I so enjoy seeing the pictures that you post of your littles – new babies, toddler-types, energetic preschoolers, and young scholars of all ages involved in some of their favorite pursuits.  When I see what your children are doing, it takes me back to the days when we were raising the little dears that became our now-grown-up favorite humans.  Nostalgia can be really fun, but so can anticipation!


As I write this, we are waiting for news (literally any minute) that the birth of our first grandchild is only hours away – as evidenced by the onset of labor.  Collin and Danae are expecting a daughter, as I have mentioned before.  We have always known that they will be lovely parents, but they have demonstrated that to the max in the past weeks.


Danae takes excellent care of herself and her little one (in utero).  Despite that, she received a diagnosis of preeclampsia a few weeks ago and has undergone lots of monitoring and checking.  I’ll spare you many of the details, but let me just say that she’s been a total champ! 



They’ve been told that she would need to be admitted to the hospital early for her labor to be induced; they’ve been told specifically (more than once) when this would happen – and those plans haven’t been implemented, so “our” little bun is still in the oven, which is likely a very good thing.

My point is this:  Parents are called upon to demonstrate great flexibility – even before their children are born.  This is regularly true for both birth parents and adoptive parents.  (BTW - Congratulations to the sweet Larsen family!)


This recent “flexibility training” for Danae and Collin will be most helpful in the days, weeks, months, and years to come - since caring for children frequently involves a variety of rather interesting surprises and challenges – only some of which involve bodily fluids.  I am convinced that the parents-to-be in our family will handle it all with grace under pressure; they have already demonstrated that they can do so!

The real beauty of it is that as they demonstrate the flexibility needed to navigate life’s bumps, their daughter will be observing that skill in action – and she will be learning a lot about how to do it herself.  Ahhhhh!




Imaginative Play

I have mentioned The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland previously.  It really seems to me to be a very important book for parents and other caregivers.  I applaud her strong focus on doing things for and with children that will help them to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults – who are seekers of satisfaction in life.  (She is speaking of the kind of satisfaction that comes from doing work we enjoy and energetically pursuing goals and dreams).


It turns out that we can start the ball rolling in this direction for the kids in our care by facilitating lots of imaginative play during their early years.  Things as simple as empty boxes, pots and pans, or a bowl of water provide excellent stimulation.  Later on, toys that promote free play (in any direction the child chooses) are especially great.  Art experiences can also lead to the creation of invented worlds.  All of these things promote healthy brain (including brain chemical) development.


Many times kids will jump in and engage in this kind of play on their own.  Sometimes they will need a little help getting started.  (We might say something like, "Hey – I think I will go for a cruise on this sofa boat.  Ooh – I need to watch out for that big wave!")


Often, we parents have to remind ourselves of the need to tolerate productive messes and noise, right?  It is also very important (for building what Sunderland calls the seeking system) to avoid being overly critical.


Please see the Message of the Month for March for an important quote from Mr. Rogers on the subject of imaginative play.


Understanding some of the scientific aspects of brain development related to imaginative play is a relatively new thing, but knowing how much children thrive on it is not.  Here is an excerpt from a poem (Block City) by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).


Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,

There I'll establish a city for me:

A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,

And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride.

I know that you are encouraging imaginative and dramatic play with your children and here is a picture to prove it.  Thank you Tamara Huff!

Self-Esteem vs. Self-Efficacy


One of my past work responsibilities included health education (for future teachers).  One of the most important topics of the semester was self-esteem vs. self-efficacy.  Parents and teachers absolutely need to understand these concepts well in order to help children develop in both of these ways.


Self-esteem is, simply put, feeling worthy of love.  We get it mostly from the early relationships in our lives.  When parents and other care givers regularly provide loving words and loving touches, children understand that they are loveable people – and that they should expect to be treated well by those that profess to love them, as they progress through life.


