“Hard.” Usually followed by a melodramatic sigh.

Little Chick uses ‘hard’ in the same way many adults employ ‘can’t be arsed’. In one syllable Little Chick conveys how little care or energy he has for a task.

“Tidy up, please.”

“Brush your teeth, please.”

“Pick up your bag, please.”

None of these jobs are difficult – the toys are clustered together; the toothbrush is primed with toothpaste; the bag is lightweight – they’re just boring. They’re tedious but necessary tasks.

Most of the time I encourage Little Chick by helping, trying to be playful and make the task less onerous. We put the toys away one brick at a time if necessary. Sometimes I realise I need to pick my battles – and this is not my fight.

Occasionally, Little Chick’s utterance of ‘hard’ stops me dead in my tracks. It always surprises me how something as innocuous as tidying away toys can remind me of Little Chick’s past. The word ‘hard’ takes on more emotive meaning. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), neglect, snippets of his Child Permanence Report (CPR), form in my mind. It bombards me: there is no gentle filter here.

That is hard. Little Chick’s early life was hard. Little Chick’s later life will be harder because of it. It’s an explanation not an excuse, but I’ll cut him some slack. Life will be hard enough without me opposing him.

I will be his protector, his champion, through all that he faces. And that will be hard. But we will get there, together, even if we have to do it slowly, one brick at a time.

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