Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cute little somethings...

Patrick and Carter are at it again!

Their minds baffle me to no end:

Budding horticulturalist:

As we were eating dinner one night, Patrick said,
"Onions are kinda like potatoes." to which Joseph, over my stifled laughter, replied,
"Actually, onions are nothing like potatoes."
And from there the conversation went as follows.
Patrick: "Onions are kinda like the shop that we work in.... Daddy, your shop doesn't stink."
Joseph: "That's because you're not in it making it stinky."
Patrick: "I don't stink. Daddy, you don't stink, and Mommy, you don't stink."
Me: "What about Carter?"
Patrick: "Carter does stink."
Then a little while later, Patrick said,
"Onions are kinda like the peas that we eat."

Theologian
Patrick: I'm going to read a story about Jesus.
Me: Really? Who is Jesus?
Patrick: Jesus is God, Mommy.
Me: Oh yes, that's right!  So, where does Jesus live?
Patrick: At church wif Fader Dan.
Me: Well, yes, but God is also all around us and lives in our hearts.
Patrick: No, he lives in my tummy, and sometimes he THUNDERS in dere.

This is the long theological discussion I had with Patrick before bedtime prayers. Forgive me if I'm a heretic. It's been a few years since the days of Baltimore Catechism.

Me: In the name of the Father...
Patrick: Where's the Father?
Me: He's in heaven.
Patrick: Where's the Son?
Me: He's Jesus, and He's also in Heaven... sort of... but He is on earth too, well, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father and God the Son and He's all around us.
Patrick: (Blank stare)
Me: Let's start again, in the name of the Father, and the Son and the -
Patrick: Where's the Spirit?
Me: Well, He's all around us, he's like wind (blows on Patrick's hands), we can't see Him but we know He's there.
Patrick: Jesus is in our hands! (Looks at his hands excitedly).
Me: Yes, Jesus is in our hands - He does work with them, like when you give Carter nice hugs.
Patrick: Where's the Spirit?
Me: Well, like I said, he's like the wind, we can't see Him, but we know He's there.
Patrick: Um... He's just hiding.

Later I found out that when Joseph taught him the sign of the cross, he said to him "Where's the Father/Son/Holy Spirit?" but he only meant where on your body do you place your hand when you're making the sign of the cross - not the actual locations of the parts of the Trinity.

Dietitian:Patrick: Thank-you for making this good supper mommy. I'm eatin' it all up.
Me: Your welcome.  I'm glad you like it.
Patrick: Our good food goes into my tummy, then it goes up and down my legs and then to my bum where it turns into poop!

Another dinner...Me: Eat those carrots all up, they're really good for you. They help you grow big and strong.
Patrick: And then I will have some Halloween treats for d'sert, and they will make me grow berry berry big!
Me: Yeah, but if you eat too many, they'll make you grow so big, you won't be able to run around.
Patrick: (Looking down at his legs) Well I will eat just a little tiny bit. Like one Nem & M....
(Looking up and smiling) or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, or seven, or eight, or twenty six Nem & Ms!

Carter

One wee story... though there are thousands more.


Carter loves the phone, and the remote. He loves to pick up the phone and "talk", actually making sounds and then pausing in between, like someone's replying.  He also pushes buttons on the remote while pointing it at the TV.

Carter had our phone one day and accidentally pushed the speaker button, then proceeded to push several numbers, but he got the operator saying "We're sorry, your call could not be completed as dialed, please hang up and try your call again."
He looked up at me, looking like he wanted an explanation.
Me: Sorry! It didn't work!
Carter: (Looks at phone and smacks head in seeming frustration). Grrggghh.







Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "Bad Parent of the Year" Club

Before I was a mother, I'd often hear stories of children falling out of windows, or sticking objects in electrical outlets, or being scalded in the bathtub. When I did not have offspring of my own, I'd just give the parents a proverbial Darwin award and move on, with appropriate levels of sympathy for the suffering of the children because I'm not heartless and children don't deserve suffering. 

