On big egos, scared-scarred-little-boys, and what to do when one of them tells you, my girl, that you have a big ego

I look at her and she takes my breath away. She is just so perfectly… herself. And I am envious. And in such love, my lungs, heart, stomach ache…

Jane: Do you know how utterly amazing you are? You are just awesome.

Flora: Aw. Thank you.

And she smiles her incredible smile at me. She’s at that lovely, unwrecked age when she still knows how to take a compliment, you know? When you tell her she’s beautiful, she just smiles a lovely smile that says, “I know.” When you tell her she’s clever, she looks at you, a little surprised—“Isn’t it obvious? Why must you say so?”

But the world-around-us is making inroads, attempting all sorts of assaults at her sense of self. And while she accepted the compliment as her natural due… she’s self-reflective enough to ponder whether that was ok. And so, she scrunches up her lovely, brilliant face, and looks at me…

Flora: Mom? Is it bad to have a big ego?

Oh, my beloved. The questions you ask. And would not your life be easier if I could just give you pap, pat answers? I hold her look and ponder my answer.

Jane: I suppose it depends on what you do with that ego…

But that’s no answer at all, is it? And it’s actually the wrong question, too. So I try again, to come closer to truth:

Jane: I think it’s probably worse to have no ego at all that to have a big one

She thinks on that for a while. Is not sure she understands. Asks for clarification. And so I ask her… what’s her perception? What does she think—is it good or bad to have a big ego? What does she understand by ego? What does she mean by “big ego”? Is she thinking of someone specific?

Flora: Someone with a big ego is someone who thinks they are oh-so-great.

And, oh-yes, she’s thinking of someone specific…

But is someone with a big ego really someone who thinks they are oh-so-great? I want to see where she takes this, so I ask her—how do you know that they think they are oh-so-great?

Flora: Well, they tell you how great they are. All the time.

Right. So listen to this, my Flora: in my experience—and in my line of work, I’ve become something of an expert on big egos, and egos-that-want-to-be-big-but-are-actually-egos-of-scarred-and-scared-little-boys—the people who tell you how great they are (all the time) don’t actually have big egos. They are scarred-and-scared-insecure-and-easily-threatened-little-boys-and-girls who need to talk big to feel big…

Flora: So… they tell you they’re oh-so-great… because they’re actually worried they aren’t?

Exactly, my love. The people with big-secure-confident-I’m-your-Mona-Lisa-and-I-know-it-down-to-my-toes egos… they don’t need to tell you how great they are. (You do it for them, to them, all the time, unprompted…)

My Flora is fascinated, and slightly perturbed. She stoops down, sits down. Thinks and thinks. Finally:

Flora: Do I have a big ego?

Ah, THE question. And so how do we answer that, within the parameters we have set? And with some consideration for the inroads the world-around-us is making into her mind?

Jane: Well… do you think you’re oh-so-great?

And what she says, beloved, what she says… well, this is what she says:

Flora: Well, I don’t know if I’m oh-so-great… but I’m pretty good. And pretty cool. Most of the time. Except sometimes, when I’m an obnoxious jerk. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident… but generally, I’m just… I’m pretty good.

I’m me.

My blogging colleague Jen Rose at Something Clever 2.0 once commented here, “Flora for President!” Let me up that, today, to “Flora, Ultimate Ruler of the Universe!” Cause what a wonderful universe that would be…

Jane: So I think you have a perfectly healthy, solid ego that doesn’t need to tell others how great it is, because it is confident that it’s just awesome, and that’s pretty awesome.

She glows with… Floraness. And… did I tell you already? I look at her and she takes my breath away. She is just so perfectly… herself. I love her so much, my lungs, heart, stomach ache…

She smiles and me. And slants her eyes … and smiles again…

Flora: So if someone tells me I have a big ego… should I just kick him in the balls as hard as I can?

Well… um.


What would you say?



NBTB-On big egos

P.S. Somewhere, out there, I’m sure there is an article–course–workshop on how to write short, pithy, search engine friendly post headlines. Don’t tell me about it. I don’t care.

