Star Child

Star Child, Star Child
We welcome you here
Your heavenly door
Comes around once a year

To help you remember
From whence you have come
Your long journey down
To your new earthly home

Star Child, dear Star Child
Who came from above
Your friends and your family
Surround you with love

Poem and Article by Christine Natale * Photo by Danielle Epifani Margaret’s Garden, Berkeley, CA

 Birthdays are the most exciting event in a young child’s life.  Christmas or other religious event can be more spectacular, perhaps, but each birthday is a personal milestone. Once a child is old enough to be able to apply the concept of age to himself, he is eager to let you know that he is “Four and a HALF!” – hurtling onto Five! Each year a child adds to his age means new skills, new things he is allowed to do. Especially in the Kindergarten years (in the Waldorf world, three to six years old), there are so many milestones to accomplish – getting dressed, tying shoes (please no Velcro), skipping, whistling, climbing higher, running faster and much more. At three, the child is fascinated by babies. At six, she considers a three year old a baby. Getting “big” is such an important goal! Of course, we as parents and educators celebrate our children getting “bigger” and all of their accomplishments, large and small, even though sometimes we would like to slow the process down just a little bit and keep them “little” as long as we can.

Obviously, we celebrate our children’s birthdays in order to let them know that we are so happy that they have come to us and that they are very special indeed. Presents, a party, cake and ice cream make any birthday a “main event” in the life of a child and the young at heart. In the Waldorf tradition, we love to celebrate birthdays and we bring a somewhat unique perspective to each magical day.

Waldorf schools are not connected with any established religious group or dogma. For more information on the role of religion in Waldorf education, you will find the link to a separate article on the subject here:

Religion in Waldorf Education

http://community.eons.com/uploads/2/0/20774441_Religion_in%20Waldorf%20Education.pdf

This being said, Waldorf education is a deed arising from the spiritual work of Rudolf Steiner and has as its source a view of the human being as a spiritual entity that incarnates into the material world, returns to the spiritual world at death and then re-enters earth life in a new physical body in order to continue developing his human consciousness in freedom and love. The idea of reincarnation needs to be at least entertained if one is to understand much of the pedagogical ideas which guide the “methodology” of Waldorf education. Waldorf education can certainly be adapted to include and to celebrate many religious and/ or spiritual perspectives but some openness to the idea of past and future lifetimes is needed or else Waldorf education as it is intended to be does not make sense.

The Waldorf teacher works constantly with the idea that each child is an individual who has come into the physical world at birth, not as a “tabula rasa” or “blank slate” but as a spiritual being returning to a new physical lifetime bringing the accomplishments and disadvantages acquired through their past deeds. This is not a dogmatic, punitive approach. We don’t think “This child has a problem, therefore he must deserve to suffer as a punishment for past deeds.” This would be more of an ancient approach to the ideas of karma and suffering. Rather, the teachers in relationship with open hearted parents, look at the strengths and weaknesses obvious even in very young children and try to ask,

“What has this child come to earth again to accomplish? What obstacles has he chosen to try to overcome in order to strengthen certain weaknesses? How can we help him use his budding talents and strengths in a balanced and compassionate way? What does this child need from us and what has he or she come to teach us along the way?”

This questioning attitude is what Rudolf Steiner calls “The Riddle of the Child.” This riddle is not something to solve, per se, but rather something to explore in our love for and our work with each child in our lives.

If you have read this far and feel comfortable out of your own experience with the idea of reincarnation, hopefully you will be able to embrace the Waldorf approach to birthdays, which incorporates a gentle vision of the child’s re-entry into the earth experience.

Mother and Father

Before each birthday, I asked to meet with the mother and father whenever possible. We took a little time and I asked them to describe where and how the child was born, the people present in her life at the time, siblings, family members, friends. We went through year by year with the highlights of the child’s life, me making notes. I would use these notes to create the second part of the birthday story.

