Monthly Archives: October 2012

Killer Costumes

When he was in JK, BB#1 chose his own Halloween costume: Super Why. We put a pair of blue shorts over top of his green pajamas, used a blanket for a cape, and I made a paper Super Why crest that I pinned on his chest. His dad’s ancient Game Boy was his Super Computer. I was so impressed he’d come up with this idea on his own, and wanted to dress up as a super hero that loves to read! I knew he’d be the only Super Why in his class, if not the school. But when he got home from school he promptly started bawling because his teacher didn’t know who he was, and all the other boys had cooler costumes (most of them were store-bought Spider-men). He claimed no one made any negative comments, but I guess he saw a difference.

I felt so bad that HE felt bad that I ran out and bought him the only superhero costume left in the store: an adult-sized Batman. But the hood bothered him, so he wore a black cape and gloves for trick-or-treating, and whenever anyone (which was everyone) asked what he was supposed to be, I held up his mask.

Much has been said about the current trend for overtly sexy costumes for women, and increasingly, girls and teens. But what about the boys’ rack? Yes, lots of gender-stereotypes going on there too, what with the plethora of superheroes and villains, plastic weapons and fake muscles. When my guys were little and I got to pick their costumes, I went for fairly gender-neutral and cute: pumpkin, plush purple dragon, green frog. Since then, the boys have chosen to be Winnie the Pooh, a cat, a zombie, a vampire, a knight. Last year BB#1 (a ginger) wanted to go as Ron Weasley while BB#2 (who wears round glasses) would be Harry Potter. I placed a rush order for the robes. And then when BB#2 got home from school he decided he wanted to go out trick-or-treating as Puss in Boots instead—so he wore the cat costume again, with a belt and boots this time.

This year, even as they poured over costume catalogues, I tried to encourage them to choose costumes from our overflowing dress-up bin. Right now BB#2 is supposedly settled on being a ninja, which is good because we have a hand-me-down costume and a balaclava he can wear.

BB#1 didn’t go for it. He had a new idea every couple of days, some do-able, some not so much. I put off buying anything in case he changed his mind, yet again (and I’m just not the mom that makes costumes. That’s my husband’s department.) One idea I shot down as inappropriate was the killer from Scream. Now don’t get all upset: he has not seen the movies. And he doesn’t understand why I said no (he also claims he doesn’t find the ghostface mask scary, which to me sort of misses the point). I explained that I didn’t think it was appropriate for a child to dress up as a serial killer, especially for school.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I was overreacting—or if I’ve under-reacted to other choices. I mean, zombies and vampires, not really friendly, loveable creatures! In our dress-up bin alongside the ninja (trained assassin) costume, we’ve also got pirate (pillaging, anyone?), and Darth Vader (world’s worst dad) get-ups. And I know there will be plenty of Anakin Skywalkers at school. Even if they have to leave their lightsabers at home during the day due to the no-weapons rule, the fact is, those boys will be dressed up as a character who is responsible for massacring a lot of people—including children (never mind the damage he did to the Star Wars franchise…)

These creatures and characters have something else in common: they are all made up. Just like the killer in Scream. In fact, Scream is a spoof of horror flicks. So, if I have or would let my boys dress up in these other costumes (with no fear they are going to actually BECOME vampires, pirates or Sith lords), why is my instinct to veto the ghostface? Do I need a logical reason to say no, or is instinct enough? Or are my (probably low) standards too arbitrary? Perhaps I am a hypocrite for allowing my boys to dress up as one violent, uber-masculine stereotype but not another. Perhaps I am just thinking too hard about Halloween.

So what does BB#1 plan to dress up as now? A ringwraith from Lord of the Rings. Perhaps ghostface was less terrifying after all…

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Someone’s Knockin’ at the Door

Jehovah’s Witness came to the door yestersday. I was sick and still in my bathrobe, so I made my husband (who was working from home) answer the door. He’s a lot more polite than I am, and accepted their publications whereas I would have said no thanks. I resent anyone coming door-to-door, it has nothing to do with their religion. If I want your services, I’ll call you, thanks.

The magazines have been sitting on the counter, and have inspired a lot of questions from BB#1, which I tried to answer from my pathetic knowledge base of religion. (I really need to do more reading so I can give him better information. As a non-believer in well, anything, I still want to teach him to respect others’ beliefs, and to know that he is free to believe what, if anything, he chooses.) He wanted to know where churches get their money (after all, it’s obvious to him someone had to pay to print those magazines), which eventually led in a roundabout way to some discussion on the history of the Catholic church and its wealth. I told him the pope basically lives in a palace, and he had to ask who the pope was.

Me: He’s the head of the Catholic church, some people believe he’s, well,  God’s right-hand man.

L: But maybe God’s a lefty.

I love this kid.

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I Support Ontario Midwives

Each year at this time, in honour of BB#2’s birthday, I usually post my own personal public service announcement in support of midwifery somewhere online. After BB#1 was born, in what was probably (sadly) a pretty typical labour and delivery attended by an OB (or three), I wasn’t sure I would ever have another child. The idea of doing that all over again was too scary. And yet, three years later, with the support of midwives, I gave birth to my second son. As I like to put it: 6 hours, 9.6 pounds, no epidural.

