Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bike (Miss G's B-Day)

Miss G recently celebrated her 8th Birthday!  The wife thought that a great gift would be a new bike... since Miss G was asking for a new bike, it kind of made sense.

The cake I (the Yeti) made for Miss G's Party

So we got her a bike for her birthday.

Actually, we got her 4 bikes.

See, we started off by getting her a Pink BMX bike, thinking she would like it cuz it was pink.  However, the Wife was talking with Miss G while they were playing at the park with friends, and Miss G's friend had a Pink BMX - to which Miss G mentioned that she did NOT like the BMX style bikes.

So then the wife called me on my way home, and informed me that Miss G wanted a Mountain Bike style bike.  I frantically drove to three different stores to try to find a Pink Mountain Bike.  The closest thing I could find was a pretty White mountain bike, with purple trim.  Pretty enough I though.  So I bought bike number two and threw it in the back of the car on the way home.

Upon returning home, it was discovered that Purple was *not* one of the colours Miss G likes.

The next day, while at our local Wal-Mart, I found a Pink Mountain Bike on display - the last one in the store... or any store so far as I could tell.  So I rushed home, told the Wife I found a Pink Mountain Bike, and was immediately sent out to purchase said Ping Mountain Bike.

So I grabbed the boys, threw the previous two bikes in the back of the van, and ran back to Wal-Mart to buy Bike #3.

When I returned the first two bikes to the local Canadian Tire, the store clerk asked why the bikes were being returned to which I answered "They were not pretty enough".

After purchasing the 3rd bike from Wal-Mart, I thought we were done.  We had finally found a pretty pink mountain bike for Miss G!

As you notice in the picture above, the bike however, is *not* pink.

Apparently Miss G's NEW favorite colour is blue.

When she woke up in the morning, her new Bike, bike #4, was set up in her room waiting for her.  The first thing she said, while still mostly asleep was "Ooooh, pretty colour."

It is so satisfying when as a parent, you actually get something right... even if it takes 4 tries.  :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Just Want My Life Back!

NOTE:  I originally posted this on No Hands But Ours (NHBO), but decided to post here as well for those who may not subscribe to NHBO.  Sorry if it is a repeat for some.

Please don't take this post the wrong way, I love my kids, and although at times they can be frustrating - trying to explain that with only words on a screen can sometimes be misconstrued and seem harsher than reality.  Assume while reading this post that although I'm frustrated, I'm also smiling at the same time and not "really" angry.

So this post is a little unexpected.  I've got a post about Miss G's B-Day, and that hopefully will be funny.  I've got a post about some other stuff, again, hopefully funny.
They always look cute when dressed up as a duck
But driving home today, Ping had sad something that I think I need to blog about, even just to try to process what happened myself.

Me:  Okay, Miss G, Ping, Bing you guys just sit tight in the van.  I just have to run into the store, and I'll be back in 30 seconds.
*30 seconds later*
Me:  Okay, I'm back.  How did you guys do own your own?
Miss G:  Good.
Ping:  *silence*
Me:  Oh, I see.  Miss G, what happened?
Miss G:  Well, uh, Ping hit Bing's car seat.
Bing:  Pbbbthhwa *giggles*  wa wa hahhahaha!  *laughing*  BA BA!!!  WAZ DIZ?!
Me:  Hmmmm, yea, I could see how he would be bugging you.  Ping, were you mean to Bing?
Me:  I didn't say you were in trouble.  I'm not even mad.
Me:  Whoa, hold up there.  You are getting in trouble NOT because of what Miss G said, but because of how you are acting right now.  Yelling at me, getting so angry.
Ping:  GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!  (yes, she was actually growling like an angry dog)
Me:  Do you want to tell me what happened?
Me:  Oh baby.  I think you should stop talking now.  Because Daddy is getting pretty mad.  I don't think you understand how mad you are making me right now.
Ping:  Oh I understand.  Because I'm mad!  I DIDN'T WANT A BROTHER! GGGGRRRRRRRR!!!  WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE A LITTLE BROTHER.  I JUST WANT MY LIFE BACK!  I want it to go back to being NORMAL.

So I'll be honest with you.  At this point, I just calmly told her to stop talking.
Not to trivialize her struggles... I understand she is struggling with having a new baby brother.
I understand she doesn't feel quite right in the family, even on a good day, and now her little world has been thrown upside down.

I'm glad she told me how she was feeling, but I wish it was in a more constructive manner.

