Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What you never wanted to try

My oldest son is a funny child.

Not in an “I’m a class clown, I’m going to make you all laugh” kind of way (although he has as much of that in him as I can handle too)… but in a quirky “Sometimes I just gotta shake my head and chuckle” kind of way.

He’s so head-strong. Really, he’s just me re-incarnated. He knows EVERYTHING already. You know how your mother always warned you, when you were being really obstinate as a child, that ONE DAY the Gods would get even and you would have a child JUST LIKE YOU??

Yeah, well that’s him.

He can be challenging to parent because he’s always pushing his boundaries. And he’s got a stubborn streak a mile wide. He knows what he likes (whatever he’s familiar with or passionate about) and he KNOWS what he doesn’t like (basically anything he’s never tried). It’s a constant dance to stay a step ahead – and a constant battle to push him beyond… to get him to expand and try new things. Sounds like a contradiction when I put that down – but there it is.

So he’s a contradiction… and also a great eye-opener as to what my mother really had to put up with all those years with me. Apparently she has a well-spring of patience that runs even deeper than I realized.

(By the way, thanks Mom, for not smacking me like I know you must’ve wanted to… or locking me in my room sometimes – which probably would’ve been much easier for you!)

I think I’ve rambled a little off track here. All I really wanted to do was announce that he has finally learned to ride a bike. I wanted to muse on the transformation that I’m seeing in this boy of mine as he grows and matures and branches out. The friendships consuming his time, the preteen dances he wants to attend now… and the wings he seems to be growing as he becomes himself.

Bike riding is a big part of that. The freedom that it brings – the ability to travel to friends and with friends… to explore our little corner of the world a little.

Learning to ride a bike is such a mundane achievement… I mean, everybody does it at some point, right? But it’s also such a huge step in childhood because, in my mind and memory at least, it opens up their world so much.

The reason this is such a huge achievement for my boy, however, (and the reason for the ramble above) is because he was never going to do it.

The kid flat-out refused to try and learn to ride. He didn’t like bike-riding. He wasn’t good at bike riding. He didn’t care if his friends were going to be bike riding. He really likes roller-blading. Not everybody ever has to learn to ride a bike.

Stubborn. Stubborn. Stubborn.

We tried to tell him how great it was – about the freedom and about hanging with friends and about how much he was going to want to… but he had a reason or a comeback or an argument for every pitch we made.

We even reminded him about how he never ever wanted to try chocolate milkshakes the first time we showed him one and offered a taste (I’m serious about this kid’s aversion to all things new!)… how he recoiled at the brown “stuff” on the spoon and wouldn’t let us get it anywhere near his mouth for a taste… how we had to cajole and convince and then he finally tried it and - Oh My God – it was awesome… his favourite.

And how many other examples along the way during his relatively short time on Earth? How many things he absolutely DID NOT LIKE that, once tried, became favourites or all-consuming passions for him?

We told him that bike-riding would be no different. But he would not budge.

Then, over a two-day period last fall, his older cousin taught him how to ride a little. It was right at the end of fall, so there was no time to really get into it before winter – but he did learn.

And now this spring, it’s as if a light has been switched.

He can RIDE!!

And he loves it. Loves it with the all-consuming passion he assumes for everything new he focuses on. He wants to ride his bike to school every day… he wants to ride his bike to his friend’s house to go riding every evening... He wants to ride with his friends all weekend long.

He's so cool and he’s so fast and bike riding is SO awesome.

We just have to shake our heads and chuckle.

Unbelievable this son of ours.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Birthday Fever

My almost 3 year old is obsessed with the idea of HER birthday.

Hardly a day goes by when she doesn't ask when her birthday is, tell us what kind of cake she wants for her birthday or tell us she thinks it's time for her birthday NOW.

Each birthday that we celebrate prior to hers is a source of frustration, anticipation and excitement for her.

I just never expected to see her, at this age, so consumed by the idea of an upcoming birthday.... shouldn't she still be a little more .... unaware??

So far this year she's watched her brother, 2 cousins, her father and last night, an uncle, blow out the candles on their cakes. She's also witnessed her brothers on their way to attend the birthday celebrations of several friends - with their wrapped presents in tow.

And each time someone else's special day comes, she gets a hopeful light in her eye as she asks "Is it MY birthday??"

And each time I have to tell her "No, but yours is coming soon honey" .... and I try to tell her whose birthday's are still left to come before hers... to countdown, so to speak, the snail's paced passage of time (in her mind) to that special day of hers.

We're almost there.... she should only have to witness the candles being blown out for her Grandmother prior to her own.... and in our house, hers IS the next birthday.

We still have over 6 weeks to go until the day, but time will fly.

