Can you bring your happy face to school?

I asked a preschooler, “Can you bring your happy face for our school pictures?” He shared, “I can bring any face you need!”

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As adults we are asked to do a lot of things. We often have job descriptions. We have commitments and responsibilities. We have friends and family that rely on us, and we have an entire world that seems to have needs we can fill. It seems we cannot get through a week without some political call coming to collect information and donations from us. “Can you, can you, can you” is a common start to a sentence.

There are times we give grudgingly. We really don’t want to buy wrapping paper from the middle school neighbor, but we do. There are other times we give out of responsibility. We help a friend move and pack boxes as we change our schedules to accommodate this project. A stranger needs help alongside the roadside, and we call for help We give of our time knowing we will never see the stranger again. A spouse needs help and even though you absolutely hate laundry, you fold his or her socks.

Adults give because of so many reasons. A preschool child is not complicated by all the adult trappings. When you ask a preschooler to do something, they either will or they won’t. They have no strings attached and no guilt when they give. They are cheerful givers. Sometimes unexpectedly they can give beyond the adult imagination.

If you are in need of anything right now, it would be a great gift to find someone who says, “I can bring anything you need.” That would be a school picture worth a thousand words.

  • How do you feel when someone asks you to give something?
  • What is a time you may have wanted to give but did not?
  • When is a time you gave more than what was expected?
  • Can you make a point to surprise someone this week by giving them the unexpected?Unknown

“Do you know what we do on 9/11?

‎I asked a preschooler “Do you know what we do on 9/11?” He thought for a bit and said, “Yes, we look for number 10.”

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The preschoolers in my school were not alive when 9/11 happened. Many of their parents were not even married at that time. 9/11 is something that is hard for a preschooler to understand. It is hard for adults as well to understand.

The nation often takes a moment of silence on this day to reflect and think about what 9/11 really means. Maybe as we are thinking, we can do what my preschool friend suggested and look for number 10.

May we embrace the end of Psalm 10 that says, ” You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.”

In 2013, 47 million people used 9/11 as a day of service to do good deeds. My own preschoolers are partnering with an agency to bring food to the elderly to honor this day.

Will you too consider doing an act of service for someone else?

Instead of the usual reflection questions offered in these posts, we may all do well to be silent and look for number 10…….

” You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.” Psalm 10:17-18

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

 

 

 

Do you search for four leaf clovers outside?

We asked our preschoolers, “Do you search for four leaf clovers outside?” A child thought about it and said, “I will now! My teacher always has such great ideas. I love her.”

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One of the highlights of teaching is when you open doors that students never knew existed. There is that moment when a child sees something for the first time or experiences a new feeling or texture or activity and you realize you have entered into sacred ground.

As children, new things happen often daily. They don’t plan for it, it just happens. Oftentimes a loving teacher is behind a new experience. As adults we often walk through our days with no real expectation that something unique will happen. We don’t assume we will try something for the first time in our lives.

Finding a four leaf clover is considered good luck, especially if it is found accidentally. I wonder what may happen if we looked for the great ideas that others have around us and followed through with trying new things. Maybe the accidental finds would bring us more than just good luck.th-1

  • If you wanted to search for something, what would you search for?
  • Do you have anyone in your life who continues to challenge you to try new things? 
  • How would your outlook be different if you expected to do something new each day?

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Will you blow away in the wind?

It was so windy this week, I asked a preschooler, “Do you think you will blow away with all this wind?” She looked at her little body, and said, ” I think I have too much inside of me to blow away.”

Blowing in the Wind

Blowing in the Wind

All people have things that ground us, things that keep us who we want to be. As I write this, I am on an airline flying to the Windy City from Las Vegas. Las Vegas is full of interesting people with thoughts, actions, clothes and words that are unique to my everyday life loving preschoolers.

Two men next to me on the plane have diamond studded watches, designer gift bags and electronic equipment worth more than the rental car I just returned. They were practicing rapping with each other while making up gestures with their tattoo filled arms and hands.

