Let the kids have their toys…

Dear makers of children’s toys,

I know I speak often about how crazy my children are, but I assure you, they aren’t that bad, it is me, I am weak and fragile and have trouble dealing with the mess that is childhood. The kids themselves aren’t horrible, they are just little versions of me, with dexterity issues, who still have a lot to learn about being, well human, in society. This however, does not make them innately bad, they are just young and deserving of our love and patience.

I would like to remind you of this on behalf of all children everywhere. They are good little people, they deserve a break and some down time and I will go so far as to say, they should be able to play with the toys that are showered upon them during this holiday season.

I say all this, because I see no reason why, for the love of God, you feel the need to package toys the way you do unless it is to punish children. There is nothing like an excited child who wants to get at their new doll they have just unwrapped, who then has to sit quietly while mother tries to open the box. No crap, it is taped shut, okay, I will just peel that one off, oh no the box still won’t open. Let me just turn it over, ahh, I see, another bit of tape, shit this one won’t peel.

– Hubby, hand me those scissors.

Okay, let me slice there, and there and there, and…yup there. Okay, box is opened. Phew. I will just slide this doll attached to this cardboard thing out of the box, it’s stuck, what the hell is it stuck on?

– Yes dear, almost got it, and NO, don’t touch those.

Pick up scissors and hand them back to Hubby. Back to the cardboard thing stuck in the box, maybe if I just pull with all myyyy miiiight. Yup that did the trick.

– Oh sorry honey, I didn’t mean to smack you in the face, I was just trying to get the doll out of the box, I have almost got it.

Child’s nose has stopped bleeding and back to the doll attached to the cardboard thingy. Okay, let’s turn it over, I’ll just go ahead and wipe that sweat off my forehead while I do that. Alright, what am I looking at, we have three visible twist ties…all taped down, and there appears to be elastics and wait, is that string too?

– Hubby, can you hand me those scissors again please?

Right, let’s peel away that tape, okay, first twist tie is free and ready to be untwisted, now which way is it…nope, not that way.

– No, honey, don’t touch the scissors. She is almost out of the box, I promise.

Okay, one twist tie down, two to go. Well, now I have it figured out, that wasn’t so bad. On to the elastics, the clear, thin, but surprisingly durable elastics that are both hard to grasp and hard to see (they kind of look like those elastics kids had on their braces). Fuck, there are like eight if them…alright, let’s just go one at a time.

– Oh, please stop crying honey, I promise I am not hurting your baby.

Okay, elastics are done, brow is wiped again. Blood pressure is starting to return to normal, all we have now is the string, I shouldn’t need scissors, I will just pull at it with my finger here. Oh, it is a little thicker than I thought, maybe the scissors will be faster.

– Hubby, please pass me the scissors. What do you mean you don’t have the scissors, I know you handed them to me, but I thought I handed them back, never mind, I found them, Crazy is using them to cut my new scarf. WHAT?

Okay, I have secured the scissors, scarf is okay, and on to the string, it is cut. If I pull here, the doll should be free, oh no, wait, I need to cut that string too, oh and that one there, and freedom at last, or not, what’s going on now, why is this damn doll still attached to this stupid cardboard thingy. Is that a fucking zip tie?¬†Alright, I will need bigger scissors for that, or maybe bolt cutters. Breathe, calm down, you can do this, it is just a child’s toy. Bolt cutters have arrived, zip tie is cut and baby is at last free.

– Here you go sweety. What do you mean you don’t want it? Oh, you want me to open that other toy…right, sure, I just need a refill on my egg nog first.

What does Christmas mean to you?

We pretty much always celebrated Christmas the same way when I was younger. We had traditions that were equal parts pleasant and unpleasant, for example listening to Nana Mouskouri every Christmas all day long on a loop started off very enjoyable, but by the end of the day even her beautiful voice started to pierce your brain.

Because I had nearly 25 consecutive Christmas celebrations in this pattern, it gave Christmas meaning, both big and small. It meant family, and sometimes excessive drinking and total breakdowns, but family all the same. It meant turkey and stuffing I never ate, or cranberry sauce that no one ever ate. It meant Nana, it meant snow and cold, it meant Christmas trees taller than I am, and when they were Charlie Brownish, they were still covered head to toe with decorations, mostly home made or gifts from previous years. It meant a Santa Claus that left you one or two presents and chocolates and fruit and lip chap (yes, my Santa was always very concerned with my chapped lips). Everything else under the tree was from some one whom you could thank and hug and appreciate.

It meant giving and taking turns opening presents so that the anticipation was dragged out as long as humanly possible and so that it gave you time to watch others open their presents and appreciate their happiness. It was always laid back and relaxing until it was time to prepare and eat dinner and it always finished with us lounging on the couch with the turkey sweats. It was a day that was focused on only one thing, family, in what ever shape or form that it was that particular year.

It meant The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve, and Christmas pyjamas and lots of crazy anticipation. It meant getting up extra early to find what was left under the tree. It meant an apple and orange in your stocking that always went right back to the fridge while you snacked on your chocolate before breakfast. It meant egg nog, and decorations on almost every house outside.

All of these traditions gave it meaning for me and every year I spend away, I miss them more.

Anyhoo (not a spelling mistake, it should be pronounced as it is written), I am still trying to learn about new traditions and to find the meaning of Christmas that works for us as a family unit, and I hope that one day my kids will look back and miss our traditions too.

