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Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Mary G, over at Them’s My Sentiments, asked in her latest post:

If you were asked why you had children, if you wanted them, what would you answer? Would it be an easy answer, or a struggle like this one?

You should go over and read it yourself, if only for the adorable picture of her girls when they were wee. But for those of you who don’t, her basic point is that she just kind of fell into it, because that is just what you did back then – get married, have kids, get a house, etc. She was never into babies, but is delighted to have survived that stage, because she quite liked the children they grew into.

I have met a lot of women who admit that they never much liked the baby stage and much preferred their children once they started to become their own little people. I’ve met enough of them to no longer be surprised, but I used to be surprised because I am the complete opposite. I loved babies from when I was a kid myself. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to babysit so I could get my hands on squishy, delicious babies.

Loved the babies. Didn’t so much like their older siblings. I found little kids to be mostly boring. Bigger ones were annoying. Babies never ever intentionally annoyed you. Of course they did lots of annoying things unintentionally, but it was the intention that really made me crazy, so I never got irritated with a baby, even though ones who cried for hours.

When I was only just 15 years old, I babysat a little guy who was about 8 months old for a weekend. They were right across from our house and my brother, a year younger, co-babysat. He played with the 4-year-old. The baby cried for about the first 4 hours, then clearly made up his mind that his parents had abandonded him forever and I was his new mommy, and this one wasn’t getting away so easily. I wasn’t allowed to put him down to pee with protesting wails (good practice for having Asher, turns out). He wouldn’t go to sleep for hours past his ‘bedtime’ and woke me up at about 5:30 am. He tossed me into the deep end of the baby pool and I adored him. He was delicous. (And I still remember the look of utter shock on his face when his parents walked in the door.)

So it is safe to say that I wanted a baby. I really, really wanted a baby, although I was a responsible human being and waited until the time was right. I did assume – hoped, really – that I wouldn’t find my own child quite so boring once s/he got past infancy as I’d found the kids I babysat. I didn’t find Maya boring (although endless Franklin books and pretending to lose at the game of Sorry has frequently worn on my nerves), but I did find her more of a challenge to parent as she grew. Infancy I knew how to handle, even when the infant was colicky. Past that point, I have wished quite frequently that I hadn’t lost the manuals they must have come with.

Now I have no more babies. I adored my babies and, while I do not want any more, I do admit to missing my kids’ babyhoods, when parenting was easy and they loved me more than anything and they mostly smelled really, really good and were squishy and huggable rather than all elbows and knees, and they were so much more easy to understand.

But, thankfully, it turns out that I really like these kids I ended up with in my quest for babies. They are very funny and remarkably smart and always surprising. Turns out I’m pretty glad I had children, not just the babies I wanted.

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It’s been a little crazy around here, what with Rosh Hoshanah having just happened, and Yom Kippur, and Sukkot and random other Jewish holidays on the horizon. My kids get them all off school. Plus, we are trying to plan Maya’s bat mitzvah. Plus I kind of got a job. Because, you know, 3 kids, a chaotic disorganized house, a huge dog and still recovering from nearly dying 6 months ago wasn’t enough on my plate. Time for something new.

I kind of fell into the job, when the new principal at my kids’ school talked to me about needing a Communications Director and I said, gee, that’s exactly what I used to do at my old job and gave her a few suggestions and suddenly it was like, when can you start?

To be truthful, it’s only contract for now to get them going and see if I can handle it, and they will go through a proper search. But for now, I’m working on getting the newsletter and web page, etc., up and going. And getting paid. Just like that. Huh.

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Organizing a bat mitzvah with a 12-year-old girl is a little bit like organizing a wedding and trying to get along with your MIL-to-be. They want everything to be just right and just like everyone else does it and why are you trying to be difficult and interject some originality into it? Neither, it seems, are much into originality.

Now, I get along with my MIL very well, so what I am about to say probably isn’t true for everyone, but for me, trying to find common ground with a 12-year-old-girl has been more difficult than doing the same with the MIL. That kid is rigid.

