In defence of bragging

in defence of bragging

It’s no secret that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. From impossible hours to the inability to do anything right, it’s a mere wonder anyone chooses to do it. But we do choose to do it, because our little tyrants make it all worth it. So we share about the silly things they say and the amazing things they do because otherwise, what’s even the point?

The only problem is, you can’t share what your kid is doing without being subjected to eye rolls or in some cases, being accused of downright lying. Apparently it’s not acceptable to share the bright spots of parenting because then you’re a braggart. (It’s also important to note that if you complain that it’s difficult, you shouldn’t have become a parent. You can’t win.)

But here’s the thing: parenting is hard. Really, really hard. And yes, we should be able to complain about our kids without being accused of not loving them because we’re only human. But it’s equally important that we are able to share the things that we love about them because it’s those little things that get us through the day.

I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place. Of course, bragging at school pickup to a parent whose child is struggling is pretty uncool. But at a play date with your close mom friends? On your own personal social media page? Why the heck not?

And what does it say about us as human beings that we can’t be happy for our friends’ children? Jane said her first word? Amazing! Timmy made the honour roll? He deserves it! Roger stopped pooping on the floor? You’re going places, Roger!

It’s not about the parents. It’s about the children. And if we can’t put our own egos aside, how are our kids supposed to do learn to do that?

All kids develop at different rates. They’re all equally unique. It has nothing to do with our parenting skills or styles; they do things in their own time. And whether a child is perceived to be “ahead” or “behind” or right smack on the line that says “average,” we should celebrate the amazing things they say and do. Because they’re all amazing.

And maybe parenting would be a little bit easier if we could all celebrate their amazing qualities together. After all, isn’t it relishing in the wins that makes the training worthwhile?

in defence of bragging

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Teaching My Kiddo To Navigate The Balancing Act That Is Life

One of my favourite ways to excuse myself to eat an extra cookie or sit on the couch all day reading is my friend, balance. The cookie is fine because I had kale in my smoothie, and the couch day is justified because I’m a mom and I never get to sit down so I’m going to take advantage when I can. Stopping for ice cream on the way home from yoga? Balance.

I joke about it a lot but truthfully, balance is one of the things that I strive to teach my child. As a perfectionist, it can be hard to let things slide. But I have a little trick that I think helps.

I don’t expect one hundred percent.

What does that even mean? It means that I don’t expect my kid to get straight As. If he’s acing every assignment, he’s not learning. I’d much rather see him get high seventies and know that he’s working hard and has room to grow. I don’t expect him to be the best tennis player at lessons, I just expect him to be respectful to the teacher and his classmates. I don’t care if he has to repeat a level at swimming, as long as I know that he’s listening politely. He’s the one that will quickly figure out when it’s worthwhile to work harder and when it’s not.

I forgive my kiddo when he screws up. I don’t hold grudges. Yes, I guide him to live a healthy lifestyle, but in my opinion a healthy lifestyle involves fast food once in a blue moon and an afternoon of video games. I want my kiddo to know the importance of hard work, but the equal importance of doing things that make him happy.

And while I know that when my kid is grown he will hate me for all of these choices that his father and I are making in raising him, that’s life. We have shaped our parenting to actively help him understand when to use his perfectionism to his advantage and when to let it go. Even in my own life, I’m still learning that when I do things like meditate because “I’m supposed to” it’s far less enjoyable and beneficial than when I meditate because I enjoy how peaceful and grounded I feel afterwards. And that when I berate myself for skipping a day it’s much harder to get back into the routine than when I shrug my shoulders and get to it when I get to it.

And I don’t just model these things, I talk to my son about it and so does my husband. We make sure he knows that there are exceptions to every rule. That it’s okay to play hooky. It’s okay to have cake for breakfast. Yes, it’s important to do our best but we can’t do our best in every single thing we do every single day. Sometimes it’s enough to do our best at listening to our body and what it needs. And hopefully one day, these little things will help him navigate the bigger things in life. homepage
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Six Books that have Informed my Homeschool (and parenting)

I love to read. So it’s shocking to me that I don’t read a lot of books about homeschooling. In fact, there’s only one homeschooling book that I’ve read and loved. Schooling your own child is a huge responsibility, so shouldn’t you read everything you can about it?

I mean, yes and no. There are so many lessons to be gleaned from books that have nothing to do with homeschooling at all, so sometimes I feel like I’m covering my bases just fine. And our homeschool is so unique that a lot of times, the advice just doesn’t apply. But for me, these are the books that have had the biggest impact on my homeschooling. And because homeschooling is such a large part of our life, I guess you can say they’ve influenced my parenting as well.

