Earlier today I had a conversation with a client about Daena Ross' cd on the Twelve Senses (read my review here). This is an enormously important topic with important ramifications for the health of our children - and we will be having a study of the Twelve Senses led by yours truly starting on 29 October (2007)on my on line discussion forum (see the Christopherus homepage for more details about the forum).
Anyway.... we were talking about transitions and forms for her and her family of young children and I started to think about the fact that after we finished speaking I would make lunch for my husband and I - and that before I did this I would put on my apron. And so I began to tell her about when I wear my apron, how I used an apron when I was a Camphill housemother - and then expanded to talk about children and having clothes for them for various events - this is what led back to Daena Ross' talk.
Let me share here...
When I am doing Christopherus work, I just wear my normal clothes and I am totally focused on whatever task it is I have to hand. I might be doing research for a book; I might be writing a chapter; I might be writing here on my blog or contributing to the conversation on the forum; I might be talking to a client on the phone. I am in Christopherus work mode and that is what I am dressed for.
At around 3'o'clock I anticipate my youngest sons' arrival back from high school (my eldest will be upstairs studying for his British exams). I put my apron on. I am now in a different role - instead of walking past the dishes which need to be washed in the kitchen as I had earlier when I was in Christopherus mode and which I did not even flick my eye toward because they have nothing to do with Christopherus, I now take in the fact of those dishes and perhaps start to wash them. Or decide to do them later. But the point is, that now that I have my apron on, I am in the role to care for the house and for my family and that is where my awareness is. Christopherus is forgotten - I am now fully in the role as a homemaker.
By using an apron, I use a prop, as it were, to remind myself or bring attention to the various things I do in my life. Instead of going crazy trying to do everything at once, I can give different things the attention they need at the right time - and my apron is one way to help myself do this.
Even before we had Christopherus, when my sons were younger and no one was at school, there were definitely times when the apron was put on - I would be cleaning the house, cooking or doing other household chores. My focus was there - then the apron would come off and we'd have a story or make a craft or whatever else it was that we were doing.
Now I don't know if this sounds counter to some of you to what I usually say - the kind of "let's live our lives all together and no school at home" kind of thing. But I don't see it as contradicting that at all. It's about being conscious - and about finding a way to bring one's full attention to matters at hand when one chooses - when one puts that apron on - and then at other times choosing to have one's consciousness elsewhere.
Related to this is having different clothes for different events. And that goes for children. It seems odd to me that many adults I know take it for granted that they will dress up when they go to a restaurant but do not require that their children do so. Or even Church!! When my family goes to Church we dress for Church - but this is not universal. And I must be honest - it pains me to see children at Church in their jeans, in their playclothes.
Why? Because they then have not been required to make that inner gesture of pulling themselves into a different mood, a different consciousness for playtime and then for something special like Church (or Temple or the Mosque) or, yet again, for going out to a restaurant or a museum or similar. They are not helped to realize "this is something special - we act differently here."
And again, we adults know this and do this!! We don't expect our friends or relations to lounge about in a restaurant and put their feet up and scratch and whatever in a restaurant as they might do at home - and so we do our hair, put on nice clothes etc etc. But yet often parents don't help their children to have this same experience - instead they let them wear whatever they happen to be wearing. And then are surprised perhaps that it can be hard to help the children behave properly during the special outing.
Back to Daena Ross - she has really interesting things to say about this on her recording. She talks about what it means for a child to have playclothes, nice clothes and best clothes and what it means for them as a soul gesture to have to be awake to the differences that these different sets of clothes require. Children should have clothes that can get ripped and filthy - but they should also have nice clothes for going out in - and then have that cue that this is not the time to be swinging from the trees or racing about. And then when it is time to do something really special, to attend a House of Worship, best clothes are put on and the child learns - not because he is being chastised or told off but because the clothes require it - to adjust himself and his behavior accordingly.