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A lioness and a cub walk in Tanzania.

International Women’s day is something I like to drink in. I like to read all the posts and see all the greatness. But I am me…which means I like to buck the trends. I just had a look at my post from international women’s day 2019. You can read it HERE. It’s about my mother, the bravest women I ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

Like I said…I buck the trend. SO, I will not be posting about a great woman this year. But …a great female. We shall call her “Chillie”

Where to start. At the beginning I guess….

She was born into sorrow. I don’t know the full facts of what the impact of that could be, but I know that babies pick up so many things whilst in the womb that it has to be mentioned. In the womb she would have been receiving a mixture of feeling and senses. I know for sure she would have heard or felt a lot of crying. Proper body convulsing crying. You see her mother; she was in limbo. Her heart was broken. Shattered. She was in deep morning. And then she found out she was pregnant. And that caused some very confused feelings. And when she found out she was having a girl; this caused the feeling to be worse. You see the mother had lost her mother months before and was broken. When she found out she was having a little girl, it caused both pure happiness and deep heart ache as all her own mother had wanted was a granddaughter to complete the family.

But…life…it can be cruel like that …

So Chillie was in the womb and would have felt her mothers’ sorrow. There is no doubt. When her mother was in labour with her, her mother screamed the hospital down…screamed for her mum. “Please …I want my mum” she repeated over and over. But of course, her mum would not be coming. She was gone. When Chillie was born, Her mother was scared for a hot second to hold her. Her mum was scared that all the love was gone from her. But as she held Chille, their eyes met (There is a picture of this moment) and what Chillie doesn’t know…and may never know…is that she changed the world in that instance.

As Chillie started to grow, she was …different. There is not really another way to explain it. Other people may not have noticed it, in fact lots of people tried to ignore it. But a mother knows her children and Chillie was different from the mother’s other children.

Chillie would see things differently to the rest of the world. When her mother took her to the local baby club to make friends, most of the other children would be running around with each other. Chillie would want to sit alone and line up the same basket of animals. Or draw.

Chillie walked early but spoke late. Words never have come easy for her, even now. But, just to show contrast, she could write the word “Mum” independently at 18 months.

As she grew, her “differences” started to have an impact on her life. Chillie just wouldn’t speak to people. She didn’t like to look people in the eye. She liked things to be a certain way. Lots of people thought Chillie was rude and naughty. But her mum…. she didn’t think that. She thought that her daughter was struggling. Struggling to “Fit in” with the real world.

Chillie struggled with friends. She would do and say things that upset people. It was the truth that she was saying like “I don’t like your shoes”. That really upset a little girl in the class. Chillie had said it several times and the mum of the child complained. When Chilies’ mum spoke to her, Chillie explained that the shoes had Velcro, a material she did not like, and that is why she kept saying she didn’t like the girl’s shoes, because everytime the child pulled the Velcro apart, it made Chillie feel funny. But the teacher and the parent didn’t care. They punished Chillie for being mean. And Chillie stopped speaking to most people. She didn’t understand why the school were angry with her. Also, around this time, her mum told her she must not speak to strangers. Chillie couldn’t work out when a person stopped becoming a stranger. So, she just stopped talking to every adult who was not her family. That upset lots of people. People couldn’t understand wye she did not say hello. They said she was rude when she didn’t say please and thank you .Chillies mum was there, always just behind her, to remind Chillie she should tell the adults please and thank you…and then mum would make the adults know that she did not appreciate their judgment of her child. Chillie felt a bit lonely.

Chillie found she didn’t like lots of things. In fact “Like” is not the right word, she could not cope with lots of things including certain lights, sounds, shouting, textures, socks with seems, wood that was too “woody”, books that felt of paper, most food, most cloths, people asking for yes contact….

The list grew daily. It was very exhausting for Chillie. What made it worse is mum started to tell her that she had to “Like” some of this stuff. Because school said so. Because other people said so. Because society said so.

This made Chillie angry.

She tried to do what mum said and “fit in”. But it made her very sad. She would do all the things she “Had” to do all day (Including using a pencil to write which made Chillie feel sick every day) and then she would go home and be very angry at her mum. Because she just wanted to wear no shoes to school and she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t. Chillie also couldn’t understand why she was not like other people. Her friends didn’t feel like she did. She knew this because she asked them. So, she took her anger out on mum. Which made them both feel bad. And made mum do the sad face.

Chillie started to be unwell most of the time. She felt sick before, during and after school. She felt unwell in shops. Restaurants. In cars. Chillie thought she felt sick, but she couldn’t really explain what was going on other than she felt “Funny” all the time. Mostly when she had to do all the things that “normal people do”.

She was very sad.

Then mum said that it was ok to be different. Mum said she was sorry that she ever told Chillie to “Fit in”. Mum said that there are some things you do have to do, because of rules, like…. you can’t go to school dressed as a cat every day. You just can’t. And……..if you do certain things then people may not like it….like when Chillie makes beautiful and strange noises when she is feeling anxious….but mum said that the other people would just have to get on with it. This made Chillie not feel so sick all the time. The noises she made helped.

