Do you see any four-leaf clovers?

When we were outside, I asked a preschooler,  “Do you see any four- leaf clovers?” She looked at the clover plants and replied, “I don’t know how to count, but I can look for things that are beautiful. Beautiful things are easy to find.”

Looking for beauty

Looking for beauty

 

According to tradition, a four-leaf clover brings good luck. Luck may not have as much importance as beauty to a preschooler. “Lucky” is an abstract concept that is foreign to a preschooler. Beauty is something that comes quite early to a preschooler’s concepts. This may suite adults well too.

Too many of us look for luck to change our lives. We feel if we only had that “lucky break” we would be happy. We often feel ourselves or others don’t deserve the bad or good luck they have.  Some of us look to lucky charms to help ward off bad things that may come our way.

The leaves from a clover plant are believed to represent different things. The first leaf represents faith. The second represents hope, and the third represents love. If you find a fourth leaf, it represents luck. If you look at faith, hope and love, maybe we really don’t need luck. Just maybe that preschooler is correct. If we look for beauty instead of luck, we will have the full benefits of faith, hope and love.

  • What is your opinion about “luck”?
  • What do you do when you have “bad luck”?
  • If you stopped thinking about being lucky or unlucky and searched for beauty, how could that change your life?
  • Will you take a moment today and look for beauty? (You may just be lucky enough to find some!)

“If a man cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky?” Stanislaw J. Lec

The Power of Preschoolers will change your mind…. if you let it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! The picture was taken last March 17th.  We are not “lucky enough” here in Illinois this year to see green clovers yet with this winter, but soon!

 

What does the “W” flag at the Cub’s game mean?

I asked a Preschooler, “What does the “W” flag at the Cub’s game mean?” He paused and said, “It means WHOOOOA We Love the Cubs!”

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The Chicago Cubs could use as much love as possible since their last time in the world series was 71 years ago with the last official winning title 108 years ago. Whoa…….That is a long time. There are no parents of preschoolers who have ever seen the Cubs win a pennant. The last time the Cubs won the world series there was no television for us to watch it on. Think about no computer or smart phone to check a score, no television to see a game with a stat tracker on the corner of the screen. There were no cork centers to balls. It was the first year a pitcher could not soil the ball before he threw it. Shinguards became part of the uniform. Whoa………The most popular Musical hit of 1908 was “Take me out to the Ballgame” and “Billy Murray and the Haydn Quartet” has the most popular recording of that song. If you watched the Chicago Cubs in their first home game of the 2016 World series, you would have seen Bill Murray’s Daffy Duck version being sung. Two Bill Murray’s now famous……images

The blue W on a white banner actually stands for Win. The flag was added above the scoreboard at Wrigley Field in 1937, as a signal for fans coming home from work on the El. According to Wikipedia, the Cubs Win flag is a victory flag that is referred to by approximately a dozen names, combining; either Cubs or Chicago Cubs; Win, W, White, White W, or W Win; and flag, banner or banner flag. Other common names for the symbol include Chicago Cubs W Win Flag and Chicago Cubs Win Banner Flag. It has become an important symbol for fans that one retailer describes as a fan banner instead of flag, or banner flag. In addition, days when the win flag is flown are known as “White Flag Days”.

No where does Wikipedia share that WHOOOOOA we love the Cubs, but love them we do. Even people who do not enjoy baseball or are “Southsiders” and love their White Sox can still appreciate a group of people never giving up. Everyone has challenges and dreams that do not come true, but we can learn a lesson from the Cubs. We can train in the spring, play in the summer and not let our dreams die in the fall as we move on to another season. Whether we win or loose with our dreams, we will move forward.

  • What is something that you have wanted to happen for a very long time?
  • What techniques have you found that work when you find yourself getting impatient and feeling hopeless?
  • What is something you could say, “Whoooooa, I really love________?” unknownAs this is being written, we don’t know the outcome of the 2016 World Series. We do know we like to be happy. Let’s all choose to be happy in all circumstances.”Holy Cow” that may be some good advice…..

UPDATE: As of November 2, 2016, the W also stands for World Champions! Whoa!

 

 

“Do we yell?”

We read a book for our first week of preschool that talks about rules at school. One page asked, “Do we yell? The book suggested we do not yell at school. One child immediately said, “I HAVE to share this with my mommy because she always yells at my daddy. Do you have more things I should teach her?”

