Category Archives: Raising Kids

The Frozen Wasteland of Parenting

Oh Friends…

It has been a trying time of late here in our house.  Darling Daughter – who was 19months on Monday – has taken to screaming.  And when I say ‘screaming’ I mean screaming.  Like: horror flick, virgin girl screaming.  And I’m understanding that it has more to do with her lack of control over really anything in her life.  Honestly though, understanding will only get you so far.

screeching child

After that, it’s up to your good friends and alcohol.

And then, once the friends are gone home and you’ve slept off all the gin you drank (~ahem.  Hypothetically of course.  <cough>) and you wake up to the cherubic sounds of more god damned screaming you start to loose your mind a little bit.  I did what many have done in such circumstances: I asked facebook for help.

And you know what?  Facebook helped.  In a matter of 5 minutes – at 7:00 in the morning, mind – I had responses from several people.  They were all saying, “Chin up, it gets easier, it’s a phase, ignore it, you can do it” and so on.  It didn’t stop the screeching, I’m sad to say, but it did help.

It reminded me that I am not alone in this frozen wasteland of parenting.  And today, that’s all I needed.

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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations


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Language: Who Cares?

We consider ourselves to be fairly regular parents.  We aren’t extreme to either end of the spectrum.  We eat healthfully, but we love our french fries.  We have schedules and routines, but we like to shake things up sometimes (just not bedtimes.  OH GOD not the bedtimes).  In one way that we are more liberal is in our view of language.

We don’t restrict the use of any words in our house.  Our kids – from time to time – say things like “damn it” and “Jesus” and yes, “Oh shit.”  We use these same phrases.  We treat them like words.  Which, you know; is what they are.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who’s parents did not police language.  She swore just as much as the rest of us.  The difference was that she was swearing in front of her parents without fear of punishment, while the rest of us were catching ourselves mid-phrase and changing to “holy sheep” instead.

The other day, Sam’s best friend was walked over to our house by her uncle, for some play time with us.  When she arrived, I was in the kitchen and Connor came and said, “Caleb* is here.  He wants you to know that yesterday, when Sam was at Mary’s* house, he said ‘God damn it’.”

“Ohkayyy….” I said.
“Yeah,” Connor says, “He just wanted you to know.”
“Ok.  Got it.  Wait: is Caleb here?”
“Yes,” Connor replied solemnly. “He’s waiting to talk to you.”

You see, I hadn’t even heard the door bell ring, nor the door open.  So not only was I surprised to be receiving this report (a day later, I might point out), but I was also surprised to know he was waiting in the front hall.  I had no time to prepare, what was I going to say?

Will you be surprised to know I did not apologize?  No, of course you won’t.  You’ve been here before.

All 3 of my kids, plus Sam’s friend Mary, were in the front hall.  I took a deep breath and started, “Hi Caleb, Connor’s filled me in and well, in our house, we don’t police language.”

“Oh…” he responded, eyes bugging out of his head and his chin pulled back (you know that look of judgement and shock all at once?  Yeah, that one).
“We talk about how these are really just words.  Our feeling is the more forbidden you make them the more likely they are to use them.”
“Well, it’s just that last year we took Mary off the bus because the language was getting out of hand.  Mary was using it, Sam was using it and they were learning it on the bus.”

I dug in here.  “No, not the case.  Sam is learning the language here.  At home, we use these words and phrases.  Like I said, they are just words and we do not police them.”

“Well.” He was ruffled at this. “We do in our house.”

“Okay.  We make a point to talk about how there are appropriate places for this type of language, and that it’s important to respect the rules of where you are.  So Sam,” I called, looking at him “Now you know that you are not to use those words at Mary’s house.  And if you do, there will be consequences.  Are we clear?”
“Yep,” he happily responded!

I turned back to Caleb and smiled.  He was backing out the door so fast I thought he was falling. “I’ll be back at 5 for Mary,” he said as he ran down our driveway.

