8 week vaccinations + crying + wow

My baby had their 8 week vaccinations recently, and their mum was AWOL, well that’s not true–she had pre-planned many months previously to be away–at a spa evening (banter points: Dad) and we knew beforehand that this meant one of two things: extra sleep, or extra tears.
The vaccinations in question? Here in the UK the NHS gives a real cocktail of wallop: the 6-in-1 diphtheria; tetanus; whooping cough (pertussis); polio; Haemophilus influenzae type b, another for pneumococcal (PCV), another for rotavirus, and finally meningitis B. I’m totally for vaccinations, after all these guys are scientists.

I was working from home (can’t complain) but started early in the day and worked through lunch to be around earlier, and fortunately didn’t have to witness the injections themselves–which apparently were heartbreaking.

Baby was OK to begin with, was behaving fairly normally, and then sometime in the late afternoon it all just kicked and they wouldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t put them past vertical unless they were leaning forwards on me.

But then something wonderful happened, it all just occurred to me that they weren’t just trying to get into a comfortable position, or needing winding, or needing nappy changing, it was that they wanted to feel safe and secure because they were feeling so mixed up inside. Wow, it sort of just hadn’t occurred to me that this was going to be one of my roles. I don’t know why, I guess it makes so much sense…. but I didn’t think of it. So having him utterly unwilling to be put down for six hours was a lesson for me that this little human trusts me, and wants to know things are OK in a time of crisis. Shit! What a thing…. this was definitely the first time I felt like more than just a nappy/milk/wind/sleep/stimulation servant, and instead like a … well … a parent.

Memory of affirmation and the power it has to shape a lifetime

I’m not suggesting that this one isolated incident created my life, but when I was five, older girls down my street put on a magic show for the younger kids. It was quite a beautiful thing to do, looking back at it, and it brought everyone together.
Halfway through their magic show they tasked us (the younger kids) with a competition: who could draw the best picture of their garage (where the magic show was happening). I drew their typical British 1970’s grey-bricked garage, at the end of their driveway, with the yellow garage door and I remember thinking at the time that it was quite simple so there was probably something I wasn’t doing right and I might not win.
It turns out that not only did I have better hand-eye coordination than the only other kid who actually drew their garage, but that I was probably smarter as well, since most kids just drew something else completely and didn’t hear/understand/care about their fairly simple instructions. But I won a small bag of chalky sweets, like Refreshers, or Love Hearts, or Palma Violets. They were delicious and I was extremely proud.
I remember going into my back garden afterwards and sitting up on the top of the slide with a beaming feeling.

Neither of my parents were particularly artistically inclined, yet I became highly art-focussed. I got an A at GCSE, and went on to study it at A-Level, and even now have four or five sketchbooks on the go. It was a huge part of what I just ended up being known for, growing up.

It has just made me realise how important the positive small things are in life, and there really are defining moments.

Jenny Drew Something

Sometimes blogs fall by the wayside (just look at the gaps between my last post!) Sometimes they change and adapt and have a lick of paint. I’m delighted that JennyDrewSomething has taken the path of the latter, with fresh content and a book “Cartooning Teen Stories” her exploration of real-life important health/mental-health and other similar issues through comics does that wonderful thing of elevating something otherwise banal or tedius–not that the topic is like that, but the detached discussion that we sometimes hear on the radio can desensitise us. I look forward to seeing what she continues to do. In her own words:

“I am an author and Preventions Keyworker for B&NES Youth Offending Service, and I have always loved comics. Since obtaining my Advanced Diploma in the Therapeutic Application of the Arts, I have been using cartoons as a therapeutic storytelling tool with young people. More than just sci-fi and superheroes, everyday narratives and themes can be explored through text and image, in a way that is accessible and unthreatening. Through understanding this visual language, young people are able to express their own ideas using the comic form.

My book ‘Cartooning Teen Stories’ is available to purchase from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.”

Is it sociopathic to want to be the sun? A re-building process for good but broken adults and the risks of arseholes

Is it sociopathic to want to be the sun? As Frederick Douglass is widely accredited as saying:

“‘It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men.”

Life can be a sequence of bruises as we bounce from situation to situation; but how do we keep shining as a positive person, rather than let ourselves be mired? Think of a negative person, how broken they look–as though poisoned, or how falsely upright they are in their indomitable appearance. It’s not something enlightened people would aspire to.

So assuming our original position is one of kindness and goodness, this is reminiscent of the sun. It is not a leap of imagination when one considers energy and radiance. One ought to be the sun: a measured giver of radiance, burning out one’s life force as is the way of all things, and not a tree: one tied into a complicated system of inputs and outputs, symbiosis and dependency. But in thinking this, worries arise of of the implications for such bombastic imagery. Is it ever a good idea to position oneself in any thinking, as the giver of life? Sounds dangerous and enormously egocentric. So taking any connotations of God or celestial power away we are left with the concept of a singular radiant entity of the sun and the implicated organic network of life in the tree.

There’s nothing wrong with self-betterance but at what point do we build ourselves into an ivory tower when resurfacing from strife because of self-defence in the face of arseholes around us? At what point do we become that which we loath because we can never fully control our environment and influences–especially from other people, say at work etc.? At what point do we become the indomitably upright in our self-defence during ‘life’, which by nature we cannot control? Our personality is a construct of thoughts and behaviours, and our thoughts and behaviours are a construct of our cognition and our personal histories. Our cognition and personal histories are impacted by those around us and our interactions and so we can never truly be ‘in control’. But what can we affect?

The aforementioned danger concerns the ivory-tower. When resurfacing from strife and in avoiding pain, but seeking improvement, there is a risk of creating a monster when trying to create a hero. Of course, sometimes it is not good to think in those terms at all, and instead just be; no hero; no monster. Change happens, life grows, one is not the architect but the house. Still, I think for some–especially for those rebuilding themselves after a storm of any intensity or duration–there needs to be at least a vague understanding of what it all looked like before, in order to rediscover the shape. Just being is just circling–round and round, on and on–for some. One would need fresh influence, not stale dead ends and self-deception.

So being the sun means giving out your life force, regardless. Not burning any brighter because you feel scared, not burning any less because you feel withdrawn. Not changing your approach to life because of arseholes, not being chameleonic and losing your own shape, not being dependent on other people being good for you to be good. Not being held hostage by yourself because you require something in return when you are being kind. Give out positivity, and do it regardless of how dull or malicious those around you are. Be okay regardless of whether you receive an apology. You do not lose anything: they do not suck out any more of you. You do not catch disease; you do not run out of water; you do not get entangled by climbers or get cut down. You radiate regardless, and you will radiate every day until you die and that’s a great thing. That’s life, at its best.