Recently I put a call out to fellow child-wranglers to see if anyone had any advice on how to parent our three year-old who cares not a whit for consequences, threats, ultimatums, bribes or danger and only does things if it truly suits her to do so.
The Mitz. Edie May Llewellyn. AKA Gregory The Second.
Turns out I keep excellent company and one of my School Mum friends is a Doctor in Child Psychology. She lent me a book and gave me the driving over the limit analogy. As in, you’re in a 60 zone, but every now and again you might do 65. Maybe 62, maybe you push it and hit 68. And because you don’t get caught every single time you go over, you don’t learn to change your behaviour – there’s no incentive to because there is no consistent consequence to your actions.
Skipping over the fact that she seems to be implying the problem with Edie’s behaviour is inconsistent parenting, her analogy about speeding is perfect for Gregory.
‘I was only 3 k’s over the limit,’ he said to me just recently, ‘that’s a bit unfair don’t you think?’
‘You were doing 70 in a 60 zone. That’s 10 k’s over.’
‘Yeah, but normally they give you 10% for free. So really I was only 3 k’s over.’
This is how my husband’s mind works. Unfortunately this is also how my daughter’s mind works. The apple, as they say, did not fall far from the tree.
You can’t argue with people like this because they don’t view authority the same way we do. (We as in people like Q and I – law abiding citizens who wear uniforms, return library books on time, set alarms on our phones so we don’t overstay the car park, get sweaty palms when we jump a bus home and sneak Q on because I forgot both cash and her opal card…Gregory and the Mitz would just swan on, take the best seats and make friends with the bus driver).
Gregory parks where he wants to when he wants to because, frankly, he doesn’t care about your parking sign. It just gets in the way of his day. And besides, he’d argue, over the course of a year, the number of tickets he gets is insignificant compared to the number of times he gets away with it. (See speeding analogy above).
To be fair, this disdain for rules and conventions is also probably what makes him a good chef. Yes, he studied, worked under and has immense respect for the greats, learned the traditions and all the techniques and now, with enough time and experience cutting onions into exact sized cubes and blanching them to perfection for 14 hours straight only to have them thrown out and told to start all over again as an exercise in discipline, he’s got the courage and creativity to massage the boundaries.
You’ve got to know what came before in order to know how to go ahead.
When I studied musical theatre in New York we had this brilliant class called film lab. We’d all file into a dark room and the teacher would play clips of incredible performances by Broadway’s greats. It was – and I’ve never used this word before – life changing. I would sit there, tears in my eyes watching these performances and thinking; ‘this is it. This is what I want to do. I want to be Ethel Merman singing Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Judi Dench singing Send In The Clowns, Jennifer Holliday singing ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ in Dreamgirls. Ok, maybe not that last one because I’m not black, but you get the idea.
So I worked like I’d never worked before – 8 dance classes a week, tap, jazz, ballet, theatre dance, accent reduction classes, voice lessons, vocal coaching, sight singing, history, yoga, audition prep, no sleep, no money, plenty of homesickness…and then I started performing and realised I got bored after opening night and couldn’t believe I now had to perform the same show over and over and over again 8 times a week for weeks and weeks on end.
That was a shame. And a story best left for another day perhaps.
But all that training put me in good stead. Live theatre and restaurant service are remarkably similar. Every night you put on the same show with the same crew in the same space. The only thing that should change is the audience. So when we were planning Hartsyard I applied the same philosophies to its creation that I’d used when rehearsing a role. What is the through-line of this restaurant? What is our objective? Do the lighting, uniforms, staff and wine list all reflect that and help to tell our story? Who are the guests to us? Are they having the experience we hoped they’d have? We still think about this stuff. Every single day.
From the time I was ten I thought I wanted to be a doctor. A paediatric oncologist to be specific. All the way through primary school, through high school and the compulsory meetings with the careers adviser (where he didn’t want to know you if you weren’t considering engineering, law or medicine), through endless science lessons that I didn’t understand and showed no aptitude for whatsoever, until after my first year of uni when I finally realised I was better suited to the arts. So then I did a Degree in Music, moved to New York, studied more specifically in Musical Theatre, started performing, met a Chef, stopped performing, made a baby, opened a restaurant and a bar, wrote a cookbook and made some more babies.
This is not where I thought I’d be. Not when I was 10, not when I was 20, not even when I was 30.
Last week Q prayed to Jesus to try and get her life to go the way she wanted. This week she didn’t think she had enough collateral to hit him up again, so she pulled out an eyelash and made a wish on that instead.
Wishes and prayers seem pretty great ways to manipulate your life when your 6. (They don’t seem so bad when you’re 38 either to be honest). But sometimes – often really, if my life is anything to go by – accident, fate, serendipity and instinct might be better options instead.
Happy hump-day folks. May your lives be filled with delicious moments of happenstance.