One More Thing

Sometimes, something happens and it’s not really a big deal, but the weight of that moment feels like so much to bare.
One more thing on an already full plate.

Report card season? It’s not just looking over one report card, it’s looking at two. It’s trying to figure out how the report card and the education plan for your child line up.

Doctor’s appointment? It’s not just one quick visit to the family doctor, it’s an appointment with the pediatrician, followed by blood work, followed by a follow-up visit or call.

And usually, these ‘little extras’ aren’t a big deal. But sometimes, it’s just one more thing on a full plate.

Recently, we’ve been pretty quiet on the blog. It’s been a succession of events that have felt like “one more thing” on an already full plate. And blogging about it, while typically therapeutic, just wasn’t a priority.

But summer is here. School is nearly out. The return to normalcy feels imminent and possible this summer.

We’ve registered Robert for some private swimming lessons at a local pool. He starts next month, and fingers crossed that it’s a wonderful experience for us! He’s been partnered with an instructor who has conversational level French skills, and he has been so excited to swim all year (the overflowing bathtub as he attempts the freestyle in the tub are proof of that).

Our boys are forever keeping us on our toes, challenging us to become better parents, more patient people and (most importantly) safe places for them to process emotions. And just when we think that we’re at our breaking point, someone comes over and gives us the sweetest hug or says the sweetest thing.

Making “soup” together

For Father’s Day, I asked the boys to draw something for their Pépère. Robert drew one of his dolls, complete with her wild hair, big eyes and shoes. I’ve wondered when he’d begin drawing people. It’s a skill that’s been broached with his OT before. “Tadpole” people are typically drawn by children between 3 and 5 years old, with more details emerging the older they get. You know, the head with legs and arms directly attached to it. This is where Robert’s at – and while some parents might think “ah, it’s just stick people drawing, not a big deal!”… for us, it’s ONE MORE THING.

It’s one more thing to celebrate!
One more thing to marvel at!
One more step in his development and understanding!

It’s one more thing for us to be proud of. It’s one more thing for Robert to do with confidence.

So while sometimes, one more thing is heavy and feels like the breaking point is near, other times, that one more thing is simply marvellous!

What’s that one more thing your child has done this month that’s made you proud?

La maternelle, déjà?

I don’t know what happened.

I feel fairly confident that it wasn’t that long ago that I gave birth to our 2nd son.

Wasn’t it just last month that I introduced Robert to his baby brother, Sullivan? The baby Robert begged me, at every chance he could, to hold? The one he proudly called “his baby”?

I don’t know what happened.

I blinked, and 2 boys became 3.

And suddenly, I’m getting ready to send Sullivan to school in the fall.

Sullivan… my boy who came so quickly our birth photographer almost didn’t make it. The one who was so determined to join us on the outside, my midwife ordered me to stop pushing so she could untangle him. He didn’t let anything stop him, not even his umbilical cord. He was ready to meet us!

My 3-year-old boy is going to school in September.

I don’t know what happened, but in September, he starts la maternelle (also known as junior kindergarten or full-day kindergarten).

We had a virtual introduction to his school, with many smiling faces on camera. We saw some of the staff he will likely see at school in the fall and some potential classmates’ smiling faces.

And as I sat through this virtual session, it struck me how easy it was to enrol him. I didn’t write a 10-page document outlining all there is to know about him. I didn’t have to have a big meeting, complete with his daycare staff, his OT, his PT, his SLP and the school administration. I just clicked a few buttons online, and that was it.

But that’s not the reality for everyone. It certainly wasn’t our reality 3 years ago with Robert.

If this is your reality, I want you to know you aren’t alone.

It can feel overwhelming, daunting, exhausting… and just not fair. Advocating for everything you want for your child and everything they need to succeed. I hope you are lucky enough to be partnered with a team like the one we have. A team that recognizes your child as intelligent and capable and that s/he just needs a few more supports in place to achieve their potential.

And after you go through those meetings and feel like you’ve prepared everyone for what to expect the next year, there’s going to be someone you forgot. Sometimes, the teacher or the educators that work with our kids aren’t at school. They might be sick or are caring for a sick child. When they aren’t there, the person who replaces them might not know about your child. And, even if they know that your child is in the class, they might not have had time to read the 10-page document you wrote. In those cases, a one-pager that outlines your child’s challenges, strengths and preferred communication styles can make all the difference. Here is a template version (in French) of the one we made. If this is useful to you and for your child(ren), I encourage you to edit it and provide it to the school. Send paper copies to the school, and email the teacher and staff a copy as well. And hey! This can also help the bus driver if your child rides a bus.

Un défis pour nous était de trouver des ressources en français, alors, le document en question est en français pour aider ceux qui pourraient se trouver dans cette même situation.

