Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Do Parent Settle?

I hear parents complain about their children's schools. Too much testing. Too much homework. Not enough recess. But they just keep sending them day after day!

It's common knowledge that parents (at least most of us) want to provide our children "the best." I can't figure out why so many of us settle for schools that don't provide what our children need at the most basic levels. I guess if your only goal is to make sure your kid knows how to read and write and digest all that other stuff they teach in school, then any ole school will do. But to me, school is so much more than that. It's where children spend most of their waking hours each week. So shouldn't it be a place where they get to work and play?

Everything I read about education today speaks to the lack of play that takes place in the classroom. From the very youngest ages, children are expected to buckle down and learn. (They teach reading at age 4 now!) And recess is considered expendable. Are none of the administrators or teachers reading the studies that say play is critical to healthy childhood development??? Play is how children learn! If I know that, then it can't be a secret. If I know it, then other parents must know it, too. So I ask again: Why do they settle?

When it comes to something as important and time consuming as school, we should demand what our children need. That's what led me to Waldorf Education. It's not perfect, but it addresses many of the things that are lacking in traditional schooling. What's so appealing about it to me is that it educates the whole child, academically, spiritually, and socially. Waldorf does what we try so diligently to do as parents: it molds and shapes the whole person instead of focusing merely on reading, writing and arithmetic. In a Waldorf school, students learn what they need to know academically, and in the process, they also enjoy recess and art and each other.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Confessions of a SAHM

I was raised to become a high-powered whatever, always striving and racing to reach the highest heights, struggling valiantly to balance work, family, and home. Today I revel in the singlemindedness of Stay-at-Home Momdom.

I love my job! But I’m also slightly ashamed of it.

You see, I love being at home with my children. They give me an unprecedented and previously unimaginable sense of joy and wonder. And I feel a great sense of pride in watching them become bright, clever, happy people. I look at them in all their awesomeness and think, "I did that."

I also derive a sense of great accomplishment from cooking a well-balanced, delicious meal for my family. There, I said it. It's totally true, and I need to learn to own it. And, yes, you read right. I used the word "accomplishment." That's in part because I come from a long line of... what's the word that's the opposite of chef? Well, whatever that is, that's what my lineage is. My grandmother never lifted a finger in the kitchen (beyond cinnamon toast and the occasional batch of vegetable soup.) And while my mother certainly managed to get dinner on the table every night, her "recipes" were hit or miss (mostly because she never followed one). Most nights I somehow figure out how to read the recipe, do what it says, and render a pretty tasty result! And on nights when I improvise and make up my own concoctions (which isn't often - see previous sentences re: my mom), they usually turn out pretty good. Occasionally they're very good. And that's when I really feel proud. Because I did it (as my toddler would say) "All By Myself!"

I spend my days changing diapers, singing "Wheels on the Bus," chauffeuring my school-aged daughter around town, and I eat it up! My mother marvels at my infinite patience with the tediousness of my existence. But my secret is simple: I love what I do.

I finally understand what people mean when they talk about finding their passion. That's exactly what motherhood is to me.

But all the while I feel like the rest of the world is giving me a sideways glance filled with mild disappointment. I'm certain that many of my peers think my college education was a waste of time. I can only imagine that they must think that talking to me is unbearably boring because my world consists of playdough and playgrounds.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not so self-centered that I think people spend their free time thinking about what I do with my days. I'm a firm believer in that saying, "You'd stop worrying about what everyone thinks of you if you knew how seldom they did." But deep down I know this life that I have is not at all that I was groomed for. Still, I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way.