Thursday 27 October 2016

SuperDan, WonderJohn & the Sad Feeling

A cloud of melancholy, that I couldn't quite identify the source of, descended on me by the mid morning coffee break. Admittedly I'd had a 'fawlty dad' start to the day, a puncture then arriving on time at the wrong venue a mad dash cycle across London then barging my way to the front row of the room, cycle helmet, coffee and danish pastry in hand with my head the colour of a beetroot 3 minutes after the start of the conference.

But it was all good, a positive message of hope and restoration. I just couldn't pinpoint the sadness that seemed to be hovering over me. I had been given a free ticket to see Dan Hughes and John Baylin give a lecture to professionals that work with children who have experienced loss and trauma. That was rather smashing, it coincided with my days in London so it was on.

I cannot fault the training and I've read about PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy) and attempt to use it within our home.  Dan Hughes was good and charismatic and this was backed up by the engaging John Baylin's description and analysis of the brain science behind the approach.
All good.

At half time I bumped into Sally D and I confessed my struggles, it all seemed so far removed from our lives.  I wholeheartedly recommend PACE but it can be a lofty ideal when matched to the challenges of caring for siblings in a family environment. When Child A is attempting to knock the teeth out of Child B then my response is not therapeutic it is that of a riot policeman. All the other stuff, you know the therapeutic stuff, is placed aside and I need to step in. But all that wasn't the reason for the feeling, I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Days later I think I think I got it, the feeling I had lingered, I realised, again, that love was not enough and time is not a great healer. My children's experiences have cast a shadow across them that may leave them a step out of the sunshine for all their lives. I know that, every day I'm faced with that but it's background noise in a busy life. But sitting and stopping and dwelling on the impact is sometimes hard to take.

The training was very good and perhaps I should have attended the following day that was focused on parents rather than professionals. I sometimes get confused in those environments I am a professional but I'm not a professional parent, I'm a keen amateur.


  1. You know this - but there remains potential to either come out of the shadow, even 30 years like I did, or that there can be a good life in the shade - even where you know that that the plant could have been more vigorous and full of flower.

  2. For what it is worth, I sometimes feel the same. Listening to those guys, at the top of their field....the room for hope & change can feel huge, you feel you should be able to make more of a difference. But having the energy & impetus to do it every single day in the face of the curve balls life likes to chuck at you at the same time can be hard. I'm not convinced it can be done all of the time. The good news is, it doesn't have to be. Just good enough, most of the time. The changes are not immediate and dome days feel like a backwards step. But you ARE sowing the seeds, every day, even in small ways. Parenting and growing up is a constant work in progress. Sometimes you just don't see the benefits of how hard you have worked, until way way down the line. But it all does make a difference, sowing the seeds one neural connection at a time.

    1. I agree, it's all set within a real world context and we don't know what may have been or could have happened. I hold onto that.