Tag Archives: bad day

It’s the Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things.

That tiny little detail, on top of a mountain of craptastic, that sends you falling to your knees.

Literally. “God help me, I am circling the drain.” On my knees.

strawIt wasn’t the 3 hour getting-out-of-bed, running around and refusing to sleep marathon. Despite our removal of all toys/books/stuffies from the room.

It wasn’t the severe lack of sleep after a wakeful night “sans Daddy.” I never miss him more than during that 2-5am stretch of horrible.

It wasn’t trimming the littles’ bangs going horribly, horribly wrong. C warned me, “Moooom, not a good idea…” Perhaps people will assume they did it to themselves. What kind of Mom would do that to her own child?

It wasn’t the salt shaker malfunction adding an unexpected Cup of seasoning to the dish. So much for meatloaf.

It wasn’t B peeing, through her pullup, on the McDonald’s play structure, dramatically showering the table below. Nor even the fact that a family from our school was there to witness our fun evening. Nor S immediately running through the puddle of urine.

It wasn’t the double melt-down on the way out. Not S’ supersonic screams of indignance (granted, he wasn’t the one who peed on everyone, but nevertheless we had to leave). Not even when B started her I’m-so-mad-I-could-spit… so-I-WILL trick, interspersed with dramatic shouts of “NEVER! spit NEVER! spit NEVER!” while I dragged her out.

Today, the only thing I couldn’t handle was realizing my flannel pjs were still in the wash.

I’m not difficult to please. I don’t ask much of the universe. After surviving a day like this, all I ask is to recline in comfortable fuzzy pants. That’s it.

It seems silly. But it really was the last straw.

After a mini-meltdown I realized that lo and behold, I had another pair waiting for me. Like a gift from God, fresh from the dryer. And that made it all better.

Sometimes it’s the little things.

So here’s me… not a day I’d like to repeat, but at least it makes for a good story. We have a lot of those lately. At least my prayer life is on the upswing.


Everything! Everything! Everything!

Five Minute Friday:

Remember

One of the interesting side effects of being a known blogger amongst your circle of friends, is the influx of blogging suggestions. Remember when… becomes a prelude to “you should blog about that.” All the time.

When I hear the word “Remember”, I know what’s coming next. And I often do. Blog about the things we’ve waxed nostalgic about. But some of my best stories will never be immortalized online. Some, I choose to keep my own. Some, don’t feel like mine to share. And some, I just can’t remember right, no matter how hard I try.

I had one today. And I’ve been wracking my brain since I got this e-mail. The timing was perfect.

Once when I was over you told this story (the details are sketchy in my mind) but the essence of the story was a crying fit with Glen that had you repeating over and over ‘Everything! Everything! Everything!’.

I just wanted you to know that among my friends and my friends friends this has become a phrase that communicates crystal clearly when we feel like we’re waaaaaay in over our heads and we’re feeling emotional, about it.

It came up this morning again, and I felt like I should tell you that you are a legend. You should blog about it. 😉

I’m not at all surprised that I have acquired some small amount fame based on my complete emotional breakdown. Not even a little bit. I’m sure the story was both funny (at my own expense) and personally embarrassing. They usually are.

I do remember this story. I remember the day. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed, beyond words and reason. But I can’t, for the life of me, remember the comedy of errors that preceded it. The details have completely faded.

I’m pretty sure it was that magical time of the month. I had just given Glen an exhaustive list of everything that was wrong with my day, my life, my wardrobe and the universe in general. And I remember him asking what SPECIFICALLY I was upset about. No doubt so he could whip out his handy-dandy, husbandly tool-kit of advice to FIX it for me.

Rookie mistake.

Everything! Everything! Everything!

I can’t remember what EVERYTHING was that day. But it’s still the cry of my heart on a regular basis. And it really does feel better to say it. Next time you’re overwhelmed you should try it. I promise it helps. Then, maybe you should blog about it.

Remember that most of life’s overwhelming moments will be nothing more than a funny story someday.

overwhelmed

So here’s me… I spent the morning in a mall in Bellingham with my aunt and the 4 kids. B threw up all over herself and me, then used up every pull-up I had brought and one of her brother’s diapers (stomach bug is officially back). S had a meltdown and proceeded to get his head stuck under the canopy of his stroller while thrashing and screaming. My aunt walks with a significant limp, so this whole sticky, smelly, grumpy, shrieking gong show moved at snail’s pace down the length of the mall.

