I’m Game for Building Connections With My Daughter!

Fun with Checkers and Connect Four

Yesterday, my daughter and I played a few rounds of checkers and connect four. Both games were my favorite to play when I was younger. I’d always excitedly say, “Smoke before fire!” There was something about going first that made me feel like I had an extra edge to win the game.

“You didn’t see that jump?” I asked my seven year old as we played checkers. “Aww man, I see it now,” she said as I jumped over her piece and removed it from the board. From that point on, Quinn put on her game face and was ready!

As we continued to play both checkers and connect four, I saw how serious Quinn became. Her lips curled slightly, and she squinted a little as she looked at the board determining her next move. She reminded me of myself.

In thinking about the concept and strategies of both games, a big part of them is keen observation. This made me think about life and how “it” will happen whether we’re paying attention or not. Overlooking one move or piece on the board can cause the entire game change course.

As the Coronavirus lockdown continues, I’m trying my best to be observant and focus on the positive side of life. I must be mindful of my moves not just for me but my daughter too.

All the best,

Tanya

Lessons in Bravery from Two Six Year Olds: Ruby Bridges and My Daughter

On Friday, my daughter’s teacher posted pictures on Class Dojo about what the class is doing in preparation for Black History Month. My eye was immediately drawn to the picture of my six year old and a few of her classmates holding up their papers with the title: I am brave like Ruby Bridges. (Their faces have smiley faces since I did not time to ask permission to post the picture)

What really struck a chord with me is that my daughter, while she’s brave in many ways, doesn’t have the same struggle as Ruby Bridges did as the first African American to integrate an elementary school in the south. According to womenshistory.org, “She walked past crowds screaming vicious slurs at her.” The article goes on to say, “Ruby ate lunch alone and sometimes played with her teacher at recess, but she never missed a day of school that year.” I couldn’t imagine my sweet girl or any child having to endure that level of hatred just based in the color of their skin.

Though times have changed and people’s thoughts have evolved in positive ways, I know racism and discrimination does still exist 60 years later. However, I’m so grateful that my little girl attends a diverse school where she interacts and plays with children of different races, ethnicities, religions, you name it and considers all of her classmates to be her friends.

Sometimes, I’m hesitant to share certain details about our history as African Americans with my daughter because of the tragedies and injustices we’ve endured. So it’s wonderful that she has a teacher who was thoughtful and brave enough to share the story of Ruby Bridges, a child who was just like Quinn and her classmates: six years old, eager to learn and excited about school. 

Let’s all continue to acknowledge the past and how far we’ve all come so that we all may have a positive future, especially  for our children.

All the best,

Tanya

Treasuring Life, Moments & Positivity by Accident with My Daughter

It happened within a few seconds. Yesterday, a car speeding down the highway hit my car and kept going. With my six year old in the back seat, I was shocked, flustered and upset but at the same time grateful, grateful that we were okay and that I was able to handle our car and not lose control. Quinn immediately focused on the positive saying, “Maybe we can catch them. Maybe there’s no major damage.” She even wondered if it was a male or female driver based on how reckless they were. Luckily, we have a dashboard camera, Garmin Speak, (I highly recommend having a dashboard camera) which caught the entire accident along with the driver’s license plate because as residents right outside of Philadelphia coming from Delaware, and I was a bit shaken and really just wanted to get home.

As I contemplated on the drive home, I thought about how our lives could have changed within seconds if the hit was a more serious accident. I thought about how we could have potentially hit another car if we were hit hard enough to be forced into another lane or a car in close proximity.

But rather than focus on the negative or allowing this incident to set the tone for 2020, I’m rejoicing in knowing how important it is to not only treasure life but the moments we have with our loved ones. Though my car has some cosmetic damage, I am so grateful that my daughter and I walked away with no scratches just treasuring life, moments, family and friends as we move forward in 2020.

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons: The Big Monopoly on Fun & Games

The other day, I overheard someone saying that “Monopoly” is one of the worst board games ever. I responded jokingly, “How dare you!? That’s one of my all-time favorite games!” “It’s just too long of a game,” the person replied. I said, “But that’s the whole point. It’s just like life and is all about strategizing.”I used to play Monopoly for hours with my sister and brother. Luckily, my six year old feels the same way as me and can’t get enough of Monopoly Junior. I asked her what she likes about the game, and Quinn said, “I like buying properties and collecting rent, but I have to be smart so that I don’t run out of money paying other people rent.” What great life lesson some adults are still learning!

One time when we were shopping we saw an LOL version, and she asked me how many different Monopoly games are there. After doing a quick search, I was amazed to find out that there are 1,144 different versions! There’s a Fortnite version, Stranger Things, a Pizza version, Cheaters edition, the classic version, and the list goes on and on. Who says video games and electronic devices have the monopoly on fun? Some kids do like good old fashioned board games. It’s a great way to have family time, talk, sharpen those critical thinking skills and to address the importance of not being a sore loser or an overly gloating winner for both the kids and the adults.

