Tag Archives: five year olds

Fifty-Three — Swimming, More, Again

Today was the last day of swimming lessons. Eli has been too concerned with his friend in the class with him (whose name, actually, is NOT “Sith” but we thought it was and we kind of thought that was a badass name) to fret much about doing what the instructor says. She actually came over to me on Wednesday, in an exact repeat of the last set of swimming lessons, and said “If he can show me he can put his whole head in the water, he’ll pass the level!” No submerge? NO PASS. Nothing had changed by 12:25 today, in large part because the more you tell Eli to do something the less he will consider doing it. The Eli Principle, I call it, though it is by no means unique to Eli. *ahem* Pot/kettle, etc.

Arlo, though, made an astounding breakthrough last weekend. On Sunday we went swimming recreationally, as a family, and SA was playing with the kids, making faces at them under water and making them duck down to see. Arlo did it a few times and something clicked. You could practically hear the click. Suddenly he was ducking and bobbing and trying to swim under the rope and showing me how he could sit on the bottom of the pool. Um. OK?

Compare: last Friday, when asked to put his head in the water, he dipped his chin in the water and then freaked out because he got some water on his lip too.
On Monday he was doing rocket kicks and propelling himself under water.
Today he spent fifteen minutes jumping off the edge of the pool, practising his cannonballs with his friend.

I was thinking about it this morning, how once you’ve learned to swim you don’t unlearn it, like learning to walk or talk. Brain injuries excepted. He will no more go back to being a flailing weirdo freak about water (exception: shower water) than he will go back to crawling as a mode of transportation. There he was, one moment a non-swimmer, the next a swimmer. These things happen so quickly after so much time. And so, a moment to mourn and celebrate that he’s one step closer to adulthood, one step farther from me.

And now: a glass of wine because one of my kids finally passed a swimming level.

Forty-Eight — Brothers Bear Arms

One of the books I’m reading is Quiet: The Power of Introverts. It’s a “speed read” so I only have a week to read it. Can I do it? Well, will everyone leave me alone, please? THANK YOU.


My children love me so much. They want to sit on me and tickle me and, inexplicably, dangle from my neck. “Please don’t dangle from my neck,” I say, “I am happy to hug you, but — arghhhh.” Why? Why do you want to destroy me? I FEED YOU.

Eli has been going through a phase, I think he is almost done it now, where every sentence starts with “Mommy?”

There is a sock in my drawer! And I have other socks. And Mommy?
I don’t mind if my socks match or don’t match, it’s OK with me because who cares! Right? And Mommy?
I’m hungry. Mommy?
I’m going to get a snack now.

Are you super irritated just reading that? Are you?

Are you?

Well? Are you?


After the first I don’t know how many weeks I realized I didn’t have to answer every Mommy? because he would just keep talking. He just needed the two second beat — it could be silent, filled with my voice, or filled with raspberry jam.

Perhaps that’s why he’s moving out of the phase. I gritted my teeth and ignored the impulse to answer him.

I think if my kids could pee on me to mark their territory, they would. That’s what summer vacation is like. A constant dodging of metaphorical, territorial peeing.

“You had her all year!” Arlo says with his actions, not his words, “NOW SHE’S MINE.”

So it goes. Siblings.

We are arguing about gravel! It is a productive discussion!

We are arguing about gravel! It is a productive discussion!

(Not every day. Some days — some moments within some days, even — are not like that.)

This morning, for example, they got up and were horrible to each other for the first hour and my heart sank because the days are sort of long when it’s hot and sunny and everyone is horrible. But then they went outside and raced some snails and that took, like, forty-five minutes, and by the end of it, they’d forgotten to be horrible.

Eli described Arlo as “his mean brother” at the park when they were playing a game with the park attendant girl, but that’s par for the course. During a discussion about the meaning of “trust” last night we determined that Arlo could trust Eli to save his life but not to lend him a nickel. I guess that’s pretty good for age 5 and 7. I hope so.




I was outside this evening in our common outdoor area (we call it “the courtyard”). Eli and I were looking for ladybugs to bring home to eat the aphids on our rosebush. Yes, we have a rosebush. For the first four years we lived here, it provided one rose per year, then for two years it made two roses, and this year we’ve had three and there are four more buds! It’s exciting. Especially because I am not a gardener and know next to nothing about plants (aphids bad. Ladybugs good! That’s the sum of it.) so it’s very like magic. Seven years in this house, seven roses. The rosebush has some kind of spell on it.