I blog because… #FTSF

I blog because moments like this need to be immortalized:

Cinder: Mom, I just shot Ender in the balls. Now, under normal circumstances, you’d probably be mad at me. But as he was peeing off the balcony at the time, you should just say, ‘Good job.’ Full story here.

I blog because the world needs more Cinder and Ender penis stories. I mean, is there such a thing as enough? OK, maybe. But just one more

I blog because I think attachment parenting is an amazing, amazing thing… but I want AP moms to know that this is perfectly normal:

I make no resolutions to yell less. Or discipline more. I will lose my temper, and I will yell, and there will be days when, as I survey the destruction wrought by the whirlwind in the kitchen while I absented myself from his side for five minutes, I seriously ponder just how wrong it would be to put him in the dog’s kennel. Just, you know, for a little while. And there will be days—and weeks—when I’ll be counting the hours until bedtime from 11:15 a.m. And days when, as soon as Sean comes home, I will hand over the entire parenting business to him, and lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle—um, glass, I meant to type glass, glass—of wine. (From Embracing Chaos: unParenting unResolutions)

I blog because I want Flora—and other Sensitive Seven and Emotional Eight girls out there, and their mothers—to know how loved she is (they are). And how amazing. And also, how exhausting. I want her to look back at these moments, these days, when she’s a mother. I don’t want her to put me on an unachievable mothering pedestal. I want her to see I struggled. I want her to know it was hard. 

But, worth it, Mom? Was it worth it?

Fuck, yeah.

I blog because I had a toddler who beat the crap out of other children—and his parents—and he’s grown up to be the most amazing, caring, sensitive, responsible pre-teen… and I want you—you, exhausted, petrified mom of a mini-Caveman—I want you to know that you’re not raising a psychopath. It’s a stage. It’ll pass. You’ll survive.

And maybe, I blog because I don’t want to wait until I’m dead and famous before the world reads my diaries. (While the odds are excellent that I will indeed be dead one day, that famous thing? Not so much. And let’s face it, boys and girls, be you Susan Sontag, Jane Austen or Anne Frank, if you write something down, you’re secretly or not-so secretly writing for a reader. If you really wanted to keep it secret—you wouldn’t write it down. You know it’s true.)

I blog because I want to. And so I do. Reason enough.


This post is part of the Finish The Sentence Blog Hop, co-hosted  by, inter alia, Janine Huldie of Confessions of A Mommyaholic, Stephanie Sprenger of Mommy, for Real and Kristie Campbell of Finding Ninee. The sentence—obviously–is I blog because. More answers here…

Finish the Sentence Friday

Why do you blog? And for beautiful, usually silent majority of non-bloggers in the audience—why don’t you? Tell me.


Marzena 1 - jpeg-1

P.S. This week, on Undogmatic Unschoolers, I quote John Holt (again, I know, what can I say, he rocks) and take you on a little walk through my house as I confess that there is, indeed, a secret reason as to why I’m so chill about my late reader.

P.P.S. Meanwhile, my professional alter-ego is dreaming the future landscape of Calgary for Avenue magazine, prognosticating on the future of Husky Energy under Asim Ghosh, and trying to convince people that greener oil is the key to Keystone XL at Canadian Business.

Emotional Eight

I’m sitting on the couch with Flora curled up in my lap, her tear-stained face crushed against my chest. I’m not sure what she’s crying about—she does not want to tell me. I’m not sure she remembers what she is crying about, now. But this much I’ve learned from by Emotional Eight—as I watched her struggle from Inarticulate One to Tormented Two to Traumatic Three, Fragile Four to Ferocious Five, Struggling Six to Sensitive Seven—all she needs from me now is quiet acceptance. All she needs is for me to hold her. All she needs is for me to shut the fuck up.

It’s hard, it’s so hard. To not say anything, you know? To not press. To not find out. To not offer a solution. To not—repress. To not say, “It doesn’t matter.” “Why on earth are you crying about that?” “Get a grip, get some perspective.” So hard.

I hold my Emotional Eight a little tighter.

“I’m calming down,” she whispers.

“Good,” I whisper back.

“I’m so sad,” she says.

