Tag Archives: Child

Being a Champion for Your Child

Photo from nbc.com

Have you ever done something completely out of your comfort zone; something so unlike your usual behaviour, without a second thought or hesitation, all in the name of your child?

If you can answer yes to this question then you’re like me, thousands of other parents and the character Kristina from the hit TV show Parenthood.

I’ve been a fan of this show since it first aired. I quickly became caught up in the lives of the characters as they made their way through child rearing, relationships and career challenges. When Kristina spoke the line “…haven’t you ever wanted to be a champion for your kid?”, I began writing.

Kristina was advocating for her son Max who has Asperger’s Syndrome. A large part of the show focuses on Kristina’s family and their challenges. One doesn’t need to have a child with autism to identify with them. Aspects of their story are easily relatable and you’re able to put yourself in their position. You will find yourself cheering them on and asking the question ‘what would I have done?’

Kristina’s words struck a chord with me because the other day I did something that surprised me a little. I picked up little S from school and began a quick chat with one of her teachers to get an update on her day. S has been going through a ’testing’ phase both at school and at home so we’re used to getting some not-so-great feedback at the end of the day. It’s usually no big deal. My husband and I will chat about it at home and decide on our action plan if any. On this day, though, the feedback was delivered in a way that seemed unprofessional and unfair to little S. This caused me to feel that on this particular day, from this particular teacher, S wasn’t getting the best treatment possible.

This made me mad furious! I know things can’t be perfect at any school or daycare and my child is not perfect either, but I still expect the best care possible for my little girl. For that reason I let her have it voiced my concern. I wasn’t rude or unprofessional. I just expressed how I felt. This is something that I find difficult. I hate conflict and will often try to avoid it.

I started with a comparison of S’s current teacher with her teacher from last year who “was so great at dealing with S.” I then went on to state that it was rather obvious that she (her current teacher) was getting frustrated with little S and that she was the professional who should know what to do. I also made some reference to government regulations (based on a statement the teacher had made about being alone).

When I got home, I reflected on the event and wondered from where the courage came and from where the words had emerged. Now I know. I was being a champion for my child, and when you’re playing the role of champion, not much can stop you.

I’d love to fill you on the rest of this story, but the end has not yet happened. My husband and I will have a meeting with her teachers later this week where we will discuss the issues that upset us. At this point it seems that her teacher was getting frustrated at being a teacher, which while understandable; the fact remains that neither student nor parent should ever pick up on that.

There are some battles we will have to let our children fight for themselves and there are some where we, as parents, will have to gear up, armour and all and be the champions.

Will You Be Working on That This Weekend?

“No!  I will be spending time with my family;  my amazing little girl, whom I only see 3.5 hours a day, and my husband,  with whom I get about half that amount of quality time.”  This was my desired response when asked this question from a colleague at work.  My actual response was a simple “No, I won’t be.” 
This question left me buzzing, antsy fingers and all, with the only possible remedy coming in the form of a good workout on the keyboard.  I wanted, and needed, to dig into this. 

Can a parent be successful and at the top of his/her game in all facets of life?

Let’s look at the main aspects of a typical person’s life:

  1. Family (children, partner)
  2. Extended Family (parents, siblings etc.)
  3. Career (hours at the office, overtime, networking etc.)
  4. Social
  5. Health & Wellness (exercise, nutrition, personal hygiene, hobbies)
  6. Sleep

This list is not presented in any particular order but the items do jump out at me as the six main components of one’s life.  Is it possible to perform the best you possibly can in all six areas or is it inevitable that one or more will suffer?  Do we need to dilute our performance, spreading out our energy and focus or can we achieve top results in all areas?

Am I expected to work on a project over the weekend?  Will I get ahead faster? Will my career suffer if I choose not to?  I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to know the answer to these questions is a big bold Yes!  So where to hone in?  This is obviously a choice made on a very individual level and personally my family comes first…but what area of my life is losing out because of that?

The words ‘balance’, ‘prioritization’ and ‘time-management’ seem to be key in answering these questions but first we need to find time, energy and focus to explore those areas to put our skills to the best possible use; and all this is making me dizzy.

What are your thoughts?  How are you finding harmony in your life?  Share your tips, ideas and thoughts and have a relaxing weekend!

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net photographed by Stefano Valle.

The First Day of School

Though the last day of summer is not until September 21st, today marks the day that we make the mental switch from summer to fall.  The forecast indicates that we are still to receive warm, summer-like weather but we have our symbolic sweaters and scarves at the front of our closets for today is the first day of school.  

