Day of The Girl

Speak up for every girl.

For every woman, child.

For those who never had a say

Or book, or pen in hand.

Speak up for every girl

Who was shut up from choice

For every girl whose culture robbed

From future full of hope.

Speak up for girls who have no school

Who’re married before time,

Who men control with fear and pain

In violence, man-prowl, crime.

Speak up for every woman, child,

Trafficked, sold off, bound

For every one who’d been demeaned

Silenced, pushed around.

Speak up for girls who do not earn

Fair wages for fair work

Speak up for giving girls a voice

For futures they can mold.

Speak up so no more men teach boys

That women can be groped.

Speak up so no more women believe

Such men cannot be stopped.

Speak up for every girl who thinks

No one will care to know

Who worries rape will be about

Her face, her clothes, her fault.

Speak up so every girl

Can have a safe return.

From classrooms, boardrooms, wells.

So every child is free to be

To write, to talk, to tell.

Speak up for women everywhere

From girlhood throughout life

For mothers, sisters, neighbors, wives.

Speak up.

Speak up.

Speak up.



Malala Yousafzai



You going to have to wait…



She didn’t want to wait.

She wanted a treat NOW. Not later. Not after she finished her work. Not after session. Not after dinner.

No waiting.


She was NOT going to move, or sit, or come, or go, or climb the stairs, or listen, or ANYTHING until she got her treat.

Which she wanted NOW.

No waiting.

Making her wait was “mean.” It was “not fair” and “not nice.”

She wasn’t having any of it.

None of her mom’s cajoling. None of her mom’s reasoning. None of her mom’s threats of consequence or punishment or loss of playdate or no TV or no iPad or no … something … unless …

I heard them argue. They were still at the bottom of the stairs. Two frustrated voices. Volume rising.

I could visualize the little girl. Arms crossed and foot stamping and lips pursed out in a pout, jaw forward in clear dismay and stubborn determination. I’d seen her do the ‘you’re not gonna make me’ before.

“Upstairs!” The mom ordered, fed up. “Now!”

“You not waiting EITHER,” the child accused, sounding vindicated. “You say go upstairs NOW. I saying go to the store NOW. I want my treat NOW!”

“Don’t be cheeky!” Mom’s voice went up an octave.

“YOU not be cheeky!”

This was devolving. I walked downstairs toward them.

Red faces, one large, one smaller, looked up at me. One in exasperation, one in challenge and a touch of “yeah … so what are you gonna do about it?”

I smiled. “Seems like I’m the one whose waiting…”

The child frowned. This didn’t quite fit her script.

“I’m not going!” she huffed.

“She won’t come up,” the mom accused.

“I want a treat NOW!” the little one dug her heels.

“Oh boy,” I lowered myself onto one of the stairs. “Mind if I sit down? Seems like you’re a little stuck. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

“She won’t get me my treat/She won’t cooperate” They spoke together.

“Are you hungry?” I asked the girl.

She regarded me suspiciously. She knew me well enough .

I raised an eyebrow in question.

“Yeah!” she raised her chin accusingly. “And mommy said we can go to the store and get a treat and now she say go up NOW. I’m not!”

“Hmm …”

“There was lots of traffic,” the mom’s chin was only slightly less raised… “I told her if there’s a lot of traffic we may not have time to stop at the store.” She turned to the girl, “maybe next time you get your stuff faster so we won’t leave so late …”

The child’s face grew angrier. Couldn’t totally blame her … this was a bit low …

“Traffic can be tough in the city,” I intervened. “We can think together about some better planning for next time but now … we have a hungry child and no snack. Good thing I have some snacks upstairs. Shall we?” I got up and offered a hand to the child, eyed the mother meaningfully.

She understood. Stayed silent.

The child narrowed her eyes at me. “What treats you have?”

Bargaining. We’re making progress.

“I don’t know. I’ll have to check upstairs. Let’s go see.”

Eyes still narrow. “What if I don’t like them?”

“I guess we’ll have to see.” (I get really boring when I’m not going to say much more…)

“But I still get a treat after.” This was demand, not query.

“This is between mommy and you, but for now, lets get something into your belly so it isn’t hungry.” I moved my arm closer and she took it. We began climbing, mom trailing a few steps behind.

“Na’ama says I can still have my treat later,” the child swiveled her head back and declared to her mother. A little victoriously.

“This is between you and mommy,” I repeated, not quite able to keep the amusement out of my voice.

“Mommy promised me a treat,” she insisted, but her legs were still climbing so I knew she was only half-combative now, making conversation.

“Yes, you told me. Too bad there was so much traffic.”

“Yeah …”

“I don’t like traffic much.”

“Me too,” she sighed.

“Me three…” Mom piped up from behind.

The child stopped, turned, giggled. “That’s not how you say it!”

“I guess Na’ama will have to help me say things better?” Mom smiled back.

