Monthly Archives: July 2013

21 Questions About Mommy

I feel like I’ve been ranting a lot in this space lately, so I’m going to lighten things up a bit. A friend asked her young son these questions and posted the answers on Facebook a while back and I thought it would be fun to ask the Beautiful Boys what they know about me. The BBs are currently almost 9 and going on 6 years old. If you ask your own children these questions, I’d love to read their responses!

1. What is something that Mommy always says to you?

BB#1: Clean up my room.

BB#2: I love you.

2. What makes Mommy happy?

BB#1: Me.

BB#2: Hugs and kisses.

3. What makes Mommy sad?

BB#1: When I don’t help her with stuff.

BB#2: Punches.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?*

BB#1: (long pause) I don’t know.

BB#2: I don’t know.

5. What was Mommy like as a child?

BB#1: I don’t really know because I wasn’t there.

BB#2: I don’t know.

6. How old is Mommy?

BB#1: She is 38.

BB#2: Um, 38? 39.

7. How tall is Mommy?

BB#1: She is 5 foot 7?

BB#2: 10 feet and 2 inches.

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?

BB#1: Be with me.

BB#2: Hug me and kiss me.

9. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?

BB#1: Work.

BB#2: Works.

10. If Mommy gets famous what will it be for?

BB#1: Probably winning the lottery.**

BB#2: I don’t know.

11. What is Mommy really good at?

BB#1: Cooking and uh, I forgot what I was going to say.

BB#2: Um, being nice to me?

12.What is Mommy not very good at?

BB#1: She says she’s not good at playing.

BB#2: Punching people.

13. What does Mommy do for a job?

BB#1: She does teaching and editing.

BB#2: To work? I mean to be a teacher.

14. What is Mommy’s favorite food?

BB#1: I have no idea.

BB#2: I don’ t know.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?

BB#1: (long pause) When she plays with us?

BB#2: (long pause) Snuggles.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?

BB#1: She would be Pippi Longstocking.***

BB#2: I don’t know.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?

BB#1: Cook. Watch movies.

BB#2: Hug together. I mean, read.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?

BB#1: We have red hair and are the same family.

BB#2: We love each other.

19. How are you and Mommy different?

BB#1: Mommy is a girl. And she’s big. And old.

BB#2: I’m littler than you.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?

BB#1: Because she feeds me and she’s very nice.

BB#2: Because she hugs me.

21. Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?

BB#1: Canada’s Wonderland?

BB#2: (His first name)land!

*Clearly I need to work on my one-liners. Or something.

**Guess I should start buying tickets…

***While not technically a cartoon character, there is a cartoon drawing on the cover of the version of the book we currently have out from the library.

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Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

Today was my least favourite day of swimming lessons. No, not report day, that was yesterday (one boy moving up, one boy retaking a level; they both progressed nicely). Nope, it was photo day. In theory, parents are allowed on deck at the end of the last class to take pictures of their own children only, off to the side. In reality, it’s a bit of a free-for-all with people taking pictures or video of entire classes while they swim.

You may have noticed there aren’t any photos of the beautiful boys on this blog. I don’t use Instagram or post pictures of them on Twitter either. I don’t even post pictures of their faces on Facebook. So not surprisingly, I don’t really care for strangers taking photos of my children, even inadvertently, and especially at the public pool.

This morning, as usual, I watched as parents took pictures, with most of their child’s class clearly visible on their view screens, and waited to see if the instructors or supervisors would say anything. Of course none of them did. The city has a policy—I know because I double-checked once after I caught a lifeguard rolling her eyes at me when I asked her to stop someone taking a picture that included my kids during recreational swimming. But as far as I can see very little is done to enforce it. In fact “photo day” could be any day, as people take photos with their phones and tablets from the gallery throughout the session. Who’s to say these are even parents of a child in the pool?

Am I paranoid? Maybe. Does that matter? I don’t think it does. Yes, most likely the people taking pictures are not actually trying to get my kids, or any others besides their own, in the frame. But they aren’t trying very hard not to, either. I’ve been told I can’t stop parents from taking pictures of their children at events. I’m not suggesting that. But how hard is it to pull your own child aside and ensure no one else is in the picture? When it comes to privacy, why not err on the side of respecting others? Surely I’m not completely alone in my concern—despite the lack of enforcement, the policy was presumably put in place for a reason. So why is the onus on my husband or me to approach photo-happy parents when we notice our children are on their camera screens—something we’ve done more than once. It doesn’t always go over well…

Some have asked me what the big deal is: am I worried about my children’s images being used in an indecent manner? That’s a very small part of it—but it does happen (I have a friend whose profession requires him to deal with this sort of thing…) It’s more about privacy, about being able to control their online presence and where their images end up, as much as I can. I have no clue what that stranger is going to do with that photo including my child—where it will be posted, who else will see it, who will share it. I don’t like the idea of their photos just being “out there”. And if you asked my husband, he’d say it’s for their future—when they grow up, they may not appreciate what we have posted online about them, so we try to keep it at a minimum. (Yes I’m aware this blog could be considered oversharing, though I also believe the stories I tell are mine as much as theirs. You may have also noticed I don’t use their names.)

