Month: January 2014

Old School Style

 

 

I need to come clean about something.

Not too long ago, our family was homeless. We were homeless for quite a few months, actually.

 

 

Wait.

I need to come clean about that. 

See, an opportunity came up which we thought was too good to pass up, to purchase a brand new house,  built from scratch. The catch was that we needed to sell the home that we already had first, to go towards the funding of  it.  When we completed the sale, construction of the new house started,  but the closing date on it was like six months later.  So, after we moved out, we were technically homeless until we could move into the new place; we didn’t have a fixed address.

For a couple of months during this period, we stayed at my father in-law’s house.  He was cool with it, and I’m sure he liked the company. Nonetheless, that was still the definition of super-imposing. Taking one person in is a big commitment, let alone four.  If you look up super-imposing in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of my father in-law standing at a window frowning, as K, J, B and I walked up to his house carrying our suitcases.  To be honest, the situation felt like the premise for a bad sitcom.  Just watch the hilarity when a grownup daughter moves into her neat-freak dad’s place, with her wild n crazy kids and her smooth,  funky fresh, fine, wise-cracking husband who has a heart of gold!

No, Chris Rock, you're not going to play the role of me.

No, Chris Rock, you’re not going to play the role of me. It’s not a real show.

Obviously, we couldn’t stay there for the whole six months. And this put us in a bind. We didn’t have any other family to turn to, so where do you live when you’re only looking for something for a few months? We looked at apartments, but everything required a one year lease. We looked at home rentals, but the only places that we could find were crazy expensive, or crazy sketchy (I checked out one house, and then as I was leaving and going to my car, I walked past a prostitute. Pimpin’ ain’t easy, but that’s not a lesson I want to teach my kids yet). We looked at the YMCA (I heard it’s fun to stay there). We looked at hotels. We looked at running away and joining the circus or becoming carnies. No go to them all.

 

Finally, K found out that the local college rented out its dorm rooms in the summer, and that they had a long-term resident program. Each room had two bedrooms, a kitchenette and two TVs.  Housekeeping, as well. It was near the important shopping areas, and parks, too, for the kiddos. No long term contract, either, just pay by the month.  So, yeah, man,  that’s right, to avoid living on the streets, the four of us stayed in a dorm room for the summer!

And honestly, it wasn’t so bad.  The kids had a blast. They got a kick out of living in a ‘hotel’. They especially loved going to the ‘movie theater’ on our floor and hanging out there. Plus, it wasn’t like the place was crawling with partying, beer ponging, keg-standing students, either.  It really was quiet most of the time. Met a ton of nice people, too.

It wasn’t all fun and reliving my younger scholastic days, though.  On the real, kids are creatures of their environment.    B basically acted like he was on vacation the whole time. Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, say what! The summer was spent with him seeing how far he could push us,  which was way more than usual. I needed to adapt my parenting methods accordingly.

Awww, who am I kidding.

The only adapting I did was, instead of pushing the buttons on the elevator myself, I let the kids do it. Regardless,  in such a confined, unusual setting, you do what you can as a parent, in terms of discipline and control, but you can only do so much.

One of the  main ongoing problems was (SHOCKER) the bedtime routine.  J would  need to be put down for bed early,  yet she shared a room with B.  If  we sent B to his room to play, he would inevitably get too loud and wake J. Or he would inevitably get bored of playing and find new ways to amuse himself, which typically involved getting into things, or trying to hang with K and me.

One time, he came running in all excited, just to hold his arm out and tell me how long it was. I mean, it’s not that I don’t care but………wow, I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Oh come on, don’t hate. When your kid does something not very interesting, you nod and mumble ‘good job’, too.  Never, ever bash them to their face, but deep down, you wish that they’d stop jumping up and down, or spinning in circles, or clapping their hands, or whatever regular thing they’re doing that they’re making you watch them do.  I know I’m not alone on this.  Now, if they were spinning circles while jumping and clapping hands, that’s different. Congratulations, too. If you’re looking for a circus for your little acrobat to join, message me, and I’ll refer you to some contacts that I found.

