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No child is naughty.

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I posted this article a few of years ago. I’m delighted to see the naughty or nice quiz discussed below has been eliminated from the site mentioned, although there are still ‘checklists calendars.”  And there’s still other naughty or nice quizzes on the internet. Ugh.  I think it’s valuable for people to give some thought to this concept.. so here’s the article reposted.

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On the radio today the announcer mentioned www.northpole.com and the naughty or nice quiz.  When he listed the questions, the ‘advocate for children’ in me  fumed.  I went straight to the site and fumed some more. It’s not that the site isn’t well-intended.  It’s just that the naughty or nice quiz is 1.  sure to make all children feel guilty, especially those who already beat themselves up for not living up to adult’s expectations.. for reasons that are completely out of their control.  2. missed an opportunity to honour each child and actually build their self-esteem.

Below is the list of questions that came up when I did the naughty or nice quiz.  Beside each of the multiple choice answers I give scenarios from the ‘naughty’ child’s eyes.  And below that, I’ve added a few questions that I think are MUCH more valuable for kids!

Santa’s Naughty or Nice Quiz

Please answer the following questions to see how good you’ve been!

Do you listen to your teacher?

Always, you can learn a lot from your teacher (Does my teacher get to do this quiz? I wish my teacher would listen to me. I don’t think I fit into what the education system expects of me. I would like the teacher to help me cultivate my strengths.  I’ve  learned to devalue the activities I love and am good at. Like being creative, building, physical play, imaginative play, music.  I wish my teacher could hear what I have trouble saying. Maybe my teacher could learn a lot from me!)

•Most of the time, unless I get distracted   (I’m more of a  “right brain” thinker.  Even though the school system is set up by “left brain”, logical linear thinkers, I’m one of those who’s mind doesn’t process the same way. I get “aha’s” and excitable when a thought comes to me out of the blue, even while the teacher is talking. Then I get in trouble. So I try not to use my dominant side of the brain. But then I don’t understand what my teacher is saying anyway so I do get distracted.  I try to fit in, but I never feel like I do)

Sometimes, unless my friend is asking me something.  (That’s always tough, because we are taught to be kind to friends and to listen to teachers, and oh, it’s all so confusing the messages we receive)

Only when the teacher mentions my name  (Well, that is a good way to get my attention when I’ve been off in another world dreaming up a new invention that could solve many of the world’s problems.. if only I believed in myself enough to even tell someone about it)

How much time do you spend on your homework?

•At least an hour each night and sometimes more (I wish I could, but my mom works so hard, and I try to help her with the little ones and they mess up my homework, then I can’t sleep all night because I know I didn’t get my homework done and I have to think of an excuse, and then I’m grumpy all day because I’m tired, but I don’t tell my mom, because I don’t think she needs to worry about me too, and nobody has taught me yet how to know what I need to be happy and well, or how to ask for it if I do know. Because I’m only a kid and apparently the adults know best.)

 •As much as necessary to complete all my assignments.  (It takes me a long time to understand each assignment because it isn’t being taught to me in the best way that my mind can understand. I’m exhausted by doing only what is necessary.)

I do just enough to get by (I need play time, creative time, physical activity time, and time to do nothing at all.  So I do just enough homework to get by.  Then I feel bad and can’t sleep all night.)

Let’s just say I’m not the teacher’s pet  (Would you be teacher’s pet if you are grumpy all day and couldn’t sleep and are worried about being naughty and that Santa Claus is going to bring you a lump of coal?)

Do you do all your chores on time?

•Yes, every day I do my chores ( There are some things that I think I would be really good at.. like organizing the cupboards. I’d like my chore to be cleaning the cupboards or folding the towels.  But maybe I don’t do it the way my parents want, because the chores I’m given are just the boring things.  Sometimes I have really cool ideas about other ways to clean the kitchen, but I think people think they are stupid and they don’t help me cultivate my own ideas. Maybe they are stupid ideas.)

