Let’s Face It – Blog

#16 Let’s Face it…Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. (From The Introduction in A Course in Miracles by the Foundation for Inner Peace)

Love List

On this beautiful Valentine’s Day 2017, time gives us an opportunity to reflect and embrace love. Truly, it is the embodiment of our greatest birthright from God and is the infrastructure of the Universe. Love cannot be threatened in the sense that it cannot be destroyed, changed, forgotten, or forsaken. Love’s opposite is fear…a state conceived and perceived by the human mind. We have created the opposite because humans have always craved a state of opposites to give definition to their perception. Fear is unreal and does not exist in that it can be destroyed, changed, forgotten, and discarded. It is fleeting and serves as an adrenaline charge for a fight or flight response or an excuse for a vast variety of really inappropriate behaviors from a little ol’ fib to a brutal verbal or physical attack on another. My valentine for you today is to regale you with another Baroness “list”. I wrote a gratitude list for Thanksgiving. I feel this is a particularly urgent year to be particularly thoughtful about Love (with a capital “L”). I hope that you will share my love list with another and perhaps write your own.

Love is…

Abundant. It is the DNA of every element in our physical universe. It is what binds the non-physical realm. It is the reason we are here.

Available. There are no “rules” that limit it because of differences. It is the reason that makes this mantra true: We are all in this together. There is enough to go around.

More than a state of mind. We have created the delicious feeling of being “in love”. In fact, that is what the commerce of Valentine’s Day is based on. Valentine’s Day is all about the sweetness (candy hearts and chocolate kisses), the brightness (sparkling jewelry with such names like Friend and Lover so you buy the ring with two diamonds), the expression (valentine cards, declarations of love), the coziness (a good dinner, a hug), the belonging (“in love” means you are a couple with another or something tangible). So “in love” is always a celebration of Love. And in the culture of this country, we have a special day for it.

Having to say you are sorry. When you have acted like an asshole with a reaction based in fear towards your loved one, a stony silence is stupid. Embrace an apology. And know this, when you really love someone and make a mistake, you will always do better the next time.

The power that is inherent in women. This power is regenerated and passed on through the birth cycle. A genius stroke of necessity. Whatever place we started from, sprung from a cave or a garden, it is why we have been around for millennia. And, on this day, if you are so inclined, go make a baby. Love is why sex is so great.

Full of life and original to every person. Our senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste are Love’s vehicles to feel the zing, the turbulence, the power, the excitement, the spirit of our surroundings. Savor it.

The only true currency. When you make any exchange, whether it is to purchase a loaf of bread or a diamond, or to spend your emotion giving a compliment or reaching an orgasm, or to pour sweat equity into a passion such as a sport or raising Littles, do the exchange with Love, not fear. Because Love is real and cannot be threatened, you will always experience gain and safe harbor in your endeavors.

Makes the world go ‘round. Ever wonder why our planet spins around and goes ’round the sun? And that we rest easy in this phenomenon and accept its precise nature as usual circumstance? It is a testament to why Love is our birthright. It keeps us grounded on this spinning rock we call Earth and allows us to move forward each day in the Now. Love is the Force. Love allows us every opportunity to feel the wellspring from which we came and to which we shall return. Love urges us to share the blessings that we bring with us. Love is the guarantor of health and wellness and the cure for anything that ails you. It is our Shine. Believe it. Be grateful. Be fabulous.

Let’s face it…Having thoughts of Love and hugging them closely will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always be lovely. Happy Valentine’s Day!