I asked them to come and plan to stay through snack time the morning of the birthday. Most of the time, only the mother could come, but once in a while it was a father. I also asked the parents to bake a cake. One year we had five or six birthdays in December and a chocolate cake for each! I never put any dietary limits on what the parents could bring. I just had some alternatives available for any child with special requirements. On occasions when I did the baking, I used a star shaped cake pan and made a lemon “star cake” with vanilla cream cheese icing. It can be up to the discretion of the teachers and parents whether or not to limit sugars, etc. but it is good to try to be consistent once the decisions are made.

On the morning of the celebration, there was a slightly larger chair set up for the mom or dad and I would offer them some sort of crown or veil to wear. I also kept a large box of tissues near by for them.

The day or two before a birthday, I gave the children pre-cut “cards” made of heavy weight drawing paper to color for the birthday child. I took some time to help write inside what they wanted to say. These were collected and put on the birthday garden table.

Anticipation

In my Kindergartens, I always loved to create a sense of anticipation, have “coming into” a scene. I usually positioned my cubby bookcase in front of the door in such a way as to create a kind of entry or foyer. The children couldn’t just burst into the classroom. When we had a special event like a birthday, puppet play or drama, I would keep them in this area until they were quietly ready to come in further. I spent a lot of time setting up these scenarios the night before.For a birthday, I would create a “Birthday Garden” – a table draped in cloths with fresh flowers and plants. I have a special set of German “flower child” figures that I only used on birthdays. I also found a gold finish candle ring that fit smaller candles (like the kind used for Christmas chimes) with six holders. Now, you can find lovely wooden birthday rings from Waldorf type sellers. These are beautiful, but don’t hesitate to get creative if the spirit moves you. You could make a ring from clay, bread dough, grapevine wreath, a flowerpot saucer with earth or sand or many other objects. One note, though – whatever you do for the first birthday in your Kindergarten year, write it down and make sure to do the same for the rest of the year. The children WILL remember exactly what was done and they will be very disappointed if anything is left out when it is their turn.

I used the number of small white candles that represented the child’s birthday. Plus, I always had a gold colored full size taper in a brass candleholder. This was the “wand” candle. There were some gifts “from the fairies” waiting there as well. One was a small colored tissue wrapped bundle of small shells (one for each year), another bundle of small gems, minerals or crystals (one for each year) and a brand new stick of modeling beeswax.

I usually sprinkled a bit of glitter (fairy dust) and star shaped sequins and placed some bigger crystals, geodes or other natural decorations. Once this garden was created, I surrounded it completely with playstands and draped a rainbow colored batiste over the top, completely hiding it from view. I had my “moonboat” arrangement of chairs already set up with two larger chairs for the “thrones” in the middle. The queen and king’s outfits were draped on their thrones and special crowns. The rest of the chairs had star crowns for their courtiers. If the birthday child was a girl, she chose her king and vice versa. The birthday child also chose a helper.

I usually darkened the room a little for special events, again to heighten the mood and drama of the situation. Once the children were ready and in line for their “trip to the moonboat” (behind me while I played my recorder) we made a quiet journey. When we got to the moonboat, we sang:

 

Welcome, welcome happy day
With candles bright and flowers gay
And loving playmates round me too
Oh make me kind and good and true
 
 
My angel brought me from a star
That shines above in heaven far
He led me to my house of birth
Upon the kind and loving earth.

(Wynstones)

The King or Queen’s Story

 

I allowed the king and queen to put on their robes and crowns and sit on their thrones, then the helper next to the birthday child and finally, the rest of the children. By then, the mood was happy but hushed with anticipation.

As we kept quietly singing our birthday song, I ceremoniously lifted the rainbow veil and pulled back the playstands to reveal the garden. Again, ceremoniously, I lit the golden candle and sang our “Mother of the Fairy Tale” story song. Then I told the story of the little angel who came down from heaven:

Once, high up in the clouds, there was a group of little angels who were playing with a golden ball. Their big guardian angels were standing nearby, keeping a watchful eye on those little angels. As they were playing, the golden ball rolled away and came to rest right next to the crystal wall. One little angel chased the ball, and as he (or she) picked it up, he saw something that caught his eye. Through the crystal wall, the angels could see many things happening down on the earth. This little angel saw a beautiful woman and a handsome man and immediately he loved them and wanted to go down to them. He ran back to his guardian angel and told him what he had seen.

