Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “kids”

Carnivals Make My Kids Scream and Cry

You call this fun?

Today, we had a fundraising carnival to fund the playground at our kids’ school.  They told them all about it during class on Friday.  “Bouncy castle!  Fire trucks!  Popcorn!  Fancy cars!  Fun fun fun!”

Of course, we went.  How awesome all these folks in our community took time out to put this on for the kids.  We’re so thankful to everyone.   However, when we say carnival around here we pronounce it:

Carni-Vale of Tears

When kids hear “carnival” they think Best Day of My Life with rides, life sized Hello Kitties handing our candy, a self-serve ice cream buffet, and a seven story bouncy tower with a water slide that magically dries you off by the bottom.  What they get is one bouncy house, hot dogs covered in barbecue sauce and some Tootsie Rolls.  Nice, but where’s Santa with the Piñata?

So the disappointed bawling begins.

The gigantic Penguin is SCARY!  And he didn’t give me a lollipop!  He’s never coming back!  But if he does, don’t let him get too close, because he’s too SCARY!  Why didn’t I get a tattoo?  Who has my Fireman Hat?  You touched my drink.  Yes, you did, and you drank it all.  Now, I’m  dying of thirst  AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.  Can we buy this Playhouse?  What’s a raffle?  Well, can we buy all the tickets?  Just get more money at the bank.  WAIT WE FORGOT TO GO TO MCDONALD’S AND GET OUR FREE ICE CREAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We found a spot for to eat our burgers and dogs, that is, after we cleared up about six families’ worth trash left on the tables.  (Life tip, folks:  Just because you are at an event for children doesn’t mean you get to act like children.  That includes opening up the doors to the $80K custom car on display and letting your kids clamber in.)  Dear Dad, who forgot to eat breakfast, or lunch, or stop for a snack, is swooning in the mid-day heat and talking really low through his teeth.  “Dear God the next kid who….”

“Lowered Expectations!” I sing under my breath.  Because that’s 90% of parenting sometimes, managing your kids expectations of reality, and making sure they know your expectation of their behaviour.  Or lack thereof.

Some poor, lonely librarians managed to get the kids to sit down for a Robert Munsch story, but by the time they were on to a round of Shake the Sillies Out, the plot was lost beyond recognition.  I joined in and tried to drum out some excitement for “jumping my jollies out”, but Princess holding back tears.  She just stood there shaking her head, muttering “I will not wiggle my waggle anymore, no sir, no more waggle.”  Into the truck, and over the bridge, and we back to the house we went.

The take away was that the kids thought this was the best time ever.   They had zero memory of crying or screaming or dropping their sucker on the tarmac.  Total bad-time amnesia.  Now, Mom and Dad get their bad-time amnesia.  It’s called “Bedtime and White Wine.”  Cheers!

Baby Shower Gifts That Are Total Don’ts

Now that spring is upon us, I’m sure most sane people’s minds turn to thoughts of Bridal Showers and Wedding gifts.  But since I’m nuts, everything becomes about babies.  It occurred to me that there may be thousands of childless people out there, scouring the internet, looking for gift suggestions and never realizing just what a minefield they are about to step into.  So in the interest of saving well-intentioned Baby Shower invitees pain and suffering, I present:

A Mom of Six’s Guide to Baby Shower Gifts That Sound Good — But Aren’t.

1. Gifts which reflect a lifestyle decision.

Examples: cloth diapers, waterproof diaper covers, bottle warmers, slings, playpens, breast pumps, etc.

Why it’s trouble:  Parents, especially first time parents, can be extremely touchy about their choices and a gift, which you assumed was in every home, may just lead to a five minute monologue on formula companies’ third world business practices.  Also, they may not be able to use them — slings, for example, can be extremely hard to fit, and don’t get me started on those pumps.

2. Parenting books.  Period.

Examples:  Anything with the words “Train” “System” “Attachment” “New” “Case” “Discipline” or “Sleep” in the title.

