Tomato, Tomato, Ketchup!

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A post from last week, but It’s been too chaotic to update.  So here goes, better late than never!

I talked about the difficulty faced when travelling with my PDA’er (see here) from my latest blogpost.  We certainly will need to find extra assistance to accommodate her needs in the future, particularly if we choose to fly again. 

The first five days of the holidays were the most challenging and the remaining days did finally improve, albeit just slightly. 

There were so many long days of meltdowns, that spiralled from one to another, and so many tears were shed that I contemplated getting us all on a flight home.  It is heartbreaking seeing her in so much distress and certainly very difficult to get through as a family.

By going on holiday it meant that everything seemed out of my daughter’s control and there was no way of rationalising her anxiety and fears.

One of the hardest things I find to manage is her desperate need to be around people yet her inability to manage those relationships when she is unable to cope.

It is one of the hardest juxtapositions to put into words – for although she is obsessively drawn to people, she is also phobic of them too.

This inadvertently leads to violent reactions (otherwise known as panic attacks) and it is very difficult to distract her from them.

To fulfil this need to be around other children, I took her to a children’s club on the holiday site.  Only, unlike other parents who escape the noise for some me time, I volunteer to stay in the hullabaloo.

To an observer I probably appear to be a very over-controlling parent.

But to anyone looking closer they will see that I am her security blanket.

I hold her hand when she needs it.

I explain what all of the people are saying.

More importantly, I am there to keep both her and the other children safe.

One of the benefits of supporting in a group is that you get to study how children interact and it really is enlightening.

I saw something today and wanted to share my musings.

So there were about fifteen children and it was a multi-national club, broken into already pre-established friendship groups. 

All the kids were looking bewildered as the reps translated in various broken languages.    

I stepped in to help explain the rules – I’m a mummy I couldn’t help but interfere.

The game (said in the best french accent) was Tomato, Tomato…Ketchup!

The children must sit in a circle and one person has to be the ‘hitter’ as they tap each head … tomato, tomato, tomato, tomato…KETCHUP!  The person splattered has to run around the circle and get back to their space before the chaser catches them.

The person who loses the race continues as the next hitter and the winner takes the seat of the person known as ketchup.

Well, this particularly game was looking like the Eurovision song contest, I can hear a Terry Wogan-style satirical voice-over in my head as each child that got up would only hit one of their friends heads, staying side-by-side as neighbours. 

Then, out of nowhere, one of the children broke the pattern.

It was a bold choice – it meant they couldn’t sit back with the safety of their friends.  But it was an important move and vital to the game.

Once this brave child had broken the mould, the others followed suit and the group began to integrate.

It got me wondering about how we can encourage our children to make forthright decisions.

After all they are uniformed and built to stay as part of the pack. 

Mirroring allows for children to perceive the ‘sameness’ in one another as a way of establishing their relationships.  

But we also do need those individuals in our society who take those risks – the curious learners who can make those great decisions.  The leaps of faith which takes them away from their packs and move their groups forward.

It reminded me of this Mark Twain quote I read recently:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

I’d like my children to be encouraged and inspired by other children who dare to be different.

I want them to be geat.

When I find a chance I shall make an observation, to my daughter, about how brave that child was for thinking outside of the box.

I like to to think that I can help to maximise the opportunities she has to learn socially from her peers – hopefully soon she may feel less anxious to be able to do that independently.

Playing is definitely where children learn the most.

My PDA’er may think that I’m barmy when I tell her that if we just stay as tomatoes then how could we possibly have invented ketchup?

She’s a smart little tomato, I know she’ll get it.

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