On the other side of me are young parents with an infant daughter. Their seats are filled with toys, a special blanket with an attached pacifier, a bottle and baby music with finger plays to entertain. The husband was returning from a business trip and did not want to miss time away from his young family. His face was proud as he shared with others the accomplishments his infant could do in her short seven months of life.

I’m not judging either side of this airplane, but I am definitely more comfortable with one side of the plane than the other. I cannot speak to which side is more grounded. Luckily choosing who is grounded or not will never be my job.

Speaking of grounded……the pilot just announced that we will need to stay on the ground a bit due to some excessive winds. Apparently the plane’s insides are not big enough to not let us blow away. I am thankful for pilots who keep us grounded when we need to be yet let us fly high when the time is right.

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  • What grounds you?
  • What elements are weighty enough inside of you to help you stay your course?
  • When you see others who have chosen different values, what can you do to remain grounded in your own values while accepting other’s choices?

My hope for all is that your insides will always be too much to ever blow you off course.

“You have to be good.”

I overheard a mother telling her child, “If you want to go trick or treating, you have to be good.” He looked at her and said, “If I am bad, it just means my costume is really good.”

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There are times that a preschooler can just make us pause and think. That is something we all need to do more often. As adults we often go through the motions of a day without really thinking if there are new ways or contemplating why we do what we do and what we believe in.

Being bad and being good are such broad concepts for young children. If you are a child, broccoli can be bad. Getting mud all over yourself outside can be good. Taking a nap in a cozy bed can be bad. Waking up before the sun rises so you can play loudly in your room can be good. Good and bad are not always black and white.

There are many adults who live in absolutes. They have strong feelings on good and bad. There are issues with gay people, people of different religions and races, and issues on what foods we should put in our bodies. As we think through all of these complex issues, let’s try to use our good choices in a world that can often be very bad.

  • When you think of something bad, what do you think of?
  • Have you had a time when what you thought was bad turned out to be good?
  • What can you do to turn any bad situation into something good?

Remember, finishing all of that trick or treat candy, can be good or bad depending on how you think……..how much do you have right now?

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“Are you celebrating the 4th of July?”

I asked a preschooler, “Are you celebrating the 4th of July?” He exclaimed, ” Of course I am! I am 4 years old and I like to have a party every month that has  a 4 in it!”

Do you celebrate with Fireworks?

Do you celebrate with Fireworks?

Independence Day is celebrated each year in the United States on July 4th to commemorate our breaking free from Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to his wife Abigail wrote, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” It seems that is one part of our American history we have gotten good at remembering. Each year the United States is left with the decision of how to best celebrate our holiday.  The fourth of July link here will show some beautiful pictures from our country’s previous celebration. Our country is full of beautiful fireworks, parades and picnics.

The 4th of July only comes once a year. However, my preschool friend is right. There are more months with the number 4 in them. We can choose to celebrate more often if we desire. Fireworks and parades may not be practical each month. However, Thomas Jefferson did have another sentence to his wife before he shared his big party vision. He said, “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

A solemn act of devotion to God Almighty is something we just may be able to pull off each month. It does not have to cost anything. It can be an individual choice what that looks like to each individual. If our country could remain grateful as we think of others, that could be a true celebration. It could be a celebration that lasts from this time forward forever more.

  •  How are you celebrating the 4th of July?
  • Who are you dependant on?
  • What acts of devotion could you do the other 4ths of the months?
  • For those who do not believe in the God Almighty that Thomas Jefferson spoke of, what ways could you still see a need for remaining grateful as you think of others from this time forward forever more?

Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependant on one another, every soul of us on earth.”  George Bernard Shaw.

The power of a preschooler can change your life…if you let it.

“How many can I have?”

I was at a store while a preschooler stood looking at all the candy. It was a large amount to choose from for little eyes. She innocently asked, “How many can I have?” The mother was impatient and said, “Just pick one!” The little girl picked a box of gummy bears and said, “I will eat just one, but the other bears in the box sure are going to be lonely!”

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Could YOU just pick one?

