Joy On His Face

23 Jul

My brother and I used to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. I remember cartoons like The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, Garfield and Friends, Tales of the Green Forest, Shining Time Station, and Beetlejuice. Sometimes, just for fun, my brother and I would loudly scream and screech as each new show began. We were young and ridiculously happy and our biggest concern was the Saturday morning cartoon lineup.

I’ve been deliriously happy plenty of times since that particular memory, but somehow adult enjoyment never seems to encapsulate the all-encompassing joy of childhood (provided of course that you had a happy childhood).

One of my favourite things about having kids is experiencing the world through their eyes. I love watching their eyes light up and their faces fill with joy.

My oldest was a very happy baby, but he grew into a more serious toddler and child. He still smiles and laughs a lot, but his good moods just can’t compare to the jubilance we see pour forth from my younger son. Little JP had a rough start to life, with stomach issues and plenty of crying, but once we figured out how to solve those issues, he turned into an incredibly happy child. And he stayed that way.

He has tantrums like any other three year old and he cries when he gets hurt (physically or emotionally) but I’m constantly in awe of this guy’s good natured personality.

20140723-112928-41368870.jpg

20140723-112928-41368189.jpg

20140723-112926-41366644.jpg

20140723-112927-41367267.jpg

20140723-112930-41370938.jpg

20140723-112929-41369337.jpg

20140723-112930-41370186.jpg

20140723-112930-41370511.jpg

20140723-113046-41446273.jpg

20140723-113114-41474583.jpg

20140723-113113-41473370.jpg

20140723-113131-41491743.jpg

20140723-113146-41506490.jpg

20140723-113215-41535431.jpg

20140723-113216-41536390.jpg

The pure joy present on his face helps see me through the toughest days of parenting.

Red in the Toilet

22 Jul

This morning, RJ approached me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to alarm you, but lately I’ve been seeing lots of toilet paper in the toilet and some of that toilet paper is red.”

Whoops. Forgot to flush. Again.

How old were you when you first discovered the wonderful world of menses?

My mom explained all the mechanics of menstruation to me when I was about ten years old (maybe a little younger) and then gave me a book about it. I knew about it but it wasn’t very real because I’d never actually seen it or experienced it before. The commercials on tv where blue liquid drips on the pads meant nothing to me.

One summer, out camping, my mom and I were in the public restroom brushing our teeth and going pee. We were getting ready to leave and I approached my mom as she was exiting a stall. I caught a glimpse of red in the toilet before she flushed and exclaimed, “Mom, why is the toilet all red?” She was like, “Leah!!” and only then did I clue in: Oohhhhh, this is the period blood she told me about! I immediately felt embarrassed that I didn’t wait to ask my mom until we were out of earshot from the other women in the bathroom.

Obviously none of those bathroom ladies would’ve been shocked about period blood, but many ladies don’t like advertising their time of the month. I don’t feel embarrassed about it anymore though; now I just feel sorry that my mom had to endure a family camping trip while bleeding and cramping. If it had been me (and it was in later years), I would have been miserable.

As I said, I was about ten years old when that all went down. Is there a correct age to talk about this stuff with your children?

It probably depends on the child.

Shortly after JP was born, RJ wanted to know everything about reproduction. He wanted to know all about girl parts and boy parts and how the baby grew and how the baby got out. He wanted to hear his own birth story over and over; his favourite part was when the doctor put him on my chest and he was completely covered in ewie gooey slimy stuff.

Interestingly enough, he’s never asked how the baby actually gets into the uterus in the first place. He probably will soon enough.

Now that he’s seen the tell-tale red toilet paper, I figured there was no reason to make up stories about what it really is. He knows the correct terms for everything so I gave him a little explanation about a period:

“Many ladies have a uterus and that is the place where a baby grows. A baby isn’t always there but the uterus is often getting ready to hold and nurture a baby. It gets itself ready by building up a supply of blood which would be a good environment for a growing baby. But once the blood supply gets too big and there’s no baby cells around, the blood has to leave and the supply starts building up all over again. The blood leaves through the same hole that a baby would come out of and it usually can be seen clearly in the toilet. This happens to most women and it’s totally normal. Do you understand?”

