Sunday, June 2, 2013

Elsie's Scale of Terribleness: defusing a happy child's grief and despair

I thought I'd share with you Elsie's Scale of Terribleness.

You know how kids come home from school and say, "Today was the worst day in my entire life!" And they think life could hold nothing worse, because, thank heavens, nothing worse has happened to them so far.

But if they are inclined to dramatise and sob and collapse at the general Terribleness of Their Day, you might try using Elsie's Scale of Terribleness. That might bring a sense of proportion. Or not.

Here is the code to the glorious chart above.

Left Axis: the Scale of Terribleness, where 1 is only slightly terrible, and 10 is as terrible as it gets.
Bottom Axis: Terrible Events, as placed by Elsie, aged almost 10.

A = 1 (on the scale of terribleness)
I made a mistake at netball but it didn't change the score. (No harm done.)

B = 2  Someone was mean to me at school. (I suffered, I need sympathy. Moving on.)

C = 3 All day people kept putting the wrong size marble in our marble run, so one part kept breaking and I had to keep fixing it and the sellotape didn't stick properly and they didn't even say they were sorry. (Just let me vent, OK?)

D, E, F: no scenario for these so far. Any suggestions?

G = 7 When my Granny dies. (I can see this can't be fixed but only one person dies and it is inevitable.)

H = 8 When my dog Ivy had to be put down. (That really was terrible and it still makes me cry.)

I = 9 I might do an experiment that results in everybody getting frozen. I know how to undo the damage, but it would cause something worse to happen. (Purely hypothetical. I admit I have never had a 9 experience.)

J = 10 (I contributed this scenario.) War in Wellington. All the houses are burned to the ground and everybody in Wellington dies. (Affects many people, changes my life, and it can't be fixed.)

How to use Elsie's Scale of Terribleness
Your child or grandchild: "Today was the worst day in my entire life." Sigh, sob.
You (after hugging): "So how was it on the Scale of Terribleness?"
Your child, thoughtfully: "About a 2 or a 3."

No comments:

Post a Comment