Posts Tagged ‘Childhood’

the map of faith

November 14th, 2011    -    22 Comments

When my daughter was born prematurely, they said she might not breathe. Then they said she might be in a hospital for two months. They said she might need a year to catch up. Soon enough, she was at the top of the charts. Then they said she might be delayed. Then they said she was ahead. Then just last week someone said she might be slow, and need an extra year to catch up.

I no longer have faith in these pronouncements. My daughter has never been anything but completely herself, no matter what they called it.

All parents struggle with fear, hope, and expectations for their children, so I wanted to respond publicly to a mother who contacted me some time ago.

I’m totally unqualified to give guidance in her circumstance, so I’m only going on faith. That’s all any of us has to go on.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to read my mail. I feel a bit silly for writing to you, but I decided to get over that because my need for relief is so great.

The willingness to feel foolish is the first step on the path. It’s also the last step on the path. To be honest, it’s every step on the path.

I am mother to two children: a less ordinary boy of just 5 years with a mild disability; and a girl of 2 1/2.  I have noticed that having a non-average child complicates matters in a way I never saw coming.

Give yourself credit for what you didn’t see coming. Most of us think we see much farther ahead than we really can. We anticipate outcomes and draw foregone conclusions. Then we leap to either a false sense of security or a false sense of insecurity. Anything we conclude about the future is false. All that we can ever see is what is right in front of our eyes, and so I encourage you to keep that focus. Then you can be sure that you are always seeing clearly, because you are seeing things as they are.

It takes strength to see things as they are without interpreting it to mean one thing or another.

I’m not one of those mothers who always knew that there was something wrong. It is rather the opposite. My son feels OK to me. I see his delayed development and the stress he experiences because of that, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. I see a solid foundation in him and know that he will grow.

You’ve said two things here that are profound. First “my son feels OK to me.” This is the peace we seek: to be OK even when it is not OK. What makes it OK is the second thing you said, “it’s nothing we can’t handle.” This is the ground of faith. Not faith in a certain set of outcomes — the ones we want, wish, like, push, and prod for — but faith rooted in the reality of the present moment. The present is where we stand, and to stand upright where we are is the embodiment of strength. This is the strength we use to handle things as they occur, staying steady and aware without getting caught in the mind-spinning panic and paranoia of a future we cannot predict.

And let’s be clear: the future is unpredictable for everyone, no matter what. read more

your child’s peril

September 26th, 2011    -    27 Comments

Dear Dr. Neuroscientist:
Please help us grow up to be safe.
Signed,
The Kindergarten Class of 2012

Last weekend I saw a story in the New York Times that made my head explode. Those of you who have heard me speak about “my head exploding” know that it is a clever metaphor for when my head actually explodes. The story in the paper was this:

Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril

I have a vested interest in this story, since I – gasp! ­– delayed kindergarten at my child’s peril. (Actually, she delayed it herself by refusing to go.) The gist of the story is that a couple of neuroscientists did some math and concluded that if you keep your child from starting school until he or she is a year older it won’t deliver a measurable competitive advantage. Boo hoo. Here’s the money graph:

In a large-scale study at 26 Canadian elementary schools, first graders who were young for their year made considerably more progress in reading and math than kindergartners who were old for their year (but just two months younger). In another large study, the youngest fifth-graders scored a little lower than their classmates, but five points higher in verbal I.Q., on average, than fourth-graders of the same age.

Say what? The findings, in my book, are benign and irrelevant. What mattered more to me was the word “peril.” Who in their right mind would put the word “peril” in the same sentence with the word “kindergarten,” provoking the subtle suggestion of child endangerment, ensuring that the article would be the number one e-mailed article for days after?

The answer is, someone playing on your fear that you are ruining your child’s life. And someone who wrote a book about it. Yes, these kind of grotesque generalizations and implied consequences are always about selling something you think you don’t have, telling you something you think you don’t know, and convincing you – by way of arcane statistics – of your worst fear: that you are a terrible, rotten and not very good parent, making the kind of irreparable mistakes that will condemn your child to second place, a lowly Von Winklevoss to a triumphant Zuckerberg. read more

not sleeping, waking!!

July 13th, 2011    -    6 Comments

 

10 Most Fun Things to Do in Summer
By Georgia Miller

There are a lot, I mean A LOT of fun things to do during summer break, but I have my favorites. Here are my top 10 favorite things to do over summer:

 

1. Amusement Parks!! I just love a good trip to Disneyland.

2. Vacationing! I remember last year I took a great trip to Kauai with my family.

3. Ice Cream! You can’t really do it . . . but who cares? It’s awesome anyway.

4. Doing nothing. I usually just do nothing when I’m not flipping, singing, dancing, or acting. Wow. I never do nothing.

5. My Acting Camp. I love my acting camp. It’s soooo fun.

6. Swimming! I just love cannonballing into a pool of cold water.

7. Hanging Out With Friends. Me and my BFF Kenna always have tons of sleepovers during the summer.

8. Going to the Beach!! I love the rush of icy water on my piggies!

9. Sleeping in. I don’t usually sleep in, but when I do, I feel relaxed.

10!! Gymnastics! I only started team this year, but I loooove it!