# 15 Let’s face it…As a society, we still can not quite figure out what to do about profanity.

Littles vs Bigs / Myth #3

“If punished for using profane language, Littles will not use profane language.” Oh, hell-to-the-no regarding this myth. The proliferation of cuss words (swearing, vulgar language, no-no words, obscenity) spoken and heard today in our multimedia world is proof of the challenge that the late George Carlin raised in his “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV” shtick in the early 1970’s. He was a master of language and questioned how “some” words (the seven being “shit-piss-fuck-cunt-cocksucker-motherfucker-tits”) could be relegated by broadcast law or agency rule to “dirty” jokes or verbal insults  and regulated by restricting use on television or public forum. Corporate media skirted the rules of profanity use by the advent of cable television where “bleeps” covered the use of scripted profanity. Wider social acceptance of profanity by American society in the past decade has emboldened the cable networks to eliminate many of the “bleeps”. During the past week, scanning through the channels and movies and reality shows, I found all of the words used in actual conversation, not in jokes, except for “tits”. Not the most technical of research, but to clarify to my readers that the use of profanity has changed greatly since comedian Carlin so entertained his audiences. Yet he, along with Lenny Bruce and others, were arrested for use of these words in public. There are recent experts today that suggest that profanity in the workplace among coworkers and in social relationships are stress busters and also bridge builders and condone its use. Fascinating. And Littles have plenty of auditory access to all cuss words on Screens and in the public arena, schoolyard, print, and at home. The issue is the confusion Littles experience wondering why only Bigs are allowed to use the words. They hear it so much, no matter how much their auditory access is censored. And, I have yet to hear a Big justify their right to use profanity as the reason that a Little should not. Usually, it’s “that is not a nice word to say” or “we don’t use bad words in our family”. When that does little to convince a Little, then consequence is attached . Or there is the cute “money jar on the counter” technique calling for anyone in the fam that says a “bad” word to put a quarter in the jar. I think paying to cuss gives access, not restraint. But there are those that “swear” by the money jar. So be it.

Let’s face it…Littles come into the world young, wild, and free. When Bigs attempt to apply restraint by telling them something is “wrong” and Littles continue to see and hear the “wrong”, confusion cancels the restraint. Profanity can be humorous and sharp as well as insulting and barbaric. It’s all in the context. And they hear forbidden words in both contexts. This adds to the confusion. For example, “Hahahahahaha, oh fuck, there was a piece of toilet paper flapping on his shoe when he came out of the shitter. Hahahahaha!” In contrast to, “Oh, what the hell. Look at this on News Feed. Some motherfucker beat the shit out of a dude at the bar down the street and took his wallet before the lazy ass bouncer even saw it happening.” Or the use of God’s name in vain. Preached in church as blasphemy and prohibitively held as a commandment. But then a Little hears, “Oh my God, your house is beautiful!” And this is even when Bigs do their best to use “gosh” instead of “God”. All of this ends up being a very mixed message and plants the seeds of doubt for Littles. Just like George Carlin’s original intention of questioning the censor of language and done in a wildly humorous way gave many listeners that wedge in the door that maybe it is OK to use “forbidden” words. Hence, the legitimate question in Littles’ minds: “Why can a Big say that and I can’t?” And Bigs, if you think that merely saying some form of “because I said so” is going to stop a Little from using profane language, you are pissing in the wind. Again.

So here is Mythbuster #3 from the the Baroness. Please allow me to say up front that what you are about to read might be considered unorthodox. I do freely say to you that I skip gaily more on the path of profane than on the path of persnickety. Take heart! Regardless of whether it makes you shudder or laugh when using it, I have seen this technique work several times. When confronted with instilling discipline in a Little (remember discipline is that they conduct themselves appropriately in all situations) regarding the habit of using profanity,  I’ve always told them to go practice somewhere alone saying any word they want. Find a good alone space and let ‘er rip, Littles.  Or, think the words all they want in their brain but don’t let it cross their lips in school, church, at the grocery store, dinner table or anyplace where manners and civility are expected. Practice only in the clubhouse of their making that has the Bigs Not Allowed sign on the door. Every young, wild, and free Little wants to push against a taboo. Allow them to practice and “safely” experience it. And heed these words, Bigs. If you are planning to lecture a Little about using profanity (whether you are a “user” or not), ask some form of this question first: “What did you say to so-and-so?” Calmly demand that your little Jaden or Shayla or Tracy repeats the forbidden word or phrase OUT LOUD to you. In your presence. And if it is whispered or mumbled, say, “Oh, I didn’t quite get that. Say it louder.” Watch the beads of sweat collect on their foreheads.  Or, if they write a forbidden word on the inside cover of your current monthly edition of Nat Geo or People, hold the magazine up and yell (for example), “Who wrote ‘fuck you’ on the cover of MY magazine? With a pen?” They will be shocked to hear the word come out of your mouth and then, oh bloody hell, have to read it to you upon discovery. And, we are not finished. Have them correct any misspelling because they probably left out the “c” from the word “fuck ” or have invented a ridiculously funny written version of a word such as “ashole” or “dumass cheeter” Plus, it just brings a bit of levity to a difficult situation.

