like a ton of bricks

Yesterday morning I was about 20 minutes into my run at Thetis and I took a step over a rock and didn’t lift my foot up enough. The tip of my foot grazed the rock, and it was enough to trip me. I wasn’t able to right myself (I think because I was going downhill, but I’m not sure what actually happened) and I went down hard on my left side. You know how when you fall your instinct is to go down with hands and knees first? I don’t think I had time to do that…I just went down. Full left side contact with the (rocky) ground. Knee, thigh, elbow, shoulder, head and both hands all took damage. I think my knee and shoulder are the worst in terms of tenderness.

I stayed down for a few seconds assessing the damage. At the time I was acutely aware of the fact that I hit my head. Not because it hurt that much, but because it just seemed so odd to fall and not be able to protect my head. Then I was aware of the different parts that were hurting. I slowly got up and determined I could walk with little trouble, so I started making my way along the trail. About two minutes later (and this is where shock and adrenaline are amazing things), I decided that I wasn’t going to let a fall ruin my run, and I ran 10 more minutes back to the car. As I write this a day and a half later I have no idea how I managed that.

I drove home a bit concerned about how I was going to get the dirt out of all my cuts, and feeling really apprehensive about the shower that I would have to have. The shower was excruciating, and it made me nauseous. I was able to clean up most of the cuts, but there were two on my right hand that were chock full of dirt that I couldn’t get it out — it hurt too much. I tried again after the shower (with a nail brush of all things) and I almost puked. So, feeling like an idiot I went off to the clinic to get them cleaned up. By this point all shock had worn off and my whole left side felt like it had been pummelled.

The doctor at the clinic agreed that the dirt had to come out. He tried to loosen it up a bit by running my hand under water, and then he proceeded to take a gauze pad and scrub. Like you’d scrub burned food off a frying pan. I was sitting in a chair while he did the smaller of the two cuts. He kept asking me how I was (sweet man), and before he started on the bigger cut he insisted I lie down. I was thankful, as it was awful. But he got it all out, and I left the clinic with a fresh bandaid, a bright red palm, and two cuts that were stinging like the dickens.

I went to work which was a good distraction and then had a beer at lunch which I think helped with the pain a bit. I got home and popped some Ibuprofen. Greg is camping with Amy this weekend and I was very thankful to have just one child, and the more independent child at that. While I’m mobile and certainly able to walk, both leg and arm movement hurt. If I lie down for a while and then get up, there is some pretty intense pain in my knee as all the blood rushes back down to all the cuts. And the top of my shoulder is extremely tender. The lightest touch makes me cringe. Oh, and when I took my bandaids off this morning to change them, they all stuck to the cuts so I had to rip them off. I borrowed some Polysporin from my neighbour when I reapplied the bandaids, so hopefully that won’t happen again.

With the exception of a trip I had on a pipe while running in a school field (which I don’t really count because the pipe was totally hidden), I’ve never fallen when running. I do tend to not pick up my feet as much as I should, though, and based on this experience I think I will try to be a bit more aware of my footing. Because this is a real inconvenience. I’m in pain, I’m kind of grumpy, I’m very tired, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to do any exercise for at least a week.

I feel like a total dweeb for doing this to myself, and I feel old…this kind of fall 10 years ago wouldn’t have hurt me as much, I’m sure. But it could have been worse. It could have been the Friday before my bike race. I would not have been able to ride, which would have been extremely disappointing. And I could have hurt myself a whole lot more, especially if I’d cracked my head harder. But the experience has reminded me how vulnerable we are.

you have to see the humour in it

Today wasn’t the easiest day to spend with Amy. We did lots of fun things, but there was lots of screaming (from me as well as her), hitting and pushing. I had to laugh when I came across this post about Elliot, written when he was just a couple of months younger than Amy is now. Here’s an excerpt:

Throw sand at his mother? Check.

Throw sand at his father? Check.

Throw sand at his sister? Check.

Hit his mother? Check.

Hit his father? Check.

Kick his sister? Check.

Throw toys at his door? Check.

Throw his shoes? Check, check.

