An Ode To Working Parents

An Ode To Working Parents Everywhere

You may have heard that I have a small side business going taking professional family photos.  It seems like ever since the weather has warmed up I’ve had a job or two on the docket and photos to edit on my computer, and at times I have felt like I have too much on my plate.  But JDubbs is really supportive in this venture and so he understands if I need to take off as soon as he gets home and hole up somewhere quiet to get my work done.  Overall, it works well.

But sometimes with a busy family, there just isn’t enough time in the day and not enough hands to help, so I find myself sacrificing my work for familial obligations–and that can leave me a bit cranky.  Sometimes I have no choice but to just leave in the middle of a chaotic scene because I have somewhere to be, and I feel guilty that I am leaving JDubbs in a lurch, abandoning my kids when they need me, and going to a shoot with my mind on other things–and probably some key element to my business left on the kitchen table because my mind was elsewhere.  It’s times like that that I think, How do working moms do it? and I feel grateful that this side gig is just something I do for pleasure and a little bit of money, not to cover our health insurance or the cost of daycare.  Like the other day…

I had a photo shoot scheduled five minutes away for 6 pm.  I am familiar with this spot and so I didn’t need to get there too early–just early enough to check out the light and figure out where we’d begin.  We are lucky enough that JDubbs works a mile and a half from home, so he is usually home by 5:10 at the latest–NOT the norm for most families, I know.  This particular night was no exception, so I had about a half hour to change my clothes, put on makeup, get my gear, and head out the door.  When JDubbs arrived I was in the middle of emptying the dishwasher, and Jax was in the middle of an impressive Whinefest about why he needed a cookie NOW even though he hadn’t finished his dinner and WHY did Em get one before him?! (oh the injustice!).  The notion that her plate was spotless and she had eaten every last green bean completely escaped him, and my calm, rational explanations were falling on deaf ears.  JDubbs assessed the situation in two seconds and, with his usual direct, cut-the-crap approach, told Jax to eat his dinner.  More whining ensued, only this time at a higher decibel.  I, affronted, told JDubbs to try to be compassionate, while JDubbs, having just walked in the door and not in the mood to deal with Jax’s drama, ignored me.  He told Em to get her shoes on to walk to the end of the driveway to get our trash can (a worthy expedition when your driveway is as long as ours).  Jax’s whining then became deafening as he demanded not only that he have a cookie but also that he wanted to get the trash TOO!  I took this as my cue to go upstairs and change.

I had been upstairs no longer than two minutes when little Miss Em came up to see what I’m doing.  She started pulling clothes off their hangers and pulling shoes out to try them on.  Wear these, Mama! as she pulls out my knee-high rainboots.  Wear these, Mama! as she finds a pair of black platform high heels.  Then she insisted on trying them both on, simultaneously, nearly killing herself and I was still not dressed.  I called downstairs to JDubbs, who was now offering Jax a cookie just to stop whining (but I CAN’T have a cookie!  I didn’t eat my DINNER!  I have to eat my GREEN BEANS FIRST!) and asked him to please come get Em before she destroyed our bedroom.  I then had ten minutes left before I had to leave, and I hadn’t even gotten my camera bag ready.  Looked for the black shirt I planned on wearing, found it in the laundry, had to come up with a completely different outfit–my “professional” clothes are few and far between–and then I was down to five minutes.  Brushed my teeth, realized I must get my gear ready, so now my hair was staying in the ponytail it had been in all day and no, I would not be putting makeup on.  Good thing these clients are friends of ours so they’re used to seeing me like this.

Get to the car, realize I have the wrong keys.  Get back to the car, I don’t have my purse.  Get back to the car, get ready to back down, when I realize that my family of three, who has successfully stopped whining and headed down the driveway to get the trash, is now heading up the driveway at a snail’s pace because only Jax could touch the trashcan.  Of course.  I was supposed to leave two minutes ago.

