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    Monday April 5th, 2010

    Being Wonderful

    “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

    e.e. cummings

    Fig is a big girl for her age.  When she was first measured after her birth, she was off the chart for length, and that has continued to this day.  She’s big and she’s bold.  Sometimes when she comes in for a kiss, she approaches with such force that I fear for my lips.  It’s understandable, then, that Pip likes to keep a bit of distance between herself and Fig.  In Pip’s eyes, Fig is still just too unpredictable.  Her actions cannot be trusted.

    coming in

    One sunny day we were outside in the back yard, and the girls were sitting in their mini-lawn-chairs.  Pip moved her lawn chair to a new location, and Fig picked up her lawn chair, followed Pip and plopped it down beside her.  “Hi Pip,” Fig said proudly.  Pip grunted a bit, picked up her lawn chair, and moved it far away from Fig.  Once again, Fig and her lawn chair followed Big Sister.  This went on three or four times before I intervened.

    “Pip, that’s not a very nice thing you’re doing.  Fig just wants to sit beside you.  How would you feel if you came to sit beside me, and I picked up my chair and moved it away from you?”

    “Oh Mama,” Pip sighed, “sometimes I just forget to be wonderful.”  I had to pause for a second.  I love it when my kids hit me with something unexpected.

    “You know what Pip?  Sometimes I forget to be wonderful too.”

    Don’t we all?


    Monday March 29th, 2010

    Expectations

    “The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.”

    Eli Khamarov

    When I drop Pip off at Daisytree pre-school two mornings a week, it provides Fig and I with a two-hour chunk of one-on-one time.  During the week-long Spring Break, Fig demonstrated a few negative, attention-seeking behaviours and I wondered if she was missing our mother-daughter time.  Our first week back at school, I was really looking forward to being able to focus all of my attention on Fig for awhile. I drove the girls to Daisytree, we walked Pip into the school and hugged her good-bye, and then I asked Fig what she wanted to do for our ‘date.’

    “Play,” said Fig.  She didn’t want to leave the wonders of the Daisytree environment.  She wanted to stay with Pip.  I tried to entice her with a trip to the park, to the muffin shop, to the playground, but Fig didn’t budge.  She liked looking at the worms in the kiddie pool that was in the pre-school’s back-yard.  After about fifteen minutes of worm-watching, I told Fig that we had to go.  I tried all of the tactics in my arsenal to convince her to leave peacefully, but in the end, I had to pick Fig up and carry her to the car.

    I always hate having to physically remove my kids when they’re not cooperating.  I feel like a bully:  “Okay, you’re not doing what I want, so I’ll use my size and strength to overpower you.”  I know I wouldn’t like to be hoisted under someone’s arm against my will.  I do it as a last resort, but it never feels good.

    Fig became so upset with me, that she cried in the car for the next fifteen minutes.  When we arrived at her favourite playground, she calmed down and we proceeded to have a great time.  We played hide and seek, slid down the slide together, told knock-knock jokes while Fig was in the swing, and had a tender cuddle when she fell down a couple of steps.  Then it was time to leave.  Once again, Fig wanted to stay right where she was.  There were more tears, and her general dissatisfaction continued for the next hour.  She didn’t want her shoes removed, she didn’t want to wash her hands, she didn’t want me to put her down, she didn’t like the lunch I made, and she didn’t want to nap.  You’ve been there.   Clearly, this was not the idyllic mother-daughter time that I had anticipated.

    My expectation was that Fig and I would have a glorious morning together, and in reality, there were probably as many minutes of crying as there were non-crying ones.

    Last weekend I had my first newborn photo-shoot.  The New Mom had told me that her week-old bundle of joy slept so soundly in the afternoons, we would be able to place her on any prop and she’d slumber peacefully.  With the parents input, I set-up about six different scenarios for the baby-shoot.  I even borrowed a bike with a basket, hoping to capture some great ‘baby in the basket’ images.  Both the parents and I had very high expectations, but the baby had other ideas.

