Sunday, September 16, 2012

Coloring Day

The beginning of Fall is upon us!
Every day feels just a little bit more chilly and crisp.
Our slippers are finding their way to our feet..
Long sleeves are a must in the morning hours, only to be thrown to the side in sunny, warm park later on.
How long will this Indian summer last?
I again hear the ice cream truck lull down the street with its tinkly music and false promise of Summer...

The Fall has brought us several new playgarden children and room for just one more. It has also brought me a new assistant, Ms. Suzanne. I began searching for an assistant a few weeks ago and interviewed several. I was looking for someone loving and warm, someone who knew (or has the capacity to learn) how to stand back and let the children be. This isn't easy for most adults. The urge to explain, give choices, present, teach, and fill in silence is very much there for most people. I was looking for someone who didn't want to be the center of attention.

Ms. Suzanne is a great fit and the children already love her. She's with us for 2 hours each day-- from the the time we're outside at the park (1 hour) to when we come home for handwashing, a simple story, and lunch. These are the transitions that have proven to be most fragile for us, so it's wonderful to have another set of hands, ears, and eyes to guide us along in our day.

I feel that the relationship between a lead teacher and an assistant is akin to a very personal dance....the timing has to be right, or you're stepping all over each others feet. We're learning..and it's going very well! She's an experienced mother to 4 grown children with a good amount of valuable advice for me...but what's most important-- she's with us because she loves children. I can see it all over her face:)

The past 2 or 3 weeks have been rather painful for me, I am somewhat sorry to say. W has been going through some kind of change where he has become increasingly loud, territorial, and disruptive to his/our day. Attention seeking behaviors, such as yelling while at the table, stamping his feet, running around like a mad man during circle (and urging others to do so, as well), have been making me tick like a bomb waiting to go off. By the end of the afternoon when our 2 hour rest period has rolled around, I'm pretty much spent. Upstairs I go to nurse W and settle him in for a nap. Only, I don't want to be touched or have him nurse. He's looking for that reconnection, but I'm so not there. I'm somewhere else--- wanting to go downstairs and finish the dishes on my own, wanting to read a little bit, wanting to tidy everything up from the day...really, just wanting to be on my own for a bit. 

Weaning has been on our horizon for some time now (at 37 months), but it seems like each time I start to consider it more, the more he wants to have it. Even just for 5 seconds. It doesn't matter- he just wants me to say yes...probably because I've been such a say "no" or "please don't do that" mama for the past 3 weeks. Ah, ok. Now I see. How helpful it is for me to have this space to reflect and come too these realizations:)

awesome hollow blocks from community playthings

Our own children are fantastic at pushing our buttons. When the playgarden children are sometimes defiant towards me (as a 3 or 4 year old usually is), I barely bat an eyelash. I see these behaviors as developmental and most likely a need for affirm that I am in charge, attention, etc. But my own child really does get me going. Screaming during our reverent candle time really irks me because it is such a special moment for all of us. Ignoring his behaviors is a difficult option because I don't want the other children to experience this kind of disruptive noise...I see them cover their ears and it makes me so sad. And angry towards W. Sometimes I wish that he could spend just one day at his grandmother's house during playgarden so I could see what it's like without different the day would be. But-- he is very much a part of our group. I have to figure out what is truly unacceptable behavior and what is just making me annoyed or upset. I believe there is a difference. It's one of those things a Waldorf teacher has to learn to do-- to remove her own emotions, hang ups, triggers, and just be neutral. It's really hard.

But just like everything, it's a work in progress. And I'm willing to do the work. I'm just feeling exhausted and stretched thin in the patience-for-my-own-child department lately. 

The weekends and weekdays where we don't hold playgarden are different for W and I, relationship wise. We have the opportunity to play together, to be outside all day, and to be one on one. I do believe that this is what he is missing most during playgarden. I purposely make no plans for the evening (friends stopping by, somewhere to go, etc.) on days where the playgarden children are here. It's important that we have the evening together as a family uninterrupted. Really, this can be said for any young child who has had a nursery experience on a given day. To be home again is a feeling of security and normalcy, especially in these first few weeks of "school starting". Our home has to be just a home after 4pm. We need that time something fierce.

Well, so much for this being a post about our coloring day:)
In short, each Friday serves as our time to do some crayoning together with beeswax stick and block crayons....
We use over sized paper for this and the children spend a good amount of time engaged in this artistic activity. When they are done, the bring their work to me and I write their initials on the paper while saying their name:) I then roll it up and tie it with a piece of green yarn (green being the color of the day)

I do this extra slowly, as they love to watch the process. 

