Monday, January 21, 2008

Amber Alert

It happened so quickly.

I was picking up J. from school. We were to take home a friend on a play date. I was working out the particulars with the other Mom. You know, sorting out pick-up times, exchanging phone numbers, confirming snacks. The Mom did not speak much English so it was a little more complicated. I had drawn a map to our house. The classmate has to translate a couple times. No big deal, but I was a little busy with that. S was milling around with J and his play date and a half dozen other kids.

“Okay kids. let’s go.” No S.


Not to worry, the door to the class is in a bit of a funny corner so I check one direction for her, by the kindergarten door and the other direction, where all the really big puddles usually are. No S. I ask Mrs. B. if S is in the class. No S. Mrs. B. heads inside to school to see if she wandered down the halls. No S.

S doesn’t run or wander away. Seriously. She just doesn’t. I pray.

I run to the wheelchair ramp which S likes to take. No S. I scout the drop-off lanes. No S.

Back to the classroom in hopes that she’s wandered back. She hasn’t. My heart rate is elevating. The playmate’s mom, another teacher and another mom join the search. I ran to the playground, check the parking lot. The soccer field. No S.

Back to the class and mom to play date is frantically pointing to a little girl who is all alone. A moment of relief. But it’s not S. Now it's getting serious.

The other mom returns from a check of the recess lot and climbing equipment. The teacher has searched the school. No S.

I have broken thoughts running through my brain. Amber alert. Made-for-TV movies. Can this really be happening to me?

Thankfully it wasn’t.

I finally thought that she most likely went in the direction of the car. Once we leave the class she likes to race ahead and wait at the car, or if we park down the road (where we had today) at the stop sign. So she had been waiting by the stop sign for us. She had thought I was coming right behind her. As I was rounding the corner, I saw her running toward me.

Maybe 1% as scared as I was.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Sparkle in Her Bum

S. has a sparkle in her bum. I haven't seen it but no doubt it is pink and, well, sparkly. I won’t go into any scatological detail. Suffice it to say it makes peeing and pooing painful. So she refuses to do either until it's too late or I force the issue.

So the not-going makes her understandably cranky. The dribbling pee all over the house makes me understandably cranky.

Then she cries in pain in anticipation of and in the course of pooing “MOMMY, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!!” which makes us both cry.

She doesn't want me out of cuddling range so at 5:00 p.m. yesterday when husband came home (and he came home early to provide relief) I still hadn't even emptied the dishwasher and I considered myself fortunate to hve gotten any pooing or peeing in myself.

Though I would have happily escaped upstairs with the arrival of reinforcements, S. required me close-by and so I obliged. She finally became a different girl after her final pooing session at about 7:00.


J. was a surprisingly good sport about missing his skating lesson and not getting much attention from me. Well, he did call me stupid, dummy and told me that he hated me, but before I had summoned up the energy to deal with it he wrote me an apology note and told me he loved me a google-million, so I forgave him.

By the time husband arrived home, J. decided that his sister had gotten a lot of attention so he created a leg injury (that's what he calls it). It required ice, a tensor bandage and a great deal of sympathy from both parents.

Then S., who was by then feeling better, saw where the sympathy flow was going and she fabricated a leg injury.


I wish I were making this up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Search and Rescue

I am sure that between my husband and I at least and hour a day is spent looking for stuff. In the interests of full disclosure, at least some of that is spent looking for our own keys. There was a time when I could blame the kids for hiding our keys, as we would find them inside the Tonka ambulance or inside a Tupperware bowl in the bottom cupboard. But now we mostly find them in each others pockets so I can no longer in good conscience, blame the kids. The majority of the searching time, though, is spent looking for loveys at bedtime.

At bedtime S. used to require her faithful triad of puppy-blankie-soothie - and we’d say it that way as one run-together word. The puppy was so precious that we actually bought three of them so we were never without. At any one time we were lucky to have the location of two of them. When we were down to one, we’d get a little twitchy at the prospect of going down to zero. Eventually, S. came to have the alpha puppy and had to have the alpha. Granted one was blue but even between the two pink (as in pinky grey) ones she could just touch the ears and know the one. One of the pink ones disappeared in the last year so we’ve been going mostly without a net. (We do have 2 blues backups now which she does accept grudgingly). Then blankie, also called by-ya, is lavender, fleece and satin edged and for a while a bedtime necessity. The soothie (or soother or pacifier) was until recently also required. (I have now cut the end off of the nipple to minimize, if a bit late, future orthodontic bills). We usually have several and on a good night she wouldn’t require the red one. On a bad night she would.

