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13 Prairie Values for Raising Kids

יום שישי, אפריל 4th, 2014

By Toby Klein Greenwald

 Toby head shot wedding smiling

In the aftermath of the most daunting Israeli snowstorm of this century, last December, I dropped an e-mail to new residents of our town to invite them for Sabbath lunch. The lady asked me for directions to our house. I wrote, "Just walk up the street and when you see #38 on your left, go up the steps on your right. Wooden pergola and wooden gate, like Little House on the Prairie…Well, I don't know if they actually had a pergola, or a gate…" On the appointed day, I stood at our bay window, awaiting their arrival, and saw them crunching bravely through the snow, like genuine pre-snow-blower pioneers.

GAte in snow

Surrendering to the elements brought back memories of that show on which I raised our daughters (the boys preferred soccer), in the '80's. You've heard of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? Here are some of the values that children learned from Little House on the Prairie:

1 Listen to Mom and Dad.

Little boy on mom back

2 Be nice to your siblings.

3 Don't let people like Nellie take advantage of you.

4. If you mess up, fess up.

5 Share.

6 Have your friends' backs.

kids running

7 Be polite to everyone.

8 Dress modestly.

9 Read.

10 Get enough sleep.

11 Don't forget your lunch.

12 Pray.

13 Take good care of your pony.

Regarding that last one — when our oldest daughter, I'll call her Sara, was eleven, she asked for a pony. She said that she would share it with a friend (she had number 5 right), but they wanted to put it in our back yard. Sara could not comprehend why we said no, but went on to do science fair projects on hamsters in mazes and petrified snakes, perhaps to sublimate her pony deficit, though we did have, over the years, cats and dogs. Bottom line was she developed a comfortable relationship with animals and learned to respect all living creatures.replica hermes jewelry

About number 11, my children (some of whom are already earth mothers or father in their own right) remind me occasionally of their mortification of being the only ones who brought sandwiches to school that were never white bread and chocolate spread, but whole wheat, cottage cheese and veggies, or something else healthy. No one wanted to swap with them. They've overcome that trauma by giving their own children rolls with chocolate spread once a week.

 Sandwich

Number 9: I pretended not to notice (like my parents before me) when our children read long after their bedtime, which kind of conflicts with number 10, but life is a toss-up.

About number 6, kids often have to walk the line between loyalty to friends and doing what's right. What they will discover as they grow up is that grown-ups sometimes have the same dilemmas, as they will with a few of the other items on my list.

Regarding numbers 5 and 2, those are lifelong lessons that lead to charity and good deeds.

And then there is number 3.

This is a difficult one, and I credit the original author and the TV creators of Little House for inserting a young character into the mix who always has a selfish agenda. But how do we balance number 3 with all the positive-thinking messages with which we inculcate our children?

Little House on the Prairie

We don't want to raise them to be suspicious of everyone, but reality will occasionally rise up and bite them. At some point in their lives, they may have to deal with a client who doesn't pay, an unpleasant boss, a rude bureaucrat, or people who disappoint. All of these lessons need to be personally modeled, but number 3 is the most difficult, if we are to raise children who are trusting, not cynical.

Not a bad list to live by, at any age. Like with number 1 — even now, when both my parents are gone, I can still hear their lessons.

Which kind of brings me to number 12.

The author is a mom, grandma, educator, theater director and editor-in-chief of WholeFamily.com.

Guest Blog by Judy Gruen: Counting Our Blessings

יום שני, יולי 30th, 2012

  Last night as my husband, Jeff, and I had dinner together, I felt a deep sense of gratitude. This     might seem odd, since we are inching toward our 25th anniversary, and by my calculation, we have eaten nearly 9,000 dinners together. (I also figure that I have likely cooked more than 8,000 of them!) Fortunately, our enduring partnership has not dulled our affection for or interest in one another. In contrast to the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt, familiarity for us has bred content, and much more. Today we cherish a deeper emotional connection than we could have dreamed possible when we first married.