    She was awake for the entire photo shoot, and she was definitely not happy about being placed, naked and alone, upon strange new surfaces.  Who could blame her?  She wanted to be clothed and swaddled and cuddled.  Isn’t that what all newborns want, and deserve?

    And who could blame Fig, for that matter?  No-one.  Fig is a normal two-year-old, making sense of the world and trying to make her wishes known and respected.  She is asserting her independence, and it’s a healthy, encouraging part of her growth.

    Both situations have me examining the whole notion of ‘expectations.’  This is not a new theme for me.  Sometimes it’s helpful to have high expectations, because it encourages me to achieve wonderful things.  When they’re too high, however, the disappointment can alter the enjoyment of the experience.

    If I look back on these two experiences and erase my expectations, I feel hugely satisfied.  The photos captured during the newborn shoot are precious.  I love looking at them.  The beauty of this little family is overwhelming.  (www.pantusophotography.com.)  Likewise, being at the playground with Fig was a lovely experience!  She adored having all of my attention and we shared a lot of laughs.

    It brings to mind the wonderful Ekhart Tolle books (that I need to re-visit) about living in the moment.  How can I be bothered with expectations when I’m fully present in the now?  It’s one of my biggest challenges in life.  To simply live in the moment.

    I’m up for it.

    waterkiss

    Monday March 22nd, 2010

    Singing

    “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”

    William James

    When I was a teenager, I was really interested in the performing arts.  I loved music.  I wrote songs, I played guitar, I acted in plays, I danced, but I did not have a very powerful singing voice.  My ever-supportive parents arranged for me to have private vocal instruction with a lady named Joyce Court.  After several rather frustrating singing lessons, dear Mrs. Court said to my mom and I, “Have you thought about modeling, Karen?”  In other words, I was not going to make it as a singer.  I had a good ear, I could read music, and I could definitely carry a tune, but I just didn’t sound that great.

    I moved on.  My experience with Mrs. Court definitely discouraged me from performing songs in a public forum, but it certainly didn’t stop me from singing for pure enjoyment.  I used to sing with my students when I was teaching, and now I literally sing ALL THE TIME with my daughters.  Singing soothes babies and older children alike.  If my daughters are cranky, I can always distract them with a little song.

    The cool thing is, my daughters don’t give a damn whether or not I have a good singing voice, they call for encores all the time!  I sing kids’ songs, current songs, lullabies, Abba, soundtracks from musicals such as The Sound of Music, and I also make-up my own ‘running-commentary’ type songs.  These are the tunes that would probably be most irritating to any other adult within earshot, but they work.  I often pick showtunes like, “New York, New York,” and change up the lyrics… ‘Start getting your shoes,”  (instead of ‘Start spreading the news…’)   “and put on your socks, we’ll get our winter jackets on, and head outside.”   I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this.

    I’m reminded of a former colleague of mine, who taught second grade, and used to sing and hum constantly.  Sometimes she’d even sing her responses to her students.  I thought she was rather loopy at the time, but I don’t anymore.  I get it.  Even my mom is a hummer.  I never recognize the songs she hums, and perhaps they are just a random collection of notes.  Maybe she just hums for humming’s sake, but that doesn’t matter, does it?

    I’ve noticed recently that Pip and Fig also launch into operetta-style conversations very naturally, as though it’s just another acceptable form of communicating.  I’m thinking it might make difficult conversations go a lot smoother in the future.  Imagine if Pip confronted me one day and sang, “Mama Mia, Here I go again, My My, Can I get my tongue pierced?”

    piptongue

    Monday March 15th, 2010

    Move over Barbie…

    “Math is tough.”

    Mattel’s talking Barbie

    I’m fortunate enough to be writing a monthly column for Our Big Earth, a fabulous local blog that serves our community of young families well.  This past Saturday, OBE published my Barbie-Buyer’s Remorse article, and it was met with a wide variety of comments. (To view the article, follow this link: http://www.ourbigearth.com/2010/03/13/buyer’s-remorse-facing-the-barbie-dilemna/comment-page-1/#comment-6761)  It got me thinking about Barbie once again, and, at the risk of alienating those of you who have had your fill of ‘doll-talk’, I decided to provide you with an update.

