Well that was an unprecedented pause from chapters. Hopefully everyone is caught up and plowing through the final pages of the book by know. It's been a great read, I must say.
Like other chapters in Simplicity Parenting, this one struck a nerve several times. This chapter, though, is less simple and concrete to apply to our day to day lives. At least the changes that I need to make. Filling a box with books and clothes and toys is one thing. But filtering out the adult world is woven with so much of our own inner work it seems like a big one to take on.
Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
Chapter Six: Filtering Out the Adult World
Chapter six was a broad, expansive one. From parental hovering and worry to television and media to sarcasm to too many words, there is lots to digest here.
For me, the screens, media, and news talk is easy. It is a non-issue around here. We don't do movies, television, radio, computers, or magazines for entertainment. We never have. You read that right. We don't do media. It is a slippery slope I never wanted to step onto so we haven't.
Two experiences when Sage was under two shaped that decision. They are these:
1. I was an NPR junkie for years before becoming a mother. I listened to it like you might listen to music. Constantly. And then one day when Sage was nearly two I turned on the radio and one horrible graphic sentence hung in the air. It was a war report from Iraq and I turned the radio on and off in one quick motion when I heard those words isolated from all the other talk. I was stunned. Horrified. What was I doing? My son was hearing this terrible information each and every day. And I knew that a one year old understood 90% of what he or she heard. That shook me. I haven't turned on NPR around my children in the seven years since.
2. The second shaping experience had happened a few months before. We had never done TV with or around Sage. We gave ut television a few years before so it was a non-issue.
Pete was leaving for a week away and I wondered how I would eat, bathe, or survive during his absence. A well-meaning and loving friend sent me some Baby Einstein videos to help me through the pinch of his absence. Baby videos were something I never would have bought myself and I was a secretly excited about the prospect of having them – like finding a tub of really sassy ice cream in your freezer after your friends visit. I wouldn't have brought it into my life, but let's not waste it. You get the idea.
I thought maybe I'd use them while Pete was gone, just once or twice during the week to get a shower in. But I wanted to see how Sage would handle them first. We dug out a DVD player we had and an ancient TV from the attic. We put the disc in. And an amazing/disturbing thing happened. Sage was first excited. He smiled and bounced to the music. He signed the animals he saw: dog, cat, rabbit. And then ever so slowly, the joy drained from his face and he sat staring, expressionless. He stopped dancing. He stopped signing. He zoned out. This took all of maybe 30 or 40 seconds, but that was all it took. I took out the disc, threw them back into the box and sent them away forever. I don't remember if I showered that week, but I wasn't willing to numb my boy on TV so I could wash up. He could shower with me. I could wash up at the sink. But that glazed eyed look on my baby was not worth it to me in any form.
Instead of Instead of screens or other media we read books. We play. We draw. We bike. We live our lives in other ways.
That being said, I am not the typical American mama. I think for most families limiting screens is a huge step towards more simple parenting. What about in your home?
There were indeed parts fo chapter six that spoke to me regarding areas where Pete and I could make great strides. We talk too much. (Way too much.) We worry too much. (Now and then.) We don't filter as well as we could. (Frequently.) There is always room for improvement and for us it is here. These are the places where we need to work on filtering out the adult world. We also run a home-based business and homeschool, so there isn't much time or space away from our children to carve out time to have adult conversation. We need to stay aware of what we say and when and make time happen apart from the kids.
I have long loved the very Waldorf approach of not complimenting or critiquing my children's experiences. I am not silent and nodding as they run to me to share something, but I have worked hard to quiet the compliments or value-laden statements that pour forth over each cartwheel and drawing. I want the experience to be the joy in itself – not my response to what they have done that feeds their souls. I lean towards, "Tell me about this picture." or "You have been drawing many different animals lately." Simple observations.
How do you do on filtering out the adult world? Share with us.