thepigeoncoop

Musings about life in the Pigeon household


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The Butt

I’m a bit reluctant to post this. I started working on this piece almost a year ago. I would edit, add things, change things and then leave it for a bit, thinking that maybe I shouldn’t post this on my blog… but recently some paperwork showed up in my house sent home from my son’s middle school that made me think that I’m probably not the only one thinking about all this… and if I am, please know that this isn’t meant to attack anyone or any group in particular. These are just my own thoughts and opinions about what I’ve been seeing lately…

Hubby and I were talking a while ago about how to raise these boys of ours into strong, independent, caring men.

So many people talk about media warping girls’ images of themselves. They can’t be too thin or glamorous. And to that I say, yep. That sucks. I didn’t really grow up with too much of that in my life and I’m lucky that back when I was young (you know, the black-and-white days according to my kids), we weren’t bombarded by these ideas of what your body should look like – does anyone ever talk about personality anymore? Sense of humour anyone? How about a brain inside that pretty head? Does that count for anything? Or is that a self-professed geeky girl’s idea of being ‘deep’ that is now very much gone with the wind?

So yeah, teen girls have their trials and tribulations and this isn’t really about all of that. I don’t have girls. I don’t know what they go through other than what I deal with on a daily basis when I look in the mirror and try to come to terms with the gray hair, new wrinkles and extra weight… sigh…

What I have issues with lately is what the media is doing to boys’ minds.

What goes through their head when they see a commercial with a dad bumbling through the household using roadside flares as birthday candles on a child’s cake?

TV ads show men as middle-aged, clueless idiots while their wives save the day (and the household, the kids, pets, the school and neighborhood.)

And as a woman, it might feel like that some days – we’re doing it all, aren’t we ladies? Doesn’t it seem like it at times? But when did it become okay for men to be portrayed as buffoons? Why is it that they are always shown as the butt of everyone’s joke?

How do you tell your own boys that this is not real-life? It isn’t acceptable?

Don’t get me wrong – some of those ads are darn funny! And I’m not trying to put out a big serious message here, but I’m getting a little fed up lately.

When you are seeing this, day in and day out, doesn’t that have the same effect on a boy as being bombarded by images of perfection for all those girls out there?

And if it is okay for all these advocacy groups to be out there touting girl power… where are all the people standing up for boy power?

I’m thinking that might be gone with the wind too.

And as for those cartoons, comedies and commercials? Don’t sit there and say to me, “well, you shouldn’t have your kids watching TV then.”

Yeah. There’s a solution. I think you’re reading the wrong blog if you think that’s an option here.

For anyone who said, ‘don’t use the TV as a babysitter’, they didn’t have three boys cooped up on a -30, snowy day. Five days in a row… Kay?

So what’s my reasoning behind letting them watch it any other time, you may ask?

Seriously. Go find another blog. You don’t belong here.

Back to business.

What kind of men are we raising? Are we fighting a losing battle here?

I don’t want them to think that they are lazy, good-for-nothing couch potatoes. But isn’t that what they see on TV? They’re being shown that a lot of grown men can’t do anything right and need their hands held for the rest of their lives.

I saw a bit of a documentary the other day called Miss Representation. It discusses how women are portrayed in the media and talks about how men are led to believe that they are successful when they have the fancy, powerful car, the right clothes and a beautiful woman draped over them.

There was complete outrage over how media affects women’s minds and a little side note about how men are pigeon-holed (sorry for the pun) as being either money-grubbing, womanizing dick-heads hell-bent on world domination or schlubby pot-head underachievers.

From commercials, to TV shows, to movies, to magazines.

I agree on focusing on the media and their portrayal of women. Definitely.

For example, there was an old Doritos commercial the documentary showed. A guy is sitting on a park bench and a gorgeous woman is walking by. He opens his bag of chips and her clothes fly off. I guess there was just so much flavour-power in the bag that her clothes couldn’t take it and whipped right off her body. But the guy on the bench remained completely dressed.

Funny? Ummm…

So I get the whole double standard thing.

So riddle me this – how many cartoons are out there with a male lead that is bumbling and somewhat idiotic, but things always manage to work out in the end anyway? Usually because the brilliant kids, the genius cat or the power-house wife saved the day. I can count five off the top of my head.

And those commercials that I admitted earlier that gave me a little giggle. A dumpy, goofy guy is put in charge of one job for Christmas or back-to-school or a birthday party. Again with the roadside flares on the cake.

Everyone rolls their eyes, shakes their head and smiles.

Oh Dad (Grandpa, neighbour, brother)… you silly nitwit. Here, let me help you.

You get my drift.

Recently the boys found a YouTube video (grrr – I love YouTube. For me. But I hate that my boys have found it) in which a guy (who is sooooo funny, Mom. He is soooo funny! Wow, what a funny guy) who will remain nameless mentions his new girlfriend who isn’t very nice and who says mean and nasty things to him, but its okay because she’s beautiful.

Say what?

