The 4 “R’s” Don’t mean “Resist” “Resent” “Refuse” “Rebel”

If you don’t want a child to practice the 4 “R’s” of Resist, Resent, Refuse and Rebel:  Here are the other 4 “R”s:

Respectful

Responsible

Resourceful

Reciprocal

   The caretakers of children (parents, foster parents, teachers, coaches, clergy, family, extended family, the village) actually work to mentor, model, teach and expect the above 4 R’s.
Most of us have our individual failings at times, but we continue to do our best to adhere to the values inherent in each of the “R’s.”
Respectful and Responsible are the two easiest concepts to understand and promote.  We typically struggle with “Resourceful” and “Reciprocal.”
Too simply put, to be Resourceful is to think outside of that box.  To LISTEN to others and that still, small voice that is whispering in our ear.  Our moral compass is often tested.  Our values and boundaries seem pushed and swayed.  To be Resourceful, we have to look at the bigger picture, search our hearts and do the right thing for the greater cause, usually by tackling the problem from a less aggressive stance–by being inventive and if I may “wise.”
And then for Reciprocal.  At first this is an easy concept.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  But life has a way of intervening and we begin to learn the lessons of “Do unto others as they have done unto you”–or even–“Do unto others BEFORE they can do unto you.”
So here’s the formula:  first, we teach our children about respect for others, for self, for all living things, and for the intangibles–just about in that order.  And then we begin to insist that our children demonstrate being responsible for the decisions they make, while beginning to gradually teach them about being resourceful in examining their choices before making those decisions.  And in the final round, we help our children to put it all together so that they may be wise and tempered in their ultimate ability to be reciprocal in their humanity and caring for others.
If we are working diligently to provide each child, each classroom, each playground, each school, each greater community with the above tenets for being a fully functioning community member and world citizen, why do we have elected officials demonstrating a complete lack of all of the above?  It is called statesmanship.  It is called diplomacy.  Perhaps our elected officials are telling us the reason why 37 cents of every tax dollar is spent on Pentagon and the Department of Defense, while only 2 cents of every tax dollar is spent on the State Department and diplomacy.   (Remember that ability to think outside the box and use a less aggressive stance in the practice of being Resourceful?)
As the caretakers of our children, it seems totally reasonable to insist that our elected officials adhere to the above 4 R’s as the basic standards for doing the people’s business.

Be gentle while having expectation with our children:  they are tomorrow’s leaders.
PS.  The concept for the 4 “R’s” has received several credits.  I believe that they actually were coined by Nancy Thomas, a foster mother who worked in association with the Institute for Attachment and Child Development in Evergreen, CO.  While I believe in the 4 “R’s,” I definitely DO NOT agree with a lot of the interventions recommended by the Institute for Attachment and Child Development.
PPS.  The tax dollar amounts are from FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation).

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Saving Memories—The Aftermath

Some years ago in early Spring, a friend of ours stopped by our home a little after 5 pm on a week night–on her way home from work.
She noticed how nice our living room was, thought our galley kitchen was a work of craftsman’s art, and our family room a place to take a nap in.  As she surveyed our home, she said that she was thinking of moving out of her home, where she and her husband had raised four children.  Her husband had died a couple of years ago and she was feeling like maybe she should make a move.  We could tell that she was worried/conflicted/feeling doubtful, but we couldn’t understand exactly where

Cleaning My Attic

Cleaning My Attic (Photo credit: jason0x21)

her anxiety was coming from.
We invited her to stay and have dinner, but she seemed distracted and declined, leaving without ever having sat down.        After she left, my husband and I agreed our friend was searching for answers that seemed to be focused on whether or not she should leave her home; but we suspected that “home” was not actually the focal point of distress.

      Summer brought its usual pace of frenetic activity, and as always, passed quite quickly.  In mid-August our friend once again stopped at our home, on a Saturday morning.  Her whole demeanor had changed.  She seemed energetic, cheerful and looking to share happy news.
“I thought you might like to know that I decided to not sell my home,” she began.
“Oh . . .”
“Well, the whole story was. . . .” she looked bemused, and continued, “I started getting the house ready to put on the market.  I went through twenty-five years of boxes, closets and the attic.  The more I threw out and gave away, the more I realized that it wasn’t the house that was the problem–it was all the stuff that was crammed into every nook and cranny of the place.”
We must have smiled–sharing in dilemma of a post-child parent:  how to dispose of memories–or keep the darn second grade doodles.
“I took six loads to the dump and three to Goodwill.  I called my kids and invited everyone home for a party on the 4th, and when they left, they all had a few boxes that they’ll have to deal with.”  She laughed and clapped her hands, “They didn’t like having to find room for their stuff, but I feel free for the first time in years.  It’s good to not have to carry the whole load around, you know?”
We invited our beaming friend to stay and share some lemonade, but she was busy and had to get on with her day’s agenda.  She had wanted to reassure us that she was fine and able to cope with life again.

