Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Emotional Coaching 101

Nothing wrong my child's or Hilary Clinton's Spidey Senses
Today’s drop off taught me two things;
I get a C minus in Emotional Coaching 101
 Pinkster has inherited my Spidey Senses without being bitten by a radioactive spider.

This morning I broke three of the five rules of emotional coaching. It just goes to show that when everyone’s a bit freaked out in a new situation, that’s really not the time to ignore gut reactions and turn to avoidance and/or slapping on Band-Aids.
It’s the big departure of Pinkster's first away camp this morning.  She says in the car “I’m scared mummy.”

At this point I’m pretty good - I don’t dismiss or avoid her fears, I sympathise and assure her it’s normal to feel nervous and scared doing something you’ve never done before.
We’ve had a few chats lately about pushing boundaries and busting out of comfort zones, leading up to this big step. I remind her of how she felt, first day of  day time holiday camp, the previous week, and how many new friends she made - how much fun she had.

Inside I’m quaking in my boots, thinking: Oh Em Gee - she’ll be in the mountains, only just recovered form a nasty virus, sleeping in a dorm, without either of her parents close by.

As we got closer tho the drop-off, I tell her about a lady who’s made millions of dollars writing a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I tell her of the millions of people that love that book because it got them doing and loving stuff they were scared to try before.
As we pull up, she notices one of her school friends, a particularly kind girl with a bunch of other nice girls from school.  So I’m heartened. 

Then we meet the slightly ‘creepy child’.  
A kind of nice looking little boy, baseball cap turned backwards, makes a b-line for Pinkster who doesn’t react well at all. This, being so out of character for Pinkster, should have rung alarm bells right there.

He follows her closely and Pinkster responds by constantly moving away – trying to create space - stepping over bags and through people continually moving with the little boy in her wake.
She approaches  her friends, doesn’t really engage with them and drifts away again; an opportunity immediately seized upon by this other child.

So instead of my following the emotional coaching rules of:

·         Paying close attention to her emotions and taking them seriously,

·         Not judging, criticizing, avoiding or worse, dismissing them,

·         Respecting her feelings by actually listening -  carefully,

·         Showing Pinkster I understand what she’s feeling.

Nope, I don’t do any of that – I tell her the little boy is probably scared and nervous too and maybe she can help him settle in by being a bit friendlier.
She insists “Its freaking me out, I can’t, “ and Pinkster starts to cry.

Meanwhile, Pinkster’s dad is trying to be inclusive and engaging the other child in conversation, during which we discover ‘he’s’ actually a girl, called Emma*.
It’s when I move closer, join in speaking with Emma, I immediately feel it too.  As she tells us what to expect at camp, I am irked by something more than the officious, authoritarian tone and the jabbing fingers pointed in my still cringing girl’s direction.  Something about his child’s energy is all messed up.

Pinkster felt it and reacted; now I’m experiencing  the same internal cringe and shrink back.
Something about Emma is NQR (Not Quite right) and her borderline aggressive play for Pinkster feels 'off'.

Emma says: “ya get put in dorm rooms and you have to sleep  and eat with the same kids for FOUR WHOLE DAYS  and THREE NIGHTS,” finger with black chipped nail polish, is again, stabbing towards Pinkster’s chest; “whether ya like it or not!’  She/ he (I'm still confused so I focus on the chipped nail varnish for confirmation) then goes on to Lucie how little sleep she'll get in a dorm and other unhelpful unappealing tit-bits of camp-life.
I feeling now, this kid’s like a sinister version of Punky Brewster – she could be cute, and plucky, but something’s NQR.  Punky Bruiser?

Pinkster’s dad asks Emma to give her some space, but undeterred, she hovers like Donald Trump behind Hilary Clinton during the second presidential debate. 
Back then, Hilary said Trump’s behaviour made her skin crawl and this kid was starting to make mine crawl too.

So leaving Pinkster with Daddy as a blocker, I go talk to her school gal-pals. I call out to the taller and most popular girl. I know she's a fan of Pinkster's from when she helped her mum and I worked a ticket booth at the school fair.  I explain that Pinkster’s very uncomfortable about camp and ask if they can keep her under their wing. This they do in spectacular fashion and tell her  one of the other school pals is a camp newbie too.

