The past two weeks have been hard for us. Julien turning 7 seemed to trigger it all and Tuesday it came to its peak. Tuesday, the Waldorf Kindergarten program that Julien had been attending ended and we had our good bye picnic. It was a day filled with lots of laughter, sunshine, and lots and lots of tears. As his teacher said, it was bittersweet. It was amazing to see them grow and develop into these beautiful young people, yet heartbreaking to know that they are growing up and moving forward.
I stood back, watching as these children who, only 10 months ago stood hidden behind their mother’s legs, played in only the glorious way children who are allowed to can. It was deep, meaningful, creative play. These children knew and trusted each other so completely, at times they didn’t even have to speak to know what to do or where to take the game next. They were held beautifully in the space, watched over carefully by their wonderful teacher. She was always nearby, always listening, yet never encroaching. She let them explore, develop, and grow all on their own. This is exactly how childhood should be. This is how you grow children who are secure, creative, and strong.
Their teacher puts together a slideshow/video from over the year. She always has a camera with her capturing, not group posed shots, but rather moments we as the parents missed. Children running through a field of milkweeds releasing the seeds into the air laughing. Exploring the creek on their walk. Moments between friends that go beyond just going to school together. She captured the making of their family there. She capture the freedom of childhood we were so very lucky to give them. We watched as the seasons changed and the children grew. We got a glimpse into the amazing time they had. My heart nearly exploded with joy and sadness. This is what we wanted for our children. This is what I hold so very dear to my heart.
We said our tearful goodbyes, soaking in all the love and magic that that place held. Later that night, while putting Julien to bed we spoke of how sad he felt, and how I felt it too. He looked at me at one point and said, with his big tear filled blue eyes, “Mama, I can’t go back, can I?” No, my love, I told him, he was too big, we had to leave that place for someone else to make wonderful memories. Then it hit me. He wasn’t just talking about going back there, he was talking about all of it, he was talking about that early phase of childhood. He was on the bridge, he is through the 6/7 year change. He has arrived here on this Earth and he knows he can’t go back.
All of the lectures and books of Steiner that I have read over the years speak of this, when the child reaches the point where they are no longer in that innocence and dreaminess of early childhood, they reach the bridge and they must walk forward, it is the only way. They must cross over into true childhood where they being to discover who they are and why they are here. Their feet now touch the Earth and they are aware of all of it. The tears Julien shed were not just because of the program being done, but he is mourning his early years as well. So am I for that matter. Tears flow even know writing this. He has grown, we can not go back, we can only go forward.
I have never felt more certain of the path we have chosen. All of the doubts and well meaning comments from people over the years slipped away as I watched my newly minted 7 year old come to this place all on his own. I know now that moving forward is the right decision. I will never have that doubt if I pushed him or moved him through it too fast. He has come to it all on his own. He has arrived. I have given him as much of his early childhood as I possibly could have. He has these magical memories, these friends with whom he traveled this past year, and now, now he is ready to cross over. My heart is beyond full.
The only thing left is for me is to take his hand and lead him gently across to the other side. We are taking a few days off from things to just enjoy the freedom of it all and to let the strong feelings settle in a bit. Admittedly, I think it is more for me than for him. Children are so resilient, but not so much the Mamas. I need a bit of time to work through what I am feeling as does he. Then, after we have caught our breath, we step off. We will venture into this next 7 year cycle and just as we have done in the past, we will work through it together. This is all uncharted territory for me. I am quite well versed in the Early Childhood things but I have a lot of reading to do for what lies ahead. I, too, am standing on the bridge looking back and while I will allow myself to linger for a few more days cherishing the beauty of it all, I must look forward as well. It is the only way to go.