Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Are You Cut Out For Motherhood?

Truth be told, some days I'm not sure I'm cut out for motherhood. Today is one of those days. My (almost) four year-old likes to test our limits on a daily basis. Since she started school a couple weeks ago, she's been a bit of a nightmare at home. Because she has to be good (and quiet) at school, she lets loose when she gets home. She kicks her heels up by throwing a tantrum any time she doesn't get her way. My 15 month old and I are ready to move out. Temporarily, of course. If you're not sure you want to be a mother or not, here are some of the "qualities" you should possess for this role.

1) You have to love repetition! Think running laps around a track is boring? Telling a child not to climb on the furniture over and over is no picnic either. Or my personal favorite, "get your finger out of your nose!" (said while at a restaurant, a wedding, or any other equally embarrassing place).

2) You need pipes! Not the kind in your bathroom. I'm talking about big arm muscles. You have to lift strollers into and out of your car several times a day. Carry a baby around in one arm while using your other arm for various things. If you have one of those infant car seats that snap into your stroller, you'll need extra arm strength to carry said baby and car seat around. Those things are heavy! And god forbid stairs are involved. You'll need a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger to lift your baby in a car seat up stairs.

3) Patience like you've never had before! Those little bundles of joy will test you over and over again. You'll notice the "testing" around the time your baby has his or her first taste of cereal. After a few weeks the cereal will not be as exciting to the baby anymore and he'll chuck the bowl off his highchair. This will be amusing to him, especially if he gets a reaction from you, and this new skill will continue on until at least 18-months. Which brings me to my next quality.

4) The broom is mightier than yelling! You'll have to clean like you've never cleaned before (reread #1 about repetition for full effect). Breakfast - baby throws food on floor, chucks bowl, spoon etc., takes off bib and messes up clothes, rubs hands full of cereal all over her head (and creates the "Something About Mary" look), discovers spewing is more fun than swallowing etc. Lunch - more of same but now you've probably served foods that stain a bit more AND you've spent most of the morning getting the highchair, baby, utensils etc. cleaned up for lunch. Dinner - you've spent more time preparing the meal that will be thrown, mushed, squished and are a little less patient about the mess. You've also cleaned up the mess twice already. Snacks - in between meal messes (squishy banana is a favorite to clean up).

5) Spatial skills! If you don't drive a mini-van or large SUV, you'll need to figure out how to contract your stroller and fit it in the back of your car quickly. If you live in a cold or wet climate, you'll need to do this lightning fast. Good luck with that one. And forget about putting together baby toys, cribs, high chairs, strollers, installing car seats properly etc. Hire professionals for all those things. Avoid anything that says, "light assembly required", if you do not possess spatial and/or mechanical skills. I don't think there is a course to take for any of those skills but I could be wrong.

6) A bright and sunny disposition! We were thrilled when our little girl peed on the potty the first time around, and the second, and the third time. We threw a party. We were overjoyed. She's been potty-trained for almost two years now and she still expects a marching band every time she goes. It's hard to throw a party when she has to go in the middle of the night and wants mommy or daddy. Oh please let it be daddy tonight. Please. You get my drift.

Okay so that's all for now. If I haven't scared you enough to increase your birth control methods (try them all), you are one of those people that is brainwashed into thinking your child will be different. It's probably the hopeful grandma-to-be doing the brainwashing so there's nothing you can do about it. That is how the species continues on, I guess.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"I don't like daddy!"

At some point in your little girl's life, usually around three or four, she will proclaim she doesn't like her daddy. She'll say he's not nice and scream at random times when he tries to do anything with her. At first you'll wonder if he's doing anything wrong. And then you'll realize it's just a little girl thing. We're going through this right now and his biggest crime has been giving her the blue cup when she really wanted the purple cup. Not that she told him she wanted the purple one. She just expects him to know. This is tough for most men. They haven't come close to figuring out their female partners, let alone this temperamental bundle of drama. I feel sorry for my husband. He'll remember "the incident" and take out the purple cup next time she asks for a drink. He'll lovingly hand it to her full of juice and she'll scream, "I wanted milk!". Who knew? Certainly not him. I would've asked her first but he only remembers the last drink interaction. The next time around he'll give her milk in a purple cup and she'll yell in his face, "I wanted WARM milk not COLD milk!". It's a losing situation for most guys. I think this is training for them to accept the guy she chooses later on in life. We really think the dads are upset at the thought of their little girls dating but they are really thinking, "poor sucker, he'll never figure her out". 

