There’s No Place Like Home

Friday evenings in my home are my absolute most favorite evenings of the week. Besides the fact that for the past 10 years Fridays is breakfast night in our home, Fridays are the best for me because on that evening my house feels like the epitome of the word “home”.

One by one or two by two the members of my family and I trickle through the door and exhale deeply after a long week of work and  school.  Bags and jackets get tossed on the arm of the couch or straight to the floor, whichever one we have strength enough to do first.  My hubby comes in, and lays right across the carpet as he begins to plan the movie we are watching for the night.  My boys get in the house and throw themselves across their beds,click on the television and become instant zombies. One sock on, one sock off I find a corner of the couch to plop down on and just glance, with a careless side eye at the sink full of dishes that were made from the morning. I slide my bra off through my sleeve and just sit there without a single thought of preparing anything for the next day. This Friday evening, even my almost 2-year old daughter came in, and requested that I take off her shoes, socks and pants promptly so she could run free in her diaper. She already knows what this day is all about.

On this particular past Friday, it was during our synchronized “let loose” routine that I realized the true meaning of the phrase: “Home is where the heart is”.

After a long week, I am not stressing the messy pile of coats on the floor or the fact that the children are laying across their beds in their outside clothing. None of these  things matter to me at that moment. I don’t care that we have not started cooking yet so that everyone could eat at 7pm sharp. We will eat when someone musters up enough energy to even care.  Instead, I am exhaling deeply that my children are feeling safe and comfortable and that we are all together working towards one common goal: relaxation.  And that’s how it should be.
Unfortunately, we are living during a time when children are being put in situations where those who are suppose to care for them the most are actually harming them the most. It is so important to me, now more than ever, to create a haven in our home.

Though it sounds simple, I know it’s not easy at all. Life happens and life is stressful!!!

Trust me, I understand. In my home we have gone through financial hardships that have made me want to lash out at the world, and sometimes at my own children.  I have had days at work that were so tough that on my walk home I’ve contemplated going somewhere else because I didn’t want to hear anyone taking a breath too loudly, nonetheless, speaking.  These feelings are very real and very intense when they hit.  But at the end of the day, my children did not ask to be brought into this tough world. But they are here.  And while the thought of them being out there in this world that can be a bit scary each day makes me feel uneasy every now and then, I find comfort in the fact that I have some control in creating an environment where they can have peace. A place where they are loved and cherished. A place where their opinions are respected and their thoughts are validated.  A place where they are safe to be themselves no matter how goofy that may be. A place they can call HOME.

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me:
What things happen in your house to make it feel like “home”?

My New Chapter

(This particular blog is dedicated to a woman who inspired me to see the many chapters that we go through in this book called “Life”, and to the man who told me that I have a story to tell).

I woke up frustrated this morning.  I woke up tired this morning. I woke up frustrated because of why I was tired this morning. 

You see, last night I spent the hours of 9pm through 4am defending my parenting style to a group of people.  Particularly, my parenting style as it relates to my preteen/teenager.  Usually, I like a healthy conversation. I even like to engage in a healthy debate every now and then.  But I usually never like to have conversations where I have to DEFEND myself. It’s exhausting and by the time it ends, depending on who I am conversing with, my point or my perspective is never acknowledged or justified anyway, so essentially it is a waste of time.  (Hence, frustration!).

As of late, I feel like I have been having one too many conversations where I am defending my parenting style.  And while I would like to stop right here and just set the record straight by saying, I am open to much advice! I love advice.  It’s feedback and feedback helps improvement. In fact, I like feedback and advice so much that I seek it, but only from those who have been through a similar experience as what I am seeking advice for, which is not the same group of people who I am having these conversations with as of late.

So with that said, I am not that person who is getting all these interventions from these experts right now and I am just having a tantrum because what I really am is just oblivious to the needs of my children.  That’s not what this is.

And what I am definitely not as well, is an EXPERT on raising a pre-teen/teen.  Why am I not an expert? Well, because I am smack in the middle of still raising a pre-teen who is about to be a teenager. And it is my belief that one can not be an expert on something until they have EXPERienced that particular something and come out on the other end of it successfully and even then, it could be argued, that they are still just an expert from a very small perspective in the grand scheme of things.  Multiple experiences would truly determine mastership over that area and thus expertise.  Perhaps, that’s just my opinion (shoulder shrug).

