Archive for the 'parenting' Category

The Adventures of Lilly and Madeleine – at the ripe old age of seven and nine*

September 28, 2009

While looking up stats and information for my Risk Your Child’s Safety For the Sake of Their Sanity series** , I came across Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog.  One read and I was hooked and now make it a daily visit.  Today, Lenore posted a story about a mom, Lynn, who let her seven year old go get the mail for the first time.  The mailbox is down the street and around the corner, putting her child out of her sight for a number of minutes.  I highly recommend you visit Lenore’s blog to read about it.  Lynn’s take on her situation is such a cute read!

It made me decide to tell the story of Lilly and Madeleine’s first trip to the Dollar Rama by themselves.  Now, we are a walking family.  I deliberately live in a neighbourhood that has everything I would possibly need within a half hour walk. So, me and my kids walk everywhere.  Let me preface this by saying I would never suggest allowing anything like what I allowed for a child who is not familiar with his or her surroundings, but I would suggest people familiarize their kids with their surroundings so they can do something like this. I’m afraid that this needs a map to fully understand what exactly went down.  I needed a map to fully understand it when they were explaining it to me!  So, here’s the map (let’s call the street running vertically Main St. and let’s call the street running horizontally First Ave):

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Lilly and Madeleine wanted to go to the dollar store themselves, sans growups.  It is marked on the map with the $$$.  The green dots represent streetlights and the red circle is a really busy intersection that I didn’t want them to cross alone, with or without lights. In order to avoid the busy intersection (because people there can be really aggressive drivers), I had to give them directions different than the ones we normally take.  They had been to Shopper’s Drug Mart to pick up milk for me before, but never had I let them cross the busy street alone before this experience.

The directions I gave them were to take the path that leads to the back of the Shopper’s Drug Mart and then to cross the parking lot and end up at the T intersection with the lights, which is another parking lot entrance and First Ave.  I wanted them to cross the street at those lights, walk to the corner of First and Main, turn left then walk down to the plaza with the $$$.  I thought it would be easy for them to follow as we had been to the $$$ numerous times (cheap snack crackers FTW!) by a more direct route but have crossed the street at that T-intersection many times for other reasons.

They ended up getting to First Ave with no problem but they didn’t really cross it.  Through some sort of weird directional mix up, they ended up walking toward the fire station!  They got to the fire station and said “Hmmm, this isn’t right!” and turned around.  They ended up at the corner of First and Main – the intersection I didn’t want them crossing – and crossed the street… the wrong way.  They ended up walking toward Archie’s.  Once they reached Archie’s, they said “Well, this isn’t right!” and turned around and went back to the corner of First and Main again and ended up crossing it again.  They were now headed toward the library.  They reached the library (where we go once a week) and said “this isn’t right either!”.  But they know that $$$ was right across the street and we have walked to $$$ after the library a few times.  So, they continued heading in the same direction down Main, go to the other set of lights, cross the street, end up on the right side of the street (finally!) and headed to $$$, which is how we go when we get there after our library trips. 

Being completely confused as to how they got there, they decided to just go down Main St, crossing the insane intersection yet again, continuing down Main until they reach the street leading to our subdivision.  From there, they made it home.  Crazy kids!

So, what did I do during this whole ordeal?  I did start wondering after they were gone for an hour and a half.  My mom was over and so she walked to route to $$$ that I gave the girls and called me on her cell when she didn’t see them on her way or at the store.  I started feeling a little anxious at that time.  I was picturing them walking around some subdivision off of Main St., trying to find their way home.  I went outside and took a peek down my street in both directions, only to see Lilly and Madeleine round the corner.  I gave my mom a call and told her all was well.

When they came home, I couldn’t help but laugh at their misadventure.  They were so scared that I wasn’t going to allow them to go on their own again because they crossed at the intersection I wanted them to avoid.  Had they deliberately disobeyed that request, I would have been angry and would have banned them from solo trips to the store for a while.  But, there was nothing malicious in their intent – they were just lost and confused. 

I was so proud of them for keeping a cool head and being aware of their surroundings.  I toyed with the idea of giving them my cell to call me if they got lost but it wasn’t charged so it stayed home with me (my cell is never charged, which I suppose defeats the purpose of having a cell).  In the end, I’m glad I didn’t.  They learnt something that day, a lesson I could never teach them.  And they gained a giant leap toward independance.

Prologue:  They have since made the trip to Dollar Rama two more times.  Madeleine now wants to go it alone without Lilly, and when the opportunity presents itself, I think I’ll let her.

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*Well, Lilly is nine and Madeleine is seven, but the title wouldn’t have rhymed that way.

**Part three is coming soon, really it is. Kevin’s seizures and those pesky demanding kids are keeping me from writing it up.  I mean, they like, want food and stuff.  And they’re so dirty so I have to, like, clean their clothes and sheets.  I know.  It’s so unreasonable!

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"Meet the teacher" night is so overrated.

September 25, 2009

I don’t know how constructive this will be or if it will be more of a rant. Let me start by saying that I was in the ER with Kevin (again) the night before and was just exhausted. The kids were all hyper, I had to go to “Meet the Teacher” night with all four of them as the solo parent. The school is always overcrowded and I was just not in the right frame of mind to deal with all of that. So, perhaps I’m just being a crank.

