Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Crazy, Busy, but Good

I want to apologize for not keeping up with the blog much lately. And I’ve barely had time to visit all my favorite blogs, too. So I’m sorry if I seem to have disappeared!

There have been some big changes around our household lately. My husband got laid off; but it was a Good Thing. He got a nice severance package which made up for the fact that he wasn’t planning on leaving until January of next year: we ended up with the same amount of savings but sooner, and without him having to slave away at a job he didn’t like for six more months! The best part is that he ended up getting a new job with the guy he was hoping to work with next year, so he’s very happy.

This new job has him working mostly from home and setting his own hours (this is why we thought it would be a good job to have when we move – it doesn’t require us to stay in the city). There will be busy periods interspersed between slow periods and that works out perfectly for us. My business has suddenly picked up speed so we find ourselves in the happy position of sharing child care and work duties pretty equally. It was what we’d wanted all along but we didn’t expect it to happen this soon. We’re still shaking our heads and smiling at the way it just sort of landed in our laps!

So, with two case deadlines looming I’ve been spending a lot of time working and not much time on my blog. Things will slow down a little bit after those cases are done, and I plan to get back into more regular blogging then. I hope you’ll bear with me through these adjustments, as Husband and I try to settle on a schedule of housework, cooking, and grocery shopping. It’s great having him home, but we need to completely rework our routine and that part is challenging!

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Mission Accomplished

Okay, it wasn’t exactly the Mall. But it was a shopping district that contained several Big Box stores, including the Church of the Impulse Purchase, otherwise known as Ikea. God bless the Swedes for introducing us to cheap, stylish furniture but I have never come away from that store spending less than $100. Anyways, the kids were with MIL and I had two hours of child-free errand-hopping freedom ahead of me. My destination was an upscale Baby Boutique in search of a potty seat.

The choice of locale was entirely due to its convenient distance from MIL’s house and my unfamiliarity with anything else in her area. The reason for the purchase? Son is 3.25 years old and we recently flunked potty-learning. That is to say we tried, and failed, to convince His Nibs that doing your business on a potty is more convenient than wearing diapers. And herein lies my confession: we’re currently using disposable diapers. I know, I know, it pains me to even write it out. We moved into this house last September and, in a fit of decluttering, I gave away all my cloth diapers, pail liners – the whole kit ‘n caboodle – to a friend who is adopting. Son had outgrown most of them and I figured with him turning 3 in just a month I would buy one or two packs of ‘sposies and then he’d be done with diapers for good. We are now on Month #5 of using these disgusting, overly-perfumed, non-biodegradable, time capsules of human fecal matter and I am just beside myself with how revolting it feels to dump them in the trash, let alone pay money for the things. I am determined to stop using them even if it means I’m wiping up pee-pee accidents for the rest of my natural life. As of this afternoon, Son will be wearing underpants and I’ll use up the remaining diapers for nighttime (dealing with soaked sheets in the wee hours of the night is not something I’m willing to risk just yet) and emergencies (those places where pee-pee accidents would risk having you dismissed forthwith from the premises…though for the life of me I can’t think of anywhere I go which fits that description).

Anyways, to facilitate our success I went out in search of a potty seat. I realized, after Son decided that wetting his pants was actually preferable to sitting on the toilet, that there was an issue with his seat. It was much too small for him, but the adult seat was too big, leaving him to focus his efforts on balancing precariously over an open bowl rather than the business at hand. My theory was that if I could provide him with a seat that was comfortable and hands-free, he might be willing to give it a go again.

In true testimony to how far I’ve come along the path of Simple Living, I now detest having to buy something new. After a fun and satisfying visit to the thrift store yesterday, it irked me to walk into a haven of hugely expensive, mostly useless, baby gear. Personally, I think all you need for a baby is a good sling and a set of lactating breasts. But I digress. I did consider searching the thrift stores for a potty seat…for about a millisecond. I’m sorry but I draw the line at used toilet gear. So off I went to find a seat that would fit on the toilet and be large enough for my 45 lb Son’s butt. Everyone told me about the Baby Bjorn toilet seat which retails here for $42.99. I was really hoping to find a the same thing for less. Well, I came away with a Primo seat which was $12 cheaper and had a duck face on it to boot. I’m still a bit miffed that I had to blow almost $35 on a toilet seat (with tax and all), but I suppose it will see a fair amount of use. While Daughter hasn’t used any toilet accessories for some time now, she does have to balance herself and I cringe sometimes when I see her fingers gripping the sides of what is rarely a clean surface. And hey, if it helps me win the war against diapers it will pay for itself in a month. Not to mention the immeasurable cost to my sense of personal ethic every time I toss out a wadded-up ball of Elmo-festooned plastic polymers.

