sometimes (maybe mostly), i only become clear that i have an approach
or a take on something
when i come into contact with others who have a different approach.
like with parenting
today, one of the teachers at anja’s preschool kindly flagged me down to ask about how best to work with anja in certain situations.
the other day, she had very patiently asked anja 3 times to do something. anja had ignored her. then she had done the counter to it – dropping rice or something similar all over the floor. this was at the end of the day when, tired and fighting a cold, the teacher was trying to have everyone clean up so she could complete her day. anja became very upset. when the teacher tried to handle her, anja screamed not to touch her, and shouted several times: “worst afternoon ever!”
the teacher felt the response was SO strong “there must be something else going on”.
i explained anja had been underslept that day, and that it was the first day in her life she had been at school a full day. (i was in a workshop.) when she is tired, a ‘trigger’ thing can be a person in authority telling her she can’t do something she has her heart set on. she can get in a loop-de-doop of strong feeling where she is not in a space to absorb ‘reason’.
the teacher pointed out that “cooperating is something you have to do to function in any school or similar environment” and suggested this might be something i could work with anja on.
i explained that we are a bit outside the norm in that we are intending to homeschool, and she is being raised in a family where we figure each of us has our own will. we can ask her three times to do something and she does not have to do it. she can decline, or ignore.(ignoring is a type of communication, after all). if i really want the thing done, then i can opt to do it myself. anja is a free agent and needn’t obey.
the teacher distinguished between obeying and mutual respect/cooperation/getting along with others.
i get the teacher’s point.
it would have been more socially smooth for anja to decline verbally rather than to ignore. it was not the smoothest move to scatter all the small objects all over the floor.
we do live in community, and in relationship wherever we are or go.
it’s not that i don’t ask anja to behave in certain ways in certain situations (e.g. grandma is uncomfortable with nudity so at her house there are different house rules and i request Anja to wear some sort of butt cover). in general, though, i lean into avoiding behavioral directives. i trust she will eventually, of her own accord and agency, master how to thrive gracefully and powerfully WITH others, simply through our natural human design of wanting to thrive in the world.
it might be a slightly ‘slower’ route, and it might not look as ‘pretty’ right now, but the resulting older child and adult, i think, will have retained a far more clear sense of self – of what she desires and thinks about things – so she can simple-y live in integrity with this inner knowing and truth.
so many of us grow up in a landscape replete with what is “expected”. we grow up with a constant barrage of behavioral directives (“hug x goodbye”, “say thank you”, “in 10 seconds, it’s her turn”, “get good grades”, etc.) so we end up out of touch with our inner knowing and convoluted in our meanderings in the world. we don’t dare say what we want, if we are even able to know what that is anymore beneath all the “shoulds” and confusion.
i let the teacher know Anja might exhibit more full-out, strong expressions, simply because we are raising her in an environment where there is space for that. obviously, there are places where she can’t be full-out (e.g. in a restaurant, in which case we usually remove her from the circumstance) but it is important to me that she _has_ space for expression (e.g. at home with me, in the car). i told the teacher i am aware that the degree to which we let Anja express herself can be uncomfortable for others – e.g. we have a neighbor who I know would never stand for that sort of behavior from her own 5 year old.
i respect that.
we are all different. Anja will go out in the world and bump into people of MANY different backgrounds and cultures, who do things MANY different ways, all with love and good intentions.
in that regard, i told the teacher i trust her to do whatever feels right to her in working with Anja. i don’t necessarily know more than she about that. all i can do is help explain a bit of the home, family, and parenting culture Anja is coming from.
all this is not to say I am not amongst those sometimes discomfited with Anja’s expressions. after all, _i_ grew up with all those “shoulds” and plenty of training around caring what others think.
i notice i worry she is ‘imposing’ and keep alert to when she might be overstepping bounds when she takes her exuberantly people-loving, social self to random tables of people at restaurants to flirt, interact, and ENJOY hanging with them.
when she shouts “Go away! I wish you’d never come over” to a friend in a fight, i notice i look forward to the day she figures out a more graceful way to communicate, at the same time i am relieved and grateful she still has this clarity of feeling and ferocity of expression within her.
this question of full expression (my need for space for the huge amount of sound coming up for me in Authentic Movement right now) and balancing/respecting everyone’s needs in community (e.g. some are sensitive to sound and, unlike touch, sound infiltrates a space and everyone is forced to deal with it), is very much relevant and coming up for me in certain Authentic Movement contexts right now.
some things that came up for me as i chose to move in a low-sound context this past weekend: i am Free. the environment does not need to change for me to be free. sound is energy. energy is infinitely transmutable.
i screamed into the earth. the earth is big enough to hold my sound. the universe is big enough to hold my sound.
if my hand (a particular mover, or other movers) needs quiet (e.g. for medical or any reasons), then there is no conflict here for the rest of the body (including me) to abide by that.
still, relevant issues right now.