I need to throw in a plug for the remarkable people that my children are becoming.  Every once in a while, I turn up the sap on this blog and make some of you cry on the GO train.  Today might be one of those days.

Let’s start with a little back-story…..

Since my children were very small, we’ve piggy-backed an idea from my sister-in-law in regards to their money and finances.  We use a three-jar system; one jar for “savings,” one jar for “spending,” and one jar for “charity.”  Any money that comes into my kid’s hands, everything from birthdays or shovelling neighbour’s snow or the quarters that Grandma and Grandpa hide around the house when they come for a visit, gets divided into three equal parts and put into their jars.

The “savings” jar gets taken into the bank a couple of times per year and they see their bank balance grow.  The “spending” jar can be used for whatever their hearts desire, from Beyblades to Pokemon, video-games to candy.  And although I encourage them to think long term and “save up” for a special purchase, they are young enough that the spending jar rarely gets above $15.  The third jar, arguably the most important, is the “charity” jar.  They know that this is the jar that we use to help others, and it’s another tool that we, as parents, are utilizing to try to grow our children into compassionate, caring adults.  This weekend showed me that it’s working.

We were watching the news coverage of Hurricane Florence.  I have a close friend who lives in North Carolina, so Florence has been at the top of my mind for awhile now.  As we watched, I was texting with my friend, and was relieved to hear that she was safe and relatively unaffected.  My kids sat there watching the devastation on TV, whispering to each other on the couch before heading upstairs conspiratorially.  They came down with their charity jars in hand: “Mom, we want to give our charity money to the people affected by the Hurricane,” they said.

In years past, we’ve donated to whatever cause is closest to our hearts.  My husband and I have a “charity jar” too, and a few times a year, depending on the circumstances of our world, we give it out accordingly, usually pooling the kid’s charity money in with ours.  We’ve given to friends fallen on hard times, needy families at Christmas, natural disasters, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Food Bank, and most recently, to the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.  We always talk about this giving with our kids, putting our money where our mouths are, and my son has taken to asking if we can bring our “charity” money whenever we go to BlueJays games so that he can pass it out to those in need along the PATH system.  So when they came downstairs with their jars, my heart swelled with pride; $86 is headed down to the Hurricane Florence rescue efforts, but there’s been far more than $86 worth of lessons learned.

Good job, my babies.

Be kind.  Always.


Please Don’t Pity Her

My little girl, who is two years old for only two more weeks, is one of the strongest people I know.  She has taught me so much in so little time, and her lessons continue to surprise me.

She’s the kid who faceplants and gets back up with her toddler-speak, “I okay.”  She’s not scared of needles or dark rooms or strangers.  She’s tough.  Please don’t pity her.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that last Spring she was diagnosed with amblyopia, an eye disorder that causes decreased vision in an eye that otherwise appears normal.  In fact, when we brought her to the optometrist last April, the vision in her left eye was only 20/80.  Did I suspect a vision deficit?  Nope, not at all.  In fact, the only reason I got her eyes checked is because we were already there for her brother’s appointment and we had the time.  So, here’s my PSA: Get your children’s eyes checked annually.  OHIP funds yearly eye exams for people under 20 years of age.

Along with her considerable lens prescription, we also have to patch her strong right eye three hours every day to force the weaker left eye to work harder.  This past October, after only six months of glasses and patching, my determined little firecracker had improved to 20/30 vision.  Her body is responding and she’s progressing just as we’d hoped.  But we will have to continue to use occlusion patching for the foreseeable future; you see, as malleable and flexible as children’s brain and nerve development are, they can also regress.  I’m told we have until age seven to make gains with her vision, since the improvement of her particular deficit ceases after that point.  Early detection is key.  We need to keep our foot on the gas and our eye on the prize for another four or five years.

When we first learned about all of this, I worried about the ‘differences’ it would create for her.  I worried about the looks she’d get and the teasing she’d endure.  And then I remembered who I was dealing with: the kid who sticks up for herself and has a heart of gold.  She’ll be fine.  She is fine.

Her patch is just a part of her childhood, a part of who she is at this point in her toddler life.  We ordered some ‘fun’ patches for her, complete with glitter and animals and bright colours.  Every morning she gets to choose a patch that suits her mood.  Most often, it’s puppies or bunnies or anything sparkly.  Just like her, sparkly.

Don’t feel sorry for her, feel proud of her.  Please don’t pity her.