I told them I didn’t think that was right. Why is it okay for a person to talk like that just because they’re pretty?

They just said because it’s funny.

So then I tried to go into how a person’s personality is what makes them attractive. How they treat each other, etc…

I didn’t push it. They’re 7, 8 and 10. Let them giggle.

They weren’t even listening anymore.

So when does the serious conversation start up?

This goes back to the talk hubby and I had about raising our boys. He feels sympathy for women and completely understands that empowering them to love themselves and be proud of who they are is crucial and extremely important, as do I.

He also fears for the future of his sons. Who is sending those same messages to young boys?

So this paperwork… sigh…

Last week – first week of school and a mountain of paper came home for me to sign. School forms, volunteer forms, yadda yadda.

In the midst of all this was a rainbow coloured piece of paper describing a great after-school program to help build self-esteem. A place you can go with like-minded young people where you can discuss issues in a safe environment. It was held at the school. How awesome! This is middle-school? I was so excited for my son to check it out! What a neat idea for pre-teens!

Girls only.

So I’m getting a little fed up as a mother of boys.

Why is it okay to leave them behind?

I talked with another mom the other day from the school we just transferred out of. She was asking why we moved schools and she said that she was having problems at this particular school with her boys too.

And I’m not a mom to profess my child’s absolute perfection in all things (that’s just annoying – and completely unrealistic).

But there are bunches out there who think their child is the end all, be all. The second coming. And they can’t do anything wrong.

And I think some of them went to our previous school! Just kidding… ish…

Don’t get me wrong. My kids have all types of entitlement issues (every time I run to the store for milk, all three of them clamor for some gum or a Slurpee – why not, why Mom? Pulllease? Just one? Just one! Please? We never get anything. You never buy us anything, Mom. Jeez, Mom. This is the worst day ever!)…

And in response to my kids’ crazy ideas of how we owe them the world, I get on them about how to treat other people with respect (siblings, however, are exempt in this conversation. It’s just reality. Trust me – I try).

And to have manners. And to treat others with compassion, consideration. Basically, you treat others like you want to be treated.

I have a sneaky suspicion that there are a few kids out there not getting these messages hammered into their tiny brains.

I think in fact that some of them are being raised to believe that the world owes them something and that it isn’t just a childhood whim to have everything your way. You go for it dammit and step on the throat of anyone who dares to get in your way.

At what cost? And I ain’t talking money here.

So where is this coming from? Why are boys being relegated to the proverbial back-seat while the focus remains on empowering girls and women? Doesn’t it seem to you that we are all so consumed with giving girls a good self-image that boys have fallen by the wayside? Why are we okay with looking at girls under a microscope and trying so hard to give them a hand up while completely ignoring boys?

I recently had a conversation with a friend at the current school my boys are attending. I love this school. I love the teachers; I love the administration, the parents, the kids, and the whole aura of the place. But this goes to show that one individual can have a huge, sideways impact on a person. My friend’s teacher doesn’t get boys. Her boy in particular.

He is too rambunctious, too loud, and too boisterous. He doesn’t listen.

This sounds incredibly familiar.

I live it.

We went through this with my oldest for the first four years of his academic life! I remember sitting down with the principal of our former school for what seemed like the umpteenth time and you know what she said to me?

Elementary school is not made for boys.

And we’re okay with that?

What’s being done to change that? Nothing you say?

So now can anyone honestly look me in the eye and tell me that boys are not being left out and left behind?

So what would I do if I were in charge? Well, one thing that this current school does and maybe it is a common occurrence in public school rather than charter schools, but the kids get up from their desks. The teacher brings them to the carpet at the front of the class to teach a lesson. They go back to their desks to perform the task. Then they come back to the carpet to learn something else and go back to their desks to continue their work. They get up to get a book and then go to a different table to do reading. They get up and go get journals in a certain spot. Math stuff is in a different location. They’re on the carpet building things, working in groups, going to a different spot to do something else. The kids are always moving. Or at least way more than I ever saw at their last school.

Guess what? No visits to the principal’s office in the last year for the Pigeon family.

Of course the new year is just beginning. I’ll keep you posted…

I think the biggest obstacle we conquered here is that my boys actually like school now. Is it because they’re more engaged? Is it something else altogether? Or am I imagining this? Am I delusional?

I don’t think so. I think we’re at least going in the right direction here.

So then what would I do with these schools? Implement a movement/exercise program. First thing in the morning.

Boys are full of energy. They need to burn it off.

Teachers need for boys to burn the energy off.

What is fifteen minutes in the grand scheme of things? Thirty minutes would be even better. Get kids out in the field and do five laps around the school. Even walking at a brisk pace. Too cold? This is Calgary after all. Get them to stand up beside their desks. In the hallway even. 20 jumping jacks, 20 push ups, run in place for a count of 60 and do it over again twice.

Think they’ll have the wiggles anymore? Maybe one more round of jumping jacks.

Can’t hurt, I think.

