When do childrenís characteristics change to those exhibited by adults?
Now thereís a question! In the way they think and with such a multiplicity of things children do which adults donít, it is actually very hard to identify exactly when child-like behaviour has fully stopped and the individual is deemed to be behaving like an adult. For almost all children, the process is a gradual one extending through puberty and beyond. Indeed for a number, some child-like qualities pervade right through their otherwise adult lives.
outside onto any street in the
Men, it seems, manifest considerably less urgency in unsheathing an umbrella - if they actually have one with them in the first place - and are much more willing to collapse it as the rain begins to ease off. Nevertheless, men do react to the onset of rain, generally by quickening their pace, adjusting their collars or holding a newspaper above themselves, heading for the most sheltered parts of the street or even, as if any excuse were needed, diving into the nearest public house!
contrast all this behaviour to that of children. That same observer whose window
happens to overlook a school playground will note a complete disregard by
youngsters to the approach and onset of rain.
Accordingly, that begs the question, when exactly did the utterly carefree child turn into the umbrella yielding woman or the scurrying man? At what point did the childís former, unconcerned nature give way to the general reactions of the adult society around him (or her)? When did childhood die?
Perhaps a study brave enough to try and delve to any degree into this particular behavioural aspect might point out that it depends where one lives in the land, because it is true that rain is more prevalent in some areas than in others. Possibly the adult residents in these damper locations have more of an immunity to reacting against wet weather than others living elsewhere, simply because it commonplace and is seen as more of a part of everyday life. If this is true, then it would certainly apply to the children - say in somewhere like South Wales which, when I lived there, seemed to have more than its fair share of rain and of a variety which bounced higher than elsewhere!
Of course, to the children this was all a great adventure; something not unknown but sufficiently different from the rain of the past few days to add a degree of excitement into their routine. Despite their apparent disregard for the torrents which had been falling, they were glad it had stopped and secretly hoped the fog would clear by the next day because that was when the half-term holidays started and they were looking forward to being able to play outside again with their friends.
In fact, unbeknown to them, the sun had already begun weakly to break through on the hills high above the village and, looking down from there, the fog along the valley floor could be seen very slowly dissipating. Still, however, it obscured the view of the children as they congregated at the school that morning, it softened the noises emanating from the playground and it deadened the sound of the school bell, in immediate response to which the children stopped their play, lined up and filed into the school building.
Back then, the first task of the day was normally for the whole school to meet together in the hall for the daily assembly, which included prayers and hymn singing. On this occasion, though, because it was the last day before the half-term holidays, school assembly was rescheduled for the afternoon so the children could finish the day on a rousing note and be dismissed en masse. Accordingly, on this particular day, after hanging their coats on the little pegs in the corridors, the children headed straight for their appropriate classrooms for morning registration and the start of their lessons.
Within just five minutes, by 9.20am, the child-like qualities of Melvyn, Jeff, Philip and Gaynor had been swept away, swiftly and completely, for they had become victims of a tragic, terrifying and haunting disaster.
and a half thousand cubic feet of mining debris piled above the village,
saturated by the recent deluge and turned into liquefied slurry, started to
slide. Within five minutes it had engulfed the
© Richard Farquharson, Maulden, Bedfordshire October 2016 (on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster)