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Archives February 2013
Sometimes, I look back through moments in my life and I marvel at the everyday changes that have occurred over time.
Insignificant things, it seems.
Yet, they’re really not.
Like the time my youngest told me she wanted to have a shower instead of a bath.
OK. No problem. I didn’t give it a second thought.
She’s growing up. It’s a part of life.
I quickly turn on the shower, check the water temperature and in she goes.
Life goes on.
Showers are simply a way of life for her now.
No more baths.
No big deal.
And then, one day, as I’m going through my daily life, I stop and think: “Hey, how old was she when she stopped having baths? Maybe six? Was she seven already?”
And for the life of me, I can’t remember.
As a matter of fact, I can’t remember a lot of my kids’ lasts.
I can’t remember…
the last time I rocked them to sleep,
the last time I pushed them in the stroller,
the last time I tied their shoes,
the last time I bathed them.
But, I clearly remember…
the first time they slept through the night,
the first time they got a haircut,
the first time they rode a two-wheeler,
the first time they put on skates.
Why, I wonder, do I remember their “firsts,” but not their “lasts”?
Is it because I am so tired of doing these things that I’m happy about having one less chore?
Is it because I don’t realize at the time that this will be the last time?
Or is it because I’m too busy celebrating the firsts that naturally follow the lasts?
I’d like to say that, judging from all of the firsts that are stored in my brain and on my camera, it’s most definitely the last point. But if I was to be completely honest, I’d have to say that it’s a combination of all three.
What about you? Do you remember your kids’ lasts as well as their firsts?
Legoland Discovery Centre in Toronto opens March 1st, 2013 in Toronto. Legoland Toronto’s address is Vaughan Mills (the outlet mall), Entrance 4, 1 Bass Pro Mills Drive, Vaughan, Ont. L4K 5W4. Directions here.
So….any of you moms out there planning a visit to Legoland Toronto? I took a quick gauge of your interest over on Twitter and, honestly, you moms seem more stoked than the kids! Thanks to a family friend
that I want to strangle,my kid is insisting that he’s going, stat. I’m taking him, just not maybe during the opening week and/or in the middle of March Break, you know?
But for those of you keen to brave the excited crowds in March and during March Break, I did some research for you. Here are 5 facts about Legoland Discovery Centre in Toronto.
1. Your kids need to wear socks to play in the soft play areas. I imagine this isn’t a huge issue in March, but something to remember in sandal season, or for the sock-haters out there. If you forget them, Legoland sells socks for $1.
2. The best price for Legoland Toronto is on its website. I can’t vouch for this, but the site says that it offers a best price guarantee if you buy online. That price, as of today is $16.39 for anyone 3+. If you’re not yet 3, you get in free.
3. You can’t bring your own food. Which is kind of a bummer if you want to bring home-packed lunches. Only baby food and milk is allowed. But there is a café at the centre that offers drinks and snacks.
4. Adults can’t visit Legoland Discovery Centre without any children. According to Legoland Toronto’s website, the attraction is designed for families with children aged 3 to 10 years old. However, there will be adult nights for grownup Legophiles. I suppose you’ll have to stay tuned to its website to find out when.
5. Legoland is open until 9pm every night except Sunday, when it is open until 7pm. That’s great, in my opinion anyway, for night-owly evening-activity-loving families such as mine. The Legoland Store is open the same hours, too.
Are you going? Please let me know what it’s like!
Learn more about Lego’s history: Awesome classic toys that are still around.
Were you bullied as a child? I was, in elementary school, and then in high school I would say I was more of a bystander with one episode of participating in bullying which I still remember somewhat with shame. A group of us sent a note to a girl detailing what was “wrong” with her. The school’s response still kind of floors me: The guidance counsellor did speak with us about not sending notes like that, but also let us know he would be coaching the girl on these life skills…which gave me, anyway, the impression that we were right. Which was not the right one.
I also have had some minor experience dealing with bullying issues as a parent. This is one of those times I feel it’s important to preserve my son’s privacy but I will say that boy, that saying that when you have kids you take your heart out of your body and let it walk around? Proved so true in that case. I really felt like I was somewhat helpless in a situation that was having an ill effect on my child.
