Friday, December 20, 2013

The Things I've Said...

Things I've said I'd never do that somehow seem to have happened....

- Have kids
- Get a tattoo
- Get married before I'm 23
- Get divorced
- Breastfeed (maybe not totally true, I just didn't think I could so I wasn't getting my hopes up)
- Co-sleep with my kids
- Take my kids to a restaurant before they're 4
- Live at my parents past college
- Have my own business
- Homeschool

Friday, December 6, 2013


Thinking about the whole Toby drama thing... and a thought came to me... A comparison of actions...An analogy....albeit maybe an extreme one...but one that hits it for me..

Why do I want Toby to go to school? Because I just...want him to. I want him to enjoy it like I did. I want him to make friends. I don't want to let people down by taking him out. I want him to be 'normal'.

Why doesn't he want to go? Because, he's told me over and over, there are too many kids. It's too noisy. And so it's not fun.

I tell him/myself that he'll grow out of it. He'll come around. He'll get used to it. It's fun when you're there, you've just forgotten.

But now... What if, instead of talking about school, we were talking about him being gay.

Would I still say those things to him? No. If his future-self confided in me and I said "I hear you, but you're wrong, don't worry you'll come around." what kind of a person would that make me?

School shapes your whole life, and right now, to him, school means stress and anxiety and fighting with mom. Do I want that?
Yes, he's 5. Yes he might change his mind about school. But is it worth ignoring his feelings right now?

Food for thought.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

School.... again...

So Toby's 5 now. He kept saying he'd go when he's 5. I knew he wouldn't. He's not.
He goes sometimes, for half a day, when he feels like it.
The rest of the time we spend fighting about it.

This is maybe more me ranting than a cohesive blog, so sorry about that. Just after today... I feel like giving up.

Trying to convince him that school will be fun and to think about all the crafts and books and songs and play they do, and how it would be nice to play with his friends, is exhausting. It's a song-and-dance. It's like performing some kind of tactical emotional surgery, and one wrong move kills everything. And usually does.

I try not to be too song-and-dancey about it. I try not to get angry. I try to be matter-of-fact. Just,'this is what we're doing today'. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I sometimes try to put on the stern 'no I'm in charge' face, and he one-ups me. It's scary.

Today we were going to go outside to feed the birds, and after excitedly getting half dressed, he sat down and began taking all his stuff off. I ignored it and kept getting dressed and then he began having an absolute anxiety attack that I wasn't taking my stuff of as well. I said i was still doing my job and I'd be back in a sec, and he proceeds to follow me outside, screaming, in bare feet.
When he gets in these little manic states, there's no talking sense to him. I carried him inside, said he couldn't go out in bare feet and then sat and listened to the screaming and yelling about how much he hates going outside and he's never going to play outside with me again and how he hates when I tell him he's being rude because I'm the one that makes him rude.

Maybe it's just a 5 year old's temper tantrum, but the words still hurt. The yelling still upsets me. I don't scream and yell at him to make a point, so I don't know where it comes from. Maybe I did make him rude because I try to correct him too much and he feels the need to lash out. Or maybe I don't listen to him enough, even though I feel like all I do is respond to him.
I also try not to call him rude or mean or loud, because that's all he will hear and just become that thing. But it's hard not to.
It's hard not to lash out right back.
Not that I keep a total cool today either. Lots of screaming and crying happened on both our parts... Toby's out of rage and mine out of exasperation.
It's poisonous to fight like this all the time. I feel shaky and tired and sore and all that was exchanged were words.

I always said I didn't want school to be a fight. I don't know why it is. I've tried all kinds of bribes and reward systems and nothing is enough incentive for him to go. He has a really good friend at school who misses him, but even that doesn't make him want to go.
I feel like homeschooling would only relieve half that stress. Sure we wouldn't have to 'get up and go', but he'd still have to learn something. To listen to me. And I'm afraid I don't have the energy to do that daily.

I really don't know what to do because I feel like I've tried everything. I've stood my ground, I've been quiet and listened, I've begged, I've tricked... I'm tired of doing it. I'm tired of making him seem so sad all the time. He doesn't seem to want to do anything I suggest anymore. He sits and stares at his knees and sighs and shakes his head. I go to hug him and he wrenches himself away. It's...just hard.