And, so with that said, today, through my tiredness and slowly declining frustration as I write, I have found my next new venture, or rather my new chapter.

And that chapter is called, “Writing a Book”.  The purpose  of this book will be to capture my journey through trying to become a preteen/teenage expert. Not for every preteen/teenager, but, for the one that matters the most to me right now: mine.

As he embarks on this third year of middle school, I have also learned many lessons in the first two years that will dictate how I help him to navigate through this year, both academically and socially, at home and at school.  I have discovered, sometimes through the help of outside influences, and sometimes just from my own observations, the need to change my approach to dealing with him in certain areas.  I have also discovered that I still have far to go. This discovery has also come from both some outside influences, and from my own observations. Either way, with some pushing, I have decided, that it is time for me to document this journey in the hopes that I will come out in the end as an expert on dealing with MY 12/13 year old, which will be determined by his success through the rest of middle school and start of high school.

Now, I have never written a book before so I don’t know exactly what it entails but what I do know is that every book begins with a story to tell, and I have that at least.  So without further adieu, here I go… Wish me luck!!

Talk to you soon,

Serene

Share with me: Any advice that you have about publishing a book.  I am going to need it. (See how I ask for advice when I need it. HA!)

Stuck In The Middle

A couple of weeks ago people across the nation celebrated National Middle Child Day.  Usually, I don’t pay much mind to all the many “National” Holidays cause there are just so darn many. I am way too busy trying to remember what day of the week it is to add anything new to the calendar.

But on Wednesday, August 12, I thought that it would be fun to acknowledge National Middle Child day as we have our very own middle child, my “Munchkin” who is definitely worth celebrating.

Almost two years ago he became a middle child when we welcomed our little girl “Bean” into the family. Until then, I had heard all of these horror stories about what having a middle child would mean. According to friends and family, the middle child goes through something called “Middle Child Syndrome”. I was forewarned that my youngest son would become weird, awkward, and be the blacksheep of the family.
Because of all the warnings, I was determined to not let that happen. There was no way I was going to let my baby boy become the forgotten one just because his sister was born. I was determined to give him just as much attention as I did before child number 3.
And then she was born…And I totally understood why “Middle Child Syndrome” becomes a thing.

Parents are all to blame! In my household I am partly to blame. My husband is the other part, but until he realizes it, we will just focus on my shortcomings. He’ll just have to get his own blog to work out his issues.

According to the urban dictionary, middle child syndrome happens because the oldest child is usually the overachiever, the attention hog. The middle child is the less demanding one, that just goes with the flow, making it easy to become the “forgotten one”, and then there’s the baby, which comes with his or her own set of needs that babies require. Well, darn you urban dictionary, it’s all true. Well, partially true. I can’t actually say that my oldest son Papi is an overachiever. Being a pre-teen, he’s simply overly annoying (not on purpose, just by default). But he definitely is and has always been an attention hog. His first words may have been “look at me”. First born, first grandchild, it comes with the territory. Then number two was born and while we were so very excited and blessed to add him to our family, there was definitely a different tone in how I responded to meeting his needs. With the first child, every little cry caught my attention. If a person simply looked at him and caused him to cry, that person was banished and never to return until my baby felt comfortable. With my second son, I got over all of that real quick, cause, ain’t nobody got time for that! While I understood that he too was precious cargo, I also understood at this point in motherhood, that he wasn’t fragile fine china. He was not going to break if I let him cry a bit. I didn’t have to walk around with him strapped on my chest to be considered a good and attentive mother. And while this behavior of mine did not make him “a forgotten child”, it did contribute to him becoming a more “go-with the flow” kid. He learned to entertain himself if I was busy. He learned to be patient until his needs were met and as he became older, he learned to meet some of his own needs much quicker than his older brother did at his age. And then he had his big brother to hang out with so he wasn’t right under me like Papi was for the first 3 years of his life. Fast forward to 2013 when baby girl was born. She is our first girl, the first granddaughter, and the last baby that I plan to have. Plus, she has two big brothers who are giving her anything and everything, which is actually just fueling a little high maintenance monster (but in a cute sort of way).

Yet, with all that said, there is something beautiful to be said about my little middle child.

