When I was growing up I had the following conversation with my mom pretty much every single day.
MOM: Hi! How was your day?
MOM: What did you do??
And then again with my dad later that evening.
I remember being so irritated by this. I mean, why did they have to pry into every single thing I did? I didn’t do anything exciting. I was at school. I’m fine. Case closed.
Now, I get it. They weren’t trying to be annoying. They actually, genuinely wanted to know how I was and what I had done all day. Was I happy? Did I enjoy the activities that they had actually paid for me to partake in? What had I got up to for the last seven hours of my life!?
Because unless I told them. They would never know.
For the first time, and I suppose for the next twenty years, I am now faced with this brutal reality with my three year old, Izzy. Up until now, I knew everything that went on in my son’s life. If I wasn’t around, my mister was or my nanny was. Either way, I would get a full run down of who Izzy saw, what he did, how long his nap was, when he pooped… you get the picture.
But now Izzy goes to school. All by himself. I drop him off, I pick him up and then spend the rest of the day desperately trying to figure out what went on during those three hours that we will never get back. It’s like I’m a detective frantically looking for clues. I search for paint residue on his shirt, glitter in his hair. One time I found a little green play dough under his nails.
ME: Oh! Did you play with play dough today??
Most days I tend to loiter around the school entrance, listening to the other parents and their kids, hoping to pick up some intel. I try and make eye contact with his teachers to see if they have anything they’d like to share with me, but usually not so much. They send little books home every Friday explaining the following week’s activities, but whenever I bring them up with Izzy, he seems to have no idea what I’m talking about.
ME: Umm… did you count elephants today? Or oh I know! Did you learn about water??
IZZY: (With a look of total irritation and confusion) No mommy. No.
Of course, then there’s also the issue of lying. Who knows if what Izzy reports back, when I do manage to get information out of him, is fact or fiction. One afternoon I got a whole song and dance about a picture he had painted of a rainbow. But, it was drying at school so I couldn’t see it yet.
Sure. Likely story.
And then, low and behold, one week later, Izzy comes bounding out of school with a painting of a rainbow. I was so overjoyed, you’d think the kid had painted his own portrait! Like, a really good one.
Yesterday another mom told me how much her little girl talked about Izzy, and that apparently he gives her hugs and kisses all the time at school. I smiled and nodded along. What I was really thinking was, ‘Great! He already has a girlfriend and I’ve never even heard this child’s name before.’
I guess all I can hope is that as Izzy gets older he’ll be able to share more with me. And, god willing, he’ll want to.
I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to my parents for the years 1988-2000. Next time I see you, I’d be happy to give you a brief synopsis.
Gwen Bueno de Mesquita is an American living in Notting Hill, with her accent intact. She has spent her career working in fashion and beauty PR, including stints at Chanel and Paul Smith, and is currently the PR Manager for a British beauty brand. Gwen has a Mister, two devilish boys, Izzy and Otis, and a penchant for over-sharing about them all, which she does every week on her mom (or mum) blog The Poopsie Collective.