The frequency of my posting lately is directly proportional the the amount of Montessori we have been doing recently, which is, as you can guess, close to none.
We have been rather busy…adjusting. I never thought there was a length of time associated with that, I always saw adjusting as a process you go through while you go on with your life. But I guess, this time around the many changes that we are facing are important enough that adjusting has taken up a lot of our time.
And one of the biggest adjustment came from a situation I never saw coming. M has been refusing to do anything that remotely looks like a Montessori activity. I spend quite a lot of time during the week with her. We are apart on the sole 2 days that I work. But for the rest of the week, we are together along with E of course. We started the year not doing many structured activities together, as I had so many things to go through in the 3 days I had home, that we just lack time. But at some point, when all the hype about X starting school became apparent, I saw her having a hard time. She needed something special to go on for her too, and she needed some special attention that was scarce. So I decided to put her together a couple of mini units, and got out some Montessori material that was put away to try to have her going at something. And it worked for a while…until it stopped for some unexpected (and not understood either) reasons.
Maybe it has something to do with that big brother of her? THe one that officially declared one night at our family table that he didn’t want to do any Montessori activities at home? Last year, while he was in kindergarten, he was attending his school part time. He begged me for more activities on the days he was home, I guess his Montessori cup was not entirely filled after his week was over. But this year, being a first grader, and being in school from 8:30-16:00, I think he finds that he now has plenty, and needs to see something else when he gets home. I don’t blame him!
And so, since then, we have been adjusting. Adjusting to our free time that is definitely different then what is used to be. At first, I gave them time. Time to be free, and do whatever they pleased. Time to cure that soul fever I guess. And it worked, for some time. Until I saw how that free time of theirs was starting to be a waist of time. As much as they seemed happy and relieved at first, at some point, they seemed to loose themselves in that time, and wander aimlessly around the house. I felt like this was a signal for me to help them engage in something but what? I had tons of ideas to engage them in so man things, but being Montessorian type of activities, they just didn’t pick up on it. And so I had to find something else. Not just another idea, but another way of doing altogether.
I spend many days trying to find ideas, trying new things, opening up doors to see if at some point they would take one and enter a new world. It was hard to deal with that amongst all other things, and really, I also felt scared that they were missing out on something during that time. Scared that we were moving away from what characterize us in our educational philosophy. No, maybe not a rational thought, but in the midst of all this change we have been going through, this is the only thing that felt stable.
And just like I needed it, my son, atop of his 6 years old told me the words of wisdom I needed to hear: “Mom, do you know what I love about the way we live? Is that you let us decide for ourselves what we need and want to do.”
Oh gosh! there, he said it in his own way. Freedom. (How do they know what to say at the right time to make us feel better?) He is so right. Being Montessori is how we behave, the choices we make, the decisions we take, the way we see our children, and we act with them, and most of all, the freedom that we allow them to live in in order to let them become who they are meant to be, NOT in the activities we set up for them. Montessori is deeper then that.
(And BTW, when he said that I was letting him decide for himself what he needed, he was referring to something that happened in the morning while dressing up to go (in the very cold) outside.)
And so I decided to let go, and do the one thing that I have learned to do: to observe my children.
It is crazy the amount of change we are inclined to make for our children. And most of all, it is crazy how they manage to find a way to make us change towards something that, overall, was a good move, even if we never thought of it that way before.
Yes, it has caught me off guard, but we might just have turned a corner that will lead us to a new crazy fun and unexpected road.