t takes strong willpower to say no to ten more minutes of texting friends or playing instead of going to bed. It also takes willpower to say no to ten more minutes of sleep when you are still tired and don’t want to get up for school (or work). This is because immediate gratification has a serious edge over some possible vague reward that may, or may not, show up in the future, and only if you work for it. In other words, when working from our evolutionary default setting, now will beat later every time!
My journey with Waldorf education began 14 years ago, when my oldest was starting kindergarten. One of the first things that attracted me to Rudolf Steiner School was the opportunity for my children to have balance in their school day. A variety of artistic activities are interwoven with rigorous academic endeavors to achieve this harmony. Bursting with joy and vitality, my children would not sit all day getting filled with information, staring at worksheets, textbooks, and various screens. There would always be a thoughtful rhythm to their day. From early childhood through high school, Waldorf students experience many kinds of fine and practical arts: drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, folk dancing, handwork, woodwork (you should see the container of hand-carved wooden spoons in my kitchen!), instrumental music, and the list goes on…
I’ve quite frankly found it pretty challenging to routinely bend to the gifts of quiet time. Not being much for coffee, cigarettes, or wine, it seemed I even missed the American rituals that build in a pause.
I found a pause recently, though, in a gift from a wise friend. A modern, clear, silicon hot water bottle. So handsome in its simplicity, just fill with boiling water. Then retire, cradling the hot little pillow. And let the heat creep across, from silicon to bones. Nothing one can do to rush a hot water bottle. No dial to crank up. But there is something about a capable hot water bottle that encourages sighs of release. An unwinding. A melding.
The person I looked up to most at the tennis club was a part-time instructor named Lou Graves. He was a teacher in a juvenile detention center and would kid me that I reminded him of some of his delinquents. What he meant was that I had a temper, even though my temper hadn’t gotten me into any legal trouble. It just got me into an occasional fight, including with some of my tennis opponents when I began competing in tournaments.
Even after all these years of working with infants, I often hear: You work with babies (hee-hee). What CAN babies do? My answer is always the same. Plenty!