 

Sometimes it is hard to be obedient. We want so much, but we have to be content with what we are offered. If we accept what is given to us, we open doors for more to follow. The preschooler with one gummy bear will be happily surprised as her mother allows her to eat more than one. However, we never really know what our limits will be until they are upon us. If we can remain happy with little, just imagine how much easier it will be to be happy when we are given much.

  • When have you had a time when one gift felt so good to receive?
  • Be honest, have you had a time when you were disappointed hoping you were going to receive more? Did you handle it the way you should have?
  • Think about a time when you or someone you know has received a gift bigger than what was expected.
  • Will you try to surprise someone this week with something they are not expecting?
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“What are you doing on the chalkboard?”

I watched a preschooler draw a chalk drawing and then get out the eraser. I asked, “What are you doing on the chalkboard?” He said, “I am hiding my picture! Now it is only in my head!”

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When we erase things on the chalkboard, we think they are gone. We like seeing things disappear ready for a new creation. However, some things really do not just disappear even though we can’t see them.

Memories can be strong. They can hold things that no chalkboard will ever hold. Memories can bring back emotions, smells, textures and words that are brighter than any chalkboard could retrieve. We all need to try to live our lives so that even when the outward signs of our lives are erased, the inward memories remain positive things to hold onto.

  • Do you have a memory you would like to erase?
  • What is a memory you hope will never fade?
  • What things could you do to help use all of your memories to work together to create a collectively good picture?

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“What did I forget?”

I brought a preschooler to the bathroom, and patiently waited while he finished. I helped him wash his hands and, he said, “You forgot something!” I paused and could not think of anything else a preschooler usually does in the bathroom. I had to ask, “What did I forget?” He said, “You forgot to say P.U.! My mommy always says P.U. when I poop in the bathroom.”

What did I forget?

What did I forget?

Sometimes I forget how important  parents’ routines are in a child’s life. When parents consistently do things over and over, children pay attention. Things become routine and normal for a child. Each parent gets to set their own routines and phrases in their lives. If I had to make a guess, the parent of the child who I was talking to was not thinking they were making long-standing rules for bathroom etiquette as they say, “P.U.”. That is often what happens in parenting. We say things without realizing how well our children are listening.

We get so caught up in trying to get our children to listen to us so they will clean their rooms and eat their healthy dinner that we forget they are actually listening at other times. They are listening when we talk to strangers in the grocery store. They are listening when we whisper to our friends. They are listening when we have disagreements with our spouses. They are listening when we tell the other person on the phone that we are busy doing our work when we are really on our way to a movie.

We have heard that an elephant never forgets, but a preschooler can act like an elephant if the conditions are right. Hopefully more things are pleasant memories than ones filled with P.U..

  • What is something you remember your parents saying a lot?
  • Do you have a memory of your parents’ words sneaking out of your mouth at some point?
  • If you could be assured a child would always remember your words, what is one thing you would like to tell him? 

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“Does it have important words?”

I was at a preschool fair and got to see children get an Energizer Bunny encouraging them to be energized at our preschool. I heard one mother ask if he wanted her to read the words on the bunny. He said, “Mom, does it have important words? I want a bunny that I can share with the new puppy. Does it have words that say “Dogs LOVE to play with this”? Words like that are really important.”

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Everyone has different needs and sees different things as important. At a preschool fair, parents walk around and look at dozens of schools all trying to vie for their attention. Each school has a little different flavor, emphasis, cost and time provided. The choices can be overwhelming for parents. I heard a parent in the hallway share that he could pay more for his two year old’s education at one school than his own first year of college. Choosing a preschool can be a daunting task.

We can be given lists of what to look for in a good preschool. Things like class size, licensing standards, teacher qualifications, curriculum choices, risk management plans and discipline policies are all very important to look at and understand. However, we also have to always look at the schools from the child’s perspective and what he or she is truly wanting and needing to get out of his day.

While we are busy thinking about academic preparedness, our child can be thinking about his favorite new puppy and how to love him. Life’s needs are a bigger span than any of us can really realize. We all are energized through different things. While some of us love to read, others like do art projects, others like to build things and others like to find friends and pretend they are all in the kitchen baking together. Good schools will honor all of the things children love to do. By honoring the wiring of the child, they are in essence energizing them.

