Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Oh, my aching heart. Today was my youngest's first school visit day. For all you non Kiwis, in NZ, children start school on their fifth birthday, so for 4 weeks prior to that, they have school visits. My boy will be at school for two hours every Tuesday until he starts on his birthday. "I'm so excited!" he said, as walked through the gates, "But I think I'm feeling a little bit scared!" Nervousness aside, he is ready. I thought I was ready. I have learned this morning, that I am not.

Having been through first days with my now 14 year old daughter and 9 year old son, you'd think I'd be a pro at this. I started having kids before my friends, so I remember a lot of them confiding in me during their second pregnancies, that they worried they wouldn't have 
enough love to give to the baby. That there wasn't enough room in their heart to love their second child as much as their first. But that's not true. Our hearts merely expand with more love, scoots over to give more to the next child. That's true in every aspect for me except when it comes to feeling like I know what the hell I'm doing. Sure, we've been through it all with our teenager, but it doesn't make the boys' high fevers, first days of school, first fight with friends, first bloody knees - any easier. At least not for me. Each child really is different. Each experience is different, and the deeper I go into this motherhood journey (fourteen years!?) the more I realize that I have so much to learn. Just when I think I've seen it all and know just how to deal with any situation, something comes along to remind me that I'm a novice.

He is just so little. He is so earnest, so innocent, so trusting. He is putting himself and his little heart out there, trying to fit in with the other children. He can barely reach the hook to hang his backpack. I had to just watch and let him figure it out. His school uniform, in the smallest size available, seems to be swallowing him up. The pencil looks so big in his hand. These were all the thoughts swimming around in my head this morning. I thought I was ready. I am not. He's been in daycare since he was 8 months old, so we're used to being apart while I work part time, but this is different. This is school. All of my children will be in school. The hubs and my chapter of paying a nice portion of my paycheque to childcare is coming to a close after all these years. Well, that's one thing I am ready for.

This was only the first visit and it affected me in a way I hadn't expected. Three more to go before it's official. I should be ready by then. 

* 4 weeks later*

It's now official. Three more visits came and went. He became more and more ready. I became more and more emotional. I'd been checking in with my husband during the entire process as my boy and I went through it. He'd listened, but I don't think it had hit him, hit him just yet. Kind of like how as women, the idea of a baby is very real to us as they grow in our bodies, but it doesn't hit Dad until the baby is out and in his arms. 

So this morning, on our boy's fifth birthday and first day of school, I had him take the morning off work so that we could walk through this doorway for the last time together. We watched as our little one carefully put his uniform on. We physically stopped ourselves from coming to his aid as he struggled putting his shoes on over the socks that are too big for his little feet. We walked with him to school, watched him hang his bag up, on his tippy toes. We followed him while he walked in a line with his class, to the morning assembly to be introduced to the other students in the junior syndicate. 

We walked back with the class to their room and watched them sit for their morning mat time. We blew him a kiss and wished him luck for his big special day. He grinned and waved. Just an ordinary wave for him, but such a big, symbolic one for us. 

We turned away with tears in our eyes and walked to our cars to head off to work for the day. 

Our boy was ready. We were not. 

The longer I am a parent, the more I understand that my children are here to teach me how to parent. There I was, always thinking I was supposed to be teaching them but it's the other way around.

It's me that needs to keep up and be ready, because they always are.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My Middle Child

So what's your take? Is the whole middle child syndrome a myth? I'm the oldest of two so I never had an opinion on the matter but now I'm the mom of a middle child.

I have a 14 year old girl, 9 year old boy and a nearly 5 year old boy. I definitely have quite a few moments of mom guilt with my son because he is the most mellow, kindest, most sensitive one of the bunch (read: no drama) so he often flies under the radar. Girl 14 has a huge personality with a lot of fire and Boy 4 is Girl 14 magnified. My Boy 9 is the sweetheart. The one who will out of the blue, pick up on my exhaustion and say: "Are you ok? You aren't very genki today." (Japanese for "your energy levels seem a bit zapped.") The one who will go out of his way to tell me that something I've made for dinner is delicious. The one who will wait for me at the bottom of the stairs while I get all the groceries out of the car to help me while the other 2 scamper upstairs. The one who seems to remember things I've said in passing and follow them up later during a quiet moment. He is shy and reflective. Don't get me wrong, he's no angel. I'm sure, to the average person, his mischievous side is pretty evident but he is the careful watcher who navigates through our family gauging the two big (lovely) storms on either side of him.

