Halfway up the stairs

A.A. Milne says it perfectly in his poem Halfway  Down.

“Halfway up the stairs isn’t up – and it isn’t down.

It isn’t in the nursery, it isn’t in town.

And all sorts of funny thoughts run around my head.

It isn’t really anywhere!

It’s somewhere else instead!”

I have loved this poem since I was little – probably because I just might do some of my best thinking “halfway up the stairs“.

I like to think of it as moseying.  You know – wandering, thinking things through, discovering that this goes with that, discarding, dreaming, imagining, believing.

I think our children do this often also.  Ever catch them with a far-away look in their eye? Ever wonder why they seem not to be paying any attention?

For they have lots of things to put together – sometimes too much.  And sitting “halfway up the stairs” is a cozy place to be.

Of course we want and need our children to listen – to be responsible, to come when called, to be present – but sometimes – let’s make sure – we leave enough time for them to be“halfway up the stairs – it isn’t up – it isn’t down” but it feels just right.

Share the whole poem of A.A. Milne’s Half-Way Down with your children.  I bet they’ll understand.

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don’t you think?

Who thinks about it?  We shop, we eat out, we play and visit with our children in tow …and we are often unaware what our children are really noticing all around them.

There’s a heart-warming story on the news recently –  about a young toddler, not two years old yet, who is in a wheelchair.

Shopping at Target with his mom one day, he looked up and saw a large poster hanging – and on that poster was another young boy in a wheel chair too – just like him.

The recognition and joy that this little guy experienced was obvious by his joyful response.  For him to see someone  – like himself  – out and about while shopping – was so rare, so unexpected and so very precious.

His mom’s eyes were filled with tears and her heart so very grateful to observe her young son’s delight.

I have talked with several moms whose children have disabilities – and how lonely they often feel, how challenging to try and fit in to a “parent group”.  Inclusive environments benefit both children with and without disabilities as well as their parents.

The more opportunities that exist for all of us, the more we celebrate not only our differences – but also our similarities – and our connections.

And so it’s a good reminder, isn’t it,  to be more intentional in our planning, more inclusive in our invitations, in our sharing and in our recognition that if one photo poster can delight and empower one small toddler boy – just imagine the power that inclusivity can offer to all of us.

Don’t you think?

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smoothing the way

On the phone recently, I overheard our 5-year-old grandson asking his dad if he could do something – for which his dad said “no, sorry – it’s 7:30 already and almost bedtime.”

“But Dad” I heard, but his dad stayed strong, repeating, I’m sorry, but it’s after 7:30 and it’s almost bedtime.

Theo escalated and showed his disappointment to no avail.  His dad remained unruffled –  kind, but consistent.  And Theo, recognizing the finality, went off to find another way to use his time before bedtime.

From the ears of this mother and Parent Educator, all I could think was “well done!”  – but from the ears of a grandma, all I could think was “really? oh, come on – the poor boy!”

However, I know – children really do need us as parents to stick to the bottom line – to stick to what they’ve been told – to feel the strength and the love that comes from a parent when they are consistent.

For it is consistency that provides this sense of security to a child – even if their requests may be denied – even if a child reacts in anger.

I’ve heard from parents who find it really difficult not to give in repeatedly – and then have shared – it’s never enough.  Their child wants more, continues to never take no for an answer,  to up the ante – and the parent is left frustrated, exhausted and confused.

When we find our child is defiant  of almost everything, it could be that he/she is in need of leadership from his/her parents –  perhaps a child who needs to trust in a routine, a child looking for this sense of security.

But aren’t there times when routines can be changed, rules broken?  Of course!  Consistency does not mean rigidity.  Repeat – consistency does not mean rigidity!

Spontaneity is a beautiful  thing in our family lives.

But on a day to day basis – consistency will smooth the way.

Unless – perhaps – just maybe – a child asks his grandma!

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ain’t life grand

It’s not something anyone expects – a random act of kindness, that is – just when, perhaps, a person needs it – or maybe a total surprise, enriching that person’s day and attitude.

Our daughter received one on Thanksgiving Day (pretty appropriate, I’d say) going through a drive-in for coffee and a breakfast sandwich as she traveled.

Of course it made her day!  She’s returned the favor – it’s kind of how it works,

As parents, it’s fun to let our children be a part of this kindness.  It can be handing down winter coats and boots too small for them now but perfect for the family down the street.

Or sharing a bounty from your vegetable garden on someone’s doorstep – or what one generous dad did leaving drinks and snacks for the busy delivery guys at Christmas who run and rush and have no time to stop for treats.

