When I was about 4 years old, My Dad used to tell me the story about the wind and the sun every night at bedtime. The story went that, the wind and the sun were fighting about who was stronger. The wind bet the sun that he couldn’t remove the coat from a man walking on the earth below.

The wind blew and blew and the man just hugged his coat tighter. The wind was defeated. Then the sun came out and shone bright in the sky warming the earth below.
Just like that, the man removed his coat. The sun had won. I had my own wind and sun realisation today. Today we went to a birthday party at a soft play centre. There were about 15 kids there, aged 2-8. The noises were loud. The colours were bright and the faces unfamiliar. My two girls ran into play centre whilst I held my breath. Immi can hold her own, she’s social and bossy and kids are drawn to her. She’s courageous and a joiner. But my little Charlie as suspected, went into a quiet little shell. Smiling and nodding when needed. Getting by. No one would know the raging battle inside her little head. The struggle to process every single thing whilst keeping it together.

We then had to venture into a small party room, eat lunch and then participate in games. There were flashing lights, strangers asking her questions, new kids and lots to absorb. She went with it all. Still, I held my breath. Praying we could find the balance needed today. She smiled at me as she ate her lunch, in her little chair as if to say “I’m doing it, I’m joining in!” After lunch, Charlie just left the room which was totally fine. She got up, put her plate in the bin and said “No more” and away she went to play with the missiles, while her sister partied on.

Cake time approached and I saw Charlie’s little face light up at the sound of cake. She ran to the door of the room and froze. Then turned around, firmly said “NO” and back she went to the coloured balls.

As everyone sat around and sung happy birthday, I was filled with a dull pain deep in my heart. My heart said “Charlie would have loved this” I imagined her sitting around the table singing happy birthday and laughing along with the other kids. Sadness started to creep in while I had this battle inside my head. Then, my warrior heart spoke up “No Mama, Focus on what she accomplished just by being here today. This wasn’t easy for her. She did as much as she could and she followed her own intuition. Better yet, YOU supported her. She’s happy. Be proud of yourself”.

I was proud. Proud because at 3, she knew her boundary was at that door. She drew the line there. I was proud of myself and Dave because we didn’t push her to fit. We gave her space. We understand her in a world that struggles to understand her. Even more so, as she is so wonderful at pretending we have become experts on seeing when her cup is overflowing and quickly turning the tap off.

Today, Being in that room was maybe what she wanted but not what she could handle and that was OK.

There was a time I would have been the wind. before I knew better, I would have picked her up and plonked her back into that party room, making sure she was doing the same as the other kids. Joining in. Doing all the “normal” things. Why? Because I wanted her to be happy and I wanted to appear strong. But the hardest pill to swallow was that she would be pretending just to please ME. That’s the LAST thing I’d want!

If I’d forced her in there like the wind – I would have later excused myself and cried in the bathroom trying not to make a sound behind the cubicle door. I might have even felt embarrassed, guilty, sad. I would then, wash my face & pretend nothing happened. Forcing a smile. Inside, my heart would be breaking. So thank you Charlie for teaching me to be like the sun. It’s taken me almost 2 years to get here.

Thanks for teaching me to listen to my own inner voice more often. For teaching me that I don’t have to pretend. I can let go of what is “expected” and just let things be. Thanks for teaching me kindness. Like the sun, I know now to let you blossom when you’re ready & because you want to.