I also have observed that for me, the take-home lesson about bullying and raising my kids is to watch my own behaviour and comments. I work hard not to comment on people’s appearance or to be unkind. Sometimes as moms I think we can go through phases where we are insecure and our mom get togethers can have a bit of a cliquey feel. So if I’m going to do that – I make sure my child is at least asleep! It’s a start.
Here are the top three things I’ve found about bullying on the web for you, but if you have a couple of minutes to share your thoughts I would love to hear them!
1. Emily Bazelon discusses bullying and calls Stephen Colbert a bully
What I love about this is not just that the clip shows her new book, which I have not yet read but intend to, but that when he asks if he’s a bully, she answers directly.
2. Barbara Coloroso’s handouts
I’ll admit I’m a Barbara Coloroso fan from way back, but I think her idea that bullying is not about conflict between children, but about power, is really insightful. The link is to her homepage, but the handouts should be at the top.
This site from British Columbia’s Ministry of Education is clear and easy to navigate.
…in pictures. (Click through on the title if you can’t see the pictures!)
1. You will wish you had the epidural…in 7 years when you step on this in the night:
2. You will not shower alone again for a very long time.
3. Your sense of decor will be irreparably altered.
Is bedtime a battle with your little one or your not-so-little ones? Is it an all-night affair that leaves you exhausted and them still awake or is it a fairly routine exercise?
I read an article about how a 10-year-old boy called the police on his mother because he didn’t want to go to bed. This is one kid with follow-through! The mother did her best to turn the incident into a lesson about when it’s appropriate to call 911, but I was more intrigued by the fact that he felt like his mother telling him to go to bed was some form of abuse. I mean, really?!
I remember wanting to stay up late when I was a kid, and the moaning and groaning would begin once my mom told us to go to bed. But we never put up much of a fight because we knew that bedtime wasn’t really negotiable.
With my toddler now, she sometimes puts up a fuss when I say it’s bedtime, but it rarely lasts. We brush her teeth, change into PJs, read a couple of stories, have some cuddles and she’s usually in bed, if not asleep, in 30 minutes. She is also still in her crib, and I am in no rush to move her into her toddler bed because I think having the freedom to get out of bed on her own at this point would result in chaos.
So what about you? Do you have a smooth bedtime routine or would this boy’s antics be run-of-the-mill in your home?
I’m so glad I live in an age and society where females are treated as equals and women aren’t maligned.
That was before watching last night’s Academy Awards.
A few minutes into the show last night, someone tweeted how this was “the only time of year millions of people wearing pyjamas and eating chips think they could do a better job.”
I wrote back “this year, they could…”
Sure, I loved cuties Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt shuffling out “High Hopes”, and really, who doesn’t enjoy a good
sock puppet (even in “black hand”)?
But all I can say is thank goodness I didn’t let my kids watch the show last night, because it was worse than a Hannah Montana special, more inane then Telletubbies, and more offensive than Sasha Baron Cohen in a loincloth.
I could almost write off “We Saw Your Boobs” as social commentary on how, for Hollywood, bearing your breasts guarantees an Oscar, but it would be a stretch.
By the time host Seth MacFarlane got to thanking the women “who gave yourselves the flu two weeks ago to ‘get there’?” because “It paid off”? I was done.
These awards are meant to be the best of the industry saluting themselves. I think a lot of people last night gave it a salute all right, just not the kind the producers were expecting.
Over at the Montreal Gazette, Doug Camilli weighs in on Hilary Mantel and now Vivienne Westwood’s crticial comments regarding Kate Middleton’s wardrobe (and in the case of Hilary Mantel, the entire monarchy.) Well, we all know the fashion world can be cutting, as well as, apparently, the literary community.
But I have to say that if the Duchess of Cambridge’s experience with pregnancy and new parenting resembles mine in any way, chances are good the fashion world may look mild in comparison in a few months.
Here’s when I realized my world had changed: I had a really, really bad day when I was about 7 months pregnant with my daughter. It was also winter, and I had a cold, and I was stuck downtown. You may think that I am about to confess that I had a drink. But I did not. I had poutine.
And a woman sprinted across Toronto Eaton’s Centre’s food court to tell me that I was loading my poor innocent unborn child’s veins with the wrong food.
