Tag Archives: parenting

Never Say Never (Especially When It Comes To Parenting)

2007

Husband to me: “I will never allow a mini van in my driveway.”

Me: “Thank God. I hate those things.”

Christmas 2007

Husband: “I hate those tacky inflatables that people put on their lawns. My house will always have the classic white lights. We can drive around in the evenings so our kids can see those things.”

Me: “Ok.”

Fast Forward to Today:

Christmas 2014.   Not one, not two, but three inflatables on our lawn, a random assortment of coloured and white lights and of course a mini van in the driveway.

Christmas 2014.
Not one, not two, but three inflatables on our lawn, a random assortment of coloured and white lights and of course a mini van in the driveway.

I swear that our names are not Griswald. Honest!

We hope that maybe one day, when our youngest (now 22 months) is old enough that we can go back to the classic white lights, that I can give up the van and drive anything else again…. before we have grandkids!

That time frame could potentially be very small though as by the time our youngest is a teen the older two will be in their mid-twenties… and the cycle will start all over again 🙂

Just another time where I’ve learned never say never.

The lost month of November

Ok, so that title is a little misleading… but not so much for my blog. You see, with the exception of one blog post, I focused my writing on NaNoWriMo for the third year. And yes I realize that it’s TEN days past the end of NaNo but I needed a bit of a break, and of course am focusing on Christmas too.

Even though my word count did not “win” it was by far my most successful NaNo yet. I wrote almost every day and my total count of 22,559 words was triple what I have achieved in the past. And I managed that with a toddler! (which means of course that my final output is the equivalent of about 100,000 words:)

Part of my success this year was due to the fact that I threw the “rules” out. I’ve always struggled with the idea of mapping out characters, plot lines, chapters etc. While I realize that some people thrive with that, it is way too formal and stifling for me. But, I wasn’t sure how else to do it. Then last spring, I went to see one of my favorite authors Diana Gabaldon talk at the Toronto Reference Library. She is funny, and strong and someone I think I’d really like to get to know. But of course I’m just a fan and had to settle for my 30 second rushed one-sentence to her while she autographed my book. What I learned from her talk though, and something that she reinforced in a Facebook post this week (in an excerpt from a book on writing that she will one day publish) is that not everyone writes the same way. In fact she writes in a non-linear way. Meaning that she starts with an idea and just writes about it, building that scene up until there is no more to write about it. Then she does the same with another scene. Eventually she figures out how to link the scenes together in a book.

I know that the very organized of you out there will be horrified, but to me it was an epiphany. So I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wasn’t stuck on how to start or how to introduce characters and plot. I just wrote about them. And some very interesting things popped up that I hadn’t planned. What fun writing finally in a style that works for me!

My book is nowhere near finished, but I keep going back to it to add more to the scenes or to add another scene. One day when it’s ready I will share details about it here, for now it’s a project that is energizing and fun.

Of course while my mind was focused on writing, I still had to function as a mom, and some days I did that better than others. Some days I like to borrow a term from A Diary of a Mom when I feel like a walking yardsale. You know like the day I sent my daughter to a movie with her friend with a gift card for the show. I was proud of myself for remembering to retrieve the card from the drawer where our gift cards go so that they don’t get lost, but then somehow enter a vortex where they are removed from our memories. What I hadn’t realized when I sent her with it was that somehow the card only had $0.11 on it. Doh! Thankfully the other mom covered my daughter’s shortage with a laugh. Guess I’m taking some kids to the theatre this weekend!

Yep that’s me! I think like most moms I’m barely keeping it together and doing my best to get everyone to where they need to be on time and with food, drink and money. And when we screw up–at least we have great friends who help us out!

7 Things I Never Thought I’d Say Before I Became a Parent

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a city far, far away (well a 45 minute commute anyway) I had a life. It was civilized, and people spoke politely to each other (with the exception of road rage) and we never spoke of body parts unless we were drunk or laughing at some celebrity who forgot she wasn’t wearing underpants. It was peaceful there. And drinks at noon were cool.

