American Pie

We started playing this song in the car because I misremembered¬† the lyrics – I told Owen, as I was buckling into his carseat (in January), that “January made me shiver” – then I thought – that’s wrong. So we listened to the seven-minute song and Owen was hooked. He was singing the chorus at daycare (I know, I know, another song with liquor in it, for a preschool-age child. Shame!)

Anyway, everybody knows the chorus but how many four-year-olds know most of the lyrics?



“Soccer Mom”

I’ve come to a realization about myself through parenting: the things I didn’t like as a child get only marginally more fun when I try to pass on a false love of them to Owen. For instance, Monday afternoon, I took Owen to an indoor soccer playtime event. We paid our admission fee, put on our running shoes, and grabbed our ball. As we entered the artificial grass stadium, my heart lurched. Oh God. They weren’t just kicking balls around. They were playing GAMES of soccer. The idea made me cringe. I was self-aware enough to realize how ridiculous my expectation was, but still. Games? How awful.

Owen, oblivious, took off, kicking his ball into the middle of the two games (between them, luckily). I was then yelling at him to come back because I didn’t want him to be trampled. One of the games was being played by large, fast, sweaty teenaged boys and adult men, who kick the ball hard enough to bruise (and possibly brain) you. I know. I got a ball in the leg. We were told that we could use the edges of the field, so we did, but we had to be extra careful 1) not to get brained by errant soccer balls and 2) not to let our own soccer ball be errant. Honestly, I was so stressed out. And it occurred to me that for most people, playing soccer means just that, playing soccer – you know – the actual game, with goals and strategy and winners and losers and speed and … all the things I kind of loathe. I don’t mind kicking a ball around. I don’t mind playing goalie with my child. But I did mind having balls flying through the air and athletic bodies pitching themselves in my direction.

We plan to register Owen in soccer this summer. Clearly, though, he is already behind a lot of the kids whose parents actually care about the game that is soccer and play it with their agile children. Another little boy, around Owen’s age, was also playing on the sidelines, but he was dressed in soccer gear (an outfit, green and white, with the logo of some restaurant on the back of it – you know – professional). He was wearing cleats, size 11 kids, and had a miniature soccer ball that he could control with precision. Anyway, he wanted to play with Owen, but Owen didn’t understand why this kid wouldn’t let him score a goal. The only rule I had remembered to tell Owen about soccer was that you were not allowed to touch the ball with your hands. He was so impressed with this rule that he asked, as we were walking into the sports centre, whether he might get arrested by the soccer police if he broke this rule. He also gamely tried to hit the ball with his head by getting down on all fours and trying to nudge it forward. You see? We’re the laughing stock. And then the other child, playing goalie, kept using his hands, and Owen said “he’s breaking the rule!” and I remembered that goalies could use their hands.

In the end, we had an OK time. We both learned a lot about soccer. I remembered that soccer is a game that some people like to play. Owen had his usual response to such occasions, “I’m really bad at soccer. I’ll never be good” but also “I wish I didn’t have to stay on the edges. Can we go back when there aren’t so many people?” We will. I might even throw the child into a game and have him be jeered and mocked by his peers. Sorry: am I projecting?¬† I have so many bad memories of playing team sports (badly) that I cringe when I get into these situations. Then again, we bumped into one of my favourite former students yesterday (one of the athletic young men). He said hello and then said soccer was great for kids. Fine. I just seriously have to leave Owen to the professionals.

Love Cravings

Owen is a very affectionate child. He regularly hugs the parents of the other children at his daycare, is free and easy with his I love yous, and waxes amorous with almost everyone. He told me this morning that he loved me so much that he would never leave me, that he would live with us forever. Duncan and I laughed, told him he’d want to move out eventually, but he insisted, no. I love you too much to ever leave you. We’ll see about that.

I am extra aware of these love-ins because one of the things Owen is supposed to “work on,” according to his daycare is his need for so much love. Please understand, I have the utmost respect for his teacher and I understand what she means — it just took me by surprise. I’ve heard this from his educators before, that when Owen is about to get in trouble, he will spurt forth an “I love you,” because he knows it to be an effective anger diffuser. He would do this to us a couple of months ago when he kept getting out of bed. He would wait at the top of the stairs, and when we would ask him why he was up, he would say, “I love you!” and then be led back to bed. His “I love you” was when he’d run out of other excuses, like he was worried there was a monster under his bed, or he was thirsty. And we’d be frustrated, because it was the third or fourth time we’d put him to bed, and we were tired, and it was late, and he was tired, and enough already – but it worked. We couldn’t (quite) get mad at a child who said “I love you” out of the darkness.

At daycare, though, if his teacher is busy, he’ll say “you don’t love me?” as though he equates love with undivided attention. He’s an only child, so I guess he gets a lot of our focus, but I’ve never thought of it as too much. I leave him to his own devices plenty. His teacher said something else which surprised me because I’d never considered it. She said that he needs praise all the time: “Did I do a nice drawing?” “Do you love my craft?” – and she wants him to say “I made a nice drawing” – and not need confirmation. And I totally understand the theory behind this idea – we want kids to be happy and confident. But when I heard this I realized that I also need confirmation. I want to be told when I’ve done a good job, or have taught a good class, or have made a good meal. For the most part, I know when I have, but I also doubt myself more than I ought to, and have to shake myself out of dwelling on what went wrong. Are compliments bad for children? Oh dear, not another thing I’ve done wrong…

On a very positive note, Owen has discovered how to write “I (heart) U” and is now writing that, and his name, and my name, on every surface. He has also started to draw kisses, which look like concentric circles. See below – the person with the really big lips? That’s Owen blowing me a kiss. I also like the dog with I (heart) U ANNA written on its stomach.

1796672_10151884017442000_181925994_n And here is the family portrait he drew, unprompted, at daycare.

1920567_10151884658967000_1466200279_nThe things that look like rosy cheeks? They’re dimples.