Do do dodo dodo do do dooo, do do dodo dodo do  do dooo

Do do dodo dodo do do dooo, do do dodo dodo do do dooo

 

For all I know, one day in the future, B will be holding out his arm to show me his new tattoo, and I’ll miss the days when he was just excited about showing me how long his arm was, and I’ll start singing ‘Cats in The Cradle’ because the full meaning of that song will hit me at that moment, and B will walk away from me  shaking his head in confusion and hop on his Harley hovercraft or whatever people will be riding in the future, and float off into the sunset, and…….

Whoa, sorry,  back on topic.

B realized early on that we were screwed at how we could control him, while living in rez (yeah, the hip kids call residence rez.  Gimme my hip card! ).  He had some moments there that were real doozies (no one says doozies anymore? Hey, where are you going with my hip card?).

Take one eventful evening, for example.

Ladies and gentlemen, that night’s Bedtime WTF Awards:

1) Lying in bed flipping through channels, I passed Criminal Minds on a French channel (in Canada, we have some French channels on our TVs):

B – ‘Hey, I like that show! I like that police car!’
Me – ‘You’ve never seen that show. It’s in French, too. You don’t speak French.’
B – ‘Yeah I do (he stands up, starts yelling) BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!’
Pretty sure that wasn’t French…

2) Nothing on TV, plus B was hanging out in our bedroom. I figured I’d watch a totally kid friendly film….Semi Pro. Wait, it’s not appropriate at all!  So that didn’t last long. Before I turned it off, though, B did find his microphone and sang along to ‘Love Me Sexy’ by Will Ferrell. Later, he also jumped on my back and sat on me like a horse a bunch of times:
Me – ‘Why do you keep doing that?’
B – ‘Because I like this movie.’

bedjump

Next time you’re sitting and enjoying a video with a friend or significant other, randomly start to ride them like they’re Seabiscuit.  Why? Because you like the movie.

3) And no he didn’t like it. B got bored, and watched Curious George on the Playbook instead. At some point, he noticed that George had a TV tray, like his, and he went off to find it. He was giving me the play by play while’s looking for it (‘I’m going to look for it!’ ‘I found it!’ ‘I’m going to carry it!’ etc). I kinda tuned him out, because he’s no Al Michaels when it comes to giving the play by play. At some point, I thought he said that he was going to set it up by my feet, at the end of the bed. Anyway, I should have paid more attention. I go to stand up later, and yup, I stepped on the tray, and hurt my foot. Ouch.

4) J woke up screaming, so I went to the kid’s room to calm her down. She was wide awake, not going to sleep anytime soon,  so I chilled with her in the bed in their room. B sauntered in eventually:
B – ‘Now, if you need help calming J down, just let me know and say my name! And I will come and help you.’
Huh? Who’s the parent here?!  Literally 10 seconds later, J started  whining, so I called the dad in training over:
Me – ‘OK,  B, can you come help me calm her?’
B (in a serious voice) – ‘No.’
He left and  closed the door behind him.

5) It’s flippin’ midnight, and J was still up but fading.  B strolled in again:
B – ‘OK, Dad, I’m turning the TV off. It’s past your bedtime.’
Me – ‘Go to bed! It’s past YOUR bedtime!!!’
B ended up sleeping in my bed, with K.  I end up in B’s bed, in his room. The joys of parenthood, for real.

6) Instead of waking up to my usual obnoxious alarm (that week: WWE wrestler Fandango’s theme), I woke up to a loud thump and crying at like 5:30 AM. B fell out of our bed.  Didn’t hurt himself, don’t worry!

That night’s winner? Esprits Criminels? That show has a new fan, apparently.
That night’s loser? Me.

Anyway, we did move out of rez life before the school year started, and eventually into the house that we currently live in, which ended our homelessness.  And B and J have adapted just fine. No more nonsense, for real.

OK, OK, I need to come clean about that, too……another time, though.

Mohawk_College

 

Fear Factor

Sure, Joe Rogan, you can host this post.

Sure, Joe Rogan, you can host this post.

 

 

For real, I’ve never really been afraid of a lot things.  Horses and heights come to mind, but I got over those fears.  More recently, though, one thing scared me more than anything else:
Extended time on my own with both kids.

What?

