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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tantrums

I wish you could just tell me exactly what is wrong. Are you really this upset because I took your shoes off? The shoes that are still slightly damp from the park yesterday and that have little specks of sand clinging to them. The shoes that would be horribly uncomfortable to sleep in. The shoes that I took off of you while you were sleeping, or so I thought, in the stroller so that I could carry you upstairs and put you in your bed for your nap.

Really? All this because of your shoes?

It must be your shoes because that is the only word I recognized in between all your crying and yelling. Could you just stop all of that and say to me look mom, I really want to wear those shoes. I am tired and I was comfortable wearing them and I want them back. Instead you scream shoes! at me while tears stream down your face.

Maybe I should have just given you the shoes. Let you bring the sand into your bed. I thought you wouldn't be able to sleep with them on. But then you weren't really sleeping anyway.

I'm sorry that you cried so much. That you became so upset that you couldn't fall asleep. That nothing I did comforted you. I'm sorry that I kept having to leave the room, but the sounds you were making and my own frustrations sometimes made it necessary for me to walk away. I am not used to this, these tantrums that have suddenly started and are appearing with greater frequency. This never happened with your sister. She always had the words to say what she wanted. Sometimes I wish you did too.

I am glad that you finally fell asleep in your sister's bed. Let's try again tomorrow shall we. And this time I will let you wear your shoes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stuffed friends

We have a bucket full of dolls and stuffed animals in our living room. Rabbits, bears, babies.The bucket is often overflowing, and yet the kids rarely play with any of them. They could care less they are even there. The ones they actually like are usually lying somewhere on the floor, thrown down when we have called them to dinner or headed out the door.

The favorites of both kids are, to my surprise, the five stuffed figures of the Backyardigans So much for my attempts to resist consumerism. But really I don't mind, because the Backyardigans are my favorites too.

The first video the girl ever watched around the age of one and a half was a DVD of Backyardigan episodes that a friend of her grandma lent us. She was hooked and so was I. The next Christmas a couple of Backyardigans made it into her stocking (thanks again to Grandma). One by one we collected them all until the day when she could walk around with all five tucked into a doll stroller.

The boy is just as devoted as his sister. At his last doctor's appointment he clutched Tasha against his naked body while I waited for him to be weighed. His stuffed friend didn't lessen his tears but I like to think he was still being comforted.

Maybe the best part about the Backyardigans is that there are five of them. Which means there is slightly less fighting then one would expect.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Change room

Surveying the wall of bathing suits, the girl picked out her favorite. It was a navy blue two piece, which I don't usually like on little kids, but the top was long and so I agreed. I picked out a navy blue one piece with polka dots for her and added it to the pile. Holding the suits in her arms she announced I have to go try these on.

So she did.

It was the first time that we had been in a changing room together for her. I prefer to shop for the kids' clothes alone. When we are together I usually just estimate the size, buy it and she tries it on at home. Walking to the change room with her I felt a foreshadowing of things to come.

I laughed as I watched her dance around in the changing room, pleased as can be with the new suit she was wearing. She would look at me and then look in the mirror as if checking to see that I saw she looked a good as she thought she did. Look at me. Look in the mirror. Back and forth until she decided to add some jumps that ended with a flourish on the cold cement ground.

A pair of sparkly pink heart shaped sunglasses were perched on her nose. She commented about how dark they made everything but she didn't take them off. She was just as pleased with them as she was with the two new bathing suits.

I had to convince her that the suits needed to come off so we could pay for them. I managed this with a promise that she could put one on as soon as she got home. And she did. Along with a pair of sparkly pink heart shaped sun glasses.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blog Out Loud. Again.

Last year the amazing Lynn from Turtlehead launched Blog Out Loud (BOLO). All I can say is that she is a force to be reckoned with. Lynn put together a wonderful evening where local bloggers had a chance to read some of their posts out loud and the audience had a chance to sit and listen. It was a great time. And in her infinite wisdom she is bringing it back for round two!