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Preschool is an interesting time. Little children have a lot to learn. They need to wait in lines, wash their hands, share incredibly hard to share toys, say goodbye to loved ones, try new foods, write with new instruments, meet strangers and keep their hands to themselves even when their whole body wants to touch someone. Remembering all that is expected of them can be a year long process in preschool.

Children are constantly learning. They are learning from their peers, their teachers, other parents they meet in the hallway and of course their family members. While they are busy learning, they are also busy teaching. They want the world to be fair. They want to know what is expected of them and of others. They want their parents to treat them with respect while still being nice enough to buy them a treat.

While children are so busy learning, it is the adults’ job to also learn from the them. There is not a day that you cannot learn something from a preschooler if you take the time to listen. Children are listening even when we think they are not. They hear yelling even when it is not directed to them. Some studies share that yelling can be as harmful to a child as corporal punishment. The impact of “second hand yelling” can be just as harmful.

Does yelling happen? Of course! We had a child’s dog get hit by a car this week. Yelling has to happen at times to try and prevent accidents. What we hope to prevent is the long term effects that yelling can provide.

If all children could teach others to use kind words in a respectful tone, our hearts would be open to learning more from each other. When that volume  does get away from us, never underestimate the two words, “I’m sorry.”

  • What type of yelling do you remember when you were growing up?
  • What is your plan for your current family in terms of yelling and being respected?
  • Will you take the time to try and learn something from a child this week?

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Who is number one?

Summer vacation has approached, and I was in the store with a mother with two unruly children in her shopping cart. She looked at them and said, “I am with my number one and number two problems.” Without a beat, one child said, ” I am number one. He is number two” to which the other child immediately said, “NOOO, she is not number one, I am number one!”

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There were two children arguing about who was the number one problem child and a mother who looked like she was about to cry. Frustration can cause that. That mother was at a turning point for her summer vacation. She may be beginning a whole season of arguing, comparing and frustration, or she may turn the day around and use the teachable moment to start anew and focus on what can change to make her family a loving cohesive unit.

Each person has choices when conflict and frustration arise. It seems things can either get bigger fast or they can dissipate and move to a new direction. My hope for all the parents out there who have children near them that they look for keys to work through their problems. Without the keys, that is the definition of prison. For those reading this without children, you don’t need a child to still have problems. You are fully capable of creating your own prisons, and some have been locked up for so long, you may need a professional locksmith to help you out.

  • Think about a time you were arguing with someone. Is there any possibility you could really have been the number one problem?
  • Instead of looking at who is right in a situation, what could happen if we started looking at how can we solve the problem?
  • What prison are you in right now, and who can you use to find a key out?

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“Is it hard for you to ski?”

I was in Winter Park, CO trying my best to stay upright on skis on the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain, there were classes of preschoolers all learning how to ski for the first time. I asked one of them, “Is is hard for you to ski?” He looked at me with a big smile and said, “It is easy to ski really good. I can pee good too. My teacher told me to go to the bathroom before we got all our coats on, but she doesn’t even know you can pee in your snow pants, and it feels warm.”

Learning to ski...

Learning to ski…

The little skiers were amazing. They skied with confidence and were well on their way to becoming accomplished skiers. The teachers were also amazing. They had patience and skills to maneuver a group of little ones up a slope and back down countless times. The preschoolers were also not afraid to tell me they knew  some things the teachers did not.

Everyone has things in their lives they need to learn. Sometimes a class can be scary as we worry about our ability to learn a new concept. We worry we will not be able to catch on. We worry we will not be as good as the rest of the class. We worry we will fall on our faces in humiliation. Rarely do we remember that we do know something the instructors don’t. We all have things we can do that instructors can’t. We all have strengths that we can use when we try something new.

Good teachers will allow us to learn from them as we teach things back. Good teachers will not be intimidated when we ask questions or show them things they did not know. Good teachers are good learners. Good teachers also continue to have patience when students show things they never imagined…even if it means helping change out of some wet ski clothes.

  • What is something you have recently had to learn to do?
  • What are some things you know that a teacher may not?
  • What would give you more confidence when learning something new?

“Very good coaches for ski jumpers stand at the top of the slope and watch the jumpers prepare, rather than standing at the bottom and watching them land.”  Roland Joffe

P.S. May everyone have something new to learn and teach this year!

 

What will you do this New Year?

I asked a preschooler, “What will you do this New Year?” He said, “I don’t think I am done getting old yet so I really should not get new.”

Hope you can piece together your new year to make it what you want.