In the mornings my boys are usually wound up. Breakfast is done, school stuff packed, teeth brushed and what do they do? Wrestle. Run around the house. I sometimes send the most hyper ones downstairs to jump on our mini-trampoline for 5 minutes. I set the kitchen timer. They come up breathless and still full of energy, but they’re a little more low-key than before.

Send them outside. They’ll run around, grab their Nerf guns and have a big battle for five minutes while I feed the pets and grab my keys.

Whoops. Almost forgot that we aren’t supposed to play with toy guns.

So what would my boys do if I took those toys away? Grab a branch and turn it into a sword.

What’s the big deal? I think the biggest hurdle boys face is being misunderstood. They’re not always misbehaving. They’re full of energy.

I was thinking the other day about how my little brother probably got a bad rap growing up. Here he is, an active boy into Star Wars, and Hot Wheels. Full of energy and always on the go. Struggling with school. And then his older sister doesn’t have half the energy he does, can read for hours in her room and loves school.

Think he had it easy? Who do you think the parents came down on for acting up and for school marks?

And I’ll admit, at the time, I worked that angle. I was li’l Miss Perfect and basked in the rays of being oh-so-fabulous.

My brother? He definitely got the short end of the stick when it came to school marks and expectations.

I’ve talked with a few friends who have a boy and a girl. They are sometimes so incredibly exasperated with their son.

What do you expect? The daughter can go and colour for an hour at a time. The son wants to head out and put the bad guys in jail, wrestle with someone, build a Lego dungeon and create a robot. All in the span of ten minutes.

Now being a gal myself, I still don’t really get boys. I’ve been married for 15 years this year and with my hubby for 18 years total and I’ve been a Momma for almost 10 years. Think I know what I’m doing? Not a chance. These are just things that I think could work, might work and sometimes I don’t even practice what I preach and find that yelling at these crazy kids is sometimes the most effective thing of all!

I’ll just continue to hope that these awesome boys will grow into men who are strong enough to shrug off all the BS the world is so ready to hand them.

They already have it down to a science being able to shrug off anything their parents say. Fingers crossed they can do that with society too.

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My Little Pigeons

I feel great. I feel empowered. I’m working. Earning a wage.

Yep. The stay-at-home mom for almost a decade now has a well-paying job in a nice office with fun people.

I’m using my brain.

People listen when I say something and don’t talk back.

I wear clothes that aren’t hoodies and yoga pants.

Actually, that part isn’t so great. Whoever invented nylons and heels needs to hop on my elliptical for half a day (someone needs to use it) and eat only carrots and celery and then still have the darn things roll down their stomach to their crotch while having to sit at a desk all day!

I like the hours. These guys are flexible and allow me to work the kind of hours where I can still pick my kids up at school and hang with them for the day. My boys still get playdates (sorry, not allowed to call them that anymore. Hangouts) and time at home, and it really hasn’t affected them much.

Until recently.

Things have exploded at work. A major acquisition of land – which means I’m busy. I’m in the land department in an oil and gas company (you can say what you want about oil and gas, and some days I feel the same way, but just remember the condemning words and thoughts when you use your car today or ride the bus or have the heat come on in your house or need hot water for anything… and then cut me some slack, kay?)…

Anyhoo. Not too many people know what in the world a Land Administrator does and this post is not going to be used to explain all the intricacies of my job. Let’s just say a company buys land to develop wells. I help keep track of the land we have and I pay rentals to the government and to farmers on the land and administer contracts we create with other companies to drill the wells… clear as mud?

So things at work have been hectic. Some long days and a couple of Saturdays have been logged. The boys are acting up a bit at school and one teacher suggested that maybe it was because of me going back to work. I personally think it is because spring has sprung and my boys would rather be doing anything else when the sun shines than sitting at a desk in a stifling classroom learning fractions. But that’s just me.

Her words stuck with me though. Nagging at me.

Maybe it is my fault. I’m not doing enough. I should spend more time with the boys, blah blah blah.

Do guys ever go through this? Is this why women might not ever conquer the world? Would we feel too guilty?

Would we be all, ‘Oh, sorry Lieutenant, we can’t invade that country today. I have five loads of laundry waiting for me at home and I need to have quality time with my kids.’

Not that I’m worried about conquering anything other than the absolutely filthy floors in my house…

And then it all came to a head yesterday.

My oldest was on the school field, horsing around with a buddy. They both were chasing after a rubber chicken (they still make those?) and collided.

My child got the worst of it. Darn rubber chickens.

He went to the office and the phone-call-saga, as I like to call it, began.

No one was home.

They don’t have my new cell number, so they couldn’t reach me. Stupid stupid stupid. I kept meaning to send the information to the school, but kept putting it off.

They didn’t even try hubby. My oldest kept telling them he was out of town and not to call him.

He was running errands about five minutes away from the school, actually.

Why the school administration took the word of a nine-year-old and didn’t at least call hubby for my new contact information is another post entirely and something that will hopefully be discovered later today after I drop the kids at school and am finally calm enough to ask them face-to-face about it.

