Category: Happiness

You Can Tell Me What The Speed Limit Is

A Scenario 

We were in the car the other day. It was a great day. It was one of those days we spent together from start to finish. Everyone got along. The 7 and the 8 year-old started playing immediately. It’s not that they never do this, but sometimes they wake up at odds. Sometimes one want’s to go downstairs and the other wants to stay upstairs. Sometimes one wants to watch a cartoon and other wants to watch a baking challenge. Sometimes one wants some space and the other wants to wrestle. 

This time, they hopped out of bed and got right to it. The 7 year-old was in our bed because he got up a bit early, but right when his big sister woke up she came to get him. She asked if he waned to play and this time he did. The stars aligned. They spent the next hour or so in their bedroom; imagining, laughing, encouraging and playing. 

After breakfast we decided to take a day trip. It was book stores, playgrounds, soccer balls, basketball and jump rope. We told stories, played games and had fun. 

There we were, on our way to another location for more family fun, when he turned to her and said, “You know, you should live with me when we grow up. That way, when we’re driving around in the car you can tell me what the speed limit is.” 

Keen. Even though he’s 7 years-old I’m confident he knows that the speed limit is posted. In that moment I had the sneaking suspicion he was actually telling his big sister that he loves her. I suspect he was giving her some insight into the joy he feels that they have one another, the understanding he has of their unconditional bond, and the vision he holds of their connected life. I don’t know that he actually believes they’ll live together, but it seems that he believes they will alway be friends, confidants, playmates and partners in life. It was a nice moment for me. 

I grew up with five siblings, each of us less than two years apart in age. Lorelei and I have been incredibly blessed to be able to build our family in this way. In large part, we planned for four close-in-age siblings so that they would each have the others for a lifetime of comfort, support, encouragement, celebration and unconditional love. 

Siblings don’t always get along. Heck, we don’t always like one another. There are ebbs and flows. However, in my experience, there is never a time…not a single moment, when siblings are not connected. I believe that anyone of us would tell any of the others what the speed limit is anytime there’s a need, without hesitation. 

My heart was warmed to hear the big guy connect with his sister in that way. 

Two Possible Implications

We’re on winter break. Life is really busy and really challenging right now. It’s difficult to keep our kids’ days filled with routine, normalcy and comfort. We see the trends and we hear the news. On all fronts, from community health to politics we need to navigate decision making for ourselves and for our kids, while providing them with just the right developmentally appropriate information to keep them balanced, reflective and joyful. They are kids, after all. Even in an imperfect world, they should be joyful. 

Consider the following possible implications drawn from the scenario above: 

Long-term social bonds are critically important to our kids’ well-being. 

As we guide our kids through the strange social landscape of a pandemic we should keep an eye on their friendships. Whether we’re looking at friendships between siblings, other relatives, school friends or kids in the neighborhood, we should notice and encourage our kids to perpetuate healthy bonds between themselves and those they connect with. We should help them make time to spend together. When needed, we should guide them in social conflict resolution while reminding them of the joy they feel when they are together with people they appreciate and understand, who also appreciate and understand them.

Our kids prompt one another, and us. 

This time, the 7 year-old prompted his sister to continue connecting with him. Sometimes the prompt is that he needs space. Kids do this to one another and they do this to us. As a grown up he will easily be able figure out what the speed limit is without assistance. They both know this, but he wanted her to know he needs, and will continue to need her. 

We should keep an eye on the language our kids use with one another and with us, so that we can support their needs in any given moment. When kids ask for our help with things they know how to do or can handle on their own they may simply be asking for some time together, or an acknowledgement of the bond we share with them. They may be reaching out with a message of togetherness or a request for comfort. Reading and responding to such prompts is well worth the time, every time. 

