Browsing Posts published in February, 2010

 I  made the colossal mistake of inviting Crystal over this afternoon. I am remembering why I haven’t had her over for a couple of months. My kids don’t see the importance of behaving when they have a friend to entertain. I would like to cage all three girls. In three separate cages…..somewhere far away… the woods…where I will be wearing noise cancellation headphones so as not to hear the WHINING!!!!
My oldest doesn’t want to play what Crystal wants to. Crystal doesn’t want to play what my oldest wants to. Nobody wants to play with my youngest. The three year old cries, whines and looks to me for help. I tell the group if they can’t play together, Crystal goes home. “But nobody’s home at my house!” she coyly replies. She’s right. She knows I can’t send her home when her Mom dropped her off and headed directly to an appointment. Crystal refuses my snack and drink options. She says the only thing she wants is candy and sulks when I refuse to give them any.
Oh wait, here comes Crystal now to tell me that one of the kids threw a plush toy at her. Wah!
On a positive note, deep breath, my 5 year old rode her two-wheel “big girl” bike today for the first time unassisted. She watched Crystal ride it down our back hill flawlessly and hopped on to have a turn. Granted she cried at the bottom, kicked the bike and tried to tear the seat off in disgust when she wiped out nearly beheading herself on the bricks at the corner of the house but still, this is progress.
A quotable from the day so far…
“Liz, where are the cups? I’m going inside to get a drink. Do you have any candy while I’m in there?”
Crystal needs a bandaid…
I think she may be able to read this. Why can’t these kids use their brains for good instead of EVIL?????????


 Crystal is over for a play-date right now. She’s actually a really good kid, well mannered, polite. The two friends have however spent more time tattle tailing on the other than actually playing.
I offered Crystal a clementine orange:
Crystal: What the heck is a clementine? Do you have any kelbassa?
My 5 year old daughter (sobbing): Mom, Crystal told me that I wasn’t powerful!
My 3 year old daughter (also sobbing): The girls won’t play with me!
Crystal: Liz, she won’t let me put the red lite-brites in!

My 5 year old: while losing Snakes ‘N Ladders: I don’t even like this game. It’s for babies who are ONE!
I made the mistake of asking if they wanted to watch Kung Fu Panda. This sent my daughter into a tail spin because Crystal wanted to continue playing and the very thought of being able to watch t.v. and then have it taken away had her in hysterics.
Next, Crystal fell onto my daughter’s bed while jumping. She cried for ten minutes and told me that her back was broken and that she couldn’t breathe.

I would have loved to have gotten some writing done today but I received a call after school from my six year olds’ best friend’s mother. She wanted to set up a play-date for the kids. I hate play-dates. I recalled a time this past summer where I made a promise to myself and to my sanity there would be no more play-dates. There was a time I thought the larger the group of kids, the easier it was to take care of them.  I was the foreman/woman, watching in the wings, only required to step in when the line shift needed diaper changing or there was a swing-set malfunction of some kind.

Well, I take back everything I said about having extra kids around making life easier.

This morning, we went to playgroup but my daughter’s two little friends were no-shows and she was devastated. She sulked and moped through lunch so I told her we could call one of the girls and invite her over. That was my first mistake. Crystal was quick to arrive and REFUSED to play outside. It was beautiful out so I REFUSED right back and said that we were playing outside for a little while and then we’d head inside a little later. She tried all of her six year old tricks to get me to let them into the house. Claiming to have been stung by several bees, said she was going to faint because it was too hot and various trips to the bathroom, for cold drinks and searching for items she claimed she brought with her but probably knew she hadn’t, had my head spinning.

Next it was the neighbours; Michael, Lincoln and their cousin Alice. With our three kids on our side of the fence and their three on their side, Michael (age 5) started swinging an aluminum baseball bat in an attempt to attack the girls. It was fairly harmless as unless our kids had their faces pressed up against the wire fencing, there was no way he could hurt them. When he knew he couldn’t make direct contact with anybody, he ran to his garden shed and returned in a full Braveheart lunge with a five foot long pair of fiskers for weeding and javelined the thing right into the fence at the girls. I screamed at the top of my lungs as his caretakers were on the other side of the yard. He then looked at me and said; “okay,” but was quick to come back, this time with a huge pair of shrub clippers and again stabbed them through the fence. I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES AND KNEW RIGHT THEN AND THERE I WOULD HAVE DOLED OUT MY VERY FIRST BARE BUM SPANKING HAD HE BEEN ON MY SIDE OF THE FENCE.