Bad Daddy mean while, is screaming in the back of my head "You want your life back?!  You don't like it here?  You selfish little oooooohhhhhh, you know what, go back to your orphanage is that is what you want.  You have two great parents who love you, wonderful big brothers and a big sister who love you, who have been patient with you, who have treated you waaaaay better than you deserve to be treated.  If you don't like you're nice big house, with lots of toys, and pretty clothes, then fine... you can HAVE your old life back!"  And I'm not even going to get into the blaming her sister for her doing something bad... *siigh*

Isn't that horrible?!  But I was just so angry that she would say that about her brother, with him right there.

I mean, SHE freaked out WAAAAAY worse than Bing did.  She had tantrums 10, 15, 20 times a day.  She was yelling and screaming at me for MONTHS.  It was something like 7+ months before she would even give me a hug, or stay in the same room as me.  She broke her sister + brothers things, she screamed and yelled at them almost non-stop.  She didn't share.  She didn't speak politely, she was rude and impatient.  She was selfish and self centered.

... and all her big brothers and sister did was love her and give her room to grow.

And she can't even extend a little patience to Bing while they sit in a car together and he babbles.  His babbling is "bugging her" and she feels justified to "hit him".

How can he be annoying when he is that cute.
Fortunately, Good Daddy was also some where in that head of mine... just waiting for Bad Daddy to finish his little rant.  Good Daddy reminded me that my lovely Ping was struggling with her own issues, and instead of being angry with her, that maybe I should try some compassion and love, reaffirm her place in the family and give her love to grow.

So I did stop the van, and got her out of the van so she was standing in front of me, I crouched down so we were eye to eye.
Notice Miss G in the back, plugging her ears.
Meanwhile Ping is ignoring the requests to stop banging the cymbal.
I'm thinking, this selfishness has to stop... soon.

Me:  I love you Ping.  Mommy loves you.  You're brothers and sister love you.  There is nothing you can do to make me love you less, and there is nothing you can do to make me love you more.  You don't even understand how crazy in love with you I am.  You are my most special Princess, just like Miss G, and the boys are my Princes.  You don't have to worry about Bing, you don't have to worry about having a little brother. You will always be special.  You will always be loved.  But what you said was horrible.  It was way to mean.  Your bothers and sisters never said that about you, and trust me, they had more reason to complain about you... but they didn't.  They choose to love you just as you are.  And you have to do the same to Bing.

Now, I'm not convinced I handled any of that correctly, in fact, I'm almost positive that I didn't.  I can tell, because as I'm telling her how much she is loved, she is pursing her lips as if trying to stifle a smile, and all I wanted to do was wipe that infernal smile of her face...  ah well... I guess I'm not doing very well lately.

So here we are again, another blog about Special Needs... except it isn't the Spinabifida which is causing me grief.  So far, that has been much easier to deal with than her more sever Special Need - and that is the state of her heart.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Managing VS Parenting

Lately, I think I'm been "managing" my children more than "parenting" my children.  I'm not sure that is a good thing.  I've had managers tell me things in the past like, "It's your fault, it's all your fault.  If you had one molecule of influence, then it is all your fault"... or, upon me pointing out (again) that we were short staffed and falling behind schedule, "You are not far enough behind schedule for us to do anything about it yet"... and other such gems.

See, with Management - there are goals.  Objectives.  Key Performance Indicators.  And other such things... these seem to work in business, as to how well is a subject of debate... but these are the established practices.  We have annual reviews, performance reviews, engagement surveys, etc. all trying to measure how loyal and happy we are with the company, and how well we are performing our jobs, and helping advance the company "goals" and "objectives".

Maybe its because I'm a man, maybe its because I enjoy business, maybe its because I lead a Team at work, but I find that I can easily slip into the Manager Dad role.

Me:  Senior K, let's talk about your annual performance review.
Senior K:  Huh, wha?
Me:  You're performance as Eldest Son this year was a little weak.  I think you've forgotten about what made you successful as the Eldest Son.  I think you may have lost your focus.  Look, chores are down, grades are good, but I don't see any extra effort being put in.
Senior K:  ummmmm...
Me:  What do you have to say about your performance.  You know what, never mind, I'm just going to write something down here on your performance report and file it with Human Resources.  Now, Miss G on the other hand has been a stand out Big Sister this year.  Yes, I think it is time for her to get a promotion!
Miss G:  YAY!!!  What's a promotion?
Senior K:  What?  A Promotion?!
Me:  Yup, Miss G, you are now Eldest Son.  Senior K, you are being replaced, your title will now be Big Sister, replacing Miss G.
Senior K:  What?!  She can't be eldest son!  She is 6 years younger than me!  AND, a girl!
Me:  Be that as it may, her performance merits this promotion.
Senior K: Oh C'MON!  What can she do that I can't?!
Miss G:  I can hoola-hoop while doing the Chicken Dance!
Senior K:  Oh you can not!
Miss G:  Un-huh...  Watch!  Da-da-da-daa-da-da, da-da-daaaa-da-da-da, daaa-da-da-da-da, DA! DA! DA! DA*!
Me:  Well, that IS impressive!
Senior K:  Fine.  I'll go move my stuff into the Pink Cubical...

