Let’s FACE it. Parenting is hard.

I have been reading a lot of Brene’ Brown lately. Her message to me in my acceptance of myself has been eye opening, but what she has written about being a parent has been life changing. The book Daring Greatly has an entire chapter about parenting that I believe everyone should read- parent or not!

In chapter seven, Brene’ writes about the best parenting advice she ever received. It was from Toni Morrison, “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?” (223).

Wait! What?!

Immediately I thought back to all of the times my kids walked into a room while I checked out what they were wearing…. was it clean, did it match, was it appropriate for the situation? I thought about how I looked at my kid’s hair, face, tennis shoes, EVERYTHING!! As moms, we have a tendency to look at our kids with a filter that judges them as other people might judge them. WHY DO WE DO THAT? Do we believe we are being judged by other parents all of the time? I think moms think this is how they love children. We are showing them how much we care by wanting them to “put their best foot forward”. We need to ask ourselves, are we judging other parents by how their children look? Maybe we should stop doing that! We are all in the parenting game together. Let’s support each other.

What have I taught my kids by having the face of judgment when I see them? Have I taught them that they don’t measure up to my standards or the standards of others? Am I expecting them to be perfect? According to Brene’, perfectionism is teaching kids to value what other people think over what they think. Personally, that is not a lesson I willingly choose for my children. I want them to know they matter. What they think matters.

What can I do? In my heart, I feel extreme joy when I see my children whether it be after a long separation or simply overnight. My heart smiles…… my face can show what my heart feels and bypass the judgment my brain is conditioned to place upon my kids. They deserve to see the happiness they bring to my life. I can work to not only tell them I love them, but I can let them see that love on my face every time they enter a room. I can only imagine the love they will feel for me in return. As in all parenting lessons, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth the effort.

Patience Little One.

Patience and fortitude conquer all things.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the start of a new calendar year, we in the pre-K world begin to get many questions about transition to Kindergarten. Parents realize we are nearly half way through the school year and they begin to wonder (worry) whether their children are ready to make the leap to Kindergarten .

We do our best to reassure parents that there is a great deal of growth that will happen with four year old children between January and September. We encourage them to remember that 9 months of time is 1/4 of the time their student has been alive and a lot can happen in that amount of time!

Many parents worry about their children having the academic knowledge to go into K. Let’s face it, kindergarten is no longer the crayon wielding, cooperative, stay away from eating the paste experience it was 30 years ago. Many kids will leave kindergarten knowing how to read many words. They will know numbers, letters, letter sounds, and sounds of letter combinations along with an incredible list of site words they must master. Sure- this seems pretty scary. How can parents be sure their own children will be able to handle all of the learning expected of them in kindergarten?

Sit down. Quiet your surroundings. Focus only on what you are reading. I am about to give you the magic secret to readying your children for kindergarten. Teach them patience.

Say what? I know you think I am 100% off my rocker , lost my mind, whacko right now. I promise. Patience is key. Can your children listen to directions without interrupting? Are your children able to wait for you to finish speaking AND actually listen to what you are saying? This question makes me think of the times I have participated in Kindergarten Round up at our school…. so many teachers will have a classroom rule, “Ask 3 before you ask me.” I may be wrong about the number, but the idea is clear. Are your children able to problem solve? If they don’t see their mittens where they think the mittens should be, will they look around, ask a friend for help, or do they yell at the top of their lungs, “Where are my mittens?” When given a direction from a teacher, will your child follow it or say no?

When you are parenting your four year old, imagine a room full of 20 or more children of the same age acting the way your child is acting right now. Would you be able to control them? Would you be able to teach them a concept? Make your goal with your children to get them to behave in a manner that allows teaching them to be possible. You are your children’s first teacher and the lessons you teach them about their conduct at school will be some of the the most important lessons you will teach them.

That’s it! Seriously- I am not kidding! When you think about all of the concepts and skills children need to know upon exiting Kindergarten, isn’t it nice to think you only need to worry about teaching them to sit, listen, and be teachable?

