Back to school for Sam, morning adventure time with Ben
So Sam is back in school – a few minutes late this morning because both boys slept in until 7:30! (My “policy” is not to wake sleeping children until they are in 3rd grade.) We enjoyed bike/running over listening to Beethoven and talking about what life was like 200 years ago. Sam was very intrigued by how long people tended to live, how they had to heat their homes with coal, no bathrooms or phones, etc. Life was a lot harder in some ways, but in other ways they were slowed down enough to appreciate beauty all around them, much as we were during our “grounding” for Thanksgiving. Beethoven started writing music about the age Sam is now, and found his inspiration during long walks in the woods.(This is from memory reading a great biography about him 6 years ago, so hopefully I’ve retained these tidbits correctly ;0 ) Music is a really important part of life for us, and I am so grateful every time Sam picks up his uke to play.
I’ve been meaning to jot some notes down about two books, one of which I recently finished and the other is on my bed stand.
The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast, Too Soon (Elkind) This book struck a chord with me when I stumbled across it – our family was in a phase where the calendar had booked up quickly, we were double-booked often and having to choose between equally good opportunities, and it seemed like I was saying “hurry” from 7:07am straight through for 12 hours. When I noticed this book was in its 25th year of print, I had to pick it up – how could things have been so crazy even 25 years ago? Elkind observes that dual income families have placed a special burden on children – not just the mad dash out the door to daycare, but the multiple transitions we ask of children throughout a day, from home to preschool/daycare, from daycare to after-school care with a neighbor or friend, and back home for an hour before bed. He notes that the meltdowns upon returning home are likely due to the release of tension built up during the day – the child manages his or her feelings and “adjusts” but the fallout happens when the child can finally relax at home. While I think much of it could have been stated more concisely, it is a good read and helps parents reprioritize so that these very brief early years are healthy and nurturing for the whole family. It doesn’t have to be a period of life we “survive” until the kids are old enough to be more self-sufficient. This should be a time to embrace their dependency, create special bonds, and not hurry up all those developmental milestones to suit our own needs.
Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Kids in a Mixed-Up, Muddled-Up, Shook-Up World (Esquith) This book was sent to me by a friend (also a client) and I am grateful for it. The author is a teacher and parent with profound dedication to helping kids develop into extraordinary beings. He infuses his teaching with life lessons (about being on time, about valuing time and managing it so that it isn’t lost or squandered), and taking them on adventures such as a ball game for his fifth graders. I find that much of his philosophy is like mine – that important life lessons are all around us and certainly not confined to the mastery of sight words or basic arithmetic. While all that academic stuff is vital, it’s not what makes us extraordinary. Using our minds to think creatively about the world around us, to perceive the nuances of life and people, to have the freedom of time to dream about goals and pursue them…all that is important. It is part of why I am waiting for home school and public school to join forces for those of us who want the best of both: three months of school, one month of holo holo time with the kids. I think elementary school could be completely overhauled for the good of families and kids. So if I don’t head out this week, we’ll stay put for the month (Dave isn’t home to nay-say my ideas!) then go holo holo in March when we’re not competing with so many people.