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Archives March 2013
Have you seen this?
Disgusting, isn’t it?
I’m not a hockey parent, but I’ve done my fair share of sitting on the sidelines of children’s sporting events and cheering them on.
It’s a lovely place to be.
Watching the kids out there on the field giving it their all is, quite simply, one of life’s most rewarding moments.
So when I saw this video, I felt sick to my stomach.
I was utterly disgusted.
Honestly, what were they thinking?
They are supposed to be there for their children.
To cheer them on and to be their biggest supporters.
But instead, this happened.
Please, please don’t tarnish the game.
Don’t take away the children’s love of hockey.
Don’t take away the sparkle in their eyes and the excitement on their faces.
It really is a beautiful thing.
These parents could see that too…
if only they would just sit back and watch.
Jessica Grose at The New Republic says cleaning is the final feminist frontier.
Emily Shire at Slate says women clean more because they’re judged for it.
Jonathan Chait over at New York says there’s an easy solution: Women need to lower their standards. (If it were that easy…)
So here’s the deal: This fascinates me, because boy has this been an issue at my house. My husband and I fought for years, pre-kids, before I just plain ceded in the chore wars and took on the lion’s share of the chores (I mean yardwork and bill-paying as well) for a few years. I tried to look at it as my gift to myself (because I did want things a particular way) and to my marriage, but over time I really did come to realize that I was investing time and energy that was then not available for other things, like finishing a novel.
Somewhere along the way we kind of worked it out, although we also sold the fixer-upper with the huge lot, which was like UN Peacekeeping in the chore wars, and then we had a baby. And whoa. If I thought I cared about the state of my house before, I was wrong. There’s nothing like a baby crawling on the floor to flip you out about the cleanliness of it, and more to the point…I was having other women over for “mom dating” or playdates with their little ones crawling around on my floors. I was glad that I had kind of worked out my cleaning system earlier in my life but…I also, quite frankly, spent a few nights really, really angry that my husband did not seem to actually care even half as much as I did. Even though I had been at peace about it.
Over time though I have to say things rebalanced. Partly because now it is my husband and I against our little “creators of entropy” and the toy clutter and the overturned bottle of maple syrup. Partly because one day my son turned to my husband and said that cleaning was a “mummy job” and my husband got it. And partly because…yes, I have lowered my standards. Particularly outside.
Still, I am fascinated by how we all manage these things. A clean and organized environment really is something I think is helpful and yet I am always kind of disturbed by trying to figure out how much time and effort, therefore, it is worth putting into it. I occasionally fantasize about 1/3 of our belongings vanishing in the night. I feel how sometimes my feelings about myself — stressed out, ego-bruised, having a bad day — turn into upset about what is visible; the backpack on the floor or the messy Lego all over the rec room. And I don’t want to raise my kids either to think that a chores fairy does the work or that live in a hourse where mum turns into a raving lunatic about dirty socks when she is stressed out.
And yet no one system, other than deep breaths and daily tidying and weekly cleaning, has ever worked for me, and once that falls apart a bit, it seems like I am just waiting for a long weekend to catch up.I really want to know what other people do!
Here at Canadian Living we decided to go to the source and ask you how you deal with chores. So please take a few minutes to take our survey. (You can even win an amazing $200 prize pack from Staples and AIR MILES, pictured below.) In April we’ll be sharing results and also talking about spring cleaning. But really: I want to know what it’s like for you! Does your feminism include refusing to do more than your fair share? How do you approach it with your kids? Have you outsourced? Let me and us know!
Recently, a 10-year-old girl in Ontario avoided abduction by asking for the code word she had arranged with her parents. A man she didn’t know told her that her mom sent him to get her, but when she asked him what the code word was, he didn’t know. So, she knew not to go with him.
This is the type of good-news safety story we all love to hear. Precautions in place keep a child safe.
Clearly, this little girl was a smart cookie. Not long did she not go with the man, she tried to remember his license plate and details about him, his car and his accomplice so that the police could find him.
Unfortunately, not all kids are ready to react this way. Taking the time to ask for a code word could give the abductor the extra minute they need to coerce a child into their car. And let’s face it. Kids can be forgetful. I’m a grown woman and I forget stuff all the time. I have to think twice to remember my credit card PIN every time I use it. And I use it a lot. Plus I really do have an excellent memory. Well I did. Until I had a kid.
Anyhow, what happens if your child doesn’t remember the code word and just goes with someone who answers with authority? Or goes with them because they don’t want to admit they don’t know what the word is. How can you be sure they remember the code word and still keep it a secret and don’t go repeating it all over the place? At what age is a code word best for?
I think the idea of a code word is a good one if you have a child that will remember it. I was the kind of kid who would definitely remember because I was into words. Still am.
