Thursday and Friday, March 3 and 4th, Melissa: Eiche takes another step towards a life independent from Jeff and me. We visit the San Francisco Waldorf pre-school he will be attending starting in April and things go very well. Eiche joined up with the children immediately and fell into the rhythm of the day with ease. He enthusiastically traded his shoes for slippers and headed into the rosy and softly lit part of the large room where the toys resided. I had settled myself on a cushioned window seat by the circular table where the children come together to prepare and eat their meals. I had just peeked up from my handwork to see Eiche playing with Jonah, a child we had met in an earlier mother and toddler class, when Heidi came over to me and whispered "you can go now." Now, I have been on the teacher-side of this situation numerous times but I had never as a mother been invited to leave my child with people outside of the family. It took my breath away to hear it said so casually. Quickly though I realized that Heidi was right, it was time to go, to leave Eiche in a safe place to meet the world on his own terms. I walked the streets for twenty drizzly endless minutes before the appointed time for my peek in the window. When Nichola saw me at the door she came to say, "he is doing splendidly so why don't you come back in an hour. "An hour, okay....." Now what do I do with myself? I laughed remembering all the moments when I was desperate for some time to myself as a somewhat overwhelmed new mother. So I did what I often dreamed of then--I went to a cafe, sat in silence and drank some chamomile tea with a contented smile on my face until it was time to rush back to the store-front school where I found Eiche tucked in with the other children enjoying a story with Heidi. As the children got up to go to the table for their hot lunch, Heidi suggested that we go now so as not to push to far the first day, but Eiche started to wail the moment we opened the door. After some consultation I discovered that he wanted to enjoy the bun he had made that morning. Nichola placed a warm little buttered bun in his small hands and we were off. "Had that really happened" I wondered as we resumed our usual routine of moving around in the world as a single being "mommyandme."
The next day, Eiche spent most of the morning with the children after I said a brief goodbye and went on my way to the cafe. It was much easier the second time, but I am not sure I will ever be entirely used to those initial moments of seperation. I often told my mom not to cry when we hugged each other goodbye at the airport--now I know better!
That afternoon as Eiche and I took advantage of a break in the rain to hit Belvedere Park I had another brush with separating from Eiche. We started our park time with Eiche wheeling around confidently on his shiny red trycicle. He was headed up the path when he was joined by two four-year-olds on bikes (with training wheels) who zipped past him and said "bye bye babyhead" in such mean voices that I immediately wanted to storm over and bring them down a notch or two! How dare they call my son a "babyhead!" I sat and fumed as Eiche stuck with the boys and joined in race after race down the walk to the oak trees. I had to admit to myself that even if the other two boys hadn't been so obviously cheating, Eiche still would have trailed far behind them. I was still considering finding their mothers and telling on them when Eiche pulled up next to me with a laughing smile, saying "those boys are calling me a baby. I'm not a baby, I'm a toddler."
Life is so helpful, giving us innumerable opportunites, wether we want them or not, to see our sleves clearly for a moment. This was one of mine. Eiche had an entirely different experience from the one I had imagined he was having. I had not even considered doing what I would have routinely done as a teacher, to check to child's face and body to see how they were doing before stepping in. But this was Eiche and I justed assumed he would feel as I did without ever looking for his response. Just as Eiche is exploring further and further afield in his quest to become his own person, I too am journeying an opposite path as I learn to let him go, with faith in the truth of life.
Sun 6-March. Jeff records an piece of Eiche's new jazzy/scat approach to liquid language combined with his budding sense of order: "I don't want oatmeal in the rice pan. It's the pan with the metal lid. It can't hold oatmeal. I want oatmeal in the blue pan. It can hold oatmeal and things mixed in it. It can hold oatmeal mixture and oatmeal tixture and oatmeal loaster and shoatmeal coaster."
Melissa attends a day long event at SpiritRock with Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn reflecting on Mindful Parenting. I found the exercise where we share our parenting fears to be really helpful as stating my fears actually dispelled many of them. In the follow weeks I have some new insights into my parenting style and move towards positive ways to redirect myself!
March 10-13, Jeff and Melissa: Big trip to Washington State to see GrandmaJoan and Toby and visit Tim, Janet, and of course Walker.Thursday, we fly up and meet GrandmaJoan at SeattleCenter for lunch. Eiche plays in the ride-in cars scattered in the "dance floor" in the center of the food court while we try to convince him to have lunch. We drive up to Bellingham in the afternoon and early evening.
