Daddy’s way

I love the way young children often interpret what we say to them.   Literal thinkers that they are, their sometimes Amelia Bedelia-ish response can be both genuinely funny and sensible.

Theo  often gets to be hands on in the kitchen and help when conditions are safe.  However, he was also reminded to stay out of Daddy’s way when Daddy was using sharp knives or handling very hot cooking pots.

“Stay out of Daddy’s way” was what this toddler was told in these circumstances.

One day when his mom was looking for something she couldn’t find, this little guy, just like most observant toddlers, spied it right away.  “There it is”, he said, “in Daddy’s Way” which meant it was over on the counter in the area where Daddy worked in the kitchen – and for him (and probably now the whole family) is known as “Daddy’s Way”.

Then there was the little girl who disrobed in the middle of a party because her scratchy party dress was “hurting her feelings”.  Or the young child who was scolded for leaning over the grape bowl at a neighbors outdoor party and biting off the grapes with her mouth because her mom had told her not to touch the food with her dirty hands.

I remember a young boy who burst into tears while at a preschool circle because the teacher sang that he “wore a red shirt, red shirt” when he insisted he didn’t wear a red shirt, he wore an outfit because that’s what his mommy called it.

There are so many amusing and endearing responses that our children give to us as they interpret and maneuver their world.  So, take the time, to listen and to appreciate their cleverness.

They are precious gems in our everyday lives.

Enjoy them, share them, remember them.





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It’s a fact

As parents, who hasn’t fantasized about the day we will have some free time – adult time – alone time – without children involved?

And then – the day arrives.  There’s a chance for just that very opportunity – and so it happens – and what do we do?  We miss them  immediately – worry about them, wonder how they are doing, feel sad.

It’s a fact!

And that’s just another part of being someone’s parent.

But, fortunately these emotional moments of concern are short-lived as our little ones and us adjust to the new separation and begin to enjoy it. Until, of course, the next rite-of-passage arrives. This week brought many of these emotions to the fore with children going off to school for the first time, parents sending children off to Middle School, High School, even College!

Here’s hoping that you realize that that lump in your throat, those misty eyes, that sinking feeling as you walk away means job well done, and that this rite of passage is not only for our children but also for ourselves.

In each one we move on, allowing our children their chance to be who they are without our watchful eye, knowing that the loving bond between you runs freely and deep.


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oh yes

You know the feeling.  It’s been a long day – a fun day – a day of “oh no’s” and “oh yeses”- and then the children are asleep, and there’s this lovely sense of peace that prevails.

That’s exactly where I’m at after such a very successful Children’s Festival on Saturday.  In spite of some rain (oh, no!), I believe everyone there had a wonderful time. (Oh yes!)

And now all of us at The Parenting Place are letting out our collective sighs as we put the Children’s Festival to bed for another year – and that lovely sense of peace prevails.

This year at the Children’s Festival, among all the children’s activities, we had something new – just for the adults.  It was a cafe with delicious coffee being served by our very own Parenting Place barista.

But there was a catch – you enjoyed your coffee by first agreeing to talk to a stranger – sitting together in the cafe and sharing a moment, discussing the question found on your coffee coasters. (Participants’ children were entertained at their own “cafe” nearby, giving their parents a fun break.)

Those who participated found this experience of meeting a new friend and actually sharing some personal thoughts and insights with her/him very special and surprisingly meaningful.

They loved it!

For when we reach out and extend ourselves to someone we don’t already know, we are challenging ourselves in the very best personal way.

And that’s what we hope our programs at The Parenting Place provide – a place where new friends meet, inspire, and support one another in our universal parenting journeys.

Join us on Monday, September 5th for our 1st Day of School Get Together from 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM at The Parenting Place. The Children’s room will be open so bring your younger children to play while you enjoy treats, door prizes, conversation, coffee – of course – and hopefully even a new friend.

Oh yes!


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the boys of summer

Just when I start to believe that things like this don’t happen anymore, I am so pleasantly surprised.

On Friday evening’s local Channel 8’s newscast, there was a most charming story of a group of La Crosse boys (mostly 7th and 8th graders) that organized, on their own, a wiffle baseball league.

There were no adults to manage or mediate – just friends who figured out and implemented this fun summer activity – by and for themselves. I hear they even held a draft and one of the boys keeps track of all the stats.

Mind you – I have to repeat myself  – there were no adults to monitor, or enforce the rules – this was on their own – independently – just meeting at the playing field on every fair weather summer morning.

And oh, yes – a picture is worth a thousand words – and this picture was of a pile of bikes scattered on top of each other at the field – which makes me smile even more – as these boys got to the playing field on their own.

