Children’s Books: Environment and Animal Conservation

I always find it interesting seeing what kind of books my children pick out from the library.  But sometimes, I like to encourage them to find something connected to what we’re learning about as a family. For example, our goal of exploring all the national parks (we’ve visited 7 so far!) and as part of this journey, talking about the environment and animal conservation.

My kids like to mix it up. A little non-fiction and fiction. Believe it or not, even with fiction stories there are lots of ways to apply them to real-life conversations.

Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue by Naoko Stoop

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world

What If There Were No Bees?: A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem (Food Chain Reactions)

What if there were no bees? by Suzanne Slade and Illustrated by Carol Schwartz

 

All Kate Messner Books

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the SnowOver and Under the Snow

Over and Under the Pond

Over and Under the Pond

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt  

This is mostly about adding art to a community, but we tied in the importance of community gardens and their impact.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Therese Howell, illustrated by Rafeal Lopez

Are there any books that your family has discovered that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them!

Happy Reading.

I want my children to persevere—so I have to, too

As seen on Motherly

The smell of chlorine floods my nose as we walk into the building. Kids are everywhere tightly holding onto their parent’s hand unsure of where they are going.

“Okay, everyone, it’s time to get in your lines,” announces the lead instructor.

“Mommy, I don’t want to go,” my daughter says while burying her head into my leg.

“You’ll be okay. Come on, let’s go.” I gently push her forward into the arms of a teacher waiting nearby. The teacher smiled and winked, which tells me a reluctant child is not out of the ordinary.

I know in the grand scheme of things it’s only swimming lessons, but seeing my child teary-eyed and unsure of the situation, saddens me. Last year we tried lessons, and it didn’t go over very well. Let’s just say there were lots of tears from both kids and a very fragile feeling parent.

This time it was going to be different. It has to be. Each child is a year older and if other parents can do it, so can I. Besides, I don’t want to be purchasing floaties for a future 30-year-old.

I focus my attention on a group of moms walking up the stairs to the balcony, carrying coffee and holding squirmy toddlers, and wonder why I can’t be so calm and collected like them? Maybe they didn’t notice their own child’s first day jitters while being distracted by their fussy little cherub.

As I find my seat, I stare at a giant swimming pool with a sea of children anxiously awaiting the arrival of their coaches. I scan the area and spot my 3-year-old son sitting in line hugging his knees. Our eyes meet and we both wave. Phew. He’s not crying. Yet.

One kid down, now where’s his sister? Like a hawk, I stare at the locker room door waiting for her to exit. I start to panic a little. Did she get lost? Is she looking for me and can’t find me? The locker rooms were rather dungeon-like and reminded me of a never-ending maze.

Thoughts start to flood into my mind. You’re acting ridiculous, I think. Get ahold of yourself. I shake myself into reality and focus on the end goal of getting through two-weeks worth of lessons unscathed.

Grasping the hand of one of the instructors, with tears rolling down her cheeks, I spot my daughter making her way to the pool. I read her lips as she cries, “I want my mommy.” The instructor does her best to make her feel better by rubbing her back and reassuring her that everything will be okay.

I wave my arms to get her attention. “I’m over here, sweetie. You’re going to be great. Now, get in the pool.”

She shakes her head no. I mouth, “Yes. Look, your brother is in already. See?” She finds her brother, who’s now starting to cry.

Great, I think. Now what? I’m not exactly dressed to get into the pool with them. Not to mention, I paid for these lessons. There’s no backing out of this now.

As I see others kids swimming, laughing, smiling, having fun, I wonder why mine isn’t doing the same? Maybe I didn’t expose them enough to water as babies? Perhaps they’re not ready yet? This is when I notice my son screaming at his teacher, “Let me go! I don’t want you!” He’s fighting with all his little body strength to swim to the side. Oh no, not another round of lessons wasted.

I find my daughter. She’s in the pool swimming. Quick, look away before we make too much eye contact and she starts to cry again.

“Excuse me. Ma’am, excuse me?”

I peer down over the rail where my son is below. The head coach, a stern looking lady, was trying to get my attention.