I keep telling myself it's a phase. I keep telling myself that we're only like 3 months in to school. I keep telling myself that he was like this when he was 3 and he grew out of it. I just hope I'm right.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Best and Worst of Kids TV

I don't like using the TV as a baby sitter, but it happens. Especially now that he's older and knows when to turn it off on his own and doesn't freak out when I leave the room to do something else. Sometime though I will feel bad, and I sit and watch things with him. Usually it's a ploy to get a few more minutes of shut-eye (like now as I'm nursing a miserable head cold and don't feel like doing much else but watch tv) while he's otherwise distracted.

People complain about kids TV. Most of it is too 'soft' or sparkly or sing-song-ish. And as a result they let their kids (and by "kids" I mostly mean 2-5 year olds) watch stuff that's not appropriate for their age. Or maybe they think it is but because they don't sit down and watch with their kids they just don't know.

I find there are some fantastic kids shows out there that even I enjoy watching, and even look forward to.
I've listed below some my faves and least faves.
Note that I'm not necessarily judging educational value or the child's enjoyment, although that comes into play in some of them.

Fist of all, some TV tips:
-Turn off Treehouse.
I know it's on 24/7 and will entertain your kids at the drop of a hat. But most of it is annoying.
-CBC Kids has a great morning line-up that ends at 11am on weekdays and Noon on Saturday. That's the big thing for me. IT ENDS. Unless your toddler is hooked on Heartland or Dragon's Den, they will turn it off, time for lunch, then carry on with the day.
-TVO has some good shows too, but again, it carries on all day without rest.
-If you want afternoon entertainment, invest in DVDs, or scrounge Value Village for VHS tapes that are easier to handle around young-ins. DVDs and tapes END. Then the TV goes off. Or if another show does get started, they usually only last 20 minutes.
-I've also recorded several hours of CBC Kids onto VHS which I can pop in if I"m desperate.

Here's my list of shows I can't stand/refuse to watch.

Toopy and Binoo - I don't know much about them, I've only seen a few episodes, but from what I've seen it's just...5 minutes of a rat making up games with his stuffed cat.

Dora The Explorer - I don't like her voice. I don't like the excessive amount of pink and purple. I don't like the painful pauses waiting for 'us' to answer her questions. I don't like the computer cursor that takes part in the adventures, implying that we're in a computer game. I don't care if we're learning Spanish words, French is Canada's second official language and I'd rather my kids be learning that.

Peppa Pig - We used to watch this as kids, and found some humour in it, but now it just feels painful to sit through the nasally Pig family make their way through their day.

Thomas and Friends - I know there are die-hard Thomas kids out there, and yes trains are cool, but I can't stand watching the shows. They feel rushed and chopped together and someone is always being angry or mean or reckless. Sure it may get resolved in the end, but it happens so fast I'm not sure that any of the resolution sinks in.

Backyardigans - One time I liked them. I liked the concept of imaginative play and exploring different genres of music. But the songs just drag on. And the episode drags on. And we loose interest. The same story could be told in half the time and with less annoying characters.

Barney - Is this even on anymore? I had to include it because just no. This and Teletubbies was the start of the decent of quality children's programming.

There are more shows like Caillou and Teletubbies and other whose names I don't remember, but I haven't actually sat through an episode or watched long enough to report on.

These are some shows that BOTH Toby and I like (ie. I will usually stop what I'm doing to sit and watch these shows with him):

Super Why - I didn't like this show at first because I didn't like that they took a classic fairy tale and changed the ending just to solve the problem in the book. However, the subtle way they teach letter recognition and phonics in the show it what I attribute to Toby being able to read early. Plus the characters within the fairy tales often have personality quirks that adults can find humour in as well.

Sesame Street - The original series. Not the "Elmo's World' stuff.
Because of the adult actors in the show, there are often subtle parenting coping strategies tucked into conversations with the puppets. Celebrities add interest for adults, as well as open children up to pop culture. The humour was often made for adults, but with tones that were funny for kids as well.