5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options by Deborah Ruf

There’s a bit of controversy surrounding this book. A lot of parents have found it inaccurate compared to their child’s IQ tests, especially with twice exceptional children, but for me this was the book that made me understand that my child has different educational needs. It seems common sense, but as a gifted child myself I was still on the “he’ll be fine” train. The more I’ve learned about giftedness, the more I’ve realized how not fine I really was. Am. Yikes. I think this book can be so helpful to parents of young, potentially gifted children, whether you intend on homeschooling or not. It was certainly the one that made my husband and I realize that damn, we were going to end up here sooner or later.

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star by Tom Clynes

Maybe most parents would be proud of their three year old’s obsession with the periodic table but my husband and I were terrified. While most kids his age were using their toy kitchens to pretend to cook, our child was pretending it was a particle accelerator. He would pretend he was making element 119 in the basement with Mendeleev. He was obsessed with radioactive decay chains. What was he going to be like as a teenager if this persisted? What were we supposed to do with him? The Boy Who Played with Fusion was simultaneously reassuring and daunting. Now it’s become our goal to make sure that our child’s passions don’t get squashed, which is easier said than done. I just hope he doesn’t ask me to go hunting for uranium any time soon.

The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life by Julie Bogart

Here it is, the only homeschooling book on the list. I love the Brave Learner lifestyle. We lived a lot of it before ever having heard of it, but three years in and both my son and I still look forward to our poetry tea times so I had to read Ms. Bogart’s book. I love that it is full of encouragement and inspiration but also doesn’t shy away from some of the problems with homeschooling. When you’re homeschooling your child doesn’t get an escape from their home life, so I love that this book really tells families to make their home as harmonious as possible.

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté

My husband and I are accidental attachment parents. We never intended to do a lot of the things we ended up doing, but they work for us. So I read this book trying to find out a bit more about this philosophy we accidentally came to follow and ended up getting some homeschool reassurance. This book argues that other kids are terrible at socialization, and that children need parents to guide them so that they gain proper skills. While it’s far from an argument for homeschool, it’s reassuring for those of us who are sick of hearing “but what about socialization?”

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

I resisted this book at first but I was told I “had” to read it and I’m so happy I did. Whether Mr. Gladwell intended to or not, in my opinion he wrote the best argument for gifted education out there. A high IQ is not a recipe for success. It’s dependent on a complicated recipe of opportunity, luck, skin colour, privilege, and sometimes just being born in the right time and place. Gifted kids won’t just be “fine,” and this book reassured me to keep fighting against the myth that they will be.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

This book can only be described as a philosophical thought experiment and it definitely made me think. What kind of a world am I preparing my child for? What careers are going to be available to him? Forget about stick shift, will he ever even learn to drive a car period? For better or worse, this book has made me ease up on my screen time limitations and try to encourage my child’s love of coding. It’s the reason I love Art Of Problem Solving for math. It’s why, to my kid’s dismay, I’d rather spend our time talking about books than doing spelling tests. I want to raise a thinker, not a memorizer, because thinking is the one advantage humans have over computers. For now.

I love all things books so tell me, have you read any of the books on this list? What are your thoughts? Is there a book that has informed your homeschooling, or even just parenting in general?

Note: I have linked to the Amazon listings of these books out of ease and availability, but I was able to find all but one at my local library. I encourage you to do the same!

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Why I won’t wait until my kid is “old enough” to travel

Adult and child standing in front of Notre Dame in Paris on vacation

At the risk of sounding like a terrible human being, one of my first thoughts when I heard about the fire at Notre Dame in Paris was relief. Of course I was concerned about the safety of those in and around the famous cathedral, of course I was heartbroken at the loss of so much history; I just could not help feeling thankful that we had been lucky enough to visit the cathedral two years ago with our son.

There is a big question when it comes to travelling with kids: what’s the point if they don’t remember? Why spend thousands of dollars on something they won’t even care about three years from now? Why go through the tantrums, the headaches, the complaints of “my feet hurt” and “I’m bored” when you can stay home and listen to all of that in the comfort of your own home? They’re not going to remember anyway.

Because maybe all of parenting isn’t about the kids. I know it’s radical but stay with me here. Doing things for ourselves makes us better parents. And doing things as a family brings us together. Whether it’s visiting the museum that’s 5 minutes down the road or a multi-country European vacation, there’s value in going somewhere new.