“May I go down and be with them?” he asked

“Yes,” answered the big angel. “But not just yet. These things take time to get ready.”

The little angel was disappointed for the moment but happy to think of going down to the Earth. Every day he asked his big angel “Is it time yet?”

“Not quite yet.” was the usual answer. So the little angel would continue playing cloud games with his friends.

Finally the day arrived when the answer was, “Yes, everything is ready now.”

The little angel was so excited and ran to tell his friends. His friends were a little bit sad, though.

“We will miss you!” they said. But their big angels laughed and said, “Don’t worry, you will have your turns to go, too.”

So the little angels promised to meet each other again down on the earth. They said their good-byes and the big angel scooped the little angel up into his arms and away they flew. Down, down the star steps they went. It was a long, long journey. Finally they came to the castle of Lady Moon. Lady Moon came out to greet the little angel. She took off the little angel’s wings, carefully folded them and placed them on a special shelf in her castle until the little angel was ready to return. Then she came back with a bundle and gave it to the little angel. “This bundle contains your wishes, hopes and dreams. Guard it well.” “I will.” said the little angel. Lady Moon kissed him and left a shining star on his forehead. Then the little angel fell fast asleep and the big angel carried him through the Sun Door down to the Earth. The Sun Door has to be in just the right place in order to open and let the little angel through.

The big angel carried the baby angel into the home of the beautiful woman and the handsome man who had prepared the perfect cradle for him. The guardian angel laid the baby angel in the cradle and stepped behind to guard him and guide him all the days of his life.

(Make a reverential gesture with hands crossed over the breast.)

After this part of the story was told, I took the birthday child by the hand and led her to the garden. I let her hold the golden candle (carefully) while I told about this baby angel’s first year, then she used the golden candle to light the first ring candle. We continued through each year until “And now this baby angel is FIVE years old (light the candle) and she may…” and I will briefly talk about a few things that the parents told me they were planning like a trip to Grandma’s house, etc. I helped replace the golden candle and led the queen back to her throne.

Then the Star Helper came up and got the birthday cards. He or she gave them to the queen one by one and I helped to read the birthday wishes. The king usually held them for the queen until she was finished. Then the helper brought the fairies’ gifts, one by one and the queen opened her treasures.

 

 

 

 

To finish, I led them in “The Key of the Kingdom”

(Start with upraised forefinger – the key)

(Arms open wide and get smaller and smaller to form the basket)
This is the key of the kingdom.
In that kingdom there is a city.
In that city there is a town.
In that town there is a street.
In that street there is a lane.
In that lane there is a yard.
In that yard there is a house.
In that house there is a room.
In that room there is a bed.
On that bed there is a basket.
In that basket there are some flowers.

(And then I say, “And birthday wishes.” I put my wish for the birthday child in the basket and go around to the other children and let each of them put a wish in the basket.)

(Here I pretend to put my basket of flowers and wishes into the arms of the birthday child)
Flowers in a basket,
Basket on the bed,
Bed in the room,
Room in the house,
House in the yard,
Yard in the lane,
Lane in the street,
Street in the town,
Town in the city,
City in the kingdom.

(Arms wider and wider again)

(Finger up for key)

Of that kingdom this is the key.

This rhyme can be found in The Nursery Rhyme Book, edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1897).

Once more, I led the queen to the garden to use the angel candle snuffer to put out her candles. Then I let her, the king and the star helper go to the snack table and called the other children one by one to join them. We had our birthday snack as we usually did with candles, flowers and our blessing. After snack, the children usually went outside to play. The birthday celebration took the place of circle time and story time.

