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Life between Lockdowns: Smart Kids, Tired Parents

I think all of us are familiar with the fresh challenges we face these days, because of the COVID crisis. One among them is parenting during lockdowns. I am home all day with a 5-year old and a 2-year old. While I’m incredibly grateful that I have a safe and comfortable space where I get to stay with my loved ones, I’m also inexplicably exhausted.

Cooking, cleaning, studying for my course, trying to complete a novel, laundry, dishes and above all, making sure the kids are safe, healthy, fed and, on top of it, entertained can be quite a task, and overwhelming at times. That being said, the kids also keep me sane in insane circumstances, which is the main reason why I’m crazy about the people who drive me crazy all day!

My 2-year old has just started talking, so her way of entertaining me (and giving me a heart attack in the process) is dancing, climbing the sofa, table, bed – basically, any elevated space at home, colouring the walls and getting toys to play with, every now and then. My 5-year old is a wordsmith like Mommy. He often comes up with these witty retorts that, to be honest, I never have the energy to counter.

A few nights back, the Mister and I were putting the kids to bed. After a few minutes of silence, out of the blue, my son says, “Mommy, remember that time, you said that thing that made me so sad. I think it was unfair.” I had no idea what he was talking about and he didn’t remember the episode either, but for the next twenty minutes, he talked about how it was my fault and how I made him sad by saying ‘that thing.’ My husband just smiled silently, reflecting on all the times I did this to him (confronting him months after something happened, when he was defenceless as he did not have any recollection of the incident) and starting to believe in karma again.

There are many such instances where he would call me or someone else during virtual learning out on something that has been said that doesn’t make sense to him. For instance, just the other day, he was told during the earth week that we shouldn’t waste food, so if we are given a piece of cake, we should eat it all even if we don’t feel like it. He immediately raised his hand and said but if we eat more than we want, we might fall sick and get a tummy ache. Similarly, when he was told that killing spiders is not good, and that we should be nice to every living creature, his response was to get a frog or a lizard as a pet, because they need bugs and spiders for food. That way, they would get food and we won’t be killing any living creature.

In circumstances outside of COVID-19 or lockdowns, I had enough energy to have a dialogue with him and explain things to him in detail, but now, I feel like I do not have the mental or physical strength to do that. Either way, I always try to make sure he gets the chance to express himself, at all times – to acknowledge his feelings, discuss his thoughts and never keep anything bottled up inside him. While, this mostly leads to entertainment and amusing responses to everyday situations, sometimes, it also exposes how vulnerable kids can be, and that even though they seem to be adjusting well to things, they are equally scared and anxious.

My son had a lot of meltdowns the first time his school moved to virtual learning. This time around, the episodes have significantly decreased. However, sometimes he would still cry and ask me when he can go back to school or see his friends again. Last night, as I was putting him to bed, he hugged me tightly and said, “Mommy, can you please make sure I’m always okay? Can you promise you will never let me go?” I wanted to ask him what made him ask these questions, but I decided it was more important for me to reassure him at that time, so I refrained from asking him any questions, and just tried my best to make him feel safe, protected and secure.

It also made me feel extremely sad for people who are facing the more serious repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis, especially in countries like India, which have been catastrophically affected in the recent past. If you’re in Canada and wish to help those in India fighting like never before to survive, please visit this article by Globalnews.ca for resources and links to organizations working to improve things in the country.

If you’re a parent in Canada, struggling with the challenges presented by the pandemic and restrictions following it, you may find these resources offered by Canada.ca quite useful. If you would like to share your experiences, please feel free to write to me or comment below. I know the importance of catharsis, and I truly believe that giving a vent to your frustration in no way means that you’re ungrateful for the things you have.

I hope you all stay safe and well, and are able to take care of yourself as much as your loved ones, in these difficult times. Visit my free downloads page. Here, you will find a couple of inspirational/motivational quotes available to download for free.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

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The Fear of Seizures…And Why Words Matter

Two years back, ten days after the birth of my younger kid, my husband had his first seizure. All of us were sleeping when it happened. It was around dawn, and I feel embarrassed to say that I had no idea what was happening when I saw him. I called 911 and they told me that it was a seizure.

Since then, he has had two more seizures – one every year – and they still scare me every single time. The weeks following a seizure are filled with stress, panic, anxiety, maybe even a little indignation. I have sleepless nights, thinking I may not wake up to watch over him if he has another one in his sleep. If someone as much as sneezes or drops a pillow at night, I get up startled.

However, every time, after months of this behaviour, I realize that the moment we let fear into our lives, it takes over everything in it. It consumes us to the point that everything starts to scare us, and our mind, rather our life, ends up becoming a big What If? What if it happens when he is walking on the road, or taking a bath, or driving? What if it intensifies in the coming years? What if this, what if that…until you cease to live in the present.