Along the same vein, here’s a synopsis of today:

Scream at her mother? Check.

Scream at her father? Check.

Hit her brother? Check.

Hit her mother? Check, check, check.

Hit her father? Check.

Push her brother into a metal railing? Check.

Scream before nap time? Check.

Scream before bed time? Check.

Thankfully she’s now asleep. Before she went to bed I suggested to her that tomorrow I could yell at her less, and she could hit me less. She agreed.

take a deep breath

I seem to be having a lot of parenting moments lately where after the fact I realize I could have handled the situation more…shall we say maturely. I don’t know if the kids are actually acting any differently or if I just have less patience. I haven’t been sleeping well due to Amy’s frequent wake-ups, so it very well could be the latter.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but these are very small incidents where right after I react (and the child in question reacts to my reaction) I realize I haven’t handled things well. Tonight there were two good examples. The first was when Amy hit me (she’s a bit of a hitter) while I was putting her pajamas on. Now I’m not saying hitting is okay, but there was a reason she hit me. I had irrationally got mad at her for taking her pj’s off while she was on the toilet. She almost always does this when she’s having a poop and I don’t think I’ve ever got mad at her. But tonight my patience was down and as soon as she did it, I got mad. And she knew I was mad. I whipped her off the toilet and shoved her in her pajamas. And she hit me. My reaction? I pretty much pushed her out of the bathroom, pajamas half on, and told her to go to her room. Okay. So first off, how about chill on the whole taking the pj’s off issue, since it’s never been an issue before. Second, how about recognize there was a reason she was frustrated and mad, acknowledge her feelings, and tell her it’s not okay to hit. And then continue to put her pj’s back on and get on with bedtime.

The second incident was with Elliot. He was brushing his teeth and I asked him to let me finish, which we do every night. He started goofing around and running away from me. Again, patience wearing thin, I reacted by taking away the cars he was playing with. This may sound minor, but taking away his cars is a HUGE deal to him. And I know this. Not a good consequence for merely goofing around. He got angry and threw his toothbrush at me. Then he started screaming. I started putting more cars away, and he screamed louder. Great. I felt like screaming too. And right away I knew I could have easily avoided the escalation if I had just ignored his goofing around.

Like I said, this seems to be happening a lot. Tomorrow I’m off and have the kids with me, and I’m feeling under the weather. I’m hoping that by writing this I have made myself more aware of what’s going on, and I can remember to just take a moment before reacting…and then hopefully react a bit more constructively. It’s not that these things shouldn’t be addressed, it’s just that I’d like to be able to feel good about how I’ve handled it, not feel like I’m the same age as my children.

here we go again

We went through a rough patch with Elliot when he turned three. It lasted a long time (months), and I am still thankful that we are through it. I spoke to a lot of mums through that time, and they all said that three was their hardest year. And they assured me that four would be much better. They were right.

However. We have a second child, and she appears to be hitting her “three” about five months early. It’s a totally different three from Elliot, but I’m still finding it difficult. There is a whole lot of “NO” being yelled in our house (by her), a whole lot of laughing as she does something she knows is wrong, and a whole lot of unprovoked hitting, almost exclusively aimed at her brother. This morning she walked up to him with a dustpan and whacked him. The other day he was sitting defenseless on the toilet and she ran her fingers roughly down his face.

When I drop them off and pick them up at daycare I feel like I’m barely in control as she refuses to put her inside shoes on, takes forever to put her coat on, wings her coat around hitting other people, and says “no” to me about 20 times. At the dinner table we are constantly asking her to stop pushing her feet against the table, to stop getting off her chair, to stop putting her feet ON the table. Often I’m at a loss as to what the right consequence is. And even when I do have a consequence that makes sense (such as removing her from Elliot’s room when she hits him…something that does hit home for her), she immediately is contrite. She apologizes, says “me don’t do that again” and says she’s ready to stop . I’ve been letting her decide when she’s ready to rejoin us when I exile her, but lately I’m wondering if I need to be tougher. Time outs never worked with Elliot but I’m wondering if they would with her. Except that I’m not a fan of them.