One additional vehicle that we humans can use to learn about relationships is high quality children's literature.  Contemporary realism can be particularly useful, but relationships can figure prominently in other kinds of books, too.  One particularly delightful series (for young children) that comes to mind is Russell and Lillian Hoban's Frances books.  Talk about opportunities to discuss relationships!


Self-efficacy is something different; it is a sense of confidence that allows us to feel that we could be successful in trying new things.  It comes from previous new experiences and successes. 


When we help children to develop a strong sense of self-efficacy, we have lots of chances to help them see firsthand that practice yields good results.  We can use specific words of encouragement to point out the ways in which a child's practice has made a difference in his/her performance.  We might say something like, "I see that your drawings are getting more and more detailed."  On another occasion, we might say, "I've noticed that the more free throws you attempt, the closer you're getting to hitting your shots."


Another thing to keep in mind when considering ways to help a child develop a strong sense of self-efficacy is that it's very important to provide a steady stream of new experiences/areas of exploration.  These could be play opportunities, increasingly complex chores, musical training, etc. 


As children grow, they will come to have preferences of their own – and will naturally spend more and more time on their favorite pursuits.  This may well result in bona fide expertise for them, and that expertise will contribute greatly to their general belief that they can be successful in other areas. 


This "snowball" of (appropriate) confidence can manifest itself in both ambitious career and recreational choices in adulthood.  It's the stuff of life satisfaction (especially when combined with the ability to enter into and sustain loving relationships, the result of good self-esteem – as described above).


Good news for adults:  Even though we are physically grown, we can improve in both of these areas, ourselves.  We can cultivate our self-esteem by putting energy into the development of better and better relationships with those we love. We can grow our self-efficacy by undertaking a new skill – and practicing until we achieve some competence.   The healthier we are in these two ways, the better prepared we will be to assist the children in our care in getting there themselves, right?


I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying and appreciating a book that my sister Gayle recommended to me; I mentioned it in my last post.  It's How We Love Our Kids by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.


One kind of harrowing parenting moment is the "unreasonable meltdown."  This seems to take place away from home, most times, right?  An audience makes it that much harder to navigate.  


A situation like this (sometimes referred to as a tantrum) occurs mostly with young children, but older ones sometimes have very strong feelings about things that manifest in this way, too.  In the early pages of the Yerkovich book, a scenario is described; we would all do well to remember it!


A seven year old is beside herself at the sight of a porch full of Halloween décor at the babysitter's house.  There is screaming, crying, clinging, refusal to exit the car, etc.  A mom tries the usual pep talk.  


"They're just plastic." 

"You're getting too old for this."  

Etc. – you get the picture!

Then she remembers something she recently learned in a workshop – and gives it a whirl.  "How do you feel?" (The child answers, "Scared.")  "How can I help?" (The child generates a solution – it involves her hiding her eyes until they get into the house).  She then says, "Thanks, Mommy – that really helped me."


The point is that we need to acknowledge their feelings and set up a chance for them to problem solve.  We need to offer comfort, rather than lectures.  The result is often a win-win situation.  Who doesn't love that?


If your child is younger than the child in this example, s/he will grow into that kind of verbal skill with opportunities (and modeling from you) over time.  


Best wishes to you and your kiddles as you all learn to handle yourselves with grace and skill in tough situations.  My mother-in-law was not a woman who regularly dispensed compliments, but she once told me, "You have been such a good mother."  Those words really meant a great deal to me!  I can't take a lot of credit for the ideas that I was using; I read about them in books like this one.  (See past posts for other helpful titles).


Melt Down


I made a fuss

at the mall –

went off just

like a bomb.


and stomped

and used

wild words.

Too bad

that I'm the mom.


Stella Castella















Parenting Debates


Though my own children are quite grown, parenting issues continue to interest me.  As I have said before, I am delighted to see how much many of you are enjoying your own children and how thoughtfully you are caring for them – both when they are well and when they are not.


