In defence of average.

A few weeks ago, I wrapped an event that held a whole new component for me:

Parents.

And not just any parents. We’re talking hyper-competitive, overbearing, over thinking, call-you-16-times-a-day parents. Parents that make triathletes look like acquiescent kittens. Parents of – wait for it – 12 year old athletes. 12 year olds who are meant to be participating and enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 12 year olds who are not, let’s be perfectly clear, destined to be Olympians.

No fun was had during this bike ride.
No fun was had during this bike ride.

Parents who seem to have forgotten what it’s like for kids to have fun.

To be fair, I probably only remember the bad ones; after all, they are the ones who make the most noise, demand the most attention and make the most waves. The good ones step up, help out and just plain old, get-the-job-done. The good ones quietly support their kids, no matter what. A quick hug, a pep-talk when needed: those are the parents I strive to emulate.

Our kind of perfection
Our kind of perfection

 

What I witnessed still boggles my mind. A father who flew out private coaches for their child; a mom who broke down in tears over her child’s seemingly poor performance. I wanted to walk up and shake them and say:

GET SOME PERSPECTIVE.

Which brings me to my whole point. I think we’ve forgotten that sometimes, it’s completely ok to be “average”. Why do all our kids need to be the next great thing?

As a mom of 3, it’s taken me a while to come around to this point of view, but since then, it’s one I totally embrace.

You know what? I’m pretty certain we aren’t raising the next Cam McCaul or the next Katie Ledecky.

There's love here.
There’s love here.

And that’s perfectly, 100% ok with me.

My kids are happy to be good at what they love, to dabble in lots of different things, be lazy when they are tired, be creative if the mood strikes, to climb trees and skip homework and to be kids. 

Simple, average kids.

Will I discourage them if they show interest in high-performance anything (sport is just one facet of life, let’s be perfectly clear)?

No. I will support them to the best of my ability. Will I encourage them to try new things and get out of their comfort zones? Always.

To be clear: in no way do I discourage competition (wouldn’t that be ironic, given that my favourite thing to do is race). After all, it seems like everything is a competition in this house. And generally, it’s healthy competition.

However, I’ll only push so far. I want them to have the opportunities to find what they love; to make mistakes and to fail; to conquer fears and test their boundaries and to figure out that, sometimes, being average at whatever they try is ok.

Guess how many targets he hit? Zero is a good start.
Guess how many targets he hit? Zero is a good start.

And if being so-called average means being happy, healthy and satisfied, sign me up. I’m all in.

Let's face it; sometimes it's about how you look!
Let’s face it; sometimes it’s about how you look!
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QOTD… a teeny compilation

Anja’s been coming up with some gems lately…

Playing play-doh in the kitchen:

A: “Mama, pass me the spanker wanker.”

Me, staring blankly at her: “Pardon?”

A: “The thing you use to flip pancakes.”

Obviously.

Driving home from skiing, she yells from the back seat:

“I CAN’T FEEL MY HEART BUMPING!”

Me, giggling by trying to remain calm: “I’m pretty sure your heart is still bumping. You are talking to me, after all.”

A: “Oh, yeah. You’re right. I found it.”

A: “What are you supposed to wear for tennis racket walking?”

Will: “Did you mean snowshoeing?

A: “Yeah, whatever. What do you wear?”

I’m upstairs, and yell through the floor, asking the 3 of them if they had done this chore or that.

W: “yes!”

R: “yeah!”

A: “Yes!”

I then hear her ask her brothers: “What did she even say?”

Quick learner.

And finally, Rory was talking about summer camp and how he is excited but it’s in a long time from now.

“It’s ok Rory. Time flies, you know. Time flies.”

Wise beyond her years?

Project 2016

“Hey, do you guys want t–”

No.”

“Kids! Let’s go to this pl–”

“No.”

And my personal fave:

“Try this.”

“No! I don’t like it.”

“Have you ever had/done/seen/read/tasted/tried it before?”

“No.”

I don’t know about you fellow parents out there, but this is the basic chorus in this house. They seem to be genetically programmed to want to stay home and inside their wee comfort zones. I suppose, on the one hand, that that’s fine. On the other, dudes, it’s a great big world out there and there’s lots to see!