I have experienced this technique as a surefire deterrent every time when trying to create the appropriate “No Seven Words Allowed Here” zone.

Let’s face it…It is doubtful that profanity will ever disappear from our culture. The more it is presented as a taboo, the more a Little will skate and dart around the pond, chasing after the words. Remember, it’s not about the language. It’s about the context.

 

 

 

#14 Let’s face it…If you think it is really hard to discipline a child, you are confused about what “discipline” is.

Little and Bigs / Myth #2

Bigs have a hard time distinguishing between the following sets of actions: managing behavior, punishment (defined today in a more politically correct term as consequence), and discipline. If you find yourself saying any of the following – “My kid(s) are driving me crazy.” “My child won’t listen to me.” “I want to know what happened to the other kid. Did (he) or (she) get in trouble also?” “I just frigging wish they would behave without being told.” – then your difficulty is your focus on your own behavior and lack of results with the Littles. It is absolutely necessary to set boundaries, teach effective time management, assign chores to benefit the household and walk your talk. There is an appropriate mandate encouraged by experts to use both extrinsic reward (a prize) and intrinsic reward (a compliment) when rewarding “good” behavior. However, when it is time to assign a consequence for errant behavior, do it to create an immediate, dramatic, TEMPORARY stop of the behavior. Know that it will not, in the long run, change a Little’s behavior. When you apply a consequence several times for the same behavior, for example, “Go to timeout NOW for 10 minutes. I told you not to hit your sister (or brother or dog etc.).”, then know you are interceding effectively but expect the same behavior to continue at a later point. Littles are genius at mitigating consequence. They will either construct a strategic balancing act with the consequence and undesirable behavior or even head it off at the pass (hide the timeout chair) before having any desire to change the errant behavior. In a Little’s mind, something like hitting a sibling (not hard enough to hurt but enough to irritate and get their own way) works just fine. Until they are consistently (sometimes to the pulling-out-your-hair point) taught, counseled, and shown a different way to conduct themselves, then the annoying hands-on-another contact between Littles will continue (which, concerning this particular behavior, is the beginning of promoting the belief into adulthood that bullying is OK.) Consequence that is immediate stops errant behavior and is excellent for Small Littles. Consequence that is assigned later and is dramatic (more for Medium Littles) will put up a pretty big roadblock. In other words, when, for example, sleepovers with friends or no Screens after 4 p.m. or loss of any privilege is taken away for a month and there is 100% follow through, then Bigs have created a very effective “pause, do not push replay” in a Little’s mind. It has not necessarily changed the motivation or desire behind the errant behavior, but you’ve created space and time to discipline the child.