Those are my fave things to do during summer! What are yours?

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how to raise a Buddhist child

July 11th, 2011    -    6 Comments

When someone borrowed my post on teachable moments last week they referred to this as a blog on “Buddhist parenting.” I hadn’t thought about that for awhile, so it seems a good time to share these tips on raising a Buddhist child.

1. Honestly, have no idea.
2. Diligently, make no effort.
3. Faithfully, accept what is.
4. Sincerely, pay attention.
5. Be kind.
6. Otherwise, apologize.
7. Raise a Buddhist parent instead.

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juicy oreo wednesday

May 11th, 2011    -    79 Comments

Book Review & Giveaway
By Georgia Miller

Rip the Page! by Karen Benke is great for the young, aspiring writer. It features everything from ideas to poems. It even has a list of 24 of Karen’s fave words! And, it lives up to its name – there are even places where you can literally rip the page! There are letters written to the reader from authors such as Lemony Snicket and Annie Barrows.

This book will help kids start writing because it gives great ideas, support and different ways to write. It gives examples of fun words to use, and tells how to write poems. Once the author tells you about a way of writing, she gives you a blank page to try it out on. It really helps to put the fun into writing. Now I’m going to share some of my favorite words:
Guadalupe
Basenji
Antidisestablishmentarianism
Bacon
Gymnastics
Juicy
Oreo
Wednesday
Turtle
Frog
Marshmallow
Actually, those are just random words that I happen to like. The point is, though, that this really is a great book for young writers like me. So I give this book two thumbs up! I really love it!

***
You may win a copy of this book by leaving a comment telling Georgia your favorite word. Enter by next Tuesday. She will announce the winner, naturally, on Wednesday, May 18.

The Winner: Georgia selected comment #55, from Caitlin, for her word, “gubbins.” Thank you everyone for your wordplay!

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repeat until all gone

April 26th, 2011    -    16 Comments

On Sunday evening, my daughter looked up from the sofa and told me she was going to write a blog post. Seeing it later, I wondered if she was reading my mind. She was no doubt reading her own mind, consoling that restless uncertainty that surfaces in the spring. Maybe the bunny brings us fluff to buffer the bumps ahead: the transitions, the spurts, the sudden endings and the fits. Things are changing all around and in-between us, and I can scarcely steal a kiss. I smiled when I saw how she straddles her precarious age, savoring one piece of  kiddie candy before wrapping herself in the shiny gloss she lets us see.

She makes me happy enough already, but you might need some excellent advice from a girl who knows her happy.

Recipe for Happiness
by Georgia Miller

Feeling blue? Need a boost? These easy-to-follow steps will make you feel a whole lot better.
Ingredients
10 M&Ms
1 Hershey’s Kiss
Bath Salt (Optional)
Facial Scrub

Step 1- Take your 10 M&Ms in your hand and pop one in your mouth, but don’t chew it. Suck on it until it melts in your mouth. Repeat until they are all gone.

Step 2- Either do the same with the Hershey’s Kiss or start taking minuscule bites out of the tip until you finish.

Step 3- Slip into the tub or, if you prefer the shower, “jump” in. Make sure the water is comfortably warm. If you’re in the tub, pour in 1 ½ tsp of scented bath salt. If you’re in the shower, use a loofah to rub scented soap (I like the French liquid soap from Trader Joe’s) all over your body.

Step 4- Rub facial scrub on your face and leave it on for 5-7 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and a soft washcloth.

I hope these four steps helped you feel happy and relaxed!

-Georgia : D

She’s inspired to write because she is reading Karen Benke’s Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing.

Love Beyond Limits Workshop, Wash., DC, Sat., April 30
Beginner’s Mind One-Day Meditation Retreat, LA, Sun., June 12

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tiger bait

February 6th, 2011    -    23 Comments

Comparing our kids to one another is the most juvenile thing we grown ups can do. But amid all the recent hubbub over so-called Chinese style parenting,  I’ll take the bait.

Unlike some other kids, here are some things my daughter is allowed to do:

• spend time making friends
open her eyes to a world that is not defined by rank, culture, race, wealth, elite performance, or my ideas about the same
• be in a school play
• complain about not getting the part she wanted
• perform in the play anyway and overcome the sting of not being “best”
• learn by her own disappointments to be kinder to others
• obey me, disobey me; gladden, frustrate, and defy me; and one day repudiate me, as she must
• watch TV on weekends, learning that when it comes to finding TV entertainment, the first hour is easy and the second and third hours are hard
devote herself to extracurricular activities that I was never good at or afraid to try
• remind me, when she sees my face collapse in horror, that “a B is a good grade too.” read more

the particular sadness of yes

November 14th, 2010    -    10 Comments

It is time, and such a short time it is, to say yes.

Can I write the tooth fairy a note asking to keep this tooth?
Can I sleep with you?
Can I ride with you?
Can I walk with you?
Can I go with you?
Can I keep the bottle cap?
Can I save the ribbon?
Can I have the last piece of candy?
Can we go to Disneyland?
Can I get this doll?
Can you wash my jacket because at lunch I looked down and saw a bug on it.