I mean, my kids are my world,  I love spending time with them. Don’t get it twisted.  Thing is, before having kids, I honestly wouldn’t even hold other people’s babies, because I was worried that I would drop them.
So yeah, the first few months of Brax’s life,  with a fresh child and everything being new, I was petrified at being alone with him.  What was I supposed to do to entertain him? How do you stop his crying? The little guy was helpless and was totally dependent on me to take care of him. Holy nerve-wracking!  It took a while, but  it did eventually get to the point where K could go out comfortably and not to worry that she would come home to any serious damage/ injuries.  B would be fine, too.

Then, when J was born, those old fear feelings came back. You gotta be on point 100% of the time with kids. You turn your head for one moment, and things could get real ugly, real fast, for real.  Kids like to explore and do the most illogical, nonsensical stuff, so you need to watch them like a hawk constantly.  While I’m helping one with their jacket, the other one will sprint off towards an open door.  I leave the table to get them drinks, I come back, and they’re standing on their chairs leaning far forward, like they’re re-enacting Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal video.

 

That’s the basis for my fear, I think. They’re little maniacs. I don’t want them to get hurt on my watch, and I worry a lot about the consequences and ramifications if they do.

When it’s just me with the kids nowadays for a few hours, my gameplan involves staying home.  Ahhh, home. A nice, safe confined setting. But, occasionally, K is gonzo for an extended period of time.  When this happens, more often than not, the kids go stir crazy hanging out in the house all day, and I need to get them out. That involves leaving my comfort zone to go with them…on an outing.

Like I said, I do enjoy doing things with the family. But man, even with two parents, the process of getting ready, packing diaper bags, and even putting on their  shoes is an ordeal. Then while we are out and about, it’s  always an ordeal, never relaxing. I know, I know, as long as the kids have fun, that’s all that matters!! But eliminate one parent from the equation so the remaining one is outnumbered by the kids? You better batten down the hatches, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Here’s an example. Our daycare provider went on vacation for a week, so K and I and some other family members took turns taking time off from work or whatever to watch  B and J. How’d my day go? Well…. First,  in the morning, while trying to get ready to leave, B was watching Youtube videos on the Playbook:
B – ‘Go away. I’m busy.’
Me – ‘Busy doing what?’
B – ‘I’m doing my job.’
Me – ‘What’s your job??’
B – ‘Watching this!’
Huh? He’s too young to be smarmy and indignant! I blame that jerk Max, from Max and Ruby for the attitude, by the way. Jeez, my disdain for that show is a post for another day.

Anyway, he did finish his job, and we could go…. But before we left, I went to our room to get my keys, and I heard a high pitched blood curdling scream. Yeah, remember what I said about my fear of them getting hurt?  I thought J was injured, so I rushed to see what happened.
Instant worst case scenarios flashed through my head. It was just B, fortunately, who screamed, not J.  He saw an ant. Anyway, we did  head out after that terrifying incident.

ant

Our trip took us to an indoor play gym (or as my one friend calls them – playgerms). In  theory, great idea. Just put the kids down, let them run amok, and I would join the other parents on parent’s row. You know, that area in every play gym where the dads sit around in tweed jackets, smoking pipes and reading the Wall Street Journal with their monocles. Or not. I don’t know what goes on in parent’s row, because I’ve never been there.  In actuality, I always end up chasing the kids around, and playing with toys, and trying to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves by falling the wrong way down the climby things. It really is a good workout. Anyway, besides all that, while we were there, J, who had been sorta been walking previously, but  just in baby steps (taking a few steps on her own before desperately seeking something to grab onto for balance, that type of deal) saw the other babies there walking by themselves.  She succumbed to peer pressure, and spent the rest of the day walking on her own too.  Peer pressure, that’s what I’m talking about!

Also these conversations happened:
B – ‘Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.’
Me – ‘What’s the good news?’
B (takes my hat) – ‘I found your hat!’
Me – ‘Thanks? What’s the bad news?’
B – ‘Woody’s not coming back.’
Who’s Woody??

Woody, where did you go?

Woody, where did you go?