We are now quasi empty-nesters who still work long hours at our respective jobs. Physically and psychologically, our evening meals provide nourishment for both body and soul. We talk about our kids, our work, the news. We talk about books we are reading, and share new insights from classes we have attended. And of course there is the mundane stuff of life, such as who will take the car for the oil change, and when we will ever get around to dumping the ancient, faded family room couch and freshen up that long-neglected room.Get cheap van cleef jewelry,

If the day has been particularly maddening or frazzling, we'll play sure-fire calming classics for ambiance: Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, Mozart's "A Little Night Music," Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," or Brahms' Hungarian Dances. Other evenings, we'll play Celtic instrumentals, Spanish guitar, and folk/rock from "our time," especially Jeff's all-time favorite singer-songwriter, James Taylor.What made last night's dinner particularly meaningful was that it was the first night in nearly two weeks when Jeff could sit up for dinner at all without excruciating pain. Twelve days earlier, he began to feel unwell. Two days after that, he experienced brutal head and neck pain whenever he tried to sit up or stand. Although it was the morning of our Sabbath, when we normally don't use the phone or ride in cars, I called the paramedics. We spent the next eleven hours in the emergency department of a nearby hospital, where a caring and capable doctor and a cadre of hard-working nurses tried to ease Jeff's pain.

Jeff has been blessed with excellent health and stamina – blessings that we tried not to take for granted. His robust energy had also seemed a vital necessity given the demands of running a small business, where twelve-hour work days are much too common. In twenty-two years he's rarely missed a day of work due to illness. When he has, it was usually because I adamantly insisted that he stay home to rest.

The suddenness and severity of his pain was terrifying, but we tried not to "catastrophize," replica van cleef necklace and fought the tendency to imagine dreadful diagnoses. Fortunately, every test at the hospital revealed a man in good health. Finally, the doctor surmised that the pain was caused by a nasty virus, and he recommended the low-tech solution of complete bed rest and lots of liquids. We were relieved to finally come home, but were exhausted and still worried. Was this really a virus? How long would the symptoms last? What if the doctor was wrong?

A few days later a neurologist diagnosed the problem as a small tear at the base of Jeff's brain, which caused a leak of spinal fluid whenever he was in any upright position. It was a rare and unlikely event, given that Jeff had not had any head trauma. The doctor was optimistic that several days of complete rest and drinking copious amounts of liquid would heal the tear. And if it didn't, there were non-surgical corrections available.

Jeff had no choice but to submit to a regimen of complete bed rest. But while you can take the man out of the office, you can't always take the office out of the man, and my husband continued to work via BlackBerry and iPad while lying down. "Just because I've sprung a leak doesn't mean I can't work," he joked, revealing his sense of humor was still intact while mine was missing in action. I typed the longer emails, because, trust me, it's really hard to type while holding an iPad aloft.

During his convalescence, the morning blessings that we recite assumed a new poignancy: We thank the Almighty for waking up in full consciousness (even if we are still a bit groggy), for the gift of sight, for mindful understanding, for "releasing the bound," "straightening the bent,"  and "giving strength to the weary." For the first time in his life, Jeff recited these blessings unable to stand. As he slowly regained strength and equilibrium, and could sit up for a few minutes longer each day, we were awed by the human body's exquisite balance, miraculous complexity, and a remarkable capacity to heal. We were awed by the Almighty's masterpiece of design.

Despite the fright and pain of this episode, we realize how blessed we are that it was of short duration, and according the doctor, unlikely to recur. "The small things really are the big things," my husband said to me that evening, enjoying the novel sensation of sitting up pain-free. Enduring the health scare of his life has made him determined to finally implement the kind of changes he has long wanted to make at work, so that he can run his business more than his business runs him.

As he told a friend who came to visit, "This experience has reminded me in no uncertain terms of what's really important in my life: the unconditional love from my wife and children, a supportive community, and a loyal team of employees. I like to think that the goodness I've tried to put out there over the years has come home when I needed it most."

This is why our quiet little dinners, which we had already looked forward to each night with happy anticipation, are times to cherish even more, both of us grateful to know "you've got a friend."

Judy Gruen is the author of four books, including the newly released Till We Eat Again: A Second Helping. She lives in Los Angeles. Her website is: www.judygruen.com

How to Advocate for Your Child in School

יום ראשון, מרץ 4th, 2012

By Toby Klein Greenwald

There is nothing we can do for the school lives of our children that is more important than mounting the barricades for them. Most teachers are caring, kind and dedicated to their students. Having said that, they are also underpaid, underappreciated and overworked. So I formulated my own philosophy about education, and it goes like this: “As long as the school doesn’t destroy my child’s self esteem, or his natural curiosity to learn, it will be enough. Everything else is gravy.”

What you can do to advocate for your child:

• Never tolerate physical violence against a child.

