This is as true for him at 6 as it was when he was 2: my lap is still the best seat in the house!
all that motherhood inspires…
he wakes whistling, thrilled by the zipping wind
he conjures and reshapes into sharps and flats
snaps a crisp unpatterned rhythm
with supple-skinned thumb and middle finger
(wiped dry between refrains)
flickering his wrist for triumphant emphasis
mutters a play-by-play commentary
to an imagined audience of rapt gamers
punctuated with shrieks, chides, wails and groans
jigs an exuberant popiscle-sugared dance
wagging his pineapple-cherry coated tongue
scuttling erratically to a giggle-inflected beat
oh! mustn’t leave out the slapping bum finale and encore
drills up and down 14 stairs,
thunderous heel-stomping laps
and cushioned drop-and-rolls,
parkouring over and around the furniture
a streak of joy unleashed
bumps and bangs precede whimpers and squealed tears
beckoning empathetic triage,
strokes of comfort and mild caution to remember,
in all this play, that his body is growing and does not yet know
the new dimensions marking where it ends and external…
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This is my constant complaint as I search the shelves at the libraries and book stores. As a mother and aunt to brown children of multi-ethnic heritage, I snatch up any book that features children of diverse cultures — Asian, Latino, Black, Native — or, in lieu of being ethnic-specific, “characters of hue.” My default to balance out the predominance of white characters: animals, cars, and robots.
to tv or not to tv
In fact, just last week I explained to my not-quite-5-year-old that I had concerns about him watching a new show on nick jr. that does not have a character of color. He corrected me, pointing out that one purple-haired girl was brownish. Ha! True, she has some “tint.” But, factoring in “voice” and story context, and she skews far from an ethnic identity.
I’m an avid reader (who holds a graduate degree in media studies) who loves sharing good stories with great illustrations and age-appropriate lessons that I can build on with K. I certainly don’t avoid books without people of color; however, it is crucial that the children in my life get to see themselves reflected in a full range of stories, from the fantastic to historical. Their imaginations must be nurtured and celebrated so they may be inspired to live boldly, creatively and beautifully.
my darling boy has reached a stage where, unprompted and of his own accord, he has gotten serious about making his bed!
my mate and i don’t fret about unmade beds. but, over the years, stripping off the linens and putting on fresh sheets has become a family sport. the kiddo loves to climb into the center of a quilt to be “swung and flung” until our arms burn.
our bed is his playground where comforters get piled high and molded into mountains with winding roads and caves for crooks to hide out in. we are constantly rolling onto Legos or getting a stray car wedged at the base of tangled sheets. recently, K has taken to assiduously smoothing out our queen-sized bedding–circling from head to foot as he pulls each corner tightly down around the edges–so that his constructions have a solid foundation. and he’ll huff and reprimand us if we make a wrinkle!
that’s all for play. but, to take such time and care with his own bed, is a whole new thing! so i asked why he started making his bed in the morning, and K explained that he didn’t like it to be “all crumply” because it was too small. plain and simple.
to me: a sweet reminder that my on-the-brink-of-five-year-old is growing into an awareness of the order and suchness of his domain.
No tree. No lights.
No wrapping paper or gifts (from mom or dad, at least).
And, this year, no snow…
Which is, as my 4 year-old son declared to his dad this morning, the sole factor dictating whether this “quintessential” winter holiday can happen (especially for us Michigan natives): “It’s not Christmas because it’s not snowing!”
The Zen(x)Mas Way
“Buddha Blessings + Merry Christmas!” My sister, in all her silliness, affected a sacchrine, almost-pious, and breathy tone when I answered her call this morning. (I could tell she’d been cackling to herself while rehearsing this greeting in her twisted head.) We immediately burst into laughter!
Our families know that we are staunchily against the holiday madness that often prevails in the seemingly endless weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. We’ll watch the holiday-themed movies and generate some cheer over food and drinks in the company of loved ones but make no extra effort to aggrandize the occasion. We enjoy participating in the low-key Christmas Eve dinner with my mates’ family and then spending time with mine on Christmas Day. But in the years since our son’s birth (not to forget, the multiple back-to-back births of his cousins on both sides), the holiday festivities have thankfully and decidedly been downsized. Cause ain’t nobody got time or energy for all that!
Our inter-spiritual household of three lives by and cultivates the ethic of simplicity. While my dharma practice is a cornerstone in our foundation for being, the plain truth of it is, in heart and soul, we are just not traditional when it comes to many things.