“It’s all right,” I say. And that’s so hard for me too. To give her permission to be sad, to feel, to suffer. I rarely grant myself that permission. Flora’s the child of mine who I feel I fail, if not quite constantly, than certainly more often than her brothers—and it’s because she feels, she feels so fully and so acutely, and she’s been cursed with a mother who has severe intimacy issues.

(You, reader-who-knows-me-only-from-my-writing, I see you scoffing. You’ve perhaps told me that you read me because I’m so naked, raw, honest? Lies, all lies. I am a competent writer. That means I control the narrative. You see only what I want you to see. And, you, reader-who-knows-me-in-real-life, that glimmer, glimpse of what’s behind the curtain? I meant for you to see it. I’m that manipulative—and that skilled.)

Flora is my opposite: so open, so vulnerable, so transparent. It terrifies me, because oh-god, will she suffer. Suffers. And every time she is torn open, every time she feels too much—I need to combat my desire to arm her, repress her, wall her off, turn her into me.

Because, you know, she is such a gift. It is people like her—not people like me—who will save the world. So I hold her. Say nothing. And later, when she is calmer and the immediacy of the wound recedes into the past, discuss coping strategies that may protect her—help her react and process—but not wreck the power, depth and fullness of feeling that make her who she is.

I so suck at this.

So thoroughly.

But. I try. I keep on trying. And when I know I’m absolutely failing… I call in her Dad.

(Do you want to deconstruct with me what I’ve done here? How I’ve played you? I dare you. Do it.)

Crying emoticon

There is magic everywhere…

English: A unicorn.

Flora: What’s that, Mom? And don’t say gasoline floating on top of a puddle!

Jane: Um… well… that’s kind of what I thought it was. It isn’t?

Flora: No, that’s just what it looks like to the uninitiated. But you know what it really is?

Jane: What?

Flora: Unicorn pee.

There’s magic everywhere.

And in the above spirit, a Facebook meme a friend passed on to my lovely Flora earlier this year:

Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.

Now off you go and be yourself. Or a unicorn.

When weird unsocialized homeschoolers go to summer camp…

Jane: So, baby, report. How was it?

Flora: Well, it was ok. There were some good parts.

Uh-oh. We’re talking about dance camp, which she’s been looking forward to passionately. She loved drama camp. Cried when horse camp was over. “It was ok” for what she was expecting to be “the best camp ever” is a lukewarm review. What’s up?

Flora: But the teacher’s kind of mean.

Aha. My blood boils. A mean teacher. I’m ready to rise up and do battle on behalf of my little girl right now! But first, a little due diligence:

Jane: What did she do?

Flora: Well… like, she said we could only go to the bathroom on break. At 10:15, and at lunch, and at 2:30. And I was like, but how does a clock tell you it’s time to go to the bathroom? Shouldn’t your bladder tell you to go to bathroom? And what if you have to go pee at 10:45? Do you pee your leotard?


Flora: So another girl asked, what if we really have to go in-between breaks. And the teacher said, we have to raise our hand and ask permission. In front of everyone! How humiliating is that? I don’t want to whole class to know I have to pee or poop! Shouldn’t that be private?

Jane: Well, yeah,  but…

Flora: Anyway, I’ve got a plan. I’m going to pee right before I leave home, and then I’m not going to drink anything all day, and I should be okay until the end of camp. Cause that rule sucks.

Oh, my Flora.


(The post title is a nod to the blog Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers (first prize for “Best Name for Homeschooling Blog Ever,” right?), which I like to visit once in a while although blogger Kris’ life and learning approach is quite different from mine. But it’s good to “hang out,” virtually and in real life, with people who challenge your assumptions and make you stretch your horizons, right?)

It’s all about presentation

Pool noodle(s).

Flora: Mom! Mom! I’ve got good news and bad news. What do you want first?

Jane: Always, good news first.

Flora: The good news is–I found you this awesome walking stick.

Jane: Cool. Thanks. What’s the bad news?

Flora: The bad news is, Cinder hit me in the face with a pool noodle.

Jane: Um…

Flora: The good news is, he didn’t mean it.