What is it about the first day of school that has that undeniable feeling?  Whether you are a student, the parent of a student or neither of these, today has a certain meaning to us all.  It’s the smell in the air, the energy flowing about and the influx of activity in the city.  Backpacks, lunch pails and the crisp sound of fall leaves under our feet makes this season the more, if not the most, impactful one.   

The first day of school brings change almost in unison with the cool weather and changing colours we see on the trees.  For our family there is a big change this September as little S makes her way in a new school.  She has now moved on to the next level of her education and is no longer a toddler in the eyes of her school.  Luckily she was able to spend the last couple of weeks in August phasing into her new location and she will continue to see some familiar faces, but change is change, and there is always a transition period to be expected, not only for her, but for us as her parents.   

Nothing feels good about dropping your child off at school and having her cling to you for dear life begging you to stay with her.  We try to avoid pain and upset for our children at all costs yet when September comes we seemingly throw them to the proverbial wolves.  Dramatic?  Yes!  And so I should be.  This day not only marks the beginning of a new school year but also the inevitable fact that time moves so quickly and when it comes to your child growing up, that is always a bitter-sweet truth to realize.   

One thing that will stay the same – location:  she is only moving one block north; still within walking distance from our condo and work, so our routine will hold consistent for the most part.  New friends, new teachers and new experiences are all a welcomed part of life and nothing stays the same forever.  

I suspect that if each of you  dug through your old boxes and memorabilia you would find at least one of those faded pictures of yourself [and your siblings] dressed in your first-day-of-school outfits holding your Holly Hobby or G.I. Joe lunch pail and your brand-spanking new knapsack that is not yet worn in with perfectly square edges.  Missing teeth and pig-tails, clean white shoes and pencil cases filled with freshly sharpened pencil crayons and that look on your face of excitement for what is to come.  Who will your teacher be this year and whom of your friends will be in your class?   

So get your cameras out Moms & Dads and capture this moment as it won’t last forever.  To all the kids experiencing their ‘first day’ today, enjoy!  And to the parents who are having  a bit of a hard time with it, I’m there with you!  

My First Day of School 1983

My Husband the Superhero

He doesn’t wear a cape, he can’t fly and he doesn’t have superhuman strength, but in the eyes of my little girl, her Daddy is a superhero! The term ‘daddy’s girl’ is an understatement in reference to little S. It all begins and ends with Daddy; and for good reason. My husband is a hero…to us at least.

Their kindred relationship blossomed right from the start. I remember the first day we brought little S home from the hospital. I was having a very difficult time with breastfeeding. S wouldn’t latch and I was taking it personally. You carry a child for 9 months; scrutinize everything that goes into your body; take your prenatal vitamins; deliver your child through a gruelling labour, look your little miracle in the eye, fall in love and then you begin to breastfeed. It’s as easy and natural as that. Or is it? For most of us I don’t believe it is. I was heart-broken that everything I had envisioned was not going as planned. So there I was, devastated and crying while my child was rejecting me (or so it felt) and making it clear by using those tiny, tiny lungs to expel every bit of energy she could to muster up a scream. Naturally I pass my helpless child to my husband and she stops. A coincidence? It appears not because the two and half years that have followed have fallen in line with this same theme.

Recently, while we were at the park, little S witnessed a little girl (who was alone) crying and she asked me if the child was crying because she was missing her Daddy; not her Mommy, but her Daddy. It’s Daddy little S wants to comfort her when she is scared and who she runs to when she gets hurt. It’s Daddy who she desires to read bedtime stories and to brush her teeth. When we walk in the front door and Daddy is not home little S will smother his image in our family photo that sits on our console table with kisses when all I got when I picked her up was hug.

Though some days this hurts my ego, most days I am thankful for their special bond. And while I am not exaggerating this story, I am leaving out the love and affection I also receive from our not so little bundle of joy. Though most days little S does show a favouritism for my husband, I know she loves us both the same in her own way. I believe that the relationship a father and daughter have is a very important one. I feel that a strong, healthy relationship of this sort will help to establish standards for my daughter and create the measuring stick to which she will make her judgements and choices by. We are our children’s first role models after all. There’s no job more difficult or important.

Perhaps my husband hides his mask and cape under our bed and there is a strong  possibility that he knows where the Bat Cave really is because recently I learned something about him;  he really is a superhero…and after all these years I only just figured it out!