One thing I know for sure…… you can handle that!

Are Youth Sports still sport?

Sport= “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” I wonder how many kids still think of sports as entertainment? Physical activity? Fun? If you haven’t asked your child in a while if they are enjoying participating in sports, it’s time to ask.

Research screams the numbers to us each day. Kids are dropping like flies out of youth sports. Why? Years ago, the point of a sport was for kids to have a sense of team and belonging. They learned about the sport in which they were participating, made some friends, and hopefully had an opportunity for some physical activity. I don’t think anyone would describe youth sports today like that.

Faithful readers of this blog know that my kids are in their 20’s, so I can speak with a lot of experience under my belt when it comes to children in sports. I raised two boys who were a part of many sports teams, from baseball, to soccer, cross country, football, and hockey. I live in Hermantown Minnesota, and high school hockey fans will have lots of opinion about hockey in Hermantown. Those who live in Hermantown will likely love the team. Those around the state may have different opinions. Both of my boys played youth hockey from age 4 to age 15 in Hermantown. One was cut trying out for the high school team in tenth grade. The other still plays today at college where he plays on a hockey scholarship. I have seen both sides of the story of hockey. I can tell you the secret to success of high school sports. YEP- the magic that allows Hermantown to produce successful teams and multiple college scholarship winners. The magic is in the numbers.

The bigger the number of kids that a youth program can get to register, the more successful the high school program. But getting kids to register isn’t the only magic. They need to stick around. You see, if each grade has 15-20 kids consistently playing a sport throughout their primary grades, the 5-7 kids that make the high school team will be highly skilled. This will happen automatically. No one needs to go to camps, play year round, or be on traveling teams. The law of numbers will prevail. Give children equal opportunity throughout their younger years, and you will have a great high school program. Simple huh?

So- why isn’t this happening? The formula seems easy enough right? Well…… parents get involved. You know the ones who “know” their child is a savant at age 10 and needs to play at a higher level than the other kids playing at age 10. Thus- speciality teams and traveling teams. People will leave their community teams to play on a team where they believe the opportunity is better suited to the talent their child has. The reality is unless you plan on moving away, your child will need to come back and play with the kids you’ve chosen to leave behind once they reach the high school level. Hmmmm. I wonder how that will go.

What makes more sense for the health of a quality high school program? Keeping high talent kids to lift up and teach kids who need to work harder on their skills or having those naturally talented kids walk away from those kids? A team is only as good as it’s weakest player. Why not put the focus on making the hard-working, gritty kids who may not be naturally gifted at a sport better instead of hoping they leave? Worse yet, making their experience in youth sports so challenging, they choose to quit. What is the lesson in that for them or the naturally gifted athlete?

I have witnessed lots of interesting events over the course of 20 + years in sports. I have enjoyed many, but not all. When my youngest son played hockey, he quickly showed himself to be one of the more naturally talented players early on. Many of his friends parents would pay their kids for the number of goals they would get in a game. Sometimes I would see kids get paid (yes- money!) for their efforts on the ice. Sadly, I also saw kids in tears when parents told them they didn’t work hard enough or score enough goals to get their monetary reward that day. My husband and I challenged our son in a completely different way. We asked him if he could get an assist for every single person on his team. This made him a selfless player. It also gave him a different way of looking at the game. He developed vision of the ice and opportunities for scoring that many other kids never did as they were too busy shooting at the net every time they touched the puck. He also had an incredible sense of pride when he helped players score their very first goal. I was proud of his effort.

As the years progressed, I watched the kids who were pressured and many times paid for their efforts drop from the rosters. They were no longer having fun. Shouldn’t playing on a team be fun? Even professional athletes will reference the fun they have in a hard fought competition. Why would we take the fun out of sports for our kids?

