I Am Moving to a New Address

I have been gone from my blog since July. I began a book about parenting some time ago. With the economy in a shambles the opportunity presented itself for me to complete it. The book was finished November 2 . I had the good fortune to collaborate with an illustrator who works with Disney and Precious Moments. We completed the 20 full color illustrations, one for each chapter, over a period of 3 months. They are wonderful and capture the essence of each chapter. The book proofs are arriving this week for my approval.

The book is called, “Peek-A-Boo, I See You! Parenting From Your Child’s Point of View”. It is a moving and compelling narration of a look into the world of the child’s perception of life, their creativity and curiosities.  It will be available on Amazon.com before Christmas. Two versions will be offered, a black and white for $14.95 and a full color for $29.95. I wanted the book to be affordable and made the decision to print these lovely illustrations, which begin each chapter, in black and white and color. This allows the reader to purchase what they are able to afford.

I will be moving this blog to http://www.peekabooparenting.com in the near future. We are now designing the wordpress blog site. We hope you will visit the blog. It will have many interesting and profound insights into parenting toddlers as they grow towards entering the public and private school systems.

To All The Kids Who Survived

A friend sent this to me and I couldn’t resist posting it. This is what life was like then.

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We
had no child proof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because,
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day… And we were OK.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD ‘s, no surround-sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chatrooms!

WE HAD FRIENDS because we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not poke out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had Freedom, Failure, Success and Responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them CONGRATULATIONS! You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good . While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

The quote of the month is by Jay Leno:
‘With   hurricanes, tornado’s, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?’

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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Destiny

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Frank Outlaw

Destiny is a big word, a very big word. Where does a child’s destiny begin?

It begins within Communication, Art and Music. These disciplines take each child from the unknown to the beginning of the known. Communication is easy for children. They are innocent, spontaneous, direct and honest. Their communication takes a path from their mind to their mouth; it is out before it can be filtered. This is what makes children so treasured and joyful.

I believe in communication. I believe in teaching children how to continue to communicate in ways that preserve their direct, honest childhood paths. They learn by watching us, hearing what we say and then observing what we do. My mother used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do!” That was very confusing for me. I didn’t get it and it was never humorous. She should have said, “Listen to what I say and do as I do.” Now that makes sense.

Our thoughts become words; Our words become actions.

Art is a path to self-expression. Self-expression is an essential outlet for frustration, joy, sadness, and many other emotions that children have but do not understand. When self-expression is repressed children become intuitively angry and disruptive. Children need color, texture and large places to splash paint onto huge canvasses of paper and boards. Children need bits and pieces of familiar things they turn into objects of art that reflect their dreams and imaginings. These works of art are indispensable creations for parents. When children observe their parents’ response to their treasures they begin to believe in their dreams. It is our dreams that propel us forward into the unknown. Children are fearless.

Our actions become habits; Our habits become character.

Music is universal. It needs no translation. It is an art form that communicates. No matter the nationality, we are one at a concert. When children enter a room with a piano, we soon hear them playing with the keys. It is like water, they can’t stay out of it. Children love music; toddlers dance when they hear it. Music brings rhythm into their lives. Rhythm brings balance.

Children who communicate, express their creativity and have music in their souls. They are balanced. Balance at an early age forms the foundation for character. Character is the base upon which to build destiny.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Rover, the Goose & the Human Family

I live on the water and am surrounded by sailboats and some wetlands. I was sitting on the dock looking across at the geese swimming with their newly hatched goslings. There was the mother, father and six little ones. The water was still, the geese were on an outing with their young ones; I was resting from gardening and enjoying the tranquility of the bay. My thoughts were wandering peacefully.

Geese Family

Another family (human father, mother and 2 children) came up to the dock across the water from where I sat. They had a dog, a black lab to be sure. As soon as he saw the geese he dove into the water. Everything was peaceful up until that moment.

The woman called out timidly, “Rover, come back here!” Rover swam for the geese and ignored the woman. The children cheered Rover on.

