Biggest regret as a parent

I still consider myself a new parent, my kids are 4 and 6, aka, very young. I don’t actually remember life before having the little people, at least not really, but at the same time, it still seems to me like I am far too young to be responsible for other people’s lives.

I mean seriously…me?

Anyway, I have tried to be a good parent; I have failed on a few occasions and did a decent job on others, but there is one thing I regret more than anything in my young children’s lives.

I regret never investing in a high quality camera with night vision.

Nope, I’m not even kidding (starting to agree with me on the fact that I shouldn’t be a parent eh?)

Every single night of my life I walk to wherever my kids are sleeping to look at their darling faces. More times than not, rather than looking at them peacefully sleeping, I bust out laughing because it just seems absurd that one could fall asleep with his foot in his drawer, or with his head under his bed, or sprawled on her back like a star on the floor, or with her head turned in a way that just doesn’t seem completely natural when compared with the position of her body.

Hubby and I have been reduced to tears on several occasions because we try to contemplate the situation that led to my son sleeping with his legs on his bed, but his head on the floor or to my daughter sleeping with only her face under her blanket.

As an adult, could you ever imagine (soberly) falling asleep like that?

Hubby and I have literally…no wait, figuratively…had hours and hours of joy watching them sleep and it’s so common to find them in less than comfortable looking positions that I can’t even remember half the ways we have found them. Thus, I regret having no photographic evidence to remind me of these wonderful moments.

See, at least I’m not such a bad parent that I would throw on the flash in a dark bedroom in the middle of their night for my own personal joy.

No longer living with a three year old

For the next 13 months, 2 weeks and 3 days I will no longer be living with a three year old. My baby boy is now 4 years old.

4 days old vs 4 years old

4 days old

Dear Crazy,

Today is your 4th birthday and you have already grown so much since I first met you. I hope your father and I will be able to teach you and help you to learn so many things. There are a few things that are so fundamental and important to me that I hope if I fail at anything it is not on these points.

You are crazy

Never ever lose your spirit and your drive for adventure. You are a handful, but your curiosity, energizer-bunny like demeanor and fearlessness will take you far. (but not too far away from me okay?)

You are strong

I have seen you fall, I have seen you face disappointment and you have done this with pride and dignity and with more self control than what should be expected from someone with so few years. You will face many more challenges, some we have all known and some that are particular to you, but never forget your inner strength and you will get through them all. I will be there as much a you want me to be, at times you will say too much. I can’t help that, you will always be my baby boy. Just remember that when I overstep any boundaries it is out of love. Let me know when this happens and I promise I will try to back off.

You are beautiful

You are unique, you are original and you are beautiful just as you are.

You are not perfect

I know this may seem surprising to hear coming from your mom, but it is true. I will build you up as much as I can and help you to have all the self confidence you need, but I hope to keep you down to Earth as well. You will make mistakes and that is okay, own up to them, accept them, and learn from them. Be ready to compromise, admit your faults, and grow.

You are loved.

xx,

Mom

Not my best day

It is one of those days where I just can’t get my shit together. I have both kids all day by myself, which is not the best when I am so scattered. Hubby is away on business, he left this morning at 6 a.m. and will be back sometime tonight after we are in bed, or at least by then I hope we will all be in bed, but the way things are going I might very well be asleep while Crazy is jumping on my bed beside me.

Nothing particularly bad happened, and in the great grand scheme of crappy-ass days, I fully recognize that this one doesn’t even register a blip on the radar, but still, this is not my favourite day. I am tired, which these days the last four years is the norm and doesn’t really add anything to the story, but it is always worth mentioning. I have also developed a cold, which again, is more of a mild inconvenience than a life altering event, but I have been in good health for so long now that I had forgotten how crappy it was to feel crappy. Thank you short memory, even though you are also the reason that I was contemplating a third pregnancy/child because you had helped me forget how ridiculously traumatic child birth is (sorry E, but you are going to find out soon enough), luckily I wrote that shit down last time.

Anyway, head cold, and in case it wasn’t perfectly clear, incapable of focusing on a single subject for more than ten seconds.

Crazy wandered into my room and woke me up a little after seven, and thus the day began. So far so good, just a little pressure behind the eyes and ears, a nose full of unpleasantness, and my whole body felt like my muscles had disintegrated over night, but at least the little ones slept in longer than the sun.

Around 9:30 a.m. I worked up the courage for outing number 1, Crazy was promised a treat for good behaviour, so we made our way to the toy store. I took advantage of the promised gift to stop for gas and shoes (two stops, I do not buy my shoes at the gas station). After all, my kids will behave like angels if they know a reward is just minutes away.