The truth is, he has the strongest grip on my heart. My husband's, too. We lost a baby 10 weeks into my pregnancy between Girl 14 and Boy 9. I got pregnant with Boy 9 the very month that baby would have been born. Boy 9 was the catalyst. The one who seemed to bring the light and laughter back into our family.

He fights like mad with Girl 14 and is ever so patient with Boy 4's short fuse. He gets called by the wrong name the most. He, unlike the other two, can't ham it up for the camera and doesn't like to be the center of attention. He has his ups and downs. He has days where he is grumpy for reasons he can't put his little 9 year old finger on. But always, at the end of the day, he will give each of us a kiss good night and be out like a light before we can close the door behind us.

He is my middle child.

Middle children may be the "forgotten one" but in our house, he's the glue. 
Me, after a long day of dealing with my three kids:

Ugh, I can't take the fighting and yelling anymore. I need to get out and clear my head.

I'll go for a massive run.

Oh yeah, I hate running.

I'll go for a long, brisk walk.

Oh yeah, it's freezing outside.

Wine. I'll just have lots and lots of wine.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not Crazy About Crazy Hair Day

I was so smug about how organised I had been about Crazy Hair Day at Boy 4's preschool today. I'd taken him to the $2 shop yesterday and let him go nuts, picking out the horns (labeled Girls Night Out accessory) and some glow-in-the-dark orange hairspray. He could barely go to sleep, he was so excited about the head of super duper orange he'd be sporting the next day.


I took him outside, wrapped him in an old shirt of mine to protect his clothes from the insane level of orange that would be coming out of that can. So I sprayed. Shook and sprayed, shook and sprayed. NOTHING. Nothing but plain old hairspray, not a speck of orange in sight. He is giving me the gleeful look I've ever seen, anticipating that he would be winning the Craziest Hair Award that day.

He scurries off to the mirror and I just wait for what's coming. 1...2...aaaaah, there it is, the wailing shriek whine that only he knows how to achieve. I'm going to save you from the 20+ minutes of tantrums and negotiations. He finally agreed to me using the green facepaint that's been sitting in the cupboard from last Halloween. He even agreed to let me take a photo, the photo I hoped would appease his utter devastation over the dysfunctional orange hairspray from the "you had ONE job" category.

He let me take the photo. Doesn't mean he had to be happy about it.

Here it is.


Like a Grape

For the past 10 days, our house has been abuzz with Monarch butterfly fever. Boy 4 found a little caterpillar on the leaf of our swan plant out front. All summer, we'd eagerly count them as they got nice and plump on the plant, only to be picked off by the wasps. This time, we were determined to see the little guy through. We cut four healthy branches, put them in water and found him a prime spot in our kitchen. For breakfast, Boy 4 would even bring him to the table so that we could happily admire his striped pal. We tracked his progress and we even lost him at one point, only to find him chilling on a painting in the kitchen.

When we went to bed last night, he was still hanging upside down from the leaf. The kids were delighted when they saw that he'd formed into a chrysalis overnight! Not only that, there were eggs on the branch, and another wee caterpillar chomping away on a leaf. I carefully boxed it up and took it to Boy 4's preschool so that they could see the entire cycle and get to watch the miracle of a glorious Monarch butterfly emerge from its cocoon. Boy 4, classmates, teachers - all so excited, marvelling about how unusually late in the season it is for this natural wonder. Went off to work with warm fuzzies about the exciting day of learning ahead for the children.

Cut to pick up time, I practically skipped to his school, ready to hear all about it. I had sacrificed taking it in to my preschool to share with my students, because I knew how invested Boy 4's class was. I'd promised my students that I'd bring in a cutting with the eggs so we could follow their journey. I walked into Boy 4's centre, only to be greeted by his teacher's solemn face. Apparently, the children had gathered around the plant to start their lesson with her. 30 seconds in, a girl squashed the delicate little chrysalis between her chubby little fingers, like a grape. I was shocked at how disappointed I felt, and a bit miffed at the girl, even though I completely recognise the fact that she's only 4 and couldn't help herself. But geeeeeeeez girl, that caterpillar worked his butt off to get that far!

The kids actually did end up learning a valuable lesson about the cycle of life, just not exactly the way that the grown ups had hoped for!

Farewell, stripey friend, we'll always have Paris (or in this case, our kitchen bench.)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Taking your children to a skate park is absolutely the least relaxing way to spend your time.
I swear, my children have a roster coordinating which one of them hates which meal to avoid them all liking the same meal at the same time.