It all started when the 4 year old that had been enthusiastic about going to her little Waldorf Kindergarten class 3 days a week suddenly became reluctant and difficult, often refusing to go into her classroom. We tried everything, being gentle and listening to her, being firm but lovingly telling her that she was going to school, giving her space, going in with her, giving her kisses in her hand to hold for later, letting her bring something special from home to encourage her through her day, and even leaving her crying with her teacher twice. Nothing worked.
We tried to understand what was going on, concerned that perhaps something had happened that made her now feel insecure about her school. She told us there were no special toys there she liked to play with and that she had no friends. But she was in class with her big sister and there were many special friends and toys that she even talked about when she came home. It wasn’t making sense. The only consistent theme about her reluctance to go to class was: “I just want to be with you! What if I need your snuggles?”
Discussion went on for a couple of weeks, our daughter’s teacher was certain that it started with Christmas break then when school resumed there was a substitute while our teacher was out with the flu. Our own battle with the flu didn’t help either with Jeremy and I struck down and out of commission for 4 days followed by strep throat. Our entire rhythm was thrown off. With everything so topsy turvy, our daughter just wanted to stay with her one constant: her family.
Forcing her really isn’t our style and since we are in a position with some flexibility, we wanted to be sure we were listening to her. She had loved school, at times sad that she didn’t go every day of the week so this sudden shift felt important for us to handle carefully. Still, having her in school 4 hours for 3 days a week helped us get our work done and be more present with our kids outside of school hours. Keeping her home cut into our productivity and cost us money in paying for school she wasn’t attending. We had to make a decision.
Jeremy and I talked, Smunchie and I talked, Smunchie and Jeremy talked, Smunchie and sisters talked, and we all talked together. The last night before what we had decided would be the day to make a final decision, we talked as a small group at bedtime. Her big sister shared how much fun she was having at school and that everyone missed Smunchie. This obviously meant a lot to her but she insisted that she still didn’t want to go back. I was becoming frustrated and as is so often the case, as my frustration grew, Jeremy became more calm, gentle, and attentive. We regularly help balance the other out in moments like this, one becoming restless, frustrated, angry, or depressed, and the other having a growing sense of calm and peace.
I can’t remember what he asked her but it was gentle and full of a hidden wisdom as though he had figured out the problem. She burst into tears that she didn’t want her mommy and daddy to go away, that she wanted to be with us always, and that she just needed lots of hugs and snuggles and mommy and daddy love. What if we weren’t there?
As we piled into bed together for a group snuggle fest to comfort her in the midst of these intense tears and as she sobbed I turned over in my mind what we could do or say, what ritual we could create to help meet that need and help her feel secure. We loved the idea of The Kissing Hand but that wasn’t cutting it right now. We needed something a little more tangible and firm. I thought of a lovely olive wood heart we had given our eldest at a difficult time in her life and wondered how we could do something like that for Smunchie to keep in her pocket to remind her of our love and snuggles any time she needed it during the day. But we needed it by morning. Like maybe a stone from our yard…
Hand painted by mommy and daddy and imbued with our love, snuggles, hugs, and kisses, love stones would be around in her pocket all day just to remind her that even if we weren’t together or love never left. Snuggled in bed with the girls, I told them about these love stones, special stones that had the power to help us remember how we are loved. I asked Smunchie if something like that would help her go to school the next day and she nodded with excitement. Would they be special love stones? Yes, special love stones. Would they hold mommy and daddy’s love? Yes, they would hold some of mommy and daddy’s love but we had so much it wouldn’t all fit in one stone, just enough to feel it all day. Would she get to show her friends her loves stones? If Miss Julie said she could then yes. Could she see the love stones right now? No, she would have to wait until morning and in fact, would have to wait until she was at her class so we could fill them up with love first.
She would go to school she said, with her Love Stones.
Thus, Love Stones were created. Early the next morning (because I managed to forget to make them before I fell asleep myself) I selected 4 stones from our collection found on walks and in our backyard. From a young age our children love to give us precious gifts of random rocks. Already, after our move, we have a substantial collection. It didn’t take me long and the steps are pretty simple but the reward turned out to be great. When we got to school she was excited and it was as if she never had a problem leaving us for those few hours.
To make your own Love Stones
First select and wash your rocks. Ours were already washed from preparing for another project (counting bugs, I’ll share that one another time… we have a thing for rocks) so I skipped this step.
Second, select the acrylic paint colors you want and paint a white base. I did heart shapes and the word “Love” on mine. The white is important for the color to stand out vibrantly.
Third, paint the colors. Acrylic paint dries pretty quickly so for better control, let the white base dry completely before adding the colored second coat. Ours took about 5-10 minutes. We did a couple just one color and got creative with the rest. Rainbows, polkadots, stripes, two tone, etc. Let your creativity flow.
Fourth, after they are fully dry, carry the Love Stones in your pocket for a few hours so they can soak up all your love and warmth before going into the pocket of someone you love dearly.
We collect the Love Stones every day after school. They need to “recharge” and we don’t want to lose them. The next day the girls get to pick a new pair of Love Stones to take with them when we part for a few hours. Jeremy explained that the Love Stones really are just a symbol of our love, that we carry that love already in our hearts but as Squiggle Bug put it, yes but sometimes it is nice just to hold it in your hand when you can’t have mommy or daddy loveness snuggles right then. The Love Stones proved to be so special that just about everyone in the family has made some, small ones for pockets and large ones for next to the bed or on the dresser through the night.
And just like that, we have a 4 year old excited to go into her class at school each day. With our love tucked into her pockets, she gives us a kiss and enters that warm, homey room full of other children, her friends to experience the joy of creating, exploring, learning, and developing her own little community and relationships strengthened by the love of our family.