Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart are real life experiences that touched my heart. I was
encouraged to publish them in the school newsletter where apparently readers have been just as touched. Children are so wondrously unpredictable and downright funny. Parenting is so humbling. Putting these experiences to words is a joy to my heart and hopefully yours.

Here is a sampling.
Have your own stories? You are always welcome to share them with me.

I am trying to teach my 8 month old daughter how to sleep through the night, while taking my 18 year old daughter to college. It struck me while listening to my youngest daughter cry for me at 2:00 AM that my goal for her is to teach her to turn inwardly for comfort, and strength. she isn’t hungry–truly, she just wants me to hold her so she can go back to sleep. I’m hoping that by letting her cry, she will pacify herself and not need me as much anymore (at least during the wee hours of the night).

I’m letting by oldest daughter go—I won’t be there when she returns home from a long day at school. I won’t be there to meet (and scrutinize) the boys she dates, or to even make sure she is eating nutritiously. I’m hoping that she has the strength to turn inward—and grow in herself, by herself, and realize how strong she is.

It struck me that this is the lesson we all strive to teach our children ultimately—how to live without us! there is that fine line though isn’t there? It’s nice to be needed, but when our need to be needed cripples their need to grow apart from us we’ve crossed the line. Aarrgghhh! I want to get up and rock my baby back to sleep, and I want my Jocelyn to stay with me forever, but I won’t allow myself to do this to my daughters. I do want them to grow up to be strong women. I’ll have to be a strong woman myself, and let them go…and grow…

For the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to have both of my parents stay with me in my home. I completely underestimated the influence my parents would have on my children—a positive influence!

My father is a retired scout master. He has taken my teenage son under his wings and has encouraged him to get two merit badges completed in just one month. Something I had been working on with him for several months. He just needed another nudge from someone who had been there himself. A guy thing.

My mom asks my children questions in such a tactful way that they open up to her, and go into great detail when sharing with her a story about their day. It’s not a rushed conversation—she has time to really listen to them. I, on the other hand, sometimes snatch snippets of their day while washing dishes, or driving in the car with them.

My dad helps me with little things around the house like getting the mail, feeding the dog, etc. You know how little jobs just add up—those are taken care of for me.

So, I have become a believer! I believe in great—grandparents! My children are thriving, which is helping my family to thrive.

Grandparents bring even tempers, slowness, help, unconditional love, and a a connection to extended family. A sense of belonging. I’m thinking they need to stay longer…

My daughter Jocelyn just graduated from Vancouver School of the Arts and Academics. She even spoke at her graduation ceremony. I couldn’t help but feel exceptionally proud of the young woman she has grown up to be. It seems like only yesterday she was running around my home, changing her clothes bazillion times a day, and singing at the top of her lungs the Ariel Song. And now she sings solos with confidence.

Yesterday, I watched two parents (who happened to both be deaf) at a gymnastics class as their daughter showed them how she could now do a back handspring. Both parents had on HUGE smiles, and oozed pride in their daughter’s accomplishment. Nothing feels as good as watching your child experience triumph. Nothing. GraduatiOn speeches, handsprings—same triumph, same joy.

I hope you too, feel a sense of pride as you watch your child grow from triumph to triumph. Making a friend, learning to use wods instead of hitting, pouring their own juice. this is joy!

I just finished reading several books published on the importance of having fathers and father figures in each child’s life. Research states that each child should have at least 4 male father figures to help them in their life’s journey. Children with involved fathers, (FF) generally have better success in school, crime rate goes down, more successful relationships, and less teen pregnancies. Fathers (FF) are vital in a child’s healthy development. Often, it is the mother who tries to diminish the fathers role in the child’s life. Why? As long as the father shares the same values for the child—then foster that relationship. I was guilty of this early on in my parenthood. I thought my way was better than my husbands, (after all I had received an eduction in childhood). However, he was a natural genius with our children. I now stand back (and try not to cringe!) Seek out strong father figures for your child. Your child will benefit, and so will your family.

While reading the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s published book, “Plays Place in Public Education” I came across fascinating developments regarding the ability to take risks as a young child. As a matter of fact, research has shown that those children who feel comfortable taking risks become fluent readers! Not only that, but play is the purest form of risk taking. Think about why risk taking is important for reading. How many sounds does the letter “C” make? How about “E”? A risk taking child will try to sound out a work, fail, and just try again. No problem, no drama. A non-risk taking child will shrink from the venture—some activity of reading—afraid of failure.

So, we allow risk to take place in all it’s (safe) forms here. Children are allowed to climb high (with an adult as a silent shadow), we allow the children to go UP the slide, and we also let our children pour their own juice while snacking. When juice spills, they just clean it up—no problem. We encourage effort as much as accomplishments.

I was the girl who moved in the middle of the school year. The longest place I lived anywhere growing up was 5 years. Change was a part of life for me. I remember thinking to myself while being introduced to my new class in 5th grade, “I have two choices. Make this work, or hate it.” I chose to make it work. Each move was a risk for me, but I chose to make it a positive risk—no problem, no drama. So, risk taking has become important to me as a mother. How do I hinder risk taking? One way is by saying, “Be careful” when I see my child climbing high. Letting go, and stepping back stinks at times (frankly) but it is essential for my child’s and your child’s sense of “courage”. So, let’s take a risk, you and I, and let our children take risks themselves!

I am the single mother of 1/2 dozen children during the month of March. I don’t seek your sympathy, it’s just many of you have mine. For about 5 weeks I’m stranded and alone, but I knew it would be this way before I even said, “I do” almost 20 years ago. I knew that for my husband Larry, besides me, and chips and salsa—basketball was number one for him. And so, as I am alone in my room reading about the life of John Adams (no joke), I think of you single mothers who are an inspiration to me—you do it alone all the time. You cook alone, discipline alone, clean alone, and sleep alone. How do you do it? I am guessing, you do it because for you—your child is number one. And you focus on that—your child. And you get up each day with the love you have for your child in mind throughout the day.

