Browsing Posts tagged parenting

The kids played an actual game in the car on the way home while their electronic gadgets cooled and they dreamt of the moment they were fully charged so they could get back to what matters most in life. Building a tree where flamingos and turtles could live together in harmony.

While the title of the game is not yet known, the concept is simple. Each player (after checking the battery life on their iphones, then shaking them to see if that would speed up the charge) takes a turn telling the group one lie and two truths.

It’s up to the group to decide which of the three statements is the lie.

Rules include; no siblings can tell the group if it’s something they know about their sister. This is the only rule but it can’t be over-stated. In fact, more than any truths or any lies, what I heard most was, “Shut up! You can’t guess!” Ah car games. So turtles and flamingos together you say?

There were a few discrepancies as the game progressed. Someone might say, “I like the colour orange” as their lie but they secretly adore the colour orange so we had to pull over a few times to hit the gavel on the dashboard with a firm ruling from the judge.

When it was Chloe’s turn, she couldn’t wait to tell everyone the three things she’d been dying to share.

“One, my second favourite colour is red. Two, my third favourite colour is red. Three, those strings you tie and they make a big ball together and you can’t pull them apart.”

The group paused, I heard a couple of giggles and finally someone said, “Can you explain what you mean in number three Chloe?”

She said, “You told me to tell two truths, and one knot.”

I remember hearing about a restaurant in New York offering a $100 hamburger on their menu.

I wondered at the time if anyone was buying the burger but with the right publicity, the right restaurant’s endorsement, the right executive chef standing proudly behind the perfect picture of a happy cow it would probably sell.

$100 for a hamburger.

Yesterday, I wrote a cheque for $90 for school-lunch pizza.

The $90 afforded two of my kids the luxury of eating two lukewarm slices of plain cheese pizza (and one for my four year old) at school every Wednesday (if the person reading the “Who gets pizza?” list could pronounce “Schlotzhauer” and if my Kindergartener was not ensconced in an art project and if my older two weren’t running cross country or sick that day) until Christmas.

The program begins in October and there are twelve Wednesdays between the start date and Christmas holidays.

Twelve Wednesdays = $90.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a lot for five pieces of pizza divided by my three children each week. It just seemed odd when I wrote in the memo line: pizza on the cheque for $90. Kind of like a bad dream. The kind where hot cheese burns the roof of your mouth.

I placed the cheque in my four year olds princess backpack which also struck me as odd but our school’s policy is to exchange forms with parents through the reliable messenger services of your youngest (or only) child.

I have never understood why the policy wouldn’t be the oldest (or only) or even just say, oldest (why do they have to isolate the onlies when it should be assumed if you’re the only kid in your family, by default you are the oldest as well as the youngest).

I’m not going to put in writing which of my three children we consider the most responsible but I can’t think of any family where the four year old should carry the burden (in addition to a larger-than-their-torso backpack) of moving the family’s finances from the house to the school. Too much can happen. There are too many temptations. Too many variables. Too many puddles, too much mud, too many ways to fold that $90 pizza cheque into the shape of an airplane and launch it out the window. Too many willing kids to accept the cheque in exchange for a unicorn.

I have no idea if the cheque made it to school or whether to expect a sack of magic beans to arrive home at the end of the school day.

I do know my kids are going to start appreciating the gold medal standard that is cheese, dough and sauce.

I also know from here until Christmas, no one is going to be sick on a Wednesday.

Saturday was no different from any other weekend now that the kids are back at school and activities are in full swing.

We had a two hour parent orientation meeting while two girls swam, which landed us 30 minutes late for birthday party number one for Ellie but just enough time to scarf back a dusty bunny and get Chloe to birthday party number two.

Greg then retrieved Ellie from birthday party number one with our apologies for the late delivery and drove to soccer game number one with Hanna.

We reconvened at home to snack, iron our delicates and get back out for soccer game number two.

Any given Saturday.

I took on the parent meeting while Greg and Chloe had some father-daughter bonding time. Saturday’s adventure: shoe shopping with Chloe.

I’ve mentioned Chloe’s foot odour problem so rather than tackle it head on, we decided to completely ignore it and just throw away the shoes in question and start from scratch.

I raced home with one or two of our kids in the minivan to make it to our next activity (details are sketchy) and Greg, doing a happy-Dad dance in the kitchen said, “Guess what? Chloe and I went shoe shopping. We think you’ll be very happy Mommy.”

Except I wasn’t happy when they flashed me the exact same pair of princess shoes I just bought for Chloe to wear as indoor shoes just a couple of days ago.