 

Then later:
B – ‘Dad, you’re bad.’
Me – ‘What did I do??’
B – ‘You hit me!’
Me – ‘No I didn’t!’
B – ‘Yeah you did, last week!’
Me – ‘No I didn’t!!’
B – ‘Yeah, you pretend hit me last week!’
Argh! I never touch him,  and I don’t know what pretend hitting is.  You might have noticed that B has a pretty vivid imagination.  Luckily, no one heard this exchange either.  What’s up with that?  It’s like my kids enjoy making me uncomfortable.   I remember one time, B walked out to the porch while we were trying to get ready to leave, and started screaming ‘HELP!’ for no good reason.   Whatever. We left the play gym, and it was onto the next one, as Jay-z says.

While driving, we passed a husky looking boy with long hair and man bosoms:
B – ‘Why does that girl have a big tummy?’
Me – ‘Uhh….that’s a boy. Maybe he has a slow metabolism?’
Silence.
B – ‘I have a big tummy too! I eat a lot!’

We ended up going to an Early Years Centre.  These places are sweet. Government run centres where parents/caregivers can go take their kids, and there’s a bunch of activities and programs to take part in. And they’re free.  AND it’s crawling with professional, trained, child care people. Even a clueless dummy like can have a sense of calm that the kids will be OK.  As a way to get out and kill some time, it’s a nice option.  We went there, and the kids  were doing their thing. Playing with toys, messing around in the sand station, and so on. It was getting close to closing time, and of course B didn’t want to leave, and was being stubborn about it. Remember what I was saying about them making me uncomfortable? Yeah openly  and loudly disobeying me in public definitely qualifies.  Don’t you just love when you have to put on a show in front of other people, so you don’t look like a bad parent? And then, when it doesn’t work,  you just do whatever you can to curtail the situation instead? No? Maybe that’s just me then?

Actually, knock on wood, I haven’t yet been that person storming out of Walmart holding their screaming kid on their shoulder like a  2×4 piece of lumber (K on the other hand, that’s a different story).

Anyway, to get him to leave, I bribed him with the incentive that we’d go for treats if we left right then. He insisted on ice cream. Insisted.  So we went and got some.  He of course dozed off in the car after we got it,  because that is totally what you do when you’re excited for something, so I had to frantically monitor the melting ice cream situation while driving.  I wasn’t very unsuccessful. The steering wheel ended up pretty sticky.  We got  back to the house, and ate in the backyard, because it was such a nice day.  B got it all over his face and hands,  and started complaining that he was cold. His teeth started chattering, he started shaking like he’s a Polaroid picture.

Shaking like he's fliming a Harlem Shake video also would have worked as an analogy.

Shaking like he’s fliming a Harlem Shake video also would have worked as an analogy.

He dropped the ice cream, freaked out, cried hysterically.  Awesome.   Had to  go inside, change him,  and wrap him in a blanket.
Then:
B – ‘Now can I have my ice cream back?’
Sigh. You know,  after writing this,  maybe I take it back.

Sometimes spending lots of quality time together on my own with my maniacs can be pretty cool. I think what I fear the most now, though….is  for my sanity as B and J grow up.

Da Shiznit

I_ate_Mr_Hankey_by_Kenny_Lex

 

B – ‘Can I wear underwear to bed?’
Me – ‘No. Sometimes you poop in your sleep. You need to wear a pullup.’
B – ‘No! I only poop in my sleep on Mondays, Fridays and Tuesdays!’
Me – ‘What about Saturdays and Sundays?’
B – ‘Yeah!’
Me – ‘And Wednesdays and Thursdays?’
B – ‘Yeah!’
Me – ‘So everyday?’
B – ‘No, I only poop on Mondays, birthday party days and Wednesdays!’
I had that exchange a couple of weeks ago with B. It was kind of cute. But every other time……poop ain’t cute, for real.

Alright,  this is kind of cute.

Alright, this is kind of cute

 

 

It’s a part of life, a normal function of the body, blah, blah blah. It’s still disgusting, yo.

Back in the day, pre-children, whenever I’d hang with people who had babies, they were always considerate enough to change their kids’ diapers away from me. To be honest, if they hadn’t, I probably would have gotten all diva on them. All yelling and shaking my neck and taking off my fake nails if I was wearing fake nails for some weird reason, until they went into another room. Get that filthiness outta here!

