The first semester of my fourth year is coming to a close. One more week of classes, three more assignments to hand in and then exams. My last two essays are written and I’m really happy with them. I’m working on my very last assignment.
This has been possibly the hardest few months ever. Certainly in my time as a mother and a wife. We’ve all been tired, we’ve all been sick – did you know you can have not-quite-pneumonia? The kid and I are still both spectacularly bad at sleeping. Lots of things have been pushed to the side. There have been fights and guilt. I have started fights because of my guilt.
And there have been a few times that Joe has had to convince me that this will all be worth it.
I have another semester and I’m doing all of this so I can do it all again next year. What’s the definition of insanity again?
But on December 8 I will have something to celebrate, and on December 17 I will have something to celebrate. And then I will have a couple of weeks to regroup and get set for the next big challenge.
At Pop Expo this weekend I was waiting in line for my photo with John Barrowman…
And I was listening to conversation of the two teenage girls behind me in line. These girls were maybe 17 or 18 at the most, probably younger, and they were talking about all things TV – geeky TV at that. Obviously they were Whovians, given their position in line to meet John Barrowman, AKA Captain Jack Harkness. (Also Malcolm Merlyn, but that’s less important). My ears really perked up when they started talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls.
You see, I was very lucky as a teenage girl. Buffy and Rory were both 16 when I was 16 and I got to actually grow up in the experiences they had at my age. These are also two shows that I own on DVD and will be showing to my daughter when she gets older. (Along with Veronica Mars, which I have been delighted to experience as an adult). There just aren’t young women on TV like that anymore.
Or if there are I don’t where to find them. I found some on Bunheads, but then that got cancelled.
Of course, I also feel privileged to have grown up watching Golden Girls and Designing Women, and my daughter can look forward to characters like Leslie Knope, Felicity Smoak – thank you DVDs and streaming services!
Meanwhile, every time I go to a con it makes me want to watch and re-watch all sorts of things – All of Doctor Who, Torchwood, Veronica Mars, Buffy and Angel, Arrow, Battlestar Galactica.
And so say we all.
When it was just me and I was sick it was easier. When there was work it was harder. When I became a mom it got really hard. Now that I’m a mom and working and being a student it’s really, really hard.
When my nose started running on Sunday afternoon I was in denial. I have one more essay to write, an assignment to do, I’ve been getting to the gym again, I have a Christmas party on Sunday. I can’t have this cold right now, but it seems I no longer have a fighting chance.
My throat is sore, my nose only stops running when I’m sneezing. I’m achy and I just want to lie down.
I want to be in class this morning, discussing the different language laws we’ve seen in Quebec, learning about Canada’s environmental movement and discussing interviews vs surveys vs focus groups, but at 12:30 am, when I couldn’t sleep because I kept having to blow my nose I finally waved the white flag.
This sucks and it better be over quickly.
Yesterday I went to Pop Expo here in Ottawa (and met John Barrowman squee!) and I decided to bring some blind boxes home to the kid as a treat.
For those of you who are unaware, blind boxes are boxes you can buy that could have any one of a set of toys in them. The kid loves watching YouTube channels where they open these blind boxes and blind bags, and I knew she would be excited when she got these ones. I got her two Disney ones and two My Little Pony ones and set them aside for her to open this morning.
She woke me up early – as always – and watched the iPad for a while. I got her a morning snack and we talked a bit and then I remembered these boxes that I had and brought them to her. She was very excited, narrating as she went along, and very happy with her little toys. One of the Disney ones had a little Alice.
Side note – I also got myself some blind boxes – say hello to the Guardians:
So here’s the kid, looking at her new little toys, excited that she got some blind boxes to open, and then Alice’s head come off, and I wanted to cry.
You see, my kid, there’s this thing about her that I remember so vividly from my childhood. I used to ruin things almost as soon as I had them. I would spill on new clothes, break a new toy, draw on a book. I was a destructive kid and sometimes I joke about it now, but having all my stuff go from new to ruined almost instantly really, really sucked sometimes.
