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A quick evening stroll

It’s time to make some changes around here.

All the leisure activities can’t be ONLY about the kids. There needs to be a little room for us to get some exercise too. So we decided to forgo the usual “playing outside after dinner” bit tonight and go for a simple stroll around the block.

In less than thirty seconds, my son was already sitting on the grass pouting about this cruel and unusual punishment. I assured him it would take no more than ten minutes, and we’d be home before he knew it. He assured me that he will go, but he will continue to cry the whole way.

Fine. Be that way. We’re still going.

We spent the first half of the walk explaining why grown-ups bodies need to get exercise too. I didn’t get into the whole “you called me fat, so you can come for a damn walk with me you little brat” reason.

So we get to the midway point, and my precious potty-training-two-year-old declares that she has to go pee.

Of course.

On our ten minute walk, of course you have to go pee. Because going right before we left the house didn’t quite cut it.

Fortunately we learned the bush squat technique last weekend, so we found a nice bush away from anyone’s houses, in a nice secluded spot. Perfect. A big bush, and plenty of privacy.

I kid you not, the moment her panties were down, a running group of about two dozen men and women came jogging by.

Over twenty people on an normally deserted street. What are the odds.

Probably as good as her dropping her “crown” (a headband she’s been wearing as a crown all evening) right into the puddle she just made in the dirt next to the bush.

Great.

Nope, you can’t hold it. It’s okay, mommy will hold it. We need to wash it. (Really, there’s nothing mommy wants more than to carry your pee-soaked headband all the way home.)

Well, we continued on, and got down to the home stretch. Only to have the necessary trip-over-absolutely-nothing-skinning-of-the-knees to conclude our evening stroll.

So I carried the little one home, as she cried “I need an Angry Bird Band-aid” the whole way.

Can’t say it got my heart rate up at all, but at least we were able to provide the local running club with a mid-run chuckle.

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Why does my kid keep calling people fat?

When my son was three, on a trip to Seattle, we were at the Olive Garden for lunch. The tables were quite close to each other and he was sitting next to a larger lady.

He tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to her and said “BI-GARM, BI-GARM.” I couldn’t make out what he was saying as two separate words at this point, and asked him to repeat himself.

“Big Arm, Big Arm!”

Great.

I just asked my son to repeat that.

I avoided reacting to what he said and pretended that I still didn’t understand. I really hoped the lady next to us didn’t understand. Because nothing beats getting called fat by a three year old while gorging on carbs at the Olive Garden. Well, I suppose I’ve heard worse, but we’ll touch on that later.

When the couple beside us left, I took the quick moment of having a little personal space as an opportunity to explain why we don’t say things like that.

I said that it’s rude to point people out for things that they might be sensitive about. People are sensitive about the size and shape of their bodies. I understand you wanted to show me what was different about that lady, but people don’t particularly like to be recognized for certain kinds of differences.

I went on to explain that he’d be better off to point people out to me by mentioning the colour of shirt they are wearing, or their hair colour. Keep it simple, right? I was hoping to elaborate more about it later.

The next couple to be seated next to us arrived.

My son pointed and yelled “NO HAIR!”

Mommy fail.

So I’ve had several moments like such in my short parenting career. We once came around a corner and nearly bumped into a rather large gentleman (okay, no kidding, the guy must have been four hundred pounds at least.) I smiled and said hi, and noticed out of the corner of my eye that my son’s little finger was lifting into a point, and he was opening his mouth to tell me something. Fortunately I did learn one thing from the Olive Garden experience, and quickly shoved my hand right into his little mouth.

Yep, that’s right. Whatever fingers I could fit in that tiny mouth of his. I was NOT taking any chances. I literally put my hand in his mouth.

And thank goodness I did. When we got to the car, and I was buckling him in, I asked him what he was about to say.

Let’s just say, kids are explicitly honest.

We talked more about the whole body image thing, and it all blew over for a while.

Then my son turned four.

We were at the dinner table one night. My husband was helping himself to a big plate of SALAD. Yes, the healthiest, calorie-free thing you can eat.

My son said “Daddy, don’t eat so much salad or you’re going to get fat like ____!” (our guest.)

F***

Let’s just say our guest has a great sense of humour, and nearly peed their pants along with us.

We talked thoroughly about the inappropriate use of this type of language. Hurtful words. Calling people fat. Being an ass.

I thought maybe the long talk we had about using the word fat may have helped… I thought after this experience, maybe we’d turn a corner.

Nope.

I was tucking the little man into bed the other night, and he told me he was hungry.

I told him what I always tell him. “You need to eat more dinner, you say you’re hungry every night. When it’s dinner time, you have to fill your belly all the way up so it doesn’t grumble for more food until breakfast time.”

“But mommy, if I fill my tummy all the way up, I’m going to get fat like ladies do.”

To confirm my suspicion of who he meant, I asked “what ladies.”

He silently tapped my shoulder.

