Anne’s Parenting Column

  I was sitting at my desk when I heard my mother say, “There’s my Sealy.” “Hi, Mommy. I’m going to color a little,” I called to her. “Oh my beautiful Seal. Look at you!” Kate Barnes cooed, wrapping her baby girl in a big white towel. I realized my mother wasn’t talking to me, but to Julia, my eight-month old sister. She had always called me her Sealy when she dried me off after my bath. “Maybe she...

With the very best intentions, mothers often take too long to say goodbye. Hoping to give a child that extra bit of tenderness, they instead inadvertently make things harder for their child and themselves. Trying to leave and actually leaving are very different. Here is a classic case. A mother walks her son Johnny into his school. Johnny is about to do something he wants to do, something he is very capable of doing. What can...

Reaching to shut off the alarm clock, John thought, “That was the shortest night of my life.” He was in a B & B in the state of Washington, a long way from his home on the East Coast. After a quick shower, he went to the desk to pay for his room. He grabbed coffee in a paper cup and said, “Thank you very much. I’ll see you again,” as he went out the big...

Dara and Dave Thompson had moved out of New York a month ago and settled in Lakewood, Connecticut with their children, Davey, 4, Teddy, 2 and Eva, four months. Dara wrote for a parenting magazine, now on a very reduced schedule. Dave worked for a small investment firm, which had just moved to Lakewood. Their new neighbors were considerably older and not really used to having young people on their street. Mary, recently widowed, a retired nursery school teacher,...

“Carrie! Tommy! You aren’t sitting on a stone wall in your nice clothes, are you?” The children jumped down off the wall and looked at their clothes. “We’re still clean,” Tommy called. “Mommy is so weird. A stone wall is now like a monster,” Carrie said. Blanche heard her. “Really? If we’re going out for dinner, sitting on a wall is a pain. You now look grubby.” “We like the way we look. Can’t you?” asked Carrie. Blanche had had...

There are many touching common threads that run through the experiences of very young children. One is their sudden infatuation with ordinary items they discover on the floor or on the ground. I am always intrigued and peacefully startled when a child becomes fascinated with a found object: a very old metal washer, a pretty rock, a tiny spring from a ballpoint pen, a small pointy stick, a pine cone, an orange bottle top. Each...

Charlie threw his coat into his cubby. Bridget, Charlie’s mother called into the room, “Hi all. Charlie will be bringing Finn home. See ya!” “Hi Charlie,” greeted Miss Carter, cheerfully. “Hi. Where’s Finn?” “He isn’t here yet. I have some new cars. Would you like to see them? ” “I want to see Finn. We’re having a play date today.” “Remember, try your hardest to not talk about your nice after school plan. Others might feel left out.”  “Oh,...

Sally and James were being extra quiet. They didn’t want their mother and father to know they were awake. It was Saturday and the children were planning to draw and make cards for their Grandmother whose birthday was coming up. Then they heard their father talking in the hall.   “Ginny, let’s make a quick breakfast and go right to the aquarium. After that, we can take the children to The Plunge. James really needs to...

Lizzy walked behind her mother as they approached the door of her nursery school. Just inside, the principal, Mrs. Carmichael was waiting to greet them. “Good morning Lizzy. Good morning Margaret. How are you today?” She put her hand out to Lizzy, but Lizzy ducked behind Margaret and looked down at the floor. “Good morning, Mrs. Carmichael,” Margaret smiled. “I think Lizzy is feeling a bit shy again today. Lizzy, will you shake hands? No? Okay, let’s...

“Mommy, the birds’ nests are blowing a lot in the wind. I feel sorry for the birds.”  Marian and her son, Denny were driving to the Farnsworth’s for a simple supper. It was very windy. They both saw how much the branches were bending. “Oh dear Denny, birds know how to build their nests so they are perfect for them, wherever they live. I really think they will be fine.”  They pulled into the driveway and in seconds...

“In the car, Patty. We’re late. I mean now. All that dawdling is going to cost you.” “You’re not the boss of me,” four-year old Patty squawked. “Wanna bet?” Patty tried to resist her father’s grasp. Jeb picked up his daughter, put her in her car seat, and snapped down its lock. “Getting the picture now, right Patty? I AM the boss of you.” Jeb got into his seat quickly. He looked in the rear view mirror. Patty was sticking...

“What are you doing in there, Colin?” Denise barked from the hallway. “That’s my room. Keep out.” “Oh Denise, I was just looking for you. Sorry.”  “Then call me. Sneaking into my room is wrong. What do you want?”  “I wanted to ask when Mommy’s coming back. I really wasn’t sneaking. I’m hungry.”  Denise was looking at her phone. “If it looks like sneaking, it is. No clue when your mother is coming back. She’s always later than she...

Betsy had been awake for a while when she heard “Whaaah!” coming from Charlie’s room. She threw on her pink terry cloth robe and went to the six-month old she took care of.  “There you are! Hi Charlie. How’s my adorable boy?” She picked Charlie up and held him tightly. Charlie snuggled into her robe.  “Let’s get you some breakfast.” Betsy warmed a bottle of Charlie’s mother, Lucy’s milk. Charlie was smiling and gurgling as he looked...

Becky was happy that her new classroom was sunny and the staff was so friendly.  She did have butterflies and yet she knew once her job actually began, she’d feel calmer.  On the Sunday night before the first day of school, her clothes were already out for the next day and she had packed her lunch.  She decided to go back over her class list to become familiar with the names of the children and...

Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads (And Why You Shouldn’t Either) via nextshark.com If you fall within the Gen-Y era like us, chances are you’ve given a bunch of thought as to how you would raise your own children in this day and age (assuming you don’t have children already). Especially with technology, so much has changed since our childhoods in the 90s. Here’s one question: Would you introduce the technological wonder/heroin that...

