Friday, December 12, 2014

"MIRACLE" ... Wonder, Marvel, Sensation ....

As a grandmother, I am guilty of slipping into that role at times when I think it is one of my "Noni" jobs to "teach" or "guide" or "share nuggets of age-filled wisdom" with my grandchildren I especially love it when they reverse those roles.   It happened ... again .... this past Monday.

Our four year old grandson, George,  wanted to set up the kids' Christmas tree in the library. We are a family that tromps through muddy farm fields, cuts the "perfect" tree,  then strings the lights and adds the ornaments while enjoying that exhilarating scent of pine.  It is often an all day process.

But this extra little tree is an exception.  It is plastic and lives in a box in the basement.   He knew there was a possibility that for the first time this year, we would set up his Bapa's childhood electric train to travel around this small tree so was impatient to get going.

As we trudged the box up from below,  he lamented that it always takes SOOOOOOO (insert whine) long to put the lights on. In full-on Noni, I started to offer "good things take time" ..... but then reminded myself to stow it and instead reminded him that this was an artificial tree that you just plug in .... a fact he appreciated moments later when he got to push the dangling cord into the socket.  He uttered a low "wow",  stared for a bit, then got busy hanging the age-old ornaments.

A full two hours later, long after the tree was complete,  we were playing boats in front of it... waiting.. and waiting... and waiting for Bapa to get the electric train set ready to put around the tree (good things DO take time, I guess.)  George kept stopping his play to look at the tree lights.  Finally....

"Noni, it's amazing about those lights."   I waited.  He looked at the tree again.  Then with a small grin, like he was using a word he'd learned but hadn't tried on yet .... "It's a miracle."

As a typical Grandma, I was proud (as I think he was) of his expanding vocabulary. But what has stayed with me all week was his reminder to me to notice, to look for miracles, to find the sacred while I wait in this Advent Season for Christmas to come.

Without his age-filled wisdom, I might have missed a lot of Wonder.

Thank you, Georgie. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I'm stuck ..... in a place of malaise.  And I don't like it .... one bit.

I sit at my writing desk in the mornings and struggle to be creative or think of  new ideas or get my ideas to go anywhere.  I want to write a fabulous children's book and November is PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month).    This is the children's writers' equivalent of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  While those novel writers are tossing down 1500+ words per day this month, we children's book writers are to generate oodles of picture book ideas each day of November.

 Sound easy?

My little notebook has only five or six page-fulls ... and it's a damn small notebook!

It's NOT easy ... at least when you are stuck!

Stuck looks and feels yucky!   I am doubting my ability to be goofy or to think like a child or to ever ever come up with the edgy, off the wall, never-thought-of-before stuff that the publishers seem to want.

And then this comes crashing in .... do I need to give this dream up?

Dammit it --- NO!   ( I hope not, anyway).

But I do need to find a way to get un-stuck.  To lift the fog and feel light again.

I am not asking those who love and care about me to rush in with encouragement or platitudes, chicken soup or flowers,  or to humor me with the weird facial hair they have going for Movember.

All I know right now is this..... when I heard myself say I had nothing to blog about this week, this thought appeared ....

My blogspot's title is COURAGEOUS Wonderings.
And I think it takes some courage to say, "I'm in a funk."

Friday, November 7, 2014

The WONDER of knowing you are loved ....

I visited my Mom in Arizona last week.  She will be 100 in March!!!   We are planning a big party.... the family will gather.  More than once during our visit she remarked,  "I hope I live long enough so I can come to the party."

I hope she does too.

It was a good visit and though she talked of dying frequently, it often was with a bit of humor or a peacefulness.

Whenever we say good-bye in person or on the phone, we each say "I love you."  She said it first this time and after I replied with "I love you too, Mom" she said, "I know you do!"

 That is when my throat closed up (and does again as I type this).  For isn't that, after all, the most wonderful thing of all .... knowing we are loved.

This week I am wondering if those I love know it ....