    It had been more than a month since I had given our Barbies away, when Pip asked, “Mama, you know who we haven’t seen in awhile?  Barbie.  Do you know where she is?”  (How foolish I was to think that I had gotten away with Barbie-napping and the mysterious disappearance of the high-heeled shoes!)  For a brief moment I considered pleading ignorance, but I knew I would have to face the music at some point, so I decided to come clean.

    “Pip, I gave your Barbie away because I didn’t think she was a good toy for you to have.”  Sugar-coating is not my style.

    “But why Mama?”  This wasn’t going to be easy, and Pip caught me completely unprepared.  How was I going to articulate my feelings in a way that a three-year-old would understand?

    “Barbie doesn’t look like a real grown-up woman looks,”  I began, finding fault with my reasoning as it was coming out of my mouth.  Pip’s ‘Fisher Price Little People’ don’t look like real people, but they are appropriate toys, as are all of the stuffies that fill her toy shelves.  Despite my lack of conviction, I forged ahead with something like, “Barbie can’t really do much; she can’t even stand up on her own because of her high-heeled shoes.”  Not only was my argument flawed, I clearly should NOT have mentioned the shoes.

    “Did you give away my high-heel shoes too, Mama?”  Rats.

    “Yes, Sweetie, I did, because those shoes were not safe.  You kept slipping and falling down whenever you wore them.  Your Dad and I decided that they were just too dangerous.  You still have your beautiful Ruby Red Slippers, though.”

    To be honest, Pip was taking all of this better than I had anticipated.  She wasn’t crying.  She didn’t even seem terribly upset or surprised.  There was definitely a lot going on in her little mind, but she was quite calm as she processed the information I was giving her.  (I like to think that she appreciated my honesty.)

    If I remember correctly, she did toss out the occasional whine: “But I liked Barbie,” and, “I bought them with my own money!”   In the end, she actually gave me a hug and said, “Mama, even though you gave away my Barbie and my high-heel shoes, I still love you.”

    “Thanks Pip,” I said.  I was genuinely relieved.  Our talk had gone a lot better than I had imagined, and it had nothing to do with me.

    Now, I realize that many of you disagree with my concerns about Barbie, but I did a little research this time around, and I found a study called, ‘Does Barbie Make Girls Want to Be Thin? The Effect of Experimental Exposure to Images of Dolls on the Body Image of 5-8 Year Olds.’  Author Suzan Ive states, “dolls provide a tangible image of the body that can be internalized as part of the child’s developing self-concept and body image.”

    It was found that girls’ desire for thinness emerges around age 6 and that dolls like Barbie, because of their iconic status, are likely to act as salient role models, at least for very young girls. Ives states in the Discussion and Conclusion section of her research, “[Findings] showed that very young girls experience heightened body dissatisfaction after exposure to Barbie doll images but not after exposure to Emme doll (or control) images.” In other psychological studies in the past, it has similarly been found that children who play violent video games are later proven to be more aggressive, even though they are merely playing a “game” and not reenacting reality.

    I played with Barbies as a young girl.  I had the Malibu Barbie Camper, a wonderful wardrobe for my dolls, and of course lots of accessories.  I loved my Barbies, but I would have had just as much fun with dolls that  represented a more realistic body shape.  It has been said that, if Barbie were a real human being, she would be seven feet tall, have an 18” waist and weight 110 lbs!!!

    It’s hard to know how much of an impact those dolls had on my own body image, but I definitely went through a stage of unhealthy eating in order to maintain an unrealistic weight.  I was pursuing an acting career at the time, and at 5’10” and 120 lbs, I had an agent who told me that I could stand to lose some weight!  The sad thing is, I didn’t laugh in his face, I ate melba toast instead.

