Spring is a complex thing. Part of a natural process, one-fourth of nature’s annual cycle…A time for children to leave the indoors and rediscover the outdoors, as long as we their parents let them…A theme in art and literature…A time for children to abandon their digital screens and dig in the dirt, as long as we let them outdoors…An image of renewal…A time for children to….Well, there’s a theme there, as long as we let there be one.

Children — along with bluebirds and other wild creatures — need to find themselves in the leaves, trees, and wilderness of the outdoors, no matter what it looks like: lawns, parks, pavement, streets (safe ones), and any area where sky can be glimpsed. Is there stranger danger? Yes,but it’s roughly equivalent to the chances your child will be struck by lightning, though we feel it is more like 50-50, given the media.

Spring can remind your children — and yourself — that renewal is ongoing, that it is safe to be alive, that despite the risks of being alive, it is far more amazing to run and jump and laugh than it is to hunker down inside — and inside of yourself — and be afraid.

Teaching Isn’t Always Easy, Or Ease It?

We all encounter adults struggling with children virtually every day: frustrated moms¬†with kids grabbing Fruitless Loopies on the cereal aisle…dad at Target on Saturday¬†with twins in tow, his wife at home exhausted and finally able to take three sips in a row of her own grape juice…tired teachers with tiresome students…a mother dalmatian with a hundred and one hyper-spotted pups trying to roast her roost.

Teaching children isn’t easy – I spent nearly forty years of my semi-adult life professing to be an educator myself. I helped my wife raise three splendid triplets (three triplets — as though triplets come in any other number!), who are now freshmen at three different colleges. Buttoning onesies on three squirming one-year-olds while my wife attempted to grasp a minute’s sleep was like wrestling greased squid.

But in retrospect — it was really all much easier than I made it out to be at the time, both the formal classroom teaching and the child-rearing. Children learn far more from what we do than what we say – we all know that, though we can be immeasurably dense about that lesson at times. If we are frustrated, tired, angry, conflicted, and impatient – children will tend to react with something less than joy and happiness. They tend to mirror our own emotions with what neuroscientists are — surprise! — calling “mirror neurons.” So, shouldn’t we approach our own lives, and theirs, with greater ease and less struggle — and learn to live our precious time with them in as much harmony and joy as humanly possible? Or at least try….