Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Parsley and Parents meetings

Today was better than yesterday, though it went by in a blur. Dropping kids off at school, food shopping, just time to unpack the shopping, do the washing up, wipe the breakfast table before going out again to fetch them. Come back with a couple of extra kids in tow - six plus me at the lunch table. Get on a load of laundry, start a lamb stew for tonight cos I have to go to my son's school parents' meeting, right at supper time. More washing-up, disentangle some knitting, copy edit an article for a website my husband is building, hang up washing to dry on airer inside cos it's still damp weather outside....cup of tea and the house is still a tip, beds unmade but it's time to go to the parents' meeting. Deep breath.

My son insisted on coming with me, he thought other children from his class would be coming and that they might be doing a gum boot dance to show us. So the girls stayed behind to help their aunt lay the table and light the fire, while we drove off into the darkness (it's winter here remember, just coming up to the shortest day, so the sun is setting around 5.30 at the moment). It's fairly unusual for us to be out and about after dark, so it felt like an adventure, just the two of us off into the unknown.

We get to the school, a small country Waldorf school, just in time and I get to go and sit at my son's desk, while he plays outside with his friends (in the dark, but all the more exciting for that!). All the children's work for the term is there for us to look at. I'm impressed by how neat his numbers have become in the last term and his writing too. In Waldorf schools the children make their own books, with all their work for each main lesson subject and they're beautifully decorated with pictures, borders of patterns around the pages.

A blank page sits in front of each parent. I look around and see that we're meant to be trying our hand at form drawing - elaborate patterns of curly lines - copying from the board, the same lesson that our children have been doing today. I am amazed at how hard it is to reproduce nice even loops and get my head around the complexities of the individual loops. My son's are far more regular than mine. When he comes in I ask him for some tips on getting the shading nice and even...he reassures me that he doesn't always get it even I feel better. They do get to do their gum boot dance - a fine stomping, rhythmic, gum boot slapping, forward and back movement. Learning to feel the rhythm helps them with their times tables and multiplication, getting the idea and feel of multiple groups of numbers and so on.

I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of my son's school life. He does get past the monosyllabic response of 'fine', these days when I ask how school was. I even get rundowns of the latest story, or how much skipping they did, but actually sitting in his place taking part in a drawing exercise, really gave me a feel of how the school works and how Waldorf works too. Gorgeous paintings on the walls too. I wish I'd learned to paint like that!

The parsley...what was I going to say about that? This was my rediscovered flavour of the day. I've been trying to get parsley to grow by the house in our herb garden. My four plants spent the whole summer shrinking into the sandy soil, instead of burgeoning with new growth for me to harvest into my cooking. I know it's a matter of compost - not enough, water - not enough. I'm too lazy a gardener to coddle plants though. Put them in with some compost, water them regularly and see if they survive - if there was a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants I'd be in trouble. Anyway they didn't, so I finally gave up hope and bought some parsley..cut parsley in a supermarket and I live on a farm! Sprinkled on the lamb stew though, it tasted so fresh and flavourful, plus it's full of vitamins, minerals and the rest. In spring I'm going to have to plant a new lot in a special, compost-rich tub, by the back door so it gets watered. I can't believe I went through a whole summer without it.


  1. You really are a wonderful writer! How strange to think that your shortest day is coming up at the same time as my longest day.
    I love participating in my children's school, just to know what they do and feel all day. We've had these meetings where I sit in one of my daughters' desks, and I so try to absorb the feeling of her at these moments.

  2. What a great idea, having you try to do the same work as your kids. Your son must have felt proud if his looked better than yours.

  3. I'm a trained (but not working) Montessori teacher and my kids go to Montessori school. It's interesting to hear how things work differently in a Waldorf school.

    Parsley is the only thing that has survived in my herb garden (on my behalf, we're moving so I haven't been working very hard to maintain it). But my mother puts parsley in EVERYTHING! Sometimes I'll tease her if we're making a cake or an apple pie or something and say, "why don't we put a little parsley in it?" because I swear she says that about nearly everything we make.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!