Up until that moment I had taken a lot of the helpful advice during pregnancy with grace, because after all, people generally just seemed to want things to go well for me. Advice to lie down more, exercise more, take aquafit, take up running, enjoy eating out, stop eating out to save money and so on and so forth was all pretty good-spirited. Even in Toronto, where being polite to people means not acknowledging their actual existence in any public space, men and women alike were daily giving up seats on the subway. And advising that I get (or not get) an epidural. Plus, I’m no Kate Middleton so it wasn’t like I was being mobbed.
But then that woman critiqued my poutine. And I was mad. Really mad. Pregnant mad. That can’t have been good for the baby! (Hilary Mantel, take note.)
What is it about pregnancy and child rearing that makes strangers think they get say in my life? If you’re Kate Middleton with a baby bump, I guess you are going to have to expect it. But for the rest of us, what’s the deal? On my charitable days, I think it is an evolutionary quirk designed to help the species survive by making all adults in the vicinity apt to pull young primates away from tigers and poisonous plants, and a nice way to get used to being part of a community. On my less charitable days I think that mothers are just perceived as fair sport, possibly because if pregnant, their hormone-fogged brains are unlikely to come up with the right insult in response, and once supervising children they aren’t going to commit any crimes (of assault, or etiquette) in front of their kids.
(Picture: Kate Middleton, visiting Madame Tussauds in New York, not being accused of being a plastic princess. By InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, via Wikimedia Commons)
Here is a very short list of things that will nearly always be wrong with your new baby:
- Clothing: Your baby can never have the right combination of hat, gloves, blanket, sweater, etc. on. The baby will “look cold” or “look hot.”
- Size: Baby will always be larger or smaller than expected.
- Sleep: There is always someone at the grocery store ready to comment that your baby looks tired, managing to imply s/he should be home napping.
- Germs: If your baby is finally finding solace in chewing your coat collar rather than shrieking with teething, someone will note your coat is dirty.
- Breast or bottle: That is its own post.
The nice thing about Kate Middleton’s life is she may be able to actually hire Mary Poppins, and then anyone who critiques the royal baby’s clothing will get swept up a chimney. Failing that though, maybe the fashion critique is the best training she can get for the next few years of her life.
Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo! CEO who may be best known for taking the top job when five months pregnant — and who took only two weeks maternity leave — made headlines this week for instituting a work-from-home ban. Yahoo! employees must make plans to be back in the office for June.
Over at the Huffington Post, Lisa Belkin’s written a thought-provoking post about why she thinks Marissa Mayer’s work-from-office policy is a bad move.
Full disclosure: I work from home about one day a week (not every week, but most) and I’ve already written that I occasionally do when my kids are sick. I really appreciate the flexibility, and because my commute is about an hour, on those days I find it helps my work-life balance. I’m a fan.
That said, I think Lisa Belkin’s post gives the wrong impression. I don’t work from home because I have kids or because I have things to take care of from home on that day. I work from home because it saves me the commuting time and because, frankly, it gives me one day with fewer interruptions at my desk and I can focus on…the work itself.
Working from home occasionally is incredibly helpful for parents to deal with professional activity days for kids old enough to amuse themselves, or the occasional sick day or that kind of thing. I am not saying otherwise, and I am very fortunate to have that flexibility. But I am also a firm believer in full-time daycare and that when you are working from home…you’re working. The success of work-from-home policies should be measured by the work.
Workplace flexibility is important for all people, whether they are caring for aging parents, a pet or kids. But that can be coming in early and leaving early, or a generous sick leave policy or any number of things. I do believe in the power of technology to allow many of us to work from home — but I don’t think it’s necessarily a parenting issue.
What do you think? Do you work from home?
Looking for a stay-at-home job? We’ve got ideas!
If you didn’t catch “The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food” On the New York Times website this week, may I recommend you take your tea and give it a read. I particularly loved the section that discusses the development of particular lunch products. Yes, food companies really are working hard to get us, and our kids, to buy their products.
One of the biggest struggles I have had as a parent is experiencing exactly how fraught the whole junk food question is when you have young kids.
On the one side, relatives who really, really wanted to take my preschooler to places that basically create junk food addiction in little kids. Because it is fun, to get the toy and the box and sit there and watch that kid light up at the whole experience. And then there were some of my mom friends, and frankly people on the Internet, who seemed to think that if one non-organic dyed orange cracker crossed their child’s lips the world would end in an explosion of junk food wrappers.
