Why eating isn’t a battleground here

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If she won’t drink milk, it might be because she’s allergic to dairy.

If she wants to eat chicken thighs for breakfast, just be glad it’s healthy. It may not be culturally ‘normal’, but it’s not sugar coated white carbs, either.

What your toddler agrees to eat while on vacation on the other side of the world might surprise you. In a good way.

So what if she only wants green peas for dinner? Out there some other family is probably bribing their kid to finish those same peas.

Strangers will give your kid candy and chocolate. Just be glad she isn’t interested.

The cuter the kid, the more junk food she’ll get from well-meaning people. Take it as a compliment and don’t be afraid to throw it all in the trash when they’re not looking. Also, trading it with older children is a possibility (but you’re not really helping them in the long run :P)

Why eating isn’t a battleground here

Peas, Butternut Squash, Cilantro and Cat Poop

This morning my hubby good-naturedly went with me to the local city compost depot to be my manual labourer.

CompostGetting-April2015

Then, the weather was so nice that baby and I got down to work to turn the plot, add compost, and plant some seeds!

Planting2-April11-2015

I wish I got a photo of my little helper, as well. She always wants to do what I’m doing, so I gave her a small trowel and a planter to be “her” garden and she got to work filling it with compost. Then we planted it with cilantro/coriander.

Planting - April 11-2015

Sadly, when I popped back outside later to take these photos (my helper was exhausted and needed her nap), I discovered that the local cats had taken the freshly turned dirt as an invitation to make the garden their litter box. Yet again. I’m just going to hold up till some of the seedlings start coming up, then I’m going to mulch that bed. That, and stalk my yard with a trigger happy garden hose.

I like you, cats. But I don’t like your poop. Go bug your owner’s yard, not mine.

Peas, Butternut Squash, Cilantro and Cat Poop

It’s probably a combination of the gloomy skies today and our late nights this weekend, but boy does my head hurt today. I feel seriously sleep-deprived and it’s hard to believe that as a teenager I used to court this state of sublevel functioning on a regular basis to IM my friends and still make early morning practices.

I’ve also been reminding myself constantly these last few days to continue to rely on God especially right now, when I realize we are “living beyond our means” as Jane Austen would put it. I first had to forgive myself for letting ourselves get into this through my own unclear budgeting (or lack thereof). It’s too late to do things differently in the past. The more relevant thought is what the right thing is to do now.

In happier news, we got to celebrate a university friend’s wedding this weekend, and I have to say that the catering at Hart House is pretty amazing. We’re planning a post-wedding hangout this week and I’m planning some combination of garlicky mint for leg of lamb. I have always seen Good Friday and Easter as purely Christian celebrations of the sacrifice and victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, but in the food blogging world it appears that it’s also a timely celebration of the spring season and new growth. I guess this is what happens after centuries of Christianity-dominated culture integrated with existing celebrations of the life cycles in the world our Father has made for us to live in. I can’t say I mind.

And finally, I am both happy and annoyed that Bubble Guppies is on Netflix. It seems that “Bubba G” is on request every other day around here and we actually have access to it! Bah.

On a completely different wavelength, I’m also thinking these days about how I need to do more individual reading. Am I trying to catch up to E, though? Or is it for me…and does it actually matter?

It feels good to feel normal.

I’m back to this whole–where should we go–question.

Where should we go, I mean, for things like playgroups. The thing is, I thought I was settled on the one we go to weekly a block away away, with the occasional grudging drop-in at the local Literacy Centre. Both programs are okay, I thought.

