There is a certain news I have been following up on for quite a while now. My first reaction when it became public was “leave it be,” and I still feel so. But at the same time, I have been furiously curious about its unfolding (or lack thereof).
The news is about a girl who has been having difficulties attending school for years. Normally, a story like hers would not have become a news – as much as I hate to admit, there are many children who, for whatever reasons, have difficulties attending school, and I do not believe there were originally anything particularly newsworthy to single her out and cover her story so extensively… except for the fact that she has been a public figure from the time she was born.
Because we have watched her make her first smile, utter her first words, take her first step, and reach all other developmental milestones just as with our own, maybe we had forgotten that a child is not normally raised under such scrutiny. And as we watched her make a smile on her first day at school, read lines in her first role in school play, take steps in her first race on sports day, and learn to do so much more at school just as well as her schoolmates, maybe we failed to notice that our intense scrutiny was making it increasingly difficult for her to be treated normally.
She is now in her mid-teens, and we expected to see her giggling with her friends, chatting about nothing for hours, going out shopping and munching on sweets, and doing many other things we imagine girls of her age would normally do. But we have not seen her make a smile, utter a word, take a step, or be seen in public for some time now. The latest news tells that she has only been able to attend school for a class or two a day, and she has adamantly avoided activities involving interactions with others, for the past couple of months because she is “not feeling well.”
But maybe it is the other way around – maybe “not feeling well” is not the cause, but the consequence, of having difficulties attending school?
Then, maybe trying to relieve her of symptoms of “not feeling well” is not the right way to go about?
Rather, maybe the prescription is to remove all conditions that are making it difficult for her to attend school?
After all, when your children tell you they do not want to go to school and suddenly start having stomachaches or dizziness or fever, would you give them painkillers or motion sickness reliefs or aspirin, or do you ask them what might be hindering them from going to school? And would you not try to rid of all their worries and fears before sending them out the door to school?
Maybe what we should do for this girl is just the same as we would for our own.
Maybe we can try giving her a little room, as we normally would for children of her age.
Maybe if it means less of watching her many firsts yet to come, we need to accept that.
But maybe that would bring back her smile, her voice, her steps outside, and all other aspects of her we find so charming.
So, as much as I am furious at the media for not leaving her be, I continue to follow up on her news, curious of when we will get to see her be her normal self again. I hope this does not make me just another overly nosy paparazzo trying to capture “the moment.”