The many things my child needs
What was the last thing your child needed?
This New Year, World Vision asked me to think about the most recent thing my son needed. It’s a question open to all bloggers and parents – no matter how grown up your kids are. When you sponsor a child with World Vision, you provide for children in developing countries and make real, long lasting change to communities. What are the things you provide?
It’s an enquiry that gets to the heart of parenting. After all, our children never stop needing us – it’s the nature of the bond. My son is only two, so he relies on me for almost everything, which is exhausting at times. Even though it’s a job that can be filled with self-doubt, I manage to meet his needs and we’ve both grown as a result.
All the little things he needs make up his childhood and my parenthood. Whether he has them or not will impact his future life. I admit, I’ve developed a sentimental side since becoming a mother, but it is poignant to consider what children in vulnerable countries go without… and what that might mean in the long-term.
I didn’t have to think hard to remember what my son needed recently - it was more challenging to narrow it down.
As a family, we’d just taken a beautiful but freezing New Year walk in Sutton Park and he’d needed me:
- To keep him warm - He refused to wear mittens or keep his hands under the pushchair blanket. At least he has a blanket– there are plenty of children who are struggle through winter without such basics. In countries like Armenia, where the temperature can fall to -20°C, the impact of this is immediate and severe.
- To hold him - He’s in a lovely, cuddly stage at the moment, but he doesn’t understand I’m not quite strong enough to carry him for a mile-long walk. I know he wants to be picked up when he says, “Hols you”. His sentences are coming along well, but sometimes it’s a matter of repeating versions of my phrases: “Do you want me to hold you?”
- To make his dinner - Fortunately I’d frozen some batches of pasta, so I had a speedy dinner on hand without resorting to a baby ready meal and the small sense of guilt that brings. But if I call that feeling guilt, then what do parents feel when they have to give their children rice every single day – or even let them go hungry? In Niger they have food crises. Malnutrition leads to permanent health problems and lowered life expectancy.
In the end I decided to focus on – finding his bouncy ball. After finally having enough of being too cold, he let us know by having a full meltdown. Warming up in the café, the only thing he was interested in was the bouncy ball vending machine. 20p was a small price to pay for a happy toddler and he was delighted when the ball appeared. He spent ages chasing it and laughing, then clutched it all the way back to the car. Unfortunately, it disappeared somewhere between strapping him into the car seat and setting off home.
I couldn’t find it. It must have dropped onto the car park. More tears ensued. But after plenty of hugs and a reunion with his other toys at home, this upset faded and was replaced with smiles again.
We’re so lucky. Lucky to have enough – more than enough a lot of the time. Lucky that lost toys can be forgotten with other pleasant things, instead of forgotten altogether. Lucky that there’s time and safe space for play at all. We have so much joy in life, even if we sometimes overlook it.
It’s easy to rush through life just ticking things off the list. Taking a time to think about the all these little things you do is a way to remind yourself how much you accomplish each day. This is what a happy childhood is made up of, what forms the basis for a happy life, which ripples out to reach others.
Can you share this feeling? If you can share your story about the last thing your child needed you for, you can help us spread the word about sponsoring children. Or you could even start this year by sponsoring a child and being there for other children and their parents in their time of need.
Just a thought.
The author is a long-time supporter of World Vision who writes a blog called Mama Loves with a focus on the positive side of life and impressions of family life. You can find out more about the Our Kids campaign here or spread the word by blogging on your website - please email us here.