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“When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character.”

5 Nov

Her eyes have darkened and she stomps her feet a lot.

She dawdles, and she defies. She yells and she bosses and she hits.

She runs to my arms, and pushes me away.

The circles grow under her eyes, clouded over with the not telling of something that hurts.

This pain-this helpless, questioning wonder-this I wasn’t expecting for a few more years at the very least.

**************

This week my daughter, my bubbly, vivacious happy go lucky girl seems to have been trapped in with a bully.

She’s friends with the little dude, or at least, we thought so. They’d run around the school yard together. Even the teacher thought it strange that something was up-they were inseparable.

But a cloud started to hover over her head this week, and only got worse. As I dragged her out of a store, something I have never had to do, I wondered what was going on. Growing up and attitude couldn’t be the whole problem, could it?

Last night she had a bad night, was left to cry herself to sleep. In the morning, the hateful sad look on her face told me it wasn’t normal. Something, something was wrong.

We talked, and she mentioned this boy was hitting, punching, pushing. When she told, he said it was someone else, and nothing was done.

She’s been carrying this all week.

She’s assertive, but she’s never encountered someone who is gleefully MEAN to her. She’s never had to deal with another child not wanting to hang out-at worst, she’s had someone not want to play with her. It’s like her control was suddenly thrown out the window.

The teacher had no idea, and reassured her that she was there, and listening. We have been reassuring her we’re here, and that a friend doesn’t hurt, doesn’t make you feel bad, and for good measure, if telling the teacher doesn’t work and it gets worse, aim for the jewels.

I will not let my daughter be a victim. I will not let her learn this role.

Learning to sit and take it in a way led to me not being able to tell anyone when I was being molested. I should be able to tell someone-that was the message ground into me. Not that it would be the other person who would be punished-I would need to find my solution. The teacher didn’t mention anything about talking to the other child-I’m sure she’ll keep an eye out, but my concerns are legion.

He started out as a nice friend, or so it seemed. They’d mess around, play fighting from what I understand. But now it’s escalated into her losing sleep and being upset. What’s going on with this kid, to make mine such a mess? Will someone keep an eye out, or will my daughter again have to be the one to say “Make him stop” instead of someone watching him and stopping him before it’s an issue.

I have seen that haunted look. I have had that haunted look, held in pictures, the shadows under my eyes, the secrets trapped. I never, ever want to see it on her face again.

It might be nothing. It might be resolved, h might have just become a little drunk on having a nice friend who didn’t always fight back.

But as someone else said to me, I might turn around and see that he’s taught her to throw rocks at cats.

********************************

We tell her it’s wrong. It’s not nice. It’s not a friend.

She is confused, I see it writ large on her face, the pain of having to give up a friend, the confusion, the knowing only good people who love you for 5 years and then suddenly duplicity and meanness out of spite she is surrounded by. I try to explain that she should take care of her, not care what others think, not truly.

She stares at me, and I wonder how much longer she’ll believe me.

Who WOULDN’T give them all the candy?

1 Nov

“She’s…special.”

31 Oct

We walk to the school, full of virus and tiredness and the drudgery of another day with kids and the cost of a day off.

But the sun shines, and the morning is clear.

Our first parent teacher conference. 10 minutes of a life, to hear of how the last 5 years of our life have impacted Vivian, how our hard work has turned out.

Inside, I remember my first elementary school, how tall it all seemed at first, until my last year there, when it all seemed rather short, the colors muting on the walls, the work becoming work, the teachers more stern and less loving. The pegs, the shoes, the alphabets and books and sheer joy of learning plastered on the walls-why does it stop? Why do we lose that love so early?

We sit on tiny chairs, touch the tiny tables we never see her use, see her touch everywhere, her drawings, her glued masterpieces, parts of her life we don’t share-the beginning of the drawing away that I’m becoming accustomed to, but yet not, my body feeling the disconnect still after 5 years of closeness. she has always been here, always been with me, been mine. Now-now she thrives on her own, without me, almost in spite of me.

