Category - parenting

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When A Stranger Has No Social Filter…
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When Your Child With A Disability Is Told, “You Can’t Play With Us!”
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Dear Parent Of A Newly Diagnosed Child…
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The Special Needs Parenting Sweet Spot
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Parents, Stop Blinking!
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Spoil Your Kids Awesome
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Friends Supporting My Kids—It Takes Village
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Tears Sting Even When They’re Not Yours
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When Your Child Chokes
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Is This Too Much Bubble Wrap?

When A Stranger Has No Social Filter…

When it comes to social graces, some people completely missed the boat. Were they born without a filter or did something happen to make them that way? I have no answers here, but I do have a story.  A few months ago I was at the grocery store with my daughter and the cashier criticized my parenting. No qualms, no mercy, she flat out tried and convicted me without knowing a thing about me or my daughter. You can read about how enjoyable that was HERE.  Turns out, this was the same cashier who a few years earlier (she’s a lifer at our local grocery store… lucky, lucky us) berated my friend in front of a long line of customers. She made a snap judgement about her parenting (she is a wonderful, loving parent by the way), and called her out for being what she deemed “a negligent parent.”  Seriously lady?! a) Who do you think you are? b) You had no idea what this mother was dealing with that day. c) Ever heard of customer service? d) If you don’t have any nice to say, zip it. e) Your conveyer belt is always sticky.  Yesterday my sister in law and[…]

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When Your Child With A Disability Is Told, “You Can’t Play With Us!”

  My daughter loves playing at the park at the end of our street. She’d stay for hours if she could. But since she’s a child with a disability, she can’t go to the park by herself like her peers do—they can come and go as they please, but my kiddo has to drag her mother along. “Drag” makes me sound like an unwilling companion, but I’m usually content to supervise. Though some days, admittedly it’s inconvenient. And boring. After a few pumps on the swing and perhaps an (awkward) chin-up or two on the monkey bars, my thoughts quickly turn to, “I need to start dinner” or “I have to return that phone call by 5pm” or “I have to pee” or “I wish I brought more coffee” or “I really, really have to pee.”  But she’s a kid who needs fresh air, and climbing and swinging, and companionship, and your basic childhood fun, so I park myself at the park.  Yesterday was a beautiful spring afternoon so I was happy to spend some time warming the park bench.  Within a few minutes of arriving, the play structure filled with kids from Avery’s school. They quickly organized a game of[…]

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Dear Parent Of A Newly Diagnosed Child…

The early days when you suspect something might be wrong with your child completely suck. Literally—the fear and worry sucks the life out of you to the point where you wonder if you have the strength to actually go on. But the day you hear the words, the actual diagnosis, is the worst day. It’s indescribably (though I’ll try) horrendous.  When we got the phone call that confirmed our daughter has a chromosomal disorder I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t make sense of  what was happening. There was a loud ringing in my ears that made it hard to think. I fled outside and gasped for air. I couldn’t breathe. I eventually came back in and sat quietly on the couch beside my husband and we cried.  A few months later our daughter ended up in hospital which is a despicable story in itself (doctors are wonderful people, but they don’t always see what you see. When a medical professional tells you that it’s all in your head, listen to your gut and do what needs to be done.) This is when further genetic testing revealed the extent of our child’s chromosomal deletion/duplication. The first few weeks with this new knowledge[…]

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The Special Needs Parenting Sweet Spot

It’s a struggle to stay rooted in the present. Memories of traumatic moments from the past seep in and thoughts of what “could” happen trickle through the cracks. These leaks can start to erode the “special needs parenting sweet spot.”  “Be mindful!” I remind myself constantly. “All the good stuff is happening now! If you don’t open your eyes and breathe, you’ll miss it.”  Sitting sandwiched between two conversations at my daughter’s adaptive soccer league last week I felt like my happy place was put in peril. As I sat on a cold metal bench watching wildly enthusiastic kids chase after soccer balls followed closely by their volunteer partners. I couldn’t help but hear the two conversations happening separately on either side of me.  One pair talked about their young children recently diagnosed with complicated disorders. The fear, the confusion, the anxiety—I remember it well. The “beginning” is a unique kind of difficult. So many questions, so much anxiety—parents reaching out in desperation to anyone who might have answers, or at the very least offer some guidance.  My stomach clenched as I listened to the despair in their voices. Though my compassion was overshadowed by my relief in having escaped the early[…]

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Parents, Stop Blinking!