When asked why they were playing, it was an obvious answer – “it’s just fun“.

When  so many of our youth are glued to screens of one sort or another for their daily entertainment and contact, it is so heartening to hear these boys’ enthusiasm and connection with each other and with what they put together on their own.

And it is this industrious and independent spirit, this camaraderie and sharing with one another, this planning and sorting out their own problems, figuring out their own solutions, and having so much fun together while they’re at it, this is what learning is all about, what success is all about, what life is all about.

A home run in my book!


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“taller than himself”

Children love to pretend.  Do you remember?

Recently a mom told me the story of her almost 3-year-old little guy who woke up in a particularly cranky mood, determined to bake cookies for breakfast.  Well – that wasn’t going to happen (and never had). But before he could throw a huge fit (he did wake up cranky, remember), his mom made a good suggestion.

“You could make pretend cookies though.”


All was fine – better than fine as he ran to get the “Joy of Cooking” cookbook, pretended to find his “go-to” recipe, put his regular finger- food- breakfast (cheese, nuts, fruit, veggies} by measuring spoons into a muffin tin, “baked” it in a cold oven for two minutes, and then remembered to remove it using a hot pad for sure.

Even his mom agreed it was so much fun.

Of course, we can’t avoid every meltdown by “pretending”, but keeping in mind and appreciating the value of pretend play can make long days with young children more positive – for everyone.

There’s a quote by famous psychologist Vygotsky that says “In play a child stands taller than himself.”

I love that image – and have seen it happen. For hands-on, self-directed play offers children a sense of freedom, of assimilation of what they’ve observed in their everyday life, of connection, satisfaction, and accomplishment.

That’s why I love The Parenting Place’s Children’s Festival so much, where open-ended materials are offered at every turn for a child to create his/her play – to “stand taller than himself”.

The Parenting Place Children’s Festival – where play happens – Saturday, August 26th, 9-12 PM at Myrick Park  (9:00 AM Dumping of the Dirt).  Buttons are for sale at The Parenting Place and Peoples’ Food Coop.  $4 a button; 3 for $10; $5 a button the day of the festival. Scholarship buttons are available by giving us a call at 784-8125.

Wear play clothes – for sure!

Hope to see you there!



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a roundabout

Who hasn’t experienced La Crosse’s new roundabout on Cass Street yet?   Everyone I’ve spoken to who has is totally loving it – including me. It flows so well and keeps things moving.

It’s kind of fun.

But when the idea came up, when we had to wind our way around detours while it was being constructed, most people thought – “Why?  Everything was fine the way it was!”

It seems that’s often the way it is with change – whether it’s personal, family, work or municipal matters.  Continuing to do what we’re used to, what we’re comfortable with, or even doing what we’re frustrated with, sometimes seems the way to go.

It certainly can be that way in parenting.  As parents, we often accept and live with behaviors that frustrate and annoy, (both our children’s and our own) because that’s just the way it is – or they”ll never listen – or I don’t have the time or energy.

But when we decide – okay I’m ready to take the steps I need to take, change my way of thinking/doing/ responding – explore what might be a different way, a simpler way – a smoother way – we’re ready for a roundabout.

Anyone who has that something going on in their parenting life and would like some simple “construction work” to smooth things out, don’t hesitate for even one more minute.

Just call and let me know.

We’ll work on your own personal “parenting roundabout” with not too much disruption.


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a new friend

It’s always noticed by someone – little things people do for each other that make life feel warmer, more friendly.

And there’s no more important time for this kindness to happen than when someone is new in a group, in a neighborhood, in a town, in a country.

People often wonder what they can do.  It doesn’t take much – a smile, a hi, a friendly comment, an offer to assist in some way, an invitation to sit next to you or in your circle of friends, an openness in sharing local information.

In addition to offering this kindness to new people, we gain ourselves – perhaps a new friend, definitely a model for our children who observe us maybe more than we realize.

I’ve never actually been able to ascertain whether this custom in China is true or not but I like what it would mean if it was.  I’m referring to the jackets that young Chinese children supposedly wore that buttoned up the back.  The reason for this, simply being, children would learn early to work together, offer assistance, support each other by buttoning each other’s jacket.

At last Friday’s Play Shoppe I saw this happen – a regularly-attending participant purposely reaching out to a new person, a quiet person, a person learning a new language.  They set up a play date – a huge overture of friendship and support that will mean so much to this new mom and her child.

Thank you to this supportive mom who so kindly reached out and “buttoned up the jacket” of a new friend.

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