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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Being an Authentic Parent

I want to be an authentic parent.  I am, admittedly, the most lenient parent of most of my friends.  It isn’t that I need Ellie to like me AND love me.  It isn’t about wanting to be her friend and her mom. 

I’m her mom.  We can be friends when she’s twenty and just bought a new pair of black boots I want to borrow.

No, it’s about letting her be free to use her voice, to express how she feels.  I try not to discipline based on some principle I feel like I should be sticking to even though I don’t really understand why.

If I say no, it’s because there is a health and safety issue.  Or a cost issue.  (No, I will not buy you the $20 squishee at Michaels.)  That’s ridiculous.  

Ok ok, I am totally buying her the $20 squishee she really wants but I’m thinking I’ll get it from Walmart for cheaper and she doesn’t KNOW about it yet.  It’s a surprise for the trip home.  How did I get side-tracked?  Oh.  Saying no to Ellie.

I say no to Ellie all the time.  Problem is, she says ‘no’ back.  A lot.  At first I was like…holy crap can she DO that?  But apparently yes, she can.  And she does.  A lot.  Or, the other fun one, “ I caaaaan’t.”  As in, Ellie, pick up your markers please.  “I caaaaan’t.  You have to heeeelp me.”

Anyway, I pick my battles.  And a lot of markers from the floor.

There are two reasons for this.  

1) Working up enough indignant irritation to stick to my guns and battle it out with her thirty times before noon is really hard for me.  You don’t want to pick up your toys now?  Cool, cool.  I wouldn’t want to either.  Maybe later, eh?  And later daddy does it so, no issue.  (Thanks Bill!)

2) There are two of them.  And one of me.  And while I’m hovering over her making sure she’s picking up every last crayon Benji is teetering at the top of the stairs about to fall down.  Again. 

Anyway.  Maybe she’ll grow up and be a jerk, hopefully not.  I do know that when I cracked my toe on the couch earlier today the first thing she did was ask me if I was ok.  And then she gave me a hug.  And later when dad was wrapping my toe (it’s all big and purple and…gross.  It’s gross).

Anyhoo, when Dad was wrapping the icky crooked one to the nice straight one she sat next to me even though she was nervous and held my hand the whole time.  And looked into my eyes and told me everything was going to be ok.

Folks, that’s the kind of thing you can’t ‘discipline’ into a child.  Sure she pushes the boundaries and yes she’s stubborn and strong-willed.  She’s also compassionate and empathetic and loving.

She is a beautiful soul.  

My job isn’t to hammer her into a socially acceptable mold.  It’s to show her how to listen to her own voice and believe in her own intelligence and capabilities.  Her own innate goodness.

Parenting Ellie is like guiding a canoe.  Too harsh a course correction sends us veering off center.  Relaxed, keeping the goal in sight, we’ll winnow the water to the shore of adulthood just fine.

Anyway, as a wise woman once told me, “Everything is just a stage.”  Just hold onto the boat people, after the rapids comes the calm.  Or the waterfall.  But then, for sure, after the waterfall is the calm.

“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.”  Mikhail Lermontov

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Things We're Obsessed With Right Now

I thought since some of us were making New Year’s Resolution lists I’d share a few lists of my own that have nothing to do with the New Year, or resolutions.

Things Benji is obsessed with:  

Taking the dryer balls into and out of the dryer

Putting Nana’s oatmeal packets into and out of the box then hiding them all in a Ritz box

Putting his food down the little hole in his chair-highchair

Throwing his food to the floor

Throwing his food at me

Crawling up the stairs
Crawling down the stairs
Stopping midway on the stairs and having a break
Not sleeping

Things I am obsessed with:

Sleep.  When will I sleep again?  For how long?  When is my next chance to try to sleep again?

Inventing a wet/dry hand-held vacuum

Inventing a robot that will climb the stairs for hours with a toddler to keep them from falling
A New Book!  101 Ways to Keep your Toddler Entertained Away from Home.  (This doesn’t actually exist and I’d write it but while I did he’d probably be taking a header from the top of the stairs, or eating the dryer balls, or shoving that pen up his nose.)

