Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankful TO…

Americans like to give thanks at their Thanksgiving dinner. As an atheist, this is sometimes troubling: Who are you thanking? Why do you deserve your good fortunes? Does someone else not deserve what you have? The mantra that “working hard” gets you what you “deserve” suggests that those with less privilege or a less fortunate background didn’t work hard. Or they didn’t fight against a system that failed them from the beginning, which made hard work necessary, perhaps, to even survive, let alone succeed.

This season I challenge you to thank someone in particular who contributed to what you have. I hope you’ll let them know that you appreciate their actions, presence or gift.

Here’s my partial list:

I’m thankful to my parents for teaching me to make education a part of my life, not just the classroom experience.

I’m thankful to my great Aunt Dora for encouraging me to make (sometimes hard) choices that “progress” my dreams.

I’m thankful to my husband for our many adventures, from far away lands to reading new books with our son.

I’m thankful to my husband for his encouragement to write, write, write.

I’m thankful to my son for his curiosity and courage as he tries new things, falls and gets right back up again.

I’m thankful to the many resources I had available to me to find trustworthy, attentive and kind babysitters to watch my son with while I work.

I’m thankful to the daycare where he’ll be starting this winter for their many resources, space and attention to the children in their care.

I’m thankful to the internet, phones and U.S. postal service for keeping far away friends close.

I’m thankful to the city of Washington, D.C., and our many city and federal programs that provide libraries, parks, well-lit streets, reliable public transportation, clean air and water and more for its residents.

I’m thankful to the many supermarkets near us that provide a wide selection of food to prepare. 

I’m thankful to my employers for the intellectual challenge that is teaching and the paychecks that help to provide food, housing and the basics, as well as other things, like books.

I’m thankful to my students, especially when they ask questions that challenge my teaching skills and knowledge of subjects.

I’m thankful to my education for giving me the resources to know how and where to ask for help when something isn’t right. That is to say, I’m thankful to my parents for my education, both at home and at school.

We should all be in a position to be thankful to services and regular income for shelter, food, clothing, education, health care and more. Help to make that possible for someone else this season and throughout the year by donating to or volunteering with your favorite charity.

We are partial to So Others May Eat and will be participating in their annual Trot for Hunger. See you there?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Writing Coach Sale & Incomplete List of Small Pleasures

Are you thinking about working with a writing coach to help you along with your project? I'm available to help you with prompts, organization suggestions for writing, researching and ordering your project, reading recommendations and more. I'm running a holiday sale through Nov. 30th: reserve three hours today and receive a fourth hour for free! For more details, visit my writing coach blog, Chloe Yelena Miller.

Thanks to Minerva Rising's editor Nicole Ross Rollender, I was given an amazing prompt for a recent blog post: write an incomplete list of small pleasures. I had a lot of fun thinking about the moments, people and things that give me pleasure. I invite you to read my incomplete list here and let me know if you try the prompt, too. What's on your list?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Daycare Playdates: I didn't skip them after all

I was thinking about skipping the daycare playdates last week.

My son's nap was too short the first day, so that seemed like a good excuse. (He can't possibly go sleepy!) Then he bumped his head and cried a little. (He needs the comfort of his mamma! At home!) I closed the living room window and slammed my fingers into the baby guard (I can't drive injured!) After we finally got ourselves buckled into the car,  I made a few wrong turns on the way to the daycare. (Oh, well. Can't find it!) But, then we made it the first day. On a gloriously colorful fall day.

I wanted to hate it.

I wanted to come home to my husband - in the dark at 5:30 pm - with a long list of good reasons why our son should always be home with me, even if that meant it would continue to be hard for me to teach, write and otherwise do, well, most things.

But it was great. Predictably, our bambino had some happy moments, some clingier moments and some, well, mundane moments. And so did I. At one point he patted me on the back and walked away. I didn't cry; at least not in front of him.

The kids sat in toddler-sized chairs and ate crackers and drank water out of plastic cups. Our bambino stood behind his seat and looked at the other kids in wonder. Or maybe that wasn't wonder and he was thinking, "Why would you guys do that? You don't have to do anything they say," as he leaned over the tiny seat to grab another fistful of crackers.

They sang songs, danced, marched, played with blocks and trucks and then went out to the gated playground under the trees. The teachers call the kids "friends," and kept encouraging the kids to play with their "new friend," our bambino. The teachers were super considerate, attentive and nice. (I can't even imagine working with eight emotional toddlers exploring the world without too many words with which to express their frustration, all day for days on end. I'm already thinking about holiday gifts.)

So, I guess we'll go back this week for playdates through December. And then he'll start full-time.

Full time? Most likely. You know, I'm keeping my options open.

But I'm also thinking about seeing movies and having lunches with friends. (At least, I think I still have friends to meet for lunch after not seeing them for so long.) I need to focus on working and writing, of course - all during nap time, snack time and awake time. Even during the bambino's awake time. Amazing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Judging & Judgy Mammas

Emotional and physical space for free play!
Why is this child so far from his mamma?

Many of us feel judged by parents and non-parents everywhere we go.

Why is she hovering? 
Why isn't she closer to her son?

Why isn't the toddler wearing a hat?
Isn't he overdressed for this weather?

Why did Mom say, "you're ok" after he fell instead of consoling him?
Shouldn't she console him more before encouraging him to try again?

Why did she correct her son when he called a bus a truck?
Why didn't she correct him and teach him the proper words? 

And that's just what I thought about myself the other day at the playground. Surely if we're all so worried about our own parenting, no one else is thinking about us. (Right?!?)

There are endless books to read and parenting techniques. Some approaches work for some families at some times. It is hard to know what's best and when. With the endless options in mind, I need to remember to take a deep breath and practice confidence with the knowledge I've learned from books, experience, doctor's visits and knowing other children and parents. If nothing else, that confidence is good lesson for my son, as is knowing when to say something isn't working and try something else. With some confidence.