Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


Am I Really Listening?

parent-listening

I’ve been reflecting on my previous blog post about wondering if my children are listening to me, and it got me thinking: am I listening to them?

There was a stump in the road
And it became clear
Everyone’s approaching
With lots of fear
How did this happen?
Is everyone okay?
Who will be able
To lift it out of the way?
Cars need to drive through
Are they going to see?
What if someone misses
And hits the piece of tree?
Is the driver aware
Of what he left behind?
Will he be back?
Looking to find?
Assumptions have been made
From what I don’t know
It quickly turns into
Quite a show!
What I learned
About what I didn’t see
Is it’s sometimes important
Not to make-up a story
It made me think hard
And giggle a bit
How many times do I do this
And don’t even realize it
Making assumptions
About what I see
Is this okay
For every story?
It made me reflect
about my beautiful children
And how I owe them
all their explanations
I need to listen
and hear what they say
I need to push my assumptions
out of the way
Allow them to be heard
Explain in their own words
The crucial situations
That actually occurred!
Not the things
I’ve made up in my head
Who knew with this stump
My own understanding would spread?


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Are They Listening?

are-they-listeningI often ask myself, “Are my kids are truly listening and processing when I speak to them?” No, seriously…I’m not trying to be funny! When I speak from the heart and feel like I am saying things that could help them grow, develop and make well thought out decisions, are they really listening? This age span that I have with my four children has me on my toes on a regular basis. I want to make sure when they have questions about the things that are going on in the world right now that I take the time to answer them and that they hear every word! Or, when my three-year-old points out a woman in a wheelchair or my eight-year-old giggles at her own gross burps in public, I need them to listen to me when I respond.

I know they aren’t listening when the very next time we are in the same situation the same things continue to happen. We sit in the car and have in depth conversations about why it’s not polite to stare at the woman in the wheelchair, and yet the very next time we are in public, my daughter’s first reaction to a man with no arm is to loudly ask, “What happened to his arm mommy?” In the car before we even enter a restaurant we go over the basic rules: use your manners, stay in your seat, and keep your voices down. But then my daughter burps so loud that the people at the table next to us can definitely hear. I explain for hours about freedom of speech to my son and how it’s an amazing right to have your own beliefs in our great country, but then he comes home from school talking about how stupid so-and-so is because they keep talking about how they want so-and-so to win the election!

I need to have my children’s full attention so these very critical moments grow into understanding and they can then make their own educated decisions. I need them to keep asking if they don’t understand. And for my part, even if I’ve answered them over and over, I need to stay patient and answer again if that’s what they need.

I have had a session with a school psychologist and during our discussion she enlightened me that children’s brains before and during puberty are like hills and valleys. You can’t be absolutely sure at any point in time if they are on the top of the hill (in the clouds and enjoying the view) or the bottom of the valley (trying hard and focusing on the climb).

I have been in the middle of a well thought out, prepared speech that makes so many great points, and they’ve looked up at me and said, “What?” as if they had not been listening to a single word. That’s when they are on top of that hill! But that moment when you actually stimulate conversations, questions and even examples they are at the bottom of that valley working hard to get up! They get it!

Bottom line, I have to keep teaching them. I have to laugh now and say this is why Dora the Explorer is so popular! She repeats and repeats a lot of things several times over. My kids roll their eyes and get irritated when I repeat myself on a regular basis, but if they only knew my gratitude when those eyes roll and I know then that they’ve heard what I said…finally.


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Thriving With Children

Imagine my surprise when I found out today that I’d won the book of the month from Books by Tara! Not a bad way to start the week.

I met Tara at the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Learning Through Play conference. The bright, colorful books on display in her booth caught my eye, vibrant enough to make me want to pick one up and see what they were all about. We started talking about the books and I learned that Tara, in addition to being an early childhood educator, is the mom of two boys with autism. Her sons have inspired her books and her philosophy: that ALL children require engaging experiences with caring adults to truly thrive linguistically. Tara created her books out of her passion as a mom and an educator, and to aid her on her journey with her children. She takes her own beautiful pictures and presents them in book form to entice children with familiar objects. In my opinion, children need these kinds of experiences to thrive in ALL aspects of their lives!

Tara makes some lovely points on engaging children, especially those that are “focus-challenged.” Her suggestions include making your time together fun, being playful, celebrating the little successes, pausing for your child’s response and encouraging the next small steps. Who wouldn’t thrive under those conditions? I am reminded of a time when I was traveling with two teens and a slightly older twenty-something. The girls were acting up and I was trying to get them to focus on their attitude and behavior, making my point that how you view and treat yourself is how others will, too. I used a pretty vivid example from something I had read on the subject: if given a choice, would you prefer to be like a dirty and tattered Styrofoam cup or a fine china tea cup?  The girls took this to heart, and I later took what I’d learned from our conversation and turned it into a class I gave to tweens. Like Tara’s books recommend, we were playful, holding our class at a tea parlor and allowing the girls to chose which cup they wanted as the memento of our day. Sweet and simple, but a lesson all the same. To this day, the girls and their friends still talk about that event and what it meant to them.

Every day we spend with children is filled with expectations and laced with the unknown. We can only hope to create experiences for our children that allow them to learn and grow. I won a book today, but when I am truly engaging and interacting with my children, I win everyday.

– Debbie

Photo courtesy of Emily Loren.


Blooming for a lifetime!

This fall the hibiscus which stands alone by my front door was amazing.  It bloomed a dark reddish-blue color that seemed different from past seasons.  It was tall, with the bloom maybe 6-8 inches across.  The sad part is that the flower only bloomed 1-2 days-after all that watering and fertilizing.

This got me thinking about children and what it takes to make them bloom, how precious time is when we are working with our children to make the most of each minute as these little ones are soaking up knowledge.  Their brains are busy building connection that will affect the rest of their lives.

The big difference is that when we cultivate and enrich a child’s joy of learning, that a child will bloom for more than 1-2 days.  Our hope is that a child will bloom for a lifetime!  Enjoy this beautiful season of change and embrace this season as a time for learning and new experiences.  Take whatever time it takes to water and fertilize your precious child.

Posted by karen on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 12:16 PM