Father Knows Five 1-3-13

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” style list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week…

We explored self-esteem this week, so here are five ideas about the topic: 

1.   This is among my favorite photos to sum up the self-esteem idea…

2.  I’m Glad I’m Me – a great article on the subject of self-esteem in young children.

3.  You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.― Diane Von Furstenberg

4.  Mister Rogers:  the fascinating story of self-esteem in his own childhood.

5.  When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed. ― Fred Rogers


Look at this Book! – I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting off a Little Self-Esteem

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page.

Esteem 1

Today’s great book:  I’m Gonna Like Me:  Letting off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell (2002, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins Publishers)

The Author’s Book Website:  http://www.jamieleecurtisbooks.com/

Time to Read:  short and sweet; great for naptime or anytime

Summary:  from the dustjacket…”Through alternating points of view, a girl’s and a boy’s, Jamie Lee Curtis’s triumphant text and Laura Cornell’s lively artwork show kids that the key to feeling good is liking yourself because you are you.” 

Best Quote:  “I’m gonna like me when I make a mistake and put out the candles on dad’s birthday cake.  I’m gonna like me when I open the box and smile and say ‘Thanks’ even though I got socks.”

Our View:  Superstar Jamie Lee Curtis is best-known among everyone at our house as a superwriter.  Curtis’s series of books with the wonderfully detailed and colorful illustrator Laura Cornell are the perfect medicine for children as they figure out their place in the world and learn of the priceless gifts that reside within them.  This particular book is among my college students’ (who are aspiring teachers) favorite choices for reading with young children.  The lessons of this book are focused upon this important issue of self-esteem and helping children come to see themselves as unique and special because of that uniqueness.  This is a wonderful book to keep in your collection and share just when your child could use a little extra help in seeing that they are one-of-a-kind…and that’s a good thing.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “A Little Cup of ES-STEAM” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

Dad, How Do I Look?


Our youngest, age 9, decided it was time to get her first real haircut, and by real I mean having it trimmed several inches shorter than ever before and having it cut by her mother and sisters’ real (and outstanding) beautician at a real beauty shop here in town.

When she came home tonight I was genuinely excited for her. It is beautiful and is the kind of haircut that, if she were a famous actress, would be named after her because it matches perfectly who I know her to be.

At first, she was so proud of the risk that she took to do such a thing (I now realize that this is a risk because I have lived through the experience of such risks with my wife and two older daughters…and, believe me, such events have their risks).

A few hours later, though, all that lion-hearted certainty seemed to melt into a puddle of shadowy uncertainty. It was a kind of “what-have-I-done” look that began to slowly form across her sweet face. An anxious worry began to nip at her heels.

And for some reason, she bypassed every girl in our house on this particular evening to come find me. I was in our bedroom reading a new book when I caught a glimpse of her quietly slip into our closet and peer into the floor length mirror just inside its doorway.

I could sense the tension and waited. She gloomily whispered, “Dad, how do I look?  Does it make me look like a boy?”

These are the questions that we fathers and brothers and boyfriends and sons find risky…and if we do not find them risky we will find ourselves making light of things that are not necessarily “light.”  Knowing the difference between an important question and a simple question takes three things:  answering poorly, learning to answer rightly, and a good woman to teach you the difference.

My answer to our youngest daughter that night was simple to her, and complex to me.  I told her I thought it was beautiful and that she clearly still looked like a girl, but to come sit with me and “let me look at it up close.”  I pretended to measure and then I described the color and shape and style.  We laughed and she remembered several female book and television characters who reveled in their short hair and clearly looked like girls. It was a conversation that lasted no more than 4 or 5 minutes, but it seemed to be what she needed for now.

I know from experience that there will be so many moments among the years ahead when the questions will grow deep and profound and difficult, but I’m not sure they will be any more or less deep or profound or difficult either, just different.

And so it is with that phrase – “Dad, how do I look?” – the question means less than the answers to which it leads.

The Art of Taking a Bow

 “It’s hard for a fellow to keep a chip on his shoulder if you allow him to take a bow.” – Billy Rose

Bow Julia

I was sitting with my mother and father-in-law at our youngest daughter’s Christmas play at school this week.  It was a wonderful, kid-filled story of learning that the holiday is worth much more than receiving gifts…that the heart of the season is giving.  It was told in music and drama, and the children were dressed in great outfits to fulfill their respective roles in the program.  There were a dozen or more Santa Claus characters and, for some reason, only one Mrs. Claus.  There were reindeer outfits and snowflake people and even children (mine included) with battery-powered Christmas tree lights on their shirts.  It was festive and funny and had many opportunities for lots of children to have a speaking part, dance or sing at the top of their lungs.

The most intriguing part, however, was the bowing.  That’s right – bowing.  After every song, whoever was spotlighted in the action – the actors, the singers, the dancers – whoever it was for that particular scene (and usually it was 10 or more children spotlighted in each song), the music teacher would pause the play and have the children who had done the particular work for that song/scene step to the front of the stage and take a bow.

It was interesting because you could immediately sense the importance of this moment to the children.  Their faces grew vibrant and, though some had appeared nervous while doing their part for the scene, they threw off such worries when it came time to step forward and bow.  It seemed as though they felt as special and important and appreciated as much, if not more, than the great Academy Award winners or Grammy superstars of years past.

At one point near the end of the program, my mother-in-law leaned over and said to me, “Bowing is clearly important.”

She’s right.  You could feel the necessity of it that day, as I have never felt it before.  These children had spent long hours and countless school sessions working with their teachers to create this event for us, but also for themselves.  I am grateful for a music teacher who notices such things and senses the long-lasting importance of it all.

It’s a simple idea, just three little words:  take….a….bow.