“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 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?

 

“Can you take the paper off of the cupcake?”

We had a birthday treat at preschool today, and a four year old asked me, “Can you take the paper off of the cupcake for me?” I told him I think he could do it himself. He said, “That is something that I will do when I am six and maybe when I am five but never when I am four!”

Cupcake anyone?

Cupcake anyone?

Another boy was challenged by the request and joyfully attempted to peel the paper off of the cupcake. He said, “Look, look I did it! And I didn’t even turn six yet!”

The first boy looked at him amazed and said, “You must have a four year head and a six year old hand.”

Children and adults are met with challenges each day. Each day we have to decide whether the challenges ahead of us are worth attempting or if we will just frustrate ourselves. What some can do easily, some cannot. What some do without thinking, others truly struggle. Sometimes we do not know what our full capabilities are until we just try.  Sometimes we just don’t take the risks or think of new alternatives to being successful.

A girl in the class looked at both of the boys and said, “If you would just get a cup and put some cake in it, you could eat a “Cup Cake” all by yourself when you were two years old!”

  • What is something you just know is too hard for you to do today?
  • Why can other people do the task?
  • What would have to happen before you could think about being successful with that task?

“A balanced diet is having a cupcake in both hands.” Anonymous

“Do we have a baby picture?”

A preschool teacher told a preschooler to bring a baby picture in for the beginning of the school year. The child went home and asked, “Do we have a baby picture?” The parent showed the preschooler a picture of him when he was a baby, and he said, “MOM, the teacher said I need a  baby picture! I need something MUCH smaller than this!”

Who couldn't love this baby picture?

Who couldn’t love this baby picture no matter what the size?

 

As we start this new school year, I want you to know there are wonderful preschool teachers who love it when a child listens to them. Right now they are getting details ready for children who not long ago were a baby. They are getting lesson plans ready for children to follow and are thrilled when a child wants to follow their directions.

This week at my preschool, I watched a teacher take materials out of the classroom to better wash and disinfect them. As the items were brought back in, the teacher noticed a bird had done the opposite of cleaning the item while outside which, instead of warranted frustration, brought the teacher to laughter. This same teacher also had to spend time repainting over a dozen cubbies to cover the wax that had splattered on them during the janitor’s clean up time. Another teacher was busy scrapping the walls to get them presentable. One more teacher was moving heavy furniture and sanding and painting a cabinet to make her room more attractive for her class. Another teacher was at the post office buying stamps to send special mail to some three year olds. These teachers love the children that will be in their classroom before they even get to know them.

They will cry when they graduate in the spring. They will give countless hours of preparation time for lessons, art projects, service work and extra clean up. We often think of teacher’s pay as small, yet an elementary teacher gets benefits, support staff, tenure options and the backing of unions that negotiate contracts. Preschool teachers typically get none of that yet they give beyond measure.

They give because they know that little things make a big difference. They know that a baby picture can be a part of the bigger picture of life. There actually is no “baby picture” to a teacher. A preschool teacher sees the whole big project.

  • When was the last time you did a lot of work and never thought about the monetary pay that you received?
  • If you were challenged to come up with a way to best honor those in your life who do things for you and your family that are beyond what is expected, what would you do? (Would it be more meaningful than an “Ice Bucket Challenge?)
  • Will you take a moment to think about those who impacted you when you were still in baby pictures? 

“Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.”
Marlon Brando

“Success is not a function of the size of your title but the richness of your contribution.”  Robin S. Sharma

P.S. That baby picture is my baby 23 years ago, and I truly thank his preschool teacher for all she did so long ago.

“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

 

 

“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

“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

 

“Is your daddy big?”

I sat by three preschoolers and asked them, “Is your Daddy big?” The first child said,  “My daddy is big enough to touch the basketball hoop.” Another child said, “My daddy is big enough to touch the ceiling fan, but mommy doesn’t like that.” The last boy shared, “My daddy does not touch tall stuff, but he has a heart big enough to love me and my mommy.”

My daddy has a big heart.

My daddy has a big heart.

All people have some opinion about how big their father is and what influence they will allow their father to have. Some carry wonderful loving memories. Some carry hurtful often bitter memories of what could and should have been. Others have no memories at all and wonder what it would be like to have a fond memory of a dad coming home and playing with them. The quantity or quality of our memories does not have to define our happiness.

All fathers are bigger than their children. All children are born small and need to look up to see their father. Tonight in America, 40% of the children will go to sleep in homes in which their father does not live. Never in America’s history have so many children grown up not knowing what it means to have a father. Never have we needed fathers more and seen them less.

The best fathers have the biggest hearts. The best children take the good from those hearts and let it multiply into their own lives. We may all want to have the best car, but that is not reality. Reality is we often have a car with a little dent, a spot of rust, something that needs fixing, yet we can be grateful we can have transportation. No one needs “the best” to be happy.

