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. 

Our Rearranged Family

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile. I just don't know how to start. I know what I want to say in the middle, and even the thoughts I want to finish up with, but I have no words to start the story... so I leave the post unwritten. And when I run into casual friends out and about and they ask me how Jason is, or how his business is going, I say fine. I don't say, "he's fine, but we've been separated for nearly a year actually." Because that seems like a weird place to start the story. Especially in the middle of a grocery store.  But he is fine. And so am I. And so are our kids. I guess I want to start there. Telling you we are all fine. 

And some of you might be confused. You might be thinking, but wait, I've seen you together this past year. Or I've seen pictures of you at holidays and special occasions. Or if you were at Salsarita's yesterday, you might be thinking you saw us having lunch together. You would be right on all counts. We do still hang out together. We did not separate in anger. We separated out of need to do what is best for our relationship. We decided we function better apart. And it was not a quick decision or an easy process. But we are ok. Really. And so are our kids. In fact, even the day we told them about the separation, they were ok. Our 9-year-old asked, "so does this mean I'm going to have 2 bedrooms?" We said eventually, yes. She replied, "Great. Because I have a lot of toys, and I could use a place to move some of them." 

Now I'm not saying everyone took the news so well. When one of our extended family members heard, she cried. And I felt horrible that we were breaking up our family. And then my soon to be ex-husband said perhaps the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me, "We are not breaking up the family. We are just rearranging the family." Still brings tears to my eyes thinking about that moment. And I cling to its truth. We are not a broken family, we are a rearranged family. This might just seem like semantics. But words matter. And I don't want my children to feel like they are from a "broken" home. 

We have raised our kids to respect differences and accept people and families as they are. They know families look different. And they know that love is what makes a family. And I know from personal experience growing up with step family members I love dearly and parents who showed me a healthy way for divorced parents to act with one another, that it is possible for kids to not be traumatized by divorce. And for families to function well after a divorce.

 And yet when I tell people about our separation, I still sometimes feel shame. Like I've done something wrong. And so sometimes I don't say anything. Sometimes I hide for fear of the pity or judgement I imagine others to be passing on our broken family. But it's time to stop hiding. And time to stop feeling shame. I'm not saying divorce is the best choice for everyone, or even for anyone. I'm just saying it is not a choice to be ashamed of either. Because we are not broken. We still love one another. We still work together to raise our children. We will always be a family- one I am quite proud of actually. A rearranged family. 

So if you see me in the grocery store and ask about Jason, I will tell you he is fine. Because he is. We all are. I wish you all the kind of love and support and happiness I've found in my rearranged family.