Inspired experience based college preparatory education for creative and intellectually curious students
Early childhood through twelfth grade

Life at Pitzer College just got a lot more adventurous for Shelby Ottengheime (Waverly ’18).  She’s been taking a wide range of classes to help her decide on declaring a major.  From a biological anthropology course where she’s had a chance to handle 1.8 million year old hand tools, to an unruly women’s literature course where she was able to discuss the impact that strong female role models have had on our society, and a philosophy course called Happiness and the Good Life where she was able to put to use her knowledge honed from Waverly high school teacher, Dan Bowen, she’s had an interesting first year. This semester she was busy shaping a surfboard in her “Surfboard as Art and Culture” class, when one of her professors asked her if she’d be interested in a Global Local Mentorship Program run by their IGLAS (Institute for Global Local Action & Study) department for the Claremont College Consortium.  Every year IGLAS chooses a group of six students across the entire college to travel abroad for a cultural study program.  Each year the destination changes.  Three of Shelby’s professors recommended her for the program and as a result, Shelby will be traveling to Vietnam this summer on a ten-day cultural study program.  They will travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue (where they’ll meet up with Pitzer’s current study-abroad students) and then end their trip in Hanoi.   Chuyến đi vui vẻ (bon voyage), Shelby!

This week’s post is from an email sent to Waverly’s art teacher, Michelle Dakan, from Anne Schiller, a colleague and friend from Pacific Oaks.
As I am away from school recovering from knee surgery, I have had a contemplative few weeks. I’ve been thinking a lot about parents who are in the thick of it and feeling great compassion for them; I’ve been looking around at old photos and feeling nostalgic for my own kids who are now grown.

Here are some thoughts.

It goes by FAST!  In the scheme of a lifetime, 18 years is short! Therefore, try to have a good time, in whatever way you can. Breathe in the moments when everything feels good, whether your kids are snuggled in with you, and there’s a sense of contentment, or times when you are alone in your car, driving away with some time for yourself stretching ahead.

I often think of a certain image when I am discussing problematic issues with parents. I think of the “cuffing” method of parenting. This method calls for a straightforward, trust- your- gut, not overthinking or fretting way of responding to your child’s behavior that mimics a mother bear who cuffs her young when she goes too far off the mark. It’s a way of saying “Stay on the path. Don’t wander off.” Or, while tussling if the baby gets too rough, the mother baby cuffs the baby. I  don’t suggest actual cuffing, just the idea that being a parent and responding to behavior that that is questionable does not need to be too complicated. The parent is the adult who is the driver and makes the plan and sometimes says “no.”

Being a parent can bring out a complex range of emotions that range from delight and ecstasy to exasperation and discouragement, particularly during “custodial” years before age 5. What does my child need? Who is this person? The child keeps changing–it’s like running behind a moving train. You feel you’ll never quite catch up. And, care-taking can feel one-way and rather endless. It’a all a lot..which brings me to…

Tedium. There are so many mundane and repetitive activities involved with having small children. When once you felt like a sharp-thinking, successful individual  whose success and sense of fun was involved with a zippy adult life and suddenly you’re doing a lot of wiping, it can be rough. Which is why…

It’s important not to feel isolated. Parents need to support one another. It’s easy to feel unsure and alone, and parents need each other to know that it’s not just you! Many others are experiencing very similar things. (See The 6 Stages of Parenthood by Ellen Galinsky. It’s a whole book that is very soul-feeding on this subject). 

Try not to compare or measure your child’s success or your own against other child/parent. It’s easy to look around and see a child who seems more advanced, polite, sophisticated, or accomplished and wonder if you should be doing something completely different. Try not to do this. None of it will matter in the end. Keep your mind on the big picture and follow your values and accept your child is who they are; you only have so much control over when they do certain things.

Take breaks from technology. Technology is getting in the way of relationships, acquisition of language, reciprocity, attention span, problem solving, eye contact, and pleasure in families. This trend is very disturbing and deserves its own chapter or book.

This brings me to the importance of reading aloud. You need to find activities that bring you all joy at the same time, and books bring ideas that you might not think of discussing or sharing otherwise. Plus, they bring HUMOR!

Parenthood is a big mirror that you look into and see yourself. Be kind.

Thanks, Anne!

I Believe in Nature

March 28, 2019

Nature has always been an integral part of my life. As a wee child, my mother brought me to Drumlin Farm, where I watched the foxes and the wild birds with the rapt attention only a three-year-old can manage. I grew up hiking through the woods owned by the water company. My dog loved to […]

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Morning Meaning

February 14, 2019

It seems slightly obvious to say something about how important the concept of “community” is at a school. School, ideally, is a series of various interacting communities: parent, teacher, class, campus. Nothing groundbreaking here. But, see, we’re not talking just school, we’re talking Waverly. And as you might have experienced in your time here, we’re […]

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School Touring: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

January 10, 2019

When I came to Waverly for the first time five years ago, it was the last prospective school on my long tour list. I didn’t know what to call what I was looking for exactly at these highly varied campuses for my two daughters, so I toured as many schools as I could. It was […]

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Not Your Average Holiday Show

December 18, 2018

For parents who remember participating in their own school holiday shows (which consisted of the class standing in a line, wearing Santa hats and singing a Christmas song), the Waverly holiday show will be an especially wonderful surprise. The original show was held at the little theater at Farnsworth Park. Each teacher put together their […]

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To All The Toys I’ve Ever Loved Before

December 6, 2018

I have loved quite a few toys in my life. A favorite recurring dream takes me back to my childhood home to find an entire floor of the house filled to the ceiling with toys and games of every kind. There are dolls and board games and Yo-yos and Hula Hoops, Easy-Bake Ovens and Thingmakers, […]

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Juniors Give Thanks

November 16, 2018

Next week is Thanksgiving and I have a story to share. Every Wednesday the junior class and I gather together for Wellness. Junior Wellness is centered around a discussion of what it is they believe, and some Waverly faculty and staff come in to share their own beliefs in an essay of 500 words or […]

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I Believe in the Gift of Failure

October 26, 2018

As a science educator, I begin each year by giving my students explicit permission to fail, and explaining to them that failure is part of the game in science. As sci-fi author Isaac Asimov wrote, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but rather, ‘hmm… […]

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Waverly Alumna Moves Food Forward

October 12, 2018

Dory Bennett, Class of 2012, visited First Friday on October 5 to introduce parents to Food Forward, the non-profit organization where she now works. During Dory’s presentation we learned that Food Forward fights hunger and prevents food waste by harvesting fresh produce from backyard fruit trees and orchards and gathering donations from farmers markets and […]

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