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's that time of year when for one day deep in October, dressing up and acting silly is OK!

I wonder why it seems OK to be silly when we are dressed in a costume or hiding behind a mask ---- is it not OK to be silly when we are dressed in our own clothes and don't have a mask on?

I LOVE being silly.  I love to sing silly songs with made-up crazy words.  I love to dance silly dances or walk like a giant or a bird or Cruella de Vil.  I love to talk like Donald Duck.  I love to contort my face into silly expressions.
No wonder there are times when I wish I could return to my childhood ....  when silly somehow seemed more acceptable.

 Merriam/Webster's take on SILLY makes me sad:
having or showing a lack of thought, understanding or good judgement; not practical or sensible, meaningful or important; ridiculous, irrational, frivolous

Well,  Noah Webster and George and Charles Merriam ... I say POOLEYBAH on that !  And yup, that word isn't in your dictionary.

What is more fun than a silly joke?  When my granddaughter spends the night, we often hide rubber chickens in an unsuspecting someone's bed.  When she stayed over for two school nights recently I packed a silly something alongside her apples slices and sandwich in her lunch sack each day.  Her second grade friends and even the principal couldn't wait to see what would show up at lunch.  Granted, she acted like it was all a great big fat embarrassment, but deep down inside, I wanna think she got a little giggle from it and maybe even enjoyed the attention a bit.  And most importantly, I think she knew that I was imagining her sweet smile when I packed that silliness alongside my love into her lunch sack.

 Mr. Webster and both Mr. Merriams, you are probably right ... a baby rubber chicken or plastic glasses with a warty nose attached is not practical or sensible in a school is ridiculous and irrational and frivolous, but you will never convince me that when SILLY says I Love You or Please Smile or Goofy Is Good Sometimes, it is not meaningful and important.

We adults often seem hesitant to let our silly sides show.  I wonder why.
 Are we worried that others will think we are having or showing a lack of thought, understanding or good judgement?

Maybe we should rethink that.  After all, don't we want our children to worry less about what others think?

I hope that whenever we get the chance, we allow (and even encourage) our kids and grandkids to find time to be silly!  It's important.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


... from my blog, from my writing, from community service and lists and cleaning house, from life as I know it on a regular basis.....

That's what I have been up to the past month.  Taking a France... sinking into Paris first, then Provence .... the croissants, the streets, the small quaint towns, the markets, the history, the grapes, the people, the olives, the beauty.

I had a long list of must-sees and wanna-dos when I left.  My Rick Steves' and Lonely Planet books were labeled, highlighted and packed.
Many of the Do's and See's got done, but there were delightful afternoons and slow mornings where we didn't hurry to the next thing on the list, not because we were tired or the place was closed or under repair but because sitting and talking, looking at the French countryside, lingering over our plat du jour at lunch, or reading the great books we had brought along trumped our tourist list.

On this vacation to a new place... I took a break. The fill-me-up, breath-in-and-out, look-and-smell-and-wonder kind of break.  The kind of break where we saw and did but also where we allowed ourselves time to wonder about the country we were experiencing, its people and culture and government, how our history has overlapped with theirs, what the future might hold, what we could take home from their ways and perspectives to make our lives richer.

The last leg of our journey took us to the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France.  After a swim in that warm water, I spotted this boy reading on the sea wall below me.

This scene on the last full day of our trip reminded me of my blog and my writing and my passions for kids and reading waiting back home.  I snapped his picture to use for a future blog post with a message perhaps about reading and kid lit the world over.

But once back home when the pace immediately quickened and the loaded calendar of events beckoned,  and I saw my wonderful grandchildren again, this picture held a different message. I started wondering about break-taking.  The need to be intentional about creating and taking breaks .... little simple ones .... here at home.

Are we allowing ourselves enough time for breaks?  And are we encouraging our children to take them too .... the fill-me-up, breath-in-and-out, look-and-smell-and wonder kind?  I hope so.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Hat-Tip to Teachers!

