Well, we made it to the coast in the end, to the great relief of everyone. F and EB as well as R had been looking forward to this holiday all year. This year, as for the last 5 or 6, we were to spend the holiday together with a school friend of G’s and his family. He has 4 children who are all steps and stairs with ours: his older son is a year older than F; EB comes right between his two girls; then comes R and then his younger son, P. P is a very special little boy. P is R’s best friend.
One of R’s great strengths is her open, friendly nature. She loves nothing more than being right in the centre of things as part of a crowd of children. This rarely ever happens. Mostly children respond in one of three ways to R: they ignore her, they stare at her from a “safe distance” or they treat her like a doll. R just wants to play but it is both difficult for her to articulate this and difficult for her to do.
P has known R his whole life. Being younger than R, he cannot remember a time when she could talk or run. Being the youngest, he understands what it feels like not to be able to keep up with the older ones. And like R, he enjoys sitting down with a book and being read to. They clearly enjoy each other’s company and always have.
Both families had rented a house this summer. The children always beg to sleep over with one another. R wants to do this too but for obvious reasons, she needs to stay with us. On the first night of our holiday, all four girls stayed with us. R was desperately jealous of the fun that the older girls were quite obviously having in their room. The second night, it was the turn of the boys. P gallantly agreed to start the night with R (if he could then go through to the other boys – fair enough). R was just a little bit thrilled.