Last semester my children and I completed parent/infant and a parent/toddler classes. The classes itself were great but the stress took a toll on me: the stress of juggling two back to back classes (I'd shuffle one kid home from class, switch kids with the babysitter, then hustle to the second class). Mealtimes and naps were always a bit fudged on those days, in part because someone new was putting the kids down to sleep and in part because of the timing of the class. In short, it was a lot of hubbub for only a fair amount of gain.
It sometimes takes me a while to learn my lesson.
I signed us up for another semester of classes for this fall. This time, Arlo would be in the parent/child while Elsa was in the parent/toddler. The stress was similar, too: fudged meal and naptimes, the running back and forth while one child was home with a sitter, the struggle of finding a fabulous sitter willing to work one half day a week for us. Today was the second day of class and I came home knowing what I had to do.
I had to simplify. Drop out.
The thing is, I love the Waldorf philosophy and the toys and the environment and the focus on allowing children to be children and play and wonder. It is my intent to bring this philosophy into our home through my own self-study.
The tipping point came when I realized that I couldn't stand pretending to fit in. All the stress might be worth it if I didn't also have this growing uncomfortability with the pressure to swim a certain way. In my experience, there was a pressure to dress the children a certain way, dress myself as a woman a certain way, drink certain water and certain tea at a certain time, play with certain toys, climb certain wooden structures and not others, eat certain things at a certain time, talk in a quiet, hushed voice in a certain way, and so forth. I mean no offense to Waldorf true believers, but I can't live within those boundaries, even for four hours a week.
I'm in love with Waldorf philosophy as it relates to education and home environment but I can't do its societal norms. It reminds me of certain expressions of religion. While I love the concepts of love, peace, and doing for others, religions lose me with the extra constraints based on gender and sexual orientation and inconsistent applications of justice.
So, my children and I are Waldorf school dropouts. And already I feel better.