Sometimes I feel cross, but I don’t know why Dandlebear

Kitty was a girl who had been on a long journey.  For a time she had not seen her daddy and that had made her very sad.  When it came to the time when she would see her daddy again she felt worried, what if her daddy did not like her anymore, what if her daddy was cross with her?

When she saw her daddy again all her worries fell away because everything was alright and just the same as her memories said it would be.  In fact it was so good that sometimes she wondered what all the fuss had been about.  She and daddy would spend every weekend together and sometimes would have a holiday together too.  Kitty enjoyed those times best of all, because she could pretend that this was forever and that she would never have to leave her daddy again.

Leaving daddy was something that bothered Kitty a lot.  Leaving mummy was something that also bothered her a lot and whilst she had gotten used to it, the feelings of sadness, that came up each time she had to leave were very difficult to cope with.

To help her to make the journey from mum to dad and back again, Kitty had a dandlebear.  A dandlebear is a special bear with huge eyes that tell you all you need to know and long arms so that you can tuck him in your trousers as you go or so he can hang on tight around your neck, which is especially useful if you want to go on your scooter or your roller skates.  Dandlebear had arrived in Kitty’s life just at the right time and now he was her best friend, someone to hang on to and a bear who never let her feel alone.

Days passed peacefully and Kitty enjoyed going over to dad’s house and spending lots of time with him. She got used to feeling happy inside instead of sad and she loved to do things with dad that she never did at mum’s house.

You see living in two homes is a very special thing.  It means that your mummy and your daddy are always there and you have your own special place in each house.  Kitty had two lovely bedrooms and in her mummy’s house her bedroom was all pink and neat and in her daddy’s house it was all wild colours and exciting.  It meant that Kitty could do lots of different things and enjoy those things in the comfort of her own special place.  She loved to go from one to the other and sometimes she would bring from her pink room some ribbons and bows and sometimes from her wildly coloured room she would bring twinkling stars that were up on the ceiling.

As Kitty went from mum’s house to dad’s house she noticed that her feelings inside would change too.  Mostly these were good feelings and good changes, but at times there would be a sort of storm that seemed to pass through her tummy and up into her head so that she would get cross and not feel very settled.

One day such a storm arrived and Kitty got very cross with daddy. ‘Hurrumph’, she said, when daddy asked what was the matter and another hurrumph came out as she flopped onto the sofa looking very glum indeed.  Dadddy sat down beside her, ‘now Kitty Kat,’ he said, ‘I can see there is something wrong, what is it, tell your old dad and he might be able to help you.’  Kitty scowled at her dad and said nothing, rolling further up into the sofa and turning away. Daddy left her to it, he knew better than to force her to talk when she felt in this mood.  Dandlebear looked solemnly at Kitty from his position in the corner of the Sofa.  ‘Now then Kitty’ he conveyed through his huge wise eyes. ‘What is all this about?’

Kitty looked back at Dandlebear.  She didn’t want to talk but she knew somehow that she would talk to Dandlebear because Dandlebear was the only one who knew what she felt like and the only one who actually knew what it was like to live in two homes with a mummy in one and a daddy in the other.  Dandlebear was the only companion that Kitty had on her journeys and she knew, because of this, that he would understand.  ‘I don’t know Dandlebear,’ said Kitty, ‘sometimes I feel so cross but I don’t know why.’

Daddy covered Kitty up with a blanket as she laid on the sofa silently and eventually he brought her a glass of milk and one of her favourite biscuits.  As Kitty sat and ate up her biscuit and drank her milk she felt the storm pass away and the horrible tight ball of something that had arrived in her head began to unravel.  She looked at Dandlebear who gazed back at her steadily.  ‘I think this cross feeling comes when my mummy and daddy are both in my day at the same time’ she said and Dandlebear nodded, ‘I think you are right’ he agreed and I think this is why.

Kitty knew when Dandlebear was ready to share his wise thoughts and as always she looked forward to the story because Dandlebears can tell a very good tale. She settled back and listened as Dandlebear began.

‘Once there was a little girl,’ began Dandlebear and Kitty curled up with delight, it was going to be a story about her.  ‘A little girl who was very brave indeed’ he went on.  ‘This little girl had to make a big journey each and every week and she did this all alone without anyone to help her.’ ‘That’s me’ thought Kitty as Dandlebear was speaking and she listened even more closely.  “This little girl had a mum and a dad who used to live together and then they separated and live in different places.  This little girl had a mummy who was ever so kind and ever so warm and who loved her to pieces and a daddy who was just the same.  The problem was that this little girl had become so used to mummy being in one place and daddy being in another that she had forgotten what to do when mummy and  daddy were in the same place.  When they were in the same place, when it was time to go to school for parents evening for example, this little girl felt she had two pieces of jigsaw that didn’t fit together anymore and no matter how much she tried inside her mind, when her mummy and daddy were together in places, things didn’t feel right and just didn’t fit. This left the little girl feeling strange and a little bit cross, she was confused because she could not work it out and didn’t know how to make it feel better.’