Getting to meet the school staff and administration at the early transition meeting also had its benefits. For one, we were able to see how the team works together, how organized they are, and how they value their colleagues and the students. It was a great foundation for us to build on and made us feel more comfortable with what Robert’s educational path looked like. It helps that we chose a school with an outstanding team.

And while registration for Sullivan only took a few clicks, I miss being able to sit around a table with the staff and telling them about my child. They don’t know that he’s very shy and reserved only up until the moment he feels comfortable, and then WATCH OUT! He’s full of intense energy he is still learning to harness and will need their help to navigate this. They don’t know that he is a sensitive, kind, caring boy who isn’t afraid to play “chevaliers!” or “pirates!” the second he sees anything that remotely resembles a sword. When he goes to school on the first day, he will be a stranger to them, and they a stranger to him. I know he will be OK, and that school will challenge him and help him grow in ways we can’t, but I do miss that introduction meeting. It makes dropping your baby off for school a little less scary.

But I still don’t know what happened.

How it feels as though he was born only yesterday, but this week I registered him for la maternelle.

Time, you’re a thief.

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Salut, Bob!

Teach him to be kind.
Teach him to be a nurturer.
Teach him to have empathy.

Sullivan recently turned 3. I’m not sure how time seems to pass so slowly, especially these ‘groundhog days’ we seem to be living, but in the blink of an eye, 9 months has passed and we’re celebrating Sully’s 3rd birthday.

One of his favourite gifts this year is a beautiful doll from minimono.ca – this miniland doll has Down syndrome features. Yes! You read that correctly – there are features commonly associated with someone having down syndrome apparent on this doll. The eyes are slightly almond shaped, the nose a little flatter and a slight separation of toes are some examples.

This doll has become a prized possession in our home. It’s not uncommon to see the doll being lugged around under one of the boys’ arms, some days more gently than others.

Pictured is Sullivan, the author's blonde haired, grey eyed, 3 year old boy, wearing a sweater and jeans. He holds a toy miniland doll that has realistic features of a child with down syndrome. In front of him is a toy John Deere tractor.
Proof that boys can play with dolls AND trucks. After all, toys aren’t gender specific!


Teach him to cherish.
Teach him how to practice emotional-regulation.
Teach him to be caring.

One of the best parts of having this new toy in our home is hearing the boys playing with it. You can hear them practicing social skills as they interact with the doll, replaying some of the things they’ve learned or experienced recently as though they are processing the situation out-loud. And that’s apparent in the name they chose for the doll.

When Sullivan opened his gift and saw the doll, he was excited to begin playing with it. Almost immediately, he said “Salut, Bob!” to the toy.

Yes, Bob.

You might think that it’s because he understands that Robert has Down syndrome, and the doll represents a little boy with down syndrome. But you’d be wrong, the name isn’t (to him) a nickname for Robert.

In the event that your children aren’t being babysat by AmazonPrime or Netflix during Covid-Days while you are trying to work-full time from home and hopping on your umpteenth video conference call of the day – there is a show called Bob le train that airs on AmazonPrime. Bob le train rides through a city landscape and picks up the letters of the alphabet (in alphabetical order) to take them to their destination. Nearly every letter cheerfully greets the train with “Salut, Bob!”. And so, my children when playing can often be heard saying “Salut Bob!” to their toys.

As much as I would love to make up some sweet story about how Bob the doll was named, this story is so much more authentic (and representative of the times we are living).

Teach him to be gentle.
Teach him that toys are not gender-specific.
Teach him to be loving.

And while some may say that the dangers of our son having been gifted a doll for his birthday might include taunting by ignorant adults, we know that the benefits far outweigh those potential dangers. This doll is offering our boys the chance to practice compassion, kindness and empathy, which we try to model daily at home for them. And more importantly, it’s providing Robert with the chance to see himself represented in the toys we have in our home.

Pandemic Check-In

Alright fellow Canadians, it’s been nearly a month since this began, how are you doing?

And by that I mean.. how are you really doing?

Because, if I’m being honest, I’m all over the map.

I wake up, ready to tackle whatever the day throws at me.

Sullivan wants pancakes? No problem, I’ll just get the flour, sugar, eggs and milk and whip some up. Alistair’s feeding the dog instead of himself? I’ll pretend I don’t see that as I sip my hot coffee.

And while all this is happening, I’m logging into my work computer and replying to emails.

But the coffee is hot, the sun is shining, and everyone is healthy. I’m zen.

Until an hour later…. Replies to the emails which I replied to earlier that morning are now coming in. Sullivan is jumping on his brother’s back, telling him “bisous, bisous” and peppering Alistair with kisses. My husband is trying to contain them so I can squeeze in just a few more tasks before we all have a change of scenery. That zen I felt? It’s (not so) slowly disappearing.

