Monday, 16 May 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Pet Store

Let me start by saying I’m not really a ‘pet person’. I mean, cats & dogs are great... if they're other people’s. The way I see it, I’m just not equipped to deal with feeding, cleaning, walking, and training another little creature – I’ve got my son for that!

So when he first started begging for a pet, we finally caved and bought him a fish. We convinced him that watching it swim back & forth would be entertaining enough… and for the first little while, he actually bought it! Fast forward four years, two dead fish and one life lesson of death, grief, etc. and you’re up to speed. My son was ready to hit the pet store and find another little friend to follow in the fins of the infamous Bluey and Herbie. I sent him off with hubby to the pet store for what seemed to be a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone – son gets new fish, dad gets quality time with son, mom gets an uninterrupted 20 minutes to enjoy a coffee.

Well, time passed and coffee consumed – however when ‘the boys’ returned, there was no fish to be found. Why? It seems that somewhere between my driveway and the neighbourhood pet store, the wish for a replacement fish somehow morphed into a burning desire for a hamster! Seriously?? A fur-covered mouse, requiring much more maintenance, that stinks, and could potentially escape (not once did either of our fish ever make a break for it!). What part of this seems fun?

Plus, when the time comes for this thing to head to ‘hamster heaven’, we’re now dealing with a dead ‘thing’, rather than just a floating fish. Lovely. So when my son sat us down and declared a ‘family meeting’ to discuss the potential new addition, I was prepped & ready to launch into “anti-pet” mode.

What I didn’t count on was how seriously he was taking the process. He sat us down with a piece of paper and a pencil in hand and proceeded to write out his detailed list of pros & cons. He asked the right questions, gave the right answers, wrote out a schedule and asked for a vote.

Nuts. I could feel my resolve starting to crumble. Could I stick to my guns and keep my house rodent-free?

Meet Harry, the newest addition to our family….. *sigh*…. Could you say no to that face??

Monday, 2 May 2011

Don't Say the 'G-Word'!

When my son won his first taekwondo trophy, I sang his praises. When he learned to swim in the deep end, I shouted from the mountaintops. Heck, when he was finally potty trained, I pretty much had a marching band lined up! So why is it I have such a problem telling people that my son’s a pretty smart kid?

Before entering Grade One this year, he was given the opportunity to take part in a new pilot program in our area – one that might lessen his likelihood of being bored every day (When your kid is bored in SK, you’re in trouble – I kept telling him it was all downhill after that!). So along with the normal pressures that come with determining your child’s educational path, I now had to deal with the fact that some team of random school officials had used the “G” word… Yes, apparently my son is G!f+@d.

What does that mean? Absolutely nothing to him – heck, we’ve never even had the conversation with him and to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t even know about it. But to me it’s been an ongoing weight on my shoulders that keeps me second-guessing my every decision! Will he be able to keep up? Will his social skills suffer? Will it be too focused on academics? Will I be screwing him up for life?

We bit the bullet and decided to try it for a year. Again, he’s been fine – but somehow I’ve managed to go from “shouting from mountaintops” to barely mumbling under my breath! First of all, let it be said that I NEVER use the “G-word” when discussing my son or the program. Just doesn’t seem necessary. I quite often dance around in extremely uncoordinated circles when asked about my son’s schooling. I realize that “these types of programs” can be highly controversial so I try to remain well out of the direct line of fire.

Well, the other day, while volunteering at my son’s school to help out at a local fundraising initiative, I ended up chatting with a few other moms at my table. We were having a fine time – chatting about the event, the school, the weather – when the conversation inevitably swung around to our kids. Turns out all of our kids were in the same grade – however, when I was asked which class my son was in, I gave the teacher’s name and immediately the entire feeling of the conversation was changed. Both of the other women stopped what they were doing, gave me the raised eyebrow (you know the one) and responded with an extremely short “Oh.”. And within minutes they had both left the table and were whispering to one another in a corner of the room.

Seriously? I was stunned into silence (a rarity for those who know me!) – I said nothing, and in doing so, I felt like somehow I was devaluing my son and the opportunities he’s been presented. So ladies, if you’re reading this, here’s what I want you to know: I love my son, just like you love your kids. I want the best for him – I may not always know what that is at the time, but I make the best decisions I can with the information I have. My job is to do whatever I can to try and ensure he has every opportunity to continue becoming the wonderful, intelligent, caring, entertaining, amazing person he already is.

And maybe I should find a few more of the mountain tops to shout from…
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