Behind starburst eyes

Reacting verses Responding

It’s easy sometimes to forget how deeply our words impact those around us. It’s easy to forget that what we say and do lives in the hearts and minds of those we love and care for, especially our children. Times when we’re tired and frustrated by a bunch of things that may not even have to do with our child and then they do something, something they’ve done a million times before and we snap. We respond to their actions with our own frustration and upset instead of responding to it in the way our children deserve.

I’m human and I make mistakes, I get mad, and tired, sore and frustrated, and I too can react in a negative fashion. But I try every day to make sure I don’t. I try to respond instead of react.

My “trick” when I’m about to react instead of respond is to look at their hand. Why their hand? Because your closed fist is the approximate size of your heart. I look at their little hand and I see a visual reminder of how tiny their heart is just yet, and I refuse to fill such a small space with pain and words that will haunt them.

Looking at their hand helps me to be reminded that I am here to take their hand in mine and guide them, to show them how to access the great potential that is within each and every single person, their own personal greatness. I take a deep breath as I think of all this and then instead of reacting, I respond.

I respond with love. I try to help them find the most positive way of receiving what they wanted, be it a cookie or a toy someone else is playing with or additional attention. (Any project or chore can wait, but the giving of love and attention should’t be postponed when it’s asked for.)

Why do I say respond instead of react?

The dictionary’s definition of react is to act or do something in reaction to something else. BUT the definition of respond is to provide an answer to a query. In the middle ages respond was a noun for a pillar that actively supported. I feel that especially when they are young, they are looking towards the adults in their life to show them how to act, how to obtain what they want and need, and how to be the best them they can be. They are not purposely trying to “push buttons” or be “bad” they are simply making bad choices because they don’t yet know how to make better choices. It’s up to their adults to answer their unspoken questions and show them how to make better choices.


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Clerical Error = Panic Attack

This morning I received a phone call from my step-daughter’s mother. She wanted to know if Miss. D was sick as she wasn’t in school. My stomach bottomed out as I knew that their dad had not just dropped both of them off, but watched them walk into the school. I told her as much, and tried to stay calm, but I couldn’t manage it at all. I was in a full blown panic attack, I couldn’t breathe properly, I was thinking about what clothes she had been wearing, how would I contact my husband while he was cooking at the Bistro with his phone off, who I could get to watch the 3 kids at home so that they didn’t have to know their sister was missing. All the while Miss. D’s mother is trying to assure me that it was probably just a simple mistake, but calm was not within my reach.

Now I understand fully that for most people they would just assume it was a simple error, but I couldn’t, my mind thought of the worst case scenario. Normally (not always, but typically) I am not the type to full out panic, especially before the worst case scenario has been fully confirmed. But here’s the catch to today’s phone call, by the time I was Miss. D’s age I had lived through 2 attempted kidnappings in 2 different countries by 2 different people. The first one was a full blown stalker that my family had to protect me from for months, the obsessed person was a 6ft blond woman with a brown belt in Judo. Her obsessive stalking and attempts at kidnapping me played a big part in shaping how overly protective my mother and brother were (still are) of me. The second was a man of average height and build who worked at a campground we were visiting, I had simply wandered off further than I was supposed to from my mom.

Now I am beyond THRILLED to say that it was merely a clerical error; the teacher had indeed mistakenly checked off Miss. D’s name instead of the child that was absent. A simple mistake, checking off one line too low or too high on a list, so easy to do and in turn to understand another doing it. But for this step-mom, that clerical error certainly caused panic. Thankfully, it was an unneeded panic.

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Come hell, high water or $5,000 fines the kids were having a lemonade stand for Sick Kids Hospital

For the last 3 years my wee ones have had a lemonade stand on Canada Day. They make lemonade, cookies, jam, and candles and sell them to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital. This year’s experience was NOT what I’d hoped for them.

