Eight is enough

by , on
November 22, 2017

This morning I took a good look at my kid this morning. She’s doing that growing up thing. Her friends are too.

It’s astounding to me that this tiny baby became this full human person in such a short period of time. She was brand new to our lives but then it was as though she’d always been there. Now she’s doing so many things by herself, and I can see her growing up more and more.

The kid is smart and strong and sassy. She leaves me in disbelief. She makes me angry and fills my heart. I don’t understand it all.

She’s a smartass and she’s stubborn, and she gets it all from me. And her daddy, but a lot of it from me.

She’s so much like me that I worry about her. She will have her struggles, and it’s my job to make sure she understand that we will always love her and all the things she feels are wrong will make her a better adult.

I am so looking forward to seeing what kind of grown up she becomes but I want to keep her little forever. I want to be allowed to cuddle her, kiss her goodnight, read her a story, sit with her and craft or colour. I want her to want me around. I want her to want to tell me everything. (Though she talks so much I don’t anticipate a day when she doesn’t tell me everything).

I want her to laugh with me. I want her to stay weird.

I want her to keep believing that she can do anything. I want her to be anything and everything she wants to be. I want to track her dreams and cry when she achieves them. I want to spend the next fifty years being totally blown away by her and fascinated by her, the same way I have been for the past seven, not quite eight.

I want to spend the next fifty years showing her how her just being has changed me. I want to demonstrate that it’s never too late to achieve change or to dream big.

“Don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself. The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful,” Ben Platt.

Dear Evan Hansen,

by , on
November 17, 2017

Basically I saw the show on Tuesday night and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And my complete certainty that I will never see anything like it again.

Now that I’m home I’m almost in disbelief that I even got to see the show. I have wanted to since the first time I heard Waving Through A Window on the radio. I wanted to see Ben Platt’s Tony-award winning performance, and I did, and I understand why he had to win.

I thought I knew what to expect, but I didn’t.

I was not quite Evan as a teenager, but I did wonder if anyone would even notice if I disappeared, and I am that mother, terrified of not catching the signs. It rang so true to me. All of it.

I felt, physically and emotionally, what Evan was going through. I cried for him, I laughed. It hurt.

I cried through the whole show, I have cried since, I cried the next time I listened to the soundtrack. I still feel the need to just spend some time weeping for all the memories and hurt. The absolute reminder of what it is to be in that place.

I vividly remember one day, standing by a row of lockers during a break between classes in high school, and one of the most popular guys in school just backing into me as if I wasn’t even there. An event that totally confirmed that I was invisible and I didn’t matter. I was so sure that my friends weren’t really friends like other people had, that they would easily move on. That my family’s life would be so much easier without the hassle that was me.

Never did I expect to be where I am now, able to see how many people feel that way at that age. It’s damn near universal. You brought me back to that place, and made me realize I made it out.

Sincerely, Me.

Joiner

by , on
November 5, 2017

I have joined the parent council at my kid’s school. This is not something I ever expected myself to do, but then she went to a coop preschool and I got the taste for knowing her teachers and what was going on in her day to day life.

When she started kindergarten we just put her on the bus and sent her off and when we picked her up all we knew about her school day is what she remembered to tell us.

During her JK and SK years I was in school myself and while I thought of going to council meetings, I often had a class or assignments that prevented me from getting there. Last year was hectic in so many other ways. This year I’m working from home, my kid is getting older, and I want to know what’s going on there. I want to know the teachers, I want to be part of the community more than just donating for bake sales.

So when a position came up I went for it, and now I have meetings at the school and more knowledge about other classes, I know more parents and the principal, new to our school last year.

What’s kind of cool about it all – beyond just feeling more involved in my kid’s life – is that the kid is excited about me doing this. She’s

glad that I’m going to her school and working with her principal. I think it makes her feel important too. She know we care, but also likes it when we demonstrate how much.

She still doesn’t get that she’s the most important thing in my universe.

If a happy and healthy kid comes from a good community and a healthy school environment, just tell me where to sign up.

Post Halloween Blues

by , on
November 2, 2017

We had a hiccup today. Halloween went swimmingly, the whole family had fun and I made the night for three kids who didn’t think anyone would get their costumes (One Cousin Itt and Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin). The kid even got to bed basically on time and fell asleep quickly after all the excitement (and a small amount of sugar).

It was a different story this morning though. I had trouble waking up and the kid had a lot of trouble waking up. When there was some confusion about timing and getting dressed she lost it. We still made it to the bus stop on time, and as the bus came around the corner she turned right around to me and yelled, her faced full of tears, “I just can’t!” before wrapping her arms around me.

