When Autumn falls in Springtime

I’ve heard a lot about the 9 year old change from the Steiner perspective and it feels like this week, while Spring continues to blossom around us, my beautiful big boy is feeling more like Autumn.

It’s a huge time in a young child’s life and in anthroposophical circles they call it the crossing of the Rubicon. Back in the days of Caesar and the Roman Republic, the Rubicon River marked the border between the empire and the rest of the world and when they were ordered to cross the Rubicon, the Roman Army knew once on the other side of the river, they would never be able to return to their homeland again.

During the 9 year old change it is said that the child undergoes a similar rite of passage. Hungry for new experiences and a level of independence the child is excited to grow up, yet on a very deep level, they know that once they’ve crossed this metaphorical river, they leave behind forever the innocence of childhood.

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When I first heard this idea I was overcome by a huge sense of my own sadness and a desire to protect my big, but still very little, boy from this massive stage. As a mother, we never want our children to experience pain or suffering and do everything we can to protect them from it. But like all rites of passage, this is one of those life-giving pains, where as a mother I can hold and love and offer guidance, but must allow the experience. 

So, slowly over the past 6 months I’ve watched my carefree and curious eldest son begin to look at the world with a different kind of focus. There’s an appetite for the world’s suffering and pain that wasn’t there so much before and the questions of “what happened Mum” have become more like “but how did that make you feel Mum?”

Speaking of the 9 year old change in one of his lectures Rudolf Steiner wrote, “In short, the children’s self-awareness grows deeper and stronger when they reach this age.”(Steiner, Lecture 7 of “Practical Advice to Teachers”)

I’ve also heard it described as a time when children will reach an “inner-crisis” where they begin to question their own confidence in the world and the rules that govern it. Some children experience it quietly depending on their nature, while others, like my son, might express the crisis much more openly!

In our house this week, all four of us (and possibly even our dog!) have experienced our own mini-crisis in response to the emotional outbursts and new behaviours that are being ‘tried out’ by our sweet boy, struggling agains the currents of the river. And in the moments when I do manage to see past my own personal reactions to his outbursts, I see a little soul doing his best to make sense of all these new feelings.

And while I watch in agony at times, even if I wanted to take away the inner-turmoil he’s facing, the reality is, I can’t.

 When asked by a desperate parent the question of ‘well what do we do?’ in a recent talk, anthroposophical paediatrician Dr Lakshmi answered simply and humbly, ‘you just be there.’

…questions of “what happened Mum” have become more like “but how did that make you feel Mum?”

So, it was with all this in mind that I wrote the song Fly Away, the 3rd track on my Autumn collection of stories and songs for children titled Seek & Find. It’s about letting go and celebrates all the beautiful ‘life-giving’ sadness of allowing our little ones to gradually leave the nest in their time, giving them the confidence that Mum and Dad will always be there – rock solid – no matter what. Even when they hate us. Even when they swear at us. Even when they push us away. Dr Lakshmi says this stage is all about challenging that love and it’s our job as parents to show them that while we don’t approve of the behaviour our love remains unconditional.

I also wrote this song about facing my own ‘rubicon’ moments in life with a sense of grace and understanding that the uncomfort or upheaval or breakdown I’m experiencing right now will lead me to a new understanding if I stay open and aware. And having a 9 year old at home projecting all kinds of emotions every which way is the perfect opportunity to practise holding this space in myself…..again….and again….and again.

Allowing my son to sing by himself on this track with me seemed like a really healthy thing to do for us both during this testing and beautiful time. I think you can hear it all in his voice. Enjoy.

x Annie

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PS These are really just my reflections and experiences of the 9 year old change but for more information here’s a fantastic blog from The Parenting Passageway which goes into much more detail.

Annie Bryant is a storyteller & musician from Mullumbimby, Australia who loves to share her seasonally-inspired stories and songs for children at live performances and on The Seasonal Collection of Winter, Spring, Summer & Autumn recordings. To listen to her stories & songs or find out more click here   


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