Tag Archives: children

Three Hundred Fifty Nine: The Importance of the Arts

“A broad education in the arts helps give children a better understanding of their world…We need students who are culturally literate as well as math and science literate.”  – Paul Ostergard

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have lots of dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solution without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs

Friday, December 26th

Today was the first time that my children attended a ballet. The Nutcracker. And it blew their creative little minds.

I sure need all the help in keeping my school-aged daughter inspired by the arts. She and two of her 1st grade friends claim they hate art. My husband and I know that she appreciates it; she always has a crayon, paper, and an idea in her hand. We strongly suspect that she does not like the art teacher. Linear. Explaining too many techniques for little minds that just need the free space to explore media.

Although ballet is a product of endless structured classes and many practices, the mix of live orchestral music, choreographed dramatic dance, and lore is a wonder to a young child. It was a spectacle, and I honestly took more joy in watching the children than watching the stage. My son kept leaning over to his Dad and I and saying, “DID YOU SEE THAT?” or “WOW! THAT WAS COOL!” A mind full of wonder is a powerful thing.

I have one and a million goals for the upcoming year, but exposing my kids to more diversity within the arts is definitely high on my list.

What would your world be like without the arts?

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Three Hundred Thirty Six: We All Need a Stretch

“Warrior pose battles inner weakness and wins focus. You see that there is no war within you. You’re on your own side, and you are your own strength.”  – Unknown

Wednesday, December 3rd

Today was my daughter’s last day of her after school yoga class. She told me in the morning that she didn’t want to go to the class, but she was reluctant to leave when I came to pick her up. It’s been a great experience for her.

So much of parenting is coaching someone else while also coaching yourself. It’s a test of balance, and I am often teetering to the side of frustration, misunderstanding, and anger. I am aware of this and trying to do better for my children, but it is a struggle – perhaps the toughest struggle in my life. I have found that quieting my mind and wringing tension out of my body through tai chi, yoga, or qi gong is an effective means of centering myself once more.

My daughter made a book of yoga with key words for her like “postyur”, “godis”, and “rainbo power”. My sincere hope for her is that she continues to stretch and move the energy in her life around and through her, expelling the old stale energies and rejuvenating herself with the new.

What rejuvenates you?

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Three Hundred Twenty Seven: Conference

“Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher.”  – Maggie Gallagher 

Monday, November 24th

I am still new at this being-a-parent-to-a-school-age-child thing. I’ve only had the experience of working directly with one teacher to one of my children…and honestly, my daughter and I hit the jackpot. She has a great teacher. One of those special people who grasp the importance of holding the whole child – their aptitudes, their interests, their emotions, and all their little quirks – to help them advance and progress as a growing person.

My husband and I felt like our daughter had advanced, but we were unsure of what her teacher would say. Now I know that Parent-Teacher conferences are an Art and a Science – a mix of the cold hard facts of skill development and an explanation of how a particular child is doing socially in the classroom, none of these reports delivered with judgment or blame or tone. All of these things can send a worrying parent into a meltdown.

This one hour with her teacher gave us so much insight into our lives – as grown up children, as parents, and as observers to our children’s behavior at home. Perhaps it shouldn’t have felt so much like therapy, but the core of my day-to-day is ensuring my children continue to build lives based on an awareness of their world and of their own happy and healthy hearts. I have invited adults into my children’s lives and in the case of my daughter’s schooling, she has a teacher who cares about her deeply. I am seeing that her teacher has insights that help me develop my skills as a parent, and for that I am so grateful.

Do you value public education?

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Three Hundred Seventeen: Field Tripping

“Crucial to science education is hands-on involvement: showing, not just telling; real experiments and field trips and not just ‘virtual reality’.”  – Martin Rees

Friday, November 14th

My daughter is blessed to attend a public school that stresses the importance of hands-on learning through being outdoors and participating in activities that relate to their field of study. Today she went to a museum dedicated to boats made of wood, since her class is learning about trees and how humans use them in the world around us.

I love taking my children on field trips, and often I forget all the things that they are really learning when we are in the thick of them. They are having experiences and getting to know how things work by witnessing them firsthand. It was frustrating to me as a child when I came up against something I didn’t know or had never been taught; I took it personally and felt self-conscious that I might be the only person who didn’t know that. Somewhere along the way, I wasn’t given the explicit explanation that life is an onion and we peel back the layers one-by-one. And it’s okay to not know and to question and to guess and to be corrected.

I see how my daughter takes in this information and funnels it into her art and her storytelling. She is a non-fiction type of kid, and I love to see how she is filling in the blanks with some very cool information.

What was your favorite field trip growing up?

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Three Hundred Fourteen: Delight

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”  – W. Somerset Maugham

Tuesday, November 11th

There are some days that I really remember how very important it is to provide a healthy diet of delight for my children.

Sometimes I am so busy whisking them out the door to school or the next adventure that I forget that beyond the ticking clock is a leisurely day where we will get to where we need or want to go all in due time. And we will savor every minute of it.

My daughter was home from school today in honor of Veterans Day. It felt like a good day to take the kids to the zoo. They made the list of things they wanted to see and we visited all those animals. Stinky goats. Roaring lions. Cute little meerkats. It was a fun day. A fun day that could only be made better with donuts! We went to the good donut shop, and each picked out our favorite flavor. My daughter skimmed all the chocolate off the top of her donut before eating the cakey part. My son left crumbs everywhere. I inhaled mine.

The things that delight my kids delight me too. We all need to treat children to something special once in a while, inner children included.

When was the last time you acknowledged your inner child and treated that playful part of yourself to something special?

