Archive | children

Giving my Children the Moon (A Second Time)

Sometimes the best time to see the moon is at daytime.

Once upon a time a princess looked out her bedroom window and sighed. “What is the matter?” Her mother asked. “Can you bring me the moon?” The princess replied. The queen had a necklace made with a silver crescent moon pendant and gave it to the princess. “That is not the moon,” the princess said, and became sad. The general gave her an ivory moon figurine. “That is not the moon,” the princess said and became more sad. The castle cook baked the princess a moon-shaped cheese souffle. “That is not the moon,” sighed the princess and became more and more sad.

Everybody in the castle tried to cheer up the sad princess. The court jester brought her outside and showed her a reflection of the moon in water. “That is not the moon,” said the princess and sadly distorted the reflection with her hand. The queen was at her wits’ end. She knew she could not give the moon to her daughter. The princess grew sadder and sadder every day, staring nightly at the moon. One day a storyteller came to the castle. He asked the princess: “What is the moon?” The princess looked outside at the full moon. “It is small and round, not bigger than my finger nail,” she replied. “It is a silver coin exactly that size.” Now the story teller could give the princess the moon.

The princess grew happier, but at night the moon came up again, and the storyteller and queen trembled that the princess see it. “That is the new moon,” replied the princess. “Mine is the moon from last night.”

I too, like the queen, would like to give my children the moon. I would like to be for them an anchor, a safe harbor, a haven in the midst of the turmoils and storms of life. A place of repose where they can rest and renew and feel supported and loved. But I am not an anchor. Nor am I a haven by any means. Most often, I am swayed by my emotions on an open sea, blown here and there seemingly at random. If anything, it is I who needs an anchor, a safe harbor, before I can be the same for my kids.

Strangely, I never asked the kids if they need an anchor. I suspect that attention rather than stability would probably be their preferred moon. Eden just asked if I could read her a book, and Uri woke up at five and asked for a hug. They want me to play with them and listen to them, read to them and go on adventures with them, jump on the trampoline or lounge in front of the TV with them. They do not want a cumbersome old moon. And once I give the children my attention, the winds of my mood lighten and calm, as though the kids are my safe harbor, my haven, for at least that little bit of playtime.

This is one version of the fairy tale The Princess who Wanted the Moon.

Feeding the Children, or Is Preventing World War Three Necessary?

It didn’t take me long to discover that my two kids require feeding when I pick them up from school. Even when I lived in Palo Alto, and home was about ten minutes away, they couldn’t wait. Eden especially, if I don’t catch her the moment before irreversible sugar-low crabbiness, will refuse to eat and make it complicated to bring her back to an agreeable (read: manageable) mood.

I have taken to bringing with me sandwiches, fruit, candy, cookies, cakes. For a while the kids loved bagels with cream cheese. Then it was pretzels from Esther’s Bakery. Uri had a donut period. Apples came and passed, then came back again into fashion. Popcorn. Girl scout cookies. Baby carrots which Eden devoured by the bag. But every so often I’d bring something they didn’t care for, and thunderous silence battered me from the backseat.

I wondered, am I feeding the children into pleasantness? I sometimes offer a treat when they are upset, but even as I do, I cringe. I can’t believe I’m teaching my kids that food can cheer them up. Yes, eating is enjoyable and fun, but I’d like my kids to have other methods to relax. I’d like to argue, however, that more than a calming after a long day eating binge, the after-school snack is an important transitional aid, shifting the children’s focus and energies from school to home.

For the past few weeks I’ve participated in a parenting class through Hand in Hand. Hand in Hand philosophy says that a parent needs a place for releasing the emotions that parenting brings, a listening partner that gives whole-hearted support and no criticism. The idea is that in order to really listen to and be there for our children, we parents must be listened to in our turn.

According to Hand in Hand, children need tantrums in order to let go of feelings and upsets. In the last class, we were talking about tantrums that happen during transitions, and how sometimes it is good to leave some time to allow the tantrum to happen. I instantly thought about the moment of school pick-up. I’ve been hurrying the kids away from school, giving them their food in the car in order to be on time for our after-school activities, but perhaps I could plan for a few moments to sit and have a treat at school. Then again, I can’t say I’m eager for tantrums in front of all the other moms….

Without doubt, this parenting business is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. At so many turns I hit a wall, and so often I feel like any choice I make will be a bad one. However, just as I feel better after I cry, perhaps so will the kids. And after their tantrum, maybe they’ll finally have their snack, become grounded again, and we could move on to have fun.

Sigal Tzoore (650) 815-5109