Deep breathes.

So while my poor child is in pain, the school secretaries are frantically trying to find someone to come take this boy off their hands.

They end up calling my emergency contact. Who was actually out at a park with her kids. Thank God she had her cell. Thank God she called her hubby and he was home and available to pick up my child (big bottle of wine and some flowers were promptly delivered to their home!).

So emergency contact doesn’t have my cell number either.

Please understand my own cell phone history.

I used to have a cell that I usually forgot at home, left at restaurants, lost in the van, etc.

Half the time it wasn’t even charged and I hardly ever gave out the number. If you needed me, call me at home.

Being at work changed all that and I need to be on the ball more and realize that I’m not at home anymore. I need to hand out my contact information.

Yes, it would have been most helpful for my frigging emergency contact to have my frigging cell phone number. Ugh. What a dumbass I am.

And what was I doing all this time? Why, I was out for Vietnamese food at a lunch I helped organize for a co-worker’s birthday.

Even if my phone had been called, I wouldn’t have heard it.

Oh, the guilt.

My son was sitting in the school office for almost an hour before he was picked up.

With a broken collar bone.

Guilty? Oh wait, the guilt train is just leaving the station, people! All aboard!

Everyone finally gets hold of me, I get hold of hubby. He picks up the oldest at our friend’s house – who by the way, went to the school in such a panic that he forgot his wallet. When asked for I.D. to take my son home, he says, ‘Well, I don’t have my driver’s licence, but I’m a cop. Will my badge do?”

Best line of the day!

Needless to say, my oldest was released to my friend right away!

Hubby takes our child to the hospital where it is determined he indeed broke his collarbone.

And throughout the pick-up drama, I’m racing out of downtown to get anywhere that is closer to my family than the concrete building I work in.

And after picking my other two up at school, I spend the afternoon waiting. I wait. And wait. Texting constantly back and forth with hubby for updates and trying to make cookies with my youngest to keep my mind focused on anything other than guilt.

So my oldest and my hubby finally get home (two hours, in and out – I think it is a record for any hospital in Calgary! Very impressive!)

And my boy, who didn’t cry on the field, in the van or at the hospital, takes one look at his mom and breaks down.

I am Mom. Hear my roar… ish…

This is why the school now has my contact number because I’m not home and this is also why I’ll beat myself up every time I think of this incident, knowing my boy was scared and in pain and alone. Completely alone without his mom, the one person he needed and wanted.

So his soccer season is done. So many tears on that one. His birthday party next weekend at the roller rink is postponed. Poor dude.

I can’t even hug him properly because his poor body looks and is so broken. He’s lopsided because the collarbone isn’t hoisting up his shoulder anymore. He’s uncomfortable and confined to no activity for the next four weeks. This is brutal for this active guy who just learned to do backflips on our trampoline.

My perfect boy will have a bump on his collarbone when the bones finally fuse together and he’s pretty upset about that and when the two of us were alone, my brave, sweet boy allowed himself to cry in front of his mom over that one too.

Last night I was putting both boys to bed and I was going back and forth between heading into work today. I talked to my oldest about it and asked him what he wanted – to have Mom home? And he said it was up to me.

Then my middle boy piped in and said, “Mom, what do you love more? Work or J?”

And I said, “J. No question.”

And he answered with, “Then why don’t you just stay home with him then?”

So my new Life-Coach is my eight year old son and here I am, in front of my computer, still in my robe, waiting for everyone to wake up so I can make breakfast and then hang with my oldest boy today and bring him juice and prop up his pillows and stroke his hair.

I might work a bit from home… maybe we’ll have a nap instead.

The guilt has eased… for now…


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Age Appropriate

I’m starting to enter into those years I’ve dreaded since the doctors first said, ‘its a boy!’

My little Pigeons are growing up – and way too fast.

I’m actually really enjoying these years right now. At this moment. I want to freeze this time. They’re out of the baby stage where everything is a blur of sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, extreme joy and cuddles; but also a lot of physical work.

They’re out of the toddler stage where you can’t even carry on a conversation with another adult because you’re keeping an eye on them and having to run after them so they don’t come too close to anything sharp or steep or slippery or hot or cold or electric, etc… (a.k.a. – a lot of physical work).

They’re out of the preschooler stage where the physical work is of a different nature – as in; if I didn’t have these boys dressed and ready to go out of the house by 9:00 am, the energy bugs took over their little bodies and the wrestling and eventual crying (theirs and mine) would rule our day. So there were bunches of trips to the pool, the zoo, the science centre and the neighbourhood playground.

Endless. Physical. Work.

And now they’re at a great age. Six (almost seven, thank you very much), eight, and nine years old.

They’re so much more independent. They put away their own clothes, clean their own rooms, we assign them chores and when we go out to a restaurant or the mall, more often than not we can actually enjoy ourselves before the herd mentality of three brothers being thrown together in a situation where they have to behave takes over and it all falls apart.

But overall, it is good. It is great.