Dino Dan - The original series, not Trek's Adventures. Sorry Trek, your older brother had better story lines. Not only does this kid talk to dinosaurs, but we actually learn interesting stuff about them. He knows the names and characteristics of every single one at the snap of a finger, which keeps my interest because it's often things that I don't know myself. Plus his classmates are hilarious. Subtly flamboyant and zany Cory is my favourite. This Canadian made show is also full of a whole host of Canadian Actor cameos.

Zoboomafoo - The toddler's version of Kratt's Kreatures from back in the day, but just as interesting. I know the new Wild Kratts show is the 'it' thing now, but there's still something about the live-action animal exploring with the Kratt brothers that I like better. It's funny and I learn new things myself. A number of their animal friends were provided by the now non-existent Muskoka Wildlife Centre.

Zerby Derby - A new one on my list as it's on TVO which we hardly ever watch anymore. The basic concept is it's this assortment of vehicles that drive around their forest home and try to solve everyday problems. Sound's hokey, but instead of being animated it's all done with live-action remote controlled cars. The humour I get out of it is imagining this groups of grown-up guys playing with remote control cars all day and then voicing them over. The credits include a blooper reel which, in itself, is worth the episode watch.

Stella and Sam - We have the Stella and Sam books, which we love, and I had no idea it was a TV show until Toby found a DVD at the library. 9 year old Stella looks after 4 year old Sam and teaches him about the world as they go on outdoor adventures in their yard. The 'teaching' often involves whimsical explanations of things and tall tales (like polar bears eating snow flakes for breakfast with milk and sugar) but are always rooted in fact (like frogs hibernating in the winter). Just a really nice, conflict-free television show.

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That - I was never a fan of the Cat in the Hat stories growing up, so I wasn't eager to start watching this one. However, instead of being chaotic and mischievous, this version of the Cat in the Hat, voiced my Martin Short, is clever and intelligent. He takes Nick and Sally on adventures (always with the permission of their parents) to find answers to questions they have. It's always science and nature based and you find you're learning things without knowing you're learning things. All the science is accurate as well as entertaining.

Bear in the Big Blue House - The fact that I started watching this show while at college, maybe says something about me.
From the Jim Henson workshop, these puppets come to life as only Jim Henson can do. The range of scale of these puppets must be a chore to not only maintain and operate, but to film. Bear is an over-sized full body puppet, much like Big Bird. There are some 'normal' mid-range characters, and then Tutter, the mouse hand-puppet who is often filmed in the same scenes as Bear.
The best part of the show is at the beginning when Bear pauses to smell a smell, and ends up sniffing right into the camera lens before exclaiming IT'S YOU! I get stupid giddy about it.

Magic School Bus - Nuff said.

Shows that Toby likes and I'm indifferent to:

Bob the Builder - I always told myself I wouldn't get sucked into the Bob the Builder thing, but I found some VHS tapes at Value Village and had to admit that two-year-old Toby would love them. And he does.

Dirtgirlworld - I do actually like this show, just maybe not as high on my list as some of the others. The unique animation takes a bit of getting used to, but in general the stories are about a girl who runs her own farm and isn't afraid to 'go get grubby', which I think is great.

Paw Patrol - Toby has newly discovered this show and has become obsessed with it. It's fine enough, just doesn't always grab me to want to sit an watch. Basic premise is boy Ryder and his team of 6 dogs who each have a different specialty and catch phrase as they go out and help the residents of Adventure Bay.

Bookaboo - A new addition to the CBC line-up, it's actually pretty good, but I'm maybe not as obsessive over it as Toby is. Bookaboo is a dog puppet in a rock band who often loses his enthusiasm when he hasn't been read a story. He sulks in his tour bus, making up games for himself, until a Canadian celebrity comes with a book to read him and get him out of his funk. It's pretty cute and the books are good. It's kind of cool to see these famous people 'out of character' and just being themselves as they read a book to a friend.

Busytown Mysteries - Toby loves it, I don't really care all that much. I was never really in to the Richard Scary books as a kid. The stories can be entertaining and it's all bout using logic to solve problems, but it's not my personal favourite to watch.

I'm sure there's more I could add to each list, but these are the one's off the top of my head. Do you have any show that you refuse to watch/love watching/your kids watch and you don't understand why?

I'll leave you with John Green's video reviewing popular children's television shows :)