For his part, J. also had a blankie and two dogs he slept with. So his trio was blankie, Spot and Daisy. He was not in such dire need of them generally but on any given night it was required for parental sanity. The problem was since he didn’t interact with his friends quite as often we couldn’t remember that he has set them up under the dining room table for a play date.

So our bedtime routine would start with an inventory. Something like this:

Him: Blankies, puppies, soothie?
Me: I think there may be a soothie behind her dresser – we’ll need to rinse off the dust bunnies – check J.’s room for his stuff. I think she had pink puppy in the car earlier, I’ll check there. I haven’t seen her blankie since lunch.
[5 minutes of searching]
Him [yelling from upstairs]: I found Spot but no blankie or Daisy in J’s room. I washed her soothie.
Me [yelling from basement]: I found Pink Puppy but no blankies. I think J. was playing with Daisy in our closet earlier.
Him: I’ll check there. I think I may have seen her blankie in the kitchen.
[10 min. of searching]
Me [Still yelling]: No sign of blankie.
Him [also still yelling]: Found J’s blankie in the closet but no Daisy.
Me: You start stories, I’ll keep looking.
[10 more min. of searching yields Daisy behind the desk in the den. Kids are tucked in and S. will stay in bed only on the promise of BOTH parents continuing to search for blankie.]
Him: Okay where haven’t you looked?
Me: Your shop, the laundry room and the guest room.
Him: Okay I’ll do the basement. You do the main floor.
[10 more minutes and I suddenly remember the kids made a fort in the laundry closet that morning and S. had had her blanket. The last lost lamb is found.]

Nowadays, the kids are not so fixated on the same particular loveys. They form strong one-day attachments to some animal we don’t even remember them acquiring.

J: But I have to have brown bear to go to sleep.
Me: What does brown bear look like?
J.: He’s brown.
Me: How big is he?
J: Medium.

S: I need to have my bunny.
Him: Which bunny?
S.: You know, the “widow” one?
Him: Which little one?
S (impatiently): DADDY YOU KNOW THE ONE I GOT THAT TIME WE WENT SHOPPING?
Him: You mean the Panda bear?
S: Oh yeah Daddy. I forgot, it’s not a bunny.

Our only consolation is that on a good night, they are not both fixated on sleeping with the same creature.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Epiphany

Sometimes you just have those moments of clarity.

I was standing in the power tool aisle at Canadian Tire looking for a birthday present for my husband. I surveyed the many tools behind locked glass cabinets (come on, it’s not like it’s jewelry!). I see the jigsaw I bought him the first Christmas in our first house. There is the circular saw he bought when he had a fence project to work on. On the other side of the aisle were handsaws (got one), hacksaws (I think we have one of those), hand miter saws (needed that one for a baseboard project). I wanted to get him another type of power saw and then it came. The epiphany.

Saws are to men as black shoes are to women.

Now it’s not that I doubted the need for many and various saws. I’ve used a few of them and seen them all used. My epiphany was that is how to explain to men the need for (at the very least) 10 pairs of black shoes.

The handsaw is the pair of black flats that you just need to have. One of the first things in the tool box (basic wardrobe staple - cannot really go without). The circular saw is the black pumps: very necessary for many weekend projects (i.e. any event where yoga pants are not appropriate.) The jigsaw is required for even more fancy and complicated projects (black sling backs for parties or when having dinner with old boyfriend and don’t want to look like you tried too hard). Other saws are for specialized projects like reciprocating saw (black winter boots that look decent enough to wear with pants to work), hacksaws (black walking shoes that are not completely hideous but you can walk for miles at a pumpkin patch field trip) and miter saws (low-heeled black basics for where you need something somewhat dressy but may also have to walk 3 km to your car). Band saws (black high dress boots) and table saws (black low dress boots) each have their place as do a scroll saw (fancy black high heels) and miscellaneous cutting tools that doesn’t really have a proper name (those cute black ones that are dressier flats that are in the back of the closet and you’re only worn once but they practically gave them away at a sale last spring and you’re sure that you’ll have plenty of things next season to wear it with).

There are the specialized seasonal shoes (I would have to consult with Bob Vila for the names and uses of further saws­): Christmas shoes, summer wedding formal shoes and at least 2 summer sandals plus mules and maybe a pair of flip flops. And this doesn’t address the need of brown shoes. And navy. And red.

