Being a 50 Something Mom with a Primary Grade Kid

One of the challenges of having a kid later in life is having the energy to keep up with an energetic kid. She is an only child and being an only child brings some challenging demands on the parents. Other parents have stated that two kids – they play together and pull each other’s’ hair out, but they can keep each other occupied and not-so-lonely. I think parents with more than one child can speak to the demands of having multiple children. I can only speak to the demands of having one.

With a 7-year old girl, I get the ‘I’m-so-lonely’ howl a lot. We try. We know she needs to be around other kids. We know it’s not fair to have her around adults all the time, so we try to get her to be around other little kids, too. We take her to parks, we do kid-oriented outings, we arrange for sleepovers and playdates. Some of them work out great, some not so much. This past year we had her in Brownies and Opera for Children. We also had her in cartooning. The centre canceled it due to lack of interest but my kid loved it. She is talented, I must say.

Ecole

I put my daughter into French Immersion. She fell behind. Few efforts were made by the school to catch her up. I received photocopies of workbook activities to do with her, but they were in French. Encrypted French. I asked some older students for translation, her French tutor and some French-speaking adults to translate these instructions and even they seemed puzzled. I had her tested for learning disabilities and through the opinions of three Pediatricians and two Family Doctors, they weren’t finding any developmental delays and learning disabilities. The Pediatrician served the school papers telling them to give my kid extra one-on-one lessons to catch her up and they did nothing but whine about it. In our district, experienced Teachers make almost $100K. The classroom size was around 20 kids, but apparently, she doesn’t have the time to teach my kid.

The System is Broken

There was always a problem. They put my kid on the wrong bus home one time. I watched in horror as a bunch of kids bounced off the bus, and mine didn’t. No one seemed to know where she was.

I got a snotty call from the Principal one day telling me how discourteous it was to not inform them of my child’s absence. Meanwhile, I put my kid on the bus to school that morning. She was on the carpet in her classroom getting her lessons like she did every day.

 

 

 

 

Her bus was in an accident one morning on the way to school. My kid told me about it a few days later. I called the school. They were meaning to call the parents to let them know. They counted that as a late on her attendance.

She came with home one afternoon with claw marks gouged along both sides of her jaw line. I asked qu’est-ce que c’est? They were meaning to call me, but they assured me they treated the wounds and were quite shocked it happened. A little girl got mad at mine for not following her demands. She was friends with a little girl who was having trouble playing nicely with the other kids.

The Vice Principal called to tell me her Teacher swore at my kid. There were many eyewitnesses that verified this. He used the word ass – not always a swear word. She wouldn’t remove her hat in the classroom. She was cold. He told her that things will bite her in the ass if she doesn’t cooperate, or something like that. I let that pass. He wouldn’t let her use the washroom and made her hold it. I didn’t let that pass.

Her school bus was almost two hours late returning the kids to the drop-off point one afternoon. The bottom dropped out. The wheel axle came off. There was a gas leak and the Driver wouldn’t evacuate the kids. I never did find out the story.

My husband and I discussed having our child go to school closer to home. There was a Catholic school down the street. We agreed and registered her for the following Fall term. After learning that my child was not allowed to go pee, I decided that transfer should be sooner than later. We registered her and had her start at the local Catholic school three weeks later.

Her first day, I learned that other parents had the same idea. I saw some familiar faces in the school yard. Since I have had several parents approach me about that decision. They were growing more and more frustrated and thinking of doing the same. This Fall term, we shall see who made the move.

Catholic School

Three months later, her reading level has improved substantially. The Teacher is working with her on a one on one basis on a regular routine and her confidence is through the roof. I have not heard the Teacher whine once about not having the time to teach my kid. Kudos to the kiddo, too. She accomplished a lot through her own grit. Sometimes I walk by and see her playing. Everyone plays really well together. She is so much happier. Her confidence has vastly improved.

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Quest for Lineage

I grew up in South Windsor and spent many childhood weekends at my Dad’s in Detroit. My mom raised 4 kids on her own without the support of her two ex-husbands. Both were deadbeat dads. My father was originally from Detroit – or Windsor, I am a bit cloudy on that. In my earlier years, up until middle elementary school, our visits were regular. Visits dropped off considerably as I grew older and they eventually became non-existent. I remember at a very young age, waiting on our front porch for him to arrive. I waited hours. Sometimes he would show up late, sometimes not at all. The last time I saw my Dad, I think I was 21 or 22 years old. I asked him to fund my education but he was not interested. He died when I was about 22 years old. I didn’t know much about his side of the family. I knew he had three kids from a previous marriage. I had one sister and two brothers living with their families in California. I met, for the first time, two of his sons on the day of his funeral. I visited a few times. I kept in touch with phone calls and social media. The day after his funeral, I learned he had a wife before that, too. Short marriage. Two to four months. A bit of a funny story in learning that detail and perhaps that will be a short story later.

