They come in all colours, shapes, and sizes. From the outside, you’d never be able to tell.
They mow their lawns, go to work, enjoy the odd handful of M&Ms. They can carry on a normal conversation, have acceptable hygiene, and if asked, they’ll agree that leggings are not pants. But they aren’t like us.
You think you know people, but do you? They could be living in your house. You might have even married one.
In fact, it might be years until you learn the truth.
It might go something like this.
One evening your family is enjoying a meal outside when your youngest child points out how windy it is. You casually remark that you might all get swept up and taken to the Land of Oz. Your children giggle and then ask if you can watch that for the next family movie night. They turn to your husband and ask if it’s an appropriate family movie and he offhandedly replies, “I don’t know. I’ve never seen it.”
He’s never seen it.
The Wizard of Oz.
He. Has. Never. Seen. It.
Hypothetically, that would be pretty awful. And one might need time to process a lot of life choices at that point. Hypothetically.
Neither is chasing a classmate with a spray bottle. Stop it.
Flushing play-doh down the toilet? Also not a centre.
Please don’t pet the tadpole.
We don’t save Lego creations, no, not even if you “put it down really gently” in the bin.
I love it. Another year is wrapping up and this time of year is my favourite. This is when we get to reflect on the growth and success of the past year. I’ve been teaching this age group for about 14 years, give or take a maternity leave or two (math is hard, guys). Every year I learn new things.
Have you ever noticed a kindergartener when he dresses himself? I want to live my life with that kind of “take me as I am” attitude. Very few people over age five can pull off sports shorts paired with a long-sleeved, plaid, button-down shirt. Or socks and crocs with a winter vest overtop a t-shirt. They don’t care.
Some might say that kindergarteners have inflated egos and sense of self and they would be correct, but part of that is amazing. If you didn’t have a crazy ego you’d never think that coming in 8th in a race means you won. They don’t care.
Need a pick-me-up? Come to kindie gym and watch them run laps or do dashes from one end of the gym to the other. It is the best. It is physically impossible not to smile like a lunatic who ate too many Oreos when you watch them run their little hearts out with complete abandon. And their peers cheer them on and pat them on their backs regardless of how they performed. They don’t care.
This year I learned once again that being outside is better than just about anything. There are articles and books and jargon-filled resources that essentially all say the same thing: Magic happens when we learn outside.
No matter if you are indoors or outdoors, kindergarteners will sing along with any song, even if they don’t know the words. Because they don’t care.
I think I need to care a little less, too (but not about flushing play-doh, seriously stop doing that).
All photos are property of Burrill Strong photography. This is the second collaboration Burrill and I have done. You can check out this talented, bearded photographer at his blog and on twitter @sgtwolverine
Never trust a preschooler with a reputation for peeing his pants. Even if he did use the facilities only ten minutes earlier. Against my better judgement, I didn’t force the issue and we took off to Mom Mecca: Target.
As we pulled into the parking lot, Little says in a tiny voice, “I wet.”
So many feelings! I was irritated that he peed his pants when he is capable of staying dry. I was peeved at myself for being irritated because I don’t tend to get upset with toilet training mishaps. I felt bad for his older brother who had brought his Lightning McQueen, velcro-closure wallet with him to buy a toy.
After checking the diaper bag and discovering no spare clothes (now I had to add Bearded Husband to my list of irritants) I had a plan of action.
Well, we’re going to buy you a pair shorts and you’ll wear those. AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM.
Now it was time for the big brother to jump into older and wiser sibling mode:
Little, you are going to have to wear whatever we buy, that’s what happens when you pee your pants.
Now, Little, when you pee your pants, Mommy isn’t angry, but you won’t be getting a toy.
Little, I will get a toy because she didn’t have to spend money buying me new shorts because my shorts are dry. I never pee myself.
You know, you peed your pants.
Our shopping trip was mostly uneventful after that. The boys got into a slight altercation in the sock aisle, but it was nothing a threat issued through clenched teeth couldn’t diffuse.
We chatted and giggled while we finished up our shopping. As we wheeled towards the till, my youngest piped up:
Mommy? I get a toy?
No, Little, I spent that money on new shorts since you peed your pants.
I so sorry. Please? You buy me a toy? I not always pee my pants anymore.
It might take me a while and several seasons of preschool life, but eventually I learn: Never trust an almost 3-year-old. Especially one who has perfected using his cuteness for evil.
Don’t feel bad for him, though. He did get to ride home in a “big boy booster” instead of his car seat. Oh, that’s because – wait, did I mention this already? He peed his pants.
Unfortunate shopping experience? Share. Bodily functions involved? Even better.
I had already pushed my luck and stayed up later than I should have. Just as I was drifting off to sleep sometime after midnight a little voice cried out, “Mommy!” I hopped out of bed to discover my third born quietly crying in the bathroom. He was tired, hot, and the light was “too bright”. I comforted him and tucked him back into bed only to be beckoned once again a mere twenty minutes later with more tears.
