Can you tell me why I told my youngest boy to sit still at dinner?
What possible reason would make sense here?
“You can hurt yourself if you fall backwards.”
“Your body needs to be calm while eating.”
“You’re distracting others from their food.”
Yes, sure, possibly, perhaps, maybe.
More likely it’s because as a child I myself was told to sit still. Even as an adult, when I am troubled, I am told to sit still.
“Go for a quiet walk.”
“Lie in savasana.”
“Float in a tank.”
We have so many ways of seeing movement as an affliction, and prescribing stillness as the cure. And those of our children who won’t, we reprimand, command or even medicate for better or worse.
But what if slow, rapid, wild, sudden, spontaneous, erratic, unpredictable movement is the body’s god-given way to restore health?
Like many adults, I’ve been still for so long, I am troubled at times by my children’s facility for moving whenever they want to and however they like.
“Watch out you don’t break anything!” “Don’t fidget!”
We can label it natural, ebullient, nervous, stressed, manipulative, disturbing, wholesome, troubling, worrysome or symptomatic. But the fact that we notice it at all says more about our culture than it does about our child.
Movement is natural, however it manifests and whatever the emotion or imagined condition that drives it. A lot of us adults have forgotten that. And we pay dearly to relearn.
Somatic therapy. Trauma therapy. Ecstatic dance. These and other treats, retreats and treatments all aim to release movements that have become stuck in our bodies making us ill from a lifetime overdose of sitting still.
The next time my boy is moving, I’ll be more cautious in questioning the natural wisdom of his body, and allow it instead to remind me of the wisdom of my own body.
I’ll vibrate my leg nervously at the dinner table, playfully lean back in my chair, shake my booty on the bus, and take every opportunity that arises to remember to allow myself to move as the movement arises.
And if your child one day should say “Mom! Dad! Move!” Would you?