RJ said, “sounds like an interesting procedure, mom!” Then he continued playing his super hero game.

If JP told me the toilet was red, I wouldn’t give him the same explanation. I might say something like, “mommy just had an owie” but realistically, JP probably wouldn’t even notice different coloured toilet water. He is a different kid than RJ and isn’t able to understand the same kinds of things RJ is.

The things I told RJ at age three, I wouldn’t tell JP now because he wouldn’t get it. RJ knew about Fallopian tubes at age three whereas River is just beginning to grasp the concept that babies grow in tummies. He was quite sure my friend Tara was hiding her baby under her shirt, but really it was under her shirt, under her skin, and in her uterus! You have to know what kind of information your child is ready for.

What have you told your kids about babies and periods? Every little detail or a more sanitized version?

Bussing Across Town

18 Jul

I have some lovely friends who live waaaay on the other side town. Looking at a map, my street is at the very top and their streets are at the very bottom. It can sometimes take half an hour to drive the route, depending on traffic. It takes much longer on the city bus and, of course, I am a city bus girl.

Yesterday, the boys and I braved the sweaty weather and the long bus ride to make it across town for a play date. I like to plan my across-town play dates in the afternoon because then we only have to bus one way; Jason can pick us up after he’s done work.

As usual, before we left for the bus stop, I made the boys go pee because, after all, there would be no more toilets until Tara’s house! I had a big back-pack full of snacks, extra clothes, and anything else we could possibly need. Plus we had a bag holding Tara’s baby present (for the, presumably, adorable unborn boy-child).

We arrived at the bus stop at 1:40 and immediately JP said he had to pee. I asked, “are you serious? Or are you just joking?” He assured me he was just joking…but I should’ve known something was up. But he did JUST pee five minutes earlier so I believed that he was joking.

We boarded the bus at 1:45 and our adventure began. Fifteen minutes later, the bus pulled into the terminal (where all the busses meet and people transfer). We didn’t need to switch busses so we stayed put. Five minutes later, we pulled out of the terminal and, almost immediately, JP said, “I have to pee mommy.”

Argh!!

I told him he had to hold it because we were still very far from Tara’s house. He said he could hold it. Ten minutes later, the bus pulled into the mall parking lot and JP looked at me hopefully and said, “The mall has bathrooms!” Indeed he was correct, but I told him there was no way we could make it to the bathroom and back to the bus in time. I said to please keep holding it and he said he would.

The bus pulled away from the mall and JP started holding his crotch: the tell-tale sign that the situation is getting dire. At this point I realized just how bumpy a bus ride can be… Every bump had me convinced JP would let loose all over the bus seat.

We were approaching the City Hall terminal (all the busses meet around City Hall for more transferring opportunities) and I resigned myself to the fact that we were going to have to leave the bus and use the public bathroom inside.

After about five minutes of driving, I explained what we were going to do, put on my back-pack, and grabbed a hand from each boy. RJ was in charge of holding the baby present.

When the bus pulled into City Hall, I ran with the boys to the front of the bus and asked said to the driver, “He has to pee, how much time do we have?!” He said, “Good luck!” Ack! I grabbed a transfer slip and pulled the boys along behind me as I ran towards City Hall.

We got inside and ran to the washroom…and it was full! Ack x 2! I ran over to the security desk and asked the guard if there were any other washrooms. He could see that I was on a frantic flight and said I could use the bathroom behind his desk.

I shuffled JP into the stall, plopped him and the toilet and said, “PEE!”

He peed and we exited the stall, I grabbed two hands, screamed my thank you to the security guard, and practically flew back outside. The bus was still there so I continued flying, dragging the boys behind me. We re-boarded the bus and I breathlessly said thank you to the driver as we made our way back to our original seats.