Then, when I became a mother, my son fell off the couch when he was two weeks old, after I'd set him down right beside me to reach my glass of water.  I felt awful. I cried. He was alright after I nursed him and held him for awhile. I felt like a bad parent for the rest of the day. I asked myself, "how could I have been so stupid as to let that happen?"

Eventually, after mothering for a short while, I think I struck a good balance somewhere between hypersensitive helicopter parenting and outright neglect.  The kids are always in my line of sight, but I don't hover over their every move.  Despite our home-renos, the house and play spaces are safe, and we let our two boys explore and entertain themselves while we're doing our housework or cooking.  There are falls and scrapes and I do a lot of "kissing it better" when one of them has tumbled, but they do learn quickly not to slam the toy box lid, or not to step on rolling toys.

When I go out in public, I sometimes feel the judgy eyes of helicopter moms and on me.  My older son climbs the ladder on the slide at the playground very well, so I feel no need to stand behind him each time, or to hold his hand as he slides down.  My other little guy sometimes gets a rock or two in his mouth.  Since it's pea-gravel and not choking size, I don't worry too much if he swallows one, or if he's got his mouth on some playground equipment for three seconds.  I watch to see if he's got something worse, like a cigarette butt or garbage, carelessly littered there, and that's where I draw the line.  Perhaps these overprotective parents have written me off as careless, and have waited for the day when my kids end up in the hospital as a result of my neglect, but I don't believe in the unnecessary stress of monitoring every step of each child.

Two weeks ago, the fateful day came when we made our first trip to the emergency room with our second son, Carter.  It had been a little chilly during dinner, so my husband turned on the gas fireplace to warm up the family room that serves as our dining room while the real kitchen and dining room are built.  After dinner, both my husband and I began to clean up, each thinking that the other had an eye on our boys. The phone rang and my husband answered it, and I carried on with the dishes. Then we heard the shrill scream of a hurt baby.  I ran from the sink to find baby Carter with both hands on the glass of our fireplace.

The end result was a trip to the emergency room to find he has second degree burns, which will take up to a few months to fully heal. He is on pain meds and has to go for dressing changes twice to three times a week. He'll need physiotherapy and will have to re-learn his already-developed fine-motor-skills due to being unable to use his hands for a month or more. 

It took 3 seconds for our life to go from manageable chaos to overwhelming.

We felt like the worst parents in the world.  Not only did we have to repeat what happened over and over to every doctor, nurse and med-student we encountered, we had to endure the cries of our baby in pain, our toddler's clueless disobedience and cries for attention, and all of this in the middle of a busy workweek for my husband and the beginning of the school-year for me, the student-mom.

Then, we began telling people around us what happened, and that's when the stories came out.  A little girl who fell in a firepit; a little boy who touched the burner of the stove; another child who dipped his hand in boiling water.  We were not the only ones!  Knowing this, of course, did not make our situation that much better, but it alleviated the horrible feeling that we should be tried for being unfit parents. 

My time sitting in the hospital as my baby was being treated gave me time to think a lot about what we face as parents.  I began to think over my pre-motherhood attitude toward children's injuries and attitudes about parenting in general.  What we face day to day is a lot of judgement.  Everyone has an opinion about how children should be fed, clothed, soothed, bathed, educated, disciplined, supervised, immunized - you name it.  But when kids get hurt,  it is no time for judgement. It is not the time to think "Wow, that'd never happen to my kid."

And maybe it won't happen to your kids. Maybe you can successfully keep them in a vacuum and never have to deal with a cut, fall, scrape or worse. 

Quite frankly, that isn't reality.

I sat in the waiting room today, watching the parents of kids who had also ended up in the Children's hospital for one reason or another.  I talked with another mother about her son's burned fingers.  We both felt the need to explain exactly why our child wasn't being watched at the very moment that they injured themselves - perhaps as a safety net, just in case the other parent decided to judge. 