All the best,

Tanya

Life’s Not So Dark with the Colorfulness of Children

Even though babies are not born knowing how to see, then only in black, white and gray before eventually seeing in color months later, it’s amazing how they add so much color to the darkest of lives and moments. This occurred to me as I watched my daughter use her rainbow scratch and sketch book we purchased as the Franklin Institute last week. What I love about the book is that it’s not just black pages with rainbow colors underneath, but it gives suggestions and inspirational ideas to bring forth the color.

As a child and even as a young adult, there’s been times when I’ve been swallowed up by darkness, felt depressed, lonely and struggled to find the “color” or rainbow. But now, I try to focus on knowing that the color is always there if I scratch deep enough below the surface.

It also doesn’t hurt that the colorfulness of my little girl fills me with joy and hope whenever I find myself headed towards a dark place. It’s so easy to focus on the darkness coming from people, places and circumstances. But as my six year old told me, “Isn’t it so cool that underneath the black there’s all of these beautiful colors!”

All the best,

Tanya

It’s All Downhill from Here! Life Lessons from My Little Girl.

 

“You know what the best part about going up a hill is, Mommy? Getting to have fun going down it really fast!” my little girl informed me as we traveled the neighborhood on our bike ride. You know what else, if I’m using my scooter, I can just put both of my feet on the board and save my energy. When we’re on the bikes, we don’t have to pedal as much either! While this may seem obvious to most adults and even some older children, what’s not so obvious is the deep rooted lesson my soon to be six year old shared with me.

How often do we focus on the difficulty of  a task or how it’s going to be an “uphill battle” to achieve our goals? As we climbed a very steep hill on our bikes, Quinn was already thinking about the fun part of coasting along and enjoying the ride down the hill we managed to climb. One hill was extra steep, and I struggled with my sweet girl hooked up to the bike trailer to get us up the incline. I even asked her, “Are you pedaling back there, Quinnie?” “I sure am mommy! We’re almost up that hill. Then we get to go down!” she said happily.

Then, we made it! It seemed like we’d never get up that one hill, but once we did, a weight was lifted, and we both were eager to speed quickly down the hill with the sun shining and breeze blowing in our faces.

Upon making our way home, she couldn’t wait to inform her dad about our struggle. She chuckled and said, “Mommy could barely make it up one hill, Daddy! But we made it. Then we got to go down the hill really fast. It was so much fun!”

Most of us have heard the phrase “Life is filled with hills and valleys.” However, most people view the valley as a negative place and the hills as the positive climatic moments in our lives. I’d like to think that the hills give us that challenge we need to thrive and be successful, and the valleys or declines from those hills give us the wind in our faces, time to rejuvenate and to simply enjoy the coast.

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons of Winning & Losing: Fun & Games with My Little Girl

“Let’s play a different game!” my five year old insisted as she started putting away the “Connect Four” pieces. “Why?” I asked. To which she quickly replied, “You won the past two games!” Yesterday, we spent a few hours playing games from Hungry Hippos (a classic for me), Disney’s Surprise Slides, which is a variation of Shoots and Ladders, Who Shook Hook, Guess Who and a few others.

I can easily recall when I was younger having game day with my mom and my siblings. Though I enjoyed this family time, I often struggled with being a sore loser when we played “Sorry” or “Old Maid,” which I always seemed to be. It might have been the feeling that I’d never win, the hope that my mom would just let me win or even the occasional taunting from my siblings, but there were times when my eyes would fill with tears, and I’d utter those famous five words, “I don’t want to play anymore!”

Now that I’m older, losing isn’t necessarily easier to accept, but I am able to look at it through a different lens for the sake of my daughter. Though she handles losing much better than I did at her age, I can tell that it still upsets her. As we play games together, we laugh, have fun and hi five, there are also opportunities to discuss life as it correlates to games.

I told her that we all need to learn how to lose and win gracefully. We also discussed how we all can improve with practice, as she did with “Connect Four. When we first started playing when she was around three years old, she was still learning the concept of the game of getting four in a row, and diagonal was definitely tricky. Yesterday, she was really strategizing by making sure to block me and really gave me a run for my money. She legitimately won quite a few times without me going easy on her and just needs to balance blocking me while keeping an eye out for how she can get four in a row simultaneously.

Quinnie’s technique actually made me think about how people, sometimes focus so much on blocking others from winning that they still wind up losing because they aren’t paying attention when the opportunities for them to win present themselves. We went over how her strategy will continue to improve and played a few more rounds before moving on to “Hungry Hippos.”