“Is this your son?” I’m starting to feel that I’m picking him out of a line-up.

“Yes.” Oh God, what is she going to say. Kick him out of swimming? He’s only three.

“Have you thought about putting him in the Splash and Babies class? If not, that might be something to consider until he gets more comfortable with water.”

I glance around. Some of the parents are looking at me. Possibly feeling sorry for my son or me because as a parent, how can you not tell that your child isn’t ready for lessons? Please don’t judge me. I know they can do this.

“Should I come and get him?” I ask anticipating a shaming response.

“There’s no need. Just consider taking it along with this class,” she says with a wave of her hand.

I smile. Easy for you to say, but how am I to convince a 3-year-old who can’t wait to be a grownup, that he has to go to a baby swim class? This isn’t going to go over very well.

Eventually, my son gets used to the water, and by the end of the hour, he’s smiling. An assembly line of parents and babysitters wait in the lobby with towels in their hands ready to pick up their swimmers. My son comes out first. Shivering, I bundle him up in his Olaf towel and tell him how proud of him I am.

“Mommy, I can swim now. I don’t need any more lessons,” he says to me in all seriousness.

I smile. “Okay, honey.”

Next, my daughter comes out of the locker room nervously scanning the lobby for me. I rush over to her and wrap her up in a pink mermaid robe.

You did it! You were amazing!” Again, she buries her head into my leg, but this time, smiling and feeling proud.

I’m happy to say that we made it back the following day and eventually completed the full lesson. There were tears, moments of doubt, and true bravery not only on my children’s part, but mine as well.

In life, there will be times when we all feel we want to quit. I have felt it many times. But what kind of example would I be setting if I let them give up? This was the perfect time to show them the meaning of perseverance. After watching parents return day after day coaxing their child to get into the pool, they gave me hope and encouragement to keep trying.

So, to be honest—this was a lesson in perseverance for me, too.

Maybe last round of lessons they just weren’t ready yet (or perhaps it was me?). Either way, we’re accomplishing this milestone in life. When it comes down to it, in this season of my life with two young kids—it’s time to sink or swim. And we choose to swim.

Lights Out

The light flicked on again. I stop and stare at the shining coming through the bottom of the door.

“How can he still be awake?” I ask my husband.

“He’s going to be exhausted tomorrow,” he says.

I take a deep breath.

“My turn to check this time.” I set my laptop on the couch. 

Padding across the floor, I gently push open our son’s door. I see the lamp is on. There are toys strewn across the floor. That’s when I notice him.  

He’s sitting on his bed wearing a hard hat, boots, and a superhero cape tied around his neck, meticulously lining up dinosaurs on a pillow.  

“I thought you were supposed to be sleeping?” I ask.

“I wanted to build first.” 

I sit down next to him. “It’s time for bed. You have to get up for school tomorrow.” I carefully slip the hard hat from his head and tug each boot from his little feet.

“I don’t want to sleep,” he whimpers.

“How come?” I ask gathering each brontosaurus and tossing them in a bucket.

“I’m scared. There are monsters in my room. It’s too dark.” Yawning, he crawls into my lap.

After checking under the bed, in the closet, and in his drawers, I confirmed the expected. There are no monsters in his room. Calling dad for backup reassurance, he does a quick sweep of the room and agrees there are no one-eyed furry creatures lurking in the dark.

With another kiss and hug, we flick the light.

“Time to sleep.” I close the door behind me.

Getting back to my cozy spot on the couch, I park my tired body. What’s on Netflix? Flipping through the channels for a new binge series, I hear a car horn. Ignoring it, I keep searching.

WeeOoooWeeOooo

A police siren? I glance back at my son’s door. Sure enough, he’s awake again. 

I peek in his room.

“We just checked for monsters, and there is nothing in here. Lights out.”

He looks at me. A slight smirk is forming on his face. For some reason, I’m starting to think I’m being tricked.

“I have to go to the bathroom.” He’s squirming around in his bed. I send him the Mama Bear stare.

“Hurry up and go.” Picking up his little body and walking to the bathroom he starts sharing a friendship problem at school. 

