Growing Up is Hard to Do, part 1

We have been amazed at how much good parenting information is in children’s picture books – books that we hope you are reading everyday to the children in your lives – your own, your class, those you take care of.  We will be pointing these parenting gems out to you so that every time you read one of our featured books to a child you will be reminded of the parent you want to be.

Featured Picture Book

STOP THIEF by Adam J. B. Lane

(Available in public libraries or bookstores, including online stores.)

STOP THIEF is a book about Randall, a boy who wants so much to be all grown up – or does he?  On the very first page of the book Randall announces loudly, while standing on his chair, “I am a big boy now!” He goes on to list all the things he won’t be needing or doing anymore – no tucking him in at bedtime, no kisses and hugs, no Mr. Pigglesworth, his stuffed pig.

Then the action starts.  Randall gets out of bed and sees a thief stealing Mr. Pigglesworth.  He begins chasing the thief all around town and even up into the sky.  “And as they ran all around town, Randall shouted ‘Stop Thief!’”

“Stop Thief!” is Randall’s constant angry demand, but when the thief is in danger of falling from a building, “It was Randall to the rescue!”  Randall saves the thief and “Everyone made a big fuss over the boy hero.”

But by this time, late into the night, “… Randall just wanted to go home to bed. …Randall’s parents carried him … tucked him in…kissed him…with Mr. Pigglesworth right beside him.… And even though he was certainly a big boy now, that was just what he wanted.”

Parenting Thoughts
Wanting two things at one time

This book is a great example of wanting and not wanting something at the same time.  Children think and feel this way all the time.  In fact, so do we in all our grownup glory.  We want to have that delicious piece of cake, but we also want to fit in our designer jeans.  We want to take the promotion we have been offered, but we want more family time too.

Randall wanted to be grown up, but he didn’t really want to give up everything he liked about being young.  He didn’t want to give up snuggling.  He wanted to be able to sleep in a cozy bed – with his special stuffed animal. And, he still wanted to be loved and taken care of.

At the same time, he wanted to be in charge of himself, and he liked being celebrated as a hero.  Does he really have to choose?  Be a baby or be a hero?  Yuk! What a choice.  I think “Stop Thief” is exactly how a young child feels about that choice.  “Don’t steal my baby things just so I can be a grown-up hero.

In our post, Decisions Babies Make (February 1, 2013 archives), I said that what we talk about on this blog is not only about your children.  It is also about you.  I think you may want to yell “Stop Thief” yourself when you don’t want to give up being taken care of just so you can be a responsible adult and the best parent you can be.  “Stop taking all of my ‘me’ time away.  Stop forgetting that I like massages.  Stop and fix me a hot meal once in awhile.”  Ever felt like yelling that?

You want to be responsible and independent, I’m sure.  But, I am guessing you also want to be taken care of by someone you love– you want to be both independent and dependent at the same time. It’s normal.  We all do. The more we accept this and find ways to let people take care of us, including taking care of ourselves, the better grown ups we can be.  Think about this idea while I talk about Randall and what it means for a young child to grow up.

Going to school means missing special things

When my children went off to kindergarten, I remember making a list of all the things they had to give up: a pacifier, a blanket, a loved stuffed animal, their favorite show on daytime TV (There were no DVRs or even VCRs back then.), their favorite toys, being asked what they want for lunch, their own bed for a nap and time with me  – made worse for the oldest because a younger sister was still at home with me all day. I am sure there are many more things I can think of, but I’m going to stop now because it makes me sad to think about all that kids have to give up just so they can go to school.  What do your kids have to give up when they go to school in the morning?

Once I realized what it meant to go to preschool and kindergarten– that it is a time of many losses for a child – I was better able to deal with my children’s fussiness about going to school and with their difficult re-entry coming home.  Their coming home from school made me think of a tea kettle.  They needed to blow off steam.  Not only were they over-filled with good behavior from doing everything expected of them at school, but also over-filled with disappointment.  They needed to blame somebody for the sadness they felt from missing their special things – and that someone was usually me – or each other, which was even worse.

So far I have been talking about kids at kindergarten or preschool age, but the same thing goes on with even younger kids.  What’s it like in your car when you are driving your baby or toddler home from daycare?

It is really a rude awakening to go off to school or daycare.  I think school more so, because at least daycare still allows for snuggling and having your special things with you.  School is much more about being grown up – after all, how else would we adults manage so many children in one space?  The more they act like children, needing all the comforts of childhood, the harder it is for the adults managing the schools.


DIY (Do-It-Yourself)

Find as many ways as possible to say or act out the following messages with your kids: (Adapted from GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson.)

  • You can grow up as much as you are ready to.
  • Asking for help is a powerful thing to do.
  • You can be grown up about some things and still get help and love from me at the same time.
Read All About It


GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

Surf the Internet:

separation anxiety

school phobia (school refusal)

showing affection to teenagers


Teacher’s Corner:

Teachers, this is your place. Read all about how to use this blog in your classroom at the Teacher’s Corner.

Here are our newest ideas based on Growing Up Is Hard to Do.

Have students read the post and write about:

  • A time they wanted two opposite or conflicting things at the same time.
  • Whether they believe it is OK to ask for help or whether that makes them feel not smart or not powerful enough.
  • Whether they still like to be taken care of even though they are becoming independent in many ways.
  • The ways that they sometimes like family members to take care of them (prepare their favorite food, give them soup when they are sick, hugs, etc.).

What do you think?

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