I probably skewed more to the “edaname or bust” end of the scale. I have worked pretty hard to wean my own taste buds off the junk food addiction I developed as a teen and in my early 20s, and I also really do believe in whole foods, and slow preparation, and basically Michael Pollan’s food rules: Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants. And yet I also have to admit that for me it’s really not a party until there are chips and dip.
Here was my watershed moment. I was at the home of a good mom friend’s having a playdate when she pulled out a product I will not name but which involves artificial strawberry flavour on something that is grain-based. It was the kind of snack I had kind of drawn the line about in my own mind for my under-3-year-old: No redeeming nutritional quality, and so on and so forth.
And it was offered with the absolute kindest of intentions and love.
What do you do? Well here’s what I did. I flashed forward 25 years in my mind, to when my extraordinarily gifted and confident young adult child would be globe-trotting in the name of world peace (*cough*) and stop in at the home of a local diplomat, and he would be offered a cultural delicacy that to his eyes looked strange. And what would I want him to do? Try it.
So I let it go. All things in moderation. My child did not implode. He did not come down with an immediate junk food addiction (that took a bit longer.) I did not buy him more. But I did start to relax a little.
I am not advocating that we feed our kids junk food, although I will totally admit that we have eventually come to terms with having it sometimes. We try to make good food choices 95% of the time, 19 meals out of 20, and if we fall down on the 20th meal or snack well, that’s the world that we live in. Not just because quite frankly, sometimes it is easier or faster. But also because our family lives in our current food culture and I just am…into it sometimes.
And as my child’s gotten older and hit the wide world of elementary school, I have realized that he actually is really going to end up making his own decisions…the same way I have.
How do you make food decisions for your family? I am truly fascinated about how people navigate this area. Do you have a junk food addiction? How do you cope with junk food at friends’ and family’s homes?
And I’m also going to link here to pieces at Canadian Living that really do inspire my table for real, because that inspiration is what keeps me going some weeks:
A leaked memo from the Toronto District School Board was reported by the Globe and Mail this week: “The first round of TDSB interviews will be granted to teachers candidates that meet one or more of the following criteria in addition to being an outstanding teacher: Male, racial minority, French, Music, Aboriginal.”
With 592 comments on the Globe and Mail site I’m going to go ahead and say that people feel strongly about this issue, mostly about the affirmative action portion of the memo.
I’m reminded of some of the issues I’ve had to confront in myself about men and caregiving for my two sons. I’m a big fan of Gavin de Becker’s book Protecting the Gift, about how to approach the question of keeping our kids safe. He pretty much takes apart the issue of “stranger danger” but points out that statistically, it’s men known to the family that are most likely to abuse our kids. (A small percentage of those men, but it is still likely that abusers will be male.) Now, I’m absolutely committed to the idea of men as equal caregivers and now that my eldest is in elementary school, I’m happy to have him in male teachers’ classrooms. (So far, only his gym teacher has been a man. And I have kept point #2 — don’t prejudge — from our “8 ways to make a connection with your kid’s teacher” piece in mind.)
And yet…it is other kids’ fathers I worry about more than their mothers. I felt differently about the male after-school math club teacher at my kids’ Montessori and when my son started at his dojo I was glad for the closed-circuit TV that let me watch the class. When I was hiring a nanny I did get one application from a guy and I set it aside. I’m not proud to admit all this — after all, I have sons! I think they will be excellent babysitters and hope if they want to be teachers or work in daycares that they feel free to do so.
But I still worry. When I set that “manny” application aside, I really was making a decision based on prejudice – that there was a higher chance that there would be “something wrong” with this person. And I still did it, because in all the fuss of hiring a caregiver I was not willing to add that stress into the equation.
I can see that young men are still getting the message that if they want to work with little kids there is something wrong with them. And for the ones that make it past that issue, I can see that what probably works out to a constant low level of suspicion that they are in it for the wrong reasons (whatever those are) would be very tiring. And I know the problem really does start with me. I’m just not quite ready to put my kids’ safety — real or perceived — forward as part of the solution.
I’m really curious about what you all think. Do you feel the same about male teachers as female ones? Do you think the TDSB is going in the right direction with this?
More teacher woes? How to talk with your kids’ teachers.