RIE in Real Life

“Melani’s Book”

It was cold earlier this week, you guys! I know I have some readers who don’t live in Southern CA, and I can feel you rolling your eyes, but truly…the mercury on Monday morning was hanging out in the 40’s and the sun was playing hide and seek (mostly hide) behind the clouds. But, I teach RIE in the Wild and so neither triple digits nor low double digits keep me indoors…besides, isn’t there that saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just insufficient clothing?

And on this super chilly Monday morning one of the Moms was running late (naps!), and even though that’s just how classes go with young babies, she was ready to be at class. She arrived, parked, got her baby and her diaper bag and trekked across the field. As she prepared to put her baby down on the blanket…poop explosion. Yeah, you’ve been there, right? Unfortunately, she didn’t have any extra clothes in her diaper bag! Maybe big sister was rearranging things, maybe life just happened. Fortunately (and this is a win in and of itself), the other Moms conjured up everything from wipes to clothes, even a diaper!

I was going to gloss over that, but I want to linger on it a moment…sitting across the blanket and watching this Mom’s face fall and then seeing her do the math…does she run home again, will she have time to get back??…and then seeing the mothers surrounding her immediately dive into their bags to offer up what they had, I could see her start to realize it wasn’t as terrible as she thought. And for me, seeing the community come together so beautifully and effortlessly…that’s a big, but sometimes hidden, part of RIE classes: the connections that parents get to make.

So, Mom settled in to change a very messy diaper…well, first she walked all the way back to her car to change it in the shelter of the truck of her vehicle (it’s cold, remember!) …before realizing that her stroller was back there…so she walked all the way back and plunked down to change her daughter’s diaper and clothes next to the play space. And you guys…despite her frazzled arrival, despite the chaos of figuring out new clothes and such, despite the chilly temperatures, and despite the annoyance of a second, fruitless, trip to the car …this Mom still talked her daughter all the way through her change. She moved quickly…smoothly, but she didn’t rush, she asked for her daughter’s cooperation in getting dressed and waited for her response, she made eye contact and used gentle hands. I could see her relaxing as she progressed through the routine.

All in all, it was just a few minutes and then class proceeded and the magic that is a RIE class did its thing and we all settled in to watch the babies. At the end of class, as I often do, I asked each parent what they would take home with them…something they’d seen or felt or heard. One parent commented on the diaper change, not only how peaceful it was, but how naturally this Mom had narrated what she was doing and how connected they were. She’d read about talking to her baby, but that’s one of those things you might have to see in action before trying it out. It can feel a bit silly to talk to someone who isn’t going to talk back to you…but when you see it in action, you can’t help but want to try it…and once you start, you can’t go back! As Magda said, she sees differently…I’d add that she listened differently, too…and so do you.

I chose this story this week because it truly IS RIE in REAL Life…poop explosions and diaper bags that come up empty are real…but still being able to slow down and be present with your child in the midst of it? That’s RIE in Real Life. Parents supporting parents? That’s RIE in Real Life. New parents learning from more experienced parents and more experienced parents getting good reminders about why they do what they do? RIE in Real Life.

And then I ended class with a reading from The Parents’ Tao te Ching…somehow, even though I open the book at random after each class, the message seems to somehow be completely on target.

Here’s a stanza from the reading from that class:

To survive as a parent
you must empty yourself
of your constant thinking,
planning, and worrying.

Another simple, but not easy, task…but 90 minutes of watching babies helps you get there.

Thanks for reading…and to my families who celebrate Hanukkah, I am wishing you all a holiday of love and light. 🕎