Bedtime conversation

- You seemed to have a great time with your friend today driving the boat at the playground. Where were you going?
- North-West.
- … It’s a great place to go!
- Yeah, because they have chicken.
- There are chicken in the North-West?
- Yeah, we brought them back in a bag. And they can’t fly because their heads are chopped off.
- …

I love my son’s imagination. Even when it involves heads being chopped off. And I didn’t even add that chicken cannot fly, head or no head. I’ll let him dream on!

In the middle of the storm

My son has been in a foul mood lately. He has been punished a great number of times for prying stuff from his sister’s hands (after being warned several times), pushing her, hitting Zak, screaming, refusing to cooperate or do anything we ask him to, pouting every time something happens that he doesn’t like, etc. We don’t really know how to deal with that. I miss my happy-go-lucky son.

Me: I don’t understand, what did we go wrong?
Zak: We decided to have children…

Beware of monsters

The radio was on during dinner last night. They were talking about the events in Thailand. My son heard something he found interesting and repeated it:
- 300 people got died!
- Yes… (Note to self: maybe we should stop listening to the News in front of him?)
- They were killed by monsters!
- Hem… no, monsters don’t exist.

That’s where Zak, who had actually heard the news, chimes in:
- Monsoon, not monsters!

Oh, yeah! The big evil monsoon. Kills a hell of a lot more people than monsters, that one.

Whiney whine whine

My son is a whiner. He spent the whole weekend whining, which is quite annoying when you consider that I spent my only two days off with him threatening to send him to his room (or doing it). I don’t get it: he doesn’t get anything by whining. We never give in to whining. He has to ask properly or else he doesn’t get anything. So why doesn’t he stop doing it?

I know. He’s 4. So I probably have another 2 years of whining ahead of me…

Take yesterday for instance. Zak made pancakes for breakfast. He ate 2 1/2 pancakes, same as Zak and I, then complained that there wasn’t more because he was “so hungry!” Then we biked to the playground and he whined when he fell from his bike – even when he didn’t hurt himself. He whined when Zak gave him advice. After lunch, he watched a few episodes of Clifford during the baby’s nap, but when I said it was enough, he whined for more. I read him an entire chapter book, about 80 pages, and when I was done and, my voice hoarse from the effort, declared he now should play on his own for a bit, he whine because I wouldn’t read one more. He played outside with his friends for 3 hours, yet when I said we were going in he whined that he didn’t want to. He whined when Zak brushed his teeth. He whined when flossing. Then he whined when I said he wouldn’t have a song before bedtime because he whine too much. He just spent the whole day whining.

Zak had been out to shop in the afternoon but I didn’t really get any off time, so after the kids went to bed he suggested I go for a walk to get some fresh air and forget about my awful day. He thought I should knock on my friend’s door, the lady who’s child is dying. She might have appreciated a walk, too, and an opportunity to step out of the house for a few minutes. But I couldn’t do it. Because I’m shy, yes, and not quite close enough of a friend to feel comfortable doing that. But also because I knew I just wanted to whine about my son. Yet he’s alive. He will get older and get over the whining. My friend’s child won’t get older. Already, this 5-year-old (who last year could write words) can barely utter one-word responses when asked a question. The poor child keeps falling now because of a total lack of control on the right side of the body. So what right do I have to complain about my lucky, lucky life? Compared to my friend, none.

I know that you can’t compare lives like that. My plight is as real to me as my friend’s plight is to her. But thinking about it that way still made me feel like I was the whiner, not my son. If we stay consistent, he’ll eventually get over it. And if I get a few more hours of sleep, I’ll be able to laugh – instead of cry – about it. Life could be much, much worse.

Maybe my son’s whining is hereditary…

Have you seen my pants?

Are pants like cats? Do they go hide in a corner when they’re about to die?

When I went back to work, I had three pairs of pants that fit. One is beige and stained profusely (Of course it is! It is beige and I have toddlers. Enough said.) so I don’t wear it at work. One is brown and has become tight after a few weeks at work (yes I have gained weight. At least I assume so because my pants don’t fit, but I don’t have a scale.). And I had my black pants, which fit much better even though they are the same brand and supposedly the same size as my brown pants. I was planning on buying some more, maybe a pair of jeans, to rotate between more than two pants during the whole work week.

