My Adventure to Becoming More Kid-Friendly

Have you heard of the term “kid-friendly”? Well, if you were to do a Google search for it, you would be able to pull up endless sites about kid-friendly restaurants, kid-friendly recipes and kid-friendly activities. There are even kid-friendly jokes (I’m guessing these probably involve chickens crossing roads). In my life, I’ve even met people whom you would call kid-friendly. These are adults with big, friendly (haha) smiles and usually a few pieces of candy in their pockets. They don’t mind getting down on their hands and knees to play and do things that make kids laugh, like impersonations of Elmo (which my bro-in-law, a kid-friendly guy, has scarily perfected). You could say these kid-friendly adults are kids at heart. I personally think these people are amazing and great fun to have around, especially if you have kids needing to be entertained. Which is why I think it would be great if all parents were kid-friendly … except they’re not, especially some square ones I know. 😛

I’ve always been a baby-friendly person, usually the first or second in line waiting to hold a friend’s newborn. But liking babies unfortunately does not equate to liking kids. Kids, in case you haven’t noticed, are very different from babies. Kids can walk, run, climb, etc., and the scariest thing of all is this: kids can talk. Which makes kids just as complicated as adults, only smaller in size. And because I don’t like talking much and I dislike complications, I’m not the most kid-friendly person around.

But, as usual, God likes to place us in circumstances that help us grow. (Groan, sigh, roar. Haha.)

My lil sis posted this great (and uncomfortable) reminder on her Facebook this week. ;)

My lil sis posted this great (and uncomfortable) reminder on her Facebook this week. 😉

Back in the day (before I became a mom), I had been working towards getting my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. In order to get said license, I needed to complete 3000 hours of internships, which included 500 hours of counseling with … (cue drumroll) … kids. When I saw that one requirement, I just about fainted. I didn’t know how in the world I would be able to work with kids, let alone spend 500 hours, with them. I hoped I could put off those hours until later, but sure enough, the only internship available at the time was at an elementary school working with children from kindergarten to sixth grade. (Cue the fainting.)

I remember clearly that on my first day there I just sat in my parked car and PRAYED. I write that in all caps because that’s the kind of prayer it was. A God-this-is-crazy-please-help-me!!! kind of prayer. I felt sooo out of my element going into a place with hundreds of little people running around. I had no clue how I was going to engage them in conversation or if they would even want to talk to me.

But to my surprise and relief, they did (especially the girls!). Each time I went to a student’s classroom and picked them up for a counseling session, I was greeted with a smile. Each 30 minute session flew by as the kids shared (with some prompting) from their hearts about their families and their worries and wishes. Even now I can still see some of their faces in my mind and remember the heartfelt conversations we shared, especially this one:

K (a kindergarten girl whose mom was no longer in her life): “I wish you were my mom.”

Me (totally caught off guard, but very touched): “You really enjoy our times together, huh?”

K (nodding): “Yeah.”

I came away from that one counseling session a lot less afraid of kids and a lot more appreciative of how genuine, accepting and adult-friendly they really are.

The gift K gave me at the end of my internship. :)

A gift K gave me at the end of my internship. 🙂

As I’ve come to understand these pint size creatures better (especially after having two of my own), I see that their ability to talk is a wonderful thing. It’s their words which give us adults access into their worlds and into their hearts. As K confirmed, all I needed to do was give her a safe place to share and a listening ear, and she was ready to come home with me. I probably also looked like good mom material in her eyes, considering I was about 8 months pregnant with E when she said this.

In all seriousness though, I can say without shuddering or cringing now that the 9 months I spent at that elementary school were some of the best moments of my life. And I’m a much better, kid-friendlier person because of it. (Yay – gulp – for challenges!)

Side note: I’ve had kids on the brain (and in my posts) lately because they are the reason I created my plush toys, the Moodkins. I believe all children deserve to be heard and have their feelings validated by the grown-ups in their lives, and the Moodkins were created for that very purpose. Please check them out at http://www.moodkins.com if you haven’t had the chance yet!