So (since we live knee-deep in Legos and other construction sets year-round) this greeting card was a perfectly awesome way of letting our more “observant” loved ones know we were thinking of them as they celebrate!
Wishing you a happy, healthy and Lego-tastic holiday and a new year full of unimaginable adventures!
[Disclaimer: Ironhide is K’s newly-adopted imaginary pet. We DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT have a dog, as several have wondered. We’re keeping life super simple that way!]
my on-the-brink-of-four-year-old child just told me (threatened, was it?) that i would not be his best friend if i didn’t let him have ice cream for breakfast!
he wasn’t mean about it. but he was as sincere as a little one who’s coming to understand the “suchness” of friendship could be. he really wanted that statement to mean something to me.
i held back the laughter. (the ridiculousness of it all: K is cute and funny when he pouts and rationalizes; he’s persistent in his requests for sweet snacks at inappropriate times; we have this debate several times a day!)
i then probed deeper, talking with K about feeling sad or mad or disappointed at not getting what he likes when he wants it. i asked him what it meant that i’m not his best friend. but he’d already changed his mind, climbing into my arms for a hug.
here begins another teaching moment for the family in patience, fairness, friendship, teamwork and kindness. always exhaling…to invite mindfulness to the madness.
Last year, I worked as a substitute teaching assistant for a preschool program and had the opportunity to observe the dynamics between teachers, program assistants, and students in several classrooms.
One teacher quickly won my heart when I heard her say “Kiss Your Brain” in praise of the kids’ engagement in a group lesson. It wasn’t about having the “right” answer or being the best and smartest. It was a simple celebration of their ability and willingness to use their brain power—thinking, imagining, problem-solving, asking questions—and sharing it with others.
I’ve carried this practice into my home as well as into my yoga and meditation classes. With my son and the children that I teach, this phrase is a seed of self-compassion to nurture confidence and a sense of competency. It has the power to foster a love for learning without the pressure of performing to a certain standard of achievement. I also see its usefulness in cultivating a teaching-learning environment where equity, collaboration and cooperation (rather than competition and criticism) can bloom—equipping our children with a skillfulness that will serve them in all their relationships.
For myself and adult practitioners, it becomes a gentle reminder to honor these brilliantly-designed brains of ours. As we learn more about our neurobiological processes and their impact on mind (thoughts, words, feelings) and behavior (actions, habits), we can discover tools to work with rather than fight against our brain/mind to generate skillful behavior. Kiss your brain can be used as a mantra or affirmation to generate a new way of seeing and relating to ourselves. Through this practice of self-understanding, self-compassion ripens beautifully.
Not even halfway through our day together, I banned my three nieces from using my name!
On the flipside, my son hardly said Mommy at all.
#exhale #wolfpackprincesses #auntieproblems #othermother
We were standing in the grocery aisle when K said it. I turned to look at my not-quite-four-year-old son and, with disbelief, asked, “What did you say?”
“I’m bored, Mommy,” he repeated. “I’m not having any fun right now.”
My jaw dropped as if K had actually uttered that other 5-lettered curse word. Seriously, how did he even learn about the concept of boredom when it’s not in my vocabulary?! (The answer popped up between my silent bouts of huffing and teeth-sucking: TV or D-A-D, of course!)
After I recovered from the shock, I assured him that I understood shopping wasn’t his top choice of activities (despite his previous excitement over getting to cruise around in the plastic car attached to the shopping cart). Then I immediately told K he was not allowed to be bored! Seriously. He’s too young and imaginative: this child of mine who nearly goes into a trance over the simple joy of pushing his fleet of cars around the bed for hours on end—molding the sheets and blankets into mountains, ramps, and parking lots.
I mean, have mercy on your dear mom—a/k/a your human jungle gym, running buddy, puzzle partner, play date coordinator, and master problem solver who does her best to engage you in stimulating activities to help you burn energy and learn new/interesting things. This is no small feat on a regular day. Now add the relentless surge of winter storms from the Polar Vortex, which has limited the time we can play in the snow, and the battle against cabin fever can become excruciating. Oh, and, mustn’t forget to multiply it by occasional bouts of must-have-Mommy-by-my-side-at-all-times. EXHALE.
Since then K has tossed out the b-word a few more times. Thankfully, it’s only taken a little bit of quizzing about his ideas and feelings to divert the restlessness toward a satisfying creative outlet. But, man! I had really hoped we would have a few more years before our kid started complaining about boredom.