Recent lessons

Every day presents a challenge: What will N. and I learn together? How can N. and I share in a fun experience? Whether it's a science lesson about gravity, an artful paper doll chain, a recipe to be chef'd up, or a love note to be created and mailed out, I am conscious of the simple life lessons and meaningful values I wish to embody and pass along to N. 

Love is patient, love is learning. Our science experiments are easy and quick and most suitable for a three-and-half-year-old's curious mind. Most recently, N. has been pretty keen on Pluto -- both the Disney dog and the planet. So I figured it was an opportunity to learn about the solar system and how planets orbit around the sun. I headed to my usual go-to education sites and picked out an activity. But then, N. asked (and kept asking) which came first -- Pluto the Dog or Pluto the Planet (which we now know, isn't a planet-planet, but has been designated a dwarf planet). Turns out, both were introduced in 1930. And all we had to do was ask Siri! Somehow research seems easier in 2016. This week, we've been making observations of our lima bean plant. To our surprise, every day, it sprouts up significantly and poignantly reminds me how every day is an opportunity for N. (and for me) to grow. 

Community means participating. Every month, we make a donation to the local Purple Hearts Foundation which supports veterans in challenging financial situations. N. has to select the toys and clothes she is ready to donate. N. does this enthusiastically with no hems and haws, and if she isn't ready to donate an item, she communicates so effectively. When we supported a local mental health and wellness campaign event last month, I was heartfully excited to participate in a community awareness experience with N. Yes, a three-and-a-half-year-old can understand feelings of sadness and the need for support from others. 

Self-awareness is critical. Because of her hospitalization almost a year ago, N. has extreme anxiety when it comes to potty learning. The journey is long, and we require no pressure small steps. N. hates getting cleaned up, especially after a bowel movement. She is deeply fearful of getting a suppository or enema, no matter how much we reassure her that we are done with those. At home, it's a struggle to clean her thoroughly because she tightens her legs up fiercely. If she has to use a public restroom, no doubt she will wail hysterically. When all is done, she tells me, "Okay, I'm calm now. I'm gonna take a deep breath." With our kid-centered yoga and meditation practice, I gently remind her that she (and me too!) needs to pause and take a deep breath before (and keep breathing during) clean up. We still need lots of practice . . . because who likes feeling invaded (or doing the invading!) when you have to get your bum wiped by someone else (even if it is your mama). 

Neighbors or fellow churchgoers often ask if N. is in preschool yet. Sometimes their questions seem a bit of an unwanted contest, and it's a brave balance to parent the way we want (which probably goes a bit against the grain) amidst social pressures for children's academic excellence and accomplishments that supposedly start in the womb.

Here's what I'm learning: All we can do is know our child, parent courageously from the heart, and know that it works for our family. To a brave balance.