I was fascinated the other day by a hot debate on FB about whether or not it's a good thing for parents to apologize to their children.  On another recent occasion, folks were having it out about whether or not yelling at kids is productive.  Since I am convinced that modeling/demonstration is the most potent teaching technique that we possess – I would say yes to apologizing when appropriate and no to yelling, right? Good news: When we slip-up and yell, we can apologize afterward; it's a great opportunity!


These arguments about how to best parent are not new and they tend to fall into two categories.  The one that makes the most sense to me might be called the "Child Development" camp.  Approaches to discipline (teaching behavior) from this realm tend to focus on age-appropriate expectations and keeping children safe while helping them to feel loved – setting them up to form secure relationships as they grow - and into adulthood. 


People often mistake these methods as an "anything goes" parenting style.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Several accomplished authors in the field have provided excellent advice that helps parents and others guide kids toward increasingly mature behaviors and decisions.  You will find some books that would be useful, if you are interested, in the Recommended Resources strand of the blog (from previous posts). 


In addition to those, I would like to mention How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlisch) and How We Love Our Kids:  The 5 Love Styles of Parenting (by Milan and Kay Yerkovich).  I haven't read that last one yet, but my sister highly recommends it and I am eager to get to it before I pass it off to Collin and Danae.  (I mentioned that I'm going to be a grandma, RIGHT?)


While "everyone is special," is somewhat cliché (and often misunderstood to mean "more special than others") at this point, your child should certainly know that he or she is special to you.  Here is a poem that beautifully expresses that thought.  It was posted on FB by Lindsey Poggemeyer; perhaps you saw it!


If you're still my small babe

or you're all the way grown

my promise to you is

you're never alone.

You are my angel,

my darling, my star . . .

and my love will find you

wherever you are.

Nancy Tillman



All possible good wishes to you and the children in your care as this new year blasts off to its speedy start!


Believe II

As promised, here are more a few more ideas from the powerful little book, believe:



Believe that the universe is friendly and life is on your side.

"What is life for?  It is for you."  (Abraham Maslow)


You are probably familiar with Maslow's work – specifically that the need for love and belonging comes behind only those most pressing physical requirements, such as food and safety.  We can help our children to feel that they belong – in our families, in our communities, and yes – even in the universe, and that these places are mostly safe and welcoming. 


Believe in doing great work.

"The key is to trust your heart to move where your unique talents can flourish.  This old world will really spin when work becomes a joyous expression of the soul." (Al Sacharov)




In order for our kids to discover places where they can do great work, they need opportunities (throughout their growing up years) to try a variety of pursuits.  They will end up gravitating toward things that are important to them -  music, art, sports, whatever; it may be something we would never guess!  

This will probably be a somewhat lengthy process and I believe that we should avoid pushing them too firmly into areas of our own interests.  A friend and parenting mentor of mine gave me some very wise advice about this.  Thanks, Jann Hill!



Believe that there is always, always, always a way. 

"When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this:  you haven't." 

(Thomas Edison)


Mr. Edison was certainly a role model for persistence.  Some children are naturally persistent; others will need coaching in that direction.  I am a big fan of the positive, self-fulfilling prophecy:  "I predict that your stamina will grow as you do and you'll be able to persist more and more strongly!" That said, sometimes we may need to put a challenging problem aside and come back to it later.  If we model doing that ourselves, our kids will notice!

Veterans Day

It is that time of year when we especially honor those who have served as members of our country's armed forces.  Veterans Day is not the time to debate the wisdom of specific wars, or war in general, for that matter.  (Neither is it probably the right time to discuss why there is no apostrophe in the spelling of this holiday). J  It is an occasion to express thanks to those who have given of themselves in this way and a chance to help our kids begin to understand this – always in age appropriate ways, of course.   


