Tag Archives: children

skin and bones

skin and bones medical diagram skeleton

I fully realize that, upon initial consideration, you may think that something is very wrong with me; but I realized something tonight in a new way. I realized that I enjoy seeing skin stretched and creased. What’s more (and please don’t judge), I actually get even a little more pleasure from seeing skin folds pulled back and separated to reveal the bone underneath.

The really weird thing is … you probably do, as well.

I mean, think about it.  Isn’t that all a smile really is: flaps of skin being pulled away to show underlying bone? C’mon, work with me. Don’t you find it kind of bizarre, when described physiologically, that such a process could signify – and invoke – joy? It’s a curiosity, for certain; but it’s the most wonderful of mysteries, if you ask me.

Last night, I ventured out for dinner alone, following the siren song of sushi.  As is the case with many such authentic Thai restaurants, the tables were placed mere inches apart. After I was seated and had ordered my meal, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the little girl seated to my left, no more than seven, was staring at me wide-eyed and smiling a too-big smile (with the obligatory missing teeth). I turned to look at her and couldn’t help smiling back myself. “Hello!” she chimed. “Hello!” I echoed back cheerily.

Her father placed his hand correctively on her shoulder: “Honey, don’t bother that man. He’s trying to eat.”

I found this odd, since my food hadn’t even arrived yet, and no more than a glass of ice water adorned the table. It made me a little sad, to tell you the truth. It wasn’t so long ago that children were actually instructed as part of standard etiquette to greet others with a pleasant smile and cordial “hello.” What happened, to have left these former markers of civility and proper upbringing the cause for mild chastisement, or being seen as a “bother”?

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big kids: part 4 of 4


Today marks the final installment of the current “big kids” series. I hope you’ve been enjoying the trip down memory lane. But more importantly, I hope you collected a few things during your journey and brought them back with you, dusted them off, and started playing with them again in the now.

In case you missed them, be sure to catch up to speed on PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3 (particularly PART 1, which sets the stage for each following post, including this one!).

Let’s take one more look at something we used to know as kids, but maybe have forgotten as we’ve gotten older:

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big kids: part 3 of 4




Last Thursday, I began a short blog series on some of the best parts of ourselves that may have accidentally (or even intentionally) been left in the past. Be sure to catch PART 1 and PART 2. Not only does PART 1 lay some important groundwork, they’re quick reads; and I believe you’ll find that the potential benefits outweigh the minimal time commitment.

3. Children are pretty comfortable just being themselves.

Kids don’t feel overly concerned about how their runny nose looks or about the grass stain on their pants.

To a certain age (before we condition them otherwise), boys don’t think anything of draping their arm around the neck of their best bud while walking down the street; and girls will toss their dolls aside to make an impromptu mud pie if the mood strikes.

They sing made-up songs on the swing or in a restaurant booth, without regard to who might be listening.

They put on roller-skating shows and dance in the living room.

They skip if it feels right.

They giggle and make faces in the mirror and experiment with character voices in conversations.

Then there are the adults. What happens to us? We stifle the giggles, look in every mirror we pass to be sure our hair is in place and there is nothing in our teeth, and adopt flat-lined voice tones with one another in order to appear “well-adjusted.”

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big kids: part 2 of 4


Yesterday, I wrote the first installment in this four-part series.  It had occurred to me in a new way that, for all children don’t yet know, there is an equal amount that adults have forgotten. While it’s not absolutely necessary, I do recommend hopping over and catching up to speed by reading “part 1″ from yesterday, since it contains important groundwork for today’s post (as well as the next two).

2. Children know how to give simple gifts.

How many times have you struggled over what to buy for someone in your circles on their birthday or for a holiday?

Wondering if the gift will be taken as too little. Or too much.

Laboring over the fact that there is nothing they really need.

Or resorting to just grabbing a gift card or cheese wheel at the last minute.

Kids aren’t torn up about such things. Yet somehow, in the absence of high-paying jobs or cash flow, they still manage to excel at gift giving.

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big kids: part 1 of 4

Childlike isn't childish.

My friend Matt is celebrating his birthday this week – and by “this week,” I do mean all week:

BD Exchange

Matt is an adult – a tad older than me, in fact.  Matt is also Vice President at a well-known, multi-billion-dollar international company. Rest assured, people take him seriously.  He’s just learned not to take himself that seriously.

Before I go further, please know that Matt is not celebrating his birthday all week because he’s stinking rich and is just finding another excuse to lounge around having his servants feed him grapes and fan him. He’s actually a rather shy, nice, normal guy.

I told Matt that I have actually always celebrated Birthday Week myself (and sometimes Birthday Month). In fact, at 45 years old, I have never once worked on my birthday.

I can imagine the polar reactions going on right now.

Actually, I don’t have to imagine them because I’ve experienced them. On the one hand, I can think of the many people in my life who’ve heard me say this and are disdainful – perplexed at best.  Scowl lines abounding, they say, “Why on earth would you do that? Birthdays are for kids not adults. That’s just ridiculous.”

On the other hand, I have a small handful of friends who would respond, “Well, of course! Why wouldn’t you? I say take every single opportunity you can to celebrate in life!”

So who’s right?

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simple love

All of my reminiscing with Disney classics lately has me thinking about childhood.  I don’t mind saying that I’ve extended mine by a few years now, with no plan to change things anytime soon.  It perpetually amazes me how royally grown-ups can muck up things that are designed to be very simply expressed and understood.

