Monthly Archives: August 2012

Blue Moon

A quiet day – a laid-back week – a lazy weekend – that all sounds very good to me after several busy weeks.  This may also be exactly what you and your children need in preparation for the beginning of the school year. Often summer schedules get pretty hectic and bedtimes are later than usual. If that’s the way it is at your house,  this is the time, if you haven’t already begun, to  put your children to bed earlier each night,  in order for them to be up and ready on the first day of school.

I like to think the sun agrees and that’s why we can watch it setting over the river earlier and earlier each evening, suggesting to everyone it’s time to prepare for bed. It might be fun to take your child down to Riverside Park at dusk and let them say good night to the sun as you watch it sink below the horizon.

I also  love the quiet, peaceful book, Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger – a perfect read- aloud at this time of year;  this week, in fact, as the moon grows full on August 31st. Children may not yet be familiar with twilight,but actually talking about and looking for twilight to appear in the sky could be a peaceful prelude to preparing themselves for bed.  And it’s even more fitting when the moon is full.

Did you realize that sometimes there are two full moons in a month?  Actually, this month,  August 2012,  has two full moons this year. There was a full moon on August 2nd and another will grace the sky on the 31st.  You’ve probably heard the expression “once in a blue moon”.  Well, that expression comes from the fact that it is quite rare to have two full moons in one month. So this full moon on the 31st will be a blue moon – one to be noticed and celebrated.

I think I’ve mentioned before my affection for the moon.  It’s such a precious, grounding object.  The moon’s cycle is so predictable and once you begin to take notice like I always do, its constancy is quite magical.  For me, I love to know that even as I admire the moon from my backyard in Wisconsin, so can our children across the country see the very same moon watching over them.

Which brings me back to children – yours, and watching over them as they prepare for what is always a very significant day – the first day of the new school year.  May it be a very good year for them – and for their often “nervous” parents.

Don’t forget to give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125 if you want some help in preparing  your child or you for the transition to school. I am more than happy to take first- day- of -school- calls from parents who weren’t prepared to be so emotional.

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Big day coming..,

This week the excitement and anticipation going on in my mind is, hands down, The Parenting Place’s upcoming annual Children’s Festival on Saturday, August 25th at Myrick Park from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

It’s hard not to catch festival fever if you spend any time at The Parenting Place these days.  There are bundles of fun being prepared in every corner.  I know many of you have seen and responded to our sneak previews we have been teasing you with on Facebook.  But we can’t wait for you to see the real thing, as you and your children dive into Picture Book City and the fun that awaits you.

Every year we attempt to present a morning of pure experiential play empowered with creativity and fun.  I love to watch a child engaged in an activity in his/her own personal way.  That’s what we hope will happen.  We spend time preparing the activities and environment and then watch them unfold for each child.

This year our theme highlights some very well-known children’s books , thus the name, Picture Book City.  From the quiet, softness of Pat the Bunny activities to watching the rumpus begin at Where The Wild Things Are,  the magic of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the action of The Missing Dinosaur Bone and many others, children will find their favorite.

I admit I have a special passion for this event.  It’s not only the joy this festival brings,  but it’s also realizing that the proceeds of that morning will go toward continuing to offer our free Parent Education and Support programs and fun activities for parents and children all throughout the coming year.

And that’s something to celebrate!

So  please – spread the word to your friends and relatives  to come along and share the morning’s fun.

Because – you know – at the Children’s Festival  – anyone can be a child!

The Children’s Festival will be held Saturday, August 25th at Myrick Park from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.  Buttons cost $4.00/button, 3 for $10.00 and $5.00 each at the Festival.  Buttons can be purchased at all of The Parenting Place’s sites.  Scholarship buttons are available.  If this would be helpful to you or anyone you know, please call The Parenting Place with their name and how many buttons are needed.  They can be picked up at the Button table at the festival.

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I’m real and I matter

Last week I watched an 8-year-old boy help his mother  while she was using the accucut machine at The Parenting Place, cutting out many letters we need for posters for the Children’s Festival.

He was busy keeping track of the letters to be cut, arranging the ones already done, crossing them off on the sheet as they were completed.  There was a definite air of industry about this young boy. He didn’t think for a second to run off and tease his younger brother and sister in the playroom.  He had a job to do there and he was downright serious about it.

