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My son has been working hard on his summer homework.  He’s asked for my help several times and has labored with intensity for hours. It was only after he handed me the first completed worksheet and wrote “For Mama” at the top corner, that I found out it wasn’t meant to be turned in.  The work was given simply for practice.

I am amazed that a child his age approached this task with such diligence. I never had to remind him.  On the contrary, I wanted him to take a break and breathe out. He was the one who kept reminding me he had work to do. He wanted to bring it on every trip he’s been on this summer, but I said it was best to just leave everything and tackle the work after his journey (I didn’t want him to leave anything behind).  Summer makes everyone excarnate and I didn’t want to risk him leaving his homework in far away places, lost and forgotten. Since he wanted my help, I told him it might be a good idea to do it after I came back from  my trip. Because of the jet lag, I totally forgot about it. Yet he brought it up again–and again– until I finally I sat down and helped him begin.  He was so immersed in it that I assumed it was for turning in.

Being in a Steiner school all these years has been a rough, albeit enriching journey, at least for me. The kids enjoy and thrive in it, but there are always issues that surface–not having teachers, teachers who leave, the quality of the teachers and the inner substance they bring, the education itself, the stability and sustainability of the school, administration, organization–you name it, every conscious parent on this path has battled with it. I put my children in a Steiner school for many reasons and though I can confidently say I’ve weathered most of the trials that came with that decision, there are times when I wonder if there are other, equally viable schools for my children.

But when I see this love for learning and this touching self-motivation, I know that I have done right by them. If you are on this path,  you know that there are more questions than there are answers. You are looking for something specific in your school, in the teachers, in everything, and what you are looking for won’t always be there. That is the nature of this journey and constantly asking questions is a good indication that you are holding your child in full consciousness and have not fallen into automatic pilot, no matter what you think you want for him.  What mother doesn’t hope for the best teacher for her child, the best possible school, the best of everything? But, we must accept there is always a gap between the ideal and reality, and it is there that life happens.

When I saw my child work so hard on his homework with not a single complaint, but with interested questions, completely absorbed and engaged, I had that moment every Waldorf mom longs for–an affirmation that so far, everything is still good. Tomorrow might bring something different but, for now, perhaps it’s all good.


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  1. Te / May 25 2010 3:39 pm

    Panjee, I often wonder if we don’t choose this education more for ourselves than our children. There are often storms to weather at a Waldorf school , our school rocks in the same waves as yours it seems. Interestingly, I find the parents feel the rocking far more than the children. But through it all I believe like you, for now all is well, and this offers so much joy.

    • panjeetapales / May 25 2010 4:02 pm

      Hi. I’m pretty sure it’s the kids that chose it. I certainly feel they’ve led me to what they need, but once we take it on, it’s up to us to make sure they are served well. That’s the challenge for us Waldorf parents in this country. But I try to make them my gauge. I see how they are in school, if they’re happy, how they talk about their teachers. Then I try to put that against my own observations. I don’t think it was meant to be an easy path.

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