Wednesday, April 23, 2014

centre stage

I don't know where she got the idea but the girl has been asking to go to ballet class since the New Year. 

Maybe it was the hand-me-down tutu she received from dear neighbours. Maybe it was from a book we read or a show she happened to watch while the sitter was on duty. But she asked about going to ballet class every day until I finally told that her I signed her up. The whole month we waited for the Spring class to start, she asked when she would be going to ballet class. Then at long last, she finally got to go.

She's been to 2 classes so far and she just LOVES it! 

photo by the wife

At her first class, I would be the mama with the camera face, snorting and bawling, shuffling in all corners of the room to record this milestone. She looked so HAPPY and FOCUSED just being there. 

photo by the wife

I loved ballet as a little girl. I think my parents signed me up for a few classes but then very quickly took me out. In their defence, I did't know my left from my right and I could never be described as graceful even in my toddling days. 

But this girl - even in this class that's all about the fun in the fundamentals, she's darling.

It's only just the beginning. I don't know if her interest in ballet will take us to the world of rigour and recitals. But it has been so lovely to see her embrace her time in the community centre dance studio so completely. 

For now - and pretty much her whole life, we're going to absolutely let her take the lead.

We're only too happy to follow in the wake of her changements. Especially if it means her happiness, too.

Monday, April 21, 2014

hunting tradition

We tell them the Easter Bunny (E.B.) comes to our house to steal the eggs we decorate so he can hide them and we can hunt for them. The eggs disappear from the bowl we prepare and E.B. leaves the kids a note complimenting their eggs. This year, the word "dope" was used in the note - utterly confusing to toddlers, I realize now (well done, wife). 

The boy woke up at 02:45 very early on Easter morning, and of course, upon discovering the missing eggs and E.B.'s note, proceeded to carry on like it was time to wake up and make breakfast. We tell him to go back to sleep.

After being kicked awake by an over-excited boy, and then pacified by a giant latte (thank you, wife), we tell them (repeatedly, though not quite exasperatedly) that E.B. will text us the time and location of their hunt. We tell them that E.B. likes to play these games around the world with many families, all a little differently. Our hunt will happen when it happens. We tell them again. And again.

Finally, the text comes shortly after the wife is "called to work." She tells them that she is following a map sent to her by E.B (nice one, wife). 

I really was hoping for another hunt at the beach but the weather report called for rain all weekend and we just didn't want to risk getting soppy, being that we're all still recovering from our fourth bout of colds this year. So the train tracks served as our venue once again.

It went quicker this time. It will get quicker every time as these guys get older and wiser, which means that we will get all the more predictable. 

Not long from now our tradition will evolve into already-assembled Easter baskets - but not before this ruse of ours becomes more elaborate. The wife and I are already talking about actual maps they'll be able to read, perhaps a buried treasure, And actual bunny foot steps. We can even arrange for real bunnies if we wanted to really mess with them.

But for now, stumbling upon the eggs we decorated together and the candy eggs that are always a surprise in familiar stomping grounds - it's all a wonderful adventure for them both. They're still talking about it. 

I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend and a great start to the week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

for the boy's 5th birthday

It's been 2 weeks since your birthday, son, and you haven't yet received your birthday blog letter. 

Between your actual birthday festivities, your birthday party, rearranging our entire home so you can have your own room, and the daily grind (which now includes regular after-school play dates in which your mom and I find ourselves cheerfully providing food, drinks, and our home as a general venue), I haven't found the time to reflect on what I wanted to share with you here. 

I've been giving it a ton of thought though, and so here goes.

For the last 4 years, as your birthday approaches, I inevitably think about carrying you, how much I loved every second of being pregnant. I think about the moment I realized that my water broke at the stroke of midnight and waking your mom so we can prepare to meet you. I try to remember how it felt to be in labour, how it was that I was able to reach in through time and space with my voice, seizing every contraction as an opportunity to open up an entire universe that would suddenly include you. I close my eyes and make myself remember the moment you were on my chest for the first time. This is the way my psyche usually prepares for your yearly milestone. 

This year was a little different.

This year, I did make myself go through a play-by-play of your birth day. But mostly, I found myself in a planet of regret. I was beating myself up for all the things I should've been but wasn't. None of which has anything to do with you. It's just that you're 5 now - a whole hand to represent your life - no longer a toddler, a milestone for you - performance review time for me. And if I were to give myself a self-assessement at this point in my motherhood: I met most of my expectations but I feel like I failed you - and myself, rather miserably, on several counts. I'm afraid I yelled much of your most impressionable years away. I'm afraid I let you watch too much TV. 

What you need to know now is that my regret served as potent alarm: a wake up call to change the patterns in my behaviour - and in doing so, influencing yours in kinder, gentler, more mindful ways. I began this shift earlier this year and I feel like it's already made a difference for us both.

For me, your turning 5 marks the beginning of a great transition. You're ready to open up to this brave new world of inviting friends and all sorts of other influences into your life. (It's already happening. You're already asking our neighbours to come over to have a snack - without checking in with me first.) And while your mom and I are gearing up to welcome the flood of new folks and experiences, I know we're never going to actually be ready. I'm excited for you but I'm also scared, because the bonds we have worked so hard to forge over the first 5 years of your life are about to be tested - and kindergarten is just the very, very beginning. 

So after giving into regret, and instead of dwelling in the sweet cozy memories of your babyhood past - all the while refusing to give into my motherly fears, in the weeks leading up to your birthday, I chose to marvel.  I marvelled at your lanky limbs and newly-formed angles. I marvelled at your willingness to help others. 

I have seen you lead. I have seen you follow. I have seen you recede into the background quietly and respectfully, when you are out of your comfort zone. I have seen you take ownership of your mistakes. I have seen you clean up your mess.  And although you rarely spare a kind word to your sister, I have watched you kiss her goodnight, shield her from danger, and buy her gifts with money you earned from doing your chores- all without our prompting. 

You can cook an egg 3 different ways from start to finish. You can write your name. You like listening to chapter books. You let me cry in your arms last week because I was worried for your great grandmother. You empathize like nobody's business.  You stand your ground. You love a good laugh. You still need your daily snuggles. 

You are a good kid. And this is the year that I have to start choosing to let go (a teeny bit, just for now - you're still a kid after all) and just have faith in you, in us, and in our family. It's a giant leap that I never expected to have to make so early in your life,  but I think that's the point because I suspect we're both going to be playing tug of war with your independence well into your adulthood. 

For now, let me just say: in those darkest hours when I am everything that is in the way of you and your happiness (which these days amounts to gum, chocolate, TV, angry birds, and everything your sister happens to have in her hand), it's because I love you that I think lessons in kindness, consideration, and moderation are too important not to land. There is nothing in this world your mom and I wouldn't do for you. I am whelmed well beyond the point at which the cup runneth over because I am your momma. Thank you for being you.


I'm super stoked you loved your birthday cake and incredibly glad that you like wearing your birthday sweater. I promise to work on making your sleeves longer as soon as possible.