Water, duck.

Perhaps we’ll start today off with a little zoology reminder.  As you may know, a duck’s outer feathers are waterproof due to an oily coating that the duck secretes.  This oil repels water and forces the droplets to roll off the duck’s back rather than making the feathers wet and heavy.  This fact has become the basis of a little piece of advice we’ve been giving to our kids when they overreact.

“Water, duck.”  

It’s a reminder to keep your cool, let it roll off your back, don’t sweat the small stuff.  My kids are now ten and seven, and big brother likes to push little sister’s buttons from time to time; her overreaction can be swift and massive, leading to a cascade of sibling fighting.  After one such outburst over Lego or TV volume or who got to use the front door key, we sat the kids down and had the water/duck talk.

It sunk in.  They got it.  And now when those episodes happen, we just have to say “water, duck” and it serves as a very effective reminder to think big picture and take a deep breath.  It’s always been my ultimate goal to raise children who are happy, however that happiness is defined or manifests for them.  Part of the water/duck talk was to explain to them how focusing on small problems only robs you of joy, steals your energy, and creates a feeling of unhappiness. choose-happy-wall-plaque

This is advice that I try to heed myself too, and something that’s come in very handy over the past two weeks.  You see, today is day twelve without internet at home, as our service provider tries to fix an unknown issue- we’ve had four technician service calls, hours on hold on the phone, and stretches of days waiting for the next available 8-5 repair window.  It’s still not fixed and we’re frustrated.  But…….. water, duck.  If this is the worst problem in my life then I’m doing pretty well.  I’ve got wi-fi at work, Starbucks wi-fi down the road, and I can create a hotspot from my phone when I need to be online at home.  Problem solved, onto bigger fish to fry.

I’ve seen far too many grown adults grumble about someone kicking their seat on an airplane, let a cold restaurant meal ruin their night, or complain about loud backyard neighbourhood gatherings.  Water, duck friends, just let it roll off your back.

Focus your energy on the good stuff.

Choose happy.

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This is the only picture I have on my phone that has a duck in it.  Just go with it, okay?

 


Just like that.

There are seasons of parenthood where you can see childhood stages coming to an end.  Diapers lead into potty-training, cribs lead into beds, and nursing/bottles eventually wean.  In my experience, these stages have had a build-up, a preparatory phase, a time of transition whereby I could mull things over in my analytical brain and get a handle on my emotional brain.  As a parent, of course each new childhood stage brings excitement and the chance to watch my kids grow and prosper, but another part of me mourns the passing of the previous stage.

When I was younger, being a mother was never on my radar.  I didn’t play with dolls and dream about having children like some little girls do; in fact, I used to wonder if I had any maternal instinct in me at all.  But when my son was born in 2009, my new role turned into my life’s greatest joy.  As I’ve been along for the ride of watching these little people grow, my joy has also grown.

But with each passing stage, there’s a tiny bit of me that wonders if I soaked it up enough while it was happening right in front of me.  Did I cherish their curled-up newborn bodies?  Their haphazard crawling styles?  Their oh-so-sweet toddler-speak?  Their unsteady gait?  I can’t recall their baby coos or three-word sentences unless I see them on old videos, and the clear memories of their first steps and their first words are already waning.  They say that the days are long but the years are short.  They’re right.

So, when we ended a parenting stage abruptly this weekend, I didn’t even see it coming.

You see, my daughter, who just turned seven last week, has been crawling into our bed halfway through the night for nearly four years.  Some of you may be shocked by that, but it’s never been a big deal to us.  Our house has a main-floor Master with kid’s bedrooms upstairs, and when we moved in 2015, her three-year-old self found comfort by wandering down the stairs, usually between midnight and 2am, and sleeping snuggled in between my husband and I.  At first, we attributed it to the move and all the changes in her life, and then it just became a habit we didn’t care to change.  Yes, some nights we got kicked by little feet and elbows, but most of the time she was a welcomed addition who whispered to me a “mom, snuggle” request that became our pattern.  I knew it wouldn’t last forever, and I wanted to soak it up for as long as I could.

This past Friday night, we returned from a March-break vacation in Arizona, with a three-hour time change to manage.  As I tucked her in much later than usual, I mentioned that she needed to stay in her room that night, rather than coming downstairs with us.  I had to be at work early on Saturday morning, and my 7:30am alarm would feel like 4:30am in Phoenix; she needed to sleep in and get her body rested instead of waking up with me.  And she did stay in her bed all night, likely exhausted from travel and a busy trip.  The next morning she proudly announced: “I don’t need to sleep in your bed anymore.  I’m going to stay in my bed all night from now on.”

Just like that.

And she did.  For three nights there were no pitter-patter of little feet on the stairs, no drinks from the sippy cup on my nightstand, no tip-toeing out of my bedroom in the morning to allow a sleeping child to slumber.  Done.  Onto the next stage, and I didn’t even see it coming.  And then last night, I awoke to find her beside me once again.

So although this stage is ending, it’s not finished quite yet.  Have I soaked it up enough?  Without a doubt.

But I’ll still miss it.

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My baby is not such a baby anymore.


Saving/Spending/Charity

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.

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