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Dancing the Dance

When we speak of an “energetic commitment,” this is not so much describing a “high energy” state or a very active person. Rather, it is to underline the fact that the children actually match our energy more than our knowledge or content. Since the children’s whole being is engaged primarily in the activity of learning and not in being an expert, the first thing they look to match in us is our energy for learning. If the person before them is an expert with nowhere left to grow, then the children are left unable to engage and, in the end, their drive to learn becomes a source of shame.

This means that our gift to our children is not in what we know, but in the ways we open and stretch ourselves. As Confucius puts it, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising up every time we fall.” On one level this is very good news indeed! At Enki Education, we have seen many classes in which the teacher struggled with a particular skill, and did so with vigor and determination; the class excelled at that very thing. . .

~Enki Foundations I

Around here, I'm working on really keeping it together.  My days are super full with all the usual stuff--meals, snacks, clean up, laundry, playing, reading, circle times, walks, yard work, mending, making and helping neighbors.  I have something that has been said to me several times over the years ringing in my ears--"well, I have to be up for work in the morning."  Oh, how I wish I could erase that phrase!  I never clock out!  I get so flabbergasted at the assumption that being at home with children means, I don't know, leisure.  I think one of the hardest adjustments to parenting was, for me, the thought that I could not simply sit down and watch TV or just laze around.  It wouldn't work.  Babies can smell selfishness.

I admitted to Christie back at the start of Fall that the children were starting to outpace me, like I've said before.  Having had a reputation for an always-tidy home, I knew she would get a chuckle out of my admission.  I felt like I never had a truly spare moment to collect my thoughts and live outside of crisis-mode.  I was terribly burned out at the time, frazzled.  We'd had a difficult end to Summer and things weren't looking easier in the foreseeable future (and they got stranger and more challenging!).  I've been through some changes since then: in how I run my home and how I look at things.

CandlesNow, I am learning to manage distractions and really, really work on myself.  Children need the model of an adult who falls, collects herself, and moves forward--over and over.  I am holding the space better when Mike travels (three trips to FL in one month!).

I can see that it will be easier to manage yard work next year, provided Laurel doesn't dart for the street every time I put her down.  I can see that a quick, five minute tidying up really goes a long way in keeping things in order.  It's all about my own self-discipline and it's spreading.  Willow has taken to dusting the house on a weekly basis.  She's always loved order.

I'm turning off the computer for most of the day and really working on being still at quiet time with some knitting.  I was tired of feeling disappointed in myself for not knitting more.  Now, I can get at least half an hour in a day.  I've been exercising more regularly after several weeks off for Christmas and Mike's illness.  I take naps during quiet time!

I'm working super hard on outside time, too, since I can see how it helps with energy in the children.  I'm really excited for the days to get noticeably longer so we can do evening walks again.  I feel like I'm in a circus in the evenings lately.  I guess the lull was short-lived.  I gave Willow a jumprope for Christmas and rescuing passengers that have fallen overboard the rocking boat has been a frequent theme.  So is running and riding the balance bike in the house.  Oh, well, I think my mental stamina is improving, too.

I think that one of the biggest things that I have come to see is that having children is not an excuse to let things slide.  I don't mean that I'm in a rush to get back the mythic pre-baby body, but that self-discipline and truly caring for a home means more now than it ever did.  I have people watching me who are forming habits to carry them through their lives.  I need to treasure this important spiritual task (ever how menial it may seem to the outside world), and give it the reverence it is due.

In modeling the process of repeatedly opening and noticing, the teacher is giving the children a priceless example of fearless learning – learning in which the fall is as important as the leap. This is the greatest example she can offer these young people for whom learning is everything. It is the greatest gift she can give – far more powerful than having everything “right.”

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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