Monthly Archives: June 2011

Very lucky

Of course I knew it could happen.  But we’d been  lucky so far – and what a good time these two dogs have together, running and wrestling and climbing on each other. Two true-blue canine friends.

So Friday night, we again relented and took the leash off our Tootsie so she could run and play in our unfenced yard with her good friend, Maggie the boxer.

And run they did – collapsing on the ground, side by side, tongues hanging.

But then the motorcycle sped by, and Tootsie took off after it.  Unfortunately, following closely behind the motorcycle was a pick-up truck –  both vehicles going fast.

Tootsie was right behind the motorcycle as the truck beared down on her.  Using her quick actions, we believe she turned on her side and went down as the pick- up truck went over her.  At that instant, I was sure it was the end for Tootsie, only to see this plucky dog come running full speed home.

Yes, she was a bit bloody from road burns and quite a bit traumatized.  But she was safe – and we are more than grateful and feel extremely fortunate that we will be given another chance to not take any chances.

As parents, however, how often do we take those chances – whether we’re in a hurry, a weak moment, an”oh, it will be fine” moment, an angry, impatient moment, a stressed moment, a forgetful moment.

Accidents do happen, and they happen so quickly, usually innocently yet always at a price.  Summer is a prime time for accidents to occur.  We are more active – biking, boating, swimming, camping, hiking, yard work – all absolutely wonderfully fun activities that just need extra- close monitoring.

However, try not to sweat the small stuff.  A few skinned knees, some bug bites, a tummy ache from too many campfire s’mores, all speak to being allowed to fully enjoy the experience.

  This week, Tuesday, June 21st, is the first day of summer.  May you all enjoy an amazing one – fun, healthy, and accident-free.


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Just the opposite

Last week I wrote about enjoying our empty moments.  This week it’s just the opposite.

Sometimes our to-do list seems exhausting even to look at.  Today is one of those days for me.

Just staring at the list makes it worse, of course.  Prioritizing helps – what absolutely needs to be done? Crossing off some things – not because they were accomplished but because, as good an idea as they seemed at the time, they are not essential.

Simplifying is a wonderful method.  How can I still do what’s on my list in a more manageable way? 

So that’s what I’m doing today.  I’m simplifying and then moving on to the next thing on my list.  And I encourage everyone of you out there if and whenever your list seems too much, to do the same.

Then breathe in through your nose deeply, hold a few seconds and exhale slowly and completely through your mouth.  Ah! feeling more peaceful already.

Now on to the next thing on my list.

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Empty Moments

Empty moments – for me they are priceless – when there’s nothing expected of me – when my thoughts are completely my own – when putzing around – creating – daydreaming – imagining – reflecting – is on my own terms and perhaps only matters to me. 

 They are restorative and energizing in a quiet yet powerful way.

Our children need these empty moments too.  They may at first complain there’s nothing to do and they’re bored and why can’t I watch a movie or play a video game.  But these distractions they ask for will fade when the emptiness is filled by their own initiative.

It might take some time to let them be and let them figure it out.  And I know how difficult that is for parents to sometimes trust the value this time offers to their children.

In an article I read a long time ago, the writer wisely encourages parents to promote this down time for their children when they are young, to preserve the time for them to fill in the spaces on their own accord, and yes, probably even to feel bored while waiting for the inspiration and motivation to come from within.

For it will.

The writer shares it’s far wiser and much more proactive to develop this capacity to handle spaces of time independently and creatively when young versus risking a bored teenager who has not had this practice and the gift of inventing, recognizing, developing and enjoying her own interests and independent thinking.

Children who have access to materials will find these spaces so much more natural to fill.  Paper, crayons, markers, tape, scissors, “discarded junk”, natural items collected from walks, books, blocks, dress-up items as well as the good old backyard – dirt, sticks, stones, and the “houses” to make among bushes.

I observed a little guy recently just lining up a few small cars on the back of a couch.  He would move them along the length of the couch, carefully, and then reverse their position to go back the other way.  This was all done independently.  He had no idea I was watching him.  The look on his face was intent and purposeful.  He didn’t need anyone to comment or interrupt.  It would have wrecked his satisfaction of the moment if I had.

This is the way it begins. Simply.

  And more moments on top of other moments like this will result in a young person who is resourceful and confident in identifying and defining what it is that he/she wants to do.

I’ve known a young woman graduating from high school this year since kindergarten.  She was always an ultimate pretender and well- practiced in the art of pure play.  As a child, she filled her empty moments, whether alone or with a best friend, with rich and creative self-directed play.  As she matured, I believe this talent has given her the ability to define her interests, make her own decisions and respond to new situations with the strength and personal knowledge of who she is.

Her mom shared an endearing story with me just the other day.  Her daughter and a few of her close friends, all graduating seniors, were gathered at their house and playing a game.  The sophistication of these 17 and 18-year-old young women referred to this game as “improvisation” but to these two parents, who have cherished their daughter’s dramatic play since toddlerhood – it was but a more mature version of what had begun, years ago, in their daughter’s empty moments.

For it is these reserves that have built up over the years that nourish us. 

 In our busy, high-tech world of today, we risk losing this.

  In the constant push and demand and desire to make sure our children are being offered every possible learning opportunity out there, let’s remember one of the most significant and basic ones – empty moments.

If you struggle with your children responding to using time on their own, give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125.  Perhaps together we can find some ways to get everyone started.

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