Sunday 16 February 2014

The Revealing Pizza Incident

Without doubt pizza is the food of choice in Coates Towers. All, bar Mrs C, consider it to be the pinnacle of culinary evolution and without fail the suggestion of pizza for tea will raise a collective cheer and on occasions has diverted emotional catastrophes.

So it is no surprise this week when Mrs C and I had a simultaneous revelation about the workings of Flossy's mind all brought through the wonder of pizza.

Now, we consider 'ordered in' pizza to be the height of sophistication and bourgeois decadence. The significant financial outlay required to feed the Coates Massive can only be justified in exceptional circumstances.

To date has only occurred three times in the 8 years since Flossy arrived. Consequently, we buy pizza from the supermarket, fear not though, our hearts beat with no less love for pizza.

On the first occasion we 'ordered in' emotional breakdowns were the order of the day. Flossy was adamant, to the point of screaming,  that she MUST have a stuffed crust. After the intense computations, trying to consider the best combination of deals and offers, she got her wish. However, she ate the pizza and left the stuffing of said stuffed crust and declared it the greatest culinary wonder in all of God's creation, the pinnacle of her young life.

After this the second occasion was a little smoother and I took control and choice from little minds and hearts, consequently all was well.

The third occasion was this weekend.  Mrs C and I were off for a much deserved, so we think, weekend away and Grandma and Ginger have been left to manage the rabble. As a treat an 'ordered in' pizza was sanctioned.

With 48 hours to go Flossy asked the question "what pizza am I going to get?", then she started to unravel before our eyes.

Unusually, both Mrs C, Ginger and I saw the transformation simultaneously; realised what was happening and responded rather than reacted to the situation.

The leaflet from the pizza company was like shot of adrenalin to her eyeballs. Choices, choices, side dishes, different sizes, stuffed crust, deep pan, toppings, extra topping. Overwhelmed by choice.

But for Flossy this was not about choice but an opportunity to get the wrong pizza, a pizza that she  she didn't like or want. While everyone else got the pizza they wanted

The stress of choosing the wrong pizza was overwhelming and the thought of having the wrong pizza delivered was unbearable.

So, she was trying to take control to manage a situation that she could not manage.

"I'll order it, I'll pay for it when he comes to the door"

We carefully explained why that would be too hard for her.

We gently asked her which one she'd like, too hard. "I might like them all"

We narrowed it down specifying exactly what she didn't like.

"Pineapple?", "no".

"Mushrooms?", "no".

All the time Flossy's tension was dancing around the tipping point. But we're all calm and we could see that the issue is not the issue. Flossy was worried, but right then, with Ginger, Mrs C and I listening she felt safe.

A thousand times before we have missed, mistimed or ignored the signals and been led into conflict. But not tonight.
We listened hard and made sure we were seen to listen.

We got down to her choice of cheese, tomato and chicken.Unconventional, but approved. I took control of the choice of size (she'd choose XXL large) and crust and we had a resolution.

To ensure that all doubt is removed we asked her to write her choice down. She had an idea and decided to write all the things that she doesn't want on her pizza as well.

Ginger, a logical fellow, suggested that this may take some time and tried to discourage her.
However, I impishly shush him and declared it an excellent proposal. Thinking that this could make for an easy evening I encouraged her to write all the toppings that she definitely wouldn't like on the list. She smelled a rat when I get over helpful after a few minutes and suggested that a car, a boat and then a hen would definitely ruin the pizza. However, her tension and anxiety have gone and she knows that we all understand what she wants and more to the point what she doesn't want.

We heard her and she knew we did.

We frequently reflect on freak outs and crap moments and see the underlying issues and how our responses have often exacerbated tensions and been catalysts to calm or chaos.
Though I am often book clever and training wise my understanding of our children continues to develop.
Sometimes things happen that reveal their inside world, their fears and thoughts. Tonight I feel like I have seen a little deeper.


At breakfast the following morning Flossy declared "Queenie, thinks I'd like a Meat Feast pizza!"

Queenie has been killed.