I do recognize that this is all normal behaviour, and for the most part I think Greg and I are navigating our way through it with some success. For example, she removed her dishes from the table tonight WITHOUT putting them upside down on her head, and she proudly pointed out to both of us that she was doing it “gently”. So some of it is getting through. And while I feel frustrated at some of her behaviour, what is easier with her than when Elliot was three is she recovers so quickly. So although there is still lots of drama, it’s very short-lived. But it makes for a bit of a roller coaster ride.

I think I just needed to vent a bit. Mission accomplished.

the balance

I go through periods where I feel like I’ve got it together…my family is healthy, pets aren’t dying, work is going well, things just generally feel “right”…and then I go through periods where I feel like I’m barely holding on. I think this happened before we had kids, but it seems more pronounced in the “AK” years (after kids). If I’d started this post three hours ago it would be full of swear words but I’ve since had some alcohol and the kids have been asleep for a couple of hours so I’m a bit calmer. Plus I’m blessed to be married to a very calming man.

My family is healthy, our remaining pet is not dying, and work is going well, but I still feel like I’m barely holding on, so there is more to it than that. I feel like I haven’t had much time for me lately. Which is odd because the majority of the last seven days I’ve only had one child to take care of. But this has been brewing for a few weeks. Elliot’s recent emotional state at daycare has been hard on me — it’s got me to thinking about his personality in general, and I worry that he’s going to have a tough road ahead of him. I think his sensitivity leads to his volatility, and it can be hard to be on the receiving end of it. And I’m sure it’s tough on him too.

When I titled this post “the balance” I was thinking about the balance between finding time to spend with my family and finding time for just me, but I realize it’s also about finding a balance with Elliot. Knowing when to push him past his comfort level and when to just let him be. Knowing when to walk away from him when he’s hitting or screaming and when to fold him up in my arms and just hold him tight. Continually wondering what the “right” thing to do is, to get him past whatever hump is in his way.

I recently had a conversation with my sister and she acknowledged (after saying how much she loved Elliot) that she has always thought that Greg and I haven’t had the easiest time of it, raising our son. I have never thought of him as difficult and would never want to put that label on him, but I was surprised at how validated I felt. He has always slept well, ate well, developed normally, etc., and I never really thought about the emotional aspect of raising him. But while I felt validated, I also felt a bit thrown off, like I was on unstable footing, and I’m still feeling that. He’s still the same kid, but I find myself looking at him differently, and looking at my parenting differently. And I don’t like it. I don’t think this is happening in the moment when I’m with him, but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting when I’m not with him, and that’s when these feelings come up.

And perhaps that why I feel like I haven’t had much time for me — I’ve been investing so much time thinking about Elliot. I don’t blame my sister for making me feel this way. I would have got there on my own, as I watch my daughter grow and continue to take life very much in stride, laughing almost all the way. It’s such a stark contrast to her brother. And it makes me worry about him.

my reinitiation to thetis lake

Yesterday I went for a run at Thetis Lake — my first visit there since before Yoshi died. This was my favourite place to take Yosh, and we logged a lot of hours there. I had been dreading going, and I wasn’t going to go until I was good and ready.

I didn’t go alone. We are taking care of Digger for a couple of weeks, and I took him and a small part of Yoshi. Before Yoshi died Greg expressed his wish to have his ashes returned to us. I am not sure I would have done this had I been on my own, but I didn’t have any strong objections, so I agreed. A couple of weeks after he died we got the ashes back from the vet. In an urn, of all things. We promptly put them in the basement in a closet as we were not ready to deal with them. But we did talk about some of the things we wanted to do with them, and one of the things I wanted was to bring some out to Thetis.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this — I didn’t really want to go alone, yet I didn’t want to go with anyone. Any humans, that is. But as I was falling asleep one night earlier this week, I suddenly thought: Digger. He’d be perfect company.

