Had I known I was going to raise a Waldorf-inspired boy, I would’ve stepped up my hippie game while I was pregnant – or so I’d like to think. Do you want to know if you’re cutout for Waldorf life? Here are my top six realizations of when I knew I was raising a Waldorf-inspired boy.
But before we dive into that, you might be wondering what the heck Waldorf is? Here’s a quick breakdown: it’s teaching philosophy – you’ve likely heard of mainstream Montessori or Reggio Emilia which is quickly gaining popularity (this is a great blog post that explains 6 types of education philosophies for children) – Waldorf is another education option. It emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning through a holistic, practical and artistic approach. There you have it!
I should also mention that my husband, his mom and brother are all Waldorfians. My husband and his brother attended Waldorf school from kindergarten to 12th grade which means they’re basically unicorns because it’s not common for someone’s entire lower education to be Waldorf. My mother-in-law has a doctorate in education and has taught and consulted for Waldorf institutions around the world. She’s kinda a big deal in the Waldorf community – so in some ways, I feel like I have Gandalf in my corner. So, yea, it goes pretty deep over here.
Since Waldorf is mostly against technology, I ask that after you read this blog post to please immediately dispose of your computer/ipad/cell phone. Thank you! 😉
Here are my top six realizations of when I knew I was raising a Waldorf-inspired boy:
1. Toys are from the Stone Age: Waldorf kids basically play with the same toys as kids from the Stone Age. The more advance Waldorf toys could be compared to those from Ancient Egypt. So Waldorfians are making progress, but very slowly. At my son’s first Christmas his wizard grandma gave him a bag made from knotted rope filled with what looked like a log that had been cut into cubes and sanded. And that was when Waldorf toys got on my radar. I try to stay levelheaded about what toys he has. If someone gives him a toy made of plastic, or one that makes noises I don’t immediately toss it out. Sometimes I wait a couple of weeks before I toss it. Also, I always request no gifts for my son’s birthday (because that’s just asking for every hideous toy made), but the uncles always walk in with a huge basketball hoop (made from plastic – gasp!) or something else super obnoxious. My eldest brother sent me this text: “Next birthday we’re going to get him a BB gun. And a big box of Doritos! Oh, and a big bag of beef jerky and a case of Mt. Dew so he can be just like his uncles.” I threatened to take their daughters to a burlesque class – it didn’t end well.
2. Magical art supplies: When my baby boy seemed old enough to introduce coloring crayons I ran out and bought a box of Crayola’s and a pad of paper. No big deal, right? Wrong. Shortly thereafter, his wizard grandma gave him a tin can filled with special beeswax crayons made by Stockmar Crayons, a German company. They’re non-toxic (duh), made with beeswax and are from Germany, so ya, it’s a Waldorf thing. I have no idea what death the Crayolas met but I suspect the wizard grandma melted them down during an séance and then diligently recycled them.
3. If all else fails, get a silk out: I didn’t know silks were a “thing” until wizard grandma came over to babysit one day when my son was about a 1 year old. She brought with her a bag of magic: silks and plush small animals that could be used as finger puppets and some wooden gnomes and figurines. That was the first time I was introduced to silks for play. When he was a baby, the silks were bellowed around his face. When he got a little older, he started using silks to create landscapes. Now, as a toddler, he uses them as capes. He has no idea what a super hero is, but he knots the silks and puts it over his head and runs around the house in his undies with his favorite rainbow silk drifting behind him.
4. Books are sprinkled in fairy dust: Waldorf books take a whimsical approach to explaining how scientific things work. For example, one of my son’s favorite books is, “Grandfather Twilight,” which basically explains how the day turns into night and the moon rises. In the book, an old man walks through the forest holding a pearl that grows and grows until he throws it into the sky and BANG! That’s how day turns to night and the moon rises. Makes perfect sense when it’s explained that way. I’m fine with this approach, because trust me, the scientific truth is even more sci-fi than sci-fi. Have you ever tried to explain to a three-year-old that the sun moves across the sky because the Earth rotates on its axis? That’ll give way to a nice conversation that will make no sense at all and will leave you wondering if you know anything about basic astronomy.
5. Waldorf doll, also known as a voodoo doll: Am I the only one who thinks that Waldorf dolls look like voodoo dolls? Just sayin. Parents of boys can be weird about their sons playing with dolls. If you’re a Waldorfian, you get over that pretty fast. Wizard grandma came over with a special gift for our son: a Waldorf doll that had blond hair and a red jacket – it was an exact replica of our son! And since it’s basically a voodoo doll, if my son disobeys me, I just put the doll in the corner for a timeout. Even though my son runs off, I know he can feel the discipline creeping in.
6. His friends’ houses look like the 1940s: Sometimes I think, yea, I’m killing this Waldorf thing, my son doesn’t have a ton of toys and the ones he has are mostly Waldorf approved. All these thoughts vanish as soon as we go over to a fellow Waldorf friend’s house for a play date. His friends’ houses are decked out with wooden everything, homemade everything and smells like incense. I don’t even own a single pair of Birkenstock sandals! AND I sneak chocolate chips into the bran muffins. Good thing I have Gandalf the wizard grandma in my corner.
So, do you think you’re a Waldorf-y parent? What are some of your favorite Waldorf isms? Let me know in the comments!