"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's in the Bag?

(Warning:  This is 100% a complaining post.  Not in the mood for whining?  Then look away now.)

Picture this:  Friday afternoon after work, and I'm rushing to the drug store in an attempt to pick-up a few things before I need to get the girls from the babysitters.  My mission is to be in and out as quick as possible.  My shopping list includes:  tampons, maxi pads, zit cream, frozen pizza because we have NOTHING in the house for dinner, toilet paper and a treat to kill the sweets-craving that comes with my monthly visitor.  I achieved my goal of being quick, and with overflowing arms (because I opted for no basket or buggy in my haste) I dropped my items onto the checkout counter.  I paid for everything and then realized I'd made the dreaded bag mistake.  That's right, I forgot to ask for a plastic bag.  Since we pay for our plastic shopping bags in my community I was out of luck having already paid for my order.

I fully support the use of re-usable shopping bags and I think that paying for plastic shopping bags is a great idea.  However, from time to time I don't have a bag with me and I would like a plastic one.  Of course it is always on these occasions that I forget to ask for one, I've paid and now I'm hauling things to the car in my arms.  No big deal really, but today I really wish the cashier had been thoughtful enough to ask if I wanted a bag before she checked me out.  After all, as another woman I would hope that my purchase of feminine hygiene products, acne medicine and sweet treats might make her realize that I'm probably feeling a little on the grouchy side and that in moment of empathy she might offer me a bag not just for the convenience, but for the sake of privacy.  But no such offer or reminder to purchase was made (and I wasn't about to try and figure which card to use to pay for a 5 cent bag since I had no cash), so I carefully balance my "girl-purchases" on the frozen pizza and made my way to car being even more cautious not to drop anything or make eye contact with passersby.  No wondering what was in my shopping bag because it was all out in its full glory for everyone to see.  Yes - I'm grumpy, PMSing, craving crappy food and not in the mood to talk.  So, watch out because here I come!

By the way, did I mention that after all that I forget to buy the toilet paper!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things.

The girls were in the bathtub together tonight, and Sophie asked if they could splash each other.  When I agreed she said, "Splash fight!  Bring it on Molly!!!"

Bring it on?  Where does a five-year-old learn that???

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's The Matter with Education?

I really enjoy listening to Sir Ken Robinson and this new video might be my favourite.

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Education Paradigms.

Check out his site too!


As a parent and educator I don't know what the answer is, but I wish more of us were engaging in conversation with people like Sir Ken Robinson.  Inspiring!

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things.

Tonight at bedtime, I gave Sophie a kiss and said, "Goodnight!"

She said, "Can I look at a book?"

I said, "No, we already had story time."

"Then what can I do?"

"You can go to sleep because it is bedtime."

She said, "Boring!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting in Gear.

What gets you going?  What fires you up?  What motivates you to reach for your goals?  Have you ever really thought about it?  Can you actually identify what drives you?  Until recently I hadn't really spent much time considering what factors motivate me to act, to push through and strive to reach my goals.  Why?  Probably because I'm not really a goal-setter.  I see the value in having goals and I have buckets of dreams (as you've read), but I'm not so great at setting actual goals and I'm really bad when it comes to following through.  When I first set out this spring to find and create some balance in my life I briefly reflected on motivation.  I wrote about self-sabotage, lack of self-motivation and my own need to talk less and act more.  Since then I think my motivation to become the person I want to be and that I know I can be has increased, but at the same time my talkative nature and self-sabotaging ways have remained obstacles.  So, why?  Why is it that I know intellectually what I need to do to move forward and to progress towards my goals, but I still don't just do it?