But with parenting, well, it's so very different.  There are still goals, and objectives.  But the goals and objectives are all wrapped up in the Success of the Child.  Not the success of the company, or quarterly earnings, or dividends...

I have to remind myself, sometime more often than I care to admit, that although I could Manage the situation, maybe what my children need is a parent.

One great example of this, was last night... I wanted a good night sleep.  I needed a good night sleep.  So when our little Bing woke up 3 or 4 times and tried to crawl into our bed, I decided to "manage" the situation.  I had a goal... get Bing BACK to his own bad, and back to sleep.

Managing the situation consisted of me having a goal and making sure my "Employee" did as he was told to make sure I could reach me goal.  I did get Bing back into bed.  And yes, he did stay there.  But he was crying and quite upset that no one was consoling him.  See, making sure Bing was getting the "love and attention" he needed was NOT on my list of goals, or my current business plan...

Luckily for him, his Mother decided to be a Parent last night, and NOT a Manager.  She got up out of bed, after I had returned from managing Bing, and went back to his room, speaking comforting words, and spent just a couple minutes stoking his cheek and making sure he wasn't scared and letting him know that he is loved.  He then fell asleep content and no longer scared/crying.

See, if I DO want to Manage my children, then I have to make sure that my GOALS, my objective, business plan, etc. are all built upon my children's success**.  Every time I try to Manage my children, I have to ask myself "Is my current decision going to help my child Succeed in life"... had I asked myself that question, I probably would have handled Bing differently last night.

But what I think would be better, is to remember that I am first and foremost, their Father... not their Boss.

* == Yes, she actually dances the Chicken Dance, while singing, and hoola-hooping... and it IS as impressive as it sounds.

** == I'm not going to define what a child's success is, I think every family has their own standards.  But it is something we have to be intentional about, or else there may be no standard for success.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day At The Museum

As a parent, there are times where you impress even yourself with your skillful parenting abilities.  Yes, there are times, where things you plan and do go so overwhelming well with your children, that you can't help but feel like someone should make a documentary out of your parenting prowess to help other less-er parents learn their way.

This, however, is not one of those times.

So on Spring Break, we decided that I would take the children to the Museum on Thursday while the Wife went out with her friends to a Corrination Street show at the Theater.  Now, normally taking 5 children to a museum is not something to be considered relaxing after a long hard day of sitting on your butt typing on a computer all day, however, in contrast of going to watch some British Actors/Actresses with bad teeth go on and on about their compelling stories of going to the Rovers Return Inn and having a pint with their tosser friends, well, the museum seemed like a good idea.

Yet, I trundled off undeterred thinking I was getting the better deal here.  A fun filled evening with my 5 children at the museum sounded good... until we got there...

... then all I could hear were the words of Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" ringing in my head "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men"... and then the mice get run over by a huge grain thresher... I could not hear the thresher coming yet... but oh it was coming...
...waiting outside in the rain for 45 minutes...
As we begun our journey to the museum, the children in the back of the van began inquiring as to which museum we would be visiting.  "The Museum of Natural History" I replied... thinking foolishly that this was a good idea.  I'm not sure about you, but just the title of that museum sounds boring... I never really noticed it until the children started revolting in the back of the van.  All I heard were cries of shock and horror - as if some great injustice has been inflicted upon my children.  "The museum of NATURE?!", they wailed, "Mom said you would take us to the CHILDREN's Museum!  The FUN one!"

"Well, it's easy for MOM to say that, she isn't here.  Besides, to get  to the children's museum would take way to long because we would have to get through downtown during rush hour, and it's already after 4pm", I stated.
He looks happy, but don't ask him to leave this display...

... logic falls on deaf ears when passion is involved.  Needless to say, the next 15 minutes in the van were filled with protests and complaints... and all I'm thinking is "you luck little buggers, when I was growing up in Northern Manitoba in a small mining town called Flin Flon, the ONLY museum we had was the museum of MINING.  That's right, we could go and look at rocks.  And not even NICE rocks.  There was like 1 core of Iron, and a lump of slag, all in a single room which smelled of alachol and cigarettes."

