Archive for the ‘lessons’ Category

Heaven Cats: Kids Dealing with Grief

As parents we do what we can to protect our kids, steering them clear of sadness, hiding them from cruelty. It’s true they are vulnerable, more so than us, and we want to preserve their innocence, hold off on tainting them with skepticism, doubt, and fear that we as adult seem to know all too well.

But some things you cannot hide from your kids, like the death of a pet. One of our family cats became very ill within the last few days. We had lost two other cats recently to the same illness but that doesn’t make this loss any easier. It was obvious to even the kids that Tick (our cat) was not well and really struggled with her disease near the end. We all tried our best to make her comfortable and pay her extra attention but her condition quickly worsened.
We were hoping Tick would make it past Monday since it was my oldest daughter’s ninth birthday and having one of your favourite animals, a member of the family, die on your birthday isn’t something you would wish on even an enemy. But all hope and prayer aside, it would have been very unfair to Tick to prolong her discomfort and sadness. We hated seeing her in a constant state of depression, unable to walk or even stand on her own, so my husband and I decided to ease her suffering at the vet’s office.

I don’t believe in lying to kids. Some truths are painful and have to be faced but the degree of truth can be adjusted. We told the kids that Tick has passed away in her sleep during the afternoon, when they were at school, so they wouldn’t feel as though they missed saying goodbye to her. I did make sure they all visited her in the morning before heading out but I didn’t see the need to send them to school heartbroken and distraught. Some might disagree with what I did but I can live with my decision.

Of course my kids were devastated, especially my oldest. I think she was also angry that Tick has died on her birthday. Of course she wished Tick had held out a little longer but my daughter also knew that Tick was in pain and really, any day is not a good day for a friend to die.

I don’t know what tore my insides up more, the fact that Tick was gone or that my daughter was so upset over her passing. And although it should have been me, the mother, who offered the reassuring voice, the person to bring comfort to a difficult situation, it was my daughter. It was her and her Heaven Cats.

Heaven Cats is an imaginary world involving, you guessed it, cat spirits. It use to just be made up cats, living wonderful lives free of want and suffering, but with the passing of three of our five cats, Heaven Cats took on a whole new meaning. The cats were no longer imaginary but rather the spirits of our cats. They lived their days enjoying anything and everything they wanted. Sometimes they would visit us, walk with the kids to school, hang out and listen to a story, sleep on a pile of pillows in my daughter’s room.

My daughter was indeed update by Tick’s passing, but somehow knowing that Tick wasn’t gone, that her spirit lingered or could be called on when comfort was needed, was reassuring to my kids (and to me). I don’t think this avoids the fact that our cat had died – my kids knew Tick was gone – but it made thinking about her passing easier. This was especially important since Tick seemed to be in so much pain near the end, not able to do the things she use to do. Now as a Heaven Cat she was hanging out in a jacuzzi tub, eating ice cream, chasing butterflies and visiting the kids for a walk home from school.

I guess sometimes kids are more resilient than we give them credit for.

We’ll always be sad and miss Tick but it’s nice to know she’s out there, hanging around, keeping an eye on us (between milk baths and back rubs of course).

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Write a Review Wednesday: Dream Big Little Pig

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Banjo of Destiny. This week we read SourcebooksDream Big Little Pig (age 4-8), written by Kristi Yamaguchi and illustrated by Tim Bowers. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Poppy is a pig who dreamed big. From a posh prima ballerina to a big-time splashy super model, Poppy had big dreams about what she wanted to be when she grew up. Even when she discovered she didn’t have a talent for singing on-key or that she wasn’t very graceful, Poppy always remembered the encouraging words from her family and kept trying. She kept trying new things that interested her until she discovered skating. Like her other career endeavours, she wasn’t very good at skating either but the more she tried the better she got; the better she got the more she liked it.

Kids are full of big dreams and I think that’s something that should be encouraged, even when things don’t turn out as planned. In Dream Big Little Pig, Poppy has great aspirations for her life and she takes a few risks following her dreams. Yes she’s disappointed when things don’t turn out but the encouraging words she remembers from her family and friends always keep her trying something new. Dream Big Little Pig gives kids a great example of having dreams and taking chances and sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding but always trying. It’s also a reminder to us as parents that our words, though we may think they aren’t being listened to, are being absorbed and referenced when the time is needed. Words of encouragement may be the difference from giving up to trying again or trying something new.