Which moves the discussion to the biggest myth buster. Punishment/Consequence is NOT Discipline. Discipline is not about blame, assigning guilt, denying privilege, getting to the bottom of things, or administering consequence. These are all management techniques and will vary greatly depending on how quickly a Big will intercede to stop a behavior immediately and smooth the waters. Discipline’s sole objective is first and foremost that the Little with the inappropriate behavior will take responsibility for their actions which is the first step to guiding a Little to change their behavior. Key to remember, Bigs? You are not changing shit except to maybe model the desired behavior more frequently in the company of Littles. It is not possible for a human to change the behavior of another human. I don’t care how much you apply consequences. Influence the decision? Yes. But a Little, when it comes to the labyrinth of inappropriate behavior, must experience the come to Jesus moment and decide to change the behavior and know how to do it. Even if we drag them to it. Discipline is about getting them to discipline themselves regarding their conduct in all situations. So, here’s a surefire trick which will set the stage for this all-important process. It is the path to a Little’s vibrant physical, mental, and emotional health. Remember that you have already interceded to immediately stop an errant behavior. The trick is designed to shift the focus of the conversation directly on them, and not on the circumstances of the misbehavior. So, through whatever means, the Little is in your presence. Perhaps still not expecting any discussion of their behavior. No matter. DO NOT let them slouch, sit, or get comfortable or “buddy” like. This makes it clear that you did not invite them into your presence for playtime and snacks. They are to be attentive, make eye contact, and respond to some form of this question: “Why were you called to come see me?” Realization dawns upon their face and I guarantee the first words out of their mouth are going to be an excuse, crying, or blaming the dog for the tragedy at hand. Simply interrupt and say, “Start your sentence with I”. It works like a charm even if you have to interrupt several times before their painstaking use of the correct pronoun occurs. Until they can truthfully finish that sentence by simply saying what they did, no matter how egregious the behavior, there is no point in expecting any change in their behavior. After they state their behavior, for example, “I hit my brother on the head with the stack of legos”, then and only then ask the second question, “why did you do that or why did that happen” etc. By following this sequence, the Big has created the appropriate timeframe to get the Little’s perception of the incident. This is a necessary step to eliminate errant behavior. Again, the Little must be the one to change behavior to achieve discipline. Now you can have any appropriate discussion about the incident, or about a better choice etc. To do this before a Little takes responsibility for their action by clearly declaring the “I” statement is like pissing in the wind. And seal the compact as you end the discussion by verbally stating “I really appreciate you taking responsibility for what you did.” It will be clear then, when you assign a thoughtful consequence that day or days later, why you are doing that. And, do it calmly. It is all about creating the correct environment for the Big to direct the show instead of reacting or being put on the defensive justifying yourself to a Little or cajoling them to behave. Just remember these words:  “Start your sentence with I.” It is a classic myth buster. Aye, aye, matey.

Let’s face it…What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular.

#13 Let’s face it…’Tis the season to count your blessings and ramp up the gratitude!

Make a gratitude list. “I am grateful THAT…” (I’ll start us off with a sampling of mine.)

  • We have this holiday. And that the turkey is the “give-away” totem. Thank you for the indigenous people of the future America for not only letting the Pilgrim settlers survive, but also showing them how to survive. To me it is a shining example of “We are all in this together. There is enough to go around.”
  • The professionals doing the remodel of my home are so talented. Especially the designer, who is also a friend, and who is not shy about telling me that I don’t really like a particular product, paint color, company, idea, or price when I am insistent that I do. Actually, 90% of the time, I realize she is right after a day has passed.
  • There always seems to be someone in the circle that is really adept and talented at hosting, staging, and cooking for the crowd that descends upon a home during this holiday season. It is truly a special skill.
  • Wonderful and unique pets are part of many families.
  • Our country is so rich in resources and climates that range from tropical to arctic with everything in between. There is majestic beauty of form from sea to shining sea.
  • Teaching is an art. And that God has graced me with this gift. And that I know some beautiful artists in this field.
  • Money is a form of exchange. And that’s all it is.
  • Profanity can be so fucking effective.
  • Music has so many genres and bridges generations.
  • I know people that like to cook and do it well. I can do it well, but I don’t like to.
  • I am blessed to call a few people friends and consider them family.
  • I am blessed to call certain family members friends and consider them part of my circle of wagons.
  • The Fall and Winter seasons are so fabulous and intimate. I love cozy.

