February 2018

What is it about the idea of searching, about finding a path, that calls out to me?

Seems since I let go of the idea of marriage and family as the center of my world, I’ve been a bit unmoored. My old friend thought that might be a good thing. Who wants to be tethered when the unmoored are so much more free, she wondered?

An unmoored ship wouldn’t be looking for a path to walk, it would be looking for open seas to sail, so perhaps my metaphor is wrong.

In any case, I feel often that I am bumbling along. Being single will do that to me. Being in a long distance relationship did, too. Raising children through adolescence into young adulthood gives me that feeling. Entering the spiritual world again after years away also makes me feel like a bumbler.

I’ve also been trying lots of new things, writing and photographing felt brand new again awhile back, then bike riding and swimming and cross country skiing and woods walking, then yoga, now drumming and dancing..all new things that place me in the role of novice or bumbler or returner to lost loves..which is not so much a place of bumbling but of return.

Could return be a new theme, rather than unmoored or bumbling? Could I be returning?

What would I be returning to? Who would I be returning to?

A few years ago I saw a video of myself made of early home movies from my early childhood, up to about age 6. I was shocked to see the ease with which I moved, the joy apparent in my whole countenance. Who could this person be who was playing with abandon, who exuded joy and confidence in her body? Could she have been me? Could she be me? These days I return to that image, to the young blond girl in pink stretch bellbottom pants, slim, even lithe, bouncing and smiling through life, and I want to be her again.

I’ve been reading DW Winnicott again. Today I spent the early morning doing my financial aid forms and texting with a friend sorting out a financial crisis at the courthouse. By 2 I was fried, took a nap, and woke up to read my Winnicott, all the way to the end, Playing and Reality a book that was challenging, thrilling, mysterious, even mystical, and counterbalanced the morning of numbers and tension perfectly, prepared me for my evening with the Quaker committee I’ve joined, where we spent another evening planning for a threshing session on the Beneficial Cycle and the Finances of the Meeting, where we explored ideas of Vitality and Wealth, two terms which bear attention, heart centered as well as logical.

DW talked to me all about this stuff in his way, about mothering, about being an infant and a child and an adolescent and an adult, about illness and health, about life and living, about inner and outer worlds and the space between, about play as it evolves throughout the lifespan, about culture and creativity, about what makes one real, about how we come to Be and Do, about male and female. Deep stuff, and important. Next I’ll read one of his books written for a lay audience, rather than for those more familiar with the therapeutic process. Wish me luck.

Bumbling, paths, unmoored, finding my way, way opens, mystery, darkness, light, known and unknown, spiritual and rational, inner and outer and the potential between, so much to take in it’s hard to imagine sleeping, though it’s past eleven and my rise and shine time is about eight hours away. I feel like my toddlers and twos whose brains are on fire and who can hardly sleep at nap time for all the learning they are trying to cram into the day. What is it about 51 that works this way? What lies ahead for this middle aged unmoored, bumbling woman? Way more questions than answers I’m afraid, though perhaps if I’m an aspiring Quaker I should be open to being lead. Way opens, the Quakers like to say, hard one to grasp when one is used to believing in making one’s own way.

Each February I face a whole lot of facts as I prepare for my tax appointment, find out what the status of my tax return will tell me about the year I’ve completed and the one that lies ahead, use the information I’ve collected to look back at the last year’s budget projections and prepare projections for the coming year, determine my day care rates for the incoming families and those who’ll be returning, update contracts, send them out, hope all will work out as I prepare to offer my teachers new contracts and raises, to take on home maintenance and repair and renovations, meet my responsibilities to my kids, pay the bills, with the information I can gather, always incomplete, always part fact, part fantasy.

This year I’m working on a committee at Friends Meeting Cambridge for the first time in my years as an attender there. We are organizing a Threshing Session, something I can’t yet clearly define in Quaker terms, and have joined with another group called the Beneficial Cycle Committee. We will soon have a new name for our group which we’ll use to let others in the community know what we are doing and how they may join. The purpose is to create a conversation and gather insight and wisdom from the larger community about what is working, what is not working, what we want to prioritize going forward, and how we can work with our financial situation to make our dreams a reality.