“Yeah!” she liked that. She climbed energetically up a few more stairs. “But …,” she paused again. “You going to have to wait …”



What if bad people forgot how to be bad? (An irreverent fantasy)


I was walking home from a meeting the other day and ran into an elderly woman with a walker and a broken umbrella. She looked lost.

I asked her if she was okay, and she shook her head. She couldn’t remember where she was going, then brightened slightly: she had a card. She dug around in her purse, broken umbrella perched over one shoulder and rain drenching her head, keys and change spilling onto the wet pavement. I held my umbrella over her, picked up the fallen items and looked at the card she held out: A senior center. I knew which one–it was quite a ways away. How did she end up so far from it?

She’d been trying to get there and must’ve taken a wrong turn. Got lost. She was flustered–she’s lived in the area a long time but couldn’t get herself oriented to what avenue was where or in what order or how far. She kept repeating an attribute of her destination. A ramp. For wheelchairs and walkers. It had a ramp. She’d been walking and looking for ramps…

I told her not to worry. I knew where she had to go and would walk her there.

On the way and as she looked for ramps and we slowly navigated in the rain that dripped over the edge of her broken umbrella and as we dodged puddles and splashing cars and potholes that snagged the wheels of her walker, she told me (and repeated the same every minute or so) she has “some dementia.” She used to be very independent and “drive all over the place” but now keeps getting confused. She said she tries to leave the house to be with people because “it is important” and because otherwise she sits home alone “and cries like a baby all day.”

My heart ached for her.

Her broken umbrella mirrored her flickering brain–she held on though it barely did what it ought to.
It took us a while to inch our way to the senior center. I kept reassuring her we’ll find the center (with the ramp). She retold me of her dementia. How independent she used to be. Of her forgetting. Her wanting to be with people. Her “crying like a baby” at home.
After I left this sweet lady safe and sound at the center (with the ramp–she was so delighted to see that ramp! Its presence a small proof of her memory still holding on to something!), I walked home and couldn’t help thinking … Wouldn’t it be helpful if instead of this little old lady, some of those who thrive on cruel manipulation, got a touch of dementia?
Irreverent simplicity.
Oh, dementia is no joke, and I did not and do not intend to trivialize it!
Nonetheless I found myself considering how safer our world would be if those who connive to hurt and harm, forgot how to … and instead became immersed in small-radius-activities of afternoon bingo and word-searches. If tyrants and terrorists of all types of violent intrusions, lost interest in victimizing or power-hunger, and instead had their world contract around organized daily existences in protective housing someplace … to be occupied with lunch and naps and no longer be capable of manipulation and scheming …
Just saying.
They would be a far more deserving audience for a bit of dementia, than this sweet woman and so many the world over whose full heart and intellect we can use.
Wouldn’t it be helpful, I thought, to have the wish-to-harm turn dull in those who relish spreading agony?
At least until the shuttle to Pluto was ready …

Counting Miracles

How does one count miracles?

All kinds of ways.

The last day had several, some in quite unexpected places.

This is how it went:

An unattended backpack led to a delay in a race where thousands prepared to run. The delay resulted in a bomb that was intended to explode during the race, blowing up in glorious isolation and hurting no one. No one. It also exploded only partially. This bomb was RELUCTANT to hurt anyone, me think.

Another bomb did explode, this time on a busy street that very night: a beautiful Saturday night in NYC, many people out and about. While 29 people were hurt, and undoubtedly many got frightened, there was only one significant injury, and all the wounded have already been discharged from the hospital the very morning after.

Windows shattered by the powerful bomb, stuff flew about, a steel dumpster got bent out of shape … but no serious structural damage to buildings or subways or thoroughfares took place.

The bomb had been left next to an institute for the visually impaired. More people could’ve gotten hurt by the bomb, tripped by not being able to see the debris. But the place was closed for the weekend.

The response of NYPD and FDNY was swift and remarkably efficient. All hands on deck in coordinated help. Knowledge that grew out of years of terror attacks against Israelis, saves lives now: The first responders knew to search for additional bombs. Indeed, a secondary device was found, unexploded, and was removed safely by the brave bomb squad without harm to anyone. Another RELUCTANT bomb, me think. Didn’t want to participate in any premeditated carnage, this one.


So, you see, the person or persons who’d left these items of ugly destruction–whatever the dark soulless ‘reasoning’ they might’ve made themselves believe justified it–meant to sow terror, to spread pain, to create panic.

They wanted devastation.

Instead, we got several miracles.

May all evil minds be foiled.



New Beginning: Habit & Opportunity


“He still won’t read.”

The mother’s voice held disappointment and frustration. Her son struggles in school and was required by teachers to read every day over the summer, but hadn’t.

“I did read!” he protested, pouted. Hurt. “I read two whole books!”

