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The Tale of the Music Ban

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I’d like to call for a ban on the use of songs in the kindergarten classroom.

I imagine studies have been conducted on the pedagogical merits of melodies when instructing young children, but have there been any studies on the sanity of the parents who have to endure endless singing when those children bring those songs home? Has anyone thought through the fact that a 5-year-old child at play at home will mindlessly cycle through whatever song has most recently been impressed on her young mind in her classroom? And there are songs about EVERYTHING. I’ve heard songs about the days of the week, the months of the year, parts of a book — and this morning we were regaled with “Letter tree, letter tree, listen to the letter tree” on a persistent, loud, obnoxious loop. I’m sure I heard that phrase sung 1.2 million times (note: not an exact count. Might have been 1.18).

Children can learn without music. Long before “Letter Tree” was penned (was someone commissioned to write that opus? Are royalties being earned? Can I maybe hint to someone that my child should be sued for singing that song in public without permission from the artist?), children learned how to read. After walking uphill (knowing the return trip would also be uphill), in year-round snow, with only one pair of mittens to share with a sibling, my parents sat in a one-room school house and learned their ABCs. Neither has ever once fumbled on their days of the week, months of the year or confused their right and left hands. I’ve never once had to sing “T is for tidy up” to get them to clean. All that learning took place in a joyless, colourless, silent classroom and I believe they were the better for it (though, come to think of it, I may have heard a rendition of “The hooves on the horse go clop, clop, clop…”). 

So, who’ll sign my petition?

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The Tale of the Operation – Part 2

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Alternate Title: The Many Ways a Heart Can Ache

There is something so heart-wrenching about watching those who are already vulnerable being put through something that makes them all the more vulnerable. Yesterday we were aware of not just our own sweet girl’s struggle, but also Luke’s, Ava’s, Nicholas’, and Leighton’s. My heart ached as we sat in the waiting room with these little ones and their parents – we saw all of the kids before their surgeries, and a couple after. These darling lambs were clad in their little nightgowns, hungry and scared. It was enough to break your heart. My heart ached and swelled so many times yesterday, I probably should be icing it.

Our day started early yesterday. I couldn’t sleep after 4:30 because of anxiety, and the big one (henceforth known as Pumpkin), in a rare move, was up by 5:50. And she wanted food. And she couldn’t have food. At one point she stomped off in anger to her room, slammed the door, threw herself across her bed and burst into tears (later when we were trying to come to an agreement about what she would wear to the hospital, I reflected on these two experiences and thought
“Boy, teen behaviour starts younger and younger these days”). It was hard not to be able to feed my kid – especially when she could not understand why food was being withheld. Heartache #1.

At the hospital, while waiting to check-in, our little patient and her Dad ‘skipped to the loo’. I sat at the end of the hall and watched my little girl hold her Daddy’s hand and walk off – so cute, sweet and trusting – and felt overwhelmed with love for her, her Dad, the hospital, the healthcare professionals, any and all patients there. I just felt love and peace, and gratefulness for the moment (or my early wake-time was catching up to me). It felt like a prayer – without words. Heartache #2 (though it was a positive one).

A nurse got us all checked in and Pumpkin into her nightgown (she resisted this at first – she did not want to get into pajamas – probably felt it wasn’t dignified). Pumpkin was given a little stuffed turtle that had been knit and donated by a volunteer to help her with the experience. She and the turtle are still inseparable. Then she was wheeled into the hallway outside of the waiting room. As the nurse walked away, Pumpkin said, “She did a good job”. Heartache #3 (gratitude for the nurse and the volunteers who make the animals) and #4 (adoration for my daughter who is so aware of other people).

Then we waited. Pumpkin observed that another little girl was in a nightgown just like her and I think it made her feel better that someone else was in the same boat. She interacted pleasantly with the OR nurse who came to talk to us but was a little nervous going out into the hall to talk to the anesthetist. When her twin left the waiting room, Pumpkin said, regarding her parents, “Where did their sweetheart go?” (seriously, could this kid be any sweeter?). Heartache #5.

Then came the big one – the dreaded moment. The OR nurse came back, brightly and quickly announced it was Pumpkin’s turn and led her out the door and down the hall. Her Dad and I peeked around the corner and watched Pumpkin knock on the raccoon’s nose to open the door and then disappear into someplace we have never seen and cannot go to help her. She didn’t look back. Heart. Ache. #6.