Children who are energized will be happier, healthier and easier to get along with. Children have a natural form of energy that when used in the right form can change the world they live in. Adults also have this same energy although we have often dismissed it. Parents walk around tired and dragging and often missing out on the zest for living that a preschooler has. They have more commitments that often leads to more confinements and makes it harder to remember that sometimes a new puppy needs to have fun with a new toy.

  • What things drain energy from you?
  • What are things that pour energy into you?
  • What are some ways we can be more like a preschooler and enjoy our energy with others? 
  • What are some important words that you need to hear or share with others?

“When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It’s very simple.”
Paulo Coelho

P.S. The last blog post was about decluttering. Last week I received 21 stuffed Energizer Bunnies, and I will gladly say they have been kept from a landfill or a lonely basement and given new homes. Sometimes decluttering can bring energy to long forgotten things. Maybe you have something you can gift someone else today. If you can’t find “something”, than share some important words.

 

“We will be getting two inches.”

I was talking with a preschooler who just moved to the north from the south. As she was excitedly looking at her first snowfall, I said, “We will be getting two inches.” She looked intently outside and said, “Where are the two witches?”

First snowfall for some preschoolers

First snowfall for some preschoolers

 

Snow is something that we all have a different opinion about. Some of us love the first snowfall and others dread the possibility of a chance forecast of snow. Some of us live in places where snow never comes out of the sky. Some of us live in places like Buffalo, NY that has snow fall like rays of sunshine in Florida.

I was in Colorado with some non-snow, adult friends, and they were surprised that not all snow makes snowmen. They had no idea there were different types of snow that are caused by different conditions.

Adults, like children, do not have a full grasp of snow until they experience it. Most adults will not be looking for two witches to fall from the sky, but they could be disappointed when the snow ball fight they had envisioned will not happen with dry and powdery snow. Experience is something we all gain every day as it changes our perspectives.

There are times when adults can be judgmental and hard-headed even when we don’t have direct experience with a situation. We talk like we have authority and have no idea we may be making a fool of ourselves as we talk about looking for “two witches.” It takes a mature person to learn new things and be open to learning from people who have already experienced things. For those not wanting to believe in that, there are plenty of witch stories that can be engaged in. In fact, there is a Satanic group presently wanting to pass out their Satanic coloring books in the public schools in Florida. They want equal time to the bibles that are passed out in the area.

In a race to a child’s heart, the first one there often wins. May truth through experience find its way to children and adults alike.

  • What was your experience with snow growing up?
  • What is your opinion of snow today?
  • What is something you would still like to experience that you have not?
  • What things do you hold onto as absolute truth, and how to do you share that with others?

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”
Andy Goldsworthy

 

Did you vote?

I asked a preschooler, “Did your mommy vote this week?” He said, “My mommy and daddy kept getting phone calls and daddy said, ‘I want to throw that phone out the window if it rings one more time.’ Then mommy said, ‘We can’t throw things in the house. There are nice people calling to just make sure we vote.’ Then daddy said he can vote with no phone calls, and he still is going to throw something when they call. I asked if we are all going to vote because I like to throw things around. Daddy said, ‘The people on the phone throw a LOT of crap around’ and Mommy said, ‘Don’t say ‘crap’. It’s not a nice word.’ Mommy then told me I had to go to bed. I said, I didn’t want to go to bed because I wanted to stay up and watch daddy throw the phone around. Mommy said that will not happen but I heard daddy say he will throw the phone and I didn’t know who was right. I asked if the elephant or the donkey on the television has the most crap. My mommy looked at my daddy and they both laughed, but then I got put to bed real quick and I have no idea if they voted. I don’t even know what voting is but it is not the same as boating because that never makes my dad talk about throwing phones.

Did you get this sticker?

Did you get this sticker?

Some say politicians talk a lot. They have nothing up against a well versed preschooler.