Head down the driveway, now Em will not walk–I must carry her.  JDubbs is trying to help Jax, but he wants nothing to do with it.  JDubbs finally gets Jax to agree to let him help “push” the trash can while Jax “pulls”.  We walk up, I say goodbye to the kids, and suddenly they realize that I will not be home to put them to bed.  Chaos ensues, tears are streaming, Em has entangled herself fiercely around my legs and has somehow simultaneously attached herself to me and is climbing into the front seat to come with me.  JDubbs finally just has to take her from me and I wave goodbyes and promise I will come tuck them in when I get home, but all I get are glares of accusation and betrayal–how dare I have something else to do other than put them to bed!?

I drive away feeling terrible because a) I kind of agree with them and have Mommy guilt that I should be at their beck and call at all times b) do not have my head in the game for this photo shoot and probably left my camera at home c) was bitchy to JDubbs when he had just gotten home from work and didn’t even get a second to relax and d) I look like crap.  I take a deep breath, force myself look ahead to the shoot, and think, How the hell do working moms do it?  I say moms because I think moms have a higher level of guilt at being away from home–a glaring generalization but, based on my experience, may be true–but I think that all working parents are undoubtedly superheroes with strength of will and stamina that I simply do not possess.  I am so grateful that I am able to stay home with my kids every day and do not have to balance the incredible juggling act that being a parent and having a career entails.  Experiences like these make me realize that there is more to going to work than people may truly understand!

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We put Jax and Em in the same room about a month ago on a whim.  We hoped that their sleeping habits wouldn’t change.  We hoped that we could use Em’s room for a playroom and keep most of their toys in there and thus free up the living room.  We hoped that they would get along.  In some aspects, it’s been fun and a success, but in others it has been an epic FAIL.

PROS:  Jax is a total rule follower and thus is married to the notion that he will not leave his room before 7:00 (that’s how he says it, seven zero zero) when his little tot clock turns yellow.  We leave his small potty in his room overnight so that if he has to pee he can do it without leaving his room, because Lord knows he’d never go back once he broke free.  Since they’ve been co-habitating, Em gets up earlier but stays in her room longer.  Good on two fronts because I get to sleep almost every morning until seven zero zero and she is really tired at naptime.  Bonus.  Not so good because every morning their room looks like a bomb went off with every item in their room in a gigantic pile on their floor, sometimes with them underneath it.

Other good things?  They are really enjoying being together.  Plus we were already doing most of the bedtime routine in Jax’s room because it’s bigger and that’s where the picture books were.  She graduated from board books a bit early to keep up with Jax’s inclinations, so at about a year and a half she’d sit through lengthy renditions of Make Way For Ducklings and the like, to keep up with big bro.  So now instead of having to drag her kicking and screaming into her own room–and usually she only wanted me to do it–they’re both in the same room, and they are in bed minutes after the last book is closed.  No drama, no freaking out if Mommy isn’t putting her to bed.  No breath holding.  A HUGE improvement over the status quo just two months ago.  So for that I am grateful.

On a superficial level, there are less toys in the living room.  It looks more like a living room that has toys, rather than a playroom that has couches, and for that, I am very grateful!

CONS:  Their beds are side-by-side, rail-to-rail, and now our intrepid two-year-old has mastered the art of bed-scaling: where you climb over the side rail of your crib and land gracefully in your brother’s bed (or on your brother’s head) instead of on the floor, free and clear to wreak havoc upon the room and take off your clothes and diapers at your will.  I suppose she could have done that before, but it never occurred to her before this transition.  Now she is a naked, diaper-eschewing, book-flinging free bird.

EXAMPLE:  Last Thursday, JDubbs and I put the kids to bed as usual.  It’s been hot so the kids have been swimming and playing hard–I knew they were tired.    But when I heard them thumping around upstairs after 45 minutes or so, I figured I would benefit from seeing what was up.

