Once upon a time, I wanted to learn a little more about Waldorf education.
I had read You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, and I sort of fell in face-first.
The things that felt “missing” suddenly had names — things like rhythm and in- and out-breaths. I was hooked.
I bought more books, and then a Waldorf teacher friend (whose beautiful classes, sadly, we could never quite afford) recommended the book Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kennison, which isn’t just my favorite “Waldorf-y” book — it’s one of my favorite books ever.
I re-read it frequently.
I pick it up when things feel “off.”
I have bought it no less than 8 times — sometimes, just because I find a copy in a used book store and I know eventually a person will come into my life who I want to have it.
I sort of wish now that I could have stopped there — at a place of beauty and comfort.
But I’m a seeker — it’s a blessing and curse that brings in so much good; and also cripples me sometimes with fear that I’m not enough. That I’ll never be enough.
And homeschooling — this course we set with our children — it feels really vital that we are enough for them, doesn’t it?
And so I kept going. I joined a Yahoo group (remember those?) and started to work up the nerve to ask a few questions. Finally, one day, I typed out the words that had been hurricane-ing in my heart. My finger shook a little as I pushed “Return.”
The response didn’t come right away. But when it did, it was harsh. The author didn’t even address me directly.
“Here is a situation,” it began … Situation?
“Here is a situation where a mother is again making the mistake of listening to her child …”
So many things about that felt off, that I didn’t know how to process it. Later, I received a personal direct message from a long-time member of the group saying that the group’s creator often did things like that. “She just takes Waldorf way too seriously,” she said.
Looking back now, I know that I have been guilty of the same thing. I forced circle times when it wasn’t working. I didn’t buy certain toys because they weren’t what you find in those beautiful Waldorf catalogs. I put our TV in a closet.
Truthfully, I let rules created by a stranger 100 years ago, before there even were TVs, dictate my life with my kids.
Until one day, I didn’t anymore.
Or perhaps a better way to say that is that I stopped eating everything at the potluck.
I began to see that in our world, in our little neighborhood, where fairies compete with Xboxes, going Full Waldorf was pretty tricky, and maybe not even a good fit for our family.
We wanted our children to have friends. We wanted to support them in their learning, even if that learning didn’t conform to what I thought Waldorf was.
And so, we started choosing a little more carefully at the potluck.
We don’t have an Xbox. In fact, we don’t have a gaming system at all. But we did get a Kindle this Christmas.
My kids’ favorite toys continue to be open-ended. We don’t push early academics. We bake. A lot. We have a rhythm.
We really dig gnomes.
But I don’t sing a song when it’s time to leave a public place or mop the floor.
The parts of Waldorf that just don’t work for us, I leave for other families. I admire those families very much. And yes, a little part of me sometimes wishes we lived in a community where none of the kids had Xboxes, because something about that just sounds very nice.
But when we opened up our world a bit, when we joined a diverse homeschooling co-op for instance, so many wonderful things happened for us. So I don’t regret at all embracing the parts of Waldorf philosophy that work for us, and letting the rest go.
Our homeschooling here (maybe yours too?) continues to evolve all the time. Sometimes I feel a little like I am playing catch-up.
And once the fear and worry have passed, I consider that I only have one chance to do this right. And so I look to my family, and together we do what makes sense and feels right. For us.
That may be Waldorf-y, and it may not, but I’m grateful that it doesn’t have to be anything, anymore.