I was left on my own, pondering the discussion.  What is the big deal, anyway?  It’s not the 1950’s anymore, and most of us who are parenting now were born well after the 50’s.  Aren’t we freer?  Many parents regularly allow their kids to watch violent cartoons.  Mary in particular has a fondness for underground Japanese Anime series’ and she my friends, is 6.  Her uncle Caleb is 27 and so should be more liberal than we are, being more than 10 years younger than us.  And yet…

Am I wrong?  Should we be policing our kid’s language, saving them from the plague of profanity?  I can’t bring myself to that.  Too many things are in the “when you’re older” box, and I am loathe to put language in there.  I think there is a far greater value in helping their formative minds understand there are times when using these words are ok, and there are times when it’s not.  Like with your Nanny, or your Grampa.  They don’t appreciate that language, and you will offend them.

And then I go back to this idea here.  I want my kids to feel comfortable talking to me as they grow.  I want them to see me as a reasonable adult, who they can come to with big problems, and know that I will help them as best as I can, with as little judgement as I can muster. When I think back to that friend in high school who was allowed to swear at home, it’s interesting to note too that we all went to her Mom for advice and guidance.  We were comfortable with her; we could talk to her.

Add to that, this is the time when they are already sorting and assessing situations, determining how they will behave.  I think giving them this one other aspect – is it ok to swear here? – to consider and sort is fine.  Responsible even.

But enough about me.  What do you think?

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent

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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Opinion, Raising Kids


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The End of Summer

Oy vey!

You know you’re a parent when you are celebrating – no wait – begging for the end of summer.

Remember the days when you would count down the days until summer started?  And you knew that once it got here, your days would be filled with miles of this:

Woohoo!  Sprinklers of freezing cold water!  Wheee!

Woohoo! Sprinklers of freezing cold water! Wheee!

And this:

toasted marshmallows... nom nom nom...

roasted marshmallows… nom nom nom…

and this?

All friends, all fun, all the time

All friends, all fun, all the time

Yeah, me too.  Summers were the best, right?

So what happened?  Because I’m a parent now, and really summers are more like this:

OMG who are you people?!

OMG who are you people?!

Actually, I run some businesses from home so it’s actually more like this in my house:

... who am I kidding?  I never wear suits anymore.

… who am I kidding? I never wear suits anymore.

And really?  It’s time for them to go back to school all ready.  Here, take your baby sister with you.  Nono, she’ll be fine I swear.

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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations


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Healing through Daughters

So, today as I drove across the city (well above the flood lines, thank you) this amazing song came on. And as so often happens while I’m driving alone, I had time to process some thoughts; specifically around parenting a girl child that have been percolating for some time now.

When E was born, just over a year ago no, a friend said, “Daughters heal you”.  I thought that was an interesting idea; as I thought about it, I determined she meant that having a daughter brings to the front all those things that are issues I have or things I struggle with about my own womanhood, so that I can address them and move forward.

Last month, I had the honour of being invited to a friend’s commencement from Queen’s University.  I was the only member of her “love lines” family; I was seated with her Mom, her Dad and her Aunt Mike.  We had a great time together, watching this right of passage…  the little girl I have known for so long was suddenly – irrevocable – Grown.  After the ceremony we lunched, and then the rest of us left the graduate with her Dad for a few days vacation together.

As we left, I commented on how the father-daughter relationship they have really baffles me.  He speaks to her as though she is a child; he treats her like a delicate treasure, prized over everything else in the world.  She adores him and hangs on his words as though they actually feed her…  Her Mom, my dear, dear friend said, “It’s very special, the Father-Daughter relationship…”

And then today, the song played and tears pricked my eyes.

I’ve been watching how MOMD treats our E since she was born.  Watching their connection blossom, their relationship develop.  Outwardly, there are no differences between his relationship with the boys and the relationship with her.  There is something though, intangible, that is different.  Deeper, more open, more… Just somehow more.

