Playtime with Ollie - Livin' the Good Life
Oct. 4th, 2013
08:26 pm - Playtime with Ollie
This afternoon Ollie came over and asked me to play with him. He led me into the playroom while his mama went home to get some chores done. I could see right away that Ollie was in a particularly open and receptive mood and was quite willing for me to lead the way in our play. He and I sat very close, and I could tell that he was almost literally "drinking me in". He looked to me for the words to describe what we were doing. He looked to me for the attitude necessary for the kind of play I was initiating. He was completely open to instruction. "If you use this side of the knife (a wooden knife) it will cut better. This side is too fat. But, this side is sharp and will cut through the vegetables". He was really trying to understand. He examined the knife and saw that it did, indeed, have a "sharp" and a "fat" side. He repeated what I said, EXACTLY AS I HAD SAID IT, the same words, in the same order, with the same intonation. Then he tried it and it worked just the way I told him it would. After that, every time he picked up the knife, he recited the little "lesson" in a serious voice, then easily sliced through the fruit or vegetable with his play knife. I could see the look of expectation and then satisfaction on his face.
I am pleased to see that he is now ready for a little more complicated and sustained fantasy play with me. "Why don't you get Heidi and Anna (the dolls) and we'll feed them. I bet they are really hungry after their nap". He hopped right up to get the dolls out of their bed, and brought them to me. I talked to them, asking them questions about what they would like to eat. He immediately started asking them questions too, as if they were real children, getting his little face close to theirs and speaking very kindly and earnestly to them. He kept thinking of more and more things that they might like to eat. I told him they might like some salt on their eggs, so he went to the play kitchen and found the salt and pepper shakers. He asked them if they'd like some pepper, too. When I "fed" them their eggs, he asked them if the pepper was "too spicy". Most of the "food" is made out of wood, so he asked if the food was "crunchy", and when he got the knitted "cookies" out of the oven, and I started chewing on them, I said they were sweet and bouncy... not crunchy. And he said, "bouncy... like a ball." "Yeah" I said, and grinned. "Yeah" he said, and grinned too.
This brought me right back to my days, (many years, actually), of raising toddlers. As exasperating as they can be at that age, there is also a pure holiness to the way they are. I wanted to make sure that my children had people around them who were worthy of imitation, because they were soaking it all in... every bit of it. And the responsibility of it felt like an incredible gift. I was the one who decided what they did, what they thought about what they did, their attitudes, their focus, their fun.... and I took it very, very seriously. My Waldorf mentor used to tell me "Your child is absorbing YOU. Be a good thing to absorb." And, kid after kid proved that to be true. I saw it over and over again. My children WERE absorbing me! Kind of scary. Kind of awesome. Waldorf teachers are taught that they must always, always be growing and evolving, because their little charges were watching and modeling after them.
There is nothing, NOTHING, more interesting to me than that pure, holy openness of a child. It is the thing that kept me going through the tough spots of parenting. It is the thing I mourned as the children grew older and started hiding that holiness. It was still there, but they felt the vulnerableness of it and didn't feel safe being in that space while in the school environment. I knew it was still there, but I missed the "out in the openness" of it that they, as toddlers, had exhibited without inhibition.
Ollie is in that stage now of uninhibited, pure holiness. I hope he feels safe to be there for a very long time.