Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who Moved My Cheese?

Last Saturday, we drove our periodic, 2.5-hour round-trip pilgrimage to Earth Fare for Pamela's specialty gluten-free, casein-free foods. We breezed through the produce and wine section, hitting the gf/cf soy and rice cheese. Disaster happened--somebody moved her cheese, but Pamela did not panic. Since I happened to have my camera (what I really need is a headcam or TIVO in my eyeballs), I filmed how we both handled anxiety. You see, in public settings, I often experience anxiety trying to scaffold Pamela enough to prevent her from melting down. I end up overcompensating by doing a tad too much thinking for her in fear of inadvertently pushing her over her frustration threshold. On top of that, I was manning the camera, trying to focus it on Pamela, while guiding her and hopefully avoiding bumping into a stranger.

Pamela felt worried about the cheese but managed to stay calm and neutral while she picked out soy yogurt and pudding. I asked Pamela if she wanted to try the coconut yogurt (a new product) but she dismissed it for being different. I picked up two for Steve and I (vanilla and mango)--WOW, they tasted fabulously awesome! Pamela grabbed a can of whipped soy cream before looking on the other side of the cheese section. I knew she was starting to fluster mildly because she had difficulty spotting the buttery sticks and said, "I'm a detective!" I suggested she could keep looking or ask for help. She chose the former, and we breezed our way through the meat and refrigerated stuff. Pamela exclaimed loudly, "Looked everywhere." That is when I suggested we ask a storeworker, and, having exhausted all other options, she agreed.

Because Pamela stayed cool under pressure, I thought this moment perfect to spotlight for our work on connecting feelings and meaning to episodic memory. While Pamela had no problems with figuring out feelings, she needed major guiding to derive meaning. When asked for meaning, she talks about emotions. She did think of "searching everywhere" as one strategy when you cannot find something but had a hard time thinking of borrowing the perspective of a person she does not know. Even though she remembered the storeworker when she retold the story, Pamela could not remember the woman's role when thinking about meaning. My strategies were:
  • Give an example of learning from a situation (touching a hot stove).
  • Bring to mind people in the story, so she might learn to think about referencing workers at a store.
  • Focused on what people knew when Pamela suggested anyone other than the storeworker: I did not know where the cheese was. David did not know. Grandpa did not know.
  • Help her think of the situation as a story with main characters who all had roles.
  • Stop the action when she was feeling overwhelmed.
  • Generalize from the woman to a storeworker.

I remembered a book Steve bought called Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson and read it for a lark. The story includes two simplistic mice and two complex little people in a maze who face unexpected change when their cheese disappears. This very short allegory reveals how to handle change successfully. After I finished reading it in about an hour, I thought, "Where's the beef?" While I will jot down all of the insights on handling change before I post it at Paperbackswap, I had deeper questions like "Who is the cheesemaker?" "Did the cheesemaker post wall notes on finding cheese that never runs out?" "Is there more to life than cheese?" "Is there a true cheese that will provide joy in even cheeseless circumstances?" "Can the cheesemaker guide them to the true cheese?" "Is there life after the maze?"

Maybe the Chesterton book is working overtime in my brain!


MasterpieceMom said...

I only had time to watch the first video this morning, but she did great! I get seriously irritated when they move stuff around at stores! LOL

I've bought that coconut yogurt before and it is divine! Which soy cheese is her favorite?

walking said...

Pamela ends up picking the soy mozzarella and the rice cheddar.