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More Good Things

October 16, 2014

Some Good Things of the past couple of months:

Sometimes even their conflicts are funny.  An example:

J to T, across the dinner table:  I’m hitting you.  Hit.  [gesturing a hitting motion]
T to J:  I’m wiping the hit off.  Wipe.  [gesturing a wiping motion]

Hide-and-seek with three-year-olds is pretty awesome:

Me:  One…two…
A:  Wait for me to go to my hiding stump.  (There is only 1 stump in my parents’ yard.  She stands on it and waits for me to “find” her.)

Some recent highlights:

  • Audrey sometimes calls Jamie “James,” which is immensely adorable.
  • Audrey climbs the neighbor’s tree (from the ladder attached to it, but still…).
  • Audrey’s “I’m gonna tell you how it is” face and mannerism is awesome:  earnestly wide-open eyes, head tilted to one side, hand gestures punctuating her explanations.
  • I have had to hide my salad spinner because it became a carousel for small stuffed animals.

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  • Theresa taught herself how to pedal a trike, and shrieked gleefully as she rode down the sidewalk.
  • Theresa loves giving hugs, to me:  “I’m giving you gentle pats on the back”; to her animals: “I’m hugging my [insert animal] because I love him.”
  • Theresa will say in her Sorrowful Voice, “I’m just having a rough day,” and then take deep breaths to help herself feel better.
  • We have indoctrinated them to the Disney canon thanks to Aunt AJ’s gift this summer and the loan of Nana’s Music of Disney cds.  For a while, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was the only song, on repeat; now “Be Our Guest” and “Under the Sea” vie for top billing, and for a while we read nothing but Disney every night at bedtime.

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  • Jamie knows left and right with excellent accuracy.
  • Jamie made up a game riding down the very small hill of our driveway and taught himself how to balance–he zooms on that little bike.
  • Jamie loves making up stories.  They often involve elevators, Mike Mulligan, Jenny from Disney’s “Once Upon a Wintertime,” and more recently, Ariel.
  • I either can’t find kitchen items like dish towels (used as baby blankets) or strainers (used as helmets, bathtubs for stuffed animals, etc.) but also do find very unusual things in kitchen cabinets:  storytelling cards in with my baking dishes, blankets with the cutting boards, rubber ducks in muffin tins.

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They say the awesomest things:

  • Audrey, always trying to be helpful and kind:  Grampy, thank you for a very nice trip.
  • A:  I have a strong brain so I can carry my pumpkin.

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  • T:  I would like two apple slices and six hashews please.
  • T, remembering falling fully-clothed into a filling bathtub:  I was doing my yoga and my clothes got all perklunkty.
  • Alan:  We were in New Hampshire!  T:  Nick Hampster?  J:  New Hamp shirt?

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  • J:  One is my favorite number!  Two is my favorite number!  Three is… [and on through ten]
  • J:  I’m Grampy!  Alan:  Grampy, how’d you get so small?  J:  I’m…retired!
  • All:  the “Bear Nesesames” (from The Jungle Book)

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  • They make up their own words for things:  scabby-doody-doody is the bottom kitchen drawer of baking dishes where they slide play cards into the slot between drawers, pretending it’s a ticket machine, and duck-a-pookie (we can’t figure out what that means).

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Gratitude in October

October 14, 2014

It was pretty rocky here for a few weeks.  Now things are evening out.  I’m working on a post of kid updates, but that sort of thing takes a while because it has to be just right.  In the meantime, some gratitude observations:

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  • for everything pumpkin.
  • for fractal romanesco.

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  • for audiobooks during my commute:  most recently, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams.
  • for autumn days at the beach, cool sand on the toes, and practicing balancing with “airplane arms” like Coach Jordan taught.

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  • for working with students on personal narratives–the kind of writing I like teaching and reading best.
  • for chatting and laughing with former students as I walk through the cafeteria.
  • for finishing long-term projects.

 

  • for giggles at dinnertime, and singing.  Always the singing.
  • for Tuesday night yoga that heals my body and my brain and my spirit.
  • for leaves flying through the air and crunching underfoot and dangling from the nearly-bare branches.

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  • for my tribe, near and far.