Why it’s trouble:  I have witnessed more fights between mothers over competing child raising ideologies than I proud to admit.  Most diehard adherents have convinced themselves that the other side has embarked on a course of child-abuse, and must be set right at the first, and every subsequent opportunity.  This would include saving an unsuspecting Mother-to-be from the terrible curse that your evil proselytizing tome will bring.  And when the fight starts, all the other guests will probably be more interested in keeping the peace then defending your free speech.  Leave these sore points on the shelf.

3. Gifts that (accidentally) create work.

Examples:  Baby food makers, scrap booking kits, books of kid crafts.

Why it’s trouble:  New moms are too busy to shower.  Don’t accidentally hand them a bunch guilt over all the stuff they an’t going to get done.

4. Ironic clothing gifts.

Examples: Onesies with pictures of rock bands, questionable sayings, “Future ” whatevers, jokes at the expense of the child who is wearing it.

Why it’s trouble:  Yeah, it may have seemed cool at the kiosk at the Mall, but would you entrust a child to the guy selling them?  I rest my case.

Luckily for you dear Gift Shopper, there are a million other good options:

  1. Board books — after reading the same 6 pages over and over, Mom will thank you for the variety.
  2. Children’s Classics in hardcover — baby may be able to pass them down to his own children.
  3. Feeding plates, spoons, and sippy cups — you can never have too many of these.
  4. Clothing that makes you involuntarily emit vowel sounds its so cute – see above.  Plus, new parents tend to be broke, and have to scrimp on the fun clothes in favour of the necessities.
  5. Anything that the Mom asked for — yes, even if it contravenes those laws above.

I hope this little list saves you from the dreaded group stare, the “oohhh — well, oh, that’s different”, the cold shoulder at the punch table.  ‘Cuz anyone who says that women are the gentler sex has never been to a Gift Shower.

Happy gifting!

Happy Gifting!

Raising the Next Generation of Barbarian

Nothing says crazy like a tinfoil hat.

Big Boy was at the park when a gaggle of older girls came upon him.

“Hello cute little boy.  Do you want to be our friend?”

Big Boy was scared very of these big, bossy Kindergarteners, but he didn’t run back to his Mother’s skirts. Instead, he scrunched up his face, hunched his shoulders and balled his fists.

“I’m a tough guy,” he said.  “I don’t want friends.  I’m going to go fight my sister.”

He waited until they had walked away, and then directly hid behind his older sister, shielding himself with the thick denim of her pant leg, squinting his eyes at any further threats from those intimidating females.

Some blogging Moms get to brag that they are raising a new generation of leaders, or artists, or healthy eaters. I get to state that I’ve got the next generation of barbarians.

Spring has brought delightfully warm weather, and the kids begged me to let them lower the windows of our black Expedition as we tooled around the neighborhood.  Soon, three kids were cutting the wind with their snouts, their hair pushed back and eyes barely open.  It was then that I heard shouting.

“HEY!  HEY, there people.”  Art Girl hollered in her best stadium voice.  “How you all doin’?  YEEAAAHHH!!”  she called out to her audience on the sidewalks and parking lots.  The show continued as we pulled up to the curb on our busy street, just as a bus was pulling away.  Art Girl leapt out of the truck onto the boulevard, assumed the Power Stance, and pointed.

“Hey there! Mr. Bus Driver!  How’s your day on the bus?  Go drive that bus!  Oh YEEAAAHHH!!!”

“Dear God!  Stop it!  Stop it!  You sound like a crazy person!”  I screamed in horror.  But what can I expect from a kid who hums the Imperial March from Star Wars while pumping on the backyard swing set.

My face will scare you to jail!

Well, at least she’s keeping her inner Mongolian Horde somewhat under wraps.  Unlike Big Boy.  In addition to scaring off 5 year old girls, he has created a new game called Dr. Scary Face, who uses his incredibly angry face to, well, scare off bad guys.  But if that doesn’t  work, he’ll bring out the big guns.  Or big cucumbers — on Friday at Walmart he grabbed a $1 English Cuke and used it to “BANG BANG BANG!!!!” every passing shopper and toilet paper display.  Luckily us Prairie folk tend to have a sense of humour.  (I’m not sure about the toilet paper.  Its silence may have indicated extreme offence.)  I doubt they would have been as understanding of our bath night superhero:  Super Naked Boy.   Or maybe they would have been fine.  Our Church’s Sacramental Assistant thought it was funny that she had to cajole Big Boy into putting his shirt back on during Children’s Liturgy.  Since become a parent I have developed the ability to smile while slowly dying inside.

