Monday, 29th of August, 2016.
Sitting crossed legged on the warm pavement I was in awe of the children. They were playing. Let me spell that out because it is the best.
P L A Y I N G.
It really is the most remarkable thing, and as I sat there watching them, I was upset with myself. “You DO want to spend all day every day with your children Kirsten! Why did you say otherwise yesterday?”
This is the thing you see, if you go around the place, giving a running commentary to everyone about every little thing that enters your mind, when Mercury retrograde approaches you find yourself confused in public places. “It is ok, Mercury does not actually retrograde, it just appears that way, it is a time of illusions. It is a time to reflect, and go over the past, and establish what is really real, and what is going to be important when things appear to be moving forward again.”
I was glad I sorted that out with myself, because it was like a big deep breath. “Oh yes, this Mercury retrograde is going to be fabulous and insightful!” I told myself. And I truly think it will be. My focus shifted back to watching the children. They are so entertaining.
Maya came into the kitchen this morning and announced that she needed to be down on the basket court before 9am. “Are you going to drink your tea here or take it with you?” She said. I realized right away she was being my boss, I was not being given an option whether or not I wanted to facilitate this outing. I decided to go along with it, as she seemed to be moved, and needed this activity as an expression. “I will drink my tea quickly here.” I said, glancing at the clock, and seeing that in order to keep to her schedule I would have to drink my tea and get dressed within 12 minutes. Sometimes it can take me a whole hour to drink my tea. Over and over the girls will come to me to ask me to do something and I will say, “When I have finished drinking my tea!” and I sip it like it is the never-ending tea of longevity, that appears to last forever. It frustrates the girls that I can make one cup of tea last so long, but, well, gosh, some days that looooonng cup of tea saves me. Anyway, today I was quick with drinking tea and quick at getting dressed.
So there I sat watching the girls, and thinking of extreme forms of human beings (don’t ask) and the girls were having so much fun I had to stop daydreaming and just be present.
They have this new activity and you know how children are, they get an idea and then for days it will occupy them. An object in the house or yard can sit untouched and then the flow of energy is like a current, and some magic seems to draw them to it and it becomes the object of fascination and they have to play with it every day. For a while at least, until a new idea or toy captures their interest. Anyway, the wagon, the red wagon has been a hit the past week. We had it out when Elle was washing the bikes, and it needed a wash too. Since then, they have played with it every day.
Maya wanted to take Elle in the wagon down to the pool, and I said yes, then while they were having a break from swimming they took the wagon over to the basket ball courts. It turns out that Elle is brilliant at steering the wagon with the pull handle while she is sitting in the wagon, using the handle like it is a rudder on a boat. Maya pushes from behind with all her might, legs running full force ahead. Elle leans into it, and Maya leans into it and as the wagon zooms around the basket ball court it is hilarious to watch. Elle is a remarkable driver, with this stick handle steering rod. Maya is not as able and so she always takes on the role of propeller, pushing the wagon around and around. Then once the momentum is going she jumps in and they coast along for a while. Sometimes Maya sits, facing out the back with legs hanging over so she can speed walk the wagon along. Her feet going push, push, push. While Elle steers.
There have been a few accidents and I have sat there with hands over my eyes, shielding myself from imagined injuries. “I can’t watch! Be careful girls!” I said was they were trying this method on an incline. Then later when I became even more worried I shrieked out, “Maya, you have to be careful, what if Elle falls out and smashes her front teeth?”
That did not happen though. The worse that happened is that Elle fell out and bonked her head, and got a big bruise and scratches on her back. They rounded the basket ball hoop pole too tightly and the wagon crashed into it and tipped over. Maya fell and skidded both her knees.
So that is how my day started, a cup of tea and then down to the basket ball court to watch the girls careening around in the wagon. They wore themselves out within an hour and we were home by 10am.
Cam was just getting up when we came in. He has been working very long hours between his cyber security role and deconstructing life in Montclair. I could see he was tired, but he was still being funny. “Don’t forget to put everything we own in boxes today.” He said. I felt tired just thinking about it too. While moving does not have to be stressful, I am not sure how to make it any less physically taxing, unless of course you pay someone to do it for you. We are not though, we pack it all ourselves. Two days left, two days until we move.
I just wrote the date and realized I forgot Grandma’s birthday. Yikes, What is going on? This time three years ago we were there, celebrating her birthday with her, that was the last time we were in Australia, for Grandma’s birthday, and now today, I forgot it.
Forgetting Grandma’s birthday made me feel all topsy-turvy, like something is not right. Too much happening, too much on my mind. Or maybe it is time to write birthdays on the calendar?
So, speaking of too much on my mind, I have been putting a lot of thought into the children going to school. I want them to, because we need the change, but I do not want to miss out on them at the same time. I do not want to let them go. Oh yes it is true a little of what I shared before about wanting to be with my computer, but no, not really, really, they are my everything! What a place it is to be on this threshold of shifting from being a home school family to a school family! It will pass, we will slide into our new life and be grateful for the change. That is all it is, that need of, change.