After all – who doesn’t want and need to be taken seriously?  It’s like the little girl who goes to the restaurant with her mom and dad and the waiter comes to the table giving each of them a menu – even her. The little girl is shocked.  “He thinks I’m real!” she told her parents.

When we provide experiences for our children that encourage them to feel “real”, we lift their confidence and increase their level of competence.

On Thursday, ten children, mainly 5 to 9-year-olds came to The Parenting Place to paint posters of the books we’ll be featuring at our August 25th Children’s Festival.  I had the room arranged, two children at a table.  The paints and assortment of brushes and pencils  were on a separate table.  The workers  independently chose their book, their materials and their place and  just like that, they began.

I was amazed at the fervor in which they worked – the sense of concentration was palpable in the room.  These children were seriously invested in the assignment they had before them. No one tried to be the first one done or pestered their neighbor.  I believe, for most, it was an unusual moment – one in which they felt and appreciated the amount of freedom, trust and responsibility for the task they had before them.  They understood that they were involved in contributing something significant to The Children’s Festival and responded accordingly.

Later on Friday at the Cameron Park Farmers’ Market where The Parenting Place had a table, I was totally moved watching a mixed group of adults and children learn a circle dance together – by doing.  One of the children that I knew was a young 3-year-old who was out there with his dad.  He danced the entire piece, with a look of such pride, joy and accomplishment on his face the whole time.

It was beautiful to see children participating and learning, side-by-side, along  with adults.

And tonight, watching the late news, I saw where the members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin held their first services since the horrific happening of one week ago.  Members said their biggest concern was dealing with the fears of the children.  But, a spokeswoman said, they would ask the children “what they can do to help us and what they can do today and tomorrow“.

Ask them – yes, and listen.  Let them help, with real work, youthful solutions and important contributions.  That may well be the answer.

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A bird in the hand

This weekend as I sat celebrating the marriage ceremony of a lovely young woman I knew best during her very young years, images of her at that time flashed across my mind. She was always a spirited, adventurous child, running fast, climbing the highest trees, swimming like a fish, enjoying a challenge.

In a toast to the young couple, her dad shared a story about Kathleen when she was five years old.  One day she announced she was going outside to catch a bird.  Her mom and dad looked at each other.  They wondered should they tell her it would be impossible to catch a bird.  They didn’t and she continued for weeks to go outside, pretending she was a cat, creeping, stalking, being silent.  Her parents thought again – should they tell her she’ll never catch a bird?  Again, they decided – no  – she’s having fun, not getting discouraged, even if we know she’ll never catch a bird.

And then, she did.  In fact, she caught several birds over the short time she was a “cat” – bringing them in to show her flabbergasted parents, cupped gently in her small hands – and then releasing them outside to fly free.

Kathleen’s dad said he was glad he didn’t tell her then that her dream to catch a bird was impossible because he has watched her grow believing things are possible, and making some seemingly impossible dreams happen.

On the trip home, I thought more of how, as parents, we might be quick to say something can’t be done, something is too complicated, something is impossible.  Even as our children are playing at pretend, where anything can be what one wants it to be, we might feel compelled to insert “a dose of reality”.

“You know horses can’t talk” or “Have you ever seen a pink banana?” or “I never saw a car that looks like that.”

But for young children, this is the exact time for them to dream, to imagine how they want things to be, to be creative,  playful, and industrious in their play, in their work, so they carry this spark with them always.

That’s what’s happened to Kathleen who, now as a young woman, has continued her imagination and persistence in setting goals (remember the birds?) and meeting them.  As Associate Organizer of Southeast Wisconsin’s Common Ground, she is leading the initiative Milwaukee Rising – working to restore, primarily, previously vacated, abandoned foreclosed homes in a section of Milwaukee’s community.  It took two years to convince five large banks to dedicate 33.8 million dollars to this campaign.  The revitalization project is now on its way toward rehabilitating 100 foreclosed properties over four years.

Another bird in the hand.

So let’s enjoy the fantasies, the playfulness, the imagination, the creativity our children use to figure out their world. Let’s make sure they have the time allotted to doing this for we know that play is a child’s work.  It is through imaginative play that their world is considered, formulated and grasped.

Let them fly.

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