Friday, March 21, 2014

Anticipation

"anticipation is making me wait, keeping me waiting...
… for these are the good ole days."

Are you old enough to remember Carly Simon's hit song? You can hear it here.

I do remember being a first time mom and oh, I wanted it all for my child.
I was so excited to explore these Waldorf ways with him. I looked forward to all these delicacies of a Steiner based education: watercolor painting, geometric designs, beeswax modeling, marionette puppetry and woodworking. I wanted to bring it all to him.

I was blessed to have a lovely mentor in my life, who was grandmotherly to me and helped me see that it is a gift for the child to wait for things. Anticipation builds interest, curiosity, gratitude and joy. When we are given things before we are ripe for them, we cannot appreciate them. 

The child three and under is all movement and exploration: working hard in piling things up… and then... dumping, splashing, dropping, undressing the dolls. All process. No finished product. This is to celebrate, this is healthy development. This free self initiated movement is the foundation for creativity. 

Babies don't need to be born with a paintbrush in their hand to become creative human beings. The creativity arises from the whole being, the being who was free to be a baby and move around, free to be a toddler and toddle around. This is what I came to understand about Steiner based education, that we honor the age and stage of development and let children be children by waiting. 

Another realization that came to me with this bundle of joy and infinite wisdom, my first born, when I was so gung ho to bring him painting and crafts and modeling was that it was me who had the hunger. I  wanted to delve into these realms. So little by little, in taking up the painting and crafts and modeling myself, I was able to step back and allow my child to be a toddler.

So I began to paint and made things of the watercolors: invitations, cards, bookmarks, notes for myself. In doing this, indulging myself, I realized I was giving myself permission to nurture me. Just for me.

Around the same time, I began to focus my artistic energies on making practical things for my son, tree branch blocks, hand dyed silks and finger puppets. I made a sleep time marionette for me to use with him.

So, what I am wondering is this... if one has strong daily rhythms and breathing space in your day, and your child feels secure in knowing what comes when, do you need weekly rhythms? If you are getting to the activities that are important to you, does it matter?

With homeschooling the grades, I need weekly rhythms to figure out when we will do things, otherwise the week evaporates and we would not paint or do form drawing or have a rhyme and reason to Main lessons. And I would be totally lost at four o'clock if I did not have a plan for meals.

But if your child is under seven, what do weekly rhythms bring to you?

The notion of Weekly Rhythm in Waldorf came out of the kindergarten in which each day of the week is known by the children for what they do.

There is a baking day, a soup day (they remember to bring a vegetable) a painting day, a coloring day, maybe a woods walk day or a farm day or a eurhythmy day depending on the school. At the end of each day at school, the class holds hands and sings goodbye. The parents may be included in this. At the end the teacher says, and I will see you tomorrow for _______ (fill in) day. On Friday she says, "tomorrow and the next day are home days and I'll see you on Monday for painting day. Have a good weekend!"

The child lives with anticipation of what is to come. With excitement. And predictibility. This is an integral part of early childhood.

Children wait until they are old enough to go to college.
Children wait until they can get their own checking account.
Children wait until they are old enough to drive.
Children wait until they are old enough for the first date.
Children wait until they are old enough to go off to a movie with friends.
Children wait until they are old enough to use a computer.
Children wait until they are allowed to be at home alone.
Children wait until they are taught to write.
Children wait until they are allowed to cross the street on their own.
Children wait until they can get their own library card.
Children wait until the can ride a two wheeler.
Children wait until they are allowed to go out and play on their own.
Children wait until they are allowed to set the table.
Children wait until they are allowed to use a knife.
Children wait until they are allowed to paint.
Children wait until they are allowed to have crayons.

This list is just some elements of life that children anticipate.

As the adults we can frame them in the context of development. We can make it magical. We can celebrate these milestones of life for our children as they happen, simply and joyfully. When you are in first grade, you'll learn to write. When you are in 3rd grade, you'll join us for family movie night. When you are 16, you'll learn to drive. We teach the child through these actions, through anticipation that there is a natural order to life, that everything unfold in its own good time.

When we set it up this way, developmentally, it take us out of the picture as the one who grants or denies their wishes and places it squarely in the context of age an development. It takes this off our shoulders and eliminates the power struggle.

Oh how I wish I had a chart that said, when you are ___ you will _______ but it comes with time and with input from wise like minded parents and the first child, the "first pancake" as the oldest in a movie of that name described herself, is the test pancake.

When we prepare to cook a batch of pancakes, it is with the first one that we are testing the heat of the pan, the amount of butter in the pan, the readiness of the batter, and it gets easier with experience. Now we can talk about the first born.

See how interwoven life is and especially with Waldorf! We all can draw on each other, once we have some clarity to our own values for our child.

Anticipation is a powerful parenting tool, for it creates a picture of what is to come, with time for the child, and takes us out of the power struggle.

::::

Is anticipation something you struggle with? Is it a conscious part of your parenting?


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