Then I became a parent.

black mini van parked in my driveway

black mini van parked in my driveway

And I found myself saying all manner of strange things. Things that once repulsed me were now topics of everyday conversation. In fact, I often find myself desperately seeking some adult conversation. A mere sentence or two that has nothing to do with the contents of one’s diaper or where the damn permission form has gotten to now.

When I stop to think about it, some of the things I’ve said are pretty horrifying. So, just to brighten your day a bit (as you revel in not having to say those things, or that you managed to escape them), I thought I’d share with you some of the most awful things I’ve found myself saying:

7.  A mini-van? Really?

6.  Yes, someone needs to be sober in the house at all times.

5.  No the baby doesn’t count.

4.  Oh, that diaper smells delightful! Think we can make it home without causing another rash? That mom over there is about to ram us for our spot.

3.  Seriously? You’re picking your nose and eating it? At the table? Instead of this dinner I slaved over?

2.  I know it’s fashionable to wear tight shorts, but honey, do you know what camel toe is?

1.  Sure I can take three more kids in the van. Pile them in!

 

 

I Never Expected this to Happen in the Schoolyard

I rarely go into the school yard any more. Haven’t for a couple of years. The two older kids are “too old” for mom to hang around with the other moms in the yard. “Too old” to be seen hugging and kissing me.

I have carefully respected these feelings. When I walk them to school, I stop at the crossing guard, watch them across the street, then continue on my walk. We created a signal (fist bump and hand clap) to represent hug and kiss.

The two weeks though, the street their school is on has been plagued by heavy construction as curbs are replaced and parts are resurfaced so we have been taking an alternate route to school. It leads me though away from the lake where I like to walk our dog and baby each morning. So I have been walking around the back of the school yard to a bike path on the other side which gets me around the construction and out to my typical walking area.

Walking through that yard brings back quite a bit of nostalgia. Watching the little kids in Kindergarten, the slightly bigger kids lining up to go into the primary grades, the hovering parents standing in clumps waiting to make sure their little one gets into the school safely.

I don’t know why it causes so much nostalgia, I mean I know I’ll be back there again in a few short years. But by then the older two will both be in high school (even the thought of that takes my breath away– weren’t they just in kindergarten yesterday?)

Yesterday morning we were running a little later than usual and I barely got a chance to fist bump them as they ran to get in the doors. A mom walking back up towards the street looked at me, indicated my eldest and said “He’s yours?”

“Yes.” I said a bit warily, dreading what I was about to hear.

“I just wanted to tell you that your son is amazing. I know he’s had a rough year and that no one has said that to you. But he’s really great.”

I think I said “Thank you.” I certainly hope I did. Who was this woman? And what has she done with the typical way people avoid talking about him.

We ended up chatting for about twenty minutes or so. It turns out that she is a lunch supervisor and has gotten to know my son that way.

What she doesn’t know is that those lunch hours when she chatted with him, that she was providing much needed social interaction for him. The kind that many parents avoid with him. The kind that you can’t force people to do.

When I told my son about her and her compliment, he got a HUGE smile and said “She’s nice. I like her.”

And for me? That woman showed me that even in the wrong school, the right people can still be there. That someone saw our son for who he really is. Not for what his challenges are.

She made my day. No. She just made the rough year fade back a bit. And for that I am grateful.

Members of the Media: Stop endangering my son’s life

This. This is why I don’t believe in Autism Awareness — an “awareness” promoted by parents complaining just how awful their child with Autism is. How their lives changed for the worse the day of diagnosis.

“Awareness” is not acceptance nor is it inclusion. When we promote inclusion and acceptance we promote support. Support for the person with Autism. Support for the caregivers. And we do not tolerate articles that say “so severely autistic that they can’t speak”. Speech is not an indicator for competence or intelligence.

It’s time we all stood up and demand acceptance, inclusion and support.

Spectrum Perspectives

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We had “the talk”

Last night my 10 year old daughter and I were watching one of those house hunting shows. There was nothing spectacular about this one, they weren’t in any exotic locations or looking at million dollar homes. The couple was just an ordinary every day couple.

About halfway through my daughter turned to me and said “I’m confused mom. Are those guys friends or are they married or something?”

“They’re married honey.”

