Monday, September 22, 2014

Swimming and Ballet

Three year olds in adorable little ballet uniforms get me every time! I did ballet for several years as a young child and enjoyed it. I thought that it would be a good activity for their girls. It is active, but requires focus and attention. The class is only 30 minutes long; perfect for 3-year olds. It's a drop off program, but you can't get much done in just 30 minutes. The parents end up huddling around the tiny window hoping to catch a glimpse of twirls and toe pointing. 

Day one was a little challenging. They didn't want me to leave, so I promised to stay in sight for the duration of the class. On day two, this past Saturday, their teacher promptly shut all the parents out to take control of the class. The girls did very well, from what I saw over the window hog's head ;) I actually saw Quinn smile. A big step from the previous Saturday. Teagan will likely get more into it than Quinn. I'm not sure if it will be her thing. While she has the look of a ballerina, she's anything but…something a little more aggressive might be her scene. Time will tell!

They also started swimming lessons last week. Swimming was a must in my book. My parents also required us to take swimming lessons until we reached a certain level. While we will no longer spend our summers at the cottage, I still think that it is important for them to learn how to swim. 

They're in a great swim school that has a 3:1 ratio for their age group. Lucky for us, they're the only ones in the class. It is also only 30 minutes long. More than enough though. Quinn was extremely nervous to leave my side. Parents are not allowed on the pool deck. They have set up a live feed to a TV in the waiting area. I'm glad that I was able to see them both. Teagan melted down part way through, but managed to pull it together. 

They were both quite overwhelmed when they came out of the pool. They told me that they didn't like swimming lessons. I told them how much I loved watching them swim on the TV. I told them that I saw them swim on their fronts and backs and dunk their heads. We talked about it very positively for the ride home. When Jenn asked how swimming went, they both answered, "great!" 

That's Teagan in the bottom left.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The 3-year old bully

In the last week, a lot has happened between O and Quinn (and Teagan). You can read the back story here.

All weekend long, the girls talked about O. They worried that he would be at their ballet class, their swimming lesson and even The Wigg.les concert. They worried that he would be there and would bite them. Quinn still has huge bruise on her thigh a week later. And then, on Monday morning, I received another call while the girls were at school. O had bit Quinn on the back and grabbed Teagan's face so hard that it left a bruise. Both attacked were totally unprovoked. I signed two more incident reports. Three reports total in just two weeks of school. After a chat with both of their teachers, it sounded like this wasn't going to stop. They were doing their best to watch him, but with 13 other children in the class, they could only do so much.

I came home, gave the girls lunch and put them down for a nap. I then wrote a carefully worded email to the person who owns the school. I filed a formal complaint. I couldn't have my children fearing for their safety at school any longer. She called me an hour later. She has known Teagan and Quinn for over a year now and knows that they are "kind and sweet" little girls (her words). She was going to bring a substitute Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher in who speaks O's language. Hopefully this teacher could help his transition and prevent some of the aggressive behaviour.

The first day with the ECE teacher went well. There were no issues. Day two (today) was another story. O pulled Quinn's hair so hard that she peed her pants. Her first accident in over a week. I received the call an hour before picking them up to give me the heads up. When I picked them up today, the supervisor said that she would be having a meeting with the owner to find a solution to this problem once and for all. The solution would involve eliminating all contact between Quinn and O.

I received a call a couple of hours ago to tell me that O would be removed from the program.

While the girls napped today, I folded laundry and couldn't stop thinking about this whole situation. I can't imagine how scared O must be; a new country, new school and most challenging of all, a new language. But, his behaviour can't be justified by that.

I've seen bullying in the past. I was never a bully myself and was never the recipient of bullying though. I've heard experts talk about it on the radio; they talked about the reasons kids do it and why they pick particular children to bully. Why Quinn? I honestly don't know. While she can be a bit shy and standoffish at first, she warms up quickly and seems to get along well with other children. She's assertive, clever and not a pushover. It breaks my heart to think that my 3-year old was being bullied. Fortunately, she doesn't seem too bothered by it so I think that I will be the one with the scars. I'd rather that. I'm a worrier by nature and can't help but think about how bullying will be dealt with in three years when they're in grade one. 20+ children in a class. One teacher can only do so much. Time on the playground with hundreds of children. They'll be fine. I know that. But, for now, the wounds are fresh. They're cuddled under a blanket together in their fleece footie pjs watching Max and Ruby. Can't I keep them like this forever?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Standing up for one another when it counts

With not even two weeks of preschool behind us, I have heard about a classmate, O, three times. The comments about this little boy are never positive. O hit me with a block. O grabbed the trucks away from me. And today, O pushed me into the slide in the backyard. All of these comments came from Teagan.

