Category Archives: E.- the seventh year

Microblog Mondays: Thankful

It was Thanksgiving here north of the border a couple of weekends ago. Q. and I opted to rent a cottage for the weekend, rather than making the drive to see my parents, partly because we couldn’t face the idea of driving in holiday traffic in both directions after the abject horrors of said drive the previous year and partly because we realized that we hadn’t gone anywhere without friends or family since August 2014, when E. was three.

It felt both wrong and right to put my little nuclear family first, even though we found another weekend this fall where we could go to see my parents (E. has the Friday off from school and we’ll pull him out on the Monday as it’s not feasible to do both houses unless we have four days) and there’s the possibility that my father might be actually moved into his new house by mid-November. Gaining an extra five hours to visit (instead of sitting in traffic) and avoiding the horrors of visiting in the ICU with a toddler in tow seemed like a no-brainer, but I still felt guilty knowing that my sisters had made similar decisions and this meant that all the parents would be alone over the holidays. Our family is not in extreme crisis any longer, but it would be a lie if I said either situation was easy at the moment.

When asked if I was looking forward to the cottage, I said that I expected it would be not remotely relaxing but that it would be a nice change of scene, and (surprise, surprise) I was right.

There were some excellent moments (E. learning to kayak, discovering a tree castle on an island in the middle of the lake that E. could climb, watching the storms blow in and blow out again, E. catching tiddlers off of the dock, P. sitting up on the big outdoor benches eating her lunch) and some less than perfect ones (having both kids screaming within ten minutes of going outside because E. had fallen off a wooden swing and hurt his tailbone and the swing had then swung forward to smack P. in the head, not going hiking with our friends because the car couldn’t get back up the driveway that I had told Q. on arrival I didn’t think we should drive down, but which Q. thought would be fine, and then taking two hours to get said car up the driveway, breaking a taillight in the process). P. struggled with the slope of the ground between the cottage and the lake (read: fell down a lot), and tried to throw herself (or any toys within reach) off the dock at every opportunity.

E. had a blast.

Q. and I each managed to get in a bit of solo kayaking, and Q. even braved the lake for a (very) brief swim. I didn’t get much time to play with my camera, but I did what I could.

 

 

 

A cottage will be easier next year, when P. is older, and even easier the year after that, but I am trying not to wish away the phase of life that is my present. Two years ago we went to another cottage with friends for Thanksgiving. I had learned I was pregnant the day before we left. We didn’t yet know how it would turn out, but now, two years later, here was P., giggling and smiling and climbing into the kayak when she thought we weren’t looking.

I am so thankful.

How do you balance vacation time between your immediate family and your extended one(s)? Does anyone else find this incredibly difficult?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, Choose Happiness, E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays, P.- the second year, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

Eat My Words

Last week I had a post all planned for Microblog Mondays.

It was going to be about how I used to love September, how it used to be my favourite time of year, how much I used to love looking forward to the new school year.

And then I was going to write about how I was dreading Tuesday, because it was the first day of school, and E’s first day of Grade One, and I was just.not.ready for another eight-week four month transition like we had with JK and SK.

I wasn’t ready for the endless tears, the bargaining, the requests to stay home, the plaintive statements that school was “just too long” and he just missed me “so much”.

I wasn’t ready for the phone calls from the teacher, the meetings after school, the behavioural charts.

I wasn’t ready for the feeling that everyone else’s kid was getting it when mine just wasn’t.

But Monday was Labour Day and we got busy and I never found time to write the post.

And that, it turns out, was a good thing.

E. went to school on the first day worried, because he had heard that “In Grade One you just have to sit and write all day.”

He came out of the school at the end of the day bubbling over with excitement. Grade One had been fun! He had his own desk and his own pencil case! His teacher had told him she was amazed at how much French he knew!

It’s just kept getting better.

All week we had a few tears at drop off (because, as he told me, he finds drop off “so hard and scary”), but he was fine during the day.

He’s been eating his lunch, despite now being in the lunchroom, “which is really really noisy and filled with like a gazillion kids”.

He’s wanted to play in the playground after school every day, something which he almost never wanted to do last year.

He loves that he can go anywhere he wants during recess.

He loves that he has an agenda.

His best friend is in the class, and they come up with crazy games to play on the field (“Mummy, this morning we made a dust storm!”), and he’s already playing with some of the other kids he was friendly with last year.

On Friday he came home, starving and exhausted, and told me, “Mummy, I’m so disappointed it’s the weekend. I just love school so much!”

To top it off, today he voluntarily went to school 45 minutes early because he wanted to try out for the cross country team.

