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Lucy:

Finding her Place in the World

Lucy was a bit of a surprise. Her mum was breast feeding her brother, who was not yet 1 when Lucy was born, and hadn’t even thought of other babies. But Lucy did and decided to come anyway and whatever it took. It was just before Christmas, when she’d had enough and wanted out. It was not her time yet, when ‘She literally jumped into my hands’, said her dad. Lucy was not only premature. She also got ill and had to spend weeks in Intensive Care. When she got home, she screamed. Nothing seemed to help. Carrying her was wrong. Putting her down was wrong. Talking was wrong. Singing was wrong. And she was somehow stiff, when someone held her. Except her mum. She didn’t mould comfortably to the other person like babies normally do. Except her mum. It was as if she couldn’t really let herself be held, as if she had to hold herself. Except her mum. One evening Lucy had woken up. She was about 8 months. Her dad was holding her and tried to talk to her. But Lucy would not look at him. Not at all. She’d avert her eyes, turn her head, move her body away. It was very painful to watch.

But her mum was not worried. She could see the problem. But she was going to pull this kid out or any self-absorbed or difficult mental spaces. She carried on coaxing Lucy into little games, included her with her little brother, gave her time to respond and predictable routines to hold on to. Her brother also helped, – with his love, his jealousy, his showing her what he could do. And Lucy would practice with incredible patience, until she could ‘do it too’. Once Lucy could crawl, the screaming stopped. It was as if she was desperate to move around. Her mum devoted herself completely to helping her 2 babies play without getting into fights. She would sit between them, protect what each was playing with like traffic police, and interact with each on their developmental level. In this way they could see and watch each other, while safe to explore their world in their own ways. In this way, Lucy and her brother became best friends, – once she got out of the age of trying to knock down his towers all the time. It was as if it was only then, that Lucy found her place in the world.

Now Lucy is 5 and a confident, and sometimes stroppy, little girl who can hold her own towards her bossy brother. She is creative, sociable and a great story teller. Sometimes lies too, if it gets her out of trouble. She is a bit clumsy and not as agile as her brother, who cannot ever tell a lie. Lucy loves nursery, where she has lots of friends, and has learnt to read before her older brother. And she loves everything that is pink, because that’s her favourite colour. (All names and other identifying details have been changed.)