Wisdom from Unexpected Places

By Deborah Miller, MA, LPC 

Jane has been through many changes in her life. She’s had numerous doctor appointments, countless falls, and she’s seen several important relationships come and go. Jane has also had to adjust to the restrictions COVID put on her. And recently, she moved from where she has lived all her life into a new home.

Did I mention Jane is my 2 ½ year old granddaughter?

Like all of us, she’s had to adapt to a lot of change. (Although, admittedly, our adaptation to change usually occurs over a broader expanse of time.)

Still, change is never easy and always requires adjustments. And patience. Here are some coping mechanisms I have learned from all 39 inches of her:


When Jane carries a step stool or a large container of stuffed animals through a room, she loudly announces, “Heeeeavy!”

Often it is with an uncharacteristic, lilting grunt to her voice and an almost Southern accent, which she doesn’t use in other situations.

And perhaps, that is enough for her to get the strength and confidence she needs. She acknowledges the difficulty, focuses on the task, and completes the job.

And, yes, sometimes a doll will come tumbling out of the basket.


This is a serious command used only in the direst of circumstances. Say Grammy was to try to assist with carrying the basket of toys; she might be told to, “Dop!”

Jane has a plan. She wants to do it, and she has set that goal for herself.

In less important settings she may say, “I do it, pweease!” to let us into her plan of action and give us the opportunity to encourage her independence.

Both are ways she sets a boundary and has learned to advocate for herself.

“I skay-wood.”

This is a more recent exclamation as Jane begins to increase her awareness of some new Big Feelings. Fortunately, Mommy is also showing her how to be bwave when she is skay-wood.

Sometimes the skay-wood feeling comes after a loud noise or a neighbor yelling. Sometimes it’s the scene in “Moana” when the island comes to life. And, sure, sometimes, it’s at bedtime.

In these moments, Jane is aware of a troubling emotion and asks her community for help. As a result, often the best comfort is found sitting on Grammy’s lap or getting a hug from Daddy. And sometimes, we are all our bwavest when we admit we are skay-wood.

“It’s dee-rishus!”

This is an important one for all of us. Check in with each other by asking how it tastes.

Sometimes it’s good. And that’s ok. But sometimes s’mores over the campfire or a Popsicle on a hot day is more than just good. It’s dee-rishus!

So is a raise at work or negative test results from the doctor or passing the AP exam. And sometimes — no, always — it’s your toddler granddaughter running across the lawn to greet you.

Let’s try to be more like Jane

  • Admit when you need help (because we all do).
  • Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. (You’re worth it.)
  • Acknowledge your feelings, and look to your community for support. (Stay connected.)
  • Celebrate joy (even if it’s a toasted marshmallow).

And always, always, run to hug your Grammy!

For more articles like this, explore our online, interactive fall newsletter here.

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