Let It Go. (No, seriously. All of it.)

October 6, 2014

“Let It Go” from Frozen had become my mantra this summer.  On my runs, or after bedtime while doing chores, I would sing along with the gloriously-voiced Idina Menzel in my not-glorious voice.  “The past is in the past.”  Move on.  Let go.

And then school started.  And preschool.  And we dropped naptime.  And the kids’ oppositional behavior ratcheted up.  And I kind of forgot about it.

Well, I didn’t really forget.  Instead, whenever I remembered it, it would just make me mad.  I would run through my complaints with the Powers That Be:

My kids are so crabby in the late afternoon, and we’re in process of figuring out this new routine, so instead of routine-that-works, we have routine-in-process, which involves lots of screaming and crying and fighting and everyone exhausted.

Let it go.

My house is a disaster and I can’t find anything because my non-kid time has shrunk dramatically.

Let it go.

My body and my psyche feel off because I haven’t been exercising or eating right or sleeping enough and I know I can’t do All the Things, but can’t I at least have one thing?

Nope.  Let it go.

My days and weeks feel like a stream of plans interrupted by unexpected crises.  Like having to drive my signed contract to HR because I had blanked on the deadline.

Let it go.

I screwed up my interaction with this kid today, and that reminds me of all the times I have screwed up recently, and the Litany of Shortcomings gets stuck on repeat.

We’ve been through this.  Let it go.

One kid makes a whiny whimper that sounds like nails on a chalkboard; one kid’s default angry reaction is to scream in the nearest person’s face; and one kid ignores simple requests and refuses to comply with nearly every transition.

Let it all go.

Dammit, I HAVE been letting it go.  I’ve been letting go how long it takes me to grade papers and get them back.  I’ve been letting go cooking time, and organizing, and running, and sleep, and friend time.  I have tried to let go of the Lost Things.  I have let go of ever getting anywhere on time.  I have let go of errands and of getting breaks during the day and…and…  When do I get to hang on to something?

No, seriously.  All of it.

I was am sick of letting everything go all the time.  I want things to go MY way.  I get stuck in Unreasonable Expectations-Land (that’s an area of Disney that parents could identify with).  Things like:

  • assuming that my kids will respond to my directives. My recent method of handling defiant children sounds something like YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME.  It doesn’t work.
  • anticipating that my own clothing is clean and easy to find.
  • having time to figure out a probable food allergy (to peppers and also I think tomatoes but am too wary of trying them again).
  • finding parenting strategies that address both preschool-age behavior and multiples.  Apparently the market for parents of three three-year-olds is pretty small.

So it looks like my standards will need to relax.  Again.  I guess they can’t go completely rock-bottom because it would be against the law to go to work naked due to lack of findable clothing at 5:45 am.

And I am brought back to the hard truth that the only thing I control is my reactions to things.  That’s it.  That’s all I get.

This phase feels Hard.  Not Hard x3, but Hard cubed.  Like we’re in a pressure cooker of Needs and Feelings and how it’s just really hard to be a person, no matter what age.  And I’m emotionally exhausted and the Middle Way seems really hard to find.  So I’m working on letting it go.  Showing the same compassion to myself that I try to show my kids, my students, my friends, and my family.

P.S. I also like this multi-language version of “Let It Go,” and this Jimmy Fallon version.

Reason #5921 that I love yoga night:  watching the sunset on my walk home.

Reason #5921 that I love yoga night: watching the sunset on my walk home.

Do Not Go Gentle into That Last Nap

October 1, 2014

This past weekend, we entered into a new Twilight Zone:  the end of naps, for good?

It has been building for a while.  No one told me about the weird phase of toddlerhood when they fall asleep readily at naptime and then are awake and partying until 9:30 or 10 pm.

I could have let this go for a while, if they were awake but quiet after bedtime.

Ha.

The other night my kids made up a game called “Fox Ball,” in which Theresa’s stuffed fox is thrown from bed to bed like a turn around the bases.  Audrey has a wicked sidearm.