“I’m sorry those boys were running away from you on the playground. Remember, you want to play with friends that make you feel good. If they hurt your feelings, how about finding a new friend to play with?”

With a nod of his head and smile on his face, I’m feeling confident we’re both going to finally get some rest.

Again, lights out.

Lingering outside his door, I take a deep breath.  

Silent. I return to the couch and bury myself in the cushions. It’s late. There’s no time for an episode of anything.

My eyes start to feel heavy. I drift off to sleep.

Suddenly, I sit up and look around. Where’s my husband? Maybe he went to bed. I clumsily make my way to our bedroom fumbling for the lamp.

Click.

Only the cat lay curled up on the bed.

I poke my head in our son’s room.

Curled up under his covers are my three-year-old and my husband. Both crammed into the toddler bed. I smile and for the last time, turn off the light.

Why We Family Garden

Rows upon rows of colorful produce, neatly packaged and anxiously waiting to be chosen. Shoppers are inspecting each perfectly shaped apple, taut skinned peach, and crisp lettuce head while contemplating the purchase of pineapples shipped from Costa Rica. Comparing this to the dirt covered carrots, roots dangling off the ends, or the misshapen strawberries freshly picked off the vine, when I have the choice, I’ll choose the latter or whatever else is in season.

This thought encourages my husband and me to continue talking with our son and daughter about how we get our food and why we should appreciate it. No more wasting half eaten apples or tossing a banana out because it has too many brown spots. Instead, we’ve shifted our old habits and started new ones. Let’s toss them in the backyard composter and watch them magically turn into black gold or throw them in the freezer to use in smoothies later on.

“In the United States, food now travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table, as much as 25 percent farther than two decades ago,” according to an article from World Watch Institute.

Imagine the many hands and miles traveled a single orange or stem of grapes go through before it graces our table. All the effort put into planting, growing, harvesting cleaning, packaging, and shipping just for our enjoyment. Then to be picked over because it’s not as shiny or perfectly shaped as the next.

“In 2008, 43 billion pounds of perfectly good food was thrown out of grocery stores,” according to Move For Hunger.  

Whether the food is damaged, out of date, unattractive, or left untouched due to lack of interest, that’s equivalent to $165 billion wasted each year. That’s an astounding number when you think about it.

Our environmental impact is a topic near and dear to our family’s hearts. We do our best to keep our carbon footprint at the forefront of our minds when making life decisions. That’s why we’ve decided to start a family garden.

It’s an easy way to demonstrate to our kids the amount of hard work involved in the growing of our favorite fruits and vegetables. Sure, we could hop into the car and drive down the street to the local supermarket. But that wouldn’t be an accurate representation of how the process works. Not to mention, tasting the long awaited fruits of your labor is immensely gratifying and humbling.

“Mom, where does our food come from?” our curious daughter will ask. I think to myself, I’ll tell you, and I will show you.

In the spring, we let our kids help pick the seeds, turn and add compost to the tired winter soil, dig, drop the seed, cover, and mark each planting bed. With careful attention, water, and lots of patience, our kids make a stronger connection to the earth and their food by reaping what they sow.

The pleasure we get from watching our children pick tomatoes or raspberries off the vine while shoveling them into their mouths and scouring the beds for more delicious treats is insurmountable. Humorously, I’ve learned my lesson and started planting double of everything after watching the goods get consumed before they even reach the kitchen.

With the rising statistics of unhealthy Americans in our country continue growing, nothing seems more important than instilling a healthy attitude about food within our children and helping them discover the growing process.

As the growing season comes to an end and fall is upon us, we take time to prepare the beds for the next season, tally the seeds that we need to purchase for spring, and say a word of thanks for another successful planting season.

How we Taught our Kids to Ride Without Training Wheels at age 3

“You’re doing it! Look at you go!” I shout at our three-year-old son as he pedals his wobbly bike without training wheels down the street.

Three? You may ask yourself. Yes, that’s right. It can be accomplished. Say goodbye to the training wheels, and self-doubt that your child will never learn how to ride a bike on their own. Sayonara to the oversized bike trailers and “hello” independence. Well, let’s not get too carried away, but that’s how it felt when my husband and I had our two children conquer this life skill by the age of three.