In our families, many of the veterans have passed on.  We can remember them with our children through photographs and stories.  If we have friends or relatives who are living veterans, it would be an excellent time to invite the children in our care to draw pictures or write notes to them.  Authentic opportunities to communicate on paper are truly powerful in the lives of developing writers – as well as for the recipients of such efforts.  Perhaps your children are of an age where attending a parade or other community event would make sense.


A quick search related to Veterans Day on Amazon tells me that there are many books on this subject – for children of all ages.  Since lots of them are out of stock right now, it seems that quite a few people have been purchasing them. 


Many of these books appear to be informational in nature – and I'm certain that some of them are excellent.  We would want to use the same basic criteria for judging quality that we would employ for any informational work:  accuracy and quality writing.  It is also a good thing to avoid didactic or "preachy" books; children are intelligent beings and they will, over time, reach their own conclusions about many things – factoring in their families' values and other sources of input. 


Some of the available books related to this topic go beyond mere information.  Eve Bunting's The Wall is an excellent example of this.  It is a picture book (illustrated by Ronald Himler), but the content is sophisticated enough for even middle schoolers.  The Poppy Lady:  Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans  by Barbara Walsh (illustrated by Layne Johnson) looks to be another excellent choice.  Both works would, I think, convey the definite message that veterans and those who care about them are people with natural, tender feelings.  Surely books that portray true aspects of humanity are important for our children.


Some of the available books go beyond a viewpoint that is White only.   Under the Eagle:  Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker by Samuel Holiday and Robert S. McPherson looks promising, and there are several other selections about that dedicated group of soldiers.  Walter Dean Myers' Fallen Angels, a young adult novel, will give even grown-ups a better understanding of The Viet Nam Conflict – and especially the experience of Black soldiers in that era.  Our older kids are in need of these (and other) perspectives.


If I could make a wish for all of our children today, it would be that they respect the service of others – but truly consider carefully (when they are old enough) whether or not military service is the best option for them.  It is my further wish that they will not be forced into it by a lack of opportunity or direction.  As parents, it really falls to us to see that our children are well enough equipped to have choices and options available to them.  I am wishing safety and good health to all of you – and to your beautiful children.



A very warm welcome to the world is wished to River Francis Harper - beautiful baby born to R.J. and Jessica.  What a wonderful sister Claire will be!


I am always so touched when I see the sweet things that you post about your children; a common theme is sibling love.  You capture so many good shots of this!  Of course we know that siblings don't get along swimmingly every single minute, right? This is also true, of course, for cousins.


When my daughter (who has truly been a wonderful sister) was about two and a half, I asked her (upon hearing crying from her brother), "What do you suppose is the matter?"  Her answer:  "I threw him down and stomped on him."   I have never actually known whether or not this was the case, but he certainly looked fine (except for his crying face) and continues to do so.


I do remember that holidays often produced moments of stress and strife – sometimes between siblings and sometimes just in general.  Our routines and diets are out of whack and our expectations are probably too big.  (When I think of the time that I spent trying to make healthy ghost-shaped biscuits for dinner – only to find out years later that wheat is basically the same thing as sugar …grrr!)


 Since it's Halloween season (and other holidays are coming), pretend that I am dressed as a fairy godmother – and not that one from Shrek!  If I could wave a magic wand and wish for you three things, they might be these:


1.  Keep expectations for party behavior age appropriate; it's OK to happily call it a day.

     It shouldn't be thought of as punishment to go home and go to bed, if you're tired -

     right? What your kids will carry with them are the feelings associated with these



2.  When it's time to state a "rule," do it briefly and by saying what you DO want to see. 

     I was reminded of this last winter at a training called High Trust, given by Dennis

     McLoughlin.  Instead of, "Don't hit your sister!" try something like, "Kind touch!"


3.  Spirited children will never, ever consent to wear scratchy costumes – or little

     gentleman Christmas suits, or even dress pants for piano recitals.  You can ruin their

     day (and yours) by trying, but I don't recommend it.  (Safety things are non-

     negotiable, but with most other issues there is an acceptable middle ground).




