First Overnight

My baby left this morning wearing Ian’s 20-year-old backpack covered in European country patches. It was stuffed with his gear and bigger than him.

“I feel like the tortoise who won the race. No wonder he went slowly!” Lucas said, staggering under its weight.

He’s off with his third-grade class for a first-ever overnight camping trip. They are going to Full Belly Farm, an organic farm in Capay (which must be really close to the farm we went to last weekend). The whole class will be sleeping in tents. It’s going to be awesome.

I am so proud of Lucas. Today, I truly feel that the time does fly by. Wasn’t it only a few months ago that I was holding his hand as we marched for the first time into the Kindergarten?

The anticipation of this class trip was hard on him. Lucas was pretty nervous and asked me more than once, “Do I have to go?” He cried and worried. It’s so hard to find the right balance between being compassionate about his emotional turmoil and being encouraging yet firm. No, I’m not going to let him skip this amazing class trip because he’s afraid of it. He is ready, even if he doesn’t know it yet. Does that make me mean? That’s mothering for you—I’m part Mom, part Sensei.

I just kept telling him how much fun he was going to have, how busy he and his classmates would be, and how it’s OK to feel nervous about things. “You’ll be fine! Lots of people will be there to take care of you,” I told him. I also know that Lucas is a wonderful caregiver, and so we role-played how he would act if he found one of his classmates was having a hard time and feeling sad and homesick. He came up with wonderful strategies for making that friend feel better. I think that made him feel empowered and competent.

I made sure Lucas has both phone numbers so he can call home if he needs to. The teachers said that would be fine. We packed a little lavender-scented pillow I made him for Valentine’s Day; something he can sleep with if he’s feeling homesick.

My Boys' Valentine Pillow Sachets from Mommy

The worry he has been feeling the last couple of days seemed this morning to have been outstripped by his excitement. He happily trudged out the door—no tears, no bargaining, no hesitation. Just an 8 1/2-year-old boy with places to go and friends to meet.

Courage is being afraid and doing the right thing anyway. This trip seems to me to have just the right degree of challenge, the right ratio of fear to reward. And of course, it has everything to do with their third-grade curriculum, studying gardening and grains.

Gardening and Grains Lesson Book, Third Grade: Corn

Gardening and Grains Lesson Book, Third Grade: Wheat

(These are partial-page scans from his Gardening and Grains lesson book. My scanner isn’t big enough to capture the whole page.)

I love this Waldorf curriculum. I love that my son gets to spend a day and a night on a working farm that is using sustainable practices and raising sheep for wool. I love that he knows where his food comes from. I love that part of school for him is fresh air and sunshine, digging in the mud and planting seeds, and swimming in a pond. I love that his physical and spiritual development are carefully considered in addition to his academic aptitude and achievement; that the health and unity of the class as a whole is considered. I love that he is challenged with tasks that are a trifle scary and difficult, and supported while he faces his fears and overcomes obstacles. I feel he is being nourished every day by these qualities and so many more that I can’t even put into words.

I’m just so full of gratitude, and hoping he has a wonderful time.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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