I’m beginning to the see reasoning behind only having this for boys, because I cannot imagine fighting with a boy over invitations as much as I have fought with Maya. Too bad there isn’t the bat mitzvah version of eloping. She could run off and have a quickie bat mitzvah in Vegas, and when she comes back we could give her a thousand bucks to start her adult life off right. I guess that’s kind of missing the point, huh?

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maya is my favourite child

I love maya the best. My other children just can’t live in her path. she’s just to amazing. maya is everything i have ever wanted. asher has his ups and downs boo has her downs and ups. but maya just has ups. she is the smartist in the family. she is perfect. we got a dog for ashers birthday but actually it was really for maya. we are taking the kids to cirque de soleil because we knew maya would like it. she is special. i wish some day i could be as smart, beautifull, amazing, great, wonderfull, perfect, awsome, excellent and spectacular as maya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Turns out Maya knows the names I use for the kids on my blog. And recognizes the blog template page. I came to the computer to find this left for me. My favourite bit is that she only has ups. My second favourite is the unintentional humour in her statement that she is the ‘smartist’ in the family.

For the record, she is – as I always tell her – my very favourite eldest child and oldest girl. She’s even my favourite 12-year-old. And now she’s my favourite guest blogger.

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Rambling

When I picked up the kids yesterday, Maya informed me that in one of her classes, the rabbi was talking about the shofar. This is a ram’s horn which is blown during Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur. It sounds kind of like a rough trumpet. The rabbi asked the class what the sound of the shofar reminded them of.

This rabbi has taught this grade previously, so you’d think he’d have the experience to know not to ask as question like that, but he didn’t. And so one of Maya’s classmates (whose father and, I believe, grandmother, both read this blog) put up his hand and told his teacher that the shofar reminded him of his uncle in the bathroom.

Maya then told me that the new High School Musical is coming out in theatres in October. Oh, how exciting! She and her friend have already planned to go. Good, I thought, I’ll just be able to drop them off and run away. Then Asher said, all excited, “It’s coming in October? Already?” And my mommy brain calculated two things very quickly. One, Asher loves High School Musical and will want to go and two, Maya won’t agree to have him go with her. This adds up to three: I’ll be seeing the movie after all.

I heaved a sigh just as Maya informed Asher that he will not be accompanying her. “L’s brother wants to go too,” she said, “And we aren’t letting him, either.” Oo, how exciting. L’s brother, T is in Asher’s grade. They aren’t good friends, but they hang out sometimes. Maybe they could go together.

“Hey!” I said, “Asher, you aren’t the only boy in your grade in the closet about High School Musical.”

“Mom,” Asher said, in his ‘aren’t you silly’ tone of voice, “T and I aren’t in the closet about High School Musical.” You aren’t? I thought. But he went on, “T doesn’t care if people know.” Ah, meaning Asher carries this little secret alone. High School Musical, here I come!

I could try and make J go, but I’m already in his debt for letting Boo acquire more Rainbow Magic books since she first became obsessed over two Asher got her at a book sale. They look like this:

There appear to be a never-ending supply of then – weather fairies and animal fairies and fairies for each day. Every damn book is the same. Two girls, Rachel and Kirsti, must help some fairy get something back – a puppy, a weather feather, etc – from the evil Jack Frost and his ugly goblins. This usually involves having them become fairy-sized and some point and also very grateful, simpering fairies.

It’s all cuteness and sweetness and friendliness. After I read one to Boo while Maya was around, Maya said afterwards, “My teeth hurt.” They are painful to read, and usually it is J who is suckered into the job, since I am already reading The Thief Lord to the older children at bedtime.

Zach Efron will be my punishment.

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We survived another curriculum night. Do all schools have these? Each teacher from each class gets about 15 minutes to tell us all about the upcoming year. Since our kids also take Jewish stuff, it’s quite a list. Maya’s classes, if I remember correctly, are: English, French, Hebrew, Jewish history, Jewish ethics, Science, Geography/History, Torah and Gym. I think I’m missing something.  Oh yeah – math! (Funny I should forget that.)

Even Asher, who is only in grade four and hasn’t started with the classes split up like they do in high school, has General Studies (English, math, science), Judaic studies (Hebrew, Jewish history and ethics), French, Social Studies and Gym. Boo merely has General Studies, Hebrew, French and Gym. Only 4 teachers for her.

