There’s something very personal and connecting when you take a child’s hand.
I don’t believe anyone who has held a small child’s hand – on a walk together – ever really forgets the feeling of trust and closeness it conveys.
But often we forget those moments in the busy throes of parenthood. And perhaps we more often recall grabbing a child’s hand wildly to keep him from running in the street – or moving him along quickly to the car without distractions.
But – I’m just reminding you to watch for those sweet moments of parenting – the trustful, hopeful, expectant gazes our child gives us, the “right, Dad?” you might get from a 6-year-old looking for shared agreement – the quick “bump into” from your high school boy that reminds you he’s still wants to connect – the siblings running hand in hand down the sidewalk – two brothers sitting close, cozy on the couch – watching a video..
There are so many moments.
But in our busy minute to minute days – it’s easy to miss them. But when you do “catch” them – really feel them – you’ll know .
These are the moments in our lives, our parenting lives, that make all the difference.
I think it’s called love.
Recently going through a stash of old files – looking for something I couldn’t find – I found a note that said When…then.
It was written on the back of a day’s schedule from one of the very first professional trainings I had attended as a Parent Educator many years ago.
And I was glad to see “when/then” again – such a simple answer to so many situations we find ourselves in with children. Begging, pleading, whining to do something – go somewhere- eat something – play something – could be simply answered “When -then”.
“When you put your boots on, then we can go out in the snow.”; “When you clean up your room, then you can go to your friend’s:”;” When you finish your homework, then we can play a game”; “When you ask politely, then you can have a turn”.
Fast forward to years of listening and sharing with parents – to myself as a parent – so many suggestions and insights and philosophies learned, considered and offered, I kind of left “when/then” behind.
But it still works – delivered with a kind tone and positive outlook. I believe I could even use it for myself.
“When you finish writing this blog, then you can have a piece of Valentine candy”.
Works for me!
What a glorious blue sky,, sunshiny day I notice blazing in on me as I sit down to write my weekly blog. But step outside – even for a few moments – and the frigid below-zero wind chill will hit you immediately.
So, you see, how easy to be fooled by just the bright sunny sky without knowing the rest of the story.
And that’s often the case with friends and family who might well wear a sunny face on the outside but could actually be struggling emotionally on the inside. During this challenging time our country is going through, there are many more people who are struggling in so many ways.
So be attentive when we inquire “how are you doing?” – be genuine when you ask it – especially if you suspect there’s more behind the smile. Don’t be fooled by a “oh you know”, “pretty good, I guess”. We might be missing the rest of the story – and by listening, you are offering a true gift of friendship and caring.
Coming up is Valentine’s Day on February 14th. Why not reach out this week to a sibling, a neighbor, your long- distance “bestie”, a child – and check on their heart – while sharing your own.
And – from my heart to yours – I wish you a Happy and sunny Valentine’s Day, my Friends.
And remember – The Parenting Place is always there to hear “the rest of your story”.
Some days it’s just picture perfect!
That was yesterday as we walked through Myrick Park with Tootsie.
The main hill and the other two hills on either side were filled with sledders – all in their brightly colored snow jackets and hats – squealing with joy and delight as they zoomed down the hill. Sometimes sleds were connected, landing in a heap at the bottom of the hill – other sledders attempted to slide down backwards, just because … and still others aimed for the “Bump” for an extra dose of excitement!
Then there was also the brother and his little sister, I assume, that caught my eye – going up and down on their saucers. Zoom! At the bottom, the brother would wait and then carry his younger sister’s saucer up for her.
Generosity, patience, and love – personified – on a perfect sledding day!
And it’s all about the fun and the memories these children are creating on a day at the hill. And I can say that for sure – as memories of my younger days of sledding were definitely joyfully mirrored back to me!
And you know what else?
These children will return to their warm homes hungry, tired, relaxed – the best of the best images and joy in their minds, souls and bodies. And that’s the most meaningful part!
I know it gave me confidence – and a feeling of peace – that in this anxious period we find ourselves in, some things never change – that friendships during childhood are strong and significant – that playing together on a perfect hill – on a perfect on-top-of-the–world winter day – is the epitome of freedom, of childhood, of joy!
Thanks for the memories!
I always have a pack of colored stars in my desk drawer. I like to add them sometimes in a note to the grandboys – just because – or when I write a quick note to a friend – adding a star for emphasis.
I don’t know how it started – and a pack can last a pretty long time – but I know when I pull open my desk drawer, it makes me happy to see them – red and blue and gold stars – just waiting to find their place – to jazz up an ordinary note – to brighten up the day.
I read something recently that spoke about how we feel about ourselves often depends a great deal on what we think other people are thinking of us – how we did, how we look, how we parent, how we cook, what we choose.