Jane: Oh, good.

Flora: The bad news is, it really hurt.

Jane: Oh, sweetheart.

Flora: The good news is, I had an opportunity to call him a dumb ass.

Jane: Flora…

Flora: I’m not done yet. The bad news is, he then hit me with the pool noodle again.

Jane: This all happened, just now?

Flora: Well, I found this cool walking stick, and Cinder hit me with a pool noodle, and I called him a dumb ass. [Pause] I ran away to tell you about it when he hit with the pool noodle again. I came up with the presentation of it on my way up the stairs. What’d you think?

Jane: It was pretty good.

Flora: So… when can I get my own blog?

21st century children. Scary.

The girl’s bully-proof… I think

Flora starts her drama camp tomorrow. First camp. First full-day camp. Her mother’s… not anxious, exactly, but you know, a little concerned. How will she fare? Her brother’s not worried. And the girl herself… well. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

Cinder: I think drama camp will be really good for Flora.

Flora: Oh, yes, it will be. I can’t wait. I’m so excited.

Cinder: Yes, quite good for her. Unless there are bullies.

Jane: I don’t think there will be bullies at drama camp. Besides, she and Moxie will be together: they’ll watch out for each other.

Flora: Aha, I will be watching out for Moxie all the time, you bet. And if anyone tries to bully her, well–I’m gonna hit them so hard, they won’t know what hit them.

Jane: (Feels like she should say something. But what, exactly? So she stands there, mouth open, trying to formulate a thought. Something more eloquent than… “Um…”)

Flora: If it’s a boy bully, I’m going to hammer him in the weenie. Pow! And if it’s a girl… well, I’m not sure. I might just kick her in the shins or in the butt. Or just take her down, like this!

Cinder: See, Mom, drama camp will be good for Flora.

Jane: Lunch. I’m going to pack lunch,

One of those moments… where I’m not sure if it’s proof of things I’ve done right… or things I’ve done horribly, horribly wrong with the girl…

Drama Queen

Yes, there is such a thing as loving nature too much

Flora: Mom! You have to come see this, it’s so cool! The mushrooms we picked in the orchards are full of maggots!

Jane: Yuuuuuck…

[A little while later]

Jane: Flora? Babe, can I please, please, please throw out the magotty mushrooms now?

Flora: Oh, ok.

Jane: Thank you.

Flora: But you can’t throw out the maggots!

Jane: Baby, you are not raising maggots.

Flora: They’re living creatures! And look, they’re all white and cute and squirmy.

Jane: I’m going to vomit. Flora, they turn into flies. They’re gross. They need to go.

Flora: Fine. You can get rid of them. But you can’t kill them.

Jane: How the hell am I supposed to do that?

I interrupt here  my favourite technique for sharing these moments with you–via raw dialogue–to spare you the prolonged exchanged that followed, which doesn’t really show me to the world in the best light. On the plus side, I didn’t vomit.

Jane: That was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done. Flora, house rule #–where are we Cinder?

Cinder: 714.

Jane: House rule #714. No maggots anywhere near the house. Ever.

Cinder: I thought boys were grosser than girls, generally speaking. But Flora’s pretty hard to top sometimes. I mean, I think me and Ender are grosser in, like, theory–but Flora’s way grosser in practice.

Flora: What! You’re calling me gross? Want me to smear maggot on your face?

Jane: Look! Earthworm! Cute earthworm!

Ender: I eat it!

Flora: No! I’m coming to save you, earthworm!

I blame The Wonder Pets.  Josh Selig, are you aware of the depths of suffering you’ve caused?

English: Maggots. Commercial maggot breeders a...

Maggots. Commercial maggot breeders are able to dye the maggots different colours in order to be more “attractive” to the fish the anglers are targeting. These are from Eurobait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I thought coloured maggots would be a mite less gross. I was wrong. And I will now probably never eat rice again.

I’m on my way back! Almost home. And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of gross, er, funny stories to share… Because Cinder, Flora and Ender don’t change much even when the geographical locus does…

“Mom? Have you noticed I’ve stopped…”

Flora: Mom? Have you noticed I’ve stopped sliding down the banister?