This morning, as I was drinking my morning coffee, she came up the stairs after raiding my gift wrapping supplies with her arms filled with 5 carefully selected gift bags..... for her *chuckle*

"Here Mommy, I dot presents for my birthday.... I dot one wit a 'noman on it (Christmas bag)... I yike 'nomen.... an a pink one.... an boons (balloons). You have to doe topping mommy... an fill dem - fill dem awl up!"

Apparently she thinks this whole "waiting for her birthday" business is taking way too long - she's taking matters into her own hands to speed up and facilitate the process.

I guess all I have to do is go shopping to fill all her present bags and presto - it's her birthday. Well that and come up with this "rainbow" cake she's been talking about since Christmas :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Have wheels, will travel.

She's growing so fast.

3 years this June... and always in such a hurry to keep up with those boys.

I do believe we've just skipped right over the tricycle stage?? I have a really cute, colorful little trike that we were saving for this summer. A trike that will evidently never see it's day in the sun.

Because the boys - HER boys.... they don't have trikes, they have BIKES. With two wheels.

So we caught the question: "Where's MY bike??"

And now there she goes.... in all her two-wheeled glory!

Maybe THIS Year??

This is the bridge 3 blocks from my home. It's one of 3 bridges that service my area of the city to cross Sturgeon Creek, and one I cross at least once a day. As of last week 2 of those 3 bridges were closed because of this.

You might think from the picture that we had exceptional flooding this year. Which is true, but only partially the problem. This particular bridge gets washed out every other year - or perhaps only every third year if we're lucky. It doesn't take "exceptional" flooding to strand our neighborhood.

Every time it floods, the road is closed for a couple weeks and traffic congestion on the other routes becomes a nightmare.

I wonder at what point in time the city will finally decide to rebuild so we have a bridge that can be used ALL year round. I've been watching this bride flood for 30 years now.

Maybe THIS will be the year they decide enough is enough??

Friday, April 24, 2009

Face Value

There's always an opportunity to laugh in a house with kids... especially toddlers. Sweet, hilariously literal toddlers.

Actual conversation with our girl the other morning:

she was declaring her love for our "whole" family... even though only her, daddy & I were cuddling...

Me: So who's missing baby?

Her: Dooooo (bro #1)

Daddy: And who else?

Her: Taaaaaam (bro #2)

Daddy: And who else is in our family?

Her: Cousin Twent!! (cousin Trent moved back to his small town in SK)

Her: Oh! Where is he? I need to kiss him!

Daddy: He's back in Duck Lake honey

Her: Oh! He getting wet then!

cue round of laughter.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not proud of myself... but really?

I picked a fight with a complete stranger today.

Kind of.

I'm really REALLY pissed at my office's ISP... we were down for our 3rd day in two weeks. When I have no Internet I can't do my job. So my frustration level is going up and my fuse is getting shorter with each incident.

This morning I asked my assistant for their phone number just because I needed to yell at someone.... I was just itching to vent... (although I didn't actually yell).


Have you ever worked in an inbound call center?

I have. It's not easy.... and it takes a lot of skill to "handle" angry callers.

I don't think it's something you can really teach or learn though.... you either CAN talk angry people through their issues, or you can't.

I think I was good at it. I always ended up taking the angriest callers... or escalated calls... or callers I'd dealt with before who asked for me. I actually had two different callers phone back of their own accord and leave a compliment with my superiors (virtually unheard of... if you ever get great service from someone and really want to make their day, try doing this! ) and I even had a guy from another city offer me a job... seriously tried to talk me out of my position to come work for him just based on how I handled his call. Talk about flattering. He wasn't even dissuaded when I told him where I was located - just switched the offer to a position in the local location instead. It was tempting.... and if I hadn't already given my two weeks notice to take on the role I have now, I would've gone I think (I actually kept his contact info on the fridge for several months "just in case" - like he suggested)....

So maybe I'm arrogant (at least I admit it!), but I know I don't have patience for BAD phone people.

Call Centers are a hellish place to work - I spent a year and half in one.... and looking back, I'm always surprised I lasted that long before I pulled out my last hairs.

I have a lot of respect (or is the better word sympathy?) for people stuck on the other end of the phone - but at the same time, I just can't help messing with them a bit.

Do you ever play with telemarketers that call you?

I do... they're just so damn predictable, hehe... especially if you're familiar with what they're hocking and can stump them with questions they're not equipped to answer.

It's my evil streak. What can I say. At least I'm not RUDE to them ;)

My Mom is worse.... she used to train people to work on the phones.... so she'll actually critique and coach telemarketers when they call her (as she's turning them down) - how's that for a slap? *chuckle*


Any how, I was ANGRY this morning when I called my ISP.... I was frustrated and mad and calling to cancel my service.

I was angry.... but I was still manageable depending on the person at the other end of the line.

Only the person I got sucked. She made it way too easy to lose my cool.... not once did she apologize, offer to help or even ask what my issue was.... she was just difficult and condescending and rude.