At the time I had only been blogging for a few months. Still, Lynn kindly let me read one of my favorite posts. I liked the idea of hearing out loud the words I usually only hear in my head. I also liked the idea of seeing people react to my words instead of just sending them off alone into the online abyss. For that reason I asked if I could read again this year. And because she is so very kind, Lynn said yes.

Except now I have to pick something to read. I have been thinking about this and thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that I need some help.

Help!

Are there any posts that have struck you or stuck with you? Is there a post that you would like to hear read out loud? Tell me, which post should I read?

If you live in or near Ottawa I hope to see you at BOLO on July 7th. There are some great bloggers reading this year. And if you are there, please say hi!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Earthquake

The girl was lying on the couch, tired from her early morning wake up and a busy morning at preschool. Robert Munsch stories were playing on the computer. I figured it was safe to sneak upstairs and use the bathroom without her hollering for me at the top of her lungs. As she sometimes likes to do when I am out of her sight.

Almost at the bottom of the staircase, I stopped when I heard a rumble. A deep rumble. I lifted up my head to look out the window of the front door. I expected to see the biggest semi truck ever in existence driving down my small one way street. Instead, I felt the ground begin to shake. It didn't stop.

It took me longer then you might expect to realize that what I was feeling was an earthquake. I had never experienced an earthquake before. I would rather not experience it again.

As the floor shook beneath my feet and the walls seem to move and bend in front of my eyes, I ran quickly to the back of the house and grabbed the girl up in my arms. What's happening she asked. It's an earthquake I said, hearing the panic in my voice. With her arms wrapped around my neck we sprinted up the stairs. At the landing I could finally hear the boy's cries over the sounds of the earth moving.

The earthquake had woken him up from his nap and he now sat upright in his bed. His arms reached for me and mine reached for him. Wrapped around me I carried him and his sister back down the stairs. For a moment I didn't know what to do with them. Do we hide in the basement? No, I think that is for a tornado. Under a table? Maybe. Then all I wanted, and I wanted it intensely, was to be out of the house. With them.

I ran out the door in my bare feet with the children clutched to me. And then I didn't know what to do next.

From my porch I saw a neighbor. I felt myself breath for the first time. Knowing that we weren't alone. That we were okay. But I kept shaking. The ground finally stopped moving but I kept shaking for another ten minutes. Scared about what could have, even if it didn't, happen.

I fretted and fluttered around the kids as they sat beside me on the porch stairs before deciding to move them to the park. Wide open spaces I thought, that will be safer if more is coming.

Nothing more did come. Finally the cell phone picked up reception and I spoke to the husband at work. Life went on as normal around me. The kids chased their friends, the guys played basketball on the court, cyclists passed by. Inside I still shook.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kissing

I watched them out of the corner of my eye from across the park. The two of them had climbed up a rope structure, one on either side of the rope. They leaned in close to each other until their bodies pressed together. They kissed.

They looked so young. They made me feel old.

Not that I think of myself as old, but I know that to them I am. I am a tired looking lady slumped on park bench with her hat pulled down low. I am one of them. An adult. A mother.

I know that I was once that old but sometimes it is hard to remember. Back when my worries seemed so important, so big. When I was still trying to decide who I was and who I wanted to be. When the only one I was responsible for was myself.

Watching them I found myself wishing I had spent more time kissing boys in parks instead of studying when I was younger. Then I thought oh god, someday some mother may be watching one of my kids kissing in a park. When really, they should be studying.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Away

He let out a cry as we walked out the door. Still we kept going. Down the stairs, down the street and downtown. We thought about them. We talked about them. We didn't call.

When the cell phone rang early Sunday morning we both gave a start. I ran to my purse and began searching through it frantically. I dumped the contents out on the hotel room bed to find it faster. I grabbed it and flipped in open at the same time as I squeaked out a hello. I held my breath until I heard everything is fine. I gave my brother-in-law the combo for the stroller lock and sighed a sigh of relief.

For close to twenty-four hours it was like it was just us again. Him and me. I wouldn't wish us back to those days for anything. The days before diapers, sleepless nights and discipline; raspberries on my stomach, whispered mommies and arms clasped tight around my neck. But after almost fours years of it always being the three of us, the four of us twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, it was nice to be reminded of when there was just us two. If only for one night.