All of this fascinates me. How do we espouse human and spiritual values and put our visions into practice? How do we consider, even honor, the resources, financial and otherwise, that allow our dreams to take shape?

Today, I’m doing the grunt work part of that, data entry, organizing and filing paperwork, preparing numbers to share with my accountant this afternoon, communicating with my son and my ex-husband to include what I need of their situations, then meeting with the expert who will put my numbers into the computer, talk with me about situations that require more than numbers to understand, let me know if there is anything we still need to know, and then, give me some numbers I can work with, any refund or tax owed for 2017, estimated tax payments spread over 2018, state and federal obligations I’ll put into the mix with mortgage, utilities, tuition, food, supplies, payroll expenses, insurance, health care, all the big items that aren’t negotiable in a big way, the basics to which I’m committed, and I’ll figure out where the money will come from to cover those costs before I add on others, driveway work, I hope, for the driveway that is more and more a mud pit, the fence for the backyard to replace the one that my neighbor won’t replace which is falling down and to close off the hedges that have grown thin in the shade of the larger and larger tree, maybe a vacation on a small scale, no other big items this year, if I intend to balance the budget, which I do.

Time for the detail work, with Lucinda Williams for background, playing on my newish bluetooth speaker rather than my iphone, a big improvement over last year at this time, when I had to be connected by a cable to the speaker on the kitchen wall or listen through my iphone, the bluetooth speaker a 125 dollar decision I made with hesitation and do not regret.

Small and large steps toward financial awareness and freedom are all we can ask, whether we ask ourselves or our communities. Today I’m grateful for the quiet and the home office with a desk that I also didn’t have last year at this time, when I needed the rent from this room to pay my bills, and for the time to learn about how to think financially and longterm with a group of discerning Quakers, who welcome and include my participation with a loving energy that makes me believe things will be ok, in my life and in ours.

Lucinda Williams Blessed, to remind me all the many ways we are gifted in this life. Most of them are not financial..but certainly some are..I’m lucky and privileged both ways. I believe they can be connected. If we live our lives according to our values, sometimes that can have positive financial consequences as well. Certainly our consciences will reward us when they can, with good health, with better sleep, with energy to do the work and loving we hope to do.

When my daughter and I were holiday shopping in our favorite local artists’ shop, we chose prints for friends and family made by an artist who pairs quotes with her original woodblock designs. The one I chose for myself, mounted in a cheap frame from Michael’s with a turquoise mat made of day care paper, hangs on the orange wall beside the blue painted kitchen table my daughter and I found at the Davis Flea this fall.

The print shows a bowl of soup, a basket of rolls, a cup of tea or coffee, a vase of flowers..a scene that echoes the one I try to make regular on my kitchen table. This morning there are flowers I bought myself in a vase given to me by a day care family, a collection of vintage red and white flowered cloth napkins given to me by Richard for my fifty first birthday after we split up, a beeswax candle given to me by Jonah from the bee keeper at the holiday market in Harvard Square where he buys me candles for Christmas, resting on one of a set of painted flower plates edged in gold leaf inherited from my tea party loving Grandma, tea in a mug I bought myself from the same artist’s store for Richard’s birthday several years ago, one of a collection I bought for each of us in our then family, my two sons and daughter and Richard, all here then on a regular basis, still my favorite mug, while Ben’s has traveled to live in his apartment in New York and Richard’s sits at the back of the cupboard. The mug is full of pear green tea, also a gift from Jonah from another favorite Harvard Square shop, and nearby is my bowl of leftover day care oatmeal, the bowl is one of three remaining blue and white Japanese bowls I got one Mother’s Day from Eric and the kids, when we were married and ceramics were a Mother’s Day tradition, fourth bowl busted along the way, third one chipped, this one still my favorite bowl to eat from, so it goes.

The print on the wall is a guide I’ve chosen for the year with a quote from Dorothy Day which reads:

“It is not easy always to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight.”

