Friday, August 29, 2008

Hoodwinking 101

If you have ever taken care of children not your own (who speak in sentences) you know that in the absence of the people who know kids will basically try to get away with murder using the tried and true line, "But Mommy always lets me!" Like, "But Mommy always lets me get the water myself!" or "But Mommy always lets me have 2 cookies!" Their genius is they ask for things that fall just this side of the maybe line. It's not like they're asking for 10 cookies, that would be an automatic no. But 2? Well maybe they really are allowed two cookies and maybe they really are allowed to press the button for the water on the fridge. Then again, you think as the water is pouring onto the wood floor, maybe not.

My sister Jane moved to Vancouver at the end of May but had to come back for a wedding. One morning, during the week she was here she kindly let us sleep in. Although that may not have been intentional since it's sort of hard to pretend you're still asleep when the kids have jumped into your bed to cuddle, asking, "Abbey are you awake? Are you awake now? Are you awake yet? Oh AAAAABEY!" while also laying on your head and kicking you in the back in a nice staccato rhythm. Whether she just needed to remove herself from arms (or feets) reach or whether she thought food would help tame the beasts I don't know; at any rate Jane hauled herself out of bed to make the kids breakfast, specifically toast.

My kids eat alot of toast and they always ask me to cut the crusts off and I always say no. Not because I actually care if they eat their crusts or not, I don't like eating my crusts, I just can't be bothered cutting them off and figure they can eat around them.Yes I am that lazy.Now Jane has spent almost as much time with the kids as I have and she knows this routine so her automatic respnse was negative when they first asked. But she had been gone for 3 weeks and Ava, eyes shining, head nodding and conviction throbbing in her voice was saying, "But Mommy ALWAYS cuts the crust off!" When Hugh got downstairs and saw their crustless toast he laughed "they got you did they?"

Unlike the time she picked the kids up from preschool and Tristan asked if he could drive.
"Abbey can I drive?"
"Because you're a kid and kids aren't allowed to drive."
"Because that's the rule."
"But I don't want that to be the rule!"
"Well it is, so hop into your carseat."
"But I want to DRIIIIIVE!"
"But. you. are. not. going. to."
"Tristan quit arguing! You are NOT DRIVING."
"But...But...But...Mommy always lets me!"

Let me repeat, the key to success is be believable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In which there is adventure, nudity, and friendship

I have a good friend, Heidi. I met her through the Twins n' More Club here and she and I instantly connected. She is a true kindred spirit and I've never waved her off without having laughed till I cried at least once in the hours spent together. Heidi is always up for an adventure and is the kind of person things just happen to and happen around so she always has the craziest stories to tell. If you ever come to visit and meet Heidi make sure you get her to tell you the story of the Newfie she met while living in New Brunswick who moments after introducing herself to Heidi began talking about her "veegoina".

As I said I met Heidi through the twins club so obviously she also has twins - a set of boys who are only six weeks younger than Tristan and Ava. She also has a six year old daughter, who along with Sebastian we consider the bookends to all our 3 year olds. She is the kind of mom I always thought I'd be and she consistently inspires me to be more creative and spontaneous in my parenting. Heidi is the mom who makes pirate swords with cardboard and tin foil and plans treasure hunts. She will set up a store in their basement and takes her turn as the cashier...and she actually loves it! She's the one who said to me on the phone one evening, "Oh, the neighbourhood kids all got their jammies on and are here for story time so I better get to the playhouse." She has a strict dance in the rain rule and everytime it rains she and her kids run outside for a moment of magic. A while ago we were driving down some back alley when I saw a cheetah-print footstool sitting beside a dumpster and Heidi loves animal prints. "Stop the van! I said to Hugh, "I need to get that stool for Heidi!" There are very few people I would consider giving something I got from a dumspter as a gift and even fewer people who would love getting it.