This, of course, adds up to about a thousand teachers to see (see why I forgot math?) in three different grades. And two parents. I stared at the list for quite some time. I’ve never met Maya’s English teacher, so I’d like to see her, but that clashes with when Asher’s English teacher is talking and she’s new, so maybe she’ll be doing things differently. Been through grade one English twice, so maybe we can skip that, only Boo’s teacher is new too. Maybe I can skip French for Boo and make it to Math for Maya …

We elected to mostly see Boo and Asher’s teachers, the logic being that Maya is competent and responsible and will be able to tell us what is going on in her classes. Boo is too young and Asher is too spacy. I sent J to Asher’s classroom and went to Boo’s, where I sat down beside a dad whose kids are in the same grades as mine. “Which kid do you love least?” I asked him. He looked blank for a moment, then said, “Oh – Jacob,” naming his middle child who is, like Maya, with-it and organized.

Anyway, I am cautious optimistic for this year, but perhaps this is because I avoided Asher’s classes. Last year, I sat there and thought, ‘there is no way my son can handle this.’ But he did just fine and will again.

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Maya and I went through her clothing in the past couple of days and basically got rid of everything. It’s all too small or too ugly. She may not have thought it ugly when we bought it, but now it is. So there.

So we went shopping this afternoon. We ditched the younger two with their dad and went mommy and daughter shopping. It was actually a little bit fun. The fun part was hanging out with just one kid. The not-so-fun part was finding shirts my kid actually likes. The in thing this year seems to be shirts made to look as though they are short-sleeved over long-sleeved, only the long sleeve is built right in. We both agree this looks stupid.

The other problem is that she is size 16, which is the largest size in kid’s clothing. This also makes her a small in adult clothing, but the more hip adult clothing is very big on deep V or scoop necks, which is not so great when you are, in fact, a barely-developed 12-year-old. Then we found some lovely shirts in one store and they turned out to be $50 a pop.

But in the end we found her enough to keep her going for now, and had some fun in the process. At one point, I held up a shirt I liked and said, “This looks nice.” She sighed and shook her head and said, “Don’t say things like that without asking me first.” So I said, “This looks nice?” and she said, “No. It’s hideous.”

She’s also outgrown her shoes (of course), so we popped into just one shoe store, but neither of us had any hope because experience has shown that we must spend a least two hours searching every store in our area before we can find anything acceptable. But she right away found a pair she liked in the right size and when she tried them on, they didn’t have any little annoying seam to cause them to be rejected. And while she was jogging around the store in them, I found a pair I liked to replace my destroyed walking shoes. So we both walked out very happy. That was our crowning shopping achievement.

As a final coup de grace, we found a cute outfit for Boo (on sale, of course), who actually needs no clothes as she gets plenty of hand-me-downs, but was going to feel put-out when she saw her elder sister’s swag. That kid is very into clothes already. Yesterday morning she lay in our bed and refused to come out because it was cold and she couldn’t find a sweat shirt. J went into her room and returned with a very cute, but somewhat boyish sweatshirt that she has never actually put on. She spotted it and said, “I’m not wearing that. It’s disgusting!” This in the tone of voice to suggest he’d offered her a dead rat carcass with which to wrap herself.

“What?” he said to her, “I like it.”

She switched to whithering contempt and replied, “Well, this isn’t about you, is it? It’s about me.”

Six years old and already she’s mastered whithering contempt for one’s parents. Maya was so pround.

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Yesterday, we went back to the wall-climbing place I wrote about before, and this time I brought the camera. Here’s a photo of Boo half-way up the wall. I like this one because of the juxtaposition of her and the big guy next to her.

She’s at the top.

They also had a ‘cave’ where you can climb unharnessed. My kids liked the ceiling.

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We got the class lists for the kids today. They send them out to us ahead of time so we can all freak out before school starts, instead of after. Asher was the only one I was really concerned about, given his ‘issues,’ and he didn’t get the teacher I wanted, but got one who has been away and who Maya and her friend declared was wonderful, so I’m hopeful. I still emailed with a request to meet all his teachers soon.