Flin Flon Station Museum (from: )The Flin Flon Station Museum is housed in the former Canadian National Railway Station. It exhibits items from the pioneering period as well as tools and minerals belonging to Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting. It provides an overview of Flin Flon to visitors interested in the unique history. Located at the Tourist Bureau Park on Highway 10 in Flin Flon, the Station Museum opens for the summer season around the beginning of June till after the September long weekend. You can reach the museum at (204) 687-2946.

Sewer Boxes (also from the 'attractions' section of the Flin Flon website - yes, the SEWERs are listed as an "attraction")Flin Flon is the only city in the world to locate their sewage lines above ground. This is necessary in some areas of the city because of the masses of near-impenetrable bedrock. Instead of burying the pipes, they are surrounded by a wooden casing and run above ground to create a unique snake-like appearance. Early settlers first built these above ground sewer and water lines, becoming the settlement's first "sidewalks". They are still used regularly today as fully usable sidewalks.

We finally arrive at the "boring" museum and wander inside.  Only to find out that on Thursdays, the museums were free after 5pm... not after 4pm like I had initially thought.  The plan I had continues to fall apart.  I was not faced with a dilemma... pay 56$ for us to enter the museum now, or wait 45 minutes to get in for free.  Being a little broke at the moment, I decided to wait.  After all, the perky desk girl pointed out that we could pass our time in the Gift Shop while we waited.

Yea, 5 kids, in a Museum Gift shop for 45 minutes... I'll let you guess how THAT went.  Needless to say, we wound up standing outside in the cold rain for a good portion of time... I'm not saying we were KICKED out... errm...
Having fun... in about 3 seconds,
the next photo has a *very* angry Ping
and an all to smug Bing who made her angry.

Well, by the time 5pm rolled around, I was ready to go home.  However, the fun was just beginning, and my plan had still lots of room to fail.  But since this post is already too long, I'm going to just go bullet point over my many failures as a parent this particular Thursday...

Highlights of failure:

  • museum was not free at 4pm as I thought - but 5pm
  • children had to wait for almost an hour outside in the rain
  • museum was absolutely packed because it was free, oh and it was Spring Break so EVERY family was there
  • children were not able to run free through the museum "zones" as planned because there were too many people
  • children were not fed diner before going to the museum*, so by the time we GOT in, they were all grouchy and hungry
  • they were also grouchy from being in the car for over an hour getting from our place to the museum
  • they were also grouchy from having to wait in the rain
  • by the time we were ready to leave, as a last hurrah, we decided to watch the extinction movie - only to see a family from church in the same movie, this was not an immediate failure, however, upon exiting the movie...
    • the mother stops to say "hi" and Bing decides to FREAK out.  Probably because he was grouchy for all the reasons listed above
    • we're talking DEFCON 3 level of tantrum
    • thrashing around on the ground
    • screaming
    • yelling
    • punching at me when I try to pick him up

Needless to say we beat a pretty quick retreat from the museum, I'm sure with the other Mom thinking I'm a horrible parent.

There was far more which went wrong than I'm detailing here, but I think I've painted enough of a picture of our failed outing.  There were nice moments in there.  We did have a good time.  It was just sprinkled with moments of ... well... screaming, thrashing around, yelling, etc.
Apparently the Dinosaurs scared him...
so I left him there, for about a half hour...
telling him the dinosaur was going to eat him
if he yelled at me again.
Hey, I said it wasn't my BEST parenting day.
But he stopped yelling at me.

I guess the important thing to remember, at least for me, is that I can't expect perfection from my kids all the times.  There are days they have where things just seem to go wrong for them at every turn.  Maybe there is something they are struggling with, something at school, with a friend, or sibling, or parent... maybe some adoption issues have cropped up again, or even just are tired or jacked up on sugar.

All I know is that at times, I'm just exhausted from trying to "deal" with my kids...
... and I'm sure at times they are exhausted from "dealing" with me.

If I'm willing to forget about my bad parenting day, and look for the good moments in the day and say "hey, today wasn't all bad", I have to be willing to do that with my kids as well.  To look at the fun and good moments we had in the day, even though there were tantrums and screaming, and say "hey, today wasn't all bad."

Yup... cup 1/2 full.  Happy happy.  Oh, and we ALL have bad parenting days... right?


C'mon, someone else tell me they have bad parenting days too!

Please?  Someone... anyone...

At least I didn't take the kids to see the Sewer Boxes...

* == My Wife didn't feed them before bringing them into the city... I didn't know they didn't  eat until we were already at the museum and wandering around.