Monday, June 27, 2016

the silence game

Image taken on our Alaskan honeymoon.

So often, in this training, I think, I wish I'd known this before, I wish I'd known this when Maya started.

I said this at a parent night, after spending some time photographing the school for the website, that I had already become a better parent after observing Kai and Juliane in their environments. I found myself slowing down, not speaking so loudly, feeling peace as I interacted with my children who were so easily swept up in heightened feeling--to not immediately react, to take that deep breath, to remember, when they are so small: I am the centering for the storm.

Therefore, I cannot become stormier. I cannot push this storm into some sort of next-level alert.

I wish I could more thoroughly express how much I've learned in these seven days, but I can say this: they have been life changing. Kai knew this as I began the tentative observations I did last winter and spring with Nicole, the woman who led the elementary program before I stepped into the position.

There's so much talk about the transformation of the adult. About the prepared adult.

I know I will always have road in front of me, but I also always have road behind me.

We've practiced some of the things we've explored in the first plane--that is, children who are from birth to approximately age six, children who attend our toddler program and Children's House, or casa, as it is often referred to here. So we've learned How To Carry a Chair and How to Unroll a Working Mat, and the other day--how many days ago was it? I can't even remember now--either yesterday or a hundred days;it must be one of those two--we did two very meditative activities that are designed to thread that mind and body together: Walking On the Line (not to be confused with Johnny Cash, though I understand having that run through your head while reading that phrase) and The Silence Game.

Walking On the Line seemed to me something silly that mainly helped with balance but could be relegated to a gym class. Nothing of true importance--it's just some tape on the floor, right? But then we did it, and I have to say: transformative experience. The peace I felt fall over my body was remarkable. It's done in complete silence and challenges you to be aware of those around you, respecting both your own breath and the breath and pace of those around you.

The Silence Game should not be mistaken for the silent game, in which the frustrated parent throws the request at the hyper-active children to calm them in desperation, but instead a game in which the child becomes fully aware of his or her body in space and in conjunction to others. We didn't do anything terribly complicated--we were to sit silently on one side of the classroom and stay quiet enough to hear our instructor call our name in a whisper from the other. So we had to be still, and we had to hear our own body in movement. After the activity, she read us a book--If You Want to See a Caribou--to raise us out of that space and back into our working selves.

I asked my children if they knew this game as we drove home with their new animals in their carriers in their laps. Maya immediately rested her head on my shoulder, and I returned the gesture, and we were completely still and quiet, whereas Finn kept wiggling and wiggling and when we were done, I asked them: "What does the silence game mean to you?" Maya talked about being completely still and quiet, whereas Finn crouched his body and whispered, "It means you creep around like this" and he grinned wickedly. I'm not sure if this was an adaptation--moving quietly--or if he was just good-naturedly playing along in his own way.

Either way, what a sweet moment: the three of us in the backseat, a guinea pig named Luna and a bearded dragon named Max with us, quiet as bugs.

(Side note: Maya often asks, when we clean things, that we make it "clean as a bug in a bucket.")

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