Hoping you can piece together your new year to make it what you want….

2015 is a new opportunity for everyone. We make resolutions, we look for new beginnings and we hope our past failures will not follow us. Out with the old and in with the new is a common thought as we declutter not only our physical spaces but our internal souls. As we look at starting fresh and imagining who we want to be, it is not wrong to embrace the past and not rush into making changes where they don’t belong.

Some of us don’t need a lot of new in our lives. We like many aspects of our lives and don’t want to have a new microwave oven with so many buttons that we can’t remember which one to push. We don’t desire a computer that keeps asking us to update its operating system. However, the world moves fast. There is now smart clothing we can wear that will tell us which muscles we are using and how efficient our movements are. There are outlets that monitor our electricity usage and allows us to shut things off from across the country with a phone. We can even feed our dog with an iPhone app. If you are not good at throwing with accuracy, there has been a garbage can invented that will move to match the trajectory of what you throw at it. New inventions to solve problems are something we will always have.

The trick is to figure out what in our life is really a problem that needs a change and what is something that is old and working just fine. A new year does not need to be a time to do everything new. It can be a time to be grateful for the old. The balance between the two is what we all need to find.

  • What is something from your past that you don’t want ever to change?
  • What is something that you would like to change in this next year?
  • How can you find peace when what you don’t want to change actually does change and what you want to change just does not happen?

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”
Hal Borland

 

Are you too old to do that?

I asked a preschooler, “Are you too old to do that?” He said, “I am not two year’s old. I am four. I am just right to do anything I want to do.”

FOUR

Four can do more!

This is a time of year when my preschool is busy performing assessments and developmental screenings so that we can make more accurate goals for the children. Developmental delays, learning disorders, and behavioral and social-emotional problems are estimated to affect 1 in every 6 children. Early intervention is an important part of helping young children develop to their fullest potential.

We love seeing children confident in trying new things and not getting discouraged when they need extra support to accomplish new goals. Even if a child is one of the six who needs extra help, it does not mean they cannot keep trying and feeling like they are just right to try anything. The world could be a different place if children would not let go of their early confidence and determination.

As adults it is easy to say, “I am too young to do that type of work. You need a lot of experience, and I am not ready.” Then one day as you get older, you find yourself saying, “I am too old to learn that new concept. That is meant for younger people. I just can’t do that.” Words of defeat and discouragement often come easier to the mouthes of adults than words like, “I am just right to do anything I want to do.” Maybe it is time stop ourselves in our tracks and say, “I am not too young. I am not too old. I am just right.” Maybe that is the intervention we need to reach our fullest potential, and it doesn’t matter if the intervention comes early or late as long as it comes.

  • What are things you feel you are too young or too old to do?
  • How could you change your thinking about your limitations to have a different outcome?
  • How could we get help if we cannot do what we want by ourselves?

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

“Miss Sheila, come be four with me today. I think you will really like it.” (To not play favoritism, the name of the preschooler will remain anonymous, yet forever live in Miss Sheila’s heart.)

“What kind of ring is that?”

I was taking a young three year old to the bathroom at school for the first time. He was very proud of his underwear and his ability to do things on his own. As we celebrated his success, he asked, “What kind of ring is that?” I shared, “That is my wedding ring, and my husband wears a wedding ring almost like it on his hand too.” The boy smiled and said, “I used to wet my pants a lot, but no one gave me a wetting ring.”

What kind of ring is that?

What kind of ring is that?

Getting fully potty trained is a big process.There are a lot of accidents on the way and perfection does not happen all at once. Even children who think they use the potty well will forget about it when the right friends come along or the temptation of a playground calls. Potty training takes practice, patience and the help of others.

This year, I celebrated my 33rd wedding anniversary. I can honestly say, marriage takes practice, patience and the help of others. It is not mastered all at once. We forget how to do it well when the distractions of life come our way. We get busy and we make mistakes that can be messy.

Being “marriage trained” will never mean we do not have accidents.  We will always have rain to walk through that may get us wet. However, we can proudly wear our wet wedding rings in any weather and not be fearful.

  • Do you have any positive or negative thoughts on people wearing wedding rings?
  • What parts of relationships do you think need the most training?
  • What good can come of getting wet?

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”

Roger Miller

P.S. The diamond in the wedding ring setting is from my grandmother’s engagement ring that she almost never wore. She seemed to be afraid of getting it wet. Once in this setting, this diamond has been to multiple countries, dove deep under the sea as well as hiked up tall mountains, and enjoyed hot baths. I think it secretly likes getting wet…..do you?

