Saturday, August 22, 2009

wash the dishes to wash the dishes

Huh? This was my first lesson in mindfulness. It is a story written by Thich Naht Hanh. It is all about a man who would wash the dishes at the end of the night only because he knew when he was finished that he would be able to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea. The task that was given was for him to wash the dishes, just to wash them, not for any other reason. Why you ask? Well, if we go through life always preforming our tasks to get to the next step, then we are never fully present in what we are doing and therefore never fully present in life.

This summer has not been an easy one. My 5 year old has pushed me to my limits most days and some beyond. I eventually got to a place that I began resenting his school. That's nonsense you say. Well, my son is enrolled in Waldorf. It is a great school, wonderful teachers, storybook setting. It is also not just a school. Being a Waldorf parent requires that we also make lifestyle changes. For the past 5 years, I have made those changes in our home, willingly, sometimes almost self-righteously. All of this with the idea that it would make my son a better person and validate that I was a good parent.

Well, this summer has proved me wrong. He is still 5. And for any of you that have a 5 year old, you know exactly what I am talking about. Back-talking, sassing, tantrums, tears, disobedience. He can also be really sweet, don't get me wrong. But it has been a very challenging time none the less. Where does the resentment come in? Well, I signed up for Waldorf, I mean really signed up. Our home and our lives are only one degree from peach walls. And I still have the child that I so arrogantly used to say, I wouldn't.

Then it came to me last week. It's not about the school, or lack of plastic toys or even the nature table that is going to support him to be a wonderful person. It's me and my husband. I know this sounds so obvious, and I believed that before too, but I held this value in his school as thought it would produce something different, something that public school just couldn't.

What I realized last week was that my love of nature, history, classical music and books, that all came from my dad. My love of being creative, my strong, willful nature and my compassionate and empathetic spirit, that all came from my mum. None of these came from the school I attended. And so will be the same for my children. That is the trust that has been bestowed in us as parents, as guardians for these little souls, to give them the gifts of life, from our heart to theirs.

So, in a couple of weeks, my son will go back to school. I still think it is a good school and a great place for him to be. However, I no longer believe that it will give us a certain outcome. That person I hope my son to grow up to be (loving, considerate, thoughtful, passionate etc) is partly my husband and I and partly just who my son is, the school is just the icing (and expensive icing at that). Because whether he goes there or some other school, we will still go for walks in the woods, eat dinner together at the table, keep the TV off and maintain the nature table. And with all of that, I can still have my cup of tea too.


Debra Snell said...

Congratulations on taking back your power to parent. Generally schools are there to educate.

It's the parents job to guide, discipline and instill family values. Let the school instill their values when they have him. He is your responsibility first. The school won't be around when he's a teenager or grown. Don't kid yourself.
It's OK not to be a perfect Waldorf parent. You just need to be the parent your son needs you to be.

Again, this is a huge awakening. Congrats!

tall tree photography said...

great post! it gave me goosebumps:-)

Melodie said...

This is how I partly justify mydecision to send my daughter to public school. Knowing that our mother-child attachment, walks in the woods and continued education at home will make up for whatever she might miss at public school.