Given the choice between visiting the library and the teaching supplies store, Katie exclaimed this morning, “Teaching supplies!” Ah, a daughter after my own heart!

We go only once a quarter or so—a great exercise in my quest for self-restraint. I feel as though, had I money enough, I would want to buy everything in the store. Just stepping inside and taking one look around, my mind begins to whir with all the glorious possibilities for lessons, enrichment, and play. Aisles upon aisles of math books, science kits and realia, language arts books, developmental toys for infants, pre-schoolers, and elementary age children, classic red school balls for two square, reams of colored paper and paints for art supplies, packets of award certificates, bookshelves full of Caldecott winners, posters with just about anything on it, history units, demo clocks for telling time, phonics games, puzzles, workbooks… I could lose myself for hours in there, but we try to keep it reasonable for the kiddos. Fortunately, it is one of Katie’s favorite stores; since we don’t go there overly much, it keeps its sense of novelty for her.

Katie and I have been especially on the same wavelength today. I thought quite a bit about what my friend Lauren told me yesterday about ways we can parent when we A) keep in mind that we are more flawed than our children, and B) choose to approach even the trickiest matters with a welcoming and loving heart. It’s true: we’re only here to guide them into being who they are meant to be.

After not eating much of her breakfast, Katie wanted to break into her bag of fishy cracker snacks that we’d packed for the store…right before we were set to leave. I was getting Eric ready. I suppose I could have been adamant about keeping the crackers bagged up in the diaper bag, but right in that second I had a moment where the light came in. I told her, “You know what? I am going to choose to have faith in you. I have faith in you that, if you eat those now, you will not mention wanting a snack if you get hungry in the store. I have belief in you that you can make this decision.”

I could see her thinking about this, growing lighter. She agreed. I put Eric down and went back into the kitchen for something. I could hear her saying, “Eric, I have faith in you. I have faith in you, Eric.” When she repeats my words to Eric, that’s always how I know she has really heard.

Home again with several new teaching treats, we ate lunch, played with a new phonics puzzle game, and then decided to make a wild ruckus with our drum, dancing and singing. I suggested that we “get all of our Louds out” before Daddy came home. I still remember the stimulation of a classroom of 35-40 students. Bill often yearns for even a few quieter moments when he comes home, and I remember my own experience enough to know that he really does need them. It has been challenging at times to provide that atmosphere, since one of the hallmarks of joy is noise. Yet I am trying something new. Right before he comes home, Katie and I are as totally loud as we want to be. Today, we beat the drum as hard as we could and we chanted chants about being loud, having joy, raising our noise to the upper ceiling, having a rumpus. It’s an experiment: will “getting out our Louds” help us to use our “inside voices” more effectively this evening? I guess we’ll see. Stay tuned.

With Eric taking a late nap, Katie and I spent the remnants of a glorious and perfectly sunny afternoon outside. We were up to our usual dirt shenanigans, our theme this week as it turns out. Today I showed her how to build a classic hidden-hole booby trap. We dug a sizable hole, wove a lattice of small twigs over the top, and covered it with leaves. You know…so it looks like just a pile of leaves, not a hole. The idea is that a bad guy/monster/bogey will step on it, breaking through the twigs with his foot and get part of himself trapped. She thought this whole booby-trap-making thing was intriguing.

We also sleuthed around the front and back yards, looking for “clues”—and it turns out, there are plenty of odd enough items in dirt—to the ancient city that Katie speculates is beneath our property. My cousin Jed and I used to play the “hunt for clues” game and even had a little notebook for it. We wrote down the positions of things like loose bricks, wires where one doesn’t expect them, metal washers, and anything else that struck our fancy. It is one of my favorite games, still. I think it is an imaginative way to teach a child to observe in detail the world—often the overlooked world—right under her nose.

I am reminded of how much joy there can be even in the simplest of moments. I am beyond lucky that I get to have the job of teaching our children.

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