If you are a father reading this, know right now you will never be “the best” father, but you certainly can share a loving heart and strive for being a father who makes a positive difference. Celebrate this Father’s Day with renewed strength to show how big your heart is. Try not to scare anyone by getting hurt in a ceiling fan.

If you are a child of any age reading this, know right now you have or had a father with flaws, but that does not have to ever keep you from enjoying your day today. You own your today, and it is up to you to use your own heart to share with others. You are able to take any good from your father and combine it with any other ingredients you want and create the you you want to be. Your father may have started your creation, but you get to finish it. There is great power in that recipe.

  • If you could tell your father one thing today, what would it be?
  • Is your heart big enough to let go of any negative thought about fathers and look only at the good?
  • Will you take the time today to look for a father that may need encouraging and offer what you can?

“When one has not had a good father, one must create one.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Happy Father’s Day to all the Daddies out there. No matter how big and tall you are, people can always look up to you.

 

Can you smile?

This week I was traveling and enjoying watching the young children trying to entertain themselves before their flights. I asked a preschooler at the airport, “What is your name?” He just stared at me. I smiled at him. He then just smiled back. He then asked me a question with sounds and words I was not able to understand. I am not sure what language he was speaking. I just stared back at him. He smiled at me. I just smiled back. It was better communication than I had with many people that day.

Boy trying to understand the airport announcement.

Boy trying to understand the airport announcement.

Communication is tricky. Words are not universally understood by people. Words are something that must be learned. A smile, on the other hand, is first formed intentionally around 6 weeks of age and does not appear to have to be taught. A smile uses approximately 15 muscles that all have to work together to allow an infant to spontaneously offer us a smile. Mothers intuitively smile back at their infant’s first attempts, and the cycle of communication begins.

Smiles lead to cooing sounds which lead to combining sounds and whole words and eventually entire sentence structures used to communicate wants and needs in an effective manner.  All that complication starts out as a smile that needs to communicate.

As the boy and I smiled together at the airport, it didn’t matter what our names were or that we could not talk to each other. We could embrace our moment and know that we were both not a threat to each other. I wish I had taken a picture of him smiling to share with you, but we were too busy smiling to ruin the moment with a camera.

As I was sitting in my airplane seat mentally marveling at how we can communicate without words, the woman sitting next to me shared she had three sons. Her 12-year-old does not speak due to a syndrome that was not officially diagnosed until a few years ago. She shared he uses an iPad for communication. As she shared his challenges, she also shared the joy he has. He smiles and is happy.

We talked about his future, and she said her main hope is that he remains happy. He will never speak words or walk unassisted or live on his own. He will never be on the track to be a doctor like his older brother. However, he can remain on the track of happiness and smiles.

My mother-in-law just got out of the hospital today, and one of the first things she told me was, “The doctor had such a nice smile for me.” As much as words are so important to me, today was definitely a great reminder that smiles are the best words we can put in our vocabulary.

  • What is something that made you smile today?
  • Do you remember exchanging smiles with anyone else today?
  • Will you try today to use your own smile to see to make someone else smile? It just may be the best game you can play.

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” Phyllis Diller

“There are a hundred languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all.” Anonymous (Maybe instead of “anonymous” it really should be quoted as from “All Of Us!” 🙂 )

 

What would Good Friday look like if you were there?

I was telling talking about Easter with a group of two and young three year olds this week. When I got to the thorny crown, a girl quickly interjected, “and that was definitely NOT a princess crown!” When we got to the part about the mean guys coming to take Jesus away, a boy quickly wanted to share, “I need to be a Power Ranger and get those mean guys who hurt Jesus! I need to get my power stick!” Story over!

The Power of the Cross

The Power of the Cross

The story of Easter is the most profound story in all of christianity. It is the only story where a savior dies for all the sins of humanity and then comes back to life only to then leave again to prepare a place for everyone. It is so far beyond what an adult mind can comprehend, which makes it even harder for a preschooler to grasp. Yet grasp they do.

Preschoolers understand concepts like getting punished for doing something wrong. They understand “mean guys” wanting to hurt people. They understand that a thorny crown is nothing like the princess variety. They understand people crying when they are sad. They understand people being happy and excited when a cave is found empty. They understand how to share exciting news with others so that everyone can continue to pass on a legacy. They understand the desire for unconditional love.

What preschoolers also understand is that they like to DO things. They don’t like to just sit and listen; they are doers. The love waving a Palm branch and shouting “Hosanna!”. They love going outside in a garden to look for flowers and a spot to pray like Jesus. When they hear about some friends sleeping instead of being with Jesus as he was taken away, they enjoy falling to the floor and acting as if they are sleeping. Preschoolers DO.

