The other day my Miss Yin told me she felt ‘empty’. She was upset and worried, the day before the school year started, although she didn’t end up making it to that first day, things ending badly in tears and hysterics.
Oh God – I’ve felt empty before (too often, too much), but I can’t remember or even imagine what it is like to feel that way as a nine-year-old. When I’ve felt that way as an adult it’s been pretty bad. It was her choice of word when I tried to get to the bottom of why she was withdrawn and teary. Empty – what a hollow feeling for her to have to feel. And I felt, well, empty. Void, worthless.
Of course I realised that it was natural for a sensitive Year 4 girl to be worried about going back to school – the different kids in her class, a new teacher, schoolwork she might find challenging and the general dynamics and dramas of girl friendships and alliances.
Was there more to it – concerns about being different – Chinese and adopted? A fear of failure that I’d played a part in instilling, when I should have been nurturing confidence? A sense of unworthiness that might have rubbed off from her mother? Was it my fault that she felt ‘empty’?
A big hug and some words that I managed to pull out of the void helped calm things down. A pep talk gave her back some confidence. That’s what she needed – a sense of calm and a feeling of confidence.
And I showed her the little meditation video I’d been working on – a rainbow meditation for kids. I’m no expert in meditation, but I get a lot out of the practice – I just need to be more disciplined with myself to make it a daily routine. And I’ve committed to doing more to explore meditation with the kids this year.
I’ve tried guiding Miss Yin through a brief meditation at times – like most kids she finds it hard to settle, even though I know kids are naturally closer to accessing a peaceful calm than us adults, with our over-active minds and egos and our harsh self-judgements. With our children so used to visual stimulation, I thought a brief calming video might help focus the attention.
So this is the result.
I got her to watch the video again, the next morning, when I was furious and she was fraught after Mr Yang was caught up at work on the first morning of school, leaving me stuck and home with the kids and without a car.
As I fumed about in this post, Mr Yang (the Fire fighter) stuffed up in not getting someone to come in a little early to relieve him from his overnight shift, just in case, and as fate would have it, he got first one, then another false alarm call, as his shift was due to finish. Initially he thought he’d just be a little late, but then he got later, and later, until it was too late for alternative arrangements to get to school. I’d called a cab, all while cursing Mr Yang ferociously, which didn’t help matters in the slightest. But Miss Yang just melted down, uncontrollable in her tears and angst. The meditation video helped, but not enough to calm the hysterics or to send her to school.
We nearly had a repeat of the melt-down the next day, when Miss Yin discovered swimming was on.
She was newly nervous about starting school on the second day, with everyone else settled in with their desks and books. The swimming threatened to tip her right off the deep end.
But we reassured her that it would be fine – that she was good at swimming, that she had gained so much confidence in the pool over summer (she is actually a really good little swimmer if she just believes in herself). I applied the tough love that is my specialty, insisting that she just had to go. Mr Yang didn’t weaken.
And so she went, and swam the fastest in her butterfly race. Her teacher was amazed at how well she swam. She felt confident. Awesome.
Then the next day we had the morning drama of Little Yang locking himself in Miss Yin’s room. She stuffed up with the key. Mr Yang had to take off the door jam to break in, all while Little Yang was saying ‘Mummy, I get out’ and I was trying to soothe him. Meanwhile he ate the rest of Miss Yin’s big candy cane, pumping him up with sugar for kindy, and did a nice sloppy poo in his undies. All before school and work! No time to watch the meditation video.
And then while I opted for peace and quiet after a long and stressful week at work and on the home front, Mr Yang took the kids to Miss Yin’s swimming club for the first meet of the year.
On the way he asked her whether she wanted to try diving off the blocks, but she told him she just wanted to dive off the side of the pool (diving having been another of her fears).
But then when she got to the pool she said to her father ‘Dad they’ve changed the blocks and they aren’t as high’.
He of course went along with this, and Miss Yin decided to dive off the blocks. Three PB’s and a first in her breast-stroke race and she was feeling AWESOME.
It’s amazing what a bit of calm and confidence can do.
Yin inner calm can drive away fear, Yang outer confidence can help you believe that the diving blocks are suddenly not as high as they were before, that you can swim really well. That you can get through life swimmingly, without letting fear sink you.
And then everything can feel AWESOME.