We gathered up the cards and gifts into a basket that the mother took with her (so that nothing would get lost in play.) Usually the

mother wenthome or to work depending on her schedule.

I let the children keep their “king and queen robes” on if the play continued inside, but usually had them take them off if going outside. I let the children go have a nice up close look at the birthday garden, but not play with the flower fairies or candles. I feel that it is appropriate that not everything be a “toy” but some things should be enjoyed more reverentially.

Happy Mood

The mood of the birthday should be very happy but not wild. The idea is to combine the joy of celebration with a reverential, slightly celestial mood. Incarnation is a happy but serious business and young children take it seriously indeed. A birthday is the time when our “star door” comes back to its position in front of the sun and we can be reminded that we have chosen to come here at this time, in this place, to these loving people in order to follow the destiny that we have chosen. Our angel holds the book that we ourselves have written and continues to stand behind us to guard and to guide us on our journey.

 

 

 

“Guardian Angel” by Nancy Jewel Poer

 

About the poem, “Star Child”

* This poem was just written by me this past year, inspired by the wonderful photography of Danielle Epifani of Margaret’s Garden in Berkeley, CA. So I have never used it. I think I would write it on my birthday card to the child and speak it when the children were in line just about to journey to the moonboat. Possible at the end of snack, too, if the children can hold the inbreath a few seconds longer.

 

::::::::::::

 

From “Mary Poppins Comes Back” by P.L. Travers

Chapter Five The New One (Annabel’s story)

She put her finger to her lips and tiptoed to Mrs. Banks’ door. “Tch, tch! You can’t see nothing but the wardrobe,” she complained, as she bent to look through the keyhole. “The wardrobe and a bit of the winder.” But the next moment she started violently. “My Glory-goodness!” she shrieked, as the door burst open suddenly, and she fell back against Robertson Ay. For there, framed against the light, stood Mary Poppins, looking very stern and suspicious. In her arms she carried, with great care, something that looked like a bundle of blankets.

“Well!” said Mrs. Brill, breathlessly. “If it isn’t you! I was just polishing the door-knob, putting a shine on it, so to say, as you came out.” Mary Poppins looked at the knob. It was very dirty. “Polishing the key-hole is what I should have said!” she remarked tartly. But Mrs. Brill took no notice. She was gazing tenderly at the bundle. With her large red hand she drew aside a fold of one of the blankets, and a satisfied smile spread over her face. “Ah!” she cooed. “Ah, the Lamb! Ah, the Duck! Ah, the Trinket! And as good as a week of Sundays, I’ll be bound!”

Robertson Ay yawned again and stared at the bundle with his mouth slightly open. “Another pair of shoes to clean!” he said mournfully, leaning against the banisters for support. “Mind you don’t drop it, now!” said Mrs. Brill anxiously, as Mary Poppins brushed past her. Mary Poppins glanced at them both contemptuously. “If I were some people,” she remarked acidly, “I’d mind my own business!” And she folded the blanket over the bundle again and went upstairs to the Nursery.

“Excuse me, please! Excuse me!” Mr. Banks came rushing up the stairs, nearly knocking Mrs. Brill over as he hurried into Mrs. Banks’ bedroom. “Well!” he said, sitting down at the foot of the bed, “This is all very awkward. Very awkward indeed. I don’t know that I can afford it. I hadn’t bargained for five.” “I’m so sorry!” said Mrs. Banks, smiling at him happily. “You’re not sorry, not a bit. In fact you’re very pleased and conceited about it. And there’s no reason to be. It’s a very small one.” “I like them that way,” said Mrs. Banks. “Besides, it will grow.” “Yes, unfortunately!” he replied bitterly. “And I shall have to buy it shoes and clothes and a tricycle. Yes, and send it to school and give it a Good Start in Life. A very expensive proceeding. And then, after all that, when I’m an old man sitting by the fire, it will go away and leave me. You hadn’t thought of that, I suppose?”