It’s a delicious and terrifying experience, all at once.

She sits with us, timidly, with nothing but good things to say. She begins, telling us how wonderfully intelligent she is, how curious and STRONG she is. She stumbles, looking for a word, but settles almost helplessly on “She’s …special-she’s just special.”

We’ve thought this all along. In our arms, a few weeks old, grinning like a fool at us, tiny and fragile. Examining in close details the beetles in the backyard a little over a year old. Talking to her newborn baby sister at 19 months, nose pressed in close to greet her. 3 years old and explaining to me what each dinosaur does. 4 and running free in the field beside us, watching the world, pulling at the ripe raspberries in her hands.

We all believe our children to be special, to have that certain slant of magic that will make them someone. I’m always ready to accept that my daughters will be nothing more than their normal, average selves. But Vivian-she makes me believe she will be so much more-that she holds the key to something extraordinary-new worlds, new flesh. She makes me believe that she is special-more than I ever believed myself to be. She makes me believe that people can fix the mistakes of others, that things shattered can be healed.

She makes me believe, and nothing can be more awesome than that.

*****************************************

It makes you puff up a little, when the teacher says your kid is nothing like any of the others, and not in a Dennis the Menace kind of way. You look at each other and say “DAMN! We’re doing something right!” and you don’t worry so much about her watching “THEM!” in the afternoon while you write a blog post or coloring in a coloring book or eating chicken nuggets for the 5th day in a row. You look at the huge mess of books in their room and the playroom and shrug, because it matters only in the best of ways. She’s smart-she’s whip smart and vivacious and warm and giving and loving and fucking amazing.

And we’ve done this, created and nurtured this.

We done good.

Good Weekend

27 Oct

Night out with significant other and music, shopping with friend, new movies bought, 12 hour sleep in-and pumpkin carving, with the dissertation of Vivian

Not bad. Not bad at all. Too bad I’m at work again.

My kids-let me show them to you.

7 Oct

Don’t blame me. I have nothing to do with this, aside from snickering…

Silent

4 Oct

 

 

Sisters, Afternoon in September

19 Sep

late afternoon sunlight, fall sunlight

pours through our windows like water

your eyes to slits, you ask for sunglasses

I remind you the warm room is filled with

instances free of light.

 

Between the two of you

battles, Spartans, Celts, Afghans

wage on, small things

that crayon, that page

the very existence of a sister

you scream until your voices

hoarse

drive me to fond memories of

drunken nights under stars, my

head spinning, casual smile

plastered across me as

my hand would reach for someone else.

The chaos in my head then

was so much simpler now.

 

Pink. You all wear pink.

Small sister, beggar sister

shining eyes at older

desperate, wanting.

The light doesn’t dazzle you

doesn’t stall you,

screeching fishwife of a child.

Your universe starts, ends

at your stubby footprint.

 

Brown eyes on pink. Brown eyes

wide eyed at me, towards me

full of me, eating of me

asking for my past

my memory, things shared for meaning

then forgotten.

Wide eyes in the afternoon

clarity of a season ending.

First Charm

4 Sep

 

I didn’t cry.

She didn’t cry.

1 time out for talking.

Lots of blocks.

One so proud she might burst mama.

The haircute

29 Aug

 

Maybe you can’t tell that much, but she just walked in my door with a cute little pixie cut, looking like a big grown up little lady instead of a fey child running the woods and my heart stopped for a moment and I was my mother, standing in a doorway as her daughter walked in, changed into something else briefly, and her breath caught in her mouth and stopped her midstride, causing her to wonder how much magic truly was left in the world if her daughter held so much of it?

Tears, tears of happy, tears of sadness, tears of sudden nostalgia and endings and beginnings, tears of ifs and buts and what might be. In a second I held her close to me, tried to take her back into me but it’s too late. My baby, she’s becoming.

Her beauty though, it stops my heart.

“Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure.”