With all the powerful, gigantic love and joy that comes with being a parent, there is also the cold-sweat inducing self-doubt, pit-in-your-stomach worry, daily guilt, parenting choice remorse, basic dread, and of course, paralyzing fear. Our son talks about changing the world. He’s a dedicated vegetarian. He recycles without giving it a second thought. He turns off lights behind me to “save the polar bears.” And though he still wears little boy pyjamas, he’s now wearing size 10 men’s shoes. I’m afraid to blink because every time I do, he grows up just a smidge more. He actually lifted me up on the ground today. I’d like to think it’s because I’m light as a feather, but I sadly I know it’s because he’s a freaking he-man.  Our daughter is is the sweetest person. I’m serious. The girl does not know how to hate. She wakes up happy and bounds out of bed, excited to start her day. How wonderful would it be to live like that? I haven’t bounded out of bed since 1982. And even then, it must’ve been Christmas or I really had to pee. I had a moment of clarity the other day when I realized[…]

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Spoil Your Kids Awesome

  Are you spoiling your kids rotten? If your kids are demanding, self-centred and ungrateful, yet you continue to give in to their every desire, you might be.   If you set limits and model gratitude and kindness (as often as you can, obviously—some days I’m an ungrateful hag) you’ll be rearing awesome little citizens who will take what is bestowed upon them with genuine appreciation. Sincere ‘please and thank yous’ go a long way. I tell my kids that people want to do things for them because it makes them feel good. By acknowledging somebody’s generosity, you make them feel even better. Friends and family will want to spend their time and energy on them because feeling good is addictive. It really is satisfying to do something thoughtful for another person—whether it’s making them a special card, sharing a favourite toy, or giving a compliment. It just feels nice. Humans are hard wired to constantly seek pleasure. That’s biology. My kids lost their minds when their grandma baked them her famous lemon loaf. They gobbled it up and doled out sincere compliments about how she is the best baker and how it was so delicious and ‘thank you so[…]

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Friends Supporting My Kids—It Takes Village

I wrote a story recently about how one of Avery’s school friends shoed her away on the playground and hurt her little heart in the process. The very next day when we arrived at school, my friend Pat was there waiting at school drop off with this sweet calendar in hand for Avery to cheer her up. (Avery hung it beside her bed and adds a sticker every night before she goes to sleep to mark the days. Sweet AND educational. Gotta love that.)       Then I shared a story with tips for including children with special needs in play dates. The next day this Facebook message appeared. A few private messages back and forth and bam! We have a very special play date on Avery’s new calendar.   I’m not saying you have to be a mom to care about other people’s kids. My friend Ali loves my kids and takes a genuine interest. She has the cutest banter going with Sebastian. She is constantly threatening to “take him down” on the Wii playing field. He laughs and rolls his eyes and loves it. He loves her too. And so does Avery. When I told her Ali had invited[…]

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Tears Sting Even When They’re Not Yours

This post is about how to ease the blow when your child isn’t invited to the party…   My daughter excitedly joined in to sing a boisterous happy birthday to her friend at school this week. She’s all about the good times. It’s an apple-falling-not-far-from-the-tree sort of thing. She went straight up to the birthday girl (who is a sweetheart) and asked, “It’s your birthday! You having a party?”  Making an awkward situation even more awkward (another apple-tree situation) my daughter continued her line of questioning with, “I can come to your party?!” Talk about putting this poor girl on the spot. She is having a small party—only one child from the class was quietly invited. This is totally cool and completely acceptable. But my party girl just couldn’t understand this and she couldn’t let it go. For the rest of the day she kept bringing it up, stuck in a loop of disappointment. Classmates began stepping in to say gently but firmly, “Avery, you’re not invited. Okay?” On the way home from school my girl burst into tears, explaining about the party and that she couldn’t go sobbing, “Why can’t I go toooooo?” sob-sob-snot-bubble-cry All parents have these dagger[…]

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When Your Child Chokes

  Not all parents of children who have a disability of some kind obsess. Admittedly, I do. I struggle to tame the worries that invade my thoughts and I tend to hover over my daughter. (Think helicopter blades whirling furiously over head, bubble wrap dispenser on the ready.) My child has global development delays, speech and gross motor issues, and seizures. Despite her diagnosis she has made incredible progress. For a child who doctors said may never walk or talk, she is doing both — in your face, science. Our girl is no longer a baby. She is active and bold and curious. To deny her independence and the chance to explore would be cruel, so I hold my breath and let her go. Up the stairs by herself; higher on the swings; in the pool, close by, but liberated from her water wings. As it is for any child, loosening their reins allows them to reach further. So despite my racing heart, I’m trying to give her space to grow. My other child, Avery’s big brother, laughs when I remind him to chew his food. To him, grapes are juicy mouthfuls. To me they are ominous orbs of imminent choking. I’m not completely insane though — I stopped cutting[…]

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Is This Too Much Bubble Wrap?

If you say you’re not at least partially panicked and freaked about your kids’ safety, then you’re a pants on fire liar. That, or you’re way more calm, cool and collected than I am. Can I please be you? If I could wrap my children in a protective layer of safety and security — like some kind of Teflon kiddie coating, but without the carcinogens, I’d totally do it. I’m at my happiest when my kids are wearing their helmets — not necessarily for biking, but just you know, around. Sebastian is clearly a big boy. He needs less and less protection from his smother, er mother. But this doesn’t mean I won’t stop reminding and nagging. Thankfully he’s a good sport about it. “Look at you mum. You’re growing as a person.” he’ll joke. And then I’ll make a remark about my big bum and we’ll laugh, oh how we’ll laugh (as I’m quietly sobbing and cursing the Frito Lay company in my head). I don’t think he feels suffocated and I really am trying to loosen the reins and trust that we’ve taught him well. But hot damn it’s hard. I partially blame having a serial child killer[…]

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