Something that I think is overlooked when people think of middle children. Middle children have an advantage in their birth order. They are the only people in the family with someone to look up to and someone to look up to them. They naturally become a teacher and a student amongst their siblings. They also tend to pick up some other great traits because of their birth order. My munchkin is the most compassionate and cooperative one out of the bunch. He is also the most observant one. He studies his big brother carefully to see the choices he makes and decides whether he wants to follow suit or make a different choice and he tries very hard to be a great influence for his little sister.
One National Middle Day, I asked him how it feels to be in the middle. He explained to me that it’s hard because he has to do what his big brother tells him to do (not true , but you see what lies his big brother feeds him), and then he has to share with his little sister even when he doesn’t want to (also not true, but he falls for her tears and just gives in to her all the time). He couldn’t see why or how being the middle child was a good thing even worth celebrating. We sat talking about the great things he is able to do, not because he is a middle child, but strictly because he’s just an awesome kid.  By the end of the night, he was grinning from ear to ear as I explained to him that just like an Oreo cookie, a Peanut Butter and Jelly, and a set of bookends, all the good stuff is in the middle. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He’s my favorite middle child!

Talk to you soon,

Serene

Share with me: Do you think that birth order plays a part in the formation of personality? Where do you fall in birth order of your siblings? Are you an only child? What role do you think that played in who you are?

 

Fist Bumps and Hugs

This summer we were fortunate enough to get our eldest son enrolled in a Summer Camp that is completely dedicated to traveling.  Each day our son, along with about 100 other pre-teens and teens travel to a new location.  These trips can range from visiting a museum or an amusement park to hiking in the Adirondacks or white water rafting.  Everyday presents a new adventure which is perfect for my son, who loves to always be on the go.

So on the first day of camp, I was just as excited as he was for this great opportunity. My excitement was probably more visible, because as you know, according to the “Teen Code”, showing any sign of excitement over anything is totally lame.  But I knew he was excited because for the entire month leading up to camp, he could not stop looking at the itinerary.

But either way, as we drove to the meeting grounds, I gave him the rundown of my expectations of him and all the regular “overprotective” mom speeches:

“ Stay with your group when you are in large places”, “Make sure you listen for instructions when your group leader speaks”, and so on and so on. 

As he nodded on with each point, we pulled up to the front of the building and I began to scan the area for parking.  The car hadn’t come to a full stop before my son says, “Okay mom, bye.” “Umm, sorry mister,”I had to quickly burst his bubble,” It’s the first day of camp. I’d like to meet the counselors, perhaps see who some of the campers are, and perhaps just show my face to let them know that there is some type of parental unit attached to the camper.”   You would have thought that I told him that I’d like to go with him and be his trip buddy, holding hands and everything. “Fine”, he said, slumping back in his seat.

After parking the car we entered the camp main building and walked towards the large cluster of people standing in the lobby, which actually turned out to be two separate groups.  There was a group of teens in one huddle and then pressed along side the wall on the other side of the room was a small group of parents who were obviously asked to keep their distance as if they needed to be quarantined.  My son quickly noticed the separation and very nicely requested that I stand amongst the other parents.

“Mom, there are no parents over in this area” he said speaking from the side of his mouth and looking straight ahead because God forbid we look like we are actually together. 

I assured him that I wouldn’t linger too long, that I just wanted to find out a few more things.  I proceeded to get the answers I was seeking from the director of the program, and he informed me that the buses to transport the campers to their first destination was about 15 minutes away.  I decided that since my son was making a conscious effort to keep his distance from me, that I too would follow his lead and join this covert op.  I moved like a ninja to his side watching over my shoulder to make sure that no other teen could see me speaking to the child that has the same exact face as mine.  I faced my back to his back and whispered to him that his bus would be arriving at 0800 and that when he arrived back to the camp building, I would be placed inconspicuously  around the corner, slumped down in the drivers seat so that we could make a fast break later on that evening.  He quickly understood my message and gave a head nod while also surveying the area.  He then turned his body halfway to face me and gave me what could only be considered a hug of some sort.  It was so quick, by the time I realized what had happened, he had already slipped through the crowd and sat down to wait for his bus.  I watched from a distance, careful not to let him see me watching him.

