Bunny

I love this time of year. The weather is finally starting to warm up and there’s been enough rain for the lawn to be lush and green. Flora and I went outside after supper tonight so she could play and I could watch and take pictures and just hang out. The air was warm and it just felt so good to be outside on a sunny evening.

“Mama, I want Bunny to watch me play soccer.”

I had the best seat in the backyard so Bunny sat on my lap. I held Bunny up so she could see Flora’s kicks and runs and shouts of “GOOOAAALLL!”

Flora got Bunny when she was a baby and she is now a cherished member of our family. I check Bunny for loose threads and I pray her head doesn’t come off in the wash. I wash her in a lingerie bag to be safe.

At four-and-a-half (well, really, almost three-quarters but who’s counting), Flora is obviously not a baby. I am astounded at what a big kid she’s become over the last year. But when she’s at home, she likes Bunny to be nearby. Even when she’s doing big kid things.

Flora tells me regularly that she wants to keep Bunny forever. I always tell her “I hope you do”.

Then when she’s out of earshot, I murmur to whoever is with me about my worries that Bunny won’t make it that long. Most childhood toys don’t.

I hope Flora does keep Bunny forever. I love her too.

She Wins

I started leaving the house at 6:15am this summer to start my work day a little earlier. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to when I would be both going to and coming home from work in the dark. I just wanted to be done work at 4pm so I was able to pick up my kid and be home before 6:30pm. That part works well, but now that it’s dark in the morning and at night, those early mornings can be a little rough. See this tweet from last week:

Sean and Flora are usually still asleep while I get ready. I usually poke Sean awake enough to tell him I’m leaving, Flora’s lunch is packed, to drive safe and that I love him before I kiss him goodbye. Sometimes I even get a response beyond “mmrphh”. I then go into Flora’s room, kiss her on the cheek, whisper my I love you and leave the room quietly. I go downstairs, grab my bags, turn out the lights I turned on and off I go.

Now that we’re no longer on Daylight Savings Time, we’re all a bit screwed up. Flora is zonked by bedtime and I’ve spent the last couple of days both not wanting to get up, and not wanting to go to bed, so I’m fighting it on both ends. The nights feel so late now that it’s pitch black so much earlier than usual.

Not sure why this extra hour screws us up so much – it’s not like this time change business is a new thing.

This morning I got up and got ready as usual. I was running a little late, but nothing awful. As I was saying goodbye to Sean I heard little feet and told him “we have a friend coming in”. Soon a little girl in a Hello Kitty nightgown came in to use our bathroom. I told Flora I was leaving and that I was late.

She looked at me and asked, “Am *I* late?”

“No baby, you’re fine. Come down with me and you can get a cereal bar and I’ll give you a hug before I go.”

Flora held my hand as we walked down the stairs together. I opened her cereal bar and got my hug. She went back upstairs to talk Sean into some early-morning cartoons. I was doing a couple of last-minute chores before I could finally leave when I heard her yelling something unintelligible at me. On the third time I asked her to repeat myself, she finally said it clearly.

“One more hug mama.”

Like most working parents (edit – like *all* parents), I hold on to oodles of guilt surrounding how I balance my family, my marriage, my work, my life, and myself. We have an okay system, but it doesn’t take much for that system to unravel. I don’t always make the right decision at the right moment. I do what I can to keep as many people at least a little bit happy all of the time. Most of the time, I do okay, but I wish it wasn’t always so hard.

It wasn’t a hard choice to give my daughter one more hug. I need those hugs as much as she does. Those extra moments remind me that Sean and I are Flora’s advocates. No one else will have her back like we do. She will learn – is learning – so much from her teachers and other adults in her life, but she needs to learn how a family treats each other from us. How to form healthy relationships. How to be thoughtful and kind.

And, like it or not, teaching my daughter those things are more important to me than catching the 6:39 train into Union Station.

She wins. She has to.

