Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meltdown at the (no, it's not) ok corral

The other night I narrowly escaped a meltdown myself. After Mr Green recovered from a ghastly gastric bug that forced us to cancel dinner plans with friends, we decided to reconvene. The last few times we took LGO out to restaurants, he played the golden boy, charming the staff, amusing himself in between courses, and gobbling up whatever we put in front of him.  We even managed to have coffees afterwards. Yes! we punched the air. At last we can go out and have Nice Meals as a Family. Needless to say, we jumped the gun.

Better luck next time?

The evening started off just fine. We were armed with toys and snacks.  We left home obscenely early, to avoid hunger pangs and overcrowding.  The waitress gushed about LGO's cuteness to the point that Mr G and I cynically began to suspect insincerity. (Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much gushing.) Toward the end of the evening -- after he'd thrown the crayons, spat out every bite of $30 sirloin, and ran away from me toward the kitchen -- the gushing, funnily enough, fell away.

I propose a toast!

After what transpired the other night, the Next Time won't be until LGO turns 18, or whenever he announces that he's off to college -- whichever comes first.  Then we can all toast with gorgeous cocktails, and actually taste them, as a family. Now I'm going over the evening whine by whine, partly because I don't understand what went wrong.  I feel like we played all the right cards.  LGO had a decent nap, a decent snack, and a decent run around in the park beforehand. In this case, there was no forewarning of the meltdown to come. He wasn't a) tired, b) hungry, or c) overstimulated. 

What it boils down to:

HE JUST DIDN'T WANT TO BE THERE.  In his own little unfathomable toddler brain, LGO had decided he'd had enough. Tots in the 1-3-year range have no concept of delayed gratification but plenty of willfulness and intensity.  All things considered, it's not surprising things turned out the way they did. Of course the other diners were having civilized adult dinners, and I felt personally responsible for spoiling their ambiance. I remember all too well what that was like, pre-LGO, listening to some screaming holy terror that made Damian from The Omen look like a sweetie pie.  The only thing worse than the holy terror was the musak or wanky jazz playing in the background.  How had this happened? How had the cruel tables of fate turned on me? 

How had I become that parent? 

We tried to finish up and get out of the restau as quickly as possible, trying to save what little was left of our faces. True to form, once outside LGO was infuriatingly, instantly happy-go-lucky.  Now that the incident has been relegated to the memory banks (the key to which has been thrown away), I wonder whether I should have, or could have, handled it differently.  What tactics do you use to survive the public meltdown and live to tell the tale?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It sure ain't easy being Green

I've never really thought of myself as green, per se.  In high school I belonged to a local group called the 'Green Team' but only because a couple of my friends were in it, and at the time REM was all the rage.  My parents aren't exactly eco warriors, although they 'composted' and 'blue boxed' long before either became a household term.  During the brief interlude that is the Canadian Summer, they keep a decent veg patch -- nothing posh, just some green and yellow beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers to rival any superstore produce both in terms of aesthetics and taste.  All of this is passé, of course. It was nothing they did consciously, or even conscientiously.  It was just the way they lived.  There was no sacrifice or smug labour involved.  But things on the green front have moved on considerably.  And I fear, for LGO's sake, that I am getting left behind.  Put simply: the Little Green Household is not doing enough.  It occurred to me the other day as my toddler was 'helping' recycle a fistful of flyers.  We -- and here I also mean the collective me-and-you we -- could really be doing more, couldn't we?  The question is, what?

Little Green One is excited to be featured at A Mother World.  Click here to read the full article.  Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(Anti)social media

If you're a mommy blogger extraordinaire like yours truly, chances are you're way too busy to read this post. After all, you have lunches and snacks to prepare, and suppers to throw on the table. You have overflowing laundry baskets, never mind that obsolete appliance formerly known as 'iron'.  Sit-ups to do (ok, so I lied, but don't tell anyone!). You have cheque books to balance, credit cards to pay off.  Oh, and blogs to write.  After all, they don't write themselves.  Shame on you for sitting there on your bee-hind...