Then an amazing thing happened! The male goose swam towards Rover. While he taunted Rover the female with her goslings swam deliberately in the opposite direction. The male goose let Rover get to about 6′ from him and then swam in the opposite direction taking Rover with him as the female quietly escaped with her little ones.

Rover’s master, the father, shouted sternly, “ROVER, GET OVER HERE!!!” Rover kept up with the goose, who stayed just in front of him, close enough to let Rover think he might have a chance. He did not respond to the master or the woman. The temptation of the goose was much more important than minding the master and his woman. The children cheered him on.

Finally, the man shouted in a fiercely stern voice, “ROVER – GET – OVER – HERE!!!”

Rover, probably sensing he was in a bit of serious trouble, turned and started to swim back. Then another amazing thing happened! The goose swam after him, got Rover’s attention and Rover took out after him again. By this time the human family was descending gradually into chaos, the father shouting loudly, the mother pleading for Rover to come back and the children cheering him on.

Rover was not minding and the goose kept him going round and round. Rover’s exhausting effort to catch the goose was to no avail as the goose kept taunting him. Each time Rover tried to come back to the humans the goose would swim near him and off he would go trying to catch the illusive goose. The temptation was just too great. The discipline too weak. This went on for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, the female Goose and her little goslings swam up the creek as her heroic male kept Rover distracted. He risked his life for the safety of his female and his little ones.

I watched this for about 20 minutes and observed the disoriented human family on the other shore trying to restrain their Rover while the children cheered on. From my seat on the dock, they looked out of touch with the realities of the situation. Here was the father doing his stern man thing, the mother doing her timid pleading and the children cheering Rover on to mischief.

The human family was a stark contrast to the Canadian Goose, his female and their goslings, who all performed in harmony each doing what they were supposed to do and living to see another day in the creek.

How is it that the goose family has it figured out?

angrygoose2

What are humans missing here?

Positively Reinforcing Negative Behavior: Atilla the Hun & The Pillar of Solitude

Why do parents tolerate disruptive public behavior in their children?
Why do they allow these short beings to dominate conversations and events?
Why do parents tell the other to “Do Something” about the bad behavior of their offspring?
What are parents afraid of?
Why are they so timid?
Are they insecure and afraid of what others will think?
Do they not feel the personal accountability of raising responsible, sensible sons and daughters?


I have seen many adults afraid of disciplinary action with their children, especially when others are present. They seem embarrassed to take charge of the lives and upbringing of their children. They will tolerate the most reprehensible, disruptive, rude behavior from their children. It is a sight to behold!

When I was a child I was warned once in a quiet tone. The second time my mother’s voice grew louder. The third time was the last and most memorable time I misbehaved. A good solid swat across my backside landed artfully. Tears flowed and she would say, “That’s the last time you will do that.” I got the point.

My father worked long days in his beverage business. He was tired when he came home. My mother was with us all day; hence she came to symbolize authority. However, on occasion my father would be brought in to establish the rule of law. He would give me the “death stare”, take me by the arm, look through my soul and let me know that my mother was not to be questioned. I got the point.

She was the disciplinarian, or as my oldest son would later call me, “Attila the Hun”. Father was the patient, calm, tall man behind my mother, “The Pillar of Solitude”, as our son later referred to his father. I knew when my father came into the picture I was in a heap of trouble. Fear was a word that could describe that situation.

Discipline with Attila the Hun or the Pillar of Solitude could occur in the home, on the street, in a store or restaurant, any place where bad behavior occurred. AND, it was swift justice, no debates, no recourse to a higher authority. Life was simple and I always knew where I stood. I grew up respectful of others, especially my parents.

What we have today is parental participation in the positive reinforcement of their children’s negative behavior. Because of their fear or refusal to take responsibility for the behavior of their children, they tacitly approve it by their inaction. This translates to the child as silent approval of this bad behavior and they continue on pushing to see where the boundaries are located. Because there never seem to be any defined boundaries we have a generation of children who are out of control. To make things worse, parents blame their children not themselves!

How does a 2 or 3 year old know the difference between good or unacceptable behavior unless we set the boundaries as parents?