So now my kid breaks something, accidentally or on purpose, she draws on one of her dolls, she takes something apart and can’t put it together – it all reminds me how tired I got of being the one that ruined things. And I still fear started in one some things just in case I end up messing them up, like my kid for example.
Something nice happened in our neighbourhood today. I was sitting in my office, working away on an essay when I saw the lady who has been staying there – I don’t know if it’s his mother or hers – standing at the front window, watching outside.
I saw the car pull in to the driveway. I saw him get out of the front seat, and, just as I expected, she got out of the back.
They were finally bringing home their new baby.
These neighbours have been living across the street for a sort time, but we’ve gotten to know them a little bit. The kid has become a fan of theirs. We see them out on walks, her bump getting bigger and bigger. The kid took them one of her baby toys – a Peter Rabbit that plays a lullaby. She’s a big fan of babies.
When I went to check the mail I met him out on the sidewalk. He looks elated. He told me they had a little girl, he told me her name, he needed no prompting.
It occurred to me later that when I see him again I will tell him she’s welcome here, anytime she just needs to get out of the house or having an adult conversation we will have a cup of coffee for her.
I want to tell him that she needs to listen to all the people telling her to take it easy these first few days, because I didn’t and I paid the price.
I want to impart all the knowledge that I’ve gleaned in the almost five years that I’ve managed to parent through – like the fact that on those days when you just need to be away from them, when you feel like you’re terrible and they’re terrible and you just can’t do it anymore? On those days they will eventually fall asleep and when they do you will miss them so much you can’t help but go in and kiss them on the forehead.
But at the same time I know that there’s just so much that they will figure out for themselves and that’s part of the magic.
The movie Frozen has granted me a great opportunity with my daughter. It has opened the door to musicals.
I have been a long-time fan of musical theatre. When I was 9 or 10 my mother took my sister and me to Toronto and we saw Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages. We next saw Cats and then Les Miserables, which my sister and I would then play in the backyard. I took to listening to any Andrew Lloyd Webber I could find.
Since I saw Phantom I have had the privilege of seeing many other shows – Tommy, Hairspray, Miss Saigon, Spamalot, Mamma Mia, Book of Mormon…
And Wicked. Three times.
I love Wicked. I was first introduced to it watching the Tony Awards – Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth performed Defying Gravity and I knew I needed to see that show. So when I was back in Ottawa and it started playing in Toronto I took myself. I took the bus to Toronto by myself, got off the bus and went to the theatre, then got back on the bus after the show and came home.
I lose myself in Broadway shows. Every year I watch the Tonys and dream of going to New York for two or three weeks and seeing as many shows as I can.
I was showing my daughter the video of Kristin Bell singing Do You Want to Build a Snowman? live (which if you haven’t seen is pretty great). Next to the video there were related links, one of which was to Idina Menzel singing Defying Gravity.
I love that song. It speaks to me. It’s bravery and strength but not without fear. It’s saying that if something is important enough you might have to leave people behind if they don’t understand.
Someday I’m going to take my daughter to see Wicked, partly because I love it so damn much and partly because it says so much to me about female relationships and feminism.
So while I had her in my lap and we were already watching videos I clicked on that link and I played Defying Gravity for my kid. Someday she’ll really hear it.
I think her started musical will probably be Mathilda though. She loves those songs and what a great message there too.
That’s live musical, of course, there will be so many movie musicals too – Annie, Hello Dolly, Rent, Hairspray… How do I decide when she’s old enough?
Disclosure: Staples Canada provided me with a Chromecast for the purposes of this post.
I am a movie lover. For a long time settling in with a great movie has been my way to unwind, to stop thinking for a little while and escape into a different world.
There are movies for everything – if you feel like crying, being scared, laughing, being stupid. Everything.
When my daughter was newborn I would take the opportunity to get out of the house every Thursday to go to Stars and Strollers at the local theatre. I saw some movies that I didn’t really want to see, but that was what was playing.
I hoped that this would lead to my daughter loving movies as much as me. In fact, she does like going to the theatre, but mostly because she gets popcorn. She often tells me after the fact that she didn’t like the actual films.
She’s told me… more than once… that she doesn’t like the Muppets.
I mean, why is she trying to hurt me?
