Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What a Croc...

     I made a monumental step towards improving my image this week. I tossed my ugly pink pastel Crocs in the trash. Me: "Maybe I should donate them...this seems wasteful." Nick: "Not even poor, shoeless people would wear those. Lets burn them."  These "shoes" (and I use that term loosely, as they are more like hole-ridden, floam pool toys) were like an old high school friend from years gone by. It feels like I just cut ties with this companion and now that this friend is out of my life, I realize that she never really supported me...constantly made me look bad out in public...purposely making me look horrible in front of guys...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Light it up

     Lately Nick and I have found ourselves in major disagreement over parental issues. I think that his leniency is aggravating and lazy, and he thinks that I'm too strict and bitchy. Surprisingly enough, these endearing terms cause defensive arguments and angry, frigid bedtimes (marital advice from my sister: never go to bed angry. Stay up and fight all night.) My argument has always been that I am strict because I want good kids. I want kids who say please and thank you and excuse me. I don't want to be the parent of a child that slaps other kids at playgroup. I want kids who understand that when I say "That's enough!" I mean it...that's enough of that behaviour- proceed and perish. When Nick and I are out in public and we come across a child in the midst of acting like an arsehole, I carefully meet Nick's eye and raise one of my eyebrows. In this way I am saying, 'there, aren't you glad that I'm strict and our kids aren't nearly this obnoxious?" It is my non-verbal way of saying, "I told you so."

     Earlier this week we were watching a show on OWN (in Nick's defense, we were only watching it in between hockey periods) and something sparked an interaction that has stayed with me all week. Author Toni Morrison said that your face should visibly light up when your child enters the room. The child will know that they are loved by the look on your face. If you are frowning at their rumpled clothes or annoyed by their presence, then your face will show it and the child will feel criticized, unloved, and unwanted. I might have disregarded this statement as hippy, crunchy granola bull shit, except that Nick said that is how he feels. He doesn't want to be remembered as a mean Dad- he wants the kids to know that when they were little, he thought everything they did was cute and funny. So what? I get to be the disciplinarian and get stuck doing all the hard stuff and he gets to be the awesome parent? I don't think so Buster!  I'm going to be the fun parent.

      All week my mantra was: Your face lights up when they are in the room,
                                                  Your face lights up when they are in the room,
                                                  Your face lights up when they are in the room...
When Raegan woke me up five times in one night, I was too tired to light my face up so I just smiled at her a few times as she ate...until she threw up on me. No more smiles for you Barfy. I decided to concentrate my efforts on Dryden, as he usually bears the brunt of my criticisms and instructions. I greeted him with an animated "Good Morning Handsome!" in the morning, showered praise on him as he helped do the dishes, and sat and listened carefully as he rambled on about his hot wheel cars for 118 minutes straight. I was getting good at lighting my face up for him when he was in the room until he invented the game "Kick Mommy as Hard as You Can." You can imagine that the rules are simple. After the first kick, I exclaimed, "Wow D, you're going to be an amazing soccer player, but don't kick people please." He looked right at me and kicked me in the shin again. Through clenched teeth, I smiled and said, dangerously slow, "Don't. Do that. Again." He raised his little hand to smack me and...well, I blacked out and wrung his neck. Kidding. But I did shut the light off in my face for the rest of the day. Now when Noelle enters the room my face usually naturally lights up because her nature and energy are so pure and innocent. On this day, I opened her bedroom door after nap time and said cheerfully, "Wake up the Fuck?!" We had ourselves a genuine shit-uations on our hands. Noelle had smeared poop in her room. For the third day in a row.

     That's it- my face isn't a god damn light bulb anyways. Let Nick be the awesome parent. It feels too fake on me.