 

Don’t get out of bed until 7:00

I heard of a preschooler who was getting up way too early in the mornings and the intelligent parents came up with a system. They put the light on a timer to go off at 7am and shared that the child should not wake them up until the light goes off. At 5:30am, they heard the pitter patter of feet, and a knock on their door. They reminded the child that he was supposed to stay in his room until the light came on. He boldly shared that the light must be broken.

Time to get up.

Time to get up.

Preschoolers are good at knowing what they believe inside of themselves and acting on it. If things don’t make sense to them, they move on to what they believe or what they know to be true. It isn’t until we get older that we get more complicated and stop listening to that inner voice that makes sense to us. Decisions for adults are racked with so many variables, information and performance gaps that we often don’t start with what makes sense for our best inner well-being.

The parent who told this story, was ironically the author of a leadership book called “Winning from Within.” Erica Ariel Fox is a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the world-renowned Program on Negotiation and a recent speaker at the 2014 Global Leadership Summit. She has a global management consulting firm, yet I see her preschooler is the one that is truly winning from within. I hope he continues to help his mother with her leadership development.

  • What determines if you do something exactly as you are told?
  • What makes it hard to trust your inner feelings?
  • What would winning from within look like in your world?

“Children are the hardest people to negotiate with.” Erica Ariel Fox

 

 

 

 

“What is your perspective?”

A preschooler was looking out of the window at the airport terminal and exclaimed, “MOMMY, look at the HUGE  airplane! It has so many windows and is so tall. I love this airplane! At the same time, a woman looked out the same window and exclaimed, “Oh GOD, look at that dinky little airplane! I hate this airplane!” The preschooler looked at the woman and said, “The plane me and my mommy sees is awesome. I am sad you and God don’t see the same one.”

What is your perspective with this aircraft?

What is your perspective with this aircraft?

Perspective is important. Children often have a wonderful one!

Last week I got to go to Oshkosh, WI to see the world’s biggest aviation show. They have truly dinky little airplanes and huge airplanes, and the owners truly love them all. It does not matter the size, there is exuberance in their voices as they share their love for their ultralight glider or the thrill of flying an Airbus A380.

If we could look at all things with the excitement of a preschooler, we would be much happier. As I write this, the preschooler is now sitting in front of me on the airplane, and she is thrilled she will soon be served a favorite soft drink as a treat. The woman sitting behind me is sarcastically saying we will be lucky if we get water on such a cheap plane.

My husband has sold and flown multitudes of 4 seat aircraft called Cirrus Perspective. He is also type rated in the “dinky” Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft that holds 50 people. Both are a true gift to be able to pilot and be a passenger in.  As we are now taking off, the preschooler is glued to the window watching the ground move. The woman is glued to her glamour magazine. I can only imagine who is soaking in a more realistic perspective.

  • What do you think causes so many perspectives on an object?
  • When you assume something to be true, how likely are you to look at other perspectives?
  • What are ways you can transform “dinky” into “huge and awesome”?

“I like to turn things upside down, to watch pictures and situations from another perspective.”
Ursus Wehrli

 

 

“Why should we help people far away when people close to us need help?”

I just finished helping with a Summer Camp, and we collected quarters to send to India to help people have clean water to drink. I asked one of the preschoolers, “Why should we help people far away when people close to us need help?” He said, “I had a lemonade stand, and I really didn’t get too many customers. If people need water someplace else, don’t you think we should go where they need it?”

Do you need some Lemonade?

Anyone want to buy  some Lemonade?

See a need, meet a need. It sounds so simple when a young child speaks, yet it gets quite complicated when we enter into the world of governments, religions, ethics and needs. The United States has always been a country that has tried to be helpful to meet needs. We have so many current needs in the United States that it is easy to think we should work on these first so that we can be stronger to help others. However, maybe that scope is too limiting. 

Maybe we need to look at our next door neighbors that live on our street at the same time as we look at our next door neighbors who live across the globe. Some of us are great at serving lemonade to the neighborhood. Some of us are great at serving lemon pie to the county homeless shelter. Some of us are great at traveling to another state to serve people needing their roof fixed after a lemon tree falls on their roof in a hurricane. Then there are those of us who are great at going to another part of our world and meeting any need no matter how sour the lemons may produce.