With all of this mucho-macho action, I wasn’t surprised to hear Big Boy tell Princess that in their game he was going to be Iron Man.

“Iron Man?”  I asked.  “Are you going to fight some Bad Guys?”

“No.  Today, I am going to have a tea party.  With Spider Man.   Then I’ll fight the Bad Guys.”

Maybe things are totally wild.  Yet.

It’s Been a Long 40 Days

…so let’s party!

And eat some candy. No, make that a lot of candy.

Have a happy and blessed Easter everyone!

Parenthood: Wimps Need Not Apply

It was Maundy Thursday, and for some reason I always think it’s called Maudlin Thursday, (and sometimes I really screw up and call it Maude-y Thursday, like Maude, the TV show.)  Ssince it’s not a sad day, I have no idea why I want to misname it something so depressing.  Unless, of course the weather forecast for the days leading up to Easter weekend look like this:

With warnings like this:

All this when yesterday, the kids were outside in the backyard doing this:

I suppose it toughens you up when you are 3 days outside of Easter, and the kids have to put their snow pants back on. Makes you more hardy. Toughens the skin.

So, just like everything else in life, we look on the bright side and soldier on.  Got my traditional Hot Cross Buns ready for Good Friday, and left them to rise.  Started cleaning the house.  Hung up sopping snow pants and showed everyone the forecast that predicted warm temperatures and sunny skies.  Told the kids and myself that it would melt — just give it a day or two.   Ate supper and hustled the kids into the car for Church.

We arrived in time to sit in front of a family we knew. In fact, their eldest daughter babysits for us. They had a someone new sitting with them — a teenage boy I hadn’t met before, clean cut with a pleasant face. I didn’t give him too much thought.  I was too busy feeling pride that my eldest, Tall Girl was finally taking an interest in her appearance.  She was wearing a pretty purple tunic top, with her hair swept back into a low ponytail, and for the first time in weeks her shoulders were held back, not slouching forward.

It came time to shake hands during the exchange of Peace. The new boy was sitting directly behind Tall Girl, and she couldn’t see him. He was doing the bob and weave with his hand stuck out. I recognized the look of someone with no one to exchanged a greeting. I stuck my hand toward his, and wished him peace.  His face fell. Disappointment. He politely shook my hand with a small smile, and then went back to his bob and weave.

I couldn’t miss the look on his face. He didn’t want to shake a hand, he wanted to shake the hand of the young girl sitting in front of him. I boy, a teen, wanted the attention of my daughter for something other than to return a soccer ball, or talk about a teacher, or just be companionable. He wanted to her attention for the sake of having a girl’s attention.  I felt like my heart broke a little bit over and over again.

I remember all my Grandmas telling me as a young Mom, to not wish the baby days away, that I would miss them when they were gone and kids grow up too fast. I wish now that I had listened better back then.  And that I was a lot tougher.

At least I still have the buns.

PS – I used a Hot Cross Bun recipe from Canadian Living, which I have been doing for 10 years and they always turn out fantastic.

Uber Mommy Guilt — The Christmas Edition

I know….it’s not even Christmas.  But I thought that we were being smart by leaving the Toys ‘R Us catalogue around, so that we got some decent Christmas Lists to share with Santa.  Previous years’ lists read like this: a Canary, Purple Soap, nice Socks, a doll that waves Good-bye.  In other words, stuff that doesn’t exist.  Or we aren’t getting (we have enough feet in the house with 8 people, without adding paws and talons, thanks.)  Even this year our 8 year old told us that she wanted an orange for Christmas.  She was reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and learnt that oranges were a very prized gift back in the day.  The day being over a century ago.  And yes, she did ask for an orange as she was standing in front of a bag of oranges on the counter.  So to help us adults out, we “leave” the catalogue around so that the Christmas Lists are a tad more accessible for those of us who are at Walmart at 10:37 on a Friday evening.  Or packing up the sled at the North Pole.  Right.