“Oh.”

I could see she needed a little more explanation so I decided to keep it basic.

“It’s pretty simple. Sometimes two men love each other, sometimes two women. Sometimes it’s a man and a woman, like Daddy and I. And we are lucky enough to live in a country where we can marry who we are in love with.”

“Ok.”

“Do you have any other questions about it?”

“Nope.”

And we turned back to the show.

And that is exactly how complicated it ever needs to be.

If everyone took that approach with their children for topics ranging from same-sex marriage to special needs, we would be raising an entire generation of people who accept differences as merely the things that make us unique. That’s the world I want to grow old in, and the one my children will grow into. An accepting, open world.

Start a Conversation

Social media is an interesting phenomena. Lots of bickering, mommy wars, and one of the best ways to keep posted on what’s happening in the world. And when that’s all overwhelming and too much, there are always the feel good stories. They pop up, get circulated around and everyone shares them to further spread the warm and fuzzies.

The latest one to get circulated is about a boy with challenges similar to autism who asked his mother not to have a birthday party for him because he doesn’t have any friends. Mom set up a Facebook page and the media picked it up and now he’s being inundated with birthday cards.

How heartbreaking that his mom needed to do something like that. I get it, I truly do as I share in her despair every day. Kids with autism face so many challenges that it just doesn’t feel fair to add a lack of friends on top of it all.

So many people got on board for this, that it seems like one of those heartwarming do-good, feel-good stories. Teachers were even getting their entire classes to create and send cards. Mom was even getting notices from the postal service that there was too much mail!

But…after a friendless card-opening party with his mom, that boy will go back to his lonely existence. Neither your life nor his will be any better.

So I’m sending a big ‘ol shame on you to all of you who shared the story and/or sent a card. Yes I said shame on you. Because you all saw a feel-good story. Some of you even spent the $5 to buy a card and a stamp. And you all patted yourselves on the backs for a job well done and went on with your lives.

Nothing has actually changed. Tomorrow that boy will wake up and still face the prospect of going to school and not exchanging a single word with his classmates. If he’s really lucky a teacher might ask him about what he did last night, but more likely he or she will only direct him about his schoolwork.

Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you should be using this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about exclusion and loneliness. How inviting everyone but “that” kid to your party or giving out a valentine to everyone but “that” kid is causing very real harm. Kids with special needs can’t help their behaviour, and if it seems odd to you then you need to learn to get over it.

If you don’t know how then ask. As a parent, I would much rather be asked by a child or a parent about how to interact with my son than for him to be ignored and ostracized. If you are too uncomfortable to ask me, then ask a teacher. If you’re the teacher and you don’t know, ask your SERT, or me, or call the special education expert at the board.

Please notice that I said “interact.” I did not say “fake friendship with.” Pretending to be someone’s friend when you really aren’t only causes harm to both people and frankly they don’t need you in their life. I’m talking about basic human interaction. A conversation. Try starting one. You might be surprised at what you discover.

In fact, as parents and teachers, you should be modeling this for your children. What’s stopping you from having a conversation with a lonely person? You all know someone. Whether they are a freak, a geek, a loser, a senior, someone with physical, developmental, or mental disability; you all know at least one lonely person.

To really, truly make a difference in the world, you need to speak to these people.

And saying “Hi” only barely qualifies for good manners. I mean truly have a conversation. If you’re Canadian then complain about the weather with them. If you’re not, then comment on something in the news. Ask them how they’re doing. And wait for an answer. Be patient. If they are truly a lonely person then they aren’t used to being spoken to like that. They might be caught off guard or need to formulate an answer. Whatever it is, it’s not likely to be what you were expecting. And it will be worth it.

Your conversation doesn’t have to be an hour long marathon to count. Just a few minutes while waiting in line for coffee or while waiting for the bus or while waiting to go inside after the recess bell. Just long enough to connect with someone who is desperate for that connection.

Do it daily. It doesn’t even have to be the same person. And you never know, you might actually like someone you didn’t speak to before.

And when you are doing that regularly, and only then, can you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, a difference made in someone’s life.

Let’s see how many people you can engage in conversation:
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