•Most of the time, I only forget on rare occasions.  (The part of my mind that knows what’s really best for me sometimes forces me to forget so that I will pay attention to creative time, play time, active time.  But those things seems to have little value in the world, and I’m starting to forget how to do those things, so I watch TV)

•Sometimes, unless I can pay my little brother/sister to do them.  (I’m learning to delegate and build a team and will one day be a great entrepreneur.  I sure hope this one doesn’t put me in the naughty category, because I worry that I might be given a lump of coal.  But then, there are probably some pretty creative things I can do with a lump of coal…I wonder if I could barter with it.)

Do you share your toys?

•Sure – if we share, then we all have more to play with. (I am so confused by this. I’m taught to look after things.  Then I’m taught to let others wreck them.  No matter what I decide, I’m naughty. And when I try to discuss this with an adult, they say I’m talking back.  So I feel bad about being too stupid to understand what I’m supposed to do)

Most of the time, but I’m very partial to some and won’t,( as above)

Sometimes, but only if they have one I want.(One day I will be a really great negotiator and entrepreneur.  Win Win for all.  Unless of course, I get a lump of coal for this, then I know I am naughty and the things I am good at are of no value.)

Only if they pay me 5 cents per toy. (Child’s response 1: I got my toys from a nice family who donated them to us for Christmas.  I don’t want them wrecked. So if other kids are going to play with them, then maybe I can get enough money to help us buy food and not go to the food bank all the time, because I think my mom is embarrassed by this.  Child’s response 2: I probably have the gift of being a financial genius, but I won’t learn about financial matters until I’m out of school and on my own.)

Do you remember to always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?

•Yes, I make it a point to be polite (I’m so confused by this too. How come I get ordered around by adults but when I try to imitate their behaviour because that’s one way I learn, I get in trouble. Then I feel bad for being too stupid to understand my best ways of behaving in this world)

Most of the time, but I sometimes forget  (Me again.  My mind is off in the world of imagination, ideas, and creative thoughts and it doesn’t always remember to say please and thank you)

Sure, if my mom or dad just remind me (as above)

Why bother?  (I’m too tired. Nobody seems to appreciate me, anyway. I don’t seem to fit in this world. I can’t sleep at night.  I’m a grumpy mean stupid kid and I get in trouble whether I say please and thank you or not.)

Certainly there is value in being helpful, caring, sharing and to listening to adults. But seriously, given the possibilities of why a child might not get to pick the ‘good’ option – perhaps the whole concept can change so that each child will discover that they are good.  I’m not going to do a whole rewrite here, but here’s some thoughts that could be included:

What if the questions alone instilled a sense of self worth and gave value to a child’s personal well being, gifts and their individual best way of learning? What if we honoured that a child’s play is their work?

Here’s some ideas:

Dear Child, 
You’re on the Nice list.  If you answer No to any of the following questions, that’s okay. There’s no such thing as a naughty child in my eyes.  I, Santa Claus, grant you magic to find ways for your answers to be Yes in the future! 

Do you give yourself plenty of time to be creative? (imagining, painting, singing, dancing, role playing, banging on drums, creating drums, writing stories, drawing, that sort of thing?)

Do you often spend time being physically active doing things you love?  (favourite sports, hiking, climbing trees, running, swimming, exploring?)

•Have you had fun building or repairing anything this year?  (forts, cardboard castles, helping build shelves, helping to work on a vehicle?)

Have you ever thought about making things work better, or helping people get along better?  (Have you come up with some ideas about this, even if right now it might not seem possible?  That’s cool if you have.. have you ever told a trusted friend or relative about it to simply enjoy the process of discovering new possibilities?)

Have you played lots and lots and lots?

I, Santa, would love for you to list 5 things you are good at!  And then 5 more!  and even more!!  If this is hard for you, you can ask a good friend or family member or teacher to help you!

