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Posts Tagged ‘family’

A Chip Off The Old Sister

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It’s like going back in time. Different daughter, same approach. Deadly serious, intensely focused, and in love with the sport.

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She has the advantage of having lived at the pool since she was two, and having been around more competitions than she can remember. She started diving this year, but she looks like she’s been diving for a lot longer, probably because she’s been practicing in her mind since her older sister started five years ago. She entered her first competition today, and didn’t seem to be nervous in the slightest. She seemed to be absolutely itching to get on with it, to do this one, then the next one, until she’s an established competitive diver and on the team bus with the big kids.

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Here she is getting last minute instructions from her coach, the very same coach that L had when she started out….

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Here she is with her ribbon. Not particularly triumphant looking for someone who handily won first place.

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Some of the big girls, at the novice meet to coach the tiny ones…

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…..and loving it. It’s terribly exciting for L now that she’s started coaching. She takes such pride in being given the responsibility.

I was saying to another one of the diving moms at the pool today that I’ve really begun to feel tremendously emotional about my kids lately. Events like this just highlight what I seem to be feeling so often nowadays. I’m so proud of them, and watching them do what they do leaves me feeling more than a little overwhelmed. With gratitude, with pride, with love, with joy. Seeing my older two kids mingling with a cluster of teenagers at a party this weekend sent me into the same sort of advance nostalgia. Kind of like look at them, can you believe that they’re so grown up? they used to all be hanging off me, and now there they are, making their way in the world, like the competent capable people that I guess they are. I’m not exactly sure where all of this emotion is coming from, given the obviousness of what I’m seeing. I can only imagine what I’ll be like once they start doing really grown up things. Like getting married. Or having kids.

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Our evenings are incredibly busy during the school year. Diving has been a mainstay every night of the week for years, and we’re all sort of used to it, but now Tee plays basketball three times a week, and Jay has added two nights of diving to the two of gymnastics that she already does.

The kids get home from school, eat snacks and then get dropped at their respective sports. Home again, in time for a heated up supper, and off to bed. I’m driving around town between 4 and 8 every night, trying to coordinate these activities, and whoever doesn’t have something that night is stuck at home with R.

It seemed alright to be so busy in the evenings when the kids were with me all day at home, but now I’m noticing that the edges are starting to fray a little. Tee in particular is showing signs of distress. He’s always been a quiet guy, and he’s always needed a lot of time to transition from one activity to the next. If he’s involved in something, he doesn’t like to be interrupted, and he’s never liked too many activities in one day. Now he’s complaining about feeling tired all the time, and complaining that he’s always having to rush around. Off to school, then out for recess, then back in, then off to music class, then to gym, then home for lunch, then back to school for more of the same, then home again, where I’m rushing out the door. He and I had a long talk last night, and through tears, he said that all of the busyness makes him feel lonely. He’s in a crowd at school, and there’s never any time for connecting at home either. He said that he misses me, and that he feels isolated.

I can’t tell you awful it felt to hear him say that.

It was never the plan to have all of our evenings so crammed full of activities that we’re like ships in the night, but it ever so gradually snuck up on us. First it was L, age 6, saying that diving looked like fun, and it was, and at first it was just one or two nights a week, but then she started loving it and got so good at it that she became a competitive diver, but even that was okay when there was only one activity to schedule around. There was always soccer, but that was only in the spring, and basketball was manageable when it was just R playing. The two little ones came along in the car, and we spent time reading or playing cards, and watching the big kids do their respective things. But then they grew up, and they wanted to do what the big kids were doing, and then Jay’s kindergym evolved into real gymnastics and this year she’s started diving “just like L” and darn it all, she’s so motivated and keen and good at it, and the club has asked if she’d like to join the competitive stream too.

The trouble with the activities is that each child really seems to benefit from them. It’s just that all of them together, in combination with full days of school, leave little time for anything else.

