Your time, your space

“your time, your space”
These are the words I use when my child client enters the room.
They hear it at the start of every session.
It is a reminder.
This place is different.
Has different rules.
The basics are about not hurting : yourself, me, the toys – although accidents do happen (sometimes need to happen…)

It is an invitation.
To those not used to having their own time, their own space- where they can be, where they can decide, where they can lead the way. Their way. At their pace.

No expectations. No targets to set – or achieve.
No stickers to collect.

In here it is not just the smiley face that is accepted.

In here all colours are ok. Midnight – scary as hell- black
Raving mad as hell red.
Deep as secrets blue
laugh out loud yellow
screeching bouncing orange
Slow and wet as mud brown.

In here we can speak of death. And hate.
And being chewed up by envy.
Being spat out.
Being overwhelmed like sloppy sand banks and rivers of water.

Of play dough poo.



being witnessed.
being seen
being heard.

Being accepted for who you are.
In that moment in time.

the walls in here hold as fast as the therapist’s attention.
the sand tray holds the sand.
the bucket holds the water.
even as it is poured out
and into

Being contained, weeks after week
within the same forty five minutes
creates other walls
of safety
of trust

this place is like no other.

it is a therapeutic space.

it is a therapeutic relationship

with a beginning, chaos and lots of different meanderings in the middle
and then
an end

a good enough ending
which is counted down
which is spoken
and made manifest
three more sessions
two more

and then

this is the last time we will meet

for now.

the bridge has been built.
the trust internalised.

and a new way of relating to the world, to others, and to self

has been made possible.

Filling out little yellow forms

I wasn’t really paying attention. I was playing a word game with tiles on the table next to theirs. Outside the pub. A Friday evening in September. Children were running around, chasing, laughing. They were talking, the adults, that is, about the school system. Filling out forms in order to go off site. The teachers, that is. For themselves.

At one point my son approached the table. He was introduced to the one he did not know. A science teacher. My son asked: “What is one plus one”.

That’s not science, the teacher said.

My son retorted in similar vein (I was just testing you, he said, with eleven year old confidence and slight challenge).

Me, I am not a teacher. Not a qualified one. But I do work closely with children and therefore, am closely acquainted with how their minds might work, given freedom to roam.

One plus one not science?.. what about one molecule plus one molecule?

I do remember my high school chemistry; extracting and adding notations/permutations of chemical reactions. [Reactions – how we react to children’s questions – as parents, teachers, educators.] But that’s how it is, isn’t it. We are all in our field of expertise. (Or our mole heap.) Knowing the answers.

Come over here, we shout. Or say. Or think. Or imply.

I know the answer.

All on our individual promontories, familiar with the (immediate) area/surrounds; the view. Our view. Our (limited) perspective.

My son is in secondary school. His day resembles the landscape in my head, I realise. He moves between, among molehills, conveniently categorised into separate subjects. Science. English. History. Maths. The dreaded maths. The numbers. Therefore science does not equal one plus one. History? Years of reign: Victoria vs Elizabeth. English: adding another paragraph to the essay, or playing with one letter: mole becomes hole [not whole].

Which brings me back to the table at the pub, playing a word game with tiles. The eight year old mind playing. Truly playing. And the teacher table next to me, talking about filling out little yellow forms.