I waved the bus driver off and took her home to pick up a few pieces. I gave her the rules for the day and went to work while she did some homework, some word games and played with her Globe.

I told her that I had an errand to run for work and she would have to come with me. And so she did, without complaint, even though the Legion still had a life-sized Michael Myers figure from their Halloween party out and she didn’t want to go near it, or take her eyes off it in case it started moving.

Then I knew that she needed new winter boots, so we stopped on the way home to find some while stores still have her size in stock. And that’s when I made a decision.

We were going to play a little hooky.

There is a new little spa on the way home and they have something called a mini manicure. We were going to treat ourselves. Because it was that kind of day. Because I kept thinking it was almost the weekend, but in reality it’s only Wednesday. Because I have been irked lately.

Because my nails were getting too long.

Because a girl just needs time with her mama sometimes.

All Dressed Up

by , on
October 28, 2017

I have always been creative, but I have never been good at Halloween. As a little kid I was, of course, always excited for the dressing up and the candy. I lived in a neighbourhood full of young families, so everyone took part. It was one of my father’s favourite times of the year, and we always stopped at his house to see if he would recognize us. One of the only pictures he had of us on display n his house from taken by him, at his front door, on Halloween.

For costumes my sister and I would usually raid the costume basket my mother kept stocked for us, and a wardrobe she had in the basement full of her old clothes (including a gorgeous red velvet bridesmaid dress that we horribly mistreated).

There was one year when my mother caved to our requests that she buy us costumes – which in the 80s meant plastic smocks with a picture on the front that came with a plastic mask. Rather than wear the mask, though, I scribble on my face with all of the face paint crayons at the same time. Like no other Cabbage Patch Kid seen before.

Twice my mother tried to make us costumes. The year my sister and I were both My Little Ponies was awesome, and the poodle skirts were pretty great too. But she hated sewing clothes, so there weren’t a lot of those years.

My proudest moment was probably the year I dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, complete with mask and cape. There aren’t a lot of other costumes I really remember – most were some version of witch or princess.

I was also one of those kids that stopped wearing a costume in high school for fear that it would be embarrassing or I’d be the only one.

I never would have been. Lots of people at my school dressed up, including some very creative teachers, but I just sort of ran out of creativity.

And then my kid came along, and I love helping her be whatever she wants to be for Halloween.

When she was a baby I bought her a money costume, because she was our little monkey, but I hit my stride on her second Halloween.

I got her a lion costume, but rather than just let her be a lion, we put on her jersey and she became Ottawa Senators mascot Spartacat.

She has been a princess, a Mountie, a rainbow unicorn, Doc McStuffins, who is awesome and amazing.

This year she had talked about being Hermione – mostly because I once pointed out how much she could look like Hermione given how poufy her hair gets if I braid it when it’s went and then she takes the braids out after it dries. I even bought her a Gryffindor robe in anticipation, though she hasn’t seen the movies or read any of the books yet.

(Soon, my pet, very soon).

And then we sat down as a family and watched The Force Awakens.

There was no turning back.

1,013 Narwhals

by , on
October 27, 2017

We had a good baby. She did all the baby things as she was supposed to – a cycle of sleeping and eating and pooping for the first few weeks. Gradually the cycle got longer and there was babbling and play time thrown in. She was a good baby. And when she was a baby and I rocked her to sleep with her bottle late at night, or early in the morning, I never envisioned a 7-year-old who still can’t get herself to sleep.

I know it’s in her nature. Just as it is in mine.

I used to sneak out of bed to read by nightlight – and I had the blankets with burn marks to prove it.

It’s very hard to explain to the little girl who comes to you, an hour or two past her bedtime, and tells you that she just can’t sleep, that you do, in fact, know how she feels. That sleep has always been your enemy too.

I understand how incredibly difficult it is to just lie there and try to clear your mind and let sleep in. To lie there with thoughts coming into your brain that you really need to just right down or you’ll forget and then you won’t be able to sleep because you’ll be trying so hard not to forget.

And then add on the fact that you can’t just turn on the light, grab a pen and write something down, but you have to go and ask Mommy or Daddy how to spell one of the words you need to remember, because this thought won’t leave you alone.

I am 29 years 0lder than you, kid, and I still wait to go to sleep until I can’t keep my eyes open, for fear of having to just lie there quietly and wait for sleep to come to me. Even though I know it does physical and mental damage to me.