I have always had questions regarding my father’s side of the family. I managed to get a little tidbit of information here and there. I even learned that my father denied that he was my father in court to get out of child support.

No such thing as paternity tests back then. Denial was all he had to do to get out of child support. My mom should have shown the Judge this photo. That would have turned the case around.

Social media has made the world a smaller place. I received a friend request from a cousin on my Dad’s side of the family on social media. I was finally able to get more questions answered. He introduced me to another cousin. Finally, I was able to gain further insights into my lineage. I took the pieces I was given by my cousins and was able to piece together an incredible lineage. I started on Ancestry.ca. It was helpful. It matched my family tree to that of others and I was able to follow a threat of lineage on my Dad’s side. One interesting fact was the fact that our Grandfather changed the family last name. My Great Grandfather was a very successful and prominent farmer in the Puce/Belle River of Essex County. He was a man of colour. It is unknown if he was a black man or bi-racial but I can dig where this is going.

In my genealogical search, I uncovered a book called “The Road That Led to Somewhere” written by Dr. Bryan Walls. A retired Windsor Dentist. Stay tuned for what was uncovered.

Arvo, Fine Coffee Purveyor

So, I have lived in the St. Lawrence Market area for over 20 years. It’s been a great area to live in. The Distillery District wasn’t around when I first moved here. It was a derelict old Gooderham and Worts site. I used to take out of town guests there for after dinner walks. Suck in some of the old histories of the area. I used to run through the area with my dog Raoul when it seemed to be abandoned. It was my quiet time. A time, I felt, I had the city to myself. Just me and my dog.

I started noticing some activity. More security guards. Hmm…

 

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Arvo (courtesy of http://www.blogto.com)

 

Now it’s a prime location in the city. Condos and Shops. Beyond that, a new development, the Canary District. So much has changed. Even my seemingly hidden area, my little city within the city, is changing.

I have spent so much time roaming through the Distillery. Poking through shops, eating some food, window shopping, meeting friends for coffee. The visits are fewer and fewer. The novelty wearing off. Today I ventured over to meet a friend for coffee. It is our in between mark. He lives a little north of The Distillery, I live a little west of there. We meet for coffee at Balzac’s. Today we met somewhere else, Arvos.

Arvo. Fine Coffee Purveyor.

Located at 17 Gristmill Lane.

I am so used to going deeper into the Distillery, I walked past it. Cute little place. Small. Limited seating. Today, no coffee, but fancier stuff. I have to admit, I haven’t ventured into the coffee culture beyond an old fashioned cup of coffee. I had my first latte. Impressive design foamed onto the top. Altogether, it was a $4.20 beverage. Not well versed in the going rate of lattes, so I am not sure if this was of good value or not. It tasted yummy. We drank our beverages outside in the sun. I didn’t stick around long enough to absorb any of the decor or to grasp at anything else they had to offer. I did notice another entrance deep from within. I assume internal access from within the building. Perhaps a little condominium access which saves the condo dwellers the chill of the outdoors in the winter.

Being a 40-Something New Mom

Most of my friends started their families much younger than I. My siblings even younger than that. I didn’t even think I could have kids. At 42, Surprise! You’re pregnant! At 43, a new mother of a little girl.

It was an interesting ride.

I was put into a “Late Gestational Age” program at Mount Sinai. It wasn’t mandatory but highly recommended to do the amnio. I was watched closely throughout my pregnancy and I did decide to do the amnio. My amnio came out pretty positively. I had the uterus of a 15-year old.

Sometimes I felt like I had a target pinned onto me. At 6 weeks, I was in a minor fender bender. At 8 weeks, I started hemorrhaging. A trip to the Emergency Room revealed the baby was doing just fine.

Cravings?

Sure. Initially, I wanted beef. That is what tipped me off that I may have been pregnant. I don’t eat beef. I can’t eat beef. I can’t digest it. It makes me sick. I wanted it and most particularly, I wanted a Lick’s hamburger. I got myself a turkey one instead and went through a brief phase where I wanted turkey burgers. Once that passed, I wanted popsicles. My husband kept bringing me the wrong frozen treat. Finally, I said to him, if you bring me popsicles, I will stop asking you to get popsicles. One popsicle was all it took. Craving over. For a good part of my pregnancy, I wanted spaghetti and Ragu sauce. The most common and consistent cravings were for strawberry milkshakes. Some friends, who had a family restaurant nearby, prepared many strawberry milkshakes for me. Free of cost.