Everything! Everything! Everything!… indeed.

Today I’m joining up with Lisa Jo and a whole group of writers for a fun writing challenge. Though I must confess, I slightly exceeded my allotted Five Minutes today. Just one more thing to add to Everything. 😉

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..


Getting Stuck on The Road Less Travelled

roadI started this post over a week ago, shortly after The Embarrassing Incident (or EI, as it shall be known henceforth). I turned this tale inside and out, carefully rearranging the details to spin the story and cast myself as the hero. Or at the very least, the protagonist.

Who doesn’t want to be the power player in their own story? Except some days it doesn’t work like that. Some days you find yourself stranded in the snowy armpit of Where-The-Hell-Am-I, with no one to blame but yourself.

Or so I’ve heard.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve become somewhat of an expert at the whole lock-your-keys-in-the-car/run-out-of-gas/get-hopelessly-lost/breakdown/vehicle-catches-on-fire (twice!)/stuck-in-the-snow/mud/ditch phenomenon. I probably shouldn’t be allowed out unsupervised.

On the day of The EI, I had undertaken a solo road trip to meet up with one of my oldest, dearest friends. We had decided to meet up in the mountains halfway between our two cities. What better way to catch up than a brisk winter hike?

Long story short: iMaps, unmaintained logging road, panic, snow, ice, nowhere to turn around, more panic, “All Season” tires, flaky city driver (me), deeper snow… even my friend’s 4-wheel-drive SUV was having trouble – my little red car didn’t stand a chance. Shannon seemed unphased and shrugged knowingly. She’s been around long enough to be completely unsurprised by my misadventures. Not exactly the years-in-the-making, once-in-a-blue-moon reunion I had pictured.

But here’s me, solidly stuck in the middle of nowhere. Nothing we did helped. Not the ice scrapers, digging, car mats, wheel turning, feats of car-pushing strength… Stuck.

I haven’t prayed so urgently in a long time. Before each new attempt… “Please Lord, rescue me. Don’t let this day be ruined. Save me from the tow bill and the humiliation and having to call Glen with yet another guess-what-I-did-now story…”

After an hour, we gave up. We began making our way back down the mountain (WITHOUT the little red car). There goes the day.

Until salvation came bombing up the road wearing coveralls astride two large, noisy ATVs. In less than 10 minutes, these hearty locals had me out of the rut and on my way back down the mountain. Like it was nothing.

Once again, I was rescued. I always am. Somehow God provides. And people step up – kinder and more helpful than I expect. It shouldn’t surprise me so much each time.

I much prefer being the rescu-er, than the rescu-ed. “Here I come to save the day!” tastes so much better than “Help!” And that’s a problem.

It’s good to give, no doubt, but it’s important to receive also. Either side without the other is unhealthy. Without a balance we aren’t truly participating… in family. In community. In church. In humanity.

A facade of independence and competence and keeping-it-all-together-all-the-time keeps people at arm’s length. My friendship with Shannon has survived (and flourished) over two decades, not because of proximity or circumstance or chemistry, but for all the times we’ve waded into the deep to rescue each other.

All my intimate relationships have grown in the messy, needy, bumpy parts of life. As we reach out to rescue or be rescued, we may not get a quick fix or any kind of solution at all. Sometimes our rescue comes in the form of a safe person to talk to. Or tell us when we’re wrong. Or take the kids during a crisis. Or cry with and for each other. Or spend a precious kid-free day driving for hours and pushing a stupid red car out of the stupid snow.

So here’s me, grateful to the Cameron family for rescuing me, to Shannon for grown up conversation, to Glen for going to the DoodleBops concert so I could have the day… and especially to all of you who keep rescuing this damsel in distress. I hope I can return the favour from time to time.

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There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Day

Monday was a good day.

Let me rephrase. Monday was a GREAT day!