‘That’s me’ thought Kitty, ‘that’s definitely me, go on Dandlebear’ she said hurriedly, ‘keep going and tell me what the little girl did.’

Dandlebear looked at Kitty with his kind and loving eyes and carried on with the story.

‘Life is like a Jigsaw puzzle’ he said to Kitty, ‘some people fit together and some people don’t and sometimes, those who used to fit together don’t fit together anymore and so they go their separate ways’.  ‘The thing is’, he continued, little children are made of three jigsaw pieces, one is their mum and one is their dad and on one side of children is the piece that fits them that is mum and on the other side is the piece that fits them which is dad.  What this little girl is trying to do is join the two pieces which are mum and dad together without realising that she is the piece in the middle which is missing.’  Kitty considered the image and thought about herself. ‘So’ she thought to herself.  ‘I am the middle piece and mum is on one side and dad is on the other, well that makes sense’ she said to Dandlebear, but what has it got to do with me feeling cross?’

Dandlebear said, in his quietest voice, ‘when your mum calls you up in the middle of your day and you are with dad you are busy thinking about dad and what you are doing with him aren’t you?’

‘Yes’ said Kitty, ‘and it feels strange when I hear mum’s voice on the phone.’

‘And then when you try to connect with your mum, you feel as if you have to disconnect from your dad don’t you?’

‘Yes’ said Kitty, ‘that’s exactly how it feels’

Dandlebear patted her gently with his great big paws and smiled ‘but you are connected to both your mum and your dad, like a jigsaw puzzle, you in the middle, your mum on one side and your dad on the other, when your mum calls you up or you see her with dad, it is strange but you will get used to it and if you just let it be and remember that you are connected to both, that storm in your stomach and inside your head won’t trouble you so much.’

Kitty sat upright on the sofa and considered this news.  She could see how the jigsaw puzzle thing worked and how good it would be not to have to disconnect from one in order to connect to the other.  Daddy came in just then and she thought she would try, to see how it felt, to ask him a question about mum. ‘Daddy’ she said, ‘could we put a picture of mum in my room tonight?’

‘ If you would like that of course’ said daddy.

‘And daddy’ said Kitty, thinking aloud, ‘can I have a picture of you to put in my room at mummy’s?’

‘Of course’ said her daddy.

‘So when I am here I am still connected to mum and when I am with mum I am still connected to you,’ said Kitty.

‘And that’s how it will always be’ said her daddy, ‘now, what about we go fly the kite in the park?’

Dandlebear smiled at Kitty from the corner of the sofa. She would feel better now, he was sure of it.  He folded his long arms over his tummy and closed his big wise eyes and went to sleep.

 

* This is for a girl who made the very first Dandlebear (and her dad) and for all children, everywhere, who need a hand with putting the jigsaw puzzle back together x

7 comments

  1. padrestevie · July 2, 2014

    Hi Karen
    Thank you so much.
    This really did hit all the right buttons.
    When my daughter read this there was an instant reaction. The relief she felt was palpable. I’d love anyone that doubts the effectiveness of a very quiet and gentle approach to have seen it. As Harry Hill says, “the power of suggestion”.
    Thank you again.

    Like

  2. woodman1959 · July 2, 2014

    It’s undoubtedly a very beautiful story, and since my youngest daughter should be coming over today, I hope she will accept for me (or us) to read it. It may perhaps make sense of the extreme reaction she showed at the thought of the two of us parents being at the school play together – that I shared last week.

    Hopefully I will be able to provide some feedback. At the same time, I have to be honest that there will be many, many situations where the ‘two parent scenario – different but equal’ does not even begin to be applicable. I do completely agree that properly managed it can be lovely and exciting and even highly productive – where it is possible. However, for many of us it will NOT – and never could be. In these situations – we have to be firm that the two home scenario is an illusion and a fantasy which needs to be rejected.

    This is why, although part of FNF, I take the somewhat different stance of concentrating most fully on whatever measures it would take to retain the ‘one home’ scenario…and why I can have a certain amount of sympathy with perspectives that support this, even when they get aspects of it wrong.

