We now have a queen sized mattress sitting on our living room floor. It takes up  a lot of space and my daughter can no longer ride her new tricycle around our place with ease. It was our former mattress until my husband’s side grew too lumpy. It then sat beside our bed for over a year. My husband was hoping it would become a place for where my daughter would sleep. No. Now it sits on our living room floor because we’ve had a flow of house guests. We might just kept it there because when it doesn’t serve as a bed, it’s an amazing trampoline and most recently, a wrestling mat. Wrestle Mania has come to our living room!

Every morning and most nights, if anyone comes calling, they will find the whole family – even our cat accidentally sometimes – wrestling on our extra mattress and it isn’t tame. My daughter is pinning us down, using the force of her legs to push us off and throw us onto the floor. My husband is using his full force to get me down while I play dirty and use my nails. He has an almost fifty pound weight advantage. I guess excuses are never a real reason to fight dirty… what if I say I use my nails with his permission and don’t scratch too deeply? Sometimes, I bite too… so does my daughter though her bites tend to be wet and leave absolutely no marks. My bites don’t break any skin, just a slight imprint for a few minutes. Those are my techniques to gain the upper hand from my husband in play.

Fred O. Davidson has an amazing theory of play called Original Play. He also holds workshops around the world. His theory is based on getting back to our animal ways of playing and connecting – to be wolves with each other, and play together which involves our physical nature. When Mishy was younger, we would head near Ocean Park Blvd where the beach meets near our home in Santa Monica. There is a large flat grassy area. Mishy and I would lie there together, then both get on all fours and be wolves together. She would climb on top of me, we would gently wrestle and sway together. She would lead me in how she wanted to play. We would play as animals together. I feel this newfound love of wrestling is a continuation of our physical play – one that invokes a lot of laughter, play, delight, and even tears – tears in line with Hand In Hand’s Playlistening – where through play, children are able to release and work on their fears, feel powerful and test themselves.

I received Hand In Hand’s DVD of Playlistening a few months back after participating in a focus group for them and recently asked my husband to view it. I am so thankful I have a husband who is willing to view these progressive parenting DVDs. The next day of wrestling increased in joy and my husband was giving me pointers on how to play with my daughter – which I found incredibly refreshing.

Details:

Original Play

http://www.originalplay.com/

Hand In Hand’s Playlistening:

article: http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/56/64/Playlistening

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Who Is More Important?

January 18, 2011

My daughter is the most important person in my life. I know this is deep inside me because I choose to have her. I’ve also chosen to parent her in a way where she is as much my guide as I am hers. I have learned so much about my life and my ways watching hers – how free and open she sees the world – without the baggage and hinderance of unmet needs, wants, desires, dreams… I tell her I was waiting for her to be born and my life completely changed when I met her – I had never felt such love for another. Yet, lately, I haven’t shown this to her and she doesn’t feel she is as important as other things in my life – such as my computer.

I’ve been focused on my blog. There is a part of me that wants to do the best I can in everything I do. I have a hard time striving for less. This precision has helped me in life career wise – but that was when my life didn’t include my daughter. Last night, Mishy and I played a game. She stayed in the bedroom while I was in the living room. I had to be on my computer – she would periodically come and check to make sure I was. She then called me from the bedroom and when I didn’t come, she would run to the living room softly – we have neighbors underneath us – grabbed my hand and dragged me into the bedroom while I would say, “I’m working. I have important things to do!” She’d respond, “Someone wants to see you.” And I would say, “Who? Who is taking me away from my work?” By this time, we would be on the bed and she would look in my eyes and say – “Me!” And then I’d say – “Of course! What was I thinking? You’re the most important person in my life!” Then we would hug and I’d say – “Who is more important? The computer or Mishy?” She’d say, “The computer.” And I’d say, “Mishy! Mishy’s the most important person in my life.” We’d talk about how I was waiting for her to be born while she cuddled in my arms. And we played the game again and again as she laughed and jumped and hugged and sweated. She was releasing. We played the game for as long as she wanted to and towards the end, she’d say – “Mishy! Mishy’s the most important person!” And she is.

Now we have an understanding – I will be on my computer when she’s sleeping. I can check throughout the day when she’s playing by herself, but for the stuff that requires more time – when she’s asleep. She still naps. It’s not a problem.

Resources:

Playful Parenting

http://www.playfulparenting.com/

Hand In Hand

www.Handinhand.org

Scott Noelle – Daily Groove – Unconditional Presence

http://www.enjoyparenting.com/daily-groove/unconditional-presence

Art Fun!

February 13, 2010

Mishy using tissue paper for drip painting

We’ve been researching pre-schools which has been emotionally draining since I love being with Mishy. What is the rush? What has been useful in attending the pre-school tours? Seeing their facilities and what their program offers. Most are centered around creative development primarily through art which lead me to read Bev Bos – thank you, Ninette, a mother of two, for the recommendation! Bev Bos is an educator, grandmother of four and mother of five. She is the director of the Roseville Cooperative Preschool in Roseville, California. She has several books published which all extends her child-centered techniques. Her first book, Don’t Move The Muffin Tins, a hands-off guide to art for the young child.

Mishy exploring tissue paper.

Here are condensed versions of her rules which are in the book.

Rule #1: Don’t interfere. Forget how you intended the art materials to be used. There is no right or wrong in art, just creation.

Rule #2: Try one yourself. Build a trial version in your set up. You’ll be much more at ease with your child’s first attempt.

Rule #3: Put the child first. Each day is special to a child. When a child asks for materials that are alternatives to what you’ve set out, provide those materials.

Rule #4: Avoid models. Never make a model to show to a child. Let them create without the intimidation of a model.

Rule #5: Respect a name. If they want to put their name on their creation, let them find the place and how they want it to look, even if it’s spelled backwards.

Rule #6: Art of young children should be “instant.” A young child wants to see immediate results.

Rule #7: Spread the word. Orient parents to a child-centered approach. Make it clear you don’t want “art” produced for your benefit, but rather a program that is aimed at developing your child’s creativity.

Rule #8: No leaping, please! Adults leap upon a child when something starts to spill, tip over, all from the table, or simply begins to go in a direction different from the one the adult expected. Gently, gently, guide and suggest.

Rule #9: Don’t feel guilt. You may have guilt when applying child-centered art because you may have done crafts to the exclusion of art, guilt because you haven’t nurtured your child’s creativity enough – don’t do it. Start now with your children, grandchildren, adults you know, start with yourself.

Rule #10: discourage “good” clothes. “Go to a thrift shop, buy your child two outfits for school. Then you’ll not be upset when the clothes come home with paint all over them.” To heck with aprons.

Details:

Don’t Shake The Muffin Tin by Bev Bos

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Move-Muffin-Tins-Hands-Off/dp/0931540003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266100046&sr=8-1

Mishy's foot print art w/ marker details

Friends over for their own art exploration

This week, I had the great fortune of hearing CNVEP’s executive director, Ruth Beaglehole speak at a private residence in Venice. Since the organization is located in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, this was a rare chance to see her on the Westside.

The topic was Anger. She mentioned anger is under the umbrella of four emotions – grief, hurt, sadness, and despair. When we say we are angry, we are really feeling one of those emotions and everyone clearly deals with anger in different ways – sarcasm, avoidance, lashing out, cussing, etc.

What pushes us to get angry so the chemicals in our brains cloud our judgment? It comes from our childhood when we felt those feelings and we were not supported. I raised the question that some people feel it’s better not to delve into their childhood and instead to live in the moment. She recommended Daniel Siegel’s books, notably, Parenting From The Inside Out and his newest book, Mindsight. He is known for this work in Interpersonal Neurobiology and how we have the ability to repair our brains from difficult attachments/emotions we may have had growing up. (I have read, “Parenting From The Inside Out” and am very glad I did when Mishy was only a few months old. Everyone who has a child or is pregnant must read this book.)

Here are some questions that were raised during the talk. (The answers are what I remember them to be since I was not writing down notes or had a tape recorder.)

What is the best way to release anger? Through crying, by seeing the little girl or boy you were and supporting yourself now.

What are some ways to deal with anger in yourself? It is different for everyone. Some people deal best by running, jumping robe, chewing on an ice cube, breathing/counting to ten. It’s best to find out how to de-escalate yourself. (I need time to myself to write.)

How can we help our children when they get angry? By empathizing with them. For example, if they do not want to leave the playground, say, “You are having so much fun in the playground. You love playing in the playground. We will come back. It is time to leave now.” Give them a 5 minute warning beforehand and support them in their tears.

Thank you, Clara for hosting the event!

Details:

CNVEP is located in Echo Park. They offer parenting classes, private home classes, one on one counselling, and special events. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.cnvep.org/new/

Books recommended during the discussion (with links to amazon.com to read reviews and more information:)

Healing the Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan

http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Through-Dark-Emotions-Despair/dp/1590301013/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265480654&sr=8-1

Parenting From The Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell

http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Inside-Out-Daniel-Siegel/dp/1585422959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265480716&sr=1-1

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel Siegel

http://www.amazon.com/Mindsight-New-Science-Personal-Transformation/dp/0553804707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265480764&sr=1-1

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

http://www.amazon.com/Unconditional-Parenting-Moving-Rewards-Punishments/dp/0743487486/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265480819&sr=8-1

also available on DVD

http://www.amazon.com/Unconditional-Parenting/dp/B000BBAA3U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1265480872&sr=8-1

Non-Violent Communication

January 31, 2010

Non Violent Communication book and its companion

I came across NVC as part of my parental research via finding information on emotional intelligence. There have been numerous studies that have proven having a high emotional intelligence leads to greater success in life. It is much more important than having a high IQ. Since I would like Mishy to have as many possibilities, I devoured this book written by Marshall B. Rosenberg. This is the one book that has been so challenging for me to try and implement in my life. I am still in process and probably will be for the rest of my life since we are surrounded by “violent” forms of communication.

Non-Violent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communicate, operates from a place of empathy. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, we are all people who strive for love and empathy even if we communicate in ways which seem otherwise. Its’ philosophy is in the same vein as Martin Luther King and Ghandi. To practice NVC, both parties don’t have to be versed in the language. If you offer empathy to someone, it is surprising how a dialogue can happen and healing begins. Though I was skeptical at first since the language reads quite formal on the page, it does work and has made my life easier and more loving.

I recommend this book not only for parents, also anyone who strives for healthier ways to communicate. Currently, a group of mothers and I meet every few weeks to practice NVC in my backyard. It is incredibly fulfilling to be a part of this group.

Any practice group can be started – just grab a group of people who are interested in learning about it.  The Non Violent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu has activities broken down by chapters and is highly recommended because to practice NVC is quite different than reading about it.

Details:

The Center for Non Violent Communication’s website: http://www.cnvc.org/

Non Violent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-Language-Marshall-Rosenberg/dp/1892005034/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264986747&sr=8-1

Non Violent Communication Workbook: A Practical Guide for Individual, Group, or Classroom Study by Lucy Leu

http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-Companion-Workbook-Individual/dp/1892005042/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264986834&sr=8-2