15 minutes later all campers were told to line up outside as the buses had now arrived.  I followed the group, noting the bus number, and the driver behind the wheel.  But I especially noted the confidence with which my son moved along the line as he prepared for his first traveling camp adventure with a group that he’s never been with.  I noted that I have a child who is no longer a baby although he will always be my baby.  And I noted that as he is growing, I am also growing, and growth is good.

As he got closer and closer to the entrance of the bus, I had a sudden urge to run, grab him and hug him like I did when he was little.  But I fought the urge, cause I knew that he would “never” forgive me for that one.  So instead, I walked in his direction as if I were walking pass him. And just as he was about step on the bus, I stuck out my fist. He noticed me immediately and did the same.  As our fists bumped, I mouth the words, “I love you”. And though he didn’t say it back, the small smile that came to the corner of his mouth said everything that my heart needed to hear.  And I walked away proud of myself, knowing that I am a pretty awesome mom to a pretty cool pre-teen. And thus begins my own journey into the world of teenagers.

Talk to you soon,

Serene

Share with me: When did you first realize that it might be time to let go just a little bit? 

 

Summer Amnesia

Originally published in August 2014

It’s that time of year again.  Summer Break for the children and for me as well.  Although I still have to go to work every day, not having to get up in the morning and wake up Papi and Munch, not having to pack their lunches the night before, not having to prepare clothing for the week is all a very welcomed break. But what I have found is that it is also a brain break, which could be a good thing, but right now I am not referring to the good way. Right now I am referring to the brain break that my children always take that makes it seem as if they have never gone to school a day in their lives by the time school begins again in September.  Last year, I will never forget my oldest son, Papi picking up a pencil to write something towards the end of the summer break.

It looked like he was using chopsticks for the very first time with his non-dominant hand, then he actually said “this feels so weird! I haven’t held a pencil in so long. I almost forgot how to write.” 

Now you may be asking yourself, what kind of mother am I that I didn’t see to it that they were writing all summer long? My response: It was just that kind of a fun summer. Don’t judge me.  But either way,  what kind of craziness is that?!!  Does two months really have the capability of wiping away something that is practiced daily for ten months? Well apparently it does and this summer, there was no way that I was going to let that type of amnesia try to set it again.

And thus, my new family project was born. Now, the key to having children do anything that even resembles school work during the summer, and they still enjoy it is to disguise it as something else.  I have seen parents who sign their children up for literacy, and math classes throughout the summer to avoid the aforementioned “forgetfulness”, but I am not that parent as I do think children need down time.

However, I am that parent that will trick her children into doing work by making it look fun. SO this is what I did.

First I came up with a writing topic, something that sparks creativity. Then instead of just assigning the writing task to the children, our entire family got involved: me, and my hubby, as well as the boys. Next I gave each of the boys their own composition notebooks and a due date that we all had to adhere to. Two days after the assignment was given, everyone was ready with their story.  We gathered on the sofa and took turns reading our stories out loud. The rules were that no one was allowed to laugh at anyone’s story in a critical manner, and no interrupting.    It was a great success! Everyone definitely brought their own personalities to their stories with the big laugh of the night being my hubby’s half human, half raisin story (yep, that’s his personality for sure).  But most importantly, it was family time well spent and the children enjoyed writing.  So much in fact, that when I was ready to give them the next writing topic, they had come up with a few of their own. So now we let Munch choose the next topic: “If you could have any super talent in the world, what would it be?”  Then our oldest son, Papi is excited to choose the next topic thereafter.  I think I may be on to something! This September, there will be no forgetfulness when it comes to holding a pencil! Mission Complete.

Talk to you soon!

Serene

Share with me: What things will you do over the summer for your children to counteract summer amnesia?  

Homework Personalities

Pot of Sweet Peas

When my eldest son, Papi became a 2nd grader, it was my first introduction into the world of being a parent of a kid who now had homework. I don’t know when it happened exactly but somewhere around the time that I had two school aged children with homework, I actually became as sick of homework as my boys were. Between their work load and the need for me to be the “homework police”, monitoring the assignments and ensuring their completion, there was a time when I felt like homework became a bigger burden on me than it was helpful for them and furthermore, it started to become more stressful than anything, which was not the experience that I wanted for any of us.

