Thursday, February 24, 2011


What becomes more and more fascinating in my life as a mother now is how this little person is interacting with us. The first time he smiles at you. The first time he reaches out his arms asking to be picked up. And the first time he throws a ball at you.

The obvious thing for us to do in response to that is to take the ball and throw it back. Gently. Laughing. So that's what I did but right in that moment Leander was actually getting ready to go after the ball himself. So next time he threw the ball at me I waited. He crawled towards me and picked up the ball. Threw it away and went after... over and over again.

When we went to pick up his dad from work one day Leander found the office football and started his game all over. Excited and happy. A colleague of my husband sat down and took the ball throwing it at Leander. He again just watched the ball roll pass him. He didn't move. He didn't go after the ball. This was not his game anymore. Exact same thing happened with another colleague. And I just watched this situation and smiled. THiS was what Emmi Pikler described in her book about the first games children play. They invent them. They invite you to play along. Or not. They say when and how.

Ever since Leander was able to crawl he had much fun in us chasing him (on our knees). While I sat in his room he would crawl out and behind the door he would make a noise like calling me. When I looked at him he quickly run off laughing out loud, almost falling over because of the laughter. I went after him. When I stopped following he stopped crawling too, sat up, looked back and when he saw me in starting position he would quickly crawl away again. But the most interesting part was that when I had reached him he was no longer interested. He made me go after him until he found some toy in the living room and that was it. He would sit up and play with the toy. Thanks for the fun mom but your time is up. I tell you when it's your turn again. And the most natural thing for me to do is to let him play. I happily play along if he invites me. But I also accept when my time is up.

The relaxing part of it - I don't have to come up with games and inventions that will entertain him. And that might bore him or overstimulate him. Quite often I read in forums from other mothers "what do you do with your kids at a certain age?" Well what I do with my son is I feed him, I change him, a bath him. I go out for a walk with him. These are the steady parts I have control over. The rest of the day is mainly up to him. He DOES. He plays. And I watch.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Today we went to a Pikler parent-infant class for the first time. Although we try to raise our child to the Pikler / Gerber / RIE approach I still wasn't so sure what exactly to expect from such a class. Which was good because I like nice surprises.

After 10 months of "homecare" and only rare encounters between little Lman and other children I had no idea how he would behave in a new environment with 7 other kids his age, new toys, other mothers. Well - apparently he was amazed. I had just taken off his jacket and sat him down to take off mine when he happily crawled away into this big room full of toys big and small. For the next 20-30 minutes he was busy discovering. I sat back and watched. Every now and then he glanced at me just to make sure I was still there. Then he would happily continue his discovery tour. Sometimes he would sit next to me with a ball or a wooden toy in his hand and watch the others play. Then he would be off again. It was so amazing to see him act like this.

The great thing about this "special class" and why it is different from other infant or toddler classes is that the parents are mainly there to watch and accompany their kids. But not to entertain them.
In a parent forum where I keep reading and discussing (although I shouldn't) people (mothers) have been complaining about those classes (they keep complaining about Pikler/Gerber in general). They said there would be a strange atmosphere, it would be too quiet for a room full of kids and the teacher would be too dogmatic. So I was watching out for that. After a while I realised yes - it is quiet in there. Considering that there are 8 children it was fairly quiet but the reason for that was that the children were playing happily. Or not. They chose what to do. If they want to play they do so and they choose from the arrangement of toys. If they want to stick with their parents they do so and nobody is "forcing" or persuading them to do anything they don't want. So the kids are busy. Or not. Of course they interact, they fall and cry, maybe one is a bit rough to another and one cries. But apart from that it is a nice relaxed atmosphere. The mothers do not sit and talk about their diaper, feeding or parenting problems. They just observe and learn about their own kids.
So instead of complaining that this atmosphere is weird one should wonder why it is so nice and quiet in there. Nobody is telling the kids to shut up.

The teacher might seem dogmatic to a person who is not familiar with the Pikler / Gerber approach as it happened in our class today. When you hear for the first time to let your child be and that it is important if he is hitting his head somewhere you are allowed to find the teacher a bit strange. Otherwise you might find very helpful advise on a subject that is playing a very important role in your life.

This is not a usual parent-infant class where the parents go to entertain their kids. This class is for the kids to enjoy free play. And for the parents to observe. It is wonderful and I can't wait to go back next week.