Tag Archives: parenting

Let’s look out for each other.

My faith in humanity was severely shaken on Thursday evening.

You see, my kids were in a bike accident.

But, before you get too worried as you read my words, let me assure you that they are now both completely fine. However, on Thursday night I wasn’t so sure…..

My daughter had a baseball game at a nearby ball diamond, and my husband had another commitment that evening, so the kids and I biked over to enjoy a gorgeous Summer evening outside. After the game, the three of us rode home as a convoy on the sidewalk; me in the front, my five-year-old daughter behind me, and my eight-year-old son bringing up the rear. We were three-quarters of the way home, almost finished our short five-minute ride, when I heard a crash and a scream. I was only a couple of bike lengths ahead, and as I quickly stopped and turned, I saw both kids laying on the ground, bikes twisted, backpacks scattered, both of their mouths open, howling in pain. I ran to them immediately, yanking my folding chair straps off my shoulders, throwing my gear, and scanning the scene as my emotions built and my heart raced.

My daughter was lying at the bottom of the pile, her head turned away from me, crying loudly. As I approached, my son pulled himself off of her and I yanked his bike to the side. His cries, however, were frantic and distraught, and he was writhing and gripping his abdomen. My gut instinct told me that he was more seriously hurt, so I tended to him first. “My ribs, my ribs,” he was screaming, and I knelt on the sidewalk to hold him and try to offer some comfort. I called to my daughter from my crouched position on the ground, and she got up and crawled to me, desperately hanging onto my other shoulder, sobbing.

This entire sequence had taken less than a minute, when a neighbor across the street came to offer his help. “I heard the crash and saw you running,” he said, “is there anything I can do?” By that point, my son was standing, squirming, clutching his stomach, his panicked cries not slowing down. Over the next few seconds, I was able to decipher that the “rib” he was referring to was actually his lower abdomen, and that his bike wheel had turned as he fell, causing him to land belly-first into the blunt end of his handlebar. As my mind raced with right lower quadrant anatomy, the complications of blunt force trauma, and first-aid protocols, I thanked my neighbor, and assured him I could manage. Both kids were still wailing, but we were just around the corner from our house, and my main concern was to get them back home where I could better assess and tend to them.

The neighbor walked away reluctantly, leaving me amidst a 10-metre swath of bikes, lawn chairs, backpacks, and ball gloves. Our things were strewn along the sidewalk and the roadside, and in the middle of it all, I huddled on bare knees, with one kid in each arm, calming them, cuddling them, tears streaming down all of our cheeks.

Two separate cars drove past us, slowly, down our sleepy suburban street, seeing the carnage of the crash. They didn’t stop or offer assistance. Minutes passed and my kids continued to cry. I buried my face in their hair, in their necks, breathing them in, thinking about what should be my next logical step, grateful that the accident hadn’t been worse. When I looked up, two people out for a walk were passing by. They weaved in and out of our mangled bikes, stepped over bags, and continued to walk. They did not look at me. They did not offer to help. They walked right past us.

We got ourselves home, pushing bikes instead of riding them; partly due to pain, partly due to fear, mostly due to bent derailleurs and broken pedals. I phoned my mother-in-law, a retired nurse, to get her opinion as to whether or not a hospital visit was warranted; there was no abdominal rigidity, no vomiting, no blood in his urine, so we decided it wasn’t. I tended to the kids with warm baths and ice packs and tucked them into my bed so that I could keep an eye on them both throughout the night. My husband arrived home later that evening to a shaken wife and an angry rehashing of the accident. My fear and my panic had settled, and had blended together into rage and disbelief about the people that passed us by.

I can only hope that they chose not to stop because they thought I had the situation handled. I can’t let cynicism overtake me, and believe that they chose not to stop simply because they didn’t want to. I believe that people are good, and I believe that bad situations often teach us something. This was no exception. Let’s offer help. Let’s offer kindness. Let’s look out for each other.

Friday morning revealed a scrape on my daughter’s shoulder, an ugly purple circle on my son’s belly, and many recounts about how the accident happened and what we could do differently the next time (i.e. stopping too quickly and following too closely). We talked about the nice man who came from across the street to lend a hand. And we talked about the people who didn’t.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

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“My heart is just filling up”

I never envisioned myself as a mother.

