Hi Mom’s Choice readers! Today we have a special blog interview to share with you from one of our very own Mom’s Choice Award-winning Authors. Lori Orlinsky wrote her book Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) to encourage her short-in-stature daughter to be the best she could be. We are absolutely in love with the story she tells and its beautiful message! Keep reading to find out more about Lori and her work.
MCA: Hi Lori! We are proud that you’ve written a blog post for us before, but can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Lori: I am a children’s book author who lives in Chicago. I am married with 2 daughters, Hayley (6) and Ellie (3). In addition to being an author, I am also the Marketing Director at WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station, and a regular contributor for Chicago Parent Magazine. In the little spare time I have, I love family days! Whether it is hanging at the neighborhood pool or trying desperately to win a stuffed animal from the claw machine at Dave and Buster’s, my family is always out and about.
MCA: Family time is so special! With all of the other hats you wear every day, what inspired you to become a writer?
Lori: I studied Journalism at Indiana University (GO HOOSIERS). It has always been on my bucket list to write a children’s book, but I never had the inspiration to write one. That “aha” moment came when my daughter decided she didn’t want to go to preschool anymore because she was the shortest kid in class. That’s when Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) was born. Now that I saw that I could do it, I don’t want to stop! I have a second book coming out in the Fall of 2019.
MCA: What a great motivation to achieve a dream: your daughter! You’ve mentioned before that it’s difficult for you to watch Hayley experience some of the harder parts of being short, because you, yourself, have experienced them as well throughout your life.
Lori: Hayley is really into amusement parks and water parks, and I find myself doing the exact thing to her that my mom did to me – we encourage her to stand on her tip toes when she gets measured for a ride or a slide and I put her hair in the highest ponytail, hoping they’ll measure from the top. It is always a heartbreaking feeling to be told you can’t do something because of your height. Every time Hayley goes through something like that, it really is like reliving a tough part of my childhood all over again.
MCA: I’m sure there are so many feelings of not being able to have experiences- like roller coaster rides- because of height. That is hard for kids to deal with. She’s lucky to have such an encouraging mom! Another really important point you raised in your blog post was bullying. What do you wish other parents would teach their kids about bullying? How do you intentionally encourage Hayley in times that she’s being bullied?
Lori: My maiden name was Geller, so I am no stranger to bullying. I went through elementary school as “Geller Smeller.” I remember how it made feel, so I vowed to raise nice girls instead of mean girls. I think the first step to that is teaching your own child self-acceptance and empathy. Point out your child’s differences and make a list of how they can use them to their advantage. Have an open dialogue with your child about what’s going on in their world, and encourage them to put themselves in other peoples shoes. Do they notice someone who frequently sits alone at the lunch table? Teach your child to be the kid who includes – not excludes- others.
I think it is also important to talk to kids about the power of their words. For example, while Hayley wasn’t being bullied when she was called names like “munchkin” and “peanut” in school, she didn’t take them in the endearing way they were intended. Talk to your children about their words and how easy it can be to misinterpret them.
MCA: Great points. Those are excellent prompts for us all to notice those around us and how our words and actions affect them! Are there any positive things that have come as a result of Hayley’s struggle with unkind words, bullying, and self-image?
Lori: Hayley is a very empathetic child. She understands how it feels to be different, and as a result, has a lot of compassion for others in a similar situation. She was recently awarded “Star Student” at school for befriending a new classmate who often kept to herself. That child’s parents made it a point to tell me that Hayley has changed their daughter’s feelings on school completely, and I could not be more proud.
MCA: We love that! Way to go, Hayley! It is so great that you’re sharing such great lessons with the rest of the world, now, in writing Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All). If you could make sure your readers walk away with one main lesson, what would that be?
Lori: Every child is unique, and their differences should be celebrated. Many times, what we deem as a disadvantage can really be an advantage if we look at it from a different angle.
We want to give a big thank you to Lori Orlinsky for spending some time with us and sharing about her experiences in parenting a small daughter, writing her book Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All), and encouraging others to celebrate differences! You can check out Lori’s book in our webstore!