Saturday, 28 February 2015


There's a moment in the visiting when everyone knows
time is short
and they dash to make the small pilgrimage
to the familiar door
before it's too late.

Everyone respectful and kind,
trying to say exactly the right set of words,
so she doesn't know you know she's dying.

And then you leave by the same door,
looking back to see if it has changed while you said goodbye.
Not knowing how many goodbyes there will be
or how many you can take.
Feeling wretched,
as if you wished them dead.

When what you wish is them,
back to you and whole and in the place
where you were smaller and they held your hand and nothing could be further away
than a fixed ending.

And all you had to do to see them was come downstairs in the morning
Or walk up from school
Or cross the little patch of street
Between your house and theirs.

Having no idea that this goodbye fades and the other times glow,
Wakened into life as the years pass,
Taking you by the hand still, here and here,
Where we spoke of all those things
No one else heard.

You put out a hand,
expecting to touch the same old door,
with the feel of sun on it,
paint warm and shining,
going in once more

Calling your name
So they know you're here.

©Amanda J Harrington 2015

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Starless Space Between

She tilts her head, nodding,
his arms pirouette above them both,
peppering their unheard conversation
with ballerinas.

It's a cold night and windy too
yet he is enraptured with their talk,
dancing through long, streetwalk-edged minutes.

Somewhere along the line she tilts again
and his arm, emboldened, stands by itself
pointing at the starless space between the lights.

She nods,
he retreats a moment,
still spinning.

This time she speaks and he is still, listening,
her hand waving her hair back behind her ear,
as she smiles.

©Amanda J Harrington 2015

This poem was inspired by a couple who stood in the dark, rainy, windy night on the edge of the street and didn't seem to notice. There was no overtly romantic moment shared and they didn't leave together; there were only little looks, movements, smiles and the almost elegant way the man decorated his speech with his hands.

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Is your child too hyperactive to learn?

It's hard to learn when you can't sit still, isn't it? How can your child learn anything if they won't even stop moving long enough to pick up a pencil? And as for listening, well, that doesn't happen very much when there is a blur doing their third circuit of the classroom.

When it comes to mixing paints in record time, plastering classmates with those paints and making a living homage to interpretative art, your lively child wins all the prizes. That same energy works against them too - it's quite hard to do sums when something super-great pops into your head every second.

Following instructions and settling to work are for other children, those ones who walk out to meet their parents at the end of the day and don't tumble out, bringing half of 3C down with them. Remembering homework is for nice, sensible children who also remember their homework book. And writing a lovely story about our school trip last week comes more easily to those children who haven't already forgotten about the school trip and didn't spend most of it tethered to the most patient teacher.

As for P.E! Well, this should be a gift for those buzzing, endless children, shouldn't it? If they can't stand still and never tire then physical education is a gift! Except P.E. is like the rest of school, all about following the right instructions at the right time and knowing when to throw the ball and when not to throw it and who not to throw it at.

It's one of Nature's jokings that the average hyperactive child is often more disruptive in P.E, than they are in normal lessons, if only because suddenly they are out of the classroom and freeee to jump and fling their arms about and be the person they were meant to beeee...for the five seconds it takes before they are seen disappearing round the side of the playground and are then banned onto the side bench while everybody else plays some team game that never looks any fun.

Now, I know you may have been distracted while reading this, either by your hyper child or because you are also hyperactive and just never knew because you weren't diagnosed and besides, you've always blamed the other parent...Anyway, have you noticed that your hyper child doesn't seem to fit in with the routine of school? Did you spot that?

Of course, school isn't all about routine. There's other stuff too, like learning and fun and socialisation and, well, I'm sure just loads of stuff going on. But to make all this happen with many small children jostling together, seemingly trying to do injury to themselves and others, you need a bit of routine to make it all work. And when you have a hyperactive child in the middle of it, that routine can strain at the edges (as can the teacher).

So the hyper child goes to school, behaves as per their uniquely exciting genetic code, is put in a corner to calm down (i.e. to change the whole structure of their genetic code), is banned from breaks because of inappropriate behaviour (so has even less chance to burn off steam) and is then expected to settle to work when asked (though by now they have enough steam to power Thomas and James).

At the end of the school day, your child bounds out as usual, thrilled to be free of school, full of energy and ready to turn your whole house into a circus of dramatic wonder. Some time later you get the school report and your heart sinks.

Or, far worse, are called in to talk to the teacher at the end of most days and have to look as if you are taking in all the things your little one has or hasn't done while being utterly distracted by the teacher's choice in clothes and hair and doesn't she know that her sparkle-clips reflect the light every time she bends her head?

And your child is expected to behave and you are expected to make them behave (by some parental remote control device, presumably) and if they could just behave then all would be well.

You come away feeling your child is at fault because they are too hyperactive to learn at school.

There, see, look more closely at the above sentence. Your child is too hyperactive to learn at school. But is your child too hyperactive to learn?

The short, sweet answer is no, of course not. School might be a challenge and for some children it's a challenge too far, but don't feel your child is at fault if they find it hard to learn at school. That's like blaming the ground for being muddy when you trail it in on your boots. It is just a fact that school might not be geared up to help your child learn in the way that suits them best.

Be the kind of parent who takes their child by the hand after one of these traumatic days and who goes to the park on the way home. How about we play here for a while? And later, should we light candles and see them glow and flicker in the night? Or should we go out with torches and watch them play along the walls of our house?

There are many times when a hyperactive child is quite still, aglow with life and energy within but quietly in awe on the outside. There is no magic wand to make your child fit into the routine of school and learn what they are supposed to know, but never doubt that once you have them home, with you, they can enjoy every second of the wonders of childhood.

No child is too hyperactive to learn. You simply have to remember they are children, they want to learn, they want to understand but they also want to fizz and whoop and be all the things they see within their minds. Other than that, all they want is for you to fizz and whoop along with them, hands together and hearts dancing, teaching them exactly what they need to know.


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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Strap down my heart

Strap down my heart
and when the world flies past and I go without it,
I will hold my blades high and straight,
out to face all sides.
Strap down my dreams
so I can carry them with me
and not lose them in a heated moment,
held up against the sheer drop,
not knowing whether to balance
or lunge for safety.
Strap down my hopes most of all.
Keep them safe within this dear parcel.
Keep then in the centre, furthest from the blades
 which cut me like everything else.
Strap down what binds me to my soul,
keep it there, within reach but bound,
treasured and trapped in the heart of me.
Strap it down so it soars with me,
leaping from roof to roof,
danger rising far above
where I can go.

When you find me later,
safe or not,
at least the best of me will be whole,
bundled together out of harm's way,
loving, dreaming,
hoping for the next day.

©Amanda J Harrington 2015

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A story somewhere