In this ongoing journey of parenting, sometimes you hit on something that has the power to change your outlook, and this week, we have caught a glimpse of such a thing.
On Monday, when I picked up the kids from school, Bailey came out with a big frown on his face. From his point of view, there had been a meeting of sixth graders led by the teacher, Sainoor Premji, in order to pick on him and tell him all the things that he’s doing wrong. Well I wasn’t going to have it! I marched right upstairs to see her.
Well, when I got to Sainoor, she put her hand on my shoulder and assured me that the meeting had been about the Model UN thing, (the sixth graders in the class are going to New York for a special United Nations program for Montessori children, and their year has been very focused on it) and was meant to show how countries can go to war over petty issues seen from different points of view and that every child had raised a petty issue as an example, not all of them focused on Bailey. She was trying to bring globalism down to the kids’ level and Bailey, in his inward focus, had completely missed the point.
Bailey’s teacher, Sainoor, is a gift to him and to all of us here at Chez Weinstein. She’s tough as nails as a teacher, but one of those tough teachers who is hard on the kids in a respectful way, born out of love and a genuine desire to see them succeed. Some families might disagree with me, but Bailey and she have always had a special bond. Because of the mixed-age classrooms, Bailey and Sainoor are now spending their fourth year together. Bailey adores and respects her – and knows that even when she is not happy with him, it’s for good reason.
In her spare time, Sainoor has a business. It’s called Healthizar Natural Healing and she works with people on wellness and natural remedies via nutritional counseling, hypnosis, and other therapies. I have taken her Peaceful Parenting Workshop and gone under hypnosis with her, both with great success. Until recently, though, I haven’t wanted to mix Bailey’s school life with Sainoor’s private life. Why now? Well, he’s only going to be in her class for another few months, and he needs the help. Marc and I have felt that he would benefit from some hypno-therapy. We had our first session about a month ago and it was very successful. By successful, I mean that he emerged a bit calmer, and had a method of controlling some of his anger – a little trigger, success point.
Bailey and I went to see Sainoor that very night at home. We had had the appointment anyway, but she and I were both doubly glad of it. Well, she asked me to bring a Monopoly dollar with us. When we arrived, after giving us tea, she took the Monopoly Dollar, and she wrote on it for him, “The buck stops here.” She had him take the buck and put it in his pocket for keeps. After giving him a good, strong explanation for what that meant, she told him that he was on the throne of Bailey-land and that no one had the right to overthrow his throne. Buck, she said, rhymes with muck and yuck and luck, and if you receive much and yuck, you need to replace it with luck. Turn negativity right around. She also reminded him that most people are so busy with their own lives that they are not focusing on him.
Then she read him a story about two children who were too negative and their mother was upset about it. She said whenever they felt negative; they had to say “That’s not me.” At first it was hard for the children, but eventually they got rid of the negativity. But that wasn’t enough. The next to-do item for this mythical mother and children was that every time they could think a positive thought about themselves or the outside world, they had to say, “Now that’s like me.” Not just get rid of negativity, but replace it with positive thoughts.
And next Sainoor put him under hypnosis. This is the second time she has done it, and I find it fascinating how quickly he goes under. He trusts her completely. She took him through a visualization of cleaning out his inner negativity. He had a tool belt and he could choose a tool with which to just get rid of it. Release it out of him. (Later he said he took a knife from his belt and chopped it all down and trashed it!) It was interesting because she left him to wrestle with himself internally. At least twice during the exercise, she asked him if he was done and he said no. She was quiet until Bailey could express that his inner negativity was completely gone. She then read him the story again, still under hypnosis.
She brought him out slowly. It takes him just a few moments to come up. Sainoor then asked him what he was going to do when he felt a negative thought. He repeated that he would say “That’s not me.” She asked him what he would do if someone handed him a “yuck” comment. He told her that he would replace it with luck – turn it right around. The example she gave was “Hey Bailey, I hate your hairstyle.” He looked at her and said, “That’s okay. I like it.” In that way, the offender doesn’t replace him on his proverbial throne of Bailey-land. He rules himself positively, and is not ruled by others or affected by any outside negativity. She reminded him that positive thoughts are meant to be shared. He should tell people positive things about the world, but not to overdo it. Positive things, though, she reminded him, come to positive people.
Sainoor invited me to sit at the table with them. (I had been seated on her couch, behind Bailey and out of his line of vision – I had offered to leave both times, but Bailey wanted me to stay.) With me right there, she told Bailey was that even when “yuck” arises, he has to stop giving it to his mom. Sainoor, said to Bailey, “Your mom, like all moms, wants to protect you and keep you safe, but there are some times when it’s not appropriate. When you give this to her, you’re released of the burden and she takes it on, which hurts her, so you’re both hurting. If you’re positive, your mom can be positive. And if negative things do happen, you can talk to her, but in a way so that she can listen to you because she is a good listener, but she doesn’t take it on.” Bailey and I both understood her point. Sainoor knows how emotionally connected he and I are, and she is trying to make that connection healthy, not unhealthy.
One outcome of the session, and Sainoor could see it instantly, was that his internal energy was shifting and he was wildly energetic. He came home and could barely sit still to eat dinner. He shot baskets for an hour on the third floor of the house! Then, also as she predicted, about 9pm, he was so tired that he could barely get up the steps to his bedroom.
The whole thing was a great lesson for both Bailey and me. I have been letting other people sit on the throne of Aimee-land lately, controlling how I feel and act, just as Bailey has been doing. We can both take a lot away from the lesson of not only letting go of negative thoughts, but also of replacing negativity with positive thoughts. Clearly, my son and I are a lot alike. He’s emotional and expressive about those emotions, too.
He and I are both so lucky to have the support that we do. Is this a cure-all? Not by a long shot. But it’s a start – a kick in the right direction. From here, Bailey and I can move forward on a better path. And if we need a bit of a tune-up, we can always go back to see Sainoor.
I’ve mentioned that the next three and a half months are going to be difficult for us. Maybe a little less so than I feared.