Monthly archive for July 2015

Floating in the arms of a doughnut

Lovely morning on the dock (absent: one horrifying spider)

Lovely morning on the dock (absent: one horrifying spider)

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with additional Preschooler Soccer Tales of Woe. My sister-in-law commented that Ellie might just be an introvert and if that was the case she certainly comes by it honestly, and that made me realize there is a very long list of things I would rather do than play on a soccer team, including: watching a slideshow of a Google image search for the term “dock spider” while seated between someone eating something really crunchy and a Men’s Rights Activist. We missed last week’s game due to being away at the cottage, but we will try again this week with greatly lowered expectations.

Dock spiders truly are an abomination unto the Lord. I’m going to repeat the same warning I gave when I blogged about the cottage last year: whatever you do, do NOT google dock spider. (Or do, whatever. I’m not your mom.) The first morning at the cottage Mike took the kids to visit a friend of his from work who has a cottage at a neighbouring resort community, and I sat out on the dock with my book and my coffee and read and relaxed and listened to the peaceful sound of the water lapping against the dock. I think my brain, in some sort of self-preservation mode, must have blocked out the very existence of the dock spider, because when one appeared I was freshly filled with horror that such a thing lives and thrives in Ontario. This is Canada! We’re not Australia! We don’t have giant spiders! BUT WE DO.

Other than that, the week was truly lovely. We swam and relaxed and ate ice cream and Mike took Ellie canoeing for the first time, which she loved and called “going laking” and was very pleased to do in the evenings after Zach was in bed. I read a bunch of books (Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, One Good Turn: A Jolly Murder Mystery by Kate Atkinson, and part of All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which is this month’s book club book and is very good but for some reason I’m having trouble getting into it) and slept in a lot, thanks to the wonderfulness of Mike, who had become the preferred parent by virtue of the novelty of him being around every day.

At some point I ended up in the Fatty Arbuckle entry in Wikipedia (I have no idea how, such is the way of Wikipedia) and there was a quote that gave me such an enjoyable chuckle I thought you might enjoy it as well. Louise Brooks, an actress he worked with, described how graceful and agile he was in spite of his rotundity, saying, “Oh, I thought he was magnificent in films. He was a wonderful dancer—a wonderful ballroom dancer, in his heyday. It was like floating in the arms of a huge doughnut—really delightful.” Floating in the arms of a doughnut! That WOULD be really delightful.


Monster, by Ellie (age 4)

Monster, by Ellie (age 4)

We enrolled Ellie in soccer this summer, figuring it would be cute and she would get some exercise and have the opportunity to run around with her friends. It has turned out to be not so great. Every week except one, she has had a meltdown on or off the field about something. This week she participated happily in the warmup, and then burst into devastated sobs when the team sat down to have a drink of water and she discovered she didn’t have her water bottle (it was still with me, on the sidelines). Nothing I could do or say managed to convince her to rejoin her team, so eventually we left, all of us varying levels of frustrated and upset. A similar scenario had played out on the weekend, when Ellie was inconsolable after spending most of the day with her best friend. So bereft! It is hard to have someone you love so much you don’t want to say goodbye to them, even only for a few days.

Everyone has Stuff, right, but there is something sort of … disconcerting about watching your kid struggle with the same Stuff that you struggle with. Ellie and I are both sensitive, overly empathetic, easily overwhelmed and overstimulated people, and I think many of those are really great qualities — I’ve read that increased sensitivity is a positive evolutionary trait, because someone needed to be on alert at all times against sabertooth tigers, while people like Mike sit around the fire and say, “Well, it is very UNLIKELY that we would be eaten by a tiger!”, and I think the extra empathy is generally an incredible thing, especially since I understand empathy to be one of those character traits that is difficult to teach — but it also means that sometimes we cry when we’re hot and sweaty and thirsty and we think our parents forgot our water. I struggle a little bit with maintaining realistic, age-appropriate expectations for her, because a) she is so articulate and intuitive I think I sometimes forget she’s only four, and b) I want her to have an easier time with certain things than I do, so I push her more than maybe I should. That means that sometimes I try to force her to play soccer, when there would have been nothing wrong with watching the game from the sidelines. She’s only four! Who cares about soccer?

Parenting seems (at least for me) to involve a lot of “oh man, I really should have handled that differently!” but my mom reminded me of something my grandmother used to say, that all we can do is the best we can with the information we have at that moment. After we got home, Ellie apologized for her behaviour at soccer, and I told her that it was okay, that we all get overwhelmed sometimes, and she said, “Even you?” Oh yes, definitely me. Especially me. (My life is basically Rachel at 1:30 in this clip from Friends.) And yet I feel ill-equipped to deal with it in this tiny sweet little person. I went to the bookstore yesterday to stock up on some books for our upcoming cottage vacation, and I picked up a copy of The Highly Sensitive Child, in the hopes that it will give me some strategies to help her cope with these difficult moments, or at least help Mike and I anticipate them.

She did demonstrate some unexpected bravery recently while getting an ultrasound of her kidneys at the hospital (just a precaution, and the results were normal). I told her we were going to go to the hospital and they were going to use a special camera to take a picture of her insides. A few minutes later, she asked me, “Will they have to break it?” I asked her what she meant, and she responded, “Break my tummy so they can see inside it!” After we cleared that confusion up, she was good to go. She spent most of the procedure chatting happily with the technician about what she had eaten for breakfast.

I took her to Walmart to pick out a toy as a reward, where she spent a long time weighing the pros and cons of the various Barbies, before deciding on one wearing a kind of sparkly cocktail dress that velcros up in the back. She keeps coming to ask me to do her dress up, and it is remarkably difficult to get the dress done up over her curves! If even Barbie needs Spanx, there’s really no hope for the rest of us.