Wow, you have beautiful shoes!

A preschooler was proudly wearing her new shoes. I said, “Wow, you have beautiful new shoes!” She smiled broadly, and her mother quickly said, “What do you say?” The preschooler kept smiling and said, “Yea. I DO have beautiful new shoes!”

Sometimes telling the truth is just as important as being polite and thanking someone for a compliment. Starting a new school year requires confidence. It requires pride in your work and delight in your surroundings.

As adults we may not be starting a new school year in a classroom, but we are encountering new activities and challenges no matter where life leads us. We need to bring out our bold confidence and be proud of what we do and who we are. We need to take the confidence of a preschooler and remain humble while still exuding  joy in our choices.

  • What shoes do you own that make you really smile?
  • What would you like others to notice about you?
  • What about yourself brings you joy?
  • What would happen if you boldly followed your dreams without fear?

Will the groundhog see his shadow?

I asked a preschooler, “Will the groundhog see his shadow?” He said his mommy is always telling his dog to “Stay on the ground”. He shared maybe if he stays on the ground, he will be closer to his shadow to see it.

Happy Groundhog’s Day!

Preschoolers can really make you think. They take something obvious and make it new. They can turn a dark day into a bright one.

In Illinois we have had a lot of cloudy weather lately. Our weather calendars have really been waiting patiently for some sunshine. Sunshine just makes it seem like a happier time. While clouds can cover our sun, our humans spirit has the ability to bring light and love into even the darkest situation. Even if we are close to the ground.

  • How has the climate been in your life recently?                                                    –more sunny or more cloudy?
  • If the groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of winter, what would you like to see happen in the next six weeks?
  • What can you do to make that a reality?
  • When clouds cover your days, what can you do to bring your own sunshine to the world?

What is your favorite color?

I asked a preschooler, “What is your favorite color?” She said, “Unicorn, you know, pink, purple, orange, unicorn.”

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The most common favorite color for adults world-wide is blue. It is in every crayon box and used by every child to color. The primary colors often come to our minds first as we think of colors. Artists use primary colors to create all the other colors. Paintings with color add to quality to our lives.

Colors are also used to describe people. There are whole workshops that help us determine if our personalities are Blue or Green or Gold or Orange. Colors can define us.

In our environment, colors can enhance our emotions. Blues calm us, reds excite us and patterns can give us movement. Interior decorators spend years learning how to make us feel and react in different colored rooms. Hotel designers are keen to know how to decorate spaces so that patrons feel good about their space and invite us to want to return.

Preschoolers are especially fond of color. They do not gravitate towards the gray paint. They seem to like red the best. They are not afraid to mix colors and put orange next to pink next to green next to purple next to red and call it beautiful.

Research says that there are at least 2.4 million colors that the average eye can detect. Crayons can never keep up with what our eyes can see. It may be fair to say that color names can also never keep up with a preschooler’s imagination. If “unicorn” can be a color, certainly worlds would expand. If we can look at people and not see black or white, it may just give us the magical eye of a unicorn. No one has seen a unicorn, yet we have one in our minds. When we come to a place where some of our favorite things are things that our minds can bring to the world, we will be in a place that preschoolers find quite comfortable. The ability to bring our minds out to the world and connect with others is a colorful gift.

  • What is your favorite color?
  • What are the meanings behind color to you?
  • How can you stretch your mind so that it can bring out new tones, hues and subtleties?

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“Why did you punch your brother?”

I read a post from one of our preschool mothers asking her son, “Why did you punch your brother?”

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Now just for a moment, I want you to think logically about at least three answers a four year old may offer. I am thinking many of the common responses start with “He…..” We are quick to blame others when things go wrong. We are quick to want to remain innocent and justified in our actions. We want others to like us and to see our point of view. We often want sympathy.  We want justice.

Our world has been hit with some violence lately that does not make sense to us. We long for the simplicity and innocence of childhood while we anguish over actions of adults who should know better. We are grieving those hurt by others for reasons that just plainly do not make sense.

However, sometimes people’s actions truly do not make sense. They come from a place that we don’t understand. Years of hurt come out in strange places. Months of frustration manifest into baffling actions while weeks of annoyance can turn into incomprehensible words. We all need to take a deep breath and try to center ourselves back to a calm peaceful place where we don’t see differences in colors as reasons to pick a fight.

Now getting back to my preschool friend……

“Why did you hit your brother?”
“Because I didn’t eat very good and I can’t control my arms!”

I am thinking you did NOT see that answer coming! That is what we are seeing today in our news. People are doing things we never saw coming for reasons we never thought of. Unfortunately, adults are often not as funny as children. You just never know when broccoli and kale will be reasons we lose control of our arms!

  • When have you been angry enough to wish harm on someone?
  • What are the biggest triggers you have for anger?
  • What can you do to control your arms (and words)?

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P.S. My preschool is having a week of cooking camp right now. We are learning all about healthy choices and good foods. We are doing our part to eliminate as many reasons for lack of controlling arms as possible. 🙂

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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Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition?

I asked a preschooler, “Do you have tradition for your thanksgiving dinner?” He looked at me and said, “I eat turkey for thanksgiving dinner. “Tradition” does not really sound like something my mom can cook in the oven.”

What is your Thanksgiving tradition?