But along with age comes the mental stuff. No longer the physical strain for Momma Bird. No, no. Now we’re entering into the mind game region – and me without a map.

Of course with me being a girl, the mind games these boys throw at me are nothing for my skill-level.

But I’m sure over time they’ll hone their craft and I’ll be on the losing side… I’ll try to stay optimistic.

But the one thing that is bothering me in a huge way lately, and something I’m not at all ready for, is letting go enough to have these boys make their own decisions as they are bombarded by things that I strongly believe are way too inappropriate for their age.

For instance, my oldest has been heading to a friend’s place after school. And at first it was them playing on this kid’s iPod Touch and checking out their 3-D TV and playing video games on their PS3 or their Wii (first of all, how much dough does this family have?! Seriously – I clearly need to get to know them better.)

But lately these ‘play dates’ have morphed into an afternoon of the boys playing video games.

‘M’ rated video games.

Now for those of you who might not be familiar with this, E is for Everyone, T is for Teen, and M is Mature.

As in; not really recommended for a nine-year old kid.

In my mind.

And the M-rated game they play is Grand Theft Auto.

And that’s the one I know of. There could be others.

Now I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to any techie stuff and in particular where video games are concerned (in fact, just the other day my oldest had to set up the gaming system for me because I’m a bit of a dolt).

But Grand Theft Auto? Even I’ve heard of this game and what I’ve heard had alarm bells ringing all around me when I saw that these guys are playing this violent game.

So now what? Do I say to the mom that I don’t like my son playing this game and I would appreciate it if they wouldn’t play it anymore?

And embarrass the crap out of my son?

But I’m Mom here. I have to wield my power while I can, right?

I’ve talked with my oldest about this and he assures me he knows it is inappropriate and he knows it isn’t real and I shouldn’t worry…

I’ve tried to think of it in terms of ‘their house, their rules’…. or ‘when in Rome’…

But I heard a story the other day about a friend of ours whose 11-year-old son was at a buddy’s place with a few other kids the same age and they switched on the horror movie ‘Saw’.

Now I’ve seen quite a bit of that movie and I don’t think its even appropriate for me to watch; let alone a pre-teen child.

So where does this all begin, where does it end?

Does it start with something like a video game that has swears in it and ends with the kids watching blood-shed in a movie?

I’m at a loss. I know I should go with my gut on this video game dilemma, which is to actually talk to the mom and say that my kids are not allowed to play those kinds of video games at their house and I feel very uncomfortable with it.

Then again, do I want to be the ogre mom? Seriously, my child has been inhabited by a rude, pouty, surly 16-year old boy. Do I want to push it so he hates me forever?

Then again, isn’t that one of the signs of being a good Mom? Who else is going to watch out for this stuff besides Mom?

Or do I just want to pick my battles?

I mean, this mom has her three-year old watching the boys play these video games. And while I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t follow this mom if she jumped off the proverbial bridge, I’m thinking I should chill out and just let these boys have fun – there are worse things, right?

Right?


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Vacationesia

Oh, Mother Nature. How you toy with us measly human beings.

Or maybe I should say Human Nature.

Recently I was on Facebook (to those of you who know me at all, this is the exact opposite of a ‘big shock’).

And I saw a post from a friend of mine that has stuck with me for the last few days. She is a great person I met in university and who is due any day now to have her second child.

She posted about people who say that pregnancy is all fabulous and lovely must have conveniently forgotten about the uncomfortable sleepless nights, having to constantly pee, relentless heart burn, weight gain, water retention and all that other classy stuff that goes along with the miracle and wonder of birth….

This is something known as pregnancy amnesia. There is seriously a term for it. I looked it up on the internet and everyone knows you can believe absolutely everything you find on the web, right? They’ve actually done studies on this. And although the actual brain is not altered during pregnancy, a gazillion women claim they have gone through it. Call it what you will:

•pregnancy brain

•mommy brain

•pregnancy amnesia

•momnesia

My fav? Mum Dumb.

Ah yes, Mother Nature’s way of ensuring women (with the help of some willing men) will go forth and multiply.

More than once.

Because if you don’t remember the pain and discomfort and yuckiness of pregnancy and labour (or an emergency C-section as was the case with me), then maybe you’ll do it more than once.

Hell, maybe even three times.

Some women? Even more!!!

I completely believe in Mum Dumb.

My youngest child will be seven years old in a month and I’m still struggling through this affliction.

Even more so lately. It became very clear to me during our recent family vacation to Mexico that this is something I still struggle with. I now have a new term for it. Feel free to vote on your favourite:

Plane brain?

Vacationesia?

We were in Mazatlan a few weeks ago and while on the plane to get there, I came to the stunning realization that I was sick and tired of my children.

Again.

Let me be very clear here – we hadn’t even arrived to our destination yet, and my children were already driving me insane.

Now it must be said that I throw that term around a lot.

That the kids are driving me crazy.

And in most cases, I’m exaggerating. Its only mild delirium and a couple of grey hairs.