“No,” said Mrs. Banks, trying to look sorry but not succeeding. “I hadn’t.” “I thought not. Well, there it is. But, I warn you, I shall not be able to afford to have the bathroom re-tiled.” “Don’t worry about that,” said Mrs. Banks comfortingly. “I really like the old tiles best.” “Then you’re a very stupid woman. That’s all I have to say.” And Mr. Banks went away, muttering and blustering through the house. But when he got outside the front door, he flung back his shoulders, and pushed out his chest, and put a large cigar into his mouth. And soon after that he was heard telling Admiral Boom the news in a voice that was very loud and conceited and boastful….

Mary Poppins stooped over the new cradle between John’s and Barbara’s cots and laid the bundle of blankets carefully in it. “Here you are at last! Bless my beak and tail feathers——I thought you were never coming! Which is it?” cried a croaking voice from the window. Mary Poppins looked up. The Starling who lived on the top of the Chimney was hopping excitedly on the window-sill. “A girl. Annabel,” said Mary Poppins shortly. “And I’ll thank you to be a little quieter. Squawking and croaking there like a packet of Magpies!” But the Starling was not listening. He was turning somersaults on the window-sill, clapping his wings wildly together each time his head came up.

“What a treat!” he panted, when at last he stood up straight. “What a TREAT! Oh, I could sing!” “You couldn’t. Not if you tried till Doomsday!” scoffed Mary Poppins. But the Starling was too happy to care. “A girl!” he shrieked, dancing on his toes. “I’ve had three broods this season and—would you believe it?—every one of them boys. But Annabel will make up to me for that!” He hopped a little along the sill. “Annabel!” he burst out again, “That’s a nice name! I had an Aunt called Annabel. Used to live in Admiral Boom’s chimney and died, poor thing, of eating green apples and grapes. I warned her, I warned her! But she wouldn’t believe me! So, of course——” “Will you be quiet!” demanded Mary Poppins, making a dive at him with her apron. “I will not!” he shouted, dodging neatly. “This is no time for silence. I’m going to spread the news.” He swooped out of the window. “Back in five minutes!” he screamed at her over his shoulder, as he darted away.

Mary Poppins moved quietly about the Nursery, putting Annabel’s new clothes in a neat pile. The Sunlight, slipping in at the window, crept across the room and up to the cradle. “Open your eyes!” it said softly. “And I’ll put a shine on them!” The coverlet of the cradle trembled. Annabel opened her eyes.

“Good girl!” said the Sunlight. “They’re blue, I see. My favourite colour! There! You won’t find a brighter pair of eyes anywhere!” It slipped lightly out of Annabel’s eyes and down the side of the cradle. “Thank you very much!” said Annabel politely. A warm Breeze stirred the muslin flounces at her head. “Curls or straight?” it whispered, dropping into the cradle beside her. “Oh, curls, please!” said Annabel softly. “It does save trouble, doesn’t it?” agreed the Breeze. And it moved over her head, carefully turning up the feathery edges of her hair, before it fluttered off across the room.

“Here we are! Here we are!” A harsh voice shrilled from the window. The Starling had returned to the sill. And behind him, wobbling uncertainly as he alighted, came a very young bird. Mary Poppins moved towards them threateningly. “Now you be off!” she said angrily. “I’ll have no sparrers littering up this Nursery——” But the Starling, with the young one at his side, brushed haughtily past her. “Kindly remember, Mary Poppins,” he said icily, “that all my families are properly brought up. Littering, indeed!” He alighted neatly on the edge of the cradle and steadied the Fledgling beside him. The young bird stared about him with round, inquisitive eyes. The Starling hopped along to the pillow.

