(Written with the permission of my daughter).
Until my daughter’s recent diagnosis of Coeliac disease, with the strict gluten-free diet she now observes improving her life immeasurably, for almost every meal, for a number of years, we have battled. Her pickiness and slowness to eat was, we thought, just our daughter being a pain. If we average three meals per day, that amounts to around 1,000 meals per year. I guess that this had been going on for five years.
Daughter: I owe you 5,000 apologies. I am profoundly sorry. Not listening to your instincts was the dumbest thing that I have ever done. It was easily within our domain of competence to have discovered your diagnosis sooner. Donald Rumsfeld famously spoke of “known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns”. My only defence to an accusation of hyper stupidity was if such a diagnosis would have been an ‘unknown unknown’ but it was not. Worse, it was a likely ‘known known’. Please accept my apologies.
The stupidity of ‘not listening to my daughter’s instincts’ has been hammered home to me in this excellent book The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read by the psychotherapist Philippa Perry. In it, she writes:
“It is too easy to dismiss a child’s fears about, say, trying a new food, but if we tell them not to be silly rather than listening to them, there is a danger that they will think they are being silly to feel what they do, when it isn’t silly at all…..But as much as I hate ‘tips’ and ‘life hacks’, if there is one big hack, it is this: do not get into a battle about what a child is feeling.”
(With thanks to Stable Diffusion for the AI-generated image: the prompt was “father apologises to daughter”)