Does my son remember seeing some old church? No. Does he remember the delicious brioche we ate on the park bench on the way over? No. Does he remember the sunshine and the smiles? Maybe not specifically. But I do.

I remember how he walked all over Paris with barely any complaints. I remember his eyes dancing as he watched his gelato being shaped into a flower as big as his head. I remember his nervousness and excitement at touring Marie Curie’s now decontaminated laboratory. Yes, I even remember considering not waiting in the long line to get into Notre Dame, because kids, but doing it anyway because Paris and making the wait fun. I remember watching him learning and growing as a human being. I remember watching the little pieces falling into place, shaping the adult he will one day be.

As much as he doesn’t remember the details, he learns something every time we venture somewhere new. Maybe I’m trying to justify my own selfishness, but I truly believe that travel changes us, even if we’re too young to remember in what way.

I know that I am so fortunate to be able to take my son places and give him experiences. I don’t take it for granted. Life happens– beautiful cathedrals burn and are forever changed, people die, and kids grow up. And waiting until my kid can remember it isn’t always an option. One day, he’ll go back with his own kids and that will be his moment to remember. Until then, I have beautiful photos to show him and fun stories to tell him. And maybe that’s selfish of me, but I’m going to cherish it.

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How to survive when a spouse travels

For the past four years my husband has been working three week shifts that require him to be away from us. It’s not all bad otherwise we wouldn’t have done it for this long, but I’m not going to lie, I’ll be excited when it comes to an end. Being “on” 24/7 for 3 weeks straight is exhausting. (Single parents, you are the true MVPs.) But luckily I’ve found a lot of little ways to help me survive.

Leftovers are my friend

I make a lot of items from scratch for a number of reasons. This means a simple meal can be a ton of work, so I discovered long ago the beauty of leftovers. I double recipes, plan to eat the meal twice, and freeze the rest. A stocked freezer full of soups and chilies and muffins and breads and cookies is a game changer.


I grew up with a dad in the military so I can tell you first-hand what a game changer technology has been. We FaceTime every night before bed as a family, and sometimes my son will FaceTime his father throughout the day if he’s missing him a bit harder than normal or if he has something exciting to share. It’s especially great for younger kids who may not always be the best conversationalists, but still benefit from their parent’s presence.

Have them help from afar

I know this isn’t a possibility in every situation, but if you can swing it take advantage. I hate making phone calls, so a lot of times my husband will make them while he’s away. He will also research things for our son and is usually the one who remembers what needs to be done around the house. Time to book a service appointment? My husband will usually ask me for dates and times and then call for me. It’s not always perfect (like when the dentist wouldn’t let him rebook the appointment he was cancelling for our son) but it’s a huge load off.

Online game apps

My husband downloaded GamePigeon into my son’s messages app. They play games of everything from Connect4 to Chess virtually. It’s an easy way for them to be together without physically being near one another, and it’s priceless.

Stick to a routine

Sometimes being on your own can be a bit of a time trip and throw you off your game. I also get worn down a lot more easily than when my husband is home, so keeping a routine helps me keep my momentum rather than being paralyzed by the to do list. And, it helps me be prepared for when something like sickness pops up. (Ahem, usually.) I have a grocery day and a laundry day and a cleaning day. It also helps quell tantrums from my kiddo because he knows that we clean Sundays, so it’s not a surprise that he needs to pick up his toys. Sometimes he’ll even clean without me asking because the expectation has been set. I’m recoiling as I write this because it sounds so… strict. But it honestly helps.

Know your limits

Cancel plans. Play hooky. Ask for help. If it’s been a particularly crappy week, don’t be afraid to throw in the towel. If you get stir crazy, then get out of the house and interact with other adults. I know I can get really focused on what needs to be done or what my child needs and can forget about myself, and then I wonder why I’m snapping at every little thing. I have days where I sit on the couch and write and read and knit. I have days when I lock myself in a room and do yoga or meditate, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. I have days where I eat cookies in secret. And I have days where I say screw what needs to be done, let’s go have fun. Which brings me to:

Don’t hold off on fun

There’s a huge temptation on not doing fun things when my husband is home because I want us to do them as a family. And while I’m not suggesting planning a once in a lifetime outing without the spouse that’s away, delaying any and all outings just makes the days stretch longer. Go to museums and science centres and favourite restaurants. Go for a hike. Have friends over for brunch. Try to keep life going as normally as possible, otherwise there will be a gaping hole and make life even more miserable.

