Sunday, 20 July 2008

Entertaining Seven Year Olds - A Beginner's Guide

We have a niece, the daughter of Sean's sister, who once in a while comes to stay. She lives locally and she's pretty special to me because I was present the night she was born.

Sean's sister called us at 2am the night her waters broke and we took her to hospital. Once there, she took my breath away by asking me to stay for the birth. She didn't have to ask twice. I'd hoped, but never dared thought it possible that she really would ask me to be there.

When her baby girl arrived around 7pm that night, it was, as anyone who's been present at a birth can attest, a truly wonderful moment. And no, contrary to what everyone assumes, it didn't turn me off the idea of giving birth. In some ways, it made me even more determined to have a baby, or babies, of my own.


Now, seven years on, she comes to stay at house once in a while for a sleep over with Uncle Sean and Aunty Helen (it's only my side of the family who call me Bells).

She came over on Saturday morning with her pink suitcase and said, 'Aunty Helen, when I was packing my suitcase yesterday, I was so excited I could hardly breathe.'


I tried to remember this over the weekend when she declared she was bored again and again, when she told me that my house 'wasn't good for kids' (rub it in, I thought more than once). But you know, she's only seven and a couple of friends have offered support via email over the weekend and have made me see that this wasn't my fault. It's just about being seven. One minute she was laughing and having a ball, the next minute she was 'sooooo bored'.

I sometimes think I can recall being seven with absolute clarity but I don't remember boredom. I probably was bored but I just can't get into the headspace of a seven year old anywhere near as well as I thought I could. It's not like I didn't try. We cooked together (she's quite the foodie, so there's always lots to discuss); we watched a DVD together (hers - a Princess thing of some kind; boring to me but she loved it so I complied); we went to a movie - Kung Fu Panda which she declared part way through was 'boring' but later vowed was 'the best movie'! See, you can't win!


But somehow we muddled through the weekend. It helps that she's moderately interested in knitting, as well as food. When all else failed, she was happy to sit beside me, holding a ball of yarn and unwinding it very slowly as and when I needed more. She's even learned how to appreciate the stuff, grabbing stray skeins around the house and holding them against her cheek, or just squishing them to test for softness.

Finally, this afternoon, I took her to Stitch n Bitch in town. I took her on the promise of a hot chocolate and other treats. Meanwhile, Sean vanished to a cafe with his i-pod and a book.

While there, the predictable 'I'm bored' statements occurred but soon enough, amusement and distraction was found in the form of finger knitting.

We were sitting next to Jess of Button Beauty, who is a mum and therefore knows more about kids than I possibly can, and who magically had this bored little girl soon occupied in working with yarn.

Amazingly, she moved quickly onto using a crochet hook instead of her finger and was soon awkwardly making a simple chain. I think the applause she got when she made her first chain with a hook was magical for her. The look on her face! She couldn't wait to tell her mum.

And so the weekend came to an end and I felt that maybe it hadn't been so boring after all. At least I hope not.