I’ve had no phone calls from the school, no notes from the teacher, no hand waving me over at pick up for a “brief chat”.

My kid, it turns out, is rocking Grade One.

I have never been happier to have been so wrong.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, E.- the seventh year, Grade One

Microblog Mondays: (Not-Quite) Total Eclipse of the Sun

We’re all set for the partial eclipse of the sun this afternoon. There was no possibility we were going to be able to reach the zone of totality, but apparently we’re meant to get close to 75% coverage, so that should be enough to make things interesting.

I’ve spent the last two days with Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart and U2’s Staring at the Sun going round and round in my head.

E. has a pair of viewing glasses from Sky News magazine that his Grannie gave him last week. Q. is working from home today, so we’ll be able to take turns watching the eclipse and watching P. (who, at fourteen months, won’t have any idea what is going on and certainly will not understand the importance of not looking directly at the sun). After lunch he and E. are going to build a solar viewer (one of those pinhole projector types), so we’ll have two ways to watch.

And then I guess we’ll just be hanging out, waiting for the sun to partly disappear.

It’s rare for something to get all three of us equally excited. I wouldn’t have predicted that “partial solar eclipse” would be a major family bonding moment, but there you go. Astronomy for the win!

Are you watching the skies today?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under E.- the seventh year, Fun, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Lifeboats

In the last couple of weeks E. has suddenly developed an intense interest in the Titanic, which means we now have several books about said ship out from the library, including the exact book I used to own when I was a child with an intense interest in the Titanic.

E. is aware, of course, that the story of the Titanic is a tragic one, a cautionary tale of needless loss of life, but he approaches the subject largely on technical grounds. He is interested in the hows and whys of the sinking and (especially) the discovery and exploration of the wreck. When I was a child I was most interested in the exploration of the wreck as well (I even had a second book by Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard, about the wreck of the Bismarck).

I am really having a hard time with the story the second time around.

As an adult, I can’t escape the horror of the human side to the sinking. I’m finding it difficult to read aloud to E. the sections which detail the children who perished, or the reports from survivors of the haunting cries of the doomed passengers as they struggled to survive in the icy waters, or (especially) the myriad mistakes which led to the tragedy (first and foremost the fact that there weren’t enough lifeboats on board). He doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of it, but I am.

I’ve tried to mostly stop thinking about the children, because I find it too upsetting, so instead my mind keeps coming back to Ida Straus, who was offered a place in one of the lifeboats, but chose instead to stay on board the Titanic with her husband, saying, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.”

I don’t think I could do that.

I love Q. very much and couldn’t imagine a life without him. But I think if I were offered the chance to live, I would take it.

Maybe my reaction is a result of the phase of life that I’m currently in. Obviously there are E. and P. to think about, and (in this imagined scenario), if they were in a lifeboat, I would get in that boat to be with them in a heartbeat. Maybe I would feel differently if I were (like Ida was), in my sixties, with my children grown, having been married to Q. for four decades rather than one.

I don’t think so, though.

Q.’s mother was widowed fourteen years ago, when she was in her early fifties. I’ve watched her build a life that in no way resembles the life that she was expecting to have, but it is still a life of great joy, a life of adventure, a meaningful life.

Maybe Ida would have felt differently had she lived in the twenty-first century and had all the opportunities available to women that we enjoy.

Or maybe she loved her husband more than I love Q.

It’s something I think about.

Would you get in the lifeboat?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Teeth

Last week we took our cat to the vet for ridiculously expensive unavoidable dental work.

When we picked her up at the end of the day, the vet’s administrative assistant presented us with detailed care instructions, a bag of pain medication, and a small pill container which contained the two teeth the dentist had removed.

I’m not at all sure why they did this. To prove they took out the teeth they said they did? To demonstrate the necessity of removing the teeth by allowing us to witness for ourselves their state of decay? To provide us with souvenirs?

I was more than a little weirded out by the whole thing, but I had E. with me and he thought it was amazing, so we brought the teeth home. They sat in their container on the kitchen table (where E. had abandoned them) until dinner, when Q. asked that we not share the meal with the teeth (fair).

At some point the container migrated upstairs to our room, where it’s currently sitting on my night table, right next to where the cat herself usually likes to sleep during the day (weird, no?).

Today, I realized that I’ve also got three or four of E’s teeth stashed in my sock drawer, a result of having the tooth fairy visit right before I go to bed and then not wanting to throw the teeth in the garbage in the upstairs bathroom in case E. somehow found them.

I’m a tooth hoarder.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Daily Life, E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Firsts and Lasts

My first baby had his first sleepover this weekend.

He was excited and nervous and worried about saying goodbye to me, which basically sums up E.’s reaction to most new things.