And, I am grateful FOR…

  • My abundance and its Source.
  • Product
  • Our differences. Otherwise, it would be so boring.
  • Bigs that understand how to raise Littles to their highest and greatest good. 
  • The shade of a tree that is so giving.
  • The skill of throwing some shade when necessary. It allows a slippery slope to put a little humor in an otherwise untenable situation.
  • The cocktail or glass of wine at a strategic time of the day in the company of good food, friends, or just for the heck of it.
  • My violet aura with a green overlay.
  • Baby Heaven and that I remember it.
  • Most of all, for Love.

Let’s face it…Whether you choose to think inside or outside the box, being grateful creates abundance and increases your shine. Just do it. Happy Thanksgiving!

#12 Let’s face it…For better for worse, regardless of race, creed or color, Vagina Lives Matter.

Post-election commentary from the Baroness

The “lash” resounding since Presidential election results 2016 is not a “white lash” as is being sounded on the board. The victory of President-elect Donald Trump over Secretary Hillary Clinton is not about racism, trade, bad hombres, economics, health care, education, love trumping hate, law and order, immigration policy, terrorism. Those are issues that were rallied around during the rodeo campaign for President during the past year. Issues that were supported by both intelligent and nasty, cheap rhetoric and that were devoid of clear solutions by the candidates. The rhetoric formed the boundaries of the candidate’s corrals. One lasso in the hands of a very loud, very rich, thin-skinned, savvy businessman. The other in the hands of a savvy, thick skinned, politically experienced, rich, dynasty-driven woman. Millions of voters based their votes (or non-votes) on the platforms of rhetoric and what the new framework of media world in 2016 urged them to do dependent on which digital network or print source they tuned in to. All in relentless, excruciating day-to-day time over the past year wearing down even the most hardy and dedicated voter.

Both candidates are white and I never heard either speak of the benefit of being white in the USA and the surging flip-flop of the majority and minority census percentages in this decade. So, white lash is cancelled and cannot be used as an excuse for the outcome of this election. Besides, the 2008 and 2012 elections took care of the terms “white lash” and “black lash.” A black man was elected president and that glass ceiling was straight up shattered in spite of every racist effort that ensued to catch the pieces and glue them back in place.

I heard nothing last night through all the election coverage about sexism as the elephant in voting booths around the country. The “ism” that has been around longer than any other. The “ism” that has allowed others to rise. The one in the minds of millions (both men and women) who still, as they cast their vote, held fast to doubt that a person with a vagina could lead this country as President. Voters like these from both urban and rural areas that surged in record numbers to the polls in this election to make sure that did not happen. Last night was also poised in the minds of millions of others that this was the moment when the glass ceiling of sexism would be shattered. To finally join the list of other nations with rich histories of female monarchs and leaders. On November 8, 2016, this nation spoke at the polls and denied that possibility. Furthermore, it was revealed on the day after as a yes by popular vote but a no by the presiding electoral college. Not the phenomena that millions hoped for.

I experienced Election Day very relieved that decision day was upon us. In the days leading up to the election, I had to consciously focus my mind on the issues relevant to my vote and ignore that tiny voice insisting that issues would not decide the election. I had to ignore emotional shreds of intense personal experience that denied me social and economic equity simply because I am a Baroness and not a Baron. I valiantly scoffed at the overwhelming “character” issues of both candidates all the while knowing this cloak was shadowing the vagina vs. penis gender issue that truly was the polarizing force throughout the voter blocs.

Oooo. That nagging voice. “Baroness, you want it to be this time. You want this stubborn glass ceiling to break. You don’t want the candidate with the vagina to lose because of it. You do not accept misogyny as public or private license. There is no way a candidate steeped in it can be in the White House.” But the wagging finger would pop up. “Uh, uh, uh. It can happen.” My closest confidantes worried and wrestled with it also. Something did not feel right. And so on. I did not want that nagging voice to be right this time. But it turned out to be the proverbial fucking compass in a snow storm.

