I’ve been making stuff like crazy. I’m trying to crank out some crafts for a fundraiser at Nora’s school, but it’s tough to be productive when Nora demands one of each item to keep for herself. Negotiations are ongoing…
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.
Having a Waldorf kid means keeping certain things on hand. We have play silks: large rectangles of silk fabric for dress up and open ended play. We have a nature table on Nora’s dresser, which features rocks, sticks, seeds and shells Nora has collected from just about everywhere she goes. And we have beeswax. Heat it up and it’s a modeling medium, like Play-doh, but not the creepy consistency of Play-doh.
We also don’t have a television. Ben and I threw away our t.v. after watching a New Year’s special for the year 2000 which featured a smashed Bono and a very spacy Liz Taylor (may she rest in peace) wishing us well in the new millennium. We realized television didn’t have much to offer us.
Waldorf schools discourage or even prohibit screen time for kids. I know it sounds extreme to some, but it works well for us. Nora has a great attention span, a stupendous vocabulary for a four-year-old and never begs for things at the store because she’s seen them on television.
Still, we are not zealots about it. Nora and I are on a Mary Poppins kick, watching the movie about once a week. I got an iPad a few months ago and she discovered an abiding love of Angry Birds, so we let her play that a few times a week.
Still, this week I got a twinge of guilty pleasure when Nora picked up a flat rectangular piece of beeswax and held it to her ear like a mobile phone — an iPhone to be exact. Ben picked up on this and the two of them began crafting intricate cell phone models from beeswax and proceeding to run off to all points of the house, calling each other and chatting.
It was a delicious moment, even if it did make poor Rudolf Steiner shift uncomfortably in this grave.
Here are a list of things I did on Saturday that I don’t normally do:
At long last, it was auction time! The fundraising auction for Nora’s school was finally here.
The evening was divided into silent auction, dinner, dance performance by the Body Vox dancers, the live auction and dancing.
Ben and I agreed not to buy anything, but once we got there, we realized the starting bid prices at the silent auction were quite reasonable. However, I was outbid on everything in the end. Happily, the items I placed in the silent auction both sold — the knitted elephant and hand-spinning lessons.
Dinner was catered by one of my favorite local bistros: Carafe. The chef/owner, Pascal Sauton, is a parent at our school. He was also the reason I wished I was rich — one item up for bid at the live auction was for Pascal to come to your house and give you cooking lessons. In his words (and French accent), “I’ll come to your house, mess up your keetchen, drain your liquor cabinet and then leave.” But he was only teasing. His item brought in around $2800, so he offered a second one and sold it to the back-up bidder for the same amount. Ce n’est pas mal.
Speaking of dollars raised, our class project brought in $750! Not as much as Pascal, but, you can’t eat it, after all. I was delighted — I’d been hoping for $500.
The sale of the rug was the final event of the evening for us. It was around 10:30, which is several hours past our bedtime. The others partied on long, long into the night.
Last week, I was sitting on a proverbial egg. Fret, nausea, excitement: I was all over the place.
I was the lead on a craft project for Nora’s class. Each year every class makes something — something big and wonderful — to be auctioned off as a fundraiser.
We made a wool felt rug. Or, wall hanging, I guess. Since the thought of it getting walked on makes me queasy. Not that it’s sacred; it just wouldn’t hold up to foot traffic.
It was by far the biggest crafting endeavor I’ve been a part of. I felt like Christo. With insomnia.
Not that I’m complaining. I’m the one who found this crazy idea.
I was poking around the internet looking for a craft project with some wow factor that the kids could actually help execute. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes it special. However, the things kindergarteners specialize in making — sticky, lopsided things — are things no adult wants to buy. So the trick was to find something that didn’t need skill, just energy.
I found some basic instructions for making a wool felt rug using the stomping power of kids. (The woman who published the instructions is also the supplier of the wool batts we used.) We picked a simple cherry blossom design, as “Cherry Blossom” is the name of my daughter’s class.
All we needed was 10 pounds of wool, 2 gallons of water, some rope, old sheets and a few ten foot 2x4s. No problem!
I did not do this alone! I had the most amazing team. From the grown-up world, I had Anne, Nathalie, Karri, Corbin, O’Brien, Ben, Miss Erin, Miss Alana, Miss Gemelah and Miss Stephanie. From the kid world, we had the entire Cherry Blossom kindergarten as well as aftercare children from all the kindergartens and a mess of grade schoolers from Corbin’s woodshop classes. Everyone did a fantastic job! Thank you!
All that’s left is to see how much money it raises for our school.
So, what’s the biggest craft project you’ve ever done? We’re looking for ideas for next year.
A few nights ago, Nora’s school hosted a “Journey Through the Grades” event. It was a chance for parents to move from classroom and classroom and get a glimpse of the Waldorf cirriculum for elementary through middle school. It was a great experience. Grown-ups sat at tiny desks, singing songs and drawing pictures. We all left happy.
But perhaps even more enlightening was the half hour spent before the event with other kindergarten parents. Halfway through the year, we are all starting to loosen up around one another.
I was telling the Louie’s mother (names have been changed, as they don’t know I’m blogging about them) about shenanigans Nora and Louie had been up to.
“Did I tell you about the trap?” I asked.
“Nora and Louie set a trap for Harry. Out on the playground the dug a hole and covered it with sticks, hoping he’d fall into it!”
Harry’s father happened to be sitting right there and his ears perked up. Nora and Harry had a history of not getting along. Harry had called Nora little. (She is, especially compared to kids in her class from a year to three years older.) We had done some role playing on how to handle these kinds of comments without getting upset: “Why, yes, I am smaller than you because I’m younger.” etc.
Harry’s dad then told of the day Harry came home with a huge, bruised bite mark on his shoulder which he said Nora had given him.
“Little Nora did that?” Harry’s dad asked him.
“She’s little but she can hold her own,” the five-year-old Harry replied.
Nora had told me that she and Harry were getting along better lately. But all I could get out of her was, “We worked it out.”
As my friend Monica likes to say, sometimes that girl is straight up gangsta.