My advice for parents- stop thinking of sports as a way to pay for college. Let’s face it, if you took all of the money you spent on registration and camps over the years and invested it, your kid would likely go to college and have a down payment for their first house. Sports are not vocation. Sports are fun. Sports are a way to meet friends. Sports give kids a sense of belonging. Sports teach compromise, hard work and cooperation. Sports teach a love of physical activity and fitness. That’s enough!

I will end with one of my favorite youth sports memories to put into perspective the view children have on sports. A team mate of my son was playing in a mini mite (littlest kids) hockey tournament in a local arena on Saturday in January. Coaches had lined up the teams so similarly abled kids would play against each other. One child on my husbands’ team went out for his shift and spent the entire time skating around with a player form the other team. The buzzer went off (signalling a line change) and that player came to the bench saying, “I made a new friend!” The next shift change, this same player went back out searching for his friend and they spent two full minutes skating around together chatting away. This time when the boy came to the bench, he exclaimed, “I LOVE that kid!” My husband smiled. What a great day for that player, and he never even scored a goal.

Where do they learn to act like that?

One of the beautiful parts of childhood is the fact that kids don’t have conditioned reactions to differences in people. How many videos have you watched on social media where children of different races, cultures, and abilities are playing together without conflict? I tack those up with my favorites like the animal videos of the mouse and cat becoming friends.

You have likely witnessed over the course of your life that children will ask pointed questions about differences between people. “Why is that person short, tall, fat, skinny, etc?” Kids will learn from the words of an answer ALMOST as much as they will learn from the tone, facial features, and body language. Children are always watching. They don’t always listen.

What tone and body language are you passing on to the children in your life? Do you avoid eye contact with a person in a wheel chair? Do you move to the other side of the street when you see a man of a different race on the sidewalk? Does your tone change when you talk about people with lots of tattoos? Sometimes these subliminal actions come out without us being aware. What would happen if you concentrated on the way you interacted with everyone?

I was fortunate to attend a training a few years ago that opened my eyes to the micro- aggressions many people face each day. From that moment forward, I have studied interaction between people. I witnessed at a volleyball try out in Duluth, a coach ask the only person of color in the room where she was from. The coach had not asked any other player (there were over 50 in the gym) where they were from. Why ask this girl? She answered the question with confusion and embarrassment. She was from Duluth- born and raised. Is it an automatic response to think that someone different from you must be from another place? Another country? Not your country? Hmmmm. Something to think about.

I wish adults could follow the lead of children rather than the other way around. Adults could learn the joy in meeting new people without the reservations of wondering if the person is enough like us to be accepted into our lives. I have seen four year old kids say, “Look- we are twins!” referring to a child of a different race or color. Kids don’t necessarily mean we look exactly alike….. they see sameness, being twins, in the fact that they like the same activities, laugh at the same silly stuff, and enjoy similar toys. Simple.

Challenge yourself to follow the lead of children when encountering people you may judge without conscious thought. See someone who may be a boy or girl? What do your kids do? Ask & then say ,”OK.” No judgment. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Watch a child interact with an older person. They may ask, “Why is your skin all wrinkly?” They take an answer at face value and touch the older person’s hand to learn what older skin feels like. No judgment.

I imagine a world where we could let kids lead adults in how we treat people. I see an end to bullying, marginalizing people, and aggression toward all who are in some way,”different”. I believe we could create a more beautiful and peaceful world. We could use a lot more peace and acceptance in our world. Although changing the world seems overwhelming, change happens one person at a time. Be the change.

Maybe Someday….. what are you waiting for?

As parents, I am sure we have all done it…. put off that fun thing the kids want to do in order to finish chores, clean the house, pay bills, ect. I would like you to begin thinking about your time differently. Time with your children is limited. Paying bills is important. How can you find balance?