So off we went, Digger running ahead of me and a small bag of Yoshi’s ashes in my hand. I knew exactly where I was going to leave the ashes. On Trillium trail there is a rock outcrop that Yoshi loved to jump off (and Digger too). I planned to throw some in the lake and leave some on the shoreline. I did most of my run before getting to this spot, and it was a good run. I didn’t think about Yoshi much, I just enjoyed the run and Digger’s company. Although a couple of times I let myself imagine that I was running with both dogs, and Yoshi was off running in the bush, as he often did.

When we got to the spot, I threw a few ashes in the lake and then got distracted as Digger went crazy looking for a stick. I helped him find one, smiling to myself at the interruption, and then grabbed another handful, threw them in the lake along with the stick and whispered to Digger to go in and join him. And he did. He jumped right in the middle of the ashes, and went for one more swim with his buddy. I put a few more on the shoreline and then I just stood there for a few minutes. I told Yoshi I loved and missed him, and then continued on my run. It was then I discovered you can’t run and cry at the same time, so I walked for a bit and had a good cry.

I had a few more ashes left and I was just going to bring them back to the house, but then I saw one of the side trails that Yoshi loved to go on, so I sprinkled some at the entrance and just stood there imagining him running through the bush. I could almost hear him. I collected myself and then finished my run with Digger.

It was exactly what I wanted to do, without really realizing that until I was done. It seemed fitting to have Digger with me, and now that I’m through the hurdle of the “first time back”, it will be easier to go again.

Thank you Digger — you were my rock.

not himself

Greg and I have been talking recently about how well Elliot is doing at daycare. Compared to a year ago, he’s like a different boy. He enthusiastically goes into the classroom in the mornings, he’s got a couple of kids he really likes to play with, and he seems to be connecting with all three of his teachers.

Until two weeks ago.

For the past couple of weeks, things have been different. When I pick him up he’s often been playing in a corner by himself, or just watching for me. He is much more tentative when we drop him off, and his teachers have said he’s been having a tough time. Not all the time, but he goes up and down throughout the day. And he’s not very communicative with them when he’s not happy, so they haven’t been able to figure out what is wrong.

There’s been a few things going on. One of his teachers left for surgery and will be gone for three months. But she was replaced by another teacher Elliot knows, and I think he likes her. And he definitely likes his other two teachers. One of his friends has been sick for over a week. And Elliot himself hasn’t been feeling all that great. He’s had a sore throat and a cough for at least a week.

I’ve tried to talk to him about it, and he did at one point say he missed Jacob (his friend), but I think I prompted him on that one. And Jacob’s been back for two days now and I don’t see a difference. I haven’t talked about his missing teacher because if he’s not upset about her leaving, I don’t want to put the thought in his head. Yesterday we talked about his sad feelings a bit and he did tell me he missed me during the day. Fair enough, but why is that all of a sudden making him sad?

I’m really struggling with this, as I want to fix it. Now. Especially since he was so happy before. I have to bite my tongue to keep digging, trying to figure out what is wrong. There’s only so much digging you can do with a four-year-old. Plus I don’t want to fixate on it, as I don’t think that’s healthy. It’s not that I want to ignore it, but I think I should be focusing on the positive too.

I don’t think it’s something terribly wrong, because he isn’t crying and clinging to my legs during dropoff, and often when I ask him what his favourite part of his day was, it’s something from daycare. Plus his general behaviour hasn’t changed much. I think if something was really wrong we’d see something at home.

Perhaps it’s just a combination of things. He’s a sensitive kid, both emotionally and physically, so when you add up a teacher leaving with missing a friend and feeling sick yourself, it doesn’t make for an entirely happy kid.

I am finding it hard to balance how much I should talk to him about it, and what I should say when we do talk. Greg pointed out that we should encourage him to talk to his teachers if he’s feeling upset about something, which is very true.

At any rate, I’m hoping things improve soon. He and Amy are spending the weekend with Gramma and that’s always a perk for him.

being a parent sure can suck

Through the last few months of Elliot’s less-than-desirable behaviour, I’ve said numerous times (both to myself and to others) that I’m glad none of this stuff is happening at daycare. It’s been reassuring to me that he saves his worst behaviour for me and Greg.