So the next time my husband asks “didn’t you just get a pair of black shoes?” (Which he honestly does out of curiosity as opposed to disapproval or disdain) I’ve got my response: check your tool bench!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Calendars

My interest (i.e. obsession) with calendars has grown over the years. When I was single and professional and the office manager emailed (or sent a paper memo in the years before networks) that we could order our calendar for the following year, I would run-walk to look at the catalogues and samples. I would do compare and research and agonize to find the one. When I received the new calendar, it would be all-out sequestration so I could add important things in the new calendar, like the 26 paydays for the following year and my spring dental appointment

When I was home with one and then two kids less than two years apart, my calendar mania went on hiatus. I miraculously broke my calendar addiction (and coincidentally had proportionate increase in caffeine addiction). We usually had one left by a realtor and it was usually found under a pile of unopened mail and a few stinky burp cloths. It rarely had any appointments noted, or if it did, it wasn’t referred to. We had few appointments to keep and frankly we may have missed some.

Once my son started preschool, I realized the growing need to keep track of his calendar. Suddenly we had preschool twice a week, and for the first month of “graduated entry” the kids stayed 15 minutes longer every day. In addition we had preschool meetings, fundraiser dates, field trips, forms to be submitted for deadlines and special items to bring for craft projects like one quart mason jars or soup can labels. Add to this swimming lessons, birthday parties, my husband’s work trips and I needed a calendar to keep this family train on the tracks.

So I got a large calendar, hung it in the den and informed my unsuspecting husband that I had one rule:

  • write everything down on the calendar.

A month later, a slight amendment occurred:

  • write appointments or classes on calendar (and only if it’s for sure or almost for sure)
  • do not write not things that we have to do (except if it’s paying the Mastercard bill, property tax or renewing car insurance)
  • write only in black marker, never ball point pen (especially blue) and pencil only in case of emergency (like you’re not sure if appointment is calendar-worthy and you want to check with me)

As my kids got older the number of activities and appointments grew, the calendar became increasingly important. It is now prominently displayed on our fridge. But something wasn’t right: it was confusing and crowded and not all that easy to read. Then I got myself what I always dreamed of: a multi-pack of Sharpies

Additional calendar rules:
  • use appropriate colour for the calendar event (stat holidays in black, birthdays in yellow, work or school events in blue, other events in green)
  • under NO circumstances do you use the red marker as I use that to either X or √ off each event indicating whether it happened or not.

One week later, clarification of latest rule amendments:

  • USE ONLY SHARPIE MARKERS, NOT THE DRY ERASE ONES OR THE KIDS MARKERS WHICH I KNOW ARE ALL IN THE SAME MUG ON THE COUNTER

The final rule:

  • Only write in calendar if in addition to knowing all of the above rules, including the important Sharpie coloured pen rules, you write in handwriting that looks exactly like mine which has nothing to do with good penmanship - my writing can generously be said to be bordering on illegible – the calendar needs to look uniform.

My husband and I have both learned important lesson: he tells me appointments to write on the calendar and I make the appropriate notations and I better hang on to him as surely no one else would put up with this kind of insanity.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Language of Our Own

It had to end. We knew we were on borrowed time. All good things come to an end. One new skill we acquired as parents is obsolete, defunct and superfluous.

Here is a typical conversation between my husband and I any time in the past 5 years:

Me: Are you going to take them to the p-a-r-k?
Him: Sure. Do you know where the other D-o-r-a shoes are? She’ll f-r-e-a-k out if she doesn’t have them.
Me: One is in my purse and the other on the counter beside the c-a-n-d-y bowl.
Him: Great. Should I take bring some c-r-a-c-k-e-r-s?
Me: Good idea. Take the big b-a-l-l too, that will wear them out.
Him: Then we can put them in the t-u-b.
Me: I promised them a c-o-o-k-i-e at bedtime.
Him: They can watch the new v-i-d-e-o while they have that.

We never did come up with a good way to spell M and M’s and we kept forgetting that spelling T-V really wasn’t allowing us to communicate under the radar as we wanted.

Eventually, in the interests of time we came up with our own abbreviations:

j-u-i = juice
c-h-o-c = chocolate
v-i-d = video


After years of honing our ability to speak-spell we know exactly the minimun pause required to communicate each separate word. We could spell so fast that not even other adults (who don't have small children) could understand us. Now there's a spanner in the works.

Our 6 year old is starting to read. And, it seems, spell. He just told me he is b-o-r-e-d.

We need to speak another language to communicate privately. Maybe French will do until the kids are in grade 2 and they surpass our limited French. The kids already speak more speak more Spanish than we do thanks to Dora the Explorer. Perhaps all the extra time we have because we’re not spelling things can be put to good use learning, say, Mandarin.