A very big thank you to a wonderful, patient and tired aunt and uncle. Feel free to come back anytime.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Me! Not you!

He's not going she says pointing to her brother. Only I'm going.

The same conversation over and over.

You're not coming to the lemonade party! she tells him. Only three and four year olds get to go.

You can't come to the birthday party! she informs him. You are too sick and only I'm going.

You aren't coming to the market! she shares with him. Me and mommy are going.

Every time she says these things to him he responds with cries of frustration. Sometimes tears. He wants to go too. So badly.

It's hard to be a little brother. It's hard to have a big sister that gets to do things that you don't get to do.

It's hard to be a big sister. It's hard figuring out what it means to be big.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ten

Another year we've been together
Three-hundred and sixty five days more
I'm not sure what I can say that I haven't already
I can tell you that I love you
But you already know that
I can tell you that I am glad we are doing this
All of this
But you already know that too
I can say I'm glad we've made it this far
Here's to ten more

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beginnings and endings and birthdays

We stopped for coffee first. I drank my latte sitting at a table by the window. She ate a grilled cheese sandwich sitting beside me. I took some time to wonder how we had gotten here.

The lemonade party was held in the school playground. I looked on one table for her name tag and information packet. She yelled to me that she found them on another table. We met some of the kids that will be in her class. We met the woman that will be her kindergarten teacher next year. She seemed nice. I hope she will be nice to the girl.

*

The preschool picnic was in a park by the river. The weather was beautiful and the turnout good. I helped to set up while the husband watched the kids explore the new for them play structures.

We bought four dinners. The girl spurned the veggie dog in favour of a bag of chips and a juice box that she consumed quickly. I let her. Nights like that don't happen often.

One more week of preschool and then she is done. Moving on. I think I will be sadder then she will be. She is excited about starting kindergarten and doesn't realize what is ending. Everyday now when I drop her off and pick her up I think about how grateful I am to all of them. Grateful for welcoming her so warming, giving her such joy and for helping out a tired mom.

*

The birthday crown is yellow, just like it was last year. This time a number 4 is written clearly at the front. The girl has decorated her crown with stickers and markers and she wears it proudly.

We spent yesterday afternoon making two dozen cupcakes. Vanilla with vanilla icing. I didn't even try to make them healthy. But I did bring two big bunches of organic bananas to accompany the cupcakes at snack time.

The boy and I stayed all morning. He loved it. I think he wouldn't have cared if I had gone home and left him there. Next year my boy. When you are two and a half.

The girl played with all her friends. I watched her and wondered some more.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Secret

I whispered it. Like it was a dirty little secret. Like it was something to be ashamed of. Something no one else should know.

I whispered it as I stood next to my friend watching our kids climb the play structure at the girl's preschool. And she turned to me and laughed.

Her laugh was one of understanding. She didn't mock me for worrying that maybe I am doing something wrong because she is sometimes so bossy with other kids and she can be so shrieky and she just doesn't understand she can't make other kids do what she wants them to do and I worry kids won't want to play with her and is it because of me?

Her laugh made me smile. She told me me too. She freed me from my secret.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Them

I lay in his bed wishing him to sleep. He sat up beside me chatting happily. Shh I said it is time to go to sleep. Your sister is sleeping. Please lie down. Eventually he would snuggle in bed next to me. For awhile. Then he was sitting up again, happy now that the drugs had taken the edge off of his fever.

Eventually I fell asleep. He did too. When I woke up there was morning light coming through the curtains. I climbed over him carefully and made my way back to my own bed. I grunted at the husband when he told me it was 5:30 am and then I fell asleep.

*

I had been up late that night. It was 11:30pm by the time my friend's car dropped me at my door. Way past my bedtime. But worth it.

Before I drifted off to sleep listening to the sounds outside my window the boy started to stir. He was awake and unhappy. A day that had started for me at 5 am that morning was now going to last a few hours more.

*

Finally dressed after a morning in my pajamas and the kids in theirs, the girl and I headed out for some time alone. I was tired and cranky, but determined that she and I would enjoy our time together.