In an attempt to keep them awake but still give me no-kid time, we moved into a new phase of “rest time” in which each kid gets several books and maybe a puzzle, for an hour and a bit.  Jamie and Theresa started off in pack’n’plays, and graduated to little cots.  Audrey got her own bed, and I think she pretty much stayed there even though she had the whole room at her disposal.

But even then the girls–and sometimes Jamie–would fall asleep among their books and in full light coming in through the windows, and then the after-bedtime-party would shake the kitchen ceiling.

Dropping a nap has been a challenging process both times we’ve gone through it before–not necessarily for the kids, but more so for me.  I cherish that kid-free time.  Need it, in fact.  Especially on those days when I am by myself.  How will I manage without that break?

As usual, the transition is a process of trial and error.  We currently have individual quiet time for half an hour, followed by an hour of storytime to ensure no one accidentally falls asleep.  We think we need to move bedtime earlier rather than keep it at its old slot.

I am glad to have that post-bedtime quiet back.  I am glad not to have to go in five times for potty time or to break up fights or confiscate stuffed animals.  Really, I miss the days when we had peace at naptime AND peace after bedtime–those were glorious.

I know there are glorious days ahead of us too.  We will navigate the cranky-pants late afternoons, the meltdowns over tooth-brushing, the loss of all coping skills as their little bodies adjust to a different rhythm.

For now, I offer this, with apologies to Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that last nap.
Parents do burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

Wise parents, who’ll lose sanity’s last scrap
Without those brief reprieves of silence; they
Do not go gentle into that last nap.

Good parents, who feel their patience will snap
Like fishing line pulled taut across a bay,
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

Wild toddlers, whose energy does not sap
But builds to crabbiness with no delay,
Do not go gentle into that last nap.

Crazed parents, who anticipate this crap
In bedtime wars where both sides lose the fray,
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

And you, my children, cuddled on my lap,
Exhausted from your growth but want to play,
Do not go gentle into that last nap.
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

Big Kids

September 18, 2014

The past two weeks involved:

  • first day at preschool.
  • edging out of naptime.
  • first walk in which I could not convince anyone to ride in the wagon; they all ran ahead (I negotiated getting into wagon for street crossings, which they acquiesced to).
  • going down some pretty steep slides headfirst.

Hello, scariness.

On a different walk, home from the park.  I am slowly becoming unnecessary.

On a different walk, home from the park.

This burst of wanting to be Big Kids in a big way–one kid even has had several meltdowns over having to hold a grown-up’s hand in the street because said kid wants to be like the Big Kids–creates the urge in me to push back.  Squelch the growing.  Hold on to the status quo for dear life.

That is the tension, isn’t it?  The tug-of-war between parent and child:  who has control, who owns the power in a situation, who decides where the boundaries are.  The constant negotiation of how hard is too hard to tug, before meeting equally strong resistance in the other side.

I want to be on my kids’ side.  I want us to be facing outward together, hand-in-hand as we move forward on our paths.

But oh, it’s hard.

Some of the new behaviors drive me behind my line, heaving all my parental weight against potential injury (physical or emotional) or destruction of any semblance of peace we have.

Some of my vulnerability triggers:

  • Cars (even though my kids reliably stop at the corner, and have not ever run into the street).
  • Stairs (even though every kid has fallen down some stairs and has lived).  For some reason, stairs terrify me.  So much potential for pain.
  • That my kids have found power in “unkind words” (“ugly” and “disgusting,” from some of our children’s books).  It is maddening to tell them over and over that we do not use those words in our house, and to have them used then even more frequently because of the simple novelty of something forbidden.
  • The transition to “quiet time” from nap time.  Which is going to mean however many weeks of super-crabby kids in the afternoon but hopefully smoother bedtimes–though the other night my nappers happily sang “Happy Birthday” to each other and most of their animals instead of screeching and leaping from furniture like they sometimes do.  (Incidentally, Bear got to choose his birthday cake, and he apparently wanted a pirate cake with a brown background.)
They wanted backpacks because now they're going to school.  Audrey and Jamie chose monkeys; Theresa chose a pirate.

They wanted backpacks because now they’re going to school. Audrey and Jamie chose monkeys; Theresa chose a pirate.

Sandra Cisneros writes beautifully in her short story “Eleven”:  “What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one…Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk…each year inside the next one.”

