At Nine

I originally wrote this piece for Of Dragons and Angels. The children have pseudonyms because this is not their story; it is my story of being a parent. This the sixth year of my journey as a Meadowbrook parent and I am continually delighted by, and grateful for my fellow travelers. A heartfelt ‘Thank You ‘to all who share this path. Beth Riungu.

On opening day of 3rd grade with her teacher.

On a golden, play-filled, end of summer day my daughter turned nine. Packing the picnic things ready for home I became aware of her running at the edge of the park. A game of hide and seek I think, her lengthening shadow flitting between the trees. The still green leaves seem to hold their breath, reminded by early evening’s crimson tones that a change of season is at hand. I feel it too.

Parents at Waldorf schools hear much about the Nine Year Change; a distinct developmental phase characterized by the child’s more realistic or critical outlook as he begins to move away from the dreamy world of early childhood. Class teachers prepare us to recognize the child’s growing consciousness of his individuality; of being part of the family and the world yet separate from both. We are given notice of the unsettling new realities both we and our child will experience with this realization of Self and the ambivalent yearning for independence it may provoke.

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Swinging for the Outfield: an introduction to the nine year change.

“And to the extent to which he feels separate from the world he seeks knowledge of it. …Past and future states of being are seen wrestling with each other, perhaps more clearly than at any other period of childhood.” (M. Spock)

Parents at Waldorf schools hear much about the Nine Year Change, a distinct developmental change characterized by the child’s more realistic or critical outlook as he begins to move away from the dreamy world of early childhood. The growing consciousness of being an individual, present in the world yet separate from it can be unsettling. Parents and teachers may find themselves the objects of exacting, even hyper-critical assessment. Once familiar situations are now reviewed and carefully weighed in light of emerging realities the child is awakening to as the world comes into sharper focus. Some people see this as a brief glimpse of adolescence.

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