Listening to the lyrics Lenny Kravitz lays out, all of these thoughts and “noticings” came together and crystallized.  “You are my highest high, you make me feel alive, all I can do is smile, when I look in Little Girl’s eyes”.

I’ve heard it said so many times that a girl will marry her father.  I’m sure you’ve heard it too – it’s ancient wisdom.  I for one, did not marry my father.  In fact, the very reason I fell for and chose to change my whole life plan was because MOMD was precisely the opposite of my father.  Because of this, I decided that the ancient wisdom was wrong.

Because of the coalescing of thought from today, I think I understand that statement more now.

The father – in one way or another – teaches the daughter how she deserves to be loved.  He sees her value, and he teaches her what her worth is.  He honours the Godess within her, and calls her to be all she is meant to be.

Now, when I hear in my memory “Daughters heal” what I understand this to mean is this: the way that I see MOMD loves E, is a reflection of how he loves me.  Of what I needed from the primary male in my life.  Knowing how blessed am I that the primary man in my life loves me this way is overwhelming.

And yes, Sebrina: Healing.

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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Family, Oversharing, Raising Kids


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Excitement, Exhaustion and Terror All in One!

This is me these days, people.  Excited because one of my dearest friends in the known Universe is getting married in 4 days (YAY!) in her adopted home of Nyack, New York.  I’m so happy for her, not in the least because I love and adore the person she’s chosen for the honour of sharing her life.  I’m excited too because this is our first “Family Vacation” since becoming a family of 5.

This also exhausts me.

Because: getting ready to leave the country with 5 people for 4 nights is a lot of work!  Thank God we’re travelling with my Mom and sister, because we’ve shared up the work that can be shared between us.  Thanks again, Amanda for sorting our the who-needs-a-passport thingy! (The answer is only people over the age of 18, if you’re entering the U.S. by car, just in case you too need to know.)  MOMD brought up the suitcases this weekend and put them in respective rooms so that the bigger kids could begin packing their belongings (which inevitably means either he or I have to unpack the cases to make sure that everything that’s needed is there, but whatever: they’re excited too).  He’s also made a list of what to pack, and cleaned the van inside and out so that we’re ready to tackle the Open Road like he and his family did.

Did you catch that part?  “…like he and his family did.”  Yeah, that right there, that is critical.

See, MOMD grew up in the heart of “The Big Land” as they like to call it.  I myself call it it the tip of an iceberg surrounded by vast amounts of nothingness.  I’m talking about Labrador City.  And while yes, technically there is another town (Wabush) close by, they are really one city.  And then there’s nothing else for like 750km’s on the Trans Canada Highway.  So while saying he grew up on an iceberg is not technically correct, he did grow up in the heart of nowhere.  What this meant is that he and his family spent a lot of time on the road, driving to places.  They would go back to the Island (what island?  THE Island: Newfoundland!) for vacations, and they’d go to Prince Edward Island, they even came to Toronto once, on a trip that’s best not talked about.  And all of this was done in a car.

Me, on the other hand…  well, I grew up in Toronto.  Unlike many of my friends, my parents had a trailer in the country; near a little town called Roseneath.  So I too spent my summers driving to destination.  The main difference is that my car trips were generally 90-120 minutes in length, where his were 2-3 day adventures.  Sadly, I am not one who enjoys spending endless time in a car.

Which is really funny given the traffic that I face often enough here in the GTA; but I digress.

When MOMD and I met (almost 15 years ago now!  WOW!) the longest I could really stomach to travel in total was 2.5 hours.  Seriously: that was my limit.  I go a little stir crazy, which coupled with my usual crazy is too much crazy.  One day remind me to tell you about our move to Halifax where we spent 2 solid days on the road.  It was…  gah.  I can’t even go there.

The trip to Nyack is just under 800km’s.  It’s certainly true that in the intervening years I have gotten better at longer stretches of travel, I approach the thought of a long car ride with trepidation.

