This morning, the magical Madeleine turns ten years old! It seems like only yesterday I was covered in spit-up, walking up and down our busy street, praying like crazy that anything, anything at all would help her settle down so we could all get some much needed sleep. I had no idea how much joy and happiness being the mother of such a wild, warm-hearted girl would bring me. Here's my list of ways to love a 10 year old today and everyday as she enters a new chapter of her growing up adventure.
1. Put her at the head of the table. That's right. Your girl has things to say and she needs an audience. By making sure she gets a turn now and then at the head of the table, you let her and your family know it's totally okay for your girl to command the attention of a room. You'll be surprised at how savvy she is and how much she has to say about things that matter to you, too.
2. Ask her to tell you her dreams and take notes. Inside every 35 year old mother is a ten year old girl trying to get out. Now is the time to give her hopes and aspirations full airtime--these tender dreams hold the keys to the truest version of her best self. Don't be scared if she says she wants to be the next Hannah Montana touring the globe--little girl rockstar dreams have more to do with the deep wish to be seen and respected than anything else.
3. Let her glory in every single moment of inflated self-confidence. Did she make the honor roll? Discover she can swim the length of the pool after all? Let her run with her happiness and pride as far as it will take her. Too often we encourage our girls to be demure and modest when a healthy dose of uber-confidence will take her so much further.
4. Ask other people to be quiet so she can finish her story. She's chatty, I know, but wouldn't you rather know every last thing on her heart instead of watch her sulk in the back of the car? Turn off your need to get her in line and take a turn listening to the twists and turn of her drama-loving life.
5. Indulge her promiscuous love of books. Turn her curiosity about grown-up things into a sophisticated knowledge of good literature. Now is the time to introduce her to the tried and true favorites of your own girlhood along with some new titles that will stretch her mind. This year Madeleine and I have had interesting talks about Iran and growing up during a revolution thanks to the brilliance of the Persepolis series (mother advisory required).
6. Turn up the music. It's not my favorite thing to do, always preferring the goodness of NPR to any top 40 pop music torture, but nothing means more to Madeleine than five minutes of her favorite music blaring out the windows on the ride to the grocery store. I don't understand it completely, but there's a certain kind of joy for her in this that you just can't duplicate anywhere else.
7. Remind her she doesn't have to be in a hurry to grow up. She's trying out her power moves, I know--groaning and moaning when you ask the simplest thing or waiting to see if you'll lose it if she dares give you the eye roll. Don't forget that underneath all that attitude is a little girl who probably still needs to sit on your lap, to have you brush out her hair or hold her every once in a while as she drifts gently off to sleep. Be bold in asking for hugs and insisting on tenderness between you in quiet moments. She needs it and you do, too.
8. Institute girls' night out. Admit it, there's a part of you that is dying to see the latest, greatest girl movie with all the cheese whiz and over-the-top acting. Here's your chance to do girlhood all over again, so do it right by giving your girl all the things you missed the first time around--time alone with your mother learning what it means to be a girl from her unique perspective.
9. Be her best cover. She's keenly aware of where your family rules fall in the continuum of lenient to strict in the kid stratosphere. Help her navigate the differences by being her best excuse when the invitations on the table feel inappropriate for your family's sense of sensibility. The same works in reverse when she knows your invitation will be met with reserve by more cautious parents. Let her know you'll help her not be embarrassed by the inevitable disconnects.
10. Dance with your girl like it's 1999. She'll love laughing at your moves and you'll be delighted to learn as she shows you a thing or two. Let her see it's okay to be silly, to not do it right and to let your heart go--especially for the sake of good-hearted fun.
What would have done your heart good at age 10? Add to our list in the comments below.
A few years ago the teachers in my son's preschool class noticed the kids seemed to be struggling with lots of conflict. It was towards the end of the school year when classmates are more comfortable with each other and start acting almost like siblings.
Instead of whipping the kids into shape with a reminder of rules, the teachers found a more creative approach to changing the feel in the classroom. They invited a puppet named Verde to come and talk to the kids about being kind to one another. The kids and Verde came up with the idea of documenting acts of kindness. Everyday, the children were on the hunt to find the acts happening around them, not their own. Before long there were lists all over the room and kindness had worked its magic.
I was so touched by the idea and wondered if it could work for our family. We gathered the markers, decorated our own sheet and proudly displayed the colorful paper on the refrigerator.