Happy accidents

Recently, the phenomenon of mom blogging has come under fire in the press on both sides of the Atlantic. And even though I'm guilty of blogginess myself, I can sort of see where the critics are coming from.  Now, before you go flexing your manicured nails at my eyes, hear me out. I came to blogging like most mothers do, by happy accident.  I found out I was pregnant, and wanted to shout it from the treetops. More than that, at the time I lived thousands of miles from my closest friends and family, and used the mom blog as a vehicle to keep my peeps 'abreast' of my progressing pregnancy. Then Mr Green happened to tell his female colleagues about my blog and suddenly these strange (and strangely childless) creatures, all of whom I'd never met in the flesh, were interested in what I had to say on the subject. Forewarned and 'four'armed as we mothers invariably are.

Little fish in a ginormous pond

I then felt an obligation to throw the net wider, and began actually thinking in terms of Audience. In some respects, it's still weird to me that y'all out there are reading little ol' moi.  But along the way I have discovered many kindreds also striving to find humour and sanity in the every day realms of motherhood.  The community of mom bloggers out there is startlingly supportive.  And yet it also draining and competitive. There, I said it.  Companies have got wind of marketing potential and -- boom! -- many mom bloggers became 'mompreneurs', intent on getting the freebies that come from hosting contests and giveaways. 
Somewhere along the way, mom blogging became a viable stay-at-home career, and though I mean no disrespect to those making a living from it, I feel something has been lost.  Marketing certainly has its place, but lately it seems to be dominating the entire mombloggersphere, leaving little actual content in its place.

Which leads me to ask...

Just how much blogging is too much blogging?  How much time do you allot social media per week, and how do you regulate your schedule so that the Twitters, Facebooks, and Wordpresses of this world don't usurp time (better) spent with your tot or hubby?  At times I feel like I am drowning in the sociability of new media, and the demands it makes on my time seem endless.  I'm not proud to admit that Mr Green has had to boot me off the computer on more than one occasion! I know of couples who sit on either end of the sofa every evening, with their respective laptops propped open.  What a romantic glow -- not!  In a way, it does paint a funny picture.  But in an even bigger way, it's a sad commentary on the geeky and increasingly isolated age we live in.  And the irony of spending more time connecting with 'faceless' people online than with the actual faces IN MY HOME, is both cruel and sobering. 

Love squared

Don't get me wrong, I love blogging about motherhood, and I love you for digging what I type in this space. But sometimes I worry about where it's headed, and whether or not I'm losing something far more precious than that which I'm gaining.  And you?  What are your two cents?  After all, it wouldn't be a conversation without you...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Portrait of Little Green One as an 18 month old

Happy year and a half, my little bean!  It's been an oh-so-crazy year but we couldn't love you more if we tried!  Though it may be dull to all and sunder, here is a list of your "achievements" to date, which may explain a lot when you read this twenty years from now...

  1. mom
  2. dad
  3. up
  4. head
  5. teeth
  6. cheese
  7. button
  8. hi
  9. ouch
  10. dog
  11. book
  12. knee
  13. eyes
  14. nan
  15. yes
  16. quack (as in 'duck', not 'doc')
  17. hat
  18. house
  • readily identifies body parts: eyes, nose, ears, tummy, mouth, feet, hands, knees, legs, arms
  • points out certain pictures of animals, foods, etc.
  • imitates gestures such as tickle, squeeze, pat
  • hugs and (fish) kisses on demand
  • claps hands
  • stomps feet
  • dances with bum sticking out
  • head bangs
  • gives 'high five'
  • playing with belts and pillar candles (though not simultaneously)
  • throwing animal fridge magnets and just about anything down stairs!
  • emptying clothes drawers
  • running on sidewalk but not on grass
  • throwing ball
  • listening and playing music (drums, tambourine)
  • 'reading' books, current favourite: Thomas the Tank Engine (a trainspotter like his father)
  • very intense and serious in new situations, likes to 'observe' before acting
  • cautious around playgrounds, not a natural climber
  • loves meeting strangers, but prefers adults to children
  • good sleeper (11 hours a night, plus 2-hour naps)
  • big eater but loathes vegetables; places rejects in a neat pile beside his plate
  • dislikes using spoons and crayons
  • independent for the most part but likes cuddling
  • when tired, will suck his thumb and place a hand on his head 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Little white lies and a whole lotta chocolate

We all know that fuelling our kids' imaginations makes for more creative and resourceful adults, right? But is there such thing as too much imaginary play? And at what lengths are you prepared to go to keep your child believing the unbelievable?

