Monday, May 30, 2016

Welcoming the Weeds: A Practical Life and Parenting Lesson

One of my more recurrent daydreams when I was younger, because it was not always possible and pleasant in the usual warm Manila weather, was having a lovely garden breakfast over at my future home's breezy lanai--always with freshly-squeezed orange juice from--I was dreaming big--from our very own orangery (if daydreams have meanings, too, like dreams; I wonder what's the interpretation for this).

So even if this isn't exactly like that of my juvenile imagination, I'm thankful we have a space like this in our home now--

And even if I haven't exactly had freshly-squeezed orange juice during breakfast here yet, I'm glad we have been peeling orangessqueezing another kind of citrus juice, and we have a different kind of orange around here most afternoons--

But one thing I never really thought about, one thing that don't usually come up in daydreams of perfectly manicured lawns and gardens (which is curious because they just creep out and up of almost everywhere else)--are the weeds! Wild, wild weeds!

Too relentless and indefatigable these weeds are that getting three gardeners once a month to pull them out and trim the grass wasn't quite enough. So while I dreaded it at first, I did the weeding out myself. While our now 21-month-old watered the grass, I pulled out the weeds. But--you may have already guessed--pretty soon, she wanted to do what I was doing herself.

Which was great because as it turns out, pulling weeds is excellent for gross and fine motor and a Practical Life, Care of the Environment activity.

I did wonder though just how good an idea this activity really would be if grass get pulled out, too.

But I was wonderfully surprised to see that our young toddler was mindfully making sure that she wouldn't pull the grass out. Even those weeds that are hidden beneath blades of grass, she would spot and carefully take them out. That's visual discrimination right there!

And that's when I began looking forward to and enjoying weeding out our garden everyday.

Some days she does it with me (there was a time we sorted the dried leaves we picked and the weeds we pulled into buckets). 
Other days she's busy with her own work (washing bottles and dishes, cleaning our outdoor table, chairs, and shelf--usually a lot of water work) while I diligently and delightedly (particularly when I'm really able to take deep stubborn roots out) rid our garden of weeds--always still observing our young toddler, sometimes meditating (okay, sometimes daydreaming, too--but let's just call that "meditating", okay).

It was in one of those musing moments when I remembered that welcoming the weeds into our garden, turning weeding from a backache-inducing burden, an extra chore we need to do into an appreciated and anticipated activity, was a lot like one of my take-aways from the Positive Discipline Workshop by The Learning Basket I attended last February. It was mentioned there that often, parents dread or fear disciplining--and I thought understandably so since having to discipline is usually preceded by a situation that needed just that. But Mariel of The Learning Basket said that those usually unwelcome circumstances (much like our weeds) can be turned into opportunities for Positive Discipline, giving us the chance to teach our children "social and life skills for good character".

I used to see in-need-of-positive-discipline situations as "disruptions" to what could have been a pleasant day (much like how I saw the weeds before, "disruptions" to what could have been the picturesque lawn of my daydreams). But now I see them as opportunities.

Opportunities for me to, among other things:
1. Practice, practice, practice Positive Discipline (many positive strategies that are in line with Montessori, my top-of-mind now are "Connect before Correct" and establishing routines and limits)

2. Equip my daughter (and really, still, myself)--with tools and strategies we can use to handle different life circumstances.

Example, one time we were both feeling frustrated over something so we breathed in and out, went outside, and took our frustrations out on, well yes, the weeds.

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