What I couldn’t stomach was rotisserie chicken. Not Swiss Chalet rotisserie, but grocery store rotisserie. I couldn’t set foot into a grocery store that sold rotisserie chicken. The smell would hit me the second I walked through the door and it made me nauseous.

Second Trimester

At 12 weeks plus 1 day, we were T-boned in my little ‘04 Pontiac Sunfire by a pickup truck at an intersection. We were on our way to work. The baby was okay. I had a concussion. The car was written off, but the insurance company agreed to fix it.

 

 

 

 

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courtesy of https://www.babycenter.com/

Third Trimester

We needed a bigger place. We moved around the 6-month mark. I took on too much. I went from being all baby in the front, hard to tell from the back to blowing up the size of a truck. My limbs swelled up that very day. My sister arrived to help us out in the evening. She took one look at me and made me sit out the rest of the day. At the time, I didn’t know I had a mild version of the blood disorder Thalassemia. I learned that many years later and I figure that was a contributing factor of developing complications for the remainder of the pregnancy.

I developed gestational hypertension. At 35 weeks, water would gush from the pores of my swollen legs when pressure was applied. My ankles had swelled up so much that the skin was splitting. My Ob-Gyn ordered me to bed rest and on that very day, I missed the surprise baby shower that was being thrown for me at a local restaurant by friends. My husband went in my place. He was a good egg about it. He let the ladies bedazzle him with ribbons and bows as he opened the gifts, and the men sitting at the bar out front, plied with him loads and loads of sympathy Scotch.

The Epidural

At 37 weeks, I was induced. Twice. The pain came on fast and intense. Pain management wasn’t forced but highly recommended. They were very concerned about my blood pressure. My doctor reserved some pain options. I was given some narcotic options and the epidural. I didn’t want any of them but I can see they were concerned. I wasn’t into getting my baby all drugged up, but I wasn’t into having a needle pushed into my spine either. I have heard other mom’s stories about the epidural and the back pain they suffered for months and years after. I opted for it anyway. I didn’t want my baby drugged up and it turns out I made the best choice.

Breathe, push, push. Baby is out and straight into the incubator for a week.

She wasn’t adapting to room oxygen and the amniotic fluid wasn’t absorbing into her lungs. After that issue, she developed jaundice but at least I could hold her.

It was Thanksgiving weekend and we received a phone call. It was the NICU calling to have us spend the night on the unit. We would spend the night and get her home the next morning. Throughout the week, she wasn’t thriving. Too much harsh lighting, too many sounds, very little of Mommy’s touch. It was a harsh environment. She was losing more than a normal amount of weight and she was already a lightweight premmie. We spend the night and readied her up the next morning to take her home. She lost more weight. We were told that she would have to stay. I said no. She is coming home where she belongs.  They agreed under the condition I return the next morning for a check-up and weigh-in. We did just that and all her vitals substantially improved and a little weight gained.

Mama knows best.

Now she is a smart-alecky 7-year old and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Beware of that Nicotine Demon

 

On February 24, 2009, I quit smoking and stuck to it. I peed on a stick and it revealed that I was pregnant. I have struggled for years to quit that nasty habit. I had good reasons to finally put that habit to rest. One reason I quit was that I didn’t want to be that woman that stands outside her office building with a swollen belly and a cigarette sticking out of her mouth. I am not judging anyone who remains a smoker during pregnancy. It’s a choice. For me, I made the choice not to. The most important reason was that little being growing inside me. I was no longer responsible for just me. I had a little creature inside me growing a tiny set of lungs, a tiny set of kidneys, etc.

Courtesy of http://sites.psu.edu/krfaustnutr/2015/11/17/final-psa/

I had tried to quit in the past. Many, many times in the past. I think the longest I had quit was for three years in my early twenties. Stupidity got me smoking again. Stupidity got me every time.