The best bit…Mum didn’t say no to Chillie anymore when she wanted to wear her wellies in the summer. You see before, when Chillie would like to wear a summer dress on a hot day with wellies, mummy said that was silly and her feet would get too hot. Chillie didn’t care about her feet getting hot. Chillie liked the feeling of the wellies with no socks. It was rough and cool inside the wellies. Mum said that from now on she could wear her wellies when ever she wanted (Unless rules said no…like school)

Mum then took Chillie to see a special doctor. The doctor started speaking about something called “Autism”. Chillie had no idea what that was (and she also did not like the smell in the place where the doctor was…or the doctors jeans that looked very “Scrunchy”) but when the doctor spoke about Autism and what people with Autism may feel like, Chillie found herself giving very big nods to the doctors questions.

A lot changed after that. Not everything changed at once. Mummy wanted Chillie to go to a good school and said she had to study for he 11 plus. This made Chillie upset. She said she didn’t want to be judged on one exam. She said that she didn’t want to go to a school where you had to be a certain amount of clever to get in. Mum wouldn’t listen. SO Chillie just got on with it. Mum had been trying very hard to help Chillie with all the other stuff, but she still wasn’t listening to Chillie about all the stuff.

On the day of the stupid 11 plus, Chillie decided to do her best. In the middle of the exam she noticed that it was too quiet. Chillie does not like quiet. Oh no. But she knew it was an exam so to try and make the bad feeling go away, she slipped her shoes off so her toes could feel the cold floor. That always helped. But the teachers got very bossy and made her put her shoes on. Chillie got all confused and everything was too much. She stopped doing the exam and just laid her head on the table until it was over.

That night, when mum asked about the exam. Chillie was very brave. She said she was not going to talk about how it went. But how it made her feel. Her mums face was very shocked that Chillie was speaking out like this. Chillie tried hard not to sound “Rude” as mum kept saying. She told mum all about the exam and about the shoes. She cried a lot. She said that she had tried very hard but there was the thing with the shoes, and then the ticking of the clock that made her ears hurt and the lights in the room made her eyes feel sad.

Mum got very angry. But not at Chillie. At the school. In fact, mum got angry at lots of people. Chillie never heard mum being angry…but Chillie knew when mum was angry when she did the angry face. Mum was doing the angry face at lots of people.

Chillie has to study peoples faces very hard to see if they are happy or sad. Sometimes people are mean and ask what she is staring at. She says you (Because that is what she is staring at) and then they get angry and mean. Lots of people are mean. Chillies doesn’t always know why.

So that the story of Chillie, my inspirational female of 2020.

I forgot add some stuff. Chillie is the most outstanding artist for her age. Her work is always on display and people will comment on it often. She is a different person around animals and creatures. She loves them and will speak confidently to them and about them. She says the best thing about creatures that are non-human is the fact that they don’t care if you don’t look them in the eyes. The best story I can tell you is that when some children got head lice in her class she said that if she got them then she would not be killing them because “I have no right to kill them”. She didn’t get headlice…but if she had off…I’m not sure what would have happened!

She says that most epic things. She is hysterically funny and does not even realise (or does, and hides it well…you can never tell)

She is brave. She has already faced several battles before she walks out the door each morning, but she still gets on with it the best she can. She has found her own coping strategies for the autism that is still officially diagnosed because CAHMS have placed her on a waiting list and will see her “In 2-3 years”. This October will be 3 years and she will get the diagnosis, no doubt, but she has had to develop the coping mechanism herself.

She has found her voice. She is still finding her feet with this one, but if she sees injustice…wow…. she come into her own.

She understands that she is “Different” and accepts that……scratch that…she embraces it…She expected it a lot better and quicker than her mother. And she also knows that others around her don’t except it…and she is ok with that (Her mum is not OK with that)

She is happy. She has found her place in this world where she can be happy. Nope, she does not like all the same things as her friends …. But she has found friends that accept her.

This female is my hero for lots of reasons. I stand in awe of her almost every day. And that’s not just some rubbish I’m putting out there…. serious…. this female makes me check myself at least 3 times a week. She has made me a better person.

She is 10 years of age and she has had to navigate the world so that she can communicate that actually…. Life is not black and white…that actually…. people are different. And if you can’t accept that then she doesn’t really want to be around you.

She hates people…yet hates to be alone. She refuses to accept that boys and girls should be treated differently. She will not accept that its OK that girls have to be “pretty” and wear certain clothes.

You know what, her grandmother passed away before she was born. I think the world was not ready for them to meet. Like….it would have been too much love…if that is possible.

This female will change the world. Forget that…she already is, in her own way. She is able to be herself now. Yes, she has to do some stuff that everyone else does. But in general, she can be herself. No more pretending. Or “Fitting in”. Mum always listens now. Chillie does not get so angry, because she is getting better at telling people what she needs to get by in this crazy world. She is like a lion cub, learning how to fight for herself in wild….

With the safe knowledge that there Is a lioness mummy always just behind her ready to eat anyone who tries to make life hard for her.

For international women’s day 2020 I present the strongest female I have had the pleasure of meeting….and raising….my daughter and every other female in this world who is living with SEN.

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