Do we Parent our Boys Different from our Girls?

Cute Little Girl Play On Couch" by photostock

We live in a family focused townhouse complex where the number of school age boys far more out weigh the number of girls.   This is great for Adam and SUCKS for Caity.     This gender unbalance has totally spoiled me when it comes to dealing with play dates and sleepovers.  I love the fluidity of the boys days where planning of play and sleepovers is instantaneous as they race from one kids house to the next.  My role in all the planning  is to merely say yes or no or to make sure I actually know who the parents are of the kids involved. There are always kids to walk to and from school with and he also has a large posse to hang with online too.   From a mom point of view this makes life pretty simple for me.   There are always boys in my house and I am happy to entertain the hordes.

Except where are the hordes for Caity? Neither of them have made a true ‘Best Friend,’ the kids come and go when it comes to popularity, but Caity seems to have a harder time connecting with other girls in a deeper way than someone to play with at school.  For someone like me who had a best friend throughout elementary school that I hung out with on weekends and so on, this is a bit sad.  I want them both to have the same sort of experiences I had. Apart from the gender disparity on our home turf, I also wonder if our parenting comes into play differently with girls and boys, even if we don’t realize it.

Every time I try to get a playdate or sleepover organized with Caity’s friends, it seems so ‘complicated.’  The girls all seem to have far busier calendars than the boys, so there is much back and forthing and calendar sharing.  Then there seem to be always allergy or diet restrictions to make a note of too.  Then there are my animals, some kids are afraid of dogs or allergic to them or the cats.    For an introvert like me, this forced one one one ON AND ON contact with the parents is a bit exhausting and overwhelming.  Any contact with the boys parents is usually down to ‘Is it okay with you?’ and “when do you want them dropped off or picked up?”  If the boys are at my house, pizza is ordered and pop offered.  Done.    I also get the impression that this is totally the same at the other boys homes due to the amount of spontaneous sleepovers and playdates that spring forth on a regular basis. So what is the deal with micromanaging the girls lives?

Would I have been the same if Caity had been my first and Adam second?    Am I truly blessed because my kids don’t appear to have any allergies?  Am I a slacker mom because she isn’t in twenty billion after school clubs?    Are we all too casual about sleepovers and so on?  The rule of thumb with girls seems to be that I have to develop a friendship with the girls parents too in order for our children to interact.  Again, as a bit of an introvert, I  find this a bit stressful, so now I am concerned that my attitude is totally spoiling childhood for my daughter?  Don’t get started on Tara, our preschool drop out who is signed up for NOTHING and has NO peer friends.

Is it me or are parents way more casual about their boys interactions than their daughters?

I suppose that because it IS more difficult for Caity to connect with other girls, then I do have to step up to the plate a bit more.  But the negotiations feel exhausting and  sometimes fruitless when the potential friend has so many clauses and issues to overcome to see if the friendship is viable?   It is hard to not negatively judge the other girls ….girls who don’t see Caity the way I do… and it is just a hard to not judge their parents either when it is made to feel so complicated.  Why are so many kids on specific diets or schedules and so on.  It all feels way to difficult.

I guess I am really one of those free range mothers ….the types other moms frown upon.    I feel bad if that has alienated my daughter from other girls.

Summer Starts Up

A friend of mine reminded me that with my life, there is always blog fodder.   Sad but true.

We had a crazy weekend….again….who thought having kids birthdays be a month apart all in a freaking row was a GOOD idea????  Between Patrick racing away to do aircare, I tried to clean up and thanked the gods that the girls said yes to the movies with Caity for her birthday.  We saw Brave.  Which is excellent by the way…even if you are not a mom or a daughter or Scottish.  Though all those things do help.  It was a perfect movie to see with my lovely girl.

Honestly.  Every time I try to cut the costs of birthdays, it seems to cost more.    Suffice it to say it was another weekend with a house full of kids.  What I didn’t do was have goody bags this year. NONE.  I felt I provided enough entertainment at both…one an epic water fight with everything they could think of to use, plus cake and snacks and then I took 3 girls to see Brave and paid for theatre snacks.  THAT is enough.  I haven’t heard any complaints either.  So people…enough with the goody bags filled with crap.