Today at daycare pickup I found out the line’s been crossed. Sandra, one of his caregivers, flagged me down to tell me that Elliot’s been behaving badly recently. Hitting, kicking, baby talk and screaming. It sounded all too familiar. My stomach sank as she described his last two days at daycare.

I found it very awkward to talk about when he was standing right there, which she understood, so we have a meeting tomorrow morning to talk about it more. But in the meantime I feel like shit. There are a few thoughts running around in my mind…maybe there’s actually something wrong with him developmentally…I don’t want his caregivers to stop liking him…what the hell will we do if he gets kicked out of daycare?…how are we going to fix this?

I’m hoping that Sandra will have some useful advice for us. I’m not sure what to expect out of this meeting, except that I want to feel better than I do right now. And I want to have a game plan of some kind.

I talked to my sister about this tonight, and the first thing she said to me is that Elliot IS a sweet child, and this is a behavioural issue. I have to remember that. I also have to remember that we’re not in this alone. There are plenty of resources out there to help us if needed.

The icing on the cake was after a perfectly good bedtime this evening, he asked for something that was in Amy’s room. I told him I couldn’t get it for him because Amy was already asleep. He proceeded to throw two cars that he had in bed with him. So I took them out of the room. He then threw his soother. I picked it up, gave it to him, and told him if he threw it again he’d lose it for the night. He looked me straight in the eye and dropped it on the floor. I picked it up and left the room. That was over an hour ago. I’ve just spent the last hour plus listening to him cry out for his soother. He’s apologized for throwing it, he’s pleaded, he’s screamed and I think he probably threw something else when I wasn’t in the room. I lay down with him for a few more minutes just now and then told him I was going to bed too, and I haven’t heard from him since.

Probably not my best parenting decision, taking it away from him (this will be the first night he’s EVER slept without it), but once I took it away I felt like I had to stick to my guns. But I wonder if any of it gets through to him.

I hope it does soon. I’m feeling quite helpless.

this has not been a good day

I woke up with a headache. Not as bad as the three previous ones I have had this month, but still bad enough to make me dread the day.

Then Amy had a blow out. Something is not right with her. She had a fever on the weekend and now she’s got some pretty bad runs. Thankfully she’s eating and drinking, so that is at least encouraging. Thankfully Greg took care of the first blow out. He unfortunately wasn’t around for the second, where there was crap all the way up her back and into her ear. Yes, her ear. Thank goodness we have a hand held shower head.

Amy is having her third nap of the day, and I’ve retreated to the basement to blog so I don’t throttle my other child. Where do I start? He has resisted peeing all day, yet his underwear is wet and he obviously needs to go. He pooped in his underwear for the first time in months (although I think it was totally unexpected for him, and we cleaned it up pretty easily).

We’ve gone through five pairs of underwear today. I told him we had to pee before we left for the park, and through the screams he made his way to the toilet, started peeing and then purposefully decided to pee all over the floor. I yelled. Not proud of myself for that one. Then there was the fight over washing hands.

Then at the park he wouldn’t stop throwing sand, so we left. A meltdown ensued (no surprise). I plunked him in the wagon and he booted Amy. So I plunked him on the concrete. We eventually made it home, where we had another fight to pee.

I don’t know whether to just continue letting him pee his pants a bit or go through the fight of getting him to the toilet. It was fine when the wet spot was the size of a loonie, but it’s now the size of a pancake almost every time we pee.

It’s just hard. And he just came down and hit me. It’s because I’m not paying attention to him, but like I said, I just want to throttle him. And when he laughs when I reprimand him, it just makes it worse.

Sigh.

he’s making it hard to forget

We’ve been having some problems with our landlord getting our damage deposit back (long story), and Greg has kindly agreed to take care of it so that I don’t have to worry about it. That unfortunately is not how I work, much as I would like to change that about myself, so while Greg is taking care of it, I’m definitely still worried about it.

It doesn’t help that my son is running around all day with his Fisher Price phone pretending to talk to Andy, who is our “property manager” (and yes, I’m using those quotes correctly). Every time I manage to forget about the issue, he runs into the room telling me he’s talking to Andy.

It’d be funny if it weren’t so stressful.