Susie Mallett

Parent blog

Friday 30 November 2012

I remember it well, one of those very important moments in life

On Friday mornings I usually make house calls and school visits, arriving at the after-school group in time to say a quick hello to the Kindergarten children just before they take their after-lunch nap.

Évi said that our five-year-old from Syria had something important to tell me so I really should not forget to pop my head around the door. I rushed over to discover that she had just finished cleaning her teeth.  She was the first of the group of 15 children to be ready for the quiet half-hour. That was great progress for a previously very dreamy hemiplegic girl.

This child is developing in leaps and bounds recently and is especially pleased to be one of the old-hands in the Petö group, delighting in showing the new three-year-olds the ropes.

What could be so important, I wonder?

I went over to the Kindergarten full of anticipation, I had no idea what to expect.

It turned out to be one of those moments in any child’s life that gives a real sense of independence.

As I walked in the child ran up to me, gave me a cuddle around my knees and said –

 “I did my button up alone!”

Oh what joy and jubilations this new development brought, we had a dance around in the hallway to celebrate and then got on with the afternoon.

Independence at last

The bane of  children’s life until they conquer it on their own is the button on the waist-band of their trousers. Until they manage that alone they are always dependent on finding someone to help as they rush to the toilet, and again as they come out.

This little girl has learnt it after a couple of year’s practice, she is now free to come and go to the toilet as she pleases and no longer needs to ask for help. 

It always amazes me, no matter how often I experience a child's telling me about this big achievement, how much joy it brings them and how many people they have to tell. I love to be a part of the jubilations that follow for a day or two, just as I was today.

As I was at the kitchen window later in the afternoon I caught the same little girl's eye as she ran about in the first snow-flakes of winter. She shouted out –

“Susie, I did my button up alone twice now!”

I wonder when she will stop counting how many times she has done it. I will ask her on Monday morning whether she is still counting, but I very much doubt it because by then it will be part of her conductive lifestyle.

Doing that top button up one-handed is really difficult. Solving that problem really did deserve our dance in the hallway, because she not only solved the problem of doing up the button, she also solved the problem of remembering to use two hands.

The degree of difficulty depends also on whether you have right or left hemiplegia, and also on whether you have right-buttoning or left-buttoning trousers, but neither way is particularly easy. It is made slightly easier when one learns that two hands are better than one.

It really was a well deserved hug and dance for this little girl today and it indicates another huge step forwards  in her life.

As well as learning to do up buttons this little girl is smiling more and chatting more and her soul seems to be flourishing. Seems to me that this little story illustrates what I often say – with a happy soul almost anything is possible.


  1. What I used to hear atnprimary school, an'Earthly tale with heavenly meaning'!).

    A human and homely little vignette, in this case a pleasant one but this need not necessarily be so. And a general principle emerging, that the specifics of pedagogy and learning blend and combine with each other and the whole in the continuing process of upbringing, to create development.

    Not a bad algorithm for conductive writing. Thank you.

  2. a nice story and a good lesson, yet, why wait years for this victory and not offer an 'environmental facilitation' of changing the trousers botton to velcro (scotch). For this you also need bi-lateral hand function, but still it is easier to achieve. This little girl could feel the same feelinf of achievement long ago...why wait?
    and what is the price of not being able to do that for so long?