nodding & smiling

ceci n'est pas un bébé lala


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Straight As

My amazing 10-year-old who doesn't achieve straight-As

My amazing 10-year-old who doesn’t achieve straight-As

I’ve never put a lot of stock into report cards.

Don’t get me wrong – I value school and all that it exposes my kids to. I want them to do their best and to feel successful. But I don’t think a report card tells the full story, in the same way that my resumé or annual review wouldn’t sum me up as a working professional.

My 10-year-old brought her progress report home last week, and it confirmed that she was progressing along as she should be. Great! I’m happy with that. If it had highlighted an area or two in which we could focus to help her catch up with the class, I’d have been just as happy. I didn’t worry that there were no notes indicating that she was ahead of the class. I don’t push her to achieve As. I simply want her to put forth her best effort.

With a daughter already in university, I now have the benefit of hindsight. I’m no longer iffy about my position on report cards. I firmly stand my ground, loud and proud: earning straight-As on a report card is not the be-all-end-all it’s made out to be. Marks are only one piece of the pie.

Many of the extra-curriculars and hobbies that helped Alex choose her university program of study (Commerce) had nothing at all to do with academics.

If I’d insisted on straight-As, Alex might not have had the time to try her hand at photography and cooking and other pursuits that eventually helped narrow down her interests to what would make her happy, and think about what career she might excel at.

Straight-As and no other experience in sports, volunteering, working, leadership, camps, music, Junior Achievement, art and social settings might not have allowed Alex to be the well-rounded student that attracted Dalhousie to her.

So when Katherine’s teacher told me at our meeting that Katherine was progressing well, I was pleased.

But when she told me Katherine is a good friend in the classroom, volunteers at the kiss-and-ride, helps with the announcements, is in the ukelele club and spends extra time at recess and during lessons to make sure the differently-abled kids in the classroom feel included and to help them keep up, I was over the moon. These are the things that make my child a “good student” in my eyes. An active citizen in her little society at school, and a well-rounded kid. For these things – all of them, “okay” grades included – I am thankful.


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Visiting Her Town – Part 2

Would love to walk through the Halifax Public Gardens. But first, let's take a selfie!

But first let’s take a selfie!

So. Much. Eating! When you’re in a new town, it’s important to taste the local cuisine, right? Not to mention, these girls are pretty much over university meal-plan food already. We have enjoyed lots of lobster and sampled many local restaurants.

It was a great weekend all around. Loved spending the time with my girl, shopping, walking, eating, movie-watching, bus-riding, and being tourists in Alex’s new town.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Alex’s friend Megan invited her own ringette-loving mama (Nancy) for the weekend. Nancy is super-cool and had the same philosophy as me: to let the girls direct, and follow their lead. It was such a good call, because we got to see the town through their eyes, run for a bus we thought we’d miss (only to burst onto the bus in a fit of gasping laughter and probably scaring the other riders), source cute guys (for the record, anyone Nancy and I pointed out was a No), and just enjoy each others’ company in a totally relaxed, unplanned way.

I highly recommend it.

 


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Visiting Her Town – Part 1

My favourite things

My favourite things

A few weeks back, Alex texted to invite me to visit her during Dal’s November long weekend. She would have two days off school, and would be playing two ringette games. Right away, I found awesome deals on both room and flight, and replied, “Absolutely, I’d love to!” that same night.

Because Alex’s burgeoning independence has manifested in her staking her ground when I attempt to swoop in and solve, plan, or take things over, I was cautious to not try to schedule my time in “her” new town. Making this easy was the fact that I’d be arriving on my birthday – she would plan the weekend.

When I arrived, Alex presented me with a birthday gift (Mason jar filled with my favourite things in it). Then she took me to her favourite restaurant, and pulled out her debit card and treated.

The next day, I got to watch the Dalhousie Tigers play two ringette games and Alex, her friend Megan, Megan’s mom and I took a late-night walking trip around the waterfront area, finishing the night with 1am pizza and drinks. Loving this trip!