One evening, last year while helping the boys do homework, I found myself losing my last bit of patience. Instead of working, the boys were talking to each other, losing all kinds of focus. No one could find a pencil although I purchased over 150 pencils at the beginning of the school year. And my youngest son kept shifting in his chair because he just “couldn’t get comfortable”. All the while, I was preparing dinner, watching the time slowly move into the hour that baths were suppose to begin and it looked like no one was close to finishing homework because they just couldn’t get it together.

That night I became angry with my children which manifested into me turning into the HULK, banging on the table and yelling “GET IT TOGETHER! HOMEWORK TIME IS SERIOUS TIME!” and a few additional threats to cease all fun activities in the home for the next 2 months.

This resulted in my then 5 year old, crying and not being able to focus anyway. I then became angry with every teacher who ever assigned homework, including myself in my classroom days. “Don’t teachers know that parents can’t spend ALL NIGHT dealing with homework? What is wrong with them!!” Of course, I know that this was not rationale thinking but I had to be angry at someone at that moment. I can’t remember how that night even ended or if homework even got completed but I know that that evening was pivotal for me.
Since that night, I had to figure out a way to take some of the stress off the homework process for everyone’s sake.
Though in theory it seemed like a good idea to have both of the boys at the dining room table, close to me in the kitchen while they worked, it was not conducive for them to be next to one another. So the first plan of action was to separate them. Each child in his own space of choice to work. Then I had to accept the fact that my youngest son was uncomfortable in the chairs and did not work best sitting with his butt in the chair, feet on the floor, facing forward , which I thought was key to creating a studious little intellect. When I took out the time to listen to what he needed, I realized that it worked better for him to lay belly down in the middle of a room with his books and papers lying beside him. He just thinks better that way and still does 4 years later. Now, figuring out exactly what my oldest son needed to work best was not a challenge for me as much as accepting what he needed was. I grew up learning that your work space should be quiet so that you could focus and tune out distractions, which is why to this very day, I can’t stay focused if any noise enters my work space. So when my son asked to play music while doing homework, I couldn’t fathom how he was going to also concentrate so I fought the idea for awhile. But he kept insisting “Mom, I can’t think while its this quiet!”, he’d say. I just couldn’t wrap my head around that. But finally one day, I did and let him work with his music of choice. And surprisingly he was able to remain seated and quiet for the whole hour plus that he worked on his homework.
Now I am not saying that all of these homework changes made homework time a breeze in my household, but coupling these “newfound” practices with a pre-homework snack and at least an hour to unwind before beginning homework definitely makes for a less tense home during the week.
My lesson in all of this: Sometimes your children’s methods of doing things are not your own nor are their methods how you envision things being able to work out, but sometimes for the sake of learning something new and making life a bit easier, parents should listen to what their children are asking for. They might just know what they need for themselves.

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me: What are/were some of your best homework time practices in your household?

Confidence is My Kinda Thing

Words cannot describe the feeling I get when people comment, “Oh my gosh, she looks just like my…!”

My name is Aniqua Wilkerson and I am a crochet artist/designer specializing in doll making. About two years ago I quit teaching in pursuit of a more creatively free career. Art had always been the tool I used to be a more effective teacher, but being a classroom teacher was a bit too rigid for me!

I didn’t have a real plan. I just wanted to be as creative and as innovative as I could possibly be.  You see, crochet is an old art form and millions of people do it. I didn’t realize at the time, how important it would be to stand out.

My real journey didn’t start until I decided that I wanted to make dolls. I began by looking in different places for inspiration and discovered something very interesting.

I couldn’t find many African American crochet dolls. I saw lots of white dolls, but brown dolls were scarce.

There were two ladies on Etsy, that made really cute African American dolls, and both designers were white women. I wondered why there were so few brown crochet dolls. I knew there were African American crocheters, so why was it so hard to find African American crochet dolls?

This discovery led me down a path that I hadn’t anticipated when I set out to be artistically free! What do you do when you don’t find what you’re looking for? You create it yourself!

Even though the two designers I found made decent brown girls, there was so much more to be seen. Different shades of brown, and different types of hairstyles; afro puffs, braids, beads, coils, curls, afros, etc. The variations were huge, and the obstacles were enormous!

Artistically, this was an awesome challenge because I had to start from scratch. I had to figure out innovative ways to manipulate yarn to resemble all the different ways little brown girls wear their hair. It became a real project for me. But I learned so much more.

