One weekday morning many years ago, I sat beside our daughter on her bedroom floor. She was five years old then, concentrating on the bottom drawer of her dresser, considering her socks.
“Mom,” she said, holding up a pair of socks. “Do you think these socks would be good for dancing?” I didn’t respond quickly, because I didn’t understand her question. She knew I needed her help.
“I might want to dance at school today, Mom. Do you think these socks are good for dancing?”
For me, her question was a hard stop – the type of comment that marks time. Before her question, I was wondering why it takes so long for a five-year-old to get ready for school. After her question, I understood the simple elegance of her morning routine. As she sat on her bedroom floor, patiently waiting for my answer, I also understood that for her, every day held the possibility of dance.
“Of course,” I said. “A person could definitely dance in those socks. A good choice for your day.”
Our daughter is not a tutu, ballerina-type person. She grew up in Montessori classrooms, playing soccer in the backyard with her older brothers and their friends. She is fast and strong and often bruised. She loves to read, but prefers math. Her wardrobe consists of leggings, shorts, cotton shirts and tennis shoes.
But when she looks forward to a typical day in her classroom, she sees herself dancing.
Casa de Bambini. . .
Montessori believed that every child, regardless of his nationality, religion, or intelligence, possesses a spark of divinity. She named this “vital force” the “horme” and said that it was the source of energy and joy in childhood. She considered theology, social justice, education, and parenting to be equally important and intertwined causes. Tending the horme — caring for children — was, she believed, our daily responsibility and our best hope for peace.
Montessori interrupted the routines of poverty, allowing grace to peek into the slums of Rome. That grace is still present, and always will be. It is still surprising; it still inspires little girls to dance.