One of my favorite memories with my children is a beautiful spring day after a long winter (we live in northern Minnesota after all). My husband came home from work early, we picked up the kids at the end of the school day, and headed straight for a local park. (Jay Cooke). We hiked, watched the snow melt rushing through the rivers, and gave our kids their first opportunity at taking nature photos. We even had them take a photo of me and my husband. We don’t have too many of those! We looked for spring flowers and animals. Truly- we simply enjoyed getting outside. We didn’t eat dinner until 8:00 that night. My kids laughed on the way home as they realized we hadn’t had dinner yet.

The reason I share this story…. this experience cost us very little. Entrance to the park and a little gas money. For several hours, our focus was on nature and each other. No distractions. No screens. We actually took photos with a REAL camera and not a phone! We created connections. I still have a photo of my youngest son and I on that day. He scrapbooked a page, titling it “The Best Mom”. Every time I look at that photo, I realize we should have done a lot more of this over the course of my kids lives at home.

Why is this a favorite memory? Maybe because it was a rare moment where I actually chose to walk away from tasks at home and make my family a priority. I know I intended to have days like this more often than I actually did.

Time slips away. If your child asks you to lay in the grass looking at clouds. Do it! If your little one asks to play soccer, baseball, or basketball in the yard- Do it! Have a squirt gun or water balloon fight. Pick wildflowers. Look for agates. Slow down. Savor your time.

One day, like me, you might be driving along, pass a nature trail and think, “I always wanted to take my kids there.” Your kids may be in their 20’s like mine are and it’s possible they won’t have time to walk that trail with you anymore. Maybe they don’t live in the area. Maybe they have their own family and are doing their best to create memories with them. Maybe walking the trail has become physically impossible for you. Maybe you will feel regret like I did. Perhaps, you will even write about it in a blog.

I feel confident that all parents have heard, “Enjoy your kids while you can.” So many of us will listen but not really let the message sink in. We have time right? We are trying so hard to be the best parents we are capable of being. Certainly, we will have time for all of the experiences we’d like to have with our children.

The reality is no one sits on their death bed and wishes they had spent less time with their kids. Put down the dishes. They will still be there later. Sit down, play a board game (even the boring ones). Take a walk. Collect leaves. Polish rocks. Laugh when those rocks go through your washing machine. One day, you will miss washing those pants covered in mud. Someday, you will want reams of wonderful memories and stories to share with your kids.

The best part of prioritizing your kids is that you will have taught your children the importance of parenting and the value of time. I can’t think of many lessons more important.

Enjoy your time- you are lucky.

Do you ever get frustrated with the people who say,”Enjoy your child while they are young. Time goes by so fast.” You smile and accept the advice hoping that the advice is being given with sincerity. When you walk away and your precious little one states they hate you because they got a red sucker at the bank instead of a purple one, you may wonder why time can’t slip by just a little bit faster?

I find my self using this quote on young parents all of the time. I am sure they refer to me as the crazy old lady. When kids are stubborn, I will remind parents that those same skills will find them much success in later years. We want persistence in our adults right? When little ones refuse to go to bed, I laugh and say. Just wait until they are tennagers asking you to pick them up from a movie letting out at midnight?!” I seriously had to set an alarm to pick my kids up from school dances. Who stays up that late on a Friday anyway? My favorite is when parents are struggling with potty training and every older adult in the room states that they had no trouble with potty training. In fact, their children were totally trained by 18 months. Yeah right!

I believe younger parents must leave conversations like those & wonder what is wrong with them? Why is parenting so difficult for them? The reality is, parenting is difficult for everyone. Some of those challenges fade in our memories, so in hindsight, parenting seems a bit easier.

It’s true that our time with our children is limited. Maybe we have 940 Saturdays with them. Those are the days we have to show them what is important in life. Sometimes, parents don’t get that much time.

In the past few years, I have watched a friend help her child battle cancer twice and end up victorious. That is a worthy of celebration. On the flip side, I have seen a neighbor bury her 11 year old son. I watched a community grieve the loss of a 15 year old. I witnessed a coworker go to the funeral of a 3 month old baby. We don’t always get all the time we plan for.