And then you throw in 3 kids – one of whom is totally the poster child for Active Lifestyles – and I go directly to terror.  Do not stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  TERROR!

We’re looking at about a 10 hour trip.  TEN hours, people!  It’s time for the Wizards of the world to share Apparrating with us Muggles.


Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations


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What No One Tells You

First: full disclosure.  This post is going to be embarrassing   For my eldest.  I’m not going to use his name, not that I think it will make that much difference, when it’s all ready spread through this blog like salt on popcorn, but still.  It provides a modicum of a shroud of decency.  Right?  If nothing else, it will make me feel less like a bad mom for sharing embarrassing things about my children.

(I think this is something that all of us parent bloggers deal with, isn’t it?  Surely I’m not alone.)

#1 (what I will call my eldest throughout this post) will be 9 in 13 days.  NINE.  I have no idea how this is even possible.  In so many ways it seems like just yesterday I was falling asleep at the table when MOMD&I were celebrating our 5-years-of-meeting-anniversary.  It feels like moments ago when I was holding my belly, crying, and dancing with the baby within, that the doctors said I would never carry.  It feels like a couple of days ago when MOMD started his parental leave and I went back to work…  and yet.

He will be 9 in less than 2 weeks.

There are a lot of things that prove this, aside from the calendar.  He’s taller, and he’s getting lanky.  Just the other night he said to MOMD, “Dad, it’s ok.  I think I’m too old now for bedtime stories.”  And the adult’s hearts both broke a little.

The real sign of #1’s impending manhood though came the other night.  Well, morning really.

The routine in our house for some time has been that I get up to pee around 5:30, and usually his lights are on (yes, that’s 5:30AM). MOMD gets up for the day at 6, and the boys usually arise with him.  They breakfast, then he comes to get dressed for the day and wakes me up.  About 2 weeks ago now I got up to pee around 5.  It was earlier than usual, and I noticed that #1’s lights were on.

“Hmpf,” I thought. “Another day where he will be tired.  I hope his teacher isn’t left wondering why he’s crying again…” and I stumbled back into bed.

Next thing I know, MOMD is in our room saying, “So, for a switch, #1 wet the bed last night.”  I sat up right away.  “Did you check?  Because I bet it wasn’t pee.”

“Wha?!” says MOMD.  “No way. If you are suggesting it’s a wet dream, you’re crazy.”  Or something like that.

I was adamant though.  I mean: this is the kid who yes, took a long time to toilet train.  Once we tried at the right time though, he was trained in a day.  And from then on, he has wet the bed possibly 2 times.  That’s 2 times in 5.5 years.  So you know, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t regressing to that point and wetting the bed.

And possibly I was prepared for this more than MOMD was.  I have been watching and waiting for the signs of his budding puberty.  In part because I was blooming by the time I was 11, so I expect him to be early too.  And perhaps I’m just attuned to his physical attributes.  You know, Mother’s Intuition sorta thing.

Anyway – MOMD did check, and he was surprised to find evidence that I was correct.  He said to me, “So I checked and it looks like it was option B after all…”

“Whadda ya mean?  What are you talking about?  Oh!  #1!  Wet dream?”

“Looks like…”  MOMD – bless him – was incredulous.  And I get it, I think.  He has a really special, close relationship with #1.  They are two peas in a pod, watching comic-based cartoons, loving cinnamon buns, early risers and all that.  What will this change mean?  What will this step towards adulthood bring to their relationship?  Only time will answer these questions for certain, but I suspect they will remain just as close because they are friends.  This is what I was like with my Mom, and we always stayed close even when discovering my independence.

But: to the title of the post.

Did you catch that part in the story where I mentioned his teacher contacting me because he was crying in class?  It’s true: she did.  She was concerned because it’s not like him to be emotional like that.  She said that he’s always very even-keeled, and happy to continue to find the right answers when he’s wrong.  He gets frustrated, but he has a strong sense of resiliency that she really admires in him.  Which is why she was so shocked when he was crying in class.