But herein lies the wonder of democracy. And it especially holds true on this day for all girls and women and for all men that truly cherish the feelings of women. An election in a democratic society allows the winner and loser to do so with grace. It does not demand that an election result change your core values or those that your vote rested on.

So, on this post election day 2016, my eyes are bleary and teary but my choicest Mona Lisa smile is on my face. I continue to love my country and am grateful that I live here. I support democracy and my current president. I will always champion resistance to sexism and know that its reckoning is more near than far. I will support President-elect Donald Trump and pray sincerely that he will, as George Lazenby (blogger for the New Inquiry) states perfectly, “successfully perform the revolting calculus of international power politics” as he must for “humanity will be relying for its survival on the most delicate thread by which global politics are suspended: the absence of war.”

In my words, to President-elect Trump and a gleefully-controlled Republican Congress, “Tend to the peace room, boys.” That’s a natural instinct for women. Not so much for men who gaze at the horizon with the hunter’s DNA in their blood, rather than the gatherer’s DNA of women. May the newly elected President grow his hide to the thickness of the prey that men have stalked since beginnings. And may he and his cabinet collaborate also with the legacies of wise women, past and present, young and old. And park the “nasty woman” nonsense at the door of Trump Towers for fuck sakes. You are going to the White House next year.

And may you readers of the Baroness keep strong your flames of resistance to any “ism” that is based on fear of another’s God given strength.

Let’s face it…We are all in this together. There is enough to go around. I love you. And that is why.

#11 Let’s face it…For every myth about behavior, there is a myth buster in the bag of tricks.

Littles and Bigs / Myth #1

Behavior of school aged Littles (Mediums Pre-K through Grade 5) has changed over the past three decades. This myth gets its substance because of the shifting descriptors of behavior from common sense “kids will be kids” to various clinical descriptions. Clinically, many kids are depressed, anxious, oppositional and defiant, attention and focus challenged, hyperactive, socially and emotionally maladjusted. Increasingly, behavior of the Littles has been categorized to fit specific labels and to generate medical and mental health therapies which generates access to drug therapies from Big Pharm. Does this mean that the actual behavior of Littles has changed during the past 30 years? Context, yes. Behavior? No. The way in which Bigs manage and handle behavior has changed. During the crucial toddler stage when Littles are fighting for independence with barely any regard to their physical and mental safety, many adults have no idea how to say “no” and stick by it. Kids are enabled and overprotected from any misstep. Immediate correction and consequence are not delivered. Rather, Bigs have a sense that giving their Littles a “safe space” to practice behavior is the modifier which will change behavior. So when, for example, Littles rebel from eating the food that is prepared or suffer resistance to any house rule that is imposed such as structured nighty-night in regards to time and sleeping in their own bed, the rebellion is too much for Bigs. The Littles eat what and when they want (I call it grazing) and extend their awake time into the hours when Bigs must have their “big time”. When the center of the household shifts from common sense structure imposed by the Bigs to complying to the whims of the Littles just to have some peace, opposite chaos ensues. In this age of Littles of the Gen X-ers and Millenials, you can find many of them in food therapy, play therapy, constructed recreation groups of every sort, special after school tutoring (usually to handle homework demands that are beyond the scope of normal evening households), and usually with hijacked Screens in their hands leading to excessive media supervision instead of Bigs guidance. And this is all to assuage their demands and leads the Bigs to abdicate control to a plethora of available therapies to correct the behaviors that have trampled on the peace and community of the household.