These examples are heartbreaking, tragic, and seemingly pointless. Obviously, nothing good comes from losing a child. From the perspective of the family, I am confident this is true. Pain changes over time as the initial wound scabs, but the family is forever changed. How about the rest of us?

Could we look at these examples and find a little more compassion for our child when they are having a melt down over us buying the wrong cereal? Can we refrain from judgment when our teen is crying over a break up that we know is truly better than maintaining the relationship? Just hold him and let him know you love him. Will we choose to have a bit more patience for our kids when they are learning to get dressed and not jump in to zip that jacket? Maybe. Perhaps this is the only thing we CAN do when facing the tragic loss of a child. It could be our duty for the gift of still having our children with us.

What can we do for those we know that are grieving the loss of a child? Unfortunately, I have had much more experience in this arena than I would choose. I have learned from parents that they still want people to talk about their kids. Tell stories. Especially the good ones. Remember his laugh when we played soccer with him? I loved that. I bet you did too. She was such a great artist. Did you know I still have that picture she drew for me. Would you like to see it?

This will be painful sometimes. Emotions are impossible to predict or control. Overall, parents want to know that you remember too. It helps to know others have some of the pain and that others miss their child. Honor the life of kids no matter how short.

At home, hug your children even if they don’t always like it. Hold them accountable. Teach them responsibility. Celebrate them. One day, they will understand. You were showing them your love for as long as you could.

Parenting Partnerships: What happens when you’re not in love?

I sat in a recent meeting with staff who were worried about the welfare of the children they work with due to family issues. We have been around long enough to know all understand that many relationships will not last a lifetime. The one relationship that will affect you for your lifetime is the one you have with your children. My staff turned to me to ask me to write about the difficulties of a split family and how that split can affect children. I admit- I have never been more apprehensive to write about a topic. This topic causes me a great deal of pain.

I have a son who is a father of a wonderful little boy. Our son lives 7 hours away from his dad and me. He transferred colleges to be nearer to his son and his (at the time) girlfriend. His relationship with his girlfriend has ended which has been a heartbreak for him to deal with. On top of the ending of the romantic relationship, my grandson’s mom believes in controlling and limiting time for her child with his father. I am unable to speculate the reasoning for this. Obviously, my perspective is likely flawed as my son feels the result of her actions the most and I will always support him. All I know is my son chose to move away from his family and friends to a different country to be a dad to his son. I wish he could be a dad all of the time.

I can speak as to how that relationship affects him and our family as a whole. When promoted to grandparent, most people have an overwhelming sense of joy. I felt fear. I realized that my son’s heart now lived outside of his body in the body of his son. Being a mom, I understood the vulnerability of the parenting relationship. I have watched my son be denied the opportunity to see his son over and over and over. Many times, he isn’t allowed to speak to or FaceTime with his son for weeks. Watching his despair and longing to see his little boy can be crushing. As an educator, I often think how this will affect this beautiful, bright little boy over his lifetime.

I imagine he has no understanding of why his daddy disappears for long periods of time. I wonder if he will replace his daddy in his heart? Will he ever be allowed to have the security of attachment to his father? Will he feel he has been discarded? What is he hearing about daddy at home?

In preschool, we see all too often how children are affected by broken homes or homes that are in the process of breaking. When we walk into a classroom, it’s easy for us to spot kids that are losing stability in their homes. We hear it in how they interact with teachers and their classmates. We see it when they encounter scary situations like storms or fire drills. We see the struggle in children who have not had an opportunity to establish routines in their own home as their routine changes daily. We work hard to help all kids feel safe, cared for, and important. The task is much more difficult to accomplish with children going through a family break up.