“Annabel, dear,” he began, in a husky, wheedling voice, “I’m very partial to a nice, crisp, crunchy piece of Arrowroot Biscuit.” His eyes twinkled greedily. “You haven’t one about you, I suppose?” The curled head stirred on the pillow. “No? Well, you’re young yet for biscuits, perhaps. Your sister Barbara—nice girl, she was, very generous and pleasant—always remembered me. So if, in the future, you could spare the old fellow a crumb or two——” “Of course I will,” said Annabel from the folds of the blanket. “Good girl!” croaked the Starling approvingly. He cocked his head on one side and gazed at her with his round bright eye. “I hope,” he remarked politely, “you are not too tired after your journey.” Annabel shook her head. “Where has she come from—out of an egg?” cheeped the Fledgling suddenly. “Huh-huh!” scoffed Mary Poppins. “Do you think she’s a sparrer?”

The Starling gave her a pained and haughty look. “Well, what is she, then? And where did she come from?” cried the Fledgling shrilly, flapping his short wings and staring down at the cradle.

“You tell him, Annabel!” the Starling croaked. Annabel moved her hands inside the blanket. “I am earth and air and fire and water,” she said softly. “I come from the Dark where all things have their beginning.” “Ah, such dark!” said the Starling softly, bending his head to his breast. “It was dark in the egg, too,” the Fledgling cheeped. “I come from the sea and its tides,” Annabel went on. “I come from the sky and its stars, I come from the sun and its brightness——” “Ah, so bright!” said the Starling, nodding. “And I come from the forests of earth.” As if in a dream, Mary Poppins rocked the cradle—to-and-fro, to-and-fro with a steady swinging movement. “Yes?” whispered the Fledgling. “Slowly I moved at first,” said Annabel, “always sleeping and dreaming. I remembered all I had been and I thought of all I shall be. And when I had dreamed my dream I awoke and came swiftly.” She paused for a moment, her blue eyes full of memories. “And then?” prompted the Fledgling. “I heard the stars singing as I came and I felt warm wings about me. I passed the beasts of the jungle and came through the dark, deep waters. It was a long journey.” Annabel was silent. The Fledgling stared at her with his bright inquisitive eyes. Mary Poppins’ hand lay quietly on the side of the cradle. She had stopped rocking.

“A long journey, indeed!” said the Starling softly, lifting his head from his breast. “And, ah, so soon forgotten!” Annabel stirred under the quilt. “No!” she said confidently. “I’ll never forget.” “Stuff and Nonsense! Beaks and Claws! Of course you will! By the time the week’s out you won’t remember a word of it—what you are or where you came from!” Inside her flannel petticoat Annabel was kicking furiously. “I will! I will! How could I forget?” “Because they all do!” jeered the Starling harshly. “Every silly human except—” he nodded his head at Mary Poppins—”her! She’s Different, she’s the Oddity, she’s the Misfit——” “You Sparrer!” cried Mary Poppins, making a dart at him. But with a rude laugh he swept his Fledgling off the edge of the cradle and flew with him to the window-sill. “Tipped you last!” he said cheekily, as he brushed by. “Hullo, what’s that?”

There was a chorus of voices outside on the landing and a clatter of feet on the stairs. “I don’t believe you! I won’t believe you!” cried Annabel wildly. And at that moment Jane and Michael and the Twins burst into the room. “Mrs. Brill says you’ve got something to show us!” said Jane, flinging off her hat. “What is it?” demanded Michael, gazing round the room.

“Show me! Me, too!” shrieked the Twins. Mary Poppins glared at them. “Is this a decent nursery or the Zoological gardens?” she enquired angrily. “Answer me that!” “The Zoo—er—I mean——” Michael broke off hurriedly for he had caught Mary Poppins’ eye. “I mean a Nursery,” he said lamely. “Oh, look, Michael, look!” Jane cried excitedly. “I told you something important was happening! It’s a New Baby! Oh, Mary Poppins, can I have it to keep?” Mary Poppins, with a furious glance at them all, stooped and lifted Annabel out of the cradle and sat down with her in the old arm-chair. “Gently, please, gently!” she warned, as they crowded about her. “This is a baby, not a battle-ship!” “A boy-baby?” asked Michael. “No, a girl—Annabel.” Michael and Annabel stared at each other. He put his finger into her hand and she clutched it tightly. “My doll!” said John, pushing up against Mary Poppins’ knee. “My rabbit!” said Barbara, tugging at Annabel’s shawl. “Oh!” breathed Jane, touching the hair that the wind had curled. “How very small and sweet. Like a star. Where did you come from, Annabel?”