my sunny room

my sunny room (Photo credit: wendy_clarkqt)

When our accumulation of stuff begins to burden us with its silent, screaming demands–it’s time to stop procrastinating and time to tackle the first closet–after that, it feels so good, that I’ve found it hard to stop my need to “tidy-up” the whole place.  (Of course I’m glad that my husband is not a keeper of memento’s, so what goes from house into garage, eventually continues to go somewhere beyond our property lines–whew.)

Be gentle with your memories–don’t let them keep you from moving forward.

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Teen: Seeking Compassionate Life With Passion

Dear Friends,
Just returned from our Yearly Meeting (Quaker speak for our annual get-together where we do business, socialize and seek and share Spirit with others–and eat, and laugh and watch how fast our children have grown since last year).

     In one of my small groups, we were honored to have several youthful Friends with us.  They worked diligently at following Quaker expectation and process.  We use queries (we use short questions “queries” to help look inward for our truth and then share this truth with others–as we believe each of us can offer ministry and love through this format).  One of those queries had many of us grey-haired Friends lamenting about “doing enough

soup kitchen

for others.” Several Friends spoke of living compassionate lives by working with the poor and disenfranchised.  Friends had worked in parts of the world with those who were refugees and who were starving and who had great medical needs.
And there sat our young Friends, taking in this wealth of information.  Finally, one youthful Friend said, “Last summer I helped to build a performing arts center for some people who were into modern art and drama.  At the time, I had a lot of fun and I thought I was being helpful, but I realize I should have volunteered my summer time to doing something more compassionate.”

Never say goodbye...

(Photo credit: merfam)

His whole face looked sad.  Dejection made his shoulders slump and his chest heaved with a deep sigh.
A couple of more older Friends shared their beliefs that they, too, needed to find endeavors that would help solve illiteracy and hunger and injustice.  Our youthful Friend seemed to be somewhat lost in his own world of teenage inadequacy.
Although breaking our rules for sharing, I couldn’t help it–I had to speak to this youthful Friend and to those other youthful ears that were listening.  “You worked to provide a place of entertainment.  You enjoyed your work and those you worked with.  You will have no idea what kind of arena you have built that one day may provide a play on the homeless, or a play about abusive relationships.  The arts can be powerful tools of communication and teaching.  We never know where our small, passionate endeavors will lead to.  The ripple effects of our work are unknowns.”
Several of the older Friends smiled and nodded.  The whole room turned into a warm hug.  Spirit has a way of letting us know when we are on the right path.
“I never thought about it like that,” said our youthful Friend.  He sat up in his chair, he made eye contact with everyone.  He was giving himself “life” in and through Spirit.  He was giving our small group life as well.  “I really like the arts.  I’ve thought about acting.”
A Friend shared about the ways in which our lives can speak for us as well as for others.
The next day I saw this youthful Friend with his peers.  He looked, well, lighter–happier.
Ah, the ripple effects of Spirit and passion and youth and possibility.
Be gentle with Spirit and children and teens, who knows what can be accomplished when you put Spirit and passion into the same action?

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Pesky Parrot Pilfers Perth

Word play is one of the best ways to grow vocabulary, enhance tongue twisting and look forward to Sunday mornings with Will Shortz (on NPR).  I have no idea when I first began to have fun with alliteration.  But I’m somewhat addicted at this point.
I try to not let others know how very often I think in alliteration.  I find myself zooming around in my head, searching for just the right word that starts with a  . . . .m  . . . .t . . . d  . . ..or –well, you get the idea.
Enter Jubilee Kincaid, CEO and President of All Things Kid Detective Agency.  Placing a parrot in Perth (Scotland), bringing in a Pakistani family with a son named Parker (his mother was into English mysteries when he was born), and providing a pony and a priest has made this a fun story to write.  The ending took a while for me to work out, and then after about 3 months of ignoring it, the final climax wrote itself as I pecked at the keys.