As you look at our politicians, it may be good to us the lens of a preschooler:

  • Decide on your own who to vote for. What you do is always better than what someone else tells you to do.
  • Don’t take “crap” from anyone. You know what is right and should not be afraid to share it. Also try not to be offended by words. Words are only offensive when you let them.
  • If you have to go to bed, make the most of it and enjoy your time. Not everyone needs to know you really don’t sleep but play with your ninja turtles.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”
Larry J. Sabato

“What would you make with a mixer?”

We had a mixer out to make some frosting with some preschoolers. I asked, “What would you like to make with a mixer?” One boy looked at the beaters and said, “I would like to make NOISE!”

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All of the children in the group before the boy shared some delicious item they would create with the mixer. The very last child shared his truth. NOISE is sometimes the best thing to make.

Noise is something that contains energy. It always creates some reaction and it gains attention. Noise can be subtle or it can be voluminous. It can scare us and jar us and soothe us. It can speak to us with no words.

The first thing that comes out of our mouthes when we are born is noise. Noise is universal. Noise can be an enemy or a friend. Noise can be appreciated or disdained. Noise can be silenced for a moment but not forever.

Noise is a lot like people…….

  • What kind of noise do you like to make?
  • What noises are annoying to you?
  • What can you do when you need to silence the noises around you?

“There are two types of people in the world. People who like kids, and people who don’t. People who complain about kids screaming on aeroplanes and in restaurants, and those people who love kids and enjoy their energy and enjoy hearing the noise they make and get off on their energy. I am one of those people who happens to love kids”
Magnus Scheving

P.S. If you decide to make a noise today, the joyful ones are always appreciated most.

 

 

“Did you have a Happy Birthday?”

A friend of mine celebrated his third birthday this week. He had candles on his cake, happily blew them out and then opened some presents. His mother asked, “Did you have a happy birthday?” He smiled and said, “Yes! I want to blow more wishes!”

Happy Birthday!Children have joy and creativity in abundance. They do not set limits on themselves. Rules are often just suggestions to be tried out. One size does not fit all for a young child. A cupcake has no guilt in eating it.

Adults are more pragmatic. They understand the need for rules and the consequences when they are not followed. They feel comfortable knowing who they are and what is expected of them. They try to eat healthy things even when they don’t always taste as good as the “junk food.” Both ends of that spectrum have advantages, and we can learn from each other. We all could benefit from taking some parts of a joyful preschooler and mixing them with some parts of a mature adult and watching what happens.

The idea of making one wish while blowing out candles for a birthday has been around for all of our lives. The tradition seems to go back to ancient Greeks when they would put candles on a cake to pay tribute to the Greek moon goddess, Artemis. The round cake symbolized the moon and the candles reflected the moonlight.  Germans also enjoyed the cake and candle tradition as they put a  larger candle in the middle of the cake to symbolize “the light of life.” Some people have looked at the smoke from the candle as a vehicle to carry their wishes to gods who lived in the skies.

Superstition is still surrounded by some of our birthday candles. If you have ever feared a wish would not come true if you did not use one blow to extinguish your candles or if you shared your silent secret with someone else, you have used some superstition. Mixing some old tradition with some new concepts is how we often get our current practices.

If you want a good recipe for a “Happy Birthday”, take 2 parts preschoolers with one part adult, mix until blended and spread to others. Blow more wishes as desired.

  • Do you have a special birthday wish you remember either getting or not getting?
  • What, if anything, is wrong with wanting to wish more than once?
  • Will you take a moment and think of a wish you would like for your birthday and then plan how you could make it a reality.

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“Don’t wish me happiness – I don’t expect to be happy it’s gotten beyond that, somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor – I need them all. ” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

P.S. As we look toward our future wishes, believe it or not, there is an app for that! Click here for your birthday candle to use.

 

Have you ever seen a “Baby on Board” sign?