17 Aug

We’re in the grocery store, her and I, on a chaotic Saturday full of grocery tourists and genuinely harried couples and parents. Here and there a baby screams-not the “I’m hungry” cry but the “FUCK YOU I WANT OUT NOW!” cry which was the sole reason I NEVER took my children to the grocery store as infants. The screaming continues sporadically in the produce section, likely a mother unable to get out otherwise, and I cringe in sympathy. Crying doesn’t bother me anymore-it just makes me want to take the child so the parents can just get their shit done.

Of course, hearing the yuppie parents of one single, quiet maybe 2 year old boy explain in perfect enunciation that “We aren’t going to squish the bread today!” made me walk quickly away laughing. What 2 year old WON’T squish the bread? It’s fun! I don’t bother making any type of contact since I do know the type of parents-they won’t acknowledge me, they won’t exchange pithy jokes and comments. And this rings true later when we go to the cash behind them, and my comments with Vivian about the toy the little boy is lucky to get are ignored. Perhaps they’re busy, perhaps they’re deaf, but right then, rude was rude. I remind myself they could be many things going on, and gee he’s pretty darn cute.

I’m not the center of the universe.

Vivian, now used to grocery shopping, has morphed into the child we know and love from Saturday morning cartoons:

“Can I have this?”

“I want this. Can I have it?”

“It’s got SCOOBY DOO ON IT! I need it!”

“Please? Please?”

The entire trip involves me saying NO every 4.2 seconds. Reminding myself why I do prefer to do this alone.

But then it’s not as fun. She comes around the corner with a stack of beer cups held to her eyes like goggles, and I laugh and giggle and block the aisle. She walks into a display while doing this, and it’s all I can do to not fall down I’m laughing so hard. I can feel the soft glow of other people smiling as my world spirals to just Vivian and myself, our eyes and laughter. I forget about the asks and remember my fantastical little girl who creates such wonder and delight around her.

“Back to juice boxes.” I snigger.

I give her a little speech on how we’re gonna get a second Klean Kanteen for school, and this is just for now. She’s not paying attention, and I wonder if the speech was for her, or the people around her. She randomly chooses some sugar laden box, and we move on.

It hits me. I am buying school lunches.

In 2 weeks, give or take, she starts school. And most of me, mainly my ears, are ok with this. She’s growing up, she’s FIVE (holyshitwheredidthoseyearsgo?) and I need to back off. I let her run ahead, I let her lag behind. I trust her to make small decisions. It’s time to start pulling back. But holding juice boxes, granola bars, Joe Louis’ in my hands, I wanted to be sad. My mother stood there once, trying to decide what was best for lunch, what was needed, what I would eat out of sight. She held those boxes, reading. She imagined a life emptied, for a time, of her daughter.

Connection with a long dead mother in a grocery store. I felt her then, in front of plastic fruit snacks. I felt her indecision, her pride, her love, such warm love, for me, and for her granddaughter, for the woman she’d one day be. I felt the conflict of that first day, of letting go of your baby. I felt that it was ok to feel this-to want to hold closer than skin and push out, all at once. That this was the least of my trials in the years ahead.

We got home and I realized I forgot garbage bags, cat food, cheese. But I held something much sweeter to my chest.

Vivian Cinco

11 Aug

A little over 5 years ago, something began to change.

My face was oily. My boobs broke bras. Things…moved.

One, two, three little sticks, little pink lines and that was all.

I was about to become a mother, and I cried in terror.

*********************************************

5 years is a long time, at least when you stop and think about it. It’s a solid chunk-you can get shit DONE in 5 years, right? You can grow as a person, you can build a house, see the world, grow your hair long. Things happen. It should feel long, shouldn’t it?

But it doesn’t. It hasn’t, and yet it has, 5 years being the longest in my life, full of change and redemption and screwing up and everything we humans are best, and worst at.

My oldest daughter, Vivian, is now 5 years old. 5 years ago she quietly screamed her way into this world, and into the arms of her bewildered mother. (Her father handled the whole thing a little better) 5 years ago we held the arms of a life, and blessed it and wished it all the wonders and glories that our world can hold. Our little girl, so happy and loving, almost from the first. Wide eyed, curious and alive-vividly alive as she lived up to her name, to the life divine inside her.