As much as my kids drive me nut with their sassy talk and attitude.  I love their confidence, energy and enthusiasm.  They are so alive and I feed of that.  The hordes of kids going in and out of the house.  The noise.  The chaos.  Is fun…sure it rattles the nerves and forget getting anything done.  But for the summer….their laughter seems to be more important.

I don’t have the kids signed up for anything in particular but we do hope to have day trips and hopefully some camping too.   Hopefully I can blog about some new places to explore around town  and let you all know about it.  Got some ideas about Crunchy Carpets which we will see how they pan out.

 

Worn Down – Push Through

Some times there is just too much stuff going on.  Sometimes I have to learn to say no and to learn  that magical concept of time management.   I need to talk to all the clever life and business coaches and get help creating a life and editorial schedule.  I feel terrible when I forget emails and commitments to people.

Oh well.

This blog needs to be more interesting, and I do have ideas, however, apart from the cool stuff happening with Women in Biz Network, the family stuff has been a tad chaotic and a bit depressing, and I have been loathe to discuss it more publicly.

I am finding parenting school age kids to be a bit of a trial.  If one isn’t angry and fighting the other is.  It is like tag team misery.  We seem to be only allowed  a few hours of peace at a time.

My elder son and daughter cannot take no as an answer in any shape or form. Their answer is to wear us down by argument.  Every discussion feels like it takes place across a boardroom with an army of legal advisor’s.  Nothing is simple.   Adam wears us down by counter argument.  Caitlyn fights by high pitched screaming….much like Black Canary if any of you know your super heroes.   What boggles me is that they  think this works to their advantage when the usual result is myself, husband or both of us completely losing our shit and things going from stupid to insane.

Nobody comes out of these episodes well.

Case in point Thursday morning.   The morning started out with my son telling me that he couldn’t go to school because he hadn’t done his homework.  Homework he had been given on Tuesday that he only hinted at and refused to show me or go into detail about.  Instead of babying him and getting his work set up for him, I thought..fine….let’s see where this goes.  Well it went straight to hell.  Lippy talk and us not being able to take the high road.  It was not pretty.  Husband was late for work, the kids were late for school, everyone was upset.

My only thought was  to quit everything.  That blogging and my career ‘aspirations’ were just getting in the way of my parenting, which was obviously sucking to have created such angry and rude children.  I was going to phone poor Leigh of the Women in Biz Network and not show up for the event that night.  I was going to delete my blog and walk away if that was what it took.

It was that bad. It is still bad.  We are so fed up with the ‘IT’S SO UNFAIR’ crap.  We hate ourselves for raising ungrateful and spoiled brats.

I have said it before and will stick by it….this is not a parenting blog…this is a how NOT to parent blog.  I love my kids and I love their minds and their creativity….but the negative end of the spectrum of the things we have  taught and encouraged is making life really really suck.

Later Thursday morning when my mom walked into the house with a white face and asked me to come outside stating that she ‘had done something really stupid,’ I could only imagine.   I envisioned bodies in the trunk of the car when she had me walk around her parked car.  There was a dent in her bumper.   There was no blood on it.  Phew…but she had had a fender bender in the Extra Foods Parking Lot – a ring of hell – and was really shaken up.

The day however was going from bad to getting stupid.

After a tearful ‘I can’t do this without help’  cry to my mom about it all, I staggered away to meet Leigh and pretend to be all competent about business.

Our event was fantastic.  But it really does take ‘help’ to do anything.  I couldn’t have done the day without mom and my husband helping out.  Leigh had her amazing sister step up to the plate again.  As Nicole of Entrepreneur Mom Now Vancouver said, Networking is about helping and friendship.  It certainly is.

Settling down to listen to Danielle LaPorte speak that evening was perfect though.  It isn’t even what she says, but how she says it.  She has an electrifying voice.  She speaks with forceful quiet.  You sit up and you listen…not just with your ears and brain but with your whole body.  She makes you pay attention.  I could feel all the tension flowing from my neck and shoulders the more she tackled our fears and woes about being entrepreneurs.

Danielle and all the women attending our event made it all worthwhile.

I won’t sacrifice my kids for my dreams…but it is all about balance and doing what feels right even when it makes others uncomfortable.  Change is tough.  Evolution is difficult…..my family has to adjust to it.  I can only work at making it easier for them….but not at the cost of my own soul.

 

 

 

 

Carpet Cleaners Wanted

I hate it. I truly hate it. I have to do it for two now.   Because I am an idiot.

