Monthly Archives: January 2014

Will Dance Always be our Family Sport?

Our family sport is dance.

I never meant it to be. In fact I didn’t know anything about it or what we were getting into. I’d been a soccer player and dreamed of coaching my kids for years. But then reality set in and I went with the flow.

It all started when our then five year old daughter started a dance program at the rec centre and was hooked. Soon she was enrolled at a well respected studio and then that morphed into her dancing competitively.

Our eldest son enjoys the rec hip hop class, and it’s a good fit for him.

I, who previously danced like *that* guy at the club, am even enjoying the ladies hip hop class.

So it’s a natural question that seems to come up frequently about our littlest one. “Will he dance too?” There seems to be a lot of opinions on whether he should or not, though I find most of the moms at the studio lean towards the yes vote. And the dancers are all hoping to one day have a strong male competitor to partner with.

Certainly for me, it would be easier. We are already at the studio five days a week, so we wouldn’t be going out of our way.

I do sometimes hear comments though about how he should play hockey. And it bothers me that there should be a perception that to be “manly” he needs to play a “manly” sport. Um have you seen the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team? We kick a$$! But seriously, if his heart is in dance then why should he not pursue it? It would be the same for swimming or soccer or hockey. I want active, happy kids. Not coerced, miserable ones. We will certainly expose him to dance, but ultimately it will be his choice as to whether or not he becomes a dancer. Or a gymnast. Or a hockey player.

For now though, I need to have patience, as the little guy is just shy of a year old. Lots and lots of time for him to find his niche. And lots of opportunity for us try out new things that we’ve never experienced before.

It gets less painful

This past week our eldest needed some blood drawn for the first time. Not sure what to expect with him, I explained why the blood was needed and how they were going to do it. As is typical of him, he asked about several details which I answered to the best of my knowledge.

We sat for a long time in the waiting room, and when it was finally his turn he got a look in his eyes, the one where he looks like a deer caught in headlights, panic just under the surface. I calmly took his hand and talked him through the whole procedure.

Afterwards I bought him a sympathy muffin at Tim’s and took him back to school. As he exited the van and walked inside, I realized that I had gotten through the procedure without one stray flicker of dramatic emotion.

What a long way we’ve come from the awful time that our littlest one had in the hospital last year as a newborn. They’d had to poke him every two days for blood and again every time he blew an IV. Even though he rarely fussed about it, I hated it so much I had to leave the room each time. Seeing him being poked like that made me feel sick, a visceral punch to the gut that made me want to throw myself over him to protect him from those necessary procedures. I would anxiously wait in the hall, and then dash back in, pick him up and cradle him for hours in my arms.

But this week with Mr. Twelve Year Old, I didn’t feel that at all. Not an inkling.

The difference in feelings has nothing to do with how much I love them–my kids are all amazing and special and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I love each of them for who they are.

Thinking about it, our little guy was a newborn, helpless to speak to us and suffering from a very deadly infection. Add a hospital setting and I was way beyond my comfort zone. Of course my instinct was to throw myself over him to protect him at all costs. My older guy though is rather like me in that it’s hard to get him to stop talking. He is capable of telling us when it’s too much and he wasn’t at risk. Almost a teen, it’s my job to point him in the right direction, hold his hand if he needs it, and let him experience life without me throwing myself bodily in the way.

While I know there will be other things to come that are emotional red flags, I’ve realized that as they grow up, the pain will be more about nostalgia than a need to protect. It will diminish as they grow.

For now, I can comfort myself in knowing that I can parent without panic or pain, and all my kids know is love.

The magic of pictures

Each year, as part of our Christmas decorating, I pull out the file that holds all of the Santa pictures. I display them on the bookshelf in our “library” for all to see.

They start with our first born, wearing a beautiful sweater my aunt knit and mailed to me. It arrived the very day I was going to take him for his first picture. Santa was a Saint Nicholas, with long robes, a real beard and a magic touch with children. At 8 months old, his huge grin seems to take up the whole picture.

