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My daughter’s new school recently had its first all-school parent meeting of the year.
Have you ever been to a PTA meeting that started with a circle dance? No?
I have now.
For someone who only ever attended public school as a child, the Waldorf way of doing things takes some getting used to. All the qualities that we knew meant Waldorf education would be perfect for our kid — the gentle earthiness, the crunchy spirituality, the rainbow-hued mist of kindness swirling around a dress code so strict that Catholic school principals everywhere are like, “Whoa, guys, settle down” — apparently are carried over into the parent meetings.
We sang. We danced. We bathed in the glow of a naturescape lit by a beeswax candle. We were presented with flowers.
The general earnestness of it all is, I think, extremely healthy for my inclined-to-be-cynical-but-aspiring-to-be-sincere heart. But I did struggle a bit with the audience participation segment, when we went around the circle (obviously the chairs are set up in a circle; I can’t believe you didn’t assume that already) and had to share our favorite thing about fall.
Fall is great. I love fall. I loved fall before loving fall became the defining factor in the “Am I a basic bitch?” self-inventory. Although as the sharing progressed around the circle, closer and closer to my turn, I realized that my reasons for loving fall might be a little out of place in the Waldorf group, where the answers were largely things like “soup” and “pumpkins” and “the natural majesty of the turning leaves and reminders of the mutability and multiplicity of earthly life” and where there were a lot of people knitting to while away the time as we talked about the school finances and upcoming festivals. (I whispered to the friend sitting next to me that we should start some knitting projects now so when we bring our handwork to the next parent meeting it’s not so obvious that we’re doing it for the express purpose of trying to blend in.)
When it finally came around to my turn, I answered that my favorite thing about fall is getting out my boots, which is true. During all those years back in Alaska, I forgot that in normal places, you don’t get to wear your cold-weather shoes all summer long, and ever since I read that Marie Kondo book about your belongings having a spirit and your socks feeling pinched if you roll them, all I can think about is how sad my many, many pairs of booties and Uggs must feel when they sit in the closet for months on end.
“Getting out my boots,” to be clear, was easily and by far the single most shallow and worldly response of the evening, and I’m including the dad who apologized before and after he said the word “football.” But it was definitely not the least-Waldorf response I considered.
Here now, for the first and only time, is the complete list of the responses I held back during “What I Love About Autumn” sharing time at our very first Waldorf parents’ meeting.
- The September issue.
- Putting Nars Zulu (original, not reformulated) and Dior Poison Blue back into my nail polish rotation.
- Taking a bath for like an hour and leaving the hot water tap on just a trickle so the water gradually gets hotter and hotter and you remember what it’s like to be warm again.
- Getting righteously angry over the continued creep of pumpkin spice.
- Overripe cranberries. (This one didn’t seem too shallow so much as a little too weird to share with a group of strangers.)
- It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
- New York Fashion Week but like also not really because I’m currently leaning hard into a leggings and sweaters season of life?
- Realizing I hate all my old sweaters and replacing them with new sweaters that I’ll hate by next fall.
- Not sweating off my foundation by lunchtime.