In a year of a big break up, I needed to remember that even Dorothy Day, a Catholic Worker movement activist who made her life’s work feeding and nurturing the poor and writing and advocating for social justice, kept delight as her beacon in the dark.

So, two Mondays ago I went skiing at Killington, rather than work in the lodge on my taxes while my friend skied, as I had considered. It was a gorgeous day. Sixteen inches of fresh powder, Monday, sunshine, a friend who skis much more and much better than I do with discount passes, familiarity with the mountain, experience enough to take me to a local shop for well fitted rentals, and my own middle aged bravery made for a fine, fine day. I skied mostly by myself. My favorite part was two four mile runs through woods, from the top of the mountain to the bottom, where a fifty one year old who has skied only three times in twenty five years could take my time, enjoy the mountain, find my feet on skis again. Thank you, Thank you, universe, for bringing me back to another pleasure from my early life, when I skied with my good friends and sister on local hills in Western New York with the high school ski club and freshman year of college for PE.

Last weekend my daughter and I went to a Valentine’s Dance at the Quaker Meeting House, a fundraiser for MAAPS, the Materials Assistance Advocacy Program which provides clothing and household items free of cost to homeless persons. The band, Opposite People, is one I love, with two band members I know, a generous, warm vibe, and an AfroPunk beat I can’t wait to dance to. I danced with a friend from the Drum Circle, watched the dancers and the band and listened to the music and visited with our Quaker friends with my daughter, ate cookies from my favorite Lakota bakery, and for the final dance, danced with my daughter, a rare pleasure in my life. All in all a fine, fine evening.

Thursday night is Drum Circle. This week we had assigned reading to prepare for our ongoing and now deepening discussions on racism, white supremecy, and racial justice. I was sad going in, found myself in tears as we drummed our way into connection, but before long, the whole group, including me, was drumming, smiling, and feeling the together love. We had an interesting discussion, and reminded ourselves that delight and hard thinking can go hand in hand. Dorothy Day would have been proud.

Many weekend and vacation days this winter I’ve been out in the woods, sometimes on very cold days, sometimes on cross country skiis, in Eastern and Western Mass, a little ways out of the city and close in. Yesterday was one of those days. We parked on the edge of the Fells, walked up the hill into the woods, found a sunny rock, lay back, and talked until our backs got cold and we walked some more, jumped the melted brook, felt spring was in the air. Meanwhile, this morning’s world is white, and I have to stop writing soon to shovel before picking up my daughter at the Wellesley Friends Meeting house where she’s spent the weekend on retreat, Body Love the theme, delight sure to have held high priority.

But before I stop, I need to recall briefly the joys of dancing the last two nights in local ball rooms, the first with a group organized for East Coast Swing, the second a fusion dance, both partner dances, which is new to me, and scary, and fun. Both ballrooms were filled with people who might like a copy of my print, delight in every cell of their bodies moving them around the dance floor, mostly with one partner after another, showing off their moves, smiling, waiting to find the next beat in the next song, and dancing some more. There are rules to partner dancing and in my life of dancing rules haven’t worked so well, but there was a lesson on Friday and a chance to dance with different partners, to learn some steps and their names, followed by three hours of free dancing to watch and try and try again with a partner generous and enthusiastic enough to help me learn. Last night we just watched the lesson, and then we danced and danced and danced, practicing the swing moves and trying other things, watching folks express themselves, have fun, keeping in mind the duty of delight.

Now for shoveling on a bright and sunny day, a job I no longer fear, after years of training myself to find delight in this task I used to dread. Practice, confidence, courage, and support go a long way in transforming life’s drudgery into pleasure. Even in our fifties, maybe especially in our fifties, we can find our way out of misery into mystery, if we allow ourselves the pleasures our younger selves craved and loved.

Today I’m making Autumn Soup, a soup my mother made when I was growing up, from a cookbook just like the one she kept in our kitchen cupboard. My middle child is home, having been at his dad’s nearly a month, something a twenty one year old who is living his life can do, come and go according to his wishes, make a life according to the shape that suits him.