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It started great, we put up signs, made strawberry lemonade with strawberries we’d picked as a family at a local farm (Pingles) made original lemonade, each child got to take a turn at squeezing lemons into the pitcher. We made gluten-free cookies the night before. They helped to make jam a few days ago from the strawberries we’d picked together on Summer Solstice. I guided them on making star-shaped candles which they did with great pride and excitement and used the broken bits from their little brother’s crayons to color each one. We ran around the neighborhood and they would watch the lights for me from the corners of various streets as I would dash across the cross walks writing with sidewalk chalk across the entire thing “Lemonade Stand 4 Sick Kids Hospital” and an arrow pointing towards our home. Each child would excitedly want to be the one to pour the lemonade when a customer came, or to offer the cookie that was free with each cup.
Starting at about 1pm my son was waving a sign 4 houses down the street at the cross walk of the highway and our street and yelling “Lemonade Stand, all the money goes to Sick Kids Hospital” as cars drove by. A woman who lived across the street from where he was standing came out and told him to stop. She was not nice about it, he came back almost in tears. My brother came by to help support the kids in their endeavour was NOT happy that C was yelled at for trying to raise money for charity. So he stood at the corner with hin while my son did his best to convince every person that went by that they should buy a glass of lemonade to help out a charity that is VERY near and dear to our family.

The lady came out again and yelled again about them stopping, my brother told her that his nephew was allowed to try to help a charity and that he wasn’t harming anyone. She eventually came BACK out AGAIN and tried to give C $5 to go away. He told her “No thanks, I don’t want your money, I just want to keep doing my thing for Sick Kids” She was determined that he take it, and he was determined that he wasn’t going too. Finally, he told her “I’ll take it for Sick Kids, but I’m not going to stop, I want people to come to our lemonade stand so we can give lots of money to them”

My brother had to go so he walked C back to me, and I walked him back to the corner. This is where things got really crappy. A police car slowed down and stopped just past us. The lady had called the cops to force us to stop. As soon as I saw the police cruiser stop I told C to go back to the lemonade stand. The police officer asked a few questions and then told me he was sorry but that he had to ask us to stop as we were causing a disturbance and we didn’t have a vendors permit to run a lemonade stand. I walked back to our front yard to talk with my husband and saw that C was in tears. He was afraid that I was going to be arrested and that he’d lose his mom. I assured him that while the police officer was well within his rights to fine me but that he couldn’t take me to jail.

I then took the sign from my husband and started to walk back to the corner again. My husband asked me why I was doing it and I told him the truth “How can we teach our children to stand up for what is right and to stand strong in their convictions if we cow down instead of standing up for our own personal convictions. My conviction is that what the kids are doing is RIGHT and that they should be allowed to try to help out a charity. I will NOT back down, I will stand up for their right to be kids, to be good people, and to try their best to do good deeds. If they want to call the cops back again than so be it, I’ll pay the fines because standing behind my convictions is more important that being popular or the money it might cost us. They are worth it, the kids knowing no matter what that I support them is worth it!”

I then proceeded to yell at the very top of my momma lungs “Lemonade Stand for Sick Kids Hospital” while waving the sign at the corner for 45 more minutes, until it started to rain.
Stubborn? Yes! But wrong of me? NOPE If I don’t show them that their beliefs are important, that they are important, that I respect their efforts and that I WILL stand behind them come hell, high water or police officers with fines then how can I expect to raise adults that will be honorable, and strong enough to stand up for what they believe no matter what? How can I teach them to root themselves strong in Mother Earth and stand tall no matter the storm for whatever they believe in.


Being a step-mom sucks sometimes

There are times when being a step-mom sucks. Like the moment when I’m laughing and having a great time with my step-daughter and I realize it’s time to stop and pack her up to go to her mother’s house. The days that I have to wait to share special family activities with her because it’s not “our days” yet. I respect that she’s “not mine” but she calls me “Mum” hugs me good-night, tells me she loves me and talks to me about things that she feels are important; about her feelings and thoughts, her fears and her dreams. She regularly asks me to homeschool her (I always tell her no because that’s not a choice I’m allowed to make)
The moment when the clock strikes 6pm on the Sunday of our week-end makes me sad. If I thought all the grown-ups could actually do it I’d totally suggest a duplex so that they could roam from one part to the other as their hearts saw fit without feeling like they had to miss out on either parent, and of course selfishly then I’d get to see her more so that’d be grand to me. But realistically that wouldn’t work with the grown-ups involved, which is a pity but a reality none the less. So I just have to cherish the time I do get with her, which I totally do. 😀 It wasn’t always this fantastic between her and I, but we’ve worked hard on earning each other’s trust and respect and love. I know that even if her father and I weren’t together I’d still want to be a part of her life, and I believe she’d still want me in hers. That’s beautiful and special and I treasure the bond that she and I have built together.


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