“He two sticks”

I hear from parents often – how, after dinner- before bedtime – all “He- two sticks” breaks out in their house. (wow – haven’t used this expression since I was about ten!)

The kids are wild, loud, pushy, unreasonable, unreachable, screaming!

So why is this so common?

Experts say this is because they are carrying the stress of the day with them – and this is their way to unload it.

“The stress of their day? ” I know, I get it. I can hear you now – “the stress of their day? Let me tell you about the stress of my day!

But that’s the problem, you see. We all need a chance to unwind – let it all out in a fun, physical way that brings laughter and unloads fears and anxiety built up – where we can get close physically, where we can laugh, howl, shriek, giggle, and feel connected – together.

Rough housing, I’m- a- going-to-get-you- games, physical outlets shared together are valuable tools as #1 stress relievers for children – and – not surprisingly – for their parents.

Chasing each other; batting a balloon back and forth and keeping it up in the air; hide and seek (always so fun for little ones to be found); wrestling on the floor with a parent: everyone dancing to at least two jivey songs; a raucous pillow fight; a game of “capture and get-away tag” , “howling to the moon” – any and all will do the trick.

So rather than dread this time at the end of the day, expect it – look forward to it as a stress reliever to all – connections growing deeper, laughter feeling oh– so -good, eyes shining.

And when it’s over – (maybe put a timer on) – enjoy the release, the satisfaction, the appreciation of the peace and understanding that this satisfying kind of bonding brings.

It’s a plain olHE Two Sticks of a good time!!

Make it a habit!

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gift of resolution

These are the days – it seems – of uncertainty – of “should I”, “should we”, “are you”, “not sure”.

Whether it’s about attending a perhaps too large celebration – sending your child to school – to dance class – to play team sports – to travel – to visit grandparents – there are no absolute answers.

And so, we’re left with “making up our own minds” – figuring out what works for us.

And that’s not always easy.

But … what would you choose if no one else cared or disagreed? Often we make decisions based on what others will think – what our friends are doing – what is most popular.

But we need to try and consider all the alternatives. We need to put into perspective how real our concerns are – recognizing our fears but not allowing them to drive our decision alone.

Pay attention to what matters most to you and your family – the information you have found – what is wise. Trust your decision.

That’s the strength – the gift – behind “making up our own minds” – the gift of resolution.

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crystal clear

Wasn’t the rain great this morning?  It seems for ages since we had a good soaking and it was sorely needed – and appreciated!

I love waking up to the sound of rain falling – especially when by late morning,  the sun has come out, the sky blue and crystal clear!

Crystal clear – that’s something that we’ve been lacking – in so many ways – since the days of Covid began more than six months ago.

Crystal clear about our choices, our work, our get-togethers, school,  plans of any kind,  -not so simple.

But on a crystal clear afternoon like this – it is a good reminder  – that, as parents, we are our children’s “crystal clear” source – the one they look toward to receive encouragement, confidence, warmth, brightness in spite of intermittent clouds, uncertainty, disappointment and concern.

So that’s what we do, right?

And so often by sharing clarity – crystal clear –  to our children, we feel the warmth and reflection right back at us.

Thinking of all of you as the school year begins in different ways for different families.

Crystal clarity to each of you!

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the “hum”

“Every picture has a story to tell.”

I definitely believe that.  And we, at The Parenting Place are so thrilled to “hear” the different stories “told” in the photos shared of children playing hard at this year’s Children’s Festival.

Parents have expressed gratitude and surprise that by simply setting up some of the Children’s Festival Wonder Box play areas, their children “went to town” and from three to five hours, engaged play reigned.

Simple open-ended invitations to play are enticing to children – unspoken suggestions of what might be done – trust in a child to enter this world of creative play – and then, what I call the “hum” of satisfied children at “work”.

Many questioned what would children really do with this Wonder Box we were offering.  My answer then and now is “It just remains to be seen!” 

That’s the secret of Play!

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Simply said

Have you ever just drawn a blank when you start to do a project?  And instead of one thought and bright idea after another flowing through your creative juices – it’s pretty dry?

That’s me today.  This doesn’t happen very often – but for some reason – I find myself staring out the window at the gorgeous blue sky, feeling the gentle breeze and the bright sunshine – and daydreaming.

But – hey!  Maybe that’s just what I actually should be sharing with all of you.

For if this happens to you – accept it.

Change your plans. Listen to what your mind and body are telling you – and don’t feel guilty about it.  (Unless, of course, on that very day, your job, your child’s birthday party, your in-law’s visit depends on it!)

This is something that every parent certainly needs to heed.  Parenting takes physical, mental, and emotional stamina – and sometimes – you’re running low.

I am suggesting – on those days – you slow down, choose peace, nourish well in food, water, sunshine, rest, play and find a way to just “be” with your children – simply.

Thanks!  That settles it.  I think that’s what I’ll do.

C’mon, Tootsie!  Let’s go outside!


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a silly moment

I’ve been “over-thinking” lately it seems.  You know – spending a lot of time in my head – “percolating” as I like to think of it.

And that can sometimes lead to feeling a bit punchy.

And so I’ve been noticing when I’m typing the word know – it comes out knnow.

I sort of feel it when it happens.  It’s almost like a quick skip and a jump – and there it is – two n’s in know – knnow!

