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To Cora Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Dear Cora:

I’m so sorry getting to school was hard a couple mornings ago. Realizing you were going to be the only one riding, and anticipating a fun, quiet journey with plenty of alone time as you rode at the head of the group, only to have Maddie begin running to get ahead of you, must have been very hard and disappointing.

But you handled it so well, baby, and I’m very proud of you for that. You didn’t throw your scooter down and refuse to move for ten minutes. You didn’t hit your sister and yell at her. You spoke to her calmly and explained you wanted alone time, and continued on your way to school. You didn’t hold anger against your sister, but cheerfully forgave her at school. You will not always have things go your way in this world – you simply cannot control other people, even as you can’t always control yourself! But you can choose how you respond to these situations, and choose to not let them affect you.

I wish I’d had a chance to chat with you on the way to school – I do love our few minutes together in the morning, to check in with each other before beginning our busy days! But I’m so glad I got to witness your choices and how you handled a hard situation. I think you really lived this scripture out: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

I love you, li’l bit!



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To Maddie Print E-mail
Monday, 09 September 2013


Yesterday morning was a very hard morning for getting to school, wasn’t it? You decided to walk, and when Cora opted to ride her scooter and you realized Cora would be (gasp!) ahead of you, well, you didn’t like that. You took off running, trying – and succeeding, for a block – to be even with/ahead of Cora, even as she tried her hardest to get out in front for once. When I saw you running so hard ahead of your sister, after you’d just said your legs were too tired to ride a bike, my heart broke a little bit. It broke for Cora, certainly, who looks up to you so much, and feels the weight of being the youngest in the family – which means she’s never as fast as you, never knows as much math, never reads books as big as yours – and who just wanted to be first down the path to school. For once. Every other time she’s ridden her scooter, she’s had to ride behind you on your bike – and be reminded once again that she can’t ride a bike, can’t keep up with you. Even if she starts out first on the sidewalk, you come up behind her, ringing your bell and saying, “Excuse me, Cora, you’re going too slow.” Today was Cora’s chance to be the leader, to know what it feels like to have some quiet time and get to the stop sign first, and when I saw you press insistently ahead of her in the alley I felt so bad for Cora.

But my heart also broke a bit for you, to see you make that choice –or, perhaps, to not even make a choice at all, and simply think “I can go fast so I will.” In which case you didn’t consider your sister at all. When I saw you do that, I became angry – angry that my two girls were going to have a rough start to the day, angry that this choice you’d made would define the rest of the trip to school, angry that there was no consideration for your sister in your choices.

And I let those feelings out when I spoke to you about it, didn’t I? I pointed out every single thing you did wrong, and why it was wrong, and how it hurt Cora. And while I may have spoken the truth, I don’t think I did a good job speaking to you with love, and for that I apologize. In the Bible, Paul tells us we’re supposed to encourage each other, and build each other up, and I tore you down.

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Opening Doors Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The girls have gotten into a bit of a rut fights-wise: Cora gets frustrated and storms to her room, and Maddie doesn’t want to let (fill in the blank) go and tries to push open Cora’s door, forcing the door open or running over Cora in the process.

In retaliation, Cora’s begun locking her door – mostly as a defense mechanism against Maddie. It’s her last card to play against the sheer superior strength that Maddie has. So it’s a smart move, except that locking doors is illegal in our house.

Yes, even in the bathroom.

Yesterday things came to a head once again, and the fighting escalated so quickly that by the time I made it upstairs tempers were quite high and I had to pick Maddie up and carry her to her room. Both girls had right on their sides in one form or another; both girls had wronged the other. Both girls were sobbing.

It was time to make a change.

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Raising Girls to be Women Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 June 2013

Maddie’s eight now, and we’ve long seen some Serious Talks coming down our pike at this house. It’s commonly touted that girls mature faster than they did when I was growing up, for a variety of reasons.

I’m not trying to discuss the theories behind “why” – growth hormones in dairy products, over-explicit and age-inappropriate media exposure, there’s quite a list of common theories out there. But I am hearing so much of the “fourteen is the new eighteen”, and “nine is the new twelve”, and I can’t deny that I’m now within shouting distance of age nine.

So I do what I always do in situations like this – I start reading.

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Marking the Wrong Milestones? Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 June 2013

I just read an interesting piece on the Huffington Post from the end of May – yes, I’m behind – on parents in America versus other cultures, and how we mark different sorts of milestones than parents in, say, Sweden.

The article points out that while we as a culture raise spectacularly verbal kids – children here can bargain and negotiate like trial-room lawyers while still in kindergarten – we sometimes lose sight of other values that would be worthwhile to foster.

The author lists such values as thinking about others, and being more independent at an earlier age. On taking care of younger siblings, she writes:

In our country, we worry that asking siblings to care for each other puts an undue burden on their individual potential. The opposite is true: when we ask our kids to care for one another, it unleashes their potential as nurturing, socially responsible human beings.

I know I find myself sometimes putting on my eight-year-old’s shoes still, partly out of habit and partly out of a desire to hurry the whole process along; this is probably an anathema to a culture that has five-year-olds out herding the family livestock for hours at a time.

What do you guys think? And if we’re losing sight of some important social values here, what’s the best way to go about teaching them?

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