Next, the three kids came over to our yard where the six played together as though they were all the best of friends.

Lincoln, whose face was covered in backyard goo as is often the case with little boys, came up to the deck with long, black strips of snot stuck to his nose. I gagged twice before realizing it was actually grass that was stuck to dry snot and not actually black snot. Regardless, it was disgusting. My daughter handed him her water bottle which he happily drank from and passed it to his cousin who took a big swig as well. When the bottle was passed back to my daughter, things went from fast forward to slow motion and I yelped; “Put that drink down right now, do not drink it!!!!” She looked at me long enough to process what I had just screamed and proceeded to take a lengthy drink of the water. I thought I was going to collapse.

The phone rings. It’s my daughter’s teacher. She wants to know if I would like to separate my daughter and Crystal for grade 1 next year or keep them together. I felt like strangling them both.

They washed the slide with water and paintbrushes and then slid down until their pants were soaked. Crystal asked if they could take off their pants and run around in their underwear. I wouldn’t let them. She couldn’t understand why. I didn’t need her Mom picking her up half naked with a pair of fiskers stuck to her temple.

 Swimming lessons, session three. This is just a reminder that three weeks have gone by and I have yet to begin writing my masterpiece. Although, this morning I felt a huge sense of elation while watching my young crocodile bob, jump, slide and blow bubbles while one of the little boys in her class refused to get into the water. I giggled under my breath at his fifteen fits in twenty minutes, so relieved that it wasn’t my child sobbing on the deck and my sweat dripping down my back, a position I have been in countless times at the very same pool. The mother of the boy was very pregnant, just as I was in the fall and was in no mood for any nonsense. Kids must sniff this out because he would take two steps towards the water and seven steps back. She tried everything in her bag of tricks to coax him into the water beginning with the gentle stroking of his arm, getting down to his level (not an easy task when you are eight months pregnant) and rationalizing with him. She got close a couple of times but predictably, in the end, she lost her cool shouting, “Quit acting like a baby and get in the pool!” timed perfectly during the pause between songs playing for the adult aerobics class so everyone in the facility could hear the first round and the bellowing echo that followed. I give the mother credit for not packing it in right then and there. The thirty minute class was twenty minutes in and Bobby had yet to get a drop of water on him. She made it as far as the change room door, I was then interrupted by the older gentleman sitting next to me who inquired, “which kid is yours?” None of your business pervert, I felt like saying. I pointed in the direction that Ellie’s group was in and said, “She’s over there” wondering if it is generational or otherwise but a man in his twenties wouldn’t dare ask me which kid was mine for fear I would have him labelled a pedophile and have him escorted out of the building. I proceeded to get back to the soap opera that was unfolding right before my eyes. At this point, the boy began to believe that his mother was no longer bluffing about taking him home and stripping him of every toy he had ever loved, as she should have threatened the first five minutes of his episode and began to walk back toward the water. He choked on some tears, phlegm, took one kick on the flutter-board and class was dismissed.

 After a rather disappointing outing to the community pool, our family day excursion has landed me in a quiet chair at our yet to be sold dining room table with my laptop, without fearing that I will call someone else an idiot.

Greg decided that because today is a holiday and one dedicated to being with your family, we should take the kids on an exciting outing.He is a great dad and very hands on when it comes to spending time with the girls.  His idea of a special day often involves trekking up to the not-so-local community pool, a mere 35 minute drive north, throwing on our summer swimsuits that have been rotting on a laundry room hook for months and after begging me to strip his back of the rogue fuzzy patches of grover hair, off we go to compare pasty legs with hundreds of other skid families carrying every communicable disease I could list.

We stopped for gas on the way there. I pumped of course as now that Greg’s company car had to be returned before starting his new job, the mini-van has really become exclusively mine and with that title also comes the responsibility of pumping the gas. This would not be such an ordeal for anyone living in temperatures above -35 degrees but for me, my chapped hands and fur hood are no match for the biting wind.