    I don’t want to rob my daughters of the fun I had dressing-up and playing with dolls, but I want to be wise in selecting their toys.  That’s why I was delighted to discover the ‘Only Hearts Club Dolls.’

    only hearts 1

    They’re available at our local toy store, Whales Tales.  I like them because their bodies remind me of my five-year-old niece: no boobs, no waist, no make-up…and they wear SNEAKERS!!!  The dolls still have long hair to play with, and there are an array of clothes and accessories, but I think they’re a great compromise.  Best of all, none of the dolls say, “Math is tough.”  (What on earth was Mattel thinking?)

    only hearts 2

    Sunday March 7th, 2010

    I have fears

    “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”

    ~Leo Buscaglia

    teeter

    I’ve never been a worrier.  Loved ones have traveled to faraway places, friends have been involved in dangerous sports, my husband has climbed mountains and rafted down treacherous rivers, and I haven’t worried.  Now my daughters go for a bike ride with their dad and I sigh with relief when they return.

    What is that?

    This morning I woke up feeling tired.  I always know I’m overtired when I  can cry at the drop of a hat.  Show me a Tim Horton’s commercial when I haven’t had enough sleep and my cheeks will be wet in thirty seconds.

    At any rate, I was planning to go to a drum workshop and Big Daddy-O was in charge of the girls.  From the moment I found out he was planning to take them swimming, I started to worry.  How could he manage two little non-swimmers by himself?  Fig had only been to the pool a handful of times.  We’d always taken the girls together.  What was he thinking?  One daughter could easily sink while he was keeping the other afloat.  It was too dangerous.

    I voiced my concerns, was reassured by my husband, then I kissed my daughters goodbye and jumped in the shower because I felt tears starting to sting my eyes.   I felt silly.  My husband used to be a lifeguard, my daughters would be wearing floatation devices; my feelings were completely irrational, but they existed nonetheless.

    Is it normal to worry about your kids?  Of course it is, but it’s unproductive, and terribly uncomfortable.  I don’t feel like myself when I’m having thoughts of my daughters drowning at the local pool.  It’s dark and disturbing.  I don’t want to put that energy out into the universe, and I certainly don’t want it to impact the experiences my daughters enjoy in life.  The way I see it, it’s my problem, and I just have to deal with it.  I have to be stronger than the worry.  Any suggestions?

    I remember my wonderful obstetrician, Dr. H, talking to me during my last visit before Pip was born.  He asked me if I had any questions or concerns, and I told him  that I was just worried about the baby.  I was worried about something going wrong.

    He said, “Karen, it’s natural to worry.  And once your baby is safely in your arms, you’ll begin a lifetime of worrying about her.”  He was right.

    Monday March 1st, 2010

    Fairies and Jack Black

    “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs.  It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

    Henry Ward Beecher

    Sometimes I feel as though my home is a comedy club.  If you are currently raising young children who are of speaking age, you know what I mean.  Pip and Fig are constantly sending my husband and I into fits of giggles with their interpretations of the world.  I thought I’d just share a couple of them with you this week, and please feel free to contribute your own zingers.

    The girls received fairy costumes for Christmas and they probably ask to wear them every other day.  My husband and I were in the living room when the two girls came around the corner holding hands and Pip said, “We’re two fairies and we’re going to get married.”

    Big Daddy-O smirked and I gave him a, ‘Don’t say what you’re thinking,’ look.

    “I’ll perform the ceremony for you fairies,” I said, “What are your names?”

    “Well, my fairy-name is Desert Rose,” said Pip with a flourish.

    “Whoaaaaaa,” said Big Daddy-O.

    “That’s a beautiful name!” said I, “and what about your sister?”

    “Her name is Clock.”

    fairies

    ******

    Pip loves music, and she is drawn to any television show that contains music, whether it be The Wizard of Oz or the opening ceremonies for the Olympics.  There is one half-hour show on Treehouse that she enjoys called, ‘Yo Gabba Gabba,’ and it’s like a mini-musical.  The host is a DJ and they sometimes have guest-stars.  The episode that Pip asks for repeatedly, (we have a PVR,) is the one where Jack Black appears as a lost motorcyclist, and sings his way through the many emotions of being lost in a foreign place and then finding new friends.  If you’re a fan of Jack Black’s you’d love this show.  He’s hilarious.

