Written by GWEN
Izzy interacting nicely with some new friends. So proud!
So, have I told you about Miss Whiteside? She’s Izzy’s Head Mistress and she is a genius. The children love her. And they fear her. A very difficult feat, which results in the children listening to her…and me wanting to BE her. Not only does she somehow seamlessly achieve this perfect balance, but she’s also a bit of an expert on parenting, kids, education, discipline, creativity and just loving childhood. Did I mention she nannied for British royalty?
The other parents from Izzy’s nursery and I have decided we need to tap into this knowledge while we can! And Miss Whiteside has decided to tap into our desperation for her advice and approval. Monetarily that is. We do this in the form of dinner parties at one of our houses, where Miss Whiteside chooses a topic of discussion, she prepares reading material for us, we learn a lot and then we eat. And drink. And pay her. The dinners are fun, educational and often a bit of a therapy session where we unload our deepest darkest secrets and fears from our own childhoods. Last time, after a few glasses of wine, I announced that my parents never told me they loved me when I was kid, and while I knew they did, I still have made a point of telling Izzy and Otis how much I love them about every 12 minutes. Another mom admitted the only time her mother told her she was beautiful, was on her wedding day. I mean…tears welled. (Mine, that is.)
The information and lessons I gather at these dinners are with me all the time. For instance, BE CONSISTENT. If I say to Izzy "Do that one more time, and there are no stories tonight" then I have to follow through. No more, this is your last chance. No more, threats for next time. NO. STORIES. The other day the whole family was out at the playground, and as the boys ran around (well Otis kinda teetered more than ran), the Mister and I watched as another family struggled to be consistent. Their son, Marcello, was a bit of a terror. Hitting his sister. Hitting his friends. Kicking. Whining. The usual antics. After he kicked his sister for the third time the mom finally said if he did it again, they would have to go home. Well. Marcello did it again. And again and again. But they never went home. After a while, I turned to my Mister and whispered, "If Miss Whiteside were here, she would tell them to be consistent and send that kid home. And no park for the rest of the week."
My Mister replied with, "I wish Miss Whiteside was always here." I got the distinct impression this was a dig at me (and my lack of consistency), but I chose to ignore it.
The Mister and Izzy mesmerized by Marcello.
I’ve also learned that while Izzy definitely needs to learn boundaries, it’s also important to just let him be a little boy. He needs to get his energy, frustrations and aggression out somewhere. So if needs to rough house with his friends, and nobody is getting hurt, to let them go ahead. That same day at the playground, Izzy was having a great time with his friend Orson playfighting, hugging, etc. And then supposedly Izzy pushed another little boy. I didn’t see it, but went straight up to him and asked him to apologize, which he did. Case closed. The other mom, however, reprimanded Izzy (in front of me, after I had already handled the situation) and then turned to me and whined, "You know another little boy just pushed my son a few minutes ago. I don’t understand what’s wrong with these boys. They’re so aggressive. My son isn’t aggressive at all." I mean first of all, YET. He’s not aggressive yet. And second of all, they’re boys. Stop you’re whining and go see Miss Whiteside.
Another Miss Whiteside-ism I am trying to adhere to, is to not over-praise. Or if you do praise, to do it in a specific way.
Izzy and I are walking to school. He sees a funny electric car on the road.
IZZY: That car is blue and yellow Mommy!
I look over to see that indeed the car is blue with a yellow hood.
ME: IZZY!!!!!!! You’re exactly RIGHT! That car IS blue and yellow! That is SOO GOOD! Great job!
The kid is three. He recognized two primary colors. But I can’t help it, I get excited. I’m working on it.
Anyway, the examples come in about a hundred times a day. Parenting is a tricky thing to navigate. I try and follow Miss Whiteside’s advice whenever I can and I also follow my own instinct a lot of the time, which I think she would approve of. (At least god I hope she would.) I also have learned so much from the other parents, as we all share what’s worked and what hasn’t at our dinners. At the end of the day, I feel super lucky that Izzy is in good hands for three hours every day. He is learning so much education-wise, but also on how to become a real person, and a good person—and I’m glad that we’ve found someone we trust and admire to help guide him (and me and my mister) during these oh so important formative years!
My devil children.