Thursday, 3 April 2014

Are They Sick or Not

So today Brad and I did the whole "is this kid sick enough to stay home from school" dance.  I hate that dance because more often than not I find myself fixated on whether or not I made the right call.

The Little Man has been fighting with a cold for about a week or so.  Nothing out of the ordinary, just a whole lot of snot pouring out of his nose and a bit of a cough. This morning he woke up to tales of how he was planning on staying home because of his terrible cough . . . which really is not bad at all.  I left him to ponder all this terrible cold he has so I could get ready for work.

Showered, half dressed and working on drying my hair so that I could finish the whole getting dressed process, I hear arguing, crying and a cough . . . you know the cough . . .  that cough could be a signal that the person coughing is about to get sick.  I head down the hall to Little Miss's room to find the boy on the floor crying really hard and making a horrible cough/gag noise.  I think it was that noise that got Brad's attention and soon we were all in the room trying to calm down one rather upset little boy.  Turns out that he had been poked in the eye and was none to impressed by that.  It was that that started the whole hard cry, which lead to the whole cough/gag, which lead to a room full of people trying to figure out if the Little Man was okay or not.

It was during this whole fiasco that Brad became concerned with the boy's breathing.  I admit it did sound a bit laboured but he had been upset and he has been fighting a cold with a great deal of congestion and I was more than willing to chalk it up to that.  Brad was not so willing to chalk it up to that and thoughts perhaps the boy should stay home.

Perhaps it was because I was aware of the boy's plans to stay home, or was in the room when he happily outlined his plans for the day that started with never getting out of his jammies but I found myself less inclined to take a day off from work to stay home with a kidlet who appeared more than able to make it through the day. It is mornings like that when I find myself feeling more than a bit envious of parents who stay home.

You see, if I were already at home it would have been easy enough to keep the Little Man home with me. But I am not already at home and staying home means a whole lot of things come into play when deciding to keep a kidlet home sick. Immediately, since Brad made it clear that he was not available, I did a roll call in my head . . . upcoming deadlines, status of ongoing projects and how much vacation time I have left . . . all to determine if I was willing to take the risk that the boy did indeed need to stay home and was not just playing up not feeling great to stay home.  

This morning I decided that he was okay enough to at least start the day at school but told him that they could always call me if he started to feel bad again. Of course, I then spent the rest of the day with half of my focus on a little boy who I sincerely hope is okay and dealing with the whole guilt thing about sending him to school when perhaps he actually is sick and maybe I should have been worried about his breathing and oh my god I am a terrible mother. 

This winter has seen Brad and I doing this dance far too often.  It is times like this that I feel some of my worst guilt for not staying home with the kids.  How sick do your kids have to be to keep them home from school?


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Everyone is Now Kung Fu Fighting

My little kung fu fighters!
My kidlets, like every other kidlet I know, have loads of energy.  They love to run around the house, jump off of things, wrestle each other and climb anything and everything.  Typical kid behaviour which has become even more crazy now that both of them are in school all day, every day.  

So Brad and I thought it was high time we enrolled both of them in some sort of sport based activity to help burn off all of this amazing energy and perhaps save the structure of our home because even though they are very little, they sound like a herd of elephants when they are running around upstairs! The natural choice was kung fun seeing as Little Miss had already been doing it for well over 2.5 years and Brad and I both have seen the benefits of children participating in a martial art.

The only stumbling block to this little plan was the kidlets themselves.  While they come by it honestly, their one Grandfather is pretty much the dictionary definition of a home-body, both kids have a tendency to never want to leave the house once they get home.  I understand, they have had a long day at school and they are happy to be at home.  That being said, they both needed something to get them moving after a very long, very cold winter.  So kung fu it was.

I had my suspicions that it was not going to be an easy sell to the boy, at least not the way it was with his sister. In fact, when I asked him if he wanted to go and try kung fu he said no. So I asked if he wanted to give soccer another go and he said no.  I tossed out a few other options and each one was soundly dismissed.  The Little Man was not interested in doing anything.

While his response was not all that unexpected, let us remember he is a chip off the old home-body block, I found myself locked in an internal debate over whether or not a 4 year old really needed to be signed up for an after school activity or if I was somehow bowing to societal pressure.  I had all but decided that I was bowing to societal pressure when I noticed that the boy had found something that did interest him and that he was more than willing to put loads of time into.  Unfortunately this activity was less on the active side and more on the when the hell did my 4 year old turn into a teenager side . . . you see, the Little Man would be more than happy to play video games all evening, every evening if we let him.

So I said to hell with societal pressure and signed him up for kung fu.  I also created his very own calendar on which we marked the days when he was allowed to play video games. I am so not ready to have my 4 year old turn into a gamer . . . so not ready!

