Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tea for Tots

Not 36 hours before we were to attend our very first mommy and me-type class at The Pasadena Waldorf School, Peapod morphed into a fountain of snot. This was not how I'd wanted to present my daughter to her new friends after we'd gotten so lucky to barely squeeze into the class in the first place. But there she was, all kleenexes and glassy eyes, ready for her droopy debut.

I, myself, was excited but sort of nervous. After all, we'd joined the class late, and who knew what to expect behind the doors of this fabled place? I'd read a bunch online about the Waldorf philosophy and heard rumors throughout the Mommy Mill about how hard it was to get into this magical school. It all seemed so sophisticated and civilized for a couple of shmoes like us. But here we were, about to get a glimpse from the inside at last...

Days before, on the phone, I had been instructed to bring a piece of fruit for the fruit bowl. What could this mean? A piece of fruit for every kid? For my kid? Should it be cut up? Organic? What about allergies? Would I be frowned upon if I put it in a petroleum-based plastic bag? After much hovering over fruit bins at Von's, I decided on a two-pronged approach. I brought cut up mangos in a baggie and three whole pears, figuring this would cover my bases. I even made sure the little yellow 'organic' stickers were still on the pears so that the teacher would know that I was trying my best.

About twenty minutes prior to game time, Peapod fell asleep in the car. She woke up moments after pulling into the school parking lot, but by then, she'd maxed out her diaper and soaked through to her pants. So now instead of arriving early and having the chance to acclimate at a leisurely pace, I was hurriedly changing Peapod's diaper on the front seat of the car, her head balanced precariously on the drive shaft. Again, not the way I'd hoped to start our very first day at this fancy school.

Despite the drowsiness, the rogue diaper change and the snot, she rallied and we bounded up the hill together for our first Waldorf adventure.

Immediately, the campus made a good impression on me. It somehow simultaneously projected the air of a summer camp, a farmer's market, and a really expensive piece of real estate. The toddler area was particularly charming and as everyone gathered and class began, I was amazed to notice Peapod settling nicely into the rhythm of it all. Our instructor was soft-spoken and kind. And when she dumped my chopped mangos into the class fruit bowl, she enthusiastically chirped "Mmm! mangos!" which made me grin stupidly with relief.

After an hour or so of kid-lead play, it was snack time. I was a little nervous, as Peapod is not the best eater in the league, favoring instead the scrambled egg toss. But she got with the program like a champ, washing her hands in the little water bins and sitting in the tot-sized chairs with her new friends. What followed was nothing short of remarkable. Our Pied Piper-esque instructor had successfully gotten 8 toddlers to sit in chairs, at a table, and eat fruit from ceramic bowls. Almost as if to show off, she even had them drink water from real glasses. No sippy cups, no plastic ware, no bottles, no bibs and no whining. Had I not seen it myself, I'd have called BS on the whole story, but there it was in front of my very own eyes. A little toddler tea party and Peapod was right there in the swing of things!

By the end of the class, it had become clear to me that I had as much to learn there as Peapod did. Starting with not worrying about whether the organic stickers are still visible on one's pears.

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