"How we gonna learn your song?"
I remember being told what makes a good story by my English teachers – ‘It should have a beginning, a middle and an end’ was the mantra. I work alongside children and parents as they try to make sense of, and reclaim, their own stories. With information from files, chronologies, life story books and photo albums, slowly a ‘beginning middle end’ factual account begins to emerge. More importantly though, children and young people recall their own memories, dreams and impressions that had never been recorded anywhere but which are as powerfully part of their story as any factual piece of information which had been carefully recorded in the so-called ‘official’ documentation. Often this is because they were too young to put their experiences into words at the time their life story books were being written, or the events were still too raw. Sometimes it is because no-one thought to ask. Whatever the reason, the result is often a feeling of ‘muddle’ for the child about where their own precious fragments belong amongst all the imposing official looking records.
Some memories are painful and traumatic and your child may not be ready yet to talk about them. It is important to respect their defences and give them time and space to decide when the time is right. However they may feel ready to begin to record their own experiences. This may be a straightforward written recollection, or it may be in the form of poetry, paintings or playlists.
I often recall Emilie Sande’s cry from the heart in her song ‘Read All About It’. ‘If no-one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?’ When a child or young person bring their own memories and bodily-felt impressions from their earliest years of life that their song emerges. A song they reclaim from other people’s versions of events….one that is uniquely their own.