I can’t believe summer is more than half over. Here we are in August.
I’m sure I’ve posted about this before, but one of the things I struggle with, having four, is that I never feel like I have enough time. I’m also kind of a social introvert. I made that up by the way. But basically, it means I love being around people, but I also really need time to myself to recharge.
Anyway, there is never enough time to carry B as much as she wants, to talk things over with M, to find out what P’s reading, or to make sure C’s getting all she needs. On the flip side, those one-on-one moments are really memorable. P is out tonight, and M doesn’t like to be alone in her (their) room. So, I lay down with her to put her to sleep. I could smell her sweet hair, and she dozed off while I was there. Because I don’t get to do that very often, it felt really special.
Also, their siblings are good for them. C has always been quite passive about being “engaged” with the kids – she’s okay to watch. But recently, that’s changing. I was painting a second hand high chair in the front yard recently (actually one I hope to adapt for C), and M was helping me sand and prep. Oh my goodness, C screamed bloody murder when the other girls went outside and she didn’t. I finish work a little early on Fridays, so our nanny was still here, and she was trying to comfort her, but nothing would calm the screams until I offered to take her outside. I’m glad she’s getting interested in the world, and wanting to do what her sisters do, even if the high chair prep was a little insane with three “helpers.”
I thought I’d revisit my New Year’s resolutions, since it’s been, what, a full season now? A brief check-up, if you will.
#1. I said I’d work out twice a week for at least 10 weeks.
Okay, well I didn’t start with this one until February, but for the last six weeks I have indeed been working out twice a week, running.
#2 I said I’m going to try a new recipe at least once a week.
Hm – I think I have actually done this. Probably not every week, but sometimes I’ve done two in a week. I’ve started doing a little meal prep on Sundays for the rest of the week, and so I’m more ambitious early in the week. By Thursday, we’re back to rice and beans. But rice and beans are good!
#3 I said I’m going to get C to the pool about once a week
We haven’t been in a few weeks. But we’ve been doing lots of other things – getting her in her walker, taking her to the park and having her stand, doing lots of tummy time and having her roll the ball to us. So I feel like we’ve lived up to the spirit of it by ensuring she gets exercise – no easy thing when you have no way to crawl, sit etc.
#4 Also… more baths, for me.
Yeah, no, not really. Where does the time go?
Sorry, not the most thrilling post, but there you have it.
Sometimes people ask me what it’s like to have four kids, and all I can say is that it is completely insane. The kind of person who should have four kids should thrive on chaos and also be completely organized. I am not sure I am that person.
P does not know any other children who have three siblings. He actually could not think of a friend at his school who had more than one sibling. I am sure there are swaths of the country where four or more kids is no big deal, but in my urban neighbourhood the cheese stands alone.
My oldest two are very self-sufficient, which makes things easier. I remember thinking my oldest child was a tough toddler. He was a colicky baby, but now that I’ve had the experience of three more, I realise he was a breeze. My second child is a fairly intense child and has multiple tantrums a day, sometimes over very innocuous things like “you smiled” or “you didn’t remember where that photograph was taken” or “you can’t tell me the plot of a film that I saw with someone else and that you’ve never seen.” She is also very sweet and loving and creative. She thrives one-on-one, so we try to carve those opportunities for her – but they are mostly snatched – a grocery trip here or a coffee date there.
B is a more intense version of her older sister. She is the kind of toddler who needs to keep busy and who is always asking for her coat and shoes to be put on in the hopes you will get her outside. She is also much more physical and adventurous than either of her older siblings were, which is very cute but also frightening. She is very demanding. Perhaps that’s not a personality trait, but just a survival instinct when you have three siblings.
C and B could not be more different, as C is super easy-going. She has a huge smile for everyone she knows, unlike her twin who is invariably suspicious. But C is also very physically dependent and has a limited tolerance for her various seating/walking/standing contraptions and an even more limited tolerance for hanging on the floor, so she spends a lot of time in our arms. Which then, understandably, makes B annoyed and more demanding.
I have no idea what the point of this post is, except that I feel like a lot of people, when they ask if you have four children, expect you to say that it’s fantastic in every way. It is fantastic in many ways. It is also very hard at times. There are many, many things I enjoyed doing before I had children which I have no time to do. I started exercising again recently and I realized the only way to do it is to set my alarm before my kids get up, and they get up early! It won’t always be this hard. I’m sure once we get a few years further along it will be much easier. But there are a crazy few years before you get there, and we are right in the thick of them. I guess it’s all relative though – I thought have two kids was hard. And it was at the time.
Do you ever catch yourself staring at a child who looks a little different than you do? Maybe they are moving in a strange way, or there’s something unusual about their features. I know I do, which is why I shouldn’t hold it against anyone. But all the same, it is uncomfortable to be on the receiving end.
I think the stares started a few months ago when we had the girls in swimming lessons. C could barely lift her head when she was lying on those floating mats. Other toddlers in the class were balancing on them and doing flips. We still take her swimming frequently, and while keeping her head up is not such an issue, we still get stared at as we coach her with unusual enthusiasm to do mundane things like reach for a ball.
Interestingly, the only time we do not get stared at is when people are using the accessible shower. I have never once gotten to use the accessible shower stall, which has an extra bench, a hand shower and a little more space. The bench would be very useful for washing C, who is quite heavy, and cannot sit or be propped on the hip as easily as her sister. Whenever I’m waiting, that shower is invariably being used by someone who is washing every part of her body, leaving the conditioner in for the allotted six minutes, and possibly even laundering her swimsuit. It’s guaranteed that this person will never once make eye contact or notice that your child is a little different. I did confront someone on this once, but confronting someone in a shower stall is never a pleasant experience, so I’ve mostly sent C to shower with J who finds her easier to maneuvre in the cramped little non-accessible stalls.