The next few weeks bring much to look forward to- apple picking, a Celtic celebration in our community, and Michaelmas....the opportune time for me to face the dragons which have been so full of fire in my life at this time...


  1. Patience is so much easier to find with the children of others! We don't have all of those personal hang-ups dragging us down. I also understand the "not now" feeling with a nursing child beyond babyhood. I am right there with ya!

  2. Thank you for posting this. It is nice to be reminded from time to time that we are all human. Lily will be 3 at the end of the month and we are going through the very same things around here.

  3. I completely get what you are saying. I am a mother to an 18 month old. There are times when he can really push my buttons. I was a nanny and a preschool teacher and never had problems dealing with those kids, but now that its my own its different. I feel very bad somedays about the way I react. I try to remain calm and remember this will pass and its all part of their development, but it can get trying. He never sits still, is a horrible eater and doesnt sleep well either, but besides that he is the sweetest loving boy there is. I just need to remember my patience. He is the greatest teacher of patience for me, since I have a hard time in that area. I guess I just expect a lot of myself and at times feel like I am not living up to it. I love reading your blog. I would love to work with you if I lived close by.

  4. Hang in there Rebecca! My daughter is the exact same age and has the same personality. But I know since this is your first child it's hard to know what's going on. Really though, it's totally normal. Mine is constantly disruptive and loud and very very insistent on getting her way, even though she's never really been catered to or spoiled, that much :) She is getting very independent, yet still needs the comfort of her blanket, her pacifier and mama to hold her close. It's a transitional time obviously. I think you are doing an amazing job with him, and I promise, it does get better. I had another one like this and she just threw me for a loop! But now she is wonderful. Careful guiding from the parents reap great results.

  5. My little man is moving through a little bit of a transition lately and a friend wondered last week when I talked to her about it if he might be weaning...if so, it is a very interesting transition. I am waiting to see how it all plays out.

    Hang in there.

  6. This too shall pass. :) "Sometimes when you want to give them affection the least, is when they need it the most". Not sure who said that, but I always remind myelf when my children are the most trying.

    I have found with my son, when I weaned him, our relationship vastly improved. I don't know if his acting out was because he needed to wean, or if it just coincided with the process. Or perhaps I was done nursing and he sensed that. Either way, weaning can be a very joyful time. I am not saying that is what you should do, but I thought I would throw that out there. :) I love your blog, BTW.

  7. So glad you stopped by my blog, as it brought me to yours. I am so very inspired by your space here. I have been feeling such a pull toward a Waldorf lifestyle, I wish I'd have known what it was all about years ago, before I was a Mama. Speaking of which, my middle guy is just a few months older than yours, and I can totally relate in the behavior department. Know that you are not alone, and as I used to teach preschool I can relate to the feeling of having your buttons pushed more by your own child than others. I always felt a little guilty about that. But this too shall pass!

  8. Thank you for sharing! Being a mama is an ongoing project of inner work for sure! And adding being a teacher for you it is probably even more so! Having two little ones I can relate to the need for space sometimes. There has been times when I feel like my blood is boiling when someone hangs at my arm and grabs at my legs...I just need space! Usually I am very touchy and our little ones gets lots of hugs, pats on the head, rough housing with papa, snuggles, tickles. It's just some times that I need someone to not hang on me! If I have to, I take a bathroom break with a book for a few minutes (amazing how comfortable the floor can be :-p) or get out after they are in bed and papa is home.
    While I want to be available to them and am (by being a homemaker), we need to take care of ourselves too. But I have realized also that sometimes, pulling them closer when we want to push back can diffuse a situation quite quickly :-) They are so sensitive to our emotions and I am sure they sense our need for space, but being young, they don't know what that means and it is probably scary for them.
    Our 3.5 year old constantly reminds me that her understanding of time is not the same as mine. Everything that has happened, happened yesterday, doesn't matter if it was yesterday or two months ago. Same probably goes for the future. Mama needs 10 minutes; to them, I'm not sure 10 minutes and 10 years feel a whole lot different.
    You're doing a wonderful job, and you are an inspiration for me as I try to work on myself in situations with my kids. Thank you! (sorry about the long response, lots of thoughts on this as we've been dealing with the same/similar lately :-)...)

  9. Oh how I paused through-out this post and connected with your words. I am the mother if a 3 year old, who is wonderful, but very difficult when we are out in the world with other children. It is so stressful to take him to play grounds, the library, and friends' homes as he is aggressive, loses self-control, and respect for others. I am sad. When we are home, he is amazing. I just try to give myself lots of space on the weekend when my husband is home and get some sleep. I also found cutting back on my caffeine intake helps me to remain more calm. This is the age, but it is a difficult age.


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