As I sit and write this, I can hear my cat out on the open balcony, playing with leaves. He is pouncing and chasing. I can hear the patter of his feet and the rustling of the leaves as he attacks and bats at them. The fall light streams in through the window in a golden glow and the air smells of cinnamon and pine. My kids are at school and I sit hear and sip coffee, researching ideas and writing to you.
If you are an aunt, a sister or brother, a lover of art, a fan of quirky comedy or a parent (especially a parent), I have found your new favourite book. It’s called Ooko by Esmé Shapiro.
Amazon allows you a sneak peek into the pages, and I recommend you take a look. It’s her first children’s book and it is extremely clever. Although we borrowed it from the library, we will definitely be buying it.
In it, a little fox has everything he needs… except a friend. He searches in all the wrong places and tries to change himself into the perfect friend. What he learns is a priceless message for us all. At once clever and funny, it’s the perfect book for intelligent readers everywhere. The simplicity of the text hides a deeper message and the lines are quotable by anyone from ages 2-92 years old. I, as you can tell, thoroughly enjoyed this book. Everyone in our family has taken turns reading it, including our 5 year old (with some help sounding out the bigger words). We laughed and my kids learned something without the message being too obvious or condescending. It’s these deceptively simple books that can teach you the most.
The (dare I say, quirky) drawing style instantly drew us in, perhaps because it reminded us of our daughter’s drawing style. I continually think of putting her in an art class, but I am always scared that the instructor will try and standardize her drawing style, and it will take all the uniqueness out of the way she sees things. Shapiro went to an art school and they obviously encouraged her to draw in her own style, which I love. The drawing is so fun, and the artwork in the book so fantastic, I would buy this for other adults as a coffee table art book even if they don’t have kids. My daughter was so excited that someone else drew pictures “kind of like she does”, that it encouraged her to keep drawing and creating. She busted out her art set the very next day and started writing and creating. Now that is a sign of an inspiring book!
Speaking of my kids, my parenting style has changed a lot since recent events have happened . I am a lot more patient. Do I let them get away with everything? No. Not at all. My kids need boundaries. Boundaries show that you love them and will set up rules to keep them safe. If you let them get away with everything they feel untethered and that something is wrong- especially if that wasn’t the status quo before. But, I am a lot more patient and I listen more attentively. I put down the phone or the spoon or the dishcloth and I make eye contact and I LISTEN. I listen to what they are saying to me, I listen to their mood, and to what they are conveying in their tone of voice and body language. When my kids get frustrated, I no longer snap at them to “figure it out” or simply shrug my shoulders. Instead, I ask them if they need a hug or a high-five. Once they are calmer, I ask them what we could do as a team to figure it out. If the answer is “nothing”, sometimes I will ask if making funny faces will help (the answer is often yes and we end up laughing) or if we could move on to do something else.
Before now, I never made enough time to ignore the frustration and help them get past it in other ways. In the past, they would get frustrated and then I would, and then it snowballed from there. Or, often, I would work hard to make them laugh or try to get them to move on in other ways- except that I would do it in a rushed manner. Kids can sense that. It makes them more anxious and frustrated. My go-to these days is to wait for their first sentence to finish and make eye contact with them, before asking, “Hey. Want a hug?” I am busier than ever but it is more important than ever to connect with them.
These days I can tell they are acting frustrated because they can’t figure out how to voice their other, bigger and scarier, emotions. That may have always been the case and I may have been blind to it. Now, I see their whining and frustration for what it is, a mask to hide a bigger emotion, and that often comes out when I make the time to give my kids a hug and let them know that I am really, 100%, all-of-me listening.
I’ve often read this parenting strategy before and I THOUGHT I was doing it right…..but now I see that I was doing it with partial effort. When you are doing it right, you’re doing it with 110% of your attention. You’ll know because you will feel the connection between yourself and your kids grow and burn bright. You will feel it. Trust me. And if you don’t have kids? Try it with your partner, your friends or your pet. <3 Spread the love.
- The Damaging Sentence I Will Stop Saying To My Kids
- A New Bed For Izzy and A Lot of Reading
- Books About Being Resilient, For Kids