Day 54/365 {Brave}

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One day a few weeks ago, I got an email from Josh’s teacher. She said, “Dear parent, your child had signed up for the lip-sync contest at school. Here is the performance schedule…”

I figured the email came to me in error. There’s no way Josh would have signed up for a lip-sync contest. Well, he came home and told me he is going to be in the lip-sync contest and he is going to sing the Pokemon song.

Wait. What!

We don’t come from a family of performers. Where did this come from? Well, I couldn’t get to the bottom of the story. He was so excited to tell me that he already picked the song, I didn’t want to sound like a calloused bitch. I just held back my surprise and smiled and nodded.

So on Thursday, he took the stage with his cardboard guitar, and lip-sync’d to “I want to be the very best”. I ran out of a work meeting so I can attend his performance.

Being the youngest contestant, his choreography was the most basic. But I was just beaming with pride through the entire 4 minutes and 8 seconds. He signed up for this contest, learned the lyrics, and choreographed the moves himself. He got on stage, performed, and came off the stage all with his cool and calm presence. The first thing he said to me was, “That was my first lip-sync contest. I did all the moves I wanted to.” I couldn’t help but look at him and smile ear-to-ear.

He is so much more brave than me!

Josh turns six

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Dear Joshie,

If I have to sum up what you are to me, it would be that you are my inspiration.

Last winter when I saw how hard you worked to learn skiing, I was inspired to learn it too and keep practicing. When I saw how much you love swimming and how comfortable you are in the water, I was inspired to re-learn swimming and face my fears. When I saw how fearless you are with trying out roller coasters, I gathered up the courage to get on the ride with you while screaming through the whole ride.

You are kind, loving, fearless, soft hearted, and always optimistic. You make me want to be better, and be like you. Your enthusiasm for life is infectious.

You love to bake. You love riding your bike. You love going to school and being with your friends. You love puzzles and building Lego. Your favorite food is cauliflower soup, noodles, tofu, mac n cheese, and chicken strips.

In the past year, you have revealed more of your personality and interests. You have grown out of the Cars (Disney Cars) phase completely, and pretty much gotten past the peak of the dinosaurs phase. Lego is still a favorite and constant go-to, and you have really taken an interest in Pokemon. Our living room is starting to be taken over by Pokemon cards, and you constantly quiz me about Pokemon characters and their powers and weaknesses. With each phase of your life, I feel like you are just going at the speed of light and I can barely catch my breath when the next phase hits.

You have also really shown an interest in science–anything related to nature, animals, insects, or plants. You often tell me tidbits about a certain fish or a plant that I have never heard of. You amaze me with the amount of information you retain in your noggin.

You can be a typical boy. You run around the playground with boundless energy. You constantly skin your knees and put holes in your pants. You knock over things at home. You step on my toes. You forget your lunch box at school.

Yet, your softer side is present in our daily lives. When you get a treat, you always ask if Savanna can have one. You cuddle up with me in the mornings and tell me you love me. This morning you didn’t want to wake up Daddy to get your birthday present, “Just in case Daddy is extra tired today.”

I love you more than anything in the world. You amaze me and inspire me. Thank you for being my baby. Happy birthday, and I wish you all the love and adventures in the world.

Love,

Mommy

Money sense

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Counting up his money

When I was little, I had a piggy bank. I loved hearing coins clinking each other when I put money in it. I remember my parents calling me an “iron chicken”–you can’t pluck a feather off of me. I have hidden all my money and gave none away.

Josh has a piggy bank too. He is a lot more generous than me. He has offered all of his money to me so we can buy a backyard. Too bad that we still can’t afford a backyard in Vancouver with all of his savings.

Anyway, Josh is in Grade 1 now. We figured it’s time to give him an allowance and teach him about money. We broke open his piggy bank that had just over $97 in it, and set up 4 jars for him:

  • Save
  • Spend
  • Give away
  • Invest

We explained that “save” is to save up for something big like a motorcycle. (Did you see how I slipped that in there? Yeah, teach them while they’re young that bikes are cool.)  “Spend” is money he gets to spend on anything he wanted, “give away” is to give away or buy food for someone who doesn’t have food, and “invest” is putting money away and mommy+daddy gives you 10% interest on anything in that jar. I can’t take credit for this idea. It was stolen off the internet from some genius dad.

There is one rule: Something always has to go in the “give away” jar.

