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Nursery: love hungry children

October 4, 2013

So in an attempt to get back into blogging, I’m doing a quickie whilst sleepless at 3am.

Much is fizzing in my head, and much has buzzed since my last obese-sized blog, though right now, I want to talk nurseries.

This week, with a friend’s drama company, I facilitated drama workshops at four different nurseries in London. It was to train me up as potential ‘sick cover’ and I agreed to do it part as favour, and part to experience something new. Until a few days ago, I’d never stayed in a room with kiddiewinks from 2 to 5 years old (I’d usually exit the space to preserve what little sanity I’ve held onto!).

It was fun. Fun and funny. Endearing, and at times, sickly sweet. Always with life’s brightness emanating from their little hungry eyes. Even those who- how shall I put it?- were a little more dreamy than bright, were just as wondrous. In so many ways, truly a life enhancing experience for me.

And anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a big kiddie person. I love and leave ’em, which is why I’ve not yet been tempted to pop a few myself.

However, what’s stayed with me, at the end of this week, is sadness.

Beautiful and unique creatures, every one of them, and yet, those who had brought them into the world, have chosen to hand them over to strangers for the majority of the day.

As far as I can tell, from my brief time at each nursery, the nursery staff were all well-meaning carers. Still, the trait most shared by the kids was neediness.

A need for attention, affection, and most of all, for love.

I was a relative stranger- at each nursery for one 30 minute session only- and yet at every stop, I had children holding my hand, wanting to share stories and to cuddle. How did they trust me so quickly, when I’d had so little time with them? Then I wondered, do they have a choice?

I read a postgrad Gestalt psychotherapy thesis on refugee children, in camps without their parents; it is common for those who have had to rely on the help and support of strangers to be less aware of personal boundaries, to repress the risks of entrusting at a very early stage, as most have had little choice in the matter. They have to trust to survive.

I wondered, does this notion apply to nurseries? The neediest children were so eager to please, be helpful and sweet. To make themselves as attractive to those strangers as possible. After all, mommy might love them, but mommy’s not here, so they best get on with whoever else is in control.

It struck me of little control these kids have. They are powerless.

Where are the parents? Is everyone out developing their careers? Precariously juggling motherhood on the corporate ladder?

These nurseries were not for those struggling financially, so I find it hard to imagine mommy and daddy are laying bricks to bring home a tin of sardines, whilst kiddies learned to dance, sing and be scary aliens (AKA drama).

And what about boarding schools from six years or younger? Is the brand name and education worth the price?

I am judging, which is unfair on many levels, and what I experienced this week felt unfair too. These kids may be a step ahead in our over-institutionalised world, and they will join the ranks of those who are left hungry for more. If the urges are not met now, at this early and fundamental stage, these kiddies will soon turn into searching adults.

At one nursery there was a mother with her two year old girl, and that seemed to strike an interesting pattern. The child was exposed to the goodness of being out in the world, whilst having her mom as a solid support (not just socially but physically too).

So these kiddies continue to search for love, I wish them a creative and fruitful journey, whatever they may find.


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