Browsing Posts published in November, 2011

I volunteered to join my daughter’s kindergarten class at the museum yesterday.

I loved the idea of the museum because I would no longer feel guilty about attending a class trip with Hanna’s grade three class the week earlier, now we were even Steven. Except of course, Hanna’s class would also be on the museum trip.

I was under a strict Ellie-imposed gag order. I was to sit with Ellie on the bus (provided she didn’t decide last minute to ditch me and sit with four of her small bottomed friends). I was not to engage in conversation with Hanna, her classmates, teacher or anyone that might happen to be in the museum with a history of a previous conversation and/or eye contact lasting longer than three seconds with Hanna.

To be honest, I really didn’t have time to be worrying about the grade threes when I had a group assignment of five kindergarten kids in my care. I’ve never counted to five so many times in my life. I randomly pointed at heads in the air and learned the backs of five First Choice hair-cuts intimately. The biggest scare of course was when they changed into winter coats and hats, suddenly I was looking for five brand new snow-ready kids.

I was told by one girl who insisted on wiping her nose on my sweater, using the button holes as a loop through which we would remain as one for the duration of the trip, connected mostly by her snot, “I know what colour your real hair is– brown.” It’s true but in fairness, they’re just blonde highlights, it’s not a wig.

When I accidentally passed Hanna’s lunch table, I did mistakenly glance in her direction but that exchange was quickly shortened when a classmate shouted to me, “Does Hanna know what S-E-X is yet?”

I think I’ll stick to counting heads.

Sometimes our eight year old will write silly notes for us but this one might require some translating. I’m asking the world for help on this.

Dear Mom and Dad,

You guys are so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, sooooooooooooooooooooooooo awesome! Sike! (Psych!)

Sick puddle dude! (?)

p.s. Oohhhhhhh

I guess what I’m wondering, has my child been sick in a puddle?

Dude?

This may be time sensitive.

I had an interesting conversation with a four year old this weekend.

It reminded me that four year olds are smart, perceptive and they pick up on a lot more than we know or give them credit for.

This particular four year old entered a conversation a group of adults were having and very quickly pointed out, “Hey, you just said stupid. Stupid’s a bad word. You shouldn’t say that word. Stupid is bad.”

I nodded in agreement realizing in that moment we should be aware of young ears and their understanding of a bad word as being off limits to people of all ages, not just kids.

The four year old continued, “Fuck is a bad word too. You shouldn’t say fuck.”

Noted.

Check out my recent article in Parents Canada’s Nov. 2011 issue. Some helpful hints on entertaining this holiday season with kids.

HolidayEntertainingParentsCanadaNov.2011

ContributorsParentsCanadaNov.2011

I learned three valuable lessons at hot yoga last night.

  1. Proof to your classmates that you washed your yoga towel from the week before is to include a baby sock stuck to the towel when you retrieve it from your bag. This also acts as a subtle reminder to Mommy that you deserve 75 minutes each week blocked for your personal health. The sock remained at the top of my mat for the entire class.
  2. When I sweat, it rolls down my face like I’m in a Costa Rican rain storm. When the instructor introduces an inverted move, the sweat then rolls back up into my nostrils and I am prone to choking. This answers the Neti pot question I had been wondering about.
  3. When I lost a toe-nail part way through the class, the baby sock made a fantastic make-shift nail-sack.

 I wonder if any other “athletes” have had similar experiences?

This morning I begrudgingly went to the mall to look around for some Christmas presents for the kids. Begrudgingly because I really hate malls and I really hate taking Chloe shopping. It’s not fair to her to be dragged around and it’s doubly unfair for the store clerks who have to smell her soon-to-be soiled diaper and to wrestle whatever toy she intends to run screaming from the store clutching without paying for.

I brought the van to the mall because it’s my only vehicle. It’s dirty right now. So dirty in fact, a man approached me and asked, “Where did you come from?” I’m not sure what he meant but I think he was asking did I drive through a muddy desert or did the car wash this morning accidently throw all the crud they had been scraping off cars and spray it with glue back onto mine? The only response I could think of was, “I’m from out of town.” Dirty Town I think he mumbled as he shrugged and ran ahead to catch up to his speed-walking team.

I happened to catch a glimpse of a woman who clearly did not have kids. You know when you see someone and you think, they might have older kids who are in school or, they might have kids who are with a babysitter or visiting with Grandma while they get a few minutes to shop or people who are Grandparents themselves and look at your children adoringly remembering like yesterday the day they took their dirty mini-van to the mall with their children.

But then there are those people who don’t have children and likely don’t ever want to.

I could tell what this woman was thinking…..

If I had a two year old, I would NOT take her to the mall.

I would certainly NOT allow them to poop in their diaper the second they walked into Chapters and continue shopping without changing their diaper.

I WOULD remember to bring a diaper into Chapters instead of waiting in line to pay for books (buy 3 get the 4th free) before taking my two year old out to my van—a van that looks like chocolate icing has been spread and set on the paint and change the baby there.