Jane: You’ve been sliding down the banister? You mean the railing? You mean this railing? This incredibly dangerous, sliver-infested railing?

Flora: Mom! I said, have you noticed I’ve stopped sliding down the banister?

Jane: Um, no, I guess I didn’t.

Flora: Well, I have. … Aren’t you going to ask me why?

Jane: Um… why have you stopped sliding down the banister?

Flora: Remember that day Ender got a sliver from the banister?

Jane: Yeah?

Flora: Well, that’s when I decided to stop. Because a sliver in your vulva could really ruin your day.

Full stop.

English: Staircase banister in Antoine Cartier...

Searching for Strategies for Sensitive Seven

I’m sitting on the chaise beside my Sensitive Seven. She’s watching Minecraft videos because she needs to chill; I’m trying to crack Twitter.The brothers are still sleeping, and we are alone. Enjoying this rare moment, because even though each of us is, on the surface engaged in something else, we are also together.

I reach out and squeeze a little hand; she leans over and gives me a little kiss. She is at peace and happy, and that makes me ecstatic, because that hasn’t been happening very often lately.

Seven has been a huge milestone age for both of my children who’ve crossed it; if you’ve got a seven year-old, or a child teetering on the edge of that seventh birthday, you’ll have seen it too—I am yet to meet a parent who hasn’t been amazed by the change of seven. But if the seven change with my eldest suddenly gave him a transfusion of self-awareness, world-awareness, an incredible increase in impulse control, and a blooming in social skills and brought with it almost no negatives, the seven change with this already sensitive girl has me, more often than I’d like to admit, longing for the selfishness of Ferocious Five.

Flora is my EQ-intense child, the relationship and network builder. The one who after 15 minutes in a room with people, at age three, knew everyone’s name—and one fact about them that “made them just like me,” no matter how different or strange they might appear. This is a gift, an incredible gift: but, oh, it’s a hard one. That ability to make such immediate and strong connections comes at a price. This beautiful child of mine is so vulnerable to, well, everything. Bad moods of others. Unintentionally hurtful words. Her own thoughts.

With my physical, intense Cinder, I’ve had to work to give him words and awareness of his feelings and emotions, to help him find expression. With my sensitive, effusive Flora, I find myself having to do the opposite: to help her build boundaries, limits, separations. With Cinder, I still have to remind him, often, that other people’s feelings and thoughts matter, that he has to pay attention to them—and he has to make a concentrated effort to do so. Flora enters into all of these intuitively and immediately. Too much so. And I find myself saying to get, too often, “It doesn’t matter what X thinks.” Or, “Jeezus, Flora, why are you crying over that? It doesn’t matter: it’s not important.”

But of course it does. It matters to my Sensitive Seven very, very much, and when I say “It doesn’t matter,” she hears, “I don’t matter to you” or “It doesn’t matter what I think,” or, at best, “You don’t understand me.”

So I sit beside her on the chaise, and squeeze her little hand. Send her a series of quiet messages. “I love you.” “You matter to me more than anything.” And look for ways to hold her close and offer her comfort and safety when she needs it as she struggles through this phase. Practices to help her find self-discipline over her intense emotions without denying them. Coping strategies that recognize the value and the gift of her intense golden heart… but also help that golden heart navigate tough emotional situations without falling apart.

This is not a “Seven Strategies for Sensitive Seven” Post. We’re still exploring, searching. But if it were, it would go like this:

1. Take every opportunity to say (and imply) “I love you.” “You matter to me.” “Your feelings matter to me.”

I think I do this a lot–but for Sensitive Seven, I don’t do this enough. I must do this more often.

2. When you see your Sensitive Seven heading down the breakdown path, attempt to insert a pause. I find distraction does not work so well with the Flora, but then it never did. Still, a combination of mental and physical removal, even temporary, is possible and provides the space for some reflection and regrouping. “Hey, babe, come here, I need to talk to you.” “About what?” No, not the impending crisis. “Our trip to Banff next week—have you thought about what you’re going to pack?” “Oh… no… is my striped dress clean?” “Crap, no. I’ll have to pop in a load of laundry tomorrow. What are you and M up to over there?” “Oh, we’re playing Secret Super Agents, and she’s being really bossy—she just said…” “Yeah? You feeling angry?” “Yes!” “Come inside with me and help me get a snack together?”