I was talking about signs with a preschooler, and I asked, “Have you ever seen a sign on a car that said “Baby on Board”?”  The boy thought for a moment and said, “I wish my baby sister could learn to snow board. She just sits in a boring car seat ”

"Baby on Board"

“Baby on Board”

Preschoolers do not set expectations like adults. They are able to visualize babies snow boarding. They are able to visualize grandfathers doing kick flips on a skateboard. They are able to visualize mothers actually enjoying making race car noises as they play with their cars.

Adults lose their ability to visualize the improbable. Our analytical minds know that babies will not be riding snowboards anytime soon. However, adult minds need to keep the analytical part while still holding onto the preschooler portion that know no limits. Great inventions come from minds that have no limit. New fashion styles come from minds that do not repeat familiar concepts. New music comes from the same notes rearranged in ways that no one else has ever thought of. Snowboarding tricks come from minds that see beyond the normal.

Sage Kotsenburg just brought home the first US gold medal in slopestyle. His run had a new trick he is calling the “Holy Crail.” “Never even tried it before,” Kotsenburg said. “Never, ever tried it in my life.” (see ABC news coverage on Sage Kotsenburg here) Sage saw beyond the normal and created his own winning trick having never attempted it before. Sage is open to new ideas and new challenges. We can only imagine what a “baby on board sign” would look like in his world. It may be filled with things like a fake ollie, swiss cheese air, backslide misty, tail press and a crippler.

  • What would a baby on a snowboard look like to you?
  • What sport would you try if you could do anything?
  • How do you limit your life by keeping expectations too small?
  • Will you smile and envision yourself as a baby enjoying a snowboard ride?

“I now realize that the small hills you see on ski slopes are formed around the bodies of forty-seven-year-olds who tried to learn snowboarding.”                             Dave Barry

The Power of a Preschooler will change your life…..if you let it.

 

“What are you going to be for Halloween?”

I asked a preschooler, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” He replied, “I am going to be hungry for candy!”

Enough candy?

Enough candy?

 

There is a lot about the Halloween time that can be attractive to a young child. There are fun costumes to look at. You get to be a princess or a super hero or even a friendly dog. You can be whatever your imagination allows, and there is freedom in that.

Children love freedom. They love running outside without an adult asking to hold their hand. They love making sounds when they want and not being told to use “inside voices.”

There are so many decorations and fantasy items to explore. Young children love seeing things that engage their imagination and curiosity. As Americans we spend more money on decorations for our homes during this season than some countries spend on their entire Gross National Product. This is a big industry that attracts people of all ages.

Children also undeniably love candy. They seem to crave the sugar laden items packed in wrappers and often candy not in wrappers on the ground! There are many small hands quicker than the hands of adults as items are found on floors. However, there is so much talk of juvenile diabetes. There is talk about GMO’s in candy. There is talk about too many chemicals in candy along with food colorings. In America, we are expected to eat 600 million pounds of candy in the next couple of weeks.

A 13 year old boy in Forbes Magazine starting his own candy company after being disappointed when his father took half of his candy away for his best interest. This boy did not give up on the idea of eating candy. He just made the candy something that would be more healthy and work within the rules of his household. He created “unjunked” candy that would fit the needs of so many.

There is a lot to be learned from that young guy. We all have things in our lives that we really enjoy that are probably not that good for us. As adults we can now make wiser decisions about how to either do something in moderation or how to change all the rules and create something new that will satisfy us yet also be more healthy and work within the rules we establish for ourselves.

As adults we also get the privilege of being whatever we want for Halloween. We can get into a costume. We can lock our doors on Halloween and never celebrate it. We can point to religion as a way to avoid the day. We can point to religion as a way to celebrate the day. We can buy any candy in the store and eat as much of it as we can stand. With any choice comes responsibilities. If the world would all look for ways to be more healthy while still working within the rules of the household, it would make Halloween and any day a better thing.

(More details on “Unjunked candy” when you click here.)

  • What is something in your life that is probably not healthy for you, yet you really enjoy? 
  • What are some modifications you can think of that would help make that item or items more healthy and still work within the rules of your life?
  • When there are items that we truly just indulge in, what are some ways we can deal with that without becoming overburdened?