When I entered the room, I found Jax on the floor, wrapped in a fleece blanket (even though it’s 89 degrees) and wearing a construction hat with a light on it, reading a book.  Naked.  I turned to the right and there was Em, standing on the diaper pail, also naked, attempting to turn on the light.  But the main idea there is, not that my two kids were naked and wild and free, but that Em was out of her crib.  Naked.  With her diaper across the room and oh, yes, poop on her brother’s bed.

Did I say poop on her brother’s bed?  Oh, yes, I did.  Did it take me and JDubbs combined to clean up the room, get them in their pajamas, clean up the chaos, and restore order?  Oh, yes, it did.  Was I ready for a cocktail afterwards?  Hell yes.

Because even though I love having my kids so close in age, it’s damn exhausting.  Am I guaranteed a (mostly) 7:00 a.m. wake-up call, with the bonus of sibling fun?  Yes.  Do I have a disaster in not only their room, but also the playroom next door?  Yes, every morning.  Does JDubbs help out and keep the kids in check?  Yes.  Do the kids love being together?  Absolutely.  Would we trade it, change it, wish it were different?  No.  Without question, no.

But poop in each other’s bed?   That’s where I draw the line.  Every Mom has their boundaries, and this is mine.  Now the question is, how do we stop it?  Looks like we’ll be keeping them in the same room, but Em will be moving into a big girl bed, if only to prevent a broken arm.  She is only 26 months old.  Pray for us.

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Quiet Time: How To Survive Life After Nap

My kids were born 18 months and 2 days apart–needless to say, we didn’t have a lot of downtime.  It was like having twins, but in some ways worse because they weren’t into the same things at the same time, and yet were still equally needy.  Em needed me physically and although Jax was a bit more independent, in reality, he was little more than a baby himself! In retrospect, JDubbs and I were crazy.  And really tired.

One of my greatest achievements was the day I got them both to take their afternoon naps simultaneously.  Not because it meant I could clean the house or take a shower, but because then I, too, could sleep!  Even if it meant all three of us were napping in the same bed, I didn’t care.  I was sleeping, and that was good enough for me.

Then last summer, Jax did the unthinkable and stopped napping at a mere two-and-a-half.  Oh cruel fate!  I became irritable and exhausted all over again.  I had to find a way to keep my sanity!  Even though I couldn’t nap anymore, I still needed some time to check my email, check Facebook, eat lunch, relax and have some time to myself.  So I stuck to my guns and did the only thing I could to survive.  Instituted mandatory quiet time for Jax in his room for at least 45 minutes every day.  Meaning that no matter how much he whined and kicked, whether his histrionics woke up his sister or whether I spent the entire time ordering him back into his room, Jax learned to play nicely and quietly alone every day.

This may sound crazy to you, but believe me, it’s been a blessing.  This coming from a mom who could never let her kids cry it out–somehow I can stomach a disgruntled toddler better than a screaming infant.  It was hard but not impossible, like getting him to stay in his room once he moved into a toddler bed.  It just took consistency and determination–and since my afternoons were now longer than ever, I was indeed determined to regain a bit of control over my day.  Thanks to Quiet Time I get a guaranteed free period in the afternoon, which usually involves me scarfing down a microwaved hot dog and praying that the clothes in the dryer are still damp so I don’t have to fold them right his minute.  Also, it turns out that Jax rocks at quiet time–and I think I have that to thank (in part) for his very active imagination.

I’ve been spying on him during his quiet time lately while I’ve been thinking about writing this post, and it’s been hilarious for me.  I love listening to him make up scenarios and create dialogue between his toys.  This day he was working on his cars in his imaginary garage.

And this day he was in Super Why mode, preparing to defend our deck from bad guys.

