Category Archives: Kidversations

The Question

By Juli

It was a little past her bedtime when I tucked in my precious six-year-old for the night, since reading time with Daddy had gone long this evening. She was being extra cute tonight, too, and she knew it. Curly blond locks wild, as usual, and splayed out in all directions on her pillow, while she looked at me with those deep brown eyes — eyes so deep you could lose yourself in them. Then she furrowed her soft brow and pursed her little lips — all signs that I needed to lower my face closer so I could be the recipient of a very wet kiss. I obliged, and she pecked me right on the mouth a few times, while she looked at me, moon-eyed.

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“I love you … Ma-ma …” She said in the sleepy baby voice that I always fall for. Continue reading

When Kids Review Inside Out

By Jac (and her daughters)

It was quite a long time ago, now, when my two oldest daughters let me interview them for a post. They’ve been asking me to do it again for a while now, and considering that I want them to LIKE my blog, I thought it was time to oblige. So may I present to you: the most convoluted review of a movie you’ve ever heard. Side-note if you haven’t seen it: the emotions they mention are the CHARACTERS in the movie. (To remind you: G is seven and a half, and E is almost six.)

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E: G, what should we do?

G: I don’t know.

E (whispering): She’s typing everything we say!

G: Blah.

E: Blah. This is the best blog post ever.

G: How’s it going mama?

Me: Ummm…. How about you start by telling me about your favourite movie of the summer? Continue reading

A Private Conversation

Setting:  Standing at the kitchen counter while Mommy loads the dishwasher.
Context:  None. There was no context whatsoever.

E: Mommy, have you seen my privates?

Me: Your what?

E: My privates. Did you see them? I can’t find them.

Me:  … Your what?

E: My PRIVATES! They are supposed to go in the bathtub!

Me: E, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Are you saying “privates?”

E: Yes, our PRIVATES. They were right here, on the counter? We got them yesterday at the McDonald’s with Daddy because, remember Mommy, we got Happy Meals? And we got our privates in them.

Me: Okay…? What are they, exactly? You don’t mean your body’s private parts, right?

E (Looks at me like I’m a crazy person):  Mommy. No. From Penguins of Madagascar. Theres a private in it? And me and G got them in our boxes.

Me:  Ah. I see. I have not seen any new toys here on the counter.

G (Calling from the bathroom):  E! I found our privates! Daddy put them in the bathtub!

Well, it turns out that there is a character in the Penguins of Madagascar named “Private.” That’s his whole name! So, now E and G each have a bathtub toy figurine of this guy, and they quite casually refer to them as their “bathtub privates.”

Well, I never thought I'd post a picture of my daughters' privates online.

Well, I never thought I’d post a picture of my daughters’ privates online.

So, thanks, McDonald’s and The Penguins of Madagascar Movie for that confusing and terrible conversation. Thanks a bunch. And a hearty “you’re welcome!” to anyone who comes to our house for a visit in the next little while and gets to have a similar conversation. From now on, can we all agree that every Private needs a LAST NAME? Please? Thanks so much.

When Kids do the Gratitude Challenge

A few weeks ago, Baby N did the gratitude challenge. I read it to my older daughters, and they thought it was very funny, so we decided that I would interview them for their own gratitude challenge. What follows is that interview. I’ve edited my part out if it because it was mostly just, “And what else are you thankful for?” and, “Stop jumping on the couch, please, and talk to me,” and “Yes, I’m typing all the words!” I think you blog readers can do without those three phrases being repeated over and over, right?

IMG_2516And so, without further ado, I present G (age 6) and E (age 5) and their gratitude challenge.*

G: I am thankful for television. Actually, all screen time! I love television.

E: I got one. Is it my turn? I’m thankful for my house. Because otherwise I won’t have any food to eat and just live outside.

G: I am thankful for fires. I love fires. Cause they keep us warm. Outside fires, inside fires, every kind of fire. Except forest fires. Because those are TOO BIG, even bigger than our HOUSE.