An Activity

What implications do you see? What learning can you discern from this scenario? Take a moment to reflect and consider a parenting/education guiding principle the “speed limit” anecdote brings to light. Share your thinking, with me or with anyone you turn to for processing along this unique and wonderful journey. You can use the “comments” section below if you’re so inclined. There is meaning to be found in even the smallest moments. Look and listen with an open heart and on open mind.

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

…and take.

We’ve been giving for while now. Parents and educators, we’ve spent the last couple of years pouring ourselves into finding ways to provide safe spaces within which our kids can learn and grow. We’re happy to do it and we will continue. Still, it’s hard…something we don’t always admit or take into account. 

We’ve tried with all our might to provide our kids with consistency and routine. We’ve found ways to let them be kids during a time that we didn’t see coming and often struggle to understand. We’ve seen the world shift in unthinkable ways. We’ve all been washed over by waves of trauma. Still, we continue to employ every ounce of our energy on behalf of a joyful and balanced childhood for our children. 

Through cavernous ebbs and unrestrained flows, we’ve realized that there has always been good to find, and with that realization we continue to find it. We’ve faced challenges with courage and grace, and we’ve celebrate triumphs with delight. I have no doubt that we will carry in this way. Our children are in good hands. I believe that with our love, guidance and support they will endure and become a generation of resilience like no other. 

Ironically, in this season of giving, I would suggest it’s now time to take.

Parents and educators, take a breath. Take a moment to relax. The work will be there when we return to school in the new year. 

Take self-care seriously. Start that routine you’ve been meaning to start. Get into a habit. Exercise each day. Take a walk. Take time to prepare healthy food and eat with meals with your friends and family. Take the liberty to eat some meals by yourself if you’d like. Enjoy every bite. Take trips to places you love. Take a nap. Take a step out of your door when the sun is shining, just to feel the warmth on your face.

These days can be wild and fast. A break is a blessing. Whatever urge pulls you to linger in hurried thoughts, whatever sense tries to trick you into sleepless nights, whatever confusion attempts to distract you, deny it. Deny it all. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to twist, turn and toil again very soon. For now, take what you know you need. Take what you know will help you continue to be strong in the coming days, weeks and months. 

Just like we give tirelessly for the kids we serve, take for them now. It will benefit them as much as it will you. It will allow you to regenerate into your best self. It’s time for balance. In the great give and take of this extraordinary ride, it’s time to take.

Thanks for reading…in it tougether for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

When It’s Just You And Me I Feel Like I Won Something

The end of the year and the holiday season can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. There’s so much to do, we’re exhausted, and let’s face it parents, guardians and educators…we have really high expectations of ourselves (sometime unrealistically high). I know a way to help relieve some of the stress of the end of the year, holiday season emotional rollercoaster. The challenge is, in order for it to work, you have to actually do it. 

Cast your mind to something that brings you joy. Imagine you’re in a place where you experience peace and balance. No matter what struggles persist in any given moment, we all have memories of good things. 

Is it making pancakes with your kids on a snowy Sunday morning? Is it a walk with your dog on a lazy afternoon? Is it the first sip of an excellent cup of coffee as you prepare to start the day? 

Time is generally short, but you should be able to manage a moment here and there for quite reflection. Our thoughts do guide our feelings, and our feelings do guide our actions. Rather than slowing you down or hindering progress toward your goals, stopping every now and again can steady your pace, enhance your resolve and bring you closer to achievement. When you do stop, do it with purpose. 

Have you found that moment of joy? Can you envision that peaceful, balanced place? Bring yourself there. Feel how it feels. Let yourself sink into it. Set a timer if you think you might get lost. It really only takes a moment. 

A moment of feeling positive emotion, connecting yourself with something meaningful, and engaging in mindfulness can fuel an extended burst of energy. Periodic moments of this type of mindfulness can generate consistent productivity and increase well-being. 

For example, last night our 7-year-old and I decided to take a trip to the skating rink Campus Martius. The two of us spent that day together. We started by making breakfast, we went for a walk, we baked a cake (which took most of the afternoon) and finally we drove downtown for an ice skating adventure. 