Then today, as we were in the area, we stopped by a library in Markham. They have a wonderful kids’ toy play area that I knew baby would love. But as we walked in, we noticed a bunch of families playing in the program room. It turns out it was one of 360′s Family Drop-In programs. We made it in time for cleanup, snacktime and circle time. And oh my goodness it was so much better. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But the snack was healthier and the staff who ran the circle time were so much better at it. Better than the nice lady at the Scarborough library who does storytime (sadly, she doesn’t sing in tune), and the strict ECE at the Literacy Centre who keeps telling the kids to stay seated. These staff actually engaged the kids. I’ve never seen my baby actually stay put and listen during a full circle time. Usually she’s running around in the back and getting herself and others into trouble. But here, she just fit in, and she was also mesmerized by the story-telling. I’ve never heard her say “wow” so often at one of these programs. Also, she didn’t get in trouble for standing to see the picture book.

Which hurts, because it means, we’ve been going to the wrong programs. Or have we?

It’s so so normal in our world to drive far and move farther to get one’s kids into the right schools and the right programs. I really really don’t want to do that. But the programs in our neighbourhood always feel wrong for her. They’re too small, too stifling, mostly too strict. It’s probably cultural, which is both the reason and the issue to begin with us being here in this place, just a few blocks south of where we might “feel” like we “belong”.

I don’t think I anticipated this. Not fully. I knew the schools would be older, the parks a little less fancy. I didn’t think that even free programming would be so different, with a different postal code.

It’s more than that. It’s being in a room with other families who speak my language. It’s being around parents, moms, who look and sound like me. Is that horrible that I didn’t know I wanted this and I know it isn’t my calling in life to just “belong” but it feels so good to experience it just for a bit? I feel almost guilty for relishing that undefinable sense of belonging. It goes against all the ideals…but isn’t that sense of belonging exactly the reason why those other playgroups we attend are the way they are? Don’t they exist precisely to give some other family that sense of belonging they crave? Is it so wrong? I want it too.

Anyways, I’m going to be back, next week. Maybe once a week we can feel normal, us two, baby and I. And I know and trust our heavenly Father will continue to show me where to be, when and how.

It feels good to feel normal.

I’d prefer to raise my kid alone, I think.

It takes a village to raise a child.

-African proverb

Um yeah. And sometimes I could really dispense with that village and wish I could retreat into the hills. I think for me it’s a cultural thing.

Those people who keep quoting that lovely quote up there, are you part of a culture that actually does that? Are you prepared to deal with the stress, anxiety, annoyance and polite meanderings that comes with every one around you (family, friend, stranger on the street and Mommy group facilitator) telling you what they think your kid should be eating/drinking/not eating/not touching/wearing/and more?

My parents raised me pretty “white”. North American, live and let live, with very North American beliefs in health philosophy. But I look Chinese. Most people around me are Chinese. Those who know me well, generally, share my beliefs in (a) advice is best not given, unless asked for, and (b) general beliefs in kids eating, feeding, sleeping, in whatever way the family wants.

Not so, my lovely “birth” culture into which I’ve thrown myself by virtue of geographical locale (and marriage, I suppose). Sometimes it’s extremely funny, to be scolded on the sidewalk by a stranger who thinks my daughter is underdressed for the weather. In my head I respond, “If you had spent time in Winnipeg, MB, you would know this is not cold. You would not be bundled up head to toe in a full-length down jacket and boots in above-zero weather. My kid is having the time of her life right now and is way warmer than you will ever feel in Canadian fall weather.” But by then, she’s walked on, somehow feeling not weird at all for having lectured a perfect stranger on the street about whom she knows nothing (and in a language she could only assume I understood).

It’s a funny story I tell people, but to be honest, that initial interaction was offensive and kind of hurt. I put a smile on it and walk on, because I’ve learned some things now. Like how, in her culture, it’s normal. That’s what you do. It’s because you mean well, and you stick your nose in everyone’s business because you’re concerned.