E: I am thankful for flowers. Because I can smell them and pick them, and have a whole bouquet—that means a bunch of flowers. A BOUQUET. I like dandelions and buttercups and I LOVE … what are those kinds again?

G: That are swirly?

E: What kinds?

G: (Runs away, for no explicable reason)

E: What are you getting? Where did you go?

G: This picture of these roses. Do you mean this kind?

E: My favourite kinds are roses. And one time I got you flowers, Mommy, because I love you and I love making special surprises for you. Maybe next time I can ask Daddy to make a surprise for you and get you flowers for a surprise. Remember that one time when I got you prickly roses?

G: My turn. Um, I am thankful for crafts. Every kinds of crafts. Especially origami, that I did in kindergarten. When you fold things out of paper. I’ve made a boat, a hat, a wallet, and a heart. Actually I just made a heart; I didn’t make a wallet or a boat. Ms. O from Japan taught me how to make origami.

E, very, very sadly: Mommy, I want to do a craft. I really, really want to do the craft I’m thinking of and I won’t have time tomorrow! I’m thinking of it and I really want to do it, Mommy. It’s drawing a heart and then cutting out the heart—that’s the craft. And I won’t have time mommy, okay? (Sad sigh)

G: You’re supposed to say what you’re thankful for.

E: I’m thankful for clothes. I like dresses! And tights! And dress-up clothes!

G: Now it’s my turn.

E: And I’m thankful for heads! Otherwise we couldn’t see or hear or talk and … we would look really weird.

G: No, our ears could be on our shoulders, our eyes could be on our neck …

E: No, we wouldn’t have a neck.

G: On our chest, then.

E: We wouldn’t have a neck. We wouldn’t have a neck.

G: I am thankful for being silly. Because being silly is weird and I like being weird, sort of.

E: Weird means silly for me.

G: Being weird means sticking your butt in someone’s face.

(Maniacal laughter from both children for five minutes while they repeated this phrase over and over.)

Finally …

E: You’re weird! (And then, looking at me and whispering because she knows she’s not allowed to call her sister that) Weird means silly.

G: I’m thankful for E because we can be silly together and pretend we have two heads.

E: I’m thankful for G because she hugs me so tight and we both play and we really do a good time.

G: You mean HAVE a good time.

E: Right. A good time.

And then they started to hug each other while spinning around as fast as they could, with no coordination or planning, and then G knocked her teeth on E’s forehead and started to cry, and then I comforted her and sent them off to brush their teeth before bed, feeling grateful myself for these two silly sisters, and also for the fact that it was finally bedtime.

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*Please note that I know how these kids of mine like to give the “right” answer, even if that answer is a bit boring to read about. So I told them that they were not allowed to say that they are grateful for family or friends or God or love, because I KNOW they are grateful for those things and I wanted to be surprised by their answers. Which I certainly was, in the end.

When a Baby Does the Gratitude Challenge

Hi. I’m Baby N. My Mommy was tagged by a friend to do the gratitude challenge* on Facebook, and she just kind of ignored it. She said that she’s “grateful” her friends won’t mind too much about that, but I think that she has a bad attitude about it, which is a little hypocritical considering how often she tells my big sisters they need “a check-up from the neck up.”

Considering that I have a good attitude about lots of things these days, except vegetables and people I don’t know and falling down, I decided that I would accept the gratitude challenge instead of Mommy.

You won't see balloons on this list. That is because they are SO AMAZING but then they pop and I am NOT grateful for that.

You won’t see balloons on this list. That is because they are SO AMAZING but then they pop and I am NOT grateful for that.

Really, I am grateful for all the things. I like biting them, and crawling after them, and climbing over them, and banging them together. But please enjoy a few of the best things that I like especially much.