Very pleased to be asked, Annabel began her story again. “I came from the Dark——” she recited softly. Jane laughed. “Such funny little sounds!” she cried. “I wish she could talk and tell us.” Annabel stared. “But I am telling you,” she protested, kicking.

“Ha-ha!” shrieked the Starling rudely from the window. “What did I say? Excuse me laughing!” The Fledgling giggled behind his wing. “Perhaps she came from a Toy-Shop,” said Michael. Annabel, with a furious movement, flung his finger from her. “Don’t be silly!” said Jane. “Doctor Simpson must have brought her in his little brown bag!” “Was I right or was I wrong?” The Starling’s old dark eyes gleamed tauntingly at Annabel. “Tell me that!” he jeered, flapping his wings in triumph. But for answer Annabel turned her face against Mary Poppins’ apron and wept. Her first cries, thin and lonely, rang piercingly through the house. “There! There!” said the Starling gruffly. “Don’t take on! It can’t be helped. You’re only a human child after all. But next time, perhaps, you’ll believe your Betters! Elders and Betters! Elders and Betters!” he screamed, prancing conceitedly up and down.

“Michael, take my feather duster please, and sweep those birds off the sill!” said Mary Poppins ominously. A squawk of amusement came from the Starling. “We can sweep ourselves off, Mary Poppins, thank you! We were just going, anyway! Come along, Boy!” And with a loud clucking chuckle he flicked the Fledgling over the sill and swooped with him through the window….

In a very short time, Annabel settled down comfortably to life in Cherry Tree Lane. She enjoyed being the centre of attraction and was always pleased when somebody leant over her cradle and said how pretty she was, or how good or sweet-tempered. “Do go on admiring me!” she would say, smiling. “I like it so much!” And then they would hasten to tell her how curly her hair was and how blue her eyes, and Annabel would smile in such a satisfied way that they would cry, “How intelligent she is! You would almost think she understood!” But that always annoyed her and she would turn away in disgust at their foolishness. Which was silly because when she was disgusted she looked so charming that they became more foolish than ever.

She was a week old before the Starling returned. Mary Poppins, in the dim glow of the night-light, was gently rocking the cradle when he appeared. “Back again?” snapped Mary Poppins, watching him prance in. “You’re as bad as a bad penny!” She gave a long disgusted sniff. “I’ve been busy!” said the Starling. “Have to keep my affairs in order. And this isn’t the only Nursery I have to look after, you know!” His beady black eyes twinkled wickedly. “Humph!” she said shortly, “I’m sorry for the others!” He chuckled and shook his head. “Nobody like her!” he remarked chirpily to the blind-tassel. “Nobody like her! She’s got an answer for everything!”

He cocked his head towards the cradle. “Well, how are things? Annabel asleep?” “No thanks to you, if she is!” said Mary Poppins. The Starling ignored the remark. He hopped to the end of the sill. “I’ll keep watch,” he said, in a whisper. “You go down and get a cup of tea!” Mary Poppins stood up. “Mind you don’t wake her, then!” The Starling laughed pityingly. “My dear girl, I have in my time brought up at least twenty broods of fledglings. I don’t need to be told how to look after a mere baby.” “Humph!” Mary Poppins walked to the cupboard and very pointedly put the biscuit-tin under her arm before she went out and shut the door. The Starling marched up and down the window-sill, backwards and forwards, with his wing-tips under his tail-feathers. There was a small stir in the cradle. Annabel opened her eyes. “Hullo!” she said. “I was wanting to see you.” “Ha!” said the Starling, swooping across to her. “There’s something I wanted to remember,” said Annabel frowning, “and I thought you might remind me.”