But, there is a time limit on how long the catalogue should be hanging around.  When the lists have a good 5-10 items with 3 super-really wants on them,the catalogue should magically return from whence it came.  However, that is it should disappear.  It didn’t.  The kids’ lists are now 30 items long. and the catalogue is in a place of pride in the children’s books — a classic to be thumbed over and over.  A scripture of materialism for the young and greedy.

I totally know that things have gone too far when I get the “Litany of the Gifts” thrown at me.  The Litany of the Saints is the part of Mass when the Priest asks for the prayers of many of the Church’s oldest and greatest Saints, and the people respond “pray for us.”  It is usually chanted in the Benedictine tradition.  The Litany of the Gifts however, goes like this :

Polly-Pocket-Spa-and-Shop-Set :

R. I want that

Totally-huge-gumball-machine-full-of-gumballs-so-I-can-get-one-whenever-I-want:

R. I want that

Every-single-LaLaLoopsie-doll-ever-created:

R. Give that to me

Part of me is, of course, terribly upset by my children’s greedy, gimme ways.  But the other part is guilty:  guilty because when I look through the toy catalogue, my dream shopping list doesn’t sound that much different from their Litany of Gifts.  Chip meet block.

I had similar pangs while on-line clothes shopping yesterday.  It reminded me of a tradition that has fallen (excuse me, been pushed) to the wayside around here:  new Christmas Eve PJ’s, and matching fancy outfits.  When we had just two, it was so much fun to match everyone up.  When we had three — triple fun.  Cost was totally worth it.  When we had four — really, really cute, but OMG that cost a lot more than I thought it would.  But with five and over — too much money for a whole lot of unnecessary laundry.  Never mind that we already have tons of sleepwear, and dressy clothes.  Yet I still feel a pang of regret, that we aren’t shelling out $300 plus tax for nothing more than the chance to take some really cute pictures.  While it’s totally irrational, I still can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing these things.  This new clothing angst was compounded when two of my kids came down for school, several days in row, dressed all in hand-me-downs.  Sweetie Pie (8) started recounting how proud she was that while completing an assignment to visit one of those “Earth footprint” websites, she could check “Wearing all hand-me-downs” in the clothing section.  She smiled.  I faked it.

I doubt that I am alone in my guilt.  Maybe the trigger is different, but the guilt is the same.  We have good lives.  We are happy.  We are blessed in a multitude of ways.  We have tons of material comforts and diversions.  So do our kids.  So why all this angst?

I have since hidden the catalogue.   It is nice to have all those web order numbers handy or I would have tossed it.  And I am trying to think of a new tradition for Christmas Eve that involves something new but small and cost effective (fluffy socks?  ornaments?  any ideas would be appreciated.)  As to the guilt:  I’m ignoring that, too.  Because I finally learned, that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, when it comes to kids, it never goes away.

Lawyers – They’re Born That Way



See…now I have proof that lawyers are born that way. This is a contract drawn up by my 10 year old to prevent her 6 year old sister from doing “Twisty Arm” in their room. What’s Twisty Arm? Well, it seems that the 6 year old is a bit double-jointed. She can twist her right arm around 360° and then wiggled her hand.  This allows her to grab on and hang from the underside of their bunk bed.  She then “un-twists” and spins around and around.  This, of course, makes her older sister and 99.9% of the general population want to vomit.  Ergo the contract.

If you are having trouble reading the scan above (it was written on a piece of corrugated cardboard) here goes:

If b—- doesn’t do twisty arm all week, starting monday, I will grant 3 wishs – you can not wish for more wishs.  if she can not make it A—- gets to send her out of the room When she does twisty arm forevermore

Signature

Signature

Other than the spelling mistakes (A—-, who wrote this, is an excellent speller when she can be bothered,) the best parts for me are the prohibition against extra wishes (thanks Fairly Odd Parents) and the term “forevermore” (I think that’s from Harry Potter.)