But then, it occurred to me to say "These things happen, don't they?  What are we supposed to do? Tie them down?"
That got a laugh from her, as she said "I've been saying that to my mother-in-law for a week!"
With the tension broken, we were able to sit and enjoy each other's children and company for that short while, knowing that there was no judgement or apprehension about the other's ability to parent. 

It'd be wonderful if all our interactions with other parents were judgement free, so that we could just sit back and enjoy our children, and their impulsiveness and utter joy while they freely play.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On punctuality.

A friend and I were discussing punctuality today, and because she lives 25 minutes away from me and my children fell asleep in the car, I had time to actually think about it enough to decide, "I should blog about that!" So here goes...

Quite often, my family is late for events. Most recently, it was the wedding of a friend of my husband's.  I'm not going to point fingers at the cause, but I know that for most people with young children, a common excuse is "X pooped just as we were going out the door!" or "We were waiting for them to wake up from their naps," or "We had to move the ___ carseat from one car to the other." 

Blame the kids, especially if they're babies or toddlers and still have an inability to bathe, clothe and feed themselves. I've done it, I've seen it done, and it works as a legitimate and face-saving excuse. It is undeniable that kids, especially young ones, take time.

Nobody can look at those cute faces and say, "How dare you make your parents late? Don't you know that this was important? Don't you realize that we can't all stand around and wait for your family to show up before we start?"

It would seem that children are the ultimate scapegoat.  Babies have no concept that pooping just as they are sat in their carseat constitutes a 5-15 minute delay (depending on the severity). Toddlers don't watch for minus 30, then refuse to wear pants, causing their parents to spend the extra time wrestling them on. 

Yet, I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't simply poor planning on the part of the parents (well... me) when it comes to getting ourselves (myself) somewhere.  Take the wedding for example... I planned a hair appointment the morning of, which ran till one hour before the wedding.  I had to travel 15 minutes back to my house, and from our house to the church, it was a 40 minute drive.  This left us 5 minutes lee-way, which might have been perfect if the kids had been dressed for the wedding when I got home, and we had known exactly how to get to the church.  Thinking back, perhaps planning a hair appointment for that day was trying to cram in too much.  We won't go into my husband's role in the occurrence. As a side note, the haircut kind of looked like a grown-out mullet - which is, in my opinion, not worth anyone's time.

My thoughts on punctuality are a little deeper than just anecdotal ramblings, entertaining as they are to write about.  I started to ask myself today what being late says about me as a person and us as a family.
It hints of disorganization (guilty), dawdling (guilty), trying to cram too much into one day - or the hour before going out the door (guilty), or not feeling an event is important enough to be on time for (sometimes guilty).

I also thought of times when others were late to events or get-togethers that I'd planned.  It ranged from slightly annoyed to trembling with anger - though that one was a rarity.  Resignation fits into another category for those who are "always late."  You know, those people. Everyone has those people.  During some of those more chaotic times in our life, my family has been those people. I hate being those people.  Living with the expectation that you'll be letting people down in some way every time you go out is depressing.

I've been telling myself for awhile that I must shape up and manage to get my family to and from places on time.  My conversation with my friend today may have been (we'll see) the turning point and the key to the beginning of our success as a punctual family.   What being on time says to people is discipline, reliability, enthusiasm and a plethora of positive things. There is no downside to being on time, except perhaps that you may have to sacrifice some so-called fashion, by not being late.

The most important thing I can think of when it comes to punctuality is holiness.  To build a holy family takes discipline on the part of its leadership (the parents). I realize that if I want to teach my children to care about others, to be considerate of other's feelings and needs and to truly love others as they want to be loved, being on time is simply one of the small, but fundamental things I can do to set that example. 

Granted, there are legitimate reasons to be late, but poopy diapers, car accidents and other emergencies aside, being on time is possible too when you get down to it.  If I live in a city where it snows for most of the winter, I should add extra time to my journey instead of blaming the weather. If I need to bring food to a pot-luck, I should add the time it takes to pick something up or make something into my plans.  It's important to have some sort of plan. When I was in my teens, I never called my friends... because they would always call me and have a plan.  Being on my own in university was like a smack on the head saying "Welcome to life! Adults make plans. Leaders make plans. Parents make plans."