Benji’s mouth.  As in, did that tooth come through yet?  Is it here?  Is it HERE YET!?  Argggggggg.

A NEW HEALTH BOOK!  ‘Fasting’ by Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore.  I know.  Why fasting?  Am I crazy?  Probably.

I’ve been reading some studies that have shown it to be good for your immune system, helps reset your sugar levels, and may have cancer and heart disease prevention benefits.  I’m all about prevention people.  Add to that it doesn’t cost anything, I can start and stop anytime, and it falls into my ‘can’t hurt’ category of my optimal health endeavors.  

Well ok I’m still nursing so I’m not doing ‘actual’ fasting.  All of 12 hours a day, from about 7:30pm to 7:30am the next day.  Pretty much everyone does this, it’s called sleeping.  Ah, sleep.  Please RSVP me soon.

I was worried about not getting enough nutrients (nursing) but I decided baby could do without vitamin I.  (Ice cream.)  Or Vitamin CH.  (Cheezies).  Which is all I eat after supper anyway.

Which leads me to…the word Autophagy - a form of cellular cleansing.  Basically it’s what happens when our bodies don’t have sugar nearby to use for energy - it ‘culls the herd’ in our bodies by destroying old or diseased cells that aren’t working optimally to leave room for the new, stronger cells.  Sounds like important work right?  It is.  And it doesn’t happen well until we aren’t spending so much time eating and digesting, so it can spend energy repairing and restoring.  Hmmm.  Food for thought!  Or, not-food for thought, in this case.

Things Ellie is obsessed with:

That $2,000 necklace the lady at La Mine D’or let her try on
Taking away anything Benji is calmly, quietly playing with
Running around in circles, screaming, as Benji totters after her, also screaming.

Mommies day out anyone?  Anyone?  Beuller….bueller…?   

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tearing Down the House

While my children have systematically been tearing apart my parents home, I’ve been going a little crazier than usual trying to make sure none of the plywood or plaster falls and hits my youngest toddler in the brain.  I’ve failed miserably 4 out of 10 times.  We can probably kiss our Harvard dreams goodbye at this point but he seems to still be healthy.  Nothing wrong with being a dentist, yeah?  Nice safe occupation.  Not too intellectually challenging.

Ellie has, thankfully, both the athleticism and intelligence to scoot out of the way of falling items.  Benji is still tottering around and yanking said items on top of his head because…baby.

I underestimated the amount of time I’d be chasing him up the stairs, down the stairs, off the TV, (ours is mounted on the wall), holding my hand above his head while he plays underneath the torture device of a coffee table complete with sharp edges and pointy metal legs.

Well what can you do?  Wrap the kid in bubble wrap?  The thought has crossed my mind.  He fell the other day and scraped his head on the edge of the base board in the kitchen.  I mean, how do I anticipate or prevent that?

My parents have a wonderful split level home.  It’s so cozy and warm and homey.  

And full of stairs.  

There’s two sets of stairs bracketing the main set of stairs going all the way up to the third level.  And the set of stairs going to the basement.  We have it all blocked off with gates and boards and plywood craftily formed around the stair banisters.  

Benji reminds me of the raptor in the Jurassic Park movie, steadily testing the perimeter defenses for weaknesses.  

And he’s found them.  

Dad, clearly underestimating both the determination and the mental agility not to mention the physical strength of my youngest merely taped a barrier across the bottom step of the right hand set of stairs leading to the middle level.  

He ripped that apart in about 48 hours.  Dad had to drill it back into place.

The top barrier across the left hand set of stairs leading to the middle level remained intact for an impressive 7 days.  This morning he found the edge and pushed it clear.

I am amazed and horrified and when I get to bedtime and he’s still more or less whole I breathe a sigh of relief and collapse onto the couch, exhausted completely.