Hooray for finding a parking space in the front lot of the building. Despite our many attempts to park out front in the past, we are usually pushed behind the building even after the countless times we (and several others who are not related to us in any way) have complained that skaters should park in the back, next to the SKATING rink and swimmers should park up front, near the SWIMMING pool. You would think this would make things convenient for all of the local recreational sports participants and yet nobody follows this easy to follow system.

Greg was glad to have me come along and watch with the baby. Simply put, Greg can then get out of all dressing, undressing and showering duties while he leisurely changes in the men’s room and I drag three children, one in a car seat, a duffle bag filled with towels, bathing suits, goggles, bottles of shampoo, soap, conditioner, Ellie’s new camera, spare socks, a key and a quarter for the locker into the sticky-floored change room with far too many black, short and curlies smiling up from the floor, just waiting for an unsuspecting bare foot to glue themselves to.

At home, the girls are excited to get themselves dressed, sneak up on us and await our elated faces when they giggle, “Surprise!” but for some reason, when we take them to a public change room, they become paralyzed and can’t even take off their own gloves without an all hands on deck approach. So, after several minutes, removing coats, boots, socks, shirts, costume jewellery, plastic, dollar store tiaras, gently encouraging and then nearly shoving them into a bathroom stall to pee, we were off to meet a relaxed, suited up Daddy on the deck.

I rolled my pants up and skid onto the wet tile doing my best to grip the grout with my bare feet so I wouldn’t slam backwards cracking open my head and spilling the sleeping baby out of her car seat all the while embracing my new case of athletes foot with a side order of permed, hair shavings.

It wasn’t until I stared through the people hogging the front row of the observation deck that someone motioned to shift their chair ever-so-slightly to the left, leaving enough room for one of my legs to squeeze past if I put the car-seat on my head and shaped my body like a rocking horse. Thanks for your help everyone. By the time I found an empty seat, noticed my red, rashy and now itchy feet, I glanced at Greg and the girls in the pool and the whistle blew. It was a ferocious squeal and one that I’d heard before. The lifeguard made the letter “C” with her hand which I now know means that someone pooped  in the pool and everyone had to be evacuated. I can’t figure out if the “C” stands for “ca ca” or perhaps that was the shape of the fowling and if it had been an “S” (which is apparently a sign of a healthy movement) then there would be a different symbol flashed.

Back I went to the change room with the three girls, Greg went to relax in a steam bath, but not before Hanna asked me who pooped in the pool and I couldn’t contain my anger. “Some IDIOT!” I yelled and we headed to the van.

Once upon a time.  A great start to a story if you are writing for children. How would I start? The books that I have enjoyed reading over the last few years have been by Rohinton Mistry. I started with A Fine Balance and then bought everything I could find that he had written. His books delve deep into the geography of India, based on experience, a world away from ours. I read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini while on vacation two years ago. You couldn’t really file those under “feel good” titles, chick lit or beach reading, which seems to be the genre my notes would fall under, but there was something about the characters, the smells, tastes, sounds that struck a chord with me. Would I write about the Change of Pace Restaurant in Morriston, Ontario? I can barely keep a Wal-Mart kite off the ground for more than the time it takes me to sprint, sprain my ankle and collapse at the back of our yard so I really have no authority to write about such events. India, Afghanistan, two countries offering a myriad of topics, touching all senses, stories that stay with you long after you’ve closed the back cover on the final chapter. The kinds of books that you take great pleasure in passing onto your friends and family, knowing that you are bringing them a great gift by sharing in the experience. That is the kind of book I would like to write.

Why does everyone assume that just because I am a stay at home Mom I am looking for a business partner? I guess because everyone is looking for a purpose. “Let’s go into business together!” I hear over a glass of wine with girlfriends. “Let’s start a business,” my neighbour throws at me while enjoying a cup of tea and some homemade cookies. I can’t think of a better way to be out of business (and a friendship), and bankrupting my family than starting a business with someone based on nothing but a whimsical, slightly tipsy notion that we could be the next great multi-million dollar, widget selling team. “What would we sell?” I ask. “Hmmmm” is usually the answer. Brainstorming for ten minutes over what we should manufacture, market, test-taste and ultimately sell is a road I do not intend to go down in this lifetime, at least, not with another person. A business relationship should not be based solely on friendship but should emerge out of a hole in the marketplace and the ability to fill it with something fabulous. Everyone is searching for a purpose. We all want validation. We all want to leave a legacy for our children and we all want to pat ourselves on the back for doing something memorable. Some of us just want the cash and none of the hard work.

