We have gone back and forth on how and when to introduce the incredibly complicated world of moving images to our kids. Given that it is a world I grew up in and now have as my vocation, it is hard to hold back on diving in aggressively.
Mom and Dad decided Luke is ready to see Star Wars IV (The first one in our books) and we even got excited about the possibility of finding a screening at a real live movie house.
Then I started to think more and more about it.
Over the last few months Luke has has more specific and increasingly fascinating questions about how movies are made and what constitutes a real life movie vs. an animated movie vs. a documentary? It dawned on me that his mind can barely differentiate between these concepts. That it is really hard to understand the differences between a documentary and a movie where people are pretending to be something or do something. Even animation is still a bit confusing to his young mind.
Then I started to think about how when the first moving images were projected back in 1896, just one shot of a train barrelling down the tracks, patrons ran from the movie house unable to comprehend what they were seeing. Even if this is fabrication of what really happened (no one knows), it still belies the power of the moving image on the human brain.
We opted to fall back and watch some of the Sound of Music instead. (laptop, home, part one only) listening to the questions during the show only confirmed what I was thinking, you need to work up to something like Star Wars, no matter who you are.
Q: Are there going to be more people? (after seeing Julie Andrews alone in the field in the beginning.
Q: Will there be more songs? (after the first song ended).
Q: What’s happening? (could be said at almost any conceivable moment)
I became intrigued on what is the best path to take on this visual journey and found a comforting post from a Waldorf teacher and parent on just this subject. What I love was that her methodology was to start at the beginning, silent films and work slowly through the decades following the major changes in cinema, Sound, Color, Faster editing, etc.
It all made a little more sense after that and I realized it is really a matter of just relaxing. Yes, Luke wants to DO everything NOW, wants to SEE everything NOW, wants to LEARN everything now, but it is our job as parents to figure out the least troubling manner to approach all this.
So, for now I am sticking with the Marx Bros.
I am sure I have gone on and on about my love of the Waldorf School concepts and practices, perhaps not, but it makes no difference because what I know is that my kids are thriving in all areas of life as far as I can tell and their school supports a diversity I don’t see happening in other areas of education.
There was a handout at a recent parent night about researchers who have studied child development in hunter gatherer tribes. That children in these cultures are allowed (and encouraged) to play, play, play until they are fully ready to take on the challenges of adult life, Like until the are seventeen or eighteen. PLAY is the key!
Homework bad, play good!
What recently became apparent to me with Luke was his unbridled enthusiasm about this last “handwork” creation. This is a boy who loves baseball more just than about anything, plays football by himself (as well as any other sport you might care to mention) but when he brought home his “needle book” and showed it to us, the light in his eyes, the profound confidence he displayed describing every stitch, this made me see a whole person, a whole being. A lovely boy in every way imaginable.
For Lily it is her inner ability to create worlds. She has got so many little secret worlds floating about it is impossible to keep track. Yet if you ask her to describe what that pile of scarves, papers, stones, sticks and blankets are, she will give a detailed and well thought out description of that world.
For me this took on more “real world” experience when after a huge storm, one that knocked out power for thousands of residents and downed many trees in our neighborhood, I went outside to purvey the damage in our yard and what I saw was this:
A Fairy House she had made before the storm and was completely un-harmed.
I guess this post is more about me than the kids. It seems Luke and Lily are both firmly and unequivocally on there way to a life of well being.
I have been working out of town and only see them on the weekends, and it feels that each week another milestone passes. Nothing tangible, nothing I can even relate, but it is there, the inevitable ongoing growth of two young spirits.
Needless to say, they are flourishing.
Luke is erudite, deeply involved in facts and figures and baseball. He reads up a storm, takes part in whatever is going on and even though it is not always apparent on the surface, loves his sister deeply. The other morning after the usual amount of bickering and cajoling I was leaving with Luke and Lily was staying home with mom. Lily came running out with Luke’s water bottle and Luke says:
“Thanks, can I have a hug?”
Of course he can because Lily is the living embodiment of love and rainbows, ice cream, cake and silk scarves. A hug is always available, especially for her brother. One of her favorite pastimes is flying around in circles on the round swing. Delightful in all respects.
I am not trying to hide that fact that they fight, fight, fight, argue, harass, bicker, stomp and DISAGREE! But what lies beneath is warmth and love.
Job well done? I don’t know what to think, it is this new perspective from afar, of seeing them only sporadically which makes me feel like I am totally out of it and the years of being “in it” are passed. I also know that is not true, but it sure feels like that today.
Which is about me, as I said.
When I was about Luke’s age I went to Ski Camp. Loved it, spent a week straight skiing everyday in the Berkshires. I became a pretty good skier over time. But, my memory says that I spent the entire first season learning to snowplow, maybe “stem-christi” (if that still exists) and certainly taking lessons every day.
Around that same time Downhill Racer starring Robert Redford arrived at the movie theaters. Oh, I loved that movie. I may have turned into a very careful, non-risk taking type of skier, I still see myself as a downhill racer.
Well, lucky enough for me Luke became one in nine outings. It has been uncanny to watch. basically he was up and skiing by himself at the end of day one, skiing down pretty much any trail he so desired by the end of day three and at day eight he now does this: