I say spend all the time you can with your young ones. I say submerge yourself in their hugs, kisses, laughter, playtimes and smiles. I say WAKE-UP and realize how lucky you are for the little treasure you have. I am an absolute believer of allowing your child to be selfish and alone with just you! It’s wonderful, and in reality, IF we were living in Steiner’s time we would all be doing just that (unless we were factory workers in which case, at age 6 or so, they’d be at the factory (school) while we did our work.)
Most families knew that the foundation of the child was being developed at that time, and also knew that the roots, the strength of the family unit and the community were what was best for a child of such age. I never had Zachary in school until he was 6 years old… and even then, it was only for about 2 1/2 months (that was all I could stand) at only 2-3 days per week. I also didn’t want to leave him there alone, so I volunteered to be the Parent Toddler Group leader, and the misery that I put Zanna through (17 mos.) was such, that I retired early, and packed them both up and took them both home.
My children are so happy to be able to complete a task undisturbed, to be able to come up with original ideas, to be able to wake when they are ready, and to be with the people they love and trust the most… US! They are pleased to see how the world works on trips to the bank, the market, the post office… they are happy to be at the library looking, in quiet, in the morning hours, at all of the wonderful books full of ideas and plans… (if/when we went later in the day-when LOTS of school kids were “unwinding” from school, it was so chaotic that Zachary asked that we go at “the other time when it is like a library and not a playground”)
I agree with everyone that what happens is that your child models and takes in all of the wrong behaviors, even at the Waldorf schools. It’s too early to separate from Mom, and forming strong attachments to peers at this age is not “natural”. IMHO, what is wrong with our society is that everyone needs to busy themselves with friends, gatherings, meetings, clubs, social events, etc… because they cannot figure out what to de when they are faced with the quiet of home and just themselves… They have forgotten how to be intimate, and how to be quiet within… Everyone wants to be entertained, and expects that their children want and need it too, when nothing is further from the truth.
If we lived 100 years ago, and all of time before that, we would look forward to the few “festivals” a few times a year… and that would be about it. The majority of our time would be spent within our own community, where we would be doing the jobs and deeds of friends… knitting baby booties for John’s new baby sister, making a new warmer quilt for Granny Smith for this coming winter, canning peaches for the unfortunate Mrs. Widow, etc… Our social event would be a celebration of bringing in the harvest, welcoming the new family or saying our last goodbye to Old Man Jones…
There would be no carpool, no little league, no night at the pizza place. It seems so unnatural to me that it isn’t “obvious” to everyone where the problems arise. We are too busy to simply “live”. Everyone is walking around in a depression, looking for meaning when it is the simple deeds that give meaning.
The simple daily moments.
We have spent the last 2 days making a “cheer up book” for our friend who is in the hospital. He is 5 years old, and had a blood clot between his skull and his brain after a fall onto the pavement from a tall tree… we went to the hospital where we delivered our home-made gifts and spent time… Zachary crawled into the hospital bed with his friend, held his hand, and told him “I sure am glad you are still alive”, and his friend looked into his eyes and said “me too”.
It was simple, but so meaningful.
They sat in bed together talking quietly about dragon pictures, climbing trees (yes) and getting ready for Halloween. They visited. They shared, they cared… Zachary got into the car and said “It was a good visit mom, you are right, love is good medicine”. Yes (beaming with pride) it is… as is one on one time and giving of yourself.
I wholeheartedly believe that expecting that a child’s soul gets what it needs in a playgroup, or a classroom setting, is just selling the child and parent both short. Friends are fun, yes… but they should not make up the largest portion of our days, and the days should not always be structured, well planned and filled up and busy-busy. Young children need time to wonder, to dream, and to have you all to themselves. They need to just “be” and not to be learning how all of the time. When again in their life will they have this? Never! Maybe that is whey there are so many “adult children” with problems in our society…
Young children, and young adults need a strong foundation, strong roots… they get that from YOU the parents! Your job is the most important job in the world, and anyone trying to “sell” you their playgroup, class, or social agenda is just trying to fill up their own empty longings for what they don’t have the courage to create and face in their own lives! (whew: talk about soapbox queen..!)
I love the women who write to my discussion list and participate in the conversation because we are pioneers and courageous women who are fighting for what is right in our hearts. We living it, and not just shrugging it off saying “well, we don’t live in those times anymore”… We live in whatever we make of our lives, and everyone else is just making an excuse because what we have chosen requires a lot of dedication and work… but the proof is in the pudding!
Our children will benefit and grow into wonderful people because we fought the good fight! My suggestion is begin to take care of what matters.. teach your children the importance of cutting vegetables to make a soup for all to share, to sew a blanket for the cats new kittens, to loan, borrow, barter and trade, to care for the house, the yard, the neighbor… there will be plenty of time to “play”… remember, “daily work is the play of childhood” and and imitating you at work at home is what is most important to a young child.
I shudder to think of what “soul forces” are at play in a child who is being taught vanity (“Let’s get pretty for school”) and societal expectations (“We have to go… this is our play day”) at such a tender age. What messages is that sending? That you cannot rely on yourself to make fun? That you “need” friends to have a happy day? That family is not enough, or that the party is more important that the work that needs to be done?
When was the last time your child folded daddy’s shirts? When was the last time s/he swept the floor clean? IMHO what matters most now, is being a family and caring for the home and the family… tending to the garden, the pets, and the days work… People with teens complain that all they want to do is hang out with their friends, that they don’t want to do their chores, etc… and I wand to say “What did you think? You had them in playgroup since birth… you TAUGHT them that was what was important!” and most people just simply don’t get it.
I am amazed by this, I mean, isn’t it simple logic and common sense???? The teens I know are putting on plays for the elderly at the nursing home, and looking at internships at Camphill, while most other teens are planning what outfit they’ll be wearing on Friday night. They were taught, by their parents, what was MORE important… Taught by the way their lives were structured and their days spent, when they were young. That is when the seeds are planted!
Of course, these are my strong thoughts and feelings… and I do admit, I don’t have many friends because of them.
But to me the size of my “circle” doesn’t matter… it is what it’s made of that counts.
That said, we have soup to make for a dear friend in the hospital….
SOURCE: Ask Kytka Archives, October 24, 1999