bjgoldWanted      It takes a while for Jubilee to find out about Pari, the Pesky Parrot that has taken a powder, escaping from Parker, and hitching a ride with the Peddler to Perth.  On the way, Pari partakes of the Peddlers persimmons and pears, along with other fruit.  While Parker frets and finds his way to the Highlands (in the wrong direction), Jubilee assigns herself the task of rescuing Pari, before she becomes a Perth Parrot Pie.
I think that girls in the third grade-fifth grades, or thereabouts, would enjoy the adventures of Jubilee and her common sense approach to rescuing pets.  Remember, Jubilee sports a gold tooth, red glasses and a baseball cap.  She also is quite the observer of the adult world.
Let me know if you have a young reader who enjoys “Wanted Dead or Alive:  Pesky Pilfering Parrot–or–The Case of Pari’s Party in Perth.”

Be gentle with the artist who would really rather just write than have to do anything to promote or sell or be “out there.”

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Am I What I Read?

Dear F/friends,
PS:  I started to write this to introduce my new book, but I got side-tracked.  A good meandering to the internal parts of me, I thought I would share as a way for you, good reader, to take a look at what’s on your reading shelf.  Here goes with my original thoughts:

English: Maltese Yorkie Puppy

       I know I don’t look like my dog–less than long legs, tons of hair and brown soothing eyes.  Trust me, this is not the picture of the lady at the end of Layla’s leash.    So in my case, the thing about “owners looking like their dogs” or  “dogs looking like their owners” is a myth.
“You are what you eat.”  My diet is based on building bone and keeping weight off–I would have to guess that to most folks that would seem like I’m a mixture of “a new-age farm girl with a need for flair and comfort.”  Hmmm.  I think this is getting fairly close to my core.
Now for the Stanford-Benet test of tests:  “You are What You Read.”  Gulp.  Let’s see, on my nightstand, stacked near my reading chair, and waiting on the table are the following books and magazines:  (In no particular order):  The History of the Ancient World by Susan Bauer Wise; Death At La Fenice by Donna Leon; Cycling Home from Siberia by  Rob Lilwall; Uppity Women of Ancient Times by Vicki Leon; Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman (A Robert B. Parker look-alike);  Suddenly Supernatural by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel; “Western Friend;” “The Sun;” “The New Yorker Magazine;” and “Friend’s Journal.”

Cover of "Uppity Women of Ancient Times"

Cover of Uppity Women of Ancient Times

Yep, that pretty much entails my passions and tastes for learning, activist involvement and entertainment.  I like history, a good mystery, middle grade take on the paranormal and need my heart and soul pricked with good articles and personal reflections.  By posting this, you will no longer have to guess who I am–here it is.  Wow.  What an easy way to determine what kind of person I am or may not be.  Let’s see–where is that manual on how to change the oil in my car?

       For my next question:  Am I what I write?
Be gentle with yourself–we are complex and simple, all in the same package.

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18 to 36 Months Social and Emotional Development

I clearly the remember my 7-month-old daughter as she found herself staring at herself in the full length mirror in our bedroom.  She totally stunned herself.  In a crawl position, she posed with one hand raised and the other on the floor, looking intently at her eyes in the mirror.  Slowly she crawled towards the mirror, reaching out to the baby reaching out to her.  She actually touched the mirror before she seemed to realize that it wasn’t another baby.

 

Even very young children perform rudimentary e...

Even very young children perform rudimentary experiments in order to learn about the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately,  I don’t have a memory of how she responded to her mirror image as she aged into being three, but I suspect that once she had introduced herself to her mirror image, she reacted like most of us do–a glance, a second glance and then some sort of facial gesture, usually a smile for inner balance.
Our good friends at the Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks (Nov 2004 Rough Draft) have given us some bench marks for our 18-36 month olds in the Social and Emotional Development area.
The Self-Concept presented here has to do with the following Goal:
Children perceive themselves as separate from others.

 

          Some Indicators for Children:

 

  • Tests limits and strives for independence
    Recognizes and calls attention to self when looking in the mirror or at photographs
    Uses own name
    Shows awareness of being seen by others (e.g. exaggerates or repeats behavior when notices someone is watching)
  • Occupies self appropriately for brief periods of time (e.g., 10-15 minutes).