I’ve felt quite torn about this for a while, and I’m not sure what to do.

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Family Traditions

Each family has it’s own traditions. They’re important, these rituals that can be counted on. They’re the glue that hold the unit together.

Some families make a point of eating dinner together as often as they can. That would be nice. Or Family Game Night. A great idea, but not practical in this family of individuals with very different interests. Even Friday  Pizza and Movie Night, a longstanding tradition, has eroded away under the relentlessness of impinging activities and outside interests, not to mention the impossibleness of trying to find a movie that a. they haven’t already seen and b. they’re all interested in.

No, this family’s tradition is a little less about family fun time and more about family-sharing-the-burden time.

Every other Sunday morning I get the kids up at some agreed upon time and we all clean the house.

They’ve been doing this since the youngest was 2 and the oldest 9. I used to try to get them to clean up every day, and found that I was constantly nagging and pointing out stray socks or hearing about how the lego tower needed to be right where it was because it was a work in progress. We were always arguing about it because I like a neat house, and the kids could care less.

So now I keep the kitchen spotless, and my own room tidy, but ignore the rest of the house. I step over piles of clothes in Tee’s room, turn a blind eye to the balls of unravelled yarn in the living room and say nothing about the books and magazines strewn over every horizontal surface we own. Sometimes if my anxiety level gets too high, I do a quick tidy, maybe straighten the blankets on the couch, but I’ve gotten really good at letting the house slide down the entropic slope of messiness because I know that every other Sunday, it all gets cleaned up, every last speck, and for at least a blissful hour or two I can revel in the house of my dreams. I know that the kitchen floor will be mopped, the toilets will all be scrubbed, and the library books will be separated from the books on the shelf. I don’t have to nag, and I don’t even have to assign jobs, because the kids made up a rotating list of chores.

Not the kind of tradition that sells Hallmark cards, but it works for me!

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I Do What I Can

Every once in a while I read about the absolute necessity of family sit-down dinners, and I feel a pang of worry, because those just don’t happen regularly in this house. Sure we sit down, and we do eat dinner, we just don’t have Sunday Dinner, or anything resembling it. More like here’s a pot of soup I made and you can have it when you’re ready, if you want it, but I have to go drive X to Y, see you in a bit, and please clean this kitchen when you’re done, oh sure so-and-so can stay and eat, and yes you can make brownies for after, just make sure you eat some kind of vegetable.

Then as I supervised House Cleaning Day this morning, I realized that while we may not have as many shared meals as I’d like, we have other family bonding rituals. They often involve griping and complaing, but at least they’re consistent.

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Today I observed the spontaneous emergence of loan sharking in a primitive culture. Overheard during a Monopoly game between the seven and nine-year old: “I’ll let you owe me the $100 if you pay me an extra $30 every time you pass Go.”

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Family Feast

Went for a nightime skate today, and it was fun, fun, fun! Played shinny hockey, to the best of our limited and varied abilities, and then came home for hot chocolate.

Next on the agenda is our Gourmet Feast.

Big bro R has the menu planned out. I’ve already done most of the shopping. Tomorrow we begin by making some of the items ahead of time, and then Sunday we finish up, and EAT!

We’re having spanakopita, olive bread with balsamic vinegar/garlic oil dipping bowls, spinach/mandarin orange salad with poppy seed dressing, ravioli stuffed with roasted garlic and three cheeses and smothered in tomato sauce, with a berry trifle for dessert.

We’re making all of the items from scratch, including the pasta, so it’s definitely going to be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, as well as complete chaos, but it’ll be fun. R is walking up to our local Italian specialty deli, to pick out the cheeses and olives, and L says that she’s the head of the Decorations Commitee. Jay wants to be a sous-chef, and Tee wants to be R’s right hand man.

 I don’t know quite what transformed my eldest son from the world’s pickiest eater to a lover of fine food, but when I asked him what he wanted to do over Christmas, this was what he came up with. Works for me!

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