nodding & smiling

ceci n'est pas un bébé lala


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Fitness Friend

My unique, fiesty, caring daughter

My unique, fiesty, caring daughter

I never put much stock in the whole Nature vs. Nurture debate as much as I did after I had kids. It was immediately apparent to me that these kids simply were who they were. Their parenting was the same, after all, even though I was a bit older the second time around.

My eldest was always easy to please as a child, was happiest when making others happy, set (and accomplished) admirable goals, but was never much interested in babies. My younger daughter was so different: not easily content, very fiesty and a true tester of limits (especially mine!) – except when it came to younger or differently-abled kids. In those cases my younger daughter was always all patience and kindness.

I wasn’t surprised when my younger daughter was paired in Kindergarten with a differently-abled student as a “Fitness Friend”, after watching her play with her younger cousins with such enchantment. Fitness Friends assist each other in gym class and make sure everyone’s included in games at recess. Katherine always spoke of her Fitness Friend with sweetness and included her on birthday invitation lists. Year after year, Katherine was placed in the same class as the student.

I’m pleased her inclusiveness is the first things teachers will tell me about her, and I can’t wait to see what my fiesty, bright, and caring daughter will do next.


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Playing University Sports

Look at this kid! Rocky Mountains for the win!

Look at this kid! Rocky Mountains for the win!

Alex wasn’t sure she wanted to try out for a school team this year. Although sporty, doing well at school takes hard work, and Alex is mature enough to recognize that. Without knowing exactly what kind of toll being a full-time university student would take on her time, she was reluctant to add another schedule commitment.

That said, Alex loves sports. She knew that if she didn’t have sport as an outlet, a means to relieve stress and have fun, she wasn’t likely going to be very successful. So, Alex packed up her massive ringette bag and moved it across the country with her.

When she tried out for the Dalhousie ringette team, she knew right away that she was “home” and among her “people”. She made the team, one of four rookies, and now hits the ice with a smile several times a week, often at ungodly hours of the morning.

Her season culminated at the University Challenge Cup, which took place in Calgary. The team had fun and tried their best, but didn’t place. The coaches still thought they deserved a treat though, and rented a bus to drive the girls out to see the Rockies, figuring “you can’t go to Alberta and not take the trip to Lake Louise!” – those are some amazing coaches right there (Phil, Allan, I am so happy Alex has you looking out for her this year!). The team will continue to practice and scrimmage until the school year ends.

Anyway, all this to say that school teams, no matter what level you play, offer such benefits to kids. Friends, fitness, discipline, teamwork, etc. etc. – the lessons learned from sports can go on and on.

 


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Feeling Safe at University

Sexism and Rape Culture at Dal?

Sexism and Rape Culture at Dal?

When I sent my daughter across the country to attend university at Dalhousie, I did so confident about the school and faculty I was entrusting her to. My biggest fear was about the male student population, and the mob mentality at this age. I’d read horrifying headlines of college parties involving rape and young women and didn’t want my girl to experience any of it. Having done my research, I was confident that the school’s culture and values reflected my own (to a certain extent), and that the president Richard Florizone encouraged a culture of hard work, responsibility, accountability and fun.

I was as shocked and disappointed as anyone when I first learned of the Dalhousie School of Dentistry scandal, and along with the rest of the country, eagerly awaited the school’s response. Would these so-called “gentlemen” be suspended pending investigation and resolution? Would the school do the right thing and expel them? And most-importantly to me, did I send my daughter to a school that values women’s rights to feel safe at school? Is she safe at school?

Time will tell.


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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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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!


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Tween Self-Expression

Pin Curls

Pin Curls

For my girls, grade 5 seems to have represented the stage in which they wanted to really self-express through hair and clothing choices.

My younger daughter Katherine came home from her cousin’s house this summer with the ends of her hair dip-dyed bright red (they used Kool-Aid!) and just loved it. Lately, she’s taken to sleeping with her hair braided in order to benefit from the kink that undoing the braids will leave behind when removed in the morning.

This week, we tried pin curls. They turned out so nicely – although Katherine wasn’t bold enough to enjoy the curls full-bounce, I managed a picture of it up in a ponytail.


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My Tall Girl

My tall girl in nursery school and again in grade 3

My tall girl in nursery school and again in grade 3

My younger daughter likes to try different things, and so she’s enrolled in a number of different camps and activities throughout the summer.

The one I’m most excited for her to do is volleyball. My younger daughter is very tall and is self-conscious about it. Like me at her age, she wishes she were of “average” height. Something she will very likely never be.

23.5″ at birth, she is now 5’2″ in grade 4 and wears ladies’ sizes in both clothes and shoes. She got her height from females on both sides of the family – my sister, cousins and I are all tall (averaging 5’9″) and my husband’s sister is 6′ tall.

I know my lovely girl will continue to tower over her peers, and my only hope for her with respect to it is that she will soon feel proud and confident about her height and its beauty. Crossing my fingers that introducing sports that celebrate height (volleyball, basketball) will help accelerate her journey towards positive body image.