Merry Christmas to my family 6000 km away, please keep all of our weird little things going.

Hubby’s turn

I have started the habit of posting on family members birthdays, and feel Hubby shouldn’t be left out. Also, sorry, I missed your day Al, in short, I am super glad we are friends, safe travels and I hope you don’t have a total meltdown while you fly with children during the time of year when people in airports are insanely stressed out and totally unhelpful.

Anyway, back to Hubby, I am glad you were born, and I am glad for all the crazy little things that had to happen for us to cross paths. I am also glad you finally gave up on that whole don’t date someone you work with and decided it was okay to be married to someone you work with instead.¬†

Happy Birthday and all that jazz. Jesus will get his day shortly, but today is all about you.

P.S. To the non Hubby’s, please note he is not conversationally inclined, so short and to point is the best kind of post I could give, ie. I am not being a cold and heartless wife.

It is totally worth it

I know I am the first to complain about being a parent, how tiring it is, and how absolutely frustrating, infuriating and baffling it can be. But, it is also one of the most awesome things I get to do. Here are a few of the highlights, or what I like to think of as the primary reasons I don’t murder myself.

How fast can you go?

They have installed a solar powered radar on our street that displays your speed as you drive by. If you are over the speed limit, a sad face is also displayed, if you are under the speed limit, there is some congratulatory expression thanking you for being a decent human being and not driving recklessly in both a residential and school zone.

A few weekends ago, Crazy was on his scooter and went flying by this stretch of the road (on the sidewalk of course), and registered 12 km per hour. There were no cars, this really was my crazy son. This morning we went for a walk, but didn’t make it too far because Hubby and Crazy took turns running down the sidewalk as fast as they could over this stretch to see how fast they could run. Crazy had a personal best of 10 km/h, and Hubby 20 km/h. Note: if you run on the right most side of the sidewalk, the radar doesn’t see you. This was the sad lesson Hubby had to learn when he gave it his all in a final attempt to break into the 20s.

How will Santa get to us?

I am a huge fan of everything Christmas, except actual Christmas Day ( for another post). I have managed to get Crazy into the same kind of crazy Christmas mood as myself. He and I have read Christmas books, made decorations and watched wonderful Christmas movies pretty much since his birthday mid-November. This past week however, he was quite concerned about the fact that we have no fireplace, and so there was no way for Santa to get to us. To right this wrong, all four of us sat down and made one (I am sucking Hubby and Squishy into my Christmas decorating frenzy as well – queue evil laugh).

This way Santa will be able to make it to our house.

This way Santa will be able to make it to our house.

Life’s harder lessons

Crazy, Squishy and I were outside on our tennis courts yesterday (yes, my apartment may be the size of a match book, but we do live in a residence with tennis courts), alternately running, playing football (ahem, soccer), and riding the variety of devices I had pulled out of the garage – bikes, scooters, strollers. Both suddenly stopped in their tracks as an airplane flew overhead. I am, afterall, raising two little aerospace engineers – just like their parents – so every time a helicopter, airplane and sometimes birds are within eyeshot or earshot, everything else is forgotten, and the pair of them stare in wonder. As the plane was flying by, Squishy suddenly started jumping, and by jumping, I mean bending her legs and pushing herself up while one or both feet remain on the ground. I thought she was excited to see the airplane until she suddenly stopped, dropped her shoulders and said, “I can’t catch it”. I got a huge mother of a cuddle after that disappointment.

I hear ya sister

Squishy has always been very strong at communication. Even before she could speak, she was very well understood by those around her. Now, she is trying so hard to develop language; she listens to everything and she repeats almost everything she hears. She is even pretty good at understanding the meaning of most words. She has a vocabulary of several hundred words in two languages. Beyond all that, she is incredibly patient with Hubby and me; we don’t always understand what she says. When that happens, she always turns to the only living soul who gets her without fail, her brother. She repeats whatever word or phrase she has been trying to say to us and he will translate it for us. This is often done with rolled eyes or annoyance in his voice, not because Squishy came to him for help, but because his parents are such complete tools.

All in all, my kids are pretty damn cool, especially right now,  because they are sleeping.

Crib vs bed dilemma

Squishy will be turning two in a few short weeks (seriously???), and Hubby and I have started to discuss switching her crib out for a big girl bed.

We don’t really know how one goes about this with regular children. Crazy climbed out of his crib for the first time at 18 months, at which point we bought a bigger crib. Then he climbed out of that one around 22 months, so for the sake of safety, we put him in a big boy bed.

We fully acknowledge that he was too young, both in age and maturity and we spent the better part of the following year hosting him in our bed every night. But, he didn’t really leave us with much choice once he climbed out of his crib.

In all fairness to his craziness, we didn’t know about his condition until he was 2 and a half, so his crib was probably like a torture chamber for him.

My Squishy goes to bed so easily right now, and I don’t want that to change, nor am I completely ready to have that little thing wandering freely about the apartment while I am sleeping. As much as Crazy wasn’t ready to be in a big boy bed, the fact that he wasn’t ready meant the only place he went when he got up was into our room. Squishy on the other hand might decide to wander into the kitchen and make herself something to eat.

So what age is the right age to ditch the crib? More importantly, how do you do it without screwing up your child’s sleep pattern for months?