I am talking about toilet  training.   Of all the things that you have to do with your developing children…this is the one that annoys me the most.  Because I said yes to a puppy, I now have to train TWO toddlers about the right places to eliminate. Neither are keen on the idea.

Really.  I haven’t even bothered with pantless days or ‘big girl panties’ since Tara just laughs me off when I discuss the whole use the potty thing.

She cried when her dad brought home an awesome new potty with a stuffy as added incentive.    She really hates the idea.

The dog just prefers to pee once we have brought her back inside.

Sigh.

So.  So. So.

I gotta figure out a trick for both of them.  My reasons for the dog are clear.  My carpets and socks cannot take it.  For Tara……well….you are supposed to teach em right?  AND I sort of dream that I can get her into a preschool sooner than later…….ooooooh preschool, I dream of you.

Tara is smart too.  There is no reason to say that she isn’t ready or not understanding the concept.  If the kid can figure out the iPad, she figure out the toilet. Right??

I hope the dog is smart.  I have my doubts though.  Callie was a little older when we got her and she had no problem figuring out how to tell us she needed out.  We even got her to go in just one corner of our tiny yard.  Lily though…..am hoping she will have a light bulb moment very soon.

As my mom said,  being with a puppy who doesn’t tell you she has to go is very tense.  You spend the entire day watching her every move for a signal so you can race her out and then praise her like crazy if she does anything.  It is a bit tiring.   I also keep missing these signals since I am you know…DOING OTHER STUFF!!!

I cannot do this for two.   Those of you who have twins…..I am in awe.

With Adam and Caity, I recall many wet pants and NO interest in the potty…just the ‘real’ toilet.  The only thing that did push them over the edge was when they saw the tiny toilets at our local preschool.  They thought they were the coolest thing ever and that did the trick.

Somehow I don’t think Tara will be lulled that easily.

And the dog?  Well what does she care!?

Help me now.

Talking in Circles With Girls

I honestly can’t think of anything more frustrating.

I attended the kids Christmas concert this morning.  Yes, with Tara.  ANYWAY, it was a full program with junior and senior bands, the choir and a few classes all performing some sort of Christmas homage.  Adam was up three times for his choir, class and music group performances. While Caity just had her one class performance.

They were all great and I truly admire the teachers who put so much effort into helping along the kids musical talents…ALL the kids.

Caity’s class did a ‘mixed media’ bit with paintings that they all held up while each read a segment from a ‘Winter Poem.’   I couldn’t really hear it because Tara chose that time to melt down.  What I had noticed (in passing) was that a girl in her class further along the row was in tears.  Being that this wasn’t a girl I recognized, I casually asked Caity about her and what was wrong when I was picking them up after school.

Me: “So who was that girl at the end of the row crying”

Cait:  ”Huh? Who?

Me: “The girl at the other end from you.  She was hiding her face and crying while you guys were setting up?  Was she okay?”

Cait: “What girl?”

…….

Me: “That girl that was at the end of the row, she had on pink leopard pants and was beside Michael and was upset.”

Cait: “Who? Really? What did she look like?”

Me: “Um, long brown hair, pink and black pants, white hoodie, I think. And CRYING.”

Cait: “Oh nobody like that was in our class.  Nobody was crying.”

……..

Me: “Oh well, I just saw a girl in your row for your presentation crying and your teacher took her out of the gym right after, I just sort of wondered what was wrong is all.”

Cait: “Was that ____ ?  She is from Korea.”

Me: “Um nooo, I think she was white not asian.”

Cait: ” MOOOM I said KOREAN not ASIAN.”

……….

Cait: “Was it ________? Was it _________?  Was it _______?”

Me: “Um no, I didn’t know her and that was why I was asking you.”

Cait:” Oh…there was nobody like that…..”

……

Can you imagine trying to get her to identify someone in a police lineup?    So much for trying to be engaged in my kids lives.

 

 

More Tribe Finds – Brownies

This was quite a nice and domestic little weekend.  Us ‘rents really just wanted to take a moment to breathe and count our blessings.

Patrick had been feeling quite scarily unwell at the beginning of the week and apparently while I was away at Blissdom.  The week then was filled with him trying to figure out what was wrong and this for the doctors seems to be a process of elimination.  He has a couple more tests over the next couple of weeks too. Naturally we were a bit stressed by this.   It was only seeing him start to feel a bit better and less panicked, could I breathe too.