This week I am not wondering, I flat-out know that my hat is off to TEACHERS!

They've been busy lately ….. on these weeks that precede the Labor Day weekend….
  • putting up bulletin boards
  • creating colorful doorways and welcoming signs
  • inventorying supplies 
  • re-stocking their classrooms
  • organizing, organizing, organizing
  • collaborating with colleagues
  • meeting new staff
  • taking student leaders on retreat to plan for the year
  • dreaming those nightmares where they oversleep on the first day of school
  • sighing at class lists that well exceed thirty
  • finding enough desks 
  • wondering where the summer went
  • planning, planning, and planning some more
  • hoping the weather isn't too hot those first few weeks back
but behind all this busyness…. and the worrying, wondering and thinking…. is their biggest gift …. their heart for kids…. translation...
  • their deep belief that all kids can succeed
  • their work ethic that keeps them trying and holding on even when the needs are so daunting
  • their willingness and ability to be flexible 
  • their way of always looking for good intentions
  • their salary measured by the smiles, the aha's, the small forward steps and little successes
  • their patience with setbacks, endless demands, and a culture that puts so much blame on the schools
  • their enthusiasm and willingness to be creative, adventuresome and silly
  • the energy they get from kids
  • their joy when students step up
I am grateful for teachers and their heart for kids.
I know their hearts will be broken open many times during this school year.  I hope that most of the time it is due to deep JOY.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dog Day Reads!!!

Each time I see one of these road-side libraries …. take a book or leave a book…. each exchange requiring nothing….motivated by a simple love of reading and books and sharing, I feel happy!  And this sweet one above gets the cupcake-with-cream-cheese-frosting-on-top prize.  I hope the wonderful someone or two on Lummi Island, Washington who created this are licking the frosting off their lips and fingertips.  A stain-glass window and driftwood handle …… WOW!

If you haven't read a good book or three to or with a child this summer, these Dog Days are the perfect time!  Get at it.

A good place to start is by checking out the Association of Library Service to Children's 2014 list of Notable Books.  This is always where I begin. They conveniently break their selections into four categories - Younger Reader (preschool to grade 2), Middle Readers (grades 3-5, ages 8-10), Older Readers (grades 6-8, ages 11-14), and All Ages (has appeal and interest for children in all the above age ranges).  These library specialists choose books of "commendable quality that exhibit venturesome creativity".  Doesn't venturesome creativity seem the perfect description for what kids should be up to in the summer?

Although you aren't likely to find any of the books on that list in the quaint road-side library in your neighborhood,  your public library or independent book store will surely have most of them.

We are taking our grandkids on a train trip for the next two days.  I hope this experience creates opportunities for venturesome creativity…. but I am headed to the library soon to have a few new books to tuck into our backpacks to insure that it does.

Happy Reading!  Happy Dog Days!

Monday, August 4, 2014


This sighting made me happy!  A restaurant on the Oregon coast….a sweet family of four enjoying dinner together conversing and laughing and watching the sea…..and then, as the dark took away the view and as Mom and Dad settled back to finish their wine, the girls each pulled out …… NOT iPhones or iPads or iPods….. but a book!!!  I wanted to do a dance and skip a jig!

I couldn't help it….I excused myself for interrupting and then told them how thrilled I was to see this and could I snap a photo please.  They were from the Netherlands traveling the USA this summer.  We congratulated them on their World Cup success and then my friend, who's grandmother was a cousin of Laura Ingalls Wilder, struck up a conversation with the one reading Little House on the Prairie, sharing stories her grandmother had told her.

I am wondering today why I have started falling out of the habit of always taking books into the restaurant with my grandkids….why I have my iPhone at the ready when they finish eating and get restless.  It's time to go back to books.  Yes, I keep a stack of books between their carseats but I need to schlep that bag of books into the restaurant like I used to.  I am grateful to this wonderful family for reminding me of that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wondering about Writing for Kids!