She named herself, in dream, walking with me at about this age that many years ago as she slept under my heart, her hand warm in mine.

She has grown. From a tottering infant to a boisterous toddler to a precocious preschooler to the girl who goes forth now, the true daughter, shining, her voice loud and strong. I catch glimpses of her now and wonder where all the time really has disappeared to, how it slipped through my fingers while I was busy with other things. I’d stop occasionally, remarking how cool the time was but I couldn’t catch it, not really. I couldn’t hold it in my hands and honor it as maybe I should have.

And now, my baby girl is gone, and in her place stand this girl child, the woman to be, this creature I’ve nurtured and warmed and fed for 5 long years. She stands there ready, and aware, eager for her future, lusting for it.

She’s Peter Pan to me now, flying in the sky, arms aloft, pulling everyone else along with her, teasing, cajoling, laughing, always laughing, her voice on air neither birds nor star dust. She smiles so hard it breaks my heart again and again, makes me miss the future already.

*********************************

Today marks an unofficial end of part of your life, you my first born, my dream daughter. I give you only the sweetest of blessings and wishes today, as I am eager for what is about to unfold.

Happy Birth Day my dear one.

“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. “

31 Jul

There are reds that shine and sparkle, dull pinks and greys, blues, hard and brittle, rubber and laces, tongues. Rows upon rows, boxed or tied.

Our fingers run across them, deciding.

“Any pair you want” I tell her. “Any pair, this time.”

They light up, the ones she chooses, copper and flushed pink, as she does, any possible moment, like the heavens.

*****************************

Two weeks from now. Two weeks I have a school age child, a fortnight, a sigh in the lung that is a life. Exhaled so simply, as I remember her squirming left foot, covered in acrylic as I pressed for a footprint. That same foot I helped into a Size 10 shoe today, stretched over the velcro, patted for good measure before letting go.

Letting go was so much easier when I had nothing more to worry about than a little purple paint on a 25 year old shag carpet.

The magic of these new things, shoes, backpacks, crayons, that perfect dress. Talismans of success, of closure, of freedom. The metamorphosis is always accompanied by new wings. I want to cover her in newness, to build her up, shape her, strengthen her.

But I’ve done that for 5 years now, and she needs at least one leg to stand on.

*************************

“Do you know who I am?!” she sings at the saleslady in Mexx

“NO!” she smiles

Vivian pauses, surprised.

“I’m VIVIAN!” and rushes into her arms to hug her like a member of her own family.

Wings have formed already, wet, moist with yesterday. I won’t touch them though. Somethings get better all by themselves.

A Burning Science Question

14 Jul

Since many of you have more edumacation than me….

Vivian LOVES science. LOVES IT. As in sits enthralled as I read to her about subatomic particles loves it. (and you have NO idea how freaking AWESOME I think this is…)

I was out today buying some much needed over the shoulder boulder holders (and hey, Sears! The woman ACTUALLY made eye contact and waited on me, despite measuring me wrong. Apparently we don’t ask the fatties to take their shirts off so we can get an accurate measurement) when I walked past the bin of useless and/or creepy books. There sat “The Book of Science”.

6.98 is a price I will pay, especially for a book that speaks at a level they can understand, covers most basic scientific principals and has simple experiments at the back.

I’m flipping through it while waiting for the bus and notice something. All the little boxes talking about important scientists and their discoveries-ALL OF THEM ARE MEN.

Nothing against you boys, but I’m raising girls.

So while I can spend time on Wikipedia tomorrow looking for the few that will spring to mind, I’d love to hear suggestions for other female scientists, chemists, physicists, etc. I already warned Vivian that there are no women in that book, and we’ll have to learn about them elsewhere-I just need a little help with the elsewhere.

