Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rituals

I was chatting with my friend Joyce today about how we don't seem to have enough rituals with children these days....... those little celebrations or rites of passage that cause us to stop and celebrate a moment, an achievement, a person.

I am all about traditions.....I LOVE traditions.......I will go out of my way (like waaaaay out of my way) to make sure these traditions are honoured in our family.   And I see from reading other blogs and chatting with friends that many families have those things that make them uniquely them.

Two rituals came to mind.......

In my work in Early Childhood Education we now often engage with children over project work that might go on for weeks.  We follow the children's interest in something and keep offering them ways  to look at the topic in new ways and with different tools and art mediums.  One centre that I look to as a role model (and which I am so excited to travel to the States to visit in March 2012) always holds a tea party when their project is finished.  They have special tea party cups they use only for these special celebrations when they share their work with the other children and teachers and their families.  I have seen video of the honour given to that ritual and the way the children feel so validated.  I will bet that those children will remember that ritual for many years to come and the feelings of pride and contentment it brought.

The second ritual is one I remember as clear as day and yet is happened in 1975 in my first year of schooling.  I attended a convent (though I was not catholic my parents wanted this school for its small class sizes and good academics).  Sister Hildegarde was my teacher - a tiny pixie of a Nun with a wrinkly face that was always either smiling or worried. 

Sister Hildegarde had a birthday ritual. 

My birthday must have been one of the first in the year but I can still recall the whole thing. 

You got to come to the front of the class and stand on a bench.......this was , of course, usually forbidden so this was already exciting.  Then you got to pick two friends to come and stand on the floor next to your elevated position.  Oh the power of being able to pick whomever you wanted , the power to bestow friendship....... I remember I chose Justin and Candice (we were bonded as we were the 3 protestants in the class and sat like three little peas on a bench outside when the catholic kids did confession three times a week).  Justin and Candice got to hold two huge (in my memory) candles - almost as tall as they were and with a gold decoration in the middle.  Sister lit the candles, the class sang and then Sister solemnly presented me with a diary. It was thick and heavy and had a maroon vinyl cover (it was also from 1972 but that was completely beside the point) and I felt so honoured.  

I felt like I was the most special girl in the universe for those moments and I can recall them as clear today 36 many years later.

How cool is that? 

I know my own kids will have similar memories from things we always do.....although as they grow older it's hard to hold onto to some of those.....I think it's also an opportunity to create new ones with them while we have them for a few more years yet!

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