If they hadn't already lost me before that chick picked up the phone, they definitely would have lost me after.

The really amazing guy in the tech department that she brushed me off to was *almost* good enough to make me change my mind.... but not really. I did lodge a complaint with him regarding the first chick I spoke with though - he was helpful enough to handle that for me.

He told me she was in the "sales" department.

I told him that she sucked at it.

Really.... I hope this girl isn't trying to support a family on the job because she does not have what it takes to make it in sales to save her life. They really shouldn't let her near a phone.

But still, I feel the teeniest bit of guilt at getting mad, calling into a call centre, trouncing the idiot who answered the phone, and then lodging a complaint about her.

Maybe I wasn't entirely fair.

But no, she really was awful.

Only she reminded me a bit of this one girl I sat a few stations down from on the floor in that old call centre a few times.... she always had trouble with clients.... never could handle irate callers and often ended up defensive or raising her voice - or handing off calls. I felt sorry for her because the job is just too stressful when complaints are rolling in.

She belonged in a different job too.

Hopefully the girl I complained about today finds something she better suited to as well :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Over-board

The hunt was oh-so-fun.... but no child needs this much chocolate!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

"I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this.... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo's David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland"

"Holland!?!" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things... about Holland"

This, oh so perfect, analogy just speaks to me. My youngest boy, while often making me feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark with this parenting thing, is the sweetest, loveliest child. He's beautiful and innocent and charms every person he touches. I love having the honor of being his mom.

Embrace the detours.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Dinner Out of the Blue

I love long weekends. It's just so nice, when after spending a hard day of work ON the house, that you actually have a weekend left to enjoy! Way too often, by the time we catch up on all the house work that accumulates in a double working-parent household each week, there's no time left to enjoy - the weekend is over and it's time to start the cycle all over again.

It should be mandatory to have a long weekend in every month of the year!


My family will be gathering to share our Easter dinner today, Good Friday. This was planned early in the week as it was the only day all three of us kids could get up to my Mom's house at the same time this weekend.

I expected that to be it - one family dinner, one day to relax (hopefully take the kids to the museum or some other family activity that we never make time for) and then a visit from the Easter Bunny to put the kids into a sugar high for the last day of this blissfully long weekend.

But I got a surprise (shock really!) yesterday: My father invited our family to his house for Easter dinner on Friday.

I can't believe it.

I'm trying to remember the last time my kids were at his house.... I *think* we popped over for an hour or so sometime in mid-December before we left the province for Christmas (or did we? I know he bought a present for the boys, under duress, but he just sent them home with me - there was no desire to wrap the gifts or watch the boys open them... nor did he think to give anything to the girl - probably thinks she's still an infant and wouldn't notice).... but prior to that? It has to have been at least a year.

My Dad has never been the "Grandfather" type. He doesn't acknowledge birthdays (or Christmas!) unless someone reminds or pressures him.... which I've no desire to do. He doesn't ask after them or make any effort to see them - so I'm really at a loss as to the dinner invitation.

But we'll go. He's always good to them when we're actually there... and they do deserve the opportunity to know who their Grandfather is.

If he's willing to make any sort of effort, I'm willing to give him every opportunity to have a relationship with them and us.

I'm just over making the effort. I won't push, I won't remind, and I won't ask anymore.

Still... I can't help but be pleased with the invitation, out of the blue.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The working Mom and the single Dad

I've been working a few evenings a week lately. It's something I need to be doing and the pay-off is worth it (and necessary!) - but still.... working evenings is something I've avoided as much as possible for a couple of years now.

And at first I hated it because I felt, deeply, the responsibility to be at home with the kids in the evening. Like maybe the universe, as it applies to our home, would unravel without my presence?

And, like everyone else I'm sure, after working all day I just want to go home and relax at the end of the day... or at least what passes for "relax" in my household (it's really not all that relaxing hearing "mommy, mommy, mommy!" every 3 minutes - or having a toddler climbing over you with the next book in the line-up every 5...)

But now that I've been working evenings semi-regularly for a while, I'm finding that I really don't mind all that much.

Maybe I should feel more guilt than I do over finding work to be a welcome break from the chaos that is a house with three kids.

But there it is: I enjoy the break.

As much as I love my children and enjoy the time I have with them, sometimes it is just nice to not have to cook dinner, clean up after, break up squabbles, have every moment of my time and all of my personal space usurped... sometimes it's nice just to extend the adult time in my day.

(now we know why I'm not a stay-at-home-Mom... kudos to all those who can do well!)

I just have to put the image of my poor, out-numbered husband out of my mind while I'm at it.

(and for the record, I DO try very hard to show the appropriate amount of remorse and sympathy for my husband who gets stuck playing single Dad while I'm out ;)

Cadbury Easter Cream Eggs are EVIL

'nuff said.