Growing Up is Hard… For Parents!

Birthdays and the first day of school. They come every year and every year, they are a poignant reminder that our wee things are getting older and will one day become…

Wait for it…

Teenagers.

When Nikki had her first day of senior kindergarten at our local public school (junior had been spent at a Montessori school), I was scared. I think I sat on the porch and waited with bated breath until 3:10, when I could go back to collect her. To be honest, I don’t remember much about that day except being scared and crying. Me, not her.

Fast forward to this year and she walked into grade 3 like a pro. I’m calmer too—only a little, mind you—but part of the reason that I’m calmer is that I know she can handle herself. She can ask questions and figure things out and doesn’t need me to hold her hand for every little thing.

This is in sharp contrast to the mom I heard go by my house after drop off, this morning. I was in the backyard and heard her from yards away. The poor woman was sobbing into a cell phone, and I caught a few words between heaves and sobs:

THAT teacher told me that it was time for me to leave. And I’m like ‘but nobody is comforting my child!’

More sobbing… and she was gone.

Dropping off your kid on the first day of school, for the first time, is one of the hardest things we do as parents. I wanted to tell this mom that it gets easier. That kids adapt quickly and hers will be fine too. Not that she would have believed me.

Here’s to hoping that the first day of school at your house was smooth sailing. Cheers!

Child Plays Without Direct Supervision: World is Stunned 

What’s this world coming to? 

It was fucking anarchy. Kids coming to our cottage door at the resort we were staying at, seeing if my precious one was free to come out and play. 

I looked at my calendar on my phone : “Did we have something scheduled?”

“No…” they replied sheepishly, kicking the dirt at the base of my stairs with the tips of their well worn sneakers. 

“Well then…” I replied, almost gleeful in my righteousness. 

“But can she?” they persisted. 

“Well…” And just as I was about to start my finger wagging lecture on safety, a blur flew past me at the door, grabbing the kids by their hands and dragging them away. I didn’t see her again for three hours—though I heard her yells as they played capture the flag or tag. 

I sat in my little cottage, sick with worry, until she came strolling in, declaring that intense thirst and the need for marshmallows were now taking priority. 

Oh, what to do?

Okay, that’s not really what happened. What really happened was an experience like none other.

The resort was smallish and many of the cottages had families in them. By the second night, the kids were congregating on the main lawn after dinner to play whatever they felt like playing. We parents and grandparents hung out by the fire pit with plastic cups, containing our individual poisons. And it was bliss. 

Every once in a while, I saw her blonde hair streak by. I heard her not easy to miss voice. And until about 10 pm every night, this was the deal: don’t go near the road or on the docks. Other than that, have fun. 

She had so much of it. Fun, that is. No screens. No toys. Just imagination and mosquitoes. The freedom to run and play without having to check in every five seconds. 

I didn’t know the other families before we arrived; I met them all at the pool or by the side of the fire pit. 


Rightly or wrongly, I felt immediately comfortable knowing that this village was watching over all of our littles. 
In an era of scheduling and hovering—something I am as guilty of as most any other parent—this week of retro style freedom will be one we both cherish in our memories for a long time to come. 

A Little Help… With Dinner

If you know me at all, you know I hate cooking. If I could have a full time chef for free, or a housekeeper, I’d pick chef every single day of the week and twice on Sundays. 

I also hate buying endless ingredients that don’t end up getting used up before they go fuzzy on me. It can be an expensive  proposition if you aren’t particularly gifted at planning meals that will use up that extra sauce or bunch of greens. Like someone who buys $25 in craft supplies to DIY something they could have bought finished online for $10. Yes, I realize it is about the journey but, and I repeat, I hate cooking. 

It’s kind of ironic too because I really enjoying eating. But planning and preparing three meals a day is just not my idea of a good time and I’ve reached an age where copping out is a-okay. 

I came across a Facebook post about Chef’s Plate – it’s a service where they send you everything you need to cook a lovely meal, in the right proportions, for either two or four people. 

Done

I ordered three meals for two people, to try it out. Normal price: $65 

(I did use a publicly available discount code to reduce that cost but I’m not being paid by Chef’s Plate, in case you were wondering!)

Takeout Japanese food (or Indian or Thai or whatever) is easily $50 for one meal that covers grandma, kiddo and I. This week, we opted  to skip takeout. 

I’m glad we did. 

I ordered online, scheduled delivery for yesterday and “ding dong”… There it was: 

The first of our three meals was Tilapia parcels. It took no time at all to prep. Here it is just prior to going in the oven: 


Here it is 20 minutes later:


There was enough for the three of us — and kiddo asked for seconds on the fish. 

So… Could I have made this dish for less than we paid? Probably. But we’d have extra grape tomatoes going wrinkly—because you can’t buy just 8—yellow beans going limp, and parsley… Well, don’t get me started on the parsley. Now? I have nothing wilting or icky in the fridge. 

Happy camper in the house!

Tonight is Ramen Noodle Bowls. Stay tuned!

#chefsplateca 

No Valentine’s Day Cards This Year

I’ve spent the day (no, not really. I did other things too) trying to decide if my daughter’s decision not to hand out Valentine’s Day cards at school was selfish or smart.

It all started a week and a half ago in the aisles of our local pharmacy. I saw a box of cards with a character she likes and suggested we buy them for handing out.