And I laugh at how much I understand you when Daddy tells you to try counting sheep to fall asleep when you promise us that all else has failed, and you tell me the next morning that you were counting narwhals instead and maybe you could have fallen asleep early, but you were excited to get to 1,000 anyway, and then you went to 1,013, because 13 is your favourite number, oh and you counted 600 unicorns before you decided to switch to narwhals.

And in that one moment you are so very much like me, in all my sleep avoiding ways, and exactly like your father, because I cannot get a word in edgewise.

You could probably add up all the words I have ever said before 7 am and not get close to the number that kid said yesterday morning.

And so, I beg. I plead. I kindly request that you please, please just stay in your bed and do your best. We’ve tried reading and music and ebooks and blackout curtains and it all just comes back to your stubborn brain.

And I can’t imagine where that came from.

Moi, j’aime bien sur lire

by , on
October 24, 2017

The kid is in immersion, just like I was at her age. She started with a bit of French in kindergarten and now she spends half her days immersed in an entirely new language.

We weren’t at all worried about this, since she loves learning and she’s still young enough to catch on quickly. In fact, she did. She’s picked it all up very quickly and now she’s reading in French but we need to find something more challenging.

This week on her visit to the school library she picked out a book that’s a bit too young for her, as far as I’m concerned. We talked about it and she told me she’s not ready to read chapter books in French yet. I think she’d intimidated, even though she’s been reading chapter books in English for a few years now.

So I emailed her teacher and asked if there is an in-between where we can stick for now so she can get her reading done and gain the confidence she needs to move up to longer, more complex books.

And Madame wrote me back and she said ‘Of course!’ and said they would help the kid find a book from the J’aime Lire series next library day.

And I instantly flashed back to my own elementary school library. The red covers. The pencil-faced mascot. J’aime Lire. They were what I always chose.

Et maintenant j’ai la possibilité de partager mes souvenirs avec ma petite fille.

It also reminds me of how much time I spent in my elementary school library. I wasn’t just a patron, I was a volunteer for the wonderful librarian, Mrs. Pauls. It was, perhaps, one of the first major responsibilities I took on and one I dedicated myself to – arriving at school early, giving up morning recess for re-shelving books, tidying, getting the library ready for the day. And I got to use one of those cool date stamps, which made my office supply loving heart sing.

Part of the reason I did it was because my older sister did, and part of it was to be there, just hanging out with the books.

I still love being surrounded by books. I’m usually reading more than one at a time. Though I couldn’t say the last time I read a book in French – what is supposed to be my second language. It’s something I used to be quite capable of, perhaps it’s time to dive in and show my daughter what’s what.

Exploring Science and Tech

by , on
October 23, 2017

I grew up in Ottawa and I have vivid memories of visiting all the city’s museum – and since we’re the capital we get a few. Science and Technology was one of my favourites – the trains, the crazy kitchen – and I took my kid there a couple of times before the museum had to shut down for renovations.

It’s not a great picture, but that is her impressed face

When we were given the opportunity to go and visit the re-vamped kids’ zone before the museum officially re-opens on November 17, I jumped. You see, my kid loves science and math. She wants to be a science teacher when she grows up (for now). I will do anything to foster this love.

We almost didn’t get there, but in the end I forced the family into the car and across town, and we had about half an hour to explore the new space. During that 30 minutes the kid and I both proclaimed many, many things to be cool.

The whole space looks cool.

The zone is wide open. There is lots of room to run around and everything is hands on. Kids can literally climb the wall. There are things to build and things to play with, there are things to be active with. They can use every sense they have.

Actually, no, I didn’t see anything to taste. Though some of the younger kids will probably be tasting anyway. They did build scents into a wall you can actually climb and some of them smell pretty tasty. But the listening, touching, seeing stuff was all very cool.

When you go there, this picture will make a lot more sense

The kid didn’t like oregano though. I thought it smells like freshly baked pizza.

As we were walking back to the car the kid expressed her excitement at seeing the whole museum next time, and having more time to spend. I’m very interested to see it all too. And we’ve missed the science demonstrations – kid wants to learn more about chemistry and there’s only so much I’m willing to try at home.

We’ll start the countdown to November 17 now.

Building a gear train with Daddy

Spinny colourful things she declared very satisfying

Take My Wisdom Teeth, Please

by , on
October 11, 2017

When I was a kid I didn’t hate going to the dentist. It was usually just fine. Until I had to get a retainer.

Actually, even then I didn’t really mind because I always wanted to be like my older sister. But I grew to hate my retainer, and when they told me they wanted to put braces on me as well as the retainer I said no.

I’m not sure if that’s when I stopped seeing that dentist, but that time did come. For a time I just stopped going, until I was 18 and I had a big, painful cavity that I could not ignore any more. That is when I went to an emergency dentist near my house who used her entire body weight to pull what turned out to be a baby tooth that had never fallen out. It was a horrible experience. She lectured me. It was painful. I’ve never forgotten.

And then my mother told me that she had found a new dentist. A woman she quite liked, and I should try her out too.

I like that dentist. I went to visit her regularly until I moved away for school, and when I came back she had retired and handed her practice over to a man who froze my jaw to fill a cavity and then walked away and left me sitting there for more than 30 minutes.

Seriously. I sat there staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out if I could just storm out, and whether I would be able to enunciate enough to explain the problem. I never wanted to go back to him, but I also ran out of insurance so I couldn’t go back either way.

When I was pregnant – and employed with dental coverage – I realized it was really time to go back. I waited until after birth, since I was scared that I would need treatment and would then have to weigh my options. I asked Facebook and Twitter for recommendations and made an appointment.

It’s been 7 years, 9 fillings, 5 root canals, 3 wisdom teeth removed and 2 crowns, and I love my dentist. She is kind, funny, gentle. She’s from Cape Breton for God’s sake. She is matter-of-fact about the treatments I need and very cautious when it comes to pain management.

She is such a good dentist that even my sister, who hates dentists more than I do, sees her on a regular basis and likes her. And now my kid gets to see her too, and likes her. My kid doesn’t stress about going to the dentist at all.

And a funny thing has happened since I started seeing a dentist I like. I have listened to her advice, I have gone for my regular cleanings and check-ups. I have started flossing like I have been told to for decades. The result of all of this? Clean check-ups. I had no cavities 6 months ago, no cavities today.

It’s almost as though the experts were right all along.

And with that, I share this classic. Gets me every time.

Taking An Opportunity

by , on
October 10, 2017

My husband went out on Friday night and the kid was feeling restless. I wanted to just lie down and read my book, but she wanted to do this or that. Finally at around 6:30 pm I started googling and I decided we would go on an adventure, the kid and me. I picked out some warmer clothes for her and didn’t tell her anything, just to bring her iPad and headphones.

There are almost always things going on in Ottawa. We are the capital of the country, after all, and this year the 150th has brought a whole bunch of celebrations to our sleepy little city. I considered Mosaicanada, which closes on October 15, but we didn’t have time to get there before it shut down for the day. I considered Mìwàte, the illumination at Chaudiere Falls, which just started this weekend, but I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t get lost trying to find a parking spot.

And then one of the lists of things to do I subscribe to reminded me of Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village.

Pumpkinferno is a glorious display of carved pumpkins, lit up in all colours. I knew it would be beautiful, and I hoped the kid would think it was magical.

Unfortunately, our adventure turned into a bit of a debacle, and I will now offer advice to anyone going to Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village:
1) Buy your tickets online in advance (there were two lines and the one for ticket holders was much, much faster)

2) Get there early. It took us about 30 minutes 2 km down Upper Canada Rd. And then we had to find parking, walk to the front, find the end of the ticket line and wait again. I think if we had gotten there before the 7 pm start it all would have been much smoother.

3)Bring provisions. I would have brought more water and snacks if I had realized just how long we would be out.

4) Bring entertainment for the kids. If she hadn’t had her iPad during that crawl to the finish line things would have gotten ugly.

Overall, Pumpkinferno was very cool and Joe said the kid was 80 per cent positive when she told him all about it the next morning. But seeing a Chinese dragon carved our of I don’t know how many pumpkins, walking through a pumpkin forest, seeing the classics and looking into space, was pretty freaking magical.

Still, the debacle – which is a great word, by the way – made me hungry to experience a little more hometown tourism. I have heard so many things about Mosaicanada that I didn’t want to miss it, but I also hadn’t taken the opportunity to just go at any point during the summer. We were going to be downtown adjacent this weekend, so I decided that’s what we would do Monday morning, since we celebrate Thanksgiving on Sunday.

And then we woke up and it was raining. But I said screw it, we won’t get another chance, let’s get dressed appropriately, get down there and see what the weather is like.

The weather, it turned out, was very wet. But when what you’re looking at is a bunch of floral art, wet is pretty much okay.

Both of these little day trips were a little bit about Canada, a little bit about Indigenous peoples, a little bit about art and celebration. Two very different mediums used to make magical things.

I get the feeling we should not miss some more can’t miss things in this great little city of ours.

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