Simplicity Parenting

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We went to a Simplicity Parenting lecture the other night and I loved it.  We met our friends Katie and Hector there.  They have two beautiful little girls, Chloe and Mazzy, and Katie and I have known each other since kindergarten, sort of.  It’s a long story.  But, I really admire the way they are raising their girls and Chloe goes to the Waldorf School in Pasadena.  I like Waldorf Education and all it stands for.  I especially love their Pagan celebrations.

During the lecture, Kim John Payne, the author, asked everyone to think of their ‘Golden Moments’ of childhood.  At first all I could think of was being backstage at Laguna Moulton Playhouse before one of the many plays I did.  I loved the smell of the theatre, the excitement of opening night, the make-up and the costumes.  I was in heaven there.  I loved playing make-believe.  Then I went back even farther, to living in Dana Point.  I had a bevy of stuffed animals, no dolls really, one Barbie that my older brother Strider had given a mohawk to and burned swastikas into her face.  But my stuffed animals, they were so real to me, I could spend hours by myself as a tiny little girl making up elaborate stories that would rival any soap opera today.  I didn’t need a play station or a DS.  I never watched television or had a TV screen in the back of the VW Bug we drove around.  I was actually allowed to get bored sometimes and because of that boredom, I discovered and created so many things.

When Mom left Kenny and we had no money living in a tiny little house in Laguna, I remember that time as some of the best moments of what felt like a fleeting childhood. Strider and I would traverse the canyons with nothing but a stick until the sun went down.  When it rained we built boats out of shoe boxes and leaves, sailing them down the impromptu mini river behind our house.  We climbed the walls and we built forts.

This is what Simplicity Parenting is all about.  I truly believe I would not be as creative a thinker I am today if I had not had that kind of freedom to be bored.  This is something my Mom really did right.  She didn’t overwhelm us with gadgets or complex toys.  She allowed us to imagine, dream, and build.  Even if it scuffed up the walls or ruined her blankets.  It truly was golden.

And all the memories that people shared that night were the same.  Being in nature, being out till dark, being free, and young.

I want that for you.  I want you to get so bored sometimes you cry and out of those tears start building empires.  I see great things for you by having fewer things.  I vow to unclutter our life, beginning with my closet.  It’s ridiculous at best.  I hope we can move more into nature by the time you start walking and talking, so you can talk to the forest animals and swim in the sea.  I keep thinking Big Sur, I don’t know why.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Dreams.  I have big ones for you and me and your Papa.  And I am so grateful for my simple childhood, or I wouldn’t have them to dream.


Love Learning

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Some people recently have expressed concern over my insatiable thirst for knowledge when it comes to raising you, my little peanut.  And what I am again, so grateful for, is how your Dad understands me.  He gets it.  He gets me.  And he doesn’t worry.  That is a huge gift.  Huge.

So what am I doing?  I am researching.  I am educating myself.  I am preparing a lesson plan.  I am learning my lines.

When I was a dancer I studied tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary jazz, and modern so I could be the most versatile dancer I could be.  I knew that all techniques supported each other in some way.

When I was an actress, I memorized my lines by rote so that when I walked out on stage or in front of a camera, I could forget them entirely and respond to my environment in the moment.  I studied Meisner, Method, Diana Castle, and Improv so I could take what worked for me and leave the rest.

When I began running The Young Storytellers program I began teaching myself everything I could about teaching.  I became a certified teaching artist through the Music Center and learned techniques for backward mapping lesson plans, aligning to state standards, and classroom management.  I became a facilitator of Council, a dialogical practice, and a Spolin Game Master.  All so I could take what worked best of each modality and create the most dynamic interactive innovative approach to creative writing that I could.

Now when I train my head mentors in our curriculum, what I stress most is fluidity, not rigidity, in the classroom.  Meaning, know your shit when you walk in the door, have your tools laid out for you, know what that day’s lesson plan is by heart, and then be prepared to throw it all out of the window based on what the students bring with them.

And even in Alcoholics Anonymous- I read everything I can about it, from a ton of different perspectives.  I work with many sponsors and I listen to different people talk about their experience with the program.  I am not and never have been content with one point of view.

So- what I am doing in regards to taking on this next, and what I believe to be, the most important job of my entire life, raising you, Little Pony, is gathering information.  I am in the research phase, and it may seem maniac, but it’s not.  It’s just instinctive.  If I am drawn to a certain principle and method of applying that principle that speaks to my heart, I am going to learn everything about it.  And what inevitably happens is connections are made to other theories and methodologies, so I follow the trails, seeing where it guides me, noticing the similarities and discrepancies, and taking note of it all.  I am building a giant parenting collage.  I will learn as much as I can and then when you come into the world, like the dance steps I have rehearsed a thousand times, the lines I have memorized, or the lesson plan I created, I will forget it all, look at you, and respond to you in the moment.  The only difference is that I will have a giant tool belt on.   Now, whether I use any of those tools remains to be seen.  But having them is what is important to me.  I know this from studying classroom management.  Each child is different, no one can prepare a teacher for what any little human being might bring to the classroom, but if I have a solid tool belt on, I know I have options when dealing with what is before me.  And what I think my gift is, is taking a few different tools and creating entirely new ones on the spot.

I know there are people out there who are comfortable and fine with ‘winging’ it. I knew those actors, and some did really well. But that is not and never will be me.  I improvise with information, I don’t wing it with nothing.  That is just me, and always will be.

Even when I was a bartender at an alehouse in my early 20’s, I learned everything there was to know about brewing beer.  I became an expert.  And I don’t regret it.  I regret the 20 pounds I gained at the time from drinking all the beer, but I never regret learning.

I love learning.

It’s good for my brain.

It keeps me on my toes.