1. Every morning my Mommy or Daddy gets me from my crib where I am standing in a poopy diaper yelling “Uh-Oh” over and over because that’s my only word, and they come and change me and say, “Why are you up already?” Then they bring me into their bed because they hope to keep sleeping while I play nicely with a toy. But, instead, I like to stand up by the windowsill and pull on the blind and hit it and yank it and shake it. So then they OPEN the blind and this brings me to what I am grateful for: because do you know what is out there behind the blind every single morning, and always surprises me? The OUTSIDE! Every day! You can stand there, and look out at it, and hit the window while you look out there, and if you stand on Daddy’s head you can see it from a bit higher up, which is so amazing. I love the outside.

2. I am also grateful for the STAIRS. I finally figured out how to go down them so I don’t get stuck at the top anymore, and now I can go up and down, and up and down, all day. Mommy likes to play this game with me where she picks me up and carries me far, far away from the stairs, and then I get to make my way back to the stairs. Sometimes I just book it right back to them because I love them, and sometimes I go slowly so I can stop to play in the toilet water or pull stuff out of the kitchen cupboards along the way. But I always win the game because I end up back at my favourite place, going up and down, and up and down.**

3. BUTTONS! All of the buttons do something! I push them and they click or they beep or they flash or they make the TV stop or they make Mommy say, “No! You’re going to call 911!” Then when she takes the buttons away, I get to angry-yell until someone brings me something else interesting (or yummy!) to make me stop yelling. It’s so much fun!

To summarize, being a baby is great. Now, where’s Mommy? I want to eat something with a spoon that I insist on holding myself so most of the food can go into my hair instead of my mouth. Or Mommy’s hair, which is even funnier. I’m pretty hilarious, if you couldn’t tell. My sisters think so, too, even if my Mommy doesn’t always. Silly Mommy. So bye-bye for now!

Mommy is in charge of the pictures, and she wants me to say that I'm grateful for her. And I really am. That's why I don't let anyone else give me a bottle! So she can't go anywhere, ever.

Mommy is in charge of the pictures, and she wants me to say that I’m grateful for her. And I really am. That’s why I don’t let anyone else give me a bottle! So she can’t go anywhere, ever.

*This is a thing where you post a Facebook status with three things you’re grateful for, every day for five days. My Mommy wrote zero things for zero days because she is a party pooper.
**My Mommy asked me to tell you that she knows about baby gates, but we have three floors and four children, and that is a lot of lifting small people over baby gates and she is doing the best she can, so you can just shut up about gates.

Moments at the Applebarn

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I’m a part of a Facebook blogging group (YVR Bloggers), and we members of this distinguished group got an opportunity to visit Taves Family Farm (a.k.a the Applebarn) for free! The way the day worked out with my family’s school and work schedules, I ended up being able to go with just my two-and-a-half year old. This is kind of unusual for me, to say the least.

I expected that I would have a funny story to write about—something would go terribly wrong, R would do something infuriating, it would be pouring rain and I wouldn’t have an umbrella—and a hilarious blog post would basically write itself. But, unfortunately for you, the two of us had a simply lovely day! It was sunny, there were lots of great things to do with no time pressure, I was not distracted by other kids or adults; we really just had some very nice one-on-one time. It turns out that perhaps some days are just too nice to make fun of.

Basically, our day was a series of memorable moments, but I did take pictures of some of these moments. So I guess this post is kind of writing itself after all!

“Selfie on a Hayride!”

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“Hey Mom! There’s a peacock in here!”

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“Should I get on the car or just push it?”

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“Excuse me, why are you looking at my apple slushie?”

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“Hold my hand so I can go down the slide again!”

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“Don’t mind me. I’m just chilling on top of an enormous bouncy pillow.”

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“I’m gonna grab Mommy’s camera and accidentally take a picture of my boot!”

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“Oh, did you say apple picking? I heard something else.”

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If you’re looking for a pumpkin patch this fall, or an apple-picking experience (or both!) and you are near Abbotsford, Taves Family Farm is just wonderful.

One final picture for your enjoyment. These are some crazy-looking squash, am I right?

