Something in the way she moves…..

There is something in the way my daughter moves that elicits strong physical memories of my childhood.

Both of my kids are highly kinesthetic. My son, perpetually fighting imagined villains, never stops darting, kicking, rolling, falling, and slicing- much to my annoyance (grungey floors in public places) and sometimes embarrassment (totally wrong moment as deemed by socially acceptable behavior).

G is incredibly silly but also incredibly intense. He is a thinker. A deep thinker. Yet, he enters and exits movement without much of a plan and with a total sense of confidence in the process of moving. Whatever happens- it will be good. Moving allows G to free himself in a way his mind won’t always let him do. And as such, sometimes he enters a “state” while moving that can make it hard for him to hear or process the world around him (hence the annoyance of falling, crawling, or rolling on disgusting surfaces in public places). He isn’t naughty, he is committed. He is living. In fact, if he thought he was doing anything wrong, he would be sad and maybe even a little worried. So when we talk about it before it happens, on our way into a store or whatever, he often says, “But I am sorry. I will try to remember but what if I can’t help it.” And then the sound effects resume, I sigh, and then say, “keep trying, kiddo”.

I also know that he doesn’t do this all of the time. He does this when he feels safe- emotionally, physically- like when he is with my husband or me, or a few others. He doesn’t do this in his classroom; he waits until the right time- recess or after school.

H on the other hand, is aware of everything in her environment when she is moving. She uses movement for problem-solving and for interpreting the world around her. She doesn’t trace new objects with her hands- she does it with her feet and sometimes her whole body. She is a climber, and her movement is controlled, precise, owned. She, in spite of being 2, knows her body well. She makes me hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me, with a sigh, to “put your legs down-it isn’t lady-like.” I now realize, given the tone of her voice and the presence of the sigh, talking to me must have been a lot like talking to G, even if the movement was different.

While I understand G’s relationship to movement, H’s relationship very much mirrors my own. Movement heightens her awareness. I was the dancer that noticed when the light cues were called at different times in spite of complex movement phrases and other performance stimuli. I was the dancer that could process outside of rehearsal hiccups that were interfering with the dance, even if the problem wasn’t near me spatially or obvious to me visually. When I sensed my way through the dance outside of rehearsal, the answers would come to me. Movement truly is how I interact with the world.

Beyond the front door……
I realize movement, and body, also determine much of how I relate to others and consequently how they relate to me. It isn’t a golden rule by any means, but I think I am noticing that even though the person I am with and I have a common verbal language, if we have drastically different movement/body experiences we have a hard time connecting. It goes beyond topics and moves into how we understand the world in addition to how we perceive it. I am often left feeling like I have no idea what to “say”.

It makes me watchful of how my kids interact with others and how people interact with them. It also makes me wonder about the social norms and how much movement impacts personal impressions beyond mere body language (posturing and facial expression) and levels of energy. I think about the labels that are often doled out and how sometimes it seems to be a matter of relationship to movement. No new revelations there, of course, but I feel for the kids (people) that don’t have an adult or someone in their life that understands and can advocate.

In my teaching, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about learning styles so that all learners feel welcomed and can access the material I want them to adopt. While I have understood, intellectually, that there are different kinds of kinesthetic learners this summer time with my kids has been especially enlightening.

Hope you are enjoying the movement of summer, too.