Saturday, September 26, 2009

This is how we make friends around here

Last week my son was out riding his Most Favoured Possession: The Awesome BMX Bike his dad gave him for his birthday. I let him ride in the back alley when it's not "coming home from work" time and all the tired people are Just Trying To Make It Home To Have A Martini.

I was in the house, as I don't feel the need to hover around the back alley. He's 8. He can ride safely and it's not as though I'm allowing him to ride on the expressway.

He came home after a few minutes. Without his Most Favoured Possession: The Awesome BMX Bike. That was certainly odd. I asked him what happened and he began to explain how The Mean Man had kicked him out of "his end of the alley". He'd been so scared by this man's menacing arm waving that he left his bike behind and ran home. At this point in the conversation his cohort arrived and explained that he'd moved the Most Favoured Possession: The Awesome BMX Bike into his garage so it would be safe.

I asked the boys what had been going on. I managed to figure out that they'd been eating crab apples and one had rolled "near" The Mean Man's backyard and he'd come out yelling and swinging.


I asked them to show me the yard from which the ogre had emerged. We made our way there and the boys arrived first. They were in plain sight while I had yet to be seen because the bushes in the man's backyard were too high. The three of us were still in the back alley, just to clarify that we hadn't actually gone IN the backyard.

Well. Out of the house comes this, crazed man with arms flying and he's yelling "What the hell do you two want, why the hell are you standing there..." At which point I stopped being the curious mom and turned into Mother Bear from Hell.

He and I "exchanged words".

I determined that the boys had been throwing crab apples in the man's backyard. I paused to glare at the boys who stared at their toes, realizing they had left that detail out. I sent the both of them off home so I could finish my conversation.

The Mean Man tried to say that the boys had disrupted the entire neighbourhood by riding their bikes in the back alley. He had forgotten, of course, that the boys had only started riding their this summer since the back alley had been quite unsafe for the previous few years due to some crazy teenagers who lived two doors down. "Oh yeah, they weren't great..." he admitted when I reminded him. He also had concerns about how fast they rode their bikes. He kept saying he was concerned. Concerned he'd hit one. Concerned they would get hurt. Concerned.... so concerned in fact that he hadn't bothered to mention any of this to the parents. Because when you have an issue with an 8 year old boy, you don't try and solve it with the 8 year old boy... you mention it to the PARENTS.

He was quite upset about the fact that the boys were arrogant. At one point Michael had opposed me sending him home and The Mean Man said "see! see! arrogant!"


I made sure to tell this man that I would be talking to my son about his behaviour and that it would not happen again. But, did he know WHY they did it? BECAUSE HE'S THE MEAN OLD MAN ON THE STREET. And guess what is fun for an 8 year old boy? Picking on the MEAN OLD MAN ON THE STREET. Ooooh, look at how mad he gets. Ooooh, let's throw things in his back yard. Ooooh....

I'm not saying it's Right. I'm saying it's what boys do. And if he'd been a NICE OLD MAN, it's quite likely that they wouldn't have done anything at all.

After he cut me off a few times and I told him I was going to finish my sentence even if he was old, mean, Scottish and arrogant... we calmed down.

Then we had a talk about the neighbourhood and about Michael being Scottish, too and how he was surprised more homes were not selling and how he had been there for 31 years. And then we made like friends and shook hands. And I found out his name is Bob. Bob the Scottish and Not So Mean Man.

After the war had ended, I took Michael around to the front and made him apologize for throwing crab apples. Bob asked him to be more careful on his bike.

Now whenever Michael goes out to ride his bike I ask "what will you say if you see Bob?" and he says "I'll say hi".

That's how we make friends around here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You-Know-What Moments

I had A Moment the other day. Sunday mornings are SUPPOSED to be nice and peaceful as you head out the door, right? Except they aren't. They are hurry-up-and-brush-your-teeth and stop-squishing-the-cat and PLEASE-don't-poke-your-sister.

As we were backing out, my son Michael (8) was repeating a phrase over and over and over... I can't even remember the phrase now, but it WAS ON MY LAST NERVE. And you know how that can be.

So I lost it for a moment and said "would you please stop being such a pain in the ass?!?!" I meant to say arse or butt or something else, but ass came out...

There was silence in the van.

Emily (3) isn't quite sure of which words are bad words yet, since I rarely, rarely say any of them... she looked at Michael and said "What did mommy say? A bad word?"

Michael, still recovering from the shock (yeah right) said, "Yeah, mommy said I was being a you-know-what in the ass."

Friday, September 11, 2009

When is it ok to lie to your kids?

Do you remember those lies our parents told us - the ones we didn't figure out until we were adults ourselves?