Moral of the story: it’s okay to need a break during the day.  It’s good for your kids to learn to entertain themselves, and often Jax plays independently for far longer than the time I ask.  Often he’ll want to continue playing quietly with me once Quiet Time is over–we spent a lot of time this winter playing games or cards while we waited for his sister to wake up.  I felt like I really got to know him as a little person because he wasn’t running around like a maniac or trying to battle imaginary bad guys.  Since this whole thing began, afternoon has become one of my favorite times of day again, and not because of the hope of a catnap–but because my little guy is growing up into a really cool person, and I’m glad I get a chance to see it.

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If You Give A Kid A Hot Dog…

The new best-selling story, If You Give A Kid A Hot Dog…

If you spend the night at Grandma’s where you sleep in the same room as your kids, the kids will go to bed later and get up earlier.

If the kids go to bed later and get up earlier, they will be cranky come mid-afternoon.

If the kids are cranky in the afternoon, Grandma will give them ice cream to make them feel better.

If the kids are high on sugar and low on sleep, they will be SUPER-cranky at bedtime.

If the kids are super cranky, they will not eat their dinner.

If the kids do not eat their dinner, Grandma will leave it on the table and try to entice them to eat it all night.

If Grandma is enticing the kids to eat, you may some something like, “Come on, buddy.  Let’s go eat.  There’s a hot dog on the table with your name on it.

If you tell a 3-year-old who can read that there is a hot dog waiting with his name on it, there better damn well be the letters of his name written in ketchup across that hot dog.

If the overtired, over-sugared 3-year-old does not in fact see the letters he was expecting, there will be a meltdown.  He will circle the kitchen table demanding, “Where is my name on the hot dog?  Where, Grammy?  WHERE?”

If there is a meltdown, Grandma will offer the 3-year-old anything under the sun to get him to stop. Like offering a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after you have told your son that if he does not eat his hot dog, he’s not getting anything else.

If Grandma offers pb & j under duress, chances are she will not have any bread.

If there is no bread, Grandma will make a pb & j on a hamburger roll.

If you give a 3-year-old a pb & j made on a hamburger roll, he will think it is the coolest thing ever and will happily eat the entire thing.

If he eats the entire thing, he will expect dessert.

If a 3-year-old expects dessert, Grandma will give him some.

And chances are, if your kid is amped up on ice cream at 7 o’clock at night, he will go to bed later and undoubtedly get up earlier.

And don’t forget, all four of you are in the same room.


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8:29 A.M.

It’s 8:29 A.M.  This is what my life is like.

