by Hannah Johnston
In the spring when everything is busting out, it seems that my kids have spent the whole winter in horse manure and have chosen now to grow a requisite six inches. Whether sun or snow, the kids will grow.
Not only that, but my warm and cuddly lads have turned into miniature teenagers overnight. They are like little narcissi, small bright and full of ‘tude. Growth is one of those elements that we seem to measure from the time our babies are small, we worry about it, compare it, and all the time they seem to keep doing it – in the spring though we notice it because everything around us is growing and pushing forth. Our child’s spring growth is often accompanied with a testosterone surge, so as parents and caregivers what can we do to channel this glorious upsurge of spring’s energy as winter finally gives way, and the earth awakens?
Spring is energetically connected to the element of air. Where I live the land is flat and we really feel the effects of the spring winds and the air’s changes at this time. The air even smells different. So when your kid is getting these surges of energy put them outside in air – the complementing energy of child and breeze will help them find a way of expressing this! Make windmills, ribbon play, dance to everything, give them a ball of string and watch them make complex webs around trees. Play that utilizes air’s aspect as communicator can also be fun – whispering games for when they are over ebullient or yoghurt cup telephones for rainy days between rooms are a favourite of my boys, as are bows and arrows (perfect air/fire toys for boys) a catapult or anything that propels something through the air! In the spring I also find that kids really need to RUN, to move their body as fast as they can, to feel the wind on their cheeks. Give them running challenges so that the surges of growing energy fill them with airs new freshness. It also helps them feel the edges of their bodies. My boys insist of wearing shorts when we cross over into March, even though here in the UK it’s far too cold to wear them yet. I think its because they literally want to feel the elements on their skin after a winter of being cosseted in wool and fleece and coats. In times gone by children would be helping plant and sew crop and as such I let them ramble about in shorts so they can feel their air on their body and allow the cleansing freshness of the element and the season to stretch them out…
Alongside this increase in surging physical energy at spring time, this can be a very intense emotional time for young kids. Those who are earth and water natures seem to feel this seasonal shift deeply. You may find that your usually secure child wants to come into bed with you, or after school they seem excessively tired and emotional. Partly this is because they use up more energy running around but also on a deeper spiritual level I believe its because the spring push gives our children a glimpse of their own growth patterns, the blinkers open for a moment and they may feel encroaching responsibilities and expectations that weigh heavily on them as a consequence. I know that every early spring my youngest boy Boo goes through a very intense period of self-refection. He has always found this seasonal transition hard, and asks some of his most profound questions or asks me to renew his dream catcher. He also grows inches in the weeks of March and April. We have given him all the elements you would use to nurture someone at their growing edge. We focus on grounding rituals – especially those around the transitions of the day such as meal times, bed times and school. Morning blessings are really lovely to use on spring morning:
My body reaches to the spring sun, (stretch arms up)
My mind is clear and fresh (hands on the head)
I bless the day’s beauty (stretch hands out in front of you and around in a sweeping gesture) and hold it in my heart (hands move to rest over the heart center)I have also found it helpful to disperse springs wild energy by including my kids in our spring clean. This helps your family feel the lightness and freshness of spring and alleviate some of the worries that may be disturbing your wee ones.
I just returned from an afternoon in the park running some of the spring crazy out. My sister came with my nephew and the boys dashed around. I was thinking about writing this post and noticed how their spring surge is contagious- the tinge of excitement in the air seemed to fill us all, and whilst our lads were dashing around like mad march hares, my sister and I were remembering how to do cartwheels and timing handstands against a wall together. Not very dignified for two thirty-something mums, but we couldn’t stop ourselves, the spring’s sunshine and promise gave us all permission to play. March’s air energy gives us all the opportunity to learn the lessons of air and the growing sun – move, breathe, and play – its good for our spirit and our body and for connecting us to our children.
Hannah Johnston PhD is the Child and Family Liaison Officer for PF Beds Bucks and Herts. She is an educator, folk singer and author of the forthcoming Children of the Green: Raising Our Kids in Pagan Traditions (Moon Books).