Monthly Archives: January 2017

I’m sorry

Apologies are tricky, aren’t they?

When our preschooler hurts a friend’s feelings, our toddler grabs a toy out of another toddler’s hand,  or a young child physically pushes another child down, as parents we usually want them to say “I’m sorry” – to make it okay, right then and there.

But often at the same time, we are disheartened by the lack of sincerity these apologies take.  You know what I mean – the “no eye contact, long- drawn- out, mumbled ‘Sorry'” or even the adamant silent refusal of the still-too-angry-child.

That was the case with one parent I spoke with recently.  When her young children argued and fought, apologies were hard to come by. However, recently her 5-year-old daughter, after angrily ruining something that belonged to her 3-year-old brother – on her own – after she had cooled down – wrote him an apology note.


These are the “yay!” moments we look for in our parenting journey – when we have the chance to witness and celebrate the emotional growth in our children that we have modeled and shown in our everyday interactions with them and others in our life.

For caring for people’s feelings,  showing respect for others, sharing, apologizing – all of these are more often “caught than taught”.

So  … high five for this mom.  Good throw!

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time to hum

Last week I “hung out” in the children’s room at The Parenting Place with a young boy whose mom was in a parenting class in another room.

It was the end of a long day for both of us but I was prepared for my second wind.

I discovered pretty quickly, however, that would not be necessary.

This lively 6-year-old boy entered with a grin and quite a bit of excess energy to spend, which he did by “lying” on one of the big wooden trucks we have and using his feet and hands, zoomed back and forth the length of the two rooms. He ran up and down the small slide we have -jumping off versus sliding down. This physical outburst lasted for about six-eight minutes.

I’m glad I didn’t interfere with this exuberance or try to redirect him . I believe this activity must have satisfied his initial overwhelm to this big open space he had to himself because he stopped – and then the magic began.

This young boy quietly and slowly moved through the room, doing puzzles, reading books, softly aloud to himself, pretending with dinosaurs, lost in his thoughts at the dollhouse, building with blocks, all the time accompanied by a quiet humming.

So, I sat back not wanting, for even a second, to interfere with the space this boy had found for himself.  He did not need my attention, my suggestions, questions or input.  He was in his own flow.

He had found his bliss – and I got to bask in its loveliness.

When I told his mom later what I had observed, she was so relieved – and grateful.  Her son had had a challenging day at school and she didn’t quite know how he would be in the playroom that evening.

She asked me what I did.  I assured her I did nothing – nothing but respect his time to be alone.

We all need this time – to find our personal flow – whether its for ten minutes or an hour, that we can be quiet in our thoughts, that we retreat within. Look for a time this might happen for you, for  your child – a few moments without demands, questions, expectations.

It helps us unwind, it helps us breathe, it helps us revive, it helps us know ourselves.

It helps us find the time to hum.

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sharing our hearts

It does seem unusual that the coldest time of our calendar year lends itself so warmly to a day that celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King.

For on this January day, it is not necessarily a history lesson that is called for – but, instead an acknowledgement – a commitment – to be more attentive, receptive, helpful, friendly, sharing, actively aware, and open to others different than ourselves.

It can be so simple – especially in a city like La Crosse where there are so many organizations reaching out to those in need for us to offer to help, to volunteer, to support – or as I’ve said many times before in my blogs, in our very own neighborhoods – to notice, to invite, to share.

For as parents, our most important task is to offer our children the vision and the mindset and the appreciation of the diversity that makes up our wide world, our communities.

We know children are watching us and taking their cues from us – how we interact with those who appear different from us, who have a disability, who speak another language, who dress differently, who have a different skin color, who have different customs, eat different foods.

So we say hi.  We include, we learn about each other, we become friends, we laugh together, and our circle, our understanding, our acceptance grows larger – naturally.

On Tuesday, February 14th, The Parenting Place is holding a family night – Sharing Our Hearts – at The Parenting Place from 6-7:30 pm.  What better day than Valentine’s Day to help our hearts grow a little bigger, our minds stretch,our circle widen, as we playfully explore through art activities, stories, music and refreshments how much alike we really are, while celebrating our uniqueness.

Registration is required and limited. Early registration (like now) is highly recommended.  All family members are invited.  Call 784-8125 to register.




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Take action

I’ve thought about this many times over the years – my personal concept of a “revolving door” at The Parenting Place.

It’s about parents and families coming to The Parenting Place for classes, or one-on-ones, or Play Shoppes, or Parent Connections or fun nights.

And then they come back – again and again – every week for some – whenever a question or concern comes up for others – when the need is there.

But sometimes participants come back – through this “revolving door” –   to give back – to participate in a different way, as volunteers, supporters, some in their new roles in the community, a few even as new hired staff members, and sometimes as eager young people who want to problem solve for us.

And that’s what happened on Thursday afternoon when four young Girl Scouts arrived to find out about The Parenting Place and how they might be of assistance.

One of these young girls was Laura. She is ten-years-old.  The first time Laura went through The Parenting Place “revolving door” was when she was 2 weeks old coming to Play Shoppe with her mom and her older brother. And Laura has been to The Parenting Place many times since participating in programs, assisting and observing her mom play an active role here.

These four junior Girl Scouts informed me that they are working toward the Bronze Award – the highest honor a junior Girl Scout can achieve.

To earn this Bronze Award, they need to complete a “take action” project I was told.

And so they listened – and asked questions.  They informed me that they were not here to be assistants – they were here to problem solve (thus the questions they posed and the thoughtful responses they shared) – to take action on a need and figure out a way to meet it.

And when they left and I went back to my desk, I sat there – reflecting for a few minutes on these four serious, industrious, eager young girls -these  young citizens –

and believing in my concept of the “revolving door” even more.

Stay tuned to see how these young girls take action!


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a- rat- a-tat- tat

First it was the wooden needles two-year-old Theo found while exploring upstairs in my knitting supplies stash.  And once a boy has wooden knitting needles that look like drumsticks – one needs a drum.

But what to use for a drum?

Fortunately, there happened to be an empty, red, heavy-duty Folgers coffee container available and it turned out to be the perfect drum, except …  it was too difficult to play, holding a “drumstick” in each  hand plus a drum – especially when one wants to march in a “parade”.

So – the next solution -carefully put one hole in each side of the “drum”.  Thread an extra-long black shoelace through the holes.  Slip over head so container rests comfortably in front of child.  Pick up your “drumsticks” and there you have it – a favorite toy of one particular toddler at my house this Christmas.

Okay – I rest my case – for what I believe and know to be true- often the best-loved toys originate from the stuff we have in our homes – real things that can become whatever the moment calls for.

Drum roll … please –

For this New Year of 2017, I wish you and your family many simple joys (and toys) and many more creative moments together.

A- rat- a tat- tat!

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