• Never tolerate a teacher saying something to a child that will make her feel degraded or stupid.?van cleef arpels necklace

• Never tolerate a teacher embarrassing a child because of what she perceives to be a parent’s shortcomings.

• If you think your child needs testing, don’t delay. Teachers sometimes like to “wait and see” because they don’t want to “scare” the parents. If your child has a learning problem, the sooner you find out, the sooner he can receive special help to correct it.

• On the flip side: Never accept the excuse that your child is not being called on, or tested for gifted programs because, “He sits in the back and is quiet”. Advocacy is also about recognition of your child’s strengths. An expert in giftedness told me, “Giftedness is Special Education, no less than LD and ADHD.”

• Always believe your child. And even you have doubts, tell him that you believe him, anyway. Many years after nobody will remember (or care) who threw that piece of chalk at the blackboard, your child will remember that you trusted him.cheap replica van cleef arpels jewelry

• Never assume automatically that a bad teacher’s report means that there is something wrong with your child. Maybe the problem is the teacher. Find out how your child is doing in art, gym and other “non-academic” subjects. Investigate if there are too many other children in the same class receiving negative reports.

• If you believe your child has been treated unfairly, speak up! Nobody else will!

• If you believe your child has been abused in some way, contact the principal, a lawyer, or the police. Even if the teacher apologizes, or the truth is not as bad as you thought, your child will remember that you went to bat for him.

• Always be respectful when interacting with teachers or with school officials. This is a message to your child that will last him for life. One day, one of my grown daughters said, “Mom, you were always ready to mount the barricades for us. Thank you.” Being our child’s advocate demands courage, perseverance, and audacity, but it will pay off in their relationship with us, and in their perception of their own worth. And even teachers can be taught.

The author is the mother of six and has been a teacher for thirty years.

My Son was an Underage Pizza Worker

יום ראשון, דצמבר 26th, 2010

or How to Encourage Independence

Confessions of a (Still) Working Mom

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby head shot wedding smiling

You know how there are some stories in the history of families that become legends? We laughed over one of those legends at the time that our almost 21-year-old son brought home the young lady (same age) soon to be his bride. By the time you’re reading this, they’re married. Actually, just updated, by the time you're reading this it's more than three years later and they have an adorable baby boy, but I digress.

His story bumps up the Kool-Aid stand on the corner a whole new notch.

I always change my children’s names in articles and blogs to preserve the little bit of privacy left to the sons and daughters of a writer who consistently finds them her greatest source of material and inspiration. So, “Mitch” was seven years old when Dr. Tobin and I began this adventure we call WholeFamily.com. “David,” the next oldest child, was 11 and finished school in the late afternoon, but Mitch finished at 3PM.

Every day, around the time that Mitch came home, I’d call him to be sure that he had found the lunch I had left for him. Fortunately we live in a protected neighborhood and our little corner of the street had enough stay-at-home moms who remembered how I looked in on their children, when I was the  one home.

When Mitch was about 14 he revealed to me that he and a few friends (also children of working moms) decided to not settle for warmed-up vegetarian hamburger.  They had approached the local pizza parlor and asked the proprietor if they could wipe down tables in return for a slice of pizza and a coke.

This went on for about a year, until they started getting hot school lunches. The owner, who we saw occasionally in passing, never let on that he knew where our boys were after school even if we didn’t.replica cartier jewelry.

As time went on, Mitch sold flowers door to door, then collected bottles and traded them in for petty cash. I put my foot down when, at 13, he asked to work in a small local flour mill, whose owners should have been reported to the child protection agencies. It took a while to explain to a boy who had been earning his own ice cream money from the age of seven that no, he could not work in a flour mill.

Other jobs included washing cars, collecting trash at the zoo, tutoring small children, waitering and anything and everything else that would result in him having ready cash and not dependent on us.

I tried to get into the guilty mom head – really I did. But I failed. And as time went on and I saw other kids selling flowers and washing cars, I knew I was not alone.

At the age of 18 Mitch became the maitre d’ for the catering service he used to work for as a young teen. At the age of 19 Mitch was given the incredibly responsible job of being the head of personnel  for a municipal discount card service of a town serving more than half a million people.cheap replica cartier bracelets

At the age of 21, in addition to being a husband (His new bride and he managed most of the organization of the wedding on their own), he was in an officer’s training course. Today, at 24 (in 2014), he has hundreds of 18-19 year olds under his command, ready to go out and get the bad guys.

I don’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty anymore.