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It was so nice to be home with the kids all day without that pesky daily distraction—school.

Chloe, our four year old, asked me if I would colour with her and I was glad to sit next to her with my tea and pick up a marker.

She started drawing wavy lines, changing colours, drawing rainbows partly on the paper but mostly on the table.

When I asked if I could draw something she put the lid on her marker and actually clicked it closed (a first), set it on the page, looked me straight in the eye and said, “If you’re going to ask me questions, this will take all day.”

Greg introduced me (and now our children) to the term “scuzzies.”

Scuzzies is defined as the bits of food or other dried goods stuck to cutlery that has been presented to an unsuspecting user. Scuzzies.

I was unaware of the term scuzzies for three possible reasons.

1. The cutlery I grew up with simply never had any scuzzies (but that is highly unlikely)

2. We learned to live with scuzzies and accepted them with open arms into our family

3. We had scuzzies but had a different name for them.

Could you say it in a sentence?

The scuzzies on Hanna’s fork were crusty and orange, despite having just gone through the full dishwasher cycle. Scuzzies.

Last night Hanna picked up her fork and said, “I think there’s scurvy on my fork.”

Maybe that’s what we called it.

I’ve been driving my kids to school for the past few weeks as opposed to letting them ride the bus because nobody seems to be able to tell me what’s happening with our driver.

At one point he was standing at the front of the bus while another driver was behind the wheel. When the kids asked why he wasn’t driving, he told them it was for their own protection and it was for personal reasons.

As a parent, you might think, perhaps the poor gentleman injured himself or perhaps he was recreating the scene from Titanic where Kate Winslet’s character leans over the stern of the ship (I have no idea if that was the stern or the mast or if she was starboard because I’ve completely forgotten that camp game) but instead of a ship, he is on a bus. And instead of Kate Winslet, he’s a guy in a fluorescent safety vest.

You might think those things if you’re a parent.

But you might also think, how long has he been a drug dealer? Is he holding the bus and the kids hostage? Is he replaying the movie Speed in his mind endangering all of those innocent children?

I later learned through the first ever successful game of telephone in the school parking lot that our driver had been driving without a license, was caught by the bus police and that there would be an interim replacement.

At least it sounded like that from one parent. Another just said, “Smeary muppets in the fountain range?” and then we all cracked up laughing. Ah telephone.

I wanted to give the new driver a chance to learn the route and get settled in the position before I started loading my kids back onto the bus so I gave it a week before we lined up to get back on.

Except the day we went to get back on, the old driver, (played by Leo DiCaprio) was back behind the wheel.

I haven’t been given a reason for his absence that satisfies me enough to let my kids back on and once again, the fatally flawed game of telephone has completely broken down.

Would you be comfortable putting your kids back on the bus?

Last night before bed, I was reading Fancy Nancy to my four year old.

I was doing my best to keep her entertained, reading in a most believable Scottish-elder accent.

She was yawning and I could tell she was going to either toss the book or start “tickling” me and by “tickling” me, I mean doing the African python with one of her hands aimed at my esophagus and then rapid punching me, rendering me speechless so I couldn’t finish the chapter and she could go to sleep.

Chloe: Mommy, I’m just too tired to read anymore. Can I just go to sleep?
I nodded and said no problem.

Chloe: It’s just, it’s I had to eat lunch today and my arms were just tired all day from using them and having to open my lunch and now my arms are just so, so tired.

Kindergarten really is all about the arms.

Yesterday morning, I was on my way out the door, heading to my first swimming lesson of the new session.

I would have jumped at any excuse not to go; dust bunnies blocking the exits, we’re out of coriander, adding the leaves in the dining room table. I had nothing.

Once I decided I was committed to going, nothing could stand in my way.

Not even Greg shouting, “Hey, will you buy a fake owl today? They’re on sale.”

Nothing.

But a couple of things about this request had me puzzled.

The first was what size of owl? Owl size or figurine?

