Embracing the Natural Pace of Childhood

For a long stretch, whenever you gave our little boy crayons or colored pencils, he’d busy himself drawing designs. Multi-colored, layered, creative designs.

Meanwhile, if you gave his twin sister crayons or colored pencils, she was likely to draw whatever she saw in the world — a smiling face, clouds, flowers, rainbows.

And then, seemingly overnight, our little boy started drawing rocket ships with intricate details, fire jetting out the back, control panels onboard, a moon in the distance. Faces emerged next for him — smiley faces, silly faces. And yes, he still draws designs too.

Evolving and maturing at his own pace, our little boy is unearthing his own unique mode of artistic expression. We never told him to draw a rocket, and we certainly did not pick the day when he jumped from designs to detailed rocket ships. That was up to him. As it should be.

As parents, we joyfully await these leaps, when we see our children maturing before our eyes, learning new skills, testing new boundaries, seemingly all of the sudden.

But these leaps happen in their own time. They cannot be demanded. For kids, there is no command performance.

We provide the loving environment for our children to grow, but like Mother Nature’s nurturing of a springtime flower, we cannot force this sudden burst of becoming. By holding childhood in reverence, we trust that each child’s journey of self-discovery and consciousness will unfold in its own time.

In Waldorf classrooms, teachers practice “holding the question”— that is, holding off on definitively answering the question: “who is this child?” Rather than labeling individual children as the “smart kid,” the “athlete,” the “mischievous kid,” the “artist,” and so on, Waldorf philosophy counsels its educators against putting kids into a defined box too soon.

As parents, we desperately want to answer this question. We lay awake at night, dreaming about who our children will become, dreaming about our adventures together, dreaming about their role in this world. We can dream, of course, but we must also be patient and flexible in our dreams.

Our children will surprise us in ways we cannot foresee, in ways big and small.

For now, it’s enough that our little boy loves to draw designs and rocket ships. He’ll share his next leap when he’s ready. We’ll be waiting, patiently and lovingly.