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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

When I was in elementary school my mom worked nights. As a kid, this was really the most amazing thing because it meant she worked while I slept and was at home during the day. She was there when I got home from school, always ready with a snack and excited (or so it seemed to me) to hear all about the day’s adventures. And on those days when she’d had a good night at work and didn’t need to sleep very much during the day, she would let me come home for lunch.

There was something so amazing about going home for lunch. When everyone else was pulling out brown bags filled with squished sandwiches ‎and bruised apples, I was heading out the door, racing to the pick-up spot. It felt vaguely dangerous, like I was breaking the rules just a little. (I was a by-the-book kind of kid so leaving school grounds was about as daredevil as I got.)

She always prepped lunch before she came to get me so it was all ready to go when we walked in the door. The table would already be set, the dishes out, the can of soup sitting on the counter just waiting to be opened. Lunch was never anything fancy, it was macaroni and cheese from a box, or beans on toast, or ‎pancakes. No matter that the food wasn’t fancy, the very act of sitting there, across the table from each other, just the two of us, made it feel very special.

And no matter what we ate there was always something for dessert. Usually it wasn’t even particularly “desserty,” it was yogurt or fruit, but because she would put it in a little bowl all on its own and serve it after the meal, it felt like dessert. ‎My favourite was when she would slice a banana and sprinkle the slices with a little bit of sugar. It would sit there in the bowl, the sugar sparkling in the light, and I would feel loved. The fact that she would go to the trouble to do it, all of it, mostly for no other reason than she knew I liked it.

Now I’m the mom and my kids are now at a school close enough to our house that coming home for lunch is an option. Four days of the week they have to stay at school because I’m at work but most Fridays the option is there for them to come home.

Only now that I’m the mom I’ve realized that whoever made up the bell schedule has done it in such a way as to ensure I have just enough time to get nothing done. ‎There’s just enough time to not get the groceries, not get the laundry done, not cross things off my to-do list. It would really be easier if they just stayed at school.

But then I see the look on their faces when they ask if they can come home. And then I remember the little bowl of banana slices sprinkled with sugar and I say “yes, of course you can come home for lunch.”

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I am trying to watch the opening ceremonies with my kids. I thought it would be inspiring and interesting for them, while at the same time giving me time to sit in relative peace and watch them.

I love the Olympics. Every event, every montage set to an Eric Clapton song, every shot of an athlete’s parent in the stands, every interview with a first grade teacher. I love it all.

I will basically spend the next two weeks glued to the tv, alternating between wringing my hands in stress and bawling my eyes out. It’s like one huge hormonal tidal wave. Good thing it only comes around every two years.

Anyway, I digress, back to the opening ceremonies. I was looking forward to seeing the spectacle, the dancing, the costumes, the craziness that always occurs during these things. Not to mention critiquing the athletes’ uniforms (why does some country inevitably decide that wind pants are appropriate for the parade of athletes?), and screaming my face off at any sign of the glorious maple leaf.

But, from the moment they first started my kids let loose with a litany of questions.

“Who is that lady?”

The Queen.

“What does the Queen of London do?”

A lot of important stuff. And she’s not just the Queen of London, she’s our queen too.

“Can she come to our house one day?”

No.

“Is the guy beside her the king?”

No, it doesn’t really work that way.

“Why not? I thought the queen was married to the king?”

Um, oh look, there’s a bunch of little kids riding around on light-up hospital beds! Look!

(Yes, I’m a horrible mother – I change the subject rather than answering my kids’ questions. Sue me.)

“Isn’t it night-time there? Isn’t it past their bed time?”

Their mommies and daddies said they could stay up late because it’s a special day.

“If it’s a special day does that mean I can stay up late?”

No! Now shush, I’m trying to watch! Look tt’s Mary Poppins floating down from the sky!

“Who’s Mary Poppins?”

Sacrilegious!

And on and on it goes. Question after question after question. If there was an Olympic event for asking the most questions in the shortest period of time, my kids would be standing atop the podium with gold medals around their necks.

Maybe then they could do an interview with me and show it in one of those profiles; with an Eric Clapton song playing in the background.

I love the Olympics!

