I'm fairly sure that as a child it would never have occurred to me to hand stitch a formal dress out of tufts of moss and cedar branches. (Neither for myself nor for a doll.)
I can't be certain if that was because I lacked the magnitude of imagination required to dream up such a project or the patience to keep at it. Or both.
Or maybe it was more that I was accustom to following the rules.
And the rules clearly state that flora is not clothing. Not even for a doll.
And so when Lupine put together an outfit for a newly thrifted (naked) doll she had to think outside of the box. We were traveling and had no fabric, but that doll needed clothes – STAT. What else could she use? Oh, right. Moss.
It took perhaps ten tries to get right as she tried different leaves and needles as she searched for the right combination of strength and flexibility required for doll clothes. (Not unlike life.)
She'll have you know that sumac leaves are beautiful but tear too easily, and pine is too brittle and stiff.
When we set off down the road of an out-of-the-box parenting and education style I'm not sure what outcome I was expecting. (It's been some 14 years and my memories as to motivation are a little hazy now.) Honestly, I don't know that I had an end point in mind.
At its core I simply wanted then (and still want now) for my children to have more space to be authentic, to get lost in their own ideas and scratch out their own identity. To get to know themselves in a deep and meaningful way.
I wanted them to worry less about fitting in and more about discovering their own truths.
More questioning. Less conformity.
Wouldn't we all benefit from that?
We would hear our own hearts again. Something that many of us haven't done for a long, long time.
So we invite our kids to be awake and alive in their choices and never blindly follow what their friends or mainstream culture is doing.
Looking back I suppose this is why we didn't bat an eye when a young Sage chose pink fuzzy footie pajamas embroidered with a fairy (over the red set with a firetruck detail) or when Lupine wore a black and yellow bumble bee tutu as an everyday dress. (With an antennae headband, of course.)
That being said my kids also sometimes surprise me in their "normalcy". And that's okay, too. Whether's it's an affinity for pop music and eyeshadow for one, or an interest in weaponry and camouflage for the other, their truths and mine are not the same. And that mainstream taste still translates into following their own path. Because they are bucking my norms, too.
There are other moments where I am at a loss for words seeing the world through their eyes.
When their authenticity and their gifts shine so bright.
Whether it's Sage's pleading requests to go to the hardware store – not once but twice – on our recent road trip, a supply run for some inventions he sketched to engineer some ingenious fixes to struggles we were having with our kayaks and camper; or Lupine's utterly Lupinesque way of seeing the world as one great supply cabinet of art materials just waiting to be discovered, they are their true selves.
And the truth is, they may have done these things anyway if we hadn't encouraged them always to question, explore, and dream. Or maybe they wouldn't have. There is no way to know.
Either way – like most parents – I'm just honored to be a witness to all they hold inside.