But my husband? I don’t know that a code word would have worked with him at all. Maybe if the code was a trivia question like what kind of motor his toy truck had.
I guess the most important thing about teaching your child about safety and stranger danger is to address it, first and foremost. Then decide on a strategy that would work given you know your child best. If you think a code word would work, use it. If you think running away and screaming works best, then do that. Just make sure you talk about it so that your child is aware of the potential risk, and can be as prepared as possible.
Some wackjob mom of a 2 and 3 year old is complaining about an exhibit at the Vancouver Maritime Museum saying it “features numerous images of inappropriate nature” and strongly feels it should be removed.
I live 4,300 kms away and I know all about it, so first of all I think the museum should personally thank that mom for publicizing the exhibit better than their own media and PR team ever could. It’s now national news all thanks to that one mom. Congrats! Really, I mean it, well done!
Secondly, the exhibit is called “Tattoos & Scrimshaw: The Art of the Sailor.” I don’t know about you, but when my kids were 2 and 3, I was taking them to a Peter Rabbit exhibit at the ROM, not to a showing of Sea Dog’s tats.
So I need to ask that mom, what were you thinking? I mean, were you paid by the museum to see if you could generate interest? I’m sort of hoping so because if this is legit, you’ve got way too much time on your hands.
Because I Am A Girl or your local food bank always need volunteers and that would be a much better use of your energy.
And by the way, your inane provocation besmirched moms everywhere.
The exhibit is not in the Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre at the museum, but in it’s own area with a separate entrance. As reported in the National Post, they are “displayed in a case raised high off the floor, well beyond scope of a toddler’s inquisitive eyes, and lighting is prudishly dim. Next to the display is a sign: “Hide Your Eyes! These pieces of scrimshaw are not intended for children.” “
Ok, so maybe it’s not in the “bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard,” but still. You made that choice. Suck it up.
There’s a lot of stuff on TV I think is inappropriate for my children, but I acknowledge that other people like it; so I do what all, ok most, moms do: I TURN IT OFF.
Same goes for movies, theatre, art, museums and the magazine rack at Shopper’s. If I don’t think it’s right for my child, I don’t let them see it.
Sorry if that’s a wee bit tricky for that one Vancouver mom, but the rest of us find it pretty easy.
Lots of commentary going around on the New York Magazine article “The Retro Wife”. I happened to read it while I was hiding in the bathroom this morning pretending I was still getting dressed for work as my seven-year-old cried that March Break was over and my toddler ran around carrying his diaper yelling “no school!”
Let’s lay out some ground rules for discussion here: First and foremost, whatever choice you are making for your family’s work-life balance, I support you in making it. Second, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Third, economically, a lot of families do not get the luxury of choice about two paycheques coming in.
But boy did this article annoy me. The premise of the latest NYC-based volley in the mommy wars is buried on page two: “Generally speaking, mothers instinctively want to devote themselves to home more than fathers do.”
If I may summarize what I took from the article: Working is not that fun, women naturally want to stay home, so why should women not stay home and do that really well? It might even make their families run more smoothly. And isn’t that a feminist choice?
Well…sure. I don’t have a problem with individual women making decisions that are right for them. You can absolutely be a stay-at-home-parent and be a feminist.
I do have a problem with deciding, as the article seems to, that women biologically have a greater desire to stay home.
Look, I just don’t believe that I was born to be more concerned with domestic life. I believe that I learned, by watching my mother, by watching other women around me and by the messages I got growing up from television and books and society at large that the domestic sphere was important, and my job.
I also know that if someone in my family were to step out of the workforce it would, in fact, be me…for the simple reason that I am the lower income earner. And to frame it a little simplistically, I am the lower income earner because although both my husband and I were completing our educations as the Internet was coming into existence, I chose to create words and pictures and he chose to create scripts and databases.
And I’m pretty sure that grade 10 math had a lot to do with that, for me, and I don’t think it was the feminine hormones hitting, if you know what I mean. It was a case of a teaching style that did not mesh with my learning style, and hating math being acceptable for girls. And from there, a multitude of choices and challenges. There have been times in my career that I have, to use Sheryl Sandberg’s thinking about it, leaned back…that I have not gone after a big job because I was anticipating the biggest job (having kids) landing on my plate. My husband also raises our kids but I don’t think he ever saw it as incompatible with his professional goals.
So if I were to walk away from full-time work today so that our family ran more smoothly, would it really be because that was more important to me than my husband or because I am better at multi-tasking? If our salaries were reversed, I’m pretty sure that picture would change. So, no.
