Out Past Bedtime

Posted March 20, 2020

By, Amanda Janquart

I remember listening to a song by folk musician Greg Brown and being struck by the way he described “adult dark.” Kids were called in from playing outside in the evening, but it wasn’t really that dark yet. According to the kids, it only looked dark if you were inside yakking about gall bladders and such and glanced out the window. Why should they have to come in when it was just adult dark?

Being outside as the sky darkens can be thrilling to young children. Now add headlamps and a bunch of pals and take away those pesky grownups taking about boring stuff! Kid’s Night In, which upon reflection is more akin to Kid’s Night Out(side), is All Seasons Preschool’s annual fundraiser. It is a chance to explore favorite places that children have played in many times during the day without the daylight. 

This year’s event was held in late February. Carting in a basket of outdoor gear and perhaps already in pajamas, children gathered in the Community Room. They could choose to play on blankets set up with Magnatiles, dry erase boards, train tracks, or books. Some chose to help prepare the long row of tables for dinner. Pizza was delivered and served up alongside bananas. After eating and taking a bathroom break (here is where planning ahead is key!), all the outdoor gear was donned.  


Excitement was palpable as children in their small groups switched on headlamps and hit the trails. It wasn’t long before stars were visible. Groups scattered throughout the snowscapes, some climbing trees and some going sledding in the dark. In the pines, simply laying on backs and looking up was thrilling. On the golf course, hills were conquered, and children could look back towards the school to see all the little bobbing lights of those in the woods. Meeting back on the playground, pitchers of hot chocolate with marshmallows were waiting. 

Exhausted bodies, closing in on bedtimes, snuggled up in sleeping bags back in the Community Room. Mr. Rogers’ voice soothed us all as we listened to him chat with Eric Carle, the author and illustrator of some very familiar books. We watched as he learned how Eric pieced together collages and even heard the author himself read one of his books. Then parents arrived, and the excitement level ramped back up. Children couldn’t wait to share the events of their night in, or rather, out! 

Each month, approximately $3000 is distributed through the preschool’s scholarship fund.  Thanks to the families who joined us and the teachers who volunteered, $850 was added to the program. We are happy the event is so well received with one child saying, “It was the best night of my life!”

Parenting in Worrisome Times

Posted March 16, 2020

by, Sarah Kern

I woke up this morning with a racing heart, feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath. It took me a moment to get my bearings, figure out what the threat was that my body was responding to. I’ve dealt with my own serious health issues in the last year, and now a threat looms again. The news about coronavirus is rampant and inescapable. Events are being cancelled, travel restricted, and schools are closing. It’s hard to know how to process it all, how scared we should really be. The anxiety, too, is rampant. I see it on people’s faces — the twinge of panic in voices, the look of worry before they flip to a friendly smile.  As parents, many of us are suffering, and it’s a painful (and anxiety-inducing) fact that anxiety trickles down to our kids. Even the youngest children are sensitive to the tones of our conversations, our body language, the way we may check out or detach to protect ourselves. While they may not understand exactly what is happening, they can understand that SOMETHING is happening. 

What is our responsibility to ourselves and to our children in times like these? Depending on age, children will have questions. Honesty is important, as well as calmness and rationality. Preschool-aged children can understand that some people are getting sick from a new illness and that things might be a little bit different for awhile so more people don’t get sick. Language such as, “You’re safe” can be reassuring, as well as a focus on the fact that there are things we can do to help. This can alleviate some of the anxiety about the many things we can’t do. Following the experts’ advice is the place to start. Washing hands, sanitizing surfaces, and staying home whenever possible is essential. Even something as simple as wiping down my phone makes me feel a bit more in control. These things can help kids feel better too — it empowers them to know there are things they can do to be safe. We also have a responsibility to be vigilant about looking for signs of true anxiety disorders, both in ourselves and our children. If anxiety is disrupting functioning or affecting quality of life, it’s time to see a doctor or therapist. 