Our family is done, but if I were having any more babies, I would definitely go with a midwife again. And I take every opportunity I can to encourage other parents-to-be to at least meet with a midwife, find out about her practice, and consider this model for low-risk pregnancies. As I recently told one mom-to-be, the difference between my two experiences can be summed up by comparing an OB saying to me, before I even tried, “I don’t think you are going to be able to push this baby out”, to my midwife saying “you ARE doing it” when I whined that I didn’t think I could. They were both right–though I didn’t end up having the c-section that OB recommended before his shift ended and he went home, “just” foreceps and an episiotomy administered by a man who yelled at me for crying.

But my birth experiences aren’t really what I want to talk about today. This year, I want to take this opportunity to mention that Ontario midwives have been working without a contract for the past two years. TWO YEARS! Tomorrow, October 19th, they have planned a day of social media action to appeal to the government to resume contract negotiations (or at least they were, before the recent government “vacation”….) Frankly, I don’t think that’s too much to ask! For more information, visit the Ontario Midwives website (and check out the adorable gallery of babies born without a contract!).

My own baby was caught by a midwife this day 5 years ago, under a contract. It was the best choice I could have made, and an option I wish I had considered during my first pregnancy.  So, happy birthday to my little man, and happy birth-day to me!

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Random Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had Children (Part 1)

People give you a lot of advice when you are having a baby. Some of it useful, some of it…not. But there are some things that I do wish someone had mentioned, so I’m sharing them in the hopes of helping others. Truth is, it’s possible someone DID try to tell me these things but I wasn’t listening in that “everything will be perfect when it’s MY baby” haze of pregnancy. So you can roll your eyes, tell yourself things will be different for you, but do me a favour, check back in a few years and see if your perspective has changed. Deal?

1. Never say never. In fact, if you swear you’ll never do something (like, talk about poop with your friends or let your child sleep in your bed), your chances of doing exactly that have gone up exponentially. So go ahead, say never. I dare you.

2. Never buy over-the-head onesies. And never give them to people as gifts! I had to cut one off BB#1 with scissors because I couldn’t figure out how to get it over his head without smearing the diaper blowout into his hair. Related: sleepers that do up in the back and white velour sleepers are also evil (these tend to be gifts from people that don’t have children).

3. Oxy-Clean. I might have saved some of those onesies and sleepers had I known about this amazing stuff. BB#1 had to be completely changed after most BMs, and many of his outfits could not be used for BB#2, they were stained so badly. Related: I’ve heard if you fold the top of the diaper in at the back, you can stop these up-the-back blowouts (it’s worth a try, right?)

4. Kids aren’t dogs. Okay, yes, I did know this. But it didn’t register with me that so many aspects of child-raising are referred to as “training”, as if babies are pets and not people. Two biggies: Sleep training and potty training. The amazing thing about children is, they are born learners! They become independent in spite of us, not because of us. And just like they all walk and talk in their own time, they also sleep through the night (because that’s what all the fuss is about, right?) and learn to use the toilet when they are ready. You don’t really have to cause them or yourself stress to “teach” them these things. I mean honestly, would we all still be walking around in diapers if no one trained us with stickers or candy? Trust in your children. They will amaze you.

5. Tree-trunk legs. I thought I had cankles BEFORE I gave birth the first time. Turns out they were mere saplings compared to what happened AFTER. I was freaked out there was something seriously wrong with me, and called my OB. Who casually told me, oh, that’s water retention from lying in a bed for 12+ hours attached to an IV as a result of having an epidural, and the swelling would go down in oh, 4-6 WEEKS. You think someone might have warned me about this. Now, this was not the reason I did not have an epidural for my second birth, but it was a consideration.

6. Slip on boots and shoes. I figured this one out after getting myself all bundled up, strapping on my baby, and then realizing I couldn’t bend over to tie up my winter boots. Okay I suppose you could remember to put your shoes on first, before your baby, but sometimes you have to go back for something, and then there’s the whole issue of UN-tying them with the baby in the carrier when you get back. Make it easier on yourself, get slip-ons.

7. It goes so fast. Oh wait. Everyone told me this. If you are pregnant or have very young kids, they’re telling you this too. But I probably wasn’t listening, and chances are, you aren’t either. I’m not trying to trivialize those moments where you feel like crying, those hours you keep checking the clock to see if your partner will be home soon, or those days you can’t wait until bedtime. I’ve been there, oh how I’ve been there. Some of those moments seemed like ForEver. Then I turned around and my babies weren’t babies, they weren’t even toddlers or preschoolers. They were eight and five. And, wow. It really did go so fast.

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Remember When?

When my first child was a baby, I tried to keep a journal of all the amazing things he did and said, with the plan of giving it to him when he was an adult. With a child that napped 20 minutes at a time, and was up every couple hours in the night for years, finding the time was difficult. But I managed to fill a little notebook in that first year or two, furiously writing in spurts (rather illegibly). When my second child was born, I was determined to do the same thing, dedicate a journal to HIS infancy, but the journal ended up being about both of them, and in the end, I really only filled a few pages. There are gaps of months and probably years, and then I pretty much gave up because I was overwhelmed by all I’d forgotten.