And this is the way all parents see their children all the time.  They are three, and they are also two, and one, and four weeks old just home from the hospital, and on the ultrasound screen, and even before that, hoped for and dreamed of.

My kids hit a sudden spurt of wanting to be Big Kids, and my first thought is, “Wait.  I’m not ready.”  Which of course I try to pass off as “You’re not ready,” which is parent-ese for Holy Cow!  Put on the brakes, man!  So not sure about these changes…

So far, they love school.

I am almost-kind-of-ready for naps to be done.

I loved watching them be bold going down the slide, figuring out how to push their limits and testing their courage.  And the giant smiles when they figured out that the scary thing was actually really fun.

I am almost inching toward maybe walking with all three kids by myself and holding three hands with my two to cross the busy street near our house.  Almost.

I’m working on not letting the knee-jerk pull-back reaction to take over every time there’s a grand gesture toward Big-Kid-ness.  I’m working on holding hands and walking together.

 

 

Back-to-School Chaos: a study in vulnerability

August 27, 2014

I have back-to-school teaching nightmares every summer.  Even the summers I wasn’t going back to work.

Today, one of them came true.

I was 2 hours late to our first professional day:  a day of meetings and information and reconnecting with colleagues and information.

Not because of traffic, or car trouble, or sudden illness.

Because I wrote down the wrong date in my calendar.

The Really Awesome Office Manager called me to wonder if I was okay.  As soon as I got the voicemail, I burst into tears and started running around trying to gather anything I thought I needed.

Audrey and Jamie came to give me a hug before I bolted out the door and cried most of the way to school.

It was really embarrassing.  I mean, I am a professional.  I like to at least keep up appearances that I have my sh*t together.  Last year’s hoopla, getting hired after school started and meeting my students in Week 2, at least gave me the excuse for being barely organized.  This year, not so much.

Thankfully, I have very kind colleagues and administrators.  True to what I’ve been working on with my kids, they told me, “It’s okay.  We forgive you.”

My back-to-school experience started with an explosion of chaos, and throughout the day, the chaos–and consequent vulnerability–only mushroomed.

Every year this happens.  Every year, I think that I will be better prepared, that things like technology and physical spaces will be ready, that I just need to focus on my teaching.

Why should this year be any different?  Today, these are some of the things that appeared on my To-Do list:

  • integrate Common Core standards into my instructional practice
  • figure out how to hook up my new laptop to my new classroom’s projector and sound, or if the correct cables are even in the room
  • revise and copy syllabus and other first-day materials
  • find a phone, a trash can, and office chair for my office
  • move the rest of my belongings from old office to new office
  • get more than a 5×5-inch whiteboard for my gigantic new classroom
  • move old stained-glass workshop materials (like mirrors and other sharp objects) out of my classroom
  • take online quizzes for safety issues in education
  • get various forms filled out and back to the right people

Some really nice things did happen today.  I get my own classroom instead of running to three different rooms and an office spread out over three wings.  Another teacher showed me my classroom and offered to help move things off the walls.  My new office mate is super nice and already painted our tiny space.  I saw a couple of former students and chatted with them about their summer.

But the best two things that happened are these:

  1. Alan listened and empathized and offered to get take-out and go grocery shopping because I was about to, you know, replenish our household’s stash of food when I got the voicemail, and
  2. Alan’s aunt, a retired teacher who is really also my aunt and really also my soul sister and really also our kids’ honorary grandmother, texted me in the middle of the day to say:  Just thinking about you and your meetings tomorrow and Friday. [Ha! I even convinced her that they were NOT TODAY.]  I know you’re going to have a wonderful year!  Just like Audrey, Theresa, and Jamie, your students are going to know how much you love them and how much you want them to succeed!  You are an amazing mom, wife, niece, friend, and teacher!

Which made me cry again, but for a different reason.  The same lesson in grace that I give my kids:  that you are a good person who sometimes makes not-good choices.  And you are always, always loved.

Every year at this time is the same craziness.  In my last year at my old school, before I got pregnant, I announced that it was the year of Zen Michelle.  New technology didn’t work correctly.  We were integrating hundreds of new students into our newly renovated school.  I let it all go.