  • Woke up a little before 7:00 to the sounds of my daughter whining that she can’t find her Binkie and Blankie.  Knowing her as I do, I know they are somewhere in her bed, next to the 3 new Disney princess dolls she got for her birthday, five books, three stuffed animals, two blankets, pillow, and God knows what other detritus that has found its way in there.  She is a hoarder. I ignored her and mentally begged JDubbs to take care of it.  He did.
  • I didn’t sleep well last night, mentally running through all the zillions of things I need to do before my photo shoots this weekend.  I was up until 11:00 pm getting some photos edited and off my memory card.  Jax developed a strange cough that kept me sleeping with one ear open, plus I had nightmares of arriving at my shoot unprepared, at the wrong time, or wrong place.  Not ready to start this day.
  • My husband comes to wake me up with a snuggle.   My eyes are not open because I cannot stand to face the glare of morning yet.  As I go to snuggle, he goes to kiss, and we smack heads.  Now I have a headache and will probably have a bruise.  Sexy.  I haven’t even opened my eyes yet.
  • 7:05.  In the shower.  Must shave legs; they are horrifying even for someone who lives in the woods of Vermont.  Kids are thundering outside the bathroom hallway, already very awake.  I am grateful for this extra five minutes of quiet.  Gave me time to wonder if there are any other tactics I haven’t tried to convince JDubbs to have another baby.  I think not.
  • 7:30.  I am dressed.  I have had a timeout with Jax to talk about his hitting.  JDubbs has had a timeout to talk to Jax about his hitting.  Em threw the contents of the box with all her hair clips into her bed.  I cleaned them out because I know I’d forgot by naptime.  I have since found more all over the house.  Had to carry each kid down the stairs individually because they insisted and it’s just that kind of day.
  • 7:45.  Kids have eaten breakfast.  It was miraculously uneventful. No spills, no meltdowns, no fights.  I emailed my clients for tomorrow’s shoot about the chance of rain.  Please God, no rain.
  • 8:00.  Bribed kids to let me clean their hands and faces with tiny containers of bubbles left over from Em’s party.  Em dumps one out immediately.  Have to get her another one.  Turn back to the kitchen to find my dog standing on all four legs on my kitchen table, licking up scraps.  Lose my mind and put him outside in the rain.  Call JDubbs to tell him that the dog is coming to work with him from now on.  No answer.
  • Get the pillowcases for the living room throw pillows out of the dryer.  Had to wash them because there was a chance my niece had headlice, something I am NOT mentally prepared to deal with.  Turns out she didn’t, but now I have clean throw pillows.  However I also have to wrangle these freaking pillows back into those tiny pillowcases.  By the end, I am covered in feathers.
  • 8:10.  Jax and Em get into a battle over the bubbles.  I realize now that was a bad idea.  Jax hits her.  I lose my mind again.  My patience is officially exhausted.  It is only 8:10.  JDubbs calls back and I start to cry because neither my son nor my dog actually listens to me.  JDubbs is not surprised they don’t listen to me.  Now I am aggravated.
  • Beg Jax tearfully to PLEASE start using his words and PLEASE stop hitting.  My tears seem to alarm him.  Hopefully he will take pity on me and begin to act like a human being again.  Otherwise he’s going to be sitting alone at the lunch table in a few years.  I waste precious time wondering if he is a sociopath.
  • 8:18.  Head upstairs to get the kids’ clothes.  Here a crash downstairs.  Come downstairs to find a basketball in the wine rack and one of my wine glasses in a million pieces on the floor.  The pieces are EVERYWHERE.  Mom always said, don’t play ball in the house.
  • 8:29.  Finish cleaning up the wine glass, have put on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, am finally sitting down to eat my own breakfast, and the kids have to be at school in 31 minutes.  They are not dressed.  I have lost my mind.  I think I will put on a second cartoon after this one.  I may need time for a cocktail.
  • Resisted the urge to have a mimosa and instead wrote this blog post.  At least now I feel better for having taken a moment to write all this stuff down.  Except for the fact that now it’s 8:53 and school starts in 7 minutes.  Kids are still not dressed, still watching TV.  Shit.
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Don’t Hold Your Breath

A good friend of mine told me a while ago that I wasn’t being completely upfront with my bloggy readers.  She said I was holding back on a major element of my parenting saga thus far.  I had mentioned it, sure, but I did not give the significance of this daily drama its due.  So here I am, coming clean about Em and her diva behavior.

It’s not her pouting that is so legendary, although she is quite talented in that regard as well.  Baby girl–who turned two yesterday!!–has such epic temper tantrums that she holds her breath until she literally passes out.  I obviously don’t have a picture of her in the throes of this behavior, since I’m usually more concerned about getting her lungs kickstarted again, but if she keeps this up for another year or so I may just start documenting it for posterity.

She’s been doing this since she was very little.  If it was JDubbs’s turn to put her to bed that night, we all held our collective breaths hoping that she might have miraculously mellowed out overnight and would now allow her Daddy to put her to bed without comment or drama.  More often than not, though, when she realized it was Daddy who was wrapping her in her comfy towel and was about to read her stories, forget it.  She would lose her cool and scream like a newborn until her face, then her lips, then even her gums would turn purple until finally she had done it so long that out of self-preservation, her body would make her lose consciousness so she would breathe.  Then there’s a terrible moment when she really does look frighteningly dead, and then she gasps, her eyes will roll around a bit and she will lay like a limp rag doll while she cries pitifully.  Believe me; it’s awful for absolutely everyone involved.