During my years working with small children, I’ve seen then express love in profound ways:

Bringing you a drink that they carefully filled to the tippy-top.

Offering you their best eraser or butterfly hair clip just because.

Drawing a picture of both of you holding hands in green grass, blue sky and sunshine.

A look of concern and a silent hug.  Then walking away to let you be alone.

There are many books out there of letters and prayers and quotes attributed to children.  Whenever such a book makes it into a crowd of adults, someone inevitably interjects with a lofty air: “Well — obviously, real children didn’t write these.  I have a degree in [insert long degree name that no one particularly cares about], so I know these things.  These were doctored by editors or coached by parents, just to make a book and bilk money out of the type of people who frequent the Christmas Tree Shop.”

My only advice to such people is to spend some time with actual children.  They’ll shock you with some of the things they say.  With what they understand about the world and the people in it.  For all that I may have taught children along the way, I have learned as much from them — and sometimes, perhaps, just been reminded — about the way things are supposed to be.

I’ve shared some quotes with you recently.  Yesterday, I ran across an article offering some quotes from kids ranging from 4 to 8 years old.  The children were asked in random, live interviews to describe love — what it is.  Some talked about family love.  Some friendship.  Some took a stab at what they thought romantic love might be.  Their quotes may not become famous, with generations knowing their names.  But there is real wisdom to be found in some of their replies.  I’ve culled out a dozen of them for you here.

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.

Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.

Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.

Love is when you tell someone you like his shirt, even when he wears it every day.

Love is when my mom makes coffee for my dad and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and talk.

If you want to get better at loving, you should start with a friend who you hate.

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other a really long time.

You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot because people forget.

Say what you will about being dirty or hyper or loud, but kids get it.  Or perhaps, as that last little boy noted, we adults just forget.

I hope you’ve been inspired, in some small way, to remember.

If so, do something differently because of it.

lemonade stand

In response to my post entitled “small kindnesses,” my friend Dibby wrote this comment:

…never, ever pass by a lemonade stand without indulging…

When I read this, I knew exactly what she meant and how she meant it.  She thinks like me.  She gets it.

When either of us sees a kid running a lemonade stand, we get excited.  We remember the thrill of being that kid.

Coloring the sign to announce your wares, sure that your graphic artistry and marketing were going to practically pull the people in, almost against their will. Hearing the satisfying “pah!” as you peeled back the plastic lid on the tub of powdered drink mix and being greeted with that smell. Choosing a pitcher that would make the lemonade look most appealing (always glass for me; never plastic). Cracking the ice from the trays into the finished product (having forgotten to do this first, and thus making quite a mess with the splashing). And sometimes, mom would suggest adding lemon wheels she’d cut for you, in order to make it look more authentic and to up the ante.

The card table and folding chairs would be set up close to the road. The sign was affixed with masking tape:




It was imperative that the sign say “ICE COLD,” because that was part of the sure-fire marketing strategy. The pitcher of lemonade was placed front and center, with two upside-down stacks of plastic cups waiting beside.

The tin can would occupy the corner of the table closest to yourself, so that you could look into it often. The money can. I remember the feeling of anticipation in setting it all up while watching the cars go by on the nearby road. Every one that passed before we were open for business was a missed opportunity to start filling that can.

And you imagined that can full. The night before, and that morning as you prepared, you’d do and re-do the figures. “If this many cars stop, then I’ll make this much, and if THIS many cars stop, I could make THIS much,” and so on. Then, of course, you’d begin to break it all down by the hour.

You felt confident. Important. Grown up somehow.

Show time! OK, world, let’s see those dimes! But then . . .

Much to your confusion, the cars would not stop. There would not be a waiting line that was impossible to keep up with. The can would not be getting full. And then your aunt would stop by. Or your grandmother. Or a neighbor. And your mom would suggest that you make the sign bigger with darker letters. Or that maybe if you smiled and waved and didn’t look quite so dejected, that might do the trick.

You’d inevitably give in and drink some of the profits away as the afternoon wore on. How are all these people not as hot as I am? How are they able to resist my lemonade? you’d think, never quite aware that the ice had all melted by now, and that the lemonade was diluted and warm.

But then — once in a while — someone would stop. A stranger. A real live customer. And you’d get your game face on, and sit up a little straighter, and say “Hello!” instead of “Hi.” And you’d pour him a brimming, shaking cup of your warm, iceless lemonade. And instead of a dime, he’d produce a whole dollar! And you’d thank him and offer him more lemonade, which he’d refuse and tell you that you’d need it for other customers, and that he was sure this was the time of day when most people really got the hankering for lemonade. And you’d wave after him as he drove away. Then you’d grin at your dollar, wide eyed. And you’d refill that pitcher and add some more ice and wipe your brow. By gum, you were back in it!


I’ve made it my goal to be that guy. The guy who always stops, whether he is thirsty or not. The guy who saves the day. Who gives the whole dollar (and sometimes a five) with a wink and tells them how terribly thirsty he was, and that he really didn’t know what he would have done had they not had that lemonade stand.

The ability to take someone else’s perspective goes beyond literature and lemonade stands. It’s a conscious choice to really see the others around us. To value them. To empathize. And to engage.

A me-centered life is a lonely and strangely unsatisfying one. Self is never satisfied. The more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.

lemonade stand: Self is never satisfied. The more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.

On the other hand, choosing to adopt more others-centered attitudes and actions connects us, bringing with it a sense of joy, belonging and purpose.

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Summer is here. Be on the lookout for the lemonade stands near you.

And stop.

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