At the market we talked to friends and she gobbled down strawberries right from the basket, handing me the stems from her seat in the stroller. I watched her sit with three other girls while the kind market volunteer showed them science experiments. Sitting there the girl looked old and young to me at the same time.

We sat at a round metal table eating vegetable pad Thai from a styrofoam container. She ate more strawberries sitting in the stroller, watching a gull watch her.

*

They chased each other around the small backyard. She was so happy to be with her friend. I was too tired to be standing there holding a plate of food and making small talk with strangers. I did it anyway.

More people arrived and she was lost in the crush of her friend's other friends. She called to him to play with her but he didn't. So she just called louder.

The tiredness of the day overwhelmed me and I knew it was time to go. I said my goodbyes. She didn't want to leave but when I offered her one of the cookies put out for dessert she happily climbed in the stroller. We headed for home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Missing you

I miss you.

I spend my mornings with your brother. We go to the park, to the museum, to the grocery store. We sit in a cafe and he eats eggs while I drink my coffee. We play and laugh.

I pick you up from preschool. We rush to get home and put your brother down for his nap. I fix you lunch. The busyness of the morning catches up with me and I feel tired.

I let you sit and watch tv while he naps so that I can sit quietly by myself. I have reconciled the presence of television in our lives, even though I used to think I would never let you watch it. Now I turn on a video just so I can grab a moment for me.

It's not the use of videos that make me sad. It's that I don't spend time with you just the two of us. Your brother gets the fun me. The morning me that has more energy. You get the early afternoon me that wants to nap or sit and read a book. You get a me that wants to rest instead of play.

And so I miss you. I miss playing and laughing and engaging with you.

Even though I am sitting next to you on the couch.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wanting

I want you to be happy. I want that very much. But, my love, you can't always get what you want.

You want your friend to sit in your stroller with you. He doesn't want to. You can't force him. No amount of crying or screaming or pushing will change that. Other people won't always do what you want.

You want to watch another video. I've already let you watch too much. You want to watch Calliou. I've said no, and not just because I hate him with a unexplainable intensity. Sometimes people will say no to you, whether you want them to or not.

You want to add the sugar to the dry ingredients. The muffin recipe calls for the sugar to be added to the wet ingredients in the bowl in front of your brother. He wants to pour it in and mix it up. He wants what you want and only one of you will get it.

My dad used to sing that song to me and I hated it. What does it mean? Why can't I get everything I want?

I sing it to myself now as I talk to you. As I listen to your frantic pleas and cries for whatever it is that you want in that moment. I tell myself over your whining that wanting is part of growing up. And being a grown up is knowing that you won't always get it.

So I will listen to you and comfort you and get frustrated with you when you just won't stop. And I will tell myself that no matter how much I may want for you to stop wanting, I can't always get what I want.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Truth

Life presents us with multiple truths. Mine. Yours. Theirs. Every experience we share has a different truth as we see it.

My glass is half full. Yours is half empty.

Truth is relative. To know the truth of that all you have to do is talk to a child.

When we talk, the truth she tells me is her truth. They aren't lies she speaks. They aren't meant to be. She doesn't try to trick me. She just speaks her truth. Sometimes it is the truth as she sees it. Sometimes it is the truth as she would like it to be.

I need my vitamins she says to me.

I saw your daddy give you two vitamins this morning I say back to her.

My daddy said I could have one more she promptly answers back.

You need to put your pajamas on I tell her.

I want to sleep in a dress tonight she tells me.

No, you can wear your pjs I reply.

My daddy said I could sleep in a dress tonight she counters.

Did he really say that? No. Does she wish he had? Yes. And for her, at three-almost four, that is truth enough.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cheeks

I kiss his full cheeks. They are still soft, even though his baby face has been replaced by the face of a boy. With my lips against his skin, I pucker up and mwah! He laughs and pulls me back again for more.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mail

A yellow slip of paper arrived in an envelope addressed to the girl. You are invited, it said, to a party at your school to meet your new kindergarten teacher. She was excited. I was excited.

