In 2013, a friend asked me (Rebecca) to give a talk for the Parents’ Association of the preschool she directs just a few blocks from where I grew up, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At the time, I was working full-time at Healthy Steps for Montefiore, an infant and toddler mental health promotion program integrated within a variety of outpatient pediatric practices in the Bronx. “I’ve heard you describe what you do,” she explained, “and I think that our parents could really benefit.” I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant. In the Bronx, I worked with parents and children in highly stressed, resource-poor communities, many of whom had been exposed to trauma. And my friend wanted me to come speak to parents on the Upper West Side?
I’m glad I decided to trust her. The talk I gave to the Parents’ Association at my friend’s school was the day that Little House Calls was born. As I spoke — about infant brain development, toddlers’ social-emotional skills and ways to promote positive behavior in preschoolers — parents began raising their hands — and asking really good questions. Some furiously scribbled notes; others intently nodded their heads. Was my talk good? I mean, sure, it was fine. More than that, though, it drove home to me the fact that these parents were starving for advice about their little ones — eager for someone to help them wade through numerous, often conflicting, parenting tips found in countless blogs, Facebook status updates and mother-in-law side comments (solicited or otherwise). Several parents approached me afterward: “Do you have a card?” They asked. At the time, I didn’t. And then one mother laughed; “Can’t you just come to our house during bath time one day,” she joked, “and see our daughter in action?” Unfortunately, of course, I couldn’t.
But then, why not?
The first of my two sons was born the following March. And despite all my experience with parents and their kids, being a first-time parent was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I couldn’t imagine becoming a mom without all of the training I’ve had, and yet the training had all been for professional, not personal, reasons. Most new parents are, obviously, not early childhood psychologists; somehow, though, they’re expected to know how to handle every unexpected curveball they’ll be thrown simply by virtue of their decision to have a baby. And if they can’t, or if they need some extra support, then reading a book, or a few articles, is supposed to do the trick. Except it rarely works out that way. Because our children and our parenting — let’s face it, our lives — are complicated. There’s no such thing as one size fits all. And thus was born Little House Calls.
In 2016, I met Dr. Alison Locker when we collaborated on a case; I was seeing the family privately, and she was the preschool psychologist. Dr. Locker’s approach to families — flexible, pragmatic, and based in a deep theoretical understanding of parent-child relationships — seemed the perfect fit for LHC. Almost from the outset, we finished each other’s sentences, and soon we had decided to join forces. I was impressed not only with Alison’s professional expertise, but also with the way she has successfully navigated raising three children (now teenagers) in Manhattan — no small feat!