This good-natured almost-five-year-old rarely complains. I did my best to find out what was bothering him and then he drifted back to sleep. This is where is all becomes fuzzy. At some point in the wee hours of the morning he succumbed to a stomach bug. My Bearded Husband and I agreed long ago that this clean-up was my department (don’t worry, he takes care of vermin and clogged drains) so he sweetly asked me for help when he discovered our boy covered in sick. It always amazes me how I can be yanked from a deep sleep and jump into decisive and efficient action. Not bragging, I’m really surprised at myself every time. I cannot recall how often this scenario repeated, but by 6AM I knew I would not be able to be an effective (or pleasant) teacher with so little sleep and a potential conduit of “bleh” coursing through my body. I called in my last remaining Family Care day.
Was up most of the night with a 4YO and the stomach flu. Come and get me, zombies. I won't put up a fight.
When I got up for the first time that day (or was it last? I was so confused) my body cried out at the injustice. I tense up whenever one of the boy is sick so my entire upper back was knotted and turning my head was a challenge (just stay out of my peripheral vision boys and the world is your oyster today). I had that queasy feeling you get from pulling all-nighters, but those supply notes weren’t going to write themselves. In fact, I wrote them twice. Once for the wrong day, and once for the correct one.
We muddled through the start of our day surprisingly well. My little guy kept down his toast and ginger ale and seemed to be on the mend. Mid-morning, however, he had that drained and pasty look and told me he was cold. Nothing a good cuddle couldn’t fix, right?
I gladly wrapped my arms around my boy and we sat quietly on the couch together looking at the family portraits on the wall. “I wish I was sick every day so then I could always get to have pop,” he told me just moments before he drifted off to sleep. On my lap. Curled up and snoring. That hasn’t happened in at least three years. My neck started to ache, my left foot fell asleep and I had an itch I couldn’t reach because my arm was pinned under my boy who all too soon will turn five.
And it was completely worth it.
Celebrating all of you who are the special someone to someone little. Or big.
What better way to celebrate a former ruler than by having a day off work and lighting fireworks all weekend? Happy Birthday, Queen Victoria, we’re just going to have some pyrotechnics in your honour. No need to feel left out there, Canada. We’ll do the same for you on the first of July. Unless you’re our teenage neighbours who randomly fire them off throughout the summer, holiday or not. It’s 1am, people with kids won’t mind – little people sleep through everything, right?
This year we thought it might be fun to do an earlier celebration with like-minded neighbours. It might still be light out, but there’s no need to keep our young children up until well past 10 to cry about the loud noise and scary popping sounds.
Can you help?
Wanted: Fireworks Lighter Must be a fast runner and calm around fire, combustible materials, and small children. Heckling is highly probable, so only applicants exhibiting superior patience levels will be considered.
A skills appraisal will be completed before hiring. This might include, but is not limited to, matches, lanterns, votive candles, and toddlers providing realistic sound effects while also shouting “it’s too loud” and then crying.
Compensation will be provided by the delight and joy given to others. And pop. Ok, pop and chips. Alright, pop and chips and other miscellaneous snack foods.
The successful candidate is responsible for providing own goggles.
Only serious applicants, please.
What’s your story? Ever been lit on fire? Had some fireworks remnants land in your eye? Yelled at teens behind your house to “keep it down! People are trying to sleep here!”
Growing up, our family of six always had two cars – one big enough to for the entire crew all at once, and the second, a smaller one (typically a hatchback) to supplement our transportation needs.
The first cars I remember were the wood-panelled station wagon with vinyl seats and optional seat belts, and one of several “second” cars, an orange and white Mercury Capri. Both cars were AWESOME. The Capri resembled the “General Lee” a bit, and you honked the horn by pressing the handle of the turn signal. What kind of engineering magic was that?! Forget getting my license, I just wanted to honk that horn.
Sadly, the Capri gave up the ghost before I was able to drive. But it was replaced by an even better hatchback: a Chrysler Turismo. And guys, it was gold. Gold. GOLD. It was painted gold with matching beige interior. That little gem was a demo car for the dealership our cousin worked at so we got this fully-loaded two door for a great deal.
When I say “fully-loaded” I mean it. This 1985 Turismo came with the following features:
– AM/FM radio with tapedeck
– Swivel light for map reading (or lipgloss application, whichever need arose)
– Air conditioning
– Hydraulic action hatch
This beauty even had a hidden perk that I did not discover until I drove it myself: in a small town, a gold hatchback really stands out. My parents did not need GPS to know where I’d been or what I’d been up to – I was my own one-car parade. I drove around and people waved even before they saw who was behind the wheel, because it was A GOLD TURISMO. I may as well have been driving the Pope-mobile for all the camouflage that car provided.
Although we treated old Goldie with respect and care, it did not take long for things to start going wonky. And my parents, being financially responsible and never having to drive that car, decided it was best to avoid most repairs and just live with it.