"Mom! Mom! Jack helped Lucy put her jacket on, put it on the list mom!" Josiah yelled from the other room.
"Josiah, mom made pancakes, we LOVE pancakes mom. I think it's an act of kindness..." Jack said trying to find something in the hunt for goodness.
I sat at the table one night watching my husband Jorge and thought to myself, "Awww, He DOES love me, look at him doing the dishes."
I quietly walked to the door and added his act to the list. I started noticing the things he was doing instead of focusing on our long standing "discussion" on division of labor.
A week later small things held new value and peace had claimed a bigger stake in our everyday family life. The list eventually filled up and faded with water marks and juice stains but I didn't have the heart to take it down until we moved. Every once in awhile when everyone gets kind of grouchy and sick of each other, I revive the idea even if it is only identified in words. Kindness can always find it's way back if we just look for it.
What are your secrets for turning things around when your family is in a funk?
Try this kindness activity and tell us if it was a winner or a bomb at your house, or any variations that you think would work better.
Growing up in a family of sisters, I had no idea what I was in for when I found out we were having a boy so many years ago. Being the oh-so-progressive mother with her own fair share of women's studies classes in her brief college career, I wanted to believe it wouldn't make much of a difference. Kids are kids, right? Boys, shmoys. How different could they be?
For the most part, I think I was right. What makes Carter different from Madeleine has more to do with his personality than anything else--at least so far. But one thing has truly surprised me--Carter's insatiable need to have a boy tribe, especially when that tribe has any chance of including his boy cousins, Josiah and Jack.
Occasional family dinners where the kids might play for an hour or two quickly evolve into all day playdates which give way to weekend extravaganzas of boy goodness. Good-byes turn more tearful with each visit. Sisters have to barter and bargain to beat off the daily question, "Are we going to Josiah's house today? I have an idea! Let's go there NOW!"
Being together with the boy tribe is everything. I have no idea how to explain this phenomenon other than these boys are finding a kind of happiness in their together play that I didn't know was possible--even if that togetherness is measured in burps shared, Lego structures conquered and finding out who can out laugh who over silly jokes that go straight over my head.
Without a tribe of boys--his cousins or otherwise--I find Carter getting a little wistful, more than a lot fidgety and absolutely soul sick for the kind of friendship only another boy can provide. I'm finally understanding this is no small thing, and that nurturing the boy tribe is one easy and healthy way to help Carter deepen his sense that he belongs.
How about you and your boys? Do you find your boys need to run in a pack? Is it just me or do the intricacies of sisterhood have a very different quality? Your thoughts on boy tribes are more than welcome in the comments below.
When we first started talking to Jean at PBS about having a sister blog here at PBSParents.org, we had one qualification. We wanted to be able to give away all of the really cool stuff we saw at PBS when we visited. Did you know that there are Super Why stickers? And a Super Why poster? I know. I KNOW. How much would your child love you if you whipped out the Super Why stickers?
So here's what we are going to do. Every month or so we are going to have a giveaway here at Supersisters. Sometimes just leaving a comment will give you an entry into our giveaway. Other times we may require something a little more interactive. Every giveaway will clearly state what exactly you have to do to enter. Winners will be picked in a very uncomplicated way. They will be picked randomly. Randomly as in we will go to random.org, we'll plug in the number of comments we have and random.org will pick random numbers. If your comment number corresponds with the number generated by random.org, you win. Easy, right? Hey, we are bloggers here, not statisticians or lawyers. Well, not practicing lawyers.
Keep your eyes open for a giveaway just around the corner!
"I have an idea, an idea Mom!" Lucy says in her sleep. Even in her sleep this kid is hatching a plan. She is nestled in the crook of my arm and I wait a little longer to hear more of the sleep talking brilliance but it isn't long before she is snoring again.
The only problem is now I can't sleep and ideas are running through my head.
The mental chatter starts...All I can think about is how I've been running a frat house all summer. Kids up until all hours, eating by hunger instead of clocks, more junk, more t.v. and video games, less reading, you get the idea. I'm a total slacker summer mother. The suggested reading list is still on the refrigerator held up by a kid creation Christmas magnet. There are no checks in the tiny boxes.
I am the redemptive mother variety, some of my best ideas flow from guilt and procrastination. I used to judge myself for such traits, now I believe they should be celebrated.
So after brushing up on my Back-to-School knowledge, I decided to make an attempt to revive any potential creative juices left in my children's brains. My almost 10 year old niece was very excited to help. Since we didn't read the suggested books why not just write our own instead?
1. We cut simple white computer paper into different sizes.
2. We then cut bright card stock about a ½ inch around the white squares.
3. Then we sewed them together using all those fancy stitches no one ever uses on their sewing machines. Anyone that can sew a straight line can make these. (kids included)
No sewing machine? Try stapling or hole punching and using ribbon to bind together.
The books were way fun for the kids to help create and fantastic for inspiring budding authors. These can be great for introducing tiny flip books, story books, illustration books or just handy journals.
A bundle of handmade books is also a great gift for your new teacher to keep in her writing center. Don't you feel like the mother of the year now? Summer slackerness be gone.
See that magic girl? The one with the glasses, the one with the eye roll, the one with a quick comeback when her ancient mother says the simplest thing like "why is there a concoction of sugar, salt and conditioner in a bowl in the bathroom?" That's my girl Madeleine--explorer, sage, creative, wild child, friend of babies, lover of dolls. She's almost ten, but don't let that fool you. Underneath all the sass we mothers of tweenagers endure is a tiny girl who still wants someone to hold her, someone to sing to her, someone to suggest a hot warm bath with lots of bubbles and the silliest toys. I'm learning--even in the terror of teen years just around the corner--that she's still really quite small, and that I'm small, too. If I can dare push back all my big girl worries, I can see things clearly: that we both still need to play, still need to be told, still need to have fun.
Even if it means "experiments" in the kitchen and all that wonder, messiness and magic that is sure to follow.
This is Ethan. We affectionately refer to him as "The Boy" on the Internet. You see that blond hair of his? Let's just say if I wasn't so old, I think people would assume I'm the nanny when we are out in public. There have been days when people have struggled to find some semblance of me in this child. Days when I was low and people who loved me thought that I wanted to hear that not only WAS he mine, he also looked a little like me. "I can see it in his forehead," a person offered. His forehead? His forehead. What's next? The ears?
But when you are with the two of us together, it doesn't take you long to realize that this child is ALL ME. This picture, for instance. It was just another of thousands of pictures I have taken with my children modeling my clothing line.
E: But I don't WANT to have my picture taken in your shirt AGAIN?
E: Mom.Mom.Mom.Mom. I can't.
K: What if I let you try on THIS one too? (holding up the shirt in a cute pink version)
E: MOM!!! That is my FAVorite color.
K: I thought your favorite color today was orange.
E: MOM!!!! Pink is my favorite color NOW. Orange is my next favorite color.
K: I know. You wanna wear it for my picture?
With that, the blue shirt went over his head. He began to do elaborate model moves involving swinging arms and kicking legs. Everything was a blur. I tried to put on my best stern voice and demand proper model behavior. From a 3 year old. I got it. Complete with the tongue out. Based on my picture, what can I say to that?
I was sitting at my sister's kitchen table eating blueberries when Fatou walked in. She is Jen's dear friend but might as well be mine, sisterhood is wide that way.
Fatou, in all of her six foot African beauty hugged me tightly.
We exchanged pleasantries but it wasn't long before she started asking real questions and working the magic of her wisdom.
"How is Lucy?" she inquired about my youngest child who is now two. Fatou somehow knows my girl without spending much time with her at all.
The girl who insists that the world take note of her presence just by breathing.
The girl who has excellent "instructional" skills.
(Thank you Jen for giving us a positive word/code for bossy)
The girl who loves popsicles and puppy dogs with all of herself.
The girl who soaks in pretty, the pretty in her, the pretty in the world.
The girl who breathes capability and confidence.
The girl whose joy fills every room she enters.
Fatou stared at my ever growing belly and said with her native accent,
"Her government is going down, no?"
I laughed while wonder filled the back of my mind.
Will the government really fall or it is just acquiring a new cabinet member?
I have to admit I have worried about what adding a new person will do to the mix of our family. What it will do to Lucy. But then I remember Fatou and my own sisters. The truth is there is nothing like a sister, those of blood and those chosen over time. The government and sisters are rising. I'm not sure the world is ready for Lucy and her sister or for the Supersisters rising everywhere.