Here’s the thing…

There is a little creature that sits on your shoulder that whispers reasons why you should quit, and there is another, very strong, very compelling creature that sits on your other should that is whispering all the wonderful reasons why you should smoke. The trick is to outsmart the one that is compelling you to remain a smoker. The most frequent way that little demon got me to pick up a cigarette again was by telling me that one drag on that cigarette won’t do me any harm. It told me that I could be a casual smoker. I was safe from picking up the habit again. Once I had that one drag, it said to me – “See, you can have a drag and not be addicted.” I believed it. I thought I became impervious to the habit. The next time I had the urge to have a drag off a cigarette, that demon whispered in my ear again. “Go ahead. Just one drag won’t hurt.” Eventually, that one drag became one cigarette. A night out. A few drinks. Good judgment diminishes and that demon strikes. There is no harm in getting just that one package of cigarettes. Those packs turn into a daily occurrence and bam, you’re smoking again.

The good little voice nags you at the back of your mind. It’s unhealthy. Don’t go back to it. Resist the urge. The demon speaks louder. You will gain a ton of weight!

So… the habit-battle rages on.

The battle between the good little voice telling you to quit, and the voice whispering sweet reasons why you should continue, rages on.

Maybe another time, that good voice wins a battle. That voice convinces you to quit. You even come up with a good strategy to beat it. For me, I walked back and forth to work each day. At a certain point during that walk, and always at the same set of lights, I would light up a smoke. I had various points during my walks where I would light up that smoke. This time, I would take different routes, avoiding my light up spots. That worked out well.

Eventually, that little demon starts to whisper in your ear again. Eventually, that little demon gets you to try one, then another and so on. Next thing you know, you’re addicted again.

I’ve tried different methods. One time I quit, I decided that I would smoke cigars instead. Cigars aren’t cigarettes. There are no dangers of picking up the cigarette habit again if I stick to cigars. Okay. That was a really dumb surrender. Those cigars turned into cigarettes. Back to the guilt. Back to trying to compel that good little voice into speaking louder and more convincingly.

Start. Stop again.

This time the voice says to me it’s okay to smoke if I am out partying. I was more of a weekend warrior. I went out with friends to the local pub on a Thursday and maybe a Friday night. I kept my Saturdays and Sundays as sacred me-time. During the week, I wanted to be fresh for work so I kept to my home. Got to bed early. Got out of bed early and to work early. That little demon convinced me to smoke only when I went out and drank. I told everyone I only smoke when I drink. What did I do? I went out drinking more. I went out, uncharacteristically, during the weeks and during my sacred Saturdays and Sundays, and I drank some beer and smoked some cigarettes. I liked getting my ample sleep time during the week and I liked getting up early in the morning and starting my day before most other people. I felt like I sort of had the city to myself. Going out every night was expensive and it made mornings more difficult. Something had to give. I caved into the cravings and again I was a smoker again.

The Challenge of remaining a non-smoker

This time I wanted the quitting to stick. I wanted to never smoke again. It was time for me to examine what it was that got me hooked every time. This time I had the added motivation of being a mother. I felt that if I were to become a smoker again and my child became a smoker, I would automatically lose the argument of “Well you smoke, why can’t I.” I feel it would be an argument I would surely lose. I felt the trick in never having a child that smokes, is to not be one myself.

Courtesy of http://www.tobaccolabels.ca/countries/canada/

So what is it that got me smoking again? Those very reasons mentioned above. Telling myself that I can have just one. I can’t have just one. I can never, ever have any. Telling myself that I can smoke if I am drinking. Nope. Telling myself that only gets me to drink more. I don’t want to stave off that demon, too. Telling myself that smoking cigars are okay and a safe way to keep away from cigarettes is a big lie, also. Cigars are tobacco. Tobacco is in cigarettes. Both are addictive.

Now that I know this, I can recognize that those sweet nothings that demon whispers into my ears are nothing compelling, but merely B.S. Bye bye demon! You’re gone for good.

Mr. Stripey

This is Stripey. He is the Kiddo’s sleeping buddy. He has a fully furnished house and Nanna has knit him blankets, a backpack, a hat, a bag and a cape. He has been the subject of many drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He often sits at our dinner table. He has been to Malta and has been a stow away on many road trips. When he temporarily got lossed in Nannu’s car, life was a little hellish around here. What a guy!

Who Am I?

Who Am I? The great existential question. “Cogito ergo sum”, as said by Descartes. I am a Freelance Writer – lapsed and then picking it up again. I have a University degree, a certificate in Technical Communications and a certificate in Big Data Analytics. I have experience in Technical Writing and have done some on-line education on Copywriting. I am continued learner. Soon I will be advancing my education in Big Data and will be embarking on Web Analytics, starting with a course on SEO. I am thinking about gaining more insights on Cyber Security, too.