 I hope that you have some fun seasonal memories of your own to enjoy – and that you're making some new ones this year.  If your Facebook postings are any indication, there's been lots of good pumpkin fun all around! 


Active Kids

If you are anywhere near my age, when you were a child there were a couple of popular rhymes – consisting in part, of the following:


What are little girls made of?  Sugar and spice and everything nice; that’s what little girls are made of.


What are little boys made of?  Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails; that’s what little boys are made of.


Well, we’re certainly making some progress in the area of gender understanding – and the range of ways to be normal, right?  Thank goodness!


That said, it’s no secret that some little girls get interested in reading and writing activities earlier than some little boys.  Later on, some little boys even resist these sorts of endeavors – at least in some cases because they have other (more pressing) interests.


One thing that we can do to make literacy appealing to children who would rather be doing things other than listening to grown-ups read aloud (or spending time with books themselves) is to cater to their interests, as much as possible. 


One especially fun book for little ones inspires physical movement, while promoting a fondness for rhythm and rhyme.   Pretend You’re a Cat by Jean Marzollo (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney) will provide lots of impetus for active play for toddlers and preschoolers.  Here’s a taste:


Can you climb?

Can you leap?

Can you stretch?

Can you sleep?

Can you hiss?

Can you scat?

Can you purr

Like a cat?

What else can you do like a cat?


Dirt on My Shirt by Jeff Foxworthy (illustrated by Steve Bjorkman) celebrates the active, outdoor life and will also provoke giggles related to things as silly as the pink lipstick that Grandma wears.  It has been a hit with primary graders.


Guyku:  A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka (illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds) seems to me like it would appeal to both sexes – anyone who enjoys having fun outside!


Active kids in the intermediate grades (or earlier) will enjoy Jack Prelutsky’s Good Sports, especially if they have some background in organized sports activities.


Wham!  It’s a Poetry Jam:  Discovering Performance Poetry by Sara Holbrook is sure to inspire older elementary kids to take an interest in performing poems. 


The bottom line here is that it’s easy to create a link between being physically active and enjoying poetry.


You may have a child who experiences his or her emotions with great vigor.  This child may or may not thrive on physical activity, but will (no doubt) be very persistent in wanting to do preferred activities and equally persistent in resisting those pursuits that he/she enjoys less.   One parenting resource that I cannot recommend highly enough, if this is the case at your house, is Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  This book is a lifesaver! 



I am so impressed by the way that many of you seem to take pleasure, right alongside your children, in having lots of fun – both inside and outside of the house.  You allow dirt, mud, and even paint play; a bit of hide and seek while shopping; and of course – traditional delights, such as swinging.  I’m sure there’s a lot of bath play to end the day!


The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland, which I’ve mentioned before, has a great deal of information on play.  She covers about twenty play-related topics – all of which seem important, depending upon the age of your child. 


I especially appreciate the reassurance for parents who “find it difficult to play” with your children.  Sunderland says to “stop giving yourself a hard time – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone.”  She then goes on to provide some specific ideas for getting started.


You can find ways to provide great language experiences for your children, as you enjoy playtime together.  My mother must have recited this poem for me hundreds of times – otherwise how would I still know it by heart?


The Swing


How do you like to go up in a swing,

     Up in the air so blue?

Oh I do think it the pleasantest thing

     Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,

     Till I can see so wide,

Rivers and trees and cattle and all

     Over the countryside-

Till I look down on the garden green,

     Down on the roof so brown –

Up in the air I go flying again,

     Up in the air and down!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Listening and Conversing

You already know (perhaps due to some unfortunate mishaps) that your kids will say and do pretty much as you say and do.  I just read on FB this week (and maybe you did, too) about a preschooler shouting out in a restaurant, “I need an ice cold beer!”  What a hoot!


The communication patterns that you establish with your little ones, from the beginning, will be very influential in terms of the way that they interact with others going forward.  One of the first opportunities that we have to demonstrate how communication works is to “listen with care.” 