To that end, I’m trying to make 2016 the Year of Yes.

Some days, it goes swimmingly: we are all on board and totally keen to tackle something new. For example: Will joined the basketball team at school. Rory tried ski jumping. Anja agreed to have her hair tied back every day (see, it doesn’t need to be anything major… just, something new and different).

Other days, like today, it’s hard for me to drive this little project forward because I’m feeling overwhelmed by work and life, it’s raining and it just feels easier to stay home and do our same old, same old. And that’s ok, too.

Regardless, I love that we have a challenge that everyone in the house can participate in. That said… it’s still January. Maybe I should revisit this post in June and see where we are at?

Yes, I will.

 

 

My 12 days of Christmas

Or is it 13? Or 11? Who can tell, these days. School’s out, I take some time off work  and then all of a sudden I have no concept of what day of the week it is. It’s kind of neat.

It’s a white Christmas here and what a difference snow makes. Everything’s just that much brighter. The kids are easily convinced to go outside. And running in the snow? Waaaay more fun that running in the rain.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of wrapping things up (literally and figuratively), getting into the swing of winter and thinking about the end of 2015 by starting to make plans and hatch ideas for 2016.

Since my brain also seems to be on Christmas holiday, I’ll leave you with a photo wrap of the last few weeks.

Merry Christmas!

Rainy day round up

It’s a rainy Sunday… the day has passed with staggering slowness. Another rain fall warning means even though we go outside, no one really loves it (not even the dog), and the lingering luxury of shooing everyone outside in bathing suits after a week in the sun is still on everyone’s mind.

I hate homework more than all of them combined.
I hate homework more than all of them combined.

 

Case in point: the eldest went to join his siblings outside… in bare feet. It took reminding him that we aren’t on holiday anymore to get his brain re-engaged.

“Mama, the air is all liquidy here…”

Those were the first words out of Anja’s mouth as we deplaned for our holiday together. It was late and it had been a long flight with lots of fidgeting (from me, too). I’d sort of mentally blocked the fact that even though I/We were on a lovely tropical holiday, I still had to parent.

Well, that’s novel.

And let’s be honest. There were days where the level of parenting was low. Like, take care of yourself and go ahead and ignore me, low. Nonetheless, we had a great time and each kid reacted a little differently to their time away.

Anja couldn’t get enough of sitting in the surf, filling her bikini with sand and… sleeping (that’s my GIRL!)

Rory spent hours diving under waves, wandering the beach seemingly aimlessly but always with an underlying purpose.

Will tested his limits (which is very much unlike him) and built things out of sand.

And me? I read books. And it was glorious.

This is a very random fact: I’ve always hated my feet. I don’t like their shape, they are usually missing one or several toenails and always, always have blisters or remnants thereof.

One evening, we were walking on the beach back from the now infamous (in our house anyway) ice cream dinner. I looked down at my foot prints in the sand and I didn’t see my own feet. I saw my mum’s. I stared for a few minutes, and realized that I can no longer hate my feet, because of who I so clearly inherited them from.

IMG_1954

It’s a few weeks out from Ironman Arizona… I thought the feeling of scouring race calendars and making mental plans would dissipate. Well, what do you know. It’s still there and it’s rather strong.

Let the planning begin! (or, you know, continue… as it were).

That settles that.

A few weeks ago, Will asked me if I was a “helicopter parent”. That basically stopped me dead in my tracks. Oh my god… is this what he thinks of me? Maybe he thinks because I made Anja wear all the armour over her onesie for her first foray into the bike park that I’m over protective??

To be fair, she didn't have to wear a full face helmet.
To be fair, she didn’t have to wear a full face helmet.

I asked him if he even knew what that meant. Sure, he said. It’s a parent who doesn’t let you do anything fun.

Right, then.

I followed this up by asking him if he thought this was the kind of parent I was (which would be odd, because generally I only some kind of vague idea of where the kids are at any given moment. They’re playing outside? Super! I hope they remembered sunscreen.)

No, no, he assured me. You’re pretty ok.