Sometimes there is no explaining why change is necessary either. I was saying yesterday that them going to school in part was because I wanted to write, but it isn’t. That was just what I considered a perk once we had made the choice. When I look at all the school work we did together, how enriching it was, no amount of writing could ever replace that time we spent together. Now though, something is different. We just had to acknowledge that we needed change. We wanted our household to move to a different beat, and we knew changing address alone would not have done that. Sometimes you just know something has to shift, and there does not have to be a multitude of reasons, it is just a feeling under the skin. It is like how an itch appears. Have you ever wondered, why it is an itch appears? Sometimes there is a bug biting you, but other times, no matter how hard you look, there is nothing evident to cause an itch on the skin externally, but beneath the surface, something is there, something. So that is what happened. Beneath our surface we all felt it, and we decided to enroll the girls in school.
Perhaps you are the opposite, as I am wondering why my children now want and need to go to school, you may be wondering why for the first time ever you want and need your children to stay home with you. Life works in mysterious ways. You just have to feel that itch.
I really do need to put all the things we own in boxes.
The day progressed and I did a fine job of packing up the house. The children helped too. As is the way of life, because I believe we are meant to thrive, the universe placed just what I needed to see in my hands. There is a cupboard in our basement, and in the cupboard was a folder containing all variety of Waldorf information. It was stored on a shelf with other things I never read but felt I should save. The folder was orange, and across the front in hastily scrawled letters, it said WALDORF. Over the years I had collected a lot of information, because prior to homeschooling, I had my heart set on the girls going to a Waldorf School. When we had Maya, in Byron, we started going to the Waldorf seasonal fairs, the first of which when she was 4 months old. I had been a baby sitter for many years before becoming a mother and the children I most often minded, went to Cape Byron Steiner. Part of my duty would be to collect and drop them off at school. I even went along to their concerts and was some impressed watching the children I cared for play the cello. I was in awe of the school and the spirit, it was so, so beautiful. Before I even had a boyfriend with which to have children, I had my heart set on this reality for my own.
Now, fast forward many many years and Cam and I uproot life in Byron and moved to New York City. For various reason, location and finances we were not able to send Maya to a Waldorf School. I had researched and then I realized it was unlikely. That was until one day when I met Faith Evans Sills in the playground in Park Slope. Life really does weave us together with purpose, if you are willing to let it happen. It is a long story and I suppose I should share it now, even though I feel a nagging sensation…
“Oh dear, we move house in two days and here I am telling stories!”
“Push me higher mama” Maya said, as her little legs kicked to accentuate the motion of the swing. We had not long moved into the apartment that over looked Harmony playground in Park Slope. This playgroup became part of our every day life. Hour after hour, we would play in this hub of Prospect Park. It was also Faith’s closest playground and on this day, she was there, at the same set of swings as us, pushing a little girl, slightly younger than Maya. We smiled at each other and right away I recognized our similarities. While we both had long blonde hair of the same shade, there was more to it than that. There was a creative vibe, like a golden thread we both had spooled in our hearts. I don’t know how else to describe it, but yes, that was it, we were women who were worldly and expressive.
“How far along are you?” Faith asked, smiling at my belly. I was round and full, 7 months pregnant with Elle. Our conversation meandered down an effortless path. Faith was a newly trained Doula, and before long we were sharing our homebirth stories. Faith had travelled around Australia when she was younger, and as the saying goes, we clicked. We did not however exchange phone numbers or even names for that matter, it was just a lovely light meeting in the playground at the swings.
Now this is where the wonderful thing happens. That evening it was sinking in for me that soon my baby would be born and I would have a newborn and a three-year old. We did not have family for support or any other help, Cam worked very long hours and while I enjoyed being a full-time mother, I needed community and to be involved in something with my children. We had lived in Park Slope a little over a month an on our daily strolls to become acquainted with the neighbourhood, I had noticed a hand written sign pinned to a window of a building on our street. It was for a co-operative Waldorf playgroup. There was very little information to be found about it on the internet, in fact nothing, and if you were not walking slowly and looking at life, you would not have even see the little sign. I had taken down the email address, and for reasons beyond me, that evening I decided to write an email to the playgroup to see if we could join? I wrote a short letter, sharing a snippet about our family, “We are from Byron Bay, Australia, we have a daughter who is three and I were are expecting another baby in Autumn.”
The very next day, a return email came through, regarding my inquiry. As I read the first sentence, it was delightfully out of the ordinary.
“Did we meet in the park yesterday?” The email said. The return email was from Faith! I had met her in the playground, and then that very evening I had gone home and written a letter to her, purely by co-incidence. Faith was the administrators for the Waldorf playgroup. I had shared enough in the letter that Faith was able to put two and two together. Faith had not mentioned a Waldorf playgroup at all, nor her name, it was just a random occurrence, that we still marvel at today.
When things happen like this it makes life feel special. And it will come as no surprise that we were welcomed into the playgroup. It was a short walk from our home, and it cost $400 a month to have Maya participate 3 half days a week. That we could manage and afford.
We enjoyed many years together at Playgroup, it changed our lives.
When we moved to Montclair, Waldorf education was not an option. The nearest school was too far away and beyond our means. We enrolled Maya in the local public Montessori school, but after two years I felt we need a different learning experience. Once again, let’s liken it to an itch. I need not say anything bad about the school, it was just that I felt we needed a change. So began the homeschooling journey. Three years of homeschooling later, and here we are, on the cups of another change, and in a way, it feels like I have come full circle back to where I started from. My dream to send the children to a Waldorf School is about to come true, just not in Byron bay…. but another bay, a long, long, ways away.