Let Children Be
By Rathy Nair

This sentence always left me wondering: What does it mean? How can we let children “be?” I had this understanding that we need to be with them, guide them, and correct them. All the play and frolic they get into, is just their way of having fun. I never had the opportunity to watch it closely and understand it. The more I started realizing the importance of it, I started feeling pressure about when to step in. I am lucky that I now have more opportunities to be with children. My understanding came to me from them, through them.

I decided to go with the flow and enjoy what is happening around. At Creative and our field trips, I see the “child energy” working. I have become more patient in just watching.

Being a part of the Creative community, with self work time, and understanding Waldorf philosophy, opened new doors of learning for me. Children are just beings who are not fully aware of the world until the ages of 8 -9. We adults should just let them be and not interfere in their flow of growth.

I felt heavily burdened trying to understand my son, Yadu. Slowly I could see the burden easing as I saw the profoundness in each and every action he took. I started being mindful of the time I spend with my son, my children at school, and any other child. The joy and wonder in their eyes, their action with every small thing, is amazing to see. Yadu spends hours and hours on the road, garden, and floor with different kind of materials; the tile pieces, bricks, wood pieces, buttons, and toys used to build his world of imagination. It is done with pure joy and love. I have learned from his purity and love with which he collects the “junk” (the name I initially called the pieces he collected). The tiles, wood pieces that the carpenter left, twigs carried from Sirsi, metal pieces, and stones, slowly filled his play area. To my surprise, I allowed all of these pieces into my home. His bakery near the road, the traffic island, his petrol bunk: I saw a wealth of learning by allowing him to just be.

During the summer holiday with his grandparents, I wondered how he will be with no children to play with. But he made the best of his time by playing in the mud, constructing his buildings, attending functions, visiting temples, and going out. He was growing up – in complete pure, joy, and wonder for this beautiful earth.

My journey continues with my five children at school. It is overwhelming to watch them speak, play, and argue. Opening ceremonies are my learning time. They are so honest with each other in expressing whatever they want. Giving gratitude to each other or a simple smile or dress or helping each other is given with value. When we go to our ladybug corner for our morning walk and opening ceremony, the excitement with which they watch the ladybugs move and the complete freshness of the experience is very touching. Simple gestures like setting up a table for me and cleaning up their spaces come out of their pure mind when as a teacher, I don’t forcefully explain the pros and cons of keeping our place in order.  When we had a mock election as part of our EVS class, their election promises were very pure and genuine. When we had our fractions classes in math, I was amazed to see how much they learnt about fair sharing. It came out from their understanding.

When we have class in the mango grove under the clouds, they completely enjoy nature with the trees. Our Tuesday classes move around the village with the excitement and the joy of learning from simple things on our way has become more valuable for me than planning a prim and proper class. Our soil class was done in mud puddles with all of them splashing and playing in the muddy water. When I allow them to have their fill, I have their complete attention. I am here, around, and with them. I shed my need of wanting to “be their teacher” and be one among them for making our journey together more meaningful.

The discussion our class had about community helpers left me with a smile that I carried for a long time. There answers are very genuine, sensitive and straight from heart.

I am always there when things get hot. I am a rain.

I am always there when things get hot. I am a fan company.

I am always there when things get hot. I am a fan.

I help you stay healthy. I am a vegetable.

I help you stay healthy. I am a cook.

And my favorite one is :

I help you stay healthy. I am a Mother.

I am looking forward to this journey with all of my children. Somewhere deep within, I feel that I was just wandering until now. Finally I have reached home.