Tag Archives: daughter

Little Girls and Big Cities

I am finding that raising a little girl is different than raising a little boy.  I am finding that raising kids in a city is different than raising kids in a small town.  And I am discovering both of these things fast and furiously as I venture into the realm of two school-aged children.

Let’s talk about the gender factor first.  My four-year-old daughter is now coming home from Junior Kindergarten using phrases like “best friend,” “she said she didn’t want to play with me,” and “hurt my feelings.”  These are all phrases that her brother, three years older, has never spoken.  She feels things deeply, she notices friendship nuances, she’s finding her way amongst her peers.

And the big-city versus small-town element, well, this is something that I’ve written about before.  I’m a small town girl, and I was raised in a town of 250 people until I was ten years old and we moved to a town of 2000 people.  Everyone knew everyone, for the good or the bad, so it seems unnatural to me to send my children into a classroom, knowing few other families, and having them talk about kids that I’ve never met.

Now, to be fair, we moved into this neighbourhood less than two years ago; we’re still finding our way and meeting people as we go.  But I suspect that this not-knowing-everyone is simply a side effect of city living, even though my kids attend a school of just 300 students, small by city standards.  So, while there are more and more familiar faces at pick-up and drop-off, and more and more hellos at the playground gate, the fact remains that I want to know my children’s friends and their families.

I was chatting about these things with a friend; this friend lives in a different neighbourhood and has children that are older than mine.  She’s been down this road before, and like the good friend she is, she sent her parenting wisdom down the motherhood pipeline: she suggested that I host a friend party for my daughter.  Now, why oh why, I hadn’t come up with this simple solution on my own accord is one of the reasons I often preach that “The World Needs More Girlfriends.”  Girlfriends help and support, and help and support she did.

A friend party it would be.

We printed off eleven invitations, one for each girl in her class, and asked her teacher to put them into the children’s backpacks.  “We’d like to get to know you,” the invites said, “please join us on Sunday afternoon.”  So, this past weekend I had six little girls running around my basement, laughing and playing and building their friendships.  And I had six families in my kitchen, meeting and talking and building their community.

This friend party was for her, but as it turned out, it was also for me.  You see, she’s nurturing relationships with girls that she’ll go to school with for the next decade and beyond (girls like this and this), and I’m nurturing relationships to build my small town within my big city.

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Come with me.

The sweetest moment happened to me in the early hours of Sunday morning.  Two days later, it’s still making me smile, so I want to share it here with you.

I had my alarm set to wake me at 6:30am, wanting to get in a run before the rest of my household was up, so as not to miss precious weekend family time.  In my mind, I was planning for a fast 8km, much of it at tempo pace, as I’m doing a 5K race on Friday and haven’t tested much speed since my shortened half marathon four weeks ago.  I was looking forward to the glassy lake, music in my earbuds, and to feel the burn in my lungs.  This run had been scheduled into my online calendar many days prior, and as I often do before a run, I had visualized my route and mentally prepared for the welcomed discomfort that a hard effort brings.

My alarm beeped softly, and sunlight was already streaming into the bedroom, a nice change from the cold, dark Winter pre-dawn runs only a few months prior.  My four-year-old daughter was snuggled up against me; as I’ve mentioned before, since our move last September she’s taken to crawling into our bed halfway through the night- something I cherish and know won’t last forever.  As I snuck out from underneath her embrace, her sleepy eyes started to open.  “Where are you going?” she whispered.  “I’m going for a run,” I replied. “Go back to sleep, it’s too early to get up.”

Now, she often stirs when I head to the gym at 5:30am and a simple “go back to sleep” puts her right back into dreamland.  But this time, her eyes welled up and as she laid back down I could see her little mouth turning into a soft whimper.  She began to suck on her fingers for comfort, something she’s done since she was a newborn.  She was crying because I was leaving.  My heart broke.

“Do you want to come with me?” I asked. “Yes,” she nodded and pulled back the covers, her bedhead on full display and her little body still warm from slumber.  In less than five minutes we were out the door, with a Chariot full of breakfast snacks and a little girl in pyjamas.  It was a sunny Summer morning, and because we were so early, we got to enjoy quiet streets and sleepy houses, with bunnies and robins abound.

I changed my run plan from push-the-pace to savour-this-moment, and savour it I did.  We did that 8km along the lake, as I had originally planned (and we got the glassy lake that I love so much), but my heart rate stayed low and my heartstrings pulled high.  I stopped to open snack containers, to play at the park, and to point out the geese and the paddleboarders.  We talked about every thought that popped into her head, every bike that rode by, and every seemingly-mundane thing that fascinates a four-year-old.  It was quite possibly the best run I’ve ever had, and my runner’s high is still going.

Running with my kids is not new- there are thousands of miles on my running stroller I’m sure, and they are both very used to joining me.  But this time was different because our family is at such a time of transition.  You see, this smart, inquisitive little girl is heading to full-time Kindergarten in September, and I’m having a hard time with it (see my previous post on the topic).  She’s growing up and gaining independence, and the days of me pushing her in the running stroller, the days of her sobbing to join me on a run, and the days of her sleeping beside me are numbered.  I’m hyper-aware of this the second time around.

Have I mentioned that I’m an emotional sort?  Add in life changes, my children, running, and a glassy lake, and I’m done for.  But my tears were happy ones, they are happy ones; it’s just that sometimes the love and gratitude overwhelm me.

So if you saw a crying mother and a chatty little girl zipping along the lakefront on Sunday, that was us.  “Run fast Mommy,” she said.

I will, sweet girl.  Come with me.

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April, May, June

My youngest child is heading off to Junior Kindergarten (JK) in September.  In Ontario, children are registered in JK the year that they turn four.  Kindergarten is a two-year, play-based curriculum, and it became a full-day program across the province in 2014.  So, in just a few months, off she will go to join her brother in the everyday school world.

She’s ready.  I, on the other hand, most certainly am not.

When my son was born in 2009, I chose to take a huge step back from my career.  I had only been in practice for a few years at that point, and it soon became clear that I could not operate a clinic and be at home with my son as much as I wanted to be.  Something had to give, so I sold my clinic in 2010 and have worked as an Independent Contractor, running my business within a business, since then.  In 2013, after my daughter was born, I found my BSSC family and planted my practice roots.  Now here I am, for the first time in seven and a half years, preparing to go back to full-time hours. The chapter of my life with young children at home, a chapter that seemed to stretch endlessly before me, is in fact, coming to a close.

My husband and I have always altered our schedules to work opposite hours so that one of us can be at home with our kids.  For the first three years, that meant just my son and I had our mornings together, and for the last two years it’s been just my daughter and I.  But she and I only have three months left of our girls-only weekdays.  My husband is a teacher, so will be back at home starting in July, as will my son, who is finishing Grade 1.  Just April, May, June, and then the page turns.

They say that the days are long but the years are short.  And they’re right.

Here’s to twelve more weeks of what-shall-we-do-today mornings….

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