Biggest obstacle, “Is this brown too dark?”
An absurd question, but yes someone really asked that! Would you believe that some people feel that way? My immediate response was “absolutely not!” I have a beautifully brown niece who just happens to be that shade, it would be utter betrayal to say yes, not to mention offensive and untrue! It made me think about the attributes to a “pretty brown girl”. I gained what has become my golden rule for creating these girls, “No brown is too dark!” The shade of brown NEVER matters.

My Kinda Thing pic 1My Kinda Thing pic 2

From that point on, I had a mission. A wonderful and scary goal. Being a girl is hard enough when the world shows you imagery of who you should be and how you should look. What happens when you don’t fit the model presented? Our girls not just brown girls are being taught to alter and adjust physically and mentally in order to meet the “standard”. No longer are we taught to love who we are.
Dye your hair, straighten those kinks, enhance this and cut away that… the list goes on. Self hate is on sale every where! There are payment plans for these “enhancements” and some of us have suffered heavily in the name of beauty.

What if we teach our girls that who they are is much more wonderful,
What if you knew, that being you is already beautiful?

When I create these unique dolls, my head and my heart goes into it. My head says, “make it resemble a little girl”, and my heart says, “make her uniquely wonderful!”
And so begins a conversation between the creation and creator:

Only make her once. I never use patterns so they’re always different.
In that way, she won’t ever have competition.
Keep in mind the person she is created for, her purpose, because my dolls have been gifts of love, comfort, healing, support, and encouragement.
I know it sounds funny but yes, we talk! And by the time I am done she is a whole 360 degree depiction of someone who is beautiful because she was created with a plan and a purpose. She goes to her new home with a hand written note that says so. If this is true about my dolls, couldn’t this be even more true about you?

I create these dolls because I want to encourage pride and confidence in girls. Show them that they are beautifully and uniquely made, like my creations, only much much better!

For more information on Ms. Aniqua’s uniquely wonderful creations, follow her on
Facebook: www.facebook/mykindathing 
Instragram and Twitter: @my_kinda_thing
Talk to you soon,
Serene

 

Review Time: The Gazillion Bubble Show

Bubble Show

Review: The Gazillion Bubble Show
Location: New World Stages, 340 50th street between 8th and 9th
Show time: 11am

This weekend for exactly one hour, I was transported back in time to my childhood when the simple things in life kept me mesmerized and smiling in amazement. That is the only way that I could describe how I felt while watching the Gazillion Bubble Show along with my three children and the hubby.
I was gifted the tickets this past week, and while I had been meaning to take the kiddies to see this exact show when it first appeared a few years ago, I just never got around to it. Boy, am I happy that I was given the opportunity to finally see it.

Prior to going to the show, I looked up a bit of information about it, because I was on the fence about bringing my 15 month old. I didn’t know how she’d react to the dark theater or the crowd. But the site said, “fun for all ages” and that’s exactly what it was.

For exactly an hour, the bubble making genius Melody Yang captivated  the entire audience with tricks and illusions that had everyone sitting with our mouths hanging open, scratching our heads, as we wondered how in the world she made these bubbles do such fascinating things! (Spoiler Alert: Who knew bubbles could be square shaped?!!) I’ve blown a lot of bubbles in my days and the fanciest trick I’ve ever done was to catch the bubble on the end of the wand.
I mean, really, even my 12 year old turned to me during the show and said “Mom, this is so cool!” And listen, when you are a pre-teen, the words “mom” and “cool” rarely go together. rI definitely didn’t think he’d enjoy half as much as he did. But, honestly, even the coolest kid couldn’t help but to jump out of their seat, swatting wildly in the air, as the crowd was engulfed in a sea of bubbles multiple time throughout the show.

I knew that bubbles made children happy but this show proved that we all still have little children hidden in us that something as simple as bubbles can obviously unlock.

Would I recommend this show?: Definitely!

Who would I recommend this show for?: Anyone who likes to smile and occasionally enjoys the feeling of being a kid again.

Pros:
1. The theater was small ,intimate and the stadium seating allowed for the stage to be viewed no matter how tall the person is that is sitting in front of you .
2. There are two parking lots across the street.
3. You can purchase your own container of Gazillion Bubbles at the bubble store in the theater lobby. (I’ve actually used these bubbles back in my teaching days and they are the best by far!)
4.  There is stroller parking available.

