New Year, new you?!


Like many people, I occasionally make the odd New Year’s resolution, which I stick to with varying degrees of success. Some are perennial favourites, such as to be healthier and drink less coffee. Others might be a one-off aspiration, such as moving house, or getting a particular job. Updating this blog more frequently is certainly way up there this year!!

But many resolutions tend to centre around giving something up, which if it is something you love, are addicted to, or depend on, can be tricky. We all know that a good support network can be invaluable in these cases, and whilst this might seem like a bit of blatant shoe-horning, rather than a neat segue (okay, you got me, it totally is), I felt like sharing some poetry. This is a fairly old piece, and I am far too ashamed to admit who my inspiration was, as frankly it definitely feels like celeb-stalking, but here it is, none the less.

Sad About The Boy

He wears his grief on his face, the boy;
Each line a harsh reminder there’s no joy for him just now.
Bottled comfort for bottled pain –
He chokes it down.
She watches, and waits.

The boy gets by with witty words and a pretty face
While slavering hounds await his next fall from grace.
Licking their lips as his heartache
Swallows him whole.
He’s sinking, and fast.

The girl reaches out, offers her hand;
She’s been stood where he now stands
And knows the drill.
It feels like falling but really it’s flying
Out of sorrow and onto tomorrow –
So he jumps.
She won’t let him fall.

Where do unicorns keep their books? and other unanswerable questions…


The above query was a recent topic of discussion among several three year olds of my acquaintance, along with additional questions regarding their favourite smell and preferred shape.* Early answers revealed substantial differences of opinion – variously:

A) In a bag, perfume and squares
B) In piles by the wall, strawberries and circles
C) Under the sofa, roast dinner and duck-shapes (who knew?)

It became clear that without a unicorn to consult in person, as it were, a consensus was unlikely to be reached.

I mention this not just because I would quite like a definite answer myself but to illustrate the frustratingly complex, frequently pointless, often incomprehensible and regularly unanswerable questions that children ask. When kids are small their parents are granted virtual super-hero status, able to do almost anything and come up with an answer for every query. Other recent interrogations from my children have included “How does rain get in the sky?” (Something to do with being soaked up by clouds, I think?), “How many dinosaurs did you have as pets when you were little?” – (Don’t be so bloody cheeky) and “Why are One Direction so famous?” (If anyone has an answer to this last conundrum, do please share).

As with most parenting issues, I find the soundest course is to fumble through as best I can and hope it turns out alright in the end. But what happens when the questions get harder? Children have an uncanny ability to probe for answers on even the most difficult subjects. Tackling queries such as “Why do people not like people who look different to them?” and “Why do people have wars and kill each other?” is a thorny path that is extremely tricky to navigate.

The most basic reply, that sometimes people are not very kind to each other, seems trite and glib, for all that it is essentially the truth. Answering such questions without scaring a child or causing undue anxiety isn’t easy. Preserving their innocence of the harsh realities of the world for as long as possible is surely much to be desired.

Perhaps I’m worrying unnecessarily – it may be that this basic answer is sufficient for now. By the time they are old enough to question it in detail, possibly they will have developed a tacit understanding that parents don’t have all the answers, however much they might want to. That parents aren’t omniscient, just doing the best that they can. That sometimes the answers you’re looking for just aren’t there. And maybe that’s enough.

But if you should happen to see a unicorn, do please ask about their book storage arrangements – enquiring minds are desperate to know.

*With thanks to Emma H, Rebecca H, Ez, Lola, Betsy and Lily for their insightful input.