You can strike that pose when you’re in college! – Raising an Aware Child pt. 4

kidmdels Both of these photos are from the same company (a company who’s adult and children’s clothing line I happen to dig).  One shows elementary-aged children being children in children’s clothing.  The other shows similar aged children in adult poses with weight-of-the world expressions on their faces as one of them wears outfits better suited for someone twice her age.  At least, that’s my opinion.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether my issue with photo B is that the company would even put out a photo like this, or that our collective parental disposition has strayed so much that we might buy into this sort of image in an effort to dress up our children like mini-adults, or maybe it is simply that I don’t want my daughter to look anything like the little girl in the photo, let alone even see this photo.  What’s wrong with a little girl just looking like a little girl?  Yeah, I’m looking at you and your recent mistep, Disney.

When I was in 1st and 2nd grade, all I cared about wearing was a pair of jeans that did not constrict me on the dodgeball court and maybe a cool pair of Hulk Underoos from the aunt at Christmastime. 80s-Hulk_underoos Even now, my 5 year old son doesn’t really care what he wears just as long as he can wear his Crocs. In the wintertime he is happy to adapt to the Southern California cold by adding a pair of socks to the mix, making the fashionistas in the Greater Los Angeles area cringe ever so slightly.

But it is my 3 year old daughter who is already putting together outfits and expressing strong opinions about what we pull off the hanger for something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store.  So it is this impressionable sensibility that I feel, as her Daddy, I must guard.

My wife and I have tried to avoid overexposing her to the pink-gowned, blonde princess imagery saturating every girls’ section of every toy aisle.  But as time passed, I’ve come to realize that this is the way God made her.  She naturally wanted to wear Mama’s jewelry and stumble around in her high-heels.  And as much as I wrestle and play the give-and-take game, I ultimately remind myself that she is a little girl doing what most little girls inherently do – longing to dress like her image of a big girl and pretend she is in the fairytale.

My daughter is who she is: a pink-lovin’, prince-wantin’ damsel in distress – who also happens to be the toughest, sandbox lovin’ little girl I’ve ever known.

So, with the help of my wife I stand back a bit, doing my best to shield our daughter from the constant objectification of women that permeates our society, and trusting that she will keep doing her thing.  Individualism is natural, but the older we get, so is the desire to “fit in”.  Right now, and for the foreseeable future, she just needs to be a kid.  need that.

But when the time comes that she may want to emulate a runway model or Seventeen cover girl, I suspect she’ll be old enough to use her allowance to buy her own clothing… and I’ll be standing on the side with an outgrown princess gown in hand, hoping in vain that she comes running back to her daddy to be his little girl.

– Just a friendly reminder to find us here on Pinterest where we have a board for the Raising an Aware Child series with all sorts of cool stuff.  Or, share your thoughts on our Facebook page.  I’d love to hear from you, parents!

Monsters Exist – Raising an Aware Child

Like many parents across this country last night I lay awake in bed, tired but unable to sleep, the thoughts of the horrors of the day keeping me awake.  ”What are those parents doing right now?  Are they out of tears, collapsed in exhaustion?” I wondered.  ”And the parents of the survivors, how are they keeping it together in front of their shaken children?”

In a tragic moment this sick sub-human being took away, not only precious, innocent lives, but brought a heavy cloud upon everyone’s holiday season.  I found out the news as I set up a booth for my book in a quiet holiday boutique at a local church.  In a moment, darkness descended.  The boutique seemed unnecessary.  The incredible and massive Living Nativity being prepped outside seemed excessive.  My book seemed miniscule and insignificant.  The only place I wanted to be at that moment was with my children, holding them tight and gathering way more comfort from them than I was able to provide in return.

I spoke with Jackie, the sweet woman in the booth next to me, and our eyes welled up as we sat in disbelief and anger and utter sadness.  I said “You know, we tell our kids all the time that there are no monsters, no evil bad guys or big bad wolf like they see in a cartoon or Disney flick or in a book.  And yet, there he was… terrorizing those children in their last moments and leaving nightmares scattered across millions of bedrooms.”  Of course, we (and our son’s karate sensei) talk about strangers and how to deal with the creepy person trying to get close to you, but this sort of monster is not in my parent or dojo’s playbook.

