Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-post: Clambering Children - Jan 05

From Friday 7th January, 2005

One advantage of having a memory as long as mine, (just call me the elephant,) is an enhanced understanding of little children's basic instinctive needs, because of being able to remember how it felt to have them denied. Clambering on adults (preferably parents) is such a need. When I was 2 and 3 years old, this activity was very firmly prohibited.

I suffered a deep-seated emotional and physical loneliness due to lack of physical contact with my parents. On rare occasions I was allowed to sit on my father's knee, but only if I didn't disturb his newspaper-reading. I was never allowed to sit on my mother. A family friend used to let me clamber on him and these were the happiest times I remember. I treated him just like a human climbing-frame and I loved him for allowing me to do so. I'm sure I'm not alone in suffering this childhood deprivation: sadly, it's probably been the norm in most Western countries since the Industrial Revolution.

So, now Lyddie gets to benefit from my hard-earned knowledge. She is a clambering child, as were the other three when they were her age. I've now learned more about the clambering instinct. I think it's a symbiotic activity, something I think is replicated in other animal species. When I lie face down on the futon, Lyddie likes to walk on my back and it's an amazingly good massage. She's just the right weight and she walks in just the right place. If I roll on my back and raise my knees, she uses my legs as a slide and stands on my abdomen forcing me to tense my stomach muscles to protect myself, which is exactly the exercise I need just now.

What's it doing for her? Well, as well as getting the physical contact she needs, it's improving her sense of balance and co-ordination, which is increasing her physical confidence. All vital elements of healthy early development. She'll also be developing sensitivity - i.e. feeling what my body's doing through her feet, and when she's climbing she's developing her physical strength as well.

This is not to crow that everything's always lovely here. There are times when I want to concentrate on reading, or blogging, or TV, or just thinking and am not allowed to, which I often find frustrating. Also there are occasions, like just now, when I'm presented with something like a watch without a strap and told to fix it to her wrist. How can I? There are no fixing points, it's just a strapless watch. There's no way it's going to stay on her wrist but she's going to tantrum until it does.... :-(

posted by Gill at 6:55 PM 2 comments
Friday, January 07, 2005


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