The men in the white coats are not searching for me with the nets every time the kids spill on the table multiple times during a meal or when they constantly squabble over video games. I know the padded room is in my future, but it won’t happen because one of my angels left the house without his mittens or socks in -30 weather or left the toothpaste all over the bathroom counter.

But after we disembarked from the plane I was definitely drained, exhausted and thinking that I was in for a world of hurt with these boys… and in response to my pain and suffering; everyone else would be having a cruddy vacation too.

No one is happy when Momma is unhappy.

But by the time we gathered our luggage and went through (ha ha) Mexican security, I was already looking forward to our next adventure. I was excited to be away with my boys and eager to have fun as a family…

Of course the cerveza offered to me in the airport lobby might have helped in that area a bit…

Overall, the vacation was a success.

There were a few blips on the radar, as there inevitably is when traveling with children…

Okay, I’m downplaying.

Geez. This is a serious problem! Vacationesia, I’m telling you!

In reality, I was ready to pitch a few of them out of my hotel room once or twice.

And that was even after I had started on my glass of wine.

Don’t even get me started on the attitudes, the foot stomping, the whining and the very impressive body contortions accompanied by ‘awwwwww! Whyyyyyyyyeeeeee!?!’ when we visited the Mazatlan aquarium… with my mother-in-law… front row and centre to witness the wonderful behaviour of my three little frigging angels.

Or when approached by beach-side salesmen with trinkets and knick-knacks… We would respond with a ‘no, gracias’, only to be blasted by back-talk and an ear-piercing screech of ‘awwwww! Whyyyyyeeeee!?!’…

Makes it hard to be gracious and polite while saying ‘no’ to these strangers with a brat in the background kicking sand and complaining that they ‘never get anything’… while on a beach… at a resort… in Mexico…

Over all we had a fantastic time and the boys got a chance to go zip lining, quadding and ride absolutely everywhere without a seat belt. We had fun playing in the ocean and had a chance to experience a bit of Carnival. We visited with family and ate the best food and did a lot of sight-seeing!

So really, I’m exaggerating… the vacation wasn’t that bad.

The kids were pretty darn good. Great in fact… in the grand scheme of things…

Crap. There I go again.

Is there a hotline I can call? I need help, stat.

Before I book my next vacation…

 


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Ho Ho… Hell

We’re sure it’s almost here, right?

Christmas. Just around the corner is what I’m hearing.

Were the kids informed? Are they aware of this impending holiday?

I was sure they knew. And I’m positive they have an inkling about Santa watching their behaviour.

And the consequences if they aren’t good little boys.

Hmmmm…

I coulda sworn all that was true and that in fact Christmas was on its way.

Guess I was wrong.

Otherwise I would need some sort of explanation as to why my children are absolute monsters right now.

And I mean, literally, right now. At this moment.

Driving me around the bend.

Screaming, whining, arguing, crying, stomping…

And that’s just my reaction to what’s going on in the Pigeon Coop!

No amount of threats, bribes or yelling seems to work.

The listening is atrocious around here. And my throat hurts from yelling.

I’ve tried remaining calm and that usually works, but with three boys all taking turns for my attention (and then switching gears to not paying attention at all when I need them to), ‘calm’ slips into something called ‘exasperation’ very quickly around here.

I can’t even imagine what sort of special hell their teachers are going through.

And they’re so nice about it. The ‘spirited’ child of parent/teacher interviews three weeks ago has morphed into being a bit of ‘a struggle’…

They are so politically correct! They must curse the Pigeons boys when they go home at night…

I’ve had an email in the past week about the middle one not listening and being too hyped up on the spirit of the season to sit still in class.

And then the oldest one had his teacher walk him out of the school to come talk to me the other day.

That was a special little gift for Momma Bird.

Not like any of their antics were that bad or out of the ordinary. But when you’re trying to control and actually teach 20+ kids day-to-day… let’s just say I can’t (or shouldn’t) complain about only having three of them nights and weekends!

Well, I’d love to sit and write a whole novella about my children’s’ behaviour, but I gotta quickly clean this sty of a house before running out for very lavish teacher gifts!

Would wine and chocolate be inappropriate?

Seriously though, with all my griping and complaining, I am actually really looking forward to spending time with my three ankle-biters. That’s what Christmas is all about! Creating wonderful memories with family to last throughout the years.

Dreaming of a white Christmas?

Only until it runs out and then I’m switching to the red.

Hope everyone has a very special and relaxing holiday with family and friends!

Merry Christmas and all the best in 2012!


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Clueless

As confident as I can feel some days… okay, a few days once in a blue moon… I realize that I still am very clueless.

I’m talking about kids here.

Yes, there are those books – gazillions of them. Self-help books to help you raise the best, brightest, most well-adjusted, healthiest, funniest, kindest kids on the block.

I’ve looked at a few over the years, but haven’t put my heart into it.

