Lessons From My Niece – Part One

“I want to go home”

“Why do you want to go home?”

“I don’t know, I just do”.

At what age do we lose the ability to communicate exactly what we want? We have to relearn it when we are in our thirties.

In taking my niece to the cinema, I realised that children communicate far more succinctly than we do as adults. Too often, we are afraid to upset anyone and put everyone else’s feelings before our own, but why is that?

Admittedly, the cinema hadn’t been our first choice. We had planned to head to this Americana-esque indoor play school thing (I have no kids, can you tell) with my friend and her son, but a virus had struck down the household meaning that we were a happy duo out for the day. 

Mum suggested that going to the cinema was good – we’d be warm, and dry. I could get snacks, a drink – it is an excellent way to entertain a small person. But she is five – a 90 minute film wasn’t going to hold her attention.

We shuffled into the cinema, battling the north west’s FAMED awful weather – sideways rain anyone? She proudly told me her Pabby had helped build the cinema [note to self: must fact check this] and we headed in to get comfy.

And her attention stayed for the whole film, plus the adverts. How much had I underestimated her? Sure she was a little wriggly, who isn’t, but she was engaged and enjoyed and was making jokes throughout.

So imagine my surprise when we walked out that her little face went downwards and she mumbled “I want to go home”. 

I questioned her, asking why. 

“I don’t know, I just do”.

And I could tell that something somewhere deep inside her was anxious about what was going to happen next – she knew we were going to the cinema and I knew we were going to Pets at Home for pet presents and we were going for lunch, and to my parents – but had anyone actually told her that?

I got her to the car and asked if we could do a whole body check in, making her laugh asking if her tummy button and armpits were ok. But I recognised that anxious worry of the unknown that I feel all too often because I havent been communicated to clearly about expectations, plans or decisions. 

I am awful for not communicating properly to those around me a) how I feel and b) what I expect.

So much so that often I will hide away from social situations that are out of my control rather than speak up and say “Actually I’m uncomfortable with that, can we try it this way instead?” Or trying to embody “Be More Chill” when in fact I am the opposite of Chill always, no matter what is going on.

The Be More Chill thing has grown in the wake of people telling me that my thoughts are solely my own; I don’t have anyone who thinks the same as me, I’m overreacting, I am going to become a caricature of the paranoia that I am describing. I know this isnt the case, and I am getting better at quietening those who try to control me and speak for me in this way – but it all starts with one thing. 

Saying whatever it is that I want – even if I don’t get it, at least I am verbalising that actually I’d rather lie on my bed for four hours than head to the shops because I am done with people today. 

And all of this I learnt from my beautiful five year old niece. 

Promise I’ll be funny some times…

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