The con­ver­sa­tion that’s ring­ing in my ears was one I had in Jan­u­ary with my dear friend in Nebras­ka. She was relat­ing that one of her grand­chil­dren had come down with chick­en pox (despite the vac­ci­na­tion!) and that since her health was so vul­ner­a­ble (pan­cre­at­ic can­cer) she couldn’t be around him.

She also recalled that her youngest son “sat on my hip for 2 weeks” when he had chick­en pox at age 3. This comes from a sin­gle moth­er of 5 (count them!). I know she worked and jug­gled finances all the years she was bring­ing up her chil­dren. They have turned into won­der­ful and tremen­dous­ly car­ing people.

The son that was on her hip for 2 weeks (how did she find time to do that?) was lat­er the son who need­ed to ‘explore’ the inner work­ings of a vari­ety of appli­ances! He was allowed to do that on the kitchen table. He has become suc­cess­ful in the com­put­er world.

Yet anoth­er son has worked in the nurs­ery of his local parks depart­ment and is now a union rep­re­sen­ta­tive but what most peo­ple won’t know about him is that when his grand­moth­er (my friend’s moth­er) was in a nurs­ing home and there was no one to change her and clean her – he did it! How much more car­ing could any­one be?

These are just two exam­ples of when a par­ent, a moth­er in par­tic­u­lar and against the odds, under­stands the needs of her chil­dren they can real­ly become awe­some individuals.

What is most appar­ent about my friend’s five chil­dren is the amount of car­ing they put into each oth­er and their spous­es – but in the most nat­ur­al way imag­in­able. I have been a priv­i­leged recip­i­ent of their low key hos­pi­tal­i­ty. I was sim­ply treat­ed like fam­i­ly. What an honour!

Which goes to the book I was for­tu­nate enough to buy dur­ing my Novem­ber trip to Nebraska. 

‘Win­ni­cott on the Child’ by Don­ald Win­ni­cott. (1896–1974) A British pedi­a­tri­cian and psy­cho­an­a­lyst with a par­tic­u­lar focus on child devel­op­ment. The intro­duc­tions to each sec­tion are by Ben­jamin Spock, T. Berry Brazel­ton and Stan­ley Greenspan, three of the most influ­en­tial US baby and child­care spe­cial­ists (Men! Where are the women of influ­ence?) of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Win­ni­cott refers fre­quent­ly to “the ordi­nary good enough moth­er” being the rea­son chil­dren grow up with­out devel­op­men­tal delays. 

It behoves us all (men and women!) to read this book. 

The book reminds me of the work I have done, instinc­tive­ly and through con­stant­ly read­ing and learn­ing, with my own and oth­er chil­dren, but most of all how much mis­un­der­stand­ing of nat­ur­al child devel­op­ment there is amongst some of some of my col­leagues in the day­care envi­ron­ment. More recent­ly I have worked with oth­er young women who have such a won­der­ful instinct for car­ing for any child! 

We all sim­ply need to start under­stand­ing children’s true needs.