Last night I made vegan roasted cauliflower soup for my daughter, who was home from boarding school this weekend. Now she’s gone my son and I will eat meat, but last night we shared a table for the first time in awhile, ate soup and salad and vegan and non-vegan bread, talked about movies we’ve seen, most of them not together, but we have similar tastes and plenty to talk about.

As I make the autumn soup, I break the sprouts off the purple potatoes I bought at the last outdoor farmer’s market in Union Square, only a small handful of the twenty five pounds of potatoes I bought to get us through the winter, not thinking clearly, as what I am mostly doing this year is getting me through the winter. Twenty five pounds of purple potatoes are more than I can eat before the meat turns to sprout. What remains in the white box on the floor of the back hall beneath the pantry shelves is surely sprouting. I’m not sure what to do with the loot, what felt like loot turned somewhat to burden.

This is the consequence of raising children who have mostly fledged, of being a single woman at 51 who eats many meals alone or out, whose appetite is only so large. The freezer holds two quarts of frozen meat sauce left from the dinner party I threw for my book club friends two Fridays ago, all of us learning to live in emptying nests, all happy to get together, all contributing food so that the pot of sauce I made to feed a crowd is holding space in my fridge, waiting for the next time I’m hungry and don’t feel like cooking, sitting alongside the baggies of frozen bananas I bought knowing the kids would be home, forgetting they never eat a whole bunch before they go, waiting now to become part of the smoothies I’ve taken to drinking myself, my latest pleasure for times a real meal isn’t in the cards.

The other consequences are many. For the first time in years I’m living mostly on my own, making up my own plans for evenings and weekends, not making many plans anymore around my children, except for weekends my daughter is here, and finding time to visit or share a meal with my son when we can, our separate lives overlapping enough to check in but not to really stack up against the groceries I continue to buy.

I’m reading more. This last two months alone I read two great novels, have nearly finished another, am well into my adventures with Winnicott, who is teaching me a lot, though on a level I’m absorbing amorphously, cannot yet explain here, though it’s talking to me about my work, my life, our lives, in a way that makes me feel, makes me see things differently, such that I talked too much to my daughter about it already, and when I tried to tell my son, she rolled her eyes in the way she has always, always known how to do. Too much, Mom, too much.

I’m learning to be alone in my home and in the world in a way I don’t think I’ve experienced before. So what, divorce, is how I feel at 51. There won’t be another baby. There won’t be another family with a stepfather to help me raise my children. I’ve learned to take care of the house, to pay the bills, to manage my own money, to earn enough to fend off fear, to live within my means, I hope, to keep on keeping on with with work and the challenges life and raising children and living in this world presents, mostly. I don’t know what would happen if I fell ill, if I couldn’t work, if something really terrible happened, but I think I would cope.

The Quakers help. While sitting in Meeting for Worship yesterday I found myself praying for the second time in a week, something that has surprised me. The prayers aren’t to god, but to the universe. The one that I heard in my head in the silence of the meeting yesterday followed tears that rose up for my lost love, but it was a prayer of gratitude. Thank you for my life, I found myself saying in my head, for the community here that holds me and that allows me to begin to do the holding. Thank you for my children, for my good work, for my home, for heat and food and clothing, for my good health and sound mind, for the gentle heart I’ve been cultivating, for all those who’ve loved me so tenderly and fiercely, for those who’ve let me go with kindness, for those who’ve held on, for the nature and the city that surround me, for the little children and their families who enter my life each day and week and year, for the adults who help me care for them.

The prayer went on and rose in me until someone else in meeting gave a message for the group to hear. There were many and each one yesterday added to my understanding of what we mean when we think of the sacred. Later in the car my daughter wondered about the meeting, about my experience of it. It reminded me of Winnicott, of the space between inner and outer experience and the interplay between them, of the opportunity we have for intimacy when we enter that space between inner and outer together, which Winnicott calls play, which he says allows for creativity. My daughter understood the prayer, shared her learning about daily gratitudes and the changes a practice of reflecting on the things we are grateful for can bring into our lives. She also let me know she’s been thinking a lot about inner and outer worlds herself..amazing to me that she is there at seventeen, not a place I arrived until middle age, at least not with words for the experience. We are evolving as a species, I believe as I write this now.

