Thursday, February 28, 2008

What Girl Doesn't Want Diamonds?

I'm not sure who was more frustrated - Girlchild or Mommy.

Just after finishing lunch today, Girlchild asked for something. I'm still not sure what it was.

Her: I want the diamond.
Me: The diamond?
Her: I want the diamond.
Me (scratching head): What's "the diamond," sweetie?
Her: I want the diamond, Mom.
Me (looking around): Yes, I know, but what is the diamond?
Her: Pleeeease, Mom! I want the diamond!
Me: Boychild, do you have any idea what your sister is talking about?

This went on for several minutes. Boychild went around the house, logically picking up shiny things and bringing them to Girlchild. "Is this what you want?" No, it definitely wasn't.

I used every resource I could think of from my journalism interviewing reserves to try to elicit more information from my unruly source about what the heck "the diamond" is. "Is it in the kitchen? Is it in the den? What colour is it? Is it a video? Is it on the TV? Is it on the computer? Is it upstairs? Is it an animal? Tell me more about it, Girlchild. I don't know what you mean." (Note the clever mixture of both open- and closed-ended questions.)

Usually it eventually occurs to me what she is talking about. Often she will ask for something obscure and I can feel the wheels of my rusty, tired brain physically clunk into gear and turn just enough that something clicks and I figure out the mystery. It just wasn't happening this time.

All she would say, over and over again like some kind of demented space alien sent on a mission armed with this one "take me to your leader"-type phrase was, "I want the diamond!"

Any of you who have experienced the scorn of a misunderstood two-year-old will know that pretty soon this situation deteriorated. I couldn't understand her and she couldn't supply more information to help me. She wanted the diamond, dammit, and nothing else would do. Soon, the tears started to flow (hers, not mine) and the voice took on a higher, more-insistent pitch (both of us), while Boychild continued to scout around for shiny things. Along came our friend the tantrum (her, not me, although I was feeling like I wanted to scream, too).

Distraction didn't work, threats - I mean polite requests - didn't work, and soon it became clear that naptime was imminent and it was unlikely either of us was going to get control of the situation. She was not. happy. at. all. about going for a nap. I took her kicking and screaming upstairs and, after a long process, managed to get both of our tempers calmed. After having some milk, brushing teeth and hearing a few lullabies, she fell instantly to sleep, without singing a single song of her own.

I'm going to call my mom later because they spent the morning with her while I worked and I'm wondering if she might know what "the diamond" is. If it's something profound, I'll let you know.

Well, it wasn't exactly profound, but we figured it out. I was on the phone with Nanny asking her if she had any sweet clue what her granddaughter was talking about. While chatting, I move a video case from the counter (why was it there?) onto the kitchen table. I get off the phone. Girlchild wanders through, spies said video case and says, "Oh! The diamond!" It's the Baby Einstein: Language Nursery video, which we have watched about eleventy thousand times, but apparently it has changed names. Girlchild used to call it "Baby Einstein," not to be confused with "Mozart," "The Bear One" (Baby Bach), "The Turtle One" (Baby Neptune) and Old MacDonald. Clearly we'll have to work on her shapes because "The Diamond" has a star on the front cover. Doesn't matter as long as I know the code!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Girlchild - she's a performer.

Part of her bedtime routine involves stories and songs. Usually I do the singing, plunk her into her crib, turn on a quiet CD and say night night. It gets really quiet in her room and we assume she has gone to sleep. We've figured out, though, that she plays possum. What she's really doing is soaking in every last lyric on the CD. Then, once it has stopped playing, she breaks out into song.

Sometimes she'll sing for an hour. I will take the singing over banshee-like shrieks any day.

Her repertoire is quite vast and includes the medley of lullabies and folk songs I've been singing to her since before she was born along with songs from her CDs (such as "Old MacDonald," "The ABC Song," "Zoom Zoom Zoom," etc.). The girl knows dozens of songs. She's not quite two and a half.