Each person seems to have their own ability to serve in ways that make sense to them and can offer greatness. The only thing that never makes sense is to keep looking at your own lemons and never seeing the beauty that sharing lemonade may offer.

Anyone want to buy water? This is enough quarters to help 65 children drink clean water for a year.

Anyone want to buy water? This is enough quarters to help 65 children drink clean water for a year.

  • Do you remember ever having or stopping at a child’s lemonade stand?
  • If 1000 extra lemons arrived at your doorstep, what would you do with them?
  • Who do you find most fulfilling to serve-those closest to you or those farthest away?
  • Will you take some time to think of ways you can fully engage in serving others that are unique to who you are?

As we go to bed tonight, just for a bit, try and remember those who will never have that pleasure. If you would like to think more about the lottery of birth decision, just click here.

“I want everybody to go jump in the ocean to see for themselves how beautiful it is, how important it is to get acquainted with fish swimming in the ocean, rather than just swimming with lemon slices and butter.”

Sylvia Earle

 

“Can your eyes see this?”

I asked a three year old, “Can your eyes see this?” She looked at the picture I was showing her and she said, “My eyes can see what I like to look at.”

Dainty Warrior creating beauty

Dainty Warrior creating beauty

 

Beauty complete

Beauty completed for a special friend named Josiah who passed away at the age of 5.

This week we had vision screening at my preschool. One by one, preschoolers had their eyes checked to make sure they were healthy. They looked at letters and matched them, and they looked in a machine to see pictures of rabbits and birds. The American Public Health Association estimates that 10% of all preschoolers have a vision problem.

Typical things a parent will see if their child has a problem are:

  • Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
  • Squinting
  • Tilting their head
  • Frequently rubbing their eyes
  • Short attention span for the child’s age
  • Turning of an eye in or out
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
  • Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities

If a parent notices these things they should contact a doctor of optometry.

The three year old I talked to last week was not in my preschool getting a vision screening. She has had more eye screenings and tests than most people reading this. Ania Elaine or  “Dainty Warrior” as her fans and friends know her has Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that is diagnosed in predominantly children under the age of three. Ania’s parents are in the process of determining the options for their daughter’s eye that is not responding to the treatment the way the doctor wants.

Ania, on the other hand, is responding to her lack of vision with an increased vision and enjoyment for producing artwork. She paints for pleasure and has an an online store that sells original and reprints of her artwork. She is taking her vision to a bigger place, a place where others can enter into her world. She is not letting her vision define her or stop her. She is boldly enjoying her life and choosing to see things she likes to look at.

  • What is something you enjoy looking at?
  • If you close your eyes, can you still envision beauty?
  • What would be different in your life if you would first look at things from your inside instead of first using your eyes?
  • What vision do you have that is bigger than your eyes can see?

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” Helen Keller

P.S. The links in blue will let you into Ania’s world through her mother’s blog and her online store. You will be able to see a vision that is not inhibited by using only one eye. You will see honesty from a mother and father struggling to make sense of cancer. You will see beauty that can come from it. Preschoolers exude beauty, and Ania is no different.

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

“What do you worry about?”

I asked a preschooler, “What do you worry about?” She said, ” I let my mom worry. Dad says she worries all the time so she is probably good at it. I’m good at other things.”

What do you worry about?

What do you worry about?

There are so many things we strive to be good at in this world. We take lessons. We read books. We get tutors and coaches and personal trainers. We want to be as good as we can be and often strive for perfection or at least greatness. However, maybe there are some things we should try a lot less to be good at. If everyone could be not good at worrying, it would change our world.

If you want to be a slacker in one area, worrying may be a good choice.

  • What would have to happen for you to worry less?
  • Who can you pass some worries off to?
  • When people want to get involved in our struggles, what would your life be like if you were strong enough to tell others to “Worry about yourself!” ?(Click on link to watch a child in the action of not worrying.)

“There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

“Have you made a snowman this year?”

I asked a preschooler, “Have you made a snowman this year?” She looked at me and said, “I made a snowman with play dough inside. Actually it was not a man. It was a boy, and it was not made from snow. It was made from play dough. So yes, my snowman was a play dough boy, and he was fun! My mom won’t let me go outside because it is too cold. But if you make a snowman inside with play dough it does not melt, and your hands don’t need mittens. Do you want to know anything else?”

Have you ever felt like a snowman?

Have you ever felt like making a snowman?