It used to be that she’d do it only if she hurt herself.  Just like how everyone’s kid does the silent scream that you know is just the calm before the ear-splitting storm, Em would do that until she keeled over since she was about one.  Last summer she, Jax, my mother-in-law and I were at a hot dog stand, sitting at a picnic table, enjoying lunch when Em whacked her head on the side of the picnic table.  She then started doing her trademark breath-holding, but the problem was, she had a hunk of hot dog in her mouth.  She doesn’t always do it until she passes out, but she nearly always gives you a good twenty seconds while she turns eight shades of blue, so I knew I had a small window of time before she inhaled violently and that little hot dog bit flew into her windpipe.  My mother-in-law and I frantically debated the best strategy–we could clearly see it, should I try to reach in and grab it, which could cause me to push it into her throat myself?  We decided against it, and so I flipped Em over onto her belly and started smacking her on the back in an attempt to make the hot dog fall out before she breathed (in this instance, the longer she took to breathe, the better).  Meanwhile Em was absolutely livid that I was a) not sympathetic to her boo boo from the picnic table and was now b) beating the crap out of her for what she perceived as no good reason.  She started flailing and furiously thrashing until finally she breathed and swallowed the damn hot dog anyway.  Holy crap, what an ordeal.

Since then it’s only gotten worse; now she holds her breath for anything that pisses her off.  I look at her wrong and suddenly she’s doing it just out of spite.  She does it if she’s mad, if someone takes something from her, if she’s hurt, if I leave, if it’s JDubbs’s turn to do anything with her–she is a serious diva.  She knows what she wants and will literally injure herself in an attempt to get her own way.  Interestingly enough, our doctors could not care less.  She is not capable of actually hurting herself with this melodrama, unless she falls and hurts herself after the fact.  As long as we make sure she’s safe and not in any kind of danger, we should just lay her down and let her continue this behavior to her histrionic heart’s content.  They said it’s just an attention-seeking device like any other, so the less attention we give her (which would be rewarding her), the better.  Easier said than done when she does it in the middle of a store with kind and concerned grandmother-types hovering in horror as they watch this sweet little girl pass out in front of their eyes.  Or the other day when she did it on the busy main street of Hanover, NH, because I wouldn’t pick her up.  People nearby started getting out of their seats, coming over, asking if I needed anything, when all I really needed was a freaking cocktail because it is so unbelievably embarrassing.  I just have to stand there and wave them off, saying things like, “It’s okay, she just does this,” or “This is her thing, she’ll be fine,” when in reality I look like the world’s worst mother who doesn’t care that her child is near death!  Gee, thanks, Em.  Whatever am I going to do with you?

So now you know–Em is an epic diva, worthy of an Academy Award for her antics and ridiculously alarming behavior.  She nearly gave my aunts simultaneous heart attacks at Christmas when she did it after I ran outside to warm up the car.  I came back inside to a purple baby and four aunts who needed to be reassured, sat down and handed a beer to recuperate from the shock of seeing their great-niece waste away before their eyes.  Has anyone else had a child with this kind of stubborn, outrageous behavior?  Any advice, any suggestions, would be received kindly and with great appreciation.  And now that you know, I’ll be sure to share in the continuing soap opera that is life with this little girl.  Lord help me when she’s a teenager.

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March Musings

I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices I make in parenting lately, from the words I use to the toys we buy (especially now that I have a Disney Princess-aholic on my hands).  How I am prone to over-analyze every aspect of my role as mother and am trying to tone it down a bit.  How something as simple as word choice and language impacts my kids every day.  How I have a hard time instinctively letting them play on their own, always trying to structure them or give them something to do, when in reality, they are just fine without me.  Better, probably, because their brilliant little brains can think of a thousand awesome things to do with an empty egg carton and I have to go on Pinterest to think of one.  I don’t think it hurts them that I am so willing to be their playmate or am staving off their boredom–I just don’t know how much I’m helping them, either.  Things to consider and work on, as always.

