Our children are listening...

So this morning my 9-year-old was laughing about a sign she had seen which made fun of Trump by calling him names. I started to tell her how mommy prefers we disagree with people on their policies and how we should engage in critical dialogue about their plans and actions, but I prefer we not actually call people names. To which she replied, "but Trump started it." I sighed. And I was disheartened a bit.

And so all the way to school this morning, I half heartedly talked to both girls about how people can disagree with us on things and that doesn't make them bad. But as I said, it was a half hearted attempt. Because as my daughter had said, Trump started it. And I feared that with all the hateful rhetoric now being so up front in american politics, I might be fighting a losing battle by asking my daughters to use respectful dialogue. And again, I was disheartened. 

Then after I dropped them off at school, I checked my email. My nearly 13-year-old had sent me an email last night. Strange. I'm not usually on her social media list. In fact, I've promised to never comment publicly on her Instagram... but anyway, I opened the email to find she had sent me a poem she wrote with her friend. And that brings me to this moment. When I'm going to share the poem now with you all. Because she has been listening. And I could not be more proud of the message she has heard. And she has reminded me that despite all the negativity around them, kids will hear positive messages. So we have to keep saying them...and I am hopeful once again for our future... 

Humpty Trumpty

Humpty Trumpty’s mother turned on Fox News
Humpty Trumpty’s mother loved Donald’s views
The idea of a border wall sounded so great
It would keep her and her son Humpty safe

Humpty Trumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Trumpty had a great fall [into Mexico]
All of Mexico’s horses
And all of Mexico’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Mexico’s leader assembled the humps
Gluing him together with quite a few bumps
They chucked him back over
Trump’s border wall
He was back in America
Humpty and all

So even though Humpty was full of hate
Mexico still found it in them to make him great [again]
So this is where many people hit quite a slump
You should be kind and respectful to everyone
Even Donald Trump [even though he’s a nutjob]

— By Dukie Momo & Jojo Pickles

Let the bosses boss...

The other day during a stirring rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, I paused after every verse to ask a different 2-year-old what animal they'd like to sing. Some children were shy or hesitant and needed prompting from their parents. "How about a sheep?" Nod. With a baa baa here and a baa baa there... "Doggie. You like doggies" Yes! Child shouts "doggie" and we keep singing. With a woof-woof here and a woof woof there... Then it was Alexa's turn. She confidently says, "a grasshopper!" "Oh, a grasshopper?" I repeat. "What sound does a grasshopper make?" Without missing a beat Alexa offers up a three second high pitch scream that sounded like she was trying to scare someone. Ok then. With a "aaaaAAAAaa" here and a "aaaaAAAaa" there... It was my favorite verse of Old MacDonald ever. 

I admire Alexa's talent for making choices. And making choices quickly and confidently is a talent my friends. Have you ever tried to pick a restaurant for dinner with someone who does not like to make decisions? It can be excruciating. So I like to celebrate and follow the little decision makers in my classes. I say "follow" because frequently linked to the talent of making choices quickly is the desire to change the game. Or the class. Or the song.

One of my favorite TLG memories is of teaching a then almost three-year-old named Norah. I didn't know Norah when she was born, but I imagine she came out of the womb knowing what she wanted to do. She was fierce and mighty and so much fun. Some days she decided she was a T-Rex. Some days she was the leader of her "dragon girls." She would say to her classmates, "follow me dragon girls..." and they would follow her right off the red mat. Who wouldn't want to be a dragon girl? Still makes me laugh, and it has been YEARS since Norah and her dragon girls were in my class.

But for as much as Norah used to make me smile as she'd lead her gang away from me and my directions, she made her mom sometimes shake her head and apologize. And she's not the only parent to say sorry for similar behavior. Because decision makers know what they want to do next and they ask for it. No matter what we are doing. Sometimes this embarrasses their parents. They apologize because their child comes up and tells me directly what they want to do. Even though most of the time, I'm like "Great idea!" Because I believe just like wanderers need the space to wander, and observers need to feel safe to observe, the leaders need to sometimes lead.  

In addition to the apologies, I have often been asked by parents something along the lines of “how can I teach my child to not be so bossy.” To which I say, "What? Bossy? Your child is a born leader. You can’t teach that kind of confidence.” Those leaders-to-be don’t need to be hampered; they need to be nurtured. They need to be taught to respect others rights to say no. They need to be taught that sometimes you have to compromise (even when your idea is the best). And they need to be taught not to be a bully. But bossy? We need some bosses. Otherwise we'll all just be singing some variation of with a woof-woof and a baa-baa forever. 

So gather your dragon girls and sing it with me, "with a aaaAAAAaaa here and a aaaAAAA there...." 

And now may I present Norah the forward rolling T-Rex... 


P.S. I haven't seen Norah in about 4 or 5 years, so I contacted her mom before I posted this to make sure it was ok to use her first name. Norah is now in second grade, and her mom shared this with me, "Norah makes me laugh everyday and nothing gets her down.  She is a natural leader and hates to see a child being mean or picking on another child.  I have heard quite the stories from her teachers the last couple of years of them sitting back and Norah politely telling the mean child that they need to apologize and that is not how you treat other children. The last child say "ok Norah I'm sorry" and Norah politely says "I'm not the one you need to apologize too, please treat ... With respect!" So proud Norah. Way to lead.