Monday, I couldn’t find my black pants so I wore my brown pants. Tuesday, looking for my black pants, I found some jeans in my closet that I had forgotten existed. They are pretty worn, but they have no holes yet and they fit well so I can wear them at work. Which is a darn good thing. Because it’s Friday now and I still haven’t found my black pants.

It makes no sense! I haven’t traveled. I have a small apartment. I have looked in, around and behind the washer and dryer. I have looked on the hangers and on the floor in the closet. I have looked through my drawers – and Zak’s. I have looked on the bed where unfolded laundry goes to sleep. I have looked in the laundry basket which is never empty. I have looked in the hamper which is never empty either. No trace of my black pants. For lack of time, I have not yet checked everywhere yet, like the freezer or the kids’ drawers, but why the hell would they be there? Although you never know, my baby is pretty big on stealing clothes. Still, I would think someone would have noticed if she had dragged my pants around the house.

I know I had them last week. I did not undress anywhere but at home. I have looked in all the rooms. What could have become of my black pants? Any ideas?

I can’t cheat anymore!

I speak French to my son, and I want him to have as much exposure to French as he can despite the fact that I work 5 days a week and that I don’t spend all of the other time talking to him. That is why I have always tried to translate books I read to him. The fact that I’m a translator has helped me tremendously, but still, as he became older, books became progressively more complicated and I can’t always translate on the fly. So there were books I always read in English (things that rhyme or that are just untranslatable, like Dr. Seuss, or books that use a terminology I don’t know, like trucks and other construction equipment). Then there were chapter books, which are just too long for me to do the mental work of translating every sentence. And let’s face it: when I am translating a story mentally, it is much slower, I have to think about it, I make mistakes, and I’m sure it’s a lot less enjoyable for my son. I know it’s less enjoyable for me. Still, I did it because I felt I had to.

But now I find it increasingly hard to cheat because my son is learning to read! Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration: he doesn’t even know all of his letters yet. But he will often repeats the words I have said while underlying words on the page with his fingers, trying to match what is written to what I said. And I can’t very well teach him that Maman is spelled M-o-m-m-y, can I?  I can’t let him try to find, on the page, a word that is only in my head… And I want to encourage literacy, and I know that what he is doing is showing an interest in reading by trying to recognize words. So more and more often, I find myself giving up on French and reading in English so I can show him how sounds match letters.

Of course, an easy fix to that problem would be to read books written in French. And I do, but the choice at the Vancouver Public Library is a lot more limited in French so things get boring easily. Plus, since it’s usually Zak who goes to the library these days, he has a hard time picking good French books. Case in point: he purposely avoided an English book that talked about a boy with two daddies (he has nothing against gays having children, quite the opposite, he doesn’t want to point it out as “different” by reading a book about it) and ended up with a French book entitled “John has two mommies”.

So what’s a girl to do?

Another Happy Sunday

I was a little miffed on Sunday. My in-laws were home and Zak was going to shop with them – his dad needed a new Gore-Tex jacket, Arcteryx was having a warehouse sale, ’nuff said – but I was jealous. I would have liked to go with them, but someone needed to stay home with the baby. So I would have liked them to take my son, in order to have some peace and quiet. But he would have been a pain in the bum – he’s not a very good shopper.

Really, I had no right to complain. I mean, Zak is home with the two of them five days a week. True, I work during that time. It’s not exactly easy either. But I would be the first to admit that working outside the home is easier than being a stay-at-home parent. So it’s the least I can do to take care of my kids while Zak gets to frolic, once in a while. And he doesn’t do it often enough as it is. So anyway, I stayed home, but I was not overly happy with it.

Yet I had a great time! My son was sick and grumpy, he wanted to watch a video (which he often gets to do while the baby sleeps) so I put the Smurfs on. He was scared. I tried Curious George – the Movie, and lo and behold, he was scared too. Now, I know he hasn’t watched much TV, but that’s pretty tame stuff. Anyway, after cuddling together on the couch for a bit, we finally stopped the video and read a book. Then when the baby woke up we Skyped my mom. We had a snack. We went to the grocery store, and my son didn’t even whine about it.

We had fun! It was one of those simple, everyday moments that you usually appreciate only once they are gone. I want to enjoy them now. My son is growing so fast, next year he’ll already be in school, and not long after that, he’ll be graduating college. So my resolution for the day is to stop whining and cuddle on the couch with my son while I still can.