Boo could survive pretty much anything so I wasn’t worried, but I was still happy to see she got the teacher Maya had for grade one, whom I loved and not the one Asher had, who told us the reason he was having trouble in school was that we didn’t read to him enough and he was just going to be the kind of kid who always had to work extra hard (code for kinda dumb) and that we shouldn’t have him tested, and who was completely wrong.

Maya’s friends are all in the other class. She is very sad. I am very stressed out. And so it begins.

In honour of this, here’s my latest column:

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I’m handing in this column a day late. That’s because the topic I chose is ‘going back to school.’ By the time you read this, the topic will be on everyone’s mind as September fast approaches, but as I am writing this, summer is barely half-way finished.

I decided on the topic some time ago, but every time I sat down to write it and contemplated my chosen topic, that muscle in my back that is right next to my left shoulder blade would start to tighten – it has already made itself into a nice little ball – and I’d decide to go weed my garden instead.

Of course, it didn’t occur to me to come up with a different topic. I just sailed down the river of denial until I suddenly realized that my deadline had come and gone, so now I’m writing on that topic, with the muscle in my back growing ever tighter.

I love summer. I love my garden, and the warmth (relative as it has been this summer), and s’mores, and no homework, school lunches, notes to teachers or homework. And did I mention the homework?

I hate the reminding, nagging and helping that goes along with homework. I hate when something goes wrong and my kid wails about how the teacher is going to yell at him or her. I hate my homework – sending in field trip money or toilet paper tubes or family photographs. And I hate realizing half way through the day that I’ve forgotten it again and hoping my son isn’t the only one whose mom forgot (this only happens to my son because my daughter is organized and reminds me of all these things, but my son is a disorganized disaster like his mom and between the two of us, it is hopeless).

I love the relaxation of the rules that comes with summer. Bedtimes are more casual, piano practicing is optional and reading is for fun.

Perhaps instead of calling the topic ‘back to school,’ I should call it ‘ode to summer.’ There, that’s better.

Every summer, we start out by going up to my in-laws’ cottage, which we refer to as going ‘up north.’ For the past two years, we’ve brought two of my nephews up as well. Good friends have the cottage across the road, so this summer we had a gang of six children between the ages of nine and 12, and three six-year-olds on top of that.

The children play at the beach, climb in the tree house, organize large games of poker, stay up late and fill in mad-libs games with swear words, laughing hysterically over their wit.

I love this time because this is when their childhoods most closely resemble how I remember mine (with the exception of the poker games) – relatively free of parental oversight.

Being relatively free of parental oversight then quickly moves into almost total anarchy for the next phase of summer: sleep-away camp. This was my son’s first year and he arrived back home grungy, tanned and full of happy stories. I was worried that the youngest would drive me crazy without her siblings to amuse her, but she reveled in it, repeating several times a day, “I LOVE being an only child.”

In another week, the eldest will be back and we will enter the final stage of summer, one I like to call “Camp Mom,” where I take the kids to museums and the water parks and then there’s the ever-fun school supply shopping. I like to save this until the end of summer for because after a couple of weeks of solid togetherness, with Dad only riding to the rescue in the evenings, school starts to look more appealing, both for the (“I’m booooorrrred”) children and me.

So I guess I love summer not only because I can let my children forage for their own lunches and stay up late watching old movies with me, but because by the end of it, I’ve managed to develop an appreciation for school again. I’ll never like the homework or making school lunches no one eats. But at least it takes all my kids away every day and gives them something to do while I get some peace and quiet.

Perhaps I should have called this topic ‘ode to my laziness.’ Whatever. At least my back doesn’t hurt so much now.

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Isn’t he just dreamy?

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When J was a kid, he attended a camp near here that he just loved. It was the seminal experience of his childhood. His kids, he was determined, would go to the same place. At first, I was completely against this, mostly because of the stories he told me of his camp adventures. One of my favourites was of how, every year, he’d help a good friend pass his swimming test by letting that friend hold onto his shoulder, unseen in the murky lake water, while they treaded water for the requisite time. So? you figure. Big deal – he helped a friend get a swimming badge. But no. The test was to be able to go water skiing.

I happy to report that the friend is still alive today.

As the kids got a bit older, he started telling me about how the camp had changed over the years and is now much safer. When my eldest nephew started attending and not only survived the experience, but loved it, I softened my stance.

So that is where Maya went to camp last year, and she too loved it. The stories she came home with demonstrated that it is safe, but in many ways is still the camp of J’s youth. It isn’t the sort of place where the kids are structured 16 hours a day and have archery and horseback riding, etc. There’s a fair amount of hanging about and goofing off. I actually consider this a good thing.

Not many kids from our city attend this camp. Last year, we showed up in the school parking lot looking for the bus and were surprised to see the place filled with parents and campers. Thankfully, we quickly determined that they were all going to a different camp. We finally found one other family. Their two and Maya made 3 kids in total. The ‘bus’ was half an hour late and turned out to be a minivan with a trailer for all their crap. The driver was an Israeli who worked at the camp and drove like an Israeli, so our kids were relieved to make it to camp alive.

This year, we arrived in the parking lot in time and quickly found the other family again. We settled in for a chat as the scheduled 10 am pick-up time arrived and the bus from the other camp roared in to disgorge and reload campers. No minivan, but we weren’t surprised.

The parking lot cleared and we continued to wait. To our surprise, another bus drove up. The driver wore a cap with our camp’s name on it. A whole bus for four children. As the other parents and I told our kids to hop on and chose which 6 seats they’d like to claim as theirs, J briefly got all adult-like and responsible and phoned the camp to see how many kids they expected. They couldn’t have sent a bus for four kids, could they? The person who answered the phone told him that they expected “eight to twelve” children at the pick-up. “Don’t you have a list of who is coming?” he asked. They said they’d get back to him on that.

So while he waited for the return call, he headed over to the other parking lot to look for the missing 4-8 kids. There were no more kids. The camp guy called back to say he could not access their database and had no more information, so we waved off our children, amid jokes about their large personalities, or perhaps split personalities, turning them into 8-12 children.

From now on, J says when people ask him how many kids we have, he plans to answer, “Two to four.”

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What did we do with all our time, back when we only had one child?

Oh yes, now I remember. She was extraordinarily demanding.

Maya and Asher are off to sleep-over camp for 12 days and 3 weeks respectively. I’m a little worried about Asher, who sometimes perceives the world differently than his peers. I really, really, really hope he has a good time, because if he doesn’t, I’ll probably never get him to leave home ever again. This is his first year at camp. Can you tell?

So Boo is having a brief stint as an only child and she’s actually being pretty darn demanding herself. Mostly, she just talks incessantly, which is really nothing new for her. The new thing is that I actually have to do stuff for her, like feed her or help her reach something or play Old Maid. We are both used to having her siblings do all that. When I offered to play a game with her today, she said, “But it’s boooorrring playing with you!” That’s the difference between first and third child. I’m convinced that Boo and Maya are exactly the same child, the only difference being that they were born into different family positions. For Maya, there is nothing better than doing whatever she wants to do with me. Her siblings are a distant, distant second.

So, I figure that in theory I should spend next week engaging in some serious mother/daughter bonding time, since Boo rarely gets that, but instead, I signed her up for day camp. I listened to her alternatively yammer on at me and complain about how bored she was, coming up with names of playmates that stretched back two years that she begged me to call for her to play with (and, it appears, ever damn one of them is on vacation or in camp themselves) and decided that it would be best for our relationship if she had what one friend of mine kindly called ‘structured playtime.’ (She told me she signed her twins up for camp because she believed they needed some structured playtime, rather than just saying that they were driving her nuts and she needed them gone for a while.)

So I signed her up for a swim camp and told her, prepared to have to sell it to her a bit, but there was no need. She is delighted. Thrilled. Happy, happy, happy. Can’t week for this week to be over already. That certainly takes some of the mother guilt out of it. Actually, there was only a smidgen of guilt there anyway, so now it is gone. And everyone gets to be happy, happy, happy. Including, pleasepleaseplease, Asher.

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