Two days ago, it was grey and cool and mild. All of this snow fell within about 18 hours yesterday.
The older children apparently took my chat about responsibility to heart. Inspired by a specific garbage-dropping incident two days ago, I took the opportunity of all of us gathered for supper to explain that while I, as their mother, am happy to be responsible for many things, including feeding them and washing and folding their laundry, there were other things that were their responsibility. And then I threw the ball into their court: could they think of anything that was their responsibility more than mine? Albus instantly thought of cleaning up the water he always spills when getting himself a drink. AppleApple thought she could take her plate to the counter and scrape food into the compost. Socks in laundry basket, not chucked across the room. Banana peels composted rather than left on a bedroom floor to rot. Basic stuff, but helpful. (These supper conversations are our new version of family meetings–spontaneous topical conversations). Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself (though not always), but I do believe strongly that the kids are listening. Spontaneously, yesterday evening, Albus decided that shovelling the walk was something he could take some responsibility for. This morning, I found them outside early, both hard at work with school bags on backs.
These are some of CJs favourite toys: Albus’s go-gos. Every single time CJ wants to play with them, he asks first: “It okay I play with Albus’s go-gos?” And every single time, I say yes, or Albus does. But he still asks the next time. Which is a good general policy, I think. Shows good little brother instincts.
Fooey is on a photo album binge this morning. In this one, Albus is a two-year-old watching Winnie the Pooh on our old, tiny tv, and AppleApple is a baby. I actually said to Fooey, hey, that’s you! Before realizing it was my other red-headed baby girl. When they were babies, they all looked perfectly unique to my eye, but now that they’ve grown out of babyhood, I find myself looking for other cues–what era was this? where were we living?–to identify them in photos.
No photos of me. The eye woes continue, despite antibiotics–oral and drops–hot compresses, and following all of the dr’s instructions on care. All I can cautiously say right now is that they don’t seem to be getting any worse. But they’re not getting better either.
Non-screen bonding. Still in pajamas. This is our Saturday, so far.
Kevin is crafting the kids’ Halloween costumes. Praise be, ’cause crafty, I isn’t, and the man has talent. We now have an eerie likeness to the real Spongebob Squarepants grinning at us from our dining-room table. “Paint the rest of me!” he’s chirping. “Don’t forget my pants!”
On Thursday, it was just me and the two little ones home all day, and though we had several appointments to go to, we also had time to play “storytime.” I did not set the chairs up like this: it was Fooey’s doing.
This afternoon, the neighbours might have been forgiven for thinking our children were doing violence to each other in the backyard. The shrieks, the screams, the ongoing mayhem. And people are worried about the noise a few backyard chickens might make. Just try living next to us. You’d be begging for chickens. Let the photo evidence show that, in fact, fun was being had, if at ear-splitting volume. The three biggest were playing some sort of sandwich game on the motorcycle swing, while CJ hung around and gave me panic attacks every time he stepped too close.
I am typing this in the office/playroom while the two littlest play Playmobil by themselves (with occasional mediation from me). In other words, I am basically ignoring them. I am not playing with them. They are fending for themselves, imaginatively. Is it possible that this good mothering?
Or is this good mothering?: Yesterday, while waiting in the hallway outside music lessons, I played with CJ. Within five minutes, I’d created a monster. He refused to play by himself. He roared when I attempted to converse with a nearby adult. Introduced to the high of mama-holding-a-Lego-guy-and-together-sliding-the-guys-down-mama’s-pantleg, he instantly progressed to attention junkie, incapable of sliding Lego guys down pantlegs all by himself. Yes, I looked with envy at the kid on the floor doing puzzles while his mother talked to a friend.
A few more good mother/bad mother examples, just for fun …
This morning, Albus called me “the worst mother ever,” and dramatically declared, at 8:28 AM, that his day had been ruined. Because I clipped his nails. Then I made him brush his teeth. Apparently, from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy, bad mothers insist on good hygiene.
Last night, while folding laundry on our bed, I initiated a conversation with AppleApple, who was also lying in our bed, reading a Harry Potter book for perhaps the 77th time. “How was soccer?” (She’d just come back from her first soccer skills session). “Fun!” “Wonderful! What was fun about it? Was there a particular drill that you liked especially? Did you know any of the other girls? What were the coaches like?” She was mostly silent, or monosyllabic, glancing up vacant-eyed from her book to respond. Finally, she gazed at me with deep weariness, and said, “Could you please stop asking all these questions so that I can read my book?”
To sum up: let’s just say I’ve resigned myself to getting some bad reviews, as a mother, while remaining convinced that I’m doing a reasonably good job. Is there any job on earth that is as controversial, as subject to criticism and debate, as judged on both a macro and micro level, as well as judged generally, ie. mothers are [fill in the responsible-for blank]?
Please note: this is an observation and not a complaint.
We need some photos up here, a snapshot of our past week, a sampling of all the family activities we’re burning through on a regular basis. Above, what remained after the neighbourhood street party last weekend: face painting and tattoos.
This year, Albus and AppleApple are both continuing with conventional piano lessons (ie. reading music, music theory); but both are also being taught by my brother Karl, who is a professional musician (sample my siblings’ band’s music; they’re called Kidstreet)–Albus is learning guitar, and AppleApple is learning the drums. Karl is teaching them by ear rather than by sight, and Albus has started learning “power chords,” and is playing along with songs, while AppleApple is learning the basic drum riffs (the child is a drum machine; her foot on the bass sounds a thump that would reverberate in a dance club). CJ really really really wanted to play both drums and guitar; above, his big bro is letting him practice strumming.
Oh, and we had friends over for supper the other night, and it ended in a mud bath in the backyard (sorry, parents of friends). Of course, the kids were having the most fun ever, going primal and painting themselves and throwing mud balls. It all ended in the bath, but there were no tears.