I feel particularly terrible about this because Beautiful Boy #1 has asked for “his” journal to be read to him like a bedtime story, and can now tell us things he did as a baby that he of course does not remember, but remembers us reading about. I will not be able to do this with his brother. I feel sad just thinking of all the unforgettable moments I have in fact forgotten. Part of it was that I was busy being WITH them, raising them—and the lack of sleep or any time to myself contributed of course. And then Beautiful Boy #2 was mysteriously sick off and on for a year and half, and I was back at work, and then school…

But during this time, I was online, on parenting boards, and later social media. If only I’d thought to keep a copy of all those funny status updates and discussion posts. Typing is much quicker and easier for me than handwriting, and I work at a computer all day long. It would have made sense to keep a record, instead of only sending it out there into the ether (of course, I know it’s all out there, somewhere, still…the internet never forgets, even when you want it to!)

So one thing I hope to do with this blog is keep a better record of my boys’ growth and development, of those stories I can’t wait to share with people that I know will get it, and things I want to be able to share with them when they get older. Here are a couple recent funnies:

BB#1 has something close to a photographic memory. I used to have a pretty good one myself, but then I had kids, so…The other day we were talking about something, and I didn’t remember the particular incident even though BB#1 assured me I was there.

BB#1: I remember everything, I even remember being born.

Me: (wryly) Oh really? And how was it for you?

BB#1: (after a pause) Not so great.

Ha! Maybe he DOES remember. The stories I could tell about that day (and I will, later.)

As for BB#2, like his brother before him, he’s not much interested in printing, or really even drawing. This was somewhat of a problem for BB#1 in grade one and even two, but he’s been improving. I can see the same thing happening with BB#2. I try to get him to practice his letters, but I don’t want it to backfire (i.e. for him to hate writing). I know he’ll get it in time, and that he has to be self-motivated.

Turns out, the times he’s most inclined to put pencil to paper? When he’s mad at us. Once he went into his room in a snit, and did not want his dad to come in to talk to him. But when he felt better, he stuck a note under the door that said “u can com in now”. And last night, it was my turn. After a rather stupid disagreement over what constituted a healthy snack (he wanted a cupcake, I offered fruit or vegetables, much whining ensued), he barricaded himself in his room. When I went up to check on him, I found he’d been writing notes again:

“wen iz it goig too be tim too hav eat” (because he wasn’t coming down until dinner was ready)

Followed up by “wen mom” (getting impatient now)

And then later, after I’d gone back downstairs and he’d calmed down, he tossed the following through the railing:

“I em cumig domn” (I figured out his “m” was an upsidedown “w”)

I’m pretty sure this is the most writing he’s ever done, and it was totally unprompted, and motivated by necessity (that is, he didn’t want to talk to me, so he had to write it down!)

I’m proud. I think…

Okay so maybe this is a mommy blog…

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What’s In a Name?

One of the things that I kept getting stuck on when thinking of starting a blog was a name. Which was really more a symptom of the fact I wasn’t sure what my focus would be. I’m sort of at an impasse in my life, either again or still, I’m not sure (but that’s another post). I feel like I’m at least three people, and not sure which of them will be taking care of the blog. I wanted a name that didn’t restrict me to writing about one area of my life.

I had what I thought was a clever name, until I realized someone even more clever had already used it. Same thing with a number of other apparently-not-so-original ideas. So for now, I’ve gone with the current name, mainly because it is an online identity I’ve used before–and it was available. I may or may not change it in the future, but in the meantime, I couldn’t use not having a pithy name as an excuse not to write.

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Just Another Mommy Blog?

So, is this going to be a mommy blog? I’m not sure. That is one of the questions that have prevented me from blogging until now. Now, I’m not down on mommy blogs, even though the term has gotten a lot of backlash–even from women who are mothers and do in fact write blogs about parenting and family life! I find it condescending and anti-feminist to denigrate writing by women, for women (and let’s face it, though there are plenty of fathers blogging about parenting, that oh so special tone is generally reserved for the “mommies”). But then, I’ve worked in romance publishing for several years, so I’m used to a similar kind of snobbery.

Don’t like reading blogs by parents, focused on parenting? Here’s a thought: then don’t!  There are plenty of other things to read out there. I’m not too interested in reading blogs about cats, video games or bass fishing, but I presume these exist and that there are people interested in reading them. Probably because they have cats, play video games or enjoy bass fishing, and like discussing these things with others. That these topics are not of interest to me personally does not make me superior in any way. But trolling these sites or sneering at cat bloggers as a whole would make me kinda pathetic. Just sayin’…

All of this to say, I’m not entirely sure where I’ll go with this blog. Certainly, being a parent is a big part of my identity, and colours the way I view the world. Becoming a parent is really what brought me online, and some of the things I am most passionate about are parenting issues. I am also a lot of other things in addition to being a parent, and I may write about those aspects of my life too.

But I’m not likely to get too worked up if you call me a mommy blogger because that would be like saying there is something inherently wrong with being a mommy blogger.

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