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When in Rome . . . And Other Life Lessons for Kids


I want to take my kids to Europe.

See the sights. Experience the art. Take in the food . . . the history . . . the culture.

I’ve realized that when I take my kids to Europe it will be more than exposing them to the beauty, the allure, the attraction of Europe – and beyond.

They will also learn . . .

to suck it up . . . “tiens le coup,” as they say in France. In English terms, it means: to withstand the weather; to endure; to tough it out, and to stick it out.

I’m not talking about the “sucking it up” that they learn on a mission trip or otherwise. That’s another story. For another time (but certainly on the radar screen).

Taking kids to another country requires them to learn tolerance and the appreciation of differences, while learning to relinquish their advantaged American conveniences. When in Rome, they learn to do as the Romans do, and so on with the French in France, the Swiss in Switzerland, and the Germans in Allemagne. There are life lessons to be had among it all – and hopefully life-lasting ones at that.

Pondering this reminds me of the Dutch soccer coach we hosted for a week this summer. I marveled at his tolerance and acceptance of anything (and everything) American, even though it was clearly a bit foreign and not exactly adherent to his accustomed daily tastes. Yet he accepted everything with a gracious and pleasant smile; although deep down I knew, at times, he was simply sucking it up – with a grand “tiens le coup” attitude. I would look admiringly at him, thinking: “That’s just what my kids need to learn.” (Acceptance, tolerance, and gracious appreciation of the diversity in the world). Yep.

I’m planning my trip to Europe. I’ll call it the Terri Trenchard Tiens Le Coup Lesson Book for Life. The train will be waiting.

Until then, I leave us with this: (from Teaching Your Kids Tolerance):

How Can Parents Teach Tolerance?

Parents can teach tolerance by example — and in other ways, too. Talking together about tolerance and respect helps kids learn more about the values you want them to have. Giving them opportunities to play and work with others is important as well. This lets kids learn firsthand that everyone has something to contribute and to experience differences and similarities.

Things parents can do to help kids learn tolerance include:

  • Notice your own attitudes. Parents who want to help their kids value diversity can be sensitive to cultural stereotypes they may have learned and make an effort to correct them. Demonstrate an attitude of respect for others.
  • Remember that kids are always listening. Be aware of the way you talk about people who are different from yourself. Do not make jokes that perpetuate stereotypes. Although some of these might seem like harmless fun, they can undo attitudes of tolerance and respect.
  • Select books, toys, music, art, and videos carefully. Keep in mind the powerful effect the media and pop culture have on shaping attitudes.
  • Point out and talk about unfair stereotypes that may be portrayed in media.
    Answer kids’ questions about differences honestly and respectfully. This teaches that it is acceptable to notice and discuss differences as long as it is done with respect.
  • Acknowledge and respect differences within your own family. Demonstrate acceptance of your children’s differing abilities, interests, and styles. Value the uniqueness of each member of your family.
  • Remember that tolerance does not mean tolerating unacceptable behavior. It means that everyone deserves to be treated with respect — and should treat others with respect as well.
  • Help your children feel good about themselves. Kids who feel badly about themselves often treat others badly. Kids with strong self-esteem value and respect themselves and are more likely to treat others with respect, too. Help your child to feel accepted, respected, and valued.
  • Give kids opportunities to work and play with others who are different from them. When choosing a school, day camp, or child-care facility for your child, find one with a diverse population.
  • Learn together about holiday and religious celebrations that are not part of your own tradition.
  • Honor your family’s traditions and teach them to your kids — and to someone outside the family who wants to learn about the diversity you have to offer.

When parents encourage a tolerant attitude in their children, talk about their values, and model the behavior they would like to see by treating others well, kids will follow in their footsteps.


What Do You Want For Lunch?


These seem to be the ongoing words in my house.

That linger in the air with no answer.

We’re barely 2 weeks in. Two weeks in to this “get ’em up, feed ’em, get ’em on the bus” new school year schedule, and we’re already stuck.

Stuck on:   What Do You Want For Lunch?????

I can’t seem to get past it.

Boring old sandwiches. Stuff that gets soggy in the thermos. “Nah,” my daughter continues to respond with each apparently decently-fresh suggestion.

What’s a mom to do?

Look online. Like every modern day mom does.

Here’s what I found. Some ideas that got me thinking outside of my (lunch) box.

Things like a cheddar and apple sandwich. How about PB & ….. banana?? Or a sliced egg sandwich …… Check out these 101 Ideas for Kid Lunches and 10 Sandwiches to Spice Up a School Lunch. (In case it helps your “What Do You Want For Lunch? dilemma.”)



SleepAway Camp: A Stepping Stone for Independence & Responsibility?


Summer. I find myself wanting to re-create my idyllic childhood summers for my children. Isn’t that human nature, parenting nature, perhaps pure Mother Nature that drives us to re-create for our children what was good in our childhoods, while also adding in what we didn’t have?