I can’t whine when I am surrounded by amazing women like you!

The other day I was here in the early morning with all of the children gathered in the Star class. I had such a great time!! We had a circle time where we sang one of my favorite songs, “Uncle Jessie”. I think we sang that song ten times. Then, we gathered together and put our coats and hats on for outside play. Now, I have to confess to you I wasn’t personally looking forward to outside play. It was, in my own personal (was born in California, never wore socks, hate coats, etc.) opinion too cold to play outside. I’d have to put on my own coat, and I don’t like damp, grey, winter weather. But, the children were excited to go outside, so I reluctantly joined them.

I have to tell you that what I witnessed amazed me, and I soon forgot about the grey weather.

Lanie and Grace climbed up atop the pipes with plastic shovels and yelled, “Power Rangers” to anyone who would listen. Destyni and Chandler were the leaders of an all girl pack. Destyni would say, “We have to shower now.” And all the girls followed. “Its time to get ready for church”. And then they ran round and round the playground singing.

Olivia, Luke, and Salara were busy collecting “baby eggs” (rocks) in a plastic bin while Keegan followed and asked questions. Soon, all baby eggs were gathered carefully and placed by the door. Jack and Tristan were busy riding a “train” (the rock small fence). Jack G. and Maven were in the planter boxes “digging to the bottom”. Mattias, Carson and Liam were in the sandbox with Addie. Plenty of negotiation was taking place. “This is my space, please take your boat to another place.” “Okay”. Oh, and Thomas and Tara went up and down the slide making sure I would notice. “Hey, look at me!” Jazmyn sat in the swing and patiently waited until I could get to her to push her now and again.

I confess, I am a born again outside playtime person. I enjoyed watching the dynamics of the children while at play. Not one single child complained of the grey weather—they didn’t seem to notice—they were busy doing what children do—playing!

My youngest child has melt downs. Anything can set her off, and there is no pattern to watch for—or so I thought. I began to notice the melt downs occurred whenever it became a war of the wills—me vs. she. As the melt downs continued, I began to think to myself, “Behavior continues because it is rewarded in some way. How am I rewarding her?” How did I handle her melt downs? I would try to reason with her (you cannot reason with a child in melt down mode—have you tried lately?), I would continue to talk in a soft voice to her during the melt down (was she really listening? I think not! Therefore, I was wasting my breath), and I must admit, sometimes I even gave in, or gave her something to appease her! Can you believe it?

Well, I decided I did not want to raise a four year old into a potential demanding melt down Teenager, so I came up with a game plan: She melts down, I put her somewhere away from me, leave her to it, and let her come back to me when she is ready to talk and listen. I also told myself I would never, under any circumstances reward her melt downs by giving in in anyway, or appeasing her. Do you know what? One day, one day of clamping down, and her basically living in her room, and the melt downs have decreased 100%. I’ve had three melt down free days, and I began the “clamp down” three days ago! Success! So, fellow melt down victims, join me in clamping down—you will be glad you did!

This month my oldest child will graduate from high school and begin his journey to college. Wasn’t it just yesterday, when I was the mother of three children under 5, drowning in diapers, preschool, t-ball, and tears? Time really does go on? This is my message for the month: enjoy the moment! Each stage of life has its joys and it’s challenges—two’s are toilet training, and learning their boundaries, but they still cuddle, adn forgive easily. Three’s get into everything but they tell great stories, and their giggles keep you smiling. Four’s want to do it on their own, even if it takes too long for you, but they say the sweetest things! And so, time goes on, and before you know it, your child will be walking out of your door, just like my son. Take more pictures, eat more dinners together, listen a bit longer without interrupting, and keep loving them!

My mother used to make my clothes for me when I was growing up. Together, we would go to the fabric stores and carefully choose a pattern that had many variations—a vest that matched the skirt that matched the jacket that matched the pants. Hey, it was the 70′s! This was our time.

At night, when I would lay in bed, I could hear the sewing machine going “clack, clack, clack” and in the morning, when I woke up, there would be a new outfit hanging on a wire hanger atop my bedroom door. I knew my mother loved me because she not only told me so, she showed me by sewing for me.

When my first daughter arrived (Jocelyn) I knew I had to sew for her so she would know I loved her.

I took Jocelyn by her chubby little hand to the fabric store. To my horror, she chose a pattern that looked like she wanted to be a sleazy Bo Peep when she grew up! But, mothers will do anything for their children, so I purchased the tasteless pattern and began to sew. Now, I am a perfectionist at heart, and I soon found sewing provided for me many mistakes. Ripping, tearing, cutting, and frustration! My poor husband would hide at the other side of the house when I sewed! I think, it is the onlyh time I can remember where I said a swear word aloud!

But, I persevered, because I wanted Jocelyn to know she is loved by her mother.

While she slept, I sewed, (and swore). And, exhausted, I carefully placed teh finished dress on a wire hanger atop her bedroom door. When I went to bed, I smiled knowing myh daughter would know she is loved.

The next morning, she came to my bedroom dressed NOT in her hand made dress, but in a dress purchased for play from Wal-Mart! Shocked, I asked, “Jocelyn, what happened to the dress Mom made for you?” “Oh, I don’t like that dress” and of she skipped won the hall.

The lesson learned? I don’t have to love my children the exact same way my mother did. I just have to love my children the way THEY need me to. Tailor made love! (Thankfully, it does not involve sewing!)