The universe wants to teach me the same lessons, over and over again.  This time, due to my own oversight, I feel like I’ve been airdropped into some sort of marathon swim race and I’m trying to get my bearings and breathe above the waves, and other swimmers, and obstacles, and lack of proper equipment.  Zen Michelle did not anticipate the shock of vulnerability.

The more chaos, the more opportunity to find the center.  The calm in the storm.  The ability to breathe, and swim, and mess up and find grace where it is.

Always, always

August 25, 2014

My babies have reached some interesting behaviors this year.  Hitting.  Contradicting.  Long-distance taking-of-things (another instance of logic not applying to toddlers).  Antagonizing.  And yes, I taught them what that word means–Audrey once even said plaintively to her sister:  “Theresa, you’re agonizing me.”

One of my kiddos recently had some consecutive meltdowns, and another three-year-old whom we had been playing with came to me to say, “[Child X] is not nice because [Child X] yells.”

I fought my Mama Bear instinct and used the phrase that our wonderful music teacher, Mary Anne, taught me about a challenging kid in our class: “[Child X] is a nice kid who is learning not to yell.”

Which came in handy last week when a two-year-old at the Aquarium bopped Theresa on the head.  Not hard.  Not enough to hurt or elicit tears.  Enough to make the dad fall over himself with apologies and embarrassment.

Audrey:  Why did that kid hit Theresa?
Me:  He’s a good boy who’s learning not to hit.

This is the reaction I wish other people will have for my children when they mess up.  Because they will.  We all do.  I am constantly asking for forgiveness for yelling, for hurting feelings, for blaming.  I am a good person who is learning to respond instead of react, learning to breathe before the cuss words come in front of my kids, learning to cultivate stillness in the chaos.

All three of them have had instances where they have said, “I’m not a good person because I [hit, bite, push, take people’s things, etc.].”  One even said, “I don’t love myself.”

The first of these moments happened a little while ago on Day 3 of Solo Parenting.  There had been many reprimands for this kid.  Many explanations of why it’s not okay to do [x].  One of those days where I felt like all my interactions with my kids were “Don’t” and “No” and Removal from Situation to Have Quiet Time.

By 9 pm, I was tucking this kid in for the fourth final time, and I said:  “You are a really good kid.  You are kind and thoughtful, and you are gentle with animals, and are really caring to others, and you make people laugh, and you are strong and brave at trying new things.”

Kid:  I make people laugh. [giggles]

Me:  Yep, you like singing silly songs and telling funny stories.  And you’re a really good person.

Kid:  But sometimes I am not a good person.  Sometimes I take people’s animals and hit and push or…take their stuff…or bite.

Me:  Can I tell you two things?  One, sometimes we all make not-good choices.  But you are ALWAYS, ALWAYS a good person.  Sometimes I make not-good choices.  Sometimes I yell.  But I’m still a good person.  And you are a good person who sometimes makes not-good choices.  Two, you always get a second chance.  Tomorrow you get another chance to make a good choice when you’re feeling sad or mad.  What other things can you do if you’re feeling sad or mad?

Kid:  I can shake the calming jar.

Me:  Right!  Good idea!  Or you can ask a grown-up for help, or you can go to your zebra and have some quiet time.

Kid:  Sometimes I make not-good choices.

Me:  But you are ALWAYS, ALWAYS a good person.  And I ALWAYS, ALWAYS love you.

These are the words I have latched on to, have repeated to the two other kids whenever they have had similar experiences of feeling like “not a good person.”

I cherish these moments, holding my baby and telling him or her what he or she must understand.  This is what my mom told us over and over, so much that I still hear her voice when I think the words:  I may not always love what you do, but I always love you.

My kids will have experiences in their lives that will cause them to question, at their core, if they are worthy, or enough, or a good person.  I am so grateful for the gift of being the first and most constant conveyer of that message:  not only always, but always always.

You are always, always a good person.

And I always, always love you.

