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Monday, June 28, 2010

But all the cool kids are doing it

Last week I read a post from Becca at Drama For Mama about fitting in.  Her five-year-old daughter, Hannah, wanted to paint her nails.  Not only because she thought it looked pretty, but because all of the other girls in her class had their nails painted and she wanted to fit in.

This post really struck me because my own daughter, Miss M, is the same age as Hannah and it bothered me that a girl at the ripe young age of five was already worried about fitting in.  To me, she shouldn't be thinking about that for at least another five years.  She should just be a kid.  No worries, no self-esteem or self-image issues.  Just be a kid.  It certainly doesn't last long.  Becca's post stayed on my mind for a few days, and I wondered if I should bring it up with Miss M.  She is already somewhat mindful of the fact that she is different, because of her disability and the braces she wears on her feet.  I was curious if she felt that way about anything else.  Or if she had ever asked me to do or wear something just because other kids were? 

Then something hit me.  I brought Miss M to daycare on Friday morning and the other children were playing outside in the yard.  The temperature was still a bit cool, so I told Miss M that she should put a sweater on.

No, Mommy, I don't want to.

Yes, Hunny.  I don't want you to be cold.

I'm fine, Mommy.  I don't want it.

But why not?

Look, she said as she pointed outside to the other kids.  Nobody else is wearing one and I don't want to be the only person wearing a sweater!

Wow.  At that moment, I realized it was my fault.  I was worried if she ever felt like she had to fit in, and of course she had.  I had taught her.  I thought back to all of the times when she didn't want to zip her coat, wear a hat, put on sunscreen, etc.  What did I say to convince her?  Look!  All your friends are doing it.  You should too.  Ick.  It wasn't a good feeling.

I told Miss M that it didn't matter if the other kids were wearing sweaters or not, but she convinced me that she wasn't cold.  I decided not to push the issue and left the sweater on a nearby hook, just in case.  I gave her a kiss and said goodbye, and I thought about my past actions all the way to work.  Had I messed up?  Made her second-guess herself?  Made her want to fit in with the other children?

I have decided to let it go.  I will now think twice about what I'm saying as I convince her to do something, but I don't think I will have a conversation with her about it.  She is a very independent little girl, capable of making decisions for herself.  If she brings it up (like Becca's daughter did), then I will talk to her about it.  I think as parents, many of us get desperate and say things that perhaps we shouldn't when trying to talk our children into doing what's best for them.  Miss M is a confident, well-adjusted little girl so I am not going to beat myself up about it anymore. 

This whole "fitting in" thing just really got me thinking.  I have seen a hint of it now, and I'm sure I'll see plenty more as she starts kindergarten in September.  I just hope she holds onto more of my positive reinforcements than my do it because your friends are doing it demands.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I feel the earth. move. under my feet

I can't seem to get that Carole King song out of my head this morning.  I suppose it's because I truly did feel the earth move yesterday, and I'm still a little freaked out.  A 5.0-magnitude earthquake hit our area yesterday at approximately 1:45 p.m.  This is not a common thing.  In fact, it is said that an earthquake only hits in our region about once every 10 years.  I lived in another part of Canada 10 years ago, and I had never experienced an earthquake until yesterday.  I really don't want to experience it again.

I was quietly working in my office of my government building on the fifteenth floor, when suddenly I felt a rumble.  It was mild and I thought someone was moving furniture, or maybe there was work being done on the elevators.  Then, not two seconds later, it got stronger.  Much stronger.  My desk was moving, my body was shaking, I could feel the floor vibrating under my feet.  I was standing by then, and my heart skipped as I looked at the window, terrified of what I might see.  Was it a bomb?  Was the building colapsing, had something hit the building?  I ran into the hallway and my coworkers were all standing around, looking shocked as well.