How can we possibly blame a small child for growing up undisciplined and without boundaries and expect them to become responsible, compassionate adults?

Parents of these children are lazy, undisciplined individuals themselves. They raised these aimless children. They provided no direction and no purpose. They should be ashamed.

“We are all punished.” (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Wooden Mast

The Wooden Mast

The Wooden Mast

I sat here at my computer on this cold, rainy morning trying to write the epilogue for my book. Nothing was coming to me. I got up and walked to the deck and looked out at Back Creek, which shelters many sailboats from the uncertainties of Chesapeake Bay storms. I had seen this view many times but on this day I particularly noticed the wooden mast. It is the only wooden mast in the entire marina creek, where there are hundreds of boats. This sailboat’s family are the original owners, never been sold, been part of the family for 43 years. The father has passed on and the mother with her three daughters maintain the boat and sail each summer weekend with their husbands and children. The parents raised their 3 daughters in the Virgin islands. The daughters lived on the boat and were home schooled there.

Sometimes when they come to work on the boat I have some beer handy for them from my garage cooler. We don’t know each other well but I sense their differences from the many other boat owners. They are down to earth common sense daughters whose children are well behaved and industrious when they are on the boat. They are as different as the wooden mast in a marina filled with aluminum masts. They don’t think like everyone else. They have a noticeable streak of independence and an exuberant sense of humor. Everyone pitches in carrying food and supplies to the boat, refreshing the cabins, rigging the sails and pushing out for their next adventure at sea.

Home schooled children have the same sense of independence and durability as that old wooden mast and its crew of home schooled middle aged women. They are durable, curious, creative and hardy. Home schooled children, like the wooden mast, have a different perspective on life that makes them subtly noticeable in a crowd.

I wouldn’t change a thing in the home schooling of our sons. They are independent, honorable, compassionate, tolerant and loving. Like the old wooden mast their lives will be colorful and interesting as they sail through the sea of bland aluminum.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Passion

Passion is delicate and frenzied. It is tender and wild. It is intimate and explosive. It is inexplicable and communicative. It is at the center of our core. It lives within our eternal search for the right person in this life. We dream of the moment when that person arrives who understands our needs and desires, who understands all that we are.

Passion is not acquired or taught. It lives within us from the moment of our first awakening. It is what breathes life into us. Over time it is slowly and subtly submerged within our unexplored inner depths so we may conform to the expectations of those around us, our parents, our teachers, our heroes, our mentors, our peers.

Our passionless lives propel us forward into our dreams and secret thoughts. We have meager teachings and few examples of the honest expression of passion. So we wrap this exquisite emotion in the cloak of sex where it becomes isolated from the center of our yearning and our being. We believe that passion is separate from our daily lives so we refuse to feel it on those many other levels. We think that it is allowed only in sexual union. In a time when sexual unions are tentative at best, passion becomes the soiled stepchild of our lust, its definition and elegance lost forever in this void.

To escape the inexplicable disappointment and emptiness of life, many women succumb to daytime television and nighttime boredom. Their lives become like the vicarious celluloid events they tune into. They try to assimilate into their absent lives the passion, tears, sorrow, love and ecstasy from these virtual episodes. At the end of each day, nothing they have lived satisfies the depth of the longing for the passion they fantasize is possible between a man and a woman.

The men restlessly long for the passion in their lives. They endure the daily harsh realities of survival and family maintenance. Their passion is traded in for security. They learn too soon that it is risky to be passionate. As we all lose our passion, we give ourselves over to a life of emotional bankruptcy.

This passion is illusive. It remains out of reach because we have sacrificed the child within us. We have moved our hearts into the arena of obsession and cheap desires. We have given our hopes to the traders of immediate pleasures and fast dreams. Because our innocence is lost, we make unimaginable compromises for the tentative moment. We call this camouflaged animal “Love” when it is lust and obsession that rapes our senses and leaves us blind to the possibilities of ourselves. We lose our mystery and sacrifice our spirit. All is lost.