Spent the past week of my life in this beautiful spot as an attendee at the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop.

Five days of instruction from picture book, middle grade,  non-fiction, and YA (young adult) authors plus wise words from editors and agents on the state of the industry and what they want from those of us seeking publication fill a notebook and my head.

My manuscripts came home with scratchings and arrows and rewrites all over them as the personal critiques sent me on a roller coaster of wonderings …emotional ups and downs when my pieces were found lacking to one….and  interesting and full of promise to another.  Suggestions for revision from published authors or those who represent the big NYC houses seeking the next big kid lit hit headed me north one day and southeast the next. Yet every lecture underscored what we all know ….. you MUST write your own stories!

I dipped into a funk on day four.  Out of gas and feeling like my sweet and tender writing style aimed at young children was just not going to fit this wild, crazy and edgy age had me depleted.  The need for a strong social media presence - websites, blogs, Facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr - sent this 64 year old into a dither.  I wondered if the time this required was worth the time away from kids and grandkids, walks, gardening, my husband, my retirement plans, and more.

And then, as so often happens, a nugget or two to slip into my pocket came my way.  David Gifaldi, middle grade author and staff member for the 2014 OCCBWW spoke on Storytelling - The Wonder and Why of it?  He talked about times as a writer when he asks himself Why do it?  Then, he makes a list for himself.  And almost always, he finds Wonder and Astonishment at the top of his list.  YES -- me, too.  I love to wonder!  I stuck this one in my pocket.  And at the end of that long day I slogged my way back 'home'  and my brother shared one of his favorites …Dead Last is better than Did Not Finish …. is better than Did Not Start.  I grabbed onto that one too.

So I'll keep at it and keep looking for the WONDER.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Licking and Grooming - Not just for Rats - PART TWO

So summer is here and the days are crazy…. and not nearly as lazy as I would like.  But I did finish the book (Paul Tough's How Children Succeed - Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character) whose beginning pages inspired the last Licking and Grooming post.

I am always looking for examples of kids (or adults for that matter)  displaying strong character.  I enjoy conversing about what it is, exactly.  I am fascinated with how we teach it …. or don't.  I am dismayed that there are so few opportunities for our young people to see it modeled by the celebrities or government leaders or corporate heads who grab the headlines. I wonder why we don't  talk about it more.  Is it something we shy away from because we feel there is a moral component to it that should be left to our religious institutions?  Or perhaps we fear it comes laden with judgement about how to best parent?

So I was absorbed in  Paul Tough's book and it  didn't disappoint.  But I have to admit I was hoping for an answer to fix the problems that seem so rampant in our country ….. simple ways we could help kids develop Character - especially those around us who grow up in poverty and within families where survival takes precedence over and time away from nurturing - licking and grooming.  And they are there, but it is NOT simple.

 on page 191 of his book Paul Tough asks ...
       What can we as a country do to significantly improve the life chances of millions of poor children?
(I think the guy's last name is apropos)

And this question comes after he has shared the daunting statistics about the number of people in poverty (40% of American families according to our country's Education Department)  and the dysfunctional pipeline that those living in poverty must maneuver …. overcrowded medicaid clinics, social service and child-welfare offices and hospital ER clinics.   A school system that often steers them into special ed, remedial classes or alternative schools.  And outside school?  A broken system of foster homes, juvenile detention and probation officers.  In Tough's words, "an extremely expensive system, wildly inefficient and has a low success rate."

So I was getting rather dismayed.  Especially since so much of my work as an educator has been with middle school and high school age young people and if they missed out on Licking and Grooming and nurturing (i.e. support) when they were young, are they doomed to be those 'throw-away kids'?   And to make things worse,  Tough suggests one way of looking at character is how it "functions as a substitute for the social safety net that students who come from [affluence] enjoy - the support from their families and schools and culture that protects them from the consequences of occasional detours …  mistakes and bad decisions."  He also says that  low income kids need more grit, more social intelligence, more self control than wealthier kids.  CRAP ---- there is NOTHING SIMPLE ABOUT THIS!