I like how near the end of Dream Big Little Pig, Poppy seems to have found her gift and made her dream come true, yet that doesn’t stop her from having new dreams and aspirations. That’s probably a lesson for some of us adults.

Kristi Yamaguchi,figure skating superstar, believes in and lives by the motto ‘Always Dream. This is seen in her Always Dream Foundation, founded in 1996, designed to support organizations that have a positive influence on children. The inspiration behind Dream Big LIttle Pig is to instill this motto and belief to ,always dream, in the hearts of children.

To add a copy of Dream Big Little Pig to your own library, visit your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. What are you kids reading?

Write a Review Wednesday: Mad at Mommy

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose (age 4-7). After the last few days with my 4-year old I think a perfect book to review would be Scholastic‘s Mad at Mommy (age 3-7), written and illustrated by Komako Sakai. I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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A little bunny is so, SO mad at his mommy. She sleeps in and yells for no reason and tells bunny to hurry up and…and…and. Bunny is so mad that he decides he’s going to leave home. And does. But then he forgets something.

I think as parents we sometimes forget what it’s like to be a child, learning new concepts, being small, wanting attention. In Mad at Mommy, Bunny thinks his mom is unfair when he gets in trouble for making a mess in the bathroom but in his mind he’s just playing and doesn’t understand. Bunny thinks his mom is unfair when she rushes him to get ready but then stands and talks with friends when they’re out.

My 4-year old and I have been going through similar battles; she’s struggle to gain more power and independence and I’m working to implement rules and guidelines. We both think we’re right and the other one is being unreasonable but in a way we’re both right.

Mad at Mommy is a great book for both parent and kids. It shows kids that it’s okay to be frustrated; sometimes even kids need to air their feelings (even unhappy ones) and need reassurance that mommy still loves them. For parents it reminds us to be mindful of how we treat our kids and how frustrating it was when we were little. I remember battles with my parents on wanting to stay up late or wear certain clothes. It’s easy to get angry at water spilled out of the tub but instead maybe we need to remember how fun splashing in the tub can be and explain why we’re upset about the water.

Both my 6 and 4 year old enjoyed reading Mad at Mommy and it opened a great dialog on how everyone gets angry but we always love each other. Probably long overdue but Mad at Mommy also got us talking about things each other does that we feel is unfair.

You can add a copy of Mad at Mommy to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Scholastic Books. For other great books for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

On Raising a 4 Year Old: Don’t Test Their Will

Yesterday the weather was pretty good and even though I’m dealing with some sort of flu bug I still walked the kids to school (versus driving them). If we get out the door on time, the 20-minute walk can actually be good for everyone. Even my 4-year old, who seems to have all her energy drained from her as soon as she hits the end of the driveway, is able to keep up and get to school without a single whine. I think it helps to have siblings to walk with; they’re more entertaining than walking with mom I guess.

But after dropping my older two off at school, the 4-year old and I have to walk home. Alone. On our own. As soon as we step off school property it hits: I can’t walk! My legs are broken! This is the worst day ever! Why didn’t we drive? All sung out in that not-s0-wonderful shrill that 4-year olds are so good at.

With my cold still fighting my body for supremacy, I didn’t really feel like taking on this battle. Then my super intelligent mom brain kicked in. My 4-year old decided she didn’t want to walk so I agreed. Instead we stood there in the snow outside a row of houses on our walk home. I would show her. She expects me to fight with her and drag her home unwillingly but not this time. This time she would get what she wants and see that you have to be careful what you wish for. Sort of reverse psychology stuff I guess. My daughter would quickly get bored and reluctantly decide to walk home with me without any fuss and that would be that.

What was I thinking! Trying to play a phycology games with a 4-year old!

So she sat there, on the house’s stone wall, playing in the snow. She drew circles with a stick. She made foot prints. She guessed with each person walking by if they lived in the house we were standing in front of or not. It took every fibre in my body not to cave and just resort to dragging her home. Give it a few more minutes I thought, then she’ll get bored. But of course right at that moment a neighbourhood cat came by and loved hanging out on the step with my daughter.