It is only when our suppressed passion recalls its veiled memories that we fall in love. We become vulnerable because we must place our trust in another. We are each responsible for the care and attention of our partner. There are no cloaks in this sacred love union to cover passion and no disguises to conceal its identity. This Passion is very sensitive and very illuminating. This closeness is spiritual and intimate. We glow as this light brightens within us in these moments of truth and selfless giving. Our voices are heard and the music of our joy is unmistakable. The clarity of passion’s musical notes is played on Heaven’s harp.

This musical passion is something that is a part of our entire being. It sings in our hearts and lounges in our thoughts. It wells up in our body and dwells in our soul. It casts its spell over the outcome of our days. It gets up with us in the morning and goes to bed with us at night. It is the motor that pushes us forward into higher gears. Passion is the essential element of life’s creative experience and without it our lives become like card catalogues of individual, isolated life events with little descriptions that are notated, dated and filed.

Passion lives only as long as the child within us lives. When the child within us fades so too does the passion. The death of passion is as painful and unbearable as the death of a child. When a child dies we are so profoundly touched that we are inconsolable. Children are irreplaceable.

When passion dies, there is no sound on earth. Only Angels weep in Heaven.

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ani’s Book

Ani,

I finished a book Dmitri bought me on Friday night at 10:00. I put it away and looked to turn the light out by my bed and there was the book you sent me long ago, waiting on my bed table. I wasn’t that tired and thought I would read the first chapter to see what it was about. I don’t usually read books like this. My preference is nonfiction.

I read until 3:00 am the next morning. Saturday I went to bed at 11:30. I couldn’t sleep so I picked up the book and read until 2:30 am. Sunday I sat in a chair and read quietly for about 2 hours. That night, last night, I finished the book at 3:00 am.

“Why do you do this for me?” she said thickly. “Why?”
“Because, for some of us, one mile can be farther to walk than thirty.”
Michael Hosea

“Judge not, that ye not be judged. For with the
judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and
the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Jesus, Matthew 7:1

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how
Often shall my brother sin against me and
I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him,
“I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to
Seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:21-22

Because a thing seems difficult for you,
Do not think it impossible.
Marcus Aurelius

I am dying of thirst
By the side of a fountain.
Charles D’ Orleans

“The mind is its own place,
And in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Milton

Why did you send this book to me, a book I would never buy or be attracted to buy? It is a subject matter that would never interest me.

It has changed my life.

Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Teachers – Part Two (The Child is Father of the Man…)

It was overcast and the air was filled with fog this morning. I read the newspaper on my computer while I waited for my tea to brew. I was playing Moon Night by Karen Marie Garrett on my computer Media Player. The mood was set as I stumbled into Annie Lubliner Lehmann’s story about her autistic son, Jonah. She and her husband devoted their early lives with Jonah searching for and experimenting with any known cure for Autism. Their search led them to no cure, but to the unexpected lessons he taught them. A fragment is copied below:

As I sang “Cinderella,” he rolled on the floor, seemingly oblivious to the story. Still, I clung to the idea that I might be able to engage him, so I left a sentence for him to complete.
“The clock struck 12,” I sang off key, “and Cinderella ran down the palace steps, leaving behind a glass ….”
He continued rolling while I waited to hear him say “slipper.”
At last he finished the sentence for me. “Of milk,” he said.
I smiled, and I’m smiling still. For Jonah had made a student of his teacher. I would never again be able to read or think of “Cinderella” without seeing a tumbler of milk on the palace steps.
Jonah turned 25 last fall, and when I look at him I can’t help wondering if the past years weren’t some heaven-directed scheme meant to humble us and teach us the value of acceptance. Understanding that we couldn’t change him had changed us.
His future, for the most part, is set — in a nearby home with a caring staff — and I am grateful that he has some of the same things I want for my other two children: love, safety, physical comfort and access to favorite activities.
He remains a man of very few words. But though it took us years, we have finally learned that there was something to hear in his silence.
Annie Lubliner Lehmann, a writer in Michigan, is the author of “The Accidental Teacher: Life Lessons From My Silent Son.”

During all the years we spent educating our two sons, we discovered one day, as Annie did, that their teachers became the students. The knowledge we have accumulated from them is immeasurable and hopefully equal to what we gave to them.

