Tag Archives: thank you

That’s My Future You’re Raising

That’s my future you are raising. That’s my children’s future and my grandchildren’s too. That is the spouses and friends and employers and employees and neighbours who will populate our world for years to come. That is the community we are making for ourselves.

mothersdaySo, to all the mothers, and the mother-ing, we wish you well. We think you are heroes! We appreciate you! We pray for your success and courage and energy and patience and unwavering love.

I know the job is rewarding, but overwhelming. I know that you are tired more often than not. I know that there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all (because there really aren’t). I know that most of you are doing your best, and all of you want to do better.

I know that you have beautiful dreams for your children. I know that you are haunted by fears for their health and their safety and their choices and their one day learning to pee in the potty (or maybe that’s just me). I know that you have good days when you see their eyes light up with discovery and are struck speechless at their sweetness and brilliance and beauty. I know that you have bad days when you wonder how you are going to survive this endless nightmare (granted it’s only been 45 minutes, but at 2 am, it feels pretty damn endless) and are equally speechless with frustration and exhaustion and despair.

I know it’s not easy, not for me anyway. But I know that it’s important. Not just for me and my children, or you and yours, but for all of us. That’s our future you are raising.

So we thank you.

THANK YOU for . . . every night of interrupted sleep, for every unnoticed menial chore (especially the smelly ones), for every second of patient listening, for every warning and inconvenient discipline, for every slobbery kiss and sticky hug you lovingly received, for every “but why?” you’ve answered, for every hormonal tirade you’ve diffused, for every teeth gritting smile while they make their own mistakes… for every sacrifice of your time, your energy, and your own plans.

This is love.

To love another person, as much as we love ourselves, is the most important job God has given us as human beings. I can’t think of a better here-and-now example of that, than a Mom.

So here’s to the Mom’s at the grocery store and school parking lot and splash park and church nursery and all around the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Excerpts of this are taken from my article on Family Life Canada

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What Do You Say?

Last month I sat around a table with 1/2 a dozen sticky faced toddlers. Each one clutching a mangled dixie cup of cheerios in their hot little hands. Upon reaching the bottom of the cup they lift hopeful eyes in my direction. The more assertive personalities hold up their cup beseechingly.

“What do you say?”

Each one, in turn, squeaks out an adorable “pa-wease.” Even S rubs his tummy to sign the word.

After that, it’s smiles all around, flush with the success of snack acquisition and the effusive praise that comes with having “SUCH good manners.”

This is what we do. We teach our children what to say.

Say “Hi” to Grandma. Wave “Bye-bye.” Tell your brother “No thank you! I don’t like it when you throw sand in my eye/take my toy/hug me until I fall to the ground/bite me on the shoulder.”

We give our children words to foster relationships, stand up for themselves and express their feelings. We teach them how to treat others, and ourselves, with respect. Words are the sticks and stones brick and mortar of relationship development.

At the end of a meal our big kids are expected to clear their plate and say to whomever prepared the meal, “Excuse me, thank you for my dinner.” It’s a pretty habit we admired in the respectful, well-behaved children of other families we know. We do the same in the hopes that one day our children will morph into something similar.

I’m not so deluded as to believe it is always the honest expression of heartfelt gratitude. Some nights is sounds more like “excusemethankyouformydinner, it’s MY turn with the iPad, put it DOWN, it’s NOT FAIR, where’s MY ice cream, DON’T touch me, MOOOOOOO-OOOOOOM.”

Other nights we get the sullen, slumped shoulders version which sounds like the exact opposite of gratitude “Ex-cuuuuse me. Thanks for my ‘dinner.'” And we launch immediately into a lively post-dinner discussion about attitude and tone of voice, which is always fun. “What do you mean? That’s my normal voice. I always talk like that.” This actually does have a ring of truth, since sullen-pre-teen-cool is becoming our new normal. Sigh.

But we plug away. Every time they say the words, they go through the motions of Grateful. If nothing else, it is a reminder that meals do not magically appear on the table; they are a gift of time and effort, and hopefully (most nights) some small amount of skill.

Manners are a big deal in our house. I went toe to toe with the speech therapist who insisted that the sign for “want” was the strong verb B needed to use most in her communication. I insist on “please” when she needs something. It may seem like a small thing, but when words are few, they should be the right ones.

And hopefully attitude will follow action.

The easy part is writing all of this about my children; yet another parenting technique we subscribe to. The hard part is applying it to myself.