Just as we started to ask each other, What was that?  What do we do?, the fire alarm sounded.  I was panicking.  I sprinted back to my office, grabbed my purse and BlackBerry, and headed to the stairwell.  We still didn't know what was going on.  There were speculations that it had been an earthquake, but nothing confirmed.  We didn't even know at that point whether anyone else in the city had felt it.  Some people were laughing and chatting on the way down.  Not me.  I was really scared.  My heart was pounding, my chest was tight.  I could feel my neck burning and knew that it was all blotchy.  I just wanted to GET OUT.  As we were neared the bottom floors, my phone rang.  It was Hubby, asking if everything was ok.  He was at work, about 15 minutes away from me, and he had just experienced the the same feeling.  I felt a bit of relief, knowing that it wasn't just my building and it had been felt all over the city.  Hubby had called the school and daycare and both kids were fine.  That was good news.  Finally, we got to the main floor and out to the street and I was able to breathe again.  My legs felt all wobbly from nerves mixed with 15 flights of stairs.  My heart was still fluttering, but I finally felt safe.

After an hour of waiting outside in the hot, humid weather, we realized that it would be much longer before anyone could go back in.  The buildings would have to be inspected to ensure no structural damage had occured.  We were told to go home.  As I was driving home, I realized that I probably over-reacted.  But I couldn't shake that feeling of terror that came over me when I felt the first big shake.  The feeling of helplessness is inexplicable. They talked about it on the radio, and it was all over news sites and Facebook.  There had been quite a bit of damage in other parts of the region.  A small bridge had collapsed, windows were broken, chimneys and roofs were damaged.  But there were no reported injuries, which is the most important thing. 

I picked up the kids on my way home.  Miss M and the other children at daycare had been napping at the time and didn't feel a thing.  J had been on a school trip and was standing outside with his friends, waiting for the bus to bring them back home.  He said they had barely felt it.  I was glad they hadn't been scared.  We drove home and went about our day as usual.  This morning I'm sitting back at my desk, writing this post when I should be working.  So now I will go back to work and hope that my first earthquake experience will also be my last.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Keeping it in the family

Have you ever watched those crazy families on Jerry Springer or some other trashy talk show?  You know the ones, the wife left her hubby to marry her cousin and now she's pregnant and not sure if the baby belongs to said cousin or her uncle?   My family could be on that show.  Ok, not we're not quite the same as that family, but it's pretty strange.

My grandmother got married when she was only 15.  She had my mother a year later, and they had a son (my uncle) a few years after that.  It was a rough life. They didn't have a lot.  My grandparents didn't have a great marriage.  He was quite a bit older than her (close to ten years, I believe), and things were rocky. 

[Hmm, as I writing this, I realize that I don't know many of the details.  It's not something that the family sits around the kitchen table chatting about.]  On to say that my grandfather ended up having an affair with... my great-grandmother.  That's right.  His wife's own mother!  He left my grandmother and the two kids, and continued his relationship with his mother-in-law.  Needless to say, my grandmother was devasted.  Not only did her husband, who was the only bread-winner of the family, just leave her and her children to fend for themselves, but he left her for her mother!  I can't imagine how she felt.  She had no money, no husband, and no mother to cry to or lean on for support.

They divorced and she got on with her life.  She provided for her children as best as she could.  After a few years she found another man.  A gentle, caring man who she married (and is still married to).  And my grandfather married my great-grandmother.  His ex-mother-in-law.

So, yes.  My grandfather was also my step-great-grandfather.  My great-grandmother was my step-grandmother.  Meaning my mom's grandmother became her step-mother.  How weird is that?!

I got thinking about this and what really struck me is my grandmother's attitude and her relationship with her mother.  I'm sure the first few years were rocky.  Maybe they didn't even speak to each other.  But she came to forgive her mother.  When I was little, I had no idea that there had ever been a problem.  My great-grandmother was at my nan's house everyday.  They talked together, drank tea together.  Their homes were only a short walk through a path in the woods away from one another.  And my grandmother's new husband became friends with her ex.  Good friends.  They would visit and do things together all the time.  My great-grandmother had some health problems, and it was Nan who took care of her until she died.

I don't think I could do that.  My mom and I are close.  We are great friends.  But how can you forgive something like that?  And how could a mother even contemplate doing that to her daughter and grandchildren?  I consider myself to be a forgiving person.  I may not forget, but I do make an effort to forgive.  But I would have a hard time with this.  I suppose you never know how you will react to something so devastating until it happens, right?  Maybe they had a heart-to-heart and she was at peace with it.  It's true that they most likely would have divorced anyway.  As I mentioned, I don't know the fine details of the story, but I do know that my grandmother made some incredible sacrifices and decisions for her children.  Maybe forgiving her mother was something she felt she had to do for the sake of her family.  Whatever the reason, I think it took a lot of strength for her to continue a relationship with her.  She was, and still is, a very strong and amazing woman.