The sun was out for a change. I dropped my happy children off at school and took an impromptu detour to the zoo. Just the boy and I with 14 squirrel monkeys, 1 kangaroo, 2 pythons, 4 ducks and a dozen baby bunnies. Only a handful of words two months ago, but today he was talking my ear off. So exciting, and his attempts at the word “duck” were particularily funny (but I’m just immature like that).

When we got home he “helped” me vacuum the whole house AND mop the kitchen floor (apparently it IS still white under there); we did laundry, cleaned the kitchen and sang songs together. By “we” I mean he came behind me and undid everything I was doing, spilled a bowl of Cheerios on the kitchen floor and danced to my off-tune rendition of “This is the way we clean our house…” During nap I read a chapter of an actual book, worked out, and wrote a blog. After school I read to my children, prepared a delicious edible meal – and if this all isn’t amazing enough for you – I MADE JAM!

NOTE – the making of jam is approached with much stress and trepidation since the Great Jam Debacle of 2005 (a long story involving broken shelves, a video camera, and a pile of shattered jars of blackberry jam), and also the Tragic Jam Overflow of 2008 (which filled the stove top, stained the counter/floor/cupboard below and destroyed every cookbook I owned at the time). I would stop doing it altogether, but in his most pathetic voice, my husband tells me that he can only eat MY jam, because it’s just so much better than anything else. Let me tell you, flattery works.

Suffice it to say, I was flush with my unprecedented success. I surveyed my domain with a sense of deep satisfaction. Eat your heart out Proverbs 31 woman!

Once I got the boy to sleep, I could head out to coffee group with my girlfriends. FINALLY, I was going to show up (I have cancelled more often than not lately) AND I was going to be in a good mood. Wearing make-up and jewelry and a clean shirt. With GOOD news: I think I’m finally getting the hang of this!

In 23 minutes, I went from Overcomer, Valiant Keeper of My Home and Queen of my Universe, to a bawling, frustrated hot mess.

Just like that.

There’s something about a screaming toddler. The sound is designed to jangle our nerves and disrupt our calm. And he was MAD that night. And his teeth hurt. And he didn’t want me to leave him. Or rush his bedtime routine. Or lay him down in his bed. Or let go of his hand. And Glen was busy with B, so I was on my own.

Most nights, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It’s not that unusual. After a bit of a snuggle, some rocking in the rocking chair and rubbing his forehead, he usually calms down.

But tonight I could feel my temperature rising.

I had PLANS. The is THE DAY. The day when I got it all figured out and things worked like clockwork and I reign supreme. How dare he defy me?

I made one of the most crucial parenting mistakes: I took it personally. In my head, it wasn’t bedtime or sleeping or being alone that he was fighting – it was ME. My success. My plans. My time to myself.

So I made the situation worse. Soon I was too frustrated to snuggle or rock him. Turns out harsh whispers of: “Just. Go. To. Sleep.” are not as helpful as you might think. Even though we aren’t supposed to let him cry it out with our adoption so new, I had to leave the room to collect myself.

After an hour, I ended up leaving the house. He had chewed through two soothers that day, so I ran to the store to buy some more. By the time I got back he was finally quiet and Glen was ready with a hug for me.

Sigh of relief.

Then, from the next room, B started wailing for Mommy. Somehow, I ended up in bed, wearing flannel pajamas, blubbering something like, “I’m done. I’m just done.”

So here’s me, and I missed coffee group that night. But I watched a show with my husband and the boy slept through the night and my jam… is delicious.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. What do you think?


Friday Favourites 34

I told my husband that I would DEFINITELY post something upbeat and life affirming this week. So far I’ve managed insecure/neurotic and angry/confrontational. It’s not looking good.

This afternoon as I rocked an extra-tired boy in my arms for Nap Attempt #3 (his first nap was interrupted by an impromptu field trip to pick up sick big sister from school and his second by the aforementioned sister coughing/crying/calling for Mommy)… anyway, there was rocking and wiggling and he decided that I just HAD to take a turn sucking on his soother (which smells strongly of spit but is nevertheless a very sweet gesture). He’s a giver.

We were having a moment there, when he started coughing so hard he puked. A half liter of curdled milk all over me, the chair and the once-upon-a-time-cream-coloured-carpet. As I scrubbed and laundered and bathed, I have to admit I wasn’t feeling all that upbeat or affirmed.