The kids had had a professional day on Friday, so I have been in long weekend mode….this is not as relaxing as it sounds.  The noise never goes away and I tend to forget to feed the rug rats too.

I was relieved come Friday night to have another adult watch my back.   (they bite when hungry)

The one thing on my agenda this weekend was to make sure Caitlyn attended her first go at selling cookies for the Brownies.  Yes, we have been flogging the boxes around our place, and I have probably bought most of them, but this was with the ‘Owls’ at the mall.  The big show, so to speak.

The other moms just dropped their kiddo’s off and headed out.  I had a feeling that Caity wanted me nearer, so I stuck around and just wandered off to shop a bit.  The mall on a Saturday is NOT a fun place to hang out.  Thank goodness Sears had a good sale!  But for the majority of her two hour stint, I stayed close by, chit chatted with the leaders and encouraged Caity to sell her little heart out.   Being that she was the first one to get a sale, I was danged proud.

Caitlyn originally joined the Brownies because her BFF was a member.  That was reason enough for mom to spend a fortune on membership and the outfit.  But when she put on her uniform, she glowed.  She really is a joiner and this is a perfect fit for her so far.  She loves all the rules and regulations. She loves her leaders.  She loves all their songs and so on.   She really shines when she is wearing her gear.

I was never a joiner.  I lasted one night at the Brownies and then wimped out.  Both Adam and Caity, despite their ability to flake out, have shown a great deal of maturity it when it comes to sticking it out and giving things chances.   Adam did track and field last year and just finished cross country.   He found the cross country much harder, but stuck to it, since there was only he and one other boy represented the 4th grade.   He took responsibility.

These are the moments when I can say ‘phew’ one parenting NON fail for me!! YAY.

 

 

Hairy Situation

Hair is a bit of an issue in this family.

There is a lot of it.   Some of us have almost TOO much hair.   Those of you who have met the family in real life have SEEN the hair.    Really, we do try to manage it.  It just doesn’t look that way.

Both Caity and Adam have a LOT of hair.  Caity’s hair is thick and curly and we can’t figure out if long or short will make it any easier to deal with.    Even after much brushing, she pretty much looks like she just woke up and walked out the door without ever glancing at a brush.

Then there is Adam.

Not only does Adam have thick coarse hair.  It is now long.  He has been keeping it shaggy for about two years now.   This seems to annoy many people around us.   And I am fascinated by the need for people to comment on his hair.

Now, from their Grandmother, I understand the comments.  She is from the era where children should be quiet and well groomed.  Two things my kids are not.   But from neighbours and strangers?

The other day while picking up the kids from school, the neighbours dad started to comment about hair styles.   HE and his two boys (Adam’s school mates) had obviously just had haircuts.  All were the traditional Super/Magic/Cheap cuts that most people do for their kids, especially school age boys.  He was going on about Adam being able to see properly or look what a real hair cut  looks like …ha ha ha ha.

I smiled and carried on and just ignored him…but the more I have thought about this the more boggled I am.

From Jezebel.com

Now we are not talking Rene Charles hair here.   We have trimmed and cut Adam’s hair since he was wee.    Frankly I was relieved when he told me he liked it long.   I was tired of the lack of choice when it comes to boys hair and the cookie cutter look of boys in elementary school.  I liked that he wanted to be different.  I do realize that a lot of it comes from his sensory issues and dislike of people touching his head….but I like that he was comfortable in stating what HE felt was right for him and not comparing himself to his peers.

Other people obviously feel differently.

People apparently ASK my mom if he has had a hair cut yet.   It prays on their minds.  The only thing that bothers me is his laziness when it comes to WASHING his hair.  That is just gross.

But I am his parent and it is MY responsibility to make sure he gets the hygiene thing.

So what is the deal with boys and their hair.  In a world that seems to struggle to get rid of gender stereotyping….why do we still want our little boys to have short hair?

 

Tell Them You Care

The most rewarding part of attending an Enterprising Moms Network meeting is the connections.  The women are warm, enthusiastic and supportive.

One person I met was a lady called Maria.  Maria is a true ‘mompreneur.’  She saw a niche and filled with a lovely little product.  Maria felt that “every child deserves to feel connected, valued, special and loved.” She then figured out a way to help parents do just that.