Phew!

A few people congratulated me on my flawlessly executed pee plan.

The bus pulled away from city hall at 2:30 and I got my map out to make sure we disembarked at the correct street.

Ten minutes later, I pulled the cord and we got off the bus with a final thank you to the driver. We crossed a street and I told the boys to look for a certain address, one that started with the number one.

When I looked at the house numbers, my heart sank. The numbers all started with three. We got off at the wrong stop and we were on the wrong block.

Argh!!

Normally, that wouldn’t have bothered me but the boys were starting to really feel the heat. JP was making a continual high pitched whine/cry noise. Plus, he was walking really slow. It was really hot and the street had very few trees for shade coverage. Every few houses, JP pointed at a house and said, “Tara lives there,” and promptly sat down in the front yard. I kept saying, “We are so close! Keep going buddy!”

I should mention that RJ was being extremely helpful throughout our entire ordeal. He was well behaved on the bus, business-like on our venture into city hall, and very encouraging while walking up the endless street to Tara’s house.

20140718-135738-50258180.jpg

20140718-135738-50258529.jpg

20140718-135738-50258876.jpg

RJ and I kept a good pace while continually calling to JP and telling him he was doing a great job. It still took us nearly 20 minutes to walk up the street – what a long and sun-baked street!

Finally we made it to Tara’s house. RJ and I exuberantly cheered, though JP kept whining. He stopped whining as soon as he saw Tara’s yard full of toys though.

20140718-135913-50353209.jpg

In the end, though it was a rather stressful hour and a half, it was worth it. Aside from JP whining and walking slow, both boys were extremely well behaved. Last summer while making a similar cross-city trek, JP kept trying to run into traffic; this was a greatly appreciated improvement.

I had a lovely visit with Tara and the boys had fun jumping in the wading pool, climbing on the play structure, saying hello to the dog, and eating fruit and Popsicles.

We will undoubtedly make the trip again, but with a few minor adjustments. There will be two forced pees prior to leaving for the bus stop and I will remember to get off at the correct street!

There you have it: a day in the life of a mom on the bus!

Tattoos (continued)

15 Jul

Yesterday, I listed some of the comments I’ve received as a visibly tattooed woman.

Thankfully, most people aren’t rude. I’ve seen eyes move over my body with sneered expressions but that’s not as annoying as the people who do think they need to say something out loud. Unfortunately, it’s often the rudeness that makes the most memorable impression.

Some comments I’ve received, plus my responses:

It must be nice to be able to afford tattoos.

Yes, it’s nice. People will use their money for what is important to them. With regards to superfluous non-essentials, we do not have fancy sound systems, brand new furniture, new vehicles, designer clothes/shoes, boats, ATVs, a swimming pool, or exotic vacations. That stuff might be important to other people and that’s fine. We bought tattoos because they are important to us.

Oh, another one?

Yes.

Why would you want to ruin such a cute body?

Well-done tattoos do not ruin bodies, they enhance them. Also, I don’t need random strangers commenting on my body.

Don’t you think you have enough now?

No, but thanks for asking.

You’ll regret it.

Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it’s not something you have to worry about. Also, many non-tattooed people have regrets.

What are you going to do when you’re old and wrinkly?

When I’m old and wrinkly, I’ll be old and wrinkly. I will hopefully lead a life full of love and adventure. I’ll have colourful saggy skin but I doubt it will impact my quality of life.

It’s time to stop wasting money on tattoos.

If it’s a well-done tattoo, it’s not a waste of money. I consider buying cigarettes to be a waste of money but I don’t say that to people I see smoking.

How are you going to be a productive member of society with all those tattoos?

I’m intelligent, educated, responsible, open-minded, and full of joy; I’m already a productive member of society.

What if you want kids someday?

Then I’ll have kids. (Or in present time, “I have kids.”)

What does your husband think of all those tattoos?