Forty minutes later the surgeon came out to talk to us – everything had gone well and it had been well worth doing. Her airway was considerably blocked by her adenoids and tonsils and there was thick fluid in her ears. Heartache #7 – my girl has been suffering. We were told what we’d need to do to help her recover. Heartache #8 – no cookies for 2 weeks.

Then we waited and waited and waited. We had been told she would be out 45 minutes (not to worry if it was up to an hour) after we’d spoken to the surgeon. We waited over 2 hours (but we weren’t worried – just anxious to see our kid). Finally, we were called and we were reunited with our little girl. Our sweet, darling, groggy little girl. Heartache #9.

I kept it together while we went down the hall to the day surgery ward room. I kept it together while we kissed and stroked her head. I kept it together while she volunteered, “I love you too Mommy”, after she’d responded “I love you too” to her Daddy’s “I love you”. My husband got us food, we sat and ate and watched her sleep and I lost it a little. Nicholas came into the room and I lost it more. He looked so, so miserable. All these poor little sweeties. Heartache #10.

When we brought Pumpkin home the biggest problem was (and continues to be) the lack of food. Again. Her diet is very restricted and she is very hungry. When we weren’t watching her sleep, we were trying to explain that she couldn’t have a banana or chicken. She woke at 2:30 this morning and wanted food. Heartache #11.

Today our biggest problem is wondering if she is doing too much. She wants to run and play and sing. Her eyes are still purple, her nose is still trickling trace amounts of blood but she is leading Grandma around the yard in a game of King and Queen (Grandma is the King, Pumpkin is the Queen). What a kid! Heartache #12.

The Tale of the “Night Off”

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For a number of reasons (extended illnesses, bad parenting, sheer exhaustion and lack of will), my nights are repeatedly interrupted by both of my girls. The 3-year-old joins me each night and the 8-month-old wakes 2 or 3 times (what kills us about the 3-year-old is that this is very recent – for years she did not disturb us in the night at all). For the most part, we have an unspoken agreement that I am on the graveyard shift. On a few occasions my dear hubby has taken pity on his near-crazy wife and sent me to the spare bedroom and taken over night duty. Most recently I was given a 2-night pass before I had to be back to active service.

The first night, I awoke with a start, twice, thinking that my 3-year-old was standing by the bed. The second time I was sure I had heard her breathing. When I fully came to I realized that I had been hearing myself breathing in my sleep and had assumed it was my kid. Clearly, the night off was needed.

The second night of blissful reprieve was punctuated by a fire alarm going off. 3 times. (We live in a boy’s dormitory – my husband is employed as the supervisor of said residence. It is an adventure). The alarm went off at 1:00ish, 3:00ish, 5:00ish (I only remember the hour when I see the clock in the middle of the night. It’s a problem). Add to that an extended scream session from the baby and neither I, nor hubby got much restorative sleep. Yay, nights off.

Sleep is the big-foot of our existence right now. Others swear it exists – but we don’t have enough personal, concrete evidence to be persuaded. There is no immediate solution to the fix we’re in – it is fixable, just not immediately. And with kids this age, there is always the possibility that sleep will be disturbed. On any given night. For any number of hours. It is just one of those things that you know you have to survive, and you know you will, but in the middle of it, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or the light going off at the end of the day.

My advice? Night nanny.

The Tale of a Blog’s Beginning

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Let me be clear. I love my children. They are angels. Delightful in every way. I am so grateful they are in my life and that they are mine. But (and this is the really annoying thing) they are also constantly stretching me out of the selfish laziness I tend toward. Don’t get me wrong – that’s a good thing. They are giving me ample opportunities to stretch and grow and mature as a person. But, gosh darn it, don’t you ever just want to sit down with your cup of coffee and read without interruption or without having first to clear off your favourite chair of all the child-debris (an odd sock – clean? dirty? who even knows, 3 stuffed animals, 2 pieces of Lego and a book)? Don’t you ever long for the child-free days (either those in the past or those to come)? Don’t you ever want your pre-pregnancy body back (you know, the one you thought was hideous at the time until you learned how truly awful things could become)?

This blog will share my journey – my imperfect journey – of raising the perfect kids (at least they were before I came along and screwed them up. Sorry girls, the counseling is on me, I’m setting up the savings account today). I cannot say you will learn anything, or come across the perfect quote to sum up the experience of parenting, but those of you who are proficient at child-rearing can gleefully look down your nose at me and feel good about yourself and your super powers, and those of you who, like me, struggle a bit here and there can find that there is someone else in the trenches – trying to get sleep, trying not to sit in that unidentifiable wet spot, and trying to outlast the enemy – just like you.