 For me, being on time may mean cereal instead of pancakes, or laying out clothes the night before.  It may mean sacrificing a little face-time with the mirror or lingering over the morning paper.   With two or three or six children, it may mean realizing that it seems to take more people exponentially longer to get out the door and into the car, and not planning as many things into my day. In the end, it's about the people I've made plans with, not about myself.  It's about getting it out of our egocentric minds that the party begins when we get there.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moment.

Ever have one of those moments where you see something that reminds you of something else and then a culmination of thoughts seem to stream in from different directions, and then converge into a moment of clarity?

Well I had one a few nights ago. It wasn't anything profound, like the solution for human selfishness... but it was a personal revelation that I hope carries me and my family, and hopefully others into a happier existence.

I was driving home from my night-class when a motorcyclist passed me, looked back at me, left lots of room between me and where she wanted to place herself in the other lane, signalled, looked back once more and successfully merged.  She then proceeded to drive down the road in front of me carefully and methodically.   She was the definition of a responsible, defensive driver.  As she should be! I couldn't help but think about how much danger one puts themself in when they ride one of these things.  It's you and your little bike against the ignoramus who is texting while driving in a one-ton pick-up!  I said a little prayer for her as she took her exit, that she always remain alert and aware and that danger never touch her as she rides.

This moment reminded me of my Dad, who for those who don't know, was killed when an SUV crossed over the centre line, hitting his truck on an icy highway in March 2011.  The reminder was three-fold.  First of all, people whose loved ones have been killed in car-accidents are generally more aware of the the impact and ramifications of accident scenarios, real or imagined. Second, whenever I get into my car and drive anywhere, I hear my Dad's voice in my head going through the defensive driving techniques: "Okay, now shoulder check, signal, shoulder check and when it's safe, merge... Don't slow down! Keep up with the flow of traffic and get in your lane."  The third reason is that my dad had and loved motorcycles.  He wasn't the Harley Davidson-worshipping American Chopper type dude, he was just a guy who fixed up some old motorcyles and took them out riding with a friend or my brother once in awhile. 

The next thought:  I remembered a specific moment in my teen-years when my dad came to pick me up from a friend's on his motorcycle.  I walked out the door and was, for some reason, mortified that I'd have to put on this helmet and hop on behind him to get home.  My relationship with him was a little strained at that point, I being a teen girl searching for some autonomy from my parents, but unable to talk to them about it in a constructive manner, and he, not being the type of guy to press the issue or try to sit down and have an awkward conversation.  I got on the bike behind my dad, put my arms around him and was whisked back home with the summer air blowing in my face and adrenaline pumping through my body as we navigated through traffic.  I didn't want to admit at the time that it was fun, that I felt like a little kid again, driving somewhere with my dad.  I felt proud that my dad was the fun dad who took me out on his motorcycle.  Once the ride was over, I got off and was tempted to just hang out, me and my dad, like when I was 5 or 6 and would play in the garage or back-yard peppering my dad with questions about what he was doing.  But I didn't stay...

I didn't remember that moment until the other night either. My next thought was to question why my dad chose to come get me on his bike rather than the car.  Was it because he just wanted to have fun with his daughter like we used to?  Did he even put that much thought into it?

My next thought was about parental love.  My own kids are little and need so much attention that I sometimes think I'll never be alone again.  I was just telling my brother the other day that I have rarely even gone to the bathroom alone for almost 2 years (since Patrick started to walk).  I breathe a sigh of relief when both babies are in bed and I'm not too exhausted to spend an hour or two with my husband before we fall asleep and are rudely awakened in the morning by a two-year-old who pokes our eyes and chatters non-stop till we get out of bed. 

It's stressful. It's not fun a lot of the time.  But as with everything, this too, shall pass.  Someday we'll be in the position of my father - perhaps just hungry for some time with our kids, even if it's just a functional thing, like a ride home.  That thought put things in perspective. So today, I cuddled up with my sons and read a couple stories.  I had "coffee"  with Patrick (coffee for me, chocolate milk for him) before his nap.  I am determined that I'll remember that someday they won't want to follow me around and be constantly in my presence, so to enjoy them right now, where they're at.

