I have many little things I want to post about, but nothing really all that big or exciting, so bear with me =)
Matthew went away for three days, and came back today. My sister takes one of my kids a few times a year, for as many days as she can manage. Boy, does that make them feel special--a weekend with Auntie Megan, doing crazy fun stuff and eating junk food and staying up too late!! And boy, does it give me a breather!! This week she took Matthew. She lives in Victoria so she rides the ferry, I meet her at the gate, and they walk back on to go to her house. Then, I ride the ferry on the way back, meet them at the gate, and turn and go right back again. Walking onto the ferry costs $8 on a weekday, $14 on a weekend, so it's not too bad. Definitely worth three days of peace and quiet!! Matthew had a blast! And I did miss him, a little bit, at night when there were only two boys asleep in their beds. The rest of the time I enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Matthew is an intense little boy, and an extreme extrovert. He may be the most extroverted person I've ever met. Why on earth God saw fit to match the world's biggest extrovert with two introverted parents is beyond me!! Every time I ask him, the silence afterwards makes me think God is giggling at me up His sleeve. And I'm reminded that challenges are good for me.
I've also been wanting to mention that I've been realizing more and more lately how much negative feedback I get about free ranging my kids. Every time we go out in public, someone's bringing me back my kid from the ravine bed, or pointing out the dangers of having one's bike on top of the picnic table. [this from a man in his seventies: I'm positive he was doing the same thing when he was seven with his own bicycle, and lived to tell the tale--the only difference was that back then, moms stayed in the house while their kids were at the park with their bikes on the picnic table, doing all manner of 'dangerous' living!!!]
I expected as a breastfeeding momma to get looks and comments about my breastfeeding, especially past 12 months of age, but I have run across very few obvious disapprovals. From strangers. From family, yes. From strangers, no.
I expected as an interracial family to get looks and comments about adoption, race, fertility, and all manner of private family information, but I have come across very few overt comments regarding adoption or interracial families. Sometimes people refer to him as Ayden/Riley's 'friend,' or 'that other little boy,' but not in a way that I find rude.
But I did not expect as a free range family to be constantly harrassed by other adults in public. I'm getting rather short with people. To the man about the picnic table I said, "Yes, they are on the picnic table. They're my kids. I'll watch them, thanks." Fairly shortly.
I read on the Feminist Breeder's blog a comment on a blog post about how far is too far to leave your kids in the car while you are outside it, and one woman commented that SHE TAKES HER KIDS OUT OF THE CAR WHILE SHE PUMPS HER GAS. OMG. The world is so dangerous we can't leave our kids in the car when we're standing right next to it?!?! FUELING IT?!?!?!
Pumping gas with my three rugrats running around free sounds far more dangerous to me. Anyways, the more common sense I try to apply to this Free Range Kids thing, the more people criticize me. And the more sensitive I get. I'm not even all that free range! My kids don't ride to school on their own (yet), nor play at the park unsupervised (yet). Or ride the subway alone (though none of them are nine and we don't live near a subway). I guess once they do, I'll be getting some more flak.
Anyways, I needed to gripe about that, that I was surprised that giving my kids a longer leash than average would garner me far more criticism as a parent than extended breastfeeding or adopting a brown kid. Ya learn something new every day. I even nursed Riley next to a stranger on the plane ride back from Regina, and she didn't bat an eye. Who knows? Maybe she's a lactation consultant or a midwife, or has a daughter who breastfed til she was six?! You just never know. Or maybe she's just a polite Canadian.
Where are all the polite Canadians when my kid is exploring the ravine next to the park? You honestly think you care more about my child's whereabouts than I do? Jeepers. I won't even mention water park psycho. Oops, I just did.
Also, camping was awesome. I want to do a post with pictures of that one, so goodness knows when that will happen.
Also, I worked last Tuesday night and took care of a little girl Riley's age who fell in a campfire. She was covered in burns. COVERED. Huge blisters, some third degree patches of white/black skin (when the blisters burn off, that's 3rd degree burns), and some pretty horrific screaming. As if I didn't have an anxiety disorder BEFORE....