    Now that you have the back-story, you’ll appreciate this little exchange:

    Pip: “Mama, do you know what my new summer jacket does?”

    Me: “What?”

    Pip: “IT COVERS MY BUM!”

    Me: “Wow, isn’t that great?”

    Pip: “I have a coincidence Mama.  It’s just like Jack on Yo Gabba Gabba.  Jack’s shirt covers his bum and my jacket covers my bum.”

    Me: “Nice.”

    Pip: “Jack’s bum is bigger than my bum.”

    Me: “Yes it is.”

    Pip: “I wonder how big it is now.”

    Me: “Jack’s bum or your bum?”

    Pip: “Jack’s bum.”

    ******

    pip

    Big Daddy-O was driving the girls to the market when Pip said, “Daddy, I wish that you could put a seat in between Fig and I and you could sit in the back seat with us.”

    “That’s sweet Pip.  Do you miss me when I’m sitting in the front seat?”

    “No. I just wish you could pass us stuff.”

    “Pip, that’s called a butler.”

    Monday February 22nd, 2010

    Losing my site

    “If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that’s what REALLY throws you into a panic.”

    Jack Handy

    I’m feeling a new type of gratitude today.  It’s web-host love.

    I had a bit of a ‘web incident’ or ‘wincident’ on Friday.  During an attempt to create a brand new web-site for my blossoming photography business, I inadvertently removed my ‘Grateful Mama’ site from the world-wide-web.  That’s right.  I deleted this entire blog in one click of the keyboard.  It disappeared completely and I honestly thought I would never see it again.

    I’m quite inexperienced when it comes to the technical aspects of designing and maintaining a blog, and I had no idea if my website host, ‘Justhost,’ would have a back-up of my entire site.  After I sent an email to ‘Justhost’ for support, I received a generic response saying they’d get back to me within the hour.  Great.  I felt so helpless.  I kept typing in the ‘Grateful Mama’ url to see if it would magically reappear, but it was futile.  I had done some major damage.

    I contacted a local Technological Wizard at my mother’s urging.  (Thankfully, my mom had been here looking after the girls while I worked on my new website.  She kept Pip and Fig occupied while I tried to hide my despair!)  Mom was certain that a back-up would exist, but The Wizard just said, “Ouch,”  when I explained exactly what I had done.  He was sympathetic, but there was an awkward silence at the end of the line when I reported that I hadn’t backed-up my files.

    During the hour that I was blog-less, I was surprised at the physical reaction I had.  Nausea descended upon me, and I felt as though I was back in my first trimester of pregnancy.  It wasn’t so much losing the site itself that made me feel ill; I have put hours into its’ creation, but it could be re-done.  It was the thought of losing all of the stories.  I’ve been writing for almost a year now, and I know that there is no way I could possibly remember the topics of 105 posts.  I thought of how the girls seem to be changing every day, and it felt as though I hadn’t just deleted a website, I had deleted my memories.

    I also wondered, during that hour, if I would be able to start from scratch.  I wondered if I’d have the desire to do it all again, or if I would do things differently.  I’ve learned a lot since last April, when I first began ‘The Grateful Mama.’  My dream was to generate some income for our family through writing and photography.  I’m starting to realize that dream, but only when I write for, or photograph others. This site hasn’t generated a dime.

    Yet I love it.  It’s a thrill to connect with women in this way, and I know that I’d feel a piece of me was missing if it suddenly disappeared.

    That was about the point when my more evolved-self took over and said to my frantic-self,  “Wait a minute, Karen.  It’s reality-check time.  People are more important than things.  You may have lost your stories about your girls, but YOU HAVE YOUR GIRLS!!!  Even if it turns out that the site is lost forever, you will still feel like a whole, complete person with her beautiful memories in tact.”