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On Trying to Understand Small Children

So, the other morning I was sneakily trying to drink a cup of coffee in peace, when S came up to me with two LEGO creations in her hands. “Mommy,” she said, “Joey just ‘vented something, and he’s all done making it. Joey’s been working hard on his ‘vention with his best friend who he lives with, and they’re all done!” She holds up these items for me to look at, because obviously, in her mind, she believes that I will know exactly what she’s talking about. In truth, I do not. Instead I’m thinking, “Who is Joey, and if one of these LEGO things is Joey and one of them is this “vention,” how am I going to tell which is which?” This is an urgent question to answer in my head, and fast, because my young children, like most, are very impatient creatures. Impatient and illogical, which is a bad combination. S believes I should be able to understand everything she is talking about (through my telepathic abilities, perhaps), even when half of the dialogue is going on in her head. Should I let it slip that I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what she is talking about, I will be treated to a large amount of anger, which will emanate punishingly from her because “Mommy! You’re not list-en-INGG!”

Sometimes I am just SO exasperating.

Sometimes I am just SO exasperating.

So here is a secret that I’ve learned so far (and, good news: it works about 45% of the time): when responding to a small child in such a situation, you have to keep your comments AS GENERAL as possible. For example, I could look at both of these LEGO creations that she has made and say, “Wow, Joey! Huh! Look at that!” Or something to that effect. Notice that this sentence contains neither judgments nor qualifiers about her LEGO creations (or Joey’s, for that matter). One reason for this is that research has shown (and I am a reader of current research, you know, in my “spare time”) that applying judgments and qualifiers to children’s creative endeavours, whether positive or negative, causes anxiety in them (the children, that is. The LEGO is fine with it). Another reason for keeping my comments as non-specific as possible is that otherwise I am in for a very frustrated four-year-old, which is even less fun than it sounds. Maybe Joey is a “bad guy,” and therefore maybe the thing that he made with his best friend is a bad robot or something, so therefore praising Joey in this situation is a bad idea. And even if his creation is good, if I start identifying specifics that I’m noticing in order to praise it, it will become clear that I have no idea which one is Joey, and which one is Joey’s “‘vention.” Are you following me so far? Good. Because I am telling you, if she realizes that I can’t read her mind, again, that will lead to an exhibition of her wrath. Because to my four-year-old it is SO obvious who Joey is. Joey is the one with the flargglebarggle. Obviously.

Alarmingly, my daughter is so consumed with me “listening” to her properly (i.e. reading her mind), that she has actually instituted a reward system for me. She explained it thus: “Mommy, those who are the best at listening will have all the star patches! This baby already has two star patches, and Barbie has three star patches, and you can get star patches, too!” Even more alarmingly, I kind of want to earn a “star patch,” whatever that is.

In one sense I am pleased about this approach, because it is much gentler than some of her previous approaches have been. Once, recently, we were out for a walk when it became clear to her that I had no idea what she was talking about. She had asked which of her friends “do not have boys.” I took this to mean “do not have brothers,” and responded accordingly. She was quiet for a second, then gave me a disapproving look, wagged her small finger sternly at me and said, “3…2…1…You’re CANCELLED.” Ouch.* I never did find out what she had actually meant by “not having boys”, but I probably wouldn’t want to know, anyway.

When she is older, S and I will probably laugh about all this, and that will be a fun day. But until then, since I want to refrain from being “cancelled,” I will continue to hone my mind reading/toddler interpretation skills, and hopefully soon I will have some star patches to show for it.

 

* Since then however, this has become a hilarious way for my friends and me to indicate to each other that we are incorrect. So, silver linings.

 

Why I Will Teach My Daughter That Some Happily Ever Afters Are Single Ones

Ah yes, good old Barbie and her dream-house, and her dream-life with her dream-man with his well-tailored suit and his great head of hair. What else could a girl want?  Answer: a LOT.

Ah yes, good old Barbie and her dream-house, and her dream-life with her dream-man with his well-tailored suit and his great head of hair. What else could a girl want?
Answer: a LOT.