He started. His dark eye glittered. “How does it go?” he said softly. “Like this?” And he began in a husky whisper—”I am earth and air and fire and water——” “No, no!” said Annabel impatiently. “Of course it doesn’t.” “Well,” said the Starling anxiously. “Was it about your journey? You came from the sea and its tides, you came from the sky and——” “Oh, don’t be so silly!” cried Annabel. “The only journey I ever took was to the Park and back again this morning. No, no—it was something important. Something beginning with B.” She crowed suddenly. “I’ve got it!” she cried. “It’s Biscuit. Half an Arrowroot Biscuit on the mantel-piece. Michael left it there after tea!” “Is that all?” said the Starling sadly. “Yes, of course,” Annabel said fretfully. “Isn’t it enough? I thought you’d be glad of a nice piece of biscuit!” “So I am, so I am!” said the Starling hastily. “But——” She turned her head on the pillow and closed her eyes. “Don’t talk any more now, please!” she said. “I want to go to sleep.”

The Starling glanced across at the mantel-piece, and down again at Annabel. “Biscuits!” he said, shaking his head. “Alas, Annabel, alas!” Mary Poppins came in quietly and closed the door. “Did she wake?” she said in a whisper.

The Starling nodded. “Only for a minute,” he said sadly. “But it was long enough.” Mary Poppins’ eyes questioned him. “She’s forgotten,” he said, with a catch in his croak. “She’s forgotten it all. I knew she would. But, ah, my dear, what a pity!” “Humph!” Mary Poppins moved quietly about the Nursery, putting the toys away. She glanced at the Starling. He was standing on the window-sill with his back to her, and his speckled shoulders were heaving. “Caught another cold?” she remarked sarcastically. He wheeled around. “Certainly not! It’s—ahem—the night air. Rather chilly, you know. Makes the eyes water. Well—I must be off!” He waddled unsteadily to the edge of the sill. “I’m getting old,” he croaked sadly. “That’s what it is! Not so young as we were. Eh, Mary Poppins?” “I don’t know about you——” Mary Poppins drew herself up haughtily. “But I’m quite as young as I was, thank you!” “Ah,” said the Starling, shaking his head. “You’re a Wonder. An absolute, Marvellous, Wonderful Wonder!” His round eye twinkled wickedly. “I don’t think!” he called back rudely, as he dived out of the window. “Impudent Sparrer!” she shouted after him and shut the window with a bang….

Travers, P. L. (2006). Mary Poppins Comes Back (Odyssey Classics) (Kindle Locations 1665-1679). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Christine Natale

Christine Natale discovered Rudolf Steiner and his work at age 16 through a summer job in the Biodynamic Gardens at the Threefold Community in New York. After two years of community college in the area, Christine embarked upon a two year journey with her mentor, Rene Querido.  Lucky enough to be in a small training class, Christine was able to intern at the Sacramento Waldorf School from the first of December through June with full block training experience in almost every grade and Kindergarten. Christine taught for about ten years, primarily in the Kindergarten, with one year taking a combined Fourth and Fifth Grade. During this time, she has given many lectures to the public, produced puppet theater and festival productions, co-directed young schools and been an active resource for Waldorf parents and their children.

More recently Christine has been focused on her writing. She has produced an extensive collection of children’s stories and articles on Waldorf Education and is in the process of self-publishing them. Christine brings a variety of skills in all of the arts, such as Waldorf Watercolor Painting, Crayon Drawing (and its interpretation), Handwork, Music, Drama, Puppetry, Storytelling and much more. She has a broad and deep base of knowledge of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education, as well as a good familiarity with other educational systems and methods and an ability to draw connections and to build bridges of understanding for people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Christine’s Book of Fairy Tales can be found here. Christine’s Blog, Straw into Gold can be found here.

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One Response to Waldorf Kindergarten Birthdays

  1. Alison says:

    This is quite wonderful! We have a birthday coming up in our home and I will utilize pieces of your rich tradition.

    Thank you!

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