Well, what it has on it is aphids and I sort of know they shouldn’t be there so we went looking for ladybugs. Didn’t find any. Found a woman and her ten month old baby girl, though. Neighbours I’ve never met. Then another woman with another baby girl came out of her house. They mentioned a third neighbour with a baby girl. I’m excited about this, too, because the place we live has a preponderance of boys. So many boys, ranging in age from 3 – 9. One girl (until this recent influx) among seven boys. Nothing wrong with boys! Or girls, either! I like there to be some of each. The circle of life.

It was so fun to be next to these two women talking about their babies. One baby is ten months, the other is four months, so it’s all naps and fussiness and milestones and teething. The moms are on maternity leave and are nearly finishing each other’s sentences because they are so grateful to have found each other, someone who understands. A fellow soldier. “Oh the naps will get better,” says the ten month old’s mother to the four month old’s mother. And then disappear entirely! I prevent myself from saying. Yay me, I am not that old lady who tells you to enjoy every moment JUST YET.

Meanwhile Eli, not used to not being the youngest person in the room, is running around, wearing only boxer shorts and four hundred temporary tattoos, waving a can of sunscreen, yelling, “I’ve got sunscreen and I’m not afraid to use it!”

We all laughed, some of us more nervously than others. Don’t worry, I also didn’t say. You’ll get it someday.

Thirty — Summer!

Prompt two for Bring Back the Words: “What is your quintessential summer supply list?”

Today was the last day of school for Arlo. Technically it was only 2 1/2 hours of school. We all stood around outside the school at 11:30 going ‘what do we do now? Do we go home? And? Then? What?’ It was raining, so that didn’t help.

Hopefully it all comes back to me.

Must haves for summer:

– Umbrella and rain boots (ba dump!)
– Internet connection
– Library card
– Lip balm
– Hat (ball-cap style)
– Spare hat (full straw style, in case it gets really hot)
– Sunglasses (must be new every season because I wreck sunglasses. Yes, if I bought a good pair I *might* take better care of them, but then again I might not and then I might end up wrecking expensive sunglasses)
– Sunscreen — whatever’s handy. 30 spf for my face all year ’round and whatever doesn’t smell like coconuts for the rest of my body.
– Children’s sunscreen — the spray-on kind, not too smelly, not too cold, not too sticky you get the idea.
– A big bag to put all the stuff in
– Purse in which to carry the stuff I don’t want the children to find (secret chocolate, my phone, etc)
– I suppose I should check the status of my bathing suits as I have a tendency to buy halves of two pieces when I see them for cheap and then end up with yellow bottoms and black and white tops. I know! Travesty!
– Sandals. I only wear one pair but I own three. Last year I was looking for the perfect sandals, despaired of ever finding them, bought two cheap pairs instead and THEN found the perfect ones. #lesson
– 400 five-dollar t-shirts, two of which start the summer white
– Bubbles for the children to blow
– Water bottle. Have you guys seen my new (late summer 2012) water bottle? I’ll take a picture of it for you tomorrow.
– Tea tree oil for all my itchy spots, not that we have mosquitoes here, I am just itchy a lot
– Heel file because my heels are made of coral. They’re so hard and mean they held up a gas station last week, just for free twizzlers. How embarrassing.
– Toenail polish, the brighter the better
– Deodorant! And hair oil goop stuff so my hair lies down a little bit each day. My hair needs its rest.
– Snacks! I like almonds and raisins and fruit; the children enjoy a fine assortment of crackers
– Tasty beer
– Often gin
– In a pinch, wine
– Music. Lately, the children have become obsessed with SONIC HITS the local HIT STATION that plays all THE HITS. They are starting to chafe my nards with this, actually. I turn the key in the car’s engine and the radio hasn’t even come on yet and Eli says “Is this SONIC HITS?” Are they paying you to listen? I don’t think so. Settle down, Beavis.

And the sanity must-haves:

– Regular showers
– Time to write in my journal in the morning, and a break mid-day, otherwise a full day with two children might just result in me stealing a skateboard and running for the border
– Exercise
– Sleep
– Several nights sitting on my porch until it’s dark, talking with Saint Aardvark
– Tiny vacations, even if they are just in my tiny brain.

Happy, happy summer! I hope!

