them. For even though Lucy drives me nuts with her boundless energy and reluctance to sit still for a moment, I still adore my little Forrest Gump. Watching her win her race yesterday brought a lump to my throat. Like all parents, I was just bursting with pride (and glad I was wearing sunglasses so nobody could see my tears!) For me, there is always that extra little bit of pride though, the sort of pride only a single mum feels when her kids do well. Those of you who do (or have done) the same job as me, will know what I’m referring to.

Alice’s race was second, and just like her character is to Lucy’s, so the race result was reflected. Chalk and cheese. Alice is my little slow burner. She doesn’t like to rush. It’s part of her make-up, and one of the most endearing things about her. At the age of two, Alice was completing jigsaw puzzles made for five year olds. She will happily sit and play alone, and can entertain herself for hours. She much prefers sedentary activity. She’ll never be a live wire like her sister. They really couldn’t be more different in that respect. If there is a choice in the matter, Alice will choose to do as little as possible. She’s a thinker, and incredibly deep. If only I could read her as well as I read Lucy, but sadly I can’t. She’s an enigma. A beautiful, pale-skinned enigma.

But that’s not to say Alice isn’t feisty. Oh boy, don’t cross her! We too have our clashes. She can swing from quiet contemplation to fiery indignation in the blink of an eye. It pains me to say, but sometimes her mood swings catch me unawares, and I react in the worst possible way (by losing my temper) which only adds fuel the fire. That’s another point I should really work on; reading Alice better.

She is nowhere near as predictable as her sister. She has a protective wall around her, which sometimes even I cannot penetrate. She is no less affectionate than Lucy, but she’s a lot more choosy about who she shows her affections to, and when.

She doesn’t like to admit when she’s made a mistake either, and she hates to say sorry. Instead, she chooses other ways to show remorse. Usually, apologies from Alice will come in the form of some small home-made gift. I have a box full of cut out shapes and figures. Some are in the adult form (me), some are clearly children (Alice) and some are not of this world at all. All have little love hearts drawn on them though. That’s her way of showing she cares. Again, it’s heart melting. I can never stay cross with either of them for long.

Watching Alice’s ‘sprint’ yesterday, and comparing it to Lucy’s, put me in mind of the Tortoise and the Hare (but without the moral lesson). Alice came fourth (out of four), but she did it with pride and grace. For her, it really wasn't about the winning, but about the taking part. My tears for her achievement were equal in pride to those for Lucy’s win. She may have her funny little ways, but there is no doubt in my mind that she will be an achiever in the ‘long run’. In this fable, both players are winners.....at least to their Mum.

Pride doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel about them.

1 comment:

  1. Ive known Sarah for over 20 years now and we've been close friends ever since. We met whilst studying at University. Last christmas I went to see Sarah and for the first time meet her 3 children at her parents house. I was overwelmed by the welcome I received by the kids. Just as Sarah discribed the girls. I have to say they were the most sweet, well behaved and well mannered children Ive ever met. A real credit to their Mum who through all her difficulties (as discribed in her book - "Web of Lies") still managed to raise them all on her own to behave so incredibly well!. This is a must read book for all parents. If you think you got problem, most of you won't after reading this book! Trust me you'll count your blessings!!