At this point, I came close to stashing the book in the bedside drawer and getting out a steamy summer romance novel.  After all, I am only one older retired lady without an endless cash stream!

But then I went back to my dog-eared pages and re-read the highlights….

  • about how researchers and school-reformers have found that being a successful human is not just about IQ and doing well on tests and that the most critical missing piece is character.
  • that many people think character is something innate …a core set of attributes, but researchers (Seligman and Peterson) suggest character skills can be learned, practiced and taught at any age.
  • that a researcher at Penn (Duckworth) did a study where she found that students' self-discipline scores from the previous fall were better predictors of their final GPAs than their IQ scores.
  • that there are schools where students actually accumulate a CPA (character point average) along with their GPA (Kipp).   Hmmm --- what could that mean for those hiring?

So I came away grateful for this book and for all the schools and researchers who are studying this and making concrete and quantifiable what has been so abstract.  I am grateful for the new and hard work that is being done to help kids succeed.

But I still wonder …. what can I do?  Especially to support those kids who fall below the poverty line and who might not have had that L an G nurturing when they were young.    Paul Tough has an answer for me ….

       "…when children reach early adolescence, what motivates them most effectively isn't licking and grooming-style care but a very different kind of attention….the unexpected experience of someone taking them seriously, believing in their abilities, and challenging them to improve themselves."

Can't we all do that?  In big or little ways, can't we seek out kids who need us to do this for and with them?

 It is simple after all.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Licking and Grooming....Not just for Rats!

I am going to use Paul Tough's new book HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED, Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character  as the reason why this blog post is late.

I am hooked on every word!  It is not a long book, but it is thick with data, science, long term studies and provocative thought.

It seems rather ironic that I am reading it just when so many school kids and teachers are hunkered down under the pressure of state and federally mandated testing because this book.... and here I paraphrase the book jacket ...... 'challenges the story we usually tell about childhood .... that success comes to those who score highest on tests.  In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter have more to do with character skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control.'

Reading that alone made me want to shout AMEN. During my career in the classroom we knew (but only anecdotally and subjectively) about the need to develop character right alongside teaching math, history, geography and the five paragraph essay ... but to think that this book might offer proof through careful scientific data and long term study, plus ways to use this knowledge to transform young people's lives, our schools, our parenting and especially to improve the lives of children growing up in poverty - this has me stoked...and hooked.  At least that's what I hope this book is going to tell us....but I'm not there yet - only about sixty fascinating, underlined, dog-eared pages into it.

 I expect several blog posts to bubble up out of all the wonderings this powerful book is bringing up for me.  Here is the first one.....

We were on a family vacation recently (that, more likely, is the real reason for the tardy blog post).  We have a wonderful new baby grandson and on this trip I watched my daughter in law .... at every feeding, diaper change, or free moment ... kiss and nuzzle his sweet two month old face, pick at every piece of lint or dry skin on his round growing body, rub his soft bald head, or simply hold those little fingers that wrapped around hers.  Now it pains me to put our wonderful cherubic grandchildren (or my lovely DIL)  in the same paragraph with rats but Paul Tough talks in this book about studies with rats (led by neuroscientist, Michael Meany) done to expand our understanding of the relationship between parenting and childhood stress. Rat mothers (dams) were observed licking and grooming their offspring (pups) when the pups were returned to the cage following testing, in order to lower the stress hormones that become elevated when they are out of the cage exposed to the rigors of the tests and human handling.  Of course, they observed rat moms who were big L and G-ers (as the scientists termed them) and rat moms who weren't as much. So they decided to set up regular observations to keep score of the  L and G time and then to see if there were any long-term effects of these parenting behaviors on the young rats.