If he didn’t like tattoos, we probably wouldn’t be married. Considering we met on a tattoo website, there was no chance of that happening. Also, my husband doesn’t own my body and doesn’t get to tell me what to do.

Or my favourite…

What will you do if your kids want tattoos?

When they turn 18, they can get a tattoo. Why is this even an issue? I will try to impress upon them the importance of keeping their hands and necks and faces free of ink until they’ve decided upon a path, but the rest is fair game.

Honestly, who knows what my kids will do. If they want to rebel and be different from their parents, maybe they’ll swear off all forms of body modification. That will be ok. Maybe they will be covered in ink; that will be ok too.

I started thinking about being a tattooed parent a few days ago while watching this scene play out:

20140715-105442-39282128.jpg

Ridiculously cute!

My boys were born into a family with tattooed (and pierced) parents. It’s just their reality and most of the time, they never give it a second thought. Having said that, sometimes they play tattoo parlour and talk about the designs they will have when they grow up.

But you know what they haven’t done? They’ve never once expressed concern or curiosity about the tattooed and pierced “freaks” we see around town and on the bus. Different body art and expression is normal to them.

And returning back to the question of, “How are you going to be a productive member of society?” I’d say I’m doing a decent job of raising non-judgmental children who will grow up to value and embrace diversity.

Tattoos

14 Jul

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love tattoos!

Most people have tattoos nowadays. Or, to be more precise, most people between the ages 18 and 45 have at least one small tattoo.

Obviously, I don’t have researched data to back up that statement, but in my various social circles, the number of tattooed people outnumbers the non-tattooed people. Tattoos are becoming more common-place and it’s no longer shocking to see a bit of ink peeking out from underneath clothing.

Despite tattoos being more common, you’re less likely to see people sporting large pieces that cover a lot of skin. Without getting into the politics or the sociology of it, a person with full sleeves will be perceived and treated differently than a person with one or two pieces of ink. And a woman with lots of tattoos will be treated differently than a man with lots of tattoos.

I am a tattooed person and some of my tattoos are visible most of the time. I don’t know how many there are because some of them kind of blend into others. At best guess, I’d say there are about 15 tattoos scattered around my skin. In my opinion, it doesn’t feel like a lot, but compared to someone with a solitary tattoo, I guess it is a lot.

I’ve wanted tattoos since I was old enough to understand what tattoos were. I got my first tiny tattoo at age 18 and received very positive feedback.

Oh cute tattoo! Adorable! I can’t believe you did it!

When the tattoo collection started growing, the comments started changing:

It must be nice to be able to afford tattoos.

Oh, another one?

Why would you want to ruin such a cute body?

Don’t you think you have enough now?

You’ll regret it.

What are you going to do when you’re old and wrinkly?

It’s time to stop wasting money on tattoos.

How are you going to be a productive member of society with all those tattoos?

What if you want kids someday?

What does your husband think of all those tattoos?

Or my favourite…

What will you do if your kids want tattoos?

Tomorrow I will be addressing this ignorance and sharing a cute photo that started me thinking about these kinds of comments in the first place.

Introducing…

9 Jul

20140709-093926-34766020.jpg

Yes! We have rats!

Are you disgusted? Are you horrified?

Many years ago, a friend told me how friendly and smart her pet rats were and I was intrigued.

Having a rat is like having a tiny dog or cat. They can be litter trained, trained to do tricks, they like to socialize, and they are friendly. They are small, adorable, they like to cuddle, and they are relatively easy to care for. Their life expectancy ranges from two to five years so they are a good pet if you’re not quite up for the “turtle length” commitment I talked about yesterday.

Jason wasn’t sure about rats initially, but I catch him laughing at their antics and saying, “Awww, you’re so cute!” My mom continually insists that gerbils are far superior, but she won’t convince me.

JP needs to be watched like a hawk around these fellas because he is not a gentle child (think of the abominable snowman in the Bugs Bunny cartoons). RJ is getting pretty good at handling them though.