In Summer

August 21, 2014

I have not been in writer mode for the past month.  I’ve been, instead, in vacation mode:  hooray!  Some highlights:

  • “special Mommy-kid day”:  each kid got to choose an outing with just me one morning before my parents arrived.  Audrey got her first haircut and then chose the Children’s Museum, where she loved shopping with a cart at the pretend grocery store.  Theresa got her first haircut and chose the Museum of Flight, where she sat in fighter jet cockpits and pushed buttons until I was ready to pass out from hunger.  Jamie went for a run with me and then chose the Great Wheel and Aquarium, spending almost the entire time (including lunch) watching the ferris wheel spin.  We almost never get that kid-focused one-on-one time, and I spent chunks of time just staring at these kids, in awe of who they are.
  • Potty Training:  begun in early July when my parents arrived, has been very successful.  One kid essentially could wear underwear all the time, even overnight (we still use Pull-Ups at night).  One kid is very close to kicking the Pull-Ups at naptime, and is working on pooping on the potty instead of asking for a diaper.  These two kids have now peed in a plane bathroom, in a port-a-potty, and in the woods on a travel potty.  One kid is still learning–but it will be so much easier to help that kid one-on-one when it’s time.  Overall the experience went much more smoothly than I had feared anticipated.
  • surprising my parents for their 40th anniversary with a family-and-close-friends party at our rental house in Chatham, MA.  My brother, sister-in-law, Alan, and I actually managed to keep it a surprise until the parents came home and saw the cars in the driveway.  Watching my dad get choked up as he tried to make a speech before cutting the cake:  priceless.
  • deciding this was my Vacation of Selfies.
  • collecting shells with my five-year-old niece:  getting to relive one of my favorite beach pastimes of childhood, and getting to do it with my only (and favorite!) niece.  We shared our discoveries of “pretty shells” and cool rocks, and collected them all in her bucket to show her parents when we returned.  It was worth the sunburn I got.
  • watching my kids play in the water with their cousins.  Audrey ran right in; Theresa borrowed Cody’s frog floatie device and floated to her heart’s delight.  Jamie started the first day on a boogie board at the water’s edge, with no part of him touching the sand.  By the end of the week, he was running into the water waist-deep, climbing onto the boogie board, falling off, and getting back on.
  • many firsts at the Cape:  their first time at the tramplines; their first mini-golf experience; their first ice cream at Short’n’Sweet (which everyone in my family just calls The Schoolhouse), our first Cousins’ Night Out with the girls I used to babysit for, first ladies’ night out wine tasting in Truro.
  • going into vacation with the intent to relax:  not bringing my laptop, checking e-mail and Facebook less often, making time for me (like beach yoga).  This helped avoid the Relentless Fun spiral that my prior summers have developed.
  • Aunt AJ found one of her favorite Disney story compilations, which coincided with us playing some Disney music from some old anthology cds I gave my mom probably 20 years ago.  This has resulted in the kids asking for “Mary Poppins” which means playing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” on repeat.  They are starting to know other Mary Poppins songs, though, which is great, and they also ask for The Jungle Book classic, “The Bear Nesesames.”
  • the immense blessing of getting to see three of my dearest college friends, thanks to my parents watching the kids for most of a day.  I love these and other friends for whom time and distance matter little.
  • the other immense blessing of visiting my Grandma and going to lunch with her and our family.  I feel so grateful to witness her joy in her great-grandchildren.

 

Trusting My Kids

August 18, 2014

So potty training has been mostly successful.  More than 50%.  I’ll take it.

It has also introduced or reintroduced some anxieties in my kids.  Anxieties that I won’t share because that part of the story is theirs, not mine, and they don’t need a digital record of such things.  This part of the story is mine:  their anxieties produce anxiety in me.

I have all kinds of anxiety for my kids.  Worry about how they will fit in with each other, whether one will consistently feel left out.  Worry about their social development:  will they be able to make friends?  Worry about others mistreating them someday.  Worry about their fears, or more specifically, if I will mess up helping them approach their fears and thus make them worse.  That I will somehow contribute inadvertently to the problem, when my goal is to heal and guide.

Tonight I was worried about one kids’ anxiety, and unsure of how to talk to that kid about it.  Wandering in the parental dark.  I made Alan take over and sat on the stairs in a vaguely meditative position, closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing.