Glen and I had one of those rare lingering disagreements this weekend (we usually have heated/hurt feelings/cry/make up/I-can’t-really-remember-what-the-big-deal-was-anyway/quick fights). We are tired and overwhelmed and in this life stage, with head colds all around, it’s probably inevitable. But the lingering is worrisome. And unhealthy. And I haven’t been ready to let it go.

I won’t go into the details (mostly because they are pretty stupid and petty), but we both felt disrespected and devalued. Me, by his actions and he, by my words.

I’ve been absolutely certain that actions trumped words. Wasn’t that the point? Not what we said or how we said it, but what we DID. Sure, I had been a little bit wrong, but he was wrong-er.

So there.

Then this morning I dusted off this blog post that I had started weeks ago: pontificating about the importance of words. Gah. I suck.

I thank the doctor for his time. I say ‘please’ to the waiter who brings me a drink. I excuse myself from a meeting rather than abruptly walking out. I would never demand or yell or belittle someone I had just met. Doesn’t my family, and especially my husband, DESERVE respectful words even more than the strangers and acquaintances I practice my manners on all day long?

I know they do. And when I am feeling entitled and ungrateful and irritated, I can only hope that saying the right words will help adjust MY attitude too.

So here’s me, thanking my husband for all he does. He speaks to me with respect and that means a lot. I’m sorry.


Teacher, Teacher, Can You Teach Me?

Petty Tyrants. Jaded Clock-Punchers. Half-Assed Retirees in Training. Sexual Predators.

There are plenty of reasons to worry about the kind of teacher your child has. I can never forget that it was my Grade 2 teacher who taught me that grown ups can be mean, really mean.

Three years ago, we traded in our home school lifestyle. It was daunting delegating some of our children’s education to perfect strangers, especially our (then) nonverbal and sometimes challenging youngest. We went a bit overboard researching schools in the area – and got mixed reviews for every single one.

I’m not such a Pollyanna that I don’t realize the frustrated/disappointed/outraged stories are often true, or at least have some element of truth/hurt/miscommunication to them. I’ve had my own scuffle over speech therapy in our school district.

But we have good stories to tell too. And too often those are ignored or downplayed. They aren’t nearly as entertaining as the Bad Teacher tales, after all.

We are very happy with our little country school. The teachers there are the good sort. And we think they can teach us something too.

The Gentle Encourager: The Grade 6 teacher is a quietly enthusiastic, fun-loving and genuinely sweet lady. When I close my eyes, this is the kind of woman I imagine my eldest will be someday. It’s a good daydream.

The Challengers: We’ve seen a sharp increase in homework and level of difficulty in Grade 4. There has been complaining, muttering and foot dragging… so I gave out stern talks: “Christie, you are the Mom. Set a good example and just make it happen.” This teaching team has won us over with their great communication and creative projects. Our dinner table has been awash with interesting facts about whale blubber and pirate ships and the antics of Ramona B Quimby. C has never been so engaged!

The Supporters: We call them Special Education Assistants, and they are the hands and feet of inclusion. This year we had a great team. They consistently go above and beyond and are more friends than staff to us. Mrs. H is always reading and learning and sharing her ideas. The resource teacher and her daughter raised money and joined our run for Down Syndrome. Mrs. A is a kindred spirit, an extension of our own nurturing and parenting. Her whole family has taken B under their wing.

The Advocate: Every morning B runs into the classroom, throws her arms wide and yells, “Smelling!” This is her version of “Ms. Fleming,” and it earns her a hug and an enthusiastic greeting. Kids can tell if you really enjoy and appreciate them, especially B. Which is why she has continued to blossom this year. She has always been loved by her teachers, and in turn by her classmates, which is no coincidence. It’s not because she is all sunshine and gumdrops, but even in her difficult moments her teachers have seen HER beneath it all – especially Smelling.

The biggest gift this year has brought has been Ms. Fleming’s choice of thesis for her Masters degree: Teaching B to Read.

I’m sure it’ll have a long complex academic title, but for us it means that next year B will participate in the reading program (newly developed by the Down Syndrome Research Foundation):
the one we couldn’t afford
daily
one on one
with her favourite teacher.

She asked if we would be okay with that. If we would mind her basing her project on B. If she could spend several days training with DSRF to know how to use it. If she might be able to establish it in our school and district.

Ummm… duh.

Today we will add our Thank You notes and gifts to the pile and pray that somehow they will adequately express our gratitude. We’ve entrusted them with the most precious part of ourselves: our children. This is why the outrage is so fierce when we feel betrayed, and this is why that coffee shop gift card seems so paltry when we feel so amazingly well supported.

So here’s me: school’s out for summer and I’m going to miss the help. What are the chances that we’ll have so many good stories next year?


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