Not excellent

November 16, 2007

‘Not excellent’ is how daughter number three, who is ten, replies if you ask her how she is feeling and she is either unhappy or sick.

How are you feeling Emma?

Not excellent.

She says it with a glint of humour in her eyes but you can tell she is really suffering.

Emma has a social maturity that every one who spends time with us comments on. More than a maturity measured as a seriousness in attitude, her gift lies in an intuitive ability to guage social meaning and to add the most perfect comment or line that the situation calls for.

For example, when Micka was coming over for dinner one time last year I jokingly told him that we expected him make a special effort in his appearance. He replied that he would but that he expected a compliment upon arrival. I set Emma the task of inventing a compliment for him. At the time he had shaved his head for charity. Very little had grown back. He came to the front door looking not completely bald but very close. You could also tell that there was a patch where unfortunately little would grow back (a little balding on the crown, shall we say). Emma smiled at him, did a little hand gesture for emphasis and said,

Nice comb-over!

At our yacht club 50th anniversary over cup weekend we attended a black tie formal dinner up in the club rooms. The social committee put the children who were attending all on the same table (instead of seating families together as has usually been the case). I looked over at the children early in the night and they were all sitting there wondering what to do. None were talking. We shared a joke with the other parents who were on our table because ten kids all sitting on a round table trying not to make eye contact was quite a funny sight. We decided to let them go and see if things improved naturally. My girls did warm up as the evening wore on. After main course, I noticed a lot of laughter and a lot of talking coming from the kids’ table. I went over to investigate. They were playing a game where anyone on the table would shout out a random topic and Emma would talk on that topic non-stop for a minute. She had them in stitches. There was no topic that she had nothing to say on!

Last night Emma tried to make a mixed track from snippets of three songs from different CDs. She was hoping to burn a CD of her song mix to take to school the following day for a dance piece she and her friends developed in Physical Education. I told her she needed a special software package. Rosie said Garage Band would do, so I tried to download it but our version of Mac OS X is one earier than the one required. Without the correct software she went ahead. She reasoned that she could play the songs on her little portable CD player and record them through a mic onto the computer. After a few failed attempts she was obviously frustrated. I told her I knew how she felt.

Its ok mum. I know that if it doesn’t work I can try something else. Its ok to fail sometimes.

Her bigger sister Rosie spend the next hour or so helping her try another method, again with failure. At nine o’clock we made them pull the pin. Its too late, off to bed now. When I came in to Emma’s room to kiss her goodnight, she expressed her disappointment that she had not succeeded, but said,

I really appreciate Rosie’s help. She spent a lot of time with me and she was really patient.

After I closed her bedroom door, I reflected on the maturity she showed in the way she handled herself though frustration and failure. I was impressed because I know how frustrating it feels. Earlier that day (while they were at school fortunately) I did my nana when my scanner kept malfunctioning. How is it possible that a child can show greater maturity than most adults?

I started this post talking about being not excellent because I was feeling not excellent. I was feeling emotionally a bit fragile when I began writing this post, but stopped to attend my pump class.

At the class I loaded up the weights on the thigh track and got the heart rate right up there, and really strained on the shoulder track. I’m now at work feeling fantastic. Pump was just what I needed!

I also think I’m just about due, and that could explain this morning’s lack of excellence.



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