Each time she told me about O, I asked her about how she handled it. After one altercation, she told me that she "just walked away". During another, she told him, "I don't like that." She never seemed bothered or upset by it.

While eating lunch today, Teagan told me that O pushed her repeatedly into the slide while they were playing in the yard. The rest of the story is what warmed my heart….

Seeing that her sister was being pushed around, Quinn rushed over, grabbed Teagan's hand and immediately said to O, "that's my sister!" Their friend, X, who has said that Teagan is his best friend, also rushed over and told O, "we don't push." Hand in hand, my girls then "just walked away." And then it was done. The girls then launched into a story about a book that they read in school.

There were a few things that I loved about this…

1. The obvious. Despite all of the fighting they do at home, my girls will stand up for each other when it counts.

2. They handled the situation perfectly, in my opinion. I've tried to teach them to stand up for themselves and say what they want/don't want and to walk away if they feel that they need space.

3. They handled it perfectly without any adult involvement. 4 3-year olds! It was a great reminder to give them a little bit more credit at times.

How have you taught your kids to handle conflict?

Update (September 12th):

When I picked the girls up today, I had to read and sign my first ever incident report. O bit Quinn quite badly on her thigh. After speaking with one of their teachers, it turns out that O speaks very little english. The language barrier is playing a part in his behaviour.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Preschool Week #1

As the end of August approached, I started looking forward to the girls starting preschool again. In my previous post, I mentioned that the summer had its challenges. As much as I love my children, some separation was needed for all of us.

The 3-morning preschool program filled up fast so we ended up signing the girls up for the 5-morning program. In the end, we realized that the 5-morning program would probably make the transition into full day kindergarten next year a little bit easier. Plus, they loved school last year (2-mornings per week).

When the girls finished up in June, it seemed as though they would be with their same two teachers again come September. They adored them and so did I. As the summer days counted down, I started talking to the girls about school. From experience, I've learned that my kids need lots of preparation for something new. We talk about it and they express their fears and/or excitement. We would talk about how those feelings are ok, but then spin it into a positive discussion. When we arrived at school last Tuesday morning, we were greeted at the door and given the names of the girls two teachers. I did not know either of them and Teagan immediately started to cry, asking for her teachers from last year. It turned out some changes had been made towards the end of the summer. I was disappointed that the school had not informed us of the change. Day one at any school is chaotic, but when you add crying 2 and 3-year olds with separation anxiety to the mix, it makes things even more challenging. I ended up speaking with the director mid-morning. I expressed my disappointment and said that it would have been helpful if we had been informed of the change and offered an opportunity to meet the new teachers before chaotic day one. For a 3-year old, this can make all the difference.

We dealt with a few other issues on day one, but then as I suspected, things calmed down. We had not had a single issue for the entire 2013-2014 school year so I hoped that these issues would be one offs. Sure enough, the week got much better. On Friday, Teagan even told me that I needed to pick them up later so that she had more time on the playground.

And with two happy kids at school, this mommy feels so grateful to have the mornings free to get things done. The dogs can be walked, I can work out, the laundry won't pile up (hopefully!) and lots of yummy soups, muffins and other cooking creations will be made.

Friday, September 5, 2014

We're back!

Jenn, Teagan, Quinn, Riley, Finn and I are back! I took a somewhat purposeful blogging break over the summer. I had intended on blogging of our summer adventures, but then life got busy, kids stopped sleeping, kids started fighting (a lot) and Mommy started to go a little nuts.

In some ways, the summer flew by, but in others, it didn't go nearly fast enough. The answer to the general  'how was your summer?' question would have to be that the highs were really high, but the lows were rrrrrrreally low. The girls and I had some fantastic days filled with warm weather, tons of laughter and loads of adventure and fun. I'll go into details below. 