“Only because we made you read!” She retorted and turned to me. “Every day is a new excuse. He’s too tired, the book is boring, it’s too hard, he’ll read later, he hates reading, it is stupid … He’ll do anything to avoid it.”

He stomped to the chair. Sat dejectedly. I patted his arm. “I’m glad you read two whole books,” I said. “Which ones?”

He brightened. Threw a “you see?!” look at his mom, and told me. We discussed what he liked about the stories, what he didn’t. What was hard, what wasn’t. We then went over a list of possible titles to follow.

I scheduled a time to speak with the mom. Her frustrations need venting, and she needs solutions, but we can talk about her disappointment without him needing to be present.


Every child is different but the complaint is not unique. Children and parents rarely battle over things that are fun and easy. It is the stuff that’s hard, confusing, boring, tedious, or appears to be of import to one side but feels less so to the other … where lines get drawn in the sand and stubborn frustration ensues.

Parents cajole. They threaten. They withhold privileges. They might use shame as ‘motivator’ by characterizing the child as lazy or ungrateful, oppositional, immature …

Not surprisingly, these tactics rarely work to ‘motivate’ learning. Nor do they solve whatever problem underlies a child’s reluctance to read: difficulty decoding, difficulty comprehending, delays in language and learning, issues with processing and retrieval, attention issues, stress and overwhelm …

A new school year is seen as opportunity for new ways of learning, new progress, new habits. Parents expect their children to enter school with gusto after a summer’s break and to give it their all. They often expect improvement of whatever issues may have been present the year prior. They verbally and otherwise communicate their expectation that the child prove himself or herself as mature and hardworking, and overcome whatever habits held them back.

A new grade and new beginning indeed offers much new opportunity for doing things differently. However, for that to happen we cannot fall back on failed methods or less-than-helpful habits. If children knew to do better on their own, they would do so already. No child wants to fail. No child enjoys the negative attention of reproach if they can get the positive attention of pride and praise.


“So what am I supposed to do?” the mother asked when we met. Exasperated.

“You did the best you could last year, and this year we’ll have to work together to do better,” I replied.

She was taken aback. She didn’t expect me to include her in the assessment of last year’s difficulties …

I did not mean blame, but I did mean accountability. Parents often do the best they know, but they are often overextended themselves, and some don’t quite follow through. They may want to follow suggestions but only do so sporadically, or expect the child to take full responsibility for remembering new tasks that they themselves forget … then feel pressed to blame or require … They may get discouraged at the first sign of difficulty (not unlike the child, maybe …) and not continue to work toward new habits when the implementation hits a bump or scheduling needs to be adjusted. They may balk at taking on more responsibility in a life that may already feel too stressful (again, not unlike the child…).

Parents deserve guidance. Shame does not work any better on adults than it does on children … Parents can use encouragement, not blame. Many can benefit from reminders and a pathway to setting new habits. It is not a weakness or poor parenting to make errors or get frustrated or not follow through. People aren’t perfect. We all need help in some areas.


For this boy, now in mid-grades, and often argumentative and quite fed up with “everything being too difficult”–new habits will (hopefully) include less fighting and more working together, less demand and more playfulness, less critic and more problem solving, less rigidity and more predictability, less shaming and more understanding.

Practically speaking?

  • Setting a weekly schedule where one of the parents reads TO him every night or almost every night (on the benefits of reading check: How early? For how long? ).
  • Separating the child’s own reading for decoding and school, from the parents reading TO him for literary exposure and pleasure.
  • Taking care to not make a parent’s reading time an opportunity for ‘testing’ vocabulary or memory about the story (talking about the story is fabulous, quizzing is not).
  • For books mandatory for school (but too difficult for the child’s reading level), using audio books as accompaniment to printed/electronic book. This helps the child follow the written word and assist him with decoding and comprehension.
  • Placing reminders for reading-time and having a timer he can set to ensure he is reading long enough and can do this independently.
  • Scheduling daily reading (for school and book logs) at a time that is realistic, rather than opportunistic.
  • Providing assistance with homework and/or test preparation, so that the child is not left to manage what is too difficult on his own, and ends up too stressed and exhausted to optimally process information.
  • Incorporating narrative into the day to day and offering modeling of narrative instead of requiring the child to constantly answer questions.
  • Offering a model for making time for reading. Adults who read are more likely to have children who enjoy reading.
  • Setting the child up for success, not failure: rather than focusing on a day he didn’t read or what he isn’t doing well yet, offer praise when he does do his reading without arguing; remind the child what worked before and what he can try to do again; offer solutions, not reprimand.


In this new school year, what old and less than desirable habits can your child replace with brand new opportunity?

What steps can you take to help?

If you need help to formulate a plan–it is okay to ask for it. That, too, is an opportunity.