Once in a young lifetime one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold.  ~Judith Olney

 

 

 

“Will you PLEASE let the photographer take your picture?”

We had picture day at preschool and I asked a preschooler, “Will you PLEASE let the photographer take your picture?” He said,  “NO” in any way he could think of. The photographer tried to get tricky and said, “Your mom really would like a picture of you.” Not budging forward, the preschooler said, “She already knows what I look like so she doesn’t need one!”

Not everyone refuses to get their picture taken.

Not everyone refuses to get their picture taken.

Having a logical talk with a preschooler can be challenging. They do not have the same logic abilities that adults have. They are uniquely creative and openly honest. If they do not want to do something, they will not cave into other people’s feelings.

Yes, there is a time to follow directions and obey authority figures; and yes, there is a time to stand up for what you really feel is right. The balance between the two is something that becomes more clear with maturity. However, there is something to be valued in the strong willed preschooler. I attended a high school graduation party for that preschooler that refused to have his preschool picture taken. His mother had all of his yearly pictures displayed for the guests see, well, all accept the one year that he simply refused to go near the photographer. I looked at all the pictures, and the strong willed child that has grown up to be a mature, polite adult. I played an outdoor game of Bags with him and his mother, and he was a wonderful sport. The stubborn streak I had seen at age 4 was replaced by a caring, athletic side that was not at all hesitant to pose for a picture. I had to smile when the mother was the one that was the competitive, strong willed one in the game we played. She is a wonderful teacher by profession, and I could see some of her competitive side that just may have rubbed off on her son when he was small.

There are times when we get fully frustrated at a noncompliant preschooler, and there are times when preschoolers get fully frustrated with adults making demands that do not make sense to them. Sometimes the bigger picture says we need to accept some of that strong willed behavior so that they can find their own consequences through their sense of self.

  • When was the last time you just did not comply with what was expected of you?
  • Was the consequence worth it?
  • What areas would you like to be more strong willed in?

The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera.  ~W. Eugene Smith

“What is your favorite thing you see in your new preschool class?”

I asked a child, “What is your favorite thing you see in your new preschool class?”  She looked carefully all over a room teachers had spent weeks preparing. Then she looked at her mother and father and said, “My favorite thing in the room is my mommy and daddy.”

Loving note from a mommy and daddy

Loving note from a mommy and daddy

This note was written by a mommy and daddy for their child as she started preschool. Love is something you can sometimes feel on paper. Love is something that mommies and daddies give well. Love is what every child needs.

I see how much time, love and sweat teachers put into preparing a room for the fall. They laminate. They paint. They put up bulletin board paper. They arrange a room. They rearrange a room. They rearrange it again. They write names on cubbies. They rewrite names on cubbies when names are misspelled and some children never end up attending. They bleach toys until they start smelling like a pool. They make snack notes, calendars, getting to know you papers, attendance sheets, job charts and emergency plans.

They do this all to make a difference in the life of a child. Teachers do make a HUGE difference in the life of a child. However, mommies and daddies can still be the winner in the “favorite thing award.” Daddies can be the best toys in a room. Mommies can be better than the most delicious snack and be the best encourager. Mommies and daddies can truly be the favorite thing in any circumstance.

  • What is your “favorite thing” in your life?
  • What do you think is hard about being a mommy or daddy?
  • What can you do to help mommies and daddies in the world be the best they can be?

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money.” Steve Jobs

The power of a preschooler can change a life….if you let it.

“What did you like about your other school?”

We are getting ready for preschool to start for the fall, and I asked a child, “What did you like about your other school?” He said, “I liked EVERYTHING until I had to open the front door.”

Do you want to exit or enter?

Do you want to exit or enter?

I have been meeting with parents and children the past month, and I am amazed at how many preschoolers have already had a bad experience with school. I can somehow understand a high school student not enamored with his environmental science class or a middle school student dreading her technology class. I can even empathize with my college aged child not excited about a class with $355 worth of books. However, the idea that a four year old would dread a class that should involve love wrapped around some learning is just sad. For a child to know at age four that he does not want to enter the door of a school makes me question what is happening in that building.