Those of you familiar with the concept of indoor and outdoor shoes will understand, there’s really only one rule with having a pair of shoes assigned to mud and grass clippings and one assigned to story time on a colourful carpet. They must not be identical or the child will never know which pair he/she should wear outside at recess and to come home at the end of the day.

I really thought that was just universally understood.

“But you said, ‘Buy anything. Let Chloe pick.’ I believe your exact words were, ‘I don’t care, just throw out the smelly ones.’”

I couldn’t believe the busiest day of the season was going to end with me being caught on a technicality.

Chloe came home from school with a paper plate with her name printed on the back and a sixth place ribbon attached with an enveloped stapled to the ribbon.

“Chloe, what is this?”

Chloe opened the envelope and flashed everyone a loonie that was inside.

“I won art.”

“You won art?”

“Yeah, I got money to buy candy at the store.”

I doubt that’s how the winnings were explained but that’s how it translated in my four year olds mind.

Chloe’s entry into the fall fair was under the category “Family” and I guess it’s implied the criteria was monochromatic tones, family sketch, stick figures and most importantly, missing one person.

To the untrained eye, this portrait does in fact represent a family, it’s just not our family because if you look closely, you’ll notice there are four people in this picture, four complex characters each with a story to tell, but our family is made up of five people.

When I asked Chloe who was missing she said, “No one. No one’s missing.”

I had her point out who everyone was in the picture.

“That’s Hanna, that’s you, that’s Daddy, that’s Ellie.”

Right, but where are you Chloe?

“I drew it. I know what I look like.”

Winner.

I thought Hanna got off pretty easily with her eye injury last weekend. No corneal damage, just some abrasions on her conjunctiva (a word I can now spell without having to look up). The only meds are four simple drops into her eyeball daily. How hard could that be?

Step 1: make Hanna think I am her friend through a 15 minute process of joke telling, snack eating and basically letting her do whatever she wants so she will agree to allow me to come at her with a tiny squeezy bottle filled with a liquid she claims stings her eye.

Step 2: dim the lights, remove any and all sisters from the room, set a noise cancellation fan, close the blinds, draw the drapes and endure a series of deep breathing exercises while holding hands, smiling and making guttural, humming sounds in unison.

Step 3: Ask Hanna, “Are you ready?”

Step 4: Hanna says, “Yep” at the same time, closing both eyes so tightly, the lids disappear entirely and I see just eyebrow and top of cheek on both sides of her face like those dolls made out of cotton stuffing and nylons.

Step 5: Hanna peeks to see where I’m at with this arrangement, not even close to long enough for me to randomly spray the drops in her direction.

Step 6: Ask again, “Let me know when you’re ready, okay?”

“Okay.”

Step 7: Hanna exhales violently, arches her back like she’s being restrained and undergoing shock treatment and stares at the ceiling. At no time does she say, “I’m ready” or “Go” or “Ariba!” Nothing. Just upside down eye ball pose.

Step 8: I gently pull down her lower eyelid as she kicks me in the shin.

Step 9: “Can I pull down your eyelid and drop it into the bottom part of your eye?”

Sure.

Step 10: I pull down her eyelid and she glues her eyes closed, urging them to fully envelope the bottom eyelid I am attempting to lower.

Step 11: I drop the bottle in between the couch cushions, little sister enters singing “Let it Go.” Wouldn’t I love to.

Step 12: Back into position, I am tempted to rest my knees (ever so gently on her shoulders and pin her down) she says, “Ready!” before jerking her head and looking away.

Step 13: I squeeze a drop out of the bottle and it hits her right nostril.

She says, “It’s in!” (No it isn’t!) “It’s in, I can feel it.” She’s lying, it’s in her nose. She wipes the drop from her nose holding firm that it landed directly in her affected eyeball.

We discuss the negative effects lying has on a family.

Step 14: Repeat 3 more times.

photo is a likeness. Photo is actually not even close.

Feet….

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My four year old has foot odour.

I wish I knew why or where it was coming from or who I could club for passing along this repugnant virus but it’s driving us crazy.

I think about the teachers at school wondering if they’re saying, “Seriously? Do you think the parents are aware? How could they not be aware, this is scandalous?”

I did notice a couple of them were wearing masks the other day but I assumed that was for something unrelated, maybe a puppet theatre.

It started right around the time I bought her a six pack of multi-coloured socks.

I’m not blaming the socks (necessarily) I just find it a timely coincidence that the day after she wore the first pair, her feet started to reek to high hell.

