Archives for October 2011
Somehow, Nora and I have fallen into the awfully good habit of doing a bit of yoga before bed. It may have started as a stalling tactic on her part, but it’s backfiring on her, because she’s been falling asleep much faster lately.
Lest you imagine the two of us locked in a synchronous Vinyasa flow, let me give you a glimpse of what our practice actually looks like.
“Mommy, we need to do our yoga.”
“Well, we’re running out of time, do you want to do yoga and skip story time?”
She nods vigorously. We head to the living room and I light a candle and place it in the middle of the room then switch off the lamp. I try to get her started with some breathing exercises and she cuts me off.
“Mommy, you showed me a lot of poses, so now I’m going to show you some, alright?”
She is seated cross legged and she places her hands on her ankles with her elbows pointing out and grimaces. Like a yogic body builder showing off her biceps.
“This is called ‘muscle pose.'”
Now she lets herself fall on her side and places an arm under her head and the other hand is curled on the floor in front of her. I follow along.
“Mommy, see how your hand is flat? You need to curl your fingers so your bones strengthen. If you don’t curl your fingers your bones won’t strengthen.”
Still on her side, she stretches her arms and legs out at a 90-degree angle from her body.
“This is called ‘crinkled dog’ pose,” she calmly explains. “And you know what else doggies do? When they wake up, they do this –” she smacks her lips repeatedly, “–they do that because they’re trying to clean their lips. They got dirty from the carpet.”
I nod as I smack my lips, thinking that an imperfect yoga practice is the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me today.
- a miniature rainbow slinky
- a green patent leather coin purse with silver embossed stars containing $1.18 in change
- a yarn label (Noro Kureyon, for you nosy knitters out there)
- a deck of UNO cards
- a purple felt gnome which Nora had sewn herself
- a hot pink LED flashlight
- a 20-inch length of purple organza ribbon
- two pink balloons, un-inflated
- a business card for the Button Emporium
- 3 scarlet runner beans saved from this year’s garden, and
- a stubby red colored pencil
Saturday’s trip to the grocery store provoked a yearning in Nora’s little heart. Three and a half feet off the ground at the edge of the candy aisle, she spotted a colorfully packaged pumpkin carving set.
“Mommy! Can we get this? This is for kids! I can carve pumpkins!”
“Oh, let me look at it,” I feigned interest. “Oh, my. That is neat. But I tell you what, we might be able to get a better price on that somewhere else. Let’s tell daddy about it when we get home and see if he’s knows a better place to get something like that.”
Nora trusts her daddy’s judgment on all things related to sharp implements. So she nodded bravely and we carried on shopping.
The next morning Nora was playing with the display of gourds on our table and looking forward to pumpkin carving when she got all excited and ran to Ben.
“Daddy! Mommy and I saw this kit at Zupan’s for carving pumpkins and it was for kids!”
Ben quizzed her about safety with sharp objects. She answered satisfactorily and then asked, “Can we get it?”
“How much was it?” Ben asked.
“I didn’t look,” she admitted. “It was purple and orange!”
“Well, how much money do you have in your piggy bank?” Ben led Nora to her bedroom and they returned a moment later, Nora carrying a piggy bank under each arm.
They proceeded to empty each slotted swine onto the rug and sort and count Nora’s savings.
“Listen up, Nora, because were going to form some opinions that will last your whole life.”
Yes, he really said this.
“You have 10.61 cents, you can afford that carving kit, but then you won’t have any money left.”
“But I want to buy it so I can have that carving kit for the whole year.”
“But you only need a carving kit around Halloween time. What if you find something you want at Christmas and you don’t have any money to buy it? It’s good to have some money left over for an emergency. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just helping you think it through.”
“Well,” she said slowly, “I’ll find a lot of money in our house.” I had recently found a five dollar bill while doing the laundry and this had apparently made an impression on her.
“You can’t count on that, sometimes it takes a long time to save some money,” Ben said.
“What if we found another carving kit that was less?” Nora asked. Ben and I exchanged proud glances.
“Good idea. Or what if we looked around the house and found some tools that worked just as well and then you can keep all your money instead of buying the carving kit?”
“Yeah! You could make me a kit!” Smart kid. This is basically my strategy, too. If I want to buy something but don’t want to spend money, I just ask Ben to make it for me.
And so the matter was decided.
Nora began putting her money back inside her pigs. She murmured happily to herself, “I’m saving my money!”
She held up her ceramic pig and said, “This is my regular money.”
Then held up her plastic pig, “And this is my emergency money.”
I told her that daddy could label her pigs that way, if she wanted. And so he did, but at the last minute she changed the wording from “Emergency” to “Occasionally.”
It turns out Nora has been walking around in a “love mist” for her entire life (well, since she could walk, anyway.) This makes perfect sense to me.
Tuesday night was my parent council meeting at Nora’s Waldorf school. The sixth grade teacher gave us the “underground” Waldorf education lecture. Which means it was her take on Waldorf education’s take on child development and how our school meets the changing needs of our children. Now your going to get my version of her version.
The first thing she talked about was the “love mist.” Picture your standard preschooler. She wanders around with a far off look in her eye. She loves faeries, princesses and anything magical. She wants hugs and snuggles and will invent new ways of saying I love you and new ways of making sure she knows you love her. Our job as adults during this phase, which ends around six years old, is to keep her firmly ensconced in that love mist. She needs simple, comforting explanations of the world: bread rises because it’s magical, the stars shine for you. She doesn’t need to know about the uglier aspects. The message should be she’s loved and the whole world is there to support her.
At four-years-old, Nora is definitely still in the love mist. But occasionally, the mist clears and she sees the world. That’s the next phase: entering the world. It usually happens around six. Children will want to see, explore and touch everything real. They want to dig in the dirt, feed the chickens, make a pie. It’s the adults’ job to show them the wonders of the world, but still withhold the ugliest parts.
At about nine-years-old there is another change. After a few years of being in the world, it becomes their world. They see that they are distinct from other people — they may worry that they are alone. Adults must support them and try to keep them calm and secure through the change. It can be a difficult time for parents, as your child is pulling away for the first time. The child is also trying on new personalities before assembling the pieces of their personality. She may be an angel at school and a snarling devil at home. Keep calm and carry on. This is the age when the begin to understand the mechanics of their world as well — for example, bread doesn’t rise unless you remember to put enough yeast in it.
Middle schoolers are ready to learn about the imperfections of the world. They are fascinated by science; they want to be shown everything. And they are unlikely to take anybody’s word for anything. They are realizing that the world might need them, and are incredibly excited by the prospect.
And all of these children co-exist in our school. They are all supported and nurtured through whatever phase they are in. Every teacher is committed to putting kids on a solid foundation and supporting their growth as individuals — and supplying facts and figures in a way they can absorb based on where they are developmentally.
And the thought of that? Puts me right back in the love mist.