thismummaslife

Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


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Children Are People Too

izze

Recently, my little Simon and I met some friends for lunch at a local cafe. We arrived, ordered our food, and then I told Simon he could pick out a drink for himself. He excitedly chose an Izze soda, knowing that this is the only soda I allow him to drink. (If you are not familiar, Izze is basically carbonated fruit juice with no added sugars or preservatives. And it is quite delicious.)

Full of excitement over meeting friends, and being allowed to have a special treat, he practically bounced across the cafe floor with his drink, to place it on the counter. The woman working at the counter began to ring us up. Simon politely said to her: “Excuse me,…”

“Hi!” She said to him. “Is that your drink?”

“Yes, and—” He began to reply.

“Your Mom is having a baby!” She interrupted him. “You must be excited!”

He again tried to speak, pointing to his soda: “This is—”

Are you having a sister or a brother?” She again interrupted.

“No. This is—” Still pointing at the soda bottle.

“A baby sister or a baby brother? Do you know what you are having?” Her tone implied impatience with him, and yet she was not giving him time to reply. By now, I was feeling furious with this woman. My son was attempting to communicate with her, but she had her own agenda. Because he was not responding the same way an adult would, she was not respecting him, and not taking the time to listen.

He tried again: “But this is–” He was tapping the soda bottle frantically now, to show her what he was trying to talk about.

And again she interrupted: “You must be excited about the baby. What is it gonna be, a boy or a girl?”

Finally, Simon could not take it any more, and actually jumped up and down and wailed: “But I am trying to tell you something!”

She didn’t even hear his words, despite the fact that he was shouting them, because she was still grilling him over the gender of our baby. So this time I interrupted her. I reached out my hand, and stroked Simon’s hair. I leaned down to his level and said: “It’s ok honey.” Then, I looked back up at the woman and said: “He has been trying to tell you something that is important to him. He is very excited today.” I leaned back down to Simon and encouraged him: “Go ahead, Sweetie. Tell her what you want to say.”

She finally gave him room to speak. He spoke carefully and slowly now. I think he was afraid she would interrupt him again: “This is special soda that I get to have.”

She didn’t seem to know what to say, so she just replied “Oh yeah?” and finished our transaction.

Unfortunately, I don’t think she believed there was value in anything he had to say. I realize that not all adults know how to interact with children. However, at this point he was a customer in her cafe, and also a fellow human being. She was only interested in my pregnant belly, and thought he should be too. Of course he is, but it is a part of his everyday life. At that moment, getting a soda was much more thrilling and new, and he had a desperate need to express this to the other adult in front of him. Sure, she made an attempt to show interest in him by asking him questions, but it wasn’t genuine because she didn’t actually try to hear what he was saying.

He may have been barely able to see over the counter. He may have been wiggly, and silly, and young. However, that did not mean he was not worthy of being listened to. Children know when they are being talked down to or disregarded. They can sense it and it causes them frustration. (Just as it would for an adult.) This whole interaction may have only lasted a few minutes, but we encounter similar situations day after day. Added up all together they send a message that his opinions are less important because he is a kid, and that only grownups are worthy of being heard.

All adults, parents and non-parents, sometimes need to be reminded: Children are people too.


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Snuggle Chat

snuggle
Simon and I were snuggled up together on the couch this morning, as I read him a pile of picture books. I was wearing a tank top, and he looked up at me and said:

“Mumma, your armpit is dis-gus-ting!”

“What!? Why is it disgusting?” I asked him.

“Because it has hair in it.”

Amused, I explained: “That is because I am a grownup. When you grow up you will have hair growing in your armpits too.”

“Ewwww!” he replied. “Well, then, I am not growing up.”


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Four

 

Simon's 4th birthday 1
Last week we celebrated Simon turning four years-old. His actual birthday was on a Wednesday, so he and I spent the day together playing outside and shopping for party supplies. When Daddy got home from work we had a special pancake dinner (which has become an annual tradition), followed by a few presents. The following Saturday we had a little party here at home with some friends and family.

As everyone who has loved or cared for a child knows, time flies. They grow and change so fast, and it is amazing to witness. Simon continues to astound Jeramy and I on a daily basis with his imagination, intelligence, humor, and love.

