I was remembering how angry M used to be after school and I made a discovery recently which I think could have been a contributing factor…
We were at an HE group and all the children were gathered around to listen to one of the mums talk about an activity they were about to do. I thought it was explained very simply and clearly but after she had finished talking, M came up to me and I could hear the rising panic in her voice as she told me she didn’t understand a word of what the lady said. So I explained each point to her again until she was happy and understood what she was being asked to do.
M not understanding what’s going on is quite a common occurrence. Not that she is dim-witted, far from it, but it’s like her brain has to process one thought at a time before it can take in the next one. The other part that is difficult for M to handle is the ‘not-knowing’ which can drive her crackers. Recently I realised that this is probably a trait that I have handed down to her, for example: I can’t answer any of the questions on University Challenge and I can’t watch it because my ignorance (and to be fair, the contestants’ smugness) makes me so angry!
If I try to explain something new to M, more often than not it will end in M having a strop because she doesn’t understand what I’m saying. A few days after the HE group I asked her what she did at school if she didn’t understand what her teacher was saying and she replied that she would just copy what everyone else was doing.
If she panicked while trying to listen to a mum gently explaining something, imagine how stressed she must have been doing new activities day after day at school, where she obviously didn’t feel comfortable enough to admit she didn’t understand. Poor girl.
So all this came to mind today because M picked a wonderful cookery book for children from the library. We were having a look at the list of ingredients for caramel icecream (!) and she asked me to explain ‘ml’ to her. No sooner had I begun when she shouted ‘I DON’T UNDERSTAND A WORD OF WHAT YOU JUST SAID TO ME!’. I got angry and told her not to be so rude, after all she had just asked me to explain it! I had to try hard not to start slamming crockery as I dried the dishes and tried to maintain a dignified silence. M was silent too so after a while I took a deep breath and suggested she think of a more polite way of telling me she doesn’t understand and I will try to explain it a different way.
I got a thunderous look in response.
It obviously goes deep as she sat in silence for the next half an hour: no crying, no huffing, just silence. Maybe I will broach the subject again in a few days…