There are some principles in life that can generally be relied upon. They may not be hard and fast laws, but as a rule of thumb one can generally trust that what goes up must come down, what goes forth will come back and what goes in must come out. My belief in the latter, however, has been sorely tested this year.
One particular incident springs to mind when considering the reliability of this principle. It all started during breakfast when one of the little girls got up from her seat and started prancing around as if possessed of the proverbial ants in her pants, a pained look etched across her face. ‘Matron, Matron, I really have to go to the loo.’
I gave the required permission and she scuttled off. Ten minutes later the whole scenario repeated itself, at which I raised an eyebrow. When the curtain rose on the same drama a third time, I began to get suspicious.
Being equipped with a mere Art History degree I sought advice from someone further up the medical food chain, before quickly escorting the little girl over to the doctors. Having been instructed by the nurses that she would need to have drunk plenty beforehand in order to provide a urine sample, I took a water bottle with me. The nurses sent her off to the bathroom to provide her contribution. No joy. ‘Matron, I can't do a wee-wee in the cup.'
'Yes, you can, Sweetie. Just hold it underneath you as you go.'
‘Oh, oh, oh, but what if I miss it?’
‘You won’t, just give it another try.’
A minute later she reappeared, still unable to produce her pot of gold. By this stage I was unsure whether it was the suspected bladder infection itself, the pressure of having to aim at a target - a feat that does not come naturally to us girls (nor some boys for that matter…!) - or the sheer fact she'd already been to the loo three times during breakfast. Whichever the cause, it was time for me to provide a solution. And that, dear reader, is how I found myself crouched beside the loo, with a water bottle in one hand being directly administered to her mouth, and a plastic cup in the other hand, at the other end, hoping to catch the first fruits of the endeavour. Working on the afore stated principle that what goes in must eventually find its way out, I decided that the simplest plan of action was to treat the child as if she was a giant version of a Baby Wee-Wee doll. I don’t know if your childhood was blessed with one of these toys, but back in the good old days you simply squeezed the dinky toy bottle into the doll’s mouth, the water trickled down a concealed internal tube and then made its presence known at the other end. I am reliably informed by Google that, as with all our simple childhood pleasures, the Baby Wee-Wee has evolved and not only yelps at you when it needs to go, but is also now designed with much more “vividly” realised nether regions. In fact, I was horrified to find out that with one mutation of the Baby Wee-Wee, the Paul Drink&Wet, you are required to squeeze the tummy of the doll in order to produce the piddle. Do spare a thought for the poor real children of girls who were given that little number to play with when it comes to potty training time!
In my humble opinion the simplest toys are always the best, and in this instance I was proved right. Both you and the Child Protection authorities will be relieved to hear that no tummy pressing was required as the water squirted in at the top end did eventually make its way out of the bottom end and into the cup. However, I still can’t quite see the principle as infallible. Many will tell you that the extent to which you give or put in to an endeavour dictates how much you receive in dividends. Indeed, one of my mother’s favourite and oft-quoted maxims is that you reap what you sow, yet I’m learning that this doesn’t always naturally follow in quite the way I’d like it to. If I’m being truthful, I’ve found myself really quite disheartened on occasions where I’ve put a lot of time and effort into fun activities with the children only for none of them to appreciate it. There’s nothing that quite kills your inner warm and fuzzy feeling like a good whinging round of, ‘Why won’t you let us do it for longer?’, ‘How come he got a bigger slice?’, ‘Why do you never read us more than a chapter?’ I often think to myself that a simple “thank you” would suffice and my sense of well-being would be easily appeased, but a simple “thank you” is not always offered.
A friend recently recounted to me how he had helped a girl he knew only slightly move house. It ended up taking him far more time than he had anticipated and he admitted to me that, despite her effusive gratitude, he didn’t feel that the level of benefits received was anywhere near the amount of effort put in. This got me thinking that it must take more than registered thankfulness on the part of the beneficiary to make what we do in life feel worthwhile. In fact, it probably has nothing to do with the reaction of the beneficiary and everything to do with our own attitude to giving. If we take the Karma-esque view that we will receive in direct and obvious proportion to what we give, as soon as the benefits fail to materialise we will give up on the giving of ourselves. However, if we choose to find our cosy sense of inner satisfaction in the knowledge that what we did needed doing if the world is to be a better place, then perhaps we won’t be so disheartened when the world itself doesn’t recognise this.