In other words, I suppose my feminism still includes the idea that women need to be careful about accepting the idea that trading in economic power for domestic harmony is biologically wired. I don’t mind if women want to be “retro housewives” as long as they don’t imply that it’s something all women should be doing.
There are so many levels of wrong in the Steubenville teenage rape case that my jaw hurts from continually dropping, and my neck is sore from continually shaking my head in disbelief.
The crime itself was hideous, but that onlookers did nothing to stop it, and instead filmed it, is equally horrendous. The barrage of graphic and demeaning texts that followed, including online photos and videos is appalling. And still, not one of the teenagers involved thought to report any of it to an authority of any kind. To top it all off, the victim finds herself socially ostracized for standing up for herself.
As though all of that wasn’t bad enough, the way much of the media has handled this story is downright shocking.
As a journalist, I get especially irritated when the media presents “news” in scandalous or fear-mongering ways. But the way many news outlets, such as CNN, presented the guilty verdict issued today was beyond contemptible. (See reports from The Washington Post and The New Yorker for accounts of the skewed coverage.) Instead of focusing on how justice was served and that the boys guilty of rape were to be punished for their crimes, they decided instead to sympathize with the guilty parties, and point out how sad it was because they had such “promising futures.”
Thankfully, CNN has received much-deserved criticism for this reporting. But the fact remains there seems to be as many sympathizers for those who commit rape and are caught and punished, as for the victims of it. The message being sent, particularly to young people, is that being drunk and female means that rape is okay. And if it happens, the female in question has no right to bring charges against her attackers.
Is this what we want to teach our children?
That “good” girls don’t drink or get raped? And if they do, it’s their own fault? Or that star male football players are exempt from any legal or moral code?
We need to teach our daughters to know they are smart, beautiful and important. And that they matter as much as any boy. We must instill in them a sense of empowerment so that every girl knows what her rights are, and never questions whether she should stand up for herself.
But what’s more critical than teaching all of this to our daughters, is teaching this to our sons.
Over the weekend I visited the Sony Centre in Toronto for the latest stop on the Scooby-Doo Live tour.
As I watched little ones clutching their popcorn and dressed as Scooby, I kept wondering, are we
parents just trying to regain our own lost youth?
The promoters would seem to think so. The lobby was filled with multi-coloured merchandising, and let’s be honest, if I’m forking out $35 clams for a small stuffie, is it actually for the bairn or is it really for me?
Because I feed my kids Scoobyghetti fully conscious of the fact that I won’t let them watch the actual show because I find the commercials that air on Teletoon and the Cartoon Network totally inappropriate.
But I really want them to know the guy in the pumpkinhead is actually the manager of the amusement park. Maybe I should just buy the DVDs…
I remember dragging my daughter to Caillou’s Big Book Club which was bar-none the worst thing I’d ever had to endure. Perhaps in the minority, I actually love the show, especially the version with puppet Gilbert, Rexy & Teddy expounding on life. But that stage show was a new kind of torture. As someone in the arts, I should relish and embrace people taking their kids to theatre. But not to that.
Do you do the live shows? Do you like them?
Ever wonder why there are so many babies born in the fall?
Seems it may have something to do with sperm performance in winter and early spring. A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology points to seasonal variations in sperm cells as a possible reason why there is a seasonal birth pattern.
Based on samples from more than 6,000 men, researchers found sperm in greater quantity with faster swimming speeds (motility) and fewer abnormalities in semen made during the winter. These characteristics all decline in quality from spring onward. This pattern holds true for most of the men with normal sperm production. Those with abnormal or low sperm counts tended to produce faster sperm in fall and more normal-shaped sperm in spring. This new-found information could help with fertility issues, and help couples figure out when the best time to try to conceive is.
So I guess all those autumn babies may have less to do with the fact that winter is cold and more canoodling takes place because of that, and more to do with sperm peaking during the winter months. Nevertheless I’m sure many couples would agree that baby-making is still a great activity for staying warm!
Sometimes I sit back and watch my kids interact with each other.
Will she use her allowance to buy her brother some Pokémon cards just because he likes them so?
Will he let his very excited little sister accompany him to his friend’s house to meet his brand new puppy?
Will she happily put on an apron and spend the afternoon baking with her younger siblings?
I watch the ways they speak to each other.
The ways they resolve conflicts.
How often they break out into giggle fits.
And the ways they help each other out.
I see that my children genuinely like each other.
They depend on each other and enjoy their time together.
I see them run to each other with exciting news or even not-so-exciting news.
I know they have each others’ backs.
This is what I see today.
I can’t see into the future.
As a parent, one of the greatest gifts we can ever receive is seeing the ever-strengthening bonds of our children well into adulthood.
I hope that all the time they spend together today as children growing up in the same household – sharing rooms, chores, toys, laughs, fights, moments and memories – will create a bond so strong that nothing can break it.
