a gift

During years of apartment living, I would pack up every item that needed washing and head off for my weekly trip to the laundromat.

“You have to go to the laundromat?” , friends would ask?  But I never really minded it (once I got there).  Sit and wait, read, munch, daydream – while every item that needed washing was getting washed.

And that very fact – that every item that needed washing was washed – and now clean – and ready to go – satisfied me and made it all worthwhile.

For years now I’ve had my own laundry room, right off the kitchen – accessible, easy – for which I remain forever appreciative and grateful.

That’s why I was so moved by a story on the national news a few days ago about a junior high school in St. Louis.  The principal was struggling with very low attendance with so many children just not showing up.

She made it her goal to find out why.

She personally went in to the neighborhoods to ask these children the reasons why they were not coming to school.  The one reason that came up repeatedly from the children was “I have nothing clean to wear to school”

They had no washing machines in their homes, laundromats are pricey, clothes were limited, and money was very scarce – often used to provide food for the family.

So this determined principal went to work – right to the source – contacted Whirlpool who donated two large washing machines and dryers to the school.  Students who requested one were given a laundry bag to bring their items to be washed with them to school.  Volunteers and teachers washed them and returned them to the students.

There you go – clean clothes.

Besides feeling relieved and grateful for having clean clothes to wear, these children felt significant, embraced, included.

Attendance rose substantially as did the attention, participation, and response of these same formerly reticent, invisible children.

Wow!

Have to remember – never forget –

Doing laundry – having clean clothes – a special gift.

 

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Bye Bye

In last week’s Parent Pulse, I reflected on the over-use of today’s technology in the presence of family time – when our children need us to be more present with them.

In my young parenting days, however, it was the telephone that was the culprit – and the bait.

When a parent was on the telephone, ( at that time usually hooked to one’s kitchen wall), that’s when you could almost always count on a child acting out, needing attention, wanting to be noticed.

Today I was talking on the phone with our son.

His toddler son, Theo, was in the room playing and talking happily by himself.  He had come to the phone and said, “Hi Yia Yia, (his name for me) and then ran off.  I was impressed by his patience, his nonchalant attitude about his daddy being so preoccupied on the phone.

But then I heard him in the background repeatedly saying “Bye Bye”,”Bye Bye” in a very melodic tone.

When his daddy asked him “Who’s going bye, bye?”, Theo readily said “Yia Yia!”

Okay, hint, hint – pretty subtle but I got it.

I knew it was time for me to move along, and time for Theo to know his dad was once again present.

Bye Bye!

 

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perfect reception

In today’s busy world, a cell phone plays a most significant role.  It allows us to be in touch with and about those we care for, to be responsive in times of need, to bring to each other a sense of connection.

Except when it doesn’t.

Sitting in a restaurant on Sunday morning, I noticed a family with two young girls sitting nearby.  Both parents were involved and connected with their cell phones – their fingers flicking, their eyes on the screen.

The two young girls sat there – until one began kicking the chair of the other – and the other retaliated by pinching her sister’s fingers.

They too were looking for connection – to be noticed – and it came, unfortunately, in the form of a negative response from their parents.

What made me feel so sad on observing this Sunday morning family was that this was the most perfect time for them to talk to each other, to laugh together, to connect with each other in that intimate familiar way that only happens when there are no other distractions.

But we’ve all witnessed so many similar circumstances, participated perhaps in like situations ourselves – when the urge to check and recheck our cell phones takes us away from those genuinely real moments of connection.

So perhaps when we’re with the people we love, respect, care about, work with, play with, eat with, we recognize and seize this opportunity to “be” with them, to be “in touch” with them – for real.

I think we’ll all notice our reception is perfect.

 

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new beginnings

I remember going to Kindergarten on my very first day.  My two older sisters walked me to school and dropped me off at the Kindergarten room.  They found a seat for me at a table next to another little girl named Claudia (who actually became my closest childhood friend).

And that was that.