Here is my myth buster and it is lovingly and calmly directed to any Big that recognizes any part of their household, school, or public setting in the above paragraph. Get a fucking grip and get it quickly. And do not be a nouveau philosophical punk bitch about it. Medium Littles at this age are past testing the water and are gleefully swimming in their own lanes. So stop with all the malarkey that lets you off the hook so you can turn it over to the professionals or to prescription drug therapy. They are not pedigree pets. They are kids. This must have been the point in time when the moniker “tough love” was first used. Let them play, get dirty, cry, fight, cuddle, imagine and wonder, fall down, get up, try again, master skills, be kind, be mean, say yes, say no. All under the love and tutelage of all adults that set their boundaries. The Medium Littles do not know best. That is a myth. They do know what feels good, tastes good, sounds good, looks good, and smells good. And they can be vocal about it. Bigs are there to give them a full range of experiences so they develop as individuals and can make increasingly good choices based on the values of home and school. It does not mean that all meals consist of snack foods, fast food, and sweets. They eat what is prepared for them and they learn to dine with other people.  They play at what we allow them to play at. They learn as we structure their lessons towards mastery. They sleep when we tell them. They sleep where we tell them to rest their little heads. They follow the schedule that is set for them by the adults. Let me give you a Baroness scenario. Here is some good myth buster food therapy so you do not have to take them to a therapist and spend your allotted grocery resource from the budget.

“Time to sit down together and eat. Hmm, what did (whomever prepared the scrumptious meal) fix for dinner? Looks delish. What? You don’t want it! Well, let me put some on your plate because just enough was fixed for all of us. Sit there with your plate until meal time is finished. You might decide to try some.” (Meal begins.) “Soooo, what did everybody do today? Any good stories?” (conversation and food is eaten.) “Everyone finished?” (And not a morsel is touched on Gourmet Little’s plate.) “Let’s clean up and get to family fun time. Clear your dishes, please.” (And then as you scrape the meal off Little’s plate…) “Go to your room. I’ll be in for a few minutes when its’ time for nighty night.” Forget the special meal of Doritos and a quartered, no crust PBJ. We can trust the adults that prepare or buy the meal to consider any allergies, various preferences, and respective tastes buds of the family. The family eats what is prepared at meal times, preferably together as a community. “Oh, you are screaming for the TV to be on in your room? No TV in the bedroom. I’ll be in there in a while to read a story. We are watching a show out here.” And then when you do go in there, don’t linger. Pajamas on, nighty night routine kept to minimum on this night. Yes, it is OK to have a light on. Most Littles have a monster or two (of their own invention or from shows they watch) under the bed or in the closet. Light is representative of love and shine. When Littles feel safe in the dusky dark of a bedroom, the night light will not be necessary. And now (get ready for it) is when they look beseechingly in your eyes and say something like, “I’m really hungry. Can I have a snack first?” SAY THIS: “You probably are hungry because you did not eat your dinner. You are going to REALLY love your breakfast!”

Bam! They are not going to starve. It is one meal and they probably had an after school or afternoon snack at some point. Keep the focus on the culture of mealtime in your house and the love and experience that it generates, not their strategic demands to get what they want.

Tony Robbins says, “We all get what we tolerate.” When toddlers demand, it is very easy sometimes to give in to the demand, avoid conflict, and maintain good buddy status with a Little. In return, expect dysfunctional behavior and chaos during routines that demand manners, respect, and compliance from the Medium Littles. You have demonstrated that you tolerate and accept it.

Let’s face it…What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular.

#10 Let’s face it…A-tisket, A-tasket, the awards go in the Littles’ wee baskets.

Littles and Bigs / Part 2

It’s time for another awards show from The Baroness! Hands down, every Little that is born deserves a unanimous vote for the Tony Award. At the very beginning of their existence, children are the natural center of the universe. The world is their stage. Their needs are totally dependent on the action of all adults around them to meet those needs. Unable to walk or talk, we respond to their cries and gurgles with unconditional purpose and speed. We interpret their actions and try to make the best guess as to what they want and then get it for them, whether it’s food, warmth, sleep, comfort. It is the natural, protective instinct of the Bigs to help them by responding to the natural helplessness of the Littles. Truly, when all is in place, it is the perfect, organic relationship between human beings. Then, children gain language and mobility during the first two years and the dynamic changes. It is time for the Littles to learn RULES. The first rules are about ensuring their well-being. We limit mobility to an area of safety, such as a playpen or car seat. We “babyproof” their areas to shield them from danger as they begin their independent exploration of the world and its elements. We get them down from heights (air), keep them away from a fall into the pool (water), swat their hands away from the hot stove (fire), and pick them up from a fall on the prickly, spongy grass and take the tasty blades out of their mouth at the same time (earth).