As tired as we were from a jam packed day, he was so enthusiastic about going downtown. I thought he was being fueled by the excited vision of gliding around the rink immersed in the glowing, downtown holiday energy. I think I thought wrong. 

As we pulled out of the driveway and headed off together he said, “Daddy?”

I said, “Ya, Buddy?”

Then he exploded my heart by telling me, “When it’s just you and me I feel like I won something.”

Even though you weren’t there you can imagine how that landed? Joy, peace and balance. A wonderful feeling. A moment of overwhelming emotion. A feeling you can’t exactly describe, and at the same time one you understand with an uncanny depth. One you wish you could hold onto forever. Euphoric. 

I was elated. I replied, “Me too, Bud. I defiantly won the prize of being your dad.”

To which he added, “…and I won the prize of being your kid.”

Aah.

There’s one. It’s a gift he gave me. I can recall that moment and feel uplifted whenever I’d like. Uplifted by generating the feeling of spending meaningful time with loved ones, celebrating togetherness, focusing on the heart rather than the mind, and on the who rather than the what or the where. I own that feeling. It’s mine to call on.

Through the triumphs and the challenges of daily life in a fast paced world we each own some such moments. Hold on to them. Write them down if you have to. Keep and recall them periodically. You don’t have to be feeing down, stressed or overwhelmed to enlist a mindful moment, either. Remembering that which brings us joy, peace and balance is a good practice no matter how we’re feeling. You can use it to lift you out of a funk or to keep you moving along when you’re light on your feet. 

Stay connected to the best parts of the journey and you will stay connected to what truly matters. Memories are only memories because they were initiated in the past. In fact, if you allow them to, they can stay with you in the present, through the emotions they generate. 

Feel and allow yourself to connect with your feelings. Use memories of positive emotion to drive continue positive emotion and well-being. If you try and fail, forgive yourself and try again. Give yourself grace during this time and throughout the year. You, and those around you, will be better off for it.

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Don’t Yuck Someone Else’s Yum

We were sitting at the dinner table the other day when a dish was served that was beyond the ability for our pickier eaters to understand. I don’t remember if there were onions on a burger or tomatoes on a slice of pizza. Regardless, our 7-year-old was digging in with a huge smile on his face. Yum, yum, yum.

After a few bites he turned to one of his big brothers and offered a taste. The offer he was met with a wrinkled up face and a reply laden with pure disgust. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

The little guy quickly fired back with, “Don’t yuck someone else yum.”

I stopped in my tracks. 

“Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” I love it. 

This time it applied to food, but that’s not the foundation of the message. I found out later that he learned if from his incredible first grade teacher. It means just what you think it means. 

We all have different tastes, we all have different views of the world, and while there are some universal joys we experience, we are each unique. We are all always well served when we recognize, support, encourage and celebrate one another. When our minds and hearts are open, our connections are genuine. When our connections are genuine, we are strong. 

So, don’t yuck someone else’s yum. Instead, lift them up, let them know you value them even if you don’t agree or understand. Build collective strength for the benefit and wellbeing of both of you. Strong, happy people perpetuate strong, happy communities…and that benefits everyone.

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Creative Play and Joyful Togetherness: Some Ingredients for Well-Being

We did some cider mill hopping this weekend, which had us in the car for a decent amount of time. The last mill we visited was about 40 minutes away from our house. It was me and the four kids. Lorelei was at home, patiently waiting for a blueberry frosted. 

Me and the big guy were in the front set, with a big and two littles in the back. I don’t know how it began, but before I knew it “99 Bottles of Coke on the Wall” was ringing from the rear…and they went for it.

At around “fifty bottles of coke on the wall” I realized I had never actually heard it sung all the way through. Our 12-year-old was covering himself up with his coat as the siblings chimed on. They were laughing hysterically with each round. I joined in, adding accents between the verses. We we’re all laughing at this point…even big brother under the coat in the front seat. It was fun. We were joyful, sharing positive emotions, finding meaning in our time together, strengthening our bonds with one another, and in doing so…enhancing our well-being. 