He will get $5 a week allowance to split up among his jars. It’s completely up to him how he wants to split up the money and how he wants to use it.

Then, I held my breath.

I was afraid he’s going to realize how many Pokemon cards he can get for $97 and head straight down to London Drugs to lose himself in aisle 12.

To my pleasant surprise, he put some money in each jar. When he put money in the “invest” jar, we added the equivalent of 10% in that jar for him. His eyes lit up. He realized that his money grows. He allocated more money in that jar than any other jar. He found a quarter under his bed and quickly threw that into the “invest” jar too.

The next day, Cliff took the kids to London Drugs. Josh used his money from the “spend” jar to buy some Pokemon cards, and also bought Savanna a toy. He was so happy with his new Pokemon cards. I was so happy that he felt independent, and didn’t forget to share his fortune with Savanna.

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Josh also worked (taking the recycling bin to the garbage room and sorting through stuff to recycle) to make a quarter. FYI: The black and blue stuff on his face is face paint that he applied to himself. We did not beat him and make him work.

Baby tooth

Josh first tooth Aug 2

Josh lost his first baby tooth this week. He was more excited about the tooth fairy bringing him money, he was not at all bothered by the sight of blood and the gap in this teeth.

His mom, on the other hand, shed a few tears for another sign of losing her little baby to a growing boy. How can the baby phase be over so quickly? It has probably been over for a while now, but you know, she’s in denial.

Skater boy

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When I was in elementary school, my dad bought me a red skateboard. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I remember exactly what the board looked like. It was a red plastic board, with red semi-translucent wheels. It had a tail on one end that tipped up, and a pointy/tapered front end.

Honestly, I don’t remember spending too much time on the skateboard. I didn’t have the best balance, and fell a lot. Still, I thought the board was pretty cool.

Fast forward 30+ years. Josh hinted that he wanted a 3-wheel skooter. I had a brilliant idea that a skateboard would be a good idea. I got online to look for one for him (because I have an online shopping addiction). Lo and behold, the skateboard I used to have is now considered retro but fashionable again.

The advantage of being old, is the stuff that was cool when you’re a kid is now cool again!

I clicked “add to cart” on a blue board for Josh. Then I had another brilliant idea–I’ll get one for myself! You know, so Josh has someone to ride with. It’s all for him, really.

Maybe it’s mid-life crisis. The month I turn 40, I buy a retro skateboard for myself. In hindsight, I’m not sure what I was thinking.

Anyway, the boards arrived, and both Josh and I were very excited. We took the boards with us on a trip to Whistler, and spent a few hours each day goofing around with them. Josh just wanted to sit on the board and roll downhill, and I let him. No point ruining his first experience with it by pushing him to ride it. I tried riding the board, and all the carefree childhood memories come flooding back. This new board rides smooth like butter and gets fast pretty quick.

Over the next couple of weeks, Josh rode while standing on the board with me holding his hand and pushed him along. Eventually, I could just push him without holding his hand. He was learning the balance pretty quickly. Then this past weekend, he was able to stand on the board and roll downhill on his own, without any help from me. I was so stoked for him!

Two planker

When I was 18, I decided to learn to snowboard. Back in the 90’s, snowboarding wasn’t a popular sport. This was when nobody wore a helmet, and baggy snowboarding pants were hard to come by.

From the moment I got on a board, I fell in love with it. I spent countless hours falling and climbing back up, until I finally learned the balance. The feeling of freedom and wind on my face is addictive. Over the years, I got better and faster. I loved it more. The downside is, I tend to get pretty bashed up when I do fall.

Now that I’m almost 40, I have finally admitted to myself that perhaps it’s time to start preserving this rack of old bones. And timing worked out well that Josh started learning to ski this year, so I figured it’s time for me to hang up the snowboard, and learn to ski.

I am actually having fun learning to ski. It is such a civilized sport. As a snowboarder, I spent a lot of time on my butt, trying to get my bindings done up. As a skier, I can ski right off the chair lift and be ready to go.

Skiing with Josh is a lot of fun. He can pretty well keep up behind me. Skiing with Savanna is completely different–it’s actually good for me. I hold her between my legs and ski down together. It forces me to stay low and make wider turns, actually focusing more on my own technique.

I still go snowboarding, and still love it as much as I did the first day. I hope one day to be able to ski as fast as I can snowboard.