How sweet is that?

It’s fun for everyone – and a warm and fondly remembered gesture.

And that’s what happened to me on Friday morning, as I was finishing putting the playroom to rest – after a particularly busy and fun morning.  I was lost in thought vacuuming the last of the glitter (glitter, of course – it was Play Shoppe!)  when a co-worker came in and touched me on the shoulder to get my attention.

She handed me a wrapped sandwich and a bag of chips, from Jimmy John’s.

.A mom at Play Shoppe had heard me say I had forgotten my lunch – and she was on it – secretly, surprisingly – kindly.

She took the extra effort to create this random act of kindness – and it filled my heart (and my appetite – always hungry after Play Shoppe) with joy and warmth.

Ain’t life grand?

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Glee

Are the moods in your house these days a bit like the weather outside-  a bit gray, dull, and gloomy?

Well, here’s an easy, doable prescription to add some light – some glee to those moods.

                                                   (glee – great delight.)

Get down on the floor with your children – tumble – whoop – grab –  hold –  laugh –  toss them around -chase.

Why?

Because after all the years parents (dads especially) have been doing things like this, psychologists and child care experts now tell us – good for us, keep it going.

It seems rough-housing, chasing, catching, tumbling is all positive for our children’s brains and for their emotional stability – and  for the good endorphins released in all of us when playing in this way!

Think back to when you were a child.  Anyone remember being swung upside down, riding the “horsey”, or climbing on your parent who is pretending to be asleep on the floor – until – watch out – he isn’t!!

In our busy uncertain world, play like this helps to release the stress and anxiety of the day for each of us – and increases trust and connection with each other.  It also encourages self-control  and being fair and listening if someone says stop.

I’ve talked with parents over the years about their child’s behavior who have looked at me with surprise when I’ve asked them “How often do you wrestle on the floor with your child – or chase them and try to capture them- and in the meantime shriek and giggle and shout – exhaling built-up stress and worry – exhaling  anger and sadness and fears.”

This advice just seemed right at the time, seemed powerful  – and now we know that it is.

So if this type of play is missing these days in your family life, take note.

Go glee!

 

 

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more good days

“A good day” a parent of a two- and- a- half- year- old little girl told me “is when we have only two or three tantrums.  That’s a good day.”

This mom, like many parents of young children was stressed and concerned and frustrated and thinking something must be wrong with her child or with herself.

But what we don’t always recognize as parents is that building emotional control and maturity takes time – and just like any other developmental steps a young child takes as he grows, it doesn’t happen over night.

And if a young child is tired, hungry, frustrated, rushed, denied, inactive for too long – a temper tantrum could be brewing.

So yes, temper tantrums are a part of early childhood..  But there are ways to prevent them, to understand why they happen,  and to know what to do when they happen. This mom and her toddler are not unique.  It is all part of the developing child as he/she learns to cope.

So – want to know more?  Want to come up with solutions and leave with a personal plan to help prevent tantrums and manage them when they occur? 

This is what we’ll be doing at The Parenting Place on Wednesday, February 5th from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at our  Temper Tantrum discussion group.  Childcare is provided for independent walkers.  Younger children can remain in the room with parents.

Come find out you’re not alone.  Figure out what might be turning on tantrums in your child – and how to help avoid them –  while meeting both your child’s needs and your own.

Come find out how to have many more good days.

Registration is required  – but easy!  Call 608-784-8125 or email registration@theparentingplace.net .  Any questions, call PE Fran – 784-8125, EXT. 216.

 

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sometimes…

Sometimes you come across a person that likes to help – that can be counted on to get the job done – and done well.  Sometimes you come across a person that brightens everyone’s day with a cheerful vim and vigor that just makes you feel good.

At The Parenting Place we’ve been fortunate to have a person just like that – Barb Ryan who has worked at The Parenting Place as a Childcare Certification Assistant for seven and a half years.

Perhaps many of you won’t know Barb.  She never sought attention – yet was always busy in the background. But if you were fortunate enough to meet her on duty at the front desk – or passed her in the hall – you will remember her.

Barb met every participant who ever walked in our door with the same grace, bright humor, and hospitality she has shown to all of us.

But as Barb has told us, it’s time.  It’s time for her to retire, to take the time for herself (yes, Barb, yourself!) and enjoy family and friends.

And with her leaving, The Parenting Place will definitely miss Barb’s caring consideration and abundant energy, her bright and sassy personality, and the light she’s spread amongst us.

Thank you, Barb!

You will be missed.

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