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For the last few months every car ride with my son has turned into an oral exam.  There are spelling questions, math questions, geography questions, science questions.  Frankly I’m getting a little tired of being schooled by a five year old.

“Mama, how do you spell ‘factory’?”

“F-A-C-T-O-R-Y”

“How do you spell ‘supposedly’?”

Dude, why is my five-year-old using the word ‘supposedly’?  Whatever happened to ‘dog’ and ‘cat’?

“S-U-P-P-O-S-E-D-L-Y”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m pretty sure.”

“Maybe you should call Daddy on the phone and check.”

Ouch.

Considering I was a journalism major and the punishment for handing in a story with a spelling error was an automatic fail, I take spelling pretty seriously.  However, when the questions turn to math I am a lot less confident.

“Mama, what’s 12 plus 12?”

“24”

“What’s 24 plus 24”

“48”

“What’s 48 plus 48”

“Um…96”

“What’s 96 plus 96”

“Um…”

10 second delay

“192”

“Wow Mama, you’re really smart!”

“Aw…thanks Bud!”

In my heart I know I should tell him the truth.  I should tell him that the 10 second delay before giving him the last answer wasn’t because I was thinking about it and trying to figure it out in my head, it was because it took me 10 seconds to find the calculator function on my cell phone and type in the numbers.

I know, it’s sad.  I told you, writing is more my thing – good with words, not so good with numbers.

But I’m not going to tell him. I’d like a few more years of him thinking that I’m smart.  Goodness knows once we hit his teen years he’ll spend enough time thinking of me as exactly the opposite.

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open wide

I have the day off work tomorrow. Any guesses what I’m going to do with this fabulous mid-week gift? Mani / pedi and lunch with the girls? Relaxing stroll along the water? Mind-numbing hours spent working my way through my pvr?Nope. Not even close.

I took a day off work tomorrow to take my four-year-old son to the dentist. We will be attempting to have a cavity filled. I say ‘attempting’ because when my daughter had a cavity filled it actually took us four tries. Four days off work. Four tear-filled hours in those little rooms with all the crazy tubes, strange smells and people with fake smiles hidden behind paper masks.  The first three times she made it through the freezing part just fine and then flat-out refused to open her mouth.  I bribed, I cajoled, I offered her everything but my first born (because that would, in fact, be her).  Nothing worked.  I felt like the dentist was judging me, thinking I must be a horrible mother or my kid wouldn’t be doing this.  Like I didn’t spend two weeks trying to prepare her.  Like we hadn’t read “Dora Goes to the Dentist” about fifty times and ‘play-acted’ out the whole thing more times than I care to remember.  None of that mattered because she just sat in the chair with her mouth clamped shut.  The fourth time we knocked her out completely and finally got it done.

And tomorrow I get to do the exact same thing with my son.

Needless to say, I would much rather be going to work.

I don’t like going to the dentist. I have disliked it since I was a child. I can still remember the hygenist I used to get every single time, with her cold hands and untrimmed bangs continually brushing my face. Cringe. When I was a teenager I remember thinking that once I was an adult and could ‘live my own life’ I wouldn’t go to the dentist anymore.  To me that was the ultimate sign of adulthood. How wrong I was; now not only do I go to the dentist, but I also drag my kids there as well.  I have officially become a mother; my mother, in fact.

I had braces twice when I was young so I spent a fair amount of time with other people’s hands stuffed in my mouth.  Yep, two rounds of braces. And glasses. And an ill-advised perm.  No, I’m not going to show you any pictures.  Yes, I too am shocked that I survived my youth relatively unscathed.

Anyway, back to the point. I think that having spent so much time laying in a reclining chair, staring into the bright white light, has tainted me somewhat against those in the oral care industry. Even now, so many years later, I cringe when I get the reminder for an upcoming appointment. I usually try to make up some excuse and reschedule at least twice before finally sucking it up and going.

I hate that they always ask me if I floss regularly. Dude, seriously? You just spent the last ten minutes picking plaque out of my teeth; if I am flossing regularly, I’m definitely not doing it right. Nobody flosses regularly. Except for people who spend their days looking in other people’s mouths, and maybe Tony Robbins. Although at this point Tony probably pays somebody to floss his teeth for him so I would argue that he doesn’t count.