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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Alex on the Metro X express bus from downtown Halifax to the airport - I love this service.

Alex on the Metro X express bus from downtown Halifax to the airport – I love this service.

When you miss someone, being there is so much more important than getting there. That said, the “how” does factor in cost and time, important when you’ve got a child away at university.

I drove Alex up to Dalhousie when she was first starting school because she had a lot of things to bring to Halifax. The 18-hour drive was beautiful and fun, and I was happy to see so much of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We did the drive over two days, which in hindsight was a tad ambitious. Next time, we’re going to space the driving out over three days each way.

We brought Alex back for Thanksgiving on a flight because she didn’t have a lot of time off, which we’ll do again at Christmas, because we don’t want her road-tripping in slippery conditions.

If you’re certain of your child’s days off (don’t assume – I learned the hard way), check the airlines in advance for good fares. I got excited to hear about Via’s ‘Crazy Tuesday’ sales, only to be left deflated when I learned it didn’t include all their destinations. Hopefully they’ll consider the money parents spend on travel with kids away for post-secondary, but until then, the train’s a no-go for us.

Alex invited me up to see a few of her ringette games next weekend, which also happens to coincide with my birthday and an airline seat sale. WIN! Can’t wait to hang out with her in beautiful Hali and watch her and her team play the game they love.

 

 

 


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Sporty

Hoping the secret to getting this one to enjoy sports is sticking with one. Wish me luck!

My daughters have been raised with the understanding that exercise is a necessary part of healthy living. It’s as important to our bodies as are fresh air, sleep and good nutrition.

My elder daughter did swimming from a young age, started soccer at age 4 (and never left), started ringette at age 9 (and never left), with a bit of volleyball thrown in. At 18, Alex plays ringette for the Dalhousie Tigers, and continues to play and work out regularly.

Katherine, my 10-year-old, has also swum from a young age, and has tried: ballet, soccer, gymnastics, rugby, ringette, volleyball and cheerleading… and never liked any of them. Worried she might just not like being active, our deal had always been: she picked the activity, and I made sure she stuck it out till the end. Her latest sport is basketball, which she “kinda, sorta” likes.

This summer, her swimming instructor asked whether Katherine was normally uncomfortable trying new things, because she seemed reluctant to “put herself out there”. Quickly, I recalled childhood memories of Katherine being especially averse to embarrassment, notably when she was learning to read and would refuse to sound out the letters. She only wanted to read the word out loud once she was certain she got it right in her head.

My “a-ha!” moment: it wasn’t that Katherine didn’t enjoy being active, it was that she didn’t want to be embarrassed for not doing as well as the others (made more obvious being the “new kid” all the time!)

So, our new approach will be for her stick with a sport until she’s mastered a few skills, which will hopefully boost her confidence. I’ve decided she’ll keep with volleyball, and she’s decided she’ll keep with basketball.

And time will tell, I guess. In the meantime, my reluctantly-athletic kid gets sweaty 3 times a week 🙂

 


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Her First Visit Home

Little sister's idea: make Big sister's homecoming a really big deal. Big sister thanks little sister by a Starbucks coffee date, just the two of them.

Little sister’s idea: make big sister’s homecoming a really big deal. Big sister thanks little sister by a Starbucks coffee date, just the two of them.

Six weeks after drop-off and I’ve made it – Alex’s first visit home.

After she enjoyed an uneventful flight with lots of learnings: online check-in, bus to airport, security, finding your gate, landing, figuring out where to meet your mom who’s driving around the Arrivals area (hint: don’t wait for her at Departures – lesson learned!), my university student got into my car and I could breathe again. Both my babies were with me.

Although we texted often while she was gone, we never Skyped nor phoned. As such, her sister and I thought Alex’s voice sounded different: more mature, more worldly-adultish.