So while the distance can be hard, we do manage, because we need to. At the end of the day, the most important thing to do is make sure you both are there for each other for emotional support and know everyone is doing their best to make it work.

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How to own the stay-at-home-mom thing

Maybe it’s because of super moms on the internet. Maybe it’s because we went to school for 4 years and spent thousands of dollars on an education for a career that we no longer have. Maybe it’s because the default emotion of mom is guilt. (Or hey, super dads on the internet and dad guilt.) But for whatever reason, when you’re a stay at home parent, there is this need to do MORE.

That’s why so many of us blog and try to work from home and get trapped in pyramid schemes. You cannot JUST be a parent. It’s not even an outside pressure thing. It’s an ego thing.

I don’t know how many times I have sat down at the end of the day and said to myself, “I am pooped but I have no clue why… I have nothing to show for my day! The house is messier than when I woke up this morning, I didn’t even cook – I fed the child Mac and Cheese and leftovers. And I mean, I only have one friggin’ kid… there is no excuse for this!”

Shhhh….. listen to me, and listen to me good. Screw it. Screw all of it. Those super moms on the internet probably snapped fifteen hundred pictures all in one nap time and have been squeezing them out slowly over the past three months. That career will be there one day.  And that guilt? Chuck it. It’s useless. If you weren’t a stay at home parent it would be guilt about not being with your children and if you weren’t a parent well you’d have guilt from Aunt Lucy about, “When are you gonna settle down and have a family?”

So here it is. My 100% made up stay at home parent guide.

Don’t wake up with your kid

I’m serious. Nothing good comes from being “on” before your ready. Let the baby coo quietly in their crib. Let your preschooler spill cereal all over the floor (that’s why you got a dog after all isn’t it?). And if you absolutely, one hundred percent, must physically get out of bed, because I don’t know, Netflix is down and it’s the end of the world as we know it, sprinkle some little people or legos or whatever it is your kid is into across the floor and lay down and close your eyes and say things like, “mhmm. wow. yup. zzzzzzzzz.”

Leftovers are gold

No lie… I make a lot of shit from scratch. It’s a lot of work, don’t do it. But if you do… double everything. Muffins. Bread. Pasta. Soup. Making single chicken breasts are for suckers- you roast an entire bird and eat like a king for a week straight. Freeze whatever you can. I freeze pancakes. If my kid has pancakes for breakfast every morning for a week, it’s not because mommy has been extra attentive, it’s because she’s been nursing those babies so she doesn’t have to parent and make him eat a diverse breakfast selection.

Don’t do anything while your kid is asleep

That is your time. If you can’t get it done during “working hours” it doesn’t deserve to be done. I have been forced into this by necessity- my kid sleeps the same amount as me and doesn’t nap (SOS), but I’m wondering why I did laundry and cleaned while my kid was napping in the good ol’ days? Put on the radio, strap little ones to you and give bigger ones their own cloth for “dusting” and spend an hour giving the house a once over. Plop your kid in the middle of the laundry pile while you fold– or hell, don’t even fold! Then, after the four hour ordeal that is bedtime, put up your feet, eat the good snacks and zone out with whatever guilty pleasure you have until you pass out yourself. You deserve it.

Don’t do it all

People love to say, “you can’t do it all.” YES YOU CAN AND YOU CAN DO IT ONE HANDED.  I know that personally, I am surprisingly competitive and nothing makes me want to do something more than someone telling me I can’t. However, not doing it all doesn’t mean you can’t do it all, it just means you have badass time management skills. Think about it: the biggest CEOs don’t do everything themselves. Okay, maybe Elon Musk does but didn’t he sound a tad douchey after firing his assistant? I mean I get it, I am him- I refuse to delegate. If you want something done right, you do it yourself! But knowing that you have the option to delegate, and the option to say no, is very freeing. Think long term and ask yourself: is this worth it? If it’s not, ditch it.

Find the joy

I like to complain and make jokes about being with my kid all day everyday, but the truth of the matter is that it does have a positive side. There are times where I really genuinely like my kid. Not love him, because of course we all love our kids, but there are times when he’s my favourite person to be with. Allowing myself, or some days, forcing myself to find moments of laughter and happiness reminds me that it’s not about the food or the clothes of the perfect house, it’s about my time as a mom and his childhood. And it’s the best motivator.

So forget the parental guilt, it’s everywhere. And find ways to make stay at home parenting your own. You deserve it.

