After Kid A’s worry-based meltdown last week, I was a little worried myself about sharing the news with Mrs LC – after all, with everything going on in her world in Doha, surely the last thing she needed was the additional burden of problems back home she couldn’t solve?
But I should have known better.
“Get online, see what other people have used to help their kids. There must be tons of stuff. Maybe a book?” was her succinct advice (which was lucky, as I appear to be the one paying for her mobile bill at 35p a text.)
And so I spent an evening browsing boards, blogs and Amazon and before too long, two books had been identified, bought, and were winging their way to Worry Central.
The first arrived yesterday – The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside – and it was seriously underwhelming. After dragging a giant bag full of metaphors around for days, a little girl’s worries are magically vanished when her granny “exposes them to sunlight”. Sorry, what?
I’m not subjecting my daughter to this ill-conceived cack. She’s got a head already bursting with fears and you want to add vampires to the mix? No chance.
And then this morning, the second book arrived. As with yesterday, I opened it and started to read it while I put the kettle on, to make a cup of tea I ended up not drinking.
The book is Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes and, were the publishers honest about its explosive contents, it would come with laminated pages and a health warning. It is going to get cried on a lot.
I kicked off proceedings in the middle of the kitchen this morning, sobbing to myself in an empty house. It then trapped Kid A in its tear-stained tractor beam when I read it to her after Brownies. You are helpless in its wake: it’s like Ring redrawn with cartoon mice.
From cracks in the wall that might contain monsters, to shrinking in the bath, Wemberly worries about everything. This, in turn, worries her parents. And most of all, she worries about starting her new school.
I knew I was onto something here because Kid A was almost silent while I read to her. None of her usual tricks were on display, like inventing spin-off sub-plots or back stories for supporting characters; nothing. She was transfixed.
The fact that Wemberly – like Kid A – has a toy rabbit which absorbs all her fears may have helped. But the universal fear of starting something new is countered by the universal truth that there is always someone else in the same situation as you. And by the end, you just know that Wemberly and her new friend Jewel are still going to be laughing into their sloe gins together in seventy years’ time (and yes, I am well aware that fictional cartoon mice don’t drink sloe gin, or live to be 70. I am Making a Point)
Kid A and I talked about it afterwards, and she still had some worries: like not knowing where I will collect her from at the end of her first day, for example. But the edge had come off her tone slightly. The jagged corners had been smoothed a little.
It’s work in progress, but progress nonetheless.
I’ve left Wemberly by her bed. I think it’s going to get read many more times before the day starts tomorrow and be as dog-eared as her rabbit by the end of the summer.
So take my advice. Buy this book now. Read it repeatedly to immunise yourself against the lacrimation it induces. And then you’ll be ready to deploy it, like a UN food drop, or a motorway salt gritter, the moment your child needs it.
Or you do.