Through the laughter and the silliness we made it to “zero bottle’s of Coke on the wall” and began cheering. One of the kids had the bright idea to continue with negative numbers. He was quickly shut down by the rest of us. He agreed that would be taking it too far. We rode the energy of our singing and some great laughter the rest of the way home.

It doesn’t take much. Being together and having fun is wonderful way to build connections, make memories and again, enhance well-being. 

I remember when the kids were little and a new gift came home, they would tear into it and play for a while. Then, like clockwork, they would turn to the packaging for extended hours of creativity and engagement. 

Kids get incredibly excited about sharing their imaginative play with us. They love showing us what they can build with boxes and string, and what incredible stories they can come up with about a cardboard city. Joy is generated from within. We simply need to make ourselves available to be shared with.

Last week was the STEAM fair at school. I was overjoyed to see so many families scattered around our cafeteria and gym creating structures and patterns from coffee filters, marshmallows and various other everyday household items. It was wonderful to watch kids make sense of their imagination with purpose and to hear them so excited about sharing the process, the purpose and the excitement with their families. 

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, thinking, talking and writing about play lately. It seems that everywhere I turn some of the most deeply impactful moment are generated by play in some form. Whether we’re singing, laughing, drawing or building together, I continue to find the benefits of playful and exploration to generate among the most significantly impactful outcomes we can hope for. 

Through this pandemic and beyond, I would continue to assert that engaging in creative play and joyful togetherness with our kids might be the most important thing we can do for their daily learning and growth, and for the promise of their longterm health and achievement. 

Thank you for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Play…Really Important And Super Fun!

We we’re at the playground after a soccer game yesterday. Lorelei and I were working to round the kids up. It was a beautiful afternoon, but there were things do to and we had to move on.

Every time we encouraged any one of them to come to the car, they let us know that they, “just need a few more minutes,” or that they, “had to do one more thing.”

Kids love to play, and play is a wonderful tool for learning, growth, and well-being. 

Play allows us to explore. When we’re playing we’re using intellectual, social and physical skills, and in doing so on the foundation of interest, engagement and joy, we’re enhancing those skills and building a broader range of skills to access for a number purposes within and outside of play. 

We adults have things to do. We’re busy. It’s not feasible to play all day long. However, as I watched our kids play yesterday, I remembered that play is more important than I sometimes give it credit for. 

We can be mindful and present during play. When we’re playing, we can step away from the daily stressors that bog us down and distract us. Play can help us restore, reset and renew. It would seem that we need to be at our desks and at computers for productivity, but that may not be the case.

Instead of continuing to try to usher the kids into the car yesterday, I succumbed to their instance on extended play. Then, I took it a sept further and played with them. It was joyful. For a moment, I stoped worrying about the timelines, the work and the chores. It wasn’t long. I only played for about fifteen minutes. That fifteen minutes of play energized my body and focused my mind. 

When we did return to the car to make our way home I was more present. I was better able to organize the rest of day between family and professional responsibilities. I felt relaxed and happy. I felt joyful. Additionally, I went to bed early and slept really well last night. 

The stressors didn’t go away. I still have things to do and I still have things to worry about. 

Listening to my kids and deciding to take some time to genuinely focus on play with them didn’t remove me from the busy world of adult responsibilities. Instead, it gave me an increased awareness of what is truly important within that world, and it helped me visualize and plan for an increasingly balanced pathway forward.

We know that play is great for kids. Don’t forget that it’s great of us as well. Take the time to get out and play. It will be worthwhile, it’s fun, and if you let yourself…you’re likely to love it!

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

The Beauty of Weeds

A few days ago our 12-year-woke up and got dressed, only to discovered that his pant legs seemed a bit shorter than they were the day before. He walked out of his bedroom, looked up at me and said, “Dad, I think I grew last night while I was sleeping.”