In other words, Bigs monitor and control the unfiltered exploration of Littles. The stage gets a lot smaller. And are the adults appreciated and revered during toddler time? No! To kids, delighted and eager to use their new talents on Baby Broadway, the adults are a fussy director ruining all the fun. The soon-to-be Oscar nominated stars take over and it becomes all about the drama, comedies, and tragedies of Toddler World. Now, they must work at getting what they want. After a 12 to 24-month stage of serving every need of Littles, the Bigs start to reverse the flow and start to regain their spot at the center of the household. This is the next 12 to 24-month stage, which is a training demanding consistency, attention, resolve and quick wits from Bigs because the Littles are still operating with the “me now” compass. If, as an adult, you are ever able to witness a full-fledged tantrum from a fly-on-the-wall perspective, kudos can be given for the acting skills involved. It is the pinnacle of drama. Crying, lying, stomping, red-faced, snotty-nosed, flailing-armed tactical maneuvers all to simulate an SOS distress call when, really, it is an Oscar award performance to get what they want. It is their first flip of the bird. In your face.

So Bigs, know that the Oscar is well deserved, but make sure to give the right prize. If adults want to step back into the Alpha center, then Littles must accept conformity to rules and community set by the adults in all venues, inside and outside the home. Enabling their demands and overprotecting them from failure and consequence can lead to serious behavior dysfunction that begins to show up during the next stage of social and school settings and can continue into adulthood if not checked and remediated. Such behaviors can manifest as:

• Compulsive lying

• Bullying, sexist, and racist behaviors

• Attention deficit

• Eating disorders

• Learning disabilities

• Social awkwardness and isolation

• Stealing

• Communication disorders

Sounds melodramatic and serious? It is. It cannot be stressed enough that the very key to a healthy and loving education of children begins way before the first days of Preschool and Kindergarten. It is not the sole responsibility of teachers in the village to impart the first rules and lessons of life. It is the job of teachers to reinforce the rules already taught by Bigs at home. As we all raise our children to the age of 12 years, Bigs must move Littles outward from the center of total dependence through the stages of interdependence and toward the reward of independence. It is a natural cycle.

Wondering about the Emmy Award? Saved for last because it is the newcomer for the Littles. It is being garnered by the children of the Gen X-ers and Millenials. These Littles have, literally, hijacked The Screens of the Bigs. With the advent of multiple TV’s in homes which allowed media programming to move into Littles’ areas, a certain influence was enabled. And the hijacking continues with the use of Bigs’ smartphones, tablets, computers, and game devices. Look around you. Examples flourish everywhere in public. Tablets and phones in Littles’ hands are as common at restaurant tables as silverware. Beyond technology and media as a teaching tool, The Screen has become a diversion, a reward, a perceived necessity, a substitute for talking and writing, and a babysitter. Screens give Bigs a break from supervision but give control to Littles to choose whomever they want as a supervisor. And thus, common access to devices has influenced necessary conformity to rules, created huge resentment when access and entitlement is denied, and impedes independent problem solving through actual play. Consequently, dependence is extended and the building of skills for independence is suppressed. The Screen has become a “Big” in the lives of Littles. And do we truly accept all the lessons being taught?

Many Bigs are conflicted on this one. For isn’t technology innovative and designed to increase productivity? The Screen can talk, think, listen, tell. But does it love? No. But Bigs have abdicated authority in many ways to its consuming popularity. Be careful about this award. It has changed the landscape of raising Littles.

Let’s face it…Raising children is a love letter to them. Don’t drop it. The Littles might not pick it up and put it in their pockets.