Now came the task of telling the boy that he was going to kung fu.  The home-body gene in the kidlets means that if given the option, to go to kung fu or stay home, 9 times out of 10 they will chose to stay home. So I no longer give them the option.

What I have discovered along the way, at least with Little Miss but it seems to be true for the Little Man as well, is that once they get to kung fu they love it. I worried that playing the heavy would backfire and that they would resent that they "have" to go and do this but I think that we made the right call.

Showing how to punch!
I think that this little push on our part will only be a benefit to our rather shy kidlets.  Certainly the physical aspect is a huge plus but I am hoping the biggest benefit will be to their self-confidence.  We have already seen Little Miss blossom to the point where she can stand in front of the group and lead the other children, some of whom are up to 6 years older than her, in the warm up. She will not back down against a bigger kidand she will continue to try until she is no longer able to. She is strong and she is proud of herself.  My hope is that the Little Man will blossom in a similar way.  In the few classes that he has already attended I have seen glimmers of growing self confidence and it makes my heart swell.  He will now look his Sifu in the eye, no longer staring at the floor.  He runs with a smile on his face and he has figured out how to properly bow. He is becoming a little kung fu fighter who wears his uniform with pride.

I suppose that time will tell if we are making the right decision in pushing the kids into some sort of after school activity.  I hope so but if not, at least we have given them something to talk to their future therapist about! 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Kindergarten Comparison

Having two kids provides ample opportunity to compare and contrast them.  I find it fascinating to see the many ways that they are so similar and the equally many ways in which they appear to be polar opposites.

One of the ways they are opposite is their interest in all things academic.  Little Miss finds learning fun and a challenge to overcome.  The Little Man finds learning, at least the more traditional subjects, to be something to actively avoid.

This difference has become rather glaring since September when the Little Man began kindergarten.  This year was the start of all day every day kindergarten in our school and, while I was grateful for the financial savings that came with no longer having any kidlets in full day daycare, I did wonder if the boy was ready.  Not only did he start school young, as he was 3 for almost the first two months, but he also seems to be a young 4.  I have to admit that if he had been born any later in the year, I would have considered keeping him out for another year and giving him just that much more time to grow.

However, we did decide enrol him and off he went to JK (junior kindergarten) far less prepared than his sister and far less interested than she had been.  Did you see what I did there?  I compared them. I don't want to compare them but she is my only frame of reference for school preparedness and hence the comparison.

Little Miss was determined to learn how to spell her name, to learn her numbers and letters and to begin to print before she headed off to school.  The Little Man had no interest whatsoever in learning his letters, numbers or how to print.  This complete disinterest came to head when during his first week the Little Man was unable to recognize his own name and found himself in tears because of this.

I don't know if this difference is due to the fact that Little Miss is the first born.  Is it the difference between a boy and a girl? Is it simply because Little Miss, for whatever the reason, is more mature?

I wondered if that would be the turning point, the point when he decided that this whole school learning thing was okay and something he might be interested in putting some effort into . . . or, apparently, not so much.

We are now 6 months into JK and the boy still seems to be less than interested in focusing on the whole school learning thing and while I am trying hard to compare the two kidlets, I am struggling and I am worried. I don't know if I should be worried and I don't want to push him too hard and make him hate learning. 

We are given books for him to "read" to us each night . . . and yet he fights it.   Almost every night is a struggle to even get him to look at the book with us, let alone make an effort to see if he knows any of the letters within the book. I don't know what to do to make this more interesting for him and I don't know if I should be doing anything more than we are.

Each and every night we read to the Little Man and he loves it. He loves to listen to stories of his favourite super heroes. He was determined to learn how to print out his own name and learn how to recognize it and now he does. He has learned how to play his Lego video games and is now quite adept at the whole hand eye co-ordination. 

For now I suspect I need to relax and just continue on the course we have been on.  Kindergarten is a two year program and he has already made some pretty significant steps.  He still has lots of time to find his focus and learn all these skills . . . right?


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Know Thy Self

For Christmas and my birthday, which happens to be one week after Christmas, Brad gifted me with entrance to two OCR (obstacle course races) for both of us.  This is something that we started a couple of years ago as a fun way to spend time together and to have fun outside playing in the mud.

This is the first year that we are doing two in one summer and it is also the first year that we are doing races listed at over 5km. In June we are racing in the Spartan Beast and in August the Tough Mudder.  I am excited and rather nervous.

So I thought it would probably be a good idea to actually train a bit for these races if I want to do the very best that I can. With that in mind, I decided to refocus my efforts at the gym and try to add in some extra strength work in the mornings . . . this admittedly has only been hit and miss but at least there have been some hits

This past week they have announced a fitness challenge at the gym and I thought it might be a great way to push my training forward.  Unfortunately, a part of this challenge is taking one's measurements at the beginning and the end of the challenge.

