Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Why can't we all just get along?"

When I was much younger - as in before the kids - I can remember assuming the hardest part of becoming a parent was getting used to caring for another human being. Trying to figure out how to rearrange my life to accomodate the baby, trying to wrap my head around the very idea of a baby, and of course the most infamous issue of all: lack of sleep. Of course all those things are legitimate hurdles, but as most of us do, I forgot that they are only babies for such a precious short time.

The other day I found myself comparing parenthood to that of getting a new puppy; in the beginning the puppy is little, cute and oh so lovable...and then they grow up. It sounded better than it looks here in writing, but my point is that once the baby is a baby no longer, what remains is a real person with real people problems. We are now way past the baby stage for all three kids. No more diaper changes, midnight feedings, teething pains or baby food. Gone are the cribs, the play pens, car seats and baby swings. How silly of me to assume this was the stage we could "sit back, relax, and raise the children." Haha, yes, I actually said those words once.

As the children grow and develop, I am continually amazed at what wonderful people in their own right they are becoming. I am thrilled to find that Morgan, who's personality has closely resembled her father's for so long, is a writer much like me! In fact, although she has never read any of my writing beyond my ever changing facebook statuses, her writing style is extremely similar to mine. Likewise, I never realized how funny Owen is. Of course every child is amusing and makes his parents laugh from an early age, but I'm talking about real comedic skill. That child is beginning to come out with lines with perfect delivery and timing that puts any comedian to shame. Life at the moment is a constant flow of preteen jargon, an ever changing line up of "best friends", daily accounts of playground shenanigans as told by the instigator himself, and random bursts of energy and song added by Rhian who refuses to be left out but is still living the pure, simple life of a happy 6 year old.

And so it was when this past week an innocent comment made by a curious and caring family friend sparked a conversation that changed a 12 year old girl's outlook on friendship for life. To make a long story short, she had been getting really close really quickly with one of the girls in her larger group of friends and it was slowly beginning to exclude the others. At this age girls, especially social girls like Morgan, tend to herd themselves into large groups, but pair into smaller ones of 2 or 3 from time to time. It may have to do with a project they are assigned in specific groups, the kids who happen to live nearby and are handy to hang out with over a weekend or holiday, or just the way a day happens to progress. But while birthday parties and dances bring out the group as a whole, sleepovers and after school phone conversations (or should I say skype conversations!) are usually done in small, select groups. I was just beginning to notice that everything seemed to be centred around this one girl all the time and never the others anymore, when I learned that she was telling the other girls to leave Morgan alone, that she was "her friend." I was appalled by this and upon bringing it up with Morgan, stunned to find out that not only has she been doing this for some time,trying to control everything Morgan did and said, she had also decided the day before that she was tired of Morgan now, and was moving on to someone else. Thus, a "Fairweather Friend."

It broke my heart to see Morgan's tears, to hear her wonder what she did wrong and then to have her ask, after I explained the concept of the fairweather friend to her, "but that's just not nice!" But you know, these are the lessons of life. As much as we want it to be so, not everyone will be nice to our kids all the time. She is the center of our world, but to the other kids on the school grounds she is but another kid to accept or discard at will. At 12, Morgan needs to learn to spot these kinds of friendships, to be strong enough to know that she is not at fault when someone else is dealing with their own issues, and that you cannot be friends with everybody. We talked about different kinds of friendships, from the acquaintances that come and go in life, to the ones that stay with you through thick and thin. The kind of friendships that can be sustained through all manner of changes, re locations, and through time itself are rare but the most precious of all. She has experienced this, knows its value and is happy to have it to lean on during times like these. After all, at this tender age, the world feels like its has come to a standstill and turned upside down!

As much as I enjoyed rocking my babies to sleep and holding their tiny hands while they learned to walk, I am now over joyed to be experiencing life through the eyes of my growing children. They are all unique, the lessons I have long since forgotten are new again, and I am thoroughly impressed at the people they are becoming.