I read a great post from Moving Smart a while ago; it was my favorite one from the blog hop and I meant to bring it up here and never did.  Well it’s an extremely well written post about how we impart not only information to our kids, but also our opinions; how in our efforts to educate them we may also be over-informing them by attaching meaning to things without letting our kids experience them for themselves.  We project adjectives onto experiences or judge a food or a movie without considering what the child may have been thinking before we opened our big mouths.  So quick to educate, so quick to inform–what if my interpretation impairs a particularly magical moment that I didn’t even know was happening, and by throwing in my two cents, I took the shine off, or the sparkle out, or labeled a soup ladle a soup ladle, when in reality it was King Arthur’s sword freshly pulled from the stone?

Or like that scene in The Lion King, when Timon, Pumba, and Simba are all sharing what they think those twinkly things shining down on them from the night sky are, and Pumba’s ideas are dismissed as insignificant and Simba’s ideas are laughed at–it makes me wonder, have I done that to my kids today?  Have I labelled something as scary, silly, insignificant, useless, when to them it was mystical and mysterious only minutes before?  When I tell them that a star is a ball of gas millions of miles away, am I erasing all the future possibilities for folk tales and fables and fairy tales to weave their wondrous way into my child’s heart?  Am I over-educating them in an attempt to share the world with them?  Very likely, knowing me.  It requires a balance to teach and yet not tell, and although it is precarious, it is attainable.  Not that I know–I’m just musing over here.

The reason I thought of this is because suddenly Jax has begun labeling things as “scary.”  The idea of being scared of the dark has come up in a few books or TV shows, but nothing that I thought particularly resonated with him.  In the book Beyond the Rainbow Bridge that we received from the kids’ school, it talks about why Waldorf schools use real, unedited age-appropriate Grimm’s fairy tales rather than the softer, edited (ahem, Disney) versions.  It says,

“In a true fairy tale as those collected by the Brothers Grimm, human beings undergo trials and suffering and accept that deeds are a part of proving oneself worthy of the reward at the end of the path…They confront evil and overcome it.  Children experience the greed of the wolf and the evil of the witch quite differently than we adults do.  They experience these qualities more as archetypal pictures about life, but do not identify themselves personally with the suffering.  They trust that there will be a happy ending or that good will triumph over evil.  Such stores strengthen the moral lives of children….This strength and guidance will help them to deal with the challenges life brings to them.”

I think it goes back to what Gill from Moving Smart was talking about–the power of suggestion, or providing too much information.  Movies have music to create anxiety or build suspense.  Stories are read with emphasis. Adults are so quick to supply preschoolers with their emotions when they are upset, rather than allowing them to give voice to their own emotion —What’s wrong, Johnny?  Are you okay?  Did that SCARE you? when in reality the idea of being scared never crossed Johnny’s mind.  Now suddenly he thinks, Oh, crap, balloons popping are scary?  Well, does that mean balloons are scary?  Does that mean clowns are scary?  Now I hate clowns!  Man, I use to really like them, too.  We put the idea in their head–stars are balls of gas, clowns are scary–and we can’t take it back.  The innocence and wonder of childhood are gone.

Maybe that’s why I am so keen to keep my kids at the Waldorf school, because they not only understand this notion (and bring it to my attention), they guard children’s innocence as fiercely as other schools guard their IPads.  Because yes, I want to keep my kids in a blissful little bubble of happiness for as long as possible.  Is it going to last very long?  Nope.  Are they going to have to grow up eventually?  Of course.  But can I hope to foster the joy and simplicity of an early childhood spent at home with mom in the backwoods of Vermont for as long as I can?  You bet.  And if I can keep my heroes noble, my witches evil and vanquished, my kids’ spirits nourished, their curiosity piqued and their anxiety at bay for a while longer in the process, even better.

I just have to figure out how to make that happen.

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