What do you think you would do in this situation?
Do you have any crazy family stories to share?
Do you ever watch trashy talk shows ("You ARE the father!")?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Busy Weekends and Cranky Kids

Our son, J, had a break from baseball this weekend for a change, so we thought we'd have a relatively (and well-deserved) quiet weekend. Well, it didn't really turn out that way!
On Friday after work, I picked up Miss M from daycare and drove her straight to her friend's house for a playdate. J was planning a movie night with his friends, so we brought him home after school to change, had a quick bite to eat, and drove him to the movie theatre. Hubby and I had some errands and a few last-minute Father's Day things to do, so we stopped at a few stores and by then it was time to pick up Miss M. We came back home, knowing that in an hour or so it would be time to pick up J, too.  After the movie, J called to ask if he could sleep over at his friend's house. So I packed him a bag and Hubby went to pick them both up and droped them off.
The next morning, we got up and brought Miss M to her baseball competition. It is an annual "triple challenge" that all teams participate in. They throw at a target, run the bases, and hit the ball. They also get their team photos taken. It was fun to watch the little ones hitting, running and throwing. But it was HOT. After melting for a couple of hours there, we stopped at a fundraiser barbeque for lunch, headed to the bakery to pick up a cake for my in-laws, and then got J from his friend's house.
It was my parents-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary this weekend, and we were taking them out for supper at our favourite steakhouse restaurant. My in-laws normally eat early, and we were bringing the kids with us, so we picked up Hubby's parents and got to the restaurant for 4 p.m., when it opened. We had wine and a fabulous meal.  The kids were well-behaved and it was a great evening out.
Everyone was pretty tired (and full!) when we got home. And that's when it started. The bickering, the whining, the teasing. It was obvious that both kids were exhausted. They get on each other's nerves very quickly when they are feeling that way. With a little bit of reminding and gentle nudging, they gave it up and went to their separate rooms, soon going to bed for the night.
The next day was Father's Day. The kids came to our room to wish their daddy a happy day, and we gave him his gift and cards. Then we got ready for another meal out. We had agreed to meet my in-laws again for breakfast at a local restaurant. I could still barely breathe from dinner the night before, but we managed to meet them and have another nice (lighter) meal.
We got back home and there were chores to do. Hubby worked on the laundry while I put some away, and then I decided to tackle Miss M's room. It had been getting way too full of stuff. Miss M helped, too. She was a real trooper in letting things go that she no longer needed/wanted. We ended up with two garbage bags full - one for the trash and the other to give away. Then there were more chores: the bathrooms, the floors and more laundry. Miss M played outside. J went for a bike ride. They both spent time in their rooms. Then they got bored.  We all hopped in the van and went to Wal-Mart, and then a short visit to my parents' house to see my dad for Father's Day. We had one more stop to make, and the kids were both tired again. Once more there was fussing, teasing, whining, and tears.  J knows just how to get Miss M going. I mean, seriously. These kids are seven years apart. SEVEN! I guess when you're tired, cranky and bored, age just doesn't matter. But my nerves can't take it sometimes.
Finally we get to our street, and they are both out of control, fighting over who would get to play with the scooter first. That was it. Hubby and I both screamed and told them that NO ONE would be playing with the scooter. It was not to be touched. They realized that we meant business. And then something changed. They came in to get a fudgesicle and went outside to play soccer. Together. It was nice.
Once they were back inside, it was flop-on-the-couch time for me and Hubby. But bed time was fast-approaching and Miss M was cranky again. She came over and asked me for a fudgesicle.

No, Hunny, I told her. You already had a fudgesicle today.

But I want another one.

Sorry, but you just had one. No more for today.

She goes to the kitchen and comes back holding a fudgesicle.

No, Miss M. I said no more today. I take it from her and bring it back to the freezer.

But I'm hungry, Mommy!

Well, if you're hungry you can have a little snack, but not a fudgesicle.