Lets hope I can still say that in a few years when they are officially teenagers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Sum up a Winter

Added to the the shock of realizing that once again I have let three months pass without a single post on here, I am now wallowing in a sea of guilt. Not only have I gone back on my promise to update my blog regularly, but whereas my last post was all about Morgan and her big birthday, Owen's 10th birthday in March didn't even register a comment on here. My poor, poor, middle child.

Contrary to what my silence infers, we have been very busy since that first week in January. My mother ended up extending her stay to month with us, the details of which I will leave for another time. Suffice it to say it has left me with a lot to think about and has led to some personal changes I am trying really hard to enforce in my every day life.

January was also a month of job searching for me. I couldn't really say what made me feel the urge to suddenly go out and seek employment with such determination and fire - I was safely on unemployement for another three full months. But for some reason I woke up one day feeling like it was imperative to get my resume out there and let the cards fall where they may. Looking back, I see now that had I not done that at precisely the time I did, I never would have gotten the job I have now. I will never again lose sight of the fact that everything happens as it should.

With Steven still away and my mother having moved on to Kim's in Toronto, February was a long, stressful month of full time training hours and very little sleep. I have started every grown-up job I've ever had in the stormy month of February - I will say again that I don't miss those blustry, cold, slippery drives to work in the dark, early mornings! But it passed, as all things do, and I am happy to be doing the job I love in a new place. February is also the month I turned 34. I have celebrated many birthdays in the past without Steven and so wasn't concerned about this one. One day, however, I just happened to mention to a few friends that the kids and I were going out to eat that day, did they want to come? It turned into 19 of us and a heart warming experience for me that I'll never forget. These people, who didn't even know I existed 6 months before, all came out to make my birthday a special one. Have I mentioned yet how much I love it here?

March brought Owen's 10th birthday and the realization that our boy is really growing up. By then Steven was home from his course and thank goodness because that all-boy sleepover was one of the most stressful things we've done in a while! I am the fist one to point out that Owen is four years older than his little sister and that size doesn't matter, but sadly I continue to group him in with his younger sibling and forget that with his age comes the changes normal to any preteen. Just saying that word - preteen - in association with my son sounds strange, but its so true. One moment he is my little boy sitting on the floor playing lego, the next he is standing there in his "almost teenage boy build" asking me a question far beyond the comprehension of a child. My biggest shock of the month was a few days after he "shaved" with Daddy, as all boys do; I went to kiss his cheek and found it no longer smooth and silky, but covered in soft stubble. Oh God help me!

March also brought March Break and our visit to Aunt Kimmie's to help her and Uncle Silvano move from their two bedroom condo to their four bedroom townhouse. Once again I will leave the details of my familial conflicts for another time, but I will say I was very encouraged by our week there and we're planning another visit for this August.

April is now here, the snow is all but disappeared and we are preparing for backyard cleanups, pool openings, Easter weekend....and Steven going away again. He will be leaving for his course in Montreal on Easter Monday and apart from the weekends he is able to come home, will be gone until the end of July. I am of two minds about this course. It is important for him to have as a new member of this crew and for someone of his rank. He is "untrained" and therefor his hands are tied much of the time. For his sake, and the sake of the fast moving squadron he is now apart of, he needs to get this course completed sooner rather than later. However, I'm really disappointed it is taking him away for half of the first summer we are here. We had a lot of grand plans for pool parties, camping, backyard fires, endless days at one of two beaches here in our town, day trips and scenic drives. Most of that will now have to be crammed into the weekends he can get home - when I myself am not working - and the few weeks left of summer when he returns after the course. Or without him.

The good news is that one of our very favorite families from Greenwood are now posted to Ottawa!! We had suspected it may happen, prayed for it and held our breath all this past year until it finally became official this past month. This is the family we shared everything with, the family we consider family, and we couldn't be happier that we will be continuing the memories with them for a long time to come.

Well this has been more of an update I suppose, than one of my regular "rants" or rare moments of insight. I want to say that I will be more diligent in keeping this monologue updated regularly, but I have not proven worthy of that promise yet so I will keep it to myself for now. For the time being, lets just say that with the warm weather coming, the spring celebrations and the new Relay for Life approaching, there should be many more stories and experiences to share soon!