We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Dec 14, 2007

How I Do Mama

I've been thinking a lot about parenting lately. Probably because with all of the chaos of open in the store I haven't really been able to have any rhythm to the time that I spend with Alder. Since Kevin isn't practicing acupuncture yet I'm in the store solo four days a week, he takes the other three. The time this gives me to think is wonderful but now I wish I could be doing rather than just thinking.

Amanda, wrote this wonderful meditation on why she likes making toys, specifically toys for her son. But it really is more about how we parent and interact with our children, or any other person for that matter.

As Alder grows and changes I find that there is more time spent together doing things. These simple *games* that he invents are a big part of his day. Lately it has been the rediscovery of a bunch of large plastic chains that used to hang on his stroller and off of the baby bjorn for him to play with. Now he brings them to me and puts them on my finger, once he can not fit anymore on I then stick them on his wrist as bracelets until they reach almost his elbow, at which point I am supposed to take them all off and throw them onto a near by chair. Once they are in the chair the game starts over again.

It is a simple process and at some moments I find myself getting annoyed that we are doing it yet again, but I try to remember that this game is important work for him, in his learning and understanding of how the world works. I think back to the drop the spoon on the floor game which also seem to last for ever. But now he understands that it will always fall down and mama or papa will probably pick it up the first few times so it is not a game that needs to be repeated except to humor him. (Dave Albert writes about this in And Skylarks Sing With Me). These games that he plays at this age are about understanding the world around him they are process he must go through.

In general he prefers real world objects to toys, why play with a toy plastic cup when there are yogurt containers that Mama and Papa use? The only two sorts of toys that he likes are the ones that don't translate to things the world that he can find around to house. He loves blocks and things with wheels. He will spend twenty minutes by himself stacking blocks in tall towers and knocking them down, only to rebuild. the wheeled toys don't hold his attention as long but he still has an ecstatic look on his face as he pushes his wagon around the house.

The pile of stuffed animals carefully chosen for him by friends and family go untouched except for the random cozy moment when he lies down on them. The least interesting to him are the toys that mimic adult object but are made silly with colors and plastic, I handed him a plastic hammer the other day and he dropped it and went and picked up my hammer, which I had forgotten was in the room. It makes sense to me, if he is trying to figure out this world why would he want an imitation of it?

As he is changing and learning how to be in this world I am learning to be in this role of parent. Some days I wonder how I could possibly remember all the important things to do when I am with him. I read other blogs where days seem to go so planned and full of activities, while we seem to spend our alone time on errands. But then when I look back at those days objectively I can see what we really do. While the other day felt like errands to me there was also a long walk around downtown Manchester, a two hour playtime with our Tuesdays friends (on Wednesday) and time spent at the bookstore with the cool door mats to play with. I could spend my time wondering why I haven't been to the read-aloud at the library or I could realize that I am giving Alder my time and love.


*camerashymomma* said...

you know what flows for your family, and what energy you son requires. alot of people have high maintenance kids who require their days planned out. but that doesnt' sound like your family to me. river and i are also mainly 'unscheduled' and i feel that he has more a grasp on the world as it is. and time with momma is more precious than the 2pm scheduled stroller jog to keep momma fit (oh, is that just a texas thing? eek! it's real!)

the other night river kept waking up and finally at midnight just came and sat with me while i did some hand embroidery. i feel like that vision sunk deep into his subconscious, and i hope it's something he'll always remember.

that is life to me. and what you are doing is living. that's the best thing you can teach alder!

cloth.paper.string said...

thank you for sharing this snippet of your life with your wee one. my girl is, i'm thinking, close in age and so much of what you've written resonates. we have so much of our days spent exploring the details of the world -- the wonder of a brown paper bag, the excitement of a pushing a broom. and yes, yes the real objects are so much better than the imitations -- i happened upon a real tomato, snatched up from the shelf in the pantry, in the little wooden soup pot in her play kitchen -- isn't it better to cook and eat a real one than a wooden one, after all?
again thank you, sarah