 

Someone who makes me happy

Someone who makes me happy
Someone who makes me happy

Via Flickr:
I took these pictures of Flora for the #aprilphotoaday challenge taking place right now on Instagram. The theme was “someone who makes you happy”. When I told Flora that I needed her help and explained the photo challenge, she shouted “Me! I make you happy!”

And she does.

For the pictures she decided she wanted to twirl like a ballerina. The actual twirling pics are a bit blurry so I’m glad I caught her up close. πŸ™‚

I’m also very grateful to know that she is very, very loved.

(The one on the top made the challenge. You can follow my Instagram feed here, even if you don’t use the app.)

Timeout

I’ve been off work since the Tuesday before Christmas. I’ve been grateful for the time off, but at times the change in our routines has made me less than pleasant to the family. At one point, my frustrations boiled over and I put myself in timeout. I had been yelling a little too much about stuff that wasn’t a big deal. I told Sean and Flora I needed to be by myself for a bit and I went up to my room to calm down so I could interact with the family like a normal person.

The following set of tweets explain what happened after that.

I am so lucky to have such a caring little girl. She was so gentle and really emphasized her need to check on me. My timeout, while needed, was shorter than I expected it to be, thanks to her. I told Flora how thankful I was that she checked on me to see that I was okay. Lots of hugs were exchanged and we enjoyed the rest of our evening together as a family.

Like all parents, I’m struggling to do the best I can to raise Flora right. I could tell you about a million mistakes I’ve made already. Watching her care about others at such a young age makes me think Sean and I are doing something right.

Driven to Distraction

Flora and I had the following conversation this morning while she ate her breakfast:

<Sean’s Blackberry vibrates on the table>

Flora: “That’s Daddy’s Blueberry.” (We’ve told her it’s a Blackberry, but we giggle every time she says Blueberry so it’s starting to stick.)

Me: “I know. It’s noisy isn’t it?”

Flora: “I don’t like it.”

Me: “I don’t either. I don’t think Daddy likes it sometimes, but it helps him get his work done.”

Flora: “Where’s my Blueberry?”

Me: “You don’t have one. You don’t need it. What do you use to get your work done?”

Flora: “Umm…my toys.”

Me: “That’s exactly what you need to get your work done.”

At that moment, I think Flora didn’t like the Blackberry because of the noise. But later that morning, when Sean was scanning his messages before we left for work and daycare, Flora was trying to get his attention and he took a beat too long to answer her. To be clear, he did answer her properly and not in a distracted way, but he finished what he was doing first before he responded. She didn’t protest the Blackberry or its usage then, but watching that exchange and our earlier conversation got me thinking.

I don’t think Sean did anything wrong. In fact I think he taught Flora something. He taught her that people like to finish one task before they move to another. Then, once he was finished, he could concentrate on her question fully, rather than give her a quick answer that would allow him to return to his original task, distracted by the interruption. As we all know, neither task is usually done well when that happens. At two and a half, Flora may be a little young to understand that concept, but it’s never too early to start teaching her good manners.

I believe that although we use technology around our daughter, I don’t think Sean and I are any more distracted as parents than anyone else. Housework, cooking, reading or any other task/event that forces me not to concentrate on my child with laser-like focus is just as distracting as checking email on a Blackberry or reading tweets on an iPhone (or anything else you can do on a typical smartphone). As long as we can extract ourselves from any of those tasks when life calls for it (whether is to answer someone’s question, or to stop someone from colouring on the walls), I think we’ll all be just fine.

I also think this is where the Golden Rule comes into play. As a family, we all need to treat each other as we would like to be treated. Even our littlest ones that aren’t always at their most civilized. If Sean and I expect Flora to listen to us, she has every right to expect that out of us as well. If sometimes, one of us needs a moment to finish a thought, stir the sauce, hug the dolly or hit send on an email, that’s okay with me, as long as we can then focus on the interaction at hand.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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