I need these moments of clarity to sort life out sometimes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From the mouths of babes Pt. 2

I turned 26 today, which has caused me to look back at my life a little and congratulate myself for acheiving so many of the things I wanted to.  One of those things of course, is being a mom.  Sometimes it's crazy and I want to run away, or leave the kids on some nice lady's doorstep, but overall, the little fun moments that happen make all that go away. Today has been one of those days full of those little moments. What a great birthday present!

This morning, Patrick took his socks off. I'm not sure why he took them off, but there he was, standing next to me as I nursed Carter, complaining that his feet were cold.  So I asked him, "Where are your socks?"  and he says, "They're not on me."  Well, yes, obviously... so I laughed and he laughed because I was laughing. Then I said to him, "Well, where did you take them off?" asking about the location in the house that he took them off, but he said, "I took them off my feet mommy."  I laughed so hard that Carter decided it was too much to try and continue eating... he looked up and smiled at Patrick and I while we were laughing (though I'm sure Patrick had no idea what was funny) and it was a great moment.

Later, while Carter was sleeping, Patrick and I were reading Richard Scarry's Things That Go.  Patrick was very excited to identify fire trucks and choo-choo-trains and strange little cars like the carrot car and pickle truck and the two-seater crayon car.  Then he looks at me and says "I'm going to jump in that story, and get in that crayon car and drive and drive and drive to the colouring book!"  Another similar one is "I'm going to get in the story and get in that skid-steer-loader and DIG some DIRT!"  He says dig and dirt like it's hard work, while puffing out his little chest.  I just think it's funny that he thinks to say he needs to get in the story before he can do whatever task he sets his mind to. 

Patrick and Carter are both napping right now.  Normally, this is a time of relief for me.  A time where I can get my bearings (and the house in reasonable shape) or have a nap myself, but today I'm just filled with so much love for them that I kind of want them to wake up. 

Now... to go peer in at them sleeping.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More jibber-jabber...

This one will consist of cute things my sons say....

My second, Carter, has been jabbering for awhile now... today he came up with "Baa-ba-ba-ba-ba" and the other day it was "Gooooom, goom goom goom goom."  Ah baby talk... how I will miss thee when thou hast gone.  Fortunately, I think I can possibly get through a few more pregnancies, so it'll be awhile till that well dries up.  I'm really fascinated with the development of language in children.  My earliest memories are shortly after I began speaking, and there is quite a bit of research to support the theory that we experience life through language. Perhaps we'll save the intellectual babble for another time.

When I opened the curtains in the living room this morning to reveal a bright sunny day, my son Patrick stood on the armchair and exclaimed "I see the world! It's the world outside mommy."
The next thing I knew, he was jumping up and down on the chair saying "Hello trees! Hello grass! Can you come inside and play with me?!"  Where does he come up with this stuff?

Lately, as in the last three weeks, he's had a bit of an obsession with the landfill.
I'd better explain: My husband is a contractor, and makes somewhat frequent trips to the landfill with construction waste. Sometimes he'll take Patrick with him, and Patrick finds it very exciting because he's into track-hoes and loaders and bulldozers and land-rollers ect... all of which you can see at the landfill.
He comes home saying "We saw a BIG, BIG bulldozer!" while standing on his tip toes with wide eyes. He says "BIG BIG" with feigned effort, perhaps to indicate that whatever he's referring to is just that hard to comprehend.
He also prays that God blesses the landfill at mealtimes, and every night, without fail, he says to us "When I get up in the morning, I will go pee, then we'll go to the landfill."
And every time we're about to go out somewhere, be it to the grocery store or to the park he says something along the lines of "We're going to get in the car (or truck) and drive and drive and drive to the... LANDFILL!"
Some kids like Disneyland or even just the playground... mine thinks the landfill is where it's at.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mom enough? Sure am!