I always wanted to go to summer camp, sleepaway camp to be exact. My husband too. Whether it was financial restraints, or just not on our parents’ radar, sleepaway camp wasn’t part of the summer recipe. It’s not that I’m complaining. I was blessed with the perfect childhood summers. I spent weeks at the Jersey shore, time in Pennsylvania with grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins, all while spending my everyday summer time in my then hometown in Connecticut. Mornings were spent at swim lessons, followed by the library, and then long, hot, lazy afternoons at the pool. Capped by neighborhood nighttime fun of Kick-the-Can, Witch’s Hour, Spud . . . catching a few of the hundreds of fireflies . . . which later transformed themselves into a temporary lantern for my room. The ice cream truck sang its welcomed song every night, as we paused our street-centered kickball game for our favorite frozen delight. Who could want more? Certainly not me. I just want to re-create it for my kids . . . and then some. Like summer sleepaway camp.

I’ve read that kids who go to sleepaway camp more fully develop some of the all-important, life-lasting characteristics of things like responsibility and independence. Some even go as far to say that college and employer recruiters find those who have attended sleepaway camp to be some of the more probable candidates to succeed. Check out what the Huffington Post says.

But that’s not why we took our son to camp. Don’t get me wrong; that’s certainly a bonus. But it really revolved around that (natural?) desire to “give him a little more than we had.” But I can see it – the responsibility, independence, interpersonal development, conflict resolution, confidence- and leadership-builders that can come out of sleepaway camp. It all came to light when my son and I were reviewing the “daily camp schedule.”

“8:15. Clean Up Cabin Time.”
He said.

Followed by,
“Every day?”

Yep, I thought, as I tried hard to hide my smile. Every day.

It immediately reminded me of the slob-turned-neat-nick I had become after about 2 days in my undersized freshman college dorm room. Let’s just say if I didn’t hang up my clothes right away, my tiny, shared dorm room was a mess. It was that small. Kind of like my son’s camp cabin quarters, shared with his 9 bunkmates and 2 counselors. Upon taking him to camp, I quickly surveyed his new-personal-space-of-the-week: about 10 inches under the bed and about 18 inches radius around him. Won’t take him too long to develop some responsibility for his things, along with consideration of others. Not to mention the independence that naturally comes from a week away from home.

Some people even say their kids return home, and the first thing they do is make their bed.

I’ll let you know.

Until then, I see a few fireflies lighting up the summer night . . .

The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

There’s the Elf on the Shelf.  Candy.  Socks.  Perhaps an old-fashioned orange at the top.

And then there’s Bork — for the boys.  And Corky — for the girls.

Especially for those 9-13 year old ones.

Check it out and tuck it in the stocking.  The funny, helpful, long-lasting gift for your kids  — and you.

It’s never too early to “put it on the shelf,” for that inevitable moment when “those questions” will come.

The Middle School Bus Stop – One Door Closes & Another Opens

Bus stop

So what’s up with that? Our pre-teens don’t want us waiting at the bus stop, but they’re the first ones to yell, “Shotgun!” as they enthusiastically plead to hop in the front seat of our car. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, like that day I ultimately acquiesced and didn’t go to the bus stop (okay, confession, I peeked from around the driveway….I mean, have you seen the news?), but can’t we maintain a mere bit of that parent-kid connection, that quality time thing……that How Are You, Tell Me About Your Day thing?   I hate to tell you, but those quality time days from the bus stop are gone. Gone like a ham sandwich with a hobo. Trade them in. Give that pre-teen of yours the rite of passage for . . . are you ready? . . . a new level of quality time. Once you view your tweener as big enough, safe enough, strong enough to handle that (gasp!) potential airbag thing, trade the bus stop in for the front seat. It’s a rite of passage, that front seat. One he’s big enough and safe enough, invite him in. Right next to you in the front seat. He’ll love it. And guess what, you’ll love it too. It’s a whole new level of connecting….one-on-one….that quality time thing – just in a different stage, in a different way. What other stages are on the horizon? Check out my books — for boys, for girls.  There’s lots of good stuff awaiting you . . . to walk you and those pre-teens through each new stage of these beautiful horizons.

Spring Has Sprung . . . And the “Buds” are Budding!

Mom daughter spring

Moms, dads of 5th graders, take hold; be ready!  Spring is here and the buds are budding.

Far be it from me to acknowledge again all the “buds” that were budding on the stage of the recent spring concert in our local school, as parents in the audience muttered, “Whoa, the buds are budding in those little white shirts!”

Whether you’re ready or not, here it comes. PUBERTY.

Don’t let it catch you from behind. Take the quiet, gentle (imperative) lead.

Spring is here, the buds are budding, and puberty is all around those upper-elementary spring concerts, classrooms, cafeterias and recesses. And the kids are noticing, asking, wondering.

Take the quiet gentle lead. It will be easier than you thought. Check out my books – one for boys and one for girls – they’ll show you the way and maybe make you (and your “budding” one) chuckle a bit too.

Speaking of buds, here’s a little taste of what’s in store (at least for the girls):

(Page 31 of my book, just to be exact) . . .


Whether you are . . . 8 . . . or . . . 9 . . . or . . . 12 . . . or . . . 13 . . . you might begin to see your  breasts . . . get bigger.  When they start to grow, they are sometimes called “bumps” or “buds” (which by the way is short for “breast buds”).

When your buds start growing and getting bigger, you know you are in puberty.

And, now, for the question that seems to pop into everyone’s mind:


The answer to that is easier than it seems.

Read On.

Check out more at  (You just might be glad you did.)