But then I realized how good I’ve got it. Hubby worked from home today so I wouldn’t miss my lunch date with my aunt. Sick boy is extra snuggly and I am well within my rights to keep him in footie jammies all day long. Sick girl is content to lay on the couch and reacquaint herself with the Wiggles (just in time for their big concert on Sunday, at which point she WILL be healthy, she WILL). The big girls have playdates, fun activities at church and sleepovers, quite happily leaving us home to enjoy early bedtimes and whatever the grownups want to watch on Netflix all evening long.

It really is a wonderful, messy, difficult, meaningful, smelly, exhausting, worth-it-all life!

How’s that for upbeat? Now here’s some random stuff that makes me smile.

Quote

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.”

~ Jim Carrey

Marketing Gimmick

Make something pink, add the tag line “for her” et voila: a whole new product. If it’s pointless enough Ellen, will promote it on her show.

App

Earlier this week I was reading a book, blissfully unaware of the world around me when out of nowhere a car careened around a corner, hit a blockade, flipped over and over and over and landed RIGHT ON TOP OF ME!

The next day I was caught in a fiery explosion while talking on the phone. The girls found Action Movie FX and I can’t help but get caught in the crossfire. You can add all kind of disasters to whatever you happen to be filming with just a click of a button.

Apple Maps Parody

So here’s the thing: I love apple products. And like most people who do, I am strangely loyal/obsessed/fangirl about them. But apparently Google doesn’t feel the same way. In fact, Apple and Google broke up last year. And Apple was all like, “I don’t need you anyway, I’ll make my own maps, better maps… You’ll rue the day!!! Mwhahahaha…”

So, the latest iPhone and, thanks to automatic updates, ALL of our phones, now have Apple Maps. And it is Terrible. But, there’s always a bright side; this one is that now we can all make fun of it. I bet Google is feeling pretty smug right about now.

So here’s me: I smell like vomit, the snot on my face is not my own, but who’s to say this isn’t life affirming?


So You’ve Had a Bad Day…

Have you ever wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your head and cry like there’s no tomorrow? Have you prayed for a celestial fast forward? Have you asked yourself “what else could possibly go wrong” only to receive an immediate answer? Today is one of those days.

I swore to myself I wouldn’t write ANOTHER one of these woe-is-me-my-life-is-so-hard-pass-the-ativan posts. I am DETERMINED that this not become another bitchy Mommy Blog that whines incessantly,while smugly judging everyone who isn’t as busy/overwhelmed/proverbs 31-ish as myself.

But I write what I know. And Pollyanna I am not.

So tomorrow, or maybe the next day or the one after that, I will craft an eloquent post about the wonders and beauty of marriage and parenthood. Or perhaps, a challenging treatise on the state of the world. Or an exploration of theology vs. spirituality in real life. Or (more likely) a humorous anecdote about the unknown congealed substance that is perpetually decorating my shoulder (I’m actually HOPING it’s just snot).

But today, I’m writing this blog to avoid that crawl back into bed. Because it’s a hard day, and I can’t give into it. I won’t.

The cursor is blinking as I try to decide which direction to take this next paragraph. Shall I list all the many things that have gone wrong today? I can organize it into: ways I have let people down, ways people have let me down, and ways that life just doesn’t work out and there’s not even anyone to blame.

I feel like I’ve written that before (over and over and over again). I’ve certainly read it. And it’s boring, every time. And it doesn’t make anything better.

So instead, I will simply enjoy this moment. Because even on a hard day, writing is something I enjoy; something that cannot be undone or cancelled or infected by sticky-school-kid-viruses or burnt (stupid crock pot).

Most likely you are feeling worse, having read all this. But I’m feeling better. So thanks.

Today is a hard day. And I can’t muster up philosophical. And I’m not ready to joke about it. And I’m not rising up on wings like eagles. But I didn’t crawl back in to bed (yet). And that’s something.

So here’s me, if I can make it to 9 pm then I win! Tomorrow is a new day.


Still Holding Out for Normal

It’s called tempting fate. Opening my big fat mouth (or laptop) and waxing eloquent about how FABULOUS something is going to be (The Most Wonderful Time of the Year).

