Walking out of the assembly today, the children and I continued to sing the song which we had all been gifted with by Ms. Irwin – “Snow again or Heavy rain..” As we walked I commented on the sky above us as I often do, noticing both the fading crescent moon ahead and the brilliant morning sun on our left.
One of the children suddenly sang – Sun again or Mo-oo-on ..” and I laughed. It was not the first time a child had changed the words of a song, and it was not the most eloquent display nor the silliest by far, yet there was something about who was speaking and how they spoke, that made it truly hilarious.
Rudolf Steiner in speaking to Waldorf Educators leaves us with the reminder to make the children laugh every day. It is not exactly that I never thought of this before, or that I would have had weeks of solemn lessons and serious faces, but to be intentional about leaving space for the joy and lightness to emerge, this was a new thought.
It is not easy to be a child – to navigate all the up’s and down’s of the day. It is certainly not easy to be a parent sharing in these up’s and down’s and helping where one can. It is not easy at times to walk this earth.
Rhythms, routines, facing challenges, changing patterns, listening well, getting along with others, welcoming and loving those around us. These things are not easy.
Laughter comes in unexpectedly. It surprises us and brings lightness and connection. When someone is laughing and your eyes meet even briefly you have shared in something sacred. Namely, the beauty of life.
Emerson says, “The earth laughs in flowers.” Little giggling snop drops, a burst of a sunflower and a rollicking unstoppable meadow of dandelions!! All the colour combinations you can imagine the whole world over. Think about it. Giggle about it.
When we leave room for joy to bubble up wherever it will, we lose for a moment whatever weight we were carrying. There is a coming together.
It is certainly worth paying attention to when it is honest laughter and when is it disruptive and getting out of hand. In teaching 7 and 8 years olds, this truly becomes a dance, yet it is one that I continue to be mindful of. There are many lessons to be learned and habits to be formed, and yes it would be nice to have far less interruptions and talkativeness. But, when everyone is giggling over the same little slip up or well placed comment, when a joke has been told and ripples of excitement tumble over each child and fill the room, it is the time to smile warmly. It is a time to remember that these days are the foundations of their lives. It is a time to remember that as teachers we are to bring them into a world that is beautiful.
We hold the space. They are the ones who bring the joy. Every time.
Laughter is one of the greatest gifts we can receive from our children. Are we giving them the space to fall over with giggles and are we allowing ourselves a moment to join in? R. Steiner brought a lot of wisdom to education, but this might be his greatest thought. To bring laughter; to create a safe place for happiness each day for every child.
It turns out that I do not do much at all. I hold the space, and let the children be children. It is not so much about making them laugh, as letting them laugh.