I’ve always liked the lyrics of this Whitney Houston song, “The Greatest Love of All”. The first stanza is particularly kid-friendly. 🙂

Are you a kid-friendly person? Why or why not?

One Word for 2013 & 2014

One word. So much can be said with just one word. Some words, of course, may be more weighty in their meanings, while others are more simple and to the point. But have you noticed that one word in a dictionary typically needs several more words to define it? Many words even have three or four definitions attached to them, broadening the scope of the meaning. That’s the amazing power and beauty of words. That’s why I love writing.

Just the other day, the mom of one of C’s friends asked me, “Why writing? How did you get into that?” 

I smiled and stopped myself from laughing out loud.

It wasn’t the question she asked that made me want to chuckle. It was the wide-eyed, curious expression she wore on her face. You would think I had told her I did belly dancing for a living (no offense to belly dancers who I think are crazy talented and entertaining). 

“I’ve always like to write,” I replied. “I don’t like to talk, but I like to write.”

I could have gone on to say more, but it’s not easy to have an extended conversation when you’re chasing preschoolers around a park. Even if I had, it’s hard to put into words (ironic, for a writer, I know!) what writing means to me. I imagine it’s like a butterfly discovering its wings for the first time and realizing it is no longer confined to the ground. For me, writing is like being set free from the trappings of a cocoon to float into the sky. Expressing myself this way makes me happy and for that, I’m grateful.

Image courtesy of Eddy Van 3000 from in Flanders fields – B – United Tribes ov Europe


I’m grateful God gave me this passion and for the opportunities to see it come to life again. Writing came back into my life a few years ago, and when I say it returned to me, I mean just that. I hadn’t thought about writing for a long time and hadn’t needed to do any since graduate school. But one day when I decided to clean out an upstairs closet, I found a story I had written from my youth (literally from high school). The next day, hubby heard about a children’s book contest and told me about it. Long story short, my entry didn’t win, but the publisher still decided to take my story and turn it into a picture e-book. Yay!

Now, I don’t believe in coincidences because the world is too messy of a place for things to fall exactly into place by chance. But I do believe in God’s redeeming power. And redeem is the one word I think of when I look back on this past year. 

re·deem

 transitive verb \ri-ˈdēm\

: to make (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) better or more acceptable

: to exchange (something, such as a coupon or lottery ticket) for money, an award, etc.

: to buy back (something, such as a stock or bond)

You see, there was a time when I was given the opportunity to apply for the honors English class at my high school. I was not your typical Asian student; I worked hard and got almost straight A’s, but I didn’t excel in any subject area enough to be in the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program… except maybe in English. My teacher recognized this and gave me and another classmate the chance to move up. Unfortunately, she made it in and I didn’t. But what held me back wasn’t my writing skills; it was my shy personality and lack of class participation. 

Grrr. 🙁 That incident brings about some regret, but it is what it is. However it serves as a great reminder that things can change. Because ironically enough, the very same story that got published was one I wrote in that English class 20 years ago, the class that I felt stuck in because I couldn’t advance to the honors class. God took that disappointment and made it into something good. That’s what the word redeem means to me.

This past year was full of redemptive moments; I blogged about a major one here. My writing journey has been another one. It has been an up and down adventure mixed with celebratory dancing one day and head-in-my-hands groaning the next. Throughout it all I have learned that God is faithful and is always doing his redeeming work, which I think is His best kind of work. 🙂

I was going to blog about my one word for this year, but since hindsight is 20/20, it was easier to think of one for last year. So, my word for 2103 is redeemed. 

And now that I’ve seen so much of what God has done this past year, I have more faith for this new year. So, my one word for 2014 is believe.

Here’s a great song about believing – “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston (such beautiful voices!). 

What is your one word for this past year or this new year?