I washed all six pairs of socks before she wore any and just sniffed them all in her drawer. Four of the six pairs have yet to be worn but I think the smell is in the weave. Maybe it’s what the Mother in me wants to believe.

So I took her shoes and sprayed them with vinegar, then set them on a shoe rack in the dryer and baked them like a vinegar-shoe soufflé for 45 minutes on high. If there had been a broil setting, I would have used it.

The shoes continue to smell.

We wash her feet when she comes home at the end of the school day and I bought a new pair of indoor shoes and delivered them to the school yesterday so we could throw away an old pair.

The feet continue to smell.

How could something so ghastly be following around this adorably, sweet, angelic little kid?

Wait.

When Greg goes away overnight my usual, restful sleep is not only disrupted but in some cases non-existent.

I hear noises that don’t exist unless he’s out of town.

If a tree falls in the woods when Greg’s out of town, does anyone hear it? Answer: I do.

Random people drop in at strange times, the phone rings and someone hangs up, alarms go off, I win a disproportionate number of cruises.

I picture Greg sitting at the corner with a homemade remote control plotting to keep us on our toes so his housewarming cake will have an extra scoop of ice cream.

The other night, someone knocked, no, they pounded on the front door while I was reading the kids their bedtime stories. In other words, it was dark, I was in my footed pjs and cucumber mask not expecting company.

I ignored the door and by ignore, I mean I slunk to the floor Gumby-style, shushed the kids waving them away from doorways and windows, dimmed the lights and slowly, one rapid heartbeat at a time, I peeled back the blind to see who the uninvited guest was.

I didn’t get a clear shot (this would have to wait for video surveillance review) but the person hammered once more while at the same time pressing the doorbell.

I answered the intercom and heard, “Hey, it’s Jason from Teen Sobriety” or something like that.

“Did Greg put you up to this Jason?” “Is that him standing behind the mailboxes?”

Jason didn’t really explain what he was doing, just informed me of his name and club affiliation.

I asked Jason to please leave his literature in the mailbox for future review knowing I would never sleep again and when I walked outside to collect the pamphlet it would either say something about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness or a note made entirely of letters cut and pasted from magazines and newspapers.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night. Did his name have to be Jason? Who was driving, Freddy?

The next morning, I drove the kids to school, returned home to plug in the kettle and heard a knock at the door, then the door bell.

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is Jake the Electrical Inspector.”

Is this for real?

I did know that someone was coming to inspect the installation of our generator but I wasn’t told what day, week or month.

His shirt said something electric or it had a lightening bolt on it, it’s all a blur. In came Jake.

He told me he was here to look at the installation of the generator so I took him to the garage (filled with any number of sharp tools) and pointed out the generator. Behind him I was stretching and practicing UFC moves I have seen on tv.

He nodded from about 20 feet away and said nothing.

“So how does it look?”

“Fine I guess.”

Oh God, he is going to kill me.

Actually, he wasn’t working with Jason or Freddy nor did he have any plans to hurt me (at least not then) “I don’t need to see the generator, I need to see the electrical panel.”

Oh of course. Follow me.

I took Jake on a hilarious scavenger hunt around the house and we bonded. First to the pool pump—nope, that’s not an electrical box.

“Would you like to see the cabana?”

Jake was really just there to see the electrical box.

I showed him to the side of the house where people come to read the metre—wrong again.

“I’m just kidding Jake, come on in.”

I found the electrical box (in an undisclosed three-time’s-a-charm location) and he inspected the generator (from an entire floor away which is mind boggling to me).

I waved as he pulled out of the driveway and sent him to the mailboxes to hand Greg a coffee on his way past.

Seaweed….

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My daughter came home from school and told me she can no longer bring seaweed in her lunch.

I realize that’s a strange comment coming from an 8 year old for a number of reasons, maybe even more strange is that she was disappointed by the soon-to-be absence of seaweed from her daily seaweed intake.

I think Canada’s Food Guide suggests 12 portions of dried seaweed/day so we’ll just have to double up at bath time and over breakfast.

When I asked her why she wasn’t allowed the seaweed, thinking it was for obvious reasons; it’s messy, it stinks, it’s weird, it makes my teeth green which scares people, it’s confusing, it’s noisy, people were using it as paper, the sodium content is ridiculous yet marketed to seem healthy, she said something I wasn’t expecting.

There’s a girl in my class who is allergic to shellfish.

Um, okay.

What does that have to do with your processed seaweed paper?