Skis

 

“When I’m an adult”

The other day, I picked up Josh from school. On the way to the car, all of a sudden he remembered something important to tell me. He said, “Hey, mommy, did you know that Ms. Hales and her mommy live in two different houses?” Ms. Hales is Josh’s teacher.

I said, “Yeah, that’s because Ms. Hales is an adult. Most adults don’t live with their mommies.”

Josh was surprised that I wasn’t surprised. He said, “But they don’t live together!”

I said, “I know. When you’re an adult, you probably won’t live with mommy either.”

His tone changed. He said sadly, “Oh. I’ll really miss you when I’m an adult.”

I laughed and said, “Hey, when you’re an adult, and if you want to live with me, that’s totally fine with me.”

He got happy again, and said, “Ok! I’ll live with you!”

That’s settled. I’m going to hold him to this.Josh_

Update on Josh learning to ski

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Josh’s first skiing lesson and my mommy fail. (Anita, thank you for reminding me that refusing my son’s pizza request will turn him into a serial killer.) Josh has since finished his series for 4-session camp at Cypress, and has not turned into a serial killer. Yet.

When we were in Whistler this week, he requested that I take him skiing.(!!!)

Of course I was happy to oblige, and took him up the chair lift before he could change his mind. I also told him how awesome skiing is, because you get to eat a special skier meal. He got chicken strips, fries, juice and a chocolate pudding–things that are special treats at home–all at once. He was pretty stoked.

I am not ashamed of bribing for enthusiasm.

We spent two days on the hill, and he was improving by the hour. By the end of the second day, there were sections on the hill where I couldn’t catch up to him.

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Does everyone else have this figured out?

Lately, a few incidents made me question my parenting choices, and really made me admit (again) that I don’t have my shit together.

This week, Josh brought home his very first report card from school. While I think of my baby as this smart and intelligent little being, his report card was mostly “meet expectations”. That, to me, translated to “average”. Whether that is the correct translation or not, it was an awakening moment for me to see someone else’s perspective of him.

We read books at home with Josh on a daily basis since he was a baby, hoping to cultivate a fun learning environment. But we haven’t done anything to push Josh to read and write on his own beyond the pace given at school.

I keep thinking that I’ve been pushed so hard academically since a young age, that it really took the joy out of learning. Would I be a different person if I had a carefree childhood without going to Kumon math and tutoring sessions everyday of the week? But if I never had all that pressure, would I have done any better or worse with my life?

Yesterday, Josh had his first skiing lesson. I dropped him and his friend off, then went to my own humbling skiing lesson. I went back to pick up Josh and his friend from their lesson 3 hours later. It had snowed heavily the entire 3 hours. I was tired and cold, and I just wanted to get home. Josh said in a whiney voice, “I want pizza.” I said, first, stop whining, and second, no, we have snacks in the car and we’re going home. He bursted into a full on wail.

I was on auto-terrible-mommy-pilot mode. I told him to take a deep breath, and we’re going home. Zero sympathy for the fact that he had a rough time learning to ski, zero love for his red and frozen hands and likely empty stomach. Instead of taking a breath like I asked him to, he cried harder. He continued to cry, with tears running down his red cheeks and snot running down his nose, lips, and down his chin.

In that moment, I felt like I was caught in a dilemma that tested me. On one hand, I wanted to kneel down and give him a big hug and make all the shitty-ness go away. On the other hand, I wanted him to toughen up and suck it up. Learning things can be hard, but that’s just life. I learned to snowboard by spending countless hours on my butt, being cold and miserable. Nothing came easy and nobody coddled me. But is that really how I want my son to feel?

I have no strategies planned out for raising these kids. I just know that I want the world for them, but I don’t want them to feel some of the shitty-ness I felt. So as I sit here, starring at the cursor blink on my screen, trying to figure out what I’m trying to write, I realized all over again that I don’t have my parenting shit together.

Josh’s first skiing lesson

Yesterday Josh had his first of 4 skiing lessons at Cypress. Before the lesson, he was very excited before the lesson, playing with his skis and boots and goggles at home. I took Josh and his friend Darcy up the mountain for their lessons.

3 hours later, I went back to pick them up. Darcy wanted to stay and ski longer, and Josh had had enough. Josh ended the day in tears. This morning Josh told me he didn’t like skiing very much.

If you have little kids who ski, can you please assure me that this will get better/easier?

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