Our oldest child is just short of 5 years old, young enough to be sheltered from this event and not hear about it through the usual channels.  But last night I thought about how we would explain this to our child.  Suppose he was 6 or 7 or older.  He’s going to hear about it.  One way or another he’s going to get some version of this tragic story and become aware of this existing violence.  Then the questions will follow: Why was the man so angry? Why did God let this happen?  Does this happen everywhere?  When will it happen again? Will it happen to me?

So my question to you parents, past and present, how did you or would you explain something like this to a child?  How do you tell them that monsters exist?

Part 3 in the series Raising an Aware Child

 

“Christmas isn’t about Jesus, Dada.”

Part 2 in the Raising an Aware Child series of posts

“Christmas isn’t about Jesus, Dada.”

I felt the immediate rush of adrenaline as I prepared myself to lunge for my son before the lightning struck.  OK, maybe not lightning, but I did feel the sudden sensation that something terrible was said.  Just for a moment.  Then I did what we so often do as parents and looked at this comment through his eyes, with his still-developing, innocent brain.

It was the day after Thanksgiving.  We avoided the sales, the lines, the traffic and decided instead to dig out the decorations and untangle the exterior icicle lights.  Our 4 year old son, who has a God-given passion for sketching and painting, decided that he would draw little cut-out ornaments of all the things he could think of that have to do with Christmas.  There was the usual:  Santa Claus, Rudolph, Christmas tree, snowman, bells, the elusive snowflake, etc.

He came into the kitchen and asked me “What else can I draw for the ornaments?”  After I rattled off most of the above list (much to his frustration), thinking of those fun little icons that children gravitate toward during the holiday season, I got around to saying, “How about Baby Jesus?”.  That’s when he stated the aforementioned, almost in a tone that he might one day use as a teenager when moaning “Daaaaad, that’s SO lame.”

I quickly realized that I can’t expect him to remember the Christmas books from last year or our previous explanations of the Christmas Season.  It is, after all, a simple fact that where we place our priorities during the holidays is where our children place theirs.  If I had questioned him further at that moment, I might have discovered that he also thought, in lieu of all the prayers of thanks, that Thanksgiving was about “eating a lot of food and doing dishes”.

But, with wide eyes and a tone to excite a 4 year old, I looked at him and said “Of course Christmas is about Jesus… the whole reason we even have Christmas if because of Jesus.  We’re celebrating his BIRTHDAY!”

Then it clicked.

“You mean Christmas is for Jesus?”

He let out his giggle of giddiness, leaned forward onto his toes, and scrunched his shoulders together with hands clasped as he so often does when a tremor of excitement shoots through this body.  He asked me to show him how to draw the face of Baby Jesus.  He would “draw the animals and shepherds another day.  I just want to draw Baby Jesus today, OK?”

OK.

And there it was.  A simple enough moment, but one that had affected me, too.  Up to this point, creeping thoughts of missed opportunities at the big Black Friday sales had been trying to get in my head all day.  Then this exchange, this little moment of pause that our children give us – a mini RESET button, if you will.  And I knew in an instant that there was no other place I’d rather be.

My 4 year old son draws hands better than I do.

Just a friendly reminder that it’s not too late to get a copy of I Want You to Know: The Wonder of God in time for your big night of present wrapping.  Available at a discounted price on our STORE or with free shipping on AMAZON.

Newspaper article from my old stomping grounds

It’s been almost a week since I returned from the Houston area tour, and I’m still scrambling to catch up with everything and everyone.  So I hope you’ll understand why it may have slipped my mind to share the below article with you from the October 13th issue of the Galveston Daily News.  Now, that is no reflection on the article — it’s actually well done and captures the motivation behind the book, in my opinion.

Give it a quick read:

photo by Rick Cousins

First-time author explains God to kids

Continue reading

Rewards and an Award

I’ve made it to Texas and am halfway through the Houston tour for I Want You to Know: The Wonder of God.  The children at each school have been so receptive, and their Continue reading

Ode to the Cardboard Box – Raising an Aware Child

I’ve been wanting to begin a series of reflections and dialogue regarding Raising an Aware Child.  Like most parents I’ve noticed a distinct difference in what my children are exposed to versus what I was exposed to growing up.  In this new age of constant media bombardment, a saturation of branding and advertising to our children, big box toy stores of goods made in China, and digital doodads to keep one tuned out for his/her entire adolescence, I thought it fitting to start this series.