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“It’s just a phase” is a lie parents tell each other (and themselves)

After my son was born, I remember being furious that no one had warned me about all of the intimate details of parenthood. Surprises kept popping up and I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult. If we’re being honest, I still can’t. I mean, I googled. I signed up for those weekly emails. I read baby books. I prepared myself in every way possible. But still, the most common phrases I heard as a parent-to-be were vague cliches like “parenting is so difficult” and “it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.”

Now, I’m not saying parenting isn’t difficult or rewarding. And I’ve definitely depended on those old cliches time and time again. When my best friend had a baby of her own and she yelled at me for not warning her, I realized I had totally dropped the ball like all of the other jerks. It wasn’t that I intentionally kept anything from her; I had actually blocked out entire phases of the early days. Self preservation and all that. It turns out that becoming a parent makes you a big fat liar.

The biggest lie? “It’s just a phase.” Veteran parents love that one. And sure, it does have a shred of truth to it, because it usually is a phase. The inherent problem though, is that by saying something is “just a phase” you imply parenting gets easier somewhere along the line. But that phase is like a wave in the ocean. And you’re on the raft from Titanic. You aren’t Rose, nu uh, your kid is Rose and you’re Jack and you’re holding on for dear life and the damn waves keep coming. Sure, sometimes you get a reprieve. You catch your breath, relax your grip for a few seconds, you brag to a friend, “I totally got this!” Maybe, you take a shower and do a load of a laundry. You feel pretty proud of yourself. And then a whole freaking storm hits.

Your kid may never sleep through the night. At least not until long after you’ve given up hope of ever sleeping again and have completely forgotten how to sleep eight consecutive hours yourself. Crying still happens, even after your little bundle of lungs has words. A 6 year old screaming “I hate you” sucks every bit as much as the imaginary commentary you put to your newborn’s cries. At least they won’t remember the time they rolled off the bed, but your 10 year old will definitely remember the time you forgot to pick them up from school. Whoops.

And sure, the “clingy” phase might end and your kid might stop crying when you leave the room, but don’t think you’ll ever be able to poop in peace again. Meal time will always be a mess, and even the best of eaters will decide to be picky at times. (Don’t worry though, it’s just a phase. They’ll hate something else next month.) Suddenly, your kid will have opinions and wants and parenting will become a battle of wills! And my personal favourite: butt wiping doesn’t end where potty training begins. What the actual fuck.

Seriously, how do we survive? Oh, our kids are freaking adorable when they’re finally asleep? That’s true. Admitting to myself that I know nothing about parenting, but neither does anyone else, helps too. Seriously, everyone is making it up as they go along. But of course, I still defer to the experts because I don’t want screwing up to be on my shoulders! At least if I screw up, I can point to the expert and whine, “Well he told me to!

So no, parenting doesn’t get easier, it just gets different. No amount of reading is going to prepare you for what’s next. Parenting is on the job training; and sometimes, just like in the real world, your boss is a complete jerk.

So what can you do? Invest in wine. (The cheap wine, you’re gonna need lots.) Keep a stash of sweets. Surround yourself with people who get it, people who you can rant and rave to and know that they won’t think worse of you for it. Waste valuable sleeping time looking at pictures and videos of your kid to remind yourself how damn freaking much you love them. And tell yourself over and over that this too shall pass.

(But something new will be waiting around the corner to take it’s place.)It’s cool how we call it a “phase” as if parenting gets easier.

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It’s never too cold to be outside

I was born in Florida. I’ve lived in sunny SoCal. I remember living in North Carolina and school being delayed over 2 hours because of a centimetre of snow. I am pretty sure I was permanently cold for a good 5 years when my family moved to Canada. So I get it when people are hesitant about kids being outside when the weather drops below zero. Especially because, truth be told, I hate being cold.

But this comes at a head with my personal requirement that I take my kid outside every day. I am the type of person who opens the windows for a few minutes everyday just to let the fresh air in. I need to be surrounded by trees. I blame our walks on the dog needing them, but truthfully, I need them just as much as he does.

I owe my love of the outdoors that persists even in the cold to our time spent living in the mountains. We lived in the most amazing town where everyone was outdoorsy and fit and just this side of hippy. When we first moved there I was a little hesitant, telling my husband to never let me become a granola mom, but surprise! I make my own granola now and it’s delicious.