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Two Hundred Seventy Nine: Doing the Cool Work That Needs to be Done

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”   – Dorothy Day

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.”  – Bell Hooks

Tuesday, October 7th

I struggle with what I’m going to do with my life when I’m grown up. But I am grown up. And I’m doing stuff, right? But every once in a rare while, I come across something new that fires me up with hope and excitement that I will find or create the meaningful soul work I was meant to do.

Today I found the Morning Side Center online. On the organization’s About page, “Morningside Center works hand in hand with educators to help young people develop the values, personal qualities, and skills they need to thrive and contribute to their communities—from the classroom to the world.” The good stuff.

While I don’t necessarily see myself working directly with children, I like the ethos of getting to the heart of things and inspiring change from within. Children are taught the intricacies of the very difficult job of resolving conflict. This is a life skill I wish every community took on for its children – embedding the social skills needed to create that more just and peaceful world we’d all like to see. Or at least the sort of world it seems hard to create on our own as well-meaning “skilled” adults.

This might be a cynical thought but I wonder if adults get to a certain age where progress seems futile, so it seems more reasonable to invest in a future generation. Lately, I have felt intrinsically the overbearing weight of resolving conflict between adults. It’s emotionally draining and it taps into every little insecurity you have. If we really…I mean, REALLY…committed to a generational shift in the emotional education of our youth then maybe new solutions would arise. Maybe these youth would grow up and challenge us to stand up or step aside in decision-making.

For now, I’m glad to see there are single organizations out there modeling a healthy way to educate our children with compassion and honesty and bravery.

If you could create any type of non-profit to change the world, what would it be?

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Two Hundred Forty Five: First Day of School

“If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.”  – Edgar W. Howe

Wednesday, September 3rd

Sigh. Yes. I would be at the front of that line.

Summer did present its challenges along with all the wonderful opportunities to connect as a family – mainly getting used to our newly-turned six-year-old daughter being with us full-time again and then just as suddenly not being with us at the end of it. These shifts are changes, like seasons. That’s tough on all of us as we figure out why it feels different and why there is conflict where there wasn’t any before.

All it takes is the small radical leap. My family is used to small changes like the change from July to August or from rainy weather to sunny, but the leap in a day’s structure and who is around for that really has a big impact. All that being said, I expected that today would be wrought with indecision and tears but it wasn’t. My daughter got dressed to go to school and was excited to walk through the doors back into her classroom. She plunked down next to her buddy Maggie and started to draw a picture. As she phased her brother and I out of her field of view I knew it was time to leave.

Good luck, Little One.

Do you remember your first days of school?

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Two Hundred Forty Four: Last Day of Summer

“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Tuesday, September 2nd

The last day of summer. It is a gem in the year of days and one to be savored wholeheartedly.

We joined our cohousing neighbors for a Back-to-School meal – hot dogs, burgers, and root beer floats. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the fresh air and last chance to gather before school started up on the 3rd. And as cohousing tradition dictates, the kids lined up from youngest to oldest and talked about where they would be going to school and what they were looking forward to learning this year. My little guy told everyone he was going to “Mama T School” (he’ll be doing a home preschool with me) and my daughter shied away from the spotlight.

It’s a sweet thing to honor the growth and development of our children regardless of how they learn or what they study.

What did you do on your last day of summer?

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Two Hundred Forty: Holding It Together

“But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.”  – Hans Christian Andersen

Friday, August 29th

Friday was another day of volunteering. Stuffing packets full of forms and sheets to go home to parents. We had a critical mass of volunteers and it was actually good fun to converse while doing a remedial task. With 15 minutes to go until the end of my shift, my daughter came in with her arm held straight and complaining of a sore elbow. She’d fallen down the slide while a girl still had a hold of her arm. I figured it was bruised and gave her a snack to keep her mind off of things until she forgot about the injury. These little bruises and bumps happen all the time, and it’s hard to know what’s a tap and what’s a real hard knock.

Flash-forward 10 minutes and it was impossible to get her into the car seat. I was becoming increasingly convinced that she needed to go see a doctor. She wouldn’t bend that elbow, and I was afraid that she had some sort of fracture. I called the nurseline from our medical insurance and it was hard to make a firm conclusion given all the indefinite unsure responses from my girl.

We went to the Emergency Room at a local Children’s Hospital. After watching the first 15 minutes of “Babe”, the resident came in for an exam. My daughter was fearful but let the smiling doctor touch her arm. She gently touched each side of her arm ascending from her wrist up to her elbow. My daughter didn’t cry, so the doctor took her elbow and quickly twisted it popping it back into place. It was a dislocated elbow. She’d had this condition a couple of times before when she was a toddler – nursemaid’s elbow – and it is amazing how quickly this simple move changes everything from Oh no to Ho Hum. I was so thankful to see her relaxing, no longer in pain.

Children amaze me. They don’t have the frame of reference to explain what is happening to them when they are in pain; therefore, they brave it through some tough situations.

What can you learn from a child today?

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Two Hundred Eleven: Free Play

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.”  – Joseph Chilton Pearce

Thursday, July 31st

Today was a playdate day. My friend and I brought our kids down to the beach, set up a blanket, and watched them adventure up and down the stretch of sand. Neither of us had remembered to bring shovels, so the kids found their own treasures on the beach and created games with them.

I noticed that they were going further than I’d usually be comfortable with them being away from me. It felt safer that they were in a group together and us mothers watched the trail they made from one end of the beach to the other. This free zone allowed the kids to indulge whole-heartedly in creative play and they turned into fairies and sand witches.

I’ve noticed that my unsupervised children make bolder leaps and do more independent problem solving. It has encouraged me to create more spaces for them to do this.

Are there areas in your life where you could lessen your control or ease up on your boundaries for positive benefit?

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