My daughter goes to a Waldorf school. There is a lot I love about the school. She has learned to knit and she is only 8 years old. She can do math word problems like no non-Waldorf 8 year olds I know. And she’s been learning music for years now as well.
But sometimes, if I’m honest, the “I’m liberal and New Ageyness” of some of the parents can be a little annoying. It’s like listening to the local NPR station sometimes with these people. Oh yes. Tomorrow we’re going to the farmer’s market to find grain to grind to make our own bread from scratch. It’s all organic and grown on that lot that was purchased in north Portland. Oh really? Wow. Yes, tomorrow Balfour and Aaliyah and I are going to a pottery class for 3 year olds, then we’re going to chant at the spiritual center. Both of these statements are made to one another in perfectly modulated, quiet voices, our indoor voices if you will. You know, just like NPR. And of course our children have unique foreign names to show our multiculturalism. We may be white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, but we’re diverse!
I know, I know. I’m being judgmental. I mean, after all, I am blonde, blue-eyed, white, and liberal. We eat organic and Milla knits. But I can honestly without a doubt say that sometimes our house sounds like trailer trash central. I walk in the kitchen and discover my dog vomited all over the floor and I scream, “What the FUCK is this mess? Goddamned dogs!” And last night, I admit it, we watched Dumb and Dumber without compunction. That movie is stupid and funny. And Milla watched it and laughed right along with me. Uh oh. If any of the other Waldorf parents found out, I’d be voted out. Maybe her teacher could claim the fact we’re late at least once a week is because Milla has heard the word fuck and has seen Dumb and Dumber. The fact I’m the only parent living here and have a hard enough time getting my own ass out of bed let alone my daughter’s has nothing at all to do with it. No sirree. And on the days where we’re late and I’m in the parking lot hollering at Milla to get moving because she’s the slowest thing on the planet sometimes, I swear, the holier than thou, how dare you speak to that child in that manner looks on some of the smug little faces make me want to whack them one. I don’t spank her. She’s got a good life. It isn’t going to kill her for me to tell her to get her damn ass moving already when she’s taking her own sweet time checking out some spot on the car door instead of getting into school. Jeez.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Milla’s school. She used to go to a different Waldorf school where it felt like being in junior high all over again. The exclusion that went on there was out of hand. I guess what bugs me about the “I’m Liberal and New Age” crowd is that it’s worn like some badge of honor and used as a way to exclude those who aren’t in the “I’m Liberal and New Age” crowd. It’s the queen bees in another context. “Oh,” the eyes say as your child walks by wearing, GASP! Something from Old Navy! “You mean you didn’t spend eight-thousand dollars on a pure cotton, hand-knitted, grown up on the remade lot in north Portland skirt and shirt combo? How DARE you! I would NEVER let a stitch of acrylic touch my perfect child’s skin. And I certainly wouldn’t let little Balfour wear something made somewhere besides my own backyard! God forbid.”
It’s frustrating when you agree with the results of someone’s choices, but the why of their choices is problematic. Does it matter? I suppose it does in the context of trying to live without judgment, just letting others live their own life. Even the fact that it bugs me that they judge me for not being “Liberal and New Agey” enough in their minds is a form of judgment on my part.
Thinking about it, I suppose it’s how or why we identify with groups. Do we do it to belong or to exclude? And in belonging is there automatically excluding? Or can you belong simply for the sake of being a part of something? And some things people belong to by an accident of birth, yet this does not stop their identification to the point of even killing someone else who had a different accident of birth. Ireland comes to mind here, or Israel and the Palestine. Why is it that we will fight to the death for something that we wouldn’t have cared about if we had been born to another family? Even a seemingly innocuous choice, like which dog breed you prefer, can be a choice for exclusion as well. It’s weird. The whole thing is tied up in a big, old mess. Humans have this need to be a part of a pack but in doing so they leave others out of the pack and it seems like every conflict centers around this tidy piece of information. It’s the nature of conflict, isn’t it? One side against the other. One view against another. Me against you against me.
Sometimes it’s funny though. I try not to laugh at the “Liberal and New Age” voices in the hall at my daughter’s school. I try not to roll my eyes in class meetings when the parents get into a disagreement that they don’t want anyone to recognize as a disagreement. We’re using soft voices and “I centered” messages so it’s not a disagreement, is it?
“But really, I just can’t have Aaliyah eating cheese pizza for lunch, and we wouldn’t want her to feel excluded if the rest of the class has cheese pizza. She is allergic to dairy, yeast, soy, sugar, brocolli, pineapple, peanut butter, white bread, wheat, and every nut on the planet after all.” (And that’s another thing. Why is it that every kid is allergic to 18 different foods? For Christ’s sake, get a grip already!)
“Well, you know, Galbraith has been so cooperative at home lately, I promised him he could have cheese pizza. I wouldn’t want him to feel like I’m not listening to his needs if I didn’t get him cheese pizza.”
“Well, perhaps it may have been a wiser choice to bring him other options for his calm behavior. Perhaps you could discuss another choice with him. I’m sure he would be awake to such changes.”
“I just think that would create a lack of trust. Galbraith is such a sensitive soul. He has to be open to understanding, but I wouldn’t want to send the wrong message.”
And on and on and on. I just want to scream, For Christ’s sake! Let’s get the fucking pizza already. If your kid doesn’t ever eat pizza, how the hell is she going to miss it when everyone else eats it? And you’re just afraid Galbraith will throw a fucking tantrum if the class doesn’t get pizza. Why are we sitting here listening to this drivel at a parent’s meeting? I thought we were going to find out what they’re working on in class, not spend a half an hour bitching about whether or not to let the class have cheese pizza.
I sit there during these meetings and look at my shoes and wonder why it is exactly that the rest of us have to sit and listen to this nonsense for a half an hour. Oh, that’s right. Because we’re giving them an opportunity to be heard. And we all need to be heard, right? What about my right not to have to sit and listen to the shit? Guess what? We can’t all have all our rights at every moment we want to have them.
Okay, that was the longest, pointless rant ever. Sometimes I wonder about the pointlessness comes out of my typing fingers. I start with one thought and end up somewhere completely different. There is another blogger I like to read. He wrote about the fact that he writes about a bunch of nonsense sometimes and wondered why he does it. Why indeed? Why is there this need to spew forth our opinions and observations? Why is it that when I’m writing for my blog I can write and write and write but when I just did my journal it was like pulling teeth sometimes? My counselor said that artists need an audience. I just wonder how anyone could call my drivel art. It makes me chuckle. But Full Metal Gerbil is right about one thing, if I’m writing on here, I’m not wasting time elsewhere, so it’s all good. Plus it keeps me sane. I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I need to in order to keep the brain sane and last night I realized I was in a depressive funk. I just have to do it. I have to get the meaningless drivel on the page. If someone has the stamina to sit and read all of it, more power to them. I apologize for my lack of brevity and wit.