It seems a lot of them contradict each other and every day there is a new book on the market showing you how to have a New Kid By Friday, Raising Your Spirited Child (which I bought in a moment of desperation after calling my pediatrician’s office in tears, certain my youngest child was the devil incarnate), Bringing Up Boys, Why Boys are Different than Girls (like I need a book for that?), Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice (I think I checked that one out of the library and didn’t even crack it), How to Have the Happiest Baby/Boy/Kid on the Block…

And then throw in Dr. Phil who I used to watch all the time when my boys were still napping in the afternoons. I knew all about my boys’ currency and how to deliver punishment in a loving, caring way.

Then I heard that bribing your kids isn’t the answer. Is that the same as finding their currency (video games, TV, time outside, time at a friend’s house), and threatening to take it away?

And then I heard that taking things away is wrong and focusing on the negative isn’t the answer. We have to pay attention to all the good things the kids do and praise them and then they’ll move away from the bad behaviour.

Confusing, right?

But I think we’re all doing okay, considering I don’t have a library of books telling me I need to do this and stop doing that and focus on those things while ignoring this stuff… I actually take a little pride in figuring it out by myself and using my instincts.

Of course tell that to my kids when they’re either in jail or in therapy in 20 years.

But hubby and I have our own system and it seems to work most times… until I’m too tired or busy or stressed to focus on being super-mom.

Actually, super-mom rarely makes an appearance except for first thing in the morning, when the day is fresh and new and I always believe I can start over.

And the same goes for after school pick up. I’m all smiles and butterflies for about 10 minutes.

I mean, when you think about it, I could very possibly be a super-mom 24/7 if my kids would just cooperate.

Maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s them.

I know that’s not really the case. But it’s nice to think once in a while.

To be blameless. What bliss.

Until they end up in therapy or in jail in 20 years.

What made me think of this whole idea though is what happened at work yesterday to another working mom and her little boy.

She was asking for my advice.

Groan.

Like I have a clue what I’m doing on a daily basis… but it was nice to be asked, I gotta say.

Of course that’s what we women do. And it doesn’t matter whether you know the answer or not; just be there as a sounding board and to put in your two cents – and it helps. It really does.

A sympathetic ear, maybe a story or two from your past experience if it pertains to the story…

I find it definitely helps me when I’m torn over something to do with my kids.

It’s like a sisterhood. I wonder if us women really understand how much we help and validate our fellow mommas when we do something as simple as say, ‘oh yeah, I’ve been there,’ or ‘I totally know what you’re talking about.’

Anyway, this co-worker’s son had red eyes on Monday. He had been swimming over the weekend and had been busy and maybe a bit run-down.

She was at work, waiting for the call from her own hubby updating her on the boy’s status when he woke up.

And she was asking me about my past experiences with pink-eye and if that’s what it could be. And other than the red eyes, it didn’t sound like typical pink-eye (from my own experiences with my boys and having had it myself).

No gunky eyes. That would be my big indicator.

And of course that particular day, we were having our department It’s-Christmas-So-We’re-Taking-You-To-A-Restaurant-Where-You’d-Have-To-Work-A-Week-To-Afford-Lunch lunch. And we all wanted her to join us and not miss out on this special event, so we figured maybe sending him to school might not be so bad.

For a millisecond. Only for a few minutes tops.

We didn’t really recommend he go to school. She didn’t think he should either, to be honest.

But for just a fleeting moment, and we’ve all been there, we put what we want first and tried to think of ways to maneuver life events so we can make it can happen.

For example;

Oh, it’s late. The kids should be in bed. But I’m having so much fun at this party. Well, at least they don’t have school tomorrow.

Oh, the kids really want to go swimming. But my favourite movie in the world is on TV in two minutes and I’m so tired from running after them all week. I deserve a bit of down time… Maybe we’ll go tomorrow.

Oh, it’s dinner time. And I have to cook. The kids haven’t had a vegetable in two days. Wait a second; didn’t the USA deem pizza a vegetable? Where’s the delivery menu?

So back to this working momma. Her son woke up and had Daddy look at him and then he went back to bed. The son, not her hubby.

No yucky, sticky eyes. But going back to bed? What kid does that when cartoons are on TV just begging to be watched?

You could see it in every lady’s eyes the moment we heard that.

You’re going home to sit with a sicky today and you’ll probably end up at the medical clinic for three hours on top of that.

Oh joy.

Meanwhile, I’ll have a glass of wine for you at the lunch.

And I’ll probably have to take a cab to pick up my kids at school. Another deal you make with yourself – if I have another glass of wine at this festive lunch with all my wonderful co-workers during this delicious meal, would it be a serious social faux pas to pick up my kids using a taxi?

I didn’t.

But it did cross my mind and promptly turned into a joke at the table (mostly just to gauge people’s reactions on whether I could actually get away with it).

So she missed the (very nice) lunch.

And she went home to her sick child who I’m sure was very happy to have Mom there to look after him and cuddle him and soothe him. That’s what Moms do.  That’s what we’re here for, right?

No lunch can compete with that.