At age four he loves ninjas and swords. He is currently obsessed with the movie Frozen. He makes “contraptions” all over the house with bits of rope and toys. He has very strong opinions on the way he believes everything should be done, and will argue them with us exhaustively. He is considerate and sweet, and loves to pick me flowers. He will sit and listen to chapter after chapter of a book being read-aloud to him. He increasingly wants to help us cook, garden, and do projects around the house. He sings us songs and will perform concerts for us with his instruments. He is a mostly picky eater, but will do strange things, like dipping pickles into his soup. He is social, and will greet everyone we encounter in public, asking them their name. He loves going for hikes and walks, and to the beach in summer. His favorite color is orange, but he likes pink a lot too.

I am so proud of my little guy, and how much his personality has grown. This is such a fun age.

Simon's 4th birthday 2


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The Middle of the Night

The middle of the night. Three-year-old comes shuffling in, climbs onto our bed.
We ask him “What are you doing out of your bed? Are you ok?”

He says “I just want to sleep with you.” Past attempts at allowing this have proven that the child is incapable of allowing anyone else to sleep when he is in the room. He becomes like a giddy preteen at a slumber party and wants to chat and giggle all night. And kick us in the face.

Husband says: “Oh no. You need to go back into your own bed.” Instant wailing ensues. Confused by this strong reaction we attempt to reason with him. “Everyone needs to sleep in their own bed…you will be more comfy…you have all of your stuffed animals in there…it is the middle of the night.” We are pleading now.

We carry him back to his bed. He refuses to lie down. We try more reasoning. He is still wailing. I end up sitting on the edge of his bed and scooping him into my arms like a baby. He collapses onto me, and falls instantly quiet. Clearly he is as exhausted as we are. I rock him back and forth for a few moments. He then allows me to lie him down and tuck him in. I am so relieved that I am going to get more sleep this night.

As I leave the room he tells me: “The problem was, my feet were cold.”

feet


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Parenting: Accepting Mistakes

fallen toy
We must be willing to accept mistakes from our children. They need to try things, and they are going to fail sometimes. They will spill, they will break, they will stumble, they will forget. If we expect them to always get it right, to never make a mess or an error, than we are asking more of them than we ourselves are capable of.

As parents we try to teach our children how to be safe. We also pass on intelligence and guidance.
It is not safe to jump down the stairs.” “You need to carry the cup with both hands.” You need to listen to your body so you know when to go to the bathroom.” We say these things and they still fall, drop, forget. They will mess up. They are kids. Yet it is so hard for us to remember that at times. We wonder why our child is misbehaving in spite of what we think they should know by now. Frustration builds, and it seems we are speaking to them in vain.

As a Mom, I am working on practicing mindfulness in the face of Simon’s errors. Sometimes he needs a consequence for his actions, but sometimes he just needs to know that I will love him no matter what. A hug and a conversation about what happened and why, can be miles more effective than being sent to his room. If I am always scolding, always impatient, and always punitive, I will actually hinder his ability to learn and mature.  He will feel punished all the time, and it will begin to lose meaning. I will feel discouraged and tired, and lose my temper. No one benefits.

This afternoon, I asked Simon to feed the cats. This is one of the chores he helps with. I reminded him that the bag was full, and not to let it tip over and spill. Well, no sooner had I said that, than he did let it tip over, and cat food rolled out, all over the kitchen floor. I could have raised my voice and spoken to him with exasperation. I could have just taken over for him, scooted him out of the way, and allowed myself to become upset. Instead I stood the bag upright, allowed him to finish, and then plugged in the vacuum cleaner and handed him the hose. I didn’t say “I told you” like I wanted to. Instead, I gave him the opportunity to fix his mistake.

The next time your child asks a question that you have already answered for the third time that day, or spills their milk on the floor because they were not being careful, try to breathe and remember that we adults do these things too. Boundaries are important, but so is patience and forgiveness in the face of being human. Children have had less practice at life than we have, and need to keep testing their world to see what works.  Some days they will “fail” over and over and over again. But that is ok, even though it might not feel like it. They are learning, and we can help them.

Our children look to us for leadership. What kind of leaders do we want to be?


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52: The Rest

in a box
mumma's glasses
watching the snow
close up
christmas morning 1
drums 1
peek a snow“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Due to my unexpected blogging break, I wasn’t here each week to share the portraits of Simon for my 52 project. However, I loved this photography project so much, that I could not bear the thought of simply ending at 45/52. So, here are the final seven portraits to my series. They are presented in chronological order, and are from various parts of the past seven weeks.

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this inspired idea from Jodi, and seeing the submissions of others each week. Having one of my blog posts for the week planned ahead of time was helpful as well through the more busy weeks of the year. Looking back over all of these posts, seeing how much Simon has changed, makes me smile. Documenting his childhood is definitely my favorite subject matter for my camera.

Linking up for the last time here: 52-250px

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