Maybe it’s a case of unrealistic expectations. Maybe it’s God keeping me humble, “Oh so now you think you’ve got it all figured out and don’t need me anymore?” …smite. Maybe it’s just life. Which is rarely as perfect as my daydreams.

As I prepared to embrace my first blissful full day of school, I made a crucial error. I set myself up for disappointment. I didn’t allow for that all-important adjustment period. You know, the weeks where I have to re-train the entire household to get off their butts and get their act together.

“What do you mean I have to take a drink to school? I’ve never taken a drink before.” Only every single day, always.

“My lips are really dry. I thought it was chapstick.” Bright red lipstick actually. Are we seriously dealing with this already, in Grade 5? I let her put blue streaks in her hair last week. Is this the slippery slope those pastors have been warning me about all these years?

“Everyone mismatches their socks Mom. It’s better that way.” I didn’t realize I was so out of touch. Thank you for informing me so graciously.

“Honey, your shoes are on the wrong feet, again.” Sheesh. Calm down. I love you just the way you are. You still look VERY pretty. Just leave them that way. We’re already running late.

2 head injuries, 3 wardrobe debates, 362 fishy crackers bagged, 1 leaking water bottle replaced, 4 minor sibling skirmishes and 5 really grumpy people piling into the van.

yay. school.

Let the bliss begin. Except little brother isn’t feeling it. At all. He keeps looking for his favourite entertainers/helpers/victims. What’s a boy to do with only boring old mom? Sure, we enjoyed more cuddles and book reading than usual. We played at the park and walked around the zoo and tried desperately to distract him from the fact that he really, really misses HIS normal.

So, I anticipated pick-up time. I counted down. I thought THIS would fix our day.

But B was at the end of her rope. She’s not used to such a long day away anymore. While she was enjoying her New Class, she isn’t quite as happy with her perfectly good New Teacher. She wants “Smelling!” (her grade 2 teacher). She wants a snack. She wants her blankie. She wants to watch a show. She wants to do anything but sit quietly while I make that all important First Contact with New Teacher. Who seems great, so that’s something.

Meanwhile, the boy is happily mauling his sisters. I think this means: “Hello. I missed you. Don’t ever leave me again.” But it feels a lot more like grabby, grabby hands, head butting and the occasional bite (ouch).

They are patient. But they are tired, too. And have a million things to tell me. Which I’m DYING to hear. Except there is only one of me. And the littles are melting down. And the garbagemen made a mess on our curb. And snack is REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY. And I wonder WHY I was looking forward to this…

We spend the evening corralling the boy, calming the weeping B, wiping up blood (when she picked open a bug bite on her face, and once again as she scraped her entire face on the side of the trampoline), encouraging our neighbour-friend who had a day of miserable-girl-drama for HER first day, assuring C that strict does not mean unkind (while secretly being pleased that she’ll be whipped into shape this year), discussing grade 7 grad plans with L (because it’s never to early to rub those fun plans in your sister’s face), and finally, shopping for some last-minute school supplies.

I was sure we had it all sorted out last week, but that’s just crazy-people thinking. There’s always something missing. I was so tired I went to the expensive dollar store. That’s right, there’s a MORE expensive one. A crazy splurge for me, but it is slightly closer and takes credit card. But even with two stops, I didn’t find everything. So we scrounged and rummaged and wondered where on earth all the stuff from last year went. I suspect the same place that our Wii remote, iPhone charging cord and DS player went (B likes to hide things put things away for me).

C will have to make do with my dictionary until I can find the “right” edition, which I’m pretty sure we’ve bought several times over at this point. I may have donated this last one to charity. Oops.

I try not to take it personally when she laughs and laughs at it being called the “New” Websters Expanded Dictionary. “It was made in, like, the 1900s Mom!”

AND I stubbed my toe.

So here’s me, and tomorrow I’m spending the day at Children’s Hospital with the boy. I’m pretty sure that’ll give me a boatload of perspective when it comes to all these petty irritations.


The Great Root Beer Debacle

I realize that this blog has gotten pretty schmaltzy lately. All misty-eyed posts about my sweet, soon-to-be baby boy and the miracle of adoption… That’s bound to continue, so brace yourself. But today I will share a not-so-sentimental moment in my day.