But I'm HUNgryyyy!

How about a cheese string?


Some blueberries or raisins?


Oh, how about some mini Ritz crackers?


Well, I told her, you can't be that hungry then. I just offered you four different things and you don’t want any of them.

YES, I'm HUNGRY! But I don't want those things. I want a FUDGESICLE!

By then it wasn't yelling, it was shrieking. And she was shrieking right beside me, tears streaming down, stomping on the floor. That was it. I picked her up over my shoulder and brought her for a time-out in her room. Wow. I went downstairs, took some deep breaths, and then I got her some mini Ritz, a box of raisins and some water and left them on the stairs.

After her time-out, she came down and quietly asked if she could have a little snack. I told her it was waiting on the stairs for her. She took it up to her room and I followed her up a few minutes later to tuck her in for bed. A very tired, cranky little girl. If you don't believe me, see for yourself:

My daughter really should have napped yesterday, but at age five, it’s pretty much impossible to make her do that anymore. Sometimes we just want to have a relaxing day with not too many activities, but it’s hard for kids - even if they need it, too. What do you do when you want to have a quiet Sunday at home after a busy Saturday, but your kids start bickering? Or one starts whining? Or has a total melt-down?

Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


My last post was rather depressing, but I'm feeling better now and would like to change things up a bit.  Last Friday was Miss M's preschool graduation ceremony.  It was a really special night for her and her classmates, and such a bittersweet feeling for me to watch her receive her certificate.  My baby girl isn't a baby anymore!

Below is a picture of Miss M with her teacher, Marianne, on her Big Night.
(sorry for the photo quality - once again I stole this straight from Facebook).

Congratulations, Miss M.  We are so very proud of you!

Mommy, Daddy and J

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Difficult Decision and the Feelings it Brings

I think about it a lot.  I know I made the right choice for me.  For my family.  But I wish I had not been forced to make that decision.  The situation could have been avoided and that makes me sad. 

Unfortunately I cannot go into details about it here.  It must remain private.  But it bothers me.  Almost five years later, it still bothers me and I often think about what might have been. 

I had no other option at the time.  I still believe that it was for the best and I made the right decision.  But I feel sad.  Wistful.  Guilty. 

I'm sorry.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

MLB: Mommy Loves Baseball

I love this baseball-y life I'm living.  It started with Hubby.  He has always loved and played softball since well before I met him - when he was a young child, actually.  He likes a lot of different sports, but softball is His Thing.  He coaches his coed slo-pitch team and they usually play once or twice a week. 

Then J.  He was four when we registered him for T-ball and he loved it from the beginning.  Eight years later, he is still passionate about baseball and is now playing at a competitive level in Pee Wee AA.  It's quite intense, really.  Almost every weekend, he plays four games.  Two games out of town (a two-hour drive each way) on one day, and two games played locally on the other day.  He also has two practices during the week and sometimes a game against a local team on a weeknight, too.  It's exhausting.  But so much fun!  Miss M, Hubby and I have never missed a game.  We love to cheer on J and his team.  And they are good.  Miss M (aka Miss Socialite) loves going to games too.  She climbs on the play structures, makes friends with other kids, plays with the babies, and plays 'hairdresser' to any girl or mom who will let her.  If all else fails, she digs in her bag and plays barbies or colors in her coloring book.  Our weekends are tiring and the house stays messy, but J loves it and we truly love watching and supporting him.

This week I realized that I better get used to this baseball thing because it's not going to end any time soon.  J is getting more competitive every year, and now Miss M is playing too!  Thursday was her first night of T-ball and she loved it.  She listened, she practiced, she smiled.  She was proud.  We were proud.  It was great!

I have never played baseball, other than when I was forced to in gym class in junior high school.  I never played (or liked) any sports.  Well, I used to be a cheerleader (no, not one of those cheerleaders - we were power cheerleaders who only participated in competitions), but I know it still doesn't really count as a sport.  Now my hubby and both kids are playing baseball.  I can't coach or practice with them, but I am still their biggest fan and will always be there, cheering from the sidelines.  Hey, I guess cheerleading in high school did come in handy!  :-)

Here are our gorgeous baseball-playin' sluggers:

Awesome, aren't they!?