But … what if you had a stash of some of these little stars like mine – wouldn’t it be ultra cool to say to yourself, “you know what? I deserve a star today … me! myself! … for the delicious meal I fixed, the three breaths I took before responding to a very “hangry” child, the planning it took for getting everybody out of the house for the first day of school with no one “losing it” including me – for anything that says “yes!” that says “You did it! “– that says “This counts!”
Star recognition – your own – – accept it with pride!
“You’re a finder!” my husband told me today as I quickly located what he thought was nowhere to be found.
It’s true – I do seem to find things around the house that have been declared nowhere in sight!
I wonder if that’s the role of most moms. It seems we have a sixth sense of where things are – even when they’re not in the place they should be.
So think about it … how often are we called on to find a dolly’s missing sock, a favorite matchbox car desired right this very moment, a special bunny needed at bedtime for sure, a homework paper that was” just here a minute ago”.
And most importantly – as parents – we find our way in parenting our children.
We all know babies do not come with instructions attached. So we watch and we read and we share and we struggle and we grow – and we love – and we figure it out!
Finding our parenting style and core beliefs – on this parenting journey we are on – might not be as immediate as my early morning rescue find for my husband was. But it happens just the same.
Watch for it!” “Oh! there it is!” – that clarity that pops up from time to time – and you realize – yes – you found your own family’s particular parenting pace – your own family’s comfort – and though it may not always be smooth and effortless – remember –” it’s the cracks that let the sunshine in”.
Keep on discovering – and – shining!
(Please always remember The Parenting Place is here to help you along the way!)
This morning in an email to our staff from our Executive Director, she spoke of resilience and how this year has tested our resilience – and the significance resilience plays in all our lives – in times of trouble and in times of hope.
And most of us don’t stop to think about how resilient we’ve been – today – or last week – or last month. We just go ahead – and in our individual ways – do what needs to be done.
We do it because we just do – for our children, our loved ones, our friends, our jobs – our responsibility to all those who need us. And it works because of our strong connections with one another – connections that give us the strength to care, to try, to manage and to – well…. sometimes – to breathe.
And these connections – for me – say it all. And in these challenging times – in these uncharted waters of 2021 – caring, connecting and – yes – resilience is what will see us through.
I remember a person who I worked with many years ago – a teacher – who, whenever children came up to her to ask a question, share something, say hello – she immediately turned to them and gave them her undivided attention – eyes warmly and directly upon them.
And I witnessed the response to this teacher’s power – for myself – and for the children who knew they were valued by her – cared for – listened to.
As parents, we often find ourselves using the most direct eye contact with our children when we are trying to discipline them – to make sure our point is heard – and understood. I get it – who hasn’t? But increasing being more available at other times – a gentler gaze, an interested gaze, a knowing gaze that says ” I’m listening and I care what you have to say” could change the equation.
I think in this digital age when our eyes are often on cell phones and computers, we do need to be more intentional about eye contact with others. And I know how often children have things they want us to hear about – like sometimes constantly. But I wonder – if they felt satisfied with being heard with a parent’s eyes more often – that stronger connection would satisfy and assure them of your caring and interest- and the constant need for attention would lessen.
For nothing says I love you more than focused eye attention when a child or spouse is speaking to you. (and that goes both ways, right?)
Try it – practice it – (you know it makes perfect) and experience the difference it might make – for all of you.
Welcome to the New Year! That’s what I want to say to 2021!
We’ve been waiting for you! We have high hopes for you!
Bring that COVID vaccine on ! Open schools once again so that children can resume their normal lives. Let doctors and nurses and first responders get a break. Let small businesses come alive again. Let people go back to work. Let grandparents visit in person with their grandchildren.
\Let us all be grateful.
Let parents feel a sense of job well done – “schooling” their children while working at home – juggling sometimes more than they are able.
Let hope and gratefulness and anticipation reign. Let patience and understanding and wisdom be a part of it all – as we wait to return to the lives we led before the pandemic. As we wait to embrace what we once all took for granted.
But 2021 – honestly – we’re ready. And we hope this will all happen on your watch!
Wishing all of you, my friends, a 2021 to celebrate and behold!
Things are different this holiday season – for sure.
But we have a beautiful little live Christmas tree that stands and twinkles at me – especially when I am the last one up in the evening (which is always) and all is quiet and serene.
It’s then that I feel it is just between us – the tree and me – and I find myself lost in its serenity.
And I’m grateful for so many things – and the beauty and peacefulness that this tree offers me.
It challenges me to fall under its spell – to remember, to hope, to smile, to dream of not only the fun and beauty of past years – but the present one as well. And I’m reminded to be thankful and grateful for health and family and young children and old friends – and next year!
So … Happy Holidays to each and everyone of you – my friends – and if there is a Christmas tree in your life this year – take a few minutes – just the two of you –– and listen.