Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Happenings

My boys believe in Santa. They also know the real meaning of Christmas, but I don't see any harm in the magic of Santa when you're 3 and 5 years old. Since the Finnish Santa comes to the door at Christmas Eve to deliver his gifts, we have always had a Finnish-speaking Santa. When I asked the boys to have their pictures taken with Santa at Metrotown, Joonas asked, " does that Santa speak Finnish?". When I said "no", he answered, "then, I'm not going". Not even candy would change his mind...
Matias really wanted a tiger airplane for Christmas. It's what he asked for every time that I asked what he wanted. Unfortunately, by the time I started looking for it, I couldn't find one anywhere. I had to tell him one day that I didn't think that the airplane was coming since they seemed to be sold out everywhere. He said, "That's okay mom. Santa and his elves can make me one. That's what they DO!! "
So, Matias wrote a letter to Santa. He has gotten pretty good about sounding out words and writing them down. In his letter, he asked for the tiger airplane. Or, he thought he did. On the morning of Christmas Eve, he suddenly realized that he had forgotten the word airplane. "Oh no!!!! Mom, what if Santa brings me a REAL tiger because I forgot to say tiger AIRPLANE". I assured him that Santa probably knew (in his magical way) what Matias had meant. He was so happy (and relieved) when Santa gave him a tiger airplane and not a jungle cat.
This year, we needed a new Santa since my youngest brother Tim (our usual Santa) was in Finland. My dad agreed to step in. So, we snuck our Santa suit into the trunk of the car in a big garbage bag. After dinner, my dad went downstairs and put on the costume. The kids were busy playing and didn't notice, but came running when they heard him knocking. They all looked very serious, like what if they didn't get any gifts...Everyone got a gift and no one cried (bonus). Afterwards, my nephew Noah had said that Santa was grandpa. The other kids seemed to have thought Santa was the real thing. At home, however, Matias observed that Santa looked like grandpa, specifically, he had grandpa's hands and grandpa's rings. After questioning how grandpa would've known about the tiger plane, Matias said, "well, it WASN'T grandpa, it just looked like him". Ah, ok. Glad we cleared that up.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free-Range Kids

I recently came across a movement that is becoming popular among parents who don’t want to hover over their children like helicopters: free-range kids. The idea behind free-range kids is that kids should be given the freedom to play and explore on their own. Kids can learn a lot if they are encouraged to really observe and interact with the world around them. They don’t need to have every minute of their day scheduled with piano, French, swimming, soccer, and whatever other lessons are out there.

But the modern parent is a helicopter parent. They are constantly hovering to make sure their kid is sufficiently entertained. Boredom is considered the result of bad parenting. Playdates are scheduled onto a calendar. If a kid’s feelings are hurt, the modern parent never says: “well, did you bug him first”, or “suck it up”. They phone the parent or arrange a conference with the teacher. Kids are not allowed to just BE or to figure stuff out on their own. There are also a lot of new (unnecessary) rules thanks to modern parenting: no snowballs, no tag, no Red Rover and a long list of other “dangerous” activities that were commonplace when I was growing up. Seriously? No tag? Yes, kids do sometimes get hurt. That’s life.

Kids do need adult supervision. They hit and they hate sharing. But they also need to be left alone, to figure out HOW to play nicely. You develop social skills by being in a social situation.

Granted, you need to expose kids to things you think they may be interested in, or good at, but it doesn’t need to be so regimented and scheduled. Yes, the world is a scary place and there are some real dangers around. You can no longer just send your kids out to play and call them back in at dinner. But, I think we need to find some balance. Kids need to have some time to figure out on their own how to amuse THEMSELVES.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Slow Down

I belong to a Facebook group called “Vähemmän, Hitaammin”, which translated directly means Less, Slower. Life seems to all about results, speed, getting more, rising to the top, being the best, having the most…the list goes on.

The group, on the other hand, is about slowing down. Consciously deciding to rest, think, give up, choose less. So, that’s what I’m doing. I am choosing to slow down and enjoy my life as it happens. Taking little moments to really enjoy my coffee. Finding time to play cards with the boys, and to fully engage in doing so. Giving up less time for things like tv. Stopping to listen to music; listen without multitasking on something else.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Spirit

I love Christmas! Our tree is up, as are all our decorations and lights. This goes totally against the Finn in me. In Finland, the tree is not brought in until a few days before Christmas eve, sometimes as late as the actual eve itself. But that doesn't work for me. The best part of Christmas is the anticipation. The quietness of enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas before the crazy starts. My favourite thing to do is sit in the living room by myself (once the kids have gone to bed), listen to Christmas music and stare at the tree. This year, my favourite musician has been Chris Botti, who I only discovered recently.