Our daughter’s first pic is of a two month old with a dubious look on her face, and this year baby looks very serious, having taken a good long look at the man upon whose lap he was sitting.

My very favorite of the pictures though is one we took of the kids three years ago. It was shortly after the picture was taken, while we were waiting for it to be printed and they were sitting on a mall bench. Mr. Eldest has one knee raised, with his arm casually leaning on it. His hair is brushed and gleaming, and his eyes are clear. Most importantly he is looking at the camera, and his face is perfectly relaxed and calm.

It’s not an expression we see often on his face. He doesn’t often look directly at anyone, and I can’t recall seeing such a peaceful expression from him.

It might have been one of those fleeting expressions that are so often caught on camera, but I prefer to think that it was my son having one of those awesome days where he is truly shining through.

I have recorded many of our challenges here, and yes they are still ongoing in varying degrees. We are working with many people, to differing degrees of success.

Today though I wanted to share with my readers a positive experience. A warm and fuzzy memory that causes a thrill each year when I unpack that file and put up the pictures. It doesn’t matter that the holiday is over, or that I’ve packed the pictures away. Stored separately from the decorations, I might occasionally, on a dark day, sneak a peak at the pics so that I can see that serene expression and know that yes everyone in our home can find their peace.

Visions and Processes

Finally, my 11 month old has settled down for a nap that he fought for hours, and I have a few moments to compose my swirling thoughts into written words.

I wasn’t going to do a New Year’s resolution post, but I do have a vision of how I want 2014 to be, and I know that I will commit to it better if I actually put it here for everyone to see.

2014 has to be better than last year. 2013 started off with all the promise of a huge year for us. Our youngest was born at the beginning of February (in a rush too, coming in only 45 minutes!) and we were looking forward to a year of firsts. What we hadn’t expected was our first experience with complete tongue tie, then a deadly infection that hospitalized him for two weeks, then just a couple of weeks later, hospitalized him again. Then a bought of pneumonia in early July, and repeated colds and bronchitis. So strange in our family to be so sick and so horribly traumatizing to see your newborn subjected to medical interventions and a hospital stay, even though I never left him. (I haven’t stayed in a hospital since I was 5, and all three children were born at home.)

Our road trip to the east coast was postponed as we were too afraid to be away from our children’s hospital if he got sick again.

Our eldest, the one with autism, had a major regression that we are still puzzling over. Yes some of it may be due to the baby (even though our specialist says no) and likely some of it is due to the onset of puberty, but wow, it caught us off-guard and we are struggling with teachers and administration that have forgotten all the skills that we worked so hard to teach them five years ago.

We lost some people very dear to us too, within 8 days of each other, and our children got to experience their first funeral. I was hoping that they would have been much older for that particular rite of passage.

I closed a business that I had put my heart and soul into, but was burned out from.

To top it all off, we had the big ice storm, and while our home fared quite well, it caused some big stresses in unexpected places.

So 2013, I’m not sorry to see you go AND that is the end of my complaining about it.

2014, welcome to our lives. We have much work to do together you and I.

First, thanks to this insightful post I’m changing my language. I am removing the word “busy” from my stock answers when people ask me how things are going. I will answer with the truth and not an excuse.

And this post inspired me to refrain from making huge goals this year, but to instead create a process that I work on consistently. I will achieve more, feel successful on a daily basis and surprise myself when all my hopes are met.

This year’s processes include:
-Writing. Daily. Stop depending on my part-time job for time for meaningful writing and instead use that for bonus writing time.
-Attendance. Writing groups, and classes. I’ve already signed up for our local writer’s group monthly breakfast this weekend.
-Activity. Keep walking, keep doing exercises. Investigate and choose another class.
-Eating. Continue to enjoy food, just with more moderation and balance.
-Gratitude. Practise it daily.
-Sell. Articles. As many as I can write. Especially from our road trip this summer.

Looking at that list gives me satisfaction. Those are doable, achievable practises that will give me great pleasure. (and hopefully earn some money too).

Anyone else out there working on processes over crazy goals?