The little girl who wouldn’t speak.

I love going to writers festivals and doing school visits. I get to meet so many amazing people and there are always moments that rest gently in my heart, reminding me why I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing.

Last weekend was no exception. I was doing a Magnificent Mistakes workshop for primary school aged kids as part of Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival in Geraldton and I had encouraged parents to stay and join in.

A dad had brought along his young daughter and I noticed she didn’t answer any questions or talk whatsoever. Whenever I looked in her direction, she looked shyly downwards and brought her hands into her chest. It was like she was retreating into herself, shy and scared of the world. I then tried to strike a balance between not making her feel uncomfortable, but still making her feel included.

I’d passed around copies of my kids books so the kids and parents could flick through as we went along and when the young girl stumbled upon the ‘even cool kids have to poo’ page in Being You is Enough, I saw her grin widely and eagerly point to the picture of the kid on the toilet. She became animated, but still didn’t talk.

At the end of the workshop her dad (almost as shy as his daughter) asked me to sign a copy of Being You is Enough and when I asked the young girl’s name, she still didn’t speak. Her dad, gentle and patient didn’t push her, just offered a few encouraging words. She continued to look downwards and retreat into herself. He then told me her name.

I signed her copy of Being You is Enough, with ‘You are wonderful just the way you are” and handed it to her. She clutched it to her chest and smiled while still looking down. Her dad put his arm around her and gently asked if she wanted to say anything.

She whispered ‘Thank you’.

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