Secondly, the fact that they’re on sale is Greg’s way of reeling me in. If Canadian Tire has taught me anything, it’s to never pay full price because eventually even owls will go on sale for 99% off and the last thing I want is to look like a fool with a regularly priced fake owl tucked under my arm.

I knew why Greg wanted an owl. At least, I hoped it was to keep birds from nesting under our deck and not to ward off evil spirits or to use as a secret piggy-bank and/or nanny-cam.

The kid in me didn’t want to scare away the birds but the home owner in me resented having to clean up the huge messes left behind every spring. The spy in me was really hoping for the nanny-cam option.

I walked into the hardware store and didn’t even pretend to know where to look. I asked the girl at the counter, “Do you have any owls?” as though this is something I say all the time.

Clerk: They’re in aisle 8 next to the eagles.

Of course they are. Eagles & Owls, Aisle number 8.

There were about 100 eagles in varying sizes on the top row but the owls were flying off the shelves (figuratively not literally) presumably because of the sale. In that moment, I felt a little sad for the fake eagles that weren’t going to be adopted any time soon.

What kind of a crazy person goes to a store to buy a fake eagle?

My fake owl and I had a lovely drive home.

I’ve been lucky to see ten winters melt into springs in this house and three daughters grow a little with each year that passes.

I’ve commented on their extreme personalities and how different they are from each other but last night, I had a moment with Chloe in my arms that confirmed everything I already knew.

When our oldest (now 10) was still a toddler, I would prop her up to watch the birds build their nests in an amazing bird house outside one of our windows, put up by neighbours.

I can’t confirm it was put up by neighbours, it might have been put up by the local Jehovah Witness chapter before we moved in with a tiny camera focused on the inside of our house so they could see what people really do with their literature when we think they’re out of sight.

Hanna would watch the birds carrying small twigs and mud, enter through a number of welcoming door frames into what we as humans might call a high-rise condo tower but the birds would simply call ‘home tweet home.’

She would look at me, then at the birds and smile. She was quiet but knew something magical was happening and would eventually decide she’d had enough of nature and ask me to make her some spaghetti.

Ellie, our second born, was obsessed with the birds and their nests. She would graph the number of birds in relation to the number of twigs and multiply it by the number of worms carefully chosen from a select sample yet totally random patch of earth from around the yard.

She even made the birds a sign that read, “We see you in there Jehovah Witnesses.”

So with signs of spring flying at us all weekend, last night, I glanced out the window and saw the first bird of the year carrying a few sprigs of grass into the house.

I hoisted Chloe up and showed her what was happening and told her the birds were making a home so they could lay eggs and there would soon be babies right outside the window.

My four year old looked out the window, looked at me and said, “Oh Man! This is going to take FOREVER!”

My daughter attended a slumber party with a high degree of success.
I say high degree because she somehow managed to mash her sleeping bag back into its case and had just one sugar-related growth on her face.

We’ll chalk that up to a victory.

Despite me google-mapping the house before dropping her off, noticing the proximity to a pond and thinking, If I tell her, “Whatever you do, stay away from the pond,” will I just be planting a seed and then she’ll spend the entire party  saying, “Never mind the pinata! Let’s go check out the pond!”

I also included in the birthday girls’ gift, a package of decorative duct tape.

I actually said the following words to Hanna on our way to the party.
These words, in this order.

“Do you know if you were to put any of that duct tape over someone’s mouth they could suffocate and die?”

Yep, I did that.

So I spent the night wondering if the kids were duct taping each other to the embankment of a nearby pond when Greg informed me, “kids don’t sneak out of slumber parties when they’re ten.”

When I picked Hanna up, I asked her what they did.

“Oh, we snuck out of the house to play man-hunt outside but when we saw a coyote we went inside.”

Okay so my worries were unfounded, she was completely safe the entire time. Also, the duct tape might have come in handy during a coyote attack. The headline would read, “Smart Like a Fox–Local 10 Year Old duct-tapes a coyote to the side of a pond.”

