Last night ‘The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds’ returned to UK TV screens. This is a reality series that follows a group of four year old children in a nursery set up (it’s not like any nursery I’ve ever worked in, but I’d like to!!) to see how they interact with each other, which behaviours are exhibited, the different characters that emerge and so on.
As a child care professional, I have really enjoyed this series in the past. It’s fascinating to see children in such an environment, but, of course, it’s the sort of thing I saw every day at work anyway. It’s one reason I loved my job. However, this time, I watched with a pang of sadness, as the children on screen are the same age as Tink, but are a world away from being like her.
The children in the series were able to follow (or deliberately disobey!) instructions and guidance; they were able to understand consequences, such as not eating a piece of chocolate in order for everyone to get two pieces instead; they formed friendships and alliances, as well as rivalries; they were able to co-operate with each other in order to achieve a goal.
And I felt a little melancholy, as Tink can’t do any of these things – yet.
The children understood about behaviour and what makes someone ‘naughty’; they were able to express their thoughts and feelings verbally, as well as physically sometimes! They had conversations about getting married to each other; they learnt about life and death and some even understood a little about how babies are made!
Tink wouldn’t have a clue about any of this – yet.
They played together, danced together, invented games and role plays together.
Tink doesn’t have the skills to do this – yet.
I know I can’t really compare Tink to a ‘typical’ four year old. She has made so much progress in various areas of her development, but watching this programme has made me realise just how different she is, that there is a pretty sizeable gulf between her and her peers.
But I hold out hope that one day she will be able to do all the things that other children can. It may take her a long time, but I will do everything I can to help her get there. I won’t give up on her – ever.