Five Minutes Peace

There’s a small five word phrase that’s banded around a fair bit by us (less than reputable) parents. We normally wrap it round our dubious parenting techniques to justify our behaviour like the only limp lettuce leaf in our ‘healthy’ option BLT sarnie.

Treating our little darlings to a nice hot bubbly soak in the tub; translation- seeing how much child-free time we can possibly steal to snatch a hot cuppa or a five-sentence conversation with the hubby. This often results in small, cold, raisin-like children removing themselves from the bath when they feel the first chills of hypothermia beginning to set in.

The stealth off each morning as small people emerge one by one in your bed, apparently materialising from nowhere and clambering all over your poor tired self. You pull off an Oscar worthy performance, so convincing your other half actually believes you to still be asleep and surrendering to the epic foot in the face manoeuvre admits defeat and gets up. Score.

And the evil TV- every parent’s dirty secret. Although the admission of such a heinous crime as leaving Princess Penelope in front of the box for a good two hours straight while you lose yourself in the next room in the latest copy of Hello magazine would be parental suicide. Your fellow mummy mates would be nothing short of mortified at you failing your child so monumentally. I mean, two hours in front of the TV is surely tantamount to child abuse when there are such educational alternatives available as conjugating verbs, deriving base formulas and learning trigonometry.

So, the five word phrase? ‘Anything for a quiet life.’ I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot recently, because actually, I’d do anything to avoid a quiet life. Here’s why.

My little boy is entirely non verbal. By that I mean he doesn’t talk. At all. He’s 5 years, 7 months and 16 days old and is yet to learn a single word. This inevitably leads to frustration for both him and us as we desperately try and teach him alternative methods of communication, ones that don’t involve slapping, pinching or inappropriately grabbing the nearest stranger’s hand and leading them off into the sunset. Normally the whole comparison thing grates on my like nails down a blackboard, but once in a while it’s useful for centering me, giving me perspective and providing me with the right knowledge and ammunition to fight for my child and the support he needs. So out of interest I looked up the average expressive vocabulary of a ‘typical’ child his age, that is to say the number of words spoken by your average 5-year old, and it’s a staggering two thousand five hundred. My heart broke a little when I read that. For the average child, apart from the first handful, the majority of these words are learned with such ease that they are often taken for granted.

While I understand wholeheartedly the infuriating toddler Mummy why stage, incessant and unrelenting as the drip-drip-dripping of Chinese water torture, I’d give anything to hear that one word from B. While I relate to poor old Mrs Elephant in that hilarious kids story Five Minutes Peace (I think Mrs E ends up locking herself in the loo or something) I’d happily trade in every quiet moment, which are admittedly few and far between, for the non-stop chatter of my Boy Wonder. There’s not a price I wouldn’t pay for a Homer Simpson style baby translator (you know the episode- he’s suddenly incredibly intelligent after removal of a crayon lodged in his brain, he invents loads of things and then decides being clever sucks so shoves the crayon back up his nose).

Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of living in the fairytale world of endless possibilities. As much as I wish the jumble in his brain would magically tumble out of his mouth in formulated words, right now it’s just not happening. All I can do is teach, pray, encourage and praise. And while I can’t imagine any sound better than hearing B’s first word, I have no choice but to trust the one who DOES hear him.

Psalm 139 in the Bible talks in intimate detail about how much God wants to be involved with us. About how he has, does and always will know everything about us. Not because he is some sort of interfering heavenly busy-body waiting for it all to go tits up so he can tut and wag a holy finger in disapproval, but because he’s interested. And he’s interested because he cares. Hugely. So although I don’t know what goes on in the depths of B’s brain, I do have the privilege of knowing the one who does.

OK, confession time. A lot of people, for whatever reason, feel the need to tell me of their admiration for me when they learn I have a severely disabled child. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to be encouraged and all, but at the end of the day I’m just cracking on with parenthood like anybody else. They say I’m strong, that I’m a fighter, that I have endless patience, and that they couldn’t do it.  Here’s the deal.
I’m weak, but I trust in a God who is infinitely stronger.
I’m tired, so tired, of fighting, but I trust in a God who never gets tired and is endlessly furiously for me.
My fuse is short, but God’s grace is long.
And the plain truth is, I can’t do it, I’m beyond myself, but I trust in a God who is more than enough.

So although I’d give the world to hear my boy utter his first word, for now trusting him to the God who hears him and knows him intimately will have to do. That’s no second best.

Anything for a quiet life? No thanks.


  1. Dude. Loved this blog, it's like the words flow from your heart straight to the scree. I feel oddly like I'm wandering around in your brain: a very interesting place with an unusual filing system and real gems hidden round corners. A bit like Camden Market.


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