Want to know our secret? It’s called a balance bike. It was no secret to the many families that had already relied on this genius two-wheeled pedal-less bike. But when we discovered it? Our confused thoughts on how to teach this task were gloriously put to rest. It’s a secret no more. We wondered why this didn’t come with the instructional manual on “How to Raise Kids.” That’s right, we never received one when the stork dropped off our two bundles of joy at our front door-step. Isn’t that how it works? Let’s move on.

We first heard about this awesome alternative after a fellow dad kindly and willingly shared his brilliant secret with us. We did a little more research, and within no time, a lime green balance bike showed up on our doorstep. Contrary to the prior statement, it was not flown in by bird, just the friendly neighborhood delivery man.

How does it work?

Unlike ordinary bikes, it has no pedals, larger tires, and lower seating for a toddler to rest their feet on the ground. The child uses their legs and feet to push off the ground to gain speed. After some practice getting on the bike and scooting around, the child will gain confidence and naturally begin to lift their feet for longer periods of time. Mostly, they start to coast around. It’s all about balance.

“Bikes with training wheels tilt to the one side, creating a false sense of balance. In order to ride without the training wheels, a child must “unlearn” how to ride unbalanced and learn how to ride balanced,” according to an article on Two Wheeling Tots.

That sounds like a lot of extra work when some of the steps can be cut out. Basically, with the balance bike, the child will feel themselves tipping to one side and will learn to keep their body upright and support themselves.

When do they start using the balance bike?

Two Wheeling Tots says that kids can start as young as 18 months old, all the way up to 5-years-old. They use the bike for about two years before moving onto a traditional bike without training wheels.

How we did it

To get our daughter excited about the process, we let her pick out which color of bike she would like, along with a fitted helmet. Once the balance bike arrived,  I was shocked at how lightweight it felt. It was a plain bike frame with two wheels. No chains, no other contraptions for the child to get caught on, just pure simplicity.

We started on the driveway first teaching our 20-month old to tilt the bike to the side and lift her leg over the seat. While grasping the handlebars, she practiced sitting and focused on balancing herself. After the novelty of being able to just sit on her very first bike wore away, our daughter gained more confidence and began to push herself around. It went from a single push, to push, push, glide.

In no time, she was testing out the steering, slightly turning, then making larger circles. My husband and I were amazed at how natural the process was. Within a few months, we noticed she would lift her feet to coast along. By the age of three, we felt she was ready to try a bike with pedals.

Unsure of how the transition would look, we purchased a little bike from the second-hand store. We put our daughter on the traditional bike, held the back of the seat, showed her how to keep her feet on the pedals and walked with her as she rode. Eventually, we let go. She fell off but caught herself. We tried again, and within three attempts, she was riding down the sidewalk. It was incredible!

My son didn’t catch on quite as quickly. We thought he was ready, when he was not, so we gave the traditional bike a rest for a bit. He practiced balancing a little longer until he said he was prepared to try again. Within no time, he was pedaling on his own. He just wasn’t ready when we thought he was. It was up to him. That is a key factor in the whole system. The child knows when they are ready to learn and each child is different.

Would we do it again?

Yes! We feel it took away a lot of the guessing that comes along with trying to figure out how to teach this task.

We have since passed the balance bike on to our niece who’s loving this new experience and boost in confidence. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check out the balance bike and if you feel it’s a good fit for your child, give it a test ride.

Book Suggestions For Preschool Boys

I find that picking out books for girls is way easier than for boys. Sure there are books on trucks and fire engines, but my son’s kind of over that. Here’s a list of some of his favorites that we have discovered if you’re searching out some new reads for three to five-year-old boys (or girls, too!).

Peteriffic by Victoria Kann

peteriffic

The Pinkalicous series has been popular in our household and my son thinks Peter, Pinkalicious’ snarky, little brother is entertaining. We were so happy to see that author Victoria Kann created a spin-off based on the adventurous little boy.

Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues by James and Kimberley Dean

pete the cat

This groovy cat is a fan favorite among kids, but the bedtime blues is my son’s go to nightly bedtime story. He calls it the Rat-a-Tat-Tat book. You’ll see why when you pick up this rad read.

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

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Squeals and woots from the kid’s book aisle were heard when we spotted this sequel to the original hilarious Dragons Love Tacos. We still have a soft spot for the first one, but this sequel won’t disappoint! Especially the silly diaper part. Why do kids think that word is so funny anyway? It’s like the key word to endless giggles. Just throw “diaper” into any sentence and kids lose it. “Dragons love diapers?” Yep, quoted by our three-year-old morning, noon and night, especially at the dinner table. It’s a must read.

Piggie and Elephant books by Mo Willems

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If you like the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, you’re going to love the Piggie and Elephant series. I have yet to meet a kid, any age, that doesn’t love Mo Willems. As an extra bonus, from a primary teacher’s perspective, this a fabulous series for kindergarteners learning to read. It’s loaded with sight words and it’s great fluency practice!

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

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This is a silly book about nocturnal animals, not knowing they’re nocturnal, and being afraid of what comes out at night. It’s a simple read, but it won’t disappoint! My kids love it so much that they have memorized it and read it to me now.

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

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For the little explorer at heart. We love the illustrations and bright colors. Boy and bear are busy on their own adventure when they run into each other in the forest. Scared at first, but they soon realize it’s better to have a buddy exploring with you. It’s a wild read!

What’s your little guy’s favorite book?

 

 

 

 

Dear Summer, Please Don’t End Yet

The time of year when all the school supply shopping begins and parents start marking their calendars for the first day of school is finally upon us. As a teacher, usually, I’d take all the fun, innovative ideas that I discovered on Pinterest and start masterminding my big plans for the upcoming school year. To my surprise, I’ve done none of it. Nada. Zilch.

I’m not going to lie; there were times during the summer when I thought I’d never make it to the end. The fighting and arguing among the kids was wearing away at whatever patience I had left. But now as we are getting closer to the first day of school, I’d like to put the brakes on this fast-paced roller coaster we call life.

The “Are you ready to go back to work yet?” comments from friends and family have started rolling in. But the answer is surprisingly no. I’ve enjoyed the late night bike rides to the ice cream shop or staying outside longer to watch the kids catch fireflies. I’m not ready for it to end.

Being able to wake up a little later without the hassle of getting the kids up, fed, dressed, and rushed out the door in a time crunch is a relief. My youngest is often still in his pajamas when his dad comes home after work at 6 pm. I’d say that pretty much sums up the laid back, no fuss time we’re having. I prefer not to conjure up a plan on how I’m going wrestle him out of his early morning garb. Instead, I join in on the fun. Heck, pajama day could be every day if he wants. It’s summer, remember?

I’ll miss the lazy mornings drinking coffee and eating breakfast together. Not that we can’t do this when the school year starts, it’s just our time will be short. You want bacon, a yogurt parfait, or eggs sunnyside up today? No problem. There’s no race against time or a schedule that we have to follow. The only thing on my mind is deciding what fresh fruit I’ll pile on top of my steaming hot bowl of oatmeal.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to sit and think about what day it was or glance down at my phone to check the date. Right now, time is on our side.

Oh, it’s Thursday? Let’s take a stroll into town and check out the local farmers’ market. Nothing beats the handpicked, and colorful produce displayed beautifully and ready to be devoured. Let’s not forget to stop by the fruit stand and say “hello” to the vendors we befriended over the summer. On our way out, we’ll pick up our usual homemade muffins sold by the young Amish family we’ve come to know and look forward to seeing.

When the sun is shining brightly, we find ourselves contemplating if we should head to the pool or stay home and play in the sprinkler? Maybe neither. Instead, we might take our bikes and go for a ride to the park. I’ll bring my book, while the kids run around until their heart’s content.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to love cooking healthy, nutritious meals for my family. This extra time has given me a newfound desire to discover and try various recipes I’ve scrounged the internet for. I’ve dusted off the cookbooks that were patiently waiting, pages unturned. Now they’re decorated with oil spots or remnants from the process of cooking a delicious meal.

