How the Forest Came to Be

Photo by Amy Peterson Derrick

Once there was a mouse who loved his home in the forest.

On warm, summer days, he would go for long walks through the woods; the canopy of the great, tall, trees providing shade from the hot sun above. In the fall, mouse would scurry through the fallen leaves along his path, listening as the leaves rustled and crunched. In the winter, mouse would occasionally venture out to listen as the trees creaked and groaned in the winter wind.

But mouse’s favorite season was springtime.

The ground that was once frozen was now soft and squishy, and tracks of friend and foe were easy to spot in the mud.

The forest floor, while still scattered with gray, soggy leaves, became spotted with little specks of green pushing through the soil.

The towering trees, whose branches were covered in buds, seemed ready to burst open at any moment. Mouse loved the trees best of all. And so every spring, mouse would wander through the woods, and stop at each great, enormous tree waking up from its long, winters nap and wonder, “how did you get here? Where did you come from? How could something so giant and magnificent just…be?”

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A Story for All Ages

>Cup of Joe

This is a story that begins, not once upon a time and far, far, away, but one that takes place in homes all over the world, and right here, right now.

And how does it begin?

With people gathered together and a spark, the striking of a match, a cloud of sulfur, a flame that erupts from nothingness into suddenly being. The candle is lit, the lights are dimmed, and a small, curious voice breaks the solemn silence on this holiest of nights and asks, as children often do, “Why? Why do we light candles tonight?”

The child’s words seemed to hang in the air forever as the adults in the room desperately search their own memories—what is that story again? What words shall we use? What are the most important parts of the story to share with the next generation? And then it occurs to the elders: they don’t remember hearing these stories for the first time, or what words were used, or even who told them.

The stories are just part of them, the stories are in their bones.

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When Tragedy Strikes

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A couple of years ago, news broke of a tragic shooting in Colorado. Saddened and distraught, I started looking for resources aimed at parents, like myself, who were searching for ways to help their kids process the news of this unthinkable event. So I searched. And I found a few good resources and put them together in a short post.

Then the next tragedy struck. So, again, I searched and I added a few more resources to the list. Then the next… and the next. In fact, every time news of a shooting in our country has occurred, more and more resources have become available and the list in this post has become longer and longer.

While it is wonderful that there are so many great articles, books, and videos available to parents, the length of this list pains me. Each time I revisit this post I find myself confronted by the ugly thought that perhaps one day I will apathetically skim past these breaking news stories and choose to no longer add to this list out of a sense of complete hopelessness. What other tragedies, I wonder, do I already neglect to make lists for, neglect to help my children process, forgetting that they may see my indifference as acceptance?  Most of all, I wonder if the world will allow my children’s hearts will be soft enough to feel the sting of senseless violence or if they will grow to no longer take pause if they continue to be surrounded by stories of children being murdered in their own backyards.

And so, I offer this list to you again, but this time with the recognition that our job is not to help our children become immune to the sadness of tragedy. Instead, let us help them feel secure with them knowledge that they are loved and cherished; let us model for them a reverence for life, and open their eyes wide to injustice, and also remind them to look for the heroes who bring us hope.

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Calm, Cool and Collected

Thinking

It finally happened. I have been working with my 3 and 5 year old kids on naming emotions and finding coping mechanisms for anger and frustration from the time that they were wee babes, and wouldn’t you know it, they have gone and thrown it all right back in my face.

“Uhm, mom, I think… maybe you need to find something calm to do. You aren’t being a very Peaceful Piggy.”

Great. That’s all I need. My 5 year old trying to teach me a lesson. I don’t want to slow down. I am sure that everyone within a mile radius of me can feel my intensity today, but I don’t care. I just want to get everything on my to-do list done. Now. Yesterday. And who does that child think she is, anyway?

“Thanks for the reminder,” I am glaring at my 5 year old. “But it is time to get going. Now. Get. Your. Shoes. On.” 

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Kids Live Here

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Kids live here. Sometimes it takes a two-year-old armed with a stolen blue sharpie and a big imagination to remind us of that.

Kids live here,

  Sometimes we follow their whims…

…and sometimes they even let us play along.

Kids live here,

This home is where we nurture the imagination,

and let them be who they are.

Kids live here,

And sometimes we dare to let it show.