ETA: I’ve been asked if I truly think that gender matters. Yes, and no. I believe many women, and girls can go farther with female rolemodels presented. I think many of us grew up knowing little about women in science and math, correcting this deficit as we aged. I want my girls to be able to name more women than men. I think it’s also important so we can point out the effect marriage and motherhood once had, and still can have on WOMEN, and not men. I want them prepared to be adaptable creatures. I want them to be prepared for the fact that it might be harder. And that it might also be cooler.

I didn’t grow up with the knowledge that women could do all those things. It would have been nice to have seen a female face staring back from any numbers of the books I read. Imagine starting out knowing that women and men ARE equals, that both have accomplished so much and that gender doesn’t matter.

Imagine…

Our kids are normal. Really.

13 Jul

So this weekend we descended on Hannah’s household.

I’m fairly sure of two things. 1, if they were unsure about stopping at 2 kids, they’re REAL sure now and 2, they have Nova Scotia on high alert for when we enter the province.

My children don’t socialize much. Like, at all. And they certainly don’t get to play with cute little boys who like Cars and trains. And they NEVER get to have sleepovers.

In a nutshell, my children were on their Rambo setting-loud, overpowering and smelly. And I could see the look in the eyes of two parents who already don’t sleep much.

“Dear lord, what have we let into our house.”

I know that my kids are fairly intense little creatures. They play hard, and push push push. As someone trying to raise women who won’t take any shit, I likely encourage that a fair bit. And they aren’t usually around other children or parents. I don’t usually have to worry about moderating things. Nor do I realize what little shits they can be until I step back and look through the eyes of other parents.

But after the 3rd time of someone having to yell after my monkey child to stop her from leaping 8 feet, you realize that your desire to raise a free spirited willful woman may be working a little better than planned. When the little boy comes out crying because Vivian has ordered him out of his own room and into the kitchen, you realize that you don’t really have much to worry about, aside from a vague worry about something like the Jonestown Massacre occurring under the hands of one of my children.

New situations tend to bring out the most frenetic and crazed behaviour in my children. Some kids get shy. Mine ask “Are we going to meet Hannah Montana?” They are genuinely loving, caring, curious little girls.

They are also, many times, irritating, yappy, ulcer inducing little monsters.

I love them either way, it’s just a lot to take suddenly, especially if the cute ball of a baby is coughing and unhappy and wanting take out constantly.

Hannah? Next time, you guys come here so Issac can seek and destroy in their room. 🙂

Photo taken by H.R.H of the Camera, SweetSalty Kate who dropped by in the morning…anyone who doesn’t think I’m in for it in about 10 years is blind or crazy.

Only when you’re 4

12 Jun

Begin Scene:

Afternoon light floods dingy living room-floor strewn with various toys and stuffed animals. Mother sits at computer, absently listening.

Child: I’m going to get nekid Mom!”

Mom: mmmkay.

Child tugs and pulls clothing off, throwing the wadded ball in a corner. Begins to run laps around the house. Stops in front of Mother, her back to her.

C: (grabbing her butt) Hey Mom, are these my butt lips?

End Scene.

Three Things for Tuesday

10 Jun

The day has come.

Rosalyn must be potty trained.

She’s 3.5. At this age, Vivian was well on her way, eager to “earn” her prize and be “a big girl”.

Rosalyn on the other hand, shrugs and pisses herself. She literally doesn’t care. This is the same kid that when told “I’ll throw it out if you don’t pick it up!” says “ok mummy” and walks away.

Sigh.

So out comes the call-has anyone dealt with this? Everything I read talks about either eager to please kids or resistant stubborn kids. She is neither. She’s apathy defined. She will NOT sit on the toilet. She will however, piss at will on the deck.

I just want to stop buying diapers. She is MORE than ready and able to do it, but somehow she senses that I WANT her to, and therefore won’t.

So help please my peeps. I’m lost. Vivian was deceivingly easy.

______________________________________________________

Sex ed however, is going ok. It’s not really Sex Ed before anyone panics. It’s more like preventative maintenance. I picked up A Child is Born at the local Frenchy’s (thankfully-1.00 is better than 30) and started to use it as a jumping off point. We had started having more detailed discussions about her “womanly bits” viw wikipedia, but I thought that tying it all together might be interesting. And with all the cool pictures-I always loved the shots of the sperm wiggling into the egg, and she was fairly entranced as well.

