Miss Nancy

Tuesday mornings at The Parenting Place is always a busy one.

Moms and dads, arriving for Parent Connection with their young children in tow – hang up their jackets and hats and enter the playroom, always heartily welcomed by Miss Nancy.

It’s been many years now that Miss Nancy has been with the children in the playroom on Tuesday mornings.  There have been too many children to count whose gentle separation from mom or dad has happened under Miss Nancy’s help and encouragement.

Doing childcare during Parent Connection, however, was not Nancy’s main job at The Parenting Place –  but it might have been her favorite.  Her real job was to instruct and support other childcare workers in La Crosse and surrounding counties to learn, understand, and value the significant work they do with children.

But … Tuesday mornings were hers – to get a fresh dose of young children’s energy, wit and spirit.

And Miss Nancy loved every minute!

Miss Nancy is retiring at the end of May and she will be dearly missed by everyone at The Parenting Place for her long-time commitment to The Parenting Place, her caring and appreciation of young children,  and her support and knowledge shared with caregivers over the years.

Miss Nancy – my long-time friend and co-worker –  Thank you!

You will be missed.

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Celebrate

Mothers’ Day –  it’s always a bit nostalgic for me.

I think about my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandma, all passed away now; my sisters and my friends who mothered with me when we had young children; all the moms I know and have worked with in my role as a Parent Educator; and now, my own special daughter-in-law, loving mom to a two- and- a- half- year- old and ready to give birth to their second child.

We can acknowledge how mothering has definitely changed over the years in so many many ways – but what always remains so powerful, I believe, is an intrinsic bond that weaves among moms of all generations.

For it is mothers who share such a special experience and understanding of  the joys and the pain, the demands and the gentle love, the fatigue and the exhilaration that each of us have known.

And so, I warmly remember and celebrate the mothers in my life- and encourage you to celebrate yourself!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

.

 

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NOooo

A dad was telling me a humorous story about his two-and-a-half-year-old son.  When this little guy’s mom picked him up and told him “it’s time to use the potty”, he spoke firmly into his mom’s ear “no potty” and then turned her head and repeated his declaration “no potty” in her other ear – just in case he hadn’t made himself perfectly clear.

The strong universal “NO’ that a toddler can project can reverberate throughout a room..  This dad recognized and appreciated what he knew to be his son exercising his developing ” assertiveness muscles”.

And just as we are thrilled with our children’s first smiles, first steps, and first words, these shows of independent thought, determination, and ownership are also to be understood and celebrated.

We can choose to react with a matching response which often intensifies the exchange between us – or we can just hear our child, acknowledge we hear him, but …we need to carry on anyway.

Except when we don’t.

And that’s the time when it works – the times when we are able to offer our yeses – when we can offer the space for independence and growth to take place. Yes to help with the dishes – yes to baking, yes to dressing, yes to putting away the groceries, or washing the car – whatever it is that these focused little spirits want and need to do and we can say yes to – in their continuing exploration of the world around them –  as they find their own place in it.

As parents, we can understand their striving,  provide for it whenever possible, and love them for it.

Enjoy the ride!

 

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did I just say that?

Has it happened to you?  As soon as the words come out of your mouth, you gasp a bit – and think – “oh my goodness  – I sound just like my mother, or my grandmother  or my dad!”

Sometimes it’s something we vowed we wouldn’t ever say to our child – that we would choose our own parenting words in our own new parenting style.  Yet in that moment our mother’s  words came out.

I think sometimes it takes becoming a parent to understand our own parents. We may have developed new ways of responding to our children different than our parents did with us. However, when that occasional phrase is spoken- or disciplinary action takes place – just think, this is a reminder of how my own parent felt with me.

Parenting is universal and the joys, celebrations, trials and tribulations are collective common experiences among us all.

It’s kind of a humbling revelation I think – one that brings us more understanding of our shared parenting experiences – and maybe even a little forgiveness.

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hearth and home

I’ve been thinking a lot about Earth Day coming up.  How can one not be tuned in to celebrating the beauty of the earth these days, as right before our eyes the splendor of Springtime unfolds?

I’m reminded that it was a Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, who was responsible for the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.  So – really – here in Wisconsin, Earth Day is definitely ours to proudly remember, ours to honor, ours to celebrate!

The thing about honoring Earth Day, however, especially with young children, is that it definitely begins at home.  Add an H to earth and you have Hearth – and so it is in our hearth and home and our yard and our neighborhood that we can all make a difference.

This year Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22nd. There will be community planned celebrations, runs, and events to attend and join.  However, whenever we take to our yards with rakes and hoes and gloves to pick up litter, rake up the old leaves and clutter, prepare the soil for flowers, plants or vegetables, we are celebrating Earth Day.

And whenever we stop and notice and observe with our children the wind, the birds, the bees and the butterflies, the frogs and the chipmunks, the worms and the puddles, the blossoms and the weeds, we are celebrating Earth Day.

And whenever  we have a picnic lunch and make sure all of our waste gets picked up and thrown properly away, we are celebrating Earth Day.

And when our toddler takes the empty egg container and independently knows that it goes into the recycle bin, we are definitely “high fiving” Earth Day.

For simply speaking, Earth Day begins and is beautifully remembered, celebrated and repeated right in the midst of our very own busy hearths and homes and family.

 

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Balance

Saturday morning I happened to glance out my front windows, then stopped what I was doing to stand and watch what was to me a simple but most charming moment.

A young boy about five years old was walking along on the curb, arms outstretched and wavering, carefully balancing himself, as his mom walked along nearby in the street.

When they reached the corner, he hopped off the curb, playfully catching up with his mom, taking her hand, and swinging their arms, they crossed the street together.  Then once again, he let her hand go and returned to his task at hand – perfecting his balance.

This was a moment that I could sense, and I bet this mom and her little boy felt too, that all seemed right in their world.

For that’s what balance is all about.  And all through our lives, we try to find the right balance for ourselves, our children, our families.  It takes practice – a few slips here and there  – before we start to trust our judgements, our choices for the way our families live, work, and play together.

This young boy, seeking his own personal balance and connection, had found it for sure that morning as he proudly walked the curb on his own, and then again, as he trustingly reached out to his mom’s ready hand.

A perfect balance of exploration and security  for a young boy on a sunny Saturday morning.

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Let the sunshine in

I have a hand-out –  a coloring sheet, actually-  displaying multiple rays extending from a round sun – and above the sun,  block letters that read “Let the sunshine in”.

I’ve offered this occasionally to parents as a simple exercise in changing their focus.  I ask them to write their child’s name in the sun, and in the nine rays, think of all the special, lovely things about their child – funny, kind, loving, creative, sensitive, smart.

One time, meeting with a mom and dad who I already knew were feeling somewhat defeated with their 6-year-old’s behavior, I offered this sheet to them to complete before we began talking about their concerns.

By the time they finished completing their exercise, there were tears in their eyes.  They realized how much they had missed these past weeks – focusing solely on what was wrong rather than the strengths that were so readily part of their son.

And so that turned out to be the perfect place to begin our conversation – to understand what might be happening with their son to cause the behaviors they were noticing.

I love that exercise. It’s such an eye-opener for whomever we are in a relationship with – or just our lives in general. What are the strengths we see and know are there?

A good way to let the sun shine in.

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