Lessons from the 3 Foot World

I get to work with children and have been for over 25 years, but working with 2 and 3 year olds who are not my biological children is not always the easiest task. Last year, one of the toddlers frantically ran to me for me to pick him up. He wasn’t a talker and of course wasn’t going to tell me that he was within a microsecond of throwing up. If you can imagine the nightmare of a 3 foot human being rushing you with chunks of half-digested food ejecting out of his body towards you. Ok, way too much information, but I had to give you the illustration. 

I have learned a few things from observing these toddlers:

  • Fart jokes don’t work. Fart sounds sometimes do.
  • Bubbles are magical. They are.
  • If it can fit in their mouth, it is highly likely it will go there.
  • Tight hipster jeans have no place in this world.
  • Mucous. It’s all over the place.
  • If all else fails, just cry. That’s what they do.
The bulleted list may not be the most important of important things to know about toddlers, but if you are about to become a parent of little people or want to, then hopefully it helps. The best thing you can do for your little one is be there. They like holding hands. They like sitting together reading a picture book or watching a video. They look doing something together like solving a puzzle. They like showing off their skills going down a slide. In my observation, little ones like being together with the people they love and trust. If a parent asked me in church, “What is the best thing I can do for my toddler?” My answer would be, “Be with your child as much as you can.” Be present and really be present. As my wife would say to me to put down that phone, it could be turn off that tv, or stop reading the magazine for you. Spend time with your little ones and pay attention to them. The majority of the time, they aren’t going to tell  you to leave them alone. 

I once had a 2 year-old who is now old enough to be a parent of one. He just asked me the other day if I wanted to watch a movie with him. I am learning that even adult kids want to be with their parents every now and then and that you never really graduate from being a parent. What is it that you do with your kids in everyday situations? If you have some tips, please share!

Your Children And Social Media

girls playing on street

Would you let your child freely interact with strangers? That question is the basis for my thoughts and opinions on children using social media. It is hard to have a simplistic grasp of the explosion of social media. We can share our lives via photo, video, sentences, and a song in an instant. We are interacting in ways that we couldn’t imagine years ago. My 80-year old low-tech dad just followed me on Instagram. Times have changed. Social media has opened avenues of communication that allows the participant to access dozens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Where do our children fit in the social media picture that is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives?
That brings me back to the first question. Would you let your children freely interact with strangers? The answer for my children is no. In public situations, when strangers approach my children, I make sure I redirect the interaction between me and the stranger. When I’m shopping, I don’t let my children leave my side to interact with people I don’t know. Why would I allow my children to do that on the internet?

Things to think about…
  • Predators are rampant on the internet. They are all over the internet in every social media platform: FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Personal profiles can be easily be created to misrepresent the user. A predator wouldn’t typically identify himself as one on his profile. People are not who they say they are. I just checked into my Instagram account and someone started following me. The profile pic was stock photo of a model. Who knows who the real person is behind the account? I don’t. Neither does your child.
  • Peer pressure to post things for shock value. We are a “like-hungry” society. We crave more likes and reposts on the photos, videos, and words we post on social media. People pay money to buy followers on social media platforms. “Likes,” “Favorites,” “Repins,” and “Reposts,” are the fuel that make social media go. That pressure is on our children to fit in their digital world as well as their physical world. We all know that the easy way to get attention to internet activity is to promote sex and vulgarity. The pressure is on our children to promote the same things!
So when can my kid join in?
I’m going back to my theme. The permissions I allow my children to be in the physical world is similar to the interaction I would allow my children to have on the internet. If I allow my son to work at the local movie theater, where the bulk of his interaction is with people he doesn’t know, then yes, I would allow that in his digital world as well. With boundaries? Yes, and I will set them. Freedom without responsibilities and accountability is not freedom. The process is all about trust, and trust is earned, not given.

What is your involvement?
Parenting is active. Anytime, you don’t interact with your children or you do not actively supervise your children’s activities, it is very likely that your children will go beyond the boundaries. Street signs remind me about the rules while I drive to keep me and others around me safe. Those road signs are not consistent on the internet. The parent must be guiding his/her children, and that includes setting limits on time, content, and interaction. I can and will tell my child, who can and cannot be his internet friends.

The key rule in my house is that all devices stay in the living room. All interaction on all devices happens here. My pre-teens in the house and friends that wanted to video chat today. It had to happen in the living room. I did not have to be in the chat with them, but at least I was within view and earshot of their conversation.

