Jennifer writes: A few weeks ago during a visit to my parents’ home, my oldest daughter was working contentedly with her Opa. I was on the phone at the end of the driveway, when suddenly she walked towards me. Making eye contact only briefly, she paraded past me with her chin up and a grin on her lips. She defiantly walked down the sidewalk away from the house never so much as glancing towards me—and I let her go. I let her go to see how far she needed to go.
I haven’t written an article in several weeks, and I have been blaming a writer’s block; I know exactly what I want to say and yet cannot seem to find the words. Several days ago, however, I admitted the unspoken truth: I am burned out. There, I said it (actually, I just got off a bit easier, since I wrote it…). It is difficult for me to admit when I am in need of a break from my children. Actually, I think that may have been one of only three times ever. Ugh, I can barely even write that sentence. What a horrible thing to say when I am so head-over-heels in love with each of them! However, I need to remember that it is not really about taking a break from them, but rather, taking some time for myself. After giving so much of ourselves, each and every one of us needs time to invest in some good ol’ self-care.
I didn’t even know I had it until someone at my LifeWays training mentioned they had caught it when their children were born. C.H.A.O.S., or “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome” is brought on immediately following the birth of your children. You will find your once semi-orderly home slowly becoming untidy, dusty, and in need of some serious TLC. This all goes unnoticed or, let’s be honest, ignored until someone decides to visit. Then there is no time to spare and you create a fury while you sweep through the house grabbing one baby sock here, dirty dishes there, an old banana peel under the dresser… don’t forget to wipe down the toilet and the bathroom sink because they may just ask to use it…and finally throw everything extra into one bedroom and shut the door. Phew. And that’s if it’s planned. If a neighbor happens to knock and want to share
Several months ago, I repeated something I had been saying to myself for years: “When my oldest, Lucy, is 5, she will be in school and life will be so different.” That’s when I realized, “Hey, wait a minute! She will be 5 this year!” Ever since then, I have felt I have been trying to catch up and wrap my head around the fact that my baby has grown up.
This piece, taken from Jennifer's 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the last of three installments.
The Language of Technology
This piece, taken from Jennifer's 2013 LifeWays paper, is the second of three installments:
Becoming Worthy of Imitation
Looking into a child’s beautiful face, one realizes the responsibility that comes with the role of caregiver. It is a mighty thought to conceive: You, with all of your essence, have the power to alter and shape a life with your thoughts, gestures, voice, and sound. That is quite a bit to carry with you every moment of every day as we deal with life’s stresses and find ourselves deep in the future instead of living in the moment. What can we do with this power? How can we change if we find ourselves not who we want to be right now?
This piece, taken from Jennifer’s 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the first of three installments on “Using Our Voices.”
My World of Language
When I first discovered my daughter was hiding snug in my tummy, my life changed. As the months progressed, I found myself humming quietly as I prepared for her arrival. I did not seem to notice the drastic changes within myself until I had spent weeks, perhaps months, after the birth staring at her beautiful body and witnessing the life that was continuously transformed in front of me.
“A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.”
Beret writes: One of the things I love most about the LifeWays approach to early childhood is the respect given to a child's pace. Children are given ample time to get through any given activity. They are not rushed or told to hurry. Adults do not do things for them even though it may be easier and faster in the moment. Once they are old enough, they are given the time and support needed to complete their own tasks, such as hanging up their coats, getting dressed, etc. Mealtimes and snack times are sit down events, allowing for good digestion, appreciation of the food that has been prepared and each other's company. Lots of time is spent in free play, both inside and outdoors. Adult led academic learning is delayed until grade school. This allows time for the child to grow a healthy physical body, which is the main task of the first seven years.
Jennifer writes: I am one of those people. One of those annoying people that cannot be quite satisfied with the way I am. What I mean is, although I make changes and have even completely transformed since let’s say five years ago, I know I can always improve. To the people around me this comes across as though I am too hard on myself, as though I feel my accomplishments are not good enough. They are good—in fact they are great, perhaps even somewhat astonishing considering the path I was on ten years ago—I just wouldn’t throw that word enough in there. I don’t believe that when it comes to my children, the word enough should ever apply.
Our children are our teachers.
There are so many festivals of light at this time of year, especially in countries where the days grow short. You may have seen pictures of the oldest daughter in Sweden, wearing a crown of burning candles and bringing pastries to the family on the morning of December 13th, Santa Lucia’s Day. (It’s a long, interesting story how this celebration got from Sicily to Scandinavia!)
This festival of light was also celebrated at the Waldorf Institute when we did the teacher training there: all the families with children were invited to leave their homes open the night of December 12th for the Santa Lucia angels to come in singing and give a star cookie to each child they gently awoke. I was living with five adults and three children at the time and decided not to tell anyone else about our angelic visitors, so you can imagine that the adults were even more amazed than the children….
“The notes I handle no better than many pianists.
But the pauses between the notes—
Ah, that is where the art resides.”
-Artur Schnabel, legendary classical pianist
Serenity writes: This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. It won't happen again until 70,000 + years from now. So this Thanksgivakkuh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday. Although it is often compared to Christmas, the meaning is actually much more complementary to the meaning of Thanksgiving. Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees who fought for religious freedom, and the miracle of the oil that burned in the temple for eight nights, when there was only oil enough for one. Thanksgiving commemorating the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in pursuit of religious freedom and the gratitude for that first bountiful harvest.
With an average of ten toddlers from the ages of 18 months to 3 years in an indoor space, there are times during the children’s free play when they need additional quiet rest times, that supplement the traditional afternoon nap. These “rest times” generally do not involve sleep, but allow children who have been hurt, anxious, overtired or overwhelmed to settle back into their bodies and gather themselves. These framed rest times positively affect the quality of the day not only for the individual who receives them, but for the other children and teachers as well. This allows for a more peaceful and fluid day all around.
It’s a puzzle to me how and why so many of the Waldorf and LifeWays early childhood programs I have visited turn on some kind of mechanical device to make “white noise” when it’s time for nap. These teachers have heard and believe Rudolf Steiner’s indication that “the young child is all sense organ,” and they apply this understanding in a wide range of other activities. They wouldn’t think of putting a lullaby on a CD player before leaving the nap room, or playing recorded music during the morning. They go to great lengths to try to create a harmonious environment that surrounds the children with living sounds and are even likely to use a broom or carpet sweeper rather than whipping out the vacuum cleaner after snack, to avoid the noise. Yet they don’t hesitate to turn on a fan or the clothes dryer or a machine with recordings of static or nature sounds, all in the name of lulling the children to sleep and keeping them there.
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