Poor babykins. Her mom dove in after her, and was burned pretty badly, also. I was present when she phoned HER mom to tell her the news, and was 1000 degrees and shades of grateful for my own mom, so good and calm and dependable in an emergency--the last thing you need to do when your baby is burned is take care of your MOM as she freaks out on the phone.
Thanks, mom. You're not ALWAYS calm cool and collected, but in emergencies, you are. You missed your calling as a paramedic. And you missed my appendicitis when I was 15. Oh, yes, I did just go there. [she thought I had the flu. Oops, I ALMOST DIED. Well, okay maybe not quite, but I did need surgery!].
I called Dr W, Matthew's urologist, back. We went to see him 4 months ago and he gave us a method to use to override Matthew's learned ignoring of the pressure release pants wetting. He said it should be gone in 3 months. Well, Matthew now floods his pants with pee instead of pressure releasing, going through 3 to 6 pairs of underwear/pants a day, and has started pooping his pants now, too. Wow. I could teach a university level class on How To Fail As A Parent. Have a six year old who pisses and shits his pants. Dr. W. was initially surprised that Matthew DOESN'T have poop accidents, because they commonly go together (and a high fibre diet and some timed toilet breaks are the gist of tackling the pooping problem). Well lo and behold, after 4 years of pooping on the toilet, we now have a poop soiling problem. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse.
My best friend is convinced Matthew has an actual physical bladder problem that hasn't been discovered yet, and I am inclined to agree. But what about the pooping? It's like the child hunts for ways to make himself difficult to love. SIX. He's nearly SIX. This isn't a once biweekly problem here. This is 3 to 6 times a day of pee, and once a day of POOP. (language warning) *holy FUCK, who CHOOSES to SHIT their PANTS at SIX YEARS OLD?!?!?!*
Obviously I have damaged my child beyond repair (and oh, Stu, how nice to see you again I thought you were banished to the deepest dregs of hell and damnation, but here you go crawling up my poor son's toileting issues and CRAP ALL OVER ME!!!!! How hard it is to not feel angry guilt when your kid just can't. go. on. the. toilet.)
Matthew is SMART and gregarious and funny and outgoing and charismatic. People are drawn to him. His two biggest strengths are his social magnetism and his physical capabilities, especially climbing, swimming, and gymnastics. But peeing his pants in grade one will socially cancel out all his magnetism and brand him for life. I lose my breath every time I think about it (I try not to think about it, but it's only five weeks away). I don't want my kid to hurt, I don't want him to be teased, I don't want him to be outcast, I don't want him to be labelled, I don't want teachers and other adults to consider him less intelligent or capable than he is, I don't want my kid to be SAD!
Also, I read this book last week:
It was incredibly interesting (until the chapter after the epilogue, which is a right wing fundamentalist Christian manifesto that made me cringe). This woman lived in Gorky, which is Nizhni Novgorod, where I was an exchange student in Russian for two semesters during University. I studied the American Village (and visited it), the establishment of a Ford Automobile Factory in the 1930s, and the eventual purging and almost universal execution of those Americans remaining in Gorky during the Stalin purges. This woman arrived in Gorky as a child of a Ford employee, and grew up under Stalin and wound up in a death camp. Her description of the Gulags is very graphic. And her survival miraculous. I am not sure this book would have held quite the grip on me that it did if I didn't have intimate knowledge of the geography of Nizhni Novgorod and Russian history and culture. But at any rate, it gripped me strongly. I finished it in the wee hours of my fourth night reading it (a reflection of its grip on me, not the speed with which it reads). For a book set in Russia, it is very readable and positive. Probably because it's written by an American instead of a Russian!
I give it a 6.5/10, and especially recommend it to anyone interested in Russia.
I'm going to go curl up in front of the t.v. now and watch a movie, and try to ignore this nagging nausea that started with my 6 hour car/ferry/car trip today. Thanks, Rice Peanut. You just want to make sure I don't forget you exist, right? You are the youngest and quietest, after all. Don't worry, I'll never forget you're there.