Children are able to see good in so many situations while adults can often gravitate to the negatives. In the Chicago area today it is -19° with a wind-chill of -37°. That is definitely not a temperature anyone can build a snowman in. The preschoolers here have not had a lot of outside time. The children have spent a lot of time looking outside a window at a snowy, windy scene. Most young children do not know what it really means to feel frostbite and the cold that can accompany too much outside fun.

Adults understand the cold. They understand the dangers and the annoyances that accompany sub-zero temperatures. They are the ones who have to fight children to get mittens and gloves on. They are the ones who make promises of treats if a child puts on a scarf. They are the one who buy cute hats with ears that pop up to make the hats more enjoyable. Adults are also the ones who have to shovel the snow and make sure a car has gas in it. All this can be quite taxing as the winter keeps blowing in.

Adults may enjoy the winters more if they looked at ways to make snowmen indoors. A free spirit is something to embrace. If you cannot enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the indoors. Modify your idea of fun and make it happen wherever you are. Fun is something that can be found in any temperature, in any weather and with any number of people. “Fun” has no limitations except the ones our attitude allows. This snow and cold will not last forever and neither will young children. Both are here for a season, and then we will be on to a new type of fun or a new type of complaint. The choice is always yours. You can have fun despite what is happening to everything around you. Watch young children, they are good teachers. “Fun” is on their agenda everyday no matter what the weatherman is forecasting.

  •  What fun is on your agenda today?
  • When have you changed either your attitude or your circumstances in order to have a pleasant outcome?
  • What can you do to add fun to someone else’s life?

“Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.” Earl Wilson

P.S. After I talked to the girl, I  asked a boy this same question, “Did you make a snowman this year?” He answered, “Yes.” Then he went on to play with some trucks. If you want to have less talking time with your fun, you may want to seek out a little boy.

 

 

“Do you think I should send out Christmas letters this year?”

I asked a preschooler, “Do you think I should send out Christmas letters this year?” The preschooler said, “I really don’t think letters are a good present. I was trying to tell my teacher some letter ‘K words’. I told her a cookie is a good ‘K word’. She told me that  cookies are not ‘K words’ but a kolache cookie is. I told her Candy is a good ‘K word.’ She said that candy is not a ‘K word’ but Kit Kat is. I told her all that was crazy. She said, ‘It is really Kookie.’ Letters can just make me mad. You should not give presents that make people mad.”

What letter's do you like to receive?

What letters do you like to receive?

Most every year I do send out cards with a Christmas letter in it. I try to be short and succinct with our news of the year and offer a pinch of humor, a dash of good will and a handful of love. I want the people to put the letter down and be thankful I was thinking of them.

There are some years that sending out individual cards and letters just does not work. All kinds of things get in the way; cost, time, travel, ideas, a missing address book or the impossible quest for the perfect accompanying card all make getting a letter out difficult.

Then there is the guilt that accompanies the lack of a letter. The more Christmas cards you get in the mail, the more the guilt creeps in. People you have met only once at some office party have a card show up in your mailbox. People you are no longer friends with can send a card. That makes it even harder not to send a card to your cousin especially if you see her only once a year.

Maybe there are years when it is okay to listen to a preschooler and agree to not send a letter out. Maybe this is the year you use some minutes and call your friends. Did you know the average letter that takes an hour to write can be read in three minutes? You can save time in the end by just talking to the people you care about. I asked the preschooler if she thought I should call my friends on the phone. She answered, “Only if their mommies let them answer the phone. Some mommies do not let people touch their phones.” More words of wisdom to consider. If you don’t get a call from your friends this year, it just may  mean you can blame it on a mother. Besides, mothers seem to be used to taking blame.

If you do decide to send a letter, please make sure it brings joy to the world and does not make someone mad. The last thing we need in our mailboxes are more things to make people mad.

  • What do you enjoy about getting Christmas cards and letters in the mail?
  • Are there things you do not like about letters and cards? (Be honest, there are cards that seem like a waste of time and letters that read like a medical journal or a brag fest.)
  • If you do not send out things in the mail, what else can you do to show others you are thinking of them?

“I got stood up by the letter y, he was hanging around with his X.” Norah Jones

(See, letters can be kookie! Maybe we can ask Kris Kringle to keep all the kiddos kind this year. K?)

“What do you really need for Christmas?”

I was trying to help children understand the difference between needing and wanting things. I asked a preschooler, “Is the toy in the picture something you want or something you need for Christmas?” He looked at it for a long time and said, “I really, really need that toy because it’s what I really, really want.”