There are too many excuses to list. I look around the house and see plants that need watering. When I have water in the house, this is a task I can take on. There is no risk, just water. No need to worry about being vulnerable, about putting myself out there in front of strangers, in front of my family, in front of friends who might judge me in a new way based on what they see on paper. I have made excuses for why I don’t have time to write for far too long. My house looks like every room is a play room, I then shift toys from basket to basket, room to room rather than taking the time to write. My ottoman has become the world’s biggest change table. I shuffle diapers into a neatly stacked pile and move them onto the end table rather than turning on my laptop. I turned my office into a guest room because the very thought of setting foot in there for anything related to advertising sales made me sick to my stomach. Unfortunately, it was also the room that housed my computer for the better part of ten years. I have parked myself at a dining room table with a “For Sale” sign on it, cluttered with school newsletters, the preschool fundraiser notes, partial grocery lists and several scratch and win tickets that were not winners but I’m too afraid to pitch on the off chance I have missed reading a number and they are in fact holding a grand prize and a world of happiness. No more excuses. Just write.

Ellie asked me tonight what I chose for my job and then she asked Greg. While we both ended up being sales people, despite having English Lit degrees, our answers spoke volumes about what we were really doing. I told her that I was in advertising sales and she asked what that meant. I explained that I sold air, and then mumbled, “mostly hot.” Greg’s answer was no better. He said that he sold networking equipment. When she wanted some elaboration, he said, “I sell a vision,” looked at me and completed, “mostly flawed.” Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could actually do what we loved to do in life, whatever that might be? If it’s golfing, why not golf? If it’s cooking, why not cook? Why do we go through the motions of day to day life without ever really living? Did I think by watching just one more television show in a day my life would be more fulfilled? If I like to write, I should be writing, even if I do “suck” and even if I can’t pay people to read one word I’ve written. If you like to sing then you should sing, just not on national television. When your child looks into your eyes, looking for answers, looking for advice, wisdom, guidance, you realize that explaining that the choices you have made in life have brought you to a place of contentment, of quiet bliss, it wasn’t by sitting in front of a t.v. hour after hour and you realize quickly that you need to change your game plan. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could respond, “Mommy is a writer. She does what she loves to do and so will you one day.” We don’t get to that place without taking risks. My family is sitting in front of me, eating their Friday night bowl of sour cream and onion chips while having a campout on the family room floor with blow-up mattresses and sleeping bags. With the exception of the baby, they are all grinning with a red delicious apple peel wedged in between their top and bottom gums. I would love to join in the silliness but there will be plenty of time for that, for t.v. watching, for golfing, cooking and singing, once I get some writing done.

Hanna ran down to her room because she has to check the status of her nesting dolls before we can begin today’s homework.

It’s not that she doesn’t have the mental capacity to take on these questions, she just doesn’t seem to have the stick-to-itiveness until we make our way down to the basement where she spends the next thirty minutes mastering the art of avoiding being “it” at Donkey Dodge and cartwheeling over a series of plastic bowling pins, a foil balloon and doll house blender. Impressive actually.

I think of myself at that age at piano lessons and question how I can judge Hanna when I acted in the exact same fashion when faced with a task I just didn’t see much value in. In fact, I was so disinterested in playing the piano that…Hanna is currently practising how to whistle in my ear while she shouts at Greg that she does not want eggs or toast, just bacon for dinner. I was so disinterested in playing the piano that I don’t even ever remember playing it. I’m sure my mother was embarrassed running into Janice Clark my piano teacher after pulling me out on her suggestion that it was her impression, I would rather be doing cartwheels than playing the piano. She was right. And if anything, my parents discouraged us when we were terrible at something. If we didn’t excel, they let us know. There was no heightened sense of greatness. I recall being told that I sucked at a few things along the way. Call it poor parenting, but it certainly made those things that we did show promise in much more realistic in terms of goal making and building our confidence.

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