A few months ago while both our husbands were working during the annual city festival, Spectrum, we decided to take our gaggle on an adventure together. Because the festival was happening in the downtown core where parking is next to nil, the city was offering free bus rides all weekend and we thought it would be a fun adventure to take the bus and check out the festival. We met at Heidi's bright and early on the Saturday morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the children were doing little happy dances of joy and so we walked (the kids skipped) a few blocks up the street to catch the bus at our neighbourhood MAC'S. All was sweetness and light and thrilling adventure until we had been waiting at the dodgy bus stop for 20 minutes and the kids began getting restless. I wonder if we should have checked the bus schedule," Heidi said.
"It's free bus rides all weekend for Spectrum, they must be running the buses pretty regularly," I said. "I'm sure it'll be along any minute."
30 minutes passes and the kids are complaining about being hot and thirsty so we pull out the large ziploc of goldfish crackers and bottles of water that we packed for just such an emergency though frankly we had not expected to need it so soon. We carefully ration the water because the last thing we need is to be stuck on the bus and have someone announce they need to pee. And you know they only tell you they need to go when they absolutely cannot hold it for one second longer. At this point no other passengers have shown up at the bus stop, which is the main stop in our area of town, and we are seriously wondering if these city buses even exist.
45 minutes and every child but Sebastian has been in some form of timeout or another and I'm feeling like if I have ask my kids one more time to stop putting stuff from the ground in their mouths I am going to LOSE IT!
55 minutes and suddenly people are coming from every direction to catch the bus and hope is revived in our listless little ones who all jump off the bench to see who can be the first one to spot the city bus which must be arriving momentarily...
10 or 15 more minutes pass and apparently it really is mostly the crazies who take the bus. We have now officially waited for the bus in the hot sun with 6 kids, most of whom are at an age not typically associated with patience and long attention spans, for over an hour. Finally, to a chorus of the shrillest excitement the bus arrives and as I manhandle my stroller onto the bus Heidi casually mentions the long wait time to the driver.
"Oh," he says, "that's because on Saturday mornings untill 11:00 it's dial-a-ride."
Dial-a-ride? Dial-a-ride! Please tell me if there is any another city you can call for a bus like it's a cheap taxi.

As it turned out the bus ride ended up being the highlight of the Festival and minus a brief hour where we walked through a street or two we spent the entire day riding the bus and the kids were so thoroughly entertained and so good that Heidi and I had the unheard of wonder of an almost entirely uninterrupted conversation. Who knew a bus ride could be such bliss?

When we did first get off the bus downtown we figured since the kids did drink all that water at the bus stop and we had been fortunate up to this point the first thing we needed to do was find a bathroom. And since it was incredibly busy because of the festival we ended up with all eight of us and my stroller crammed into one bathroom in Tim Horton's to take turns peeing. We quickly developed a system and because I was jammed between the sink and my stroller I was the hand-washer and Heidi was the pant puller-downer and back -upper and the toilet hopper-onner and -offer. You know you're good friends when....I thought as Heidi wiped Ava's bum and hopped her off the toilet. Then it was Tristan's turn. Why does one of them always have to have some sort of neurotic issue? A few weeks earlier Tristan had been sitting on an automatic flush toilet that flushed, very loudly, while he was still on it and he now refused to pee sitting down in any public toilet. No matter how much I assured him this one wouldn't flush by itself and wouldn't be loud Tristan stood in front of the toilet with his hands over his ears. That is not the best place to have your hands if you are a boy standing in front of a toilet with your pants down. Which I think he realized because he started shouting, "Mom! Hold my penis! Hold my penis!" But I was wedged between the sink and the stroller and the lineup of children. I looked at Tristan. Heidi looked at Tristan. We looked at each other. Then Heidi, my friend of the crazy stories shrugged her shoulders and reached out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I may not be an Olympic athlete but...

We've been watching the Olympics with our kids.
They loved the Opening Ceremonies - Ava loved the drummers and kept asking if we could just watch that and Tristan spent almost every moment between each section of fireworks asking when the next ones were coming. So we really enjoyed it....

As for the events, they love the diving and think every replay is a new dive, could care less about the gymnastics unless the people are falling off things and can't tell the difference between the men and the women in the swimming.

The other day I pointed out that there was a Canadian in the swimming so we should cheer for him because we're Canadians to which my kids responded, "NO! NO! We live in Medicine Hat!" This prompted a discussion on country which is not as easy as it sounds when your kids think the house they live in is Medicine Hat. I'm not sure where we are in our local Starbucks drive-through but as my kids have very passionately argued, it is NOT MEDICINE HAT! I'm still working on my arguements for that so I kept it simple, Medicine Hat is a city in the country of Canada (I wasn't touching provinces or territories with a 10 foot pole!) and therefore we are Canadians. The end. Because I said so. I dare you to argue.
After pondering that idea for awhile Tristan looked and me and said, "Mom, you are a fabulous Canadian."