He pointed to his ankles and added, “See?”

I did see. I agreed, “Wow, buddy…nice work.”

He laughed, bounced up and down a bit and headed to his closet to find some pants that fit. It’s fun to grow, and this kid is growing like a weed.

While growing is fun for kids, it reminds adults that time flies. When we blink, we run the risk of missing some of it. The challenge is that there’s so much to do and there never seems to be enough time. 

Additionally, much of what we do is done so that we can provide for our kids. The most important thing is that our kids know they’re loved, but they do also need food, clothes, a roof over their heads, and much more. Some of the things they need require us to be away from them some of the time.

We’ve all experienced the missing of moments.

Perspective. 

Growing like a weed is good because it means our kids are healthy. It’s also challenging, because it also shows us there’s nothing we can, or should try to do to slow this train down. 

This week I was standing with a partner at school, looking out the window where a kindergarten students was running around the field collecting dandelions. At a certain point in the spring the Berg front lawn is covered with dandelions. We’ve chosen not to use chemicals for a weed-free yard (no judgment, just a personal choice). 

Each year as I watch every other patch of grass in the neighborhood grown lush and green, I lament that ours is speckled with yellow. I do everything I can to keep it short enough to minimize the reality of a weed-speckled yard. In the end, there’s no escaping it, and there’s no hiding it.

Looking out that window, my partner commented, “Aren’t dandelions amazing?”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

She said, “Well, look at how much joy they bring. They’re the first bouquet our children gather, and because they come early, they’re the first opportunity for bees to get pollen.”

She smiled and continue watching the student pick and arrange. The child had an enormous smile on her face and a look of determination and pride in her eyes. My partner went on, “I don’t understand whey some people worry about dandelions so much. So what if they’re weeds, they’re still amazing!” It didn’t take much for me see the point. I smiled with a newfound appreciation for weeds. 

Perspective. 

Parents and educators, it’s ok to feel nostalgic and even sad as we watch our kids grow, with the realization that in some ways they’re growing away from us. We love them and we want to keep them near. However, their growth is the point. It’s the endgame and the mission of every step along the way. 

Thinking of the joy that dandelions bring to the child gathering her first bouquet gave me pause. It brought me to a place where I could celebrate our 12-year-old’s pant legs getting shorter. It had me seeing through a “glass half-full” lens, thrilled that he’s healthy and excited about the journey he’s on…remembering that everything I do is aimed at his wellbeing, achievement and independence. 

I don’t think it will ever be easy, but when I shift that lens and consider the wonder of my kids flourishing, even and especially when I realize it means they will eventually no longer be kids, I feel happy. 

Two years into a pandemic and ten weeks into a school year where we’re successfully providing our children the opportunity to be learning at school with their teachers and friends, we can take a deep breath, be present in each moment, and celebrate the hard work we’re putting in. Our aim is true and we’re getting it right…for them. 

Weeds and all, congratulations on steadfastly focusing on the kids…whatever it takes. The next time you have to order new pants or new shoes because your child grew our of them overnight, consider feeling joyful and patting yourself on the back. Consider letting it remind you that you’re doing great!

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Relaxation Time

This week I had the opportunity to spend some time as a guest teacher in music and art classes. I’m not a music teacher or an art teacher, but I do appreciate both disciplines, and both music and art play significant roles in my life. So I enlisted my experience with and knowledge of each, and I thought about how the creative arts bring joy and balance into my life as I prepared to teach.

When I was a child my parents enrolled me in piano lessons. I never became a virtuoso, but I gained enough understanding to be able to connect with the keys in a way that produces sound some might consider music. Occasionally I sit at the piano, produce that sound and find myself entering into and enjoying a state of mind research around well-being would identify as a “flow.” It’s a state of mind that can engender pathways to focus and calm.