This summer marked the first year that the kids were old enough to start taking more trips and trying new adventures. We went camping, hiking, biking, swimming, roasted marshmallows and enjoyed each other’s company while sitting around the endless campfires. We road tripped to multiple states and visited family.

This summer we’ve made lots of memories, and there’s still some time left. So, please summer, don’t end yet.

Thank You, Kids for Reminding Me Not to Grow Up

Have you ever wanted to dress up in a costume and just become that character for a while? Immerse yourself in the personality and life of someone else?

I watch my kids in awe and amazement when they play make-believe. I want to see what they see through their eyes. Before life pushes us to become grown-ups and our magical fairy wings slowly disappear.

How do I get that back?

My daughter and I were in the electronics section of a store the other day when one of her favorite songs came on full blast. Immediately she broke out into a dance.

The beat first started near  her shoulders and quickly traveled to her hips, and soon she had moves like Jagger. It didn’t matter that there were people around her. She just wanted to dance.

“Come on, Mommy!” She said while grabbing my arm to join the impromptu dance party.

I could have easily laughed at her silliness and shuffled her along to finish up my to-do list, but I didn’t. What the hell? I thought and joined in on the fun.

How liberating! I must have looked crazy. Out of the corner of my eye I could see shoppers staring at me, but guess what? My daughter and I were giggling and having a blast! It was enough to remind me of being a kid again.

Somewhere between the age of “I can’t wait to be a grownup” and “ Shit, I think I’m a grownup,” the child-like freedom slunk away and forgot to come back.

Bills, mortgages, work, the ho hum of everyday left chipped away at that natural curiosity of life and living that we all so desperately need.

I think about going to the ice cream shop with my son. He wants to try every single flavor there is. The more colors on a spoon, the better. Me? Let’s just play it safe. The usual, please. I say to the high schooler behind the counter.

Do you find yourself staying within your comfort zone? Are you just having your usual? Is it because we are afraid we won’t like it? Don’t want to take the chance because we’re afraid it won’t be as good? Of course, this isn’t about ice cream, but more like a metaphor for life.

What if we stopped caring so much? What if we harnessed more of that zest for life from our kids and sprinkled it in our own? Want to dance in the middle of an electronics section at a store? Try it. Want to take off on a whim to explore an area you’ve always yearned to travel? Or maybe start small and try a new flavor of ice cream.

Let’s bring back that spirit. I will if you will. In fact, I dare you.

 

Children’s Books Illustrations Linked to Decreased Word Learning in Preschoolers

Hold up. Before placing the newly minted children’s book on the counter at the bookstore, you might want to take a peek inside first. Look at the illustrations. Are they colorful and bright? Do they show more than one thing happening on a page? If so, put it down for second and listen up.

A new study published in Infant and Child Development shares how a group of researchers from the University of Sussex found that having more than one illustration on a page can result in poorer word learning in preschoolers.

That sound a little strange? Don’t kids enjoy reading stories with pictures? Yes and yes, but to a point. The researchers are saying that a younger child viewing a page with more than one illustration or reading a book with flaps, make it more difficult for them to follow. Essentially, there’s too much going on to focus.

Co-author of the study Dr. Jessica Horst said, “…this is the first study to examine how decreasing the number of illustrations increases children’s word learning from storybooks.”

For the study, they read three stories from a set of storybooks to a group of three-year-olds. The first book had one page of illustrations, and the other page was blank. The second story had illustrations on both pages, while the third had one large illustration. What they found was that the children learned twice as many new words after reading the book with a single picture on a page.

Does this mean you need to go through your child’s bookshelves and start cleaning house? Not exactly. In a follow-up study, they found that merely pointing to the illustrations on the pages with multiple images before reading was more beneficial when guiding the children to learn new words.

“Our findings fit well with the Cognitive Load Theory, which suggests that learning rates are affected by how complicated a task is. In this case, by giving children less information at once, or guiding them to the correct information, we can help children learn more words,” said Zoe Flack, Doctoral researcher and co-author of the recent findings.