    You could easily say this approach is as fantastical as any other, but it hasn’t really been tried. Unfortunately it is associated with Conservatism…whereas it should be thMany men simply do not want (for many reasons) to set up a rival or alternative home that would be the equivalent to what the children are getting with mum. We appreciate what the mother of our children gives, however flawed, and we don’t want to try to replace her with a step-mother.

    However difficult, however much the mother appears to “hate” us – we would rather try to work things out within the original family. These are the “men in the middle” – I would say…who are not being very well served at the moment. I would reckon that we could be a large group – possibly a silent majority. Some of us certainly could establish alternative households if we had the resources to – but we simply don’t.

    Others of us feel this would detract too much from what we are best at in life – and that it would stress us out far too much trying to learn skills and cope with demands we are unfamiliar territory for us.

    For those of us in this category…tremendous societal support for the original building block of society, in the form of the biological family – is what is needed. Religion formerly took this role of holding families together through the extreme tensions that can exist of getting bored and frustrated (B.B. King – The Thrill Has Gone) with each other – now, it hardly does so for most …and there has been nothing to take its place.

    Hence we exist as a forgotten entity – existing…yet not existing. We cannot compete with the supermen who can buy a woman with ease…nor are we in the position of being superdads who can replace a woman with ease, even if we had the environment to do so. We are just in the middle – wanting to be team players and play our part – but hardly being allowed to do so.

    Update: although we have lots more time today my daughter has just said that she will accept reading the story next week – but not now. It has been a long time since we had a chance to read a story…and being autistic means that she takes much longer to adjust to any change.

    Like

  3. Kat · July 2, 2014

    Review from here. Tonight just before bedtime my daughter suddenly asked about dandlebears. So I said I had a new story to read to them. Dad asked what a dandlebear is and the children explained that it is someone who helps you when you are worried. They have long arms and big paws. thus we went up to read the new story. S said that he liked that it all turned out alright and D said that she liked it when dandlebear was saying wise things and it was good that when you were not with your mum or your dad or anyone else that you love to know that they stilled loved you and were there for you.

    Like

  4. Anonymous · July 2, 2014

    There are two homes. This is not a fantasy. The children are at home with Dad in his place and at home with Mum in her place. What could be simpler than that? Dandlebear bridge is there to make the passage for children between homes an easy one and to allow them to settle in each home.

    Creating stability for your children when you have separated from your partner is the way to go. How else could they possibly retain their mother and father than by setting up in two homes?

    Parents can’t live together in one home because at least one of the parents doesn’t want to live with the other. You can’t force parents who don’t want to live together to do so. Can you imagine the grounds for festering psychological and possible physical battles all played out in front of the children. What could be worse than that?

    Painful and difficult though it may be, Dandlebear bridge technique is the best way to recover from the toxicity of a broken adult relationship that involves children.

    Yet we don’t get any encouragement to do it. We need more families to tell us that Dandlebear bridge works for them. Helping children in this way encourages both parents to appreciate each other’s role in the upbringing of their children and focus their minds where they should be.

    Kind regards

    Like

    • woodman1959 · July 6, 2014

      Hi Kind Regards,

      It’s not a fantasy in the story, no – and if you want to provide me with a 3 bedroom house and garden to match what my wife has – then it won’t be a fantasy for me, either.

      I need to reiterate that it is not just the individual relationships that we have with our children that is important – but the group dynamic which is the crucial source of potential growth and preparation for life.

      Constant discussion is good, constant argument isn’t, obviously – but actually…in my own relationship, that wasn’t there all the time. It was more of a sullen silence and non-cooperation on her part…with occasional flare-ups, which could get quite heated at times – but still not ‘the end of the world’. Occasionally there could even be surprising good moments.

      Am I alone in experiencing that separation has actually been a hundred-fold more traumatic and damaging for the children – than what they experienced from a difficult relationship before? All the good moments are gone – while the non-cooperation and sullen silence have been institutionalized. There is now no-one to protect the children from the chronic levels of neglect and abuse. Surely – that’s not what you support?

      Constant argument rather than debate usually tells us that there is a problematic level of power-struggle going on. This can easily be examined if just a little outside pressure is provided to insist on this – for the sake of the children. Someone with an agenda of domination is very easy to spot and challenge when this is done…and the argument levels are then highly likely to reduce.

      As I previously outlined, couple this with the suggestion that executive control of the children in case of separation should generally go to whichever parent can provide the highest level of cooperation with the other…and all the motivation is in place to maintain and develop existing relationships – rather than towards destroying them as it is at present.

      The idea of battles being fought out in front of the children as being the worst thing ever for them – is what empowers the matriarchal drive to remove men from leadership positions within all families. You need to be a bit careful about that one. I would suggest that this matriarchal solution solves one problem – yes – but usually creates something very much worse.