As a parent, what can you do? First priority always-Keep your kids safe. Safe from the emotional baggage you carry in a relationship. Kids don’t need to know about your marriage and its’ challenges. Love your child enough to respect their feelings for their parents (both of them). Take advantage of mental health services if needed for you and your children. If you come to the conclusion that you need to end a relationship, be confident that you have done everything in your power to make it work before you let go. Be friends with your co parent. When you value parenting, your children will feel safe in their love of both of their parents. Make decisions about your children from love. Teachers, counselors, and friends are in your life to support you. Reach out for help when you need it.

From the perspective of mom and grandma, I want to remind you that decisions you make affect not only your children but all of the people who love and care for them. There is a definite ripple affect. As a grandma, when I come across something cute in a store, I would love to grab it and buy it without wondering if I will ever see my grand baby use it. My heart breaks a piece every time I want to buy a toy and choose not to because he may outgrow the toy before I see him again. In the complicated world we live in, allow your children to fill their lives with love from everyone especially when you no longer love your co parent.

Why especially? Because when the world your children know is breaking, they need more love and support than you will be capable of giving to them. The fact is when you made the decision to become a parent, you committed to putting the needs of another human being ahead of your own needs. Your child’s first need is security and that is established by love in many different relationships. Allow your child the opportunity for love and happiness by teaching them the value of relationships and realize those relationships may include people that you no longer love. This can be challenging- but face it…..Challenging sums up parenting perfectly!

Children are your Emotional Mirror

Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.

Bob Keeshan

One of the interesting parts of being a grandparent is watching your child raise their own child. You learn pretty fast some of the bad habits you had as a parent because you are seeing those traits passed along to your grandchild.

My son and his son were recently visiting us. They live out of the country, so when they visit, it is an in-your-face, long term commitment with your child and grandchild. I often wonder how I might feel if I could play with my grandson for a few hours and send him home to his house. (SIGH) No matter! It’s not going to happen! So, back to the visit, my son was feeding dinner to my grand baby and the exercise was escalating into a battle of wills in a hurry. Raising competitive kids can backfire in this situation. My son really wanted to WIN this battle of wills at the dinner table.

I will admit- I had this same exact battle with my children when they were little. I like schedules and consistency, therefore, dinner needed to be taken care of at the same time each day. My husband saved my kids from this battle on more than one occasion.

While watching my son re-create this experience that I had lived many times in my young parenting life, I witnessed something I had never before taken the time to see. The more irritated and stubborn my son became, the more irritated and stubborn became the baby. The reaction was directly proportional to the initial action of the parent.

What a light bulb moment! Children really do take their cues from parents on how to act in any situation. When we show them our less desirable actions, we are teaching them those very actions. You’ve probably seen a stressed out mother with a crying child. Which came first? Maybe you have noticed parents yelling at children and seen those kids scream or yell back. Isn’t that what they should do? How about those happy-go-lucky parents who never seem to worry about a thing? Their kids are usually exactly the same way.

The next time you are seeing behaviors in your child that are making you unhappy, take a step back and examine your role in the situation. Did you bring home stress form your job? Did you just get a bill in the mail you weren’t expecting? Your kids can sense your feelings. Do your best to give them positive emotions and behavior to give back to you. It’s like the old saying goes- You get from the world what you put into the world.

Helping Little People with Big Emotions

Thinking of your child as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of your child as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help them through their distress.


Working in early childhood education, our staff often talks about the behavior of kids. We work with 3 and 4 year old children, so these kids still have lots to learn regarding behavior in a school setting.

I read an interesting article recently that put a new light on how we handle the behavior of the children in our school readiness programs. It stated, when children don’t know how to read, we teach them. When children don’t know how to write, we teach them. When children don’t know how to compute math problems, we show them how to handle the problem. When children don’t know how to behave……. we need to teach them.

So often, adults can throw their hands in the air and exclaim, “What are we going to do with this child?” Here is what you are going to do. You are going to remain calm and help your children learn to identify feelings. Ask if are they frustrated because they are unable to do something they want to do? Are they sad because they had to leave somewhere fun? Are they tired, happy, irritated, or what? By teaching kids to name their feelings, they learn to identify them and we adults can help them deal with their issues. Yelling at a child “Why are you crying?” is not going to help them understand their emotions and feelings.

