Today, it meant Brave Camp for Tiny.
But it does not mean the same thing to every kid in her selective mutism camp.
Tiny worked with her two private counselors Amy and Carolena today, and they said she was fantastic. But some kids are struggling to speak to adults. Some are struggling to speak to peers, some speak relatively well, except in certain circumstances. Some can respond, but have trouble reaching out. Most are a recipe of their own design - a little self-imposed rule here, a little anxiety there, and all of these parents desperately trying to figure out the rules, so they can teach their kid to play the game.
We take no credit for this whatsoever, but Tiny is pretty good at the camp game.
Tiny is excellent at the camp game.
The counselor say that Tiny is actually one of the best at the camp game.
Somebody actually removed us from their Facebook group presumably because Tiny wasn't "bad enough". I sort of thought that we were all in this together, but apparently not. Seems that there are "tiger parents" even when we're trying to help our kids through emotional and mental challenges. Whatevs. We're nothing if not resilient.
Oh, Tiny most certainly has selective mutism, but we've been working with her for years. So far what we are learning as parents here, is really just reaffirming that some the work we've been doing is on the right track. She's a kid who's actually jumping the track in camp, but the rest of the world doesn't follow the same rules as Brave camp, and she is soooooooooooo onto this - onto us - onto them.
There are all sorts of things we are supposed to say to her on a regular basis to encourage her to verbally respond. Things like: would you rather have a cookie or a doughnut? (Forced choice question); I see you've chosen a green marker (reflection); I like how you're drawing a rainbow (labeled praise); and disallowing non verbal communication (i.e., recognizing a nod, but requiring a "yes answer"); and near constant praise for everything she says (unless it's rude) - "ahhhh you've noticed the ear hair in the waiter's ear - thanks for telling me that."
Although I think this is probably very helpful info for families struggling with SM, much of this is stuff we do, just in our own way, so forcing it is not only not working, it's actually becoming hilarious. Tiny is hacking the game, and we don't even know where to go from this point.
So here we are, two days into camp, and I ask Tiny if she wants a napkin at dinner and she nods. So I ask, "You're nodding. Does that mean yes?"
"Puh-lease," she says, laughing "I'm not doing this. I want a napkin."
So we sit down to dinner, and she looks each of us dead in the eye, barely able to contain her laughter, and says, "Mom, I see your moving your lips when you eat."
"Kooka, I really like the way you picked up that cheese.
"Dad, I noticed you're using a spoon with your soup."
And then she busts out laughing. We all do, because talking like this feels ludicrous. And we know it's all our fault. We've talked to this kid like an adult since she the day she was born, and suddenly we're expected to become masters of celebrating the ultra-obvious like it's not freaking hilarious.
Thankfully, her counselors seem to have good senses of humor, and we're hoping it's all for the best. We're hoping that knowing how to play this game can translate for her into the greater world. You'll notice my fingers are crossed.
PS: Kooka was brave today by letting me put her in a stockade, swimming with barracudas and whatever else was out there, and Rico was brave by putting up with me when we were running late and I was out of my ever loving mind.