Monuments that Matter

I’m back from vacation. It was wonderful to take a break from routine. It was also wonderful to get emails from my readers who missed me!

We visited Washington DC and saw many fantastic sights, museums and monuments.

But we also visited with family, where we met my cousin’s son’s little girl, Nadia, for the first time. She’s two and she’s amazing! Most babies are imaginative and creative and full of wonder – and she is all those things – before the world encourages them to drift away to more concrete “realities.”


Being a cowgirl myself, I brought her new purple cowgirl boots. She loved them!

We dressed ourselves with fun jewelry and played with a myriad of toys and ideas. She uses the closets in her house as playrooms – one was “the birthday place” where she would go to have fun, eat imaginary cake and celebrate. Her imagination is vivid and reminded me so much of my son, Colt, when he was her age.

The thing that always gets me about kids is their endless capacity for play and, in this realm, Nadia just astonished me, though it wasn’t that long ago I experienced the same thing with my now-17-year-old Colt.

I just loved her curiosity and her intelligence. Once, I told her Colt was “my baby.”

She looked at him (all 6 feet of him!), then looked at me and quite plainly said, “You crazy! You think he’s a baby? He’s a grown up!”

Oh! A reminder I didn’t want to have, since he’s growing up way too fast for me.

But, forget big monuments built in presidents’ memories, the thing that most impressed me in Washington was little Nadia and her parents. Her father escorted me at my wedding when he was only 10 years old. Now, as Nadia would definitely tell me, he’s a grown up too.

His wife, Amy, parents with wisdom way beyond her tender years. She’s infinitely patient and kind to her little girl. She encourages her play, her imaginary friends and her creative games and stories. They have no TV. She wants her daughter to grow up, as she told me, “without anyone telling her what kind of girl she should be.”

In today’s world, I consider that a brave and smart choice. The images and commercials on TV do nothing but push expensive toys and overprocessed food. Like the unhealthy, anorexic Diet Coke girl pushing “thin = happy” and fainting right after shooting the commercial (yes, I lived next door to her in New York and picked her up from many faintings in our apartment hallway!) — TV, media, commercials and advertising are full of restrictive role models and narrow windows of “OK.”

(I realized this with my son, only AFTER we had developed a fast food habit. When I decided to change my weight permanently, and therefore to exit the fast food lane, I cut his TV back to 2 hours on weekends. Not only did he stop asking for a happy meal (note the “HAPPY”!), he stopped wanting the latest toy gadget on the market too.

Nadia has commercial toys, of course, but they are only a backdrop to her imaginative games, her “birthday closet” and the many props she’s developed from other objects.

Amy’s wisdom extends to food too. Nadia eats only when she’s hungry and she decides when she’s finished. No forced feeding or encouragement to “finish everything.” I also noticed that Amy is so clued into her daughter’s mood that she can read when her energy drops and she needs a snack. She doesn’t force it on her daughter, simply makes it available.

Another thing I noticed is that they often bake together. Nadia’s growing up with the idea that a wide variety of food is healthy, especially the kind you make yourself. Ice cream is wonderful! Cake is even better! Her attitude towards eating will likely be an easy, nurturing relationship with food since she listens to her body about when she’s full.

I love noticing a child who eats when she’s hungry, and doesn’t eat when she’s not.

For those of us whose mothers weren’t as wise as Amy, we need to re-educate ourselves.

For those of us with children, here’s a good life lesson.

For Nadia, a life of many blessings is in store from her wise parenting.

And yes, that was the most important monument I saw in Washington DC!

0 Responses to Monuments that Matter

  1. Janet says:

    I love it!
    How awesome for that child to be raised in such a caring environment. I love watching young children and how they have no concept of barriers to what they want to accomplish.

    • Pat Barone says:

      Yes, isn’t it a (sad) reminder of what gets drummed out of us as we “grow up”? I do think we can always reconnect to the childlike wonder inside – and being with children is the best reminder that doing that makes us feel vibrant and alive!

  2. Meg says:

    Nadia’s parents sound wise, indeed. I hope Nadia continues to grow and blossom, allowed to be wonderfully creative and imaginative and tuned in to her own body and feelings as well! She’ll grow up healthier, mentally and physically, than many, many of us did. (How many of us heard something like “There are starving children in India…Clean your plate!”) Thanks for sharing this encouraging story. And those are *very* cool boots!

  3. Barbara J. says:

    Nadia is indeed blessed with wise parents (and extended family!) to surround her with such a loving and supportive environment. Wonderful reminders and encouragement for all of us. Especially timely as I’m a teacher getting ready to head back to school in a few weeks.

    P.S. Love the boots! Do they come in grown up sizes???

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