The part I haven’t learned yet is how people accept this unsolicited advice. At the mommy-baby-playgroup, I often see the same people week after week, so I’m starting to get it. They really, genuinely, care. They start explaining my kid to new folks who have questions about her small-size-regular-milestones (is she 9 months old? 18 months old? wait…she’s running?!) and her eczema. They exchange tips on dealing with eczema, and kids who don’t eat. But the ones who are still moms, they also get it. We accept the kids who endlessly breastfeed, who won’t sleep through the night, who only eat on their own terms. More importantly, we accept their parents. We acknowledge how hard they try, and the fact that, they’re doing their best. We try to help by holding the new baby while she deals with the jealous older sibling. And I like how in this culture, it’s entirely accepted and okay to rock someone else’s newborn back to sleep. Appreciated, even.

But those first few months, I was in total culture shock. It was hard, so hard to have 10 different people show extreme concern for what was pretty normal in my books, and then to tell me about the herbal medicines/fancy expensive creams/anecdotal evidence they’ve seen work on someone else’s sister’s kid.

And even now, I can’t always deal. Just because I listen, doesn’t mean I agree. At what point do they understand, in this village, that I’m not going to do it just ’cause you believe it? When you stop a mom in the changeroom at the local pool to tell her her kid with eczema shouldn’t be swimming, what do you expect her to do at that point? Why do you bother her with your unwarranted and unsolicited advice if you know she isn’t going to be able to follow through with it? The bathing suit’s on and the Vaseline’s going on and I didn’t drag my baby into the carseat for a morning drive just to turn around and go home because a stranger stops me in the changeroom. Damn it, do you know how much reading and research has gone into this moment that you’re just devaluing with your words?

I’m not saying I’ve got it all down pat. I’m not even saying I know how to parent. I don’t. I’ve made so many mistakes already and I’m only about to make more. I know you all mean well. But you know what? I know bloggers who blog about parenting for a living who extend me a lot more grace than you, stranger at the pool. I have a small group that is only supportive, offers to babysit entirely on my terms, and prays for us to not just survive, but thrive.

Lord teach me. Not just to extend grace to others (which I am still learning and wow I didn’t know how much I had to learn about this), but to learn how to accept the words that hurt. The kind, well-meaning nose-in-my-business that I don’t know how to deal with. To continue to pursue relationships that only seem to get worse with time, relationships to which I am committed to better, for better or for worse. God, it’s annoying and painful and time-wasting it seems. When “smile and nod” doesn’t cut it, what do I do next?

I’d prefer to raise my kid alone, I think.

Happy Things

The fact that my Kobo Glo (refurbished for cheap from a friend – thanks J =) came with Pocket. Now I throw all the articles I want to maybe read from the million blogs I follow on it by hitting “Save to Pocket” and in it goes =) Then later when breastfeeding or hanging out with a napping baby I pull it out and start gorging. It’s lovely. Better than only reading free ebooks (so so in quality usually), or struggling with the connecting-to-library’s Overdrive app which requires actual physical usb cables. “sync via wifi” is my friend!

I prefer my ereader to my laptop/tablet for everyday reading because it has no colour or exciting functions for my baby to discover. She has a thing for electronics and pictures of babies. Preferably when combined. Yes, we Google Image “cute babies” for her all the time. Not what I imagined an ideal upbringing of a toddler to include, but so it is.

Happy Things

If it doesn’t beat Regino’s

Randomly chatting in the car on the way home from an impromptu house dinner (as in, hubby and I + baby + awesome housemate), I discovered the men of the house have a new standard. A new phrase. The, “if it doesn’t beat Regino’s” it isn’t worth doing, phrase.

As in, Chatime or Coco? If it’s not better than Regino’s…

Medieval Times ain’t better than Regino’s.

Going out for a movie? Is the movie better than Regino’s?

I guess that means Montana’s is better than Regino’s. That, and Montana’s with a coupon and a gift card.

At this rate, Regino’s should,

a) pay me for blogging

b) give us a bulk order discount. Because if you were to add up the number of orders our house makes in a year, I’m sure it’s a bulk order.

[insert photo of pizza here]

If it doesn’t beat Regino’s