Monday, July 24, 2006

Inspired by Children's Books

If you're a duck in a truck that's stuck in the muck, can you really say "Oh QUACK!"???

"Duck in a Truck" is a real book that my kids like, and every time I hear my husband reading it, my silliness takes over. When I hear about the Frog on a Log, I giggle. Children's books do that though. They take you back...

I remember vividly in Grade 2, we had this chart on the wall, and every time you remembered your gym shoes, you got a sticker. Well, I forgot my shoes a couple of times and cried because I screwed up. The teacher's assistant saw me, and comforted me, and said not to worry. At the end of the year, they gave out a prize for the person who had the most stickers, and I won - every sticker space had been filled in for me, giving me a perfect score. To this day, I believe it was Ms. Nicosia (sp?), the teacher's assistant, who did that for me.

I wonder if she put those stickers in because I was from a poor family with too many kids? Because she saw a bit of herself in me? Because I was quiet and scared? Because someone had been kind to her when she was afraid as a child?

I unwrapped the precious prize, and it was a copy of Green Eggs and Ham. That book meant more to me than any other prize/award/gift I have ever recieved in my whole life. The book is long gone, but the memory of that random kindness has stuck with me all these years. I have often thought of trying to find her again, to let her know, to say thank you...but I have no idea how to spell her name, and the school closed down that year. But I'll remember her smooth raven hair and large round glasses for as long as I live.

I'll remember her kindness.

And I will pay it forward.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Potty Mouth

My daughter is potty training this week, and so far, so good. Yes, there have been accidents, but she is taking this very seriously. I compare her to a little army cadet, keen on impressing the brass, following the instructions to the letter. What makes me so proud is how HARD she is trying...she will sit on that potty for 20-30 mins, even though I tell her we can try again later! And if I walk away to tend to her siblings, she will still be there when I get back, calmly looking at a book, waiting for the 'big' event.

This is in stark contrast to her big brother, who you had to watch like a hawk because the second he had a chance, he would get bored and go pee wherever he felt like it!

I give my daughter two little stickers every time she has success. One goes on her hand, and one goes on her potty to "decorate" it. We went from one little sticker to about a dozen stickers all over the arm rests. I look at the mishmash of stickers, from cows and bunnies and stars and hearts, and I am so proud. She picks them herself from a large sheet I bought at the dollar store. She takes the sticker choosing very seriously too!

In those moments when we are waiting for the 'event', the conversation inevitably turns to anatomy:

Girl: Mommy, where's my penis?
Mommy: You don't have a penis, sweetheart.
Girl: Why?
Mommy: Because girls don't have a penis. Only boys have a penis. You and mommy have a vagina.
Girl: Why do I have a 'gina?
Mommy: Because God made us that way. You are a girl, and He made you just perfect.
Girl: Does my brother have a 'gina?
Mommy: No, your brother is a boy, he has a penis.
Girl(panicking, searching): Oh no, I lost MY penis!

And so on and so on and so on... I don't know if I am giving her too much information, or if its not enough information, if I'm causing gender confusion or what! It's hard to put in perspective because I would NEVER ask my mother questions like that! Everything I knew about "biology" and "physical functions" I learned from books when I was old enough to read. My research was done on the fly, eg: when doing an assignment on endangered birds in Grade 4/5, I would make sure no one was looking, and then my hand would 'slip' between the pages on "Peregrine Falcon" and "Penis" in the Encyclopedia Brittanica in the school library. Good thing it was illustrated!

Anyhow, back to my kid's anatomy lessons, there are also the occasional arguments I overhear from the kitchen:

Brother: "I'm the boy."
Girl: "NO, I'M THE BOY!"
Brother: "No, I'm the boy!"
Girl: "NO, I'M THE BOY!"

I think she thinks he is boasting when he says he is a boy, so she thinks she should be the boy too. Kinda like "I'm the best!" "No, I'm the best!" Creeps me out sometimes, that being the "boy" is equated to being the "best" in her mind...but I think we are still a little young to be reading too much into things. I suspect its just a semantics problem that comes with being a 2-year-old.

Besides, I can already see the little woman she's going to become. Strong and caring, willful yet sensitive, bright and hard-working. And if mommy has any influence, she will be fiercely proud to be a woman, with all the hardships and talents and joys and miracles that come with it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Hi everyone, we're back from the big vacation! We did some wonderful things, spent a lot of time together, got a ton of fresh air, saw some neat places and ultimately discovered that "there's no place like home". The highlights included celebrating Canada Day in a small fishing village, going to the beach with the kids and "jumping" over the saltwater waves, introducing the kids to the wonder of hermit crabs, walking on the ocean floor during low tide, taking a cruise and meeting porpoises and seals in the wild, and toting home live lobsters to share with our families!

The laughable moments (well, we can laugh NOW):
1) My daughter calmly announcing over and over on the plane "We're going down mommy...we're going down mommy...we're going down..."(She was describing the feeling of descending, but everyone was creeped out, like she was some sort of spooky-premonition-kid from an M. Night Shaymalan movie...)
2) We were deflating the floaties to fit in the suitcase, and the twins started wailing because we "murdered" their dolphin/fish floaties.
3) When my 4-yr-old decided that the ocean was full of dangerous jellyfish and sharks and whales and squid etc, and tried to convince the lifeguards to do their jobs and evacuate everyone.
4) Oh, and when the same 4-yr-old was over-tired and began to loudly lament that he wanted to be kicked out of the family if it meant that he wouldn't have to walk ALL the way back to the car with us.
5) Oh, and when the same 4-yr-old saw an Anne of Green Gables skit at Avonlea during which the teacher made "Anne" stand in the corner (it was supposed to be funny). He was sobbing and wailing "That's a mean teacher! I don't like that teacher!" You couldn't hear the actors over his screaming.

Ha ha! I mean, twitch, twitch, ha ha!

At the end of it all, the good, the bad and the ugly, I am glad we went. Yes, it was an awful lot of work. Yes, it was really tiring to tow the kids halfway across the country. Yes, they shot our nerves at times. But mostly, we spent a lot of time together, got a lot of fresh, sea air, snuggled the kids to sleep at night, and did a lot of things that I never thought possible. You really discover a lot about yourself when you dare to break the routine. You find out what you are capable of, how strong you can be, how deeply free and attached to the earth you are, and how alive you can feel. And that is so worth it.

But the next family vacation is in 2022.