Once I had bought myself a new purse (there were no shoes I liked), we proceeded to spend an hour in the toy store while Crazy scrutinized every toy on every shelf in every aisle, and Squishy picked up toys at random and headed for the exit. Finally, Crazy picked a remote controlled train and Squishy narrowed it down to Barbapapa figurines.

Back at home, we got the toys out of their wrappings in a little under 45 minutes which was a new record for removing the unnecessary packaging found on children’s toys. We put new batteries in and surprise, the train didn’t work. Poor Crazy was so disappointed and so was I because I knew I would have to take them back to the freaking toy store.

I barely scraped together lunch and put Squishy down for a nap before falling onto the couch and trying to rest while Crazy was jumping, rolling, flipping, and just generally being crazy. Squishy normally sleeps three hours in the afternoon, which is just awesome, but today being today, she only slept 45 minutes.

Once everyone was awake and dressed again, back to the toy store we went. After yet another hour of scrutinizing and randomly grabbing and running, we came out with a non battery operated toy that was sure to work. All of this after the store manager “verified” that the toy really didn’t work.  I fully understand this is procedure, but it did make me feel a little bit like I was too stupid to put batteries in a plastic toy.

So once back at home, I decided what the kids really needed to tire themselves out and therefore ensure they would go to sleep at a decent time that night was some fresh air. Crazy wanted to ride his bike.  So I got it out of the garage, Squishy decided she wanted her scooter, so I got that out of the garage, then Crazy saw Squishy with her scooter and decided he no longer wanted his bike and wanted his scooter instead. I put the bike back and got his scooter, then I managed to find both helmets and chased down the kids to put them on their heads.  We were approximately 20 m from the front door when Squishy decided she was done with the scooter, so I carried hers for the last 500 m to the park.  The 500 m took a grand total of 20 minutes between the stops to look at rocks, the random deciding to sit down and play with garbage or whatever fun things may cross the mind of an almost 2 year old.

Once we got there, we headed for the slide, this is when disaster struck. Two little girls came to the park with of all things…their chihuahua. This would, of course, be no big deal for any other family, but Crazy, as crazy as he might be, has a pathological fear of dogs, and cats, and I discovered yesterday turtles as well, basically anything non human that moves.  So Crazy was frozen with fear at the sight of this rat-sized dog in a t-shirt (I think the attempt to dress it like a human also added to the inexplicable phobia).  I told him to play on the slide because there was no way this little ankle-biter could make it up there to get him, boy was I wrong. Crazy climbed up the ladder stairs to the slide, and little dog followed him right up, walked past him, and slid down the slide.  I was in hysterics laughing at the sight of this dog sliding down a slide, until I realized that my son was paralyzed with fear. I helped guide the poor dear back into my arms and we decided to leave about 7 minutes after we got there.

Of course neither child wanted to ride their scooters anymore or wear their helmets, so I clumsily picked up both scooters, both helmets, and the back pack full of snacks and changes of clothes and we started on our way to the empty tennis courts so that kids could run/roll around freely without the threat of cars or wild mini-animals.  So it was on our way that Hubby decided to call, here I was arms full, shins sore from the scooters banging into them and the phone ringing.  I barely made it to the tennis court before dropping everything and sitting on the ground to bitch and complain to my husband. Oddly enough, I totally broke down in that phone call, and sweet as he was, he burst out laughing, and somehow that made it all better.  In that ten minutes while the kids chased each other around the net–I am still not sure exactly who was chasing whom–I totally broke down, picked up the broken pieces, and for the first time all day I got my shit together.  Who knew that all I needed was for someone to laugh at me.

UPDATE: This is not an open invitation for you (and you know who you are) to kick me when I am down.

I can’t seem to finish a thought

I am going through one of those moments in my life when there are so many things on the go, to plan, to manage, to remember that I am unable to finish a single thought.

This week for example, I have to figure out how I am going to attend and remember to attend the first parent-teacher night at our school. This is something I refuse to miss because it is one of the few moments in the year when we get a sneak peak into our child’s everyday life. As Crazy is about as chatty as a caterpillar I have no input on what happens in his day.  I even joined the PTA last year just to have some privileged time with his teacher to find out what is really going on in his life.

Also, on Tuesday,  I have to give a speech, as it is not political, perhaps that is not the right way to say it, I guess it is more appropriate to say “I have been asked to speak.”  Now that El Jefe has moved to Boston, I am managing his speaking engagements.  I am not so much nervous for this as I am totally and completely excited.  I mean seriously, I love to be the centre of attention–I think this is a personality flaw due to the fact that I am a middle and therefore forgotten child–and how much more centre can I get than speaking to a room full of 150 colleagues.  Not only that but my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss will be there, so the next time promotion is being discussed, perhaps he might say “Hey, do you remember that girl that said that thing that one time, it was kind of funny, we should promote her.”