And maybe she says OK and comes inside, and gets grounded, and returns to the play. Or maybe she gets grounded and makes the rational decision to stop the play before she disintegrates. Or, she goes back out to play and disintegrates.

I don’t have a fool-proof system or strategy, did I mention that?

3. When the crisis and emotional maelstorm hits, just hold her and ride it out. If I didn’t head it off, I’ve got to let it happen. Distraction won’t work, yelling won’t work, bribery won’t work. The tears must come, and she must find her own peace. I can hold her if she lets me, or let her be alone if she rejects my presence.

And I can’t take it personally.

4. Talk about what happened, and explore strategies for how it could have unfolded differently—after. Long after. Like, not five minutes after she calms down. But next day—or five days later. When there’s distance, and the capacity for distances reflection—by both of you.

This is the time to explore strategies and techniques for creating pause and regrouping when Sensitive Seven is heading for a breakdown. Not when she’s already in the middle of one.

5. Take her out for ice cream. A Value Village browsing trip. Hang. Let her talk without judgement, interruption, redirection. Listen. Learn. Be interested. Be together.

I don’t understand my Flora. There. I’ve said it. She is so different from me. How she thinks, how she feels: she is not me at seven. Nor her brother at seven. She is herself, and right now she is her own, full Sensitive Seven. My assumptions about how she feels, thinks and should react are often totally off-base. I need to pause, and just be with her. In a non-crisis, loving situation.

NB I have a great post from Life’s Archives about “Ice Cream Discipline.” I’ll have to dig it up for you soon.

6. Give her plenty of “alone” time for recharging and regrouping. Flora comes across as an intensely outgoing, social child who thrives on play with her friends. And this is indeed a true aspect of her character. But it has a price—or a complement. Because she is so empathetic and so emotionally involved and out-there with her friends, social play burns her out. Intense social play needs to be balanced with solitary time. Much of the time, Sensitive Seven will do that herself. Sometimes, she forgets. And then, I need to create that time and gently enforce it.

7. Forgive myself and move on when I do it all wrong. If I were keeping score, I “get” Sensitive Seven one in three times on a good day, and one in a dozen on an average day. So be it. Perfection is not the goal: being the mother I am—who mucks up, but reflects, and tries again—is good enough.

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Love Letter to the Golden Heart

A dragonfly, broken wings, it’s dying―surely, there’s something she can do to save it. A soft bed in a safe place. Protection. But no―death comes, tears come, tenderness overflowing, and my little daughter’s life is broken, ruined, the worst day ever, nothing’s ever right… until this thought comes―Can I put it in my museum?

Rebound. Recover. But every time she looks at that dragonfly, she remembers―the attempt to save, the death, the tragedy.

She remembers everything she’s ever felt, my Golden Heart, she remembers why, and she will tell you about it, in detail. Words and stories flow from her; when she is silent, they flow too―onto paper, in colours, bold strokes, small dots.

She is my lesson, my meditation, my wonder. I don’t remember as well as she does, but I do remember this: the first time I held her in my arms and looked at those eyes, so blue, so blue―still so blue―and that tuft of red hair, but I didn’t see them, I saw Daughter, My Daughter, girl child, future mother, the future… I saw… what? Something so big and so frightening and so wonderful I still can’t articulate it: her connection to me and to all her future daughters and daughters’ daughters and my connection to my mother and her mother and all the mothers before… a feeling so big and overwhelming, love is an inadequate word. Love is just the beginning.

I love my little daughter, and she loves. She loves―well, people, of course, her family, her friends―but she loves the world in a way so intense and deep, it frightens me who loves her and who wants to protect her, shelter her, keep her safe, because I see how exposed, how vulnerable she is. She gives her heart, on her outstretched hands. She will love you as she loves the dragonfly, the leaves on the tree―does it hurt them when they fall? No? Are you sure?―the grass beneath her feet, the dandelions that she gathers into bouquets every spring.

