Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Parenting

Parenting in sub-zero weather can be at its best and its very worst. These January days are so short and so cold that time outside is limited and time inside gets boring. Little arms and legs get restless and big voices miss having a space in which to loose themselves. It's not always easy to find ways of getting that energy out without destroying anything and everything in its path.
My favorite part of the cold is creating heat; a roaring fire in the fireplace, cosy blankets and warm rice bags for toes at night,  knitting blankets, socks and sweaters wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fireplace, or under my goose down comforter.

My son is back in school; where he had to take finals upon returning because of two consecutive snow days right before break. Amazingly, he did well on things he had studied two weeks earlier. The surprising part was that he did not appear to be studying at all in the interval, how does a brain retain that much? (Don't start with the youth card, I just had a birthday and know all about it.) French grammar is still kicking them all in the rear, it is a counter-intuitive thing to conquer, but conquer it they can. Duncan also gets up before the crack of dawn each day and catches the bus in the freezing cold, and seems to relish the whole experience, no complaints, no groaning, no begging for a day in bed.                                                                                                                                                           

My daughter came back from France and Germany, where she had a blast. She spent a week of exploring on her own in Manheim while her father worked a couple of miles away. I am proud of her and her fearless ways. She figured out how to take the tram on her own, where the good parts of the city were for exploring and where they sold the best pastries and coffee. I don't know if she ever got lost, but she made it back to the hotel each night and back across the big pond home to me. She is eager to leave again, travel more, sail the seven seas. I am breathing my long sigh of relief that she is home for now. 

The house is a different place with all of us here. There is a more settled feeling, more noise, less chaos with two adults around, more love and a tender, warm glow of all is right with the world. I DO know where my kids are, for now.`They are here and I can marvel at what wonderful beings they are.

The younger two guys are in happy Lego land. It is very hard to get them out of happy building sprees to leave the house for any reason.Sledding? Yes. Daily walk? With difficulty. Library, church, classes (even a cool one on reptiles at a local pet store?), errands? UHG, NO. Read to them, draw with them, play hide and go seek (inviting destruction) and they are happy, as long as they were finished with the Legos for the time being. Lessons are not a problem, Charles is happy to work on his and Gael is eager for more. Despite my reticence, he will copy down words right and left and ask me about words and letters and numbers all day long. 

Then there is Valentine, 11 and the middle of the middle children and so excited to leave the house to see her friends or go to the library, dance class, ice skating...or stay home in pyjamas and read all day. She is a treasure; ready to read to the younger ones, teach them math, help me in whatever I am doing. Her creativity knows no bounds, neither does her sense of injustice at times. It is hard to be in the middle. We often cater to the desires of the older ones or the needs of the smaller ones. No wonder she likes to have her own agenda. In warm weather, she will climb a tree and stay up there for hours on end. The cold makes it hard for her. Another broken arm a month ago has meant no skating, sledding or trampoline..what else is a girl to do in the winter outside? It makes her sad and mad, so distraction becomes important. 

I am not always so good at distraction, I tend to think; "suck it up and let's get going." I think I will work more on that; why make it conflictual when one can so easily take a moment to figure out how to make it work?

Because I am always in a hurry...maybe. Ah, the new year brings resolutions. Mine is to give myself enough time to do what needs to be done without rushing through the previous activity. I am thinking things through first, calmly cogitating. It is a tall order, but I have the cold keeping me in and giving me time to work on this. Any other new year's resolutions out there? Easy or hard to keep? Happy January; enjoy it and if you can't enjoy it, hang in there until springtime.

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