Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hats on

I watched a mom with two young children – an infant and a 3-year-old recently as she put their hats on before going out into the nippy fall day.  The older child’s hat was charmingly hand- knitted and the mom told me she had only recently finished it.  I mentioned I’d been thinking a lot about hats lately.

My sisters and I often reminisce about being young moms and our own mother always reminding us to put a hat on our babies and young children.  She couldn’t crochet fast enough to make sure all heads were covered.  Friends of ours with babies that our mom would get to meet would also soon have a hand-made grandma hat to wear.

To be honest, it was often frustrating and we sometimes felt, what is it with the hats? 

Well, I now have come full circle.  I’m not creating a hat for every baby I meet, but I have to admit, I do notice – and comment often to my husband – when we’re out, passing babies and young children on a cool evening walk – “That baby needs a hat”.

 Infants and young children have not developed the self-regulation necessary to know they are unhappy because they are too cool or it is too windy so they depend on attentive, caring adults to help them feel warm, calm and safe by dressing them to be most comfortable.   Since 50% of our body warmth escapes through the head, it’s a smart way to keep toasty.

That said…we are all too familiar with the frustration we see in young children who will not wear hats – who pull them off again and again.  This can certainly be a dilemma.  What can we do?

Comfort needs to be a real consideration when we are choosing a hat for anyone – fit, feel and perhaps fun.  Searching for the right hat might well be worth the time.  There are cute little animal hats out there that could win over some  particular toddlers.  I know one little guy who was very attached to his duck hat for many years. Of course, expectation and consistency helps. “We wear hats to keep us warm.” “If you want to play outside, you need to wear your hat.”

For me, it’s more about the warmth and coziness and feeling of comfort that a hat provides to those who wear one.  I adore the feeling my own favorite hat sends when it envelopes my ears and I feel warm right down to my toes.

When your body is content, cozy, feeling a sense of well-being, we feel in tune with the world and those around us. 

 I think a hat can help this along.

Hats on to all of you!

Watch for the hat and mitten tree at The Parenting Place that will be set up in the beginning of December.  These hand-knitted items are donated to us by the senior citizens at RSVP and they are free for any to take.  I’ve seen many a reluctant toddler choose a hat from the tree and willingly wear it with a smile. 

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what would you have done?

About a month ago I heard a news story about a hockey charity fundraiser in Minnesota.  Participants could purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to make an extremely challenging, one-in-a-million- chance at a hockey shot, sliding the puck into a tiny hole from the center of the ice for a prize of $50,000.

A father there with his identical twin sons bought three raffle tickets. When the big moment came and  the ticket with the winning name on it was selected,  it was the name of one of his identical twins.  However, this particular son happened to be outside playing with friends at the time.  The dad, not expecting, in his wildest dreams, anyone to be able to make this very impossible shot, sent the other brother out on the ice in his twin’s place.

And… of course, wouldn’t you know it – he did it – placed that puck exactly where it needed to go!

Caught up in the grand hoopla, surprise and congratulations, the family accepted the $50,000 prize – even though the wrong twin took the shot.

By the next day, the family wasn’t feeling right about it, called and “fessed” up the news.  The son who made the unbelievable shot was not the one whose name was on the raffle ticket that was drawn for the chance to win $50,000.

They didn’t receive the prize money but the promotion company who pays the prize did agree to donate $20,000 to youth hockey in Minnesota in the boys’ names.

So the question is – what would you have done?  Most likely this family could have gotten away with this, but at what price to the emerging consciences of these 11-year-old boys?

As families, we may not be faced with any decisions such as this to make honoring right or wrong, but we are faced with everyday occurances that might seem very trivial in the short time – getting the wrong change in our favor at the market; asking your husband to tell the person on the phone that you’re not home; saying your 11-year-old is only ten at the local buffet restaurant.  Our children are watching us – noticing – and it is our actions in situations, large or small, that will have a big influence on them as they grow.

For we are our children’s moral compass. 

I’m sure it is a relief for those brothers not to have to live their life knowing that the wrong boy actually made the shot that won the prize.  The money was to go toward their college education the parents had decided.  But instead their immediate education came first – feeling secure not only in who they were, but what their whole family believes in.

