My Kitchen Ceiling Imploded... Lessons In Not Paying Attention

I’ve had a persistent drip of water coming through my kitchen ceiling for weeks.  After much investigation and repairs from my plumber and my plasterer, it seemed to be fixed.
You’ll know why I’m sharing this in a minute…

Yesterday, I trained a group of foster carers in ‘The Brain Behind the Behaviour’. One of the important aspects we covered is that behaviours that often look explosive or that ‘go from 0-10’ are rarely as sudden as they look.
More often they’re just the endpoint of accumulative frustrations, worries or other triggers that aren’t apparent on the outside.

So I was washing the dishes last night, there was a ripping sound above my head and the kitchen ceiling imploded. It turns out the bath was fixed but a different pipe had been slowly and invisibly seeping into the plaster boards for months.

I’m not specifically talking about young people’s behaviour here, but it was like my ceiling was proving a point. There are consequences to trying to sustain too weight and pressure for too long.

We all know the mantras around ‘be kind to yourself’, but it doesn’t resonate much with many of us (myself included), and the busyness of life often means that it’s way down on our list of priorities.
But, whether it’s a young or adult version, there is a human equivalent to what happened to my kitchen ceiling last night.

However, this isn’t just a reminder about about needing to unburden ourselves or let things go.
It’s also a reminder that how things appear on the exterior isn’t always an accurate reflection of reality, and this is increasingly true for the children we live and work with as well.

It’s easy to look back on our own childhoods and think they have it easy, and in lots of ways they do.
But they’re generally force-fed huge amounts of ‘learning’ in school which has absolutely no foundation for how their brains are designed to develop and learn.
There’s a continual expectation for them to push themselves and ‘achieve’.
And the relentless pressure that the world of social media entails for our kids is a different story entirely; one may of us are immensely grateful didn’t feature in our own youth.

It’s the sharp end of the stick, of course, but in another of my sessions this week, I was working with a group of adolescents with such acute anxiety that they were no longer in mainstream school. It was a stark reminder about the price that some children pay for being loaded with too much to carry.

Sometimes things look fine and feel fine, and so when our kids tell us they’re fine, they probably are. Probably.

But the truth is that when I was atop of my ladder with my paint brush, I noticed a couple of new cracks in my ceiling.
And I dismissed them; I – or, accurately, my plumber – had fixed the problem after all, so I chose to ignore them.    

If I had been paying closer attention, I might have noticed things weren’t quite right, before my kitchen ceiling fell down.

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