When the rat 'pups' were fully grown, the researchers gave them a series of tests that compared the offspring of the high LG (licked and groomed)  rats with the low LG rats.  The specifics in the book are fascinating but suffice it to say, that on each test the high LG offspring excelled - better at mazes, more social, more curious, less aggressive, healthier, lower levels of stress hormones, more self-control, lived longer.   AND ...  the L and G did not have to come just from the biological mother to produce those effects!

Now perhaps this is more of a "DUH" than an "A-HA" for most, and daunting to anyone trying to assist and improve the lives of disadvantaged children, but here is what Paul Tough says....

           "We now know that early stress and adversity can literally get under a child's skin, where it can cause damage that lasts a lifetime.  But there is also some positive news in this research. It turns out that there is a particularly effective antidote to the ill effects of early stress, and it comes not from pharmaceutical companies or early-childhood educators but from parents.  Parents and other caregivers who are able to form close, nurturing relationships with their children can foster resilience in them that protects them from many of the worst effects of a harsh early environment.  This message can sound a bit warm and fuzzy, but it is rooted in cold, hard science.  The effect of good parenting is not just emotional or psychological, the neuroscientists say, it is biochemical."

Today I am wondering how we as a society can help provide this necessary nurturing to all children.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Somedays I still wonder about washing that tennis skirt ……

It was the summer of 2012.  I picked my granddaughter up at tennis camp. We grabbed lunch and headed off to meet friends at the park.  On the way, she asked,
      "Can we wash my tennis skirt when we get home so I can wear it again to tennis camp tomorrow?"

Explaining we had a pretty full afternoon planned and there might not be time to wash it, she asked again, adding one long,  "Puulllleeeeeezzzzzzzzzzz!"

I further explained that her Mom had packed a swim skirt that would do, but she begged again.

When I asked why, her voice came quietly from the back seat of the car,
       "The kids will all think it's dumb to wear a swim skirt to play tennis."

I felt my stomach clench and my heart sink down just a bit.  My mind whirled.
        Really????  I thought.  Already?? At five years old, she is worrying about what the other kids will think?

How do I talk to her about this?  How do I help her see that what matters is what she thinks.  I don't want any of her wonderful energy going into winning approval.  I don't want her to fear stepping outside the box of acceptability.  I don't want her creativity stunted by that worry.  I don't want her to miss out on the beauty of simply being herself, having her own ideas and her own desires.  I especially don't want her thinking, "If I do this, they will say _________."

Reacting to the clench in my gut, I spoke into the back seat,
    "It doesn't really matter what the other kids think, O.  All that matters is what you think."

She was quiet.  I continued.
        "I'm still learning that."

"STILL?  Not just when you were a kid, Noni?"


And although I am doing a much better job at this as a grandparent than I did as a parent or a kid, the "Yup….still" response maybe explains the clench in my gut and this wondering.

 How do we continue to help our children and grandchildren, and yes, ourselves,  settle into knowing that what matters most  is what we think of ourselves and not what anyone else might think of us?

Monday, March 3, 2014


It was seven years ago.  My husband and I were newly minted, first-time grandparents out to dinner with a good friend and business consultant.

After adoring the photos of our pie-in-the-sky grand-daughter with all the accompanying oohs and aahs, our friend sat back, smiled and looked us straight in the eyes….
    "So…how is life different now?"  she asked.

My husband and I waxed on about the joy and wonder in seeing your own child parent….. the freedom of enjoying the cuddles, sweet smells and adorableness, then turning the bundle over and heading home for a good night's sleep….the fun of getting out the old toys you've kept all these years …the deep warmth that washes through you when you read her the book her Dad loved.

 But part of me knew that though all those were true, there was more --- that wasn't really what was making life feel so much different now.  It was so much bigger than that, but I couldn't articulate, or didn't know yet, how to answer any differently.

We settled into the business part of the evening.  We were facing some new directions and decisions with our business.  At one point our discussion circled back to a pivotal juncture on this career journey - a week long experience in Toronto where the core and driving philosophy behind this practice was birthed.  Over twenty five years ago now.