Photo of mountains and the Bow River

So when we were visiting Disney World last month on what I’m pretty sure was the coldest day in Florida history (or at least my coldest day in Florida in history), my sister and I were laughing at the conversations we were overhearing. She heard a kid whining about the cold and the mom snapping in turn, “You’re from Michigan!” Everyone had smiles plastered on their faces like “I paid so much money I am not letting the cold get to me, damnit!” And you know what, we all lived and have a funny Disney story to tell now. We made the best of it. Now imagine me standing in line at the airport Starbucks and overhearing a conversation about how selfish parents were for bringing their kids to Disney on such a cold day. THIS IS WHY PARENTING SUCKS. Take your kid to Disney and you are still going to get judged.

Never mind the money spent getting to Florida or that it is a once in a lifetime trip for many. That not everyone has the luxury of saying, “Oh you know, the weather is going to be less than perfect that day, so we should really just wait for another day.” It’s not like people had their babies in bathing suits and were sending them down Splash Mountain in the middle of a snow storm. If your kid is appropriately dressed, weather is not a barrier to fun. In fact, a good mud puddle can only enhance the fun!

I live in Canada. If I let weather get in my way of going outside I would be a recluse. My kid would be a pasty ghost of a person who hisses at the sun. Do you know how bouncy kids get if they’re trapped inside all day? My couch can’t handle that kind of abuse. But outside, he can climb and jump and run and get dirty and it doesn’t matter. Not to mention being outside is actually a safeguard against depression. Don’t take my word for it: one chapter of Last Child in the Woods and you’ll be bundling your kid up in every kind of weather.

In fact, my kid went for his first walk less than 48 hours after he was born. It probably would have been sooner had the hospital let us out the day he was born.

I was terrified bringing him out in subzero temperatures. But I couldn’t stay inside all day when the fresh mountain air was calling my name! If that sounds selfish, I am totally okay with that. But hilariously, I couldn’t figure out why he would scream bloody murder about ten minutes into our walks. I had been overdressing the poor kid and he was roasting! Turns out, babies are pretty resilient. You know the whole “dress baby with one layer more than you’re wearing” thing? Total myth in our case. My kid is frequently running around naked while I am wearing slippers and a hoodie. Not only is he still alive, he’s pretty damn healthy.

Just because I am a stickler about getting outside doesn’t mean it’s always easy. We have our days when the dog doesn’t get a walk. We have days where we sit on the couch with the blinds shut and play board games and watch movies. Because everything in moderation right? Taking the dog for a walk can take over an hour just due to the screaming fest that is putting on shoes. Oh yeah, did I mention my son actually hates being outside? I have to bribe him with books and turn nature walks into science lessons in order to entice him. Lately he has been enjoying riding his strider bike, but unfortunately it’s not always easy to ride a bike in Canada in February.

It isn’t perfect. It isn’t always. But I do think getting outside is part of being healthy, right up there with diet and exercise, so I try to prioritize it. I try not to let the weather be a barrier. In the summer we wear hats and sunscreen, in the winter we have snowsuits and wool and layers, and we have rain gear and rain boots and sweaters and shorts for everything in between. I have always hated the idea of driving to go for a walk, but sometimes it’s necessary to get out of the neighbourhood and into nature. Unfortunately we don’t all live in nature anymore. But we can make do with what we have.

So yup, that’s probably us with the park to ourselves when it’s -10. I’m sorry if I let my kid play in the mud puddle you’re trying to get yours to avoid. Yes, he has a hat and that shirt is SPF 50. I’m trying to grow a happy well adjusted human that appreciates nature and takes care of the world we live in. I’m probably failing miserably, but hey, I still have a few years of denial ahead of me. Yes, I spend more time cleaning up the mess from going outside than actually being outside somedays. But it’s worth it.

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Asynchrony, you’re killing me

Oh Asynchrony, you’re going to be the death of me! Whenever I get frustrated throughout the day, you’re almost always behind it. Every time I ask myself “WHY?!” there you are, whispering in my ear in your stupid sing-song voice.

What is asynchrony you ask? It’s a fancy word for “out-of-sync.” It basically sums up my life as a parent. My kiddo is lightyears ahead intellectually, but emotionally he’s 4. One minute, he’s telling me about right angles and the next he’s throwing a tantrum over having to put on his own socks. I like to say I have 4 kids between the ages of 2 and 20 all rolled into one. And it gives me whiplash trying to figure out which kid I’m dealing with at any minute. And sometimes it’s more than one! Like when he read the cover of I am Malala and I had to come up with a way of explaining the Taliban and women’s rights to a preschooler who simultaneously understands on an intellectual level but on an emotional level does not have the life experience to understand that bad things happen to good people. Talk about horrifying. My nerves are fried!

