a riddle

“What did the ocean say to the storm?”

“Nothing … just waved.”

Someone shared this riddle at my exercise class last week and, besides a chuckle, it has continued to resonate with me.

I think of our day-to-day parenting lives, to the dramas that often set in when our responses are tested – most especially when our children easily provoke a storm.

I’m thinking toddler/preschool temper tantrums, school-aged meltdowns, teenage emotions and mood swings.

I’m thinking parental white caps, flooding, tsunamis.

But just as the ocean remains vast and powerful, deep and strong, able to accept the fury of the storm – certain in its depth and quiet response – so can we try to be the same.

When our children lose control, display their fury, their emotional outburst, their personal storms, they look to us to find our strength, our love, our calm, our trust, and our consistency –  measured and caring.

They look for a wave.

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percolating …

A daydeamy day – is it just me – or do others find themselves occasionally lost in thought?

Ironically, I think it sometimes happens for me when I have the most to do – especially the most planning to do.

Then my mind wanders to “maybe I should do” … or “oh, that’s a great idea” – or” I could do that too” or “oh, I love that”.

I guess it’s actually more percolating – bubbling and boiling with ideas and options before sorting out what is realistic, what works best.

It’s probably one of my favorite stages of any project or planning or decision making that I do.  One idea leads to another until a clear vision appears.

As parents, we could try this for our families, especially around the holidays.  There’s always so many invitations, activities, obligations to choose from .  And then we hear about another parent’s family tradition and wonder –“oh, should we do that too?”.

And heaven forbid – we go on Pinterest!

I like to think of this planning time as personal time, acknowledging what feels right to me – what feels like “enough”.

And when I finally reach that “enough” feeling, I know I’m satisfied.  I know it’s right.

Of course, everyone’s feeling of “what is enough” is very individual.  However, I know many parents I talk with feel overwhelmed with their choices and demands that today’s culture provides – and often insinuates are necessary.

This sorting out can be difficult and is different for everyone – but saying “no thanks”, crossing things off of your list, adding what you’d like, “feeling just right” about what’s left, “what’s enough”  is your personal privilege and pleasure to do – for real.

Enjoy.

 

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better than this

My heart is heavy for the families and children in the little town in Texas that experienced such violence and heartbreak on Sunday.  It is an indescribable loss of innocence that unfortunately is happening far too often in today’s world.

Before hearing any of this devastating news, I had been leafing through a toy catalogue that had arrived in the mail.

Center fold of the catalogue was a display of toy assault weapons – more than ten versions we could purchase for our children to play with – to pretend with.

To pretend?

Pretend what?

With names like Rival Nemesis (fully motorized – 100 rounds), Big Shock Blaster, Doomlands Persuader, Elite Hyperfire, Elite Retaliator Blaster –  it leaves little to one’s imagination.

I know we can choose better than this for our children, for our families, for our communities, for our future.

We can choose to spend time in the out-of-doors – hiking and appreciating the natural world.  We can play together, eat together, read together, talk together, sing together, laugh together, BE together.

As parents, we can share with our children, not the strength and power of a big shock blaster, but the strength and power and wonder of life.

Heartfelt condolences to the entire community of Sutherland Springs

 

 

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Tell me about…

I was chatting with a mom recently about children and things they like to hear about. And she shared that her three and a half-year-old was very interested in things that went wrong.

For instance – she would say to her mom – “tell me the story of what happened when the furnace broke down and we didn’t have any heat.”

And so her mom would repeat their “survival” story and how it was very cold, and so they put on extra sweaters and baked something yummy in the oven to help warm them, and waited for the repair man who finally arrived and fixed it.

I think of our young grandson listening carefully to  adult conversation at the dinner table –  then saying, “tell me that story again” especially if something unusual took place in it.

I like to tell the story of my own mother putting her homemade cake that she had baked to bring to a family gathering, on the roof of the car while  she packed other things in the trunk. But then, closing up the trunk, she jumped in the car, and drove off, completely forgetting that the cake was still on top of the car.

Of course, when she arrived at the gathering, she realized what she had done.  The cake was nowhere to be seen.  It had fallen off the roof as she drove.

Was she sad?  Oh, of course – but only for a moment.  It was far too funny to be sad for long – and so everyone laughed and laughed.  And perhaps, some lucky birds got to eat the smashed cake.

These types of shared stories instill a sense of resourcefulness, resilience, trust and humor in our children and our family.  It’s about the fabric of our daily lives.

So think about it.

As parents, very often we are the “teachable moment”, the “memorable moment”  waiting to happen for our children.  When we share our own brand of personal stories with them – comical , adventurous, even preposterous – our children will be all ears.

Won’t that be fun?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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-ISH

When you start doubting your abilities to accomplish something to perfection and so stop doing it, it’s time for you to take another look.

A children’s book called “ISH” by Peter H. Reynolds will put a healthy new slant on showing you how.

In this charming story, a young boy loves to draw.  He draws everything he sees and feels.  But his big brother laughs at his drawings – and his joy in creating is dissolved.

Every picture he makes becomes a crumpled-up ball.

Except – his younger sister, unbeknownst to her brother, retrieves each picture, smooths it out, and hangs it on her bedroom wall – a gallery of her brother’s art.

When her brother discovers this, he immediately goes negative and says they don’t look perfect.  “That doesn’t look like a vase!”

His sister said, “But it does look vase-ISH!”  And it did – not a perfect vase, but definitely vase-ISH!

And as her brother looked at the pictures hanging on his sister’s wall, he had to agree.  The flowers were flower-ISH; the trees were tree-ISH.

Thinking ‘”ishly” allowed his creativity to flow

Don’t many of us spend too much time regretting that something we make, do, create – even love – isn’t perfect?

I love this idea of “ISH”.  What a wonderful sense of freedom it provides.  We can get out from under the yoke of always trying to be perfect.  We can try things.  We can become “perfect-ISH”.

Why not?

As parents, we are always trying to be perfect and are often despairing that we might just not make the mark.  I’d say, why not enjoy just parenting more – enjoy parenting – ISH – and begin to love every minute

Have fun – ISH!

 

 

 

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Landing just right

Oh, it’s hard when one child seems to be the instigator in teasing and bickering with his/her siblings.

Recently it seems I’ve had several parents comment to me about this.

I like to suggest changing the frame.

Instead of noticing and remarking “how troublesome” this one child is all the time, marvel at when he is helpful or thoughtful; rather than how many things this child does wrong, think how many things she does right.

This different focus and delivery often lends itself to more positive and affirming results for this one child and all family members.

For sibling snickering and bickering is really only one side of the sibling coin. The other side is caring and genuine attachment.  By noticing the positives, we hope to flip this coin and “land just right”.

I was the youngest child of six siblings.  I’ve just spent the past four days with my oldest sibling – my brother visiting me from New York City – still checking up on his little sister after all these years.

Does he still tease me – annoy me – enjoy joking about me – make me laugh?

Actually he does.

But I’m very grateful that he’s still being there for me  – for caring  – even for teasing – and for flipping the sibling coin – and always “landing just right”.

If you are experiencing some snickering and bickering in your family, join us at The Parenting Place workshop on Monday, November 6th, from 6-8 PM for Stop the Snicker and the Bicker, Managing Fighting and Aggression.  Registration required.  Limited childcare available. Call  The Parenting Place – 784-8125.

 

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Sweet Dreams

What happens before going to bed counts.

Preparing our mind and body  -to relax, to yield, to rest – is significant.

One lucky three-year-old’s Daddy lifts him up onto his shoulders, and together, they step outside to view the night sky – to look for his “meteor”,  to see the moon in its variable stages, to watch the stars twinkle, and maybe, one lucky evening, see a “shooting star”.

It’s only for a few minutes each night, but what a special recognition of the end of the day – and the beauty of the night for this Dad and his son.

I know a mom who put her three young daughters all in the bathtub together.  They splashed and laughed, scrubbed and played, got wrapped in warm towels, and opened the bathroom door to find the lights in their home were dimmed, the rooms quiet, and a few candles burned brightly as they walked to their bedroom.

In spite of these lovely images, however, and other cozy ways you may have to help prepare your children for a night’s rest, children often still call out for one more hug, a glass of water, another song, or “I have something very important to tell you“.

But I feel sure the shared bedtime routines you do with your child are never in vain.  They build trust, comfort, security and connections that aren’t just for this one night, or this one month, or this one stage – but for life.

It’s true.

Sweet Dreams!

If you are struggling with your child’s nightly routine and would like some ideas to smooth the way, give me a call at The Parenting Place – 784-8125 – to make a time to talk.

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