A child’s love comes from the ethereal and is what they bring with them when they are new. They are not yet tarnished. They have no preconceived notions of love. They are open and ready to receive what we have to offer them, our definition of love. Instead of us feeling their love and giving back what they give, we offer them our love and our lifetime of experiences with love.

We continue to think the newborn is without knowledge or emotional feelings. Why do we believe children have little awareness when they have so much to teach?

They learn early where they stand and who they can count on for support. They know who they can manipulate and who they fear. Watch babies. They smile a lot. There are two smiles, one to please those they depend upon so they will be accepted and the other is to express their joy. I love to see the smiles of joy. Annie Lubliner Lehmann is correct, there is something to hear in the silence of children. Listen.



Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Discipline = Love

Children need love. They enter life not knowing how to define it. They do not know what they are looking for but they know it feels good when they get it. Nourishment allows them to grow in stature; love allows them to grow in spirit. They cannot develop their potential without love. They wither inside when it is absent. I have seen many tall, full bodied, empty humans.

Imagine knowing you need something and being unable to describe it. Imagine being unable to ask for it because it has no name for you as a small child. It is only recognized as a feeling.

Children flourish in a loving environment. Their spirit grows and their soul is replenished each day love surrounds them. When parental love is substituted with baby sitters, day care or things of distraction, children become restless and unhappy as those substitutes leave them undernourished. The day care crowd has the attention of their parents in the morning as they are driven to day care and after five when they are picked up. There are a few hours of interaction before bedtime. These two job parents see their children about four hours or less each day. There are also no job parents who do not reach for their children, probably because their parents did not reach for them and so they duplicate what they were taught, and so it goes.

Because the innocents are undernourished they become disruptive in order to get the attention of their parents. When parents respond to their disruptive behavior, children interpret this as a method to love, this feeling they cannot describe and cannot live without. They mistakenly interpret this attention, through disruption, as love. They repeat disrupting as their parents continue to positively reinforce their negative behavior. By not accepting parental responsibilities we raise a generation of disruptive, undernourished children who think they have been loved. They continue into the adult cycle seeking disruptive love, which was created when they were too young to define the feeling they could not live without.

Love to a child is discipline, boundaries. They are testing and seeking definitions as they act out behavior that may be unacceptable. When parents correct, the child interprets this “discipline” as love. Because the behavior gets parental attention the child translates this as love. When we turn our children over to others to raise, they have no stake in the outcome. It is parents who have the only stake in the outcome of the success of their children. It is the parents who know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It is their responsibility to teach the difference to their children so they become well nourished, spirited, intelligent adults. As adults they will seek those who are of the same mind. Balanced adults rarely seek unbalanced options.

Josh and Kate visited with their beautiful son Benjamin. They asked me to put my valuable things out of reach. I said I never did when I raised our children and I did not feel it would be necessary for theirs. I had a lovely jade tree about 3’ high that was decorated with little twinkling Christmas lights. Benjamin, who was 2, could not resist the twinkling lights in the jade. The first time he touched the jade he looked up at us to see our reaction. He knew this might be forbidden behavior. His father said “No”. Benjamin pulled back, puffed out his lower lip and slowly walked away. The jade became his testing ground in the next few days. He would pass by, look to see if we were looking, touch the plant and wait. The response was always the same, “No”. The last day he came to the jade and looked directly at me. He knew it was my jade. He put his hand on the jade. It was my time now. I walked over to him and said, “No”.

He did the most amazing thing, he left the tree and touched a small glass globe and looked at me. I said, “No”. He moved to a table, touched it and I said, “Yes”. He smiled. He went to the chair, touched it, I said, “Yes”. He went to a table and touched a book, I said, “Yes”. He smiled and I smiled back; we knew the dance. Benjamin is a happy child, angelic, interesting and intelligent. This is because he has boundaries that his parents have drawn for him and these keep him safe, happy, loved and nourished.

Love to a child is discipline. Discipline sets boundaries. Boundaries define love.

Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 10:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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