But, once we got home, I recognized her immediately: happy, preoccupied, already making plans, and hungry. I fed her leftover cheese tortellini in rosé sauce at 9pm and she ran off to meet friends, returning around midnight. She crawled into my bed to catch up, just like she always had.

We’re still in the throes of a super-busy Thanksgiving weekend… my sister is moving, my pregnant cousin and family are travelling in from Ottawa and Montreal for her baby shower, and Alex is finding time to spend with all the people she loves: Mom, stepdad and sister, Dad & family, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Alex has showered us with gifts and love and time and soon it will all be over.

Until Christmas 🙂


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The Time My Daughter Forged My Signature

At my younger daughter’s school they have a process when kids get sent to the Principal’s office for breaking the rules or acting disrespectfully. They have to think about their actions, and write about what happened and what they should have done instead. Then they discuss it with the Principal.

When Katherine was in grade 2, this is what happened with Katherine and a boy at recess one day:

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Katherine talked it over with the Principal, who asked her to bring the “Think Sheet” home to discuss with her parent, and have a parent sign it:

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Katherine chose instead to forge my signature. At the tender age of 7.

Turn down for what? 🙂

 


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(Empty) Nesting – Part 2

What? She needs things for her room!

What? She needs things for her room!

If you recall my first nesting post and the amount of stuff I bought to quell my growing anxiety about my daughter leaving, this post will not come as a shock to you.

Since I dropped her off, I’ve thought of many things she needs. Lightbulbs, a boot tray, a door stop, handsoap, baskets for her kitchen supplies, etc. etc. etc. You name it, I’ve thought of it.

HOWEVER.

Tonight my daughter texted me…

DD: “Hahaha so embarrassing!”

Me: “What is?”

DD: “Getting packages”

Me: “Huh?”

DD: “Haha I just picked up two packages, and the guy at the front desk was like, ‘Oh you’re Alex! I’ve always wanted to meet you. You get so many things.”

Me: “OMG. So sorry. Just tell him your mom has trouble coping with you gone and this is how she deals!”

DD: “I did, and he said, ‘Well your mom must miss you a lot. You’re the talk of the front desk!’ LOL”

Yeah so that’s how my week is going.

<facepalm>

How’s yours?


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Leaving Tweens Home Alone

The Glamourous Life. Kate's mischievous beginnings

The Glamourous Life. Kate’s mischievous beginnings

My younger daughter Katherine is 10 years old. For some kids, that’s old enough to stay home alone. For Katherine, I wasn’t quite sure.

She is after all the same child who convinced a fellow-preschooler to lay down on the couch frame while she put the couch cushion over his face AND SAT ON IT. Who decorated her walls with greasy hand-cream. She’s also the same child who, as a toddler, filled every floor register with clothes, toys, money. The same child who made fist-sized paper mache spitballs and tossed them up onto the bathroom ceiling to harden. Who wrote on every surface of my house. Who stuck gum to the wall. I can go on, and on…

Wanting to allow her some independence as she enters her tween years, when she was 9 years old I sent Katherine on a full-day course put on by The Babysitter’s Course that taught “home alone and first aid” fundamentals. What to do if you’re home alone and get hungry, hurt, if the phone rings, if there’s a knock at the door, etc. After the day-long course, Katherine had earned her certificate.

I began to ask her hypothetical “what-if” questions, to ensure she had understood the risks and knew what to do. I began to let her cook simple things on her own… fried eggs, soup.  I began letting her walk to school, the park, her friend’s house by herself.

I was still nervous, but I knew that with the increase in responsibilities and the faith I was showing in her, Katherine was going to develop self-confidence, which is so important as she heads into the teen years. So I took the leap and let her stay home alone – started out small, just when I would go get the mail or head out to pick her sister up from the arena, and then increased to full shopping trips or lunches out.

The house did not burn down and my child did well. Helicopter Mom did a happy dance!