 

mmm… I’m liking where this is heading – let’s find ways to acknowledge the wonder of each child, and help them acknowledge that for themselves.  So much more fun than threats of coal for not keeping your room clean all the time.

Thank goodness the movie “Fred Claus” acknowledges that kids aren’t naughty.

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“Get to Do” is the New “To Do” List

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Tis the Season to Audaciously Cross Things OFF the Way Too Long “To Do” List.   “Get to Do” is the New “To Do”

Step 1:  Take out the To Do List

Step 2:  Take a big breath and start crossing things off.

“I can’t do that!!” you might be thinking. Let me convince you: Your TO DO List is likely a key factor in your not getting to enjoy the season nearly as much as you could be.  The list is long. It’s overwhelming. It’s full of unrealistic expectations.  It’s in your thoughts so much that when you are doing something you enjoy, you’re thinking of the TO DO List.
So let’s turn that TO DO list into an “I GET TO DO” list.

Step 3: Across the top of the TO DO List, write: How can I make this simpler?  Heck, how can I make this fun?

Step 4:  Cross things off the list – pretend you are an editor who must trim a 500 word article to 50 words..  Your list will start to look like this:

TIPS for CROSS OFFS:

The Baking List:  Cross off all but 3 or 4 favourites.  Cross off everything that’s complicated to cook.  If tradition has you building a gingerbread house that gets thrown away at the end of the season, cross it off.  Will it still be Christmas without Russian Teacakes or fudge that you burn three times before it turns out right? Yes.

Kids’ Gift List:  Still trying to balance the number and value of gifts for your kids?  Stop. You know you love them equally. “Balancing” just costs you more and more money.  If the list is already way out of balance – so much so that one child will be sure you don’t love them at all – cross the extra gifts off the list. Put them away for a birthday or return them after Christmas.  A tip to simplify gift giving for kids: Give them one thing they think they want, one thing you know they would like, a book, and if you love board games or movies, add that.  This could be the year that you’ve decided to reduce ‘stuff’ to help the environment.  Your kids might.. maybe.. buy into that, especially if ‘experiences’ like movies or skiing become a part of the gift giving tradition.

Gift list that has you going to 12 different stores:  Pick a theme like ‘books’ and spend a relaxing afternoon in the book store choosing a special book, magazine or journal for in-laws, parents, siblings and friends.  Or buy them movie passes… (we’re leading up to something here.)

Christmas Dinner:  Can you break tradition and make it simpler?  Premake side dishes?  Have others bring a side dish? One year, most of the family was out of town, and just my two daughters and I were going to be having Christmas together. They told me not to plan dinner. They had a surprise, they said. Do you know how hard that was? What? No Turkey? No preplanning all that goes into Turkey dinner? The surprise was that they had planned to cook us a Persian dinner! I hadn’t had persian food since I’d lived in Iran when I was in my 20’s… it was such a thoughtful and delicious present.  And look, here I am talking about the Persian dinner and not about all the other 50+ turkey dinners. We survived (thrived) doing Christmas dinner differently. So can you.

Events:  What events on the list make you smile and what ones feel like pressure?  Try really really hard to cross off the pressure events.  They might be events you ‘should’ attend, but remember you are trying to reduce the overwhelm.  Once you are done with all of the cross off’s, you might actually have time to do the things you’d adore doing.  Your list might start to look like this:

  • More story times with the kids.
  • Read a book.
  • Sit by the fire and do nothing.
  • Go Tobogganing.

If New Year’s Eve is more of an ordeal than a pleasure for you, do this:


Notice how your TO DO list is turning into an I GET TO DO list? Feeling some relief?

Once you’ve gotten through the Christmas Season, you can practise the art of “I GET TO DO” even more.