Met a neighbor downstairs yesterday. She was sitting on the stoop with her dog by her feet. My neighbor is usually quite peppy. She looked wilted and a little green around the gills. Sweaty. Bleary eyed.

I asked it she was okay, and she shook her head.

“I feel like I’m going to throw up,” she said. “Got dizzy. Maybe it’s the heat.”

I gave her a cold water bottle. Asked the café next door for a towel moistened with ice-water and wrapped that around her neck. I’d have helped her to my air-conditioned apartment but I didn’t think she should climb several flights of stairs.

She didn’t want me to call 911. Said she’d just sit on the shady (but steamy) stoop and rest. I offered to help her into the café next door instead. Had her sit down in the air-conditioned space. The dog could not enter but the waiter understood and let us sneak the leash out through a crack in the door so she can still keep hold of the pooch.

I asked again if to call 911. Didn’t want to scare her, and indeed it could be heat-exhaustion, but heart-attack in women rarely displays the classic ‘clasp your chest’ as in men. It could be something else …

She shook her head. “I don’t need 911. I’m taking this new medication and maybe it made me more sensitive to the heat. I think there was something about it on the label. I’ll be okay.”

She said the cool air already had her feeling better. So we sat. I watched her, ready to call 911 if she got worse. She didn’t. She took small sips of her water. The waiter brought another cool rag to replace the one that already warmed. She took deep breaths.

Her coloring improved. The dog, who’d been standing vigil by the door and anxiously observing her, finally lapped the water we’d placed for him, then lay down with head calmly on front paws. His reaction reassured me. It reassured my neighbor, too. She smiled and took a deeper breath. The dog lifted eyes to her and his tail slapped the ground in return greeting. Both relieved.

We sat a little longer. When my neighbor felt like herself again, we thanked the café workers and I walked her home. She was going to take it easy the rest of the day. Hydrate. Stay indoors.

Summer is lovely, but it can be tricky for many. Medications are often not taken into account, yet should.

I can be a certifiable momma hen … so, bear with me. … It’s been hot yesterday and it is hotter still today. A heat index of 109F or so. Life doesn’t need to stop, but know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Don’t ignore them. Take precautions, check your medications for heat-sensitivity warnings, and take good care of you, of young and old or people who are in any way infirm or vulnerable to heat. Be mindful of pets, check on neighbors. Keep hydrated. Keep cool. Keep well. heatstroke

Stressful Situations Simulation: A resource

Below is a good resource and simulation of stressful situations that can be immensely helpful to parents and caregivers. I especially recommend the ones involving “Family Support”: “Calm Parents, Healthy Kids” and “Building Family Bonds.” These scenario simulations inform, teach, and actively guide parents and caregivers through various scenarios of interactions with toddlers in commonly challenging situations.

The resource can be invaluable information for parents and caregivers who are inexperienced and/or may have had less than good enough parenting themselves, and who may not know how to facilitate clear, supportive interaction with their own children, especially under stress. The simulation is presented in a non-shaming, educational way, and provides the participant with an active role in choosing different ways of responding … and being able to see the possible reactions to them … It also allows the participant to ‘re-do’ situations so they can experience how better choices can bring better results …

Practicing is important for any skill, let alone for skills one needs to apply in stressful situations. The very way our brain processes information is affected when we’re stressed, so it helps to already know what to do beforehand. Also, our own stress and how we manage it gets communicated and passed onto children in our care. This makes it doubly important to learn and practice (and then be able to model) new skills when one is calm and in neutral situations–as this simulation allows one to do.

Calm, informed caregivers help raise calm, healthy, competent kids. This can help!

I highly recommend you take a look and see:

bubble happy


Pictures on Pavement

Shirley Baker children draw on pavement France 1960

Shirley Baker children draw on pavement France 1960


Find time for drawing


On the pavement of your mind.


The dry feel of chalk on fingers

The odd satisfaction in


Merging in the rain.

Put aside the rush of feet

The soles of to-do lists

The pressures of perfection.

Pavement pictures do not require


Other than imagination and

A bit of emptiness,

A soft rock,

A hand.

Make room for pavement pictures

On the pace-space

Of your mind.

Let the squiggles free

So the sketch

You never knew was there

Could stretch

A doodle

To the sun.


tender care


For mothering

In all its forms:

The immediate, the early, the continuous, the delayed;

The biological, the fostered, the adopted, the periodical, the incremental and the unusual;

To mothering by women, by men, by friends and neighbors, co-workers and teachers, siblings and relatives, by the kind smile of a stranger and moments of shared understanding;

To mothering by nature, by pets, by ocean waves, by breath and life’s constant flow and ebb;

To Mother Earth and Mother Moon;

To mothering of self, by self, by growth, by age and lessons learned and known …

To all of this, and more;

Thankful for mothering.

In all its forms.



Note: all photos are taken from Pintrest. If you know their original provenance I’ll be happy to add specific credits!