This is also a time to take a closer look at the things unrelated to the virus that make us feel better. Maybe for you that means getting some exercise or calling a friend to chat. Maybe for your child it’s an uninterrupted LEGO playtime or a long walk outside. We all need breaks from social media and the news. There can be comfort in simple, routine things that are untouched by this situation — giving your child a bath, reading a favorite book together. 

In times of mass upset, I’m reminded of advice from Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” This advice comforts me as an adult, and it’s comforting to children, too. When you start to look for the helpers, they quickly appear. This morning I saw a post on a neighborhood facebook page offering to buy groceries for anyone who is in a high risk group. I see people making choices not for the good of themselves, but for the good of their communities — friends working from home, cancelling parties and play dates, staying home. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and that can feel scary, but the only way we’re going to get through this is together — even if we’re all six feet apart. 


Social Distancing at Sarah Kern’s house.

Why Children Act Out Most For Their Parents

Posted March 3, 2020

By, Tracy Riekenberg

It happened one recent weekend day. My son looked right at me and yelled, “I hate you!” then stormed off to his room.

This came as a shock from my boy. In his nine years on earth, he has gotten upset with me, but not to this degree. For the most part, he has been cuddly, loving, affectionate, and attached to me. This is the same boy who I didn’t get to hold until he was three days old. (He and his twin sister were born prematurely and he was whisked off to an isolette, hooked up to IVs and CPAP, and fragile for those first days). After the first moment I finally got to hold him, he never has wanted to let me go. He was the one to need extra rocking at night, the one who gave me big sloppy open mouth baby kisses, the one who never wanted to feed himself – he wanted me to do it for him. He is the one who climbs into bed with me on weekends to cuddle, the one who still holds my hand in public, the one who has a special good-night poem we HAVE to say every night. He is the one who is reluctant to spend the night at a friend’s house because he needs to be close to me. He is the one who cuddles next to me while we watch a movie. He is the one who really, really loves me. 

And yet, he is the one to first say he hated me. 

Talk about mama heartbreak!

After my emotions cooled off a bit, I recalled something my Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) teacher told us years ago: children most often act out for their parents because they feel safe with them. 

I’m sure it’s happened to all of us. Your child runs around, refuses to put on her coat, or flat-out tells you NO when it’s time to go home from school. Your heart breaks because you’ve been waiting all day to see her, yet she appears to be angry to go home. Or your child spends the afternoon/weekend with Grandma. You hear how he was a perfect angel, even helping Grandma with chores and eating every meal with no complaint. Then you get home and he starts screaming, crying, kicking, and having an absolute meltdown. Or you had a rare moment out and come home to your children playing happily with a babysitter. When she goes to put her coat on to leave, you’re left with a tantrum about getting ready for bed. 

It’s hard not to take these acting out moments personally. “What is it about me that is so much worse than the babysitter?” you think. And it’s even harder not to be completely embarrassed. “Oh my gosh!” you might think, “what if she acts like this for her teachers!?”

Chances are, she doesn’t. 

First of all, it takes a lot of child brainpower to be “on” all day at school, at Grandma’s, or with a babysitter. Deep down, children know the behavior expectations and their brains are working hard to keep the whining down, wiggles controlled, learning going, and rules followed. The second they can turn that section of their brain to “off,” they let loose all the emotions of the day. Maybe they’re hungry, tired, mad, sad or even happy, exhausted, and processing something new. The flood of emotions coming over them can create the outbursts you see the moment you come home. 

Secondly, your child may love their Grandma, trust and respect their teachers, and engage with their babysitter…. But your child LOVES you. Your child knows that you love him and that love is unconditional. He bursts into a tailspin of acting out because deep down he knows that no matter how bad he acts, he knows that you will still love him no matter what. 

At the moment, of course, remembering that these outbursts come from safety and love is so very hard. Because we love our children so deeply, when the behaviors seem to be directed right at us, it hurts! Our brains go into a panic mode and we can’t function in a calm manner. 

Even if you can’t do it in the heat of the outburst, later try to remember that you are a loved person in your child’s world. Because now, several days after the painful event with my son, I have had time to remind myself that “I hate you” really means “I love you.” (And sometimes looking back at pictures of just how much your child loves you helps!)