If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Fast forward to tonight. I tell the kids to go blow off some steam so I can tidy up and get ready to end the day. It’s pretty loud outside… but not tears or screams of terror so essentially, all good. I wander out onto the deck to spy on them, and… behold:

IMG_0678 IMG_0680

Asked? And answered.

I did what the Lululemon bag said to.

one thing a day

It’s true. There are things that scare me. One of which consists in sleeping on the ground surrounded by a millimetre of nylon, with 3 children. I’m a creature of comfort, so forgive me if I prefer to parent my children in the comforts of my home, knowing that I get to collapse into my cozy bed at the end of the day.

When friends planned a camping/biking trip a few months back, I thought little of saying YES. In fact, I kind of forgot about it until the week before — when I realized I’d have to borrow a LOT of gear and then started checking the weather like some crazy person (or like a triathlete with a race coming up).

I had mentally decided to pull the plug on the whole adventure until the morning we left… the weather looked bad, we were all tired and at each others throats. So that was when I pulled on my big girl pants, packed the truck and… followed friends up the Forest Service Road to our destination because I was sure that  1) I was bound to get lost 2) I’d get a flat in the middle of nowhere and 3) I’d get eaten by bears which fixing the flat.

What do you know – none of those things happened and we had a fantastic weekend. I even – dare I say – enjoyed the sleeping on the ground wrapped in nylon.

The riding was spectacular and hard and fun and I’m pining to go back. The kids were happy, dirty, tired and ate meals with their helmets on their heads between bike laps. My friends bent over backwards to help me manage the team and give me the chance to ride.

And at the end of it all, I was brave enough to do the drive home down the service road all alone. We only got lost once.

Riddle me this

The last few nights, we’ve been doing riddles at the dinner table. It’s pretty funny and engaging and I’ll even admit that occasionally, the kids will stump me (clearly, they’ve learned these harder ones from older kids. Ahem.)

It’s also a time when each of their personalities seem to really shine through. Anja – believe it or not – is usually quiet during these exchanges. It’s like she realizes she’s too little to get it so she just takes it all in. Will takes in each question and mulls them over with some seriousness (that, or he tries to pass of that he’s figured out the answer when in reality he knew it all along from someone else). Rory, true to form, blurts out whatever the first word is that comes to mind: “7! Blue! Crocodile! Turn left!)

Anyway, tonight? Was awesome. The tables turned, ever so slightly…

Me: “What has hands but can’t clap?”

Rory: “…”

Will: “T-REX!”

At this point, I’m pretty sure I alternately shot wine out of mine nose/choked with laughter. Because, damn if he wasn’t right.

6-mistakes-construction-software-buyers

 

(Clocks. The answers is clocks.)

Ratchet back the crazy, people.

In light of Anja’s highly disorganized but fun birthday party a few days ago, I thought this was pretty timely.  Her party had friends, cake and junk food, parents and beer, science activities and presents. Yep. Good, old fashioned presents that ranged from a plant – which she loved and cannot wait to stick in the ground – to a doll that she talks to like they are BFFs.

In my opinion, it was a great birthday for a 5 year old. But I’m biased and I digress.

A friend sent me this photo of an invitation given to one of her kids by a classmate. Behold:

IMG_8692

Yeah.

This is a party for a 7 year old. Not a wedding, or … some other occasion where it’s appropriate to ask for money. I mean, come on. I wouldn’t even know how to respond to this! How much does Little Johnny want? Is a gift card to the Home Depot or Starbucks ok? Because I’m pretty sure no presents wasn’t his or her idea.

Maybe I’m totally wrong. Maybe Little Lisa is getting a leg up on her college savings, in which case good for her. But maybe don’t do it on the back of your classmates? Gah.

My friend is responding by not going. Which I think is brilliant.

Am I missing something? Since when has this become acceptable? Is this the new normal?

Educate me, people. Educate me.

QOTD

The birthday girl’s latest obsession is science (this is an obsession I can totally get behind).

“Do you know how scientists become scientists?”

“No, how?”

“Messes. They make lots of messes.”

I’d say she’s well on her way.IMG_8679