I wish they would just stop asking the question and then I could stop lying when I answer. “I try to floss at least a few times a week” I say, trying to avoid eye contact, “but I know I should try and do it every single day.”  In reality I flossed for the two days leading up to my appointment and won’t floss again until my next appointment.  They know I’m lying; I know they know I’m lying. Let’s just stop kidding each other and get on with it.

All of this dislike has no doubt rubbed off on my kids although I have done my best to try to convince them otherwise.  ‘Going to the dentist is fun’ and ‘look you can watch Handy Manny while they clean your teeth’ and ‘how about I buy you a toy if you don’t cry?’  I know, I’m a horrible mother but at the dentist bribery can be your friend.

The dentist we go to is really quite nice and now they have tv to watch and flavoured polish and flouride treatments that taste like strawberries.  Forgive me for sounding like my grandfather for a moment but “when I was young” going to the dentist meant staring at a cracked plaster ceiling or, if you were lucky, a random poster of a kitten in a wicker basket that someone thought was cute.  The polish tasted like just that, polish, and the flouride treatment had the smell and consistency of glue.

Let’s just be honest, going to the dentist is not fun.  The best you can hope is that you get out of there relatively unscathed, without random bits of polish stuck to your face, clutching a new purple toothbrush and a reminder card to come back in six months.  That’s the best case scenario.

I fear that tomorrow is going to be the worst case.  It’s one thing to force myself to sit in that awful chair and lie about my flossing habits, it’s something completely different to try and make a little boy open his mouth if he doesn’t want to.  I can feel my shoulders tensing just thinking about it.  A headache is beginning to form behind my right eye.  I’m thinking I’m not getting much sleep tonight.

The appointment is scheduled for 8:30 am.  Any good thoughts you could send our way would be appreciated.  The dentist said my son isn’t allowed to drink anything in the morning before the appointment but he didn’t say anything about me.

I think a mimosa might be a good idea.

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number 34

I can now scratch number 34 off my list of 35 things I want to do before I turn 35 – that being seeing my kids faces at the top of the CN Tower.  We took them up to the top to celebrate my daughter’s 8th birthday.

The view from the top of the world.

Pretty amazing!

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‘Tis the season to make big plans for the coming year and all the things we hope to do to make this one even better than the last one.  I myself usually make a few fairly informal resolutions, things I’m looking to improve on, that kind of thing.  This year however, I’ve also decided it’s perhaps even more important for me, personally, to also come to some realizations about the things I cannot, or should not, try to change; things that will always just ‘be’ and the sooner I realize that truth and move on, the better.

And so, here we go, my New Year’s Realizations:

1) bad things happen.  I can’t predict or avoid them, bad things just are.  I spend a lot of my time worrying about these bad things and trying to figure out how I would deal with them if/when they ever do happen.  It’s a huge time-waster for me and it’s time to realize that worrying about things that may or may never happen is unproductive and ultimately futile.  I realize that now.

2) good things happen.  As mentioned above, I spend a lot of time worrying about bad things happening.  However, I spend very little time imagining good things happening.  In reality, these good things may never actually happen in ‘real life’ but heh, they’re a lot more fun to spend time thinking about than the bad things.  I realize that now.

3) it starts with me.  If I want to do something, I have to do it.  I can’t spend my life sitting around on my butt waiting for things to happen ‘to’ me.  If I have an idea, it’s my job to take the next step because if I don’t, who else will? I realize that now.

4) it ends with me.  I can’t love you forever.  I can’t hate you forever.  I can’t be angry forever.  I can’t wonder what might have been forever.  It has to end sometime and I’m the only one who can decide when the end is.  I realize that now.

5) it’s okay to have fun.  Life is hard; it’s sad and lonely and depressing and monotonous and heavy and disappointing and unexplainable and draining.  And I can choose to focus on all of that or I can choose to accept that the bad stuff exists and have fun anyway.  I can laugh out loud on the train when I read something funny in a book.  I can tell a belly-aching (and perhaps borderline inappropriate) joke at a party. I can have another glass of wine and kick off my uncomfortable shoes.  It’s okay to have fun, I realize that now.