I thanked the host mom, handed her a coffee and just before leaving she said, “Your daughter asked for some Melatonin before bed but I didn’t give her any.”

Right.

Hanna and her Mela..um…sorry, what?

I don’t want to sound like I think Melatonin is some type of watermelon, sunburn or skin cancer but, what did she ask for? Is my daughter a drug dealer?

Host: It’s a natural remedy to help with sleep.

And my kid asked for some?

What kind of twelve step program do they offer for that?

I sort of shrugged it off as we raced to the car (coyotes) but I asked Hanna in the van what on earth this woman was talking about.

Hanna: Yeah, one of the kids takes it to help her sleep so I wanted to try.

They say Melatonin is the gateway drug to Flintstones-vitamins.

While every other four year old on the planet was singing, “Let It Go” from Frozen, Chloe was coming at me like a wrecking ball.

She was singing, “I came in like a wrecking ball!”

Before she could belt out the word “ball” she was already mid-wreck, hitting me in the face, knocking over a lamp and falling off the side of her bed.

Just one more thing I’m blaming you for, Miley Cyrus.

My daughter was invited to a slumber party/birthday party.

In terms of sleepovers it’s the gold standard.

We parents have tried to out-do each other with one party theme trumping the next and the only thing that seems to get the kids more excited than paint ball wars while trampolining as they paint pottery (mid-jump) is to host a slumber party.

Why am I not crazy about this idea?

I LOVED sleepovers and slumber parties as a kid.

In fact, I remember the birth of a rule in our home, “Only ONE sleepover per weekend” because there came a point in our young lives when we would plan where we were sleeping over on Friday night and who was sleeping at our house on Saturday.

Consequently, our parents “won” some beastly children who could barely speak, eat or groom themselves due to lack of sleep. We were over-sugared and under-watered which is why none of us grew beyond 5′5″.

But why do I think it’s such a bad idea?

I guess because I feel as though my daughter and her hosts/friends think they’re trying to dupe me.

Do they think I don’t know what happens at a slumber party?

Dear Ms. Hastings, we will be ordering pizza for the girls and serving breakfast in the morning.

Why can’t they just say, “the only thing your child will be eating will be powdered sugar through a straw.”

Host: Please send a sleeping bag and pillow.

Why, so it can get wet from soaking her hand in water and trying to make her pee in her sleep? Should I pack the pillow with the hardest punch because fighting is going to be the only thing it’s used for.

But why shouldn’t my daughter get to experience all of the fun that comes with staying away from home, giggling with friends and brushing her teeth with a licorice?

Host: There will be seven girls in total.

Oh good, lucky seven. They couldn’t possibly get into any trouble.


Long division hasn’t changed, I have.

It was one of those awkward, “It’s not you, it’s me” conversations I had while watching over my daughter’s shoulder as she figured out answers to some basic long division questions but in a “take one down, pass it around” kind of way totally foreign to me and the rest of the town elders.

She asked me for help which I was more than happy to do. Who needs dinner anyway?

I looked at the question and said, “Okay Hanna, how many times does two go into four?”

It seemed to me there could only be one response–twice or two. (I guess that would be two possible ways to respond).

She started frantically writing numbers on the paper, arrows with long lines, setting down her pencil to count on her hands, seven burpees, reading her horoscope and only then did she come up with “twice?” (two, also acceptable) with a heavy lean on that question mark because she was really puzzled by this exercise.

I was puzzled by the burpees.

I tried to break it down in simple terms and approach this thing the way I had with teaching the kids how to tell time, how to count money and fractions.

“If you had four gummy bears and two kids, how many would each get?”

Hanna: That’s easy, two.

Me: So pretend the four in the long division question is the pile of gummy bears.

She started counting on her hands again, drawing three dimensional cubes, asking if she could phone a friend.

She was not interested in my help when she realized ‘my help’ meant doing it my way.

Hanna: That’s not how we do it!

When did new math become old math?

The new way of doing new math seems a lot more complex than anything we did at that age.

I guess the benefit of the thrown in cardio does have some advantages.

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