She stuck the paper to the fridge with a magnet. It will sit there until next week. We will take it down and go together, just the two of us, to celebrate the beginning of something new.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rules

I am becoming a much stricter parent than I thought I would be. Or am I?

It seems like I have a lot of rules. I feel like I have rules for everything

no hitting
no biting
no climbing on the table
no colouring on the walls
no spitting out your food
no hitting
no biting
no climbing on the table
no colouring on the walls
no spitting out your food


Yes, I feel like I have rules for everything. And just went I finish saying a rule I have to say it all over again. Because the kids act like they didn't hear me the first time. Or the second. But I know they are listening.

The other day at the park I felt like a broken record.

Put your shoes on!
Don't go behind the field house by yourself!
You have to keep your clothes on!

Over and over I repeat myself.

Maybe my kids are of the opinion that my rules suck. That I have made up these arbitrary rules to make their lives more more difficult. I haven't.

You have to wear your shoes because there could be broken glass or other sharp things in the sand or the pool.
You can't go behind the field house by yourself because then I can't see you. If I can't see you, you can't see me. And I need to see you to make sure you are safe.
You have to keep your clothes on because we are outside and when we are outside we wear clothes. You can take your clothes off when we are at home.


Most of my rules relate to safety. Some relate to manners. Some are born out of a fear of the unknown and distrust of strangers wandering through the park.

So I have rules. Lots of rules. Rules that I repeat and repeat. Rules that make me sound like a cranky mother. Which I sometimes am.

But I also have good rules. Rules that they listen to.

You have to hug me!
I need six kisses a day!
It's time for a cuddle!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Our morning

Two in a stroller. Two blond heads, only one of them mine. We spend the morning outside even though rain clouds hang overhead. They eat snacks. They dig in the dirt at the garden. They enjoy themselves thoroughly.

We pick up the older kids. I hand one blond head back to his mom.

Two in a stroller. Both of them mine. On our way home.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Listening

Sometime I wonder if she hears me. Or do the words just leave my mouth and disappear into thin air.

*

It escaped my lips twice that day. The doorbell rang while the boy was napping. It looked like the girl had smeared peanut butter on the couch. I swore. The word snuck out before I remembered, but then I shrugged it off, convinced that she hadn't heard. That she didn't understand.

Sitting at the kitchen table together I stirred the play dough while she dropped in the food colouring. Drop, drop, drop. That's enough I said. No she said. As we argued drops of blue food colouring hit the chair and the floor. I grumbled while I cleaned it up.

Shit she said.

What did you say? I said, surprised but also amused to hear that word spoken in such a little voice. And in the appropriate context.

Shit she said again.

What does that mean? I asked as I wipe the floor clean. Bending down she couldn't see me trying not to laugh.

I told her something like that's not a word we should use, hypocrite that I am. The we went back to our play dough.

I was reminded that she does listen to me. Even when I don't want her to.

*

The words may float in one ear and out the other, but she still remembers them. She is listening. She is watching me.

*

The boy sat down next to me on the edge of the wading pool. He took off his blue Crocs and then wandered away after a ball. Put your shoes on I called after him. That is one of my park rules. At the park we wear our shoes or we go home.

I'll get him the girl said to me. She picked up the shoes and walked over to where he was squatting next to some leaves.

You have to put your shoes on she said to her brother. He ignored her.

The girl repeated herself and then looked at me. Was she looking for guidance? Or to see if I was watching her?

If you don't put your shoe on we are going to have to go home. Do you want to go home? she asked. The boy looked at her long enough to shake his head.
Okay then said the girl. I am going to count to three and then you have to put your shoes on. One, two, three she counted slowly.
When she was done the boy stretched out his feet towards his sister. She picked up the shoes and tried to out them on.
Mom! she yelled at me, I need help!
I had watched in awe. Surprised and amused to hear her say the words I usually say. I was proud to see how she talked to her brother.
I was pleased to know that she does listen to me. Even when I think she isn't.
*
She is listening to me. He is too. They are watching to see what I say. But more than that, they are watching to see what I do.