Friday we go to visit Teddy Bear Cove near Bellingham. We walk down a short switchback through the trees before crossing the railroad tracks and entering a sandy beach front. The Cove is a rather small inlet hugged by steep rocks on one side and etched sandstone on the other. The Cove opens to the bowl of a larger bay with trees softening the shore line and the distant San Juan Islands completing the watery bowl. Walker and Eiche take of to play with stones and sticks and walk in he water with their rubber boots until they fall in and need to get their clothes changed. It's cloudy but mild, and there's only a tiny bit of rain sprinkles. At the end of our visit there is a little tearful disappointment about the presence of only one very interesting chunk of styrofoam. The boys work it out quickly and open a bakery where we all have a little dessert before heading up the hill. We top off the night with a delicious Indian meal followed by a long night of sleep.
Saturday is beautiful and sunny. In the morning, Tim and Jeff take Walker and Eiche to Fountain Drug where there are two big train tables set up. Enough said, yes?
Toby and Joan arrive in the afternoon ad enjoy the boys antics and the parents slip away for a short walk along the creek bed and a little treat at a small cafe filled with post-punk college students. The cafe has a sign for the upcoming "peep fest" contest. Hmmm.
When we arrive back at the house, it is time to have dinner, pack up and head to Seattle. Joan reports that Eiche and Walker had a long peaceful play session which included a hot air balloon ride on Walker's bed. The boys couldn't take off without loading up lots of toy supplies, of course. Walker gives Eiche a goodbye gift--one of his own small cars carefully wrapped. Eiche is delighted! The fellas give big hugs and Walker says "Next time I want you to stay longer."
Sunday we go to the WoodlandParkZoo in Seattle with GrandmaJoan and Toby. Eiche really enjoys climbing on the kids' play structures sprinkled around the Temperate Forest section -- the burrow and spider web. He and Melissa get a chance to get close to the glass divider at the gorilla exhibit where the mother is eating leaves with her youngest tucked up next to her. An adolecent gorilla comes over and sits down right in front of us and proceeds to groom himself which ammuses Eiche quite a bit. Melissa is touched by a short but deep meeting of the eyes. Wonderful creatires. Later, Eiche tries feeding leaves to the bronze statues of gorillas. We say goodbye to Washington and fly back home.
Tuesday the 15th, Melissa: Eiche and I say goodbye to the mothers and children we have enjoyed since September in the Mother-Child Program. When school starts up again in April, we will have a new routine--Wednesdays we will continue to go to a wonderful parenting class where I get to do hand crafts while Eiche plays with his friends, Max, Tomaso, and Lillian being some favorite playmates. This session will be led by Marianne Alsop who has been supporting parents who wish to bring Waldorf principles into their home life for atleast thirty years! Thursdays and Fridays Eiche will go to preschool with Heidi and Nichola. I will do errands in the city of Thursdays and will be assisting Lalla Carini on Fridays with a young twos parent and child class. This still gives us four days at home in which to sink into our own family routines and enjoy a lot of outdoor time. It is hard to believe that next year Eiche will start kindergarten--another big step in becoming his own person. The following weekend is Lifeways in Sacramento. Eiche and Jeff get re-acquainted with wild turkeys and magpies while Melissa studies speech with Helen Lubin and puppetry, storytelling and nursery rhymes with Suzanne Down. I had a nasty cold and had to croak out my preformance of "daff-o-down dilly" with the little felted wool puppet I had made, illustrating the reason why people in smokey bars don't often do puppetry. Still I enjoyed the gathering immensely and look forward to trying the puppetry with Eiche and other little ones.
Friday the 25th: Eiche and Melissa met Elsa and Charlie (Jeff knows Charlie from Patterns Group, and Elsa is one of the three E babies--Eiche, Elsa and Elizabeth). Eiche said the next day to Jeff: "She was a sensitive baby. She doesn't smudge. She just eats cake."
The final weekend in March we stay home, well sort of. Eiche and Jeff head down to see Pappa Ed while Melissa rests up at home, with a cold that has turned into bronchitis. On Sunday, the boys head out to Muir Woods, even though it is a blustery, rainy day.
Monday the 28th: While waiting 2 1/2 hours to have new tires put on the car at CostCo in Novato, Eiche and I resisted going into any of the stores at Vintage Oaks and wandered along the edge of the wetlands at Black's Point. We found many vernal ponds with feathery light green algae lining the bottom and rather tuberous 4" to 6" red stemmed plants along the edges. We found an egg, about the size of a small goose egg with it's sturdy shell open on one side with a thin layer of dried mucous coating the inner walls. Signs of hatchlngs?
However, our best siting was by the largest body of water in the wetlands where we watched five enormous AmericanWhitePelicans drift their way across the stormy sky. They looked like swans who had dipped their wing tips in tar and got their petite beaks stuck and it took a lot of pulling to get the long things back out. We both stood, hand-in-hand, and felt their powerful wing strokes fill us up with wonder.
What had seemed to be a long time to have to wait at a sprawling shopping complex full of big box stores just flew by (no pun intended). I am forever grateful to Eiche for making me seek out nature to surround him with, for I benefit deeply myself.