Audrey sat next to me.  She tried talking with me, and I told her that I was confused and trying to think things through, and that she could sit with me if she wanted but that I needed quiet space.

She did this to me:

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Tucked the blanket neatly around my legs, making sure my arms were covered.  Draping the other blanket over my head like a shawl.  Later she brought me a toy airplane and placed it in my lap.  Comforting me.  Taking care of me.

Reminding me that sometimes what they need is not help or guidance but someone to sit with.

I used to worry when they skipped meals.  Now I know that they won’t demand food 20 minutes after a meal; they are legitimately not hungry and will just eat when they’re ready.

I used to worry about them at the playground.  I still have the occasional heart-in-mouth moments, but largely I can trust them to negotiate risks and challenge their comfort zones as they are ready.

So often I have gnawed over perceived problems, grinding my teeth against the lack of control (which everything always comes back to, right?).  So often my anxiety has done nothing to solve a situation.

Obviously, sometimes they need guidance:  like how to say, “I need space” instead of biting their sibling.  Mostly though, I try to remember to trust my kids to know themselves, to figure out their own journey and arrive at the right place at the right time.

Books We Love: for ages 2-3

July 23, 2014
tags:

It has been over a year since I published our last list of favorite books.  I am always looking for good new books for our kids, or as gifts for friends’ kids; this is also a way to help me remember what our kids (and we) have loved.  In no particular order:

Potty Books:

Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi

Going to the Potty, by Fred Rogers

Danny Is Done with Diapers:  a Potty ABC, by Rebecca O’Connell

Where’s the Poop? by Julie Markes

Potty Time! (Sesame Beginnings), by Parker Sawyer

Regular Books:

Oy, Feh, So? and Mr. Zinger’s Hat, by Cary Fagan

The Little Yellow Leaf, by Carin Berger

Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola

Madeline, Madeline’s Rescue, and Madeline and the Cats of Rome, by Ludwig Bemelmans

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Little Chimp’s Big Day,by Lisa Schroeder

The Construction Alphabet Book, by Jerry Pallotta

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban

What Pete Ate from A to Z, by Maira Kalman

Jamberry, by Bruce Degen

Calm-Down Time, Clean-Up Time, and Sharing Time, by Elizabeth Verdick

God’s Dream, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

Go! Go! Go! Stop!, by Charise Mericle Harper

Eating the Alphabet, Planting a Rainbow, and Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert

Harold and the Purple Crayon and Harold’s Trip to the Sky, by Crockett Johnson

Corduroy, by Don Freeman

You’re All My Favorites, by Sam McBratney

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, and If You Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Numeroff

The Diggingest Dog, by Al Perkins

Skippyjon Jones, Skippyjon Jones…Lost in Spice, and Skippyjon Jones, Class Action, by Judy Schachner

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Strawberries; Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Three Kittens, and Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes, by Maj Lindman

How to Train a Train, by Jason Carter Eaton

Down by the Cool of the Pool, by Tony Mitton

Big Dog…Little Dog, by P.D. Eastman

Knuffle Bunny Too, by Mo Willems

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood

The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

Ernie Gets Lost, by Liza Alexander

All in a Day and Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure

Henry Builds a Cabin and Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, by D.B. Johnson

Make Way for Ducklings, Time of Wonder, and Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey

Toot and Puddle, by Holly Hobbie

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip Stead

The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Maybelle the Cable Car, and Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton

Baby Bear, by Kadir Nelson

Bears on Chairs, by Shirley Parenteau

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen

Angus and the Ducks, by Marjorie Flack

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown

Lost in the Woods and Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams

Octopus Alone, by Divya Srinivasan

Duck and Goose Go to the Beach, by Tad Hills

Kitten’s First Full Moon, by Kevin Henckes

The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

Angelina and Henry, by Katharine Holabird

The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, illustrated by Yanai Pery

A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara

Pig Kahuna, by Jennifer Sattler

Tanka Tanka Skunk! by Steve Webb

It’s Mine!, A Color of His Own, Matthew’s Dream, Swimmy, by Leo Lionni

Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You, What Do People Do All Day? and Great Big Air Book

Dr. Seuss’s I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, The Sneetches and Other Stories, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hears a Who

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