Another survey has announced more and more small children are suffering from ,and being treated for, depression...all manner of reasons why this should be so...single parent families...two working parents...social networking bullying...high expectations from parents as regards school work...too much time spent indoors isolated from their peers...the list goes on...and on.
And these are small children...not teenagers...children aged from five to ten. And I'm struggling to understand.
Why don't people love and cherish their children enough? Why don't they make time for a story before bedtime...ten minutes out of the day is all it takes...why do children need to be clean and neat and tidy...all the time. Why aren't they allowed to splash in puddles or kick fallen leaves into a heap or clamber onto shed roofs and light campfires to cook a few sausages...stuff their pockets with shiny conkers and collect pretty stones and peer into animals holes and wonder who lives in there without Mum dragging them away it case the inhabitant bites or they get germs...
I've written along these lines over and over again in various guises...having a television in your bedroom when you are no more than a baby means you don't learn to take turns at watching programmes...you might frighten yourself half witless watching something and there's no-one there to reassure you...
Never playing outdoors...building secret camps or exploring the woods or having conker fights...stranger danger is real enough, so hammer home to keep together all the time...one goes home...you all go home. Together. Children aren't daft...they can understand the whys and wherefores far better than we give them credit for but if they are never allowed outside unsupervised then how will they cope when they are suddenly seventeen...
Bullying on Facebook or similar sites is easy...close your account. But then it's easy for me to say because such sites didn't exist when my children were children...and my children never worried about not being in step with their peers either...so I'm uncertain what the answer is to that problem.
And children need to be heard. They need to be be able to express an opinion and to have a sensible discussion as to why that opinion may be hurtful to others or how other people think just the way they do...I cannot bear it when I see little ones frantically pulling on a parents coat to get attention while said parent is nattering away on their mobile 'phone and pushing the child aside...
I've often said I don't much care for children...hordes of teenagers descending on the supermarket at lunchtime give me the horrors...those lads who are six foot tall and sort of loom and push each other and have horrible barking laughs...the girls with their eyeliner and hitched up skirts and knowing looks...
Little children who whinge and wail and throw themselves head first onto the floor to drum their heels and go scarlet in the face...and scream like banshees.
I like polite children who say please and thankyou and race through autumn leaves kicking them into the air with pure delight...I like children who are curious and ask endless questions and don't worry about getting wet feet and who announce their ambition is to be a novelist and have lots of cats.
Children who peer into deserted birds nests and hold a small snail carefully in the palm of their hand and ask me if I'm really very old or just pretending...
To think of little people being depressed is ...depressing. When there is still a whole wide world out there to explore and fathom out...conkers to be collected and fossils to be found...shop displays at Christmas to gawp at...twinkling lights and pretty packages holding surprises...libraries stuffed with books holding exciting or scary stories...choosing six of the shinest apples from the supermarket display...
It doesn't need to be about money...it needs to be about time. Proper time with the mobile phone left at home...the television switched off...sitting round the table making paper chains for Christmas decorations...children are needy. They are needy for an adults undivided attention...and that can be rationed out if you like...busy doing your paperwork? then in ten minutes I'll put it away and we'll have a game of Scrabble...
There was a time not so long ago when children didn't have such a thing as a childhood...tightly swaddled from the day they were born to ensure they grew up straight...dressed in cut down versions of adults clothing...expected to behave as adults, with responsiblity far beyond their years...little boys sent out into the fields to scare away the crows and small girls confined to hot steamy kitchens to scrub away at copper bottomed pans and to black lead the grates...
Sometimes it is as though our history of almost ignoring the childhood years is simply repeating itself...we may not send little boys into fields to scare away the crows anymore but aren't we just as careless when we leave them to watch television until ten at night on their own...
Little girls don't need to scrub floors but isn't is just as cruel to dress them in mini-kinis and ignore their pleas for help in making dolls frocks...
It is all quite sad...and a bit beyond my understanding.