As to the contract idea and the signatures, don’t ask me.  It must be something she was born with…..

**********

If one kids is a born lawyer, the other one is a born seagull.  I left some big blue bags of recycling (clear blue garbage bags filled with recyclables that can be picked up by the garbage men) in the hallway, on the way out the door.  Suddenly, I hear this noise that was a cross of slurping and the sound a Steel Drum would make underwater.  It was my Big Boy (almost 3) who had ripped a hole in the side of a recycle bag, extracted an empty pop bottle, unscrewed the lid, and had his head tipped back trying to suck all the last pop-goodness.  I calmly began to correct him, and after 30 seconds of me yelling “that’s disgusting,” and “don’t drink garbage.” he actually figured out he had done something wrong.  As he walked to the corner, I marvelled at the hole in the side of the bag.  It truly looked just like when the birds get into it.  Those tiny little fingers are just like talons.

**********

Well, I guess I should be happy that Big Boy has left “Tiny Lion Man” behind as his favourite song.  (I mean “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons.  Yes, he sings the swear word.)  Except tt’s this ridiculous “I’m a Gummibear” by Gummibår.  As I’m playing the video over and over again on YouTube, I noticed a strange ad pop up on the bottom — it was for Ivey MBA Program.  Now I thought, what would a kid want with a MBA?  But, then it struck me — they were hoping some parent, hearing that song over and over, would see that ad and think “If I got an MBA I could get a job and not have to sit here clicking Replay!  Ivey School of Business, here I come!”  Pretty smart if you ask me.  But maybe they should be more specific:

How’s that “Career Where I Make a Difference” working out for you?  Tired of being the only guy at Kindergarten pick-up?  Join the Ivey MBA Program:  You won’t be home until WAAAY past bath-time.

See, I missed my calling.  I should have been in Marketing.  You have to be born that way.

**********

Speaking of Euro-synth-novelty bands, who is going to provide us with them if Europe is demographically disappearing?  Where will the next Crazy Frog or “Cotton Eyed Joe” come from?  Will we be stuck with the Chipmucks and “The Hamster Dance”?  There must be more re-interpretations of “Popcorn” left.  Forget Western Civilization — don’t leave us all without a follow-up to “Blue”!

What’s the Return Policy on the Undead?

I asked my two year old Big Boy, on the way to the Hospital, what he wanted for Christmas.

“A zombie.”

“Why?”

“So I can play with him.”

“Um..okay.  What else?”

“Another zombie.”

“You want two zombies?”

“Yeah.  They’re nice.  I’ll play with them.”

“Okay.  Big Boy.  Now, think big.  If you could have anything for Christmas, anything at all, what would it be?”

“A gun.”

“A gun?”

“Yeah.  To shoot the zombies.”

“Come on, Sweetie.  Isn’t there anything, like something REALLY BIG, that you want for Christmas?”

He looked up and, with a voice quiet and awe-filled said:

“A really big zombie.”

********

Don’t quit your day job, kids

I was driving with Tall Girl, age 10, and the Sheryl Crow song Soak Up the Sun came on the radio.

“Wow!  I’m amazed.  This sounds sooo much better than when MiniPops does it!”

*********

Well, I guess since He is everywhere…

Big Boy was using the washroom, when he excitedly called my name.

Leaning over he pointed at the half-empty wastebasket beside him on the floor.

“Look, Mom!  I see Jesus!”

What a kid can teach you about gratitude

“This is the best day ever.” Tall girl sighed.

I was taken aback sitting across from her.  “Why?” I asked.

“Because I got a root beer.”

That stopped me in my tracks.  There was no way I was putting this particular day in my top 10.  It had started with me rushing to make a 9:30 doctor’s appointment with a specialist at the Hospital.  In tow, a 10, 4, 2 and 1/2 year old.  The Tall Girl had to get a suspiciously growing mole examined.  Sitting on the exam table she suddenly asked: “Mom, what does cancer feel like?”  I guess my husband and I weren’t as circumspect as we thought.