Do you keep repeating New Year’s Resolutions each year because you never actually do them?  Diet, go to the gym, spend more time with hubby/wife, visit relatives more, start and finish the book you’ve always wanted to write, get a new job?   Cross ALL of them off the list.  ALL.  Create an “I GET TO DO” list of things that you’d love to do and that are do-able.

I get to: go Hiking, take bollywood dancing, go to movies, play board games.   Notice how doing those things will actually lead to goals of getting fit, spending time with hubby, and you can invite the relatives to join you for board game nights.  Perhaps they’ll invite you to the movies with the passes you gave at Christmas!

I get to: “Write for 5 minutes 3 times a week.”  It may seem your book will never get done at that rate but taking tiny, almost infinitesimal, steps is a sure cure past procrastination, overwhelm and perfectionism that prevents you from even showing up to the page.  The tiny step philosophy works for all those big goals you never get to.

About ‘Get a New Job’:  Give yourself permission to immerse in those passions on the “I Get to Do” list. It is in this space of ‘playful and fun’ that clear and empowering thoughts arrive.  Don’t be surprised if a new job opportunity or business idea pops up while you are at bollywood dance class!

One more little spirit lifting tip: For the things that really must get done, playfully say, “I get to do” instead of “I have to do.” The phrase alone lightens up even doing the dishes!

By Janet L. Whitehead © 2010

Published in Kamloops Momma Magazine   The Free Magazine for Moms.. and Dad’s too.  Dec 2010/Jan 2011 edition.  (If you’re a parent or a grandparent or have ever been a kid yourself.. this is an amazing magazine!)

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

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“Faeries”, whispers potter, “let’s help to share this beautiful message.. Look? You’re in it!”   Faeries giggle. Potter realizes that really it was them that inspired her to include this.  They are like that sometimes.  Note: for those who don’t know me well, Faeries play in my clay and call me Potter.
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Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
 DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
(source)

The Magic of Creativity

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Creativity…  For me, it is blissful to witness a world that is evolving to recognize the power of our creative being.   Like magic dust finding its way into all nooks and crannies, those who were once considered ‘ordinary mortals’ are now experiencing moments, discoveries and creations that leave them breathless saying, “YES! YES!… but wait a sec, where’d that come from?”

We all know the stories of ‘elite’ genius minds, artists and writers, and their ability to be in a space where brilliant thoughts, ideas, inventions, answers, artwork and stories ‘come to them.”  When asked how these creators got the idea, they often answer, “I don’t know.” or “From God.” or “From spirit.” 
We’ve heard the stories of Da Vinci and Einstein and we’ve commented in awe, “Gifted.”

As we move from the Age of Information to the Age of Conceptualization and Creativity, more and more research, resources and stories are appearing that give credit and value to the creative being in each of us.  Yes, we are all gifted.  We simply need to find our best way to access our creative soulful brilliance.

And that access– whether it be through making art, thinking differently, writing, storytelling, dancing, yoga, playing, using our imagination, singing, visualizing and/or  taking meditative journeys – opens the door to the intuitive, wise, gifted and magical self.  Yes, magical. With ‘magical’ meaning “making the impossible possible.”

I, for one, am gloriously happy that finally.. FINALLY.. the word ‘creativity’  gets to take on its full meaning.  And that soon, when people see the word “creativity’ their first response will no longer be “I haven’t got a creative bone in my body.”  Last I heard we all have a right brain.  And I think that the more creativity is given its value, the more people will realize “Hey, I’ve always been creative… and it’s okay to spend more time with that.”

Simply by reading this and pondering the concept, you have opened a door of awareness and possibility. You might not even notice as old belief systems that have limited you start to melt away.  By reading this, you have taken a step in your pursuit of your unlimited potential as a soulful being.
That was easy enough, wasn’t it?  Yes, it’s all so much simpler than people think.

Christmas is a magical time of year.  Have you noticed how much creativity plays a part in the celebration?  Storytelling, theatre, baking, singing, crafting, decorating…. perhaps we have always naturally known a way to be open to the magic.

