Monthly Archives: April 2018

swinging

There are several swing sets in our neighborhood, and many more we’ve all seen in yards across the city – but so often when you see them, they are lonely and still.

But in the yard behind ours, there is a swing set that belongs to two young sisters – and it is the busiest swing set in town.

It was in daily motion last summer –  snowsuited- and- mittened -up -action even all through the winter – and now once again, serious spring fun taking place.

I can tell the way these girls swing that this is a way for them to relax.  It’s purposeful – the arc of the swing high, their learned pumping skills strong.

And to watch them – to sense their purposeful energy – is to know the joyful release they are experiencing.

I think this is a reminder for all of us, as busy parents and adults, to find what it is for ourselves that relaxes us- that makes our spirits soar.

Perhaps it is to think back to the time when we were a child, and remember what it was that gave us that personal sense of freedom – and then seek our own “grown-up” version –  a version that satisfies and emboldens us by the very act of doing it.

“How do you like to go up in a swing,

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!”  Robert Stevenson

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unconditionally

“We love him unconditionally” a grandmother just shared with me.

Others have asked me, “what does unconditional love even mean?

When we love someone unconditionally, there are no conditions to our love.  We don’t just love our children when they are performing well, succeeding, pleasing, but also when they annoy us, disappoint us, challenge us, worry us.

Because it is often at these times that our children need our love the most.

When I was teaching first graders, I realized quickly that the child who was acting out or being challenging was the child who was actually teaching me to think about my program, my structure, my expectations, my affirmation.

And that’s what unconditional love expects from us.

It’s not about being perfect, as the child or the parent, but it is about being present, listening, caring, accepting, supporting, affirming, changing.

Author Stephen Covey wrote “love is not just a feeling.  Love is a verb.”

And as we all learned in elementary school, a verb is an action word.

And so as parents, grandparents, and all who care for children –  when disappointment comes, when challenges rear, when we feel perplexed and insecure, we need to trust in ourselves and  in our relationship with our child.

We need to  listen…to support …sometimes, to change… to affirm… to act.

That’s what unconditional love is.

 

 

 

 

 

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a weekend

Okay – it’s not just me, is it?  Or did this past weekend seem extra long – extra full of rain, sleet, snow – and then more snow – when it was Spring that we were expecting.

After all, it is definitely time to move on – to shed those winter boots and jackets and walk out into the warmth of Springtime sun.

But, instead, we wait – and we find ways to be patient, to enjoy the unpredictable nature of weather, to throw a bundle of seeds out for the birds who are waiting as we are, and watch them swarm to the feast spread out before them.

That was a treat for us to watch.

And then, as the weekend passed, I recalled reading some time ago the number of weekends between the day your child is born and the time he or she turns 18 – nine hundred and forty weekends – two hundred and sixty of them are gone by the 5th birthday.

Ah perspective – long weekends bring them on.  Put in those terms, who would ever complain?

As a parent of grown children, I can attest – the years do go by faster than you realize.

And so – when we have what seems like an extra long weekend, embrace it – make the most of it (sometimes by doing the least) and believe.

Spring will come.

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appreciate differences

“Why are you black?”  a little girl asked the young black boy playing next to her at the sensory table at Friday’s Play Shoppe – an innocent age-appropriate inquiry from an inquisitive child to ask.

As adults, however, we often cringe at this kind of child-like boldness.  We might try to hush it, to even label it as impolite, insensitive, unwelcoming, embarrassing, taboo.

But actually this is the way young children learn, understand, accept, become friends, grow.  This simple question is not based on fear or insecurity or dislike, but with an honest, genuine need to know.

In fact the pure simplicity of the question begs a simple answer. “People come in all different colors.”

At that morning’s art area, children were creating paper towel tube people.  This was an open-process activity.  There were no set rules or model from which to copy.  There were several different paint colors – purple, black, yellow, green, pink ; ribbons, pieces of material, yarn, googly eyes.

Every paper towel tube person came out different – every paper towel tube person was an individual – and amazingly rich and colorful and imaginative they were.

So perhaps we can learn from the directness of this little girl.

Perhaps it is our responsibility – a combination of asking and responding to the questions, to the differences in our world – honestly, openly -both as children and adults – welcoming and inviting opportunities to learn, accept, discover.

And perhaps one day we will  all be as comfortable and open to the differences in our world as these children were with their colorful, unique, lovely paper towel tube people.

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child’s play

Whenever I have conversations with friends and co-workers about their personal childhood play memories, there always seems to be a constant theme.

Across  the board, the most favorite memories involve outside play, with natural materials – sticks and stones, dirt and trees, puddles, and huts,  hands-on- unstructured exploration.

Wow!

And why?

I don’t think it’s actually that surprising.  What child wouldn’t enjoy imagining, creating, building a world, a “hide-away”, a shared experience; having sensory choices to play with,  to mold, to pretend, to imagine.

I know it’s not always so simple anymore, however, in our busy day- to- day lives, for children to have these kinds of experiences.  It pretty much needs to be intentional – to provide the time and the rewards of free time spent out-of-doors.

Parents often share that when they tell their children to play outside, their children say “it’s boring”.

I believe it.  I remember sometimes feeling bored  sooo bored- until we weren’t – because true creative play often doesn’t begin until we start it on our own.

A favorite response to boredom was shared with me years ago by a very warm and knowledgeable educator whose answer to a child’s complaint of “I’m bored” was to say, “Oh, let me know how that turns out for you“.

And so, that’s how Heather and I came up with Down and Dirty – our Fun Day in The Parenting Place backyard area – on Saturday, April 21st from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM. Registration necessary.

All the makings of exploration, natural discovery, work and play will be there – something for everyone we think.

We’ll let you know how it turns out.

 

 

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