OK… everyone lace up, coats on, let’s go outside! Dog gets his first walk. Let’s go to the wooded area so Sullivan can run around. “Don’t forget to check for ticks when we get home!” I say to my husband.

The days when the sun shines, we are all able to regroup with some time outside. Zen is happening once again, even with the nagging worry of ticks. The neighbourhood is still quiet, it’s easy to social distance on these walks, and our family seems to enjoy the crisp morning air. The legs are moving, endorphins are flowing, and we feel some freedom in this time of isolation.

Enjoying the morning walk

Except Alistair is dropping a nap, but he’s not really down to one nap a day, so zen doesn’t last long. Whining starts, and there’s Sullivan again, trying to calm his brother down by smothering him with love… I say love but really it looks like they are wrestling and Sullivan has a choke hold on Alistair all while saying “Câlin, Alistair! Câlin!” [hug, Alistair! HUG!]

Everyone’s back inside. It’s time to scramble and throw something together for lunch. Hopefully the kids decide to eat their lunch instead of feeding to the dog, right? Lunch chaos is over and finally, Alistair gives in to a nap. I’m starting to feel a bit frazzled, as I try to balance everything on my mental to-do list and sit down to do some more work. My husband is trying to get Sullivan to sit quietly, but two and a half year olds aren’t designed to sit quietly.

Did I mention that Sullivan has decided that he doesn’t nap every day anymore? Oh, right, I forget to mention that he decided he doesn’t nap, or do quiet time, or sit quietly most days. If we’re lucky, he’ll watch Sesame Street and/or play quietly. Working from home full time as a parent with small children is fun, isn’t it?

Nap time/quiet time is over. Snack time. Please play together without injuring each other I say to myself as I scramble to finish the work I’ve started during nap time.

Time to lace up again! Go play in the yard. Run around! I’m now exhausted, but the littles are full of energy. How is it only 3pm? What’s for dinner? Did we take anything out? Did I even cross a single item off my to-do list? When did we last vacuum or wash the floors? Do the kids have clean jammies?

Now I feel like a hot mess. Where is the zen?

Dinner tonight consisted of a parenting win as I convinced Sullivan to start scrubbing the potatoes and (after I diced them) let him put seasoning on them. It’s time to walk the dog again. Sullivan gets out to run around, but this time there is less freedom. It feels as though everyone’s out walking, and … well, Sullivan isn’t great at walking in a straight line, or off to the side, or understanding social distancing.

Despite trying to corral Sullivan for the better part of the walk, the walk feels nice. Most people are respectful of social distancing, smiles are being shared amongst neighbours, and neighbourhood kids are leaving encouraging chalk messages on the communal path ♡

Home again.

Bathtime. Books. Bedtime.

Find a towel to soak up the lake in the bathroom – keeping water in the tub is just a suggestion, right?

Wash dishes.
Put some laundry in.
Pour a glass of wine.
Sit down to tackle more work.

Hear a baby cry.
Go comfort baby.

Put the kettle on.
Make tea.
Sit down to work.

Notice wine glass.
Huh. Wonder when I poured that?
Take a sip. Still fresh – phew.

Get some work done.
It’s 11pm already? Didn’t I just sit down?
Fold laundry.
Watch some Netflix to decompress as I finish my wine, tea, and housework.

The day is done and I have felt a wide range of emotions:
From wide eyed and ready to tackle the day – to zen – to overwhelmed and over extended and exhausted.

More importantly, at the end of the day, I take time to feel gratitude. I’m grateful for my family, for the sun shining, and for being able to sit down for a meal with other people I love.

How about you? How are you really feeling?

The Impact of Isolation

Like so many others, we recently made the decision to isolate our family for 14 days. It wasn’t an easy choice – it certainly wasn’t mandated due to recent travel. Our decision came at a time when the information available was mixed, and we weren’t really sure how serious this virus was.

Prior to having made this choice, we celebrated Robert’s 6th birthday. Before those feelings of uncertainty penetrated our lives, Robert was surrounded by a small group of friends and celebrated by a room full of people singing “Bonne Fête”.

He blew out the candles on his giant pull-apart cupcake-cake, and devoured his favourite flavour, ‘show-co-lawt’.

Birthday pull-apart cupcakes

He laughed, was loved, and had the best night’s sleep following his Little Gym party.

The following day, we went over to my parents. It was the beginning of March Break, and Robert was going to camp “Grandmaman et Pépère” while Mom & Dad worked. Just days before, news had come that schools were to be closed for 2 extra weeks, but we had only learned that day that the daycare was closing. Everything felt surreal – was this an exaggeration? A knee-jerk reaction by our government?

The plan was for us to return on Robert’s birthday. We would celebrate as an extended family, watch him open a few gifts, sing his favourite song (“Bonne Fête”), and after cake, we’d take him home.

