Stories of kids I tell here are often anonymous – children and parents or teachers I observe in my day-to-day life. Sometimes they are about friends and family members (with their permission).
This story is about me as a child, and about my mom, without her worldly permission, which is no longer possible.
See Infant Willa. See Preschooler Lincoln. See how they grow.
Is it tempting, as an adult, to respond with one of these knee-jerks?
Look closer with me because there is much more to see.
One of my most popular entries on this blog was "Full Moon Blues." I decided to re-read it and see whether I could discover the secret sauce that made it so atttractive to so many readers. I'm still not sure I know.
What I did discover is that I predicted a "step 2" blog post. I had advised you to become more self-aware about what you tell the children in your life, about who and what they are -- the labels you put on them, like shy, wild, hyper, or stubborn.
As I prepare to join many Kansas City Women's Chorus friends for a farewell to one of us who recently transitioned out of this life, I was reminded of a song we all learned long ago. Written by Harmony Grisman, the lyrics (sans the repetition in the original) are simple.
"In love, practice only this: letting each other go. Holding on is easier; we don't need to learn it. Practice letting go."
Harmony could have been writing the theme song for the Childhood Treasure of Acceptance. It's had me thinking about how children are supposed to learn to let go...yet often don't.
Acceptance. Letting go. The acorn's story. The story of the Sacred Wound.
I recently read that therapist Pittman McGehee states the opposite of love is not hate, but efficiency (according to Peter Block).
The words hit me dead center in my heart and I knew I had to write about this statement, which I fear is too often deeply true for young children. Especially, reading this statement so soon after a related conversation on Facebook with a friend seemed a call to speak more widely.
The opposite of love is efficiency. Speed. Git 'er done. Move it, mister. We're late. Check that box. Movin' on.
"Put away the scissors, please."
A simple instruction, made politely but, still, an instruction (not a request), spoken in a tone of kindness. Simple, yes?
As a teacher in the Youth Church at Center for Spiritual Living-St. Louis, I give instructions like this every Sunday morning. I've given thousands of similar-sounding instructions to youngsters across my decades of life, as a preschool teacher and director, auntie and now great-auntie, godmother, and friend-of-the-parent. Mostly, children have complied.
How many times have you heard a parent or teacher of young children say that? I believe it may be their second-most repeated phrase, right after, "I'm so tired."
Here's what picking battles looks like sometimes. This is Grace, eating lunch with socks on her hands. I pounced on this photo after her mom posted it on Facebook, and use it here with permission. (Disclaimer: Both Grace and her mom are members of my extended family.)
Young children are amazing, if we allow them to be. Look what they can do!
This photo shows a model of a neighborhood in University City, in the St. Louis metro. Bordered by streets with painted lanes, this little urban patch contains buildings, a park baseball diamond, vehicles, and the children's own early education program, Urban Sprouts Child Development Center.
Two true stories today, modified only to protect the reputations of the innocent.
Story 1. In the holiday-crowded aisle of a big box store, a three-year-old girl, with her mouth wrapped around three fingers of one hand, reaches up her other to grasp her mother's hand, trying to pluck it off the hem of the hanging garment Mom is examining. With a snarled, "Stop it. I'm busy," Mom smacks away the child's hand. The child begins to wail a thin, keening cry around the fingers still in her mouth.