My children give me hope for the future. I wrote them each a Valentine today and that is the love that I felt, that their being in the world and becoming young people and adults with conscience, with caring personas, with energy and dreams they hope to and are fulfilling allows me to step into a different role, to pass along the future to them, to accept some limitations on what I myself will do, while also beginning to imagine new possibilities for myself, not so tied to raising children, maybe more focussed on raising myself, middle aged adult learning what older age is like, facing it with a smile and a positive attitude, trying my best to say good-bye to years of sadness mourning the loss of my dad, the loss of my marriage, the time lost with my children so I could share them with their father, the loss of the hope I had for a new husband and a remade family with two parents, at one time even another child. All that is gone, passed, and right now there is plenty to do, plenty to feel, plenty to enjoy, including a fine batch of Autumn soup I’m going to sit down and eat right now with the loaf of bread I brought back from my errands this morning, beside the bunch of flowers I bought myself, two days early for the first Valentine’s day in awhile I’ll spend without a partner, Galentine’s day for my daughter in her dorm tonight my model for how to celebrate love this year, love for those in my life, for those who are no longer here, love for and from the world, for and from the universe holding me as DW Winnicott knows we need, each and every one of us needs holding to be whole. How and where we find and offer the holding is the magic in our lives.

I spoke to the folks at BPSI, and as I had anticipated, I’m not a candidate for a fellowship there. I would need to be an academic or a licensed mental health practitioner. Family child care providers don’t belong. I’m assured it’s due to professional codes of conduct, not intended to exclude, and that there will be other ways I can find my way to the ideas their organization promotes.

I spoke to my therapist, who is a trained psychotherapist/psychoanalyst, who assured me I am on the right track, and offered me a book by Anna Freud, Psycho-analysis for Teachers and Parents, which I read straight through in the week between our visits. She also offered her love for DW Winnicott, a man I’ve heard of before, a British pediatrician, psychoanalyst, and writer, who was recommended to me repeatedly by my old love Richard. So, on I go, in pursuit of another lover, this time of the mind, a man who is described when I search him out on the internet as “wise and wonderful.” Jeez, just who I’ve been looking for, ok cupid be damned, he’s right here in the pages of a book, in the Wikipedia entries I spent my evening last night reading rather than doing more data entry for my taxes, or spending time with folks at Sharing Circle, or out at the movies or making dinner with a friend as I have the last few Wednesdays.

I’ve ordered two of his books, cannot wait to begin my mind-expanding adventure with a guy who’s been dead almost as long as I’ve been alive. I paid for a new copy of Playing and Reality to be delivered by Amazon Prime on Friday, yes that’s tomorrow, rather than wait for the used copy to arrive in a week or two. Then after reading more about DW and his life and perusing many of his titles, I ordered Home is Where We Start, which should arrive on Saturday, because it seemed more readable, and yes, because I can’t wait to fall in love again, with a man of ideas, with a wise person in the world of education and care, with someone who is willing and able to help me more fully understand the deeper workings of the mind. If BPSI won’t do it, DW Winnicott and Anna Freud will. They can’t keep this family child care provider away from immersing myself in psychoanalysis just because I haven’t got the right degree.

Yesterday I was called a controlling woman. That made me mad. Powerful woman is another attempted insult I’ve endured. Stubborn is true. Powerful, yes,
Controlling, maybe. You decide. But words like that make me mad. Who says I shouldn’t have the power? Who says I shouldn’t decide, if that is what being controlling means? Who says stubborn is no good? Not me. Not Margo Price, a young and powerful country singer I’ve learned about from a new friend. Margo Price is another new love along with old DW, not so much Anna Freud, though I was happy to read her slim volume aimed at bringing us teachers and parents (and caregivers) into the fold of understanding the benefits we might reap from beginning to understand psycho-analysis. I need a little poetry, a little rhythm, a little leaping from idea to idea, a little song, a little story, to grab my heart, which are not Anna Freud’s specialty. She’s a bit didactic, a bit preachy, a bit of a know it all. But not D.W. and Margo. Poets and dreamers and wise persons both, if my sense of Margo and the word on DW are right. Thank you, Margo and DW, for keeping me inspired.

