Posts Tagged With: normal

let us out

Listen. We get it. We do.

We know: you or someone you love is immuno-compromised in some way and you really need us to take this #covid-19 thing seriously and #staythefuckathome. Please know that we are taking this seriously, we are aware of how quickly this thing “goes viral” as it were, and we know the possible severity of the illness. No one is minimizing your concerns; not trying to down-play anything; trying to follow the guidelines as best we can. I just need you to think about some other things for a minute.

You have probably seen the tweets, maybe even shared the memes about the appalling fact that millions of school-aged children may be losing their one main daily meal now that most schools have closed. There are groups popping up all over the place to help those who experience this kind of food insecurity; local restaurants offering sack lunches, mom groups cooking casseroles, etc. We all know that even these types of kindnesses will be ending soon, and that’s worrisome for sure.

What’s also worrisome is the fact that people are being bullied, judged, shamed, and threatened for meeting up with their neighbours or allowing their children to see friends; for heading out for groceries or taking their dogs for a walk. For years we have been getting pummelled with reports and studies showing us that “online” connections aren’t what we should be encouraging for our children. We have been bullied, shamed, judged, and threatened by “better” parents who limit screen or gaming time and force their kids to interact face-to-face vs. face-timing. It’s like we just can’t win. For some parents, and for some children, this current situation of self-isolation is not a viable option. Really.

I sit on the Equity Committee at my son’s school. Our biggest concern is the mental health and well-being of our students; we need to build and foster a sense of belonging within our school community. Teenagers are not doing well, y’all. Even if they have a “happy” home life, they are feeling burdened and stressed. They are lost, they are scared, and they are depressed. They are anxiety-ridden. Existential angst among 12-19 year-olds is a real thing. Nihilism is creeping in at ever younger ages. And let’s not forget, not everyone has a “happy” home life.

There are a good many kids for whom home is not a happy place, or even a safe one. What if school is the only place a child has a sense of belonging? What if their group of friends is the only real family they have? What if their English teacher or school social worker is the only adult in their lives that they can trust? What if a student’s friendship with the school custodian is the only thing keeping both of those people going? What about those kids who come to school to get a couple of hours of sleep because it isn’t safe to do so at home?

We don’t know how long this pandemic will last. Provinces, states, and countries are declaring us to be in a state of emergency. Moms and dads who are barely keeping it together on their best days will be unable to do so indefinitely. Parents who are already stressed about financial issues or worry about their job security will have those anxieties hit overdrive. Families who face food insecurity on a daily basis may fall into despair and feel nothing but hopelessness. Being in forced isolation or quarantine may make it exponentially more difficult to distract yourself from your worries or put your coping skills into play.

My mother, at 92, is more active and has a fuller schedule than many people half her age. On Mondays she has her writing group (cancelled), on Tuesdays she goes singing (cancelled), on Wednesdays she volunteers at the seniors’ rec centre (closed), on Thursdays the home nurse comes to help with her shower (so far still on). Fridays are “weekend” or her day off, and on the weekends she usually visits friends in care homes (closed) or goes to the cinema (closed) or concerts (cancelled). She is keeping herself busy with crosswords, youtube, facebook, phone calls and e-mails. She’s not bored yet, but enjoyment from those things will only last so long. She lives a two-hour drive from us and I don’t know whether I should go see her or not. I certainly don’t want to expose her to any germs, but loneliness is a bitch and I know it will set in soon.

There must be a happy medium. I think there is, I believe we can all survive this without passing germs and without going bat-shit crazy. And so, when I went for a walk yesterday and saw some neighbours sitting on their porch, I stopped and talked. Yes, we stayed 6 feet apart; no, we didn’t sip from each other’s wine glasses. When BoyGenius’ friends rode up to our house on their bikes and tried to entice him out I sent him; between the four of them these kids are dealing with anxiety, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, a parent with cancer, ADHD (x 3) and many other stressors. They needed to get out, they needed to spend time together, and we’re only on day 3. I feel confident (enough) that they maintained a safe level of social distance while getting some social connection.

Nobody wants to spread the #coronavirus. We are not trying to kill you or your loved ones. But we may need to get out and interact. Humans are social beings. This is only the beginning. Please understand that some of us cannot simply #staythefuckathome.

For some people the virus is not the worst thing that could happen to them. Covid-19 may not be what kills them. Isolation and loneliness could. Despair. Abusive relationships. We are living in a powder keg.

If you need help during this weird and surreal time we are living in, please reach out.