The other day I played “Barbies” with my little daughter. I call them “Barbies” (with the quotation marks) because the dolls we have are not actual Barbies, rather they are dollar store Barbie-type dolls—you know, the ones that are made of hollow, cheap plastic, and when you shake them you can hear some sort of after-market plastic piece rattling around inside, and their limbs fall off with alarming regularity, and they don’t really bend in any normal, human ways, and if you take out their ponytail you will reveal a surprisingly large bald spot in the middle of their heads, and also they are garishly made-up, and they cost a dollar. So, “Barbies.”

So there I sat, on the floor of her room, wielding an armless, rapidly balding “Barbie” in a poorly made polyester tube-top, some very unflattering jeans, and a pair of mismatched plastic boots. My daughter informed all of us “Barbies,” including my character (whom she christened “Ungyless”), that we were having a party. And then she proceeded to announce which of the characters were “in love” with which other characters, because it was a “girls and boys party,” and “a love party” where all of the girls “had to be in love.” Before she made this little announcement, I had been preparing to share that Ungyless was considering which college she might like to attend, and that she might like a shopping trip to acquire some more professional-looking attire, but this comment threw me. I began to question this premise: “So … what if the girls don’t feel like being in love? Or what if they don’t love somebody? Can they just be friends?”

“No,” announced my daughter, “Because this is a LOVE party. The loot bags are all about love, and everybody has to be in love to be at the party. It’s a love party.”

“Oh …” I said. “Well, when they leave the party, can they stop being in love?”

“No, they have to be in love FOREVER.” She said, matter-of-factly.

Huh. I began to question this more, to the tune of: “You don’t think all girls or boys have to be in love, do you?” I also began to make some very good points (in my opinion) about how not everyone HAS to be in love, and listed some very good friends of ours who are single, successful, wonderful, happy and fulfilled people. Finally she turned to me, exasperated: “Mommy! I have to fix this box right now, AND I have to put this on your head (holds up a small parachute man). I DON’T have time to answer questions.” And with that, she carried on, putting the parachute man on my head as promised, tinkering with a toolbox, dressing some baby dolls, announcing that she had to go to work for “a minute,” and cuddling her babies. I watched this, somewhat proudly, realizing that I had, indeed, successfully shattered at least a few female stereotypes for her. Here she was, confidently bustling around; a mom who could balance tinkering with tools, going to work, and cuddling her babies.

And yet I was troubled. Here was one I had missed—a sneaky one that I think pervades our culture so often without challenge: the idea that girls should, and will eventually, be in love. Ours is a love-obsessed culture—the princesses who are my daughter’s heroes are so often “saved” by the love of handsome, rich princes—there are exceptions to this, of course, but there has always been this oft unspoken, deep-seated idea that a girl isn’t complete without someone to love.

I always catch myself telling my single friends, “You’ll find someone! I just know the right one will come along!” Etc, etc. But the truth is that this isn’t guaranteed to happen, no matter how amazing and beautiful I know my single friends are. I want to be hopeful with them, because I know that the majority of them long for the intimacy and shared experiences, the family, and the romance that coupling can bring. But as a grown-up I know that the world is not perfect, and I do not believe that there is one person, one soulmate, for everyone, no matter how much the little girl in me longs to believe that. And I know that there may not be someone for my perfect, sweet, sparkling little girl, no matter how lovely and worthy of love she is. But whether she finds a someone or not, I long for her to believe the truth that she is complete, whole, enough, all on her own.

But I wonder how much she absorbs this idea that everyone will, or should, attain coupledom—from the oh-so-common promise of a happy, romantic ending in the movies and TV shows she sees, from witnessing my hopeful encouragement to my single friends to “keep on’ keeping on” in their search for the perfect mate, and even in the fact that she knows that I have the love of her dad in my life. I myself am a big fan of love, and I would love to believe that for even the armless and garishly made-up Ungylesses of this world, there is a perfectly suited “someone” out there.

But do real people always find “true love” in the end? No. Does everyone need to be part of a couple to be complete, fulfilled, and happy? Absolutely not. And even for those who find love, will it definitely have a happily-forever-after ending? No. We all know that single adults, whether contentedly single or not, are much more common than happily married princes and princesses in our world.

