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It was a parenting bliss moment.

LP & I were looking at a long 2 hours before dinner at the end of a long, rainy day. I proposed a few projects that she was not into and then she said, “could I use the glue gun?”

I set up the table with the usual supplies (cardboard base to glue things too and a selection of stuff — pompoms, feathers, tongue depressors, small sticks, googly eyes) and plugged in the hot glue gun with the usual safety reminders.

Then I said “I’ll get my book and come back to keep you company.”

And she said, “No thanks, I’ll be independent.”

Music to my ears!

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Creating Traditions

My good friend, Wendy, and her family have a tradition of doing something different to mark every night of Chanukah. From family craft projects to volunteering to having  a party to baking banana bread and distributing it to the homeless to learning something new as a family (like rock climbing), I love the idea of making every night (or day) special AND creating traditions that aren’t about presents or about trying to make Chanukah into Christmas.

Every year, I ask Wendy for the list of what they do, but this and that happens and I haven’t acted on it until this year.  I know that we’ll develop what we do as time goes by  and LP grows.  I love the sense of anticipation that happens around traditions…I’m already looking forward to next year’s lantern walk.

In thinking about what traditions I want to create for our family, I’ve focused on the theme of light…both literal (candles), cosmic (star watching) and metaphoric through our actions (giving to others).

This year we are:

*having a family Chanukah party on the first night with latkes, playing music and a few presents

*craft & cooking projects on the second night (soft dreidl decorated with fabric markers and a dreidl cake of LP’s own recipe)

*lantern walk around the neighborhood on the third night (we made the lanterns by gluing tissue paper on glass jars and putting tea lights in them, specific instructions here at SteadyMom)

*Shabbat, dreidl playing, singing  and a few presents on the fourth night

*star watching picnic on the fifth night

*Making gifts for others on the sixth night (not sure what we’ll be making yet)

*put on a show together on the seventh night (and hopefully visiting a nursing home during the day)

*more music making and a few more presents on the eighth night

It is important to me that LP be able to enjoy Chanukah, have traditions to share with friends and also be able to share her friends’ Christmas traditions without envy. My parents gave me that gift growing up. I always loved Chanukah and how we celebrated AND it was comfortable and fun sharing in my friends’ Christmas traditions. We are living that sharing tradition this year as we had our annual Chanukah open house (pre-Chanukah this year because of the timing) and will attend a Christmas party on Christmas day.

Happy Holidays everyone!  May you spend these days sharing light with those you love!

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One of LP’s regular companion’s  is Doggy Chicken Burrito (and yes, you do need to say the whole name).

Doggy Chicken Burrito is interested in bugs that sting, especially bees.

Doggy Chicken Burrito knows that he needs protection to investigate bees and not get hurt.

Doggy Chicken Burrito wearing protective gear looks like this:

 

Big people almost universally comment about Doggy Chicken Burrito by saying, “What happened to your doggie?” or “What’s wrong with his eyes?”  or “Oh now! Your doggie has an owie!”  or “Why can’t your doggie see?” LP  usually attempts to explain, although her explanation is a little hard to follow if you don’t already know who Doggy Chicken Burrito is and about his interests in bees.

Last night, LP asked me, “Why does everyone think there’s something wrong with Doggy Chicken Burrito? Why don’t they know he can see through the protection?”

A hard question to answer.

Sure, one answer is that when you use your wonderful imagination, not everyone can see what something means unless you draw them into your world.  But another answer is we live in  a culture of fear that leads people to unconsciously make negative assumptions and while it is frustrating to explain and explain, you are doing a good thing — challenging those assumptions — when you do.

Would I make that same mistake if I didn’t know Doggy Chicken Burrito’s back story?  Very likely.  As much as I try to embrace free range parenting (see Free Range Kids for an abundance more on that topic), I am as saturated in the culture of fear as anyone.

While it is certainly easy to tell myself to stop overthinking this, I do believe it is meaningful that EVERY time someone has engaged LP about Doggy Chicken Burrito’s eye covering, it has been with the assumption that something is wrong. I wish even one person engaged her with curiosity and without assumption — “Tell me about your doggie’s eyes” would be one way to do it.

And such a good reminder to me about asking kids open-ended questions, especially when it comes to the place where our adult reality and their wonderful imaginations meet.  What we “see” may not be what is real.

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Take one preschooler home sick for the day add a hot glue gun, craft sticks and a bunch of craft odds and ends and you have…

PUPPETS!

LP, who was feeling pretty sick, mostly wanted to art direct the crafting.  With a little coaxing she did play around with the hot glue gun and the materials for a bit but what grabbed her interest telling me what to do.  It was one of those good sick day activities that is fun, can eat up a lot of time and take everyone’s mind off feeling lousy.

After the crafting, it was time for puppet shows.  The new puppets became villagers and LP’s Mr. Snuffleupagus puppet took on the part of dragon with a cold (yes, he sneezes out fire leading to all kinds of trouble).  We haven’t done many puppet shows so it took me a bit to get into manipulating all the characters, telling the story, doing different voices and incorporating LP into the action.  It was lovely (and easy) to bring LP into the show, from having her hand the puppets imaginary objects they need and helping make the soup for the sick dragon.

A few days later, she wanted to make more puppets and this time she was all about doing it herself.

She made this puppet:

and then it was time for another puppet show.

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In our house, we have the (fairly standard) rule of  “no potty talk at the table.”

LP loves to push the boundaries on this one.  With a glint in her eye, she’ll ask me questions for which the answer is pee or poop (for example, “Why do we walk dogs?” and “What did the dogs do on the living room floor when no one let the dogs out?”).

The other night after I reminded her of the rule, she looked at me crossly and said, “Then no monkeys!” Just moments before, ImprovDad and I had been imitating monkeys although I can’t recall why.

Much as I hate to give up monkeying at the table, it seems fair and, more importantly fun, to incorporate LP’s rules into the picture. So I said, “Okay now we have two rules at the table. No potty talk and no monkeys.” Then I asked ImprovDad if he wanted to set a rule and he said very seriously, “No talking about toasters.”

LP & I have had rule setting discussions in the past but they have always been a serious kind of talk. I had not thought of playful rule setting before.  It lightened up my job of enforcing the rules and we had a playful time skating near the edge of each of our rules and reminding each other about them.  I’m going to remember to do this (the I set a rule and you set a rule)  on purpose in the future as a playful way to get buy in from LP about rules.

What rules have your little people come up with?

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I’ll post my performing dates when I have them…but with or without me, I highly recommend it!

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Classes!

Improv-a-Mama is teaching in March!

I’m very excited to be offering two classes — Playtime for Parents and Improv 101 — through the City of Emeryville.

Here are the details:

Playtime for Parents

Activity #1632

Enhance your enjoyment of playing with your kids by discovering what makes you feel playful. Come and have fun improvising with other parents, while learning practical hands-on ideas you can use with your family. No previous improv experience necessary and shy people are welcome!

Sundays in March (3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27)

2-5pm

$100 for the session or $30 per individual class

Improv 101

Activity #1644

Enjoy exploring the world of improvisation in a low pressure, playful environment. Increase your confidence, improve your public speaking skills, and enjoy the experience along the way. We’ll cover the improv basics of spontaneity, saying “yes” and getting comfortable creating scenes and stories together. Shy people welcome.

Sundays in March (3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27)

10-1pm

$120 for the session or $40 for individual classes

Ready to register?  You can do it online here.

Questions? Send me an email at susan (at) un-scripted.com

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