Maria created ‘Little Jots.’

Little Jots is a a small booklet that contains a pen, pre-written affirmation notes and a space for you to write you own notes too.    You can fold them up and seal them with a ‘kiss’ or ‘hug’ sticker.

The pre-written notes are things like  ’you are perfect the way you are,’ or ‘I believe in you.’   Simple affirmative messages.

I think this is really sweet.

The idea came back to me a few weeks ago when a Monday rolled along after a particular rocky weekend in the House of Crunch.   There was a dark cloud hanging over us and I knew the mood needed to be cleared up.   I grabbed a couple of post-its and scribbled a couple of quick notes about loving them to pieces and telling my son to stay strong.  I tucked them in their lunches.

Caity wasn’t too struck by hers, but Adam was tickled.   He thanked me and you could tell it had broken up the routine of the school day and given him a taste of ‘mom.’

I find boys to be very sensitive little creatures….and their feelings tend to get lost in the scuffle of dealing with boy stuff and the arduous journey of figuring out what it means to be a boy, be a person and growing up.

I tend to also leave him to deal a lot on his own..he is the oldest and so I guess I need him to be stronger…just for me.  Which really is not fair to an 8 year old.

I am having an interesting year…..and there is many things that are distracting me from the kids.  Many ‘me’ things that I need to focus on too.

But through all that…and the work that needs done and developed….the biggest thing I am trying to do is not say no to the kids.

SURE I will say no to cookies or junk or staying up late…but I will not say no when the kids ask for time with me.  Even if it just sitting watching tv with them.

I will be there them.

Thank you Maria for reminding me.

 

A Plea to all Elementary Schools

Dear teachers…..lets just stop it now.  Let’s just stop the hype.  Let’s just stop buying into a Hallmark Holiday and NOT DO VALENTINES!!!

I have two children in elementary school.

I received TWO class lists for ‘Card Exchanges’ for both.

That is FORTY FOUR cards.

FORTY FOUR either handmade, printed from the ‘net, or bought at the loonie store cards.   Either way..it is a WASTE OF TIME AND PAPER.

My children will return from school with a bag of these crappy cards, which I will promptly throw away.

This is MORE annoying when not only is my kids school closed on Valentines Day, BUT the Friday before.  THEY ARE NOT THERE FOR THE STUPID DAY.

Today I am faced with two kids whining about food they have to bring to their class parties.  Told by my kids because my school is cutting back due to budget restraints and we don’t get WRITTEN notices about things from the teacher….instead we have to decipher their writing in their agendas or what they are telling me.

Let’s look at this again….while my school is trying to SAVE money…they want me to SPEND money on food and paper.

This is stupid and annoying.

I THOUGHT I could kill two birds with one stone and bake cupcakes for their classes instead of the cards and party food…but NOOOO because they are not having their parties on the last day of school this week…..one party is tomorrow!!

By all that is holy teachers…..can you THINK about the parents just for once….can we STOP even acknowledging this fake holiday???

I am sure many many many other parents would agree with this sentiment.

Those Precious Moments

You all wonder about those moments…..

Those uh oh moments…..

Today we had chaos here…again.  Construction on the roof, bits of our townhouse raining down all over the place and anxious looking dudes wanting to fix up the drywall around the windows.

They were anxious because I had snarled NO this am due to a migraine and the fact that the notice about said home entry requirements had been for last Thursday.

As the clock rolled closer to kid pick up time, I started to figure out my escape route.   The back way was probably going to be the safer….however I thought I should pick up the dog poop to make it easier to get myself, Tara, a stroller and hopefully the dog out.

So out I went with baggies in hand to get the poop and open the back gate.

Then I heard a click.

I turned and there was Tara looking gleeful about pulling the switch down…the switch that locks the patio door.  I look over her shoulder through the now locked patio window to see the front door closing as the drywall dude stepped out.

Um.

Yeah.

So smile at Tara through the glass and halfheartedly ask her to lift the switch up.  She is bored with that and away to watch TV.

It is cold outside.

I give up and figure I have to head round through the construction to the front….mud, sawing, cutting, board carrying, roof stuff flying…..how come THEY all have hard hats and us residents don’t?

Needless to say…this day has been a tad ‘trying.’