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Friday, September 16, 2011

What is important? What do we value?

They say opposites attract. I guess Steve and I are in some ways opposite. He is very conservative and I'm rather liberal. However, on things that are important to us we agree (or the other one doesn't really care). We both have been thinking back to our childhoods and what we liked and didn't like about them. We also look around at today's society and worry about bringing up Hazel with our morals and values in today's society. I think this is why we both really like the idea of a Waldorf education for her.

Since making that decision I have noticed my life going back to older times. Making more crafts (not that I wasn't before but now focusing on what they are made of, etc.), slowing down, looking for more family time and wishing the blues laws were not voted out way back when. I miss having the Sabbath day where the stores for the most part were closed and certainly miss the holidays where the stores remain closed. Now it seems like the various holidays equal sales and craziness at the stores. Our society seems to rush around so much I wonder when do people rest and connect with one another.

Now stating this I should say that Steve and I do not text on our phones--in fact I have it blocked to receive texts (after getting spam on it). We do not have fancy phones and don't want them. Our cell phones are for phone calls when we are away from home and need to get in touch with someone. We do not plan on getting a cell phone for Hazel until she goes to high school at the earliest. We are also not the type to go out and buy the latest technology and keep up with it. Steve uses my laptop that I bought in 2001 or so and I have a computer we bought right after Hazel was born (when we realized all of the pictures from our digital camera was taking too much memory on the laptop). Now stating this, I should also say I know we live very comfortably. We have a beautiful (too large) house that we have professionally cleaned twice a month (because I'm not very good at keeping up with the cleaning and playing with Hazel) even though I'm a stay-at-home mom. So it isn't that we cannot afford these things, but we decide not to do them. Most of our vacations nowadays involve visiting family--usually my parents on Cape Cod.

I guess things I have been thinking about are what we value. My car is five years old and I still think of it as brand new. (My last car was ten years old when we got rid of it.) It is a Subaru Forrester nothing fancy. Steve's car is a Ford Escape and is four years old. So we are not driving fancy cars. I see many neighbors who do, but could care less. Even though I'm in my car a lot to me as long as it is dependable nothing else matters. I know it will start when I need it to and we always maintain them well. Steve is rather meticulous about it.

So many of our decisions come from how we want to live our lives. We do not want to be the family that people need to keep up with or try to keep up with any other family. We want to have time together and teach Hazel our values. We feel strongly that religion is important and want Hazel to be active in a church. We have decided on my church (I'm protestant and Steve's catholic), but we take Hazel to mass every once in awhile as well. I watch how the families with young children stop coming to church and hear about all the sporting events that take place on Sundays. I understand why, but can't imagine letting Hazel belong to a team that plays most of their games during church time. I remember being young and going to my grandparents house for Sunday dinner after church--it was always a steak dinner. Are our children going to have these connections and breaks in life? Steve and I have decided that we want to consciously put this break in Hazel's life (and our own). After church we are planning on having family time after Hazel stops napping. She usually comes home and has lunch and takes her nap right now after church. But when she no longer naps, we want to have a family meal and then a family activity--a walk in the state park nearby, play a game, something fun and together.

I guess this is why I like the Waldorf philosophy. We have struggled as a family with some of it--especially the no television. When Hazel is sick or one of us isn't feeling well, we do give in and let her watch it, but usually only one of three shows (Sesame Street--she loves Elmo, Caillou, and Curious George). Steve's mother often lets her watch it as well when she is taking care of her for us. But I have noticed that when we don't let her watch it, she doesn't ask too much to watch it. It is only when we have recently let her that she will ask. She also has learned that Mommy doesn't allow it as much as Daddy or Nonni. She doesn't seem to ask for it at my parents but the few times she has, they have said no so she knows it won't work there. I have also noticed she does play with her toys more and she does mimic life but also mimics the shows. Her imaginary friend at my parents was Rosie, Caillou's little sister (and her favorite character). She has told me she has the flu or her dolls have the flu because Caillou gets the flu in an episode. I know from the reading I have done that this is one of the issues with television since she is not imitating real experiences of her own, but her favorite thing to do is put her babies to bed or to serve a meal or make a phone call. All of which are real life experiences or things she watches me do every day, so I'm not that concerned. We are also not putting her in front of the television as a babysitter and we are picky about what she watches.  (I should also add that she learned all of her letters and numbers--what they look like--from Sesame Street and how to count.) We did allow her to watch some television (Sprout and PBS only) before making the Waldorf decision.

My other area of concern is food. We do our best to serve her organic food whenever possible. I truly believe it is all the processing of our food that has caused the allergies and various illness, learning disabilities, etc. I know our pediatrician told me to make sure I always gave her dairy products that do not have extra hormones given to the cows. I figure I cannot control everything she will eat, but when we are home I can do my best to give her what is best for her.

I watched as a high school teacher for years the teenagers who were becoming adults way too young. (I taught in pretty wealthy towns, so it wasn't the teen pregnancies, etc., but how the kids carried themselves and acted.) I was shocked when a girl in one of my freshman geometry classes was excited about Victoria's Secret's semi-annual sale (and this was before Victoria's Secret really marketed to the teenagers). I know as a freshman in high school, I wouldn't have dreamed of going into a store like Victoria's Secret. So I am hoping by making some of these decisions we can help Hazel have a childhood that will be happy and not rushed. I know she is advanced for her age--I'm told it all the time. Between her height and her language people are shocked to hear she isn't three yet, but I don't see a reason to push her now. Let her enjoy learning and growing while she can. There is enough stress to fill her life when she becomes an adult.

Do you agree? What are some ideas you have come up with to slow down life in your family and allow your kids to be kids?