I came to Indonesia for a three week break over the holidays. With one month under my belt into my entrance on the third floor (I just turned 30) I was overly giddy about my solo expedition. I showed up to yoga class in Ubud, Bali and was naively confused to see a herd of identical yoga chicks all 29, 30, and maybe 31 in the same American Apparel shiny black leggings ready to twist, bind and invert all of 2012 out of their systems. Ok so Ubud might be a bit overrated and not as authentic as I dreamed. I decided to switch my focus from a self-discovery journey via yoga to a self-discovery journey via whatever was willing to propose itself.
My dear sweet Iranian father tried to not have higher than normal blood pressure for the duration of my stay abroad. Each Skype call the same: “How can you be there all alone? Are you safe?” Knowing his inquiries were rooted in love I answered reassuringly: “Baba joon, no worries. You raised me right. I know what to do here.” The overprotective wave followed me when I checked into the humble homestay I found on Tripadvisor. I shared a Bali coffee with the mother of the home and she confessed, “I hope you enjoy time here. What you do later? When you come back? Sorry, everyone tell me I too controlling. But I worry. It safe here. But you my responsibility. I always worry.” Strike two. Why all the concern when I’m having the time of my life? I resist the temptation to let their fear seep into my mind. I got this.
The following week I traveled to Gili Meno, a highly legit island in Indonesia. I discovered a lovely Japanese/Chinese family who own a charming bed and breakfast. The husband and wife have four kids ages three to nine years old. Here I witnessed poetry in motion. There is no playground in Gili Meno. No jungle gym. No ice cream trucks. No video games. Not even a lot of huge plastic over stimulating toys. For one week I sat and watched these kids run, climb trees, fall, bleed, bruise, get back up again, make up songs and games in English, Japanese and Chinese and be more free with their imaginations than anyone I’ve seen in a long time. They appeared physically and mentally fluid. After speaking with their mom I learned that it was a priority for her and her husband to raise their kids as freely as possible. They did insist that their children were trilingual but the rest was up to the little ones and where they directed their own interests. Naturally I was overjoyed to learn this and started talking her ear off, “You know, I have this company in New York and we teach children foreign languages through live music. We offer Spanish for kids, French for kids, Mandarin for kids, Hebrew for kids and even ESL. You would love it!” She proudly smiled while drinking the most pleasant smelling pink rose tea ever.
That night I read in my Freedom book by Osho:
“The function of the parents is not how to help children grow– they will grow without you. Your function is to support, to nourish, to help what is already growing. Don’t give directions and don’t give ideals. Don’t tell them what is right and what is wrong: let them find it by their own experience.”
I guess my focus shifted from what was supposed to be this epic trip about yoga classes and guided meditation to an adventure observing parents and children. (Anyway, it’s cool because I did yoga and meditated on my own in front of the ocean and rice paddies everyday.) I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to travel alone, bring back new ideas, and even translate them into the work we do in our classes. Now more than ever I see the high value in asking our preschool children what their favorite subjects are and building our curriculum from there. At the top of my 2013 new years resolution list is to observe and listen more. Preschoolers are actually geniuses. They are curious about so much. Just give them the space to explore, let them enjoy their freedom, and maybe even learn from their wild imaginations. Cheers to a free 2013 for you and all the little ones in your life.
Can’t make it to Indonesia this January? Escape the cold and invite Bilingual Birdies into your home this season. Our Winter Play Date Deal allows you to gather all your neighbors and friends on any day and time you want and we’ll come to you to teach our foreign language and live music program in the comfort of your own living room. Special rates are available because we love you. Email to inquire at info [at] bilingualbirdies [dot] com. Still curious? Find out more about private classes here.