You may have heard of the educational emphasis on social emotional skills. These are the skills that employers say they are looking for in employees. Can the person, cooperate and communicate? Is the person self motivated, self regulated, and able to work under stress? These are the skills we are beginning to work on in the preschool environment.

Remember when your little person is showing big emotions, it is our job to remain calm. If parents join into the emotion, situations escalate quickly. Keep in mind dealing with emotions is a life long issue, and the more we help our children handle emotions in their early years, the easier puberty will be for all of us!

Raising a Reader: Learn from my Struggle

You can find magic where ever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book.

Dr. Seuss

I have been an avid reader all of my life. I am the younger sister to a sibling who had a difficult time learning to read. Because I was ever present when he was working on reading…. I became a very young reader, and I never slowed down or looked back when it came to reading.

I thought my children would be the same as me. I modeled reading to them plenty! I had an environment rich with books as I had kept many of the books I owned in my childhood. I cherished lap time with my children and a book.

My first born was a lot like me. You know those first born kids are parent pleasers for quite awhile, so I believe he knew it made me happy to read to him. He took to reading quite easily and started reading the Harry Potter series in second grade. Yeah- I was confident I knew how to raise a reader.

And then, I had another child. This one didn’t like to sit still. He gave up his night time feeding early in his life, so that he wouldn’t have to sit on my lap. Once he had the ability to move- he was off! He was penned pinball by some family friends because he never stopped moving. We always knew when he got out of bed in the morning, as we would hear him running across the floor. Forget walking- running gets you there faster!

He didn’t have much interest in books. I put forth lots of effort to find the shortest books I could with the least amount of words to keep him interested in a book from start to finish. Ever heard of No David! By David Shannon? Yep- that was his favorite book. It has 60 words in the entire book. That was his limit.

We started reading only nights in our home when he was 7. I actually turned my non reader husband into a huge reader by doing this! My older son loved those nights and kept on his journey with Harry Potter. My younger son would try to sit in a chair to look at a book. I say try because he would literally complete an entire circle with his body on the chair while reading. Picture his feet where his head once was & his head nearly on the floor! It was his way of moving when we told him he needed to stay in his chair. We started with 10 minutes- we didn’t think sitting still for that short amount of time would be that difficult!

I didn’t give up. I bought him books about the activities he loved. I think we owed every hockey story on the planet! I battled his discouragement when he needed to read a book at school that was far too difficult for him by reading with him. I would read to him, and then with him, and then have him read by himself. This was all done with one page of the book. Repetition is supposed to help- right? Not with everyone.

In addition, my kids went to a small school and teachers, staff, and the librarian would compare my kids and their reading ability. Some even compared my youngest son to me when I was in school there. Geesh. That was tough on him! We didn’t do comparisons in our house. We reminded him that everyone had strengths and weaknesses. We loved him through the hard times and he continued to work on his reading skill. In high school, he chose to take a literature class- it was short novels.but I took that as a small victory!

My youngest is nearly 23 now. He still wouldn’t choose reading as a way to fill his spare time, but he recently became interested in reading John Maxwell leadership books and has been working his way through those. I asked him recently if he thought there was anything more I could have done to help him with his reading challenges. He said “IDK. Maybe read to me more?” He obviously doesn’t remember the struggles we had when he was young trying to read to him. I thought a bit about what things I never tried with him. Maybe I could have read with him on the trampoline? A little weird, but not impossible. Jump up and down and read. It might have worked. I could have tried reading to him when he was tired enough to begin sleeping. I could have read on car rides while my husband drove.

I guess the message is to be creative with your kids. Realize they will be individuals and may not be anything like you. No matter what- love them through the struggles. Don’t forget to forgive yourself when you feel like you should have done more.