The answer - fear.  I have realized (and probably have always known) that my motivation doesn't come from what I know, or from passion or even from desire, but from a place of fear.  My motivation for being a healthier and fitter me:  fear of being deserted and alone, fear of my own children being unhealthy or overweight, fear of being really sick,  fear of being unable to participate in my children's lives, fear of always being an observer, fear of being unattractive or maybe even unlovable, fear of being a poor role model for the girls, and fear of never feeling like I'm in control.  So if fear is what motivates me, what holds me back?  Fear of course.  My deterrents for being a healthier and fitter me: fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of my efforts going unrecognized, fear of appearing selfish, fear of taking time from my family, fear of the girls feeling neglected, fear of what my body might actually look like if I lost 40lbs, fear of always being the person who has to record everything they eat, fear of being question or criticised, fear of changing and still not being 100% happy, fear of shopping for new clothes, and fear of discovering I can't actually do it.  (Phew, how's that for a load of negativity!)

I don't mean to sound so miserable, that really isn't my point.  My point is that I've realized being both motivated and discouraged by fear doesn't work.  Two negatives just don't make a positive!  I realize that many of the fears that hold me back are 'just in my head', but they feel real and likely only success will help to ease them.  However, being motivated by fear is not going to work.  The fears that get me going mostly relate to other people and external forces, but I think that internal-motivation is far more powerful.  Feeling that being healthier and fitter is worthwhile just for me, just for how I will feel, should be my true motivation.  So, time for a re-write.

My motivation for being a healthier and fitter me:  fear of being deserted and alone truly enjoying being with JD and trusting in our relationship, fear of teaching my own children how to being unhealthy or overweight, fear of being feeling really sick healthy and energized,  fear of being unable to actively participating in my children's lives, fear of always being an observer having the guts and energy to try new things, feeling fear of being unattractive, or maybe even unlovable, comfortable in my own skin, and (gasp!) maybe even sexy, fear of being a poor strong female role model for the girls, and fear of never feeling like I'm being in control of how I live, taking the bull by the horns.  Time to get in gear! (How's that for cheesy pep-talk?  You should try it because it actually feels pretty good!)

"Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

K as in Kindergarten.

I obviously believe in the public education system otherwise I never would have become a teacher.  That said I of course recognize that the system isn't perfect and that there is always room for improvement.  JD on the other hand doesn't have as much confidence in the system because he had some negative experiences and was exposed to a very flawed special education program.  From my limited experience and knowledge as a supply teacher I totally understand why he has the perspective he does.  I do believe that special education has taken great strides towards improvement from the 1980s, but I also believe that it is still one area of education that has not met its true potential.  So, it is with these perspectives that we follow Sophie into and through her first year and bit of schooling.

We have always viewed Sophie as a very articulate and bright girl.  She has a tremendous vocabulary, speaks clearly, loves to be creative and has a real passion for nature.  Despite her curiosity and conversation skills we started to feel a little worried last spring when it seemed like she wasn't really showing any progress in terms of literacy and numeracy skills.  From the beginning to end of her year in JK we couldn't see a lot of change.  Yes, she had a better pencil grip, could copy almost any letter or number with ease, and was able to count higher, but still we had this nagging feeling that not enough progress had been made.  Then Sophie brought home her report card in June and everything read as if she was at level, meeting expectations, and essentially developing "normally".  We breathed a tiny sigh of relief, and happily enjoyed the summer.

Through the summer and into the early part of this fall that same nagging feeling returned, and then began to grow.  We worried because Sophie couldn't recognize any letters past 'F', and although she could count to 30 she couldn't identify any numbers above five.  Adding to our concern was her increasing lack of interest, anxiety and unwillingness to take risks when we tried to practice these skills at home.  We made a decision not to push and not to force her because neither JD or I want her to see learning as negative or stressful venture.  So, we've been waiting and watching for that elusive light bulb moment when everything comes together and her little brain absorbs all the information being shoveled into it.

Then last week things changed.  Sophie came home from school so excited because she was able to work with Mr. Teacher on her letters and letter sounds.  In my most positive voice and with my most enthusiastic smile I said, "That is great!  Was it lots of fun?  What did you do?"  A steady flow of questions fell from my mouth as my stomach knotted and my mind raced because Mr. Teacher is the school's Special Education Resource Teacher.  You know, the teacher who is so overloaded with children who need individual attention that they don't generally have time to spare for kids who just need a "little extra help".  What was going on?  Why wasn't anyone telling us that they were worried about Sophie too?  And, how worried are they?  Should we be more worried?

