Shocker: I caught my daughter in a lie. Has all innocence been shattered?! We raise our kids to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...but somewhere along the way (probably from us)...they learn how to lie. We all lie sometimes (tell the truth!) so why is it so surprising when a kid lies? My daughter's lie feels a lot like my fault.
What was this shocker lie you ask? That she ate lunch yesterday.
Backgrounder: I have given her $10 to buy something at the cafeteria (I was totally out of good lunch stuff). Going to the cafeteria is a once-in-a-while-super-treat for my new middle-grader. She came into the house, volunteering "I bought a slice of pizza, a beef patty, a bottle of water, a hot chocolate...and my friend didn't have lunch so I bought her a patty too." Here I thought she was proud of her buy-ing power.
Later that evening, I heard (through her sister) that someone stole her money before lunch. Dear daughter thought she would be in trouble for not having the money so instead of calling home, coming home or eating at all...she went without lunch...and made up a story to account for all the pennies that were supposed to go towards her meal.
I. Felt. Awful.
Giving her the biggest hug I could muster—I held my daughter—perhaps trying to protect her from a world where stealing and lies are born and bred. I told her I wasn't mad—would never be mad—about her losing lunch money. I only felt awful that he went without lunch. We discussed how keeping money in her locker was the safest option on a buying-school-lunch day. And that she can ALWAYS tell me the truth.
I told her if anything ever happened at school...someone taking her lunch money/her losing her lunch money...to call home and I would BRING her lunch. Never, should she feel the need to hide...or lie.
Yes, I said—up there—kids learn to lie from their parents. I'm sure she has heard me say "I'm busy that day" when I'm asked to go to a PTA meeting (gah, I'm so not a PTA person). Little white lies which hurt no one...but certainly don't tell the truth. This is exactly what she did yesterday. She said a little white lie...so as not to get into trouble. It hurt no one. But it kinda hurt me.
Did I handle this right? Are lies ever ok?
"She went to bed with it!" was the e-mail I received, along with a picture of an ecstatic toddler girl in her little bed, hugging an Abby Cadabby doll. It was a new-in-the-box toy, which I had donated earlier that week. CALL TO ACTION DEAR READERS: donate a toy this holiday season—it will change a child's day, and your own.
I had received a toy drop from the good folks at Hasbro (being a parenting blogger, I often receive toys—my kids think I have the best job in the world!). The toys were all absolutely age-appropriate for my kids, who longed to liberate the toys from their packages.
That same week, my husband asked me, "Caroline, do you have any toys in your office we can donate?"
There had been a tragic fire at the house of one of his co-workers—the family lost everything. Everything. However, the family got out alive.
Can you imagine losing everything? Your clothes. Pictures. Furniture. Computer. Everything. It is incomprehensible. Now imagine you are three years old, and it's all gone—along with your toys. How does a young child digest that?
I went to my office and grabbed—by the armload—Hasbro toys.
I didn't expect any recognition, nor reply. All I could think of was—imagine if that was my family.
Most of us have so much (too much)—our birthday present closets and art supply areas overflow. Donating a toy means little to our collection of "stuff," nor to the family budget, yet it means so much to a child who has little.
Families are not always in the position to give a gift to their kids—be it because of a house fire, a job loss, a family member's illness—let's be the person who helps to give a kid a holiday this year.
Coming up to the holidays, I will be donating toys. Absolutely, YES. And I'll have my kids hand the gifts over, so that they can participate in giving.
Where can you donate new toys?
If you know of a place to donate toys, please, please share it in the comments.
Donating those toys changed my day. It made the world a little smaller. Made a stranger-child touch my heart. It made me realize that I have the opportunity to make a difference, and, thus, I write this blog post with purpose and great intent—to influence you, dear readers. Please. Donate. Toys.
For other ways to teach your kids about gratitude, click here.
What is open-ended play? It's a pretty hot topic in the world of early childhood education. Basically, it's any activity that doesn't have a set outcome. Painting, cardboard tubes, and blocks are all examples of open-ended activities because you can play with each of them in a number of ways with no set outcome. On the other hand, a model airplane that's supposed to look like an airplane at the end of the play, and a children's baking recipe are not open-ended play because they actually have to look like the image on the box.
Open-ended play has some great benefits.
Individual activity (for the child who might have challenges playing with others).
Stress free (no pressure to complete something to look exactly like the image on the box).
Builds creativity (a painting can be whatever you want—in whatever interpretation you like)
Develops decision making (Will the blocks be a tower? Road? Box? Will you group them by colour? Size? Texture?)
As an aside: most open-ended activities I can think of are non-electronic...I suppose a bonus if you are anti-screens
On to those 5 open-ended activity ideas...(and yes, supervise your children during play time).
1. Painting. Use a finger, a carrot stick or a brush—painting is a great go-with-the-flow activity.
2. Sand. Some sand, a shovel, and a bucket is sure-fire fun. I sometimes substitute sand with oatmeal (great texture—less grit). Hate the clean-up? I put a cup of dry oatmeal in the bathtub and let dear son play away. Add water and it becomes an oatmeal bath (great for the skin).
3. Drawing. Crayons, pencil crayons, plain pencils. Drawing is a nice quiet activity (unless you are MY toddler who has become addicted to drawing on the dining room walls).
4. Water. Outside: pool, sprinkler, water table. Inside: kitchen sink, bath tub, plastic containers. Kids love to touch, splash, dribble, and dunk.
5. Play Dough. I shared a recipe for easy Home-Made Play Dough last year. And thanks to a comment on that post from Astra—I am a changed Play Dough maker. The microwave play dough recipe she shared in the comments (pasted below) is super-easy and I have made it again and again with great results.
1 c flour
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1/2 c salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 c water
Combine first 4 ingredients together; mix food colouring with the water and add to flour mixture. Microwave 1 minute on high; stir and microwave again for 1 minute. Stir and let sit until cool enough to handle. Knead well.