I would NOT change the baby while standing in the back seat of the van and smear some of the poop on the baby’s winter coat.

If I did accidentally smear poop on her coat, I would have a better back-up than her light spring rain-jacket, two sizes too small.

I would NOT allow my two year old to wear a bathing cap as a replacement for a warm winter hat when it’s 2 degrees outside.

If my two year old darted away from the dirty mini-van the second she had an opportunity to escape I would NOT dance in the middle of a mall parking lot when the baby yelled, “Dance Monkey! Shake it up!” for fear the baby would run into oncoming traffic. Further, I would NEVER open a box of raisins in an attempt to lure the child back to my dirty vehicle. There are far too many studies suggesting bribing kids with food can lead to eating disorders and an unhealthy body image in their teens.

All that from one look but that’s how powerful this exchange was.

Then a woman, a mother, probably of three kids, two in school, one being dragged around running errands before racing home for lunch and naptime smiled and nodded. Sigh. A simple gesture of kindness was all I needed to take a deep breath and continue our journey.

I think she even mouthed something but I couldn’t quite make it out.

It was either “Lowenstein….Lowenstein…..Lowenstein…” or, “I like your van.”

Until a couple of weeks ago, I was comfortable with what I was packing in my children’s school lunches.

My five year old would return with nothing but her ice pack and pleas for more food, telling me she was staving all day, on the brink of passing out, despite having taken more than what she would normally eat during a three day binge at home.

My eight year old would typically come home with half of whatever type of sandwich she brought to school, most or all of the vegetables in the container and some of the fruit. An afternoon reminder I was doing my best to keep things healthy but that she was probably taking more food than she was able to s-l-o-w-l-y get through in a day.

Then something changed. It seems the grade three class has devised a sophisticated food bartering system and parents are completely in the dark.

I call it Food: on-the-down-low. A virtual microcosm of a broader system of exchange but rather than using gold bullion or cash to assign value to things, in this scenario, each food item has a unique currency.

On any given school day, a representative from Canada’s Food Guide could have paid a surprise visit to Hanna’s classroom (it could happen), opened her lunch bag and found it to be in accordance with their campaign to eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups. I was even careful to completely avoid the “extras” category as I thought summer sausage was really on the fence, not really a meat but more of a meat alternative.

I caught Hanna coming out of the front hall closet with two Werthers candies in her hand. Candies purchased by her father at Costco, used for bribing our kids to drive with him on long trips instead of predictable mommy with her bag of apples and Bonnie Rait’s Something To Talk About.

Me: What are you doing with those candies?

Hanna: I’m trading Alexa for her granola bar. I owe her one candy for yesterday and one for today because I want to keep it going.

Here I was thinking my child was eating a rainbow and I couldn’t have been more colour blind.

Me: Are you trading anything else?

A question I never should have asked.

Hanna: Well, I always trade my cheese for Rachel’s Honey Nut Cheerios and my fruit for Tara’s chips.

So my kid who I thought was eating a rainbow is really just eating the chocolate coins in the treasure chest at the bottom of the rainbow and I had no idea.

Some signs your school might be on the food-down-low:

  1. Asking for multiples of the same food. When your child who never ate her cheese starts asking for two portions. No longer are they part of a child’s necessary calcium intake, they are now trading tools that hold value in the below age ten food exchange industry.
  2. When your child who used to return with the same uneaten food is now suddenly coming home with an empty smoked salmon container, there’s something fishy.
  3. No lunchroom helper to oversee that the transactions are fair—healthy food for sugary treats requiring Ritalin.
  4. When your child returns home with Honey Nut Cheerios stuck to her braces and is unable to sit on a kitchen chair without rocking ferociously and randomly screaming, “FUN DIP!”
  5. If every visit to Costco, your child asks you to point out the Werthers aisle.

I think I read somewhere about a guy trading a red paper clip for a house boat. This food exchange shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

One of Ellie’s princess activity workbooks has a page with three fairy Godmothers each with a cloud meant for a child to leave a wish.

Wish Number One: Noodles with parmesan and butter every day. Not pointy noodles, long noodles but not with my Mom’s meat and tomato sauce, just cheese and butter, every day.

Wish number one sounds surprisingly doable.

Wish Number Two: To learn how to play chess and play every day. (In between parm/butter noodle eating). I suggested to Ellie that I could teach her to play chess and that I would play with her every day.

Wish Number Two: To learn how to play chess and play every day.

Wish Number Three: My third wish is for a cell phone.

Calling all chess players.

I had an appointment for Chloe’s two year check-up scheduled for yesterday and received a call from my Doctor’s office changing the appointment.

The change was in response to the brand new medical clinic having mould in the walls and the Doctors having to relocate for at least two weeks.

I was given the option of keeping the appointment and meeting at a clinic that was an additional thirty-minutes away from the already thirty minute drive I would be making or, I could wait and re-schedule for a later date. I opted to re-schedule. An hour in the car changes things entirely. The additional snacks alone would be too much given the eleventh hour planning.