We kept playing, even though I was lost in thought, and then the “love party” took a weird turn when a “lego ninja” arrived and started shooting holes in the roof. It jolted me out of my somber thoughts, and I laughed. And I looked at her and said, “I love you, S. I’ll always love you. You’re my girl.” She made a goofy face—mouth twisted to the side, one eye closed, still holding up her lego ninja—and said, “I love you too, Mommy.”

In the end, maybe I was reading too much into the thought process (or lack thereof) that went into my four-year-old’s spontaneous “Barbie Love Party.” Probably I was. I also know that this is just the beginning of this conversation, and that raising her will involve many, many more of these conversations. I only hope this: that if one day she does encounter heartache or alone-ness instead of the Prince Charming she perhaps will have expected, that the forever-love of her old Mom for her very loveable self will be enough.

Everything You Need to Know, You Learned When Your Sister Went to Kindergarten

Summer can be long, and I’m very much looking forward to getting back to the routine September will bring. Last year, my oldest was in a half-time Kindergarten program, so she only went to school two or three days a week. E (my second oldest) was in afternoon pre-school, which ran the same days as G’s Kindergarten. “How nice!” I thought to myself as I signed them up, “I’ll only have to worry about driving them anywhere two days a week, and I’ll be able to keep my Littles (the toddler and the born-in-October baby) on their nap schedules the other days!”

Well. Hopeful Jac was so naïve, wasn’t she? By the end of the year, “half-time” Kindergarten was actually “not-nearly-enough” Kindergarten, and my bored and housebound older children were quite literally bouncing off the walls (we had an old, bouncy couch and lenient jumping rules). And then the long Summer break began with an even more full-time wall-bouncing schedule.

Approaching this school year, I am hopeful again. I will have a full-time Grade One kid and a full-time Kindergartener, and I will have just the Littles to parent all day long, five days a week! I think I will actually get to enjoy a quiet time every afternoon!* So I’m excited about sending my darling, lovely Bigs off to school, where they will learn important things from their trustworthy teachers.

But, luckily for me and for E, G has already started sharing many of her Kindergarten lessons with her little sister, including this little gem, overheard from the back of the van. (Note: my daughters have a cousin their age—M, mentioned below—who was adopted from Sierra Leone, an older cousin they adore who is from Ethiopia, and an Uncle-like family friend from Cameroon whom they have known their entire lives, plus they watch Sesame Street, so they take it for granted that people just have different-coloured skin and/or are muppets. We have talked about skin colour before, but I guess some of the terminology didn’t quite stick when it was coming from me.)

G: E, did you know that you’re white?

E: (Looking frantically at her arms) What? Where?

G: No, that’s what your colour is called! White!

E: No.

G: Yes. I learned about that in Kindergarten.

E: Really? I’m white?

G: Yes. And you know M?

E: Yes.

G: She’s black!

E: No she isn’t!

G: Yes, she is.

E: She is dark brown.

G: I KNOW. But I told you, you call her black.

E: Why?

G: I don’t know, but I learned it in Kindergarten. Man, you really need to go to Kindergarten, E, so you can learn that you’re white.

E: I really need to go to Kindergarten. I didn’t even know I was white! I can’t wait for Kindergarten.

So, on second thought, maybe I should just keep them at home? Because apparently G can teach E everything anyway, and maybe they both know more than enough already.

Possible caption: Here are G and E on their first day of school and preschool last year. They look so hopeful and excited ... Also, I was taking these pictures eight months pregnant and holding a one-year-old. Ah, memories. (If you want to see pictures of them on their first day of school THIS year, you better like us on Facebook! That is, if I decide to send them to school at all, of course.)

G and E on their first day of school and preschool last year. They look so hopeful and excited. … Also, I was taking these pictures while I was eight months pregnant and holding a one-year-old. Ah, memories. (If you want to see pictures of them on their first day of school THIS year, you’d better like us on Facebook! That is, if I decide to send them to school at all, of course.)

*Yes, I know this is not going to be true. Shut up.

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