ʻOluʻolu:  Gentle like carrying a baby…the practice is gentle strength. To be ‘olu‘olu is to be gentle in your relationship and acknowledging (or finding/recognizing) it’s significance to you. ‘Olu‘olu has the strong side as well and it is the unseen kuleana of gentle, “strength”. Gentle enough to not bruise or hurt baby but strong enough to carry the baby without dropping

baby. Restraint and unbreakable spirit/foundation. It is the response to do the right thing at the right time especially in the uncomfortable situations with the full intention of caring for someone or something in the larger context (heaven’s perspective).

Pilahi Paki as shared by Pono Shim to The Mānoa Heritage Center.


Twenty-three years ago, when my daughter Zoe was born, I had a very different idea of what it takes to raise a child. I made conscious effort not to use physical discipline, such as how I was raised. I still remember thick wooden ruler that left a lasting welt on my lemu (behind) but not so lasting that it deterred me from misbehaving and tormenting my sister. Despite my intentions, I unconsciously employed the same, punishment-based philosophy my parents held. Instead of the wooden ruler, I used time-outs and correcting her in front of the entire family. However, rebelliousness must be genetic as Zoe, like myself, resisted responding to the punishments. Instead, she got more stealth, more deceptive. 

By the time Zoe was in the eight grade, I learned about Growth Mindsets, Restorative Practices (similar to hoʻoponopono), and the Collaborative Problem-Solving process. These sources jolted me into rethinking how I disciplined both at school and at home. At the same time, I read The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik, a UC Berkeley psychology and philosophy professor, who studied how we raise children. Like my own upbringing, I had been acting like a carpenter. As Gopnik noted, I thought, “if you just do the right things, get the right skills, read the right books, you’re going to be able to shape your child into a particular kind of adult.” I felt like I had a blueprint for my daughter’s success and if I controlled everything, I could build a successful adult. Part of that blueprint included directing her through her childhood through a series of rewards and punishments. 

Arrogantly, I thought I could control Zoe. Yet, this was in direct contrast to the type of adult I hoped she would be: a fiercely independent thinker, unswayed by peer pressure, who would forge her own path to success. So how was I teaching her to be independent if I wasn’t allowing her to think for herself? I did not provide her the chance to correct her own wrongs and learn from her own failures.  

Gopnik argues we should instead strive to be gardeners where it is ”much more about providing a protected space in which unexpected things can happen than it is like shaping a child into a particular kind of desirable adult.” Like a gardener, you still need to be dedicated and work hard, conditioning the soil by providing positive learning experiences and weeding out potential harm. Yet, like a gardener facing the weather, I had to accept that much of what happens in a child’s life is out of my control. Gopnik adds, “one thing about being a gardener is you never know what’s going to happen in the garden. The things that you plan, fail but then wonderful things happen that you haven’t actually planned. And there’s actually a deeper reason for that. And the reason is that what being a gardener is all about is creating a rich, nurturant but also variable, diverse, dynamic ecosystem in which many, many different things can happen and a system that can respond to the environment in unpredictable kinds of ways.”

So around that time, I tried to reverse course and adopt a new tact with Zoe. Unfortunately, some of her habits of thinking were already formed and it took a while to correct the mistakes I made as a younger parent, such as ingraining some fixed mindset thinking. Happily, her rebelliousness ended up working in her favor. She independently choose to cancel her social media accounts when the false projection of people’s lives started to affect her self-worth. She is also now very honest (sometimes too honest, as she’ll often start her sentence with “No offense but” and then finish with something very honest but somewhat offensive).

Truthfully, I am still figuring things out as a parent. Now in a different phase, I must remind myself to not be so controlling, especially as she undergoes major life decisions. Instead, I must be ʻoluʻolu, listen with a balance of guidance and acceptance, and continue to provide a “protected space” where unexpected, wonderful things can continue to blossom.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing   written and illustrated by Kenesha Sneed. Then with you child, answer the following:

  • IDENTITY: Talk with your kupuna about someone that passed away and they miss. What are favorite or cherished memories they have about them?
  • SKILLS: The story describes Eisha’s feeling as too heavy to lift. Based on the artwork and text, what kind of feeling do you think that is? Have you ever felt this way?
  • INTELLECT: Art can be a powerful way of healing those who are suffering with the loss of a loved one or those who experienced trauma. Similar to what occurs in this story, read about how these Bangladeshi children used art to strengthen their mental health.
  • CRITICALITY: Think of ways art can be a loving expression of ʻoluʻolu when facing a challenging situation. 
  • JOY: With your ʻohana, make clay and create an art piece inspired by a loved one you’ve lost.


It bears repeating how much gratitude I have for our May Day Committee and all of our staff for their grit, flexibility, and loving dedication to our students in making our first (since 2018) large scale, in-person May Day celebration happen. Despite the incessant downpour, our team grit their teeth – especially our teachers and their choreographers –  and converted their whole field choreography to one that could fit in a third of the space.

Mahalo piha especially to Michelle Bogus and Yihwa Hema for coordinating the May Day court and to Cherisse Yamada, our May Day Chair and her hardworking team (Kalei Tim Sing, Māpuana Leong, Wali Camvel, Dee Fujinaka, Ernel Levine, Lauren Collier, Melissa Lee, Dominique Ho, Miyuki Sekimitsu, Connie Chinen, Michelle Nagaishi, Jacque Yoshizumi, Pearla Tsukayama, Madi Mizuno, Kēhau Elliston, ‘Ānela Wells, Bree Perreira, Ellen Sakurai, Chatri Lau, Stuart Yano, Headstart Preschool, our custodial staff, office staff, and cafeteria staff) who each played important and significant roles in ensuring the day went without a hitch. I am also grateful for the members of Na Wai Ho`olu`u O Ke `Anuenue comprised of our beloved former teacher, Kumu Bella, 6th grade parent Luisa Pelletier, Lina Girl Langi, and Delia Parker-Ulima along with 5th grade parent Kekoa Kaluhiwa who blessed our event with beautifully melodic live music. Mahalo also to former parent, Lono of Lono’s Soundman who provided the professional grade sound system that allowed our students to shine. Mahalo nui loa to our May Day court parents as well as those of our KES ʻohana that volunteered to come extra early to decorate and stay after the show to clean-up. I also want to mahalo all who attended the event, braving the rain and mud and in the end, provided such generous praise. We are truly blessed for our Kāneʻohe Elementary School community.



See Uncle Pono Shim explain the Noʻahuna, the esoteric meaning, of Aloha as taught to him by Aunty Pilahi, the Keeper of Secrets.


Join us in letting “that light, that divine inspiration that Aunty Pilahi Paki says is given to you at your very beginning, come through and let your ALOHA join with the ALOHA of the collective to bring about healing.” 


At the Daily Piko, we share thoughts on the Aloha value for the week which helps us become centered and ready to learn. We begin at 8 AM everyday except Wednesdays.


Wed, May 22Fun Run Rescheduled
Wed, May 29School Ends at 2 PM (Switch with 5/30) Gr 6 Promotion Ceremony
Thur, May 30Awards Ceremony School Ends at 1:15 PM Last day of school

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