Have you ever wondered about machines and the mechanics that make them work? Well, our Widgetarians have wondered just that! So last week we took apart some notebook computers and other small machines. While one child carefully removed the screws, freed the battery, unplugged the RAM, explored and deconstructed the motherboard, another child read about the internal mapping on google. It was great fun. Tiny metal pieces were strewn everywhere, keyboards were reduced to toothless pieces of plastic with scrabble like alpha-tiles jumbled together on the table. You have often heard us talk about how creative and constructive the kids are at F2W, but we’ve learned this week that “deconstructing” is just as important as “constructing.”
One of the things that parents and children often disagree about is clothing. I knew a little boy of five who insisted on wearing red glittery shoes just like Dorothy’s in the wizard of oz. I’ve known a little second grade girl who refused to wear anything but dresses 365 days a year, no matter the weather. Some boys must wear black, or tight clothes or saggy and baggy pants. Some girls must wear shirts or hair in a certain style, or they won’t leave the house. Despite the fact that their are fads and trends, children manage to hang on to some of their own unique preferences even in the midst of what’s cool. You can often tell a lot about a child by what they wear. I know it is hard for parents who are purchasing the wardrobe to always keep a healthy perspective. Sometimes logic and practicality fly in the face of fashion trends and personal style. I grew up with the adages that you can’t judge a book by its cover and it’s not outward appearance, but what’s on the inside that’s important. I remember well the embarassment and humiliation of wearing something dorky to school as a kid. How I wish my mother understood how cruel kids could be and how a perfectly good outfit to her was drab and outdated to me.
I see kids who wear black T’s with skulls and baggy pants, preppy kids who wear polos and khakis, athletic kids who wear designer sportswear and underneath it all, they’re just regular kids. Some of them are happy and well-adjusted, some are depressed and lonely, some get straight A’s, others flunk out. Bottom line–clothes are important, but not as important as a kid’s sense of self and place in the world. If we as parents and teachers focus more on what’s happening inside our children, clothes will become less and less of an issue. For a kid that is seen, heard and understood won’t need to rebel or seek attention through their clothing.
Yes, I saw the new Transformer movie over the holiday. I stood in line waiting to enter the theater for about an hour. Next to me, stood a father and his three daughters. The girls were bubbling over with enthusiasm. All three had brought along their favorite transformers. They kept asking their father questions about the movie and he kept saying, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet.” It was cute. I happened to sit fairly close to this family in the auditorium and was able to hear the girls cheering and laughing throughout the movie. The youngest girl, about nine, stood up at the most exciting points and squealed. They all left the theater with big smiles and happy sighs. They kept chattering about their favorite parts and arguing about who they liked best.
This movie was attended by young and old, everyone applauding at the very end. Everyone yearns for transformation on some level. We can relate to the various vehicles in the movie that appear ordinary and hum drum on the surface, who with a moments notice, are able to transform into all powerful giants. Fascinated by the idea of pure coursing energy animating the metal autobots, we cheer as they conquer their enemies and protect those who are smaller and vulnerable. This movie is a wonderful illustration and reminder of the fact that we too are animated by pure energy coursing through our bodies, energy that can be channeled to transform and heal our lives.
I love holidays, for they are usually family centered times. Each Holiday has an energetic basis. For example, Thanksgiving is the “earth” energy holiday. We honor our earthy needs for food and shelter, spending time with our families sharing the spirit of gratitude. Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza are “watery” holidays filled with the effusive emotion of goodwill, giving and love. It is interesting that frozen moisture (snow) is also the physical element associated with these holidays. July 4th (in the US) is the holiday associated with “fiery” passion, conviction and celebration of our freedoms. Time is spent honoring this day with fire works, and loud boisterous celebrations. Labor Day, Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Day are all US holidays that focus on the “airy” quality of self-expression. We move through the world with others, voices raised in a spirit of solidarity, memorializing our workers, our soldiers, our civil rights. New Years is an “etheric” holiday of transcendence. We make resolutions for the coming year based on our desire to evolve beyond our present condition. We resolve to become the best that we can be by enlisting our conscience, our powers of higher intellect and motivation. The elements surround us, infusing our everyday lives and special days of celebration with power and meaning.
I spoke yesterday about modeling honesty for our children. One of the aspects of honesty that I didn’t address, is a child’s innate need to please. This need for adult approval and acceptance can take several forms. One way a child can appear to lie, is by changing their responses when questioned. Desperate to find the right answer, some children will totally change their story or answer to a question, just to please the all powerful adult. The same adult who once hung over the baby crib gesturing, jabbering and making a sundry silly faces, is now glowering and disapproving. Tammy doesn’t want mom or dad to be angry. She desperately wants those approving smiles to return. She will change her answer over and over again in her attempt to hit upon that magic answer. There are no dark or ulterior motives here, just an innocent child trying to make a parent or teacher happy. So, if you find yourself in a situation where the “truth” is hard to find, remember that giggling, engaging infant. For unconditional love is the soil from which truth springs.
I’ve had the opportunity to be around two children this week who have exhibited great exuberance and joy. The first child, a pre-school age girl, was allowed to emote through squeals and laughter. She wasn’t “shushed” or corrected. She was the epitome of happiness. The second child, a first-grade boy, was equally as happy. I noticed however, that every time he raised his voice or moved quickly, he was admonished to be careful or be quiet. The little girl’s face was alight with smiles. The little boy furtively smiled or giggled, would glance at his parents and stop himself. Although the little boy was quieter overall and probably supposedly better behaved, he didn’t elicit the same sense of lightness that the little girl did. He struggled to keep a lid on his feelings and it showed. Of course squeals and laughter must be muted in some situations, but often we as parents squelch our children’s expressions of joy without even thinking about it. It is almost reflexive for some parents to say, “Shush, be careful, easy now, don’t do that, quiet, no, no, no.” All it takes to change this inclination is self-awareness and a willingness to change. Embrace the giggles, for a child that laughs today will be a positive and upbeat adult tomorrow.