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.


  1. GAH! Camp is a nerve wracking experience for sure. But it builds resilience (apparently)

    1. Hey there Em, so nice to hear from you! It is nerve wracking huh?, last night was bad. then finally they posted some picks that didn't look like a line of convicts going to prison. I didn't get much sleep last night.
      By the way - I've edited this a bit - what does Hemingway say: the first draft of anything is shit!
      thanks for checking in :0)

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