It’s impossible as a mom to know how to navigate each situation we’re confronted with. Every time we reach an impasse I ask myself “is this a reasonable expectation to have of him?” Because yeah, it’s not a reasonable expectation when you want your 4 year old to practice reading James and the Giant Peach aloud; but for him, it is. He can do it. And it’s my job to help him understand that he can do it. But is it a reasonable expectation to ask a 4 year old to not cry when he’s disappointed that his day didn’t go as planned? Well, I don’t freaking know?? Because emotional regulation falls under the 4 year old stuff and I have no gauge to know what 4 is like. All I can do is try to help him learn an appropriate response and coping skills and try to walk the line between being too hard on my kid and too easy on him. It’s exhausting.

It’s one of those things that you start looking for expert advice about. You know, the dreaded milestones. Theoretically, milestones are awesome checkpoints that help you discern if your parenting is on track. The only problem is not all children fit the checkpoints. Sure, the average child does the majority of the time. But what the fuck is the average child? No child is going to fit all of the milestones, even if their name is John Smith and they live in the family with 2.2 children and a station wagon in the 1950s. Kids are these crazy wild creatures that like to scare us to death. They sure as heck aren’t going to give us any kind of reassurance like succumbing to the almighty milestone checklist. So thanks, expert advice, but you’ve been useless here.

Okay, I shouldn’t say that completely. There are plenty of experts that have been a huge help to me. Experts that deal in gifted kiddos seem to hit the nail on the head. But the problem is, most children aren’t identified as gifted until as late as 3rd grade, the belief being that “all kids level out by 3rd grade.” I could write an entire blog post about my grievances with that one, let me tell you. And profoundly gifted is to gifted as gifted is to average. It’s a huge range. So, as far as I know anyway, there isn’t a “raising baby the gifted way” parenting book I can read while we navigate these rocky early years. I mean, I get it. There probably shouldn’t be a gifted baby book because even as someone who believes that these kids’ intelligence shows up scary early in some cases, I feel like it would be so completely abused by people who don’t understand that gifted doesn’t mean smart. It doesn’t mean successful. It doesn’t mean rich and powerful and right all the time. It just means a brain that works differently.

So what’s the problem with asynchrony? Well, how do you handle a child who:

Can hold intelligent conversations about the periodic table but doesn’t understand that you need to close your eyes to sleep?

Can explain that he needs to borrow instead of using negative numbers when doing subtraction but can’t remember which shoe goes on which foot?

Watches Periodic Videos and Crash Course Chemistry but cries when iPad time is up?

Can type a story with proper spelling and punctuation but can’t print legibly?

It’s frustrating as all hell. I look at this crazy intelligent kiddo and have to constantly remind myself he’s only 4. And I have to figure out the appropriate way to parent him. And sometimes, I know I get it wrong. I’m too hard or too soft and all I want to do is get it right!  And I can’t look to anyone for guidance. It has to be a balancing act within our own family. Which in some ways, is kind of a blessing.

So if you see me forcing my kiddo to do something that’s completely unnatural for a 4 year old, please don’t judge me. And I promise to do the same. Let’s be honest though, we’re both probably way too busy with our own shit to worry about what the other is doing.

And asynchrony, you confuse me, cause self doubt in my parenting skills, and exhaust every ounce of brain power I have. But I wouldn’t change you for a thing because you give us some good laughs sometimes.

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This is what advocacy looks like

As parents, it’s our job to look out for our kids. Not so that life is easy for them, but so that it is just. So that they can get the things that they need to grow up and be happy, healthy, and successful. I don’t mean win a Nobel Prize or make six or seven figures a year, I mean normal-human-being-successful: being able to meet their basic needs and a few wants without killing themselves for it, and not hating themselves (and others) along the way.

I think it’s safe to say that most parents can relate to this. We speak up when our kids are struggling, we adjust plans when they aren’t working, and we shout with pride when they’re doing well. But when you’re raising a child who isn’t “average,” you find yourself on an intense journey. I didn’t know this at first, and couldn’t figure out why parenting was so difficult. But as I’ve learned and become more comfortable in my position as advocate, I’m learning that this is the norm for parents with kids like mine. Apparently, you can’t just read the baby books and keep your fingers crossed. You are constantly questioning yourself, trying to figure out what’s right and then fight for it. It’s like being back in college and the final is tomorrow AND it’s worth 100% of your grade. Talk about stressful.