I see children who are very attached to their parents, and separation anxiety is strong. I see children who have emotional issues who need extra care, and I see children who have not tried new experiences and can be timorous over a situation.  All that can be handled with love. What is so sad to see is a teacher who does not embrace the little boy who is not interested in writing his name when there is a really cool truck in the room. Some teachers will get upset over little girls who are worried about painting because of their pretty, princess dresses Some teachers have classrooms filled with coloring in the lines worksheets when a whole world of exploration is calling to the class.

Teachers can make or break the spirit of a young child. A door to a school can be seen as a gateway to joy, or it can be seen as a prison door leading to misery. As a parent, we need to watch what doors we allow our children to enter. As parents, we can have the ability to change things as we enter doorways. We can turn bad experiences into good outcomes. We can enter a prison cell and find an exit door. We can help our children experience a revolving door, a screen door, a bifold door, a Dutch door and a handicapped accessible door. As we watch our children enter and exist doors in their lives, it is a perfect opportunity to think through all of our choices, consequences, outcomes and joys that were met with the pull of one handle. We all have more power when we exit or enter a door than we realize.

  • What is a door you wish you never had opened?
  • If you could pick any door in the world to walk through, what would it be?
  • What can you do to make the other side of any door a positive experience?
  • How can you help others walk through a door they may not want to open?

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” Graham Greene

The power of a preschooler can change a life…. if you let it.

“World’s busiest control tower”

I looked up at the Air Traffic control tower this weekend in Oshkosh, WI. It had a large banner that said, “World’s busiest control tower.”  I stood by a preschool boy as I read the banner out loud. He looked at me and said, “I have the world’s busiest mom, and she doesn’t even need a tower or banner to do it!”

World's Busiest Control Tower, Oshkosh, WI

World’s Busiest Control Tower, Oshkosh, WI

When you fly into Oshkosh during the week of the big Airshow, it is a crazy, busy time. You get special flight rules for landing, and you wag your wings so the controller can quickly see you and proceed to the next aircraft. We have landed with multiple planes on the same runway all trying to listen and follow the directions of that world’s busiest control tower.

As busy as that control tower can be, a mother can put on her own show if need be. She can maneuver making breakfast, packing a backpack, tying a shoe, talking on the phone and letting the dog outside all in one sweeping motion.  She can do this also without the help of a child repeating the directives back at her. Rarely does a preschooler helpfully say, “Roger, copy that.”

Planes operate in IFR conditions at times. This means pilots cannot see clearly enough and need instruments to help them. Mothers too often cannot see too clearly, but they don’t get the luxury of instruments. They use their intuition and their experience to find that hidden shoe that if not found will produce tears. They also find toys that have been hidden yet contain no GPS tracker. Mothers are left to navigate their children’s flight plan with not much preflight notice.  A young child can change its trajectory and air speed in a split second. He can amend a plan quicker than a pilot can reach for his altimeter.

A pilot can have the luxury of using an autopilot.  A mother may think she can exist in an autopilot mode, but children will quickly disprove this. There are too many variables that an autopilot is just not feasible. There is too much turbulence.  There are too many upgrades that need to be met. The need for sick bags just further complicates a mother’s busyness. There are too many things going on to carefully talk to a control tower.

A mother’s job can be busier than the Oshkosh control tower or cockpit. She does it without a beacon. She does it without a harness seatbelt or helmet. She does it without the advantage of ForeFlight making a flight plan for you. She also does this all without the FAA regulated duty and rest rules. There is no mandatory off duty time for a mother. There also is no special type rating that must be shown in order to operate a family.

She also does this all without a big banner or tower saying she is busy. Besides, there really is no banner needed for stating the obvious.

  • If you could talk to the world’s busiest control tower and they could help you with anything, what would you ask?
  • What types of things occupy the days of the typical busy mother?
  • If you had to get a type rating as a mother, what would you want yours to say?
  • What could you do this week to help some mother that is too busy?

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”
- Maya Angelou