It was World Book Day.
Many of us would have dressed up our children and sent them to school in fun outfits. Maybe we took a picture and posted online or shared it with a relative. What pride, to see our children engaged with reading – with character and with stories.
But I came away from Book Day thinking about something else. It is something I have touched on briefly in my forthcoming book Liberating Motherhood. And it is the need of our children to be seen. By their family. To feel centre stage in their parent’s world.
My son’s school had a theme for book week: Where the Wild Things Are. I have enjoyed this book with my children, and it was a relief when the school invited all the children simply to dress ‘wild’ for the day – with their own interpretation.
So, this morning, during the Wild Rumpus Parade in the school playground, I, along with many other parents, stood and watched the children file in line to display their outfits and gather in a circle with roars and gnashing teeth. What a joy.
Throughout this 20 minute performance, my son frequently looked over to where I stood, and waved. And smiled. And gave a thumbs up with pride.
It reminded me that I am a mother, watching her child, giving him the gift of attention and spotlight. Just as my mother did for me when I was a child. The tables turn, don’t they?
And I reflect on all this: why is it that a child looks to his parents in such a situation? Why do they need to feel loved, admired, seen and known? It is the epitome of the dance between parent and child: the basic and real need of children for love and attention.
And it is in this context that I have since reflected on the words of Maurice Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are. And I wonder whether, perhaps, a five year old looks for his mother in a crowded audience just to know that he is seen by the person who, in his world, “loved him best of all”.
What a gift that is.
Happy Mother’s Day this weekend, everyone.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/27331537@N06/13136450205″>Brighton-le-Sands Public School – a game in the grounds</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/”>(license)</a>