Friday, February 10, 2012

Sorry, Hermes!

It seems that I have somehow angered the god of public transit. Those of you who have done the daily TTC commute, or its equivalent, will understand that commuting via public transit is rarely a walk in the park, but for the most part maintains a consistent level of inconvenience.

Not so much anymore.

For the past couple of weeks, every time I'm on my way home (never on the way to work, of course) something happens to make the commute more trying than normal. On at least 3-4 occasions, it has been the classic delay due to a mechanical problem or activated passenger assistance alarm on a train further up the line. One day, it was both.

Then there were the days with the irate streetcar passengers who in one instance got into a yelling match with the driver, and on another occasion with each other. In both cases, we ended up sitting at a stop until someone finally gave up and got off.

What's really gotten out of hand, though, is the constant invasion of personal space - even the public transit amount of personal space, which is much smaller than normal. It's acceptable, for instance, to squish in between two people on a three-seater bench if there are no other independent seats available. What's not acceptable is to then lean against one of those people in an overly familiar fashion and try to chat them up while reeking of alcohol.

On another occasion it was the leg sprawler. This is the guy (and it's always a guy!) who feels entitled to sit with his legs spread as far apart as they can go, regardless of the fact that this intrudes into the leg space of the person sitting next to them who is then forced to either contort themselves so that their legs occupy as little space as possible or accept the inappropriate amount of leg-to-leg contact with their neighbour.

My favourite, though, was the leaner. When the streetcar or subway is crowded, it will inevitably happen that the person standing next to a seated individual will have to temporarily lean over or even into them to make enough room for someone else to get past them. This is annoying, but acceptable. Yesterday, on a streetcar that was decidedly not crowded (there were still empty seats), I was sitting next to the aisle when I was joined by a guy who apparently thought it would be a good idea to stand so close that his legs were pressed up against my seat and lean on the pole at my shoulder. For the entire trip. If you've ever been in this position, you'll understand why it was so incredibly awkward. I had to lean away just so his stomach wouldn't touch my head. And whenever anyone needed to get by, he'd move so that he was actually standing where my legs would normally be.

Every day it's been something, so Hermes, whatever I did to piss you off - I'm sorry! So very, very sorry.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nature vs. Nurture

Sunday is laundry day at our house. Every week, as soon as we get home from church, Dude goes down for his nap and I start on the mountain of dirty clothes that has somehow accumulated in what feels like the blink of an eye. On a good day, there are only 4-5 loads to do, so the last trip outside and into the basement laundry room is over by 7:00 or so. On a bad day, I'm not finished until well after I want to be in bed.

Fortunately, yesterday was one of the good days, so by 7:30 the last load was in the dryer and waiting to be brought upstairs and folded. I had left the laundry basket out in the living room, since Dude likes to play with it, so went to get it and head downstairs. Except it wasn't in the living room. Nor was it in the dining room or kitchen. After some searching, I discovered that it, along with the slippers I had been wearing for the trek outside, had been put back in our bedroom where they're normally kept.

My first thought on seeing this was along the lines of Again? Seriously? Why does he always do this?! You see, my husband is a compulsive neat freak. I cannot count the number of times I've gotten something out, and he's put it away before I even get a chance to use it. He is no longer allowed to touch my purse or anything that is even remotely connected to my work, since the memorable day he "put away" my work bag without telling me and I ended up being late because I couldn't find it. I therefore felt quite justified as I went to find TC to scold gently remind him not to put things away before I'm finished with them. Until he told me he hadn't touched anything.

As it turns out, it was our son who felt compelled to put the basket away, along with my slippers that had been sitting next to the couch waiting for the next trip downstairs. I couldn't believe it. Now I'm living with 2 of them!

As I continued to work on the laundry, I found myself wondering whether this was something Dude had learned from his dad (nurture), or if he came from a long line of neat freaks and therefore has a genetic predisposition towards neat freakishness (nature). The interesting thing about adopting is that we'll never really know, since "General Neatness" doesn't seem to be a category in the biological parents' standard histories. :) It's funny how many characteristics Dude shares with us, which has led me to believe that either: a) nurture is a lot more influential that I originally thought, or b) we have a lot in common with Dude's biological parents. Or maybe both?