Girlchild and Boychild both have songs especially for them. One night when Boychild was really young he had gripes and was fussy and there was much weeping and crying (probably from both of us) that went late into the night. Exhausted and tired of hearing all the same lullabies, I made one up. It basically involves singing "Mommy Mommy loves you, Daddy Daddy loves you" over and over to a tune that popped into my head.

Girlchild's song, "Oh Dear," was born out of calmer circumstances: rocking and nursing. The tune is also simple, but the lyrics are marginally more complex:

Oh dear, oh my dear
Oh my little sleepy one
Close your eyes
Rest your head
Go to sleep my baby girl.

Girlchild knows this song and the "Mommy Loves You" song and a bunch of others. So tonight, I'm sitting at my desk and I can hear her crooning away over the monitor - her song. She sings it clearly and sweetly. When it ends, she doesn't even take a breath before launching into a couple of lines from this one, which I'm pretty sure I haven't sung at bedtime:

I like to move it move it!
I like to move it move it!

I howled!

Sign of Things to Come?

So the other night, after being home from school for a week thanks to regularly scheduled off days and holidays, Boychild was grimly contemplating his return the next morning. He was less than enthusiastic.

I know school is school, but I do find it ironic that small people can mope around the house for a couple of days complaining of the sheer boredom of it all, and then when the chance go to school (and I mean Kindergarten - because when else will you EVER have more fun at school?) returns it's not greeted with joy. Yet, at the end of that first day back, there are stories of fun and games and friends and snacks and and and....

I don't get it. Well, I do, I guess, but it just doesn't seem right.

Anyway, I had to pull the "school is great fun" speech out of the archives that night. Then he says to me, "Mom, I've decided that when I'm done this school and the next school, you know, that I'm not going to work."

What? Wait a second. I thought we weren't supposed to have this conversation for another 14 years or so? What gives? And what's "the next school"? Does this mean high school only or is it a grand sweeping statement that includes secondary and post secondary?


Me: Well, Boychild, you have to work if you want to make money. You need to have a job so you can pay for things.

Him: I don't care.

Me: But you need to make money so you can have a place to live and buy food and clothes and cars and stuff.

This was greeted with skepticism. We had a long chat about how when you figure out something you like to do you can work hard in school to learn all about it and then do it for a job and get paid to do something that you think is fun! (Doesn't that sound GREAT!?)

Coincidentally (not), I used myself as an example instead of Groom-boy, who continuously complains about work. "See, Mommy writes stories and things and people like them and pay me to do it."

I don't think he was convinced.

It must be hard for six year olds to grasp the concept of working. I think what sparked this conversation was the fact Groom-boy had to miss part of the bedtime routine because he had to go back to work, which is something that happens frequently. Boychild hadn't seen much of Daddy that day and was a bit sad about it. Since I hardly ever leave the house to work I'm not sure if he really grasps the concept of what I do. (Heck, sometimes I don't, either.)

In any event, I reserved the "that's fine if you don't want to work, but don't expect to live under this roof" part of the speech. Maybe that's the part that comes in 14 years.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When Good Mommies Go Bad

Over the weekend I was afflicted with a tummy bug that made me feel icky. I find one of the hardest things to do in the world is to be a good mommy when sick. In fact, I sometimes find it hard to be a good human under those circumstances. Suffice it to say, I was soooo relieved Groom-boy was home to pick up the considerable slack while I retreated in misery to bed.

In addition to feeling barfy, my favourite part of the whole experience was the series of rather intense dizzy spells at night. Surprisingly, this is actually NOT related to the fact I also chose this weekend to fall down a flight of stairs. I was not injured, aside from a bruised hip, rugburn on my elbow and some ego issues. Girlchild joined me for that trip, and she was fine, albeit surprised by the rapidity of our descent. I cushioned her fall. I am a BIG cushion, which is another reason why I think we came out of this relatively unscathed. Yay for saddlebags. Who knew?

