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Make a Splash!

On Wednesday evening , just like any other day of the week, I left from work at 5pm to pick up my daughter (we call her “Bean”) from the day care. On this particular day however, I was more exhausted than I remember being in a very long time.  Work that day was quite strenuous. It was one of those days where all the demands of work that suddenly pop up that day stop you from doing the work that you attempted to accomplish that day. One of those days where your supervisor calls you in the office to have a meeting about the meeting that you just had 20 minutes before that meeting. One of those days where you begin the day with 20 things to do and leave with 45 including the original 20.  You get it; one of those days. Then to top it all off, It was a rainy day.  So if a day of being unproductive didn’t have me feeling like a complete failure, a dreary wet day (of frizzy hair) definitely wasn’t going to give me that extra boost of confidence that I needed.
So needless to say, when the clock hit 4:59, I ran out of the office without stopping to say a word to anyone at all.
After a 45-minute bus ride and walk I finally reached the day care and had to apologize for my less than cordial manner, puffy hair and slurred, tired words. I just needed to get home and to my bed as quickly as possible.

However, my Bean had a different idea. As I opened her stroller, stuffed my bags underneath, and lifted her to sit her down, she loudly exclaimed “No, I wanna walk!”  Ever since she turned two years old 1 month ago she has been really taking this independent thang to a whole new level.

I started to lift her again, hoping that she would just see the desperate look in my eyes that cried ” I need my bed NOW!” but she was too busy preparing for a tantrum to notice my plea. She was prepared to fight for her right to walk and I had no fight left in me after this very long day.
As I walked out of the building, I was very grateful that the rain had stopped and that at least it wasn’t freezing outside.   But the question then lingered “how was this 7 block walk going to happen quickly with this little girl sight seeing the entire time?”

And then it happened, while her eyes were occupied, she accidentally stepped in a puddle. As she looked down, her face went from shock to confusion. And as I gave her the new vocabulary word “puddle” to explain to her what she had literally just stumbled upon, the smile spread so widely across her face as she lifted her leg and made the biggest splash that that little could puddle could have produced.
And at that moment I took off my tired mommy lenses and saw the world through her eyes. She didn’t know how hard my day was. She didn’t know that my staff made me absolutely crazy that afternoon. All she knew is that her little feet had the power to make water fly in the air. The smile on her face made time stand still for a moment and caused my heart to smile.
It made me smile even wider as people walked by staring at me as if I was crazy to let her shoes and pants get all wet.  It’s not my fault that they forgot what it was like to be a kid! 
As my Bean became a “puddle finder”, my ten minute walk became a 30 minute walk but when her dad opened the door and she happily shouted “I stepped on puddles!!”, I knew it was 30 minutes well spent.

Talk to you soon,

Serene

Share with me: What is one of your fondest childhood memories?  

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”?

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?