Right after Labor Day, the teachers went in to school to prepare their classrooms. Becky was new to the faculty, having just moved to town from Maine. When it was time for lunch, she felt awkward joining the groups of obvious friends who gathered in several rooms for lunch. Leaving the pretty old building for a nearby park, she found a bench in the sun and opened her small brown paper bag. She was ravenous...

Jane and Lizzy had been close friends in high school and, as both recently moved back to their hometown, their friendship felt current and even stronger.  Both were married with young children and they often shared parenting notes with each other. On one bright morning, they met at the local beach.  They settled into their beach chairs, sipping iced coffee as they looked at the beautiful still water of the Sound.  They were happyto be together. “So...

[caption id="attachment_4870" align="aligncenter" width="608"] Anne in Southwestern France[/caption] I recently returned from a trip to France.  I keep thinking of all that I saw and ate and drank and felt. By some extra piece of good fortune, I have been given something new and wonderful to think about. As my sister and I walked through the crowded streets of a very old, beautiful seaside town, it was incredible to see so many grandparents carrying small children or...

“Children, if you eat anymore, you’re going to get chubby.  Your friends will tease you and you’ll feel awful.  So put that cheese down and let’s do some drawing.”  Margo walked past the plate that her mother, Mariel hadn’t finished at lunch and stuffed a leftover cracker in her mouth.  Robby waited for his mother to walk away.  Then he grabbed a piece of cheese before heading to the playroom. Mariel saw Robby chewing.  “Robby, your shorts...

“Come on Quinn, let’s get the show on the road.  Eat something.  No more just staring at your broccoli.”  Carrie Griffiths was clearly out of patience with her son. Dod Griffiths came over to Quinn and patted his dark curls.  “Quinnie, have a little nibble.  It is bath time and you’ve barely eaten.”  “I am not hungry tonight.  I’ll just get in the tub now.”  “Quinn, have you been snacking?”  Carrie asked.  “Sometimes I wonder why I go...

Getting ready for her first ever Girl’s Night Out, Margaret could hear her children squabbling downstairs.  She was just putting on her new dangly earrings when she heard a thud.  Running down the stairs she saw her two-year old, Juliet splat on the floor.  Four-year old Sarah looked upset and was crying too. “I didn’t mean to hurt her.  I’m sorry!” Both girls ran over to their mother, putting their tear-drenched faces into her hands. Grabbing a bunch...

Leaving the museum, Elizabeth said, “Yes, the dinosaurs were real.  That was a very, very long time ago, Philip.  Million and millions of years ago.”  “Were you alive, Mommy?”  Elizabeth said cooly, “Have you been paying attention at all, Philip?” “I think so, Mommy.  A lot of the time, anyway.” “Well, I certainly was not alive.”  Elizabeth said with a bit of disdain, realizing that her four year old had absolutely no grasp of time in history.  They walked...

Sun filled the wide hallway of the Little Farms Nursery School.  It was the second week of school and the children were settling into their lives there after the long summer vacation.  Mrs. Macafer was a young, vibrant, and very smiley teacher.  She adored children and each one of them felt special in her class.  The sun followed her into her big classroom.  Soon the children arrived and the class was in full swing.  The...

Marina Overton was setting up her desk in her new room, taking things out of a cardboard moving box: her tape dispenser, a little pair of red handled scissors, several drawing pads, lots of crayons and colored pencils.  As she arranged them on her white desk, she was thinking of her old room in the house she had lived in since she was born.  Her little brother Thomas sat in a bigger moving box, humming...

During the Thanksgiving holiday, four-year-old John Colligan became tearful at every turn.  He was feeling extra attached to his mother, Liz, and wanted to be with her all the time. She did make special times for each of her four children but loved time with all of them as well.  The children were happy altogether too.  Yet John suddenly began to separate himself from the board games, the family fun outdoors and even the cozy movie...

Suzy Lawrence tucked four-year-old Lilly and six-year-old Bailey into bed.  Several stories had been read and the children were very content.  As Suzy reached to put out the light, she said, “Girls, I need your help tomorrow.  I’m running the book fair at Bailey’s school.  We will need to be in the car by 7:30.  No dilly-dallying!  Understood?” The girls were silent.  Suzy thought for a minute they were possibly asleep.  Then Bailey said, “Okay.  We’ll...

Scott and Sloane Barrett were scurrying around, tidying up their slightly messy house for an unexpected visit from Scott’s mother and father.  Sloane felt a bit frantic, knowing that in less than an hour, the most particular, proper two people on earth were about to descend upon her. “I’m really not ready for this, Scott,” Sloane complained.  “I wish we had more warning.” “I know, Sloane,” Scott replied.  “But they are coming through on their way to...

Denny woke up with a start.  Ever since he had moved into a real bed, sleeping through the night had been difficult.  During the day, Denny sometimes became tearful out of the blue.  His parents, Anna and Brian, couldn’t figure out what was upsetting him. “I wish I knew what sometimes comes over Denny to make him feel so sad,” Anna had said to Brian the night before.  “I wonder if he misses his old room...

Dana Henry was walking quickly down the hall of her four year old daughter’s nursery school.  She had made a spur of the moment appointment at her hair salon, to have Danni’s hair cut in a classic bob, just like her own.  As she peered through the door, she could see her daughter drawing at a table with her friends.  Dana knocked and Miss Giancola waved her to come on in.  She said smiling, “Welcome....

At lunchtime on a beautiful warm day, Julia left the art gallery where she worked and made her way to the park.  Julia had found out a few weeks ago that she was expecting a baby and she felt compelled to be near mothers and their children. Sitting on a green bench in the early afternoon sun, she took out the chicken salad sandwich she had made that morning.  Nearby, two young boys were drawing in...