Thursday, February 16, 2006

Practising Perspective

... in all areas of life, not just Emily's sketching! Have been doing some soul searching about Emily's fragile confidence levels. This next bit will probably be long and winding, so feel free to skip to the photos and bright/breezy "We've done this, this and this" bit ;-)

Emily went along to Romy's taekwondo class last night. Unfortunately, it absolutely wasn't her kind of atmosphere or indeed her kind of "thing", as demonstrated by the tears after ten minutes of the class. Just didn't fit with her personality. Although Emily's slowly getting better at "doing" large groups of strangers, it was the large group of people coupled with the noise and having no clue what she was supposed to be doing, all at once, that overwhelmed and intimidated her. It was nice to be invited, though, and for her to see for herself whether it was something she would enjoy or not. The teacher seemed very nice, and took Emily and Romy off to the side to demonstrate some self-defence moves just with the two of them, which calmed Emily down, somewhat. Thank you to Romy for not minding missing the rest of her "proper" lesson to keep Emily company doing that instead!

Must admit, though, to having had a crisis of confidence last night, thinking about what happened. Thing is, I know full well that if Emily were at school, she would have coped better with the lesson, would have been able to deal with it without tears at least - because she would have been forced, day in day out, to tolerate other uncomfortable environemnts, and no doubt would have been pretty practised in it by now. That then seemed to be a plus point for school. Rather alarming.

Fortunately, today we've got things into better perspective by realising that it really doesn't matter. Having a child who can control her emotions appropriately when required to for reasons of tact (! Sorry Romy!) is a good thing, and a necessary thing, and will come in time as she matures - but having a child who puts up with everything and is afraid to show her emotions, by virtue of having been browbeaten into submission day after day; now that's *not* a good thing, and not something we need to aspire to. Obviously, I'm just using yesterday's TKD class as an example of a situation Emily was uncomfortable in; this isn't about taekwondo as a hobby, it's about coping with unfamiliar, daunting, perhaps slightly intimidating situations in general. And I'm just thinking aloud, as it were; I'd like to look back on this later in the year and see where we are, so excuse my ramblings.

Yeah, some people will say "But she has to learn how to cope with situations she's not happy in." Yes, as an adult there are bound to be times when Emily's uncomfortable in a situation. Just as we all are. But as adults, we have a whole different set of tools to draw on than a young child has. You don't (often!) find adults running in tears from a social situation they don't like. No, not even me. As an adult, you can tough it out when you have to - but that's not something that school magically teaches you, that's something that comes with maturity.

Some personalities just don't "do" boisterous situations. I should know, I'm one of them. I was forced through all that at school, and it didn't make me enjoy things, or be any better at handling them. Probably the opposite - it made me avoid certain situations more than I otherwise would, and increased my anxiety levels on the rare occasions when I do have to "do" the kind of social stuff that's alien to my nature. But that's partly the point - as an adult, I don't have to do what I don't want to do (within reason!). To a very large extent, I can pick and choose the situations I find myself in, and I can do something about it if I don't like where I am. And I'm very happy with that - contrary to popular belief, introverts don't actually secretly wish they were extroverts, lol. So learning to put up with things at school serves a purpose..... only if you have to put up with things at school. Circular argument. Having ascertained that school didn't work for me, confidence-wise, I can feel better about saying that trying a different approach with Emily can only be a more positive thing. Says she, "confidently".

Anyway; Today, Emily and Jon went off to their tai chi class. As well as learning more of the form, they also worked on accupressure points today, which should prove interesting in weeks to come, as that will come up in yoga too, apparently.

This afternoon, Emily's been practising yoga, and working on doing headstands against the wall. She and I also had a go at drawing a cityscape using two point perspective. Boy, it's harder than it looks! Here's Emily's very creditable attempt:

It was much easier to follow the logic behind it all with the buildings labelled A, B, C and so on, so that's what we did.

Meanwhile, we've just found Merlin and Juliet having a good old snuggle:

Exceedingly cute, especially considering how long it took before Merlin would even stay in the same room as the kittens!

In other news, the pain in my right ear is now dire, making me feel alternately violently sick or exceedingly faint. There was no infection when I went to the doctor's a week ago today, but the ear syringing didn't really help my hearing all that much either. For a couple of days afterwards, I had ringing in that ear, which I'm prepared to accept could be a normal reaction - although I've had my ears syringed lots of times, and that's never happened before. Then that stopped, and gradually my hearing in that ear came back to practically normal - but the last two days the pain has increased tenfold, and it now hurts to speak, eat or move my head. I've avoided painkillers until just now - will see if the ones I've just taken help. I'm loathe to return to the doctors at the moment, but caught in that catch 22; if it's still bad tomorrow and I don't go then, I'm stuck until Monday, and I've got a hell of a lot of work to do over the weekend. Sigh. Why doesn't anyone in this family ever get ill at the beginning of the week??


a said...

(Ali from Where the days go, 2 doors up!)
F is 4 and I go through this same reasoning too. She doesn't like big noisy groups where it's difficult to understand what is going on, so I have been through this same argument with myself a few times already, when really the answer is 'Why should she?'. I don't like that kind of thing either, and I completely agree with everything you have said here, in fact it was great to read through the same reasoning I have been through, put so articulately into text! I know this will come up for us again and again but I do believe your conclusions are spot on and right for Emily. At some point there may be an activity that our girls want to do that makes them want to persevere through chaotic/noisy/big group environments, and if so, they'll do it then, with the internal resources they have at that point.
All the best

Nikki said...

Hello Ali,
Thanks for your comment; it's good to know I'm not totally alone in my reasoning - I often feel like I am, since "society" says that there's something wrong with a child who doesn't like noise, chaos and loads of people. After all, all we adults do....yeah, right.
You're absolutely right that the children will cope with that kind of situation *when they're sufficiently keen on the activity to make it worth their while sticking it out*. Emily has no problems with her ballet class (also very big, chaotic and noisy) nor with the other activities she's *chosen* to do....I just need to be more confident in respecting and understanding that she really does know what she's doing and isn't missing out on being "socially conditioned"! Best wishes, Nikki