Great. Thanks pal.

 

Let’s just hope this gets better. Not worse.

Advice?

Little White Lies – when is lying to your kids okay?

I haven’t quite figured out the criteria for when I should lie to my kid and when to be honest. Everyone has a different perspective of this, and I’m still trying to establish my own opinion.

There was a time when my son asked grandma why the cat died. Grandma explained honestly that the cat died because she was very old. My mind went into panic mode. To my son, a teenager is very old. Not to mention me. Or grandma. I could almost see the little ferret running around in his brain making the connections. He asked “How old?” “I replied “three hundred.” Phew, dodged that bullet. Except, my good friend called me on it. She asked how I could be so insistent on being honest about something like sex, but I can lie about things like death?

Well, that’s why I’m writing this post. I’m putting my thoughts down on paper so that I can try to untangle them.

My mom told me something to the effect that when you have a bright, precocious child, you don’t want to give them so much information that you make them neurotic. Sometimes you can go overboard, and then they go overboard.  Keep it simple.   I felt like this situation fit the criteria. If I told him that the cat was 19 years old and died of age, I think he would go into a full-fledged state of panic.

There are a lot of parenting advice people that say that you need to talk about sex honestly and matter-of-fact with your kids. Answer what they’re asking, but don’t go giving them a bunch of information that they didn’t ask for. I’ve tried to follow this advice, and so far my kids are taking it in like it’s no big deal.

See this video for a perfect example of talking to your kid about sex. (HILARIOUS!) Wait… finish reading, then click on it.

Sex is a real-life thing. I don’t want my kids to learn about it in a way that isn’t sensitive to the feelings involved and the responsibility that goes with it. I feel that it’s my job to prepare them for things like sex, so they don’t learn about it from an uncomfortable teenaged situation that they’re unprepared for. Same with drugs. And alcohol. And social skills. Their friends aren’t going to explain the concept of being in a loving, committed, adult relationship when they explain sex to your child. Your kids will learn the cold, hard, dirty facts. The last thing you want is for your child’s sexual education to come from playboy magazines, and someone’s mom’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Kids asking questions about these things is a golden opportunity for a parent to instill values, ethics, confidence and responsibility into the minds of their children.

By teaching them the facts as they grow up, it’ll be a lot smaller of a pill for them to swallow. You can’t teach values in one conversation, they have to learn it repeatedly, over time. Things they could learn at age one might be a simple thing, like having respect for their bodies by using proper terminology for their bits. A girl should be confident that they have a vagina, not embarrassed by it. Not so confident that they strip down naked in public and flaunt it. That’s where the “respect yourself by keeping some things private” conversation would fit in.

Being honest will teach your kids confidence about the questions they are asking, because you are taking them seriously. Imagine the embarrassment your child would face if they repeated a smart-ass, made-up answer to a serious question to their buddies. (i.e. “other peoples private parts are poisonous unless you marry that person. If you touch them, you will get really sick, and might die.) It’s our duty as parents to be honest about the things that matter.

Over-sharing is the part you have to watch out for though. That’s where the gray area begins. There has to be a point where you say “that’s enough for today, we’ll get into more details about that when you and I both agree that you’re ready for them.” Keep in mind that what you teach your kids, they are going to share with others.

The part where I feel like little white lies are acceptable is with the stuff that doesn’t matter. That’s where I like to have a little fun every once in a while.  Sometimes I forget to filter my smart-ass comments. I forget that I’m talking to a child, for one thing. And I also forget that my kids are likely going to repeat this information to someone.

Sometimes the “stories” I tell my kids aren’t exactly lies, they are just embellishments of the truth. Sometimes they are, in fact, outright lies. I tend to tell “stories” to my kids when they ask me silly questions and I feel like they warrant silly answers. I tend to over-exaggerate the truth when there’s a lesson I can work into the scenario.

Like “why did the ants come into our house.” “Because you left all your toys on the floor and the ants thought you were inviting them over to play.”

“Why does that man have tattoos all over his body?” “For decoration.”

“Why do those clouds look different from the ones over there?” “For decoration.”

“What are you putting on your eyes” “Mascara” “Why?” “For decoration.”

(Remember those two little words people, they are the ticket out of a long drawn-out conversation that you sometimes don’t have time for.)

I told my little one, “If you don’t wear a shirt and shoes, they won’t let you into the restaurant and you’ll have to go home.” This one was followed by my son’s statement that “if my sister doesn’t wear any clothes, she won’t know how to get home, and she’ll stand in the middle of the road, and the cars will squish her.” Miss Sassypants got dressed pretty quick.

Well, I don’t know that I’m completely untangled yet, but I think I’ve said enough for today. I will leave you with one more “too honest” remark I made to my son…

“Mommy, Grandma said her cat is in heaven,” “Okay, do you have questions about that?” “Well, are all cats in heaven?” “No sweetie, only the dead ones.”

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