The Muppet Family Christmas is the movie that we watch while we decorate our tree. This is a tradition in our family that started before the kid was born and it certainly isn’t going to stop now no matter what she says.
And so I am on the hunt for great movies that we will both love, which is why I’m thrilled to be a part of the Staples Canada Stream Into 2015 campaign. Staples sent me a Google Chromecast and some movie snacks to share. Now I can stream my Netflix to the TV and show my daughter all the movies I think she should love.
This month we will be settling in, watching movies and trying to bring this kid around to my way of thinking. Netflix has some great ones on offer. I can introduce her to Elf, The Grinch and the classic Frosty the Snowman. I’ve never seen Arthur Christmas, but Hugh Laurie’s voice is in it.
The kid announced when we got out first snow last week that this meant it’s almost Christmas and almost her birthday. And that means I need to grow my list of must watch movies for my 4-year-old.
We’re all set here, so please leave me comments and tell me about your family classics. In my family White Christmas and Holiday Inn are annual musts, and I love Scrooged, but that might be a little mature for the kid…
If it were just me? The Family Stone is a recent addition to my ‘holiday feelings’ movies, along with Love, Actually and Die Hard. Obviously.
You can see what other people are watching with the #StreamInto2015 hashtag.
What holiday movie were you excited to show your child for the first time?
One of the biggest struggles I’m having being 32 and back in school is the people around me. I try not to judge, I try to remember who I was the first time around – even then I was older than most of my classmates.
I have always liked school. I have always strived to be on top of things. I want people to think I’m smart. I want to get good grades.
I am not afraid to talk in class, to ask questions that other people might think are stupid. I’ve talked about that before.
The real struggles are the people with priorities so vastly different from my own. Maybe it’s because I’m given up so much to be here – time with my daughter, time for my business, a balanced budget at home. My house is messy, our meal plan usually falls apart by the end of the week, every weekend my kid is upset because I have to spend some time locked in the office trying to get work done.
But I’m pretty sure that even the last time I would have been angry with people who get their friends to sign them in on the attendance so they can skip class and not lose the 10 per cent participation mark. Confounded by people who sign up for a presentation and then opt not to show up.
There are kids who, even in third and fourth year classes, don’t understand the value of the education they are getting.
I am not here just to pass. I am here to understand and discuss and get better. I have taken the opportunity to be here, and every day I am reminded of what I am missing out on, and that means that while I’m trying hard to not judge the conversations I hear around me, I can’t help but wonder what these kids will think of their university experience 10 years from now.
When I did my three year degree there was one class that I specifically didn’t take, though I knew it was a requirement for the four year degree. In the three year program I had the choice between taking this class, Research Methods, or Political Philosophy. I took Political Philosophy, which is very heavy stuff, but basically literature, which I know I can do.
Years ago I considered myself good at math. Algebra. I loved algebra. Then they introduced trigonometry and geometry and there were all these formulas and everything was confused. I cannot graph things.
Research Methods is statistics, broadly. It’s how to do research and studies used to do research and come to conclusions and a lot of that is about data.
So these two semesters, as I finish my honours year, the one class that I absolutely had to take to fulfill my requirements was Research Methods. It’s a second year class, so it shouldn’t be intimidating, given that I have taken and passed third and fourth year classes in the past, but this one is different.
Numbers. Damn am I intimidated.
At this point I have no idea if I’m struggling because I have been thinking about the fact that I didn’t take this class for so many years, if I’m over-thinking everything, or if the material is just too damn hard for my brain, so used to the soft sciences.
I am hovering above the topic. I know that when I get it, I will get it. But right now I don’t get it. I do, however, have a professor who wants me to get it, and I’m planning on taking advantage of that fact before the exam.
Sitting in this huge lecture hall before class starts, I called home to talk to my kid who I won’t get to see tonight – I’m on campus until 9 pm. She asked me what I think her favourite part of the day at school is, and while I was trying to think of what her class does on Mondays she went ahead and told me:
“It’s when I get answers wrong.”
“When you get answers wrong?”
“Yeah. Because then I’m learning.”
Damn kid is smarter than me.