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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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Bookstore Dog

Oh, I have about twenty posts to write about LP’s life as a dog.

But for now, I think her song captures some of the essence. Picture LP industriously using blue painters tape all over the dining room built-in cabinet and walls to create her bookstore as she sings:

Oh, I wanna be a bookstore dog.

Oh, I’m making a bookstore.

Now I’m letting everyone know,

This is a surprise.

I’m not adopted yet.

I’m not adopted yet.

I’m being adopted.

I’m being taken care of.

I’m gonna be a bookstore dog, a bookstore dog.

I let the world know, this is my house.

Yup. That’s pretty much the song a bookstore dog would sing.

I’ve been taking (an unexpected) blogging break AND also been bookmarking lots of wonderful links out there. So I thought it was time to share a few. The first one is a wonderful 5 minute video…check it out!

“How to make an interactive and experiential story-telling hour” on Kirjastokaista

Play, Who Will be the Next Steve Jobs?” by Darell Hammond on Huffington Post

“German doctors prescribe kids a trip to the theater” by Isabelle de Pommereau on The Christian Science Monitor Global News Blog

“Blast Off! Pretend Play Astronaut” by Melissa Taylor on Imagination Soup

“Quiet-time art game for children” by Jean Van’t Hul on The Artful Parent

“A fresh story is like fresh homemade bread from the oven. There is just nothing that feeds the mind and heart as well.”

~ Megan Rosker in “Mama, Tell Me a Story” on Let the Children Play

And here’s more playful food for thought:

“5 Reasons Why Kids Should Play in School” by Kerala Taylor on MomsRising.org
“Catalyzing Creativity:  7 Playful Activity Books for Grown-Ups”  by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings

It took one day for Postpartum Depression to hit me.

It took 10 deeply miserable, lonely, scary months for me to ask for the professional help I needed.

It took almost another three years to feel like myself again. To feel like I could be an alive and present partner, mom, daughter, sister and friend. To feel like I am a person and not just a facade trying to make it through each day.

I hid. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was lonely. I didn’t talk about it with people who I know love me.  I downplayed it when I did talk about it. I put all my acting skills to poor use in hiding myself. I know why; in addition to the fear and shame, most days, getting through the day took all the energy I had.

I have loved my daughter deeply through all of this.  She is my heart’s delight.  During those 10 long undiagnosed months, while I didn’t take much care of myself, I put everything I had into caring for her.  I only asked for help when I realized I could not take care of her anymore if I didn’t start taking care of myself.

I have worried about the impact of my PPD on my girl.  I have clung to the belief I have in play as a way to bond with, nurture and mother her.  I believe that my ability to play, even when my heart and soul was not playful, has helped us through these early years. I wish things had been different. I feel sad about all that I missed out on as a mom and we missed out on as a family because of my PPD.

In my road to recovery, there has been one constant source of support, helpful information and inspiration — Katherine Stone and Postpartum Progress. Katherine is an amazing advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She writes openly and honestly about her own experiences and has built a powerhouse of support for women and their families. Postpartum Progress gives accessible information, real stories of suffering and coping, connections to resources and a community that understands and supports each other.

Today is an opportunity for me to give something back. In addition to telling my story here, I’ve made a donation to Postpartum Progress to help in the support of developing a compelling national awareness campaign for postpartum depression, as well as new and improved patient education materials (the kind new moms won’t throw away!), and new uses of technology to reach suffering moms no matter where they are.  Postpartum Progress reached me when I needed more help than I was finding on my own.

If you or someone you love has or is currently suffering from PPD, please check out Postpartum Progress. If you are in a position to make a donation, you can learn more about Strong Start Day and make a donation here.

Puppets!

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.

Playful Links – 9/24/11

“Daydreams are a highly creative form of mental engagement and a necessary way for children–lacking real-world experience–to process complex information and emotions.”

~ “How Daydreaming Helps Children Process Information and Explore Ideas” by Amy Fries on Psychology Today

And more playful food for thought from around the web:

“Responding to Children’s Spontaneous Experimentation” by Christie Burnett on Childhood 101

“Guest Post: FiveFreedoms I Had that My Daughter Won’t” by Kerala Taylor on Free Range Kids

“The Junk Box: A Collection of Odds and Ends for Inspiring Creativity” by Jaimie on Two Chicks and a Hen