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what if I’m wrong?

What if I really don’t know what I’m doing? Am I a good mother, a good parent? Am I giving BoyGenius everything he needs to get by in life, to survive, to thrive, to become a sensitive, caring adult?

I try to give him what I think is right, to teach him how to behave, how to think for himself. I think I’m allowing his self-confidence to grow while holding him tight enough to still feel connected. Every once in awhile I wonder if I’m doing the right thing(s).

Should I be cutting the crusts off of BoyGenius’ sandwiches or should I be making him eat them? Should I leave the mushrooms or the stuffing off of his plate because I know he doesn’t like them or should I keep serving him everything we have even though I know he’s not going to eat it?

Is it wrong that BoyGenius watched Irish movies with me (“they sure say ‘fook’ a lot!”) when he was 3 or 4? Should Scott Pilgrim vs. the World have become his favourite movie at age 6? How do I know? Does he know there are ‘bad’ words? Yes. Does he use them? No. Is it wrong that BoyGenius tried to explain the facts of life to his school friend at age 4 (“isn’t that right Mama, the girl has the seed and the boy has the egg?”)? Sure, he was a little mixed up but boy was I ever proud of him for being on the right track!

Are HardWorker and I giving him the best home, the best family? Is it right that I’m not working? Should our home be immaculate? Does he have too much stuff, too many toys? Is he eating enough fruit and veg; too much cheese? Does he drink enough milk? Should he be outside more? Is it wrong to let him play at the park every day after school? Do we stay too long or not long enough? Are we eating too late because we stayed at the park or went to a friend’s house? Should dinner be ready every day at 5pm even though HardWorker doesn’t make it home until 6:30 or later? Should I wait and start dinner when we’re all here? Does consistent bedtime leave room for any negotiation or is it a hard and fast line?

Should I be at the school more or less? Do I know my child well enough to know which teacher will give him the best opportunity for learning? I think so. Should I be ensuring that he gets placed with that teacher or should I always wait and see and let him tough it out if it’s not a good fit? (Having been through a horrendous time in grade 1 I know what my answer to this is.)

… yes, he actually IS sitting on a twig …

BoyGenius has broken his arm 1-2 times (depends on which Dr and which x-ray you see). Should I stop him from jumping off the swings or should I demonstrate the proper take-off and landing techniques? Is there anything wrong with letting him climb trees? I know he sits on tiny little branches that look like they won’t hold a squirrel let alone a 60+ pound boy but he rocks that perch like it’s a lounge chair! He climbs the soccer goals (sans nets) on the local field and then shimmies along the cross bar and back, then hangs upside down and waves before flipping back up and sliding down using a combination koala grip/firefighter style. Just about every time we pass the baseball diamond in the schoolyard he’s climbed up to the top of the backstop in a matter of seconds. “How does he get up there?” “Is he allowed to climb up there?” “Why do you let him do that?” “What if he falls?” These are questions from kids; the parents just shake their heads. If I ask him not to go too near the edge where the fencing is loose, he listens. If I ask him not to attempt the open crossing between the top of the backstop and the neighbouring fence he listens … most of the time. Mostly what I tell him is to be careful. He is. What I told him originally was “go ahead and climb, pretty soon your feet won’t fit in the chain link and you won’t be able to get a grip.” Was that not the right thing to do?

Is it okay to let him grow his hair long or not? Does it matter that he mismatches his socks on purpose (but has a method to it)? Should I care that he likes to wear his shirts inside out every once in awhile? Does the fact that I let him do all of these things make me a good parent or a bad one? We never wore our clothes inside out … we probably would have been told not to, but I don’t believe the thought ever occurred to us in the first place. We climbed trees. We jumped off swings (when we weren’t hanging upside down from them). Were my parents good parents? Looking back, I’d say yes and I’d say it wholeheartedly without hesitation. Did I ever give it any thought when I was a child? No. Did we fight with them because they didn’t let us do things? No. Did we ever question whether they knew what they were doing? No. Did they ever question if they were doing the right thing(s)? I don’t know. They didn’t ever seem unsure or confused. I’ll have to ask my mom about it sometime.

BoyGenius is a caring, sensitive, loving child. He isn’t just smart, he’s clever and witty and sometimes eerily aware of things I don’t think he could possibly know. He scares me. Well, I don’t know if that’s quite right; his future scares me. What if I make the wrong decision about letting him stay at a birthday party by himself? What if he loses his grip while sliding down the banister? What if I’m not teaching him the right things? What happens when he gets picked on for having two moms instead of everyone thinking it’s cool? Who am I to have made that decision about having a baby? What if something happens to me? Should he know that I get scared, get sad sometimes? Or should he think that I have all the answers? Should I be teaching him to love fully and completely and unconditionally even if it hurts? Or should I teach him to protect his heart?