Time to tackle the day to day, the reading of the lovely progress reports written by our highly insightful teaching/caregiving staff, the weekly errands, the laundry, the data entry, the phone calls, maybe lunch with my son, maybe proprioceptive writing and yoga and meditation, if my schedule isn’t too off from taking time to write here..all the details that sustain me, my kids, my work, my life, all done with a little more pleasure and understanding thanks to the writing here and the reading and the listening I give myself permission to enjoy, indulgences in a world where indulgence is often a dirty word.

I’ll hope to share what I learn. For now, what I’m learning is there are always ways if we want to pursue our interests. Having a particular degree or money or time aren’t the only prerequisites to entry to adventures of the mind. Love, initiative, luck, commitment, energy, curiosity, all that is important, too, maybe more so, for the deeper learning that I crave.

For you, DW Winnicott and Margo Price, a song covered by Nouvelle Vague, another recent discovery that came to me recently and turned me on to another way of listening;

I just can’t get enough:

And, some Margo Price for you, in an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, in case you want to fall in love with a powerful country singer with a voice that’s not afraid to speak her truth:

Today as we walked back from the park through the high school parking lot, my three asked, Maria, When was World War Two?

I wondered where he heard about that, let him know World War Two was a long time ago.

But when is it happening? he wondered.

It’s all done, I tried to explain. It happened a long time ago.

When I was little, he let me know.

Even before that, I said, before any of us here were born.

What is war? my six wondered.

It’s when people fight to sort out a problem. I explained.

Why? she asked.

Because they think that is the best way to solve the problem, I explained. Sometimes something very bad is happening and that is the way people think they can make it stop.

How do they fight? she wanted to know.

With armies, I explain.

What is an army? she wondered.

Its a group organized by a government to fight and to protect our country.

To protect our country? she wondered.

I have seen army guys, the six says.

I tell the children my friend’s fathers were in World War Two. My six wonders what they did. I explain that one friend’s father was in Intelligence, that he helped to gather information to help them make decisions.  The other friend’s father was an interpreter, as he was born in Germany and lived in the US so he could help explain things in English to people who spoke German and help explain things in German to those who spoke English. And I tell them that my Uncle Fran was in World War Two, but that he probably had a gun.

My six wonders about bombs. what are they? I ask if she knows about explosions. She seems to, so I explain that a bomb can be dropped and make an explosion, which does damage to wherever it lands. I explain that World War Two was in Europe and Japan and that bombs were dropped there and also in Hawaii, which is an island that is part of our country. And that there are wars happening in the world now with bombs being dropped.

My three wonders if there were horses in World War Two. I think there were not, that there were horses in the Civil War, which happened in our country a long time ago, even before World War Two.

He wonders if there were cannons in World War Two. I think there were not, that cannons were used in the Revolutionary War, a war that happened in our country a long time ago. He tells me Pirates also use cannons. I agree that Pirates had cannons a long time ago. I tell the children about tanks, which are armored vehicles that can shoot and also protect people inside from getting hurt. The kids seem not to know about those, either.

My six wonders if people get hurt in war, if they ever die. I let her know they do, that many die. She wonders if anyone who is on the side that is trying to stop the bad things ever gets hurt. I let her know they do. That war is a very hard thing. And that many of my family members have been in the Army or the Navy or the Air Force, that some still are.

My three says, When I grow up I don’t want to be in World War Two.

I don’t want you to be in World War Two, I confirm. Not at all.

My six wonders who I wanted for president. I was hoping for Bernie Sanders or Hilary Clinton. She tells me her parents wanted Hilary Clinton. And that we got Donald Trump.
Yes, we did.

Who is Donald Trump? my three asks.

He’s our President, I explain.

