Cesar running to the new goaties with some leafy greens we picked up on our way to the fields. Unfortunately Cesar’s excitement gave them a bit of a fright and got them running away. Since we’ve been frequenting the chicken coop to drop of our organic waste, which the goaties get excited about just as much as the chickens – they’ve been less weary of us and greet us when we come into their sight.
It’s always a challenge to acclimatise Cesar to new animals. He gets overly excited, they’re skiddish – have to keep reminding myself to be patient and take it one moment, one day at a time. To not let one bad experience determine how all future experiences will go, to keep seeing every new moment and day as new.
I’ve been walking by a tub of wood cut offs from various projects in the shed for a while now. Each time glancing and wondering if there’s anything we’d be able to use it for with Cesar. The last few days Cesar has been playing a lot with his plastic animals, where they do all kinds of things in a little lego house we have. Seeing the blocks again, I figured it would be nice if we had a more expansive house available for him it to play with the animals. Most of the blocks had the same width or height since we use the same type of wood for most projects, which made them nice candidates to stack and create little structures with.
Here we made a little structure with steps and ‘bridges’ that the animals travel over. Cesar’s giving Wildebeest and Zebra a tour.
I often wonder if Cesar is getting enough ‘stimulation’, if he’s happy with the activities and things available for him to play with and explore. But perhaps that’s just because I am still looking at everything from my own point of view, what I find interesting and fascinating as an adult. Where I often have to push myself and breathe through resistance in playing with him, because what we’re doing doesn’t fall under my category of ‘fun’. Accumulate those moments where I’m the one not having fun and not directing the experience, and soon enough I think he must not be having fun.
It’s in those every day, ordinary moments I realise how much I still need to work on myself, how far I have removed myself from my own innocence as life, how much of my adultism I still need to deconstruct.
Cesar crushing almonds for muffins we were making. When he has got a lot of energy, he can get into hitting things to get the excess energy out. He was getting a bit fed up and so I looked at how we could redirect his focus and energy. He would single out an almond in the bag and slide it across, away from all the other almonds, then hit it into pieces. First he was just hitting lots of almonds at once but then he couldn’t really see what his actions were producing. He ended up crushing all the almonds one by one.
Other times he throws himself off balance.
In this moment, he got really upset when I started going around the trampoline in a different direction . He often goes into a controlling state when he is in an experience he doesn’t like and/or understands. Where instead of focusing on his internal reality and grounding himself, he gets obsessive in arranging things in his environment to be a certain way – whether it’s objects, animals or people. If he doesn’t get the desired result he explodes. If he does he get the result, he goes unto controlling the next thing, and the next – until he still inevitably collapses as he realises that re-arranging his external reality doesn’t re-areange his internal reality. When he goes into this, we take him to a quite space, remove distractions, relax and sit down. Saying is name in a low, grounded voice. Guiding him to calm down and let go of his experience. Showing him that through fixating, we only hurt ourselves more, as anything but our way then becomes ‘wrong’ – instead of moving, embracing and flowing WITH life, rather than resisting and being against the currents life takes us. As he goes on and expels all his excess energy, he starts grounding himself. Once he has centered himself we move on with our activities and embrace the new moment.
Toddlerhood is definitely not easy as he is able to explore, interact and do more – yet is still lacking vocabulary in so many ways causing frustrations. Imagine having so many questions about yourself and the world around you, yet having no way of asking them.
This is my view from the toilet. Something’s been different lately, as Cesar is not often part of my bathroom view when it’s my potty time.
From when he was teeny tiny, I’d bring him with me whenever I had to go to the toilet. Overtime, we moved from bouncer, to bath seat (cause it was around lol), to simply plopping him on the floor, to him playing around with bathroom items, to him opening and closing the door for me, handing me toilet paper and managing the tap when washing my hands.
Initially I brought him with me, because I figured it would be the best way for him to see what pee and poo is all about, where and how we do it, and where he’ll eventually do it as well. Even if he couldn’t make use of the bathroom, I could show him pee, poo, where it comes from and how we clean ourselves up after, to start establishing the vocabulary for when the day comes that he sees himself able to use the potty, so that we have the vocabulary to discuss and direct this transition.
After a good while, I started going to the toilet without telling him that I was going to or asking if he wanted to come with. Once he realised I was gone he’d quickly come find me and insist to get into the bathroom. I thought that since he’d been to the toilet with me for a gazillion times, he’d be over it by now. The look on his face as he’d run after me was quite something. He was seriously upset. I looked into his eyes and the stare of dismay really got to me. I saw that I had made an assumption, where I believed that ‘he should be over it by now’, that I made a decision and assessment on his behalf of ‘who he should be’ and ‘where she should be at’ within himself. Instead of asking, instead of checking.
