The day the kids went to camp…

…started out with younger kid declaring that, well, she thought about it, and, she wasn’t going to go.

What’s a mum to do when she sees 2 days before her, no school, M.Ed coursework to do, martinis to drink, and no kids to pick up, cook for, bathe, or referee?

Well, she convinces her daughter that going to camp with her school is the best idea because staying at home will involve NO TV and NO playing with mum because she has work to do.

My own mother’s voice trickled through the air all the way from another province and into my head: “Never force them to go to camp! I was forced to go to camp, and look what happened to me.” It’s a good point.  Unfortunately, the 2 days of freedom before me was so enticing, I started to empathize with my grandparents, who completely destroyed my mother’s ability to be within 15 feet of a  canoe, paddle, outhouse or lifejacket by forcing her to go to camp year after year. Continue reading “The day the kids went to camp…”

Tonight’s menu: Gum and popsicles

It is 9:30 pm. For the last hour and a half, I have been sitting by the fire, reading the paper, reading emails, and sipping my favourite red wine. My kids went to bed happy and I have no dishes to do. Oh, well, I rinsed the pot of defrosted baked beans. Don’t know why I bothered with a bowl, I could have eaten right out of the pot.

I have been able to do this because tonight, I decided not to serve dinner. Well – correction – I served Gum as an appetizer (choice of 2 kinds; all-u-can-chew) and Popsicles as a main course. Interspersed between courses were such fun and stimulating activites as bike-ride-dog-walking, sunflower-planting-and-watering, board-game-“playing”, and our new favourite, “Choppy Chopperstein”.

Ben is away for a couple days, and I was able to manage all this entertainment after work, and serve dinner too!

Last night, I spent the better part of an hour in the kitchen after work, repeating the phrase, “I can’t (Frida/Elsie), I’m making dinner”. Perhaps 8 or 10 times. Also intervening as the girls checked off everything on the “don’t do it” list.

When dinner time rolled around (chicken & barley soup cause they have runny noses; isn’t that so maternal of me? I don’t even like chicken soup and I think it’s a myth that it makes you better), they didn’t eat it.

Not surprising. BUT very, very, very annoying. A complete waste of an hour, 8-10 repetitions of the same boring phrase, and numerous interventions. Boring mum, for naught. Add stress, frustration, a bit of yelling and…dishes.

So tonight? No dinner. BOOM!

True. They could have all the gum they wanted, and eventually out of irrepressible mother-guilt I asked them if they were at all hungry for a bowl of cereal or … a popsicle? (with yogurt in it, OK?) And I got to take them for the first outside bike ride of the season, help them sow 24 sunflower seeds, play a stupid farmer board game, have a round of Choppy Chopperstein, and then put happy kids to bed and come down and eat my warmed-up baked beans with red wine.

Look, I am not even exaggerating one bit here. They never, ever eat dinner. So why do we bother? It creates frustration, no fun at the table, stress, and time loss. Yes, it’s important, traditions, education bla bla. But right now, I am NOT STRESSED AT ALL and we had a super fun evening. It’s even super windy out, and – no stress. Win.

Dinner tomorrow night? I think we’re on to something here…. (so much faster shopping at the dep than at the store!!!)

PS stay tuned for a Choppy video…

A day in the life of consistency

Read any parenting advice – seriously, pretty much any – and somewhere you’ll come across the notion of consistency. Like, “your kids need limits, it’s comforting and provides them with security, and they need to know what to expect. So you just need to be consistent.”

That’s great. SO easy! You just need to be consistent.  So for all you future parents, current parents, or someday-maybe-but-not-right-now-even-though-you-make-it-sound-so-appealing, here is a Day in the Life of Being Consistent with Pre-school Aged Children and a Partner!

4:30 am: Child stumbles into bed with you. Child is squishy and warm and cuddly and smells like pears. You spoon her and almost fall asleep. But WAIT! Yesterday you told her she had to sleep in her own bed till the night time was over. You dutifully carry her back to bed and endure wailing until 4:45 at which time you can no longer fall asleep. But she does.