So our mini stalker slinks away, as Pink is absorbed into the larger group of smiling chattering girls, and I have to leave for work, praying they’re in different dorm rooms.
*Emma isn't, of course, slightly creepy child's real name.
And in fairness, she's probably a perfectly nice girl. Just your everyday androgynous child with an awkward disposition who needs to work on reading social cues. And probably brush up on her conversation skills.  
I'd recommend watching all 8 series of Charlie and Lola  - lots there about friendships, boundaries and polite behaviour.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Big Squeeze

Today I am summoned to the bathroom where my little princess is on the throne, face alight and legs swinging enthusiastically.

“Mummy, you’ll never guess what?!”
“What?” I gasp imitating her intensity.
“I squeezed my first PIMPLE!!!”
“Nooo!” I whisper, “The one on your knee? Let me see!”

It was very exciting. My girl has the lowest pain threshold, rivaled only by her father.  This was the second pimple/boil thingy she’d had on her knee and generally I’m not allowed near enough to look at it let alone gently dab on some antibacterial cream.
The first one, after much negotiation, I’d pricked with a needle and she’d responded as if I’d gone at her leg with a pruning saw.

Child Abuser, Me? 


She recently relayed this trauma to a doctor who was trying to get her to take a tiny needle in her arm. Her version began with “I’m scared of needles after when mummy hurt me with a big pin…”

The doctor responded seriously and soberly, asking her to tell the story slowly, her tone giving me no doubt she was mentally preparing a child-abuse report. But the truth will out and the doctor, with obvious relief in her tone, told my little drama queen that it was important to poke boils with a needle then put disinfectant on them. ‘Mummy was quite right to do that,' she said.

So here was my little soldier, proudly announcing her first pimple squeezing event and showing off the tiny dried spot to prove it.

She looked up at me hopefully; “Do I get pocket money for squeezing my pimple?”
Is it just me? Or is this the most random and bizarre conclusion for her to have drawn?

A Pimple Popping Payoff


She plied me with logic and big Bambi eyes, and when she was off the loo, pants pulled up, we went down stairs and I gave her a diamond.

Not a real one – what do you think I am?  We have a rewards system at home, whereby random acts of goodness, helpfulness, homework done unasked, are rewarded with little acrylic craft diamonds.  Several different sizes have different values starting at 50c up to $1.50.

The diamonds she earns are put into a pretty crystal bowl and when it’s full we tally up the value and I transfer the pocket money into her bank account. It never adds up to a huge sum, at the end of a month it's perhaps around $20-$30 at the most. But she loves to see the diamonds pile up knowing that as it grows so does her bank balance.

She quite the negotiator my little girl, she can put the squeeze on without you feeling it, but I have to admit her logic was sound.
Taking it upon herself to do something necessary and difficult without being asked was worth the reward of a 50c diamond.

And so enthusiastic about her earning potential, she also washed up after dinner - for another little diamond of course!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Not desperate - definitely dateless

*I don't actually shave my legs-I use an Emjoi (not so) Gently

I don't think it's a normal reaction to a cancelled Saturday night date, to think to oneself: YAY.

Yay, I have the entire evening spread ahead of me where I can catch up on work!

I'm thinking YAY no makeup, no leg shaving* no locating of best silky hipster undies - you know just in case..
My dog wont get lonely...

I don't see a downside at all  and I'm sure that's not normal for a single mum in her prime.
The desperate and dateless single mummy - who's struggling to muster up a teeny bit of desperate.

My X-PNS (Potential New Something) just texted after backing off AGAIN!!
I feel a yawn coming on.
Honestly I'm not fussed either way.

Every time we look like getting close - he does this cancellation thing followed by a period of radio silence.

First time I noticed.  That time I did care - it had been a hot and heady thing and he'd charged into it like a bull at a gate, swept me up in it then slammed it into reverse gear. I was very upset for almost a  week and that's when he was downgraded from PNS to XPNS.