    As soon as I came to that realization, I calmed down.  And as soon as I calmed down, I received this in my inbox:

    Hi Karen

    You have completely corrupted your account by deleting all system config files from the root directory, you should never perform any actions outside of public_html/ that is a folder where all site’s files are to reside,

    I have just restored your account from the backup we have created on Feb 16,

    Kind regards,

    Alexey Bryan,

    Just Host

    I  immediately typed www.thegratefulmama.com and THERE IT WAS!!!!  THE GRATEFUL MAMA HAD BEEN RESTORED!!!  I typed a note to Alexey Bryan of JUSTHOST, professing my love for him and his entire web-hosting company.

    Although I was emotionally exhausted after the hour of losing my site, (pun intended,) I was thankful for the experience, because it reminded me of a few very important things:

    First and foremost; BACK IT UP!!!!

    Second, people are more important than things.

    And third, this blog has become a meaningful part of my life.  Whether it’s lucrative or not, I love it.  And that’s a good enough reason to keep it going.



    smiler

    piprun


    Monday February 15th, 2010

    Stepping Back

    Your child will be better prepared to tackle the bumps on the road of life if he has been given the gift of guided independence.

    Jacquie McTaggart

    dock pip

    Pip is thoroughly enjoying pre-school.    I lingered a bit longer than usual one morning when dropping Pip off, and she came up to me and said, “Mama, why are you staying here so long?”  She wanted me to leave.  She enjoys her time in the magical world of Daisytree.  She has been known to utter the words, “I love my school,” as we leave the little door of her pre-school behind us and head for the car.

    During the drive home I typically ask Pip about her morning.  One morning last week our conversation went like this, “What did you do at school this morning?”

    “Well, I wanted to play Castle with Annie and Mavis, but they kept saying I was a bat.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “They were both princesses and they’d look at me and say, ‘Oh No! There’s a bat!’  and I told them I was not a bat, but they still said it.”

    “Hmm,” said I, “that must have been frustrating.  Did you ask Lily (the teacher) for help?”

    “No.”

    At this point in Pip’s story I was already contemplating a discussion with Pip’s teacher.  Because Pip is such a sensitive creature, I sometimes fear that she won’t speak up for herself when she is in an uncomfortable situation.  When I was a classroom teacher, I always encouraged parents to come to me if their child was unhappy about something that had happened in class.  My philosophy was that I would rather nip a situation in the bud instead of having a child feel anxious about something.

    At the same time, I want to encourage Pip to find her own voice.  My job as a parent is to help Pip become independent, and even at the tender age of three, she needs to know that her father and I believe in her.

    Back in the car, I asked Pip how she had felt when the girls called her a bat.

    “I didn’t like it, Mama.”

    “I can understand that, Pip.  So what did you do?”

    “I left the castle and played with Tim.”

    I was ecstatic with this turn of events, but I tried to curb my enthusiasm, “And did you enjoy playing with Tim?”

    “Yup,” Pip finished.

    PERFECTION.  Pip handled the situation beautifully.  She spoke up for herself, then left the scene when her friends weren’t playing in a way that she enjoyed.  It was far better than asking a teacher to intervene.  Pip’s finding her voice.  One experience at a time.

    Monday February 8th, 2010

    Sneaking Out the Back Door


    “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”

    Kahlil Gibran

    pp

    Over the last month, it seems as though Fig has become more attached to me than usual.  She’s sleeping through the night now and I’m down to only two breast-feeds each day, so she may be feeling as though she has less ‘up-close-and-personal-time’ with Mama.  These days, if she’s awake, she’s glued to my hip, which makes it challenging to leave the house without her.  The girls have only really known one babysitter thus far: my mother.  Yes, we know how lucky we are to have family close by; especially a grandmother who is so willing and wonderful…but that’s another post.

    Lately, every time Grandma P. comes over to watch the girls, (which is at least once each week,) Fig immediately starts following me around the house with her arms outstretched, crying, “Mama!”   Fig often has to be wrenched from my arms, before I make a quick exit.   I know that she calms down quickly, and my mom is great at distracting Fig, but it’s unpleasant, to say the least.

