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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Learn as You Live

We’ve all been there with our kids... cluttered desks, things on the floor, boxes under the bed, clutter on the shelves, messy closets, and rooms looking as if a tornado had just traveled through them. How many times have we told our youngsters that if they do not clean their room, something bad might happen? They just smirked, gave us a strange look, or simply ignored our warnings.

“Just wait!” We bite our lips, not having any idea how to replace the cutest smirks on their faces with an ugly fear. Some of us gave up and let them drown in their own mess, but some like me were determined to find the solution to the messy room.

Often, children learn lessons when we least expect them. That was what happened to my young heroine in my multi-award-winning children’s book Runaway Clothes. This book was based on an event that happened in my home many years ago.

That day was no different from any other.

“A mess again,” I said, walking into my daughter’s room. She looked at me with her angelic blue eyes, stopped playing with her dolls, and started stuffing her clothes in the closet on top of her shoes.

“That’s not how I taught you to clean your closet.” I pulled her clothes from the closet. Losing my patience, I started folding her new and now wrinkled clothes.

“I’ll help you tomorrow,” my daughter said sweetly, as she picked up her doll from the floor.

“There is no tomorrow. We must clean it now.” I made a strict face, determined to teach her once again how to take care of her stuff.

“I’m busy, Mommy. Can’t you see that?” She kept playing with her dolls.

“Time out! Rules start now!” I walked her to the corner in the hall. That was the first time I punished my child, and I was serious about making it clear who was in charge. Having grown up in a place and family where violence took place every day, I did not believe in punishments that degrade a child and harm his or her self-worth.

I checked on her in a few minutes. “Are you ready to say sorry and go back to clean your room?” I asked.

“I’ll have to think about it.” She turned away her cute face. Watching her playing with her fingers and talking to herself, I felt terrible.

“Rules must be obeyed,” I said, as I walked away, convincing myself more than my child. I checked on her again in half an hour, but she said she was still thinking.

“OK. Think a little bit longer.” I left her alone for another half hour.

“Still thinking?” I asked when I returned.

“I like thinking,” she said quietly, looking at her fingers. Another half hour passed, but she still refused to clean her room.

“I love my corner,” she mumbled, looking down. Three hours passed and she was still standing in the corner. Worried, I was wondering how I could finish this teaching ordeal graciously and still make her understand that it was a serious punishment, not a game. Debating with my motherly feelings for another half hour, I was ready to apologize for placing her in the corner.

“One day your clothes will run away from you,” I said casually.

“Where they will go?” she asked, not turning her face from the corner.

“To our neighbors, or maybe your stuff will find another girl who will take better care of it.” I came up with the first excuse that popped into my head.

She thought for a second and then simply said, “Our neighbors have boys. They don’t need my clothes.”

Not sure how to handle her answer, I said, “Bad things happen when you least expect them.” Losing my battle, I removed her from the corner and tried to change the clothes conversation to something else. The rest of the day, I felt as if I had punished myself.

There must be other ways to get through her. I searched for the right resolution day after day. Weeks passed, but nothing changed. I pleaded, I explained, I bribed, I complained, but her clothes were still jammed in the closet.

But one day everything changed. The night before, I rewashed all her clothes and put them out to dry on the clothesline behind the house. In the morning, she knocked on my door.

“It happened, Mommy,” she said, horrified.

“What happened?” I looked at her sad face, ready to cry.

“All my clothes ran away,” she sniffled, heartbroken. “Just as you said.” She cried.

“Clothes have feelings too,” I said, hiding a smile. I told her that if she doesn’t respect her stuff, her toys might follow her clothes.

“I guess they will.” She sobbed quietly.

“You better hurry,” I said casually.

“OK, Mommy,” she said, walking away. My distraught girl had learned her lesson without me trying or preaching. I went outside to fold her clothes.

Writing this story, I saw a great opportunity to help families learn how to deal with an issue that drives every parent crazy. Going back in time, I always analyze my behavior and reactions that taught my children and me great lessons. Now, looking back on their mischievous misbehavior and the rules I tried to apply, I see things that I wish I had done differently. Like many parents, I naively thought I would have perfect children, just as I saw on the front page of parenting magazines—happy, smart, and well-behaved. The reality proved me wrong. There is no perfect child or parent. Parents and children learn from each other on a daily basis. Raising my girls, I learned that not every rule is written in stone, and that sometimes, unplanned lessons are the best teachers.

Memories of my children have always been my golden treasures when I write children’s stories. Every time I dig out some event from my children’s childhood, I discover something new, something I did not see in the past, something I overlooked. Now I can honestly say that over the years, the best lessons I learned were the ones that my children taught me. These lessons helped me to raise my girls into determined and ambitious young women, and I hope they will help other parents too.

The older I get, the more memories I collect. Some of them vanish with time, but some never leave. Happy or sad, funny or disappointing, they are part of my life and my stories. With age, I grew wiser and looked at things differently. The stuff that once drove me crazy and seemed so important then, appear funny now. As my grandfather would say, learn as you live.

Runaway Clothes is a beautifully illustrated, award-winning children’s book that will entertain and educate children without them realizing it. It was awarded Mom’s Choice Awards, Readers’ Favorite International Awards, has earned the Literary Classic Seal of Approval, and is recommended for home and school libraries. It is a great read for any age. If the children are too small to read it independently, the detailed illustrations will tell them the story of the runaway clothes. The beautiful book trailer below will provide insight into what this book is about. Runaway Clothes is available in print in hardcover and softcover form as well as e-book form.

You may order Runaway Clothes on Amazon, B&N, and through Dog Ear Publishing. Please see the links below:

Runaway Clothes


Do you have a young lady in your home who is a less than perfect housekeeper?
This book might be just what the doctor ordered. An instructive story with a
happy conclusion!
ISBN 13 (SOFT):978-1457527197
ISBN 13 (HARD):978-1457528279

I would be delighted to hear your opinions and suggestions. Your reviews are always welcome on Amazon, Goodreads, and B&N.

And please don’t forget to read with your child.

Their love for reading begins with YOU.


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