In each music class I spent some time playing the piano as the kids rested. I asked them to aim at letting the music guide their thinking. I wasn’t sure how it would go. It went well. It especially went well with our youngest learners. Kindergarten and first grade students in each class allowed themselves to dive deep into the activity. The room became still and calm each time I facilitated this process. They seemed to have an aptitude for mindfulness. Moreover, they seemed to have an interest in it.

The day after my short tenure as a music teacher I received a note that described an extension of the meditation activity. A parent wrote to her child’s teacher and the teacher forwarded the note to me. She wrote that her first grader came home from school talking about having “relaxation time” in music class. She went on to share that they recreated the activity before bedtime with some music and guidance on relaxation. According to her report, the child said, “This feels nice, we should do this every night.”

I believe we all should do this every night, or during each day if it fits in better. The fact is, everyone can benefit from mindfulness as a part of a consisted self care focus. 

The world in an incredibly busy place. The stressors are real and the challenges are…well, really quite challenging. When we take the time to be present and calm, when we dedicate ourselves to a positive mindset, when we focus and deeply engage, we reflect, process and heal with increased efficiency and productivity. 

Individually and collectively, when take deep breaths and allow ourselves to live in each moment, we build capacity for a genuine focus on what truly matters…ourselves and one another. When we teach this critical life skill to our children, we enhance their futures and the future of our world. 

Slow down, breath deep, we got this. 

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Breathe. All We Have Is Now. Relax. UR OK.

Breathe. All we have is now. Relax. UR OK.

This is the message on one of the many sculptures along the path of “The Walk of Art” sculpture park (“Art Rapids”) in our lovely downtown Elk Rapids – about five minutes from the farm. If you’re a northern Michigan enthusiast and you haven’t been to the sculpture park, I recommend you put it on the itinerary for an upcoming trip. It’s wonderful. 

One of the features of the park are these intermittent offshoots of roadsigns, with messages of hope, love and inspiration. One is a stop sign that reads, “Start” instead of “Stop.”

Another is a “One Way” sign that’s not rectangular but heart-shaped, indicating that the only way is love.

Still another articulates the foundational message of this post. 

Breathe. All we have is now. Relax. UR OK.

I like the message, and given that I’ve always viewed life as a journey, I like that it’s being broadcast from a road sign in this case.

Another important feature of the park (at least during our visit a few weekends ago) was an overwhelming multitude of what I’ve come to learn are called Oak Leafrolllers. 

Oak Leafrollers are the tiny green worms that hang by threads of silk from oak trees. During this particular trip to the park it was as if we were transported into an Oak Leafroller obstacle coarse. They were everywhere.

The more we focused on the little tree climbing critters the more they seemed to multiply. We realized that they were on our clothes and in our hair. As we walked on we felt them on our arms and worried that they were getting into our ears and mouths. Phantom tickles and itches overtook us.

We began to duck and run. Then we rolled and crawled through the pathways of the woods like highly skilled military operatives. Finally, we ran faster then ever before, bobbing and weaving as we went. Occasionally one of us would grab another, sometimes dropping to the ground, frantically wiping and patting the other clean from these great green silk monsters before scrambling to our feet to flee some more. 

Some of us were laughing with such uncontrolled enthusiasm that tears were streaming down our faces (that was primarily me and Lorelei – some proud parenting moments), while others had streaming tears as a result of the deep, genuine and unabashed fear-based crying they had succumb to in the face of this newfound tiny-worm terror (the kids were getting pretty excited about the sheer volume of leafrollers – the woods were dense with them). It was pretty close to utter chaos by the time we reached the car.

What’s worse, the leafrollers had sent battalions of their kinsmen to cover our car while we were fighting for dear life to avoid them on the forest battlefield. 