I guess I felt as though two weeks wasn’t going to matter much when it comes to the two year growth chart, her development, her height compared to others her age or how many new verbs she might now be able to conjugate (in French)between now and then. We would certainly have time to master that walking backwards thing, our take-home assignment from the previous exam.

If this had been our first born however, I can tell you exactly what I would have done.

After purchasing masks,  I would have researched mould. How does it form? How does it spread? Toxicity levels? Have we been exposed unknowingly perhaps at our 18 month check-up? Have we been exposed at EVERY previous check-up? Do we have mould in our own walls? Should we have a skin sample sent to the lab along with swatches of fabric from our clothing those appointment days, which thankfully I have highlighted on a jumbo calendar tucked neatly in the safe next to the fabric?

I would then have no choice but to drive to Emerge stopping by the local walk-in clinic to count the number of vehicles in the parking lot. If the number exceeded three cars (one person in with a Doctor, one in another room with a cot wondering if the Doctor had forgotten about them, one in the waiting room wondering if the receptionist had left for the day and abandoned them on the dirty row of germ-filled chairs with a stack of magazines from 1987 to get them through the night) I would carry on to the hospital—at least there, someone would spot an emergency when they saw one. If I didn’t know where this 2 year old child ranked on “the chart” before playgroup tomorrow, I would have no choice but to trip over a series of made-up numbers and these expert-Moms would be onto me like Robeez on an 18 month old and not a day older.

I would rehearse ABC’s, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle and curse the tunes being the same, confusing my child who could blow those other two year olds out of the water if she could just identify the lyrics as being unique but the tunes unforgivably alike. She’s already “off the chart” (Doctor’s words not mine) when it came to height for her age, high praise indeed when you really think about how important it is to be two and tall. I just need another big number to pull out of my diaper bag (a bag I hoped to be done with like those other show-offs carrying just their Driver’s licenses and a Starbucks card to flash to the world they’re done with diapers while they run alongside their two year olds backwards into the building.

Chloe will have her mould-free appointment when the building is ready. We’ll be told she’s the height she is, the weight she is, that she speaks some words, sings some songs—a mash-up of Twinkle Twinkle, ABC’s and Baa Baa Blacksheep. She wears strange outfits—combination eclectic hand-me-down mixed with bathing chic and that she can swan-dive backwards.

I used to give my parents a hard time (okay I still do) about not having any pictures of me from the time I was a baby through University graduation.

The first known photograph of me (jury is still out if that Dorothy Hamill/bowl hair-cut is even mine) is on my third birthday. If you squint and hold the photo on just the right angle, with the right pair of glasses and the sun on a perfect seventy degree angle, you’ll see a small child fighting her way to three candles surrounded by siblings, friends and extended family. If you’re looking for a single happy baby picture of the only daughter my parents had, you won’t find one. It doesn’t exist.

I used to give my parents a hard time about this obvious neglect and even considered calling Kids Help Line to discuss but they really do stress their expertise is in helping kids, not adult children who still can’t find a picture of themselves playing happily with their original series Cabbage Patch Doll—Edwina Patrina.

My third daughter turned two yesterday and there was no celebration.

I don’t want to suggest it’s because we’re bad parents. Our computer files overflowing with pictures of young Chloe would suggest otherwise. We’re just not great at planning. We’re tired. We’re rundown. We’re overcome with excitement from this our third child’s second birthday. We’re…..lazy.

We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend and had an amazing time. The older girls ran from one waterslide line to the next and we pawned Chloe off on whatever willing stranger or relative we could find so we too could create lasting memories of a family on a waterslide roller coaster. We didn’t intentionally leave Chloe out of the fun we simply realized she would have no recollection of finding just the right angle to place her foot on the manmade floor springs to create a shot-gun effect of gushing water through her toes. This can really only impress an adult for so long, but the slides. The slides!

My Mom had asked me several times if there would be a party or cake for Chloe. My Mom still feeling thirty-six years of guilt for that empty photo album is determined to make it right with her Grandchild. Even she couldn’t believe we hadn’t planned a celebration.

Yes when Hanna turned one we had an open house, a carnival, fire breathing dragons, U2 live in the backyard. For Ellie, we cleared an ice rink on a pond, had a hot chocolate fountain and ice sculptures in her likeness. Chloe we watched stick her big toe in a hole and giggle as the water squirted in every direction.

Maybe it’s not that we’re bad parents but that we’ve learned something along the way.

Those other parties have been for us more than they’ve been for our children.

We knew after Hanna turned one and no one could find her under the Cartoonist’s stencils that day wasn’t really about her. I think it’s the day she took her first steps but we were too busy tossing swords to the juggler to see it.

Maybe things have become simpler and we’re all learning to just enjoy the moment, the water through our feet, the quiet celebration.

The photograph in our minds of our third child turning two.

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