When I got Cesar, I had made a decision to meet all his needs to the best of my ability. Looking back at my own childhood, I realised that a lot of my beliefs about myself and my personality resulted from a lack in responsiveness to my needs. When my needs weren’t met – whatever they may have been – the tacit implication I derived from that was: that it was my fault, that I was not worthy, that there must be something wrong with me, that I’m not competent enough, that my communication doesn’t matter.
The actual walking of that decision was and is still somewhat a rocky road. On the one hand I’ll be meeting his needs, but on the other hand there’s a little voice going ‘you’re spoiling him’, ‘his never going to learn how to do things on his own’, ‘he’s just playing games with you’, ‘he’ll never be independent and forever cling on you’.
The voices of years of conditioning. My common sense tells me one thing, but my fears another.
Back to the bathroom.
So – I made a point of it again to let him know when I go, ask him if he wants to come with or not.
Then, after a while of our regular, constant potty companionship; I ask him and he just kind of looks up in recognition that I said something, but will look back just as quick and continue focusing on what he was doing. Or he’ll say ‘Stay with Gian’ – that he will stay with Gian while I go potty. Or “stay room” where he’ll stay by himself while I go to the bathroom.
Sometimes he still comes with me, courteously opening and closing doors for me, helping me every step of the way. Other times he couldn’t care less. The bathroom holds no more mysteries for him, he’s seen it all – he’s confident he’s not missing out, so now he just makes a choice in the moment based on what he’d like to do.
This little moment of me sitting in the bathroom and reflecting on the path we’ve walked in all bathroom related things, made me look at the topic of independence and dependence once again.
It’s like there’s this really weird, deep fear that if I meet his needs he will never become independent. Yet, if I look at him and my own childhood in retrospect, independence in itself is a need as well. Independence is not some ‘extracurricular’ skill that you need to carefully craft and plan because it’s not part of ‘normal development’. Doing things on your own, being on your own – these are things that naturally emerge and are part of ourselves, as a need we express as individuals.
And Cesar shows me these signs every day. How he wants to go and poo in a separate room or in the garden, while insisting we stay where we are and he will call us when he needs us. Where he insists on pouring his own cup, taking food out of a packet, help moving shopping inside. How upset he gets when we do something for him in a moment of unawareness, which we know he can do for himself but forgot to ask if he’ll do it.
Independence grows as they grow. All you have to do is meet it, just like any other need.
He now enjoys making that decision to come with or not. That he can own that decision. That he can see and realise out of his own that he is alright being on his own. Not because I told him so, but because he realised it first hand.
Sometimes Cesar will do as we do when working together outside, other times he does what we’d also like to do – like being pushed around in a wheelbarrow. Whenever we can, we attend our little social-work-outside-get-to
When I first came to live on the farm, all I had known was all the things I HAD to do, what I had been told I MUST do. For the first time I didn’t have to do anything. Yet, soon enough I found myself getting involved in projects, help out, start new things. In the end no-one wants to just sit around or play all day. We all have a natural drive to explore and to create. Unfortunately, most of us live in a ‘one size fits all’ system, where only some types of ‘doing’ are rewarded and anything else it throttled. We then lose our connection to our natural drive and only move ourselves if there’s a carrot or stick involved.
I would want everyone to grow up and live in an environment that fosters this natural drive, that allows people to contribute and create real added value because they can and it’s common sense to do so.
The world would be a different place. Yet, we don’t have to wait for this to happen,we can each in our individual lives, our personal relationships – push to bring the best version out of ourselves, to investigate our motives and what drives us – start making little changes in what we do, how we do it and why we do things, and let these changes ripple outwards.
In this episode of Redefining Education – Live Conversations with Real people on the Future of Education, we are speaking with Leila Zamora Moreno, mother to a toddler and actively working on bringing parenting ‘back to self’. We discuss what it means to bring parenting back to self, and why it is so important that we as parents learn to, not only take self-responsibility in our parenting, but also how to trust ourselves to parent in a way that is best for our child, despite what societal norms may dictate as ‘good parenting’. We discuss why changing the way we parent, is ultimately a step towards changing the world.
Cesar filling up the water bath for the horses. First Quizzy the little Welsh pony came along to drink from the little water that Cesar had already filled in the bath. Then Sagon came along and decided to chase Quizzy away from the water so he could have the bath all for himself. Even though Quizzy already moved and was waiting his turn, Sagon would throw ugly faces at him and pull his ears back at him. Each time Sagon got snappy Cesar would lift the nozzle of the water hose and spray some water in Sagon’s face who would get all confuzzled and then mind his own business again. I find it fascinating to see him play with these animals several times there size and having no fear when it comes to pushing their buttons. Sometimes I wonder who’s parenting who