Our children need boundaries the same way a river needs banks. When there are banks, the river is a source of life. When the banks are gone the river becomes a flood. I believe in saying no with purpose. I believe that setting boundaries for your children will help them create boundaries for their own lives.

What are the boundaries in your house for your children? Is it clear? Are you actively involved? Do you have any ideas and tips to share? Comment below.

A Voice From the World 5 Foot and Under

girls playing on street

First of all, thanks for visiting my website. I have been writing on my blog here for the past couple of years, and at least 3 times a week for that past year. For the most part, I have been sharing about my interests in mobile photography and sharing micro-fiction stories and poems. As I have been posting over the past few weeks, my heart has moved towards writing about what I have done for the past 3 decades; and that is working with children. I realize more than anything else that I am a voice from the world 5 foot and under.

I have decided that the majority of content on this blog will shift to benefit anyone who works with or raises young children: parents, grandparents, step-parents, foster parents, teachers, coaches, social workers, pediatricians, dentists, therapists, Sunday School teachers, etc. If you are any of those listed and want to hear another voice from the world 5-foot and under, then keep following and give me the opportunity to share my experiences and perspective.

Although I do not consider myself the highest authority on the subject of children, I have worked with children for 30 years and been a parent for over 20, so at least I can share with you some mistakes and learnings. Yes, I am still learning. And yes, I am a preacher, and preachers preach. Be forewarned, I might start singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” because He does!

About 3 times during the week on the blog, I will be sharing thoughts that I believe will make you smile, nod your head, chuckle and even shed a few tears. Since I still love writing what I call 1-minute fiction, I might squeeze in one every now and then. I am working on publishing some works, and you will get to see the process. I hope you join in and enjoy the journey with me by tapping the “Subscribe” button at the top of this page. Cheers!

A Note From A 4-Year Old

   As I usually do as the supervisor of the children’s department of my church, I stood watch in the lobby as the building doors opened for the parents to drop off their children. I greeted as many kids and parents as I could in the span of about 10 minutes before a 4-year old girl’s voice called out to me. She handed me a note and said, “I wrote it myself. It’s for you.” 

I studied the note and saw how carefully she drew her pictures and write her newly acquired written language. I couldn’t decipher her preschool code, but I saw that she knew how to spell her name. As I focused on this text, this little person said, “I know how to spell my name.” The note was signed, “Ava.”

I kept the note as a reminder that I have influence over a young and impressionable person’s life. I read somewhere that said that even the most introverted of folks will influence about 10,000 people in their lifetime. I am asking myself the same question I am asking you, “What are you doing about it?”

Thoughts Of A Boy Waiting For His Turn

Why did I get out of the game so quickly? I just stood there like a tree. I should have jumped to my right, but Adrian was looking right at me and I froze. He kicked the ball right at me, and I was an easy target. Callie is watching this game. Tommy said that she likes me. This time I am going to stay in the game for a long time. Someone get out now. I’m next. This time I won’t get out. Adrian can’t be the best in the game every time. I hope the bell doesn’t ring. Not yet. Not yet.

What I Learned From Camp


I went to Summer Camp again. I didn’t have the responsibility of running camp, so I spent some time studying behaviors of children a little more closely and here are a few of my observations.

  • Kids love to have fun. Fun, fun, and more fun. Eat, yes. Sleep when necessary. Fun is the number one factor.
  • Hygiene is just not going to happen by choice for 90% of boys. It’s just not.
  • Vegetables are good for you. I worked the food line at almost every meal. By Day 3 the kids that complained of stomach aches were not the salad-and-vegetable eaters. Teach your kids to eat their veggies.

Not a serious list, I know. Funny thing is that I don’t think that these observations would change much if my subjects were adults.

Summer Camp Memories

  I’m just hours away from going to Summer with a bunch of kids from church. What are your memories of going away for camp? Kids camp? Youth camp? Family camp? I can name a few. 

  • Scaling a mountain with ropes, but getting to the top in 3rd place. Twin girls made it first then reminded me the rest of camp that they got there before me. 
  • Falling into the lake while in a canoe. My friend purposely tipped the boat and Oh! that feeling of plunging into a lake that was 10 degrees colder than I thought it was. 
  • Dance night. That’s when I whipped out the moves I saw on Soul Train. Who remembers Soul Train?

Ok. Gotta go and watch kids make their own bullet list.