It’s dangerous to love like that, and it terrifies me. It is is easy to hurt this precious child, to betray her. Even those of us who love her madly: perhaps especially those of us who love her madly. And those who do not really care? It terrifies me. As I hold her and listen to her speak of her heart, her loves, her feelings, I want to equip her for the scary future… but yet, every attempt to do so is a destruction of something about her that is the best thing about her, the most critical, defining feature of her.

So I hold her and I listen and I stroke her hair.

My Golden Heart, I call her, and I tell her what an amazing gift it is to feel as fully as she does. And how difficult it is to reign those feelings in, to hold them in abeyance, to reflect on them―but how necessary, at least sometimes. Does she hear? Understand? Does it help? I don’t know. The tears fall, and I hold her close, and I will myself to be patient, because my natural inclination is to not honour this aspect of my daughter most precious, to make her repress, behave, smile, bury that pain…

As she gets older, she does. I see it―and the price it terrible. It is, for her, not self-control, but denial of herself. Is there a middle way, another way? We will struggle with this, she and I forever, perhaps all of her and my life. I don’t have the answer, I don’t see a path.

So I hold her. I am her mother and I am her ally. There are plenty of enemies out there who will make her repress, bury and hide.

I will not be one of them.

A moment of pure joy, pure excitement: she feels these as fully, as dramatically as the pain and the tears. And spreads it. I feel it, the world feels it―she infects us with her love. She flies, leaps, exults. And we run with her, carried by her joy and love.

My Golden Heart, a gift to the world. I kiss the tip of her nose, her fingertips. She flies away. I watch her, with adulation, with concern, with fear. She is my lesson: will she teach me trust?

Pre-Birthday Joy

I’m not sure who I’m more in love with right now: the adorable about-to-be-six-year-old who is so excited about tomorrow she can barely stop vibrating, or the two seven- and eight-year-old boys–Cinder and his best friend K–who gave up playing Plants versus Zombies and instead spent all night blowing up balloons and plastering the house with pink ribbon and hearts for her big day tomorrow.


Flora: Mom, do you think Ender will still want to marry Baby M now that she gave us all stomach flu?

Jane: Um… I don’t think Ender has any plans to marry M.

F: Oh, I know, he’s too young to think of such things. I’ve arranged it for him. But do you think it will happen now?

J: When… how… why…

F: It’s good to get these things taken of early, you know, and then you can get on with life. I’m worried about Cinder: I really don’t know who he’s going to marry. Jade and Skye are definitely not interested. Maybe Moxie: she has an obnoxious older brother too, so she’d be able to deal with him.

Flora’s List

We learnt something a little terrifying today.

We visited Vancouver Island last month, and met a lovely unschooling family with three children, two boys aged 15 and 10, and a girl, Nibs to friends, Flora’s age. You’d think Flora and Nibs would click, and they certainly did enjoy playing with each other. But it was the 10-year-old brother who captured Flora’s heart. She impressed him too. He hospitably took both Austen and Flora to the playroom as soon as we arrived so they could check out his Lego collection. A while later he came down, “Gosh, Mom, that little girl is really intelligent,” he told his mother. “She knows all about Star Wars.”

Driving home today, in the middle of Calgary’s inevitable May snowstorm, Flora, out of the blue, announced, “I’m not quite sure who I’m going to marry yet.” This, incidentally, has been a question that’s been weighing heavily on her mind ever since she found out she couldn’t marry Austen. (“Yuck!” she said. “I am not mating with a stranger!” Good to hear, girl, good to hear.) Sean and I looked at each other, biting our lips. “But,” Flora continued, “K. is definitely on the top of my list. Because he knows all about Lego and Star Wars, and those are important qualities in a Daddy.” Pause. “And he has nice blond hair.” Pause. “So I’m not quite sure yet. But he’s at the top of my list, and I think he’ll be hard to beat.”

We didn’t laugh. But Sean did say, “Flora? You have a list?” To which she responded, “Of course, Daddy. Didn’t you?”