I was getting cold (and I didn’t have my phone to twitter out my stupidity). I asked my daughter if she was getting cold. Nope. I said we should get home so she could get her snack. Not hungry. Three hours went by. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, maybe 20-minutes since I didn’t have my phone to confirm how much time we were wasting.

Eventually my daughter decided it was time to go home. I suppose I could have used this moment to relax and observe the world through my daughter’s eyes. Perhaps if the weather was warmer an I was feeling better, maybe. One thing I did learn is not to put a 4-year old’s will to the test.

Write a Review Wednesday: Zero Kisses for Me

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. This week we’re all about love with Valentine’s Day around the corner so we’re reviewing Tundra Books Zero Kisses for Me (age 4-7 ) written by Virginie Soumagnac and illustrated by Manuela Monari. I have to thank Sylvia at Tundra Books for my review copy.

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It’s hard being the little one in the family;everyone always wants to give you kisses, especially your mom. She sends you out in the rain. Kisses. She gives you a hug. Kisses. One little boy has had enough; he’s worn out by the end of the day after all those kisses. He tells his mom that from now on he wants no more mushy kisses. Not ever. But at bedtime, when his mom obliges his wishes, something isn’t quite right. Could it be he’s missing his kisses?

As my kids get older I know there will be some resistance to mom kisses; I’m already seeing this from my 8-year old daughter. I think as kids get older they feel, just like the boy in Zero Kisses for Me, that big kids don’t need to get kisses all the time; kisses are for babies. I think that’s why I loved this book so much. My kids are always trying to be ‘bigger’ and going to bed without a goodnight kiss is one of those things big kids do, so many kids think. Both the words and illustrations do a great job depicting how a young child is caught between wanting to be grown-up and not be coddled and kissed all the time while at the same time wanting to remain little and protected by their parents. All 3 of my kids could relate to both sides of the boys reaction.

When the boy has difficulty sleeping, after not getting his usual bedtime kiss, he is comforted again by lots of kisses from his mom. Reading Zero Kisses for Me segued nicely into talking about growing up and kisses and respecting personal space (such as maybe not giving too many kisses goodbye in the school yard but lots for good nights and good mornings).

If you want to add a copy of Zero Kisses for Me to your personal library, visit your local bookstore or Tundra Books. For other great book ideas for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. I also included Zero Kisses for Me in a list of book for kids based on the topic of love. Checkout EverythingMom‘s Everything Love section to see what other books are on the list. What are you reading with your kids?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Things My Kids Have Taught Me

As a parent we know it’s our responsibility to nurture and guide and educate our kids to be the best people they can be. Kids look to us to provide them with direction. But as a mom I’m starting to see that this guidance and learning isn’t a one-way street.

I have discovered since becoming a parent that I have learned a few things along the way and that’s to be expected when you venture into new territory. What I didn’t really expect was that one of my teachers, or rather three of them, would be my own kids.

So I thought for Oh Amanda‘s Top Ten Tuesday post this week I would share with you 10 THings My Kids Have Taught Me.

  1. A double-stuff chocolate fudge cookie, eaten really slow, one layer at a time, is a worth while pursuit in patience
  2. Just because you don’t know anyone in the room doesn’t mean you should be discouraged from entering it. There’s bound to be someone else in the room who doesn’t know anyone either and they could be your next best friend.
  3. You can wear a pretty pink dress and have flowers braided in your hair and still play Space Commander Rescue Hero in the backyard. Heroes can be fancy dressed girls too.
  4. Smiling and saying ‘Hello’ to complete strangers, even if they look grumpy, usually results in the stranger feeling pretty good and you feeling even better.
  5. A hug can have more impact than the words you can’t quite say.
  6. Sometimes a situation calls for a really good, hard, sobbing to wash all that negative energy away and reboot your system.
  7. Although new gadgets are cool and fun to play with, sometimes the creativity derived from a simple object can be far more rewarding.
  8. Reading is an important skill but the material doesn’t always have to be a traditional story. Some of the best reading adventures can occur in fluffy, light reading (or comic books).
  9. It’s okay to sleep-in, eat breakfast in your PJs and not shower until after lunchtime. The world won’t come to an end and you’ll probably be in a better mood afterward.
  10. You may love someone very much and that someone I’m sure knows you do but it means so much more when they hear the actual words come from you.