As the youngest of six children, I don’t know if my mom felt pure relief to send her last child off to school, or a bit melancholy at the thought. But sharing with many parents this past few weeks, I doubt many moms and dads are free from at least some tug at their heartstrings as their children begin this next chapter of their life.

School always brings changes to routines that need to be worked out.  Summer seems endless – until all of a sudden it’s not.  And often too abruptly, bedtimes need to be adjusted, schedules re-evaluated, and often strong emotions tended to.

Parents are often frustrated that their children don’t respond to their questions about school.  “What did you do today?”  “Who did you sit with at lunch?” “What did you play at recess?”  “What was your favorite thing to do?” 

We’re dying to know, aren’t we?  But your child, instead, mumbles “nothing” or “I don’t know”.

Best to hold off on the 20-question game and instead- assume all is good, welcome them home warmly, be genuinely happy to see them, smile – all without interrogation.

When your child has switched gears and made sufficient re-entry into family life, when they’re soaking in the tub, having quiet time at night, then …listen.

Then …they may be ready to share.

On Tuesday, September 20th from 6-7:30 PM, The Parenting Place is holding a Parents’ Circle – and we’ll be ready to share! 

“What school again? Do I have to?” If school has begun to already lose its first- day appeal, or you’re dealing with other issues like dawdling, separation, homework, bedtimes,friendships, come join our discussion. 

Registration required. Limited childcare available.  Call Fran at The Parenting Place for more information – 784-8125.

 

 

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where play happens

Where play happens … that’s our by-line for The Parenting Place’s annual Children’s Festival.

And we’re sticking with it.

For every year at the Festival, we marvel at the beauty and engagement of children immersed in simple, hands-on play.

In this digitized generation that is now – with toy smart phones, computer games, technological toys that talk and sing and direct – the significance of hands-on play is often overlooked. Yet scientific research continues to show us that it is simple, basic play that makes children smarter and more creative.

Yes!

And the reassuring part for me is that the children always respond.  Play is absolutely alive and well – when children are presented with the raw materials and the freedom to imagine and indulge.

From dirt, sand, water, paint, “junk materials”, pretend worlds, the children play.

And The Parenting Place Children’s Festival by-line, where play happens – rings true.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at this year’s Festival.

Keep on playing.

 

 

 

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Clouds

This is the time of year for clouds.

I’m not referring to dark and stormy ones, although there can always be some of those.  The ones I’m talking about are the white fluffy, puffy clouds that float around against the deep blue sky.

I bet most of you have looked up at skies like this when you were a kid (I hope) or even as an adult – and chosen one of these clouds and imagined it to look like something – a floppy dog, a shimmering dinosaur with the sun shining through, a tricky monkey, or whatever your fancy conjured up.

It’s an age-old pastime – a fun activity -a chance to free our imagination, a pause in our mostly too busy days.

So I hope you don’t miss this chance with your children – to share the fun, the relaxed, lazy entertainment of looking at these fantastic cotton candy clouds and sharing what you see.

Your children will be enthralled – because when sharing our thoughts with each other, even our fanciful daydreams,  we share our hearts too.

And actually, one of the very best things about this activity is –  no one is ever wrong.  Because a puffy white cloud – on a late summer day – can be anything we want it to be.

 

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a ribbon

A ribbon – sometimes that’s all it takes to win a child’s attention.

That’s the way it was at Play Shoppe on Friday when a little girl arrived carrying a ribbon – about two feet long – a pretty, silky ribbon that sailed and fluttered behind her when she ran.  This ribbon was definitely coveted by others who hoped to have a chance to hold it in their hands.

I don’t question its attraction for one minute.  This ribbon, I believe, could be or do whatever this young girl imagined.

And actually it didn’t really even have to do anything at all, but just be hers – to hold, to touch, to be.

Oh simplicity – I love thee!

And nothing makes me happier to know that something as simple as a piece of silky ribbon can still be all a child needs –  to imagine, to dream, and to play.

Thanks, Zoey, for the lovely reminder.

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