First to go was the driver’s seat tilt option. If you were foolish enough to adjust that from the leisurely position my too-tall brother had set it at, your loss. It took a lot of prayer and tears to get it to stay in the upright position again. I spent many hours sitting up perfectly straight and clutching the steering wheel for leverage.
Next we lost the eject function on the tape deck. But it turns out I was a bit of a MacGyver – all we had to do was press eject and yank the cassette out with a pair of tweezers that became a permanent fixture in the ash tray. (Do not attempt that manoeuvre in a moving vehicle).
The air conditioning went next. And since “you only drive it in hot weather for really a few weeks, we aren’t going to spend the money to fix it”, we learned to live without it. A decision I support now as a parent of four on a budget, but COME ON – it was so hot.
Apparently the Turismo didn’t like the AC decision either and started to really act out. The clutch had always been a bit finicky, but now it took things to a whole new level. If you adjusted it one way, it would stall at every intersection or slow-down. If adjusted the other, it would run on after you turned off the ignition (hard to roll into the driveway or school parking lot incognito when followed by ca-klunk, ca-klunk). We opted to go with the “stall” option and learned to pop it into neutral regularly, earning Goldie the title of “Automatic Car that wants to be a Standard”.
This temperamental car didn’t stop there, though. Next it went on to overheat – the vehicular equivalent of holding one’s breath. Any time it was in stop-and-go traffic the engine temp would rise at an alarming rate. This was both scary and embarrassing. BUT WAIT – we figured out how to deal with that, too. All you had to do was crank the heat at maximum power to offset the heat from the engine. And good news, it only overheated in the summer so you were already dressed for the temps and had the windows down anyways (remember, no AC).
The hatchback feature was perhaps the most amazing part of this car. If you folded down the back seat you could move the contents of your entire university bedroom in one trip. The demon that possessed the Turismo decided to thwart that, too and within a few years, the hydraulic doo-dad that held the hatch open stopped working. BUT WAIT. We dealt with that, too – it was nothing a hockey stick couldn’t fix.
The university years were hard on our relationship, but we wouldn’t give up on old Goldie. The passenger side door no longer opened from the outside, so the driver would get in, then lean across to open it for the others. That was fine except for my sister with whom I shared the Turismo insisted on locking that door anyways. So that meant one lunge across to open, realize it was locked, lunge across to unlock, and a third to open the door. We did not agree on this method. Also, no one would want to steal that car.
Once winter hit, the fun really began – all the quirks of the Turismo came together. The doors froze shut so the only way to get inside was through the hatch, but remember, it wouldn’t stay open without the hockey stick technique which was precarious at best. So you always had to travel with a buddy who could hold the hatch open for you and then pull on the outside handle of the door while you body checked it from inside. Thankfully, living in student housing, there was always someone around willing to help out for a free ride to campus.
Winter was also the Turismo’s time to shine. Perhaps it was the overheating engine, or the over-running clutch, but that car would start in the coldest of weather. The Polar Vortex would have been no match for Goldie.
The attempted sabotage this car tried to inflict on me only managed to give me wizard status. As the car aged, it became more finicky and eventually only two people on the entire planet were able to get it to start and stay running. I wore that title with more pride that I probably should have.
Eventually the Turismo’s time here on earth came to an end. It was on a dark and slick highway one evening in March. The interior lights started to fade, the radio grew faint, and I barely managed to coast into a gas station to call the Clean Shaven boyfriend (who later became Bearded Husband) to come rescue me. We all had to agree that sinking any more money into Goldie was a fruitless endeavour. We had her towed to a wrecking yard and I think I received enough cash to cover the last tankful of gas I’d put in.
Oh, sweet Turismo. You never ceased to cause anxiety levels to rise. You always kept things interesting. I’ll never forget some of the phrases often spoken in that car:
It makes that smell all the time.
It’s okay, it’s when you don’t hear that noise that you need to worry.
We’ll make it, just give it a minute.
That noise is completely normal.
Hold on tight.
Open your window, we just need to crank the heat for a few minutes, then it’ll be as good as new.
Hold the steering wheel, I want to change the tape.
Gone, but not forgotten. Gold Turismo, the worst car I ever had.
Worst car experience? Could have been in the Turismo with me, it’s okay to share that, too.
I get the Elmo colouring book. Sit at the table. No, in this chair.I colour this page and you do it with me, okay?
You got it, bud.
It’s okay you can’t reach the page, Mommy, just hold your arm really benty. Yes, just like that. But don’t stop colouring. (Big Bird needs to be half-complete by the end of this, just like every other page in this book.)
You use the pink. Axshly, you all done with pink. I use that. Here’s a blue one. Why are you stopping? Move your colourer like this. Kay, I do this page – you do the grass. Blue is fine. BLUE. IS. FINE.
Move over, but don’t leave. I do it. Why aren’t you colour? No, I do it myself. I do it myself. I DO IT MYSELF.
Dinner time, please put your colouring things away, Little.