I’ve also been told I can’t protect my children from being “seen” by random strangers any time I take them out in public. But I think photos are a different matter—they are permanent, especially in the age of internet. Once something is posted online, it’s there forever. Still others have pointed out anyone with a phone could be taking pictures of the boys for reasons both innocent and nefarious at any time. And I know security cameras are all around us.

Maybe I am fighting a losing battle. But I’m not quite ready to wave the white flag and surrender completely.

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Royally Overexposed

You might have noticed, I love motherhood. And I’m outspoken on all things birth and breastfeeding. So you might think I was one of the millions waiting with bated breath for the announcement that a rich, gorgeous couple I’ve never met had had their first baby today.

You’d be wrong.

Oh, I was following the news—it was impossible to avoid on Twitter. Heck, even Starbucks and Well.ca and other accounts I follow for deals and sales tweeted congrats to the new parents! But while I am apparently in the minority, and will no doubt come off like a humbug for admitting this, I don’t see why the birth of the little prince was such big news for anyone not related to him. And okay, maybe for the people of Britain. Yes, yes, all babies are wonderful etc. etc. and I wish them all happy and healthy. Truly. But why are some babies front-page news from the moment they are conceived (or even before, in the case of this child)? What is our societal obsession with the offspring of the rich and famous, or infamous? No really, I want to know, because I don’t get it.

You’re probably thinking: “this child is heir to the British throne! It’s a historic day!” To which I have to respond, meh. Despite the image of the queen on my money, I don’t feel the monarchy is at all relevant to me personally, or to Canada. I don’t think of them as my royal family. I don’t see them as having any real power. They’re just a remnant of an archaic system—a very expensive, privileged remnant.

It’s not just this particular baby, though (and I’m sure he’s lovely, and William and Kate are over the moon, as they should be). I feel the same way about the constant reporting on any celebrity pregnancy, birth, or baby. Is the media feeding an actual demand? And if so, who is demanding it? Why do we care how much weight this model gained during pregnancy, or how this actress conceived long after 40, or if that singer is going to change his child’s diapers? Why do reporters follow celebrities’ children around, feeding us earth-shattering news about who is “still” nursing, who “still” has a pacifier, who got what expensive gift for her birthday? And why, despite the fact I don’t seek out this information, am I still surrounded by it (stood in a grocery store line lately?)

Already I’ve seen links to articles on what the royal baby’s personality will be, based on his astrological sign. And headlines suggesting his sex is a disappointment to the public! (actually I know a bit about that…) The child is a few hours old, people. You know what I’m not looking forward to: the media falling all over itself for the first images of the prince. And any bets on how long* it will take the press to report on how quickly the (already genetically blessed, and wealthy enough to employ a trainer and nutritionist and nanny) Duchess will get back her “pre-baby bod”? I guarantee the words “flaunting” or “showing off” will be used in the headlines the moment the woman steps out in public, as long as she looks good, and especially if she dares to wear a swimsuit some place crazy like a beach on a private family vacation (which won’t really be private). If she retains a pound or two, well, she’ll surely be publicly shamed for that too.

Okay, I admit, even I am mildly curious what the new prince will be called. But it’s almost certain his name will contain any or all of the following: William, Charles, Phillip, Edward, Henry, James, David or George**. Nothing “unique” for this baby, I’ll wager. (I have a theory that all those bizarre names (Bear Blue, Pilot Inspektor, North West) celebrities give their children are really to throw off the public and the media, so plain old Ann or Jack or whatever can lead a somewhat normal life in private.)

On one hand, I feel sorry for celebrities, who have to endure the media glare during the most intimate moments of their lives. I could not imagine knowing there were crowds and cameras outside while I laboured. Talk about pressure! But on the other, I’m sure there are more than a few fringe benefits to being rich and famous that make up for all of that. Celebrities have to know going into the fame game what it means for their privacy, and many of them actively court the cameras (I still have no clue why the Kardashians are famous, but I get the sense it was not thrust upon them.)

The children of celebrities, though, have no such choice in the matter. So it would be nice if we left them alone. But somehow, I don’t see that happening.

*ETA: apparently less than 48 hours (though in fairness, there has been a lot of positive about the fact she didn’t try to hide her post-partum belly–and good on her! Because YES, after you grow and give birth to another human, you still look pregnant immediately afterwards!)

**ETA: George Alexander Louis it is.

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My Kid Just Said (Part 22)

“I love dolphins. But I don‘t love how they treat them at Marineland.” BB#2, 5.5 years old, after hearing that commercial on the radio.

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Beautiful Boy’s Day Off

I had to go pick BB#2 up from camp early today after he complained he was sick. And as I watched him watch TV this evening while standing on his head, I had a pretty good idea that I’d been had.

He didn’t want to go to camp in the first place. When I originally signed him up months ago, he said he’d “try it for one day”. Then he seemed to at least be, if not excited, used to the idea that he’d be going. Though he’d been offered the choice of several day camps, none seemed to appeal to him so we opted to send him to the same one his brother had chosen so they could be on the bus together, even though they’d be in different age groups.