New parents learn to distinguish a hungry cry from a tired cry; this is one way to listen with care.  As babies begin to try out their voices, we converse with them.  It might sound something like this:


Baby:  coos, babbles, etc.

Parent:  Is that right?

Baby:  coos, babbles, etc.

Parent:  I think so, too!


We generally do these things quite naturally.  Is this because these babies will need to prove up on a related Common Core Standard in a mere handful of years?  No - (though they will); it’s because of the nature of human language development. 


Isn’t it just so nice to know that your instincts about listening to and conversing with your little ones are probably excellent?  Of course sometimes we have to say, “Mommy’s ears need a rest,” right?  And when we make a mistake, we need to say, “I’m sorry.”  That’s how even the youngest children begin to learn to offer apologies.


 Meet my great nephew, Quincy!  If his mother accidentally bangs his head into a door jamb (as I did to my poor firstborn), I know that she’ll say, “Oh, sweetie – I’m so sorry,” and he will know what she means – even if he cries for another minute or two. 


You can begin to ask your child’s opinion of things at a very young age.  After you share a story or poem, you might ask, “What did you think of that?”  I wonder what your littles would have to say about the poem coming up.


It really doesn’t matter whether your child is able to tell you his/her responses in words; however it is -  is just right for today; a smile or a hug will do nicely, right?  Your child will very much enjoy the beautiful sound of your voice, at the very least.




Oh, fields of wonder

Out of which

Stars are born,

And moon and sun

And me as well,

Like stroke

Of lightning

In the night

Some mark

To make

Some word

To tell.


Langston Hughes


I found this exquisite poem in My Song is Beautiful:  Poems and Pictures in Many Voices.  The poetry was selected by Mary Ann Hoberman. (Remember  A House is a House for Me?)  The collection is illustrated by a variety of excellent artists, so the book also provides opportunities to converse about feelings and reactions associated with different color schemes, styles, etc. 


I would like to recommend a lovely book for every family.  It’s On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.  The poetic text is both soothing and powerful.  The cut paper illustrations (done by Frasier during a bed-bound pregnancy) inspire repeated looks and topics of conversation.  You may find that your school-age children will want to start playing/working with this medium! The information in the back matter will appeal to them, too.



Color is something that we seem to especially enjoy discussing with young children.  They learn so much about it from just everyday conversation; there is really no need to quiz them.  Here is Renee Gaarder’s sweet baby girl gaining some up close and personal knowledge about orange.


We can make the exploration of color a hands-on experience for our little ones.

Washable crayons, color pencils, and markers can be made into painterly media by simply applying water to them with a brush.  This approach is great for short spans of time; it takes just a few minutes and cleanup is a breeze.  It helps to use sturdy paper.


For occasions when you want to do something special, try watercolor paint and lots of mixing/exploration, perhaps beginning with just the primary colors – or even just red and yellow. Your child will discover that red and yellow make orange – most likely without you mentioning it.  This is because your child is a genius, of course! 


The kind of paint that comes in tubes is far superior to the dry cakes and remember to have brushes of various sizes.  We too often give little hands too tiny brushes; covering more territory per stroke is very satisfying!  Student grade watercolor paper is affordable.  It’s also great fun to use a roll of freezer paper; just keep it going over time, rolling it back up (when dry) for storage.

Here you see Big Girl Claire and her recent finger painting work.  (I have only recently convinced myself to stop calling her Baby Claire).

There are lots of excellent books about color to share with your babes.  I recently acquired Mix it Up, by Herve Tullet, the author of Press Here.

Sensory Experiences

As we enjoy the last warm days of late, late summer and look forward to the colorful scenes of fall, there is plenty of outside time left this year.  Young children benefit so much from the rich array of available sensory experiences – the smells of summer fruit, the sounds of play and laughter, the special sights at the fair, etc.  Their brains are busy making new connections and their language development is moving full steam ahead.  There is so, so much to talk and sing about!