6) being a mom is hard.  I actually realized that long ago, like 5 minutes after my first child was born, but the part that’s taken me longer to realize is that it’s okay to admit that it’s hard.  It’s okay to say the words out loud and/or write them down on the page.  It doesn’t make me any less of a mom, it just makes it a teeny tiny bit easier when I admit that most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, and that’s okay.  I realize that now.

7) words are just words.  Words can hurt people.  Words can make people laugh and they can make people cry.  I am responsible for the words I say and the words I write down but at the end of the day, they’re just words.  They don’t have to be perfect.  What I write doesn’t have to be perfect and even if no one reads them, that doesn’t mean they weren’t worth writing. As long as they come from my heart, they mean something, even if it’s only to me.  I realize that now.

Well there you have it, a few new year’s realizations to put 2011 safely to bed and drag 2012 out onto the dance floor to see what damage we can do.  At the very least, it’s going to be an interesting one!

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a post-Christmas list

The presents have been unwrapped.  The turkey has been eaten.  The twinkle lights on the Christmas tree have lost a bit of their luster.  The pictures have been uploaded to the computer where they will inevitably sit, unprinted, for years to come.  And by the time they do make it into albums, I will have forgotten the little moments that went along with them so, with that in mind, I’m making this post-Christmas list of all of the little things I want to remember from this year’s holiday.

Back into the boxes you go!

1) waking up with a house full of people on Christmas Eve day.  Throwing together a brunch my mother would be proud of and being able to sit down around our new dining room table, seeing the faces of my friends and family; not needing or wanting to be anywhere else.

2) spending a quiet Dec. 24 chatting with a close friend while her hubby beat my kids at Wii bowling in the basement and put together a band that later performed Christmas songs for us.  No running to the store for last-minute gifts; no standing in line at the grocery store after fighting with some lady over the last package of powdered turkey gravy.  Just quiet time at home.  I was in my pajamas until 1:30pm.

3) being able to see my parents on Christmas Eve as the kids leave out cookies for Santa.  Yes, it was only over the computer but when you live 3,000 miles apart you have to take what you can get.

4) my son running around the house yelling “we have to go to bed before Santa gets here!!!” every two minutes.  We looked Santa up on the ipad (modern technology put to good use) but trying to tell a 4 year old that Santa is in Finland – and therefore not going to be in Canada in the next 10 minutes – is kind of a useless exercise.  It did provide much comic relief though.

5) going upstairs to see both kids tucked into my son’s bed and sneaking into the room to sit between them in the bed and read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas as their eyes grew more and more sleepy.

6) the look on my daughter’s face when she opened the new acoustic guitar we bought for her – her smile growing even bigger when we told her the gift came with lessons that will start in a few weeks.  She sat down and started strumming, looked up at me and asked if she sounded like Taylor Swift.

7) the 10 minutes of quiet, after all of the gifts had been opened and my hubby was done cleaning up all of the wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, the kids playing (relatively) quietly on the floor with their new toys and I exhale, and smile.

8) standing in my grandparents’ kitchen (always my grandmother’s domain) cooking potatoes and turnip to have with Christmas dinner.  It was sad that my grandmother, always the boss in the kitchen making all others fear doing something wrong, was now sitting in the living room quite oblivious to what was going on around her.  I stopped for a minute while mashing the turnip and felt myself getting sad.  Then my grandfather (who never used to step foot in the kitchen) came and offered to mash for me, and told me where to find the Tupperware.  Welcome to the new normal.

9) spending Boxing Day with the kids on the floor of the basement, putting together Lego trucks.  Out of all of the things I accomplished this holiday season, this gave me the most pleasure (and probably – sadly – took me the most time):

These shouldn't have taken me 2 hours to put together... but they did.

With the benefit of hindsight, this year’s Christmas has been a good one.  And now it’s all over for another year and I take a moment now to salute all of you out there who were responsible for Christmas at your house.  You know who you are.  The ones responsible for buying gifts, wrapping gifts, cooking dinner, putting up decorations, baking cookies, singing songs, organizing parties, side-stepping quarrels, taking pictures, compiling memories, kissing tired heads, finding lost toys.  Congratulations to all of you for doing a wonderful job for another year.  Put your feet up, grab a beverage of your choice and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Happy Post-Christmas.  Only 360 days until we get to do it all again.

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