When they got off the bus after the first day, BB#2 immediately told me he hated it and was never going back. The kids were mean, and he just wanted to be home with me. (Cue mommy guilt.) But he’d barely eaten anything, his water bottle was still full, and the bus had been almost an hour late. Once he got home, fed and rested, he seemed willing to try again—especially when he learned they’d be having freezies later in the week.

And honestly, we weren’t prepared to pull him after just one day. He’s not much of a joiner, not one for organized activities of any kind (including school, to be honest). We know this. He takes swimming lessons, but this is not optional as far as we’re concerned. And I’ve been known to take money from my boys to pay for lessons missed as a result of tantrums or stubbornness (oh yes I have.) However, his interest in taking gymnastics faded after one class, and though we insisted he complete his Beavers session, he’s opted not to go back in the fall. And it’s not like his entire summer is structured. We’re currently fortunate enough not to have to put our boys in camps the entire summer because we need the childcare. Or, depending on how you look at it, we’re not fortunate enough to be able to send our kids to programs the whole summer (though even if we were, we would not choose to do so for a variety of reasons.) This camp is total nine days. Nine days didn’t seem like too much to ask—and it’s supposed to be nine days of fun!

Because we’ve pulled him from programs in the past, we wanted him to see this one through—in no small part because we were using the time to paint the house, and work! Yes, he’s only five; it’s not like he’s not destined to be a slacker who can’t commit to anything just because we haven’t found an activity he loves just yet. His brother (who was also slow to enjoy most organized activities) is enjoying camp very much. But there has to be a line at some point—doesn’t there? And a single day is not that line. So back he went. And while he wasn’t throwing fits at getting in the car each morning (once we gave up on the bus–long story), he also told us he spent a lot of time lying around on the ground instead of participating in the games.

Generally, we don’t mess around when we’re asked to pick the boys up due to illness, because, well, PFAPA. I half-expect BB#2 to have an episode any day now. But he was not running a fever today, and was well enough to eat brownies after dinner despite his earlier “sore stomach”, so I feel certain he was suffering from something else: homesickness.

The question is, do I make him finish out the week to learn the value of stick-to-it-iveness? Or am I the one who needs to learn a lesson here?

ETA: He woke up with a low-grade fever this morning, and is currently passed out on the couch, so…It’s sometimes hard to know when behaviour is signaling an episode, or when he’s just being five!

ETA: And now we’ve gotten an earlier appointment with the ENT–this week. Which is better than waiting until September, but, even once he’s feeling better, there goes another day of camp. So clearly, mommy is the one learning something from this experience after all…

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Lashing Back Against the Technology Backlash

I think there is a parenting trend afoot: competing to prove how little technology our children are exposed to.

In the last few months, I’ve taken the link bait when various bloggers have claimed their kids are tech-free. Usually they begin by pointing out how other people’s children seem to always have the latest gadget or be online too much, too early. They go on to say it’s not like that at their home. Their preteens don’t have a personal smartphone or even an iTouch, their teenagers aren’t on Facebook. Some claim they are worried their children will fall behind, technology-wise, but they are willing to take that risk. For the good of the kids.

But this is where I start to think these bloggers protest too much: when they round out the article by admitting there are several computers in the house that the children have access to (supervised). Or when they mention that their kids have personal email addresses (to communicate with family only), or are on Twitter (locked tweets, and they only follow people involved in their current favourite video game), or make stop-motion movies for YouTube (private channel). Or when they admit they have a tablet or two (but neither is an iPad), though the youngest is content with his LeapPad (for use in the car only).

Tech-free? Not so much.

I’ll be honest: my kids aren’t tech-free. Their screen time is limited and supervised. Kind of like in the “tech-free” homes I’ve been reading about.

I could sit here justifying why we allow it, what our rules and limits are, how many devices we have, how old my kids were when we plugged them in, how old they will be when they can take part in certain social media platforms, what they aren’t allowed to do yet. I could compare what happens in our home to what is going on in these supposedly unplugged households, or the homes of their friends. I could list all their other interests and activities in an attempt to prove it’s not all screen time all the time around here.

But I won’t. Because I don’t really feel the need to prove we’re doing things the right way. Heck, I don’t even know what that is. I know what works for us, for the most part—it’s a work in progress and our approach continually evolves. I think technology is a part of our culture, a part I’m clearly involved in, and my children are too, in their way. And I’m okay with that. If I wasn’t, I’d do things differently.

I’m not at all worried my children will fall behind in the aspects they aren’t currently involved in—I didn’t have a tablet as a preschooler or social media access as a teen, and still managed to pick these things up as an adult. Whatever comes down the pipe as they grow up, the boys will be able to figure it out, as will their tech-free (and “tech-free”) peers.

Like so many things in parenting, to each their own. But please, own what really goes on in your home. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Oh, and your teen who is not on Facebook? Is probably on some other cooler platform you aren’t even aware of yet.

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Filed under in the news, parenting, random, technology, the beautiful boys