The other week I was at a local coffee shop and C was grinning away at someone. He waved at her and asked her to wave, which of course she did not. Then he asked me if she could wave and I said she could not. Since just answering “No” feels a little abrupt, I said it was because of cerebral palsy and smiled in a way to make sure he knew that I was not bothered by it. And then he politely asked me what cerebral palsy was, and waved a few times more and went on his merry way.
Probably a week later I was there again (I drink a lot of coffee. I have four children.) There was a starer. She was not a waver. She just stared. At C, and her orthotics and then at her again. And when I stared back she’d look away for a moment and then continue to stare. I considered confrontation but she was also taking pictures of Garfield cartoons in the newspaper with her phone, and I was not sure I wanted to confront a lover of Garfield. As we left, I noticed that she had a cane tucked under the table. She was not of an age where one would typically use a cane – she was younger than I am. And so perhaps she has what C has? Some milder version? Then again, it still doesn’t give her the right to stare, does it?
It feels like the time of year when I’m supposed to do a 2014 recap post. In 2014 I started a new job. My babies turned into toddlers and started uttering their first words. C was formally diagnosed with C.P. P won a race at his school and turned into a voracious reader. M stopped having quite so many tantrums and showed me dozens of yoga poses she learned at preschool.
Although it had its challenges, it’s actually been a happy year. I’m looking forward to 2015. I feel like I should make some predictions about where we’ll be next year, but it’s dangerous to wish for things that I can’t control – like for C to sit for longer, or for B to avoid a hospitalization, or for M to take to kindergarten like a fish takes to water. I had in my head that C would be sitting at Christmas, but she was sick and miserable in the weeks leading up to it and sitting seemed further than ever. At Christmas Eve dinner she couldn’t hold herself up in a highchair for more than a few minutes. But then maybe she can sit? She can do it for 10 or 15 seconds. She is starting to balance herself and right herself, and then roll out of it when she’s done. Her sitting may never look like B’s sitting, so maybe I did get my wish?
So instead I’ll make resolutions, even though I know the track record for maintaining resolutions is fairly low. But I’m going to commit to doing these things for at least 10 weeks – that seems doable and habit forming. I’m going to work out twice a week. I’m going to try a new recipe at least once a week. I’m going to get C to the pool about once a week. We’ve been at least four or five times over the holidays and it’s so wonderful for her, as she can kick and move her arms freely and get exercise, which is a little tricky when you don’t have the coordination to crawl or move around. It’s gotten her to the point where she sometimes freely agrees to tummy time and looks forward to it. Also… more baths, for me. Because they’re nice.
That feels like about enough for now – I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
I love listening to my two very different children play together. Right now they’re playing with their Minecraft stuffed animals. M insists there is a wedding and has dressed her animal in a sparkling cape. P is willing to go along with the wedding theme so long as there is lava at the wedding. And explosions. When M gets worried about the safety of the guests he agrees the lava should be cordoned off with caution tape.
I was thinking about something today, that I did in my youth, which my kids will probably never do. They’ll probably never go to a record store and buy an album they’ve never heard a single song on. In this day of Youtube and iTunes previews, why would you?
Something recently made me long to listen to vintage Kate Bush. I discovered Kate Bush, who dropped off the scene entirely in the ’90s, by buying an album on a whim. I was wandering around Montreal with a girl I barely knew. I had just finished exams and she was probably one of the few who was finished too, and was free to wander. We went to a used CD store. If you went right around the start of the month there was the best selection, as many people sold their CDs for rent. I think we went to a vintage store first and maybe I bought a coat. One of us was definitely wearing a old lady coat – the kind of wool knee-length thing that your great-grandma would have worn. I saw that Kate Bush album and something about the red ballet shoes on the cover drew me in.
I’d just had my heart broken, or at least I thought I had. The mixture of joy and melancholy on that album resonated with me that winter. Fifteen years later and I still remember most of the words.
Kate Bush can sound pretty dated with many ’90s tropes, like synthesizer music, or disembodied voices which sound especially unusual in this pared down era. But man, that wavery sensual voice is timeless.
We went swimming today, and forgot to pack socks and shoes for the twins. We walked through a market on the way to the car and B was screaming to be let down, so I let her walk a few steps holding my hands. A couple of people stared. One gave me a full up and down, looking at her, then me, then her feet, then me, then her, then my feet – well, you get the idea. And I wanted to say “Yes, I am that parent whose child is barefoot in November. And walking. I’m a Negligent Parent. But don’t worry, you will be Responsible Parents. Your child will never go barefoot in November. Never scream to be let down. Never have a raging eczema rash unresponsive to any dietary changes or prescription creams. She’ll hit all of her gross motor milestones two weeks early. And she will always have shoes.”
Tonight, for the first time in many weeks, he let me read him a bedtime story.
I’ve been off knitting for a while – hard to deal with bulky wool when it’s 30 degrees. But I have a new project perfect for summer. The pop blanket! Wee little colourful squares that are fun to knit, knit with Noro so you never quite know what colour the next square will be.
Okay, these two look kind of like boobs, but imagine more! In blanket shape!
What else is up? The garden is growing.
The big kids took horseback riding lessons, which Miss M in particular adored.
C and I had fun in Stanley Park. Not sure why my hair looks so ’70s unwashed here, but since the Coco-monster looks cute I will post anyway.
B learned to climb and torment her sister. Darn, thought I had a better picture of her riding in my new front-bike seat, but I can’t find it.
And since it’s late and Flickr is being finicky as usual, more later!