Sunday, 25 November 2012

Naveen Matthew Matthew McNamara

With your first child you're more willing to let time pass. You find yourself welcoming the future, checklist in hand, ticking each milestone off. Walking-check, talking -check, potty training -check. And when your first isn't hitting those benchmarks according to the schedules books you've read set, or as quickly as your friends' kids did you feel a bit panicked.

With your first you are in a hurry.

But with your last? With that last baby you stand with your back to the door, refusing to look up at the clock. You let things be. You're in no rush to see the perfect step, could care less if they haven't shown interest in the toilet. You refuse to correct mispronounced words because well, because you know with real heartache how fleeting it all is.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cost savings

On the weekend we went shopping at one of those enormous toy warehouses that have popped up in recent years. It was held in a large event center, for a limited engagement, and promised discounts so high that had it not been for the free admission, lack of shopping carts and food samples, I would have bet the geniuses at Costco were behind it.

Because let’s face it, you have to be brilliant to charge a membership fee to a giant warehouse filled with jumbo-sized crap people didn’t even know they needed until you suggested it. Needless to say I was giddy with shopping joy at the prospect.

We had just one small problem: the kids were with us.

The thing is, we don’t go out often enough to have established any regular local babysitters – Shaune’s folks drive the hour to where we are when we need them.  Besides, we reasoned, how bad could it be? We’d just prep Deaglan - tell him that we’d be going to a toy store to get an idea of the things he and Naveen might want to ask Santa for. We’d emphasize that we weren’t going to buy anything. And when the kids weren’t paying attention, I’d subtly point out the things we should grab so Shaune could sneak back around, pick those toys up, lose us so he could pay, hide them under blankets in the back of the van before finding us again. Seamless, right?

You can imagine how well this went over.

My subtlety was completely lost on my husband. Every time I pointed to something I wanted him to take note of, he’d look at me baffled.


“The G-U-I-T-A-R”, I’d spell through tight lips, doing my best ventriloquist.

“I have no idea what you’re saying.” He’d say loudly, clearly irritated.

“That’s because you’re deaf.” I’d hiss, “Get your bloody hearing checked!”

And Deaglan went between begging us to let him get one toy – just one and crying big fat watery tears because we were the meanest parents that ever lived, while Naveen hurried down each aisle, telling us strident and clear that he wanted every toy for his borthe-day, could he pease have his borthe-day now. He didn't care that he was born in May. 

At one point, after Shaune had left to take our purchases to the car, I was held hostage between books and playhouses. Naveen refused to come out of the Dora tent and Deaglan wouldn't budge unless I agreed to buy him just one toy. A child-less grandmother-type who’d been watching me from a few feet away came over with what I at first mistakenly assumed was a sympathetic smile.

“I guess you’ll know better next time. These poor little guys are just learning about Santa, they shouldn’t be here.” 

Miraculously, with great restraint, I didn't wrestle the old bat to the ground; didn't  pummel her with the frustrations of my day. You want to talk about savings. I mentally tallied the thousands of therapy hours I'd just saved my kids.

Instead I crawled in after Naveen, dragged him out and threw him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes - a  screeching, kicking, pinching sack of potatoes and forcefully led Deaglan by the elbow toward the exit. 

I don’t need to tell you how early the cocktail hour came that day. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The good parts of a day

Yesterday morning on the three minute drive to school, Deaglan asked me this:

“Mommy, those kids that live in the poor place, do they have Daddies?”

“Ya, they do.”

“Then why don’t they have toys?”

“Because their mommies and daddies don’t have the same kinds of jobs that Daddy and I have. A lot of them don't have jobs at all.”

“Why not?”

“Because they aren’t as lucky as we are. That’s why it’s important to share our money with them.”

“So they can get toys for their houses?”

“Some of them don’t even have houses honey” I said, choosing my words carefully. “Sabina and Keerthana probably live in small huts that have no bathrooms or even kitchens. When they get the money we send them, they use it to buy food and clothes not toys.”

“What’s a hut?”

“Like a tent.”

And then after school, he ran through the door wearing a poppy. His teacher had dulled the sharp end of the pin with a bit of balled up masking tape.

“Who gave you that?” I asked.

“Mrs. V.”


“Because we need to remember the dead.”

“Oh ya? Why do we need to remember them?”

“Because they fighted for us to give us Canada. That’s why we have to wear the poppy. There’s something about blood too but I don’t remember.”

“Oh,” I turned to Naveen just then who was hitting the laptop with a plastic hammer.

“Navie, cut it out! Hammer the cushion on the couch instead please.”

“I don’t wanna hammo the couch," hitting the laptop again.

“If you hit the computer again, I’m going to take that away!”


“Actually, yes I am.” 

Then a few hours later, just before bedtime Deaglan asked me if he could listen to his song. I found it on my tablet and handed it over to him. I glanced his way watching the Youtube video. His face was thoughtful; melancholy, even. I sang along softly while I changed Naveen's diaper. Deaglan looked over at me. Our eyes met and held for a few seconds. He smiled, a shy sweet dimply smile and then went back to watching his song.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The price of my sanity

This morning at (the new) 5:30 Deaglan sprang awake exclaiming he was starving. A few minutes later Naveen wailed from his bed that he wanted “someping to weat Mama!” For Deaglan I whipped up a two egg omelette with chopped ham and for Naveen a raisin bagel; a cup of apple juice for both.

Ten minutes after they’d eaten, only two sips into my coffee, Deaglan asked if he could have a treat – aka Halloween candy.  “No, have a banana or apple.” I said and explained for the millionth time how bad sugary junk was for his teeth and body. And reluctantly, with a four year-old version of a scowl, he took my advice and grabbed fruit for both himself and his brother.  Two minutes after they’d eaten a banana each, they wanted me to peel them an orange.

Twenty minutes later Deaglan asked if he could have a treat since he’d now eaten something healthy. I refused and poured them both a glass of milk and handed them each a Toy Story chewable vitamin.

Five seconds later, Deaglan said he was hungry.

At this point I may have lost my patience (and mind) and asked him in a yelly (not calm) voice if he thought I was his (frickin) personal servant. Unfazed he insisted that he couldn’t help it if he was hungry. Still hysterical I told him he’d have to eat something bready – when it comes to not eating carbs this kid has the discipline of a monk. I made him half a raisin bagel sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar after he’d warned me that he’d only eat one piece so I shouldn’t even bother toasting both parts. Naturally, after he finished it, he wanted the other half.

I had no words.  

In the name of self-preservation, I walked to the kitchen counter where their trick-or-treat baskets sat out of reach, unwrapped a lollipop and mini bag of M & M’s, let them know it was at the kitchen table and told them not to speak to me again. Ever.

It wasn't even (the new) 10 am.