RIE is an Embodied Practice

Inspiration for my weekly newsletter comes from all kinds of places…typically from experiences in class, conversations with parents, or articles or books I’ve read…even Facebook memes and posts. This week, though, my inspiration came from Halloween!

Well, not the holiday(?) itself, but from the ​NYT Sunday newsletter’s musing​ on the subject. In four short paragraphs the journalist reminded us that “Halloween is a holiday for the living. In a world that feels irretrievably online, where our every interaction is mediated by technology, Halloween, weirdly, is not.”

And like trick or treating, coming to a RIE class is an embodied activity. When you trick or treat, you put on a costume, go out into the world and interface with real people…in a RIE class, you take off your shoes, settle down into a dedicated space, and let yourself be present with your children, the others around you, and yourself.

Yes, the virtual world has its appeals and its virtues…there are people who can’t attend a class because there isn’t one nearby, so having online classes to connect with other RIE parents is a godsend. And while RIE and respectful parenting is still in the minority out there (sadly), there are whole communities of folks online who share support and connection. Indeed, I found a lot of support and connection in the office hours I held online during Covid…and there’s definitely a tangible sense of connection in the weekly bookclub group I run…but those connections actually take more work and intentionality to feel as meaningful as an IRL (in real life) class or gathering feels.

Not to brag on myself too much, but just today I heard my class space referred to as magic, as medicine, as me-time…I’d like to take all the credit, but I felt just the same as those parents did. After a long and stressful morning, I actually felt my heart-rate slowing down as class time approached. And even though I had a tightly scheduled appointment right after class, I was able to sit in mindful presence for the dedicated 90 minutes of class. Feeling the sun coming in through the windows warming the chilly air, we watched children get to know new faces and find ways to engage, play, and challenge one another…we shared struggles and suggestions, and at the end of class, we all grappled with leaving the shared space…children wanted to keep playing and didn’t want to put on shoes, adults forgot or almost forgot some of their personal items, and I…well, I still haven’t tidied the space or washed the toys! None of us were ready to let it go.

But that’s okay, unlike Halloween…we don’t have to wait another year for our intentional connection. No, we can show up as ourselves again next week.

I can’t leave this topic without saying that while the container of a RIE space is, indeed, magic and what happens in a RIE class is hard to replicate at home…it isn’t impossible. Not at all, and in fact this approach was developed to be practiced at home. It “just” takes intention, gentle hands, and deep breaths. Slow down and create your own embodied moments…and when you do, please tell me about them. I want to hear how you make magic, medicine, and you-time in your own homes and space.