In any case, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll be spending the rest of my life looking for things that have been "put away". *sigh*

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lessons from Dude

This is Dude - my 32 lb. energetic bundle of laughs, mischief, slobber and curiousity. Since he came into my life a little more than a year ago, he has taught me many, many things. Things that I thought I already knew, but really...I had no idea.

Lesson #1 - Free time is a rare and precious thing.

Every now and then, I go back and read old posts on this blog. I did so recently, and laughed at how often I complained about being too busy. Then I wanted to reach back in time and smack myself on the head. I had so much free time!! Other than the 45-ish hours a week spent at work, and the 50 or so hours spent sleeping, my time was completely my own to do with as I pleased. That's a little over 70 hours every week!

Now? Free time exists only in the hours that Dude is asleep or being looked after by someone else. Ask any parent of a pre-schooler, and they will confirm that if your child is awake and in your care, you will get little else accomplished beyond ensuring their relative health, safety, entertainment, maintenance, etc. So, taking into account work and sleep, the amount of post-Dude free time is reduced to around 30 hours/week. Assuming he sleeps normally (see below). And because society frowns on the practice of leaving sleeping children alone, I cannot go anywhere during those 30 hours unless another caregiver is in attendance.

Thankfully I have someone in my life who shares the responsibilities of parenthood and is willing/able to take on solo care-giving duty for a while. This gives me a little extra time to squeak in luxury activities like going to get groceries by myself, or going out to eat with friends. However, should I want to engage in such activities with this other person, we fork over big $$ for a babysitter.

Lesson #2 - Uninterrupted sleep is a subcategory of free time.

I.e. - it is a rare and precious thing, only possible when Dude is also asleep. Fortunately for us, Dude has always been an excellent sleeper. Bedtime comes, hugs and kisses are exchanged, Dude is put in his bed, and that's it. He sleeps. And unless he's sick, overtired, or in a strange place, he usually manages to stay asleep until it's time to wake up. I cannot express to you how thankful we are for this child.

That being said, he is still a child. So there are still nights that are less than restful for all involved. And I never know when those nights will happen. Unless I decide to stay up late (and by "late" I mean anytime after 10pm) to indulge in a free time activity, like reading a book. That will invariably be the night that Dude develops a cold and ends up coughing all night, or has a nightmare at 2 am, or wakes up for some unknown reason and cannot get back to sleep without significant effort on my part.

Lesson #3 - Privacy is optional.

Not only is my time no longer my own, my space has been greatly diminished as well. Being alone while using the bathroom? Thing of the past. Eating my own food, and only my own food? Not anymore. Sitting down without serving as an interactive jungle gym? Rarely. Toddlers just don't understand the concepts of privacy or personal space, so Dude has full access at almost all times. And you know what? It honestly doesn't bother me.

Lesson #4 - Cleanliness is highly overrated.

This one probably doesn't require a whole lot of explanation. When you only have 30 hours of free time every week, you swiftly come to realize what your priorities are. I was surprised to realize how far down the list house cleaning is for me. As long as things are clean enough that no one's going to get sick, I'm good. There are other things I'd rather do with my oh so precious time. :)

#5 - A mother's love is unconditional.

It's true. I love this kid more than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and my family, but it's different from the way that I love Dude. And I'm not exactly sure how to describe it. There is absolutely nothing he could do, nothing, that would change the fact that he's my son and I love him. The main goal of my life now is to make sure he grows up to be the best version of himself that he can possibly be.

Which is why it honestly doesn't matter that I have no free time, have developed permanent bags under my eyes, can't pee without an audience, and live in a pig sty. If that's what it takes to make sure he's happy and healthy, then I'm glad to do it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

To Harness or Not to Harness...

As you may have deduced from the title of this post, TC and I are currently debating whether or not to buy a todder harness for Dude. We're not quite decided on it yet. I have read some articles that laud their ability to keep a child safe while allowing them freedom to explore and move independently, and others that condemn them as demeaning tools used by parents too lazy to parent properly.