So recently I’ve begun taking stock of when and why this happens with that particular word. It seems I use it often – but to knnow is not the same as to know as any young philosopher could tell you.

So I started to look for another deeper meaning – why only this word  – what might it reveal – what do I need to know?  (and truthfully – it just happened again!)

And all I could come up with is – well … maybe I just need to slow down a bit, be more conscientious – don’t be in such a rush.

That’s what we all probably need – that’s what the experts all definitely tell us.  But then … I decided – actually, we also need to find and enjoy our own personal “silly” moment in our day.

And for me –  a quick skip and a jump – and there it is – knnow – two n’s in Know – and for some odd reason – it makes me smile. Even if it’s showing up with a bright red line under it!

I don’t knnow why!!

Hope you all enjoy your own personal “silly moment” this week!



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“Parenting is the intersection of our struggle as a parent and their struggles as children.”

During this long Covid season we are living through, we all are left at least a bit fragile from the experience – both parents and children.

The insecurities, the unknowns, the questions, the decisions to make for ourselves, our families, our children on how to be safe, how much is too much when we think about interacting with others – when we thing about social invitations, when we think about finances, about work/home, about schooling.

On top of those are the everyday minutia between children and parents like  learning to listen, sibling interactions, cleaning their rooms, picking up toys, staying in the yard, sharing, whining, too much screen-time, follow-through.

And it’s especially when our children disobey, find excuses, don’t listen, that their struggles meet our parent struggles head-on and personal.

Yet it’s up to us as parents to try and separate our frustrations (why can’t he ever listen, just pick up the toys, go to bed?) and respond instead first to the struggle our child is facing, by acknowledging it – by naming it – “I know it’s hard to stop playing and come to the table to eat” and then following through with what we need him to do.

For it is during this patient parent understanding and response to a child’s behavior that helps children move forward in over-coming their struggles –  even as we, ourselves,  grow and learn in an understanding  of our own parenting struggles.

Nobody said it would be easy, right?  But definitely worth every struggle!

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a smooth ride

From my home desk windows, I get to look out at my world these days – my neighborhood.

Across the street from where I sit is construction taking place on a new house to be built.

In the process this summer, the part of the street immediately in front of our house, about a 30 by 20 foot patch was dug up to lay pipes extending to the new house.  And what was left was  sand and stones and bumps.

But last week, more trucks, machines, and workmen arrived to repair this dusty patch we’d grown used to.

And so now – there lies a beautiful  patch of smooth black asphalt, resting in between the older bumpier roads on either side.

I was not the only one to notice and appreciate this however.  By dinner time, the patch was dry and looking out my window, I saw the 8-year-old neighbor boy on his bike – gliding around and around this small but beautiful smooth patch of road – appreciating the even ride it provided.

Next he exchanged his bike for his scooter, again making the rounds, treating both to this enjoyable experience.  I could see the contented expression on his face.  This was his space right now at this time – and it was definitely a great ride.

And isn’t that what we are all trying to find- to anticipate – in our homes, our work places, with our families and friends, personally – in this challenging time?

We’re all looking for and appreciating the smooth parts of life – no matter how small – that bring us contentment, security and joy even as we meet the bumpy ones on either side.

Here’s to kids on bikes who know where the smooth ride lies.

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a bright light

Over the years I’ve been at The Parenting Place as a Parent Educator, my greatest joys are the connections I’ve made with families.

I surprise myself sometimes  when out of the blue, a family from years ago pops into my head, and I remember something about them that was special, that was meaningful, that was funny, that was endearing.

I guess that’s what it means to hold those memories, those families, those children in your heart – for that’s where they remain.

Ben was the youngest of two brothers who came to Play Shoppe 24 years ago.  In and out, over the years, both these boys and their families have been in my heart.  And today my heart is heavy from the loss of this bright, sensitive young man in the prime of his life.

And my vision that I hold is a young toddler lovingly cuddling on his mama’s lap – a preschooler atop his father’s strong shoulders – and the stories in between then and now that have been shared.

A few nights ago, after dark, I was out in the backyard with Tootsie and saw a magnificent scene.  There were more fireflies than I can remember ever seeing  at one time – each one’s light flickering its own luminous response.

I was really moved by that experience.  It seemed so momentous – so celestial.

Hearing about this special young man’s death today, I can’t help but think of Ben and his brother, his mom, and his dad and know for sure that Ben’s special bright light will never dim in their memory.

Hug your children, laugh with them, and be kind to one another.


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Would you rather?

I started thinking recently about children and how they begin to share their unique opinions about things – about likes and dislikes, about rather this or that.

I remember doing this – kind of like a game – with children – and I was always surprised by the power of it.

It would be simple questions.

Would you rather eat a piece of cake or a cupcake”  Would you rather go to a movie or stay home and read a book? Would you rather give a speech or write a paper?  Would you rather play hop scotch or kickball? Would you rather take a shower or a bath?  Would you rather go on a bike ride or take a hike?

The power comes from being asked – and then being listened to.  In my memory, I recall some children changing their answer after hearing a friend choose another.

Over time though – they learned that different answers are personal, and they don’t have to be the same as your best friends.

Yet you can still be best friends.

It’s a good start – a positive fun way to empower a child’s choices to be his/hers and to recognize that we can have different opinions, likes and dislikes, yet still value each other as friends.

Never too early to learn that!

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