Excellent children’s books, including many by the accomplished photographer Tana Hoban, provide interesting things to discuss when it’s time to come indoors.  Be sure to provide high quality board books for babies and toddlers.  They are designed to withstand even more sensory exploration; any self-respecting baby will chew on them! 


Some of the favorites at my house (too many years ago) were from a delightful series by Helen Oxenbury.   Demi (so cool she only needs one name) has done so many good things!  We had a fuzzy duck board book by her at one point; Collin let it “go for a swim” in the toilet.  That’s what I call using the old (actually young, in this case) noggin!


If you are curious about the specifics of language development, you might wish to consult a resource such as Language Development in Early Childhood by Beverly Otto.  It will be even more fun to observe the language changes in your little ones if you find out (or refresh your memory) about the specifics of it all – from an academic perspective.


One thing’s for sure – when you know more about the marvelous way in which children acquire language, your respect for their hard work will increase dramatically, even when they forget to “use their words.”  Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline series (including Positive Discipline:  The First Three Years) will help you know what you can expect of young children in terms of age-appropriate behavior.  I don’t think I could have raised children without good informational books like these!


First of all, I know that several of you have had sick babes lately.  Here’s wishing great health and happiness to Carter, Tucker, Flint, and Reagan!

I am currently reading the chapter entitled “The Chemistry of Love” in The Science of Parenting:  How Today’s Brain Research Can Help You Raise Happy, Emotionally Balanced Children by Margot Sunderland.   This is so interesting!  Here’s a quote:  “Love brings exquisite symphonic cascades of chemicals in our brain.  These symphonies can make us feel warm, expansive, creative, potent, and deeply content.  When we love deeply, we are also intensely alive.  The reverse is also true.  If we cannot fully love, we cannot fully live.” 

I invite you to choose some of the most powerful words (for you) from this quote.  Expand on that list with words of your own, repeat your favorites, arrange them in different ways on a page to generate a poem about parenting that pleases you.  If you want to submit yours, I’d love to share it for you (with or without your name – your choice). 

I really enjoy seeing how much many of you are savoring your parenting experiences!  It both takes me back and gives me great optimism for the future.  Your children are well-loved.  Here is a poem that I think will resonate with you.  It is by a poet from The Phillippines, Benilda S. Santos. It has been translated by Ramon C. Sunico and I found it in a collection called, This Same Sky:  A Collection of Poems from Around the World.   The poems were selected by Naomi Shihab Nye.  If you haven’t seen her on YouTube, you’ll want to do it.  She certainly shares your tender parenting feelings! 




I left Atong by the schoolyard

fence –

where he waved and waved

saying Bye bye Bye bye Bye bye.


I still don’t know what it was

that filled his face with light that day –

it was for me

a shower of white flowers

when he smiled

and then a flight of sparrows

when he smiled again


and when I turned to leave

I could not understand why I, his mother, was

like a fool, so overcome with joy.


Benilda S. Santos

Translated by Ramon C. Sunico

Parents as Poets

I know that you are busy getting so many necessities done in the short time that is a day!  We all know that what we demonstrate, children do.  (This is both the good news and the bad news, right?)  

Try making up little poems about everyday things – preparing food, giving/requesting baths, brushing teeth, etc.  Your poems could rhyme or not – the important thing is that they convey something that seems important to you.  Let your kids see you writing your poems and reading them aloud to yourself; this conveys a big message:  This is something that people like to do!


The rhythm of poetry is music to children’s ears; it is a very, very attractive and powerful thing for a developing brain.  Start early – even before babies are born, if you like! 

Reading poetry aloud to infants can help to plant the seed of a lifetime love of the written word.  At this stage, it can be very sophisticated stuff; babies are a captive audience, right? Choose what pleases YOU!  It can also be a special kind of sweet time spent together – part of establishing a bond that lasts a lifetime.