Different People, Different Expressions

toddler wooden blocks play parenting

Here, Maite built a structure for Cesar to play with his animals. It’s interesting to see the different ideas people implement with the same building materials. Our previous structure had steps and bridges, this one has a yard and gates. Playing with different people, Cesar comes into contact with different possibilities, different expressions from which he can learn, grow, develop and make his own.

#play #building #toddler #blocks #farmlife #farmliving

Breaking through Walls of Perception

toddler wooden block recycle parenting

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.

#toddler #playing #woodblocks #experiment #parenting #isitevergoodenough #motherhood #worries #concerns #farmlife #unschooling #consciousparenting #continuumconcept #adultism

Constructive Hitting

toddler hitting crushing almonds parenting energy

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.

#hitting #toddler #baking #nuts #unschooling

Fire Season

firebreaks toddler fire season parenting leilazamoramoreno

Cesar decided to hitchhike along in the Bakkie while many were busy doing firebreaks in what we dub “the big field”. Every year during winter time which is our dry, and so also our fire season – we burn the edges of the farm in the case of fire breakouts, so that the fires can’t travel from field to field, farm to farm – which can happen quick when it’s dry and windy. The whole process took a bit more than two hours, which we observed mostly from inside the bakkie, watching what everyone is doing, explaining what each person’s role is. Oh, and fitting on sunglasses he found in the bakkie, insisting that ‘upside down’ is really the right way one should wear sunglasses.

#toddler #farmlife #farmliving #southafrica #firebreaks #winter #fireseason #unschooling #livingislearning #parenting #motherhood

The Unknown Possibilities

toddler deck south africa tools boys parenting leilazamoramoreno

Cesar enjoys being around when Gian is working on the little viewing/picnick deck that’s in the process of creation. He’ll try and put nails into the slats, or find a rock to imitate the work being done on the structure. Cesar enjoys putting things together, seeing what he can create from different elements, seeing how they can fit together. In a way, the structure being built is of a similar nature, and when you hear the men on the farm discuss these type of projects, can see that childlike expression bubble up as they discuss and explore the possibilities and take pride in the progression and creation of whatever they are working on. In those moments where Cesar is intently focused on putting something together and seeing those moments where Gian is intently focused on a project, can see that this drive to create, to explore, to expand is naturally inherent in us all. Exploring the yet unknown “possibilities”. It would be great to have this natural drive nurtured and fostered, instead of beaten out of us in the quest to survive and comply to some narrow and limited view of “how things are done”. How things have been done and are done = we have the result before us today, a bleak picture. Let’s explore the possibilities!

#toddler #building #creating #farmlife #farmliving #parenting #Toddlerhood #motherhood #fatherhood #possibilities #drive #curiosity #unschooling #couragetolive #teamlife #equality

A Moment of Connection

bird feeder seed rolls craft young old parenting leilazamoramoreno

When we were done with the seed rolls, Cesar excitedly ran to give them to Francois, who was just as excited to receive them – and placed them on the birdfeeder. It was such a cute moment – seeing Cesar the youngest on the farm – run to, and connect with Francois, the elder on the farm – over a shared passion, a common interest as the birds on the farm. We’ve been seeing a lot more bird activity around the main house garden, most noticed by the trampoline as it’s next to a big tree for shade, which is also the station for birds to gather and go to and fro the birdfeeder, with the result of quite a bit of birdpoo on the trampoline. On the otherhand, Cesar enjoys laying on the trampoline and seeing the birds fly around the tree and spotting them in-between the many leaves.

#birds #birdfeeder #toddler #nature #passion #connect #community #relationships #custodians #life

A Bathroom Story on Independence

bathroom toddler independence parenting leilazamoramoreno

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.


Connecting with your Natural Drive

community work farm life toddler zamoramoreno

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-together. We never force him to participate but do ask him to stick around. With house cleaning we do the same. Initially he didn’t participate, but the more he saw us do it and the more capable he grew, the more he started pitching in and start cleaning on his own.
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.

#toddler #work #household #chores #task #motivation #selfdirectedlearning #continuumconcept #unschooling #consciousparenting #naturaldrive #parenting #betterworld #explore #freedom #curiosity

Bringing Parenting Back to Self

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.