Tabitha writes, “I wanted to share an experience from my family’s first vacation. I just returned form a two-week stay in Mexico with my husband and 15 month old daughter. The first week was shared with my entire extended family as we celebrated the wedding of my younger sister. I was extremely excited to introduce my daughter to the beach and the swimming pool. I grew up in the water and my daughter loves the bath so I looked forward to her excitement in playing in such vast bodies of water.

We have been taking RIE classes since my little one was 7 months old, but it was as if everything got thrown out the window at the beginning of vacation. After arrival, we immediately went down to the pool to meet my family so everyone could see my daughter’s first pool experience. In my excitement, I did not see that it had become about everyone else’s experience, not my daughter’s. My husband and I got in, but my daughter was hesitant.

I still can’t believe it, but I picked her up and brought her in with me! She started crying and I looked around at my family members (strangers to her at this point) trying to “make” her happy by making crazy faces at her and I was snapped back to reality. What was I doing? We got out, I apologized to her for bringing her in when she was clearly not ready, and we explored the grounds by her lead.

Gracie on the beach, 2002

Later that day, I walked with her down to the beach, just me and my daughter. I explained where we were going but I had no expectations, no agenda. We walked to where the sand meets the water and I sat down and my daughter stood between my legs. Our faces were next to each other as we looked out to the ocean. She stood there for five minutes, mouth half open in awe. Five quiet minutes of awe. She will never see the ocean again for the first time, and I was fully present, and honored to share the moment. It was so beautifully overwhelming, I shed tears.

After five minutes, she pushed off me and walked right into the water! On her terms. It was hard keeping her out of the water for the rest of vacation (even the pool, after allowing her to enter on her terms). Reflecting that night, I realized the pool experience was really all about me, masked as me giving her an experience. I wanted to force a beautiful moment like what happened on the beach, yet, what happened on the beach unfolded organically. I didn’t know we were going to have that moment, I was just present to receive the gift. Funny, cameras documented everything at the pool and we have none of the beach moment yet that five-minute memory is seared into my soul.

I love RIE, love this community, and love the continued inspiration to grow as a mother.

I appreciate Tabitha allowing me to share this beautiful story, which I feels illustrates the profound connection and joy available to both parents and young children when we can slow down just a little to be present with, and allow for what naturally unfolds, leaving our agenda behind, and trusting our children to be active participants in their own experience, recognizing that they have a point of view too.  If you’d like to learn more, the community Tabitha is referring to can be found here, and the basic premises of RIE can be found here.


No Ifs, Ands, or Buts: Setting Limits With Empathy

April 12, 2014

Calmly setting and holding to necessary limits can be trying for parents, especially in the face of a toddler’s strong feelings of displeasure or upset. One of the most frequent questions I receive from parents is “How do I set or hold  a limit when my child is upset?” For instance, “It’s time to get […]

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Is Tummy Time Important For My Baby? (My Final Answer!)

January 4, 2014

      “Is Tummy Time important for my baby?” (Read more here: No Tummy Time Necessary, and here: Tummy Time Baby’s Way.) The above video is courtesy of Kids In The House, which is a (still) new web site that was launched in April 2013, and is a tremendously valuable FREE resource for parents. The site’s creator, Leana […]

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The Cat in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!

January 1, 2014

(With thanks to Janet Lansbury for the title!) I actually took this picture of R’s play space about three weeks ago, but it seemed appropriate to post here, today. R had been playing, and then went for a nap, and I went to tidy up her play space and happened upon this scene, which just […]

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On Our Way, With a Little Help From Our Friends (A Christmas Miracle)

December 21, 2013

As many of you know, I am in the (very long, painfully slow) process of adopting  my niece R from the foster care system, and to that end, I  have been required to remain in the state of Florida (where she was born) throughout this past year. On December tenth, R and I received a ruling […]

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Toddler Testing: Problem or Opportunity?

October 8, 2013

“Go slowly and with great patience.” Magda Gerber Emma writes: “I really struggle with a particular issue at meal times with my 11 month old son. He is awesome with washing hands, but pulls away, pulls at the cloth, and tries with all his might to throw it on the floor when I wipe his […]

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RIE From The Start- 2 Simple Things You Can Do to Support Baby

September 19, 2013

“Slow down, and then slow down some more. Indicate, and tell even a child who doesn’t understand verbal communication yet, “I’m going to pick you up.” And then comes my magic word. If people only remember that one word: Wait. Then you wait and the child gives a signal, most likely. It depends on the age. […]

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Trusting Baby To Be A Problem Solver

July 12, 2013

“Trust your baby’s competence: she wants to do things for herself, and she can do things for herself. You also know that your child does need help, but try to provide just that little amount of help that allows the child to take over again. Let her be the initiator and problem solver. We can […]

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RIE Foundations – Coming to Chicago This Summer!

May 13, 2013

Many parents and early childhood educators have contacted me expressing an interest in deepening their understanding and practice of RIE philosophy through participating in formal RIE training. Traditionally, there have been very few opportunities to do so without traveling to Los Angeles, CA.,   but this is slowly beginning to change as Magda Gerber’s  approach […]

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Tummy Time Baby’s Way

February 21, 2013

Natural, unassisted gross motor development means waiting for baby to choose tummy time. This is how it happens, or at least how it’s happening here… One day before her 5 month birthday, R. turned onto her tummy all by herself. She was startled and didn’t like it much, and immediately let out a loud wail. After […]

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