Let me get the main point out of the way, and then go on with my pity party.  I really don’t like meet the teacher night.  It’s supposedly for parents to see the class and just spend two or so minutes with the teacher and then leave.  But that’s not how it goes.  You get a room full of lingering parents who think that their child is just the best child to ever grace the face of the planet, and don’t you think so teacher?  And oooooooh look!  Isn’t that the most beautiful picture you have ever seen?  Can you believe that their child did such a good drawing?  I know!  It’s just unbelievable how talented their precious little dew drop is! 

Maybe it’s just a problem at the school my kids attend that a lot of parents talk loud enough to be overheard so you can pay attention to how wonderful their child is.  It’s been my experience since Lilly’s been in Kindergarten, though, and I hate it.  My approach is “Hi, how are you, I’m Sara, Lilly/Madeline/Victoria’s mom.  How’s the year going so far.  Any issues?  No, good.  Well, I’ll see you later!” And then I say “OK, Lilly/Madeleine/Victoria, show me what you want me to see”.  I get a kid guided tour where I oooh and aaahh privately over what they show me and then we go home.  It just sucks the energy out of me to listen to all of the praises a lot of the parents heap on to their kids.  But, let’s face it, the yellow, red and orange finger paintings all of Madeleine’s class did all looked pretty much the same.  Really, I do care about your kids artistic ability, but only in the same way that you care about my kid’s artistic ability.  So, just keep it to yourself, mmmkay?  (Yes, I am a bitch.)

Any other mommies with school aged kids out there experience this?  Am I being a big crank?  Let me have it, I can take it!

So, on with the pity party.  We set out last night at 6:30. Living right behind the school, it took us less than a minute to get there, but by the time we got there I was ready to inflict great amounts of harm on the kids. I told Lilly and Madeleine I would meet them in their classrooms and they took off.  But Victoria and Rosemary took off with them.  No, that was not the plan!  So I yelled for them to come back and told them that they will stay with me or I would chose a family at random and they would go home with that family.  (OK, no I didn’t tell them that, but I was tempted. They were bouncing off the walls since about 4:30 that day and I was at the end of my rope already.)

We get to Victoria’s class and… no teacher.  OK then.  We wait around a bit and… no teacher.  I decided to go out front to buy them the one cookie each I said they could have and there is Victoria’s teacher at the bake stand selling goodies.  OK, then, let’s go see Madeleine’s teacher.

We get to Madeleine’s class and I say hello to Mme. Grouette and took the time to tell her about Kevin’s condition.  It’s usually something I tell the teacher’s during the first week of school, but I forgot this year.  So, we said hi and I told her that from time to time there will be a note saying there was an emergency and it’s always having to do with Kevin’s brain, but I that I like to keep the teacher’s informed of things like surgery etc. when life is a little more hectic for us.

Then on to Lilly’s class.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  But for both of those visits, all four of my kids were out of control.  So, we get outside of Lilly’s portable and I send the kids away to play for a bit, hoping it would burn off some energy.  I chatted with some parents I knew for about 10 minutes and then gathered Victoria and Rosemary to go to Victoria’s class.  I told Lilly and Madeleine to stay out of the classrooms and just go home when their friends did.

We get to Victoria’s class and there’s still no teacher.  So I have Victoria show me stuff around her class, show me some stuff she did, grab her shoes that she’s supposed to bring home every day and then we head on home causing Victoria and Rosemary to dissolve into a fit of tears because they want to play with Lilly and Madeleine.  But, it’s 7:15 by this point and they have to get to bed.  So, I go home and tuck them in to bed and go to collect Lilly and Madeleine so they can have a shower before bed. 

I send those two home and go for a walk to hopefully ease my frame of mind.  I walk around the park for about 20 minutes, and head on home.  On the way home, I see a plastic fireman’s hat that I pick up to give to the school, thinking they could use it.  When I get back to the school, I see them tearing down the baked goods stand and ask if they want some help.  And in turn for that I get attitude.  Big attitude.  This is from the teacher whose class Victoria was supposed to be in but ended up needing to be switched.  Thank. God.  She is a royal bitch.  I was met with resistance from everything I talked to her about the one day Victoria was in her class.  A friend of mine had an awful experience with her.  And then she bitched at me when I asked if she wanted my help?  So, I just held my hands up and said “fine” and walked away.  (She was pissy that there were a bunch of unlabelled containers that people didn’t pick up and when I asked if she wanted help she said in a snotty tone “Well, unless all of these are yours, there’s nothing you can do.”  So I jokingly said “You know, I live right over there (pointing to my yard) and I can easily take them off your hands!”  M. Baugley laughed, she glowered.  “What, are you going to go get a container?  I don’t have time for this.”  So, that is when I walked away.)

I went to see the principal to ask her a couple of questions and to give her the hat I found, which she said could be put to good use in one of the Kindergarten classes.  And then she complimented me on my jacket (for all of you visiting from The Parent Path, yeah, that jacket. The upholstery one.  See, Joann and I are not the only ones who think it rocks!)  I then left and went home.

So, along with my usual “Meet the Teacher” issues, I had the extra bonus of super hyper kids, being overly tired from the ER visit the night before, having to solo the visit and a snotty teacher.  I am going to add another level to my own personal hells.  There is buffet hell, and now there is “Meet the Teacher” hell.  But, on a plus side, I really like all of the kids’ teachers!