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I clicked onto Facebook and was greeted by one of those old-timey drawings of a family, smiling as they gathered around a book together. The caption reminisced about the good ole days when parents could beat their children “so they learned to respect others.” The 61,000 LIKES under the picture made my stomach hurt. They confirmed just how many people still believe that spanking is a necessary component of raising respectful kids.

I was Clara in “The Nutcracker.” My 9-year-old aspiring ballerina self’s first real ballet! I felt so special, elated to have been selected for the role. Except we had an important rehearsal on the same weekend that my parents had planned a camping trip. Miss Jan was very clear with my mom:  if I missed the rehearsal, I would be out of the show and they would find a new Clara. My mom was miffed but she wrote out the rehearsal schedule. The family went camping and left me with a neighbor. The show must go on, after all, and there would be other family trips.

I’m playing Jenga with three of my junior high students as we celebrate their academic achievement with a pizza and ice cream party. We take turns finding that one block that will wiggle free and placing it gently on top of the pile amidst cries of, “Don’t shake the table!” “No, not that one!” “Careful, now…,” interspersed with giggles and sighs of relief.

A father in one of my parenting classes observed, “One of my challenges as a parent is, I focus on what’s wrong, rather than what’s right.” A mom added, “I want to spend more time enjoying my children instead of only being focused on what we need to do next or what’s on the schedule.” A number of us nodded our heads, acknowledging our similar desires for who we want to be as parents.

I’m reading Flourish, Dr. Martin Seligman’s book about how positive psychology impacts our well-being. He references research that demonstrated the impact of negative language on employees in sixty companies, one-third of which were highly successful, one-third moderately successful, and one-third failing.

Valley schools have been in session for several weeks now, so a number of kids—and parents—are experiencing the “junior high jitters.” Children who sailed through elementary school are struggling for the first time, while others who have always struggled find themselves completely stymied by multiple teachers, assignments, and expectations.

Life can be a bumpy road. Some bumps leave us gleeful and squealing with delight. And some leave deep bruises that we think may never heal. If you’re a parent, you may have found yourself wishing you could find some kind of emotional bubble wrap that would protect your kids from those awful bumps.

“I hate you!” Whoever said, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me, didn’t have children. ‘Cause, man, that “h” word. It drives a knife right through your heart.

We were enjoying dinner in Downtown Disney last week when a high-pitched shriek from an obviously worn-out toddler nearly made us drop our forks. My husband and I grimaced at each other and said in unison, “Sounds like naptime!”

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