For the past year or so I have actively avoided weighing myself or taking measurements of any kind because it seems to mess with my mind. I become fixated on the numbers and I base my self-confidence, my self-worth, on those numbers.  If they are too high I berate myself and I find internal dialogue becomes very negative, very dark. If I decide that those numbers need to go down I become fixated on achieving that and have, in the past, done things that on the surface appear healthy but the reality is quite the opposite.

In the past, when I became fixated on those numbers I turned to exercise as a way to fight the demons in my head. I overdid it though.  There were days when I would be at the gym twice in a day and then play in a soccer game or perhaps a hockey game. I was in the best shape of my life.  This over-training led to me blowing out me knee.  Needless to say, this made my fixation on the numbers worse because I was no longer able to turn to my outlet.

But I digress, back to the fitness challenge at the gym.  I have pondered long and hard about whether or not I could participate in it.  In terms of training for the upcoming races, it would be a great kick in the butt and a starting place to increase my strength and overall fitness.  But it could also be the catalysis for yet another unhealthy fixation on the numbers, the beginning of a spiral into basing my self-worth on numbers that tend to be so far from the ideal that I set in my head.

I don't want to chance it. I don't want to put myself into a position to damage the healthy place I am finally in mentally. So there will be no participating in this challenge for me.  That is not to say that I won't join in unofficially and push myself along with them, I just won't be up for any prizes.


Friday, 31 January 2014

The Sudden Appearance of a Stereotypical Tween Girl

My little guy & his evil grin!
Apparently patience is a virtue.  I so wish an abundance of it was gifted to all parents . . . or perhaps it is just me . . . because lately I have been doing a whole lot of counting to 10 in my head accompanied by even more big deep breaths.

There has been a whole lot of seemingly out of control crying, elephant like stomping, the occasional slamming of a door all of which is punctuated with angry cries of "Go Away" and "I don't like you".  It appears that we are currently living with what TV depicts as a typical tween girl, except that this is all coming from our 4 year old boy.

The little man has been emotional . . . to say the least . . . and it has been exhausting. Days on end of crying at the drop of a hat and almost continual whining have sapped the patience from even Brad and let me tell you, that takes a lot.  

Not that long ago I would have been worn down to the point of reacting with anger.  I am fully aware that getting angry would not help the situation in the least bit but anger seems to be the most dominate emotion when I feel life is completely out of my control.  Brad would ignore and I would yell.

I don't know if I would call it a New Year's resolution so much as a promise I made to myself but I have made a promise to myself that I would be better than that, that I won't be the yelling mom because I don't want to be the yelling mom.  I don't want to be angry.

So cut to us in the middle of our living room with a large couch cushion fort that was testing my ability to deal with large clutter when suddenly the already incredibly whiny boy decides that he is going to hysterically cry. The stated reason for the over-the-top crying had to do with the fort not meeting the architectural plan that was known only to the boy.

Brad offered to help.  Little Miss offered to help.  I offered to help.  Each and every one of these offers was responded to by a gruff "No" and more crying. The little guy would then try again to make his vision become a reality and when it didn't work there was more hysterical and angry crying.  Crying that was wearing my already . . . or is it always . . . very thin patience. 

This was a moment.  You know those moments where things could have gone one of two ways.  I took a HUGE deep breath and asked again if he needed help. "No!" "Go away!" Sigh.

Then I told my boy, who was sitting among the couch cushions, that I wished I could help because he seemed so frustrated.  I told him that it hurt my heart to hear him cry like that and all I wanted to do was give him a hug.  I told him I loved him.

My approach did not work right away.  In fact, I think it took at least another 15 minutes of angry crying and being told to go away before my words seem to penetrate and he actually heard what I said.  The crying stopped and he climbed out and onto my lap for a hug.  

I tried to pour all of my love for him into that hug . . . without actually squishing him. In that moment I felt proud of myself.  I didn't give into the anger that was brewing under the surface.  I pushed it to the back and tried my very best to let my little guy know that, even in that moment of great frustration for him, I loved him with all of my heart.

I know how scary it is for me when I feel overwhelmed by intense emotions.  I know all to well the terrible feelings in my stomach when I feel so out of control and fighting to not to get lost in the emotions.  I can only imagine how someone so little must feel, so scared by their own intensity.

So much is going on for the little guy and I am certain there are many times a day when he is faced with the fact that he has very little control over his life at this time.  He is growing and trying hard to be figure out his little place in this huge world.  

My moment, my breakthrough has not put an end to the emotional roller coaster that is being a 4 year old. The whining has continued and I admit that I have yelled but it has been less and I am working to diminish it even more. 

According to my little guy, I am his "best" which when translated that means he loves me more than he can say.  Well little man, I feel the exact same way about you.