I did get in touch with the teacher and she reassured us that at this point we shouldn't be too worried.  First of all, easier said then done.  Second, why does this feel like this is a great representation of what isn't working in the education system?  Here we are at home worried about Sophie, but thinking everything is okay because to-date we've been told she is right on track.  Meanwhile she is being given extra support by the classroom teacher and a resource teacher.  Just think, if we had been informed and told what kind of extra things they were working on we could have been complimenting their efforts by working with Sophie at home.  And, to not worry too much is impossible. 

JD had such a frustrating school experience and we want to avoid that for our kids at all cost.  Our goal is for our children to always put their best effort forward and to enjoy themselves while doing it.  I don't care if all they ever get is C's as long as they gave it their all and had fun!  That said, I think sometimes kids can't give it their all because their learning abilities don't match how we teach.  It is those children who need to be taught new strategies and offered alternate learning formats to succeed.  If Sophie is one of those kids whose path through learning is more curvy than others I want to recognize that early and give her the best vehicle to travel in as soon as possible.  This experience has made me feel like the education system doesn't have the sense of urgency that I do, and that perhaps we are embarking on a experience that will require us to be advocates for our daughter like never before.  Maybe all of this is nothing but Sophie not being quite ready, and maybe it is more.....only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


A while ago I wrote about waiting with excitement for Molly to start talking.  Although she really isn't talking yet she is starting to say a few words very clearly and every day she seems to have a new sound or gesture to indicate what she wants.  The list of words she is saying clearly is rather ironic:  Mama, Dada, up, bye-bye, eyes, baby, ball, bum (which usually includes a bum tap), and the ever important woof-woof.  She also has her own words/sounds for shoes, bottle, cup, more, zoo, book and so on.  Accompanying these new found words are two interesting phenomenons, temper tantrums and repetitive Mama calling.

The temper tantrums very closely resemble those that I associate with the terrible-twos/threes.  They usually occur after she has done her best to communicate her wants and JD or I have told her 'no'.  Molly has a stubborn streak and although she aggressively head-shakes 'no' when we do something she doesn't like she also refuses to hear 'no' from us.  The result of each 'no' fiasco is usually screaming, grunting and sometimes a full-out, throw-my-body-on-the-ground-and-cry-until-I-get-what-I-want session.  When Sophie was this age we also went through the pre-terrible-twos phase, but it was nothing like this.  I think Sophie was communicating verbally a little more, whereas Molly thinks she is speaking clearly to us when really all we hear is babble accompanied by lots of pointing.  So, we have tantrums and still hope for Molly to wake up one morning speaking in fully coherent English.  (A mother can dream can't she?)

The second phenomenon that Molly's new found voice has created is what I call the "repetitive-Mama".  It sounds something like this, "Ma, Mama, Maammaa, Ma, Mammmaaa, Mum, Mummm, Ma, Ma, Maammmaa..."  Followed by, "What Molly?"  And then, "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Ma, Mum, Mum, Mama, Maaaammmmaaa!"  Me again, "Yes, Molly.  What can Mommy get for you?"  Then Molly laughs and giggles as if she has just told the funniest joke.  This dialogue can go on and on and on.  Just the other day it lasted easily for 5 minutes in the car.  Some mornings she is so engrossed in YELLING my name that she doesn't even notice I've come into her bedroom and am standing beside the crib.  I actually startled her one morning this week because she didn't realize I was there.  It happens during dinner, play time, bath time, anywhere and everywhere.  She will even walk right up to me and YELL "Mama" to get my attention...did I mention she YELLS it!  Although it is very cute and sweet at first to hear your baby trying "Mama" out it so many different ways the novelty quickly wears off.  We have now reached a point where Molly thinks it is a bit of game.  She yells "Ma", I respond and repeat.  Even at the tender age of 17 months the power of speech is addictive!  Now that she realizes how powerful her voice and words can be it is time to teach her to YELL "Dada".

Here is a sample of what my house sounds like: