Take the Kids to work day

A rite of passage for grade 9s in Ontario is “Take Your Kids to Work” day – students starting high school get to spend the day with a parent/ adult to see what the real world of work is like.

My daughter : “If I were to go to work with mom, I would stay in my pyjamas, have a big pot of coffee, pull out my laptop and …”

“Type-y, type-y, type-y” .

Then pour more coffee.  Then watch Cityline on TV (blasting through commercials.

Then ‘type-y, type-y, type-y’.

Then walk Cody.

Then ‘type-y, type-y, type-y’.

Snore.

She went to work with her Dad.

 

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Strong as a girl

“I’m not going this year.  I can go next. I don’t really feel like it” . about the semi formal at school this year.  Her friends are going but she’s not feeling it this year.

“Mama stop looking!” as I fuss over the pimples that have cropped up on her nose.  (I’m sensitized to this as I was the class resident Rudolph when I was 13 years old)

“I’m good, I still have lunch money from last week”…

“I don’t have homework tonight but I’ll work on assignments due later this term…”

” I love gym class – I did so many situps in a minute, and volleyball was so much fun! Can we buy a volleyball?”

Her mid term report card is great.  She loves school, she loves her friends, she loves her weekends, she loves and misses her brother … but she wears an article of his clothing everyday.

This self-assured girl has only missed 3 days of this school year so far due to legitimate sickness.  Legitimate meaning knock-out cold and fever.  By this time in elementary, she would have missed at least 3 times that the number of days, for stomachaches, for “I don’t know why but I feel bad”, for “just because”.  For anxiety.

This trajectory is amazing.  Her growing self-confidence and maturity are coming to the forefront.  The attitude of a teen is there but understandable and while sometimes annoying (Mom can’t catch a break on the criticism sometimes) … she’s being a teen.

A teen who communicates, a teen who will create lairs throughout the house, who litters her floor with laundry, who gets tummy aches from too many Halloween treats, who forgets to put dishes in the dishwasher, who hums BTS tunes when she thinks no one is listening.

My wondrous teen girl.  I am loving the transformation.

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25 ways to take a break

I’ve adjusted fairly well these early months of having my first child away at university.  To be honest, although the drop off on move-in day did make me cry (accompanied by the longest hug ever), I’ve only had the occasional sleepless night thinking of possible stresses and his anxiety during mid-terms.  I miss the daily routine of yelling at him to get out of bed, and then our regular 5-minute convo before school drop off  – (yes, he was spoiled with door to door service, more about why that became a “thing” later).

I have resisted the urge to text him every day, sometimes going even a couple days without.  My husband has picked up that slack though … turns out Dad is missing his boy a whole lot more than anticipated.   So technically I know what’s going on daily. Texts from me or his Dad can languish unanswered for days!  Apparently, a text sent from my son to either one of us counts as a text to both.  Hilarious the way he thinks… but he’s actually not far off.  I guess his dad and I have this team thing going pretty well.

I haven’t written much about the G and her transition from younger sibling to the only kid holding up the fort at home.  Although almost 5 years apart, and leading what on the surface are very separate lives – my boy and girl are incredibly close.  This is why our family vacations are precious – it’s the time when they are in their sibling bubble and they share laughs and experiences both with us and on their own.  With their differing school schedule this year, my heart is already hurting that those days are over for the next several years.

G has been dealing with her own shift as a teen moving into high school.  She is doing an amazing job, she’s got great friends and her marks are good… we are so pleased given her bouts of anxiety and her previous record of missing an average of 40-50 days of school a year for the last few (yes, a lot missed for “I don’t know why”). We’ve had her meet with counselors over the years, and she’s had wonderful elementary school teachers yet still, we were anxious about her transition.  So far so good – she appears to be keeping whatever stresses at bay such that she looks forward to school every day!   I have to believe that the stability of me being at home and not traveling across the pond 4 or 5 times a year is helping.

But how is she coping with missing her big brother?  For starters she’s raided his closet – she swims in anything of his as he’s a hulking XL at six foot 2, and she’s a slim XS ladies …but she’s in one of his hoodies, sweatshirts, flannel checked tops and even his Vans socks, every day!  She’s too lazy to text him a lot (self -admittedly) but he always responds whenever she sends him something.

My son needed his winter coat and boots, and my husband suggested that I take them up to him for a mother/son day.  We can feel the stress in his recent texts, things are a lot tougher for him than he thought they would be and we need to support him somehow.  University is such a big step, and we’ve been doing research about support services there … the specter of anxiety and depression is always there and we’re aware of some suicides that have taken place in some of the schools already.  Although my boy seems pretty well adjusted the stakes are really high for him this year.  We felt a visit would be good… and my husband was heading out for a work trip to Europe so we agreed I would go solo.

I asked G if she wanted to come with me but she decided to stay home until there was a better time for her.  She did give me a care package for me bring. She wrote out 25 slips of paper and put in a coin bank for him.  She included instructions that when he is stressed or needs a break, he just has to reach into the bank and follow the directions on the paper he pulls.  I don’t know what she included, but I suspect things like “have a chocolate bar” … “take a quick walk” were in the mix. I was happy to present it to him when I met him on Sunday.

When I got home after the long drive that night, I told her he liked it.  She said “I know” and showed me his text.

“Thanks for the present, G – it’s so nice.  I’ll use it,  I miss you lots.  I love you ”

Brother – sister love.  Can’t get better than this.

 

 

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Moon V Sun

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…So that beer was good – we slipped into the Firkin about 20 minutes before the concert and downed that Coors Lite (for me) and Guinness (for him) while watching a bit of the Maple Leafs game.  We then walked across the street, in the rain, to the perfect venue for us these days (note criteria – uptown, free parking, great acoustics and not a single bad seat in the house.  Oh, and our daughter has had her dance recitals here too – yass!)

So this midweek date night with a suburban couple attending a concert by a cool couple on their midweek gig night.  The talent was ridiculous, but the genuine respect as artists and love for each other at partners was what was really inspiring.  And how priceless it was when they encored with their version of Lovesong by the Cure.  The Cure – a band who featured prominently in the early days of our own relationship oh, yeah, like 30 years ago.

It was perfect.  I guess that’s why concerts are our thing.

 

 

 

 

 

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A husband and wife

So it’s date night on this 1st of November, and we are off to see a concert in our neck of the woods.  That’s right, a concert in the suburbs.  Given by two artists who defined Canadian music in the 1990s, who are beautiful people, who happen to be married.  The frontman for Our Lady Peace and the gorgeous chanteuse who could make you cry with her voice and the accompanying chords of the keyboard.

If they weren’t so talented they’d make me ill – but we’re mature adults so instead we’ve paid to see them in concert, a pulled back mature acoustic concert.

But first we’ll have a beer.

 

 

 

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The dragon leaves the nest

I heard the sound of the garage door opening in the middle of the night.  Followed by heavy footsteps into the laundry room, further into the kitchen, the subsequent opening of the refrigerator … all accompanied by the blinking of motion-sensored night lights. 

A familiar pattern.  It was 2 AM.  He was home.  My boy.  So I could finally get my some sleep. 

Only this time was different.  This will be the last time,  in a while  at least, that he will wake me up in the middle of the night like this.  He woke me up with a pop of my water breaking, for the first time just over 18 years ago.  So he does this sort of thing.  And my world hasn’t been the same since.  Neither has my sleep.

It was harder last night, though.  Much harder.   We’ll be moving  him into his university dorm tomorrow. And the thought of this kept me awake, along with a few tears and suppressed sobs as it all hit me.  My baby is moving on, not a baby, not a boy even.  A young man.

I knew this day would come – I’ve been prodding, pushing, supporting, encouraging and nagging.  So it’s kinda my own fault.

When Liam was born, he was the golden child.  A golden dragon.  The year was 2000, the dragon particularly special as the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac.  Never had a child been so wanted.  It was a tough road getting him here, after years of infertility. But was he worth the wait.

A cherubic Buddha baby who came into this world a month early. The first grandson on both sides of the family; the first grandchild on mine.  A happy baby, a charming toddler, a sweet boy with this amazing openness.  He loved trying new things, meeting new people.  He loved using new words, eating different foods, making friends with young and old (amongst his first buddies were the seniors in our community, you know, his grandparents’ besties).  He loved sharing his Cheerios with them.  My parents loved showing him off and he had uncles and aunties galore as most Chinese children do.

He loved Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars, light sabers, Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, toy cars, more toy cars…his obsessions morphing naturally into video games.

A lovable boy with a wicked smile and sensitive heart.  And a natural athlete, first with all things soccer, and Phys Ed being his consistently highest marks throughout school.  Hard to believe given his mom dropped gym class as soon as humanly possible.  It was wonderful to help him channel this ability and affinity for people (especially children) to become a beloved swim instructor, lifeguard and camp counsellor.  This last year especially has brought some heartwarming moments  to see him interact with adults at another level,  working with the Abuse Hurts organization and sharing  the work that they do, to a wider audience and his peers. 

Sure he’s had frustrations (math!); broken body parts (he’s a boy); and he’s got a dramatic flair when it comes to complaining to his mom when life seems just so unfair.  Sometimes his mom fixes things for him – and pulling back to let him figure it out on his own has  also been a growing up process. He fixes stuff for his mom too.  Seeing how he’s navigated high school, university applications, life experiences up until now (including European travel without his parents!)  has been eye-opening but also confidence building.  For both of us.

A big part of his heart belongs to his little sister.  I cry a little for her as I know she will miss him in her everyday, her big brother, her protector, advisor, confidante and sounding board for how to deal with their sometimes weird mother. She’s going to have to do more of that on her own from now on, lucky her.

So back to my sleep.  In the end I had to take a couple of Robax under the guise of sore bones.  Eventually I nodded off, with more positive thoughts on what lies ahead.

*****

Liam is excited.  This is his first major life decision and he’s made a good one.  It will not be too easy, he will need to work hard, he’ll need to develop better sleep habits and he will fumble a bit I’m sure.  But he will find a way to have some fun, make experiences positive and he will make us proud. 

He already does, and that will never change.

(Now off to label the rest of his stuff … )

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NaBloPo-Me’d

So much for posting every day and trying to get caught up. I officially suck.  What happened to all the writing I was supposed to be doing?  I thought I would squeeze out another post in today at least before November hits double digits.

How quickly did I forget that “Stay At Home” means anything but that?  Or even if I am physically home,  kids schedules and appointments, dog schedules, gym schedules, errands … all can get in the way.  As can social media – imagine that, social media getting in the way of blogging?!

When I started my original blog over 10 years ago, it was enough of an obsession just to write and keep up with all the bloggers in my reader.  Facebook was around, twitter was getting started, then along came instagram… which honestly is my newest obsession.   It’s easier to take a quick pic or selfie, add pretty filters or not, and post it to encompass a thousand words.  Even if it is a crap picture.  And much like comments from readers back in the day, “likes” or even a tiniest emoji comment to my post, is enough to keep me avidly trying to find the next instagrammable moment.  It’s heady.  Follow me and I’ll follow you back. How sad. But I’m getting sucked into it despite knowing what’s better for me.

To find some good content from the depths of my brain these days is difficult not only because of mommy clouded brain, but more likely because everything in this now mid-age mother’s brain is working overtime trying to coordinate with choreography and finding opportunities to practice with other instructors while trying to fulfill a decade long dream. More coffee just gives gut rot and although I’ve cut back on alcohol (don’t need those calories they just sit) I figure at this point in my life I’ve probably earned an extra glass after a long week.

Sprinkle that with some angst:   as we start the university tours, review high school requirements and test results required for entry for the big boy (the topic of where he will apply and actually go is a separate post altogether – hey, just thought of it! );  as I help my daughter navigate -pre-puberty and her increasing realization that teachers are actually humanish too;  trying to keep the household in order as the reno wraps up with some fixes that need fixing;  monitoring the dog and his post-surgery diet and weird middle aged behaviour;   as the husband is traveling again for work  and the year rushing by so very quickly into the holidays —  and we’ve got the bit of the mess that is me.

So a post a day is a real stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

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