Tag Archives: kids

We’re creating their “normal.”

My son had a flag football game on Saturday morning.  I snuggled in a blanket on the sidelines with my daughter and we played with colouring books and hand clapping games while we watched him run around.  He’s only eight, and his teammates are in the six to eight-year-old range, so it’s a bit of organized chaos unfolding amidst a sea of mouthguards and football cleats.  Flags flying, kids running, and footballs dropping everywhere.  It’s childhood fun at its best.

The game was scheduled from 11:30am-12:30pm, so we packed snacks to eat at the field to tide us over for a later lunch at home.  Both of my kids are snackers, as am I- in fact, our sporting event snack bag looks more like a full grocery bag than a few snacks thrown into the bottom of a purse.  I’ve always been that way; I’m the mom with a full cooler at BlueJays games and a packed lunch for an afternoon at the park.  Nutrition is important to me, and I find that I have far less control when purchasing food than I do when I pack my own.  Food brought from home allows me to better manage the preservatives, the additives, the sodium, and the fat content of typical take-out on-the-run options.

When the game finished, we began to pack up our gear.  My children are still young enough that we usually pack like we’re going away overnight when in fact we’re only gone for the afternoon.  I gathered our blanket, our games, our snacks, our extra layers, and we began to leave.  My husband, who is the assistant coach for my son’s team, mentioned that team snacks were being handed out further down the field.  The post-game snack is a big part of the fun in young children’s sports, so my son hurried down to claim his share.  He came back with two things:

 

 

I cringed on the outside and raged on the inside.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be unreasonably strict with my nutritional standards.  Yes, I believe in high-quality food, and yes, I try to minimize my family’s intake of processed junk, but I’m not on the all-organic, all-homemade, no-sugar, no-yellow #5 train either.  I like to live in the world of moderation, with a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables.  All that being said, “normal” is based on one’s perception, and my household normal does not include multi-coloured goldfish crackers and KoolAid jammers.

As is always the case in parenting, I weighed my options.  I let my son have some of the above, and my daughter had a taste too.  We threw the rest out and we had a good, long conversation on the way home about properly fueling our bodies so that they can be at their healthiest and help us to perform and feel at our best.  As a lifelong athlete, I have learned first-hand the effects that nutrition can have on athletic performance, and that’s why I find it particularly troubling that these snacks are being given in a situation in which we are promoting fitness and sport.  The irony is not lost on me.  The same could be said for school cafeteria and vending machine choices- if we expect our children to perform at their best, physically and mentally, why are we choosing these types of snacks?

A pre-cut veggie tray and a block of cheese would be no less convenient.  A bag of apples and a box of fig bars would be no less costly.  A watermelon and some granola packets would be no less tasty.  We can change the food industry with the choices we make with our dollars, and we can change our children’s well-being with the choices we make with their food.

Please, let’s choose wisely.  After all, we’re creating their “normal.”

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“If Children Live with Friendliness, they Learn the World is a Nice place in which to Live.”

I had a group of friends over one morning through the Christmas break.  There were five of us, just a casual coffee-and-muffin kinda thing after our workout.  It was a chance to catch up and snag some girlfriend time in a world that needs more girlfriends.  Meanwhile, my kids were loving the extra action in our living room, and proudly demonstrated their toy saxophone skills, played Spot It with a new audience, and snacked right along with us on the food platters spread out on the coffee table.

I loved it.

I loved it because I love low-key, last-minute get-togethers.  I loved it because I love to show my children the value and importance of nurturing friendships.  I loved it because they were involved too.

We host friends quite regularly and as much as we can, we try to keep our children involved in those gatherings.  Come to think of it, we try to keep our children involved in everything we do.  They often visit my workplace, watch sporting events at my husband’s school, and tag along to the gym.  We take them to festivals and rodeos, baseball games and the movies, live theatre and hotel overnights.  We try to expose them to a life well-lived and well-loved.  I take live-in-the-moment advice to heart, and I’ll chose experiences over stuff every time.

But I think these friendship experiences are especially important for them to be a part of, and help to build the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.  In those couple of hours on a wintery holiday morning, they learned some important social lessons like not interrupting a person’s story, how good a belly laugh feels, and how fulfilled someone can be just by hosting people in their home.  They watched, they listened, they observed, they contributed.  They grew.

“What was your highlight today?” I asked them, as I often do, during their baths that night.  “Having your friends over,” they said.  Me too kids, me too.

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There are so few years…..

There are so few years where the magic of Christmas is real.  I mean really real.  I mean complete buy-in, no-questions-asked, not-a-doubt-in-their-minds kind of real.  My kids are both inside that sweet spot now.  Ages seven and four, they’re both old enough to remember Christmas memories from years gone past and yet still young enough to fully believe in Santa and elves and flying reindeer.

We’re currently in rural Alberta, visiting my parents and spending Christmas in the home I grew up in.  The magic surrounds us.  On Christmas morning, the kids bounded up the stairs to find their gifts from Santa waiting by the tree.  “Look Mom, he ate the cookies,” they cried, “he drank the milk!”

“I saw some footprints across the lawn,” my dad told them, “I think it might be from the reindeer.”

“Really, Grandpa?” They asked.  “Where, show us!”  They looked out the front window and bought into his story without an ounce of doubt.  Pyjama-clad kids, touting bedhead and sleepy eyes, peered into the darkness for a tiny glimpse at the aftermath of St. Nick’s busy Christmas Eve.  Of course I know that the true meaning of Christmas is not about Santa Claus, but I also know that nothing compares to the big guy’s fascination.

I don’t think we have many more Christmases left where both kids are fully committed to the magic. In fact, I wondered if my eldest would be asking some questions this year, and I’m thankful that we seem to have come through this Christmas without suspicion.  I want to soak up this innocence, this naïveté, this complete trust in something so full of wonder.

And when the time comes, and the Santa myth is discovered, I plan to follow some advice I recently read online, and teach my children “that they are a part of a larger community, that they can be magic and bring magic into someone else’s life.”

Magic. ‘Tis the season for magic.

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