It was supposed to be a special treat. C picked out pop for our Mother’s Day picnic: a 12 pack of Vanilla Root Beer Float. Yes, it was every bit as sweet and disgusting as you are imagining, and I LIKE root beer. But the kids were thrilled. And halfway to sugar coma by the end of a can. And prepared to crown Dad the shopping King of the Universe.

The real problem was finding a place to keep the rest of the case. We never seem to have quite enough shelf space in the kitchen. As I played pantry jenga to find a spot, disaster struck!

I lifted the box above my head and started pushing it onto the top shelf, when the box broke. One by one the cans fell down, hit me in the head (ouch) and hurtled to the ground. As they hit the floor, several burst open, skittering around the entire room, spraying root beer everywhere. All over the floor, the cupboards, the walls, the ceiling, and yes, me!

My children have never moved up the stairs so quickly. Apparently “Girls, dinner’s ready!” does not have the same draw as “Aaaaaaahhhhhhh! Noooooooooooooo!”

As I stood there covered in a sticky film, looking at my white floors and cupboards, now speckled biege, with a small sea of soda in the corner, I had two choices: laugh or cry.

I did both.

My children simply laughed until they cried. In the end, I’m pretty sure they cried only because all but one of the cans of root beer were wasted.

Perhaps this is housekeeping karma coming to collect. I don’t wash my floors nearly often enough. I had to mop the kitchen three times to eliminate the tackiness (in retrospect, the steam mop was a bad idea – it just evenly distributed the sticky).

At this point, I generally insert a “moral of the story” here. Something profound and spiritually meaningful. Today, I’ve got nothing.

Into every life, a little root beer must fall.

So here’s me, realizing that root beer isn’t as great for the skin as you might think. I now have a rash on my legs. I’m itchy, I’m tired and my kitchen is STILL sticky. But it’s a good story, and I’m always in the market for one of those.

Do you have a good story of things gone terribly wrong? I’m eager to share the misery…


You Can’t Make Me, But I Might Be Persuaded

I made a critical parenting error several years ago. I let the hairdresser talk me into restraining B on my lap while she tried to cut her hair. Hmmm… a sharp pair of scissors + screaming, thrashing child = all kinds of stupid. Leaving with one side quite a bit shorter than the other was the best case scenario.

In retrospect, I’m sure the big chair, strange women in smocks and tray of tools on the shelf reminded her of the lab. A frequent flier in the blood test game, she was already pre-disposed to hate doctors, dentists and white leather recliners. Unfortunately, this experience added “Hair Cuts” to the list of things to despise. Her reaction from that day forward involved kicking, screaming and wedging her body in the doorway of every hair salon we tried to take her to.

The next few years, we trimmed as best we could at home. A full hair cut could take weeks to finish – a snip here and a snip there, trying to even it out as quickly as possible, before the crying and head thrashing began. Sitting up with a snack, in the bath… I even found myself sneaking into her bedroom at night with a pair of scissors (yes, after typing that out, I realize how creepy it sounds).

Finally, my hairdresser (and friend) Rhianna came to our rescue. We slowly introduced her to the idea. At first she simply came and watched me get my hair done. Then, watching her sisters and sitting in the chair. Once she sat up and had a clip put in her hair. Each visit ended on a positive note; that was the key. At the first sign of trouble, Rhianna backed off. It was a good experience.

We didn’t push her and one magical day, she sat up and had her bangs trimmed quite happily. And then the next time, the whole enchilada! All that attention from the ladies in the salon and, later, from everyone who appreciates her funky pixie “do” have done wonders. In the space of a year, she became not only cooperative, but THRILLED to get her hair cut.

Until today.

She was singing in the car, SO excited to see Miss Rhianna and telling me how “pitty” her haircut would be. But we hit a speed bump along the way. For some reason, though she has done it several times before, she decided she was NOT going to get her hair washed.

I told her that she had to get her hair washed (or even wet down) so that it could be cut. I made it very clear. She was unwilling to budge. I had chosen my battle.

I’m not opposed to the occasional change of mind as a parent, but I was sure we could get this done. I dug deep into my rather large arsenal of parental manipulation. Every lady in the place (including the one with foils in her hair) offered a suggestion, or 10. We tried it all.

