Posted on October 24, 2014
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.Read More
Posted on August 13, 2013
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.”Read More
Posted on June 15, 2012
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.
Posted on February 7, 2011
I remember so clearly the first time my now three-year-old daughter told me that she loved me. The very image of my toddler expressing her love was enough to melt the heart of even the grumpiest scrooge. You know the scene: glowing eyes, the smile that filled her face, her arms reaching to give the biggest hug her little body could possibly manage. Not that I am biased or anything, but there is not a baby mammal or a hamster in a helmet that could possibly compare to this level of cuteness.
It has always amazed me how capable young children are of freely expressing emotions that adults are so apt to keep to themselves. Even babies will offer their comfort items such as pacifiers and bottles to other children who are upset, as if to say, “I know how you feel; I’ve been there.”
Still, even as I anxiously await my 15 month old son’s first proclamation of love, I can’t help but wonder: do kids really “get” love? Do they know what they are saying or are they simply mimicking behavior?
Yes, yes and…Yes!
Kids are expert cultural anthropologists; soaking in every bit of experience every minute of every day. They can sense tension and are astutely aware of happiness. I know this because both of my children are grumpy on my most stress-filled days and will laugh with me at my jokes when no one else will humor me… most of the time.
So when a caretaker affectionately whispers “I love you” and then shows it with hugs, understanding, presence, and sacrifice, it forms the child’s very understanding of “love”.
Go ahead; ask a child to define “love”. I am willing to bet that what awaits you is a list a verbs that reflects how love has been shown to them:
“Love is hugging, love is listening, love is helping, love is friendship.”
OR, in the words of a three-year-old:
“Love is when we use our nice hands and we don’t hit our little brothers. No. No.”
How have you loved today?
Posted on December 24, 2010
I am going to miss going to my Grandparents’ Lutheran church on Christmas Eve this year. It may be weird to hear such a thing from a Unitarian Universalist (a life-long UU, at that), but I really, truly have always enjoyed the Christmas Eve ritual of joining my grandparents in worship at their church.
As is the case with many families, Christmastime for my family was packed full of places to go, gifts to be bought and wrapped, and cookies to be baked. We called this, in our house, the “Holiday Shuffle.” Truth be told, I always did an excellent job pretending to hate it all and could “Bah Humbug” with the best of all possible Scrooges, but, between you and me, I loved every bit of it.
I loved rushing to wrap presents and the butterflies I would get in my stomach as I wondered if we would make it on time (thrill issues, perhaps?). I loved getting dressed up and smelling the Swedish Meatballs, potatoes, homemade lefse and dinner rolls that were keeping warm in the oven while we went to church. I especially loved the sharp, cold air and the countless stars that filled the dark Wisconsin sky, wondering if we would be lucky enough to see a snowflake or two that night. But most of all, as my family filed into the long, wooden pews in the dimly-lit sanctuary, I loved the sound of the choir and pipe organ that filled the cathedral ceilings as one and all waited in quiet anticipation for the stories to begin. It was magic. It was, what some people might call, “Holy.”
As is the case with many UU kids, I often wondered why most Unitarians bothered to celebrate Christmas; after all, we, by definition, do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. I totally stand by that; but what I have decided that I believe in is the Holy of the holiday.
I believe in the magic of inspiration and I believe in soaking in the wonder and awe of things greater than you; no matter where you find it. For most in my Grandparents’ Lutheran church, the “bigger” was found in prophecy and story and song about the birth of their Savior and the miracle of His life. For me, it was just being a part of this ritual, knowing that my presence was valued and treasured, and being reminded, once more, of the miracle of family.
These days, it is nearly impossible for us to make it to my Grandparents’ Christmas Eve celebration and to join the worship at that beautiful church in Wisconsin six hours away from our home. But as I create new traditions and rituals for my children, I hope that they, too, will feel the Holy of this night. Merry Christmas!