6:02 am: Children wake up for real this time. One is hoping for a sticker if she has a dry pull-up in the morning. Her pull-up is wet. No sticker for you! You are the Consistency Nazi.

6:15 am: Children try to assert their independence and feel proud of themselves by pouring their own bowls of cereal. You step in because yesterday, cereal was wasted and you had impulsively uttered, “from now on only grown-ups pour the cereal; that food-wasting business is NOT ON”. You therefore can not do otherwise but to perform more servant-like tasks such as serving cold cereal to perfectly capable small people.

6:20 am: you make a cappuccino, cause that’s what you always do!

7:30 am: Time to get dressed to go outside. It would be so much easier to not make them put on their snowpants, but every time you fall for that, they fall in a snowbank and cry all the way to daycare cause their pants are wet and there’s snow in their boots. So, snowpants it is. No, you do it yourself, you’re perfectly capable. And hats, mitts, neckwarmers… and a hat for you too, cause you have to be an example. To heck with your fancy hairdo. How consistent is it?

7:50 am: Drop-off at daycare. Make sure they hang up their own stuff, even though it’d be 85 times faster to do it yourself, so they learn responsibility. Yeah. The mitts too. And the boots! Is that where the boots go? No? So what if you’re late for your job?

8:10 am: You are already sweaty and hoping to get to your class before your students do. Oh yeah, guess what: you are a teacher! You have to be consistent ALL DAY with your students now!

4:30 pm: Pick-up from daycare. Everything in reverse but more ridiculous. You tell them no, they can’t have gum, cause you’re sick of finding ABC gum everywhere. When your partner finally joins you to herd them out the door, Mr. Hero Lifesaver hands out gum while you are under a bench looking for a mitt. “Ma-ma, we go-ot gu-um, we go-ot gu-um!”

6:30 pm: Dinner. Pssst – What was the rule again? No, I didn’t agree to that one. Make them sit here? But they’re ruining my meal! That’s what we said? Shit. How long till we get to change our minds??? Is there any wine??

7:00 pm: Time for bath-teeth-story-bed. In that order. Except that, earlier, during a bout of outrageous behaviour from child, you said, “That’s it: No story for you!” and now, Consistency Nazi, you are held to that. Even though she’s sweet as pie right now and you would really, really love to read her a story. You said it. No backing out, or she’ll have you by the balls. So you endure the wailing, insults (“t’es méchante!!”), thrashing, and general mayhem, all the while wishing you could go back an hour and a half and come up with a better consequence. But there wasn’t really one.

8:15 pm. Your new year’s resolution was to not drink on weekdays. Whaaat? Shit.

OK. So you need to be consistent in, say, the rules. But that means being consistent in your actions, behaviour, consequences, and expectations. In what you say to one child and what you then say to the other. In what you said yesterday, and what you say today – even if yesterday you felt like a discipline champ and today you feel like a pushover with a napoleon complex. You even have to be consistent with what your PARTNER said/did/does/expects!  Which requires negotiation, arguments, trial & lots of error. Faack.

Despite my bitching and slight dramatization, I really, really believe what they say in all the books & magazines about being consistent. I see the results every day. But I think it’s one of the hardest things about parenting. It’s exhausting. There. I ranted it out. And I had a glass of wine with dinner, even though it’s Wednesday. There’s a limit to this consistency crap, and I’ve reached it. Good luck y’all.

Oh – and the recipe:

Shreddies (1 serving)

1 cup Shreddies

1 cup milk (or more, who cares if it’s just going to get poured down the sink)

Place Shreddies in bowl. Pour milk over top, making sure there are no “holes” in the cereal otherwise child will freak. Ensure both children (or all children) get equal amounts of Shreddies and that the cereal:milk ratio is even. Allow children to choose their own spoons.

Repeat as necessary, but beware of bowl #3, it is often a fake. Ensure child stays sitting (if that’s the current rule) and eats any cereal (with a spoon, please) that she served herself or asked for. But don’t force her to eat, we don’t do that.