Some Strategies for Caregivers:

 

  • Give Child appropriate and varied choices.
  • Allow child to test limits safely as he/she strives for independence.
  • Encourage child to talk about self and others, especially cultural and linguistic characteristics.
  • Be aware of cultural differences in valuing independence.
English: Astronaut Linda M. Godwin, STS-108 mi...

English: Astronaut Linda M. Godwin, STS-108 mission specialist, is pictured near the end of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s remote manipulator system (RMS) arm during the four-hour session of extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Daniel M. Tani (out of frame), mission specialist, joined Godwin on the space walk. The image was taken with a digital still camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We often don’t recognize or appreciate the early steps into “individuation.”  These are primary steps for the toddler to achieve, to allow and encourage this child to separate from Mom and family to explore new worlds (like pre-school and kindegarten).   A child who has a healthy sense of self often will have greater freedom to explore the unknown and to be curious about all things.
One of the hallmarks of human intelligence is our ability to be curious and to act on that curiosity with internal strength of knowing ourselves to be able to cope with whatever that curiosity brings to us.
Be gentle with your curious child and applaud his/her efforts to “go where no child has gone before.”

 

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S and S for the Kids and Other Voiceless Citizens

Here’s the story:  Several years ago, I visited my daughter in Japan, who was teaching in the JET program.  It was a wonderful visit due to all the people who I was able to find a connection to, even if we didn’t speak the same language.

English: Map of the regions and prefectures of...

English: Map of the regions and prefectures of Japan with Titles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I tried hard to be a good ambassador from the US, while knowing that I failed a few times.  Why did my brain cells remember the total number of miles of coastline, but forget the Prime Minister’s name?  Oh, it wasn’t a pretty site.  But I did know how to say “Thank you very much for a lovely evening” in Japanese.  That had to account for something.
I totally enjoyed being dressed by a professional kimono dresser, especially when we spoke of raising daughters and our aspirations for them.  We forgot we needed an interpreter, and my daughter got to imbibe in a lot of green tea, while two older ladies had a great time.
And then my daughter took me on a trip into the country, through a very long tunnel and into ancient times of castles and shoguns.  It was a beautiful sunny May day, just right for being a tourist at an old castle, tip-toeing through the tea rooms, and ringing the bell to wake up the gods to listen to our wishes.
I had noticed when we arrived at the castle, that there were a couple of school buses parked in a side area.  I saw a few children in their early grade school uniforms, yellow for girls, blue for boys, and then my daughter and I disappeared into the stone castle, exploring the artifacts of the now museum.

Minnie Mouse in Mickey Mouse Works (1999)

Minnie Mouse in Mickey Mouse Works (1999) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thirty minutes later we emerged into the sunlight, receiving an ovation that is reserved for whole football teams or Justin Bieber.  We froze just as we stepped onto the castle’s landing–the applause and cheers couldn’t be for us.
We took a step back, out of sight and then peeked again.  The large polo-field was filled with yellow and blue uniformed children, who were totally engaged in looking right at us and cheering us on.  Another peek showed us that the children were actually being introduced to a very large Minnie Mouse.
My daughter and I took a deep breath, and quickly exited, stage left.  Once hidden again by the carved stone block stage, we looked back upon a sea of 5,000 children and their teachers.  No one could have threaded their way through the ocean of bodies and happy faces.  We left as the children began to sing, all 5,000 voices raised in singing the “Mickey Mouse” song.
Here’s the rest of the story:
Why not have a Sit and Sing at our local airports?  On Thursday afternoons?  Right when our legislators leave Washington DC and head for home.  Just think, every airport filled with singing children, sitting on the floor, having a great time and being supervised by their parents and teachers.  Just think how many children will need to use the restrooms?  We could put the boys in blue and girls in yellow t-shirts–they are so cute.

Spontane Sitzblockade vor dem McDonalds in Ros...
And then we too, just like the airlines, can inform people of all the children who have had to be turned away from Head Start and other early educational programs.  Children who no longer have access to food programs.  Children who do not have enough VOICES in Congress to protect them.  Perhaps when our elected officials are trying to pull their rolling luggage through singing children and they begin to get more out-raged people who can’t pull their rolling luggage through the children–maybe the Children will have a greater VOICE in Congress.
What do you think–can we have a summer of Thursday Sit and Sing at our airports?
Be gentle with our children–singing can overcome many challenges.

 

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