Funny kid stuff

Seriously. Tell me this picture doesn't make you smile.

I don’t have anything profound to share today.  It’s okay if you want to go read something else now.

I do want to share some funny things my kids – my three-year-old in particular – have done or said in the past few days.  It’s time for a little comic relief around here.  I always try to write the particularly humorous or cute moments in my journal to get me through those other moments.  You know the ones I’m talking about.

  • “Mommy, I peed in my underpants.”  “Harry, why did you do that?”  “Because I was wearing my underpants when I peed.”
  • “Mommy, will you please call Evan and ask him over for a playdate?”  “Honey, I can’t call him, I don’t have his number.”  “I think his number is six.”
  • After being especially fresh:  “Harry, is that how we should talk to Mommy?”  After a thoughtful moment or two:  “Yes.  Yes, it is.”
  • Bess carrying in the ice cream from the car like she is part of a transplant team bringing in a heart to the OR
  • After leaving a friend’s house to head home:  “Mommy, turn around!!!”  I turn around:  “Yes, Harry?”  Bess:  “No Mommy, he wants you to turn the car around and go back to Abba and Maddie’s house!”
  • Reading Hat Tricks Count: A Hockey Numbers Book by Matt Napier, on the page about “Mr. Hockey”, Gordie Howe, who wore #9: “No Mommy, that’s not right!  9 is Isaac!”  (That’s Harry’s favorite player on John’s team of 8-year-olds.)
  • “Mommy, can I have dessert?”  “Harry, you have to eat your dinner first so you can grow big and strong.  Then you can have dessert.”  “No Mommy, I think we should fwip.”  “What?”  “Fwip.”  “Harry, I still can’t understand what you’re saying.”  “Fwip!  Fwip!  You know, fwip them so dessert is fiwst and dinnew is wast.”  (Accompanied by wild gesticulations to emphasize the point)
  • I pour Harry a glass of juice, and he swirls it around and sniffs like he’s some sort of sommelier

What funny moments did you have with your kids this week?  You know, the ones that make the other ones worthwhile?

Talking to kids about race

photo courtesy of flickr user voxefx

I have a guest post running today over at Humane Connection on talking to kids about race.  Head on over and check it out:

What I said was: “Shoshana is one of the girls who has very dark skin. She played ‘The Two Grenadiers.’”

“Oh, yes!” Bess said. “I didn’t tell her, but I will the next time I see her.”

Was that the right thing to say? I don’t know. It felt right at the time. Or at least it felt less inappropriate than the alternative. What I said is absolutely accurate. Shoshana’s skin is darker than my daughter’s Mediterranean complexion, just as my daughter’s skin, inherited from her father, is darker than my northern European shade of pale. In one sense, it is as simple as that.

And yet…in another sense, it couldn’t be more complicated. It isn’t accurate to pretend that the difference between Shoshana and Bess is melanin-related in the same way skin color differentiates Bess from me. To imply otherwise is insincere, and unfair, and disrespectful. It is easy for me to describe Shoshana that way, given that I am speaking from a place of relative privilege. I cannot even begin to imagine all the ways in which people of color do not experience the world in the way that I do.

I’d love your feedback, either here or there.  How do you talk to your kids about race?  How do you teach them about diversity, especially if you don’t live in a particularly diverse community?  What kinds of words do you use?

Hockey Hugs

The bunny team scores to go ahead 2-1 over the domino team!

It’s been a rough few days.  As I mentioned in my last post, we lost a very good friend on Wednesday.  While coping with my loss and sadness, I have been maintaining contact with his family, forwarding dozens of messages of condolence, setting up a memorial gathering at the rink, and lots of other little things.

One of my tasks was to find grief counsellors to come talk to CP’s current team of eleven-year-olds.  Let me just say – HOLY COW were these women amazing!  They are the people who go into schools when there has been a traumatic loss – when a student has overdosed or committed suicide or otherwise died suddenly – and they sure know what they are doing.  I was utterly astonished at how they were able to get the kids talking – and pre-pubescent boys are not a population known to be particularly communicative – and to help them express their concerns in a fairly short amount of time.  The counsellors also spoke with the parents in a way that was kind and compassionate while advocating strongly for the boys and their needs  during this difficult time.  I was thoroughly impressed, and immensely grateful.

And now I am thoroughly and immensely drained.  Watching these boys process their grief, cry openly, support each other, and talk about their confusion and regret was undoubtedly one of the most painful experiences of my life.

I have an ambivalent relationship with youth sports.  I view the competitive nature of the endeavor as a necessary evil or revolting, depending on the day.  The parents can be mean, pushy, heartless, unreasonable, overprotective, manipulative, and on occasion even violent.  Of course they are not all like that, not even most of them, but unfortunately a few bad apples…you know.  It can be exhausting, frustrating, disheartening, and occasionally sickening.