Whoa, whoa, whoa! 
So I was just sitting down for my morning email/facebook-check and coffee when I was confronted with - no, bombarded with a barrage of tweets, news articles, comments on articles, blogs, comments on blogs and this:
Apparently I'm a few days behind, since I was, rather ironically, busy parenting my two sons and enjoying Mother's Day.  However, the question "Are you mom enough?" has been on my mind for a long time. Two years, eleven months and twenty-one-and-a-half days to be exact, which is the age of my first son plus nine-months in-vitro.

I think all mothers, regardless of parenting-philosophy ask themselves this question over and over.  The debate starts well before a crying baby is placed in your arms, and arguably before sperm meets egg and conception happens.  Will I be a good mother? Am I a good mother? What is a good mother?

The last few days have seen much debate on motherhood, attachment parenting and what makes a good mom. Here's a sampling of what's out there, in case you missed it:

Kate Pickert's article in Time is about attachment parenting, a phrase coined by Dr. William Sears, a much-revered parenting expert.  Pickert outlines the so-called requirements of attachment parenting; co-sleeping, baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding... and speculates that this philosophy toward child-rearing may be causing women to be a little over-zealous and possibly to expect too much of other women who may not be doing the same thing.

From CBC's The Current website:
In her new book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, the French feminist philosopher Elisabeth Badinter doesn't take long to stir the pot.

The object of this book is to defend the right of women to make their own choices and to take issue with this idea that you are a bad mother if you bottle feed your baby, if you put your kid in daycare and if you work. And what bothers me terribly is that because of this return to nature, the idea is that there is now this one unique model of motherhood which implies that everyone who doesn't fit that model should be condemned.
Some commentary on this book from a few women:

From Dr. Claire McCarthy, who practiced attachment parenting:
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/mdmama/2012/05/what_being_mom_enough_really_means.html

From Stephanie Peatling, Australian Political Correspondent:

I also read in the newspaper this morning about the new movie "What to Expect When You're Expecting," based on the pregnancy book.  Wow.  Life for moms just gets better when all your trials and tribulations are being foisted upon the world from Hollywood's perspective too.

In my humble opinion, trying to wade through the wreckage that is the age-old parenting debate is difficult at best.  Until I had my kids, I didn't know anything about parenting except what I'd gleaned from my own upbringing, and now, I know too much. It's a case of information overload.  As parents we've entered the candy store with a zillion choices and the idea that we just want the best that's out there.

I actually shed tears this morning thinking about the incredible pressure that women are under to be good mothers.  The modern mother is not only expected by our society to have and nurture babies, but to look amazing, have a clean home and on top of that, a fulfilling career outside the home either before, after or during parenthood.  I keep asking myself whether or not these are societal pressures, or if we, as women, have imposed these upon ourselves. 

I cry out for the mother who would like to read stories to her children before bed at night, but can't because she's got to work two jobs to pay their rent.  Would anyone question her quest to put food on the table and keep a roof over her children's head?

I cry out for the stay-at-home mom who attends her ten-year high-school reunion and feels inferior when she finds that most of her female classmates have had fulfilling careers thus far as lawyers and doctors and journalists and still look as young as they did at eighteen.

I cry for the women who feel like they need to be everything to everyone. The women who feel they need to raise children using methods prescribed by society and not their own common sense or intuition; The women who feel they must "one-up" their friends by finding the best methods to teach their children to eat, sleep, talk or walk. The women so hell-bent on being supermom that they forget to do what's most important - just loving your children in whatever form that takes.

There are mothering techniques that have merit and those that don't.  However, those that don't tend to go by the wayside pretty quickly, like the post-Depression-era idea that if you pick up crying babies, they'll want an unhealthy amount of attention (source: my Grandma). 

I think a lot is expected of mothers - and rightly so.  We have been given the responsibility of raising the future generation.  This could be (and is) looked at by some as a huge burden, a daunting task that will take time, energy and sacrifice.  It is and it will. 