And yup, I was one of those people who never changed a diaper in his life. Why would I? They weren’t my kids, and I’m not touching their excrement. I vaguely recall dry heaving at the sight of one diaper bomb years ago. Pretty sure I closed my eyes during pre-natal class when they showed pictures of the meconium bowel movement. We got a Diaper Genie at a baby shower. I had no clue what it was. I do know that if you rub it, a genie doesn’t come out. Stupid misleading product name.

Didn’t take any of the jokes seriously that people kept telling me about changing diapers all the time. Just assumed it wasn’t so bad, and everyone was exaggerating. Since when is everyone in agreement about anything? Basically, before B was born, I was clueless and prissy.

And then B was born.

No joke, I remember the first time that I tried to change B. It was when he was a couple of days old. Still in pure prissymode, a buddy of mine had come to the hospital to visit, so I got him to help me/do all the work. We undressed B, and from his back……..he started to pee. It shot straight through the air like a fountain and landed all over us. And from that golden shower, a realization rained down on me that everyone wasn’t kidding. Diaper changing ain’t no joke with your kids; it’s a fact of life.

Over time, my prissyness waned. Don’t get it twisted. I’m still not going to look back on all the feces years from now in wonder.

Not now, Wonder Years, I'll indulge in a few of your dramedic episodes later.

Not now, Wonder Years, I’ll indulge in a few of your dramedic episodes later.

 

I’m not one of those people who brags about their diaper changing skills (I still put them on backwards sometimes. Shut up.) , or tells everyone how much they enjoy changing their kid for whatever reason (I heard bonding time once, as a reason. Can’t I bond in a less smelly way?).  It isn’t an enjoyable experience. There’s no way around it. But until the kids are fully potty trained, I’ve been sentenced to diaper duty (duty in diapers?),  so what am I going to do? Appeal the sentence? Appeal to who? All I can do is roll up my sleeves and grin and bear it. The alternative is not doing it, and that’s not fair to the kids. Rashes and diseases etc.

And that’s the other thing. Not only are bowel movements important to the kids, they become important to us, the parents too. When they were babies, and on breast milk, their poops were like clockwork, and you’re touching feces 100 times a day. Or it felt like 100 times a day. I don’t know, I wasn’t keeping track. Eventually, the kids got off the boob and got onto actual food. So then it’s not so much about the frequency, but everything else about the poop. The size, the shape, the colour, the texture (rough and nutty? Rich and creamy? Soft and spreadable like Nutella?). I remember changing B one time, and then taking him to K.  K asked me what his poop was like. Man, I didn’t know, it was like poop. Yeah, not knowing didn’t go over so well.  Remember, it’s important! So the next time I changed him, you best believe that I was in Grissom on CSI-mode, the way I analyzed it. Microscopes, powders, infrared lights, chalk outlines, a fully detailed report. OK, I didn’t go that far, but you get the idea. I had to step my game up after that.   I went from not caring about poo, to hardcore caring about it. Because if something was off, it was panic mode time.

The other messed up part is that not only do we spend an inordinate amount of time talking bowel movements, but when we’re with other parents, it’s a topic that typically comes up in conversation, too.  Our kids’ bowel movements. What the? Back in the day, I didn’t go out to dinner with my buddies and compare dumps that we took. As a parent, though, anything goes, no topic is too messy. It’s like we’re swapping notes. Notes on toilet paper.

So between constantly talking about, and constantly being elbows deep in it, poop is always on my mind. The S in A.D.I.D.A.S now stands for something else, for real. My prissyness is gone and I’m now basically numb. I’ve had to wipe off and touch poop too many times not to be. So many gross diaper leaks. So many  gross diaper leaks.

J’s like a year and half years old and she can sorta say a few words. Guess what words she knows how to say? Poo and pee. She even goes on the potty sometimes. Not all of the time. The other day, she told me that she had to go pee. I took her to the potty, and took her diaper off. I left to get a new diaper, came back, she was gone. Found her in the playroom. There was a massive turd on the floor. Old Mike would have worsened the situation by throwing up all over it. New Mike just picked it up, flushed it down the toilet and wondered if they made pooper scoopers for humans.

Ah shhh….oot. That reminds me. J dropped another turd in a different room today. B did worsen the situation by trying to pick it up, to get rid off it, but he pressed too hard down and smeared it in the carpet. Bless his helpful heart.  Need to clean that, so I gotta go. Poop ain’t cute.

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