Not their future partners, not their life paths and not their geographical distance.
I’ve seen far too many siblings grow up and grow apart, never to speak to each other again.
I hope that never happens here.
I hope that they always remain the very best of friends, that they always share in each other’s accomplishments and that they continue to be each others’ rocks.
It would make my heart smile.
Yesterday was my eldest child, my daughter Emily’s 9th birthday – or would have been had she survived. Emily was the victim of a nuchal cord accident – the umbilical cord was around her neck and although we were in a hospital we were not able to have a c-section in time. She was resuscitated and despite the best efforts at both the delivering hospital and the Sick Kids NICU she died four days later.
Losing an infant can be a very strange place to be. For a long time — until I was visibly pregnant with Noah actually — my husband and I called ourselves “parents without portfolio,” because we had had gone through at top speed welcoming a baby into the world, making critical decisions about her care, sharing her baptism with family and saying goodbye. But no one else had gotten to meet her. And a lot of people had no idea what to say – and I wouldn’t have either. There isn’t an Infant loss: How do I help my friend who’s lost a baby manual anywhere.
So here’s what was helpful to me. Be sure, however, to keep my first point front and centre:
1. Keep in mind everyone grieves differently
Some people want to be left alone, others don’t want to be left alone, and a lot of us waffle between the two. Remember that your friend or sister or cousin is still her unique self and you’ll largely be okay.
2. Be sparing with phrases like “everything happens for a reason.”
It is absolutely fine to believe whatever you want to believe. And if the bereaved parents express this sentiment themselves, then that is just fine. They may or may not find particular meaning in their loss.
That said, both for me and for others I have spoken with over the years, this kind of statement can be really hurtful to hear at the time. And it seems to be something people say. For me, I knew that friends or relatives who said this kind of thing were really trying to say “hang in there, Jenn, because I care about you.” And that is great. But at the time pretty much every ten minutes my brain was asking why did this have to happen to my baby, and the answers “God never gives us more than we can handle” or “everything happens for a reason” were entirely insufficient. I needed to feel the unfairness of it.
What can you say? “I’m sorry” was always enough for me. And a hug. It helped me the most when people were willing to just be in the moment with me. I actually found it most comforting when people said they didn’t know what to say (in a way that did not make me feel like I had to comfort them) — good, because I didn’t either!
3. Give practical help
Of course many of us show up with a great comfort dish – and let me tell you, that food made with love sustained my husband and I. Lots of people were ready to help and asked us how, but to be frank: I had no idea. But here are the things I remember: Our neighbours mowed our lawn several times. A good friend did laundry (although for me, it has to be a pretty good friend!) A family member took our car in for maintenance for us. Help with any of that life stuff was huge.
Something I’ve been asked is whether to offer to help pack up the baby’s things. This is really individual, and I would not ask or offer unless you are very close to the bereaved parents. I left our nursery intact for a long time and it became my place to sit and heal. Other people may not want to come home to everything.
4. Help make a mark on the world
I almost hesitated to put this on the list but I think it is universal enough to include it. One of the things I found so hard was that Emily had a huge impact on me, but very little mark on the world. I had a number of very kind people donate money in my daughter’s name in a way that she would be remembered – she has a kilometre of the Trans-Canada trail, for example. For me, that was huge.
5. Keep in touch for the long term
The first weeks of grief are awful, but for us anyway, we had a lot of support. It was about 6 weeks later, when most of our friends had understandably moved on, that I started to feel alone – but I wasn’t ready to reach out. Infant loss can be really isolating. The people who thought to call me or invite me out for a cup of coffee or who lent me books and movies and let me know why they were thinking of me were incredibly helpful.
6. Be sensitive – but don’t make assumptions
One conversation I remember was from a relative who asked if we would still like to be invited to a cousin’s first birthday party. Yes! And no! And yes! We went, because we were so happy to have this member of our family celebrated. And it was a little hard, but that was right for us. At a different time, we might have said no. What I appreciated was that our grief was acknowledged, but I was given the choice — my cousin did not assume that it would be better to leave us off the invitation list.
7. Be patient
For me it took about a full year to start to feel like I had real ground under me again. And I know I was sometimes irritable, or cancelled plans at the last minute, or failed to return phone calls on time. I could often function pretty normally, and I even had a lot of fun the summer after my loss.
But there were other days where I just had to sit down and let myself experience the fact that all the things I had planned — walks with baby in the stroller; bonding over mat leave with a friend — had been rewritten without my permission. I wasn’t quite myself for a long time, and even now I need a little extra TLC in March.
There aren’t really right or wrong answers, but these are the things I think I would have liked people to know. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments!