getting rid of the wrinkles

Parenting often has more questions than answers – and at times we find ourselves struggling with our responses.

I think it’s that kind of time right now.

As parents we are faced with the uncertainty of just what the “new normal” means that Covid -19 created for our families, our schools, our work places, our lives in the months ahead.

And now this past week of critical unrest and national grief  leaves parents with an overwhelming barrage of unanswered questions as we search to find responses and meaning to what’s going on around us.

And what I offer might certainly not be enough – but I suggest finding  in yourself that personal core of gentleness and of strength, of decency and goodness and let your child feel its presence by sharing eye contact when they are talking to you – by taking the time to respond – by gentle hugs,  and by sensing what it is your child needs or what his/her behavior is showing you.

I do some of my best thinking – my best confirming, resolving, and,  ironically,  my best sorting out when I am folding laundry – fresh and still warm from the dryer.  I love reaching in and pulling one item out, and the next and the next, giving each item my full attention  – folding, sorting and putting them all together – as my thoughts wander, expand and resolve.

And that’s what we do as parents, right?

When our children have questions for us, we open up, reach in, and try to find the best responses that matches what our child needs at the moment, fold it together with caring, gently trying to get rid of the wrinkles, knowing, just like folding laundry, there will be plenty more questions to come – if we’re open to them.

Take care.

 

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Play on

Have you noticed a Corona virus theme being reflected in your children’s play lately – asking you” how much is six feet?” as they “distance socialize” their stuffed animals or dinosaurs, tying masks on dolls, playing doctor and nursing their babies back to health – saying out loud “I hope she doesn’t die” and then pretty quickly “She’s better”.

I’ve heard from a few parents and read about others that their children are definitely into this type of play – and I’m not surprised. This is the perfect solution for children dealing with strong emotions and fears.

Because – a child’s play is magical and being sick one instance and better the next helps make us all feel hopeful and safe.

And that’s what this type of dramatic play does for children.  It helps them work out their fears and their stress in a child’s version of what’s going on – a scenario that makes them feel centered and in control.

It builds resilience.

Experts say it is definitely a common and positive way for children to work out the difficult feelings they are experiencing.

In older kids you might see games where if you get tagged, you have Corona virus and then – you’re it!  There is much screeching and chasing and laughing and it’s all in fun – and the energy and stress that is relieved in this type of game is powerful and helpful.

Parents might think this seems insensitive to those who have suffered and are sick.

But in the right place and the right time, this sort of social play is a coping skill that is healing and delivers a potent antidote to the anxiety lurking inside.

And I’d say we’re all in need of that!

Play on!

 

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That’s all it takes

This weekend I learned that the sand pile was actually the very first playground for children in the United States. It was in Boston in 1885, when a pile of sand was poured into a churchyard at the beginning of summer.

Within two years, there were ten additional sand gardens in Boston – becoming for the children the ultimate play experience.

And though times have changed since then – and shiny new playgrounds are numerous, the humble beginnings of the sand pile still ranks high.

And I’ve definitely witnessed that attraction recently with an unobstructed view of a new house construction taking place right across the street from us.

The basement was dug – and left behind were two gigantic 14 feet- high dirt piles.  The owner of the site would show up with what I believe were four of his young grandsons – ages perhaps four- nine-years-old – and say no more.

Those boys romped, climbed, dug, jumped and built for hours at a time – and I from my window view devoured every minute.

When the work for now was accomplished and the huge piles were finally distributed around the yard and much carted away, the “yard” was still sand and dirt.

And so every morning – another woman with two different little boys walks over and these boys – drawn like a magnet- explore, jump, pick up stones/sand, march, run, and sat down and dug – until they were told it was time to go – always a disappointment to the boys.

The amazing thing to me is none of these young children had as much as a shovel along with them.  It was just them, being one with the dirt/sand – lost in the enchantment of pure adventure.

(And no lie – as I write this right this very moment –   a mom with three children walked by. The children spied the pure temptation of the sand calling  to them – and were off – but sadly rounded up, somewhat unhappily, to continue on their way.)

What magic!  No wonder sand is included in the National Toy Hall of Fame!

Do you have a sand pile in your yard?

That’s all it takes!

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a gift

In the midst of Safer at Home – in the midst of one day seeming very much like the other – a marvelous discovery was made.

In a basket that hangs on the side of our house, immediately right outside our kitchen door –  a sparrow built her nest.  It is the most perfectly beautiful nest  – sitting cozily in this old basket that held a few of Tootsie’s tennis balls.

My husband noticed it first.  After admiring it for a few days, we waited to see what would happen. We waited …  and we waited … and we waited.

At last one day my husband came in and announced that there was an egg in the basket.  On day two, there was another egg – as well as on day three and day four.

I imagined that the mama bird would be sitting all day on her eggs – but that wasn’t the case.  We actually didn’t see much of the mama bird at all during this time.

In fact I began to think that someone was playing a joke on us.  Are these eggs for real?

And then it happened – the baby birds hatched.  And since then we have peeked in, noticed them huddled together as one soft pulsating feather bed.  Sometimes they are awake – their beaks open wide – in hungry anticipation.

And so – we have been gifted – in a worn-out old ordinary basket – hanging very near a  busy in- and – out back door.

And we are filled with gratitude that this mama bird trusted two very nosy residents and gifted us something to cheer for – to be awed by – to be charmed.

Even in the midst of a pandemic.

 

 

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pulling focus

Recently I heard the expression pulling focus. 

Apparently in cinematography, pulling focus is when the camera lens is slowly adjusted for the sharpest clarity of image.

The focus puller has one of the most significant jobs in filming a movie.

And, of course, it got me to thinking.  As parents, this is what we can do, isn’t it?

When we’re looking for reasons , interpretation, insight  – looking for meaning, connection, understanding that sometimes may seem hard to grasp – we can be like the cinematographer ourselves –  and practice this art – pulling focus on our child’s behavior.

Take a few minutes  throughout the day pulling focus on your child’s face – his expressions, his actions. It’s in this close-up – this transparency  that we may see and understand the real message, the clarity  behind the behavior that our child needs us to know.

So often we are reacting to the whole picture – but as in cinematography, that may be blurry – without first pulling focus to see things more clearly.

Pulling focus.

Ready, Set, Shoot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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an adventure

I could tell talking with five -and -a -half- year- old Theo  on Face Time recently that he needed something new – an adventure perhaps – and since I’m in Wisconsin and he’s in Massachusetts , and we’re both following Safer at Home – what else was there to do – but imagine one – together!

And so we did .  The set-up revolved around a large red Octopus kite that Theo and his brother had gotten for Easter.  It was very large, with big black eyes and very long tentacles hanging down.

When lifted easily into the air, it floated and dipped and entertained – but in this scenario, it appeared menacing and alive. And so we went from there.

The red thing spied hovering over yards in the neighborhood created fear and suspicion and help was needed. It ended up all of Theo’s Kindergarten class arrived, one by one and two by two  – the fastest runners out in front, the “brains” sharing the best way to cope with this hovering menace.

But the big red “monster” as it was now called, evaded their every attempt.  At last it was decided the Kindergarten teacher needed to be called.  She arrived on the scene in a hurry  – sized things up, joined in the planning on what to do and how to do it – to no avail.  It was starting to feel desperate when finally the teacher called out in her loudest teacher’s voice “Rest Time!” and to everyone’s surprise, this fierce red octopus with very long tentacles floated down to the ground.

This was only the first part of the series and we’ve had a second one since – calling on the Principal and yes, even the Governor to help.

At one point – in his excitement – Theo commented “I wish this was real“.

And sometimes – definitely in times like now – when adventures seem few and far between, it’s fun to imagine – the sillier, the more fantastical – the better.

Try it.  Your children will definitely help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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a poem in your pocket

There’s something about a poem – the simplicity, yet the complexity – that somehow just the right words, just the right pattern, just the right emotion – can convey so much.

When we begin a Parent Educator’s meeting at The Parenting Place, we always start with a poem.

As we all rush in to the meeting at noon, still “downing” lunch, our minds  full of the morning’s busyness, it is the poem shared aloud, three times – to hear it, to digest it, to respond if one wants – that prepares us ready to begin our meeting with a settled, refreshed, renewed mindset.

And so I introduce to you a poetic suggestion.

April is National Poetry Month – and April 30th is designated Poem in your Pocket Day. On this day, we can choose a favorite poem, write it down, carry it with us in our pocket, and share it with others.

What a perfect opportunity to introduce the charm and the gift of poetry to your children.  If you have no poetry books at home, there are poems galore on line for all ages – and  so many for children.  Check them out  – read some with your children – read them again.

That’s the beauty of poetry – the more familiar it becomes, the more it speaks to you.

When your children discover a favorite, put it “in their pocket” – and on April 30th, have them find a grandparent, teacher, friend, neighbor –  to  read it to –  six feet away in person,-or maybe even on line -a simply beautiful poetic gift.

A “poem in your pocket”.

I love it!

 

 

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