I’m quite satisfied with my decision to get rats at this point in our lives: something small and cuddly that can help teach the boys about responsibility, pet ownership, gentleness and, of course, death. I’ve already told RJ that the rats will probably only live for three years.

20140709-095445-35685007.jpg

20140709-094856-35336269.jpg

Pets

8 Jul

I’m not saying my mom was against pets, but she certainly wasn’t standing on the rooftops proclaiming that pet ownership was fundamental to a well balanced childhood.

Lots of my friends’ families had pets and I remember thinking it was weird when parents showed affection for those pets. My mom never seemed to show any form of excitement or affection for any kind of animal and I thought that was the norm. But I knew she had various pets as a child/young adult and my parents had a cat when I was born so why was she so against animals in the home?

Looking back now, I would guess that my mom had her hands full caring for two kids, a house, and an uncooperative husband. Likely she didn’t want any other kind of responsibility, no matter how minuscule. She also couldn’t convince my dad that cat allergies were a real thing so it was probably easier to say no to all fur and feathers.

My best friend moved away when I was 7 and gave me her goldfish. I’m sure my mom was sought for permission, but how could she say no to a tiny homeless goldfish. (His name was Jack). After that, we kept a couple fish in the house until 1998.

Every so often, my brother and I would ask my mom for a different kind of pet and she would tell us no. We wanted something more exciting than a fish!

We never really pushed the issue until 1993. At that point, we convinced my mom to let us buy snakes. We went to the neighbourhood pet store and they were all out of snakes. But they had little quarter-sized turtles available for fifteen dollars each. My mom, having already promised us a pet, agreed to the turtles. Little did she know, those turtles would still be alive and thriving in 2014.

In retrospect, it’s a good thing the store was out if snakes. A later test revealed an allergy to snake urine!

After securing our little reptiles, we grew bored of them. Not right away of course. We cared for them and enjoyed them but after several years, we just kept thinking, “cuddling is impossible.” We asked for something fuzzy but it was denied.

To my mom’s credit, she let us sample many temporary pets, though each one was as non-cuddly as the next:

Toads – My brother and I caught toads every June (for a couple summers) and let them go in September. We spent hours every day catching bugs for them to eat.

Tadpoles – We caught tadpoles in a swamp at the end of my street and watched them turn into frogs. Then let them go.

Minnows – We would keep them in Tupperware containers in our bedrooms and fed them fish food. They mostly died.

Crayfish – We kept one in a fish tank for several months, feeding it dead bugs and fish food. One day we took the tank outside and left it there. For a month. It froze solid. We brought the tank back inside and let it thaw. Surprisingly, the crayfish was still alive. I don’t remember if it later died or if we let it go in the spring.

Spider – We found a huge spider at a campground and we brought it home and made a nice bucket home for it. We didn’t really know what we were going to do with it, but the decision was made when my brother’s friend stuck a pin through it’s body. I remember it slowly curling up into a ball.

When I was fifteen, I started asking my mom if I could, again, have something cuddly. I don’t remember the reasons for refusal, but my mom was always practical to a fault: you don’t have time, you don’t have money for vet bills, you don’t want to make another “turtle length” commitment.

But the desire for a fuzzy pet never left. I know I don’t have money for a big pet like a cat or dog and I know we aren’t prepared for a lengthy commitment yet. One day I would like to get a small dog. Just not now.

Now that my kids are almost six and three, I decided it was time to take the fuzzy pet plunge. I wasn’t going to tell my mom in case she tried to talk me out of it; I informed Jason of the decision, rather than ask about his thoughts because I, again, didn’t want to be talked out of it.

I contacted a local woman known for breeding fuzzy creatures and took 150.00 I had saved and told Jason we would be purchasing a cage and some accessories. He seemed skeptical but he didn’t argue.

Anybody who is familiar with my Facebook page will already know about these pets, but perhaps there are a few readers still in the dark.

Well…you’ll have to come back tomorrow in order to meet the newest members of the Eating Dirt household!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 267 other followers