While I recognize that the toddler harness, like any other tool, can by abused or used improperly, I have to say that I'm much more sympathetic to the former view. There are some children who are content to sit in a stroller, or hold your hand if they're walking. Dude is not one of these children. He is a fiercely independent, intensely curious, energetic 15-month old who doesn't yet understand that he shouldn't run into the street or to the other end of the mall. He also gets upset if he's forced to stay in his stroller for too long as that requires sitting still for more than 10 seconds, and since he's currently the size of a 3-year old (seriously, the kid is huge!), carrying him for more than 5 minutes kills your arms and back. Assuming he'll let you carry him in the first place. We don't have a car, so taking Dude anywhere means walking on busy streets and in busy subway stations. Letting him go free range at this age just doesn't seem like a good idea.

What about you folks? Have you ever harnessed your kids? Do you think they're a bad idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Adventures in Dude-Proofing

The Dude is an extremely determined child. As a result of said determinedness, we've had to be quite creative in our attempts to child-proof the apartment. Most recently, we've had to gate off the bottom half of the floor-to-ceiling pantry shelving next to the fridge because Dude, who is an active 15 month old, was getting into everything he could reach.

I received this email from my darling hubby this morning:

"So, thinking that the kitchen was safe, I let Dude play out there on his own while I was getting ready . . . then all goes quiet. Then I heard the rattling of dishes and think, oh, he's just poking at them through the grating or swatting them with a spatula. No: he pushed the small garbage can up to the gate, climbed up it, reached over it and had pulled each bowl out one by one and stacked them - and balanced them!- on the edge of the gate. Man, that kid is AWESOME!"


How to Use the TTC Without Being an Ass

Rule #1: Keep it to yourself.
If whatever you're doing reaches beyond the limited space that you occupy en route to your destination, for the love of all that's good, stop doing it. This rule encompasses a number of behaviours, including (but not limited to):

  • Having an excessively loud conversation, whether in person or on the phone

  • Cranking the volume on your iPod so that everyone else can hear it too

  • Clipping your fingernails (there's no way you can control where those suckers land - just, ew!)

  • Reading a fully extended newspaper (fold it up, folks!)

  • Eating smelly food

  • Rule #2: Don't block traffic.
    Keep in mind that you're not the only person trying to get somewhere. When you step into the subway car, keep going! I've seen so many people stop just inside the door and consider their seating options while there are 15 people waiting behind them trying to get it before the doors close.

    The same goes for any objects you're bringing with you, be they boxes, strollers, luggage or whatever. Don't stop at the narrowest part of the aisle, or right at the front so that everyone is forced to navigate around you. Move back, or at least out of the way as much as possible.

    Rule #3: Never run for it.
    It's not worth it - there will be another bus/streetcar/train along soon, and you risk plowing over anyone who might not be as speedy as you. If you're always feeling the need to rush, leave yourself more time to get wherever you need to be going. If that's not possible, take a long, hard look at your life.

    Rule #4: Be helpful.
    I know it's hard to step outside your city-shell and take the time to provide assistance, but do it anyway. Trust me, the lady struggling to get her stroller on the streetcar, or the person who has no idea how to get to their destination, will be incredibly appreciative.

    Rule #5: Be gracious.
    Every commuter has run into a situation where someone else is being an ass. It's inevitable. The solution, however, is not to contribute your own assiness. Now, I'm not against implementing a little passive justice, but it's not always possible to do so in a way that isn't more annoying than the original offense. Instead, allow for the fact that there may be extenuating circumstances and let it go.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    I'm back!

    Did you miss me? I'll spare you all the "sorry it's been so long" blather - suffice it to say that there have been some major changes taking place in the Blooming household that have made blogging time virtually non-existent. The best kind of changes :)

    For those who haven't already heard, TC and I were placed with a beautiful baby boy way back in October, and life has been quite a trip ever since! In three short weeks (which was the amount of notice we had before we brought him home), The Dude managed to completely alter life as we knew it. And I wouldn't go back to the way it was for all the chocolate in Belgium!

    I'd love to post a picture of him here for you to see, but because the adoption hasn't actually been finalized we're prohibited from putting his image anywhere on the internet. The entire process is almost done - we're just waiting to hear back about when our court date will be. Then we go to court, watch the judge sign a piece of paper, and he's completely ours! I'll be keeping you updated now that I'm back at work and caught up from my parental leave.