Since my daughter is only pushing four, I don't know how long this phase will last. It started at around three and is running its course right now. My favourite part is when she kisses up to him like 5 minutes after an outburst because she wants something. All memory of screaming, I don't like daddy seems to be erased from her expanding mind. She'll be getting ready for bed and say, "I love you daddy, you are the best daddy in the world". And after he's all warm and fuzzy inside, she'll ask him to stay in her room until she falls asleep. That can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour, depending on her mood. So daddy will agree and end up snoring on the chair beside her. Somehow this thunderous sound lulls her to sleep. While they're both in slumberland, all memory of the aforementioned screaming about daddy gets erased. And they start from scratch the next morning. The circle of life continues.  

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Friday, September 12, 2008

First Week of School Blues...

We did all the prep work over the summer to prepare our budding student for junior kindergarten. We practiced letter-writing, painting, songs, numbers and even "sold" the idea of being left with strangers for a couple hours. Okay so we didn't mention the whole stranger thing but it is true. So after months of preparation the big day came. We dressed her up in her school uniform, packed a nice snack, and went to meet the teacher. The teacher is the closest thing to a living saint. She's got grown up kids of her own, a calm friendly voice and demeanor and is extremely patient with the kids. In other words, she's not ME!  But when it came to dropping off our little tyke, she screamed, cried and grabbed my legs. Oh horror, I have one of THOSE kids. All the typical thoughts ran through my head. Have I actually been too good to her? Maybe I pay too much attention to her? 

After a couple days of the same dramatic scene, we figured our daughter was actually sick. She was coming down with a cold and cough and was understandably clingy. Once we realized what was happening, we took extra care of her and kept her home one day from school. After she recovered, we sent her back without any fanfare. Not even a "good-bye mommy". Nothing. No tears, no shouts of abandonment. It was dead silent. And when she was done with school, all she could say was, "mommy, don't give me anything drippy for a snack". I spilled the peaches the first day and the yoghurt the next." On the weekend we came up with a snack plan. I bake twice a week and she doesn't complain about the snacks. I don't know how I got stuck with all the work but you know, I aim to please and I'm competing with a living saint. Now if I could only find uniform-type clothing in toddler sizes. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Olympic Meltdown (and I'm not talking about the kids)

I've finally recovered from watching the Olympics. Sure athletes train for four years plus for their moment in the spotlight but it's even harder to be an armchair-athlete especially when you've got kids. I don't know about you but I was getting up early to watch live coverage of the games and staying up really late to watch the next morning's events. I was so tired after a couple days I was having meltdowns instead of the kids. And to make matters worse, the kids were cranky from missing their favourite Tree House shows. I was trying hard to make Phelps and Bolt household names but somehow they still wanted Max, Ruby, Timothy, and that turtle Franklin. They were more impressed with Franklin counting by twos and tying his shoes than Phelps winning 8 gold medals. C'mon kids, Franklin doesn't even wear shoes! And why is he scared of the dark? He lives in a shell. 

On the day of the men's 100m final, we had promised to take the kids to an amusement park called Centreville. Instead we sat glued to the TV just as the men were approaching the started blocks. Next was the "set" position and then bang they were off. And so was our TV set. Our little 15-month old decided to play her favourite game. TV set off, watch family scream in horror, TV set on, family gets comfortable, TV set off... You get my drift. I'm tempted to turn off the TV set next time Franklin is about to do something exciting. But then I'd actually have to watch the show. I'd probably spend most of my time looking for any signs of shoe-wearing. Instead I just watched what coverage I could around bath time, bedtime, and frequent episodes of potty, teething pain, and bad dreams. 

My worst moment was when I got myself up earlier than normal (around 6:30 a.m.) to watch Canada play the U.S. in women's soccer only to see 1-0 flash up on the screen in front of a backdrop of rain. By the time the girls had woken up, I was in a foul mood! I think I had stayed up late the night before to watch Phelps break another world record. And then it had the audacity to rain in Beijing the next morning. I thought the Chinese could stop the rain? How come they could only do this for the opening ceremonies? After the rain delay I got back into the game. The game had me hooked at 1-1 and then strung me along until over-time when the U.S. scored the winning goal. Now I don't take my sports lightly. I was jumping off the couch in excitement and anticipation for most of the match. My lack of sleep and Canada's loss had me cranky for most of the day. My poor kids, they're probably happy the Olympics are over. Truthfully so am I. We are back to our morning routine of Tree House and a nutritious breakfast followed by rounds at the playground instead of the boxing ring. 

While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt maybe inspiring a whole crop of kids to exercise, they turned yours truly into a couch potato (and then some) for a couple of weeks. It's less than 2 years before the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games begin. I've got that amount of time to get myself into shape before my next couchfest. And to get a wall-mounted plasma TV. I've got to stop my children from turning the TV off at crucial moments. Like Canada - U.S tied in a gold medal hockey game. Yikes, I can already feel the stress.