That incident was about a month ago now, I guess.  At that time I had notice too that he was more emotional around the house, not dealing well with his siblings, and generally flying off the handle.  I had no idea why because, like his teacher noted, he’s always been an even-keeled kid.  I asked him what was going on, was there something happening at school, did he want to talk and he did share with me.  There was a story about Red Rover at recess and how he wasn’t called to come over and it left him feeling left out.   There were more elements to the story, and somehow I got it in my head that perhaps he was being bullied, maybe this was the start, and then the note from the teacher.

I shared my concern with her, and she promised to check it out.  She let me know that she finds generally he makes good choices in friends, and that she would be surprised if bullying was the issue.  Later in the week she got back to me that it was not looking likely.

Now I get it.  Now I know why.  He is being emotional because his hormones are surging, and his body is changing and he doesn’t know how to deal with all of it.

How come no one ever talks about this?  So many of the media and parent resources take great pains to present balanced approaches (boys and girls) to the changes our children go through equally and fairly.  In fact, in my quick google search, I found a lot of resources geared to kids, to boys and to girls.  Thing is, most of what I saw for boys talks about physical changes.  Very little is mentioned about emotions.  I mean, sure: they talk about boys and them being embarrassed about their voices changing or their acne or waking up in a wet bed.  What they don’t address is the emotional instability.  The rampant mood swings.  Those are solely the domain of girls, it seems.

This post has gone on for so long, that I hesitate to open this can of worms.  But I will, because I want to put a bookmark here, to address the inherent bias shown here for another post.  Even when they’re little guys, they still aren’t allowed to be emotional.  I find that so sad.  How are we going to raise fully developed, emotionally present and available people when we can’t even acknowledge that they have a full range of emotions?

I am here to tell you:  My boy is in the throws of puberty and he is not at all embarrassed.  He is emotional, he is weepy, he is sporadic.  If you have a son, expect that what the experts say about girls will happen to the boys too.

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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Family, Oversharing, Raising Kids


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Dinner Conversations

When I was growing up, my family had dinner together every day.  Never with the TV on, usually with music playing in the background, glasses of milk for the kids and water for the adults.  We sat at the table every night and we talked.  Everyone talked about how their days were, what we learned at school, challenges at work, sharing the news about our friends and family; we engaged with each other every day.  On Sundays, the same rules applied except that the food was usually more labour intensive to prepare, and we always ate in the dining room on the fine china.

They say that you will do what you know, and so it’s really no surprise to me that every night we all sit at the table to have dinner.  Although, our fine china is not dishwasher safe like my parents is, so on Sundays we just eat on regular plates.  But I digress.

While I try to engage everyone in discussion about their days, some times that conversational tactic runs out before I’ve even taken my first bite.  On those nights, the kids ask random questions and we do our best to engage in discussion with them.  One night though, over the Christmas break, Connor asked, “So Mom: what is man’s work?”

The feminist in me immediately bristled.  “Where is he getting this from,” I raged internally.  MOMD dropped his fork, his terror shining from his eyes, while he tried desperately to see how I would respond, without looking at me thus to provoke my wrath.  Being in communications, he tried to firmly get control of the question and started sputtering something like, “Well Connor…”

Cooler heads prevailed however, and I interrupted MOMD with the faithful advice given by my OB many, many years ago.  “Well Connor, ” I said, “what do you think man’s work is?”

Connor: “I’m not sure.”
MOMD: “Well, let’s think about the kind of work I do, and the kind of work Mom does.”
Connor: “Oh…  ok.  So like, Dad does the laundry, cleans the bathrooms, washes the floors…  So I guess that’s man’s work.”
Me: “Well, my work is done here.”


Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Family, Food, Raising Kids, Traditions


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