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Faster Than Life ~ by Melody Elder

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

Please Don’t Hurry Your Child

More than in any previous time period, I worry about how children are hurried to grow up “faster than life.” As parents, we hurry children when we push them to do things they are not ready to do according to their own unique maturation time-table (weaning from the breast, bottle, pacifier, etc.; eating solid foods; using the toilet; learning to read; and taking piano lessons are a few examples). 

Our schools hurry children as the curriculum continues to be “pushed down”.  What was once taught in 4th grade is now taught in third and second grade and even, in some cases, kindergarten, and with a heavy focus on academics, children of all ages are not given the crucial time they need to learn through play (David Elkind’s books, The Hurried Child and The Power of Play outline the importance of play in a child’s life and education ). 

The media hurries children.  Movies that were once rated “R” are now rated “PG”, and with technology becoming part of children’s day-to-day lives as in no other previous time, children as young as infants are exposed to images they might not have been in contact with for many years. 

Ironically, when children are pushed to learn something before they’re physically, cognitively, or emotionally ready, it actually slows their progress down. 

As poignantly and painfully illustrated in the following excerpt from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, there are consequences to hurrying.  


Faster Than Life

                “I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case preparing to come out.  I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient.  I bent over and breathed on it to warm it.  I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life.  The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them.  Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath.  In vain.

                It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun.  Now it was too late.  My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time.  It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

                That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience.  For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature.  We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the internal rhythm.”

So, Dear Parents,

Slow down.

Trust your child’s innate timetable.

And most importantly, enjoy the present moment!

I wish you all the best.

Happy Spring!

With loving~


April 2010

Our program at Riviera PlaySchool is centered around helping young children develop their innate gifts, and spend time being a child!  We offer a humanistic, constructivist, and mindful preschool program for the “whole child,” inspired by the best of Attachment Parenting, Bev Bos, Montessori, Waldorf, and Compassionate or Non-violent Communication (NVC). 

Lots of Love,



2 Responses to “Faster Than Life ~ by Melody Elder”
  1. Beautiful. The message is so important and the story of the butterfly helped me to feel it as well as understand it. Thank you.

  2. Earl Shmabukuro says:

    Melody, mmm, what a great message. I found this site because of a friend who said I’d resonate with it–and happily I also got to see your article. As a recent 3rd grade teacher, I often felt as the years went by that the nature of curriculum dissemination to the students was too much in light of the imbalance with the social, developmental, creative, and personal needs of my students and myself as their teacher. It caused much inner conflict within me, what with my own search for personal meaning, balance, and a happy medium between the norm of my district’s expectations and particular SOS area and my own growing concerns about the lack of true honoring of our children’s emotional and social health and healthy development of an authentic expression of their being. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and compassion in your writings. Thank you for sharing yourself, as I know you are a kind, generous, caring, and positive influence to all whom you touch. I’m so thankful that I got to bump into your article here, and equally thankful to see yet another school that honors a more conscious level of education. Wow!

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