We had to expertly navigate our way into the vehicle without letting them overtake us (of heaven forbid, get inside). The danger persisted. Some hung on for dear life as we drove away. We promised the kids that the wind would blow the rest off. It didn’t. We watched through the windows in terror as the strongest and most persistent among them clung on, taunting us the entire way to the farm. 

In the end we survived the vicious attack of completely harmless, tiny little bugs to whom we were not doubt the most menacing, hideous and gigantic creatures imaginable…but only by the skin of our teeth.

Later, I looked them up on the internet. Turns out, collectively, they’re described as a nuisance. Curious. Really they’re just trying to eat some oak leaves, build cocoons, and morph miraculously into moths. 

I wondered if maybe we were actually the collective nuance in this particular situation. You know, because we ran around screaming at them, swatting them with sticks, swiping them around, ripping them from their silk lifelines and violently disrupting their beautiful, natural course with unfettered  rage. Just a wonder I had. 

It made me think about perspective. As parents and educators we often find ourselves in situations that are frustrating, and even unsettling. The Great Berg Oak Leafroller Battle of 2021 reminded me that thoughtful, compassionate reflection can serve us, and those around us well. 

When we take the time and make the effort to relax into the moments of our lives, whether or not we understand them immediately, we seem more likely to be able to enlist our capacity for calm, and as a result, we seem more likely to navigate the ebbs and the flows with strength and empathy. 

Whether we’re being attached by tiny floating worms or facing the bumpy road of child raising, calm hearts and minds tend to win the day, for all involved.

So as we continue together, if you can…breathe. All we have is now, and if you are able…relax. UR OK.

Thank you for reaching…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

The Fourth Best Soccer Player In The Fifth Grade

The other day when I got home from work our 6-year-old came running while simultaneously asking me to, “Guess what happened at school!”

I hand’t a clue, but I was certainly curious.

The words burst out of his mouth, “I stole the ball from the fourth best soccer player in the fifth grade!”

He and his fifth grade brother gave each other a high five with huge grins on their faces. Lorelei reminded him it was a good thing that we didn’t “take it easy” on him during the family soccer game at the farm last weekend (even thought he asked us to). She suggested that playing full steam with his fifth grade brother may have helped him become the new fourth best player in the fifth grade…as a first grader. He smiled even bigger. 

This is a kid who insisted he did not want to play soccer. Conversely, Lorelei and I have insisted that all of our kids play recreational soccer. Whether or not they want to continue after the first couple of years is up to them. We believe the game is a great onramp into organized sports for all kids. At the recreational level it’s really about running around and having fun, and they get to have experiences with coaching and teamwork in loving, kind spaces.

This is our 6-year-old’s first season and he’s rocking it. After his reluctance to join up, he quickly found a place on the team and a place in his heart for the game. Now, he’s running with the pack, developing skills and having tons of fun each week. In the beginning, we could hardly get him to take the field for practice. 

It was the same with piano lessons (another non-non-negotiable for the Berg kids). His energy around that weekly torment continues to ebb and flow. Ironically, he’s doing great in both endeavors. “Great” meaning engaged and demonstrating growth and intermittent joy around that growth. He’s learning to understand himself as a learner on the piano and on the soccer field, and that’s the name of the game as we sed it. He’s regularly feeling a sense of accomplishment, which research shows is good for health and well-being. 

Throughout the year there are plenty of wonderful events and activities available to our kids. I would suggest that it’s important to give them gentle nudges from time to time, and to help guide them through the resilience it takes to stay with short and long term goals, and community/team commitments. 

Keep an eye out for programs and events for kids, have conversations to determine interest, approach those conversations with enthusiasm, push a bit when you see a spark, and be a guide through the challenges that kids face along pathways to progress as they learn the range of critical skills that will no doubt transfer to a multure of areas in school, work and life.

Community and school programs are safe and caring spaces for kids to make mistakes, experience and build through failures and successes, and problem solve around challenges and celebrate triumphs. Who knows, they may even find themselves becoming the fourth best soccer player in the fifth grade! 

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.