Time and Development

Sep 10, 2023

I think it is safe to say that my wife and I have a new outdoor stray cat that has adopted us. Of course, the scales were quickly tipped in our directions when we started feeding him. Yes – We are animal people. Cats, dogs, birds, deer – all God’s creatures great and small seem to feel right at home at Casa St. Romain.

Porch Panther, as he is affectionately known, is an interesting beast. Clearly feral, it took him awhile to get comfortable enough to approach us. We couldn’t look at him or make any movements initially, as he was easily startled and would dart away with little-to-no provocation. He’s also the messiest eater ever encountered. Guessing he has only had experience eating food that is on the move.

His most interesting feature though is his personality. He seems to want affection and interaction with his people, but has no clue how to get it appropriately. He rubs up against us, but can’t handle more than a passing head scratch without getting overstimulated and using his laser-sharp animal-catching claws to swipe at us. I have battle wounds on my ankles that serve as evidence.

Though frustrated, I don’t get mad at Porch Panther because I assume he is doing the best he is able with the skills at his disposal. Like the new kid on the playground who wants to be part of the gang, our little friend is going to need a lot of time and practice before learning how to get his needs met appropriately.

Teachers, did you catch those two words? Time and practice? With it being the beginning of a new school year, many of your students have had a summer where they may not have had a lot of interaction with other children. Accordingly, patience is the key. We can’t rush social or emotional development or skill acquisition.

I tell you this, because I might need to be reminded of this lesson in the coming months. Raising youngins is not easy. Excited to have a new outdoor friend, but dreading our next challenge. At some point soon we will need to get this kitty to the vet for shots and neutering, lest we end up with a whole lot more Porch Panthers running around.

Beyond Poor Choices

I know I’m stating the obvious, but changing behavior can be difficult.  Want to start off on the right foot when faced with this challenge?  A critical first step in dealing with inappropriate behaviors is determining which are the result of poor...

Generalizing to Extremes

As I lay awake last night staring at the ceiling, it was clear to me that my original idea for this week’s post would have to wait.  Given the incident that occurred at yesterday’s presidential rally, I believe there is a bigger issue to address. I’ve been...

The Concerning Colorful Spectrum of Language

Though actions may speak louder than words, we best not underestimate how language modeling shapes the behavior of the children we are collectively raising.  I guess it’s a hazard of my profession, but I regularly see and hear the world through the eyes and ears of...

Teacher Dads

Dads, today I celebrate you as teachers.  In fact, I believe it is one of your most important roles.  Fathers are always teaching, continually by example, and most of the time without even knowing they are doing so.  In this regard, I have seen some masterful work.  I...

Predictable Routines Needed

“The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” This quote from Mark Twain seems appropriate given the changes occurring in homes as another school year ends. Parents, we’re lucky. Our kids have had nine months of consistency thanks to the hard work of teachers. We...

One Chapter at a Time

Relieved. Happy. Discouraged.  Exhausted. These were some of the adjectives teachers mentioned when asked how they were feeling about the school year ending.  Although the responses varied, all teachers agreed - they were ready to have some closure with their...

Surrogate Teacher Moms

“Do you have any kids?” I once asked a teacher friend. “Absolutely,” she said. “I have a classroom full of them.” I laughed and walked away, but that thought stuck with me. Let’s face it - some of the best mothers in our lives weren’t our mothers, in the biological...

Get Physical

I’ve done a great deal of yard work over the past few weeks and have been reminded of an important behavior strategy. It’s one I don’t talk about nearly enough, given its effectiveness. Of course, with most people’s busy schedule it’s also hard to come by. The...

Look for the Foundation

Did you know that behaviors have a build-up effect over time?  Most teachers do.  And although there is an ebb and flow pattern to the behaviors of students, we see them all at the tail end of the school year – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Fortunately, we have...

Coming Together

So I’ve been thinking about this post all week.  Though the original inspiration hit me in the middle of the eclipse last Monday, it was driven home again yesterday.  (Being a spiritual man, I believe sometimes God circles back around and gives me reminders – to make...