With our crowdfunder campaign in full swing http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/george-the-almost-fearless-mouse, I have used the above photograph as a key component of the crowdfunding video. Indeed, I’ve also been using it on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve just had a message from someone who said they thought it was a little mean of me and that they’re sure my daughter wouldn’t like the world seeing her like this; and I can completely understand where they’re coming from. As someone who hates having his photo taken at the best of times, I can see how it might look. But, it also raises an important point about Highly Sensitive Children.
Firstly, I can state with complete honesty that I asked Seraphina if I could use the photograph. She didn’t hesitate. While it might seem like she is the subject of much of the work on George, she’s very much my partner in crime. She has always been extremely involved (right down to the images and wording of the book) and for anyone who has seen the video and wondered at her professionalism, what they don’t see is the impact of high sensitivity behind the scenes. Because most of those shots were taken numerous times, invariably with Seraphina’s self critical nature (typical of a HSC) kicking in, leaving Seraphina in a pool of tears. Despite me regularly telling her that she didn’t have to do it and that I could be her stand in, she would insist, determined to get it right. She probably also realised that she’s much better at it than I am!
However, key to this is that high sensitivity isn’t something you should hide from a child. Ever since we learned the term HSC we’ve been open and honest with Seraphina, explaining to her what high sensitivity is, how it affects her, both the positives and the negatives. All those times she broke down in tears during the video-making I explained that perfectionism is a typical HSC attribute. It might not have stopped the tears, but it reduced the sense of confusion. “I know why I’m crying,” she’d say, “but I just can’t stop it.” What this means is that whereas before she would often find herself angry and upset and consequently confused (by what was causing these emotions) she has now reached a place where often she will just casually shrug her shoulders and say “it’s because I’m highly sensitive.” Which can only be a good thing.
Of course, I dread the day when she realises that this is quite a useful get out clause. “Sorry I broke your favourite mug, daddy, but I’m a highly sensitive child.” Or “Sorry I’m divorcing you, Nigel, it’s because I’m highly sensitive.” All with that same casual shrug of the shoulders