Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Purpose and Meaning of Fever

"Thermoregulation and fever also have a soul-spiritual aspect....When we have a good idea or wax enthusiastic about an ideal, warmth can literally shoot into our limbs. Conversely, fear, anger or great sorrow...makes our blood "run cold."...Fever helps a child's I adapt its inherited body to its own purposes, making it a more suitable vehicle for self-expression."

-A Guide to Child Health, Michaela Gloeckler and Wolfgang Goebel
Today, SillyBilly had a blazing hot fever, diarrhea, stomach pains and vomiting. He was listless and whiny.

My first reaction is to freak out and say, GIVE ME A MAGIC DRUG TO MAKE IT ALL BETTER! I start to worry that he's too hot, that he'll have a seizure, that he has appendicitis, God knows what.

But then, being a good anthromama, I remember that fever is our friend.

I think, it's important to be calm and reassuring, which is really hard if you're freaking out. So I think to myself, I am now calm and reassuring, watch me be competent, here I go. I make SillyBilly take tiny sips of chamomile tea, I bundle him up in my bed, I help him throw up without ruining the bed, I read quietly to him, I hold his hand as he takes an unheard of morning nap.

Then when he wakes up and seems even hotter, I calmly prepare warm lemon water, soak a pair of my cotton socks in the water and wring them out, put them on SillyBilly's legs with a top coat of my wool socks, tuck him under the bedsheet and read more stories to him. I repeat this three times and then try lemon water compresses since he's complaining about the socks feeling funny.

SillyBilly keeps sipping chamomile tea with honey, and takes another afternoon nap with Papa. When he wakes up, he's talking, playing with toy cars, asking for food and feels much less hot.


OK, so I left out the part where I frantically checked my childcare books for reference to appendicitis, intussuception, and other scary things. I left out the part in the morning where we checked him for meningitis with the "kiss your knee" test. I checked his temperature with a thermometer only once (102.5) and the rest of the time we used our hands to judge.

Now I'm wondering if he'll be different tomorrow. I have read that many people have noticed developmental changes in their children after high fevers and other serious illnesses. One thing so far is that right before bed, he spontaneously announced he had to pee, and went in the potty! Perhaps we are on the road to potty training after all.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

To diaper or not to diaper, that is the question

"There is a sense of urgency about childhood - of hastening progress, of accelerating development. Is this born out of wanting the best for children or from some belief or value base which says the state of childhood is worth less than the state of adulthood and so we must do all we can to reach the day when childhood is over...But children have their own pace and while, as adults, we pursue our own (and others') time scales and agendas, we need to be mindful of the need young children have to take their time. "
-Cathy Nutbrown, from Gateways, Spring/Summer 1999

I quote this because we are in the middle of potty training SillyBilly. He is resisting it, saying vehemently that he does not want to wear underwear, he does not want to sit on the potty. He doesn't care about being a big boy, going to kindergarten, wearing big boy underpants, or any other motivational tool we tried (though we haven't tried money, he's really into coins). He also tells me directly that he still wants to be a baby.

I want to respect his feelings, but I also really want to potty train him. I know he physically can do it, and he can learn to pay attention to the physical sensations ahead of time. But am I rushing him? Is he insecure in some way that is making him need to stay in the baby state a little longer? Did our separation for the first month of his life make him more needy now?

In the anthro world we talk about the parent (particularly the mother) needing to be the "ego" for the child for the first several years, as they are too involved with forming their physical bodies to be completely present consciously. In this case, should I be the ego and state unequivocably that it's time to potty train....or should I back off and let him be a willing participant?

It seems doomed to fail, and indeed doomed to many years of psychotherapy, if I force him in this. But part of me also feels like I could be letting him down by not being the strong ego in this interaction, something I struggle with anyway.

Friday, May 26, 2006

What is Waldorf Education?

Waldorf education is rooted in Rudolf Steiner's picture of the child as a being of body, soul, and spirit. His intention was to found a school movement, based on spiritual wisdom, to renew the art of education so that modern children could develop the full range of their capacities and become free, self-reliant individuals capable of contributing fresh insights and cultural initiatives to the world.

Steiner developed the Waldorf curriculum as a means of helping the child's spirit and soul to take proper hold of the body, to unfold fully the functions of thinking, feeling and willing and thereby to learn about the world and be active in it in a healthy and constructive way.

Waldorf education proceeds in three major steps as the child's consciousness develops. Up to age 12, it is largely a pictorial and imaginative consciousness; from then on the element of reason arises.

Until age 12, the Waldorf curriculum works with the child's imagination, utilizing fairy tales, legends, fables, Bible stories, ancient mythology and stories from many cultures. In the fifth and sixth grade, the transition is made to actual history and science. From then on, without losing its imaginative and artistic elements, the curriculum is presented in a more scientific manner, increasingly relying on direct observation, objective description and reflection in all subjects.

In developing the first Waldorf School, Steiner set four conditions which are still characteristic today:

1) the school should be open to all children
2) the school should be coeducational
3) the school should be a unified 12-year school
4) the teachers should have primary control of the school, with minimal interference from the state or economic sources.

Waldorf Education...An Introduction by Henry Barnes,

Pine Hill Waldorf School Parent Handbook,