And guess what?

Wanna know how so very completely clueless I am?

She took him to the doc. And he does have pink-eye.

How’d I miss that one?

I’m sure my kids will have their own theories when they end up in therapy or jail in 20 years.


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Working Girl

A few people have been interested in how I’ve been doing with my transition from stay-at-home mom for almost a decade into working-momma.

My youngest started grade one this past September and our plan was always that once he was in school full time, I’d head back to work.

I enjoyed my time being home with my kids. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life and to this day I still don’t know what I’m doing. Am I scarring them emotionally for life? Am giving them the tools they need to be strong, happy, independant, loving, humorous men who know how to cook a half-decent meal once in a while?

There were days when it seemed all three of them were ganging up on me. I knew they weren’t, but if it wasn’t one talking back and screaming, then it was the other hitting their brother and still the other throwing a tantrum in their room or making a mess or needing a snack NOW.

I’ll admit that once in a while you could find me locked in my bathroom with the fan on so that they couldn’t hear me bawling my eyes out.

And so that I couldn’t hear them either. Just for two minutes.

But this was our plan. I wanted to be home with my kids and be the one raising them rather than carting them off to a day home. And there are a lot of other moms who choose differently – they want to be out in the work force and they have a passion to contribute and make a difference. There are some moms who would like to stay home and can’t.

I’m just saying this is what we always talked about and wanted to have happen for our family.

And it was tough. Emotionally, physically, mentally… and especially financially.

Being a single income family is scary nowadays.

There were a lot of things we weren’t able to do and there were a lot of things we did anyway and probably shouldn’t have.

We ended up buying a second-hand trailer and a seasonal spot an hour and a half away from where we live.

It was during a bit of a slow time for hubby’s work and we weren’t sure if this was a great idea or not.

But to raise free-range kids for a summer, every summer… how could we not do that? For them? And for us?

It was one of the best things we’ve ever done.

In fact, I don’t have too many regrets over things I’ve done in my time at home with my kids.

Yes, they watch too much TV some days and play too many video games probably most days. And there was a lot of yelling.

I still yell.

The yelling just won’t stop in this household. It’s a fact of life.

Most times it isn’t out of real anger.

It’s just so I can be heard in my own home!

I find we’re all getting better. I’m controlling myself a bit and they’re listening a bit.

But it will always be loud and rambunctious in the Pigeon Coop.

I gripe and complain some days, but I really am so very lucky and wouldn’t change much of anything.

And then this past summer, the idea of working downtown again started to loom in the very near future for me.

Taking public transit, having to buy dress clothes, conversing with adults, – who is going to hire a person wanting to only work three days a week, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.?

Apparently there was a company out there desperate enough to hire me after almost 10 years out of the work force.

It was a great opportunity – perfect for me to get my feet wet in administrative work again.

It was a project doing some clean up for a big oil and gas company based out of Houston.

It was right up my alley and they ended up paying a bit more than I asked for, they were also super-flexible with my hours and the people I work with are just fantastic.

But alas, it was too good to be true.

The contract ends this Thursday and I’m pretty bummed out. I’ll miss the people and I’ll miss the work.

Houston – we have a problem. The home base in the U.S. is refusing the extend the contract and I’m out pounding the pavement again, once more dredging up all the worries over who will hire me…

I find I’m a bit surprised to be missing the work. Being in the office.

I actually don’t mind getting out of the house and using another part of my brain for a few hours.

And the kids? I think they’re adjusting (just as it is all coming to an end – doh!).

I’m usually home when they’re off school, so their routine isn’t really disrupted that much. And there are some days where Dad is the one taking them to school and doing the morning routine. I like having that break.

I think it makes the boys realize I’m not their slave and maybe they are beginning to understand just how much I do for them. Maybe they’re starting to appreciate me more…

Nah.

I do notice however that the hugging and cuddling and joking around with mom have increased exponentially this year. Is it because Mom and Dad are less-stressed financially?

Less stressed all around because I’m out of the house once in a while and the boys are in a new school where the pressure on them to excel and get homework done every night is next to nil?

Is it because we aren’t running around every night trying to get to activities? That’s another thing that has really changed this year. No hockey, no soccer, no swimming. We’ve done bowling, curling and karate instead. It makes a huge difference on the demands for our time and we’re all hanging out way more than we ever did before.

Which I really like.

Because the time I had at home with my boys is over and I could cry writing about how fast it all went. And how sad I am to move on to another part of all our lives.

And you can probably tell that none of them are around me right now as I write this. That’s why I’m being all syrupy and lovey-dovey over my wonderful children.

The curse of a mother – miss them when they’re gone, go crazy while they’re around…

They’ll be home in a couple of hours and I’ll once again realize why some animals in the wild eat their young.

And then I’ll start wondering what I’ll wear to the office tomorrow and where we’ll go for lunch… and I’ll find that while I’m still trying to strike a balance between work and home, I’ve got it pretty darn good with this whole work thing.

That is, until the work actually comes to an end…