Can you imagine a child like a great big sack of flour, where every impression
during the ages of 0-3 years old, leaves a mark?
This was an imagery given by Health Consultant Irmhild Kleinhenz from Melbourne Therapy Centre.
Can you picture what that flour sack would look like after 3 years?
How many pats, pushes and prods, from all kinds of places and spaces and people,
would have helped to shape and mould that bundle?
Mind boggling, don’t you think?
(This is surely the truth behind the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”, don’t you think?)
She suggested that we, as parents and adults and teachers,
need to be sensitive to allowing the child to be whom they really are.
Rather than our version of what they should be, or determining the final shape of their sack, we can guide and lead with our best intentions without being a fastidious sculptor of wheat grains!
What a task!
Yet, what an honour.
I know, (in very practical terms from being the mother of a somewhat ‘challenging’ teenager),
that although we are compelled in our duty to act as a child’s guardian, mentor, guide and loving family,
we also need to know (or be reminded) that, as the poet Kahlil Gibran says,
our children come through us,
and because of, or despite of, our best efforts, ultimately they must lead their own path.
Anyone with more than one child becomes very aware of how individual children
from within the same family,
whom have the same parents, same home life, same family structures, same food, same schools, same lifestyle, same boundaries and same rhythms can take completely different,
and sometimes opposing, pathways on their own individual journey to unfold their true innate character, given to them at birth, or perhaps even before birth.
So, one thing that stood out for me during this lecture was that the art of ‘Pedagogy’
(the method or practice of teaching) really is the practice of ‘walking alongside the child‘.
What a lovely picture of teaching, and parenting.
The question for me as a parent and teacher is how to do justice to this.
It helps, as Renate Long-Breipohl suggests, to replenish ourselves in order to keep ourselves full of vitality and life force. Not only for ourselves, but for the children.
Living in rhythm is one way to ensure that our life force isn’t depleted by the mundane or everyday life stress. When we live in ‘rhythm’, we are able to create healthy habits that support us to feel nourished and full of vigour rather than wasting our daily measure of energy on something frivolous.
These ‘habits’ require fresh air, and circulation; not just done for the sake of getting something done quickly, but with a dose of directed thoughtfulness to make sure they are continuing to work for,
and not against, us.
Healthy habits, such as waking at a certain time each day, breaking the ‘fast’ with warm porridge and chopped nuts each morning, taking a daily walk, eating mostly natural unprocessed foods for tip top digestion, creating some kind of structure to what needs to be done in our day or finding creative ways to make sure we habitually drink enough clean water, reduce the daily strain on us and allows our life-regenerating forces to go to work maintaining our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Rather than running around like ‘chooks with their heads cut off’ as the saying goes,
we meet our day in an orderly fashion. There is a lot to be said for order!
Chaos, rule no more!
When we are vital and clear headed and strong, we are more able to walk alongside our children,
Isn’t this what we are all striving for?
This ideal of living in harmony.
The word Harmony comes from the Greek word ‘Harmonia’ which means ‘fitting together’.
As Michael S Schneider says in his book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe”,
(I love this book!)
Harmony is seen in the purposeful and preconceived notions of patterns in floor tiles, quilts and wallpaper, but also in nature cycles such as the modern idea that there is a worldwide weather pattern, where all individual systems actually work together and influence each other, as part of a larger whole.
Harmony is all about Connecting.
Connecting with people (relationships), with ‘things’ (how to manage their tools in life) and with ‘ideas’ (making pictorial connections that create meaning and understanding).
Renate suggests, as do many others, that in working and living with young children,
IMITATION is our biggest help to Connectivity.
But more than that, Connectivity is dependent on a warm relationship with the one who is to be imitated,
rather than about the teacher or parent joining in play with the child, or talking about the things you have done together.
Real Work, whether in the home or school,
with adults who truly love their work and believe in the value of the honourable tasks involved in ‘homemaking’ and ‘care taking’
and who are able to adjust this work to meet the capabilities of the child who joins in,
and whom enjoy spending time alongside children as they do these things,
are the keys to helping young children feel a sense of BELONGING, this crucial step in connectivity.
(An aside: And you know, I think that as a parent,
it matters little whether you are able to spend time doing this kind of thing one day a week,
or every single day, so long as we find ways to let our children be enveloped in the loving embrace of others who do find a sense of meaning and purpose in sharing the gifts of real work with our children.
The real crux for us as mothers and home-makers, regardless of the hours we have together, is that the time we spend doing these things alongside our children is joyful,
and not done out of a sense of obligation.
It can help to start small- enjoy ‘cooking’ WITH your children, or planting the vegie garden.
We don’t need to be whizzes at everything all at once, nor ever,
but we can all find at least one thing we love to share with our children, don’t you think?)
All of this REAL WORK belongs in the category of ‘picture making’.
That is, everything we do with (and alongside) the children,
whether it is doing real work such as cooking and cleaning, polishing and mending,
sewing and carpentry, gardening and tending, drawing and modelling,
reading picture books and stories, singing songs, sharing festival preparations,
visiting friends and family or caring for the inner and outer environment,
stimulate a child to make INNER pictures of their own real experiences.
These inner pictures of REAL (not virtual) experiences are what the children utilise to make connections, therefore making sense and meaning of their world.
Picture Making was a common theme across the days.
It is also a key theme in my parenting book that will be published early 2013.
There is so much more to come!
Pop back tomorrow for more inspirations from this nourishing past week.