Cons:
1.  There are no changing tables in the bathroom that I visited but I was told that a changing table does exist in a different kind bathroom on a different floor.
2.  There is a mandatory $20 Cash Only “Lap Seat” Ticket Fee for children under the age of  2.

3. Be prepared to spend $5 for a pack of M&Ms as well as a few other individual items that are being sold by a person who walks around the theater before he show actually begins.

Overall Rating:
Five peas in a pod! (A perfect score)

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me: Have you seen the show already? What did you think of it? Do you plan to see the show? Let me know you thoughts once you see it.

Being Confident in “Girl World”

Girl World

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Facebook for inspiration for my next blog topic.  I love writing about my own experiences but I thought it would be different to write about a requested topic.  One particular response that came from a friend of mine was to write about boosting confidence in young girls. I loved the idea of that topic. After all, I am a “girl”, I’ve taught girls, and I have a daughter. Piece of cake, I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I sat in front of that computer and my mind went blank. What was wrong with me? I usually have no problems writing about topics that I’m passionate about it. But this was just not coming to me. Although I have a little girl, I realized that trying to boost her confidence was not something I had begun to think about.  After all, she’s only 15 months so this was something that really didn’t need to be on my radar yet, or so I thought.  A week or so after my “brain fart” and non-existent promised blog post, I had an experience that made me realize I had better start thinking about this, and quick:

While over at a friend’s for a fun Friday night gathering, my daughter sat on the floor with another little girl who was around the age of 3.  As the girl sat coloring with a marker, a huge bag of at least 70 additional markers sat next to her. Being curious, my little Bean tottled over and  reached in the bag to pull out a marker, when the 3 year old snapped out of her drawing trance and with squinted eyes, yelled, “Hey! stop I’m using those!” Immediately, I switched into my teacher voice, hoping to diffuse the situation, “Sweetie, you have a lot of markers. Can you please let her use one and when she’s done, she’ll give it back to you?”  That ought to do the trick right? NOPE, it didn’t.  The little girl just stared at me and responded just as snappy as before, “No, I’m using them! I don’t like her!” Wow, I did not see that coming.  Naturally, all my teacher instincts went out the window.  And as I pictured myself snatching the bag of markers from the little girl and perhaps bumping her slightly with my bottom, I looked at my daughter who had already moved on to the next thing, totally unfazed by the whole situation.

And it was at that exact moment that it occurred to me that I am the mother of a little girl and having been a little girl myself, I know that “girl world” is a heck of a lot different from what I was use to when raising the boys.  I had to start thinking about building her confidence much sooner than I thought.

I had an epiphany that evening and I realized that it has to be one of my many goals to make sure that I raise a little girl that is so confident, she will be able to walk away, unfazed, moving on to the next thing if someone else says “No, I don’t like you”.  But how? Where do I begin?

When it comes to raising a girl, it’s so common to hear people say, “make sure you tell her she’s beautiful” so that she can be confident.  But somehow, I don’t think that’s enough.  Sure, this has to be one part of building her self –esteem.  Girls, people, and the world can be cruel and judgmental when deciding what look is “in” and what features are favorable.  My little girl will definitely need to know that she is wonderfully made both inside and out.  And though I think that this is a small part of creating a confident little girl,  it is going to take something big from me. I have to first understand that I am her first example of what she will aspire to be. With that said, I have to show her what it looks like to love myself, flaws and all.  I have to continue to embrace my natural hair so that she can embrace hers. I have to love all 4 foot 11 inches of me no matter how tall everyone else stands around me.  I have to resist the urge to show signs of self-loathing, realizing that every time I critique my cellulite, and inability to acquire the perfect hourglass figure that my Bean is watching and she will criticize those same things on herself.  I will have to tell myself that I am beautiful and show her that we are beautiful.

But this is not enough. One day my daughter may encounter someone else who tells her “You can’t use my markers”, “You can’t come to my party”, “You can’t be my friend” “I don’t like you”.  Her knowing that she is beautiful won’t help her to walk away unfazed.  The only way that she is going to be able to keep it moving, head held high, when she is rejected is if she understands that people who didn’t make you don’t have the power to break you.  She will also need to understand that she can move on to the next thing and that there is something out there made especially for her.  As her mom, I’ve been charged with the job of truly seeing my daughter for her talents and skills and I must nurture those things so that she can grow to understand how special she is.  If her eyes are bright and focused on the goals that she and I set for her, then she will be too busy in her own world to care that someone has rejected her from theirs.