I am so proud of her for her willingness to keep playing even when she was not winning. She even learned with Disney’s Surprise Slides that it’s not over until it’s over. She was far ahead on the board, and I managed to catch up with her. She then kept saying with each turn, “I don’t think I’m going to win!” But she still kept playing. I was on her tail, when she spun the red Mickey Mouse to win the game. A big smile was plastered on her face as she said, “I can’t believe it! I won! I thought I was losing for sure!” That’s when I told her, “Sometimes that’s how it goes! You think you’re going to lose, but you still win. That’s why you always keep trying your best!” We learn so much from life but sometimes more from games reflecting how life works.

All the best,

Tanya

A Lesson from My Little Girl: Swimming in The Metaphorical “Deep End” of the Pool

“Did you see me, Mommy? Did you see me dip my head in the water?” my little girl excitedly inquired. “Yes, I did! I’m so proud of you, honey!” I exclaimed. My little girl went from panicking and crying when getting her hair washed about a half year ago to standing in a swimming pool without me by her side eager to learn and follow her teacher’s instructions.

Just about seven weeks ago, I enrolled my four year in swim lessons at Kids’ First Swim after she expressed an interest in to learning swim. I wasn’t sure how well she would do without me considering that she was very nervous when she was a little over a year taking lessons in the water with me. To my surprise, she did not cry and readily got into the water. She did inform me ahead of time, however, that she does not like getting water in her eyes and ears because of the “funny feeling” she gets, which is understandable.

Nevertheless, on level one, one of the skills was for Quinn to bob her head under water five times, so I knew this would be a major hurdle for her. In week one and two, she did everything but put her head under water; I could see the uncertainty in her eyes. Before going into the water during week three, she said, “Mommy, I know I have to put my head under water, and I’m trying really hard, but I’m just nervous.” I reassured her that it’s okay to be nervous and that the more she is in the water the more comfortable she will feel.

That day, I observed her through the one-way mirror as she slowly put her little chin in the water. After class, she asked if I saw her, and I smiled and told her I did, to which she responded, “You see, Mommy, it may take me some time, but I’m going to get there, you’ll see!” By the fifth class, she was making progress but still not quite getting her head under  water, so I sat her down and we talked about her possibly needing to take level one again.

I was impressed that she was not upset but  was just eager to try again so that she can continue to improve. I asked, “Are you enjoying learning how to swim?” Quinn smiled and said, “Yes.” I asked, “Are you having fun?” In an even louder and confident voice, Quinn said, “Yes, Mommy!” She then said, “As long as I try my best, that’s okay, right Mommy!?” I smiled and told her, “Absolutely!”

Last week, we started a new session on level one, and Quinn put her head all the way under the water for the first time and arose with this huge smile on her face demonstrating how proud she was of herself.

This is one of many experiences my daughter will have which will present a challenge, and I just love the way she’s handling it. I just hope I continue to handle it as well as she does with the many challenges  and hurdles that may take us both in the “deep end” of life.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s Monday Moments: “Skating” Along with My Little Girl

“If I practice, I’ll get better and better and be able to do some skating tricks?” my three year old inquired. “Yes, you sure will,” I assured her.”She followed up, “Then I won’t need you, and I’ll be able to skate by myself?” “Yes” I paused, “you will!” While I’m so proud of the many milestones my little girl has reached, hearing her actually say that she won’t need me anymore makes me feel so uneasy. About a year ago, I did a blog entry about Quinn skating for the first time, and now a year later she is feeling more confident and even wanted to let go of my had a few times when we were at the skating rink for her cousin’s birthday party this past Saturday.

Skating, just like walking, requires the ability to balance, but the risk of falling, going too fast or crashing into someone or something is much greater. So of course I’m both looking forward to and dreading the day that my daughter no longer needs to hold my hand while skating. At this point, something that offers me solace, not just with skating but with all of the different skills Quinn’s mastering, is that she understands the importance of practice. She even said, “If I work really hard, I’ll get really good at skating !” With this in mind, maybe she will know when she is ready to step out on the skating rink floor by herself, and it will just be up to me to be willing to let her hand go.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s Monday Moments: You Steer. I’ll Pedal.

Today, my little girl and I went to the zoo, and we did the swan boat which requires the riders to pedal and steer. It wasn’t until we got on that my daughter realized that her three year old legs would be unable to reach the pedals. “I want to pedal, mommy!” she pleaded. After informing her that her legs just are not long enough, I asked for her help with steering. Of course, this was tricky because she’s still learning how to steer her little bicycle, so I had to help her out some, and she repeatedly told me, “I can do it, Mommy! I want to do it by myself.”

In this moment, I thought about how there will be times when I will want to take the wheel but must step back and let her steer the course of her life with minimal interference from me. For now, my job is prepare her for the many obstacles on the course and to give her the necessary training for driving herself in the right direction throughout her life. It’s amazing how a fun activity left me in a pensive state over my daughter steering the course of her life. But then again, I’m glad that her well-being is always on my mind and pray that I am currently providing her with the necessary lessons to eventually steer herself.

All the best,

Tanya