Once we got to the Daddy parts however, Mogo left the table.

It’s surprisingly easy, talking about this stuff. Maybe because no one ever talked to me about it, maybe because I am a firm believer that what we do today has an impact 10 years from now when they’re with a boy or a girl and wondering what they should do. Maybe it’s because I feel that our bodies are miracles, as is what we women can do with them.

It feels good to be able to talk to them about these things. It feels good to know I’m opening a dialogue that will last forever, all things willing. It feels good to watch Vivian get excited about her own body, instead of fearing it, or despising it.

_______________________________________________________________

On something to amuse you: Apparently this happened last night as I drove by on the bus, nose in a Carl Sagan book.

In honor of Vivian, and rubber nipples…

31 May

Last night, while watching my stinky feet ( I hate socks and have sweaty feet, ok?) Vivian blurted out

“I wish I had rubber nipples to stick in my nose so I couldn’t smell your stinky feet!!!”

ah, youth. I watched FAR too much Ren and Stimpy as a teenager, and I’ve proudly passed the torch. They found my Ren & Stimpy tape, and it is good.

So, for the amusement of my generational cohorts, and your children, I present some of my favorite clips.

 

Pride goeth

26 May

Today I had to take Vivian to her school for one last orientation session-she got to ride the school bus, and sit in a class while I endured yet another literacy lecture. I had primed her to have FUN FUN FUN! so we wouldn’t have a repeat of a few months back where she bolted from the gym crying. Of course, having a group session with 40 or so small children in gym, howling and laughing at 6pm isn’t really the smartest thing I’ve ever seen.

So I had made sure that Vivian was ready, that she had little friends with her to use as worry beads, that she knew what to expect. (Again, being prepared for what would happen instead of reacting to it helps)

When the time came, I couldn’t be prouder.

She lined up, she walked away without a whimper or a noise. She smiled and waved and had fun. All day I’ve been telling her how proud I am of her.

Before bed, she turned to me.

“Mom?”

“yep.”

“Thank you for being proud of me.”

Heart….about to burst…

skimming the stream of days

6 May

I get so busy sometimes that it’s hard to breathe, hard to stop and remember that it’s a beautiful day outside and the sun is shining and the leaves are finally stretching their arms and legs out to me. I get so busy with the mundane, the reports and the pivots, the diapers and the dinners. So many variables, until you round the corner near the school, and hear the sounds of hundreds of frogs, echoing across the neighbourhood, their love songs not to Alfred, but to each other, to spring, to the first morning of a hundred such mornings, foggy and musty and covered in wet tears of happy and warmth.

 

We circle the pond, carefully, searching for these frogs, my feet staggering near the edge, remembering far too many incidents that ruined far too many pairs of new shoes, that swamp smell never leaving them. I mutter about bringing garbage bags next time, wondering why the school never cleaned, removing at least the plastic if not the frothy scum on the water. I wonder if the frogs have multiple eyes or legs. I wonder why people can’t clean up their own mess, ever it seems. The hockey ball is forgivable-the 3 empty jugs of laundry soap-not so much.

We find no frogs-I find a tree. A tree that’s new and clean and gleaming in the early evening twilight. It’s nubby and round and altogether reminiscent of being a little girl. New and rounded on the edges. I’m fascinated by it, the greenery, the almostness of it, teetering. Like it was holding it’s breath.

We walk home, busy life forgotten, to do lists stored in outlook, laundry mostly done. The girls slow as we near the house, streetlight by streetlight appearing and the sun falls farther in the sky.  Rosalyn asks for what may have been the last time ever “See Mommy?” andI hold her hand tighter, feel her silky cool fingers wrap around mine as Vivian dances in the night with her father.

It’s all so nubby and new.

(Title taken from Bewitched Playground by David Rivard)

Run to the Hills

16 Apr

Blame Mogo. I hate Maiden.