Monday, October 31, 2005

A New Kind of Hippie Mom

Okay, if you looked at me with my husband and son, you would (wrongly) assume that we are your typical suburban family. We look like it - right down to our blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryan child. My husband is a software programmer, and I work from home, which most people (again, wrongly) assume means that I don't really work.

I'm not that kind of mom, though. We're liberals - very left-wing, not just your average mainstream Democrats. We believe in direct political action; we have been involved in our share of protests, rallying, and lobbying campaigns.

While I know that hippies were not necessarily liberals and I have been reading some of the horrors of being raised on communes, I think of us as sort of nouveau hippie parents. Or at least I hope we are.

One of the downsides to being raised to be the perfect everything is that I did little exploration about my own identity until I was out of college. I bounced around in various disciplines, but I didn't really delve into who I am.

I want life for my son to be different. I want Jayden to enjoy life - to explore whatever strikes him. And I want to share it with him - maybe because I didn't have it as a child. When he picks up a leaf, even now at 9 months old and looks at it (or eats it), I try to see it from his viewpoint. I try to let him explore. Instead of stopping him from getting into the cabinets, which I was never allowed to do, I'd prefer to turn them over and use them as drums with him.

My husband and I are making every effort to provide him with toys that will enhance his exploration and imagination. Instead of hovering over him as people of our generation are apt to do, we allow Jayden to play on his own. We give him the space to try out new toys or to talk to the stars on his crib bumper. We want him to be creative without us interfering in that process.

While we do purchase learning toys, our approach is more relaxed. We will help Jayden with whatever interests him. If he wants to explore chemistry, we will get him a chemistry set. If he wants to try ballet or Congo drumming, we are all for it. My job as his kinda-hippie mom is to make sure that he becomes the man he was born to become.

One of the repeated upsides I have read about having hippie parents is that the lifestyle teaches tolerance and open-mindedness. Here, too, I hope that Jayden takes the lessons. We will expose him to different cultures, religions, and ideas through our friends as well as more thought-out methods - by going to museums, getting books and toys from other cultures, and making a conscious effort to learn about other people.

Being Jayden's hippie mom is fun now but is only going to get better as he gets older. I may not wear a broom skirt or braid my long hair, but I can give him the values that those who do possess.

By Brandi Rhoades

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