Oh there are so many more lessons my kids have taught me beyond these ten. And I suspect I will still be learning. As an adult it’s hard to let go and allow your children to be your guide but sometimes we all need a reminder of what it’s like to be a child again and view the world with eagerness and want for new discoveries.

What have your children taught you lately?

Why the Lie?

Maybe it’s just me, but I love perpetuating the myths of the Easter Bunny, Leprachuans, the Tooth Fairy and others with my kids. These fantasy characters were a wonderful part of my childhood that I love to share with my own kids. They ARE childhood.

And of course like with our own childhood, they will grow-up and their belief will be overtaken by reality and skepticism.

I may not like to admit it but I do know someday my kids will stop believing in some of these characters, if not all of them. It’s a sad reality. I’ve even started to notice some doubt in my 8-year-old daughter (though some things I’ve done haven’t helped). So what happened on the weekend shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.

My 8-year-old lost another tooth. She placed it in the Tooth Fairy jar (we have a small jar with little fairy sitting on top) and placed it on her dresser that night. Before I went to bed I took the tooth and replaced it with money (Yes we leave money. That’s a different blog post to deal with).

The next morning we slept in. I was surprised my daughter didn’t rush in telling us about the funds the Tooth Fairy left behind; she would usually do this, waking us up at the crack of dawn. I thought perhaps she had forgotten to check but when I went by her room I noticed the Tooth Fairy jar was empty.

So curious, I asked my daughter:

me: Did the Tooth Fairy visit you last night?
8yo: No. Well, yes. She came and took the tooth but left no money.
me: Really? Are you sure? Did you check to see if it fell on the floor?
8yo: I looked everywhere, no money this time.

My daughter proceeded downstairs as if nothing happened. Now I know in the past I’ve been negligent about the Tooth Fairy’s visits but I know I took the tooth and left the money. I know I did.

It’s obvious she took the money. What I couldn’t figure out is why she wouldn’t admit too it. She still gets the money. My only thought is she was testing me. She’s probably already figured out that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real; that mom and dad replace the teeth with funds. Maybe she wants to see my reaction, see if I admit that the Tooth Fairy left the money, because I left it.

But I can’t bring myself to admit it. I can’t be the one to break the fantasy. She may have her doubts and that’s fine but I don’t need to be the one to confirm it. We still have two younger kids who haven’t even experienced the Tooth Fairy yet. I don’t want them to be jaded before they’ve even lost their first tooth. I don’t need my 8-year-old in a fit of anger with her brother or sister to blurt out ‘And the Tooth Fairy isn’t real. Mom leaves the money. She told me so.

Even when my 8-year-old returned with substitute Tooth Fairy money from her dad (trying out her story on him too I suppose), I still kept tight-lipped.

The fact that my daughter had doubts about the fairy didn’t bug me so much. Even testing her doubts to see if I or her dad would fess up didn’t bother me much either. I have to admit it was pretty ingenious. The ongoing lie was bugging me. Okay, she did her test and didn’t get the result she wanted. Now she should admit to the money being left, say she found it after all. The fact that she kept telling the story and on top of that accepted additional money from her dad, these things bugged me.

Eventually my daughter felt guilty and admitted that she did get money (though she admitted to her dad and not me). In return she had to work with her dad in the backyard building a shed before the rain arrived. We also agreed that perhaps the Tooth Fairy not leaving money for my daughter (see, I had to still believe the original story since I wasn’t suppose to know about the confession) was a sign that my daughter was too old for Tooth Fairy visits. Any teeth left to fall out could just be tossed and we wouldn’t have to worry about the ritual anymore,  until her brother or sister get bigger.

I knew I would be disappointed when my kids were old enough to not believe in some of the childhood fantasies we’ve brought them up on. I guess I didn’t know the lesson would hurt me so much.