But yesterday I was reminded of one of the positives.  These kids are put onto a team, and they may not necessarily like each other or have much in common, but they learn to tolerate each other’s differences and value each other’s strengths and respect each other in the service of a larger goal.  Seeing them passing the tissues, offering supportive pats and hugs, and being vulnerable together in their shared grief for their lost friend was a powerful reminder of this.

Harry loves hockey.  He watches the games with rapt attention and loves to play at home.  His current favorite version is the bunny team playing against the domino team.  Basically, he sets up the bunnies and the dominoes on the floor, they score and celebrate, and then they leave the ice so the Zamboni can come out.  I think it is funny that he sees the game in this way, since scoring is such an infrequent – though admittedly exciting – occurrence.

But recently I’ve noticed that it’s not just the scoring, but the celebrating that really appeals to Harry.   He loves when all the players on the ice share a hug after a goal is scored rather than the goal-scorer pumping his fist in personal glory.  Instead of calling for “group hugs” in our family, he gathers us together for “hockey hugs”.  The team element of the game, the shared experience, is what really captures his imagination.  I am grateful to Harry, and to CP’s players, for helping me to see the importance of community this week.

Now, if only he could get hockey parents to see it that way…

Weekend links

Harry is a dancing fool!

Some things I read this week that were pretty cool, or interesting, or inspiring:


Today is a sad day


I have promised myself that I will make every effort to post here five days a week, and I have done pretty well for the last, oh, week and a half.  :)

But today I dont’ feel much like posting.  Last night, a very close friend of ours passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at home.  Coach Pierre coached my husband as a fifteen year old (see their team photo, CP is on the far left) and now, almost thirty years later, coaches for him in our youth hockey organization.  He was passionate about the game of hockey and was indefatigably dedicated to the young people he coached.  He required nothing less than 100% effort from them, and in return he gave 110% to them every single day.  He taught them about hard work, dedication, and perseverance and though he may have been demanding, every single child emerged on the other side as a better hockey player and a better teammate.  He was kind, well-loved, and fiercely supportive.  John and I loved him dearly, as did our children.

So, today I’ll just share one of my favorite quotes, one that I have on my desk:

“You are unrepeatable.  There is a magic about you that is all your own.” – D.M. Dellinger

Coach Pierre lived his magic – working with children and teaching them his beloved game of ice hockey.  I hope that today, everyone who knew him, and everyone who reads this, will think about their own special gifts and make a point of sharing them with others.  The world needs your magic.

My word of 2012 (drumroll please)

This would be a good word of the year, but it's not the one I chose. image courtesy of flickr user libookperson

It seems that a number of the bloggers I follow are forging a new tradition.  They are not making resolutions this year (a practice that never appealed to me anyway); they are choosing a Word of 2012, words like “yes“, “edit“, and “focus“. This idea, to choose one word that has the potential to inspire and create intention, has captured my imagination.

Looking back over the American Dialect Society‘s list of Words of the Year (WotY) brings a sense of recognition and nostalgia: “tweet” for 2009, “metrosexual” in 2003, “chad” (as in hanging) for 2000, “Not!” in 1992, “google” for the decade 2000 – 2009.  It’s like turning the pages of your high school yearbook.  This year’s winner, “occupy”, seems a no-brainer: the word is brilliant shorthand for a complex idea that has come to capture public imagination.

Oxford Dictionary named “squeezed middle” the word of 2011 (significantly less compelling than “occupy”, and not even a word but two), and bestowed WotY honors upon “tergiversate”.  Yes, it’s a word.  ter-JIV-er-sate, to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.  Hold onto that one for a crossword puzzle, because I can’t imagine any other context in which it would be useful.

I see choosing a personal WotY as less of a resolution-making-type activity and more of an intellectual exercise in wrapping my mind around the complexity that is my life.  I already am painfully aware of the areas where I need improvement – but can I create a code word that can help keep me focused?  Can I find one word that identifies and teases out the underlying current that runs like groundwater through my being and springs to the surface through my many faults?

I have pondered and meditated, and I have chosen for my 2012 WotY: foundation.  The basis or groundwork of anything.  In a nutshell, what I need to focus on right now is laying the foundation for a healthy life.  I need to work on sustaining my mental health.  I need to take better care of my physical health.  Most importantly, I need to focus on living my message and building a healthy home for my family.

When I am not at my best (a euphemism for hypomania or agitated depression), I forget to make dinner, keep track of our schedule, and give the kids a bath and get them to bed on time.  This tends to happen when I am not eating well, exercising enough, or getting enough rest.  I jump from task to task without finishing anything, and I can’t focus attention when my kids want to tell me about their days, play a game of checkers, or read the next chapter of Junie B.  I am always scrambling but never really getting anything important done – because, let’s face it, those are the really important things.

This is not good for my children, and it is not the kind of mother I want to be.  I want our home to be a place of peace, consistency, solace, love, hugs, laughs, and fun, a place where my family feels cherished and cared for.  My personal code word – foundation – will remind me what is important, and to remember that laying a good groundwork will make everything else fall into place.