Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Living in Rhythm by Jane Danner Sustar

We all live in rhythm. We, as adults, are most comfortable in our yearly rhythm, our birthdays and anniversaries, spring, summer, fall, winter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July! We are familiar also with our daily rhythms, but we do not mark them with much notice. The sun rises. The sun sets. We eat breakfast, we eat lunch, we eat dinner. We sleep. We wake up. I tend to be most aware of my weekly rhythm because of weekends. TGIF!
                I take an awful lot for granted.
                What would happen if one day the sun was two hours late for the day? You may not realize it but you do have a sense that by a certain time the sun is starting to come out. For me it is when I am taking the dog for a walk. Even though I get up in the dark it is usually starting to get light out by the time I get back to the house with Susie. Imagine you are noticing a cloudless sky and no sun. It would make me very uneasy.
                What would happen if one year Thanksgiving had to be postponed until April. There you are stuffing your turkey just as the first robin flies into your yard and the first tulips are poking their heads up through the ground. Or imagine all the trees bursting into bloom in January one year and turning orange and red and brown while you watch the Fourth of July fireworks. The spring before last when we had warm weather so early, it was nice but it felt wrong. When drought struck later that summer it was not really a surprise because the spring was so early and so warm.
                A young child does not have a yearly rhythm. They have not lived enough years. They live in hours and days and weeks. When their daily rhythm constantly changes, it can be as disturbing to their sense of well-being as Thanksgiving in April would be to ours. We have such a strong rhythm at LifeWays that the children take comfort in knowing sandwich day is followed by pasta day, which is followed by beans and rice. When pizza day comes they know they have two home days coming up!
                You might think that such a strong rhythm would make the children inflexible. But it is my experience the exact opposite is true. It makes them more resilient. When the weekly rhythm is tossed into the air by sewer work…”Pizza on Wednesday!!??” the children are still held by their strong daily rhythm. Morning snack is still followed by outside play, which is still followed by lunch. The children and I know where we stand in time in the same way you know that the sun is not going to be two hours late today.

                Ah, here is Susie now, to remind me that she too lives in rhythm, and it is time for her walk!

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