      BTW – the Woodman was arrested today…for sending a congratulatory text message to his wife after we ended up having a genuinely great telephone conversation during this last week. Texting was previously chosen by her a communication tool, but then dropped in favour of phonecalls – so the ban on texts consists of a matriarchal (NonMole) order “which had to be obeyed…regardless of how well we had got on. A subordination has to be punished…as a subordinate has to know their place. The hierarchy has to be reinforced…we cannot get on too well! It was a 15 year-long ambition of my wife’s finally achieved today – and I’m sticking my neck out here – but I will be surprised if it doesn’t backfire on her pretty badly…and helps to propel the 17 year old some more out of her parental alienation syndrome. We’ll see.

      Like

  5. Anonymous · July 7, 2014

    Dear Woodman, I was more than pleased to hear that you made it to the school play and then created a video sending a copy to your ex. A stroke of genius on your part! I am sorry your daughter was so anxious. This may be a reflection of your ongoing battle with your ex. Your ex may be feeling quite threatened by your presence at the school event. When you speak to your ex on the phone try not to counter her arguments; that will only enflame her desires to oppose you; when you feel angry take it out on something/somebody else. At the right moment you could try dropping a compliment or doing a service that might assist her in her role as mother. These actions may meet with rejection or outright hostility but nobody in the world I have ever met has ever been able to resist feeling good after being thrown a sincere compliment………..our ego’s are far too large!

    You may feel, like me, that making your ex. feel good just makes it easier for her to carry on alienating you (i.e. she is winning the battle because you don’t appear to be opposing her any more). However, I now don’t think this is the case. What you will be doing is boosting her self-confidence and consequent confidence in you. She will feel more re-assured that the kids are in good hands when they are with you. She is beginning to trust you once more.
    Your children remain vulnerable whilst you and your ex. are strongly averse to each other. Dandlebear bridge techniques will serve your daughter well. I used the “third party scenario” (ref: Warshak) with my son whilst he sat next to me in the car as we travelled to a football match……it was some time ago, but the gist of it was I was trying to explain to my son how two people often have different points of view, but it is still possible for them to disagree quite strongly and still get along/appreciate one another’s point of view. Just because two people don’t agree it doesn’t make one good and the other bad.

    This may seem obvious, so forgive me for saying it, but your daughter does not need to hear about your strong well founded political arguments nor your very reasonable scenarios about the family unit, nor what you and your army of mates are planning to put the world to right. She needs listening to and having her needs met, being soothed, acknowledged as a very special person in her own right. If your daughter struggles with the written word you could translate the above “Dandlebear Bridge” story into a series of cartoons with punchy captions. The good thing about picture books is that it gives children a chance to engage with you by associating the images they see with their experiences.

    It is far too easy to translate the things our kids say as something the ex. planted in their brains and by assumption is corrosive. If we do manage to make good connections with your children they will be taking things they have heard you say and incorporating them in their everyday language ……………how scary is that?

    Kind regards

    Like

  6. Anonymous · July 7, 2014

    I was sorry to hear your ex reacted so negatively to your text. Do you know why? Do you think she thought you were patronising her by congratulating her? It seems she is determined to keep you at arm’s length.

    Whilst you are able to see your daughter you could concentrate more on her and less on trying to make your ex. see sense. (That’s your kind of sense of course). She seems determined to set limits (calling the police because you violated the no text messaging rule). Maybe you could see the limit setting qualities she shows as something good in the context of bringing up children. At any rate she doesn’t seem like an easy person to approach with her present attitude towards you. It may be best to focus on the good relationship you have with your daughter and think about her Dandlebear.

    When I said separated parents have two homes; that’s one where Mum lives and the other where Dad lives it was because I believe homes are kept in the hearts of parents. I wasn’t thinking so much in terms of the house with enough bedroom space at both locations; I was thinking two different locations, Mum’s immediate homely environment and Dad’s, both being unique and special places where the kids feel comfortable and a sense of belonging. Like in the Monty Python sketch you could live in a shoe box in the central reservation of a dual carriage way, and life may be difficult but if it is where you live that is still home…………………….I feel a Dandlebear story coming on.

    A story that might explain to your child that in spite of the inferior decor or the lack of space or whatever other inadequacies you think your place has this is still their home and a very fine and special place it is too. Wasn’t there a woman who lived in a shoe who had so many children she did not know what to do?
    If you denigrate your end of Dandlebear Bridge too much the children might not want to come for fear of something you have disparaged at your end. You are a special person with a special place.

    Kind regards

    Like

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