I let her choose – which chair do you want to sit in? which shampoo? who do you want to do the washing? I gave her control – climb up yourself, tell me when you are ready, you hold the shampoo. I set the example – close watching while both sisters had their hair washed, then I stuck my own hair in the sink and even got it wet (I straightened my hair today, so this is one of the greatest examples of maternal love in the modern world). I talked it through – reason, logic, persuasion, outright begging. I offered bribes – chocolate granola bars, a new clip for her hair; I literally held a lollipop over her head to get her to put it back. Rhianna made it a game – lots of counting, tickling, fun things to look at. I played it cool – “it’s up to you, wash and cut or we can just go home,” then tried to look bored and unconcerned. I tried to make it happen – picked her up, put her in the chair and held her head back (for about 2 seconds when she started freaking). I let it go – “okay, let’s go home;” then she would call me back and get close, so very close to actual H2O, and it would all start again.

“I dunno. I dunno. I DON’T KNOW!” – her answer to every other question.

The other answer, her favourite word – “nnnnnnnoooooooo! NOOOOOOOOO! nnnnnnooooo!”

She didn’t want to get her hair wet, but she wanted to get her hair cut so badly.

If we hadn’t come so very close, so many times, I would have given up much sooner. As it was, she left with a wet shirt, 3 clumps of damp hair and a grumpy, grumpy mom. Only B can take 2 hours to NOT get a haircut.

All this on the same day as our IEP meeting with her teachers, where we discussed her recent bathroom strike. After months of staying dry, she now refuses to even try on a regular basis. At home, the bathroom is going well, but tooth brushing has become an epic battle of wills (and ultimately a headlock and quick swish, swish… since dental hygeine is not remotely optional). This is our life.

I try to remember that determination (a much nicer way to say stubborn) can be a strength for a child with special needs. I have no doubt she will need every little bit of it to succeed in this world. And I’m not going to lie, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’re pretty sure B’s personal motto is: You Can’t Make Me, But I Might Be Persuaded (also the title of a book by Cynthia Tobias).

If parenting B has taught me anything, it is this: There are certain things you CANNOT force a child to do, no matter how much you want to. There are tricks and techniques, but ultimately you cannot MAKE them eat, pee, blow their nose, sincerely apologize or, apparently, cooperate with the hairdresser.

So here’s me, and this is my inconvenient truth.

Can you think of anything else you cannot force anyone to do? Have you ever tried?

Also, thank you Rhianna, Kristen, Sasha and lady getting the foils in the next chair, for all your help this afternoon!


The Ultimate Punishment

I passed a group doing community service near their “Correctional Services” van yesterday. Not exactly a chain gang, but they didn’t look all that thrilled to be picking garbage in bright orange vests. I’m sure there is some value in the task; after all, picking up toys and clothing is considered a Very. Terrible. Task. in our house. Coupled with tacky fashion options… yes, this would be punishment indeed.

I realize I spend a lot of my blogging capital on moaning and b… complaining. I apologize, but you’ll have to give this one to me, because there is nothing, NOTHING that can compete with the sheer pain and frustration of the task that has sucked my day away.

I spent the afternoon trying to print out my cousin’s wedding invitations.

I was excited about it. I got it all set up. They look really great. All 10 of them. The ones that actually worked. Only, she wanted to invite more than just 10 people, it turns out. So… I have to figure out how to get the stupid printer with the stupid ink cartridge and the stupid paper tray to do WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO!

I am convinced that setting delinquents up with a line up of clunky old desktops, past-their-prime ink jet printers and a list of crucial printing tasks would be a far more powerful deterrent than any amount of neighbourhood clean-up. Is there anything more frustrating? Anything?

When everything works tickety boo, technology is a gift. The other 93% of the time, it is the bane of my existence.

This is the part where I usually add some pithy, transcendent moral about life or God or the beauty of the universe. Not today. We have friends coming over soon and I am going to eat muffins and pretend that none of this ever happened. Tomorrow is a new day. And Staples is only a short drive away.

So here’s me, formulating plan B. Yellow post-it notes, red crayon and the words: “Wedding. Be there.” I think it has a certain charm.

What other creative punishments is the modern correctional system overlooking?


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