What is your Thanksgiving tradition?

Even for preschoolers, traditions and rituals sound like something that are hard to do. They also make you want to stay away from Pintrest. On Pintrest you can find recipes for homemade rolls that you put little pieces of paper in to pull out things you are thankful for. You find ways to use a Halloween pumpkin and turn it into a Thanksgiving center piece. You find table cloths that are pulled out each year as family members add new things they are grateful for. There are ideas for creating trees with falling leaves that will help children document things in their life they are grateful for. All these ideas are wonderful, but busy parents don’t have to be elaborate to still be impactful.

In reality, traditions are a secret weapon against children later having issues with anxiety, self-worth, a sense of belonging and connectivity. Traditions can offer peace, confidence deeper levels of trust, comfort and security. . There is no where that it says a tradition must be hard and complicated to actually be successful. All a tradition has to do to stick is to be personal and have a purpose.

Today I got to challenge a group of mothers to look at their families and choose a tradition they would either like to continue or one to start. These mothers all loved their children. These mothers were also cohesively overwhelmed with having to do bigger, better, faster and more unique things than others. We walked away knowing that none of us will ever be related to Martha Stewart, and that can be a good thing. A snuggle time morning ritual or a fun pancake breakfast with Dad or a sleep in Sunday can do more for a soul than Martha’s homemade pie recipe with a crust that has dough cut out in the shapes of leaves around the edge.

  • Is there a tradition you remember having as a child?
  • What things would you like to pass on to another generation?
  • This Thanksgiving, will you try something that is meaningful enough that you may want to try it again next year?

“I have the best memories as a kid eating ice cream. It was a family tradition that I had with my father. It was nice.”

Michael Strahan (Former NFL player for the NY Giants)

“Nice” does not have to be complicated…..Anyone for the start of an ice cream tradition?

 

“Do you like the colorful leaves?”

I asked a preschooler, “Do you like the colorful leaves?” He said, “I like it when my mommy leaves, and then I can use any color paint I like. She does not always let me paint with lots of colors.”

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Fall is a beautiful time in the area I live. The trees are spectacular with colors we never imagined. The reds, oranges, yellows and purple colors bring back the memories of the first spring flowers after a long cold winter. For preschoolers, this is an amazing site. A tree they knew was green is now changing to new colors with no help from a paint brush or crayons.

The even more amazing part is that the leaves are really not “changing colors”. They are just allowing the other colors in them to have their turn to show off. All deciduous leaves have yellow xanthophyll packages or orange carotene packages in them that wait patiently for the green chlorophyll to disappear due to the lack of daily sunlight. The leaves really do not change colors, they just wait for the green to stop being so bold. The reds and purples are caused by the sugar in the leaves getting trapped as the flow in the veins is getting stopped.

Picture taken this week by one of my former preschoolers fathers

Picture taken this week by Harold Obermann, one of my former preschoolers fathers

 

As we look at children and adults and hope they will change, what if we looked at them like leaves? They don’t really have to change. They just need to stop some parts of their personality from being so bold. What if we looked at all people as having true beauty inside of them that is just waiting for the right conditions to come out?

  • What things stop you now from looking at people as beauty still in the making?
  • What would change for you if you looked at all people as having beauty that was still waiting to show? 
  • What are some things that you could do to help others recognize their true colors?

    Picture taken by a friend today from her car window. Beauty can be seen in traffic...

    Picture taken by a friend, Barb Buczek today from her car window. Beauty can be seen in traffic…

Possibly even bigger questions:

  • What would be different for YOU if you would see yourself as beautiful even when others cannot see your beauty? –also remember that green is a beautiful color even if it never gets a chance to turn into something else. 
  • What parts of you would you like to be a little less bold so that other parts could shine through?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus

Two wonderful preschoolers under beauty

Two wonderful preschoolers under beauty

“Do you like that long hair?”

I was sitting with a preschooler watching a girl put her long hair in a pony tail. I asked the three year old, “Do you like that long hair?” She said, “Yes, I like long hair. My daddy used to have long hair, and now all the hair on his head fell off into his armpit!”

Do you like my long hair?

Do you like that long hair?

Adults often talk about loosing their hair, but they never have the positive attitude to share where it can be found. If something is lost, then it makes sense that it could be found.

I have a special knack for loosing things. I have lost keys, phone numbers, earrings, sun glasses and jackets. This past weekend, I even lost a ring that was on my finger. Oftentimes the items show back up. I retrace steps or some kind stranger finds what I dropped. Sometimes the item is gone for good, and I have to mournfully accept the loss. (I truly hope the person who found my Maui Jim Sun glasses at the doctor’s office last week is reading this and wants to return them!)

Things are things that others have and can often be replaced. The things that are truly important are the items that are harder when lost. Most of us will lose a loved one in our lives that will never be able to be found or replaced. We will most likely lose some of our health that we often take for granted. We will lose some childhood memories that we hold onto yet they will slip partially away unless well documented.

While some things can be found, not everything is that lucky. Some things that were once beautiful end up being found in the stinky armpits of the world. That just begs the question, “Do we really want to find everything we lose?”

  • What is something you regret loosing?
  • What is something in your life that you would be better off if you could never find it?
  • What about your character do you never want to lose?

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”

Billy Graham