Richer by far.

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to survive and thrive

At The Parenting Place’s 4-week Active Parenting course I’m currently teaching, we learn that the Purpose of Parenting is:  

to protect and teach our children to survive and thrive in the kind of society in which they will live.

The words survive and thrive have felt particularly poignant for me this weekend on the 10th anniversary of September 11th.  As I’ve viewed parts of the ceremonies held in memory of the victims, I felt much compassion and respect for those  left behind; so many, many of them parents, left to pick up the shattered pieces of their families’ lives, survive and, yes, thrive.

I was particularly moved to see and hear comments from children who lost parents that day.  They were handed a legacy to live by, no doubt, and many of them spoke so passionately and eloquently about the years in between, their loss, yet their determination to survive and thrive – in memory and love.

One hears the same story over and over again, unfortunately, for those parents serving in our armed forces.  Too many don’t make it home alive, or arrive with a severe disability.  Others are lucky to be home again with their families.  But military families, throughout history, have understood this challenge – to survive and thrive in the kind of society in which they will live.

I heard a news story recently about a mom, dad and young 3-year-old daughter involved in a serious car accident.  The mom, trapped in the front seat, twisted as best she could, to find that her daughter, in her car seat in the back,  was alive.   Mom was suffering from injuries.  She knew her husband, sitting beside her, was in critical condition.

Having access to her phone, she immediately called 911.  Her daughter was hysterical, but she comforted her the best she could, unable to reach her, telling her help was on the way and it would be okay.  And then she began to sing –  her daughter’s favorite song – the alphabet song.

  A B C D E F G …..  Her daughter stopped crying, was quiet, before joining in to sing together with her mom until the help came.

Courage -a mother, helping her child to survive and thrive – teaching her child to survive and thrive.

As we parent our own children, we can only hope to avoid such dire circumstances.  But teaching our children to survive and also thrive in this world that we live in is an everyday choice – not just making it through but making it through with courage, self-confidence, trust and celebration of their own gifts and the contributions of others.

A mom called me on Friday morning –  someone I had made home visits to years ago when I did the Parent Friend program.  She said she always thinks about me at this time of year.  We had had a home visit scheduled on the morning of September 11, 2001 which we both decided, in the face of what was happening in our world, to postpone to the next week.

Now her children are older – high school and middle school and she has some questions as she faces parenting teens.  We set a time to talk.

As parents, it’s important to remember – to  teach our children to survive and thrive – you don’t have to do it alone.

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Remember play

    No Play, no learning —– Know Play, Know learning. 

  The above is  a tag line from a blog called irresistible ideas – for play-based play. 

 This “play” on words speaks genuinely to the way in which authentic learning takes place for children. Play for children is their work, their job and through play experiences, learning flourishes.

That’s why it’s so important to appreciate the significance of providing time, space,  raw, recycled junk materials and the outside natural world for our children to investigate and learn through personal exploration.

Too often once our children head off to preschool and elementary school, we feel, well…the learning’s taken care of now.

But so many of the play experiences and hands-on learning activities that were once a part of preschool and the early grades have been replaced by more emphasis on formal academic instruction and technology.  In order for children to benefit from these kinds of experiences, however, they still need the time to reflect, internalize, discover and play with this new information in their own original, concrete way.

Offering open-ended time for children to create and pretend on their own and with friends and siblings will stimulate their learning process, understanding  and comprehension as well as sharpening their ability to communicate with others.    

Encouraging free outdoor playtime and allowing  simple creative opportunities to happen is paramount in increasing children’s confidence, curiosity, adaptability, appreciation while also relieving stress and tension that often leads to behavior issues.

I’m thrilled that Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods : Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” will be speaking at Viterbo”s D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership fall lecture series.  This free event is on September 13th at 7:00 p.m. at Viterbo University.   I imagine this will be a very popular event and seating is limited.

So if you can – come hear from the expert about the restorative powers nature holds for all of us and the risk our children may face if we allow this gift to slip away.


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