What if you could really feel the magic at Christmas?

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What if ….

The Neighbourhood by Janet L Whitehead ©2009

we asked ourselves…

How can Christmas time, from now until New Year’s,  be magical for me?
What if you paused for several moments and thought about Christmas?

Might this cross your mind:
 Okay, seriously, all this chaos?  All this planning?  Who’s having dinner what night?
What do you mean you can’t come?  How can it be Christmas without snow?   Did I get the kids equal amount of gifts?   Oh, damn the baking… I have to get to that!   

Okay, It’s Christmas time.  We don’t say those things out loud. 
Well, some people do, or how else would I know this?

But what if…
What if the whole month had many peaceful moments?
What if you spent more time with hot chocolate by the fire than with coffee at the mall?
What if you looked at the ‘traditions’ in your family and weighed out their value?
Do some weigh really heavy… like tipping the scale so far that anything placed on the other side flew off so fast and so far it would land in the North Pole?
Can you let any of the weighty items go?
Can you choose to have more of the things you love?

What if you chose to notice the magic?

What if you really could feel the magic?

What if, instead of sitting up late doing articles and blog posts and links and computer stuff,
I did a poem
this year
completely

all over the page?

and noticed the magic?

The New Year’s Eve Wedding Reception with Greek Beings

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A unedited story created as a direct result of an Awe-Manac journal prompt to write about a recent event using unusual beings, science fiction or such..

 

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Unbeknownst to the mortals involved, the Shot Glass Beings of Greek Faerie Origin came to life the moment of their creation. Like all those planning a celebration, they were particularly busy but mostly drinking ouzo, checking what magic lay behind doors and up stairways, and observing the Canadian Way of faeries, magical beings and, of particular note, the mortal who brought them into being in this new place and the little faerie- like being oft beside her.

 

The Wedding Reception Day, then, the Greek Shot Glass Beings were well prepared and dusted ouzo bottles with laughter; table settings with ‘less spills, more thrills;’ and wine bottles with an extra dose of ‘love, humour and good times be had by all’. That wine! It worked!

 

The MOST MAGIC, however, the Greek Beings put into dance spells – having had much opportunity to encourage their creator’s creation, Evalee, to dance, dance, dance and learn more dance from her Auntee and Mommy and Nana, and therefore she gave her ‘big booty a slap’ and got Low, Low, Low whenever she felt so inclined.  And if not so inclined, it was because the Greek Beings  and she were far too entertained watching others and forgot to do their steps!

 

Of course the dance spells were imparted on all of the guests, including drizzling Auntee with orbs, and dowsing the Bride (their creator) with ‘Dance Moves Not Possible in a Full White Wedding Dress’ and whom, with the help of the wine, rocked like no Bride has rocked before.  The Groom was also sprinkled with dance spells, but it seems his occasional making fun of magic turned his spell into Dance Spills and he crashed over a table, breaking things, but not himself, and the Greek Beings laughed shamelessly.

 

Of course the faerie-like child, Evalee also drizzled her Nana with pee.. but that was simply in keeping with the tradition set at the Wedding of having baby-style spills on her dress.

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The journal juju’s begin

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An exercise from the journal jujus’ of the Awe-Manac… a journal entry that starts with the letters of CHRISTMAS:

Christmas is yesterday, nine point 8
Hours ago.
Reflecting
I think Quelf was hysterical, and gifts of
Stockings and Santa Gift was
Truly an ecomonical,creative decision that resulted in
Magical gifts, unhinted and fun,
A journal to play with my Awe-Manac juju’s, and a book of wedding photos such a favourite one.
Santa’s spirit hangs out for as long as we believe.. Please keep giving magic sprinkles to Evalee as the poor wee thing teeths.

and no rewrite. I tell myself.  Because you do know I now want to add everything amazing about the day, don’t you? And then when would I get to eating leftover turkey and cookies?

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