Later, one of the doctors came in and took a look.  “Any family history of the big ‘C'”?  Again, I’m hoping that my girl is distracted by the little monkeys climbing over everything.  Final Verdict — the weird bump growing on her head would have to be removed or “shaved.” Oh, and she would have to be left alone, since I would be out in the waiting area supervising the little kids.

By the time I had shepparded by brave little girl, her bickering preschool sibs, and the world’s largest stroller to the Hospital cafeteria, I had had more than enough of that particular Thursday. My soda-rationed eldest wanted a root beer, and lo and behold, they had a whole shelf of chilled bottles in the cooler case. Life for her was good.

And why shouldn’t it be good, I asked myself? The mole started itching, so we caught that it was changing, even though it was hidden under a mound of hair. The doctors were kind and efficient. The procedure apparently didn’t hurt, and the medical staff told Tall Girl that she was braver than some 30 year olds. The doctor assured me that whatever was there had been completely removed, and so my girl was out of danger. No one had a melt down or blow out diaper. Root beer was in stock and the right temperature. So, who was I to complain?

I realized then, that I was upset not at what had happened, but at the fact that it wasn’t what I wanted to have happen. It was a question of control. I had decided at some point, that if things weren’t my way, then I should be miserable. It’s like that old saying, “Bitterness is drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” I was mad that I had to be there, that my daughter might have a problem, that I was inconvenienced. Instead, my child looked at the fact that everything was okay, and she got a treat to boot.

It’s pretty hard as a Mom to undo this “the way it’s supposed to be” mindset. Really, it is actually needed for the job. We are constantly called to set the standards for our kids behaviour, our household cleanliness, and our family’s lifestyle. We are the ones in control, and we are judged on how well we can act on our vision. Most kids would not make it out the door to school in the morning, without Mom insisting that her idea of promptness be adhered to. Could you imagine Birthday Parties, family vacations, or even Christmas morning, without some of well, let’s just call it what it is, motherly bossiness? It’s often up to us.

That’s why it was nice to be reminded to let go. I can’t control everything, and that’s okay. Life is often sweeter in the unexpected and unwanted moments — when the kids ignored the craft and want to play tag, when supper is delayed and you all hang out in the kitchen waiting for the turkey to cook, or when you decide to forgive the tantrums and still stop for ice cream. Like the time when Tall Girl got a bunch of hand me downs and was so grateful.

“They’re the best because they are 4 years old, so no one else has them. No one will come to school dressed like me.”

I was about argue that actually, new clothes are better, but then I stopped myself. Here, my little girl was teaching me again, what I had forgotten.

Sometimes the sweetest thing is what life gives you right now.

The Incredible Shrinking Parent

I wanted to bring home a copy of Maclean’s magazine from the checkout, but couldn’t. The headline above the masthead read “Should you let your kids have sex at home?”. Since my kids have been told by their teachers to “start reading the news,” I thought I should at least provide some news they could read.

But, I also left it untouched because I am tired reading about, hearing about, and seeing this new breed of Mom and Dad — the Incredible Shrinking Parent. I already know what the whole tone of the article will be: Mom and Dad would love if their kids just didn’t “do it,” but since we can stop them, well, let’s just make it safe. Could you imagine if you had that attitude to your spouse? “Oh, it would be nice if he wouldn’t cheat, but since he is, it’s better he does it close to home. That way I can call him if I need someone to kill a spider.”

Parenting shouldn’t become one long defeat, an unending triage of your life to kids’ bad behavior.

Update – Hey I saved myself $4!

The mother of an 18-year-old daughter in Toronto expresses the conflict many parents voice. “There’s this leftover ‘boomer-ish’ residue of how hypocritical it would be to make such strict rules. But I was born in the ’50s and there’s part of me that thinks I don’t want to be ‘so Dutch’ about this.” She’s adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach: “I avert my gaze,” she says. Her daughter’s boyfriend is allowed to stay over on the guest mattress or guest couch. “That’s where he sleeps, as far as I know,” she says. “I have no official knowledge that anything happened.” She knows she has little control, and if her daughter is “going to do it, she’s going to do it.”

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