Yes, I say, yes, yes. Because there is an end to these questions, and yes is what you say when you see them go.

Oh good, she says. Because I was afraid I was supposed to outgrow it.

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the 5th grade of impermanence

June 3rd, 2010    -    12 Comments

She’s going to be in 5th grade.

We’re sitting in the school auditorium waiting for a troupe of tweens to begin the spring dance revue. The kids shuffling onto the stage are already beyond their parents’ belief – sprouted up and out, gangly, tangly – and long since beyond their parents’ grasp. My husband whispers to no one in particular: She’s going to be in 5th grade.

These are the kinds of things he says at these occasions. I can hear the echoes: She’s going to be one, two, four, five, eight, ten! As before, I do not respond to what does not need to be said.

He’s having an enlightenment experience. Enlightenment, Dogen Zenji taught, begins with the recognition of impermanence, the moment we perceive the utter and astonishing transience of life, the moment we see through the constructed illusion that anything stays put.

Alas, all conditioned things are impermanent;
It is their nature to come into being and then cease to be.

Truth thus springs from what we see. Spiritual practice starts with a sigh. Enough sighs and you might one day get serious about it.

Do not pass over from the light to the darkness by ignoring practice and pursuing other things. Take care of this essential instrument of the Buddha Way. Your body is like a dewdrop on the morning grass, your life as brief as a flash of lightning.

It is a mistake to think we practice to change our lives, because life changes by itself. We practice to change the way we live, to face the facts of the matter. Because, have you heard? Did you notice? Do you know? Have you seen?

She’s going to be in 5th grade.

***

Offered in deep gratitude to the full house of beginners who will join me this Sunday at the Hazy Moon Zen Center for their first meditation retreat. You might want to read more about the beginning of my own practice, and the transformative power of impermanence, in this interview.

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love this girl

April 30th, 2010    -    15 Comments

she levered into my lap
spilling over the overstuffed rocker
the old nest in the bend of my elbow
I had a rough day
I had a rough day

a catastrophe of words
spare can mean reserved or saved
I didn’t know
I didn’t know

I was so frustrated
Erased hard and tore a hole
in the multiple choices
her friends whispered into palms
my life is pointless
my life is pointless

the exaggeration scares her short
is the plural hyperboles?
she stretches the length
of her tiny big girl bed
head propped on a dingy pink unicorn
I see the sunrise and moonglow in her face
the bloom and the night
and I think to myself
Love this girl

A tribute to being 10.

How to make a baby

November 15th, 2009    -    13 Comments

Add baby.
Dispose of birth plan.
Put all cashmere out of reach.
Abandon eurostyle.
Abandon style.
Piss on style.
Shop Wal-Mart in haste and desperation.
Beg for hand-me-downs.
Wear husband’s sweatpants.
Every day.
Leave room for baby weight, flat feet, worry lines and permanent scars.
Resemble your grandmother.
Forget bathing.
Luxuriate in a hot shower for 7 seconds one day.
Forget that day.
Chop off your hair.
Lose your head.
Soak all stains overnight in salty tears.
(The stains remain and the tears return.)
Simmer in fatigue.
Whisk in exhaustion.
Churn the night into the day.
Let surface harden until brittle.
Scrape the bottom.
Let time evaporate.
Give up completely.
Make nothing.
Except mac and cheese microwaved for 3.5 minutes on High.
Love without doubt.
Forever.

If you have a minute, stop by here and give Theresa an attagirl.

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The Parent’s Little List of Letting Go*

October 13th, 2009    -    9 Comments



A seasonal refrain sung to the tune of a deep exhalation.

Baby is born.
Baby sleeps through the night.
Baby bites.
Baby crawls.
Baby turns 1.
Baby stops sleeping through the night.
Baby pees in potty.
Baby throws binkies in trash.
Baby starts kindergarten.
Baby stops sleeping through the night.
Baby’s first drop-off.
Baby’s first text.
Baby loses first tooth.
Baby’s first career plan.
Baby stops sleeping through the night.
Baby’s first true love.
Baby’s last Barbie.
Baby’s first head lice.
Baby’s second true love.
Baby’s first first-place.
Baby stops sleeping through the night.
Baby says, “Mom, I like your deodorant. Can you get me some?”

Baby is always right on schedule.

*Not so little. Never ever gone.

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The road traveled

August 18th, 2009    -    7 Comments

Spying the untouched package, realize this is the last doll.
Watching her take a bath, realize this is the last of childhood.
Counting the days until deadline, realize this is the last draft.
Lifting the carton from the shelf, realize this is the last Mint Chip.
Tasting the grounds in the cup, realize this is the last coffee.
Facing the shrinking summer, realize these are the last lilies.
Remembering everything, realize this is the last regret.
Nearing the horizon, realize this is the last stretch.
The color! The color!
This is the road traveled.
None traveled less, none traveled more.
Everyone travels the same, alone and yet never apart.
Hello, traveler.

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