     All kidding aside, I did learn a lesson: along with showing the kids that I love them by teaching them and moulding them into fantastically fabulous people, I also have to show them that I love them by smiling more, by paying attention to them when they are speaking or showing me something, and by softening my tone and mannerisms when I am correcting them. Little does Nick know, I will always be the awesome parent: I sneak them chocolate when he is not home  :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Still a Loser

     I went to do my weigh-in yesterday (after missing a few weeks) and I have discovered a flaw in their system. When I weigh myself at home, I do so in the morning before I eat, after I've peed, and before I get dressed. If I'm feeling fat that day I'll also trim my finger and toe nails, blow my nose, and pluck my eyebrows- certainly that should make my lighter as I have very heavy finger nails. When I weigh-in at WW, I'm fully dressed and I've eaten breakfast and possibly lunch. I'm always heavier at WW then I am at home. I tried to demonstartae this flaw and they did not appreciate my efforts. You should have seen the look the lady at the scale gave me when I took off my pants...I guess you lose your sense of humour when you shed your excess weight. I now weigh 169 pounds.

Typical Kids Being Extraordinary Kids

     Last week I had a meeting at Noelle's school; it was scheduled so that we could assess her adjustment to school, to talk about all the various recommendations made by numerous professionals and to discuss her IEP. I'm loving Noelle's school and their style; they keep Nick and myself informed and involved, everyone from "Team Noelle" (therapists, social workers, low vision specialists etc) are invited to the school and consulted, and everyone seems eager and willing to modify their school and routine to accommodate our little Noelle.

     Noelle's E.A Krista is amazing! Nick and I were worried that we'd have to deal with someone who is inexperienced and unfamiliar with Idic15 and we would have to invest countless hours conducting a master class in All Things Noelle, as has been our experience with every new doctor, therapist, respite worker, bus driver, dog walker, butcher, baker, candle stick maker we've ever encountered. I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself learning new tricks and techniques from Krista to use at home. She also sends home a note every day letting us know how their day went and detailing the things that Noelle did. In these correspondences, she also chronicles how the other kids in the class react and interact with Noelle- this is the part that I find most gratifying, as that was the main reason we sent Noelle to school: to be around other kids...typical kids. We were worried about how they would treat her- would they be nice? Would they play with her? Would they unknowingly exclude her? These were needless worries, as Noelley is quite the popular commodity in Junior Kinder garden. There is one little boy who helps Noelle out of her snowsuit everyday; no one has asked him to do this, he just wants to be the first one to play with her. Another little guy asks Noelle to come play with him and his friends. Every day. Their classroom has a sandbox-table that is Boy Territory- girls don't really play there. Except Noelle. Krista said that for the first few weeks Noelle would elbow her way between two boys and join in. Now they make sure to leave a space for her. The W. Ross McDonald School for the Blind did an assessment of the school and recommended that they paint a strip on highly contrasted color three feet up on the wall in the hallways to create a visual cue for Noelle to maneuver her way from class to class. They taught her to trail her hand along the strip to feel her way around. The other kids saw her doing this- they didn't understand the reasoning behind it, but since Noelle is doing it, it's the cool thing to do. Now all 31 kids trail their hands along the strip as they walk in the hallways. One day in her book bag there was a beautifully decorated envelope with her name carefully printed on it. Inside were two small hands traced and cut out from very pretty paper. They were from her friend Ava who learned at Sunday School that it is good to give a helping hand to people that you love who need extra help; she gave hers to Noelle. I may or may not have cried a little. I'll never tell.

     At this meeting last week, the principle said that Noelle was a joy for their school and the other kids just love her. They all want to be her friend, they all want to take turns being her helper. They go out of their way to include her. In today's age of bullying and unfathomable meanness, it is a relief to know that our daughter is surrounded by kids who can see how truly amazing she is- maybe it's because they are so young, maybe because she goes to a small, country school, or maybe these kids all come from homes that still teach good values. Regardless the reason, I wish I knew who these parents were to express my gratitude at the good job they are clearly doing.

     I have to go get Noelle off the bus now; I'm always excited to open that van door and see her sitting there, swinging her feet and smiling. I'm excited to look in her bag for surprises and to read Krista's note to hear how Noelle spent her day surrounded by all her friends. We should all be so lucky...xo