As the week progressed, each day seemed to bring with it more uncertainty.

I’m sure you all felt it.

One day, you wake up thinking “ah it’s just a bad cold or flu, we’ll be fine if we get it!” and the next, you find yourself obsessively washing your hands, cleaning everything, and physically avoiding people you pass on the street. Then you find yourself looking at the Government’s symptom checker, convinced that the tickle in your throat and the fatigue you feel is caused by this novel virus, and not the fact you are a full-time parent who is simultaneously hopping on conference calls, prepping meals, walking the dog, and scrubbing down doorknobs.

That uncertainty you felt? We did, too.

That feeling led us to make the decision to isolate. We would not leave our home or yard except to walk the dog.

We stopped bringing the littles to the playground at the local school and the nearby parks.

Days later, the City announced all public parks were closed.

The feelings of unease continued to grow.

We were waiting for the news to give us answers, to tell us when to expect normalcy to return.

All that came was more uncertainty.

That uncertainty led to our decision to stay home and isolate ourselves.

This meant that we would not be picking up Robert until those 14 days of isolation were over.

It meant we’d kissed our 5-year-old for the last time. The next time we saw him, wouldn’t be on the day he turned 6, but weeks later.

Since this is a global health-crisis, we understand why we aren’t able to be with him.

We, the adults, made the decision together. Our big boy is with two people we trust implicitly. He is loved beyond measure, he is well cared for, and, boy, was he celebrated on the day he turned 6.

And though I worried about how Robert would feel without his family party on his birthday, I admit, I never thought to consider the impact that this would have on Sullivan.

But recently, that impact became so glaringly obvious.

The other morning we walked the dog to a near-by wooded area, with the kids in the double stroller. Our dog-walking tradition has become one where Sullivan gets out of the stroller when we get to big paths or wooded areas. He loves nothing more than being able to “cours vite! cours vite!” (run fast! run fast!) in the wooded area.

He is so excited that he doesn’t know where to look as he runs along, occasionally falling down as his feet try to keep up with the momentum caused by his level of excitement.

If you’ve never watched a 2 year old run in the woods, giggling, you’re missing a truly joyful sight.

Exploring with Sullivan ©luckymama.ca

On this walk, as he was running along the path, we came by a woman and her toddler playing on the forest floor. Seeing us, they moved off the path to let us pass.

As Sullivan ran past them, he cried out “LES AMIS! LES AMIS!”. He was so thrilled to see other people, and another small child.

I realized in that moment that with daycare being closed, not only was he not seeing his daycare friends, he wasn’t seeing anyone but his mom, dad, and baby brother. He must be feeling so alone.

Later that same evening, after Sullivan brushed his teeth and put on his jammies, we began the bedtime routine.

As part of the bedtime routine that night, we read books, then I rocked and sang to him, as I told him I loved him and thanked him for a fun day.

When Robert first went to Camp Grandmaman & Pépère, Sullivan would ask to sleep in Robert’s bed. Sullivan and Robert, you might remember, share a bedroom. But these past few nights, he began to choose the comfort (and security?) of his crib instead. Not only that, he’s started to insist on sleeping with his bedroom door open.

That night, I ran my fingers through his hair as I spoke about how we’d get to spend time playing together the next day. I whispered good night, told him I loved him, and left his room.

Without thinking, I closed his door as I left.

He cried. And not just the cry of protest, but the sound of heartache.

When I went to check on him, I asked him if he missed Robert. He nodded. He calmed down in my arms, I told him I loved him, and put him back to bed. As I left the room, I was sure to check that his door was open behind me.

It was this moment that it hit me.

In that moment, I truly realized how difficult this isolation is on Sullivan.

As adults, we sometimes forget that our littles are acutely aware of what is happening around them. We forget how they observe, and try to process and absorb change.

I was guilty of this with Sullivan. I assumed that to him, this wouldn’t be much different than a long weekend, or Christmas break. He’d be able to run, play and cuddle with us every day.

But this boy, my little firecracker, feels things so deeply. I should have known he would notice. That Sullivan would feel a void in the place his brother holds in his heart, in our hearts, and the spaces he belongs in the house.

He misses his daycare friends. He misses his routines. Most importantly, he misses his family – his aunts, grandparents and his big brother.

We are doing our part, and it comes with a huge sacrifice of being separated from our son. We ask that you please do yours.

The sooner Canadians get on board, the sooner this will be over and the sooner our family will be back together.

We are all feeling the change and the challenges. The grief and the uncertainty. Your experience with these emotions might be different than ours, but we are all feeling it.

© Lace&Lavender Photography #FrontPorchPhotos

Please give yourself grace, give your neighbours grace, and most importantly, please #StayTheFuckHome.