About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Foreign Correspondent Years By Holly Searle





Many years ago when Child One reached a certain age, I came to realise that as our offspring enter the Autumn phase of their childhood their hormones start to kick in yelling "Winter in coming!" At which point, it's best to be prepared for all that follows in spite of ourselves.

All that has bound us to them and them to us in the intervening years, monetarily becomes redundant as we find ourselves in the company of an individual that resembles our child but whose temperament we no longer recognise.

When this first happened, I was horrified. Where had my daughter disappeared too? Had she been kidnapped by those alien body snatchers and replaced by a doppelgänger that had been grown in a pod? She looked like my daughter, but she certainly didn't act like her.

It may be harder for the child of a single parent and the single parent of a child to deal with this transition, as the bond between them is often stronger than that of those formulated within the structure of the traditional family unit. I can only speak for myself, but ours was. We were two companions, a tag team adrift in the world, keeping it all together and exploring life on our joint adventures.

So when she did disappear I didn't know what to do or who to turn to. I thereafter came to refer to this period in our lives as the foreign correspondent years, as while she was still there in body at least, her mind was elsewhere and communication was limited. She would report back from time to time, but more often than not, it was strained and at best, we were held at the mercy of a dodgy satellite connection.

At times this was incredibly difficult to deal with for both of us. She was spreading her wings and bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood and I couldn't help her. I became a hindrance to her, the target for all of her contempt. It was heartbreaking.

When this situation first arose I panicked, but then I found it was probably best to just sit back and ride along with it in the hope that she would return relatively unscathed from her trip. Just like Steve Martin's character Gil Buckman in Parenthood, I began to see that being a parent was not dissimilar to boarding a roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs, twists and turns and sometimes you feel excited, while at others you just feel sick. But like all rides, as sure as it begins, so must it end.

I have a huge amount of respect and love for my daughter. She is an intelligent beautiful woman and the first love of my life.

After it was over, she did eventually return to me and although our relationship had altered, we became stronger for it.

In light of this experience, I have reminded myself recently that I am about to embark upon it once again with Child Two. He is after all on the verge of of this journey and I feel that the remembrance of his earlier event, will at least prepare me (and him) for it.

The early signs have already started to appear, but unlike before, I am ready, but will our forthcoming experience, mirror that of the previous one?

There are a lot of urban parental myths about babies and children. It starts from before they are even born. If you are carrying a child a certain way, you are told by the matriarchal members of your tribe that this predicts the gender of the child. I don't believe any of that. Unless you ask during the course of one of your scans, you do not know until the midwife tells you after you have delivered the baby. At which point, even though you are so tired from pushing a huge baby out through a small hole, if she doesn't, I am sure you will ask.

When I had Child One, she was the perfect baby. Even though my labour was long, she was so chilled out and relaxed, that she actually fell asleep whilst being born. She was and is so good natured, that I thought that all babies were like her. She also has a fantastic sense of humour which I put down to all of those episodes of Batman staring Adam West I watched on Night Network while I was pregnant with her.

Child Two however was a very different story altogether. He was a wriggler even before he was born. And when he was born, he was born very quickly and made such a fuss that even the midwife took offence.

Child One overhearing my labour screams later confided in me that she was “Going to adopt."

One thing I can say for absolute certainty is that their personalities are the same today as they were on the days they were born (and possibly before).

After such a long labour, Child One was taken away from me for the night so that I could get some rest. Within half an hour, the nurse returned with her saying that she just wouldn't settle, so she snuggled up with me and we both fell asleep together.

Even though she is the eldest and very independent, she will revert to this initial mode of behaviour when she needs me and that is something, that I believe was established from that moment on.

Child Two on the other hand wouldn't settle after he was born. He set a patten thereafter as being a baby that never slept. For a while he was upside down and slept during the day, but never at night. I didn't even know that I was capable of functioning on so little sleep. I don’t think I slept properly for the first two years of his life. When he righted himself, he never took a nap and when he did, he was always a fretful sleeper and still is today. He choose not to speak until quite late. He would just point at things and as we had created a language based upon his actions, I always knew exactly what he wanted or needed. Many hearing tests later, I was told that there was nothing wrong with him, he just didn't want to speak. When he did eventually start talking, it was a pleasure to hear his voice at last, especially one that was full of so much inquisition at every opportunity.

While she is the very essence of serenity, he has always been busy and not unlike the robot from Short Circuit, Johnny 5, has always required continual input. So Child Two has been filled to the brim with input and just like Johnny 5 is very smart due to the natural curiosity of his nature. Which in my mind, is a good thing and explains why he was always exploring, rather than sleeping.

He is the second love of my life and I am blessed to have two such remarkable children.

And the most remarkable thing about my children, are how these aspects of their personalities compliment mine. While I can spend a pleasurable comfortable silence in the company of my daughter, I am always able to learn something new in the company of my son.

In the Jekyll and Hyde karmatic fabric of the universe, I do therefore wonder if he will in fact coast through this forthcoming event without any disruption at all having had so many earlier on in his childhood. It is a possibility (fingers crossed).

Knowing your children is in all probability what will assist you most when they are off in the wilderness of their own foreign correspondent years.

As I have been there once before, I am blessed at least with the knowledge that something may or may not alter soon. But just to be on the safe side, I am already in the queue waiting to board the ride once more. At least from this angle I can see the roller coaster from where I am standing and it doesn't look as scary as it did before, this time it looks manageable.



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