From our archives

Dear Friends

When my 5-year-old nephew, Austin, and his family recently came to visit, we lined up theme parks, trips to the beach, children's museums, and fun places to eat out in anticipation of making it a visit he would never forget (this being his first trip to Southern California).

From the moment he arrived, Austin fell in love with our place -- he loved Willie (my goat), the cats and dogs, the garden and yard, the horse corral and barn. He loved 'exploring' all around the property. Each morning when we talked about that day's planned adventure over breakfast, Austin just didn't seem all that excited. Once breakfast was finished, he would ask permission to go outside. While the adults got ready to go, Austin was usually deeply involved in a conversation with the dogs, looking at all the bugs under an overturned rock, building a little stick fort out of tree branches, or picking some flowers in the yard. Reluctantly, he would stop what he was doing and come with us for another day of 'fun.'

One day when I went to get Austin for our trip to a marine theme park, I found him crouched in the yard watching snails. Fascinated by the way they moved, he had built little obstacle courses for them to see how they would get around a stick or leaf. When he found one on the sidewalk, he carefully picked it up and carried it over to the garden. At that moment, I realized (finally!) that Austin didn't need us to make 'fun' happen for him. He loved nature, animals, exploring, and being outside. He was having the time of his life, and we were actually ruining it by dragging him all over town.

So often we think we need to schedule every minute of the day for our children. Not only does this not leave any down time for them to tap into their natural curiosity and feed their own interests, but often what we adults come up with is way off the mark as far as what truly feeds their souls. We assumed Austin wanted to be entertained by our planned activities, when he was doing just fine, keeping perfectly happy with the help of a few snail companions.

Next time he visits, I hope we have the sense to refrain from getting swept up in the 'entertain Austin' syndrome. His ability to amuse himself is such a precious gift, a gift all children have and which we adults can nurture by simply standing back and celebrating their innate and marvelous interest in the simplest of things.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

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