“She just told me I couldn’t bring it in my lunch because she was allergic to shellfish.”

Deep breath as I google “Is seaweed shellfish?”

“Yes, you can eat seaweed if you have a seafood allergy, but you should eat it with caution. Seaweed does not contain any fish proteins or any other seafood properties. However, if you have a seafood allergy, you should avoid eating at any seafood restaurants.”

As predicted, seaweed is safe to eat if you have a seafood allergy (I like the part about avoiding eating at seafood restaurants if you have a seafood allergy. It must be the allure of the koi pond that continues to draw people in, risking their lives).

Not only can this girl who is allergic to shellfish eat Ellie’s seaweed, it’s not in her lunch, it’s in my daughter’s, so why is this an issue?

I’m not suggesting even for a second someone should be allowed to bring peanut butter to school because they are not allergic and others are. Peanut allergies can be airborne and are dangerous and we get it, peanuts are evil and are only to be consumed in an enclosed capsule with twelve Doctors armed with epipens. But is my kid really not allowed to bring something in her lunch because another student might react to it if they eat it, rather steal it?

What about the rule that the kids aren’t allowed to share food?

What about people who are allergic to pet dander? They haven’t sent home a note saying people have to rid their homes of cats.

Yet.

For my eight year old, the new school year brings a number of things. Most importantly, it’s the year she is finally allowed to sign up for school sports and clubs.

Last Friday, the primary grades presented the first opportunity for her to add her name to a growing list of eager newbies and held their first cross country running practice.

Ellie brought running gear to school, extra water, terry-cloth head and wristbands, GPS watch, FitBit with heart monitor, extra shoe laces should a random dog shred hers. You get the idea, she was ready.

Somehow the announcement for the cross country practice was missed and/or Ellie interpreted the announcement to mean “over the lunch recess” and not “the second the bell rings for the lunch break” because she missed her first ever school-related extracurricular activity and it nearly ruined my her weekend.

The end of school day pick-up is often a blur but Friday’s was a gong show.

I couldn’t ask the kids about their day because the only words I could hear were, “Hanna! You have to tell me when cross country is.” “You have to tell me and you have to come to my class and get me.” “Hanna has to come and tell me when cross country is, Mom.” “She has to come and get me.” “You need to send a note.” “Send a note with Hanna and Chloe too just as back-up.”

Ellie: Mom, I asked my teacher to tell me when cross country was. (I have no doubt) I was ready and when I got outside (homemade athlete sign-in clip-board and number taped to her pinny) it was over.

I tried to explain that she could go to the next practice.

Ellie: It’s probably too late. I probably can’t join now.

Of course you can, you just show up. They’re always looking for willing athletes who see running as fun and not torturous.

Ellie: ?

So yesterday I arrived at the school on unrelated-to-cross-country school business (I had to take Hanna to the Optometrist) and I noticed a kid who resembled Ellie bent over to tie her shoes while other kids lightly jogged past while visiting with friends and talking about the beautiful weather we were having.

Then Ellie stood up, looked over and noticed me and sprinted like there was a firecracker in her pants past me as fast as her legs would carry her.

I waved and said, “Hi Ellie” but she took off like a shot. A true runner has no time for Mommies.

I smiled happy she had figured out when the practice was but when I turned around she was doubled over at the waist, likely looking for the most polite way to vomit in front of her peers.

Way to give it your all Ellie. I’m pretty sure she misinterpreted cross country for rapid-sprints. She was clearly making up for the missed practice.

Like all new (and somewhat stale) parents, we thank our lucky stars every day the internet is working and we have access to WebMD.

Yesterday’s search was for “Corneal Abrasion” after my daughter came home from a play date with one eye swollen shut and a long list of symptoms.

It is my understanding she was standing on the ground, minding her own business (probably reading or engaging in some deep introspection about how to be the best daughter, sister and student she can be) while her friend was climbing a tree (a dangerous activity my kids would never participate in) when something landed in her eye.

We dismissed; chipmunk, sap, and robin’s egg from the list of suspects but couldn’t rule out; bark, dirt or bat guano.

WebMD had exactly what I was looking for with some vomit-in-your-mouth pictures to go with it.

I feared it was corneal abrasion (the words have lost all meaning) but ruled it out given she didn’t actually scratch her eye on anything.

Her eye continued to look red and puffy and at times, it was too painful to open if there was any light in the room.

I dismantled the disco ball, strobe light and ruled out flash-light wall puppets (at least for one night).

Fingers crossed her eye is back to normal this morning and the internet is working.

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