You can't swim for an hour after eating or you'll get cramps and drown. Or... we're tired of watching you kids swim and we want to go inside and play cards and smoke.

Don't go near the train tracks because a train will come by and if you're even ten feet away it will suck you in. Or... we know we're letting you run rampant in this little town so we're going to try scare the crap out of you about the only thing that could really hurt you.

Don't pee in the pool or the chemicals will change color and we'll see exactly who peed. Or... seriously, we're tired of adjusting the pH because you kids are too busy playing to go pee in the bathroom.

I was just thinking the other days about the little white lies we tell our kids. I started lying when I'd want my kids to eat something. M would poke at the meat and say "what's this?" and I knew if I said then he'd say "I hate ". So I'd say "it's frozen dinosaur" or "it's monkey nuts" or "boiled squirrel brains". He used to fall for it, now he just makes that face at me and laughs.

E on the other hand is still in the lying zone. She didn't want to eat the cauliflower (although she was joyfully scarfing down the green beans and broccoli) so I said "But E, you have to eat the cauliflower because it makes your hair grow more pretty princess curls." And as soon as she popped one in her mouth I said "OH! Look at that curl that just grew!" She froze and then clamped her hand right on the top of her head, feeling for a new curl. It was quite cute.

But it can be hard when kids ask you tough questions that you really don't want to answer. We have a policy on honesty. We will tell the truth to the kids ALWAYS, except if it's an adult thing. We're not going to discuss adult things with them. These can include WHY I'm not married to M's daddy (frankly, it's not his business... his dad and I are now better friends and all he needs to know is that we couldn't be friends while married. He does NOT need the details and he won't get them from me!), what a family member said to anger mommy, what mommy thinks about a snotty mom from down the street, why a cousin is a little 'different' (um, because he's crazy?) etc... I mean, really, some of those things don't need to be spoken out loud at all.

I acknowledge that I can be judgmental. I'm working on that. Sometimes I can't really help it... when I see a fellow mom drop her kid off at day care and she's still in her pajamas I can't help but thinking "what the heck are you in a rush for... you got a pillow waiting for you at home??"

But I digress... yet again ... My point is that sometimes I think it's ok to lie to your kids... when it's a funny lie, when it's an obvious lie that they can figure out or when you are too tired and, really, the kids have been swimming since 9 am and it's 3 and I need to get out of the sun.

My other rule is that sometimes it's ok to tell them "that's something between mommy and daddy, it's an adult thing, it's ok and you don't have to worry about that." Hopefully that tides us over until the birds and the bees talk, because I'll have to tell the truth for that one!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Goal Setting 101 - Make sure they are YOUR goals.

First, an immediate digression.

Have you noticed it? The stress?

I have. Everywhere I turn there are stressed people. I look in the mirror and one looks back at me. Everyone is being asked to do more with less. Everyone is pressed for time. Pressed for cash.

I've been planning the PTA BBQ and today I called a couple of the volunteers and I realized how WONDERFUL it can be to talk to truly pleasant, sweet and kind women. Some of the other moms I volunteer with are simply amazing women.

I know they are stressed, I know they are pushed to the limit. But their voices are sweet and kind and happy. They make me want to be a better woman.

Now the real post starts....

I recently decided to step back from a lot of volunteering. I was on too many boards, was pulled too many directions. I knew it was unhealthy when I was trying to list "Heather's Personal Goals" and all I had were goals that accomplished things for someone else.

I had things on there like helping out with campaigns, fixing a group web site, setting up processes for a board, developing strategies... blah blah blah.

But my list was completely empty. I was just happy to make it to the end of the day without yelling, putting myself in a time out or banging my head against the wall.

But since I've stepped back from the boards (I'm only on the PTA now) I have been able to actually consider my goals and some include:

read every book that is sitting in my "to be read" pile.
pray each day
go to a church retreat
get my butt to the gym
run with my husband
eat breakfast each day

That last one isn't really a GOAL, per se, but it's been something I haven't always done. I would sometimes get to 2 or 3 o'clock and realize I'd only had coffee. No wonder my body stores all the food I eat... I'm starving it!

I could put a few of those goals under the main heading, "GET HEALTHY". I'm not following any particular pattern, just developing a few habits:

eat breakfast every day
drink water first thing in the morning
limit myself to ONE coffee a day
be active for 20 minutes every day
choose healthier food for the family

I've been really good with that last one since we removed a lot of sugar from our diets... the kids eat fresh or cooked veggies, brown rice, homemade foods...

Which brings me to a question... does anyone have a tried and true recipe for granola bars? The kids are eating me out of house and home with them!