As a teenager imagining my future, children were never a part of it.  As an early twenty-something I even told people that “I’m never having kids.”  I’m not a caregiver by nature, and children were never on my dreams list.  I saw myself with a husband and a career I loved, living a wonderfully happy life and spending all of my free time and money on travel.  But times change and priorities shift, and I found myself in my late twenties, married, with a husband who wanted children sooner than later.  My biological clock was tick-tocking along, and for the first time in my life, I felt the pull of motherhood.

I had my first baby in January 2009 and my life suddenly all clicked together.  So this is what all the fuss about, I thought, as I held my son and redefined my life’s purpose.  My daughter was born in March of 2012, and our family was complete.  “You surprise me,” my own mother told me once, “how much you love being a mom,” and she reminded me of that never-having-children statement I’d made less than ten years earlier.  But to raise my children has become my biggest source of joy and my single greatest accomplishment.

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So, when I tell you stories about parenting and share my child-rearing experiences, please know that they come straight from the heart, unfiltered and vulnerable, likely accompanied by tears on the other side of this keyboard.

That’s where today’s story comes from.  Let me set the scene, so you can see what I saw on Sunday morning.  It was a busy day, full of birthday parties and family get-togethers and flag-football finales; our divide-and-conquer parenting strategy was in full effect, and I was spending the morning with my daughter at a classmate’s birthday party.  On our way to the party, my little five-year-old gem smiled in the backseat.  “Mommy,” she said, “it’s a girl’s morning and my heart is just filling up.”  She phrased it just like that:

Her heart was filling up.

What a perfect description for a perfect morning, and she couldn’t be more right.  My heart was filling up too.

This Summer, we’ve got a list of places we’d like to visit, a list of day trips we’d like to take, and two special Day Dates carved into the calendar.  One day for my daughter and I, while my son and husband do their thing, and one day with the opposite pairings.  The only rule of Day Dates is that it’s child-planned; we’ve talked about it a lot already, and the kids are excitedly plotting these special days, full of activities entirely of their choosing.  And when looking at our upcoming Summer, these Day Dates just might be the highlight of the whole season.

In fact, my heart is filling up just thinking about it.

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The Game of LIFE

I’m more productive when I’m busy.  I work well with deadlines and tight timelines and quick turnarounds.  Too much idle time gives my Type-A mind time to feel bored, ineffective, and squirmy.  I work best with goals and to-do lists.  And yet….

I need downtime.  Every day.  Even if it’s five minutes with my book in a quiet room or ten minutes on my yoga mat.  I need time for reflection and introspection and time to just “be.”  The introverted side of me craves this.

As a parent, I’m trying to identify these types of needs in my children early on, so that I can help them find ways to manage their emotions, their coping skills, their lives.  I already see that my eight-year-old son also needs daily decompression time, and I protect that time for him fiercely; he’s the best version of himself when he’s had time to regroup and recalibrate.  My five-year-old daughter seems to be able to roll with the punches a bit more, similar to my husband, and go with the flow, even if the flow is really busy.

thegameoflifeThis past weekend was a crazy one for us.  Over-scheduled and over-booked, Saturday was a day of running from one place to the next.  But Sunday was the opposite- it was one of those days at home that I love so much- puttering around the yard, playing in the backyard, tidying the house.  Just “being.”

I’ve written about things like this before, so I’ll re-post a little bit of what I’ve already shared with you, in the hopes that you’ll relate to a part of my message:

“Lately I’ve been talking to my children about “who they are.”  We’ve been chatting about things they like, things they don’t, things that are/aren’t important to them, and their hopes and dreams.  I’ve been trying to give them the verbiage of introspection, to open up their childhood minds to the language of what characterizes them, and makes them proud to be unique and special.  To be themselves, whomever those selves may be.

For now, my job is to give them opportunities to learn.  I see each exposure to something new as a chance for personal growth.  That’s why we spend our Summers traipsing around Southern Ontario and our Winters at every event within an hour’s drive.  We go to see monster trucks and rodeos and conservation areas and waterfalls and baseball games and theatres and ceramic studios and Teen Tour Band concerts and beaches and outdoor rinks.  We show them the world and try to help them figure out their role in this wonderful community of life.

I posted this on my Facebook Page a few days ago: “I really think a happy life is about balancing all of your favourite things.  Lower the stressors you have control over and prioritize the things that you love.”  And how are they to know the things that they love if I don’t give them the tools to discover that?

“Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.”

And it seems to me that if you figure out your good, you will figure out your happy.”

The Game of Life rolls on…

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