Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Llamas do too moo
The other night, my good buddy D&W and I visited a polygamist sect housed in a lovely barn. Twelve modestly dressed women sat in chairs on either side of us. The head lady sat directly in front of me. The women eagerly answered questions and giggled at each other’s responses. There were homemade lemon bars and fresh goat’s milk. Peace flags hung from the rafters. A llama mooed outside the window.
Oh, dang. Did I say polygamist sect? I meant to say Montessori school. Snap! It just felt like a polygamist sect—minus the men and merry-go-round vaginas, of course.
I swear I don’t mean to be unfair. The teachers were lovely in that granola and beeswax way. They were polite and smart and had dewy skin. But after two hours of learning about the Montessori method, I was a little freaked out.
Ok, a lot freaked out.
First, by the use of the word “work.” According to the head teacher, children don’t come to school to play, they come to work. They choose their task of the day—which can be pouring water or counting beans—and spend time at their station working on it.
Even as I write this, I’m sweating and starting to whimper, “Nooo, God, noooo, nooooo!” But that’s because of my own connotations with the word work. In my life, work is something I have to do. I drag my ass out of bed every morning and dutifully punch my timecard. I’m lucky in that some components of my work—graphic design—are things I’m passionate about, but let’s be honest. Some days work eats my soul.
So when I pictured Junior at his station working, I got claustrophobic and twitchy.
One of the teachers noticed my facial tick and explained that the school wants children to see work as an impassioned activity. Kind of like how she sees her weaving. I get that. But I can’t move past the fact that I don’t want Junior working at the age of three. Maybe this is my own personal failure because I let Corporate America rape my inner weaver on a daily basis, but it’s a huge hurdle I can’t jump.
Then there’s the independence angle. Holy shit. You’re not even allowed to go into the classroom because it interferes with your child’s ability to remove his own shoes, hang up his coat and choose his day’s work. You say goodbye at the door. Every activity fosters independence. Even snack time. It’s eaten alone when the kid chooses. All in the name of I CAN DO IT MYSELF.
The more the women talked, the more vivid my mental movie became. By the time they offered us the damn lemon bars, this is what I saw:
After two years of Montessori schooling, Junior comes home one day and announces he’s getting his own apartment. He’s landed a job at a local farm counting beans. Chuck and I have to acquiesce: he’s perfectly capable of living on his own. Chuck and I cry our hearts out. Our house fills with tears. The cats drown. We cry more. Our house floats down the street and into an intersection. It’s smushed by oncoming traffic. We’re smushed. Junior’s agoraphobic tendencies prevent him from attending the funeral. He’s riddled with guilt. He turns to drugs and alcohol. He’s in juvie by five-and-a-half. All because we chose to a Montessori school.
Wait! Wait! If you’re a Montessori lover, don’t be mad. I’m sure there are many of you who have had fabulous experiences with Montessori schools. Maybe this one was just a little hard core. I mean, the way the head directress spoke about the school’s founder, Dr. Maria Montessori, I was expecting them to wheel out her taxitermied body so we could kneel before it.
Independently, of course.
And to the parents who brought their bug-eyed kid to the open house? The invite said the evening’s activities were “not appropriate for children.” Because of all the, you know, bed hopping stuff.
Oh my gosh. I’m done with the polygamy jokes. I promise.
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