Hanging in the lobby of the Toronto training organization was a picture of a sweet young boy.  Under it were these words,  "What about Jeremy?"  This is what we were to keep in mind throughout the week.  To always base our business decisions on what is best for "Jeremy".  To value the world we create when we do this.  To know that children are watching and wondering and ever so willing to emulate us.

I can no longer remember the specifics of what business decisions we were talking about on that night seven years ago, the direction we were thinking of taking the business, or the financial impacts of those potential decisions, but I clearly recall what happened next, for suddenly, I knew the answer to How is Life Different Now?  The lump in my throat and tears that welled up told me so.  And there was an urgent call that came with it.

Grandchildren made the "Jeremy" responsibility come screaming to the forefront.  How do we fix this world?  How do we make it better for our children?  How do we create a culture of care and intentionality around what is good and right for children?  What are we leaving our grandchildren?

That is my wondering again this week…. as now there are three….living and looking up at us.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

BEAST MODE …..  what about that label?

Seahawks fever is bursting thermometers here in the Pacific Northwest.  Even those of us who are rather blasé about the sport, and feel much of the culture surrounding it is unhealthy have tuned in a bit.

 Marshawn Lynch, one of the Seattle team's star running backs, is beast like in his strength and power on the field.  The fans have tagged him and his moves with the term, Beast Mode.  The Urban Dictionary defines Beast Mode as,
   " A hype, energetic, outgoing, wilding-out state of mind."  A second definition reads "Superhuman state of being in which animal instincts take over mind and body."

Our three year old grandson is energetic and outgoing. In fact,  sometimes his energy explodes into what you could call a 'wilding-out' state of mind.  He loves to talk in a guttural roar and there are times it seems animal instincts have taken over his body even when he isn't pretending to be a tiger or lion or bear.  He gives us immeasurable joy and abundant smiles.

For Christmas he received a toddler-sized Seahawks t-shirt with BEAST MODE emblazoned across the front.  The perfect gift, we all thought.

Now, if you have followed this blog at all, you know I notice T-shirts and what they are saying.  My grand-daughter's Be Nice shirt plus her Make Yourself Proud shirt have both prompted wondering that turned into posts.

Not sure the Beast Mode shirt would have had that same effect until my husband and I were driving home from the holiday gatherings.  When I commented on the hilarity around the Beast Mode t-shirt, my always-thinking and often-wise husband said he hoped we were not sticking our adorable Mr. G with a tightly adhesive label. Oh sheesh …. really?  I wanted to dismiss that as phooey …. and yet I kept wondering about it.

Could we potentially miss out on the sweet and tender side of this boy if he learns to conform to the behaviors associated with the label we have given him?  Could it even direct or script the path in life he chooses to lead?   I know….pretty strong stuff to lay on one little T-shirt,  and possibly very unlikely, but worth at least wondering about, I think.  Are there other things we are saying to or around this young boy that he is taking in.  How careful do we have to be?

Child psychologist, Brenna Hicks, reminds us on her blog, The Kid Counselor, to keep in mind the implications even harmless labels can have, especially on our children, in regard to their self-esteem, behavior and developing personalities.

She reminds us about families with children who have been officially diagnosed with an emotional, behavioral or mental disorder who have learned the power of labeling and know the hard work involved in helping their child live beyond that defining label.

She suggests we think carefully about the impact of labels and recommends we give intentional thought to the words we choose if we must define certain things about our children for ourselves or others.

      "….try to choose positive versions of the same trait, i.e. "spirited" rather than "hyper", "cautious" instead of "timid".

It makes sense.  It takes work and intention.  Our children and grandchildren are worth it.

Recently, I saw a photo of a child holding a sign with these words, Please don't label me.  Let me grow up and choose for myself.   Maybe someone can find a way to fit that message on a child size T-shirt.

 In the meantime, GO HAWKS!