In addition to reading stories with fewer illustrations, how about the many times your child begs for you to read the same story over and over again? Believe it or not,  it may not be a bad idea to listen. Horst shares that after reading the same story multiple times, the child gets something new out of it. For example, the first time they are just enjoying the story while the subsequent reads they begin to notice details and listen to the words being said.

The silver lining in all of this is just to keep reading to your children. By exposing them to texts and sharing the love of reading with them is a gift in itself.

What Superheroes Accidentally Taught My Son

KaBam! Pow! His bright red cape, flapping in the wind as he runs to rescue a baby duckling from crossing the road. “Don’t worry mommy, I’ll save her!” my three-year-old son imagines while pretending to fly. He scoops up a yellow stuffed duck and throws it in the air.

“Ahh! It’s covered with sticky, hot lava!” he yells.

Superheroes are all exciting and fun unless you have a child that actually, believes that he’s got superhuman strength and can fly. It turns out, he doesn’t, and he’s learning the hard way.

Super Strength Test

A loud scream is coming from my son’s bedroom. He’s supposed to be napping. Guess that didn’t work out too well. I swing open his door and find him stuck in his rocking chair. It’s flipped over, with his little body wedged in between the foot-rest and the underside of the seat. How in the world did this happen?

“I was trying to be like Mr. Incredible when he gets stuck in his belt and uses his super strength to bust out,” he cries.

Right. Mommy needs to use her superhuman strength to wiggle him from the destructive jaws of the great wooden monster. At last, he’s free.

I Can Fly

Climbing the wooden ladder to the top of the playset, he stands tall and mighty. Can you guess what super boy is about to do? Thank goodness his handy dandy sidekick mommy is there to the rescue. Without time to throw on her spandex leotard, a ghastly sight anyway, she hurls herself forward just in time to catch the Superboy as his magical flying powers dissipate into thin air.

“That was cool!” he laughs.

Unfortunately,  sidekick mommy is busy hyperventilating and overcoming her near heart attack to take part in his excitement.

Through deep breaths, she manages to say, “Don’t. Ever. Do. That. Again.”  

Laser Beams

We’re standing in line at the grocery store when he gets the urge to be a superhero again. Great, I’m thinking. This outing is not the place for that.

Shoo! Shoo! Using his fists, he begins throwing laser beams to any unknown creature in his path.

“Stop. You can’t do that in a store.” I say.

Shoo! Shoo! His arms were flying forward. Eyes narrowed, and with a scrunched nose, he flings another beam. Except this was a big one. Standing in front of us was an older lady. I’m not one to judge, but she looks like she eats kids for breakfast. Not exactly the person you’d want to throw supersonic laser beams toward.  

With a light laugh and nervous smile, I say, “Sorry. My son thinks he’s a superhero.”

Hmmph, she grunts and turns around. I’m sensing danger, and my son’s villain detector has gone off. He pulls a Buzz Lightyear and crouches down with one arm back, and the other shooting forward. I look down just in time to see the destruction that is about to unravel. We’re talking unleashing all his powers to capture the evil villain kind of beam.

Shoo, shoo, shoo, shoo! We’re under attack! Laser beams are flying everywhere, the child-eating lady in front of us nearly jumps out of her nylon circulation stockings, when I do the unthinkable. I use my body as a shield to stop the blasts and get a hold of Captain Crazy Pants before we get kicked off this planet, in other words, out of the neighborhood grocery store.

“I’m so sorry,” are the only words I can get out of my mouth to save us from this embarrassing situation we’ve found ourselves in.

Thank goodness for the older man chuckling behind me who apparently watched the whole showdown.

I pass the apologetic look onto him, and he says, “I have three boys, and from what I can tell, those were some pretty good repulsor rays.”

We both laughed, and somehow we managed to get through the rest of the line without further attacks.

While I admire my son’s determination to save us commoners from the daily evil-doers of this world, we need to teach our invincible thinking Superboy that danger doesn’t always lurk around the corner. He doesn’t have to hang up his cape and get back to the daily grind of being a three-year-old but instead considers using his mighty superpowers to find the sock eating villain that lives in my dryer.