They also went through some sleep issues. Teagan has night terrors several times per week. They both also get into the habit of waking several times per night, sometimes for up to a week or more. Pair this with their bedtime antics (taking 1-3 hours to fall asleep) and we had two overtired little girls for much of the summer. As with most kids, overtired equals bad behaviour. The fighting was really bad for most of the summer. They know how to push each others buttons and fought more than they didn't. If they weren't fighting, there was lots of whining and several tantrums. Without preschool, the three of us spent nearly 24/7 together. It was a lot. Dealing with the sometimes constant fighting and tantrums emotionally and mentally exhausted me on most days. My fuse shortened and my patience was worn thin. I yelled and felt guilty and horrible for it. I was becoming a mom who I didn't like. But with 2 3-year olds and 3 dogs (Carlee stayed with us quite a bit), I tried to remind myself that I was doing the best that could. I also knew that September 2nd would come and structure and sanity would be restored with the start of preschool. And here we are…Sorry to vent, but it was needed!

And back to July. 

In early July, we received the photos from my friend and photographer, Lauren, from the girls' 3-year photo shoot. Quite honestly, I was nervous to look at them because the girls weren't in the best moods that day. Lucky for us, Lauren is a pro and managed to capture some absolutely perfect moments!

The summer is better shown through a huge photo dump. Fun continued with...

Raspberry picking!

Celebrating Grandpa's birthday with ice cream cake!

Wine and treats at Kelly's bridal shower. (Kelly is my brother's wife - the wedding was this past weekend!)

For the record: Teagan's glass is filled with

We ate delicious food, listened to music and spent time in nature at the farmer's markets.

We planted a vegetable garden and harvested fresh spinach for our morning smoothies.

We spent time in the country ridin' tractors!

Umbrellas were finally purchased! (They had been asking for them for nearly a year. Mommy refrained from buying them for fear that they would be used as weapons!)

We thoroughly protected our skin from the sun's rays!

Teagan and Quinn rode their first rides all by themselves. 

Quiet puppy cuddles were enjoyed. 

Quinn caught her first fish and cottage noodle fights were had with friends!

The animal lovers enjoyed some bonding time with Charlie, the goat, and Max, the pony. 

The Toronto Zoo's carousel was enjoyed several times. 

Muffins were devoured on warm summer mornings in the park.

A little bit of sidewalk chalk made it onto the ground, but colouring bodies turned out to be much more fun. 

Many walks were enjoyed with the 5 children! 

And one of the best summer memories of all was a zoo visit with their brand new cousin! My cousin had an adorable baby boy in mid-June. The girls adore the little man and talk about it constantly. I'm so excited for play dates and family gatherings in the years to come. Jenn's sister also had a baby boy in July so the girls now have another cousin! Jenn surprised her sister with a visit just days after her nephew was born! We are all heading down there in a few weeks so the rest of us get to meet him too :)

In other positive summer news, Teagan is mostly potty trained. It happened easily because she was ready. Apart from a few reminders on our end, we didn't have to do much! She handles it all on her own, which I love, especially when I'm trying to prepare dinner. A few weeks ago, I surprised Teagan with a package of Lightning Mc.Queen underwear. She's a huge fan and had been asking for them. Her  face lit up when she saw them and I couldn't wash them fast enough. Quinn isn't quite there on the potty training front. She will go before her bath in the evenings, but apart from that, she isn't into it. On the advice of a friend, we spent a week allowing her to wear underwear. We hoped that if she peed herself a few times, she would start to think about using the potty a bit more. No luck. She would pee herself and then disappear and quietly change. Despite constant reminders to use the washroom, she didn't pee on the potty once. After cleaning five pairs of underwear and shorts each day for a week, we put her back into diapers. We didn't make a big deal about it, but told her that when she starts using the washroom regularly, she can wear underwear again. Initially, this sparked massive tantrums multiple times per day. It was particularly hard for her to see Teagan in underwear. I do not feel any stress about the whole thing, but do hope that she figures it out soon so that she can wear undies like her sister. 

I'll end the summer update there, but I'll be back soon with a Rob and Kelly wedding post (with lots of pictures!) and a first week of preschool post.

It's nice to be back.