Is there a toy you really need?

Is there a toy you really need?

Wants and needs are too abstract for preschoolers. Ironically, they are often too abstract for many adults. In America, we have cars that cost often more than food and housing in other countries. We have televisions that have 500 channels and the ability to watch anything at anytime. We have gadgets that promise to make our lives easier, yet ultimately they clutter our basements and garages. We have electronics that seem obsolete in a matter of a few years. Something we think we want today often becomes something we do not even like in a matter of a few months.

The lines of wanting and needing become blurred in our thinking. We want what we want, and we expect what we need. It gets even more complicated when those things we wanted so much eventually become burdens in our lives. The happiness we thought we would gain from getting what we want wanes, and we search for a new desire. If we could remain happy with what we have, we would not have as many wants and maybe, just maybe we could really, really need what we really, really want.

  •  What in your life right now do you think you really, really want?
  • How do you know that getting what you really, really want make will make you really, really happy?
  • Have you had a time when getting something did not keep you really, really happy?
  • Will you think about giving someone else something that may surprise him or her and bring great joy?
  • What could help you remain happy in what you have?

“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.” Ingrid Bergman

“Why did the turkey cross the road?”

I asked a preschooler, “Why did the turkey cross the road?” He said, “My grandma tried to tell me it was because the chicken had a day off. I LAUGHED at her because that is NOT the right answer. Chickens walk around off the road and on the road, they don’t have days just off! I sometimes have stuff I need to teach to my grandma!”

Turkeys walking can make you smile.

Turkeys walking can make you smile.

The humor of a preschooler is different from that of an adult.  Research online says preschoolers laugh about 400 times a day while adults laugh only about 17. That is a huge difference. Preschoolers have the innate ability to laugh at almost anything. They see humor where adults do not.

If you try to tell a group of preschoolers a “Knock, Knock Joke”, be prepared to take some time. They will want to share their own jokes back with you. They will consist of things like, “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Turkey. Turkey who? Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.”  Then enormous laughter will erupt which will lead another child to try their version of a joke that no adult understands yet every preschooler wants to literally roll on the floor with laughter. It will become the oddest comedy club anyone could imagine.

Preschoolers laugh when people trip on their shoelaces.  They laugh when a door squeaks or someone sneezes or when they see themselves in a mirror. They laugh when you can’t find them in hide and seek. They laugh when you do find them in hide and seek. They laugh at times adults just cannot understand.

Since laughter is contagious, what adults can do is try to catch as much of it as possible. Research shows laughter leads to reductions in stress hormones. While laughing, the brain can also release endorphins that can help ease physical pain. Laughing boosts the number of antibody-producing T-cells that help build a stronger immune system. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, relaxes muscles and gives the heart a good workout as well as contracting abdominal muscles. More good news is that just thinking about laughing can have positive benefits.

Yoga laughing classes, Laughing Clubs and humor therapy in hospitals are all becoming more popular as the world understands the need for laughter. There is so much new research for something that a preschooler has already programmed into them. Laughing is something preschoolers can easily teach adults.

So back to that turkey story….. “Why did the turkey cross the road?” The preschooler’s response, “I don’t  know why the turkey crossed the road, but I know he is very happy. The farmer has not caught him, and he is still ready to play.” I asked,”Did your grandma like that answer?” The preschooler said, “My grandma started to laugh. She gave me a big hug and told me I make her happy. I TOLD her the turkey was the happy one. See, there is a lot of stuff I still need to teach my grandma.”

  • What is something you really laughed hard about in your life? (Remember, just thinking about laughing is good for you!)
  • Why do you think people don’t laugh as much as a preschooler?
  • Will you take a day and try to add more laughter to it?

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.” Michael Pritchard

“The power of a preschooler will change your life…..if you let it.”

 

“What are you thankful for?”

 

I asked a preschooler, “What are you thankful for?” He said, ” I don’t know what thankful is but Thank full is better than Thank empty.”

Full of thankfulness for friends

Full of thankfulness for friends

Everyone is thankful about something, and everyone is ungrateful about something. It is up to us to draw the lines where we want to be. Anything we look at can be seen through a lens of gratefulness or ungratefulness. You can choose to be more full or more empty.

The line in the grocery store can be seen as a frustrating waste of time, or it can be seen as an opportunity to spend time in thought and be grateful for shelves so full of food.