But even that may not be enough.  One day, with her knowing that she is beautiful and having a goal in mind, she may be told that she still can’t do something just because she is a girl.  Well for that, I simply say, thankfully she has two big brothers to run side by side with.  She already tries to keep up with them and they have already proven to be her biggest supporters.

I don’t know if this is the perfect formula for raising a confident girl.  I’ve never raised one before but I’m thinking that with beauty, drive and strength my baby girl will also have the courage and determination to walk tall (no matter how tiny she may be), and proud as she navigates her way through “Girl World”.

Talk to you soon,

Serene

 

Share with me: Where does your confidence come from? Who helped you to gain that confidence? What did they do?

Batteries Not Included

Batteries Not Included

The months of March, April and May are very busy for me in my professional life. As a Prekindergarten Director, during this time, parents begin touring my school to potentially enroll their children. Every year I look forward to meeting new families and seeing the faces of little 3 year olds who will blossom and transform into big boys and girls in a matter of ten months. But there is one thing that I never ever look forward to although it happens every year for the past 5 years, at least. And when it happens, cause it always does, I have to smile through it and never let on to show how I’m really feeling. It never fails that a parent or two comes in and says,

“I hope the children in your school don’t just play all day. My 3 year old is so smart. He can read, he knows how to count to 100 and he knows how to do everything on my iPad. In fact he knows how to work this device better than I do”.

Then I have to sit through a five minute demonstration as their child sits there tapping on the screen, unlocking hidden levels and sliding shapes they can barely pronounce from one side to another. And while I am staring with a painted smile across my face, totally unimpressed, in my heart I am hoping that this parent picks my school so that I can allow this child to have a different kind of learning experience. One that does not involve batteries or a charger.

As I begin my tour of each classroom one of the first things I like to point out to my device-toting parents is the sand table. As I stand there giving my spiel on the benefits of a sand table, what I really want to say if it wouldn’t come off so offensive is how I have noticed that parents have forgotten the value of play that engages all the senses. Sure, your child can touch a device and control items with one finger but have we forgotten how beneficial it is to experience different textures with a whole hand? How important it is to taste something (even if it is sand) , just to experience it and come to the conclusion that maybe sand should not be eaten.

These are concrete experiences that can not be created from a device and because of the lack of exposure, children are becoming sensory deprived and a sensory seeking.

But I don’t say all that because some parents are not ready to hear that, so we just continue on with the tour.

On my next stop of touring the classroom, I like to show parents the huge block areas that I have in my classrooms. This is the area that usually impresses them the most when I explain to them that children learn mathematics and science in this area when they build, measure, calculate and problem solve. Parents’ ears perk up when they hear all of the academics that can come out of this area. But if I had more time during my tour, I would explain to these parents how block building is much more beneficial than meets the eye. Allowing children to build with blocks teaches them something that rarely comes from playing on a mobile device 24-7. It teaches patience, trial and error, and coping with frustration. When a child plays on a device, with a click of a button or a flick of the wrist, things just begin to happen the way they are suppose to happen. There is instant gratification. All is well with the world. But in a world of blocks, structures fall over, big blocks don’t balance well on small blocks and sometimes the structure that was imagined doesn’t quite pan out the way it was expected to. How frustrating is that, especially when you are 3 years old?! But it’s just the right amount of frustration to get the child to realize that the world is not about instant gratification and things don’t just happen when a button is pressed and that when things don’t work out, we should try something different. That’s what I would say to these parents, if there was more time on my tour.
After I show this parent the rest of my site from the dramatic play areas to the paint easels, I then walk back to my office and use this time for any questions that they may have before we go our separate ways. They usually ask 1 or 2 more questions and then say goodbye, but not before telling their child over and over again to look up to “say good bye to Mrs. Serene”. Usually that child is too busy to pull himself away from the device to acknowledge me. He can’t even take a second to make eye contact. But I’m not offended. I just smile and nod all the while telling myself, “No eye contact. Just another downfall in the life of 3 year old with a mobile device”.

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me: What do you think about children and mobile-devices? What age should children start using these devices?