“No thanks.”

“Oh. Do you mean you want to hand out something else?”

“No. I don’t want to hand out anything.”

Huh. This was a new one.

A little poking and prodding later, I got to the meat of the problem: her teacher had imposed an all or no one rule. In other words, if your child wanted to hand out Valentine’s cards / stickers / whatnot, they had to give one to everyone in the class or none at all. Fair enough: Mrs. S. has better things to do than spend the afternoon dealing with drama and hurt feelings because so-and-so got a card but so-and-so didn’t.

Nikki didn’t want to give a card to everyone. She felt it was unfair that she was being forced to send what are ostensibly messages of love and friendship to people she disliked or at least didn’t see eye to eye with. Fair enough too. Her response was that she would hand out something to her friends at another time: some cool erasers we saw at the toy store the week before would be just the ticket. “And it won’t be so much money because there are only…” and she stopped to count on her fingers… “six people I want to give them to.”

We spend a lot of time telling kids that they don’t have to hug people that they don’t want to; that they should express their true feelings about things and never be fake. Well, Nikki was demonstrating that full on. Yet, I couldn’t help thinking that she was being a wee bit selfish. After all, what would it cost her to hand out a “Smencil” to each and every kid, even the one who knocks her into her bag every other day while she’s struggling to get her snow pants off?

I wondered if perhaps my thoughts on her being selfish were more a question of my being afraid of other people’s perceptions with regards to the ‘no card’ decision rather than the actual reality.

So, I decided that she had the right to decide who she was going to send messages of friendship to and if that wasn’t everyone, it would have to be no one. A stronger position than I would EVER have been able to take at that age (seven) and more power to her.

 

Sporting the Messy Mom Bun

This is day 27 of the Writer’s Circle challenge: What you Wore Today.

What did I wear today? I wore the same thing I wear every day.

  1. Mom jeans
  2. Ugg boots
  3. Long sleeve shirt
  4. Fleece sweater

I work from home so comfort wins over style. Every single time. And don’t forget the ubiquitous scrunchy for the messy mom bun.

I’m going out on Thursday night though, so I’m going to have to make an effort. Uh oh. Thoughts?

When Words Are Not Enough

This is day 26 of the Writer’s Circle challenge: Things you’d say to an ex

I guess it would depend which ex this challenge refers to and if I could say these things with impunity or if I would suffer blow back for saying them.

There’s one that I would say, again, I’m sorry and I you are my biggest regret.

There’s one that I would say: it’s time for you to make some changes in your life.

There’s one that I would say nothing to but would kick in the balls. Repeatedly and for a very long period of time. That’s not ‘saying’ anything but sometimes words just aren’t enough.

If any of them read this, I’ll let them figure out which one is which.

She Swears Like a Sailor…

This is day 25 of the Writer’s Circle challenge: Four weird traits I have

I had to let this project go for a few day — SICK. AS. A. DOG. But all seems to be returning somewhat to normal, so here I am, pondering four weird traits that I have.

I am inordinately shy.

Which is diametrically opposed to my potty mouth. I swear like a sailor. I tried to curb it when Nikki was a baby but it never took. So I have since taught her that just as there are things that adults can do that kids can’t (drive a car, have a credit card, drink…), there are things that adults can SAY that kids can’t. So far, she has accepted that and labels my slip ups as ‘mommy words’.

I am petrified of ALL bugs.

Which is a problem when you live in a 70 year old bungalow and your bedroom is in the basement. The only good thing to look forward to in winter is the fact that they all bugger off somewhere until spring.

I am afflicted with FOMO.

Which isn’t a problem since I work on the web all the live long day but when your child starts drawing pictures of you holding your phone in one hand and a wine glass in the other, it’s a wake up call to start making some lifestyle changes. What’s FOMO you ask? Fear of missing out. Hence the zombie like pose of so many of us, staring into our little lit up screens.

I can’t think of a fourth. If you know me, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you do, let me know what my fourth might be, will you? Thanks.

Ode to a Sofa

This is day 24 of the Writer’s Circle challenge: Something I miss

Something I miss…

Something I miss…

Something I miss…

Honestly? I miss my old sofa.

It was this weird forest green corduroy-like fabric and was the first large piece of furniture my ex and I had purchased together, on time, from Sears. Every month, $25 came out of our newly minted joint account.

I could stretch out on this thing and have room to spare at the end. It was

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Sick person on the green sofa…

the best sofa to cuddle on after a bad day, to host friends for a casual drink, to watch TV from when I was 8 months pregnant and feeling elephantine; it was perfect for caring for a sick baby while the golden retriever Maggie watched, to make sure I was parenting correctly. It held all our cares and woes.

And when we decided to get divorced and I decided that Nikki and I were moving in with my mom into her tiny house, I knew the sofa needed to go. There was no room for all those cares and woes at Grandma’s house, so we gave it away, hopefully to a happy home.

Dumping, selling and giving away all the furniture and all the stuff was a perfect metaphor for our lives. It was freeing and surprisingly easy to do, considering the years and years it had taken to build up this stock of ‘stuff’. Oddly, the sofa is one of the few things from that old life that I actually miss.  But Grandma bought a little one, which at least Nikki can stretch out on from end to end with a little space left over and that’s good enough for me.

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