Q. and I weren’t sure if we were going to have to go and get him, but he had a fantastic time.

My last baby is in her last week of being a baby.

Every time E. does something new I’m reminded, again, that we will get a second chance to experience those firsts.

And every time P. does something new, I am reminded, again, that her firsts are also my lasts, for she is, truly, our last baby (despite E.’s insistence that we should have a third child because he’s “not done being a brother”).

She is the baby we never thought we were going to have, so every one of her firsts brings with it this complicated mix of emotions.

Gratitude. Grief. Nostalgia. Anticipation.

I am excited, so excited to see the little person she is in the process of becoming.

But it is bittersweet.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays, P.- the first year

Not My Story

If you’ve been reading me for a long time, you’ve probably noticed that I post a lot less about E. these days.

Partly this is because of lack of time. I post less about everything these days and my Google Doc file of “potential blog posts” keeps getting longer and longer.

Mostly it’s because I’ve decided that E.’s life is not mine to share.

When he was a baby, his life and my life were intertwined. Writing about learning how to be a mother meant writing about what he was doing.

He’s six now.

He’s a big little kid (or a little big kid depending on how you look at it).

He has his own thoughts, wishes, dreams, plans, questions, and opinions (this child is NEVER short of opinions).

Writing about him without his permission feels like a violation of his privacy, but he’s too young to be able to give me permission to tell a story- he wouldn’t truly understand what giving me permission means and what the ramifications are of something being published online (he’s desperate to be able to put “how-to” videos on YouTube when he makes, say, a conveyor belt out of toilet paper rolls and old linens, and can’t understand why I keep saying no).

The problem is, I desperately need someone to talk to about him, and (as I said recently) I don’t have the right kind of friend nearby.

E. is not easy to parent.

I know all kids have their challenges, but I also honestly believe that some kids are harder work than others.

Nothing drove this home more than chatting with one mum after school one day when she told me that the teacher had called her about her daughter. “That’s the first phone call I’ve had from the school about any one of my kids,” she said (she has three- the eldest is in grade four). “I guess one of them had to be the rebel.”

At the time, I was right in the middle of a months-long stretch where I touched base with E.’s teacher (bless her) every single day after school. We talked with E. about what went well, what hadn’t gone well, and what we could do to make things better the next day.

I went home after that conversation and cried.

I feel like most of this past school year has been spent trying to figure out what is going on in E’s head.

I’ve been to eight appointments (not counting follow up discussions with his regular doctor) with three different specialists.

His teacher and I have filled out questionnaire after questionnaire.

I have spent hours Googling, even when I know I should NOT be Googling.

The end result is that the developmental paediatrician thinks that E. probably does have something going on. It’s mild enough that for now we’ve avoided a formal diagnosis (because E. has made huge strides in the areas where we were concerned over this past school year), but we’ll revisit this in a year’s time as the demands of Grade One are going to be much heavier.

I don’t like labels.

I especially don’t like the label that the developmental paediatrician thinks probably applies to E. because it brings with it a lot of assumptions for a lot of people, assumptions which, for the most part, are not applicable to my son.

At the same time, if E. does need more support to be able to thrive in the school environment, and a label is required for him to become eligible for said support, then I will do whatever is necessary to make sure my child gets what he needs.

It’s hard though.

I’ve cried a lot in the last couple of weeks.

It is hard to think that my beautiful boy’s brain is likely to make it harder for him to cope with school (and with life) than it will be for his peers.

It is hard to realize that I have many, many more meetings with teachers ahead of me, that the school may not be able to look past the other stuff to see what he is capable of (and he is so incredibly bright, so capable, so curious).

It is hard to think of myself as a special needs mum, even as I recognize that I am his first and best advocate.

It is hard not to be scared of what the future will bring, especially if you start Googling.

It is hard to know that P. will be at a much higher risk for the same thing and to also know that it will likely be years before we will be able to tell whether her brain is wired like her brother’s or not.

It is hard not to think that this is somehow my fault, that I have done something wrong somewhere along the line to cause this (even as I read over and over again that it is not my fault).

It is hard not to feel guilty that he was five before we put in the paperwork to start asking questions, that we didn’t investigate earlier, that I kept telling my gut to be quiet when it whispered that something was going on, that I thought he would grow out of it or that he just needed more time to adjust.

In my heart, I know that E. is going to be fine in the long run.

Scratch that.

He’s going to be more than fine.

He’s going to be amazing.

P. too.

But the road to get there just got a lot rockier.

And I wish I had someone to talk to about it.

 

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Brave New (School) World, E.- the seventh year, Grief