Late nights.

I am almost always up later than I should be because I get wrapped up in panic at the end of the day. I feel guilty that I didn’t do as much as I could have, or a new question arises, and my brain won’t relax until I solve the problem. Although in most cases, the problem isn’t solvable. So then I sit for a bit and panic about that. On top of that, there isn’t much time during the day to sit and read academic papers, so it’s got to happen before bed.

So. Much. Reading.

I would be a professional student if it paid better. I enjoy learning and reading. But a lot of this stuff is boring AF. I am so lucky I took a bunch of psychology courses with the hopes of a double major (no, I don’t have one, I got lazy) so I at least have some understanding about what I’m reading. Unfortunately, what I did learn about IQ testing and giftedness was about a paragraph in one textbook so there is more that I don’t understand than I do. I sit and I highlight, and bookmark, and print out everything that I think I might need in the next few months. That seems small, but honestly I have no idea where we may be next week, let alone a few months from now. And I like to be prepared.

Reaching out for help.

I hate asking for help. Hate it with a passion. I grew up with “if you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself,” and I agree whole heartedly! The only problem is that it’s impossible to do everything on your own. I mean sure, technically I could go back to school and get a BSc in chem but OMG guys, I have zero desire for that. And I definitely don’t have the time or money. So I am learning to ask for help even when it makes me look like a psycho.

Which brings me to:

Looking like a crazy person.

No matter how deserving my kid is of the things I’m asking, it doesn’t mean that people automatically understand or believe me. I don’t know how many people smile and nod politely when my husband and I say our son can read, and then come back to us saying “he can read read!” Umm. Yeah. This isn’t CVC reading. This is put a college textbook in front of him and he’ll figure it out reading. For over a year now. I get it, it sounds crazy. But for once it would be sooo nice for someone to take our word for it and help him out.

Having to cheer quietly.

When my son was first born, I was totally the mom posting pictures of “look he held up his head!” and his first bite of banana. When he first started reading, I thought it was adorable, so I posted a few things, but they got sparser. Now, I find myself questioning which of the things my son does are appropriate to share, and try to use humour when I do. When people compliment him to my face, I freeze. I feel awkward. I’m terrified they’re going to launch into an attack on how there is no way he should be doing what he’s doing. I don’t know why, because we’ve had an enormous amount of support from our friends and family, but it’s just a feeling that’s there. Not to mention that a lot of times it makes other parents worried if my kid is doing something that theirs isn’t, and that is an awful feeling. I don’t want anyone to worry! But I do want to be able to brag about my son, just a little bit. Isn’t that a mom’s right??! And then there’s always the flip days where I’m all, it’s better to just be confident, and then I am pretty sure I come across as a complete douche. If this happens, I’m sorry! I’m still trying to find the right volume level.

The fear of failure.

Profoundly gifted children are at risk for dropping out of school. I don’t have a link for that because it has been drilled into my brain from every article I’ve ever read about them. Why on earth would they drop out when it comes so easily for them? Because it comes so easily for them! People thrive on an appropriate amount of challenge. Children are programmed for learning. There’s a misconception that if you leave these kids alone they’ll be just fine. Best case scenario: they do okay but never reach their own potential and struggle with that knowledge when they’re older, and the world misses out on whatever greatness they could have offered us and themselves. I don’t want that for my son. I want him to work hard for what he has, learn from his mistakes, and use what he’s been given to its greatest potential. How he uses his gifts is up to him. But I don’t want them stolen from him before he’s able to make a decision on how he wants to use them.

Tomorrow, my husband and I are heading to one final meeting with the school. We have an IQ test and achievement testing. I have a number of articles printed with relevant passages highlighted. But still, I know there is no way we are going to get what my son needs: the freedom to move through school at the rapid fire pace he needs. I have such high hopes for this meeting that I already purchased a math curriculum for January. My husband and I are pretty set on homeschooling at least until “grade 1,” whatever that looks like for our son, and this meeting is really just a Hail Mary.

I am so excited to start our new adventure, but I have one issue that I keep revisiting. Whenever you opt out of a system, you lose out on the opportunity to change it. And while I know my son will be taken care of, what about the kids who aren’t? The ones who get left behind because their giftedness doesn’t look like “gifted” or who don’t have parents who are capable of fighting for them or pulling them out altogether? I won’t let my son suffer, but I do hope that I can find a way to help them too.

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