Tonight we're going to have a little memorial for my mother and scatter her ashes at a beautiful park nearby. I'm going to ask the girls to each make a picture for their Grandma Bayer and I've written a poem to read. I know Victoria and Annalee are too young to fully understand death. Come to think of it, I'm too young to fully understand death yet. Just the same, we'll do a makeshift family celebration to remember her. I know she would love the park that we're going to.
It's been over a year since my mother died, but we just got her ashes from my grandmother when we went back to visit and go through my mother's things last month. I know my mom is probably impatient to get out of that box and into nature. :) In a way this feels right to me though, because now we can do the ceremony when I am ready to do it as a celebration of her life instead of just a mourning of her death.
There isn't much of a bright side to death, but it does have a very big lesson about treasuring people while they're here. Please forgive a few old wounds today and tell people how much you love them. James Dean said it well: "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."
Now I promise to be cheerful for the rest of the newsletter. ;) Have a great week!!!
Before you leave on that next road trip, check out this site for lists of 101 travel games each for babies, toddlers and bigger kids.
Victoria has been in a mood quite a bit lately. I'm sure the heat is a factor, plus she's getting over an illness and was recently potty trained (it's always a little scary for kids to grow up!). I know that it becomes a cycle, too, since the crankier she gets the crankier WE get and that just snowballs.
Here are some things that have worked around here for us.....
Keep your calm. If you have to, go to the bathroom and take some deep breaths before dealing with your cranky one. Otherwise, that snowball is going to be an avalanche that buries you both!
Try breathing exercises. Yesterday I had Victoria pick a pretty color and told her to imagine breathing it into her body. She picked purple, so we took deep breaths of purple air and then breathed out the icky, grumpy air. This is just a tricky way to get them to calm down, focus on something other than their tantrum, and feel better. It works though!
Lower the intensity level. Kids often snap after things are just too stimulating for too long. Offer to do something that he likes that is calming, like reading a book, watching a favorite video or taking a bath (some kids unwind in baths and some get hyper though). Turn off distractions like radios and TVs.
Check their physical needs. Toddlers don't know how to read their bodily cues very well and often can't communicate their physical needs. I don't know how many times I've noticed Victoria being cranky and then realized we were late for lunch or a nap. I also know that if she's really bratty, she's probably coming down with something. It's happened so often that now her behavior is the first sign I look for when she's sick. In the summer you need to be careful that kids don't get too hot or dehydrated too.
Try a little tenderness. Well yeah, it's hard, but sometimes little ones just need to be loved a little extra. You know that you have some days where you're just sort of in a funk and wish someone would pamper you, and you're a grown up! No, it's not rewarding brattiness. If you say, "You seem pretty upset today. Are you having a bad day?" that's being understanding and empathetic, something your child should learn about. You can still say that the behavior is not okay and ask for an apology. Remember, you're not enemies!
Be a good example. Last time I was in a foul mood, I dumped both girls in the double stroller and went for a power walk. I walked fast and concentrated on feeling the muscles in my legs. Victoria asked me why we were walking and I told her that I was sad and mad, and that I was making myself feel better by exercising. The exertion did help me destress, but my other motivation was to show my girls a healthy way of dealing with anger. Brainstorm with your kids on how they can make themselves feel better and make sure that YOU do healthy things when you're a crank too!
Head outside. Go somewhere where your child can run, jump and hardly destroy a thing. Let her expend all that energy there while you take deep breaths and remember bedtime has got to come eventually! ;)
Get a break. Kids are often cranky because they're picking up on our crankiness. Take a break from your child, somehow, some way. Have your partner, your parents or a buddy watch him for a few hours. When Victoria was little, she often cheered up when we switched off and she had someone different watching her. If you want, take a break in a group. When I get together with some of my mama friends I still have my kids but there is such a community feeling that it's just so much easier.
Put it in perspective. Kids aren't little forever. This is a stage, and it's one that kids go through for a reason. Absolutely perfect children are rarely happy ones. If your child is only occasionally like a rabid chimp on speed, then at those times do what I do. Give her the "what planet are you from?" look and tell her to come get you when she's ready to be friendly and you'll do something fun.
Oh yeah, and take a picture. When she's all grown up and is griping about what she had to put up with as a child, pull it out to remind her she owes you big time! :)
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking
at the stars.
— Oscar Wilde
Why not let your kids make plant markers for the garden this summer? Use permanent paints or markers to decorate large tongue depressors or rocks. You could even design some educational games with them-- mix them up and see if your child can find a certain plant name if he's just learning to read, or see if an older child can match the marker to the right plant.
You know I usually recommend just checking out fun books at the library, but this book is neat enough that I'm going to scout out a copy. It's called The Seven Silly Eaters, by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee.
The story is told all in rhyme, about a lovely mother who has a baby who only drinks milk, and only milk at a certain temperature. But being such a loving mother she happily makes his milk just right. Then the second child comes along, then the third, the fourth... and all with their own picky requirements.
Perhaps it's the catchy rhyme or maybe I just love seeing other stressed heroines with messy houses, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wouldn't mind reading it again and again the way kids tend to demand. Go take a peek at a copy and see what you think.
10 Ways to make tonight special......
1. Hide a trinket in one person's dinner. Whoever finds the trinket gets to pick a family activity for an hour, then has the job of hiding it for somebody else tomorrow.
2. Have watermelon for dessert and have a seed spitting contest in the back yard.
3. Go watch the sunset together.
4. As a family, mark the calendar with fun little loving things to do for each other throughout the year. Add at least one a month.... like on December 13th you and your son have a date for cocoa and a chat after everybody else goes to bed. Add goofy ones too, like on February 9th dad has to make up a silly song and sing it at dinner.
5. Paint masterpieces on your toenails. Boys too!
6. Write a family letter to someone who could use cheering up. Make sure everybody writes at least a paragraph or contributes a picture.
7. Find a quote or poem that your child loves and put it someplace unexpected. Let her write it on the inside of her closet door or use a permanent marker to write it inside a book bag where nobody will see it but she'll know it's there.
8. Play with makeup.
9. Have a family talent show. Little ones can sing songs or dance. Even babies can do a few tricks. ;)
10. Serve dinner on the good china. Light candles and dress up. There's no better "company" than your family. Explain to the kids that they need to be very, very careful and it's a very special occasion. Put some music on in the background and live it up, even if you're having mac and cheese for supper!
Use the talents you possess, for the woods would
be very silent if no birds sang except the best.
— Henry Van Dyke
Now I'm off to make supper and herd the kids in
the car. Never let anybody tell you that you're less than magical.
Till next time.....
A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer
A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and love good parents. To subscribe, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We do not use ads. It's not about money. :)
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A Magical Childhood