It is also, and I think, above all, a gift.  We have the chance to raise the future generation; to play the biggest part in forming the young people that will grow up to inherit our world; we give them the foundation for which they base their lives.  So I think, instead of thinking about the best way to do it, we should embrace the challenge and simply live it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"He looks hungry..." and other useless parenting advice.

As a relatively new parent, I've received lots of advice in the past 2-and-a-bit years pertaining to nearly everything, from sleeping and eating habits, to what kind of socks to buy.  I have gone looking for some of this useful information in books, online or from friends and family who are happy to share their experiences.  But what I'd like to address now is unsolicited advice...

Sometimes this kind of advice is helpful. No parent is perfect and we all need a little help somtimes.  But when you become a parent, it seems that the experts come out of the woodwork. Who knew that everyone you know (and sometimes those you don't) would feel they have the answers to raising your children? Not only that, but that they feel somehow entitled to impose this information on you in one of these forms:

The direct: This kind of advice is typically given either by someone who sees a problem and genuinely wants to help, or by someone who thinks they know best. It's hard to tell which sometimes.
When I was potty-training my first, I didn't really seek any advice, because I had a plan. When it was brought to the attention of friends and family members, I was inundated with strategies and encouraging comments like "Don't worry if he doesn't get it the first day." (Helpful) and "Well, it's just harder to potty-train boys." (Not helpful, since I only have boys to potty train so far.)   After about a week, my son had going to the potty down pretty well. Now he's even going without announcing that he has to go, which makes me glow with pride, since my husband and I developed our own mish-mash of methods and succeeded without massive interruption to our busy life.

The indirect: When someone tells you what they did or are doing and adds "It worked/works for us." 
Sometimes this is fine.  Friends of mine have given me great ideas, and though I wasn't looking for feedback, I am thankful they gave it in an unassuming way. 
Other times, the idea is stupid, unhealthy, unsafe or just not what you want to do. 
In my life, some of the ideas I've deemed stupid have been repeatedly brought up in this way.  I will never put honey on a pacifier so my child will take it; I will never shave a nearly bald baby's head so that their hair will grow in thicker; and I don't think looking in the mirror will damage a baby psychologically (all true stories btw).

The passive aggressive: This advice is typical of somebody who has a definite opinion but wants you to think they respect yours.
"Well I'm not telling you what you should do but..."  Oh but you ARE.  Clearly, you think I should be doing this if you're even mentioning it! 

The helicopter: These are the worry warts. They really do mean well when they follow your child around and help them with each little task, but there are times when you just want to slap them silly.
I encountered a mother in the waiting room at a vaccination clinic who noticed a small scratch on her 18-month-old's neck.  She then proceeded to call his father and his nanny to interrogate each of them regarding where and when he obtained this small scratch.  The child continued to play happily beside her, not bothered in the least by the scratch.  I thought of reminding her that "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," but I held my tongue.

The grave look of disapproval: This isn't really advice per se, but it is basically inevitable that you as a parent will be wordlessly criticized at some point in your adventure. 
Picture this. You're in the grocery store and your child starts to yell that he wants whatever tasty treat is right beside him at the checkout.
Option A: You say no and your child begins to flail their arms and throw their sippy cup and tantrum with a scream so shrill you think maybe half the people in the store are now on their way to being deaf.  To top this off, the cashier is now looking at you with a "grave look of disapproval". 
Option B: You decide, hey, the kid has been alright through this whole shopping ordeal, maybe they deserve a little reward. You say "You can have it if you ask nicely." Said child says "Please can I have..." and you put it on the conveyor to buy.  You then turn around to see the older lady behind you giving you the "grave look of disapproval."
This is a no-win situation.  You might feel bad for making the cashier's day just a little more hellish. You might feel bad that you've given your child candy and an old lady disapproves. But the cashier and the old lady don't have to live with your kids. You do. You're the parent. So ignore these imbeciles and parent away.