The point of this post is that today was a test of how far I’ve come in the battle against the forces of consumerism. In the past, an opportunity to spend some time without the kids invariably ended up with me shopping and spending a fair amount on money on stuff I thought I needed but probably didn’t. This time I hit my destination, swiftly accomplished my goal and, since there was nothing else to do in that particular suburb besides shop (how typical), headed back to MIL’s early to have lunch with her and the children. Shopping has become the utilitarian pursuit it should be, rather than a chance to indulge or reward myself. And when I do hand over that debit card, I do so rather begrudgingly.

the Teenager factor

A while back one of my city friends asked, in response to reading about our plans, if I was concerned about what life would be like for my kids when they get to be teenagers if we aren’t in the Big City. It’s a fair question. I grew up in the suburbs, fairly close to the city (though distance is relative when you can’t drive), and hated every minute of it. I looked across an inlet to the bright lights of downtown and felt like everything exciting in the world must be over there.

The idea that teenagers are bored out of their minds in a rural setting is prevalent. We have visions of kids riding their ATV’s to the local drinking spot, having monster truck races and shooting at cans, all while imbibing vast quantities of cheap beer and perhaps accidentally conceiving a few children while they’re at it. This may be a very unfair stereotype but I have given it some thought over the last while and here is what I’ve come up with.

I think there are many factors that contribute to “teenage delinquency” (for lack of a better term). I knew kids who never got into trouble because they were actively engaged in activities they enjoyed and felt passionate about. Whether it was riding horses, playing hockey, mountain biking, or whatever turned their boat if they were into it and involved in it there was less time to be bored. You’re not interested in getting drunk and staying up ’till 2 am if you have a big horse show early the next morning that you’ve been training towards for weeks, kwim? And as far as these engaging activities go, I don’t think there are many you can do in the Big City that you can’t also do in a smaller town (again, we’re talking a town of about 40,000 here).

I also think that “teen delinquency” is a byproduct of societal and parental factors. Teenagers are at an age where they are driven to take on some adult responsibilities but are prevented at every turn. They can’t drive, drink, have sex, get married, hold a full time job, run for city council, sit on volunteer boards, etc. They are forced to go to high school until they are 18 which eats up most of their day (including evenings doing homework and studying for tests). Their time is not their own to manage so they have no skill in doing so. We don’t allow our children to take manageable risks when they are young, so when they are older and naturally wish to engage in risk taking behaviours they have no skills or experience in this regard, either. Basically, teenagers are not allowed to be part of adult society so why would we expect them to feel stewardship over it? Why not just go hang out in a park somewhere and see how drunk and stoned you can get?

It is my desire to give my children experience in taking risk, and to give them added responsibilities as they mature. Since they are unschooled, they are already figuring out who they are and what they want to be/do by taking the lead in their education. Most kids don’t get much say in what they are learning until they hit college, and then – no surprise – many flounder around for a couple of years before they figure out what turns their crank. By the time my kids are teenagers I suspect they’ll have a far better idea of what direction they wish to go in, and that alone should keep them from feeling bored and restless. And since I am not working and, if all goes according to plan, Husband will have a very flexible schedule, we can go with the kids to “see the world” and work against that feeling of being “trapped in a small town”. Finally, they won’t be straining against parental authority (I devoted virtually all my energy towards that as a youth) because I don’t believe you can punish, coerce, bribe, or otherwise force kids to be a certain way. If my kids haven’t established some core values by the time they are teenagers then I’ve failed at my job and no amount of grounding and removing privileges is going to change that.

Now this all may be wishful thinking and none of it might work out the way I hope it will. I’m sure many of you with teenagers are chuckling to yourself the same way I giggle internally when newly pregnant couples plan out how their lives are going to be after baby arrives. But I do believe this: if my kids end up hating where we live, engaging in irresponsible activities, and generally getting themselves into trouble…it won’t be because we moved to a smaller town.