Twenty-Eight: Brains

Eli and I were driving to the store today, to look for maple leaf-shaped baking pans. Arlo’s 7th birthday is Canada Day and I thought I might make him a cake for the first time in 7 years but like all my ideas, this one is harder to execute than you might expect. Canada Day may as well not be happening at Michaels Craft Store and Winners/Homesense.

Eli said, “It sure is raining.”

I said, “Yup. But, it’s June. It always rains a lot in June. Remember last summer when we left for Ontario and it was raining? And then when we got there, it was SO HOT.”

“Yes, I remember,” Eli said.

I turned left at the corner.

“I have a picture of that day in my head,” Eli continued. “the day we arrived in Ontario.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. And it’s hot in the picture. And there was a car seat just for me in grandma and grandad’s car.”


“It’s too bad you can’t come in my brain and see the pictures too,” he said.

“It is too bad,” I said.

“The small part of my brain is showing the pictures to the big part of my brain.”

I laughed out loud, even though Eli doesn’t like it when you laugh out loud because he hasn’t figured out yet if you’re laughing with him or at him.

“I’m laughing because it’s a great picture in *my* brain now. Of your big brain and your little brain,” I explained.

“It is kind of funny,” he allowed.

This is one of my favourite pictures (in my brain) of our trip to Ontario last summer.

This is one of my favourite pictures (in my brain) of our trip to Ontario last summer.

Twenty-Six — Keeping Track

Once upon a time, I gave each of my children a container of fish crackers and each was happy. I blogged about this in passing and a commenter said, “JUST YOU WAIT someday they will count the crackers to make sure they each have the same amount.” In general, harbingers of doom don’t do it for me, as I am not one to acknowledge someone’s rightness until well past the date the rightness occurred, so you telling me “JUST YOU WAIT” about anything basically makes me want to ignore you. Since becoming a parent, however, I have noticed that it’s sensible to file the warnings away. Odds are, someday I will need them, like the safety pins I keep in my wallet.

Lo, behold, I am remembering the warning now.

The past few weeks have been exciting because we had Grandma and Grandad staying with us. This was good on many levels; extra hands around the house so I could have a shower and grocery shop and not have to take a surly five year old with me, extra feet to walk the kid to school and back again. People to talk to and drink coffee with and drink beer with. People I like in my house! So good, on so many levels.

For Eli, it was good on an extra level: Treats. We went out for lunch. We went out for ice cream. We went to Costco and got fries after shopping. Two extra levels, I should say; the level where you get extra treats and then THEN! the level where you tell your older brother, who is at school all day, all about the extra treats you got.

This has awakened quite a rivalry between the children. Not something I think wouldn’t/doesn’t otherwise exist, but something that was dormant, like mould. Slugs? Shingles? Shingles. Now, even though Grandma and Grandad have gone home, Arlo still greets his brother after school with WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY? WHAT DID YOU GET? WHAT DID YOU GET ME?

Today was Fun Day (formerly known as Sports Day? No longer.) at Arlo’s school. He got to go to twelve different stations in the school, make a bead bracelet, eat a Freezie, hang out with his friends, and then had hot lunch which was pizza, lemonade and ice cream for dessert.

Today was Eli’s last day of preschool. I was volunteering at Arlo’s school so I couldn’t be at preschool for the final moments, when the door opens and the children sing “Goodbye my friends goodbye” with their mothers and fathers present and everyone sniffles. I couldn’t be there because I was helping make bead bracelets, a task which gets harder the closer you get to the hot lunch because no one can focus to save their goddamn life. ANYWAY I decided that for a treat I would take Eli to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal.

So: Arlo got a Freezie, pizza, lemonade, ice cream, a morning spent running around with his friends and an afternoon watching Ice Age. Eli got cheese pizza at school and a Happy Meal after.

As an aside, what did I get during this same time period? I got to stand for two hours without so much as a bathroom break or drink of water, helping small children thread beads onto yarn that frayed and refused to be threaded upon, and do you see me complaining?

Oh, you do? OK.

Anyway, I would call it even between the kids, but that didn’t stop Arlo from “It’s not fair”ing all over the place after school.

To help even the score, he went to his friend’s house after school and this friend has a rather enormous supply of junk food, so when we came to pick him up he was surrounded by empty cookie bags, chocolate smeared all over his face.

Eli says no fair because he got no cookies. Arlo says no fair, because he still has no toy and Eli got a toy with the Happy Meal.

It is a good thing they’re cute.

Tooth finally dropped out this morning.

Tooth finally dropped out this morning.