I was playing with Wolfram/Alpha and Google trends and came up with some goofy data on Donna Palmer. Donna Palmer may have been a little harder to find in the 1600s, but today, you can’t swing a cat without hitting a Donna Palmer, can’t swing a gnat without hitting a Palmer. Palmer is a very common name. My Mom, not a Palmer, was born and raised in Canada. She was born in Northern Saskatchewan, raised in Regina Saskatchewan and settled in Windsor, Ontario for the rest of her life (R.I.P. Norma). I rarely ever encountered a Palmer in Windsor, or anywhere in Canada, for that matter. Turns out there was a reason for that, but I will state that later. My father, on the other hand, Morris D. Palmer, was either born somewhere in Essex County, Ontario, Canada or in Detroit Michigan. I am confused. I am half Canadian, half American. I have traced my genealogy way back and found many interesting things.

Viewing some interesting facts about the name Donna Palmer on Wolfram/Alpha, I came up with some interesting data about Donna Palmer.

Looking at these graphics, most Donnas were born in the 60s.

Google Trends has its data on Donna Palmer:

 

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Interest over time

 

I am not sure what I can take away from an Interest of time graphic but there it is.

I noticed that Dr. Walter Palmer, DDS appears on this info-graphic. I don’t like him. I’m not lion. Get it?

There are many of us, but there is only one me! Here I am…

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If I were to create an on-line dating profile, it would look something like this:

SWF whose age is none of your business. I love camping, long walks by the waterfront, and animals. I don’t shy away from snakes and rodents unless they’re venomous. I have an agreement with our household spiders. Keep yourselves on the ceiling or out of sight. Once you breach the house rules, you will meet the bottom of my shoe. Centipedes will meet the bottom of my shoe on sight. No exceptions! Uber Buffy fan that has never attended a Comicon, but has paid ample tribute as a Vampire Slayer for Hallowe’en. A huge fan of vintage horror flix, suspense, and mystery. I enjoy cooking when I darn well feel like it and have waaaay too many recipes pinned on my Pinterest account. Enjoy DIY projects but can’t pinpoint any one fave. Have one kid and a few fur-kids. I have recently developed an interest in genealogy.

I am a little awkward. I am friendly, but I am not very good at that water cooler talk. I can’t speak to Survivor or Dancing with the Stars (or whatever the trend is right now). My tastes are not mainstream. I can say that about many things. Music? I hate pop music. I have no idea who half these people are. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why Star Trek’s Cardassians were making a comeback. I love to read, but since becoming a mom, I haven’t had the time to do it. I used to love reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz but grew out of that. Now I prefer a good supernatural type novel. I read a lot of non-fiction too, but not because I want to. Currently, I am reading a lot of Big Data and predictive analyst oriented books.

But, I am not single and I am not creating an on-line dating profile.

I love Alfred Hitchcock movies and a heavy pull toward cheese type movies and shows which include teenage flix like Riverdale featuring Betty and Veronica. I like a lot of Canadian shows too, like LetterKenny (but the appeal for Trailer Park Boys is long lost).The Mortal Instruments was a series I read. It is a Netflix series and it was filmed in Canada, but the setting is in New York. A friend of mine worked on the set and when he told me he was working on that set, I was excited and viewed it on TV as soon as I could. I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and I get a lot of sideway glances when I admit to that. I love Kevin Smith, Shrek, and the Coen brothers, but I get easily bored of over-done and formulaic plots.

I have always been curious about my ancestors and I seem to have become the designated kin-keeper of our family. I fell naturally onto that, there were no declarations. My mother was never a good source of information. She had a terrible memory and I think back in those days when families were geographically distant, the closeness was distant too. My mom was not a keep in touch kind of person either. Today, the internet has brought families so much more informed and being that I am the only computer literate member of my Canadian family, I am the one that keeps in touch. I have two families, really. I am the youngest of my generation, on both sides. My Dad had a family from one of his previous marriages, and my mom had a family from her previous marriage. I have 2 brothers and 1 sister from my Dad’s. All three are American, as was my Dad. I have 2 sisters and 1 brother from my Mother’s. We are Canadian. All living in Southern Ontario.

My Dad was rarely a part of my life. He died when I was 22 so any possible relationship with him, died when he did. I took the tiny amount of money that was left to us and visited his children a couple times, but it wasn’t really until Facebook that I really got to know them a little more. I got to ask them, and some cousins, a little more about the Palmer side of the family. Through this, I gained an interest in genealogy. I learned some not-so-surprising insights into my family history and a really, really surprising one. It was a very positive experience and one I hope to push further on.