The second time  -  I didn't notice at all: busy with work and child a week flew by, then I get this text; 'You probably noticed I've been quiet ..', um no, sorry, not really.

This one happened some six months after his downgrade, when a chance meeting triggered something, but this time slower more reasonable.  But the moment we began to get close...

Well this third time I noticed, only to be relieved of the cancelled date equating this epilation and other feminine preparation reprieve.

As my mother would say: "he SEEMS nice..."

Forget gluten - I'm pretty certain I have become romantically-intolerant.
Or maybe I"m just having a massive attack of ambiguity? I cant decide.

But one thing is for sure, whenever I've felt cosy with him and started to think a reboot might be a good idea, there's been a bit of alcohol involved.  

Surely if one needs to be half cut for a thing to seem like a good idea, then maybe it's not? 

Maybe I'm just not that into him? 

Image credit

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Afterlife: No Mans Land

A friend sent me a blog link and I’m not sure why. 

The pitch was something along the lines of ‘fabulous and inspiring…’

Seriously, after 300 words my first thought was this; what is so inspiring about a smug, self-congratulatory blog written by a woman with not only has a husband but local family to share the wear?  
In her happy little child rearing community she’s able to pump out offspring with more efficiency than a production line in a Taiwanese toy factory.

And her perfect husband helps sufficiently with their brood and housework, not to mention their renovations, that she has ample time to sew clothes for her litter, quilt and blog and restore antique furniture, while whipping up culinary triumphs in her Thermomix. 

Bet she’s never been late on the school run in her whole perfect life.

Excuse me if I don’t feel inspired to do anything more than run gagging to the bathroom.

In all of her pomposity she has no idea what it means to have one child, one dog, one cat, six snails and a no-longer-husband. And there are plenty of single mums and dads out there doing it tougher than I am.

Actually I don't consider that I'm doing it tough at all, even though my kitchen is too small to accommodate a Thermomix.  (I have seen caravans with bigger kitchens than mine). 

What I have found tough, is diving back into the shallows of the dating pool; talk about your mid-life crisis.

It was something like fifteen years ago, my last first date.    

I honestly don’t know if I can cope with the untidy selection of discarded outfits all over my bedroom when my eight year old daughter is already on that chuck-stuff-everywhere theme with the living room, and well, every other room in the house. 

I’m just too old for this shit.
No really.

I try for 'understated sexy', without dressing like an invitation - lest I have to resort to combat training to get home unmolested.

And as much as I would greatly benefit from a stiff drink to relax my nerves, I can't drink much because, when your offspring bounces on your bed daily at 6am, you soon realise that hang-overs and young children do not mix.

This leap back in time to my single twenties and thirties just doesn't seem as much fun as it was back then.  I'm more self-conscious now and for many different and uncomfortable reasons.

To shave my legs or not to shave my legs? - that is the question. On one hand it is just asking for trouble; there's that expectation that he'll know either way. But if I don't, what if things are going so well he is in a position to discover that my legs are knitted from mohair? 

Not conducive to getting a second date.

If I wanted one.

And even before leaving the house, I’m already thinking; Not.
I'm just not sure dating is worth the trouble. 

I suppose it's validation - it has the potential to show me I'm still a desirable woman. That I'm something other than than a cook, cleaner, handyman, playmate, homework supervisor, dog walker and dishwasher.

But getting ready for a date knowing I'm paying someone, by the hour for the privilege, even if it turns out to be awful, is a bit of a downer.

Maybe I should just stay home, reorganize the kitchen and put that babysitter's money towards a Thermomix? 

Or maybe I just don't date at all. I mean I've had enough dates to last a lifetime and I'm not a huge fan of sitting awkwardly in restaurants with virtual strangers anyway...

I guess my ideal would be a special friend with a nice kid of their own where we could just hang at each others place, and or go to movies, when we're both on childless weekends -  and have play-dates when we're not.

No marriage, no cohabitation, just hanging out: Friends With Benefits.  

I guess that makes me the perfect woman in many male circles. But where to meet a potential special friend?

Well lightening may strike.