The lack of sleep from a crying baby can be seen as wear and tear on a day and a reason to breed crabbiness, or it can be seen as a night that no one will ever get to experience in the entire world. It can be a night where a young child is loved in a way that no one else would ever love him. It is a night where the safety of a warm house, ample water and food and the dawn of a new day can bring overwhelming gratitude.

The guy who cuts you off in traffic can be seen as adjectives fingers should not type on a keyboard. He can be a cause for raised blood pressure and revenge. This same guy can be seen as a way to get your attention and be grateful you have the physical ability to maneuver a car. Many do not. Only 9% of the world’s population even owns a car, and you are one of that small privileged percentage.

This Thanksgiving as the turkey comes out dry and the kids don’t want to sit at the table or try any of the food that was prepared and your uncle makes inappropriate comments and your clean up crew is non-existent, may you find peace in seeing the tremendous fullness of your life.

  • If you had to measure your thankfulness, are you more thank full or more thank empty?
  • What stops you from being more thankful each day?
  • What can you do to turn a seemingly bad situation into something to be grateful for?

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” Tecumseh

“Why would a farmer plant pumpkins in all that mud?”

We were on a field trip to the pumpkin farm on a wet day, and I asked a preschooler, “Why would a farmer plant pumpkins in all that mud?” He looked out at the field and said, “Because orange is a beautiful color!”

The Beauty of Orange

The Beauty of Orange

My preschool classes were all invited to ride a wagon out to the field to get a pumpkin. Some of the parents did not want go on the wagon ride for fear of the mud from the recent rain. Mud is messy. Mud is dirty. Mud gets stuck to shoes and clothes. The preschoolers only saw the beauty in the fields. The bright orange pumpkins for as far as their eyes could see were a beautiful sight. The mud did not bother them. Mud can even be fun if you have the right boots. I wondered how often we concentrate on the mud and miss the beauty that comes out of it and the joy we can have while walking through it.

Preschoolers don’t have to focus on the brown mud. They can focus on the orange beauty. Preschoolers are able to look right past that mud and not get discouraged by it. There is a lot to be said for looking past mess and dirt to see the beauty.

Orange is beautiful as is a preschooler

Orange is beautiful.

  • What in your life is looking very muddy and messy to you right now?
  • Have you experienced a time when beauty grew from a dirty place?
  •  Have you had a time when a messy situation could still be fun?
  • Will you look for something orange today and rest in its beauty for a moment?

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.”

Fredrick Langbridge

As this is being posted, the Chicago Bears just won a game in overtime in the muddiest game I have seen. I am thinking the fans are not too concerned about some mud on the orange uniforms.  If you are a Bear’s fan, you believe in the true beauty in the color orange.

 

“Why are there so many rocks on the path?”

I was hiking in Colorado this week, and I heard a preschooler ask, “Daddy, why are there so many rocks on the path?” His daddy answered, “I don’t know. Why do you think there are so many rocks on the path?” He pointed to his knees and said, “When I walk on flat paths I never get to see these great knees. When I walk up hills on the rocks, I get to see my knees all the time. Everyone should see their knees sometime!”Rocky path in, where else, but Boulder, CO

As adults we often like walking along life’s journeys with no obstacles. We like the easy walks where we can look around at the scenery and not think about tripping. Life, however, does not have all easy paths. There are a lot of paths out there to navigate that go uphill and are full of rocks and even boulders.

It is how we look at the rocky times that will shape our journeys.  If we look at the uphill, rocky times as frustrating, exhausting and go through them with a huff and a puff, we will miss the joy in seeing new things. We will miss the joy in accomplishment. We will miss the details in our lives that we only get to see through adversity.

The downhills in or lives can go fast. Going down a mountain, it is often hard to stop once your momentum gets going. The uphills are slower. There is more time for reflection and growth. There are times in our lives when slowing down and seeing parts of us we do not naturally see can be beautiful.

  • In thinking of your life, what types of paths have you had more of…..                     easy, straight,  twisted, uphill, rocky?
  • Which types of paths bring the most joy to a person’s life?
  • Think about a time when you or someone you have seen was failing in their uphill, rocky journey and compare it to a time when you have witnessed someone or yourself finding joy in their slow-paced rocky path.
  • Will you take a moment to look at the beauty in your knees?

“Remember when life’s path is steep to keep your mind even.” Horace

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

P.S. A special hello to all my friends in Colorado as they have had to navigate floods this past month…….

Even if your path is filled with muck and sludge, take some time to look at the beauty in your knees.