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Shaila Saint

Guidance is showing you where to look,

not telling you what to see.

When I began teaching parent education classes at Long Beach City College in the fall of 2000, I was pregnant with a toddler in tow. And every day I'd wonder, as mothers and fathers looked to me for guidance, who are you to advise parents when you’re clueless outside the classroom?


In class, I lectured on honoring the need behind the child's behavior. At home, I often reacted out of exhaustion, anger or confusion.


I thought being a successful parent educator meant being a perfect parent with perfect children, but no amount of education could prepare me for the isolation and vulnerability that came with having a child. Instead of admitting I didn't have all the answers, I'd just smile and stick to my syllabus.


Until I got a face full of lemonade.


Because it felt comfortable and aligned with my beliefs as an educator, I sent my second son, Kiki, to the same campus-based pre-school as his big brother, Conor. But unlike Conor, Kiki thrived in predictable, quiet and small settings. Dealing with rotating parent helpers, observing students, lots of stimulation and a hearing issue even his parents hadn’t figured out yet caused him to feel overwhelmed and act out, especially at pick up.

Though he knew I was coming, Kiki often ran away when he saw me approach. One day, he had a Dixie cup of lemonade in his hand, and when I bent down to greet him, he threw it in my face.


I was shocked. He was shocked. Everyone stopped to see what the faculty member, parent educator and perfectionist mom was going to do next.


"I feel so sad, Kiki," I said between tears. "I can't believe you threw that on me."


"I know, Mama," he said. "Please don't cry."


Kiki and I both had a bit of a breakdown that day. And as so often happens, after the breakdown came the breakthrough. When I shared the story with others, they connected with it and it freed me up to be more truthful about who I was in and outside the classroom.


No one wants to hear, "I know everything." We want to hear, "I've been there." 


We all want to be heard. We all need to be encouraged. We all want to be looked in the eye and told it's going to be okay. What are adults if not children in bigger bodies?


So I set aside my syllabus and created Spicy Mindfulness, a blueprint for navigating "spicy" life challenges in the real world. Today my sons are in college  and the "adult" world and instead of lemonade, I get a face full of snapchats, girlfriends, and college and career transitions. I still don't have all the answers, but I have a gift for creating safe, supportive spaces where you can hear your own — and a vision to bring you back to the intentions we bury under busy lives. 


B.A. in Communication Studies
and M. Ed. from UC Santa Barbara



Adjunct professor at Long Beach Community College, focusing on
the physical, social and cognitive development of children, adolescents and adults.


Parent Educator for more than
20 years, providing classes, consultations, workshops and
in-services to schools, educational organizations, individual families
and groups on issues surrounding parenting and families, such as:

    growth/fixed mindset

  • finding balance

    significance of brain development

    the importance of struggle

    mindfulness and youth sports

    social media

    anti-bullying and empowerment



Received the Thomas More Storke Award of Excellence, given to UCSB’s Outstanding Graduating Senior; graduated with Highest Honors, receiving the Department of Communications Studies Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for Academic Excellence


State of CA Early Childhood Special Education Fellowship recipient, certified with both CA Multiple Subject and Learning Handicapped teaching credentials


Past or present member of: RIE (Resources for Infant Edu-carers); The Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC); National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); CA Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC); California Association of Parent Educators (C.A.P.E.) and Mindful Schools

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