Sigh. Banner times.

While all this was going on I was keeping an eye on an Unfolding Drama over at the BabyCenter website, where one of my favourite bloggers on Momformation had apparently opened one heck of a can of worms. I'm not even going to say what she was writing about for fear all the angry scary mamas who left comments on her posts will come here and beat me up.

I thought her posts were lighthearted. Others, it would seem, read a lot more into it. Like novels and essays and non-fiction parenting books into it. In my disoriented state, I kept going back to the blog as if it were a bad accident and watched the number of judgmental and nasty comments climb. My nausea grew.

It makes me sad to see mamas jumping all over each other, especially over a paragraph or two that rarely tells the whole story of a situation. I prefer the positive, supportive stuff. In my little world, I want everyone to be happy and kind. I want there to be bunnies and flowers and singing and joy and for everyone to get along. I want to spread humour and happiness and leave all the bickering and opinions to much braver souls. I want us all to be good, happy mommies and daddies.

Ahem. Yes. Well, wish me luck with that.

At least I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Everybody Let's Get Stoned

I did it. I got up Wednesday morning and despite a pounding headache I rubbed my bleary bleary (bleary!) eyes, went to get Girlchild out of her crib, put my robe on backwards and pulled my hair into a forwards ponytail. Girlchild thought it was all pretty darned funny. I refrained from walking down the stairs backwards because I was carrying Girlchild - and that would have spelled a trip to the hospital for sure - but I did walk backwards through the den where Boychild was hanging out.

He was amused.

Such was my big promo campaign to encourage participation in Backwards Day at Boychild's school. Regular readers may remember Pajama Day did not go over so well on Monday. (I should add he asked to put on his pajamas as soon as he got home.)

Ultimately Boychild set out wearing his shirt and his undershirt backwards. The shirt was no big deal - it was a striped affair that looked the same front and back except for some stitches where the tag is. Oh, well. At least he took part.

Little did he know just how "backwards" the day was going to be.

Last year Boychild and School did not get along so well for a few weeks right around this time of year. He was sick a couple of times and missed several days of school, and when you're in an all-day, alternate-day Kindergarten program missing a couple of days can quickly turn into a week. He had some trouble getting back into the school routine.

At one point it got so bad I thought I was going to lose my mind - not to mention what he was going through. He cried every school day. He fretted the night before. He clung to me. It was such a huge struggle to get out the door and it was heartbreaking for me to leave him at school - those big chocolate eyes filling with tears as I walked away. Sometimes he cried and clung. Often his teacher would have to take his hand and wander around the yard with him. I was at a loss.


So one day, in desperation, I grabbed a pretty polished rock that my parents had brought back for me from a trip to Northern Ontario. It is, appropriately, a
worry stone. I told Boychild it was magic and that if he kept it in his pocket and touched it whenever he felt sad, it would make him feel better.

By gum, it worked. That boy has carried his magic purple stone in his pocket every school day ever since.

Until today, of course, when he forgot to take it out of his pocket on Monday and put it back in his school bag and I had to dig through the laundry hamper to find it after three calls from the school. Figures today was the one day I didn't come directly home and go straight inside to have my second, much-needed cup of coffee - instead Girlchild and I did some shovelling first. Meanwhile, Boychild was having a meltdown at school because he couldn't find his rock.

So, I retrieved the stone, went back to the school, all was well.

Until later.

We got another freakin' heap of snow on Tuesday and the sidewalks were still pretty nasty for walking to school on Wednesday. I had use of our van in the morning (good thing, since I had to make two trips to the school), but Groom-boy had it at work in the afternoon. Between the snow and my headache, I was not excited about the afternoon "commute," so Groom-boy said he would pick up Boychild and his buddy at school.

I thought they were taking a long time to get home, but I tend to be compulsively early for things and sergeant-major-like on the walk home, so my perception of time is not always reliable. Almost half an hour after pick-up time, though, the school calls. "Um, are you coming to pick up Boychild today?"