The glib observation: I'm convinced that these are things people say to fill the air. They should almost always be ignored because they're offered by people who don't know what they're talking about, but think that they do.
Examples:  I was at a thrift store browsing the racks of barely-worn baby clothes when my second baby was 2 weeks old.  He began to fuss and out of nowhere an elderly lady appeared and said, "He looks like he might be hungry."
I just looked at her and said "Yes. He might be." But what was I to do about it right then? What would she have said if I just, in the words of a friend "popped the boob out right there"? 
Another time I was at the public health clinic with a nurse, who looked at my first son and said "Hmmm, he might not be getting enough tummy time. His head is kind of flat at the back."
First of all, my son's head is shaped exactly like his dad's where his skull does not bow out at the top of the neck.  This is not a deformity caused by leaving him on his back too much, as the nurse implied.  I know this, so I tersely explained this and we moved on.  

Like I said at the beginning, unsolicited advice is not blanketly bad, but come on people! Give a mother a break! Sometimes I'd just like the benefit of the doubt.  I'd like to think that the way that my husband and I choose to parent our kids works for us and for them on a functional level, and that maybe, just maybe, they'll turn out to be well-adjusted, functioning adults as a direct result. 

When it comes to advice, it's best to wait till you're called upon to give it. That way, you can be assured of its value.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

From the mouths of babes...

Sometimes I laugh for three days over something my son Patrick says.

One morning it was his distraught "Oh no!" when he thought I was flushing chocolate down the toilet. It was not chocolate, I assure you. However, Patrick was not to be convinced as he mournfully looked down at the swirling mess saying "I want to take it out and put it in my Easter basket." Then a little later... "that chlocolate came out my bum." I lost it. I had that kind of hysterical laughter that makes the belly ache and tears stream. Yeah, maybe my sense of humour needs a little tweaking, but if you'd only seen his face...

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and part of the scripture said that "Jesus dropped his head and breathed his last." Patrick apparently picked up on this part, because at bed time when I told him "Jesus loves you," he replied "Jesus... Jesus dropped his head... At Rona!" I chuckled to myself, trying to let him know that I take him seriously, and said "Actually, I think it's 'he dropped his head and breathed his last.'" Patrick appeared to think for a second and said, "He's sleeping," and I said "Yes, Jesus is sleeping," to which he added "He's sleeping in God's bed."

His latest catch-phrase is "I looovvee (insert just about anything here)" Two days ago it was "I looovve dirt!" after which he proceeded to take a handful and eat it.  I asked him if that was good, and he said "Yes mommy, it's good dirt." 

I love him. He's selfish and slightly ridiculous, but that's what being two is all about.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Let's take another crack at this...

What? So I didn't blog for two years.
Blogging, like many other things in my life went on hold when I became a mom. Times TWO!

I'm back, and instead of starting a whole new blog, I've decided to continue with "Just stand there then," because upon reading my previous posts I've realized that though my life has changed, I'm still the same person - just a little fatter and slightly wiser.

This post is about me.
In order to transition this blog from past posts to present, I feel the need to contrast and compare.

When I started "Just stand there then," I was a budding journalist on my first internship at a community newspaper. Freshly married, I had ideas about my life that have been completely blown away with three years of what we'll call "seasoning." Two kids have mysteriously popped into my life and have taken over nearly every moment, thought and action.

Where I used to think of my life as a prime time drama filled with coffee shop rendezvous with girl-friends and late night dancing, I now think of it as part sit-com and part Sesame Street: In the first, I live out my homemaking duties and have Monty-Python-esque encounters in the grocery store and in the second I basically answer the question "What's that?" a thousand times a day and sing popular tunes like "The Wheels on the Bus" and "The Farmer in the Dell."

And yet... I feel like my life has taken a wonderful turn. Raising kids and keeping house, while being more difficult than I naively imagined, has made me more complete than any job at a newspaper or magazine could ever have done. But deep down, I'm still a writer, and I have an inkling that re-igniting my presence in the blogosphere, may just be the ticket to capturing this time in my life, which if full of priceless encounters, and snapshots of reality-based wisdom that need to be shared and enjoyed.