    One morning Grandma P. managed to distract Fig while I put on my boots and coat, and grabbed my purse.  I waved silently to Mom and she nodded quickly.  Without saying anything, we knew we were both thinking the same thing: that I should get out while the getting was good!

    I slipped out the door, walked down the stairs and around the house to my car.  I even sat down in the driver’s seat, and then I thought, “I can’t do it.  I can’t leave this way.”   I hadn’t said good-bye to Pip or to Fig.  It didn’t feel right.  I have always wanted to instill trust in my daughters.  I don’t want them to think that Mama can disappear at any time.  I want them to know that I’ll always be honest with them, and that I have faith they can handle any situation.

    So, I went back inside.  My mom looked surprised.  “Sorry Mom,” I said, “I don’t want to sneak out the back door, I want to say good-bye properly and face the music.”  My mom completely understood.  I gave each of my daughters a kiss and a hug and I said ‘good-bye’ before I left.  And wouldn’t you know it, Fig just looked at me and said, “Bye, Mama!”

    Monday February 1st, 2010

    That Stung

    “Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    It’s near the end of January.  We shouldn’t hear frogs croaking at night.  Little buds shouldn’t be appearing on plants in our garden, and we most definitely shouldn’t be in the company of bees.

    My daughters typically like to run around the house barefoot.  I love my cozy slippers, but they apparently like the feel of the floor under their feet.  To be honest, I think the girls slip and fall with greater frequency when they wear ‘slippers,’ (aptly named,) so I don’t mind that their feet are usually bare.  Do you know what’s coming?

    Wonderful Big-Daddy-O built a foot-locker for our laundry-room.  We should really call it a ‘multi-purpose’ room because besides the washer and dryer, it contains our dog’s bed, a stash of wood for the fireplace, and it serves as one big closet with a wide variety of shoes, jackets, and other outdoor-garments strewn about.  Needless to say, keeping the room tidy was a challenge.  Thus, I put in a request for some shoe-shelves, and voila…my handy husband delivered!

    It was an exciting moment in our household when the shelves were finally erected and secured to the wall.  Pip, Fig and I joined Big Daddy-O in the ‘laundry-room’ for a ceremonial unveiling of our footwear’s new home.  We ‘oohed’ and ‘aaahed’ as Pip placed her bright pink rubber boots on one of the shelves.  Then it was Fig’s turn.  As she walked over to the shelves, my little barefoot beauty started crying.  She walked back toward me and the crying escalated to screaming.

    “Fig, what’s wrong?”  She distraught and couldn’t get a word out.  I looked down at her feet and saw something brown; I assumed it was a bit of mud that had been tracked in from outside.  “Oh, is it this dirt that’s bothering you?”  Fig was now screaming.  Upon closer examination, I realized that no, it was not dirt stuck to her foot;  it was a bee !!!  A fuzzy, dozey, lazy bee that had fastened himself to Fig’s baby toe.  I flung it away and examined Fig’s toe.  She had been stung alright, (luckily the bee took his stinger with him,) and she was really starting to feel it.

    toes

    Into the kitchen we went, to mix a concoction of baking soda and water.  Fig hated it, but I like to believe it helped.  It took thirty minutes of cuddles before the tears completely subsided.   She’d calm down for a bit and then a fresh wave of tears would emerge.  I felt so badly for her.  It wasn’t fair.  At least when it’s summer-time and you’re outside enjoying a barefoot romp in the grass, bug bites and stings are somewhat justified.  The indoor sting in the middle of winter made no sense whatsoever.  Dumb bee.

    Fig has recovered from the sting, in fact, it has become something of a badge of honour.  Now, when we read, “Time for Bed,” by Mem Fox, Fig grabs her pinky-toe when we get to the page about the bees.  “Mama, bee sting… toe,” she says proudly.  “Cry and cry and cry.”

    “Yes, Sweetie.  You cried because that bee sting really hurt.”  I say.  And I’m suddenly thankful that we can’t remember pain; at least not the bee-sting variety.

    (PS…I stand corrected; Big Daddy-O just informed me that it was a wasp that stung Fig.  You forgive me.)