Aargh! I call Groom-boy at work. "Dear, did you forget to do something very important?"

The boys emerged from the incident unscathed, but I'm pretty sure these types of things leave deep emotional scars that won't surface until years later. "And then, after I had such a terrible morning, they punished me by not coming to pick me up! Sob!!"

Backwards Day. Yep.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Say No to Sanctioned Fun

Argh. My kid takes after me. Poor dear.

Yesterday was Pajama Day at Boychild's school. It was his first experience with this sort of rollicking, unorthodox event.

Do you think I could convince him to wear pajamas to school? Even those totally cool Lightning McQueen Dinoco ones that he loves so much he saves them for special occasions? Even with longjohns and an undershirt under them to stay toasty warm?

No sir. Uh uh. No way.

Me: But why?
Boychild: Because I don't want to.
Me: But why? (Who sounds like the child now?)
Boychild: Because I don't want to. I just want to be normal.
Me, brain whirling with thoughts of how to explain the sheer irony of this without invoking the dreaded spectre of Peer Pressure: But all your friends will be wearing their pajamas, so that IS what will be normal today. If you wear your regular clothes, you won't be "normal."
Boychild: I don't care. I don't want to.

Sigh. Heaven forbid that we condone sanctioned fun. Of course I know I should probably be thankful he just wants to be normal.

Thing is, I remember things like pajama day from my childhood and I remember stressing over whether my pajamas would be cool enough. Doing something out of the ordinary was difficult - I liked everything to be the same as it always was so I knew what to expect and wouldn't run the risk of standing out. I loathed being the centre of attention because I was always afraid it would be negative attention like teasing.

Ah, happy times, elementary school.

Tomorrow is Backwards Day. He has already proclaimed he will not be participating in this sanctioned fun. My plan when I get up tomorrow morning, assuming my sleepy non-morning-person brain will remember to do this and won't kill myself doing it, is to put on my robe backwards and come down the stairs backwards and walk backwards to get certain people in the spirit of things. If I thought I could talk backwards I would.

Kids are weird. (Yeah, KIDS are weird....)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spilled Milk

I almost cried over spilled milk yesterday afternoon. I most definitely swore over it - although it was only very loudly in my head since little ears were nearby.

It has been a gloomy winter around these here parts, at least in terms of the quantity of light. The heaps and mounds and piles of snow have been great for the kids and good exercise for the adults. That said, I'm ready for some sunshine. Bring it on! The dreariness has left me rather unmotivated and less inclined to be little miss Tidy McTidypants.

Yesterday was one of those days. Boychild was up at seven and, after a short stint of reading the paper, I spent much of the rest of the day doing dishes and laundry and cleaning. It was haaaaaard to get motivated to do that, too, since I really felt as if I wanted to just curl up somewhere quiet where no one would be hollering for me and making demands - I mean polite (ahem) requests.

Eventually I mustered enough gumption to haul out ye olde vacuum and attack the den where the dried up macaroni, Cheerios and other former-food items had gone to die under the kids' little table and chairs. The timing was good because Boychild and Girlchild were both occupied with an activity in another room, allowing me to shovel up their toys in peace in order to vacuum. (Am I making my house sound like a place you'd want to visit? I thought so.)

I was starting to win the Battle of the Den, but I shoulda cleared their table first. At one point the vacuum hose swung cunningly in that direction, knocking an unfinished cup of milk all over the half-vacuumed floor, leading to a flurry of mad cursing - I mean sponging. Thank heaven for hardwood.

Naturally it was at that very moment Girlchild decided to wander into the room, marching through some of the milk droplets and all of the wet floor. Sigh.

I'm looking back at this moment to try to find the glimmering message of joy to share but, really, all I can say is at least there was no crying over spilled milk. The crying is a real drag.

Where is the sun?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mobilizing the Knitting Task Force

I'm pleased to report a Task Force has been established with a view to completing Operation Save Ducky (as discussed in my previous post).

Today Boychild and I met with a team of intrepid knitters at a local long-term care home. These ladies meet every Saturday for a few hours of knitting - everything from bears to hats to washclothes to scarves and more. They are currently building an inventory to be sold at a bazaar a few months down the road.

They were delighted to see us, particularly Boychild, with whom some of them flirted shamelessly. It was a lovely time that included cupcakes, apple juice and tea or coffee - not to mention some nice chit chat. We even had a chance to catch up a bit with a couple who used to live beside us.

Ducky is not yet repaired, although the Task Force of two or three members of the knitting group plans to meet again this week to properly assess a plan of action. The verdict in general, and not surprisingly, was that it would be easier to knit a whole new duck, which made Boychild's eyes widen and the corners of his mouth turn down, so this plan was abandoned before it grew wings and took flight. My solution of a simple rectangle of matching yarn stitched onto the thinning spots was deemed to be inadequate (I have a tendency to underestimate things). Various other options were muttered about and involved things like stitch counts and possibly darning. The concept of Ducky spending a few days at the Lodge to facilitate the work was suggested. Those chocolate brown eyes widened and the corners of the mouth turned down again, so we agreed Ducky would participate in a series of visits to the Task Force on the days Boychild is in school.

See? I knew knitting was complicated stuff. And don't think my learning this craft wasn't suggested once, twice or thrice by these ladies. I wish I could. I probably should. I think I have a couple of hours between 1 and 3 a.m. that I could spare.

The saga will continue....

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Boy and His Duck

Ducky and I have an appointment at a local long-term care facility on Saturday.

Yes, I've decided I finally need a good rest so I'm checking in. Three squares a day, you know.

Kidding. (Sort of.)

In my newspaper column this week (Feb. 6) I wrote about the pending demise of Ducky, my son's beloved knit toy. He and Ducky have been best mates and sleeping buddies since before Boychild was a year old.

Ducky is a wise old duck. Okay, well, he's old, anyway. My Nan knit Ducky for my little brother when he was just a wee gaffer, so Ducky's gotta be waddling up on 30 years. That's about 342 in duck years, I think. As you can imagine, having a little boy cart you around for a good five years can wear a fella down.

Over the years I have managed to complete some rather haphazard repairs on Ducky - sloppy stitches here and there as little holes opened up and some extra stuffing crammed in from time to time. The trouble is, Ducky is literally wearing thin. That 30-year-old cheery yellow yarn has been loved to bits.

We need to save Ducky for fear there will be no sleep in the house. Besides, he's an artifact - an heirloom.

The thing of it is, I can't knit. My mom can't knit. We are severely knitting challenged.

I proposed stitching a newborn T-shirt onto Ducky to hold him together, but that will not do. Boychild says Ducks do not wear clothes. I think Boychild has it in his head that something can be done to make Ducky exactly the same as he was - only all better. I suggested we could stitch a knit patch made of the same cheery yellow yarn around the thin spots, and that seems to be okay.

I have a couple of friends who can knit and had said they could help out. Nevertheless, I thought bartering for knitting sounded like a fun column topic, so I wrote about my almost-desperate plight and my willingness to dance, sing, bake a cake, write a poem, wash windows, m
op floors or do almost anything in exchange for a suitable piece of knitting.

Lo and behold, the calls start coming in. The mother of the lady across the street could help me out, for one. I was most intrigued, however, by the call from a friend who volunteers at a local long-term care home.

Seems (or seams) a group of ladies gather each Saturday afternoon for a knitting session. Bring the kids, bring the duck and a team of knitters would be at our disposal to repair Ducky.

That's why you gotta love small towns, eh? I'll let you know how it all turns out.

(Image: Boychild and Ducky, sometime in 2007. Note the masterful stitchwork on the duck's side....)