On top of that, I have a little over a month before we leave for a two week vacation to Canada, and nothing says vacation like a nine hour flight with two preschool age children. Regardless, there are only two weeks and a lot of very wonderful people to see, and that requires intense planning, something I have only just begun to start to think about.

And since tomorrow is Monday, I have started to think about the insurmountable to-do list at work that is filled with only “urgent” or “requires immediate attention” or “do it now or you will get fired” items.

I am also contemplating how exactly I will get my kids to school and day care tomorrow if it is raining. This is the south of France, have you ever heard anything as insane as rain here? I couldn’t believe it when I woke up to the sound of rain falling this morning. It was such a wonderful change or at least it was until I decided to take the kids out to play in the rain; I have yet to figure out where my head was at when I came up with this idea. I got them all dressed up in rain gear and rubber boots and went out to splash around in puddles. We came back about 30 minutes later soaked to the bone, cold, and miserable.  It took me nearly as long to get everyone dry and warmed up again. I can’t imagine how I will manage it tomorrow morning unless I bring everyone, including myself, an extra change of clothes.

So these are the thoughts I am able to focus on for more than 20 seconds.  The rest of the time my mind is jumping from one thing to the next, never able to fully digest the thought, the feeling, the moment before it skips on to the

Why? Why? Why?

I have been waiting since his first word for Crazy to enter into the why phase.  I have been looking forward to see how his mind works, to see where he is curious and to test my own creativity and reasoning in trying to answer.

It has been four days since the full on why phase has started.  It’s been four days where I can say something as simple as “We are going to have spaghetti for dinner” and I am met with a little “Why?”

It’s been four days since I have had to try to answer questions such as:

“Why is the sky blue?”  – That’s an easy one, it’s due to the light from the sun being scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere. He looked at me with curious eyes, and then asked if he could watch TV.

“Why is the sun hot?” – Again, easy peasy – it’s a burning ball of gas.  His response “like Earth?” Well no, not exactly, but then again he changed the subject and asked if he would get to go back to school soon.

“Why is Grandma your mother?”  – Ummmmm

I have also been blessed for the last four days with full on conversations in which Crazy has become mono-syllabic.

Me – It’s bedtime.

Him – Why?

Me – Because it’s late.

Him – Why?

Me – Because the sun is going to bed.

Him – Why?

Me – Ah nuts, this just got a lot more complicated.  Forget about it, it’s time for bed.

Hubby has been trying to outsmart him by only responding with “Because” but that doesn’t make the question go away and Crazy just repeats “Why?” until either Hubby goes bonkers or Crazy gets bored (so far, Crazy hasn’t gotten bored).

So yes, four days into the why phase, it’s been fun, but now it’s time for it to be over.

What fun answers did you give your kids to the question “Why?”

Top ten things I have learned as a parent

10. I can read 190 pages of Curious George in one sitting and not go blind.

9. Most kids learn the word “no” long before they learn the word “yes”.

8. Even when you think you might die from tiredness, you won’t. And some days knowing that makes it so much worse.

7. Baby proofing has served little purpose in my home because my kids are far more creative than I am. I keep the really dangerous stuff out of reach, but beyond that, Crazy will always outsmart me at finding dangerous activities with seemingly safe things.

6. There is no one right answer to all the parenting questions. Every parent, every child, and every situation is different. What works for you won’t necessarily work for others, what works for others won’t necessarily work for you and what worked yesterday may not today.

5. All children (or maybe just mine) are a little OCD in ways that make no sense at all. While driving home from the zoo today at nap time, Squishy refused to sleep and was growing increasingly annoyed with us. It took us awhile with the car pulled over to finally understand that her window shade was on backwards (it wasn’t) and once we flipped it around she promptly calmed down and went to sleep.

4. If Crazy does not want to go to sleep, he will not go to sleep and reading 190 pages of Curious George will not change this.

3. When my child laughs, it is impossible to not at least smile.

2. Almost every theory I had on parenting before I had kids was wrong.

1. Doctors are experts of anatomy, lactation specialists are experts at nursing, teachers are experts at teaching, but I, okay, Hubby and I are the foremost experts of my children.

Thank you, of course

Last week, I was reading the book Thank You to Crazy. When I got to the page that says “I always say thank you when some says something kind about me”, I gave Crazy a kiss on his head and said “you are very handsome”. He replied, “Of course”.

So, I am clearly failing as a parent when it comes to manners, but I should get bonus points for his level of self confidence.