Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hold them

Watching the national news this morning, once again I heard the reports of a school shooting announced.  Whether it’s geographically close to us or across the country, when an incident like this occurs, we all feel the fear and the pain.

I can only imagine the emotions that these students and parents are experiencing.  I watched the stressful faces on the parents as they stood in line waiting for their children to be released, and then as they hurried to their cars and the safety of their homes, parents hanging on to their children, patting their backs, grateful and relieved.

As one emotional father, waiting in line for his children said, “I won’t be able to calm down until I get to hold them.”

And that’s the key work – hold them.

We can’t be with our children every minute – especially as they grow older, but we can hold them in our hearts and minds, be present for them, listen to them, connect with them, let them know we love them and we are there for them.

Every day.

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inspired work

Friday morning’s Play Shoppe at The Parenting Place found most signs of the successful Block Extravaganza from the evening before put away, except for the many large cardboard building blocks that remained in the gathering room.  As the morning play continued, I suggested to one little boy that he might use the grocery cart to move some of these blocks to their official site in the Play Room.

I had to say no more.

He immediately began stuffing the blocks into his cart.  Soon another little boy showed up with a push wagon to help – and then a little girl filling her doll stroller – with not a word from me.

I stayed out of their way and just observed their industriousness – as did their parents who were busy with their younger children.  I had anticipated they would just dump their loads of blocks on the carpet in front of the block shelves.  But no. They were in charge. And so they began actually putting the blocks back on the shelves.

Before long, however, they realized there was a problem.  Setting the blocks just willy nilly was not going to work.  The large ones needed to be put in first, the small ones next.  So they rearranged what they had begun, fixed it to their satisfaction and took off to retrieve more blocks.

The look on these children’s faces was priceless.  They had an air of pure pride, purpose and genuine satisfaction as they zoomed back and forth, heady in this opportunity to problem solve, appreciate a sense of mission and work cooperatively.

Later on that day, I had a conversation with a mom whose 4-year-old son’s child care uses green, yellow, and red zones to manage behaviors.  A child’s name starts off in the green zone.  If they have to be reminded of sitting still, paying attention, staying on task, not talking out of turn, not initiating distractions, they end up in the yellow zone (warning) and next the red zone (note sent home to parents). I couldn’t stop thinking about this little boy.

On Sunday my husband and I went to see the compelling movie, Hugo.  It depicted two young characters who were so resourceful, eager, creative, imaginative, purposeful, determined and confident in their abilities.  The whole movie is an invitation to “come and dream” – to recognize one’s purpose, one’s work.

How significantly different an experience this little guy who ends up in the red zone so often is having than the Play Shoppe workers of Friday morning or the two children in the movie.   The boy ends up in the red zone so often, not because he’s truly a naughty boy – but because, I believe, he so desperately needs some time to channel his own creative energy, impulse and imagination and have a chance to “do” his work.

Our children are “the genius that invents the future”.

Let’s give them the time and opportunities they need to put to use their bursting creativity to accomplish their own inspired work.

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Find my tickle

I love this request from a two-and-a-half -year-old little guy who was in the playroom at The Parenting Place recently.

I watched him trying to reach a spot on his back unsuccessfully.  Then he walked up to me – turned, backed up, and said “Find my tickle.”   I assumed that he had an itch that needed to be scratched so I gently scratched his shirted, upper back for a few seconds.  And I guess I assumed right, because I asked him, “Is that okay?” and he walked off, contentedly, no comment, “tickle” free.

Oh if all demands from our young children were so easy to comprehend and fulfill.  Yet I notice parents everyday figuring out what their child’s “tickle” is and how to make things better.  “She’s ready for her nap.”  “He’s starving.” “She needs to get out and run.” “He needs to snuggle when he first wakes up.”

Recognizing and providing our children with the assistance and comfort that meet their needs of the moment is a huge part of parenting.

I walked a mom and her two little girls out to the car after Play Shoppe one day.  The older child was feeling a little emotional but as she got into her car seat, her mom immediately handed her her special, very worn, very loved blanket, with the soft satin border. Her daughter was content right away and she shared with me how she loves the softness of the satin against her cheek.

Her “tickle” – found.

I read a book at Friday’s Play Shoppe called The Quiet Place.  The little girl was looking for a quiet place.  She had tea and a biscuit to enjoy.  She looked in many different spots, and finally found one, settled down, when her little brother showed up – making lots of noise.

But, instead of fighting it, she shared her biscuit with him and realized “the quiet place was in her heart”.

I think that’s often the way it is for parents.

We try to grab a few quiet moments for ourselves and often they get interrupted, to find a child’s “tickle” – and in the process, instead of fighting it – we discover the quiet place we are looking for is in our heart.

May you all appreciate the work you do, meeting the needs of your children.

Have a very warm and loving Valentine’s Day!

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Their own light

So often, as parents, we notice our child showing a special interest, enjoyment, talent in a particular area – art, math, writing, sports, science, drama,music., etc.

It can be so tempting to swoop in  – sign them up for classes – praise them – point it out to others – take over their interest, rush the process, label them as “the scientist”, “the athlete”, “the artist” in the family.

I’ve talked with young adults who have shared their disappointment, their stress when their skills seem to define who they are – or even how much they matter.  A young woman told me how she loved playing tennis, was a young tennis champion before age 12.  But as she grew older and faced increasingly challenging competition, she didn’t win every game anymore, and  her self-worth plummeted dramatically.  For she felt that winning at tennis was her expected role, her ticket for her parents’ love and attention.

She never plays tennis anymore.

So what’s a parent to do?

Proceed with care. Expose your child to field trips, performances, books, more books, materials, tools, opportunities and then step back to allow him/her to absorb, integrate, extend, and enjoy – at his/her own pace.

Provide age-appropriate materials your child can utilize as she/he hones this interest.  I say age-appropriate because in today’s world, it’s easy to fast-forward way ahead of the child’s readiness.  A family I know has a 6-year-old son who is very interested in science.  For Christmas they went out and bought him a super expensive, high intensity microscope.  It sits unused.  It was too much, too soon.

Let young children invest in their development through simpler means – at their own pace.

I love the story of our son’s 5th grade classroom.  It was the beginning of the school year in a new district program that would have technology play a definite role in their curriculum.  However, the school year was underway and the computers had not yet arrived.

Not to worry.  Our son and a few of his friends created their own intricately designed keyboards out of paper and markers that they taped on their desks.  They refined them and “worked” on them.  It was contagious and most of the other students joined in, adding their paper keyboards to their desk tops. The play and the actual learning that was initiated by these boys’ creative solution was rich, age-appropriate and satisfying.

Allow your child to feel satisfaction from within.  Rather than “You’re such a good artist, I’m so proud of you.”, take an interest in what the project is.  Ask questions. Notice color, design, the hard work it took to do.  “You must be proud of how you figured out a way to come up with such a workable design.”

You are your child’s helpful resource but let them lead the way. 

“If you put them in the spotlight, they will be unable to see their own light.” 

quote by  William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching – Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

Enjoy and cherish the pace of childhood.

Let your child’s  own light shine.

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