Wednesday, May 25, 2011

because they are very small

When my fellow faculty and staff at Haleakala Waldorf School threw me a blissful surprise baby shower on Maui four years ago, one of my dear teacher friends gave me a copy of this prayer written by Rudolf Steiner. I spend a few moments with this prayer and my sleeping girls each night. It has been bouncing around in my heart lately, so I am compelled to share it.

spoken by an adult

May light stream into you that can take hold of you.
I follow its rays with the warmth of my love.
I think with my thinking's best thoughts of joy
On the stirrings of your heart.
May they strengthen you,
May they carry you,
May they cleanse you.
I want to gather my thoughts of joy
Before the steps of your life,
That they unite with your will for life,
So that it finds itself with strength,
In the world,
Through itself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Wish You Happy Days

Ugh. It’s my child.

No parent wants to admit that his or her child is the rabble-rouser, the attention-demander, the sometimes-shouter, the crazy face.

But here goes.

Hi, my name is Emily and my child is intense.

I’m giving in, and admitting to the universe that Luciya Leona, light of my life, who turned four years old this month, is, often enough, a nutjob. She is deliberate and demanding and vivacious and loud. She stands up in the stroller and pushes to the front of the line and can fall unexpectedly into a wailing mess in under a second. She is sensitive and observant and way too quick on the uptake. She is touchy and just a bit too loving.

Wait, too loving? Is there something wrong with that? Yeah. It’s the whole “boundaries” thing.

A couple months ago, Luciya casually mentioned that a little girl in her preschool didn’t want to sit next to her in circle. My mommy hackles immediately went up. Come again? A child doesn’t want to sit next to my daughter? My bright, funny, sweet, engaging, daughter? Well. Let me just call the teacher about this one.

Turns out, the other child isn’t a snooty snob. She just doesn’t like to be hugged all day long. And my Luciya, as it happens, is the squeezer. You know the one. The one who is always trying to pick up the other kids, or lead them – a bit too strongly – down the lane. The one who scoots a little closer to the other child so their knees touch. The bubble-less child.

In a way, I’m happy about that fact that Luciya is comfortable enough in assuming the world loves her to want to be physically close to everyone. The child is certainly not shy, and she really has yet to meet anyone by whom she feels threatened. So that’s cool. But it also means we’ve been having to have the “keep your hands to yourself” talk. And it’s getting better.

Luciya responds excellently, and often immediately, to positive reinforcement (which – Hi, my name is Emily and my kid makes me want to pull my hair out – I need to get better at). She has a shining beacon in this ever-intriguing, ever-expanding world in her gorgeous preschool teacher, Miss Jen.

Miss Jen takes Luciya and eight other 3 and 4 year olds two mornings a week to a colorful room attached to her house that is called Happy Days. And I literally count my lucky twirling stars that my child gets this experience each week. Luciya emerges from the Happy Days gate each day at 11:30 with a spring in her step and pride on her face. Every day, she produces incredibly adorable, outright impressive works of art that my walls are becoming too scarce to display. Miss Jen is an artist, and her heart and time pour into providing these lucky children impeccable beauty in the materials she provides them, the projects they colorfully create, the quality of supplies they use, and the creative freedom they are encouraged to explore. Luciya is learning jubilantly, feeling proud, and letting her imagination fly.

When Luciya is overly … well, Luciya, Miss Jen positively redirects her, and always makes her feel safe. I feel 100% confident that my child is in a blessed and remarkable setting.

And I wish I could be a three-year-old again, too.

I wish I could be welcomed to a lovely and serene setting each morning with a hug and an “I love you,” only to be guided through some beautiful, happy songs and encouraged to touch and glitter and paint and glue and imagine to my heart’s content. I want to envision leprechauns that I’ll trap in my very own creation and learn my letters through physical movements.

I am so grateful for Happy Days because I know that my ambitious, confident, often reckless child is cradled in beautiful, loving security.

What else would any mother want for her child?

I’m Emily, and one thing I’ve done right as a parent is send my delightful first-born to a great preschool.

Thanks, Miss Jen. My little caterpillar has grown so well with you. Thank you so much for loving her, and for preparing her to soar.

She’ll be the butterfly with the glittery rainbow wings.