What is a president? the three wants to know.

The president is in charge of the country. He makes important decisions and represents our country around the world. The six affirms my explanation.

How do you vote? my six wants to know. I mean, how does it work exactly?

You go to the voting place and tell them where you live and your name and then they give you a piece of paper, at least where I vote, called a ballot with the names of the people who want to do the job, and you get to choose the person you want. Sometimes, like for president, you choose one. Other times like for Somerville Alderman at Large, you can choose more, like maybe five. You put the ballot in a special machine and tell the people you are done.

And then you get a sticker! my three adds.

Yes, you do, I confirm. You get an I voted sticker.

I got to see Elizabeth Warren, my six tells me. We gave her Courage Crowns. I wonder about Courage Crowns, and she and her sister the other three tell me you make a crown and put whatever you want on it. And that they met Elizabeth Warren with the Girl Scouts, who we talked about a lot last time she was here. I let her know Elizabeth Warren might want to be president someday, maybe next time.

As we walk up the hill towards home, I muse aloud to my little crowd how interesting it is to begin to think about things like presidents and wars when we are old enough to begin to understand about the larger world at three or four or five or six, how the world opens up for us this way and we can begin to wonder about it in new ways, which are not interesting to babies or younger children.

The three and six agree. It is a big wide world. So much to learn. So much to wonder about. So much to explain. So much to take in, War, Time, Armies, Cannons, Death, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, Courage Crowns, Elizabeth Warren, and each of us in our emerging consciousness and conscience.

Earlier in the day we had spoken about a child who is out today. The children wanted to know where she is. She is with her great grandmother, who is dying, I let them know.

Who is dying? the six asked.

Yes, I said. She is very old and ready to die.

This week? asked a four.

Yes, this week. She has stopped eating and drinking and is sleeping and not talking.

She will die if she doesn’t eat or drink, my four confirmed, knowingly.

Yes, she will.

Later, the children wondered again where our friend is today, and reminded themselves she is with her great grandmother who is dying. The six wondered what she is doing. At first I said sleeping, and then I realized the six wondered what her friend is doing while her great grandmother is dying, and I took a guess. Maybe reading books or drawing, or sitting in the room where her great grandmother is resting, I imagined. Something quiet, is my guess.

It makes me happy to have days where I can talk with the children about the big questions. It doesn’t happen every day, but if the children want to think together, its a marvelous gift to be close enough to have the honest conversations, to answer and share their questions, and to wonder with them about the world.

At breakfast my three said that our after school friend said the children don’t listen to the teacher in her spanish class at school and that they have to go to the office. My six wondered what they do in the office. I said that in my children’s school they would often talk with the principal if they went to the office. Anne agreed that often in the office they might talk with the children about how to listen to their teacher.

Later, at lunch, my three and six, who are sisters, were talking about something and I pointed out that my other three had a brother who was older, as this three has a sister who is older. We talked about what grade the brother is in at school. I thought second, but the three thought first. The six who is a homeschooler wondered what her friend the three would like to do, go to school or homeschool. Mama! he answered. The six giggled, and said that sounded like homeschool, since that is how you can be with your mama.

Earlier in the week, two after school girls were talking about their school. One felt strongly that the other children in her school had not had such rich experiences as they had because her kindergarten classmates had not been to a place like our day care.  I asked her what she meant.

They don’t know about nature! she expounded. They have  only five minutes recess, so they don’t get to really be in nature.

Also, they spend all of their time on the rug, learning stuff, which totally melts your brain! Not like doing projects.

Amazing, these young folks, and all the analysis and questioning of the world they do, all on their own, in conversation with one another, and in conversation with the adults in their worlds. The ones and twos and threes and fours and fives and sixes listen to one another, learn from one another, share ideas, and wonder about the world together. Many days I wish I had a tape recorder or a video camera to capture what I hear and see. For now, memory and day care observations and photos and this blog here, conversations with the children and teachers and parents and colleagues and family and friends keep what I learn alive and growing. Maybe someday there will be a way to reach a larger world with all that happens in the little world of WFDC.