The repetition of the word “work” bothered me today when I observed my daughter at her Montessori daycare. My older son went to Waldorf school, and even if the two approaches share an appreciation for real-world duties and chores, Waldorf education comes from the perspective that childhood is for play, exploration, unfolding. Not for doing things a certain way, as though there is a right way.
Well, at least that’s how I understand it. And I like the Waldorf way, but my daughter seems very comfortable with a Montessori approach. And as far as day cares go, especially day cares 1.5 miles from my home, this place is lovely. And the teachers are loving. They really like my daughter. That goes a long way. So does the fact that they serve healthy snacks and have a nice yard with a garden and a calm environment without blinking and buzzing toys.
But I still didn’t love the “Find your next work,” suggestion from my daughter’s teacher to the children. I walked into the other part of the home to see if anyone was playing in there. And there, in the middle of the room, stood a giant, gorgeous amaryllis in full flower.
It took my breath away.
I thought about the work chart on which each child was assigned a day to water the bulb. I thought about the “work” activities of polishing metal, washing windows. The teachers said that, once my daughter was shown all the work tasks, she began to come into the room and just do them, without asking, without guidance, and with the longest attention span of any of the children. “She is so focused,” said the teacher.
Apparently, work makes my daughter happy. We should all be so lucky.
So many of the jobs in this day care space have to do in some way with creating beauty. Or order. Or order in order to see through to beauty.
As I worked tonight not on a poem for my last day of this blogging month but on a novel, a project I didn’t ask for or expect to undertake, but one that is so clearly necessary for my soul, I thought about work as what you get to do if you’re lucky.
It’s not non-play, it’s not drudgery. It’s what you focus on, what deserves your attention, and what gives back to you in some way — satisfaction, product, or maybe just money.
I have said I love writing poems every day this month and yet I’ve grown tired of it and am ready for it to end. The same thing happens on a day I get to be fully with my kids.
Parenting is work and yields a person. Sometimes we don’t give it our full attention, and we don’t like what we get. But we are privileged to have the opportunity.
It would serve me well to appreciate what I focus on and let it unfold in all its beauty.
The flower in the middle of the room
It requires water and light
It does not require you to notice
that it is resplendent
but why would you not?
After casting aside my poetry hat for far too long, my NaBloPoMo plan is to write a poem — and to take and post a photo — every day in November, spending less than half an hour on both. The hope is to drill down, to focus, to look for and create beauty.
Previous Posts (I am missing one somewhere, because I have written every day, dammit, but I don’t know what link I’ve missed here!)
Day 1: Eleven One
Day 2: Shoreline
Day 3: Damage
Day 4: On Parenting and Sunrises
Day 5: When will we?
Day 6: Voting Line
Day 8: Haiku
Day 9: Reminders
Day 10: Routine
Day 11: Lux Esto, in moderation
Day 13: Siblings
Day 14: Point of View
Day 15: Background
Day 16: Greener Grass
Day 17: Journey
Day 18: From two to twelve
Day 19: Baggage
Day 20: Mothering, now and later
Day 21: Expectations
Day 22: Sibling dreams
Day 23: Blank canvas
Day 24: Closing in on December
Day 26: Nothing but the moon
Day 27: Balance
Day 28: Nourishment
Day 29: Being old is not a crime