A young child visualizing morphing into a Power Ranger to protect someone he loves is just what makes God smile at Easter. God is in the business of morphing people’s hearts. To morph means to be transformed completely in appearance or character. As Christians we believe that only God has the ability to transform character. We all fall short of the glory of God which is the whole point of Easter. We all need some morphing power; power sticks are optional.

  • If you were present at the first Good Friday, what do you think you would have done?
  • What in your life needs some transformation?
  • If you are alive on THIS Good Friday, what will you DO?
  • Are you willing to say, “It’s Morphin’ time” and wait for God to do some work?
  • While you are busy Doing, also please remember there is a time for just Being. They can go hand in hand quite well.

“Everyone is like a butterfly, they start out ugly and awkward and then morph into beautiful graceful butterflies that everyone loves.”

Drew Barrymore

The power of a preschooler will change your life….if you let it. Be prepared to Morph! 🙂

 

“What does a caterpillar change into?”

A teacher asked a class of preschoolers, “What does a caterpillar change into?” One child quickly answered, “A raccoon!!”

Caterpillars ready to change into.....

Caterpillars ready to change into…..

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is an amazing concept.The DNA stays the same, but all of the characteristics of the caterpillar change. What was one day one thing can now be a completely different entity.

With people, we often get frustrated when they do not change. We expect spouses to become more patient as they get older. They often don’t. We expect relatives to become more giving as they see your needs. They often don’t. We expect friends to get over their quirks, addictions and mental states. They often don’t.

There certainly are people who have heart changes and transform into creatures beyond what our imaginations could anticipate. Change is possible. Change is also hard. When a caterpillar goes inside the chrysalis or cocoon, it must digest itself to release enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. Once it has changed into a soupy mess, cells rapidly divide to form wings, antennae, legs, eyes and all the parts that make a butterfly so beautiful.

Change is something we really can’t predict in people. It is up to each individual to change according to its will. We all get to decide how much of a soupy mess we can handle in the name of change. We can hope to wait for a beautiful creature only to end up with a rabid raccoon.

  • What is something you have tried to change about yourself in the past and never could?
  • Have you witnessed an incredible change in a person in your life? How do you think they did that?
  • What can you do to make a change in your life or for someone you care about?

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

 

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.

 

“Do you like soup?”

I sat with a two year old picking and poking at her soup and never really eating any of it. I asked, “Do you like soup?” She didn’t answer. She would try the soup and then play with some toys and then try again, but playing always seemed to win. Then ice cream was mentioned in the kitchen. She ran into the kitchen and hopped into her chair to devour a bowl of ice cream. She then had another little bowl and stirred and stirred it. To her surprise it started to quickly melt. She looked bright-eyed into the bowl and said, “YES! I DO like soup!”

What soup would you choose to eat?

What soup would you choose to eat?

Sometimes to really embrace something we need to make a little change in it. Variety is said to be the spice of life, and sometimes we need to try more spices. We are quick to say we don’t like to travel only to really mean we are a little scared of the flight there, or we tell others we don’t like Mexican food when all we have tried is a spicy burrito. We lump too much into one category and don’t let the flavors mix and morph into new tastes.

If we keep trying new things, we are bound to find the good in them. We need to not give up too quickly. The sweet taste of ice cream soup may just be waiting for us all.

  • Think of a something you do not like to do.
  • Now think of any small part of that activity that you could possibly enjoy.
  • Was thinking of a positive aspect of a disliked activity easy or hard for you, and what might that say about your ability to find sweet ice cream soup?

“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.” Abraham Maslow

“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 does a speck of sawdust and a plank in your eye really mean?

I was reading that Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I asked a preschooler, “What does a speck of sawdust and a plank in your eye really mean?”   He said, “Wow, that means a carpenter forgot to wear his goggles!”

A speck and a log

A speck and a log

I have heard ideas that being judgmental is a form of being human, and we should not look at others without first looking closer at ourselves. All that makes sense. The world would be a kinder place if we would not judge so quickly.  I have never before heard the virtues of a good carpenter wearing safety goggles.

Preschoolers can often give the new twist that can make us think deeper. If we had goggles that would protect our eyes from sawdust and big planks and all the knotholes that carpenter’s deal with, we would be much safer. Goggles would also give us clearer vision. We would be able to see the world without the fear of injuring our eyes. We would be free to look at things that could previously have hurt us or have made us turn away. We would be able to take more chances and be bolder in our moves. We would not blink so quickly and really be able to study what we look at.

We have no real photos of Jesus. We only have artist’s renderings.  Jesus may have had a whole different image if someone would have drawn some goggles around his eyes.

  • What could happen if you really could wear glasses that allowed you not to judge?
  • If you placed goggles on that protected you and gave you boldness, what would you do differently?
  • Do you have someone in mind that you would like to purchase goggles for?

“To judge between good or bad, between successful and unsuccessful would take the eye of a God.”  Anton Chekhov

 

“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.

 

“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