What if I get it wrong? What if I’ve been wrong all along?

Categories: parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

BoyGenius. Normal? No. Perfect? Yes, he is.

For the purposes of this blog and my facebook page I call my son BoyGenius.  He would probably get mad at me if I called him this at home.  HardWorker occasionally (very lovingly) calls him Smarty Pants since he’s smarter than us sometimes and he absolutely hates it.  He just turned 8 the other day and I’m still having a hard time believing a) that he’s already been here for eight years and 2) that he’s only been here for eight years.

BoyGenius is NT, which stands for neuro-typical.  If you’ve never heard of this designation it’s probably because your kids are NT, or what people refer to in layman’s terms as “normal.”  Do I think BoyGenius is “normal?”  No.  No, I don’t.  I don’t say this lightly.  I’m not bragging.  I’m not looking for any type of “diagnosis” for my child.  I just have to question what people think of when they say normal.

Truthfully, I would love to think that BoyGenius is “normal.”  I would love if the way he thinks and acts (most of the time for behaviour) could be used as a “normal” example.  I think the world would be a better place if that were the case.  Since the time he was a baby he has been considerate.  He was sensitive.  He was funny and he understood funny.  He was an individual.  He was smart and clever.  BoyGenius still is all of these things.  You’re thinking, “of course that’s normal” and, “she is so bragging.”  Let me give you the breakdown on some of these:

  • considerate – as a baby, BoyGenius slept when he was tired.  You’re thinking “so what? so do all babies.”  No, they don’t.  He slept.  In the car.  In the stroller.  In shopping carts.  He didn’t care where he was and if I had to move him from the car to the stroller or a shopping cart he would open his eyes, smile at me and go right back to sleep.  I was never shackled to the house by nap times.  When he was just over two, his best friend got a baby sister.  He admonished his best friend for being too noisy when the baby was sleeping.  He would make sure the baby had toys and would return them to the baby when her big sister/his best friend took them away from her.
  • sensitive – BoyGenius has always gotten upset over things being ‘unfair.’  Now lots of kids will say “that’s not fair” when it means they don’t get what they think they should be getting.  BoyGenius thinks in terms of other kids getting what he gets.  He gives his favourite toys (Lego minifigures, Rescue Heroes and their vehicles) to his friends of his own volition.  Don’t get me wrong, he will hold onto his favourites to the death if we try to purge toys but if others don’t have, he will give.  He will stand up for his friends before standing up for himself.
  • individual – in junior Kindergarten BoyGenius started mismatching his shoes, on purpose.  Airwalk on the left, Converse on the right.  Three days later, he’d switch to the matching, opposite pair.  When he was three he decided he should start wearing one glove.  And believe me when I tell you he had not yet ever seen Michael Jackson.  In senior Kindergarten he decided that he could also mismatch his socks .. but they would still match:  both be striped; be from the same set but be different colours; be totally different socks but be the same brand.  Also in SK he decided to grow his hair long; he was five and had the long flowing locks of a rock star.  He decided to cut it one summer and he has decided to grow it long again.  He wears leotards (he calls them long socks) because he likes them.

So you’re reading this and you’re still thinking that I’m just bragging on my kid.  Or that I’m not a very good parent.  Or that he sounds perfectly normal.  Or all of those things.

Well let me tell you, I spend a lot of time in BoyGenius’ school and around many other children.  He’s not “normal.”  Apparently “normal” is a brush cut or a faux-hawk, fighting with friends and hitting, looking out for ‘number 1,’ never sharing what you have, grey socks and of course matching shoes.  I have been told that he’s too sensitive and needs to be toughened up.  I have been told that I should take my “perfect baby and go” somewhere else.  I have been asked why we don’t make him wear a real pair of shoes.  I have been told by at least 12 different dads that they’ll cut his hair for him, oh and of course no son of theirs would ever have hair like that.  Those things get my back up.  I shouldn’t let them, but I can’t help it.  I might seem to get a little defensive.  Remarkably, I have also been told (by a dad) that BoyGenius was always “the coolest kid in Kindergarten.”

So, BoyGenius.

Normal?  No.

Perfect?  Yes, he is.

Categories: family | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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