The Fluffy Mutant Bunny

These days many parents stick their noses up at the bald commercialism of public holidays. You know, how long ago the X booted the Christ right out of Christmas. And how, for many (North) American kids at least, December 25th is less about that Guy Born in a Haystack than it is about some fat old bearded guy with a suspiciously rosy complexion and breath to match. (Yes, the same guy you grew up being taught at all costs to avoid. And then they wondered why you cried when they sat you on his sweaty lap...) Just as Easter is less about said Guy Dying on a Cross than it is about some fluffy mutant bunny planting chocolate eggs all over your house. (Quick, call 911).

Thus a new religion was born

When I was little, public holidays were always a big deal in my house, and I have nothing but fond memories of how my cousin and I marked each occasion with nothing short of religious fervour. For weeks if not months, we consulted and strategized. For our respective birthday parties -- March and November -- our mothers put in an inordinate amount of time and TLC that now strikes me as borderline insane considering they both worked outside of the home. Our Halloween costumes consisted of elaborate sewing projects, e.g. my Miss Piggy costume goes down in history; although I could only see out one snort hole, it was amazing! They made papier mache and hand-knitted dolls that were impressive despite being ugly as sin. All this creativity must have inspired my cousin and me to pour ourselves into crafts in anticipation of a half dozen or so magical dates. The milk and cookies for the bearded guy were a given. But we went over and beyond the snack. One Easter, in addition to painted eggs, we wrote and recorded an original song for the fluffy mutant. We were so thorough and painstaking in our preparations that we even set up the tape recorder to play and left written instructions. Such was our absolute devotion, our blind faith in the Bunny. It never occurred to me to question the logistics of why a giant bunny should be prancing around our house afterhours and hiding chocolate in the first place. Just as it never occurred to me to question the logistics when I accidentally discovered an Easter gift tucked away in my mother's dresser drawer just days before the main event.

The Easter bubble was burst

I forget just how or by whom my proverbial Easter bubble was burst. Suffice to say, it was DEVASTATING. The betrayal. The lies. It had all the makings of a Mike Leigh movie. The cold reality hurt like a tongue against a frozen flagpole. Jesus was much less real to me than that damn Bunny. I had more trouble 'humanizing' a bread wafer than a cute rabbit -- go figure. It was the childhood equivalent of a priest losing his faith. The very foundations of my belief system were shaken, shifted. SPOILER ALERT: Does that mean Santa isn't real, either? I asked my mother in between sobs. It was a dark, dark day on my street. Who was I supposed to trust now? Who was I supposed to believe, now that the people closest to me had lied? Not my godmother. Not my own mother. Not even the world at large? The conspiracy was bigger than JFK.

False hope is still hope

As a parent in my own right, I might question whether it is cruel to build up the blocks of your child's imagination only to knock them down in one swift blow. Is it better, I wonder, to instill in them a 'built-in bullshit detector' in order to protect them from eventual disappointment. Personally, as much as it hurt, I opt for the former. Even though the Guy Born in the Haystack feels like wishful thinking to me, like the grandest, more magical of fairy tales, part of me would still very much like to believe in it. Atheists always seem a little sad to me. They may be right, but you still end up feeling kinda feel sorry for them. Believing in something mythical and fluffy is, at the end of the day, what gives us hope. Why else would we sit through countless crap rom coms? And hope, even false hope, is still hope. The most precious component of any childhood. Rue the day when we must learn to "put away childish things" and accept that unicorns and fairies don't exist (well, except at the Gay Pride Parade). And they most certainly don't deposit Twoonies under your pillow in exchange for milk teeth.

The youngest old boy

When I met Mr Green all those moons ago, I couldn't fathom that the man had never undertaken an Easter egg hunt. To me, a childhood not marked and defined with such rituals seems not only spartan but tragic. I felt so sorry for him during our first year together that I organized a 'hunt' for him. I'll never forget the look of boyish wonder on his twentysomething face. Priceless. I can't wait to do it all over again for LGO in the coming years. I figure he'll forgive a little white lying for the joy -- not to mention all the chocolate -- it brings us both.

Oh, and while you're scoffing all that gorgeous brown stuff this coming weekend, spare a thought to the Guy Dying on a Cross, won't you?