In an effort to kick things off, allow me to wax poetic on one of the most simple, accessible and affordable of playthings… the cardboard box.

image ©2012 Going Home Stories

Ode to a Cardboard Box

You arrive at my door full of padding and fluff
Or were used in a move to carry odd stuff.
Maybe you came during a birthday this year.
No matter.  The point is, I’m glad that you’re here.

You start so bland… boxy and brown
Taking up space until I break you down,
But the inevitable opportunity arises one day
When the little ones have a request during play:

“Make us a castle, with a tall princess tower”
Or “a hideout for me with my superhero power”
“A big one!  With lots of windows and rooms”
So to the garage I go where the dusty stack looms.

With box cutter and a healthy amount of tape
You come back to life with a new improved shape.
With newly cut edges and reinforced seams
You’ll take on the form of my rascals’ grand dreams.

This time you might be a race car or wagon
Or fortress with drawbridge to keep out a dragon,
Perhaps a puppet theater complete with backdrop
Or the station of a choo-choo train’s very last stop.

Cut out the top and cut two sides to the floor
We now have a convertible with two working doors,
A center hole in the bottom and one more in the top
We’ve now made a pirate ship by inserting a mop,

But no sooner does my son yell “Arrr” & “Ahoy!”
That he’ll want you transformed into Super Robot Boy.
You’ll be colored and painted and folded and bent
And then taken outside to be used as a tent

Sometimes you’re a quiet place for the kids to sit
To quietly contemplate their thoughts for a bit.
But whatever the shape, you still teeter and totter
Even as an outhouse for my potty-training daughter

Oh Box, over your life you’ll wear many new hats,
One day you’ll play this role, then another day that.
We’ll keep you around til they grow tired of you
Then in the recycling you go to become something new.

But through photos your legacy still lingers on
Even after your scrappy, paper body is gone.
So “poo poo” to Chinese plastic in the toy shops,
Just give us some time with that magic cardboard box.

©2012 Kirk Weston Jackson – www.GoingHomeStories.com

Review from the Guru at The Review Stew

Say that 5 times fast!  OK, now do it with a mouthful of homemade stew.  Not so easy is it?

Mommy blogger Marissa posted her glowing review this morning of the book on her blog The Review Stew.  Even better are the pictures that she sent of her handsome young son cuddled up on the couch enjoying the book.  Very cool.  I love seeing that!

Marissa is also doing a giveaway for an autographed copy of the book.  Give her a visit and tell her who sent ya!

Mothers Offer Druthers (on book)

Hip mommy blogger Mihee Kim-Kort received a copy of I Want You to Know: The Wonder of God and was kind enough to post a thoughtful review and book giveaway on her entertaining blog First Day Walking.  I know, I know, now I tell you (the giveaway is finished)!  But you can still enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book via mommy blogger Kelly Stillwell’s blog Virtually Yours.

And I promise to give you better notice next time…

Father Time

My birthday falls on Father’s Day
As it does every year or so
That used to bug me as a kid
But I never let anyone know

Seeing that I have two kids now
And how quickly the years go
I focus on the father part
Cuz fast they sure do grow

I see my innocence in their eyes
The simplicity of life
And tell myself to slow it down
And always kiss the wife

For one day the kids will all be grown
With their own firm hopes and thoughts
And I’ll try so hard to remember
All that I forgot

The little moments wrestling
Or scraping dried food from cheeks
Little toots that make us laugh
Giving us away at hide-n-seek

Spontaneous hugs and I love you’s
And questions about everything
Trying so hard to learn the words
To that song they like to sing

Amazed by every rock and leaf
Desperately wanting to learn
Splashing too much in the bath
I laugh too hard to be stern

Keeping tabs on my blessings
Balancing play and work
And always seeing in the mirror
The ever-aging Kirk

So as these times pass before me
And another year floats away
This weekend I’ll be thankful for
Another Father’s Day.

©2012 Kirk W. Jackson

I Want You to Know: The Wonder of God now available on AMAZON.com

Just a quick update here to tell you that I Want You to Know: The Wonder of God is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.  Now remember… they set the price, so if it is more expensive than my webstore, I have no control over it.  The do offer Free Shipping, so that’s a bonus.

Happy shopping!