And then, teething.  So he’s up at midnight and then 230am for three hours.  I climb back into bed at 5am and wonder how I’m going to get through the next 24 hours.

Poor Ellie.  I don’t see her for hours at a time.  I’m assuming Nana is feeding her occasionally.  And there’s chocolate balls around so, she won’t totally starve.

This morning instead of going to morning service with mom I stayed home so Benji could have his morning nap, because you know, he’s been up all night, kid is tired.

And did I rest?  Of course not.  I piled up some cherry balls (Ellie has eaten all the chocolate balls at this point) and lots of good hot tea and pulled up a movie on Netflix.  I got about a 1/3 of a way through ‘Logan’ when Ellie came crying to the front door.  I’d forgotten her outside!  (Ha, ha).

No, she had gone to church with Nana but they got about three songs in before she wanted to come back home.

So, here I am, drinking coffee as strong as they legally allow in Canada and attempting in fits and starts to finish this blog entry and then like a computer left outside on a day like today, I am going to freeze over and crash in on myself.

But, like my wise little Ellie says, "Mommy, sometimes you have to get through the sad before you can get to the happy."  And, it isn’t even really sad.  It’s just..tired.  I just have to get through the tired before I can get to the rest.

So, from my heart to yours, I wish you all the rest and rejuvenation you can absorb.  And me, too...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Just Between You and Me

I’m thinking the day before Christmas no one is going to be reading this but…it’s Sunday and my little rule for myself is to have my weekly blog done by Sunday night.

Since no one will be reading this but me and you, whoever you are, I can get comfy and talk freely, eh?

Beni is getting his canines in RIGHT NOW and I’m ready to invent a Prozac/Valium cocktail that will get me through the holidays.  

I can’t even be ‘in the moment’.  It’s too painful/annoying.  Can’t I just project myself mentally to a nice sunny beach somewhere with some tropical drink that tastes like antifreeze and pineapples but you don’t care because it’s VACATION and you’re alone and peaceful and happy?  I’m in survival mode right now.  I’m in Hawaii as I write this.  In my head.  It’s so nice here.  So much quieter than my real life.

I digress.

I’m home in Canada for the holidays and once again straddling the line between trying to ensure Ellie sort of believes in the magic of Santa but also not making a big deal out of it, and trying not to outright lie to her.  

There will be two camps on this.  One who says GIVE IT UP, IT’S HARMLESS FUN!  You’re a dweeb.  It’s Santa.  

And one who says…why are we telling our children a magical being watches them all year and then decides if they should get gifts or not?  Like all wonderful traditions that make us feel warm and cozy, it has a cold side.  There are children who do not get gifts at Christmas.  Or who are in broken homes where Santa visits one home with loads of gifts, and was only able to leave highlighters and chewing gum at another.  It’s a wonderful story if your life is blessed with a good income and a stable home.  If you’re not, it’s a harsh shove from childhood. 

Except it’s just me and you reading this so…there’s just my camp (it doesn’t feel right to lie to her) and you.

Anyway, I told her Santa was coming and she was like…”…to THIS house?  Tonight?”

I forgot.  He’s a dude.  She does not like dudes.  Even ones bringing presents.  So I told her she wouldn’t need to meet him at all and he would only come quickly to drop off some presents and leave again while she slept.  So, when my three year old asked directly about Santa…I lied.  So much for all my well intentioned high-ideals about truth and the integrity of our relationship.

Didn’t see THAT coming did you?  Yeah, me neither.  I guess when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to be the one to have that kid.  The sullen, cranky one who doesn’t believe in magic or fairytales or happy endings or true love or all the goopy, awesome stuff that makes my little world go ‘round.

Well, I better go eat those cookies we set out for Santa.  And put the presents down that ‘he’ brought her.  And be all moody and conflicted when she asks me anything directly.  Then feel guilty about the moodiness AND the lying and go eat another round of chocolate balls and apple pie with ice cream.  Mmmmmm eating my feelings is delicious AND fun.

Oh, and have a Merry Christmas, eh!?