Now, you would know, that especially if you have kids (and especially if they are both quite young), you cannot afford to do that. You cannot let fear of anything consume you or those around you. You have to stay strong, especially if those around you derive their strength from you. Of course, you have to be cautious, do everything in your power to stay safe, but you cannot go around living life under the heavy blanket of fear.

I have to admit that having a strong support system makes it a bit easier, even if we can’t see them due to pandemic restrictions, these days (I will spare you the discussion of the fear of Covid-19, at this point). However, I will also go on to say that at such times, I realize how important words are, too, as people aren’t always sensitive to the vulnerability following a life-altering experience, such as this.

The first time my husband had a seizure, firefighters came along with paramedics, in case he needed to be carried to the ambulance. One of the firefighters was quite young. I had recently given birth and needed privacy. So my mother-in-law (who was kind enough to come and take care of us and help us out after the delivery), my husband, and my older kid slept in the same room, while the newborn and I slept together. When I was explaining the situation to the 911 team that arrived, the said firefighter chuckled and commented, “Oh, so your husband was sleeping with his mother-in-law?” I corrected him and said, my husband and my son were sleeping next to my husband’s mother, and then answered the paramedics’ questions, but his comment continued to pinch me days after the episode.

I really respect the teams that rescued us both at the time of my second delivery (yes, we had to call 911 when my younger one was born, too) and at the time of my husband’s seizure. They were prompt, considerate, professional, compassionate and fulfilled their duty perfectly. They helped us at times when we felt completely helpless, and I cannot express the gratitude I feel for that alone. However, the comment made by that one person, who probably wasn’t even thinking before speaking up, upset me a great deal for the exact same reason – why do people not think before they speak anymore? Why are we always asking people to NOT THINK AFTER HEARING what someone has said? Why can’t we remind people to THINK BEFORE SPEAKING instead?

If you’re reading this, I would like you to remember that words matter, especially if you’re talking to a highly sensitive person, especially if you’re talking to someone who has gone through a challenging experience. Let’s be kind to each other, whenever possible. It is always possible.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

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Life around COVID-19: Milestone Birthdays

So, this Saturday was the Mr.’s 40th birthday. Last year, I was naive enough to think everything would be back to usual by this year and I would be able to throw him a surprise party, inviting all his friends and family. Well, we all know how that turned out. So, I decided that I would decorate the whole house with 40th birthday decorations and give him a surprise at home instead, as soon as he got back from work.

I ordered elegant black and gold decorations from Amazon.ca, and chose priority delivery so they would get delivered a day or two before his birthday. I also ordered a beer mug for him, with 40th birthday wishes etched on it. For some reason, the orders were delayed and nothing was shipped even two days before the big day. So, I cancelled the order, went to Walmart and got the birthday decorations I could get. They did not have 40th birthday ones, so I decided to get creative.

My husband has had a rough couple of years – I’ll bore you with the details in another post – so I kept teasing him “Life begins at 40”, something my father always used to say since the beginning of this year. To celebrate this new life and to tease him a little more, I got baby shower/newborn balloons for him that said “It’s a boy.” I have to tell you that half the people I showed this to didn’t get it, but my husband had a good laugh, so it was worth it.

I couldn’t get a lot of decorations, to be honest – just a banner, a few balloons, a pack or two of swirling decorations, and that was it. So, to fill up the walls, I do what I do best. I made posters. I printed one from my Etsy shop and two basic ones. One of them just said “Life begins at 40. Happy Birthday,” printed on MS Word with a hearts page border in the Lucida Handwriting font. The other one said “40 Reasons Why We Love You” followed by a numbered list, all 40 items of which said “You’re the best”. The last line said, “Oh, and you’re the best. Happy birthday”. This one had a star page border (very easy on MS Word) and was also written in Lucida Handwriting font style.

I have a black and white printer, so to add a bit of colour, I placed the paper against a rough surface and rubbed coloured crayons against it. It gave them a bit of a textured look, which I like a lot. After the decorations were up, I sent all the pictures to my family, including my 11-year old niece. She turned it into a cool video with Surf Mesa’s “I love you baby” (feat. Emilee) and sent it back to me. That was quite a surprise. I don’t know what I was doing at that age, but it certainly wasn’t anything as creative as this.

On Saturday, we got him breakfast from his favourite place and his favourite cake from Costco.

Go through these pictures from our day, and let me know how you celebrate milestone birthdays during the COVID-19 era. If you’d like to buy the milestone birthday poster, please visit my Etsy shop or the Shop page on this website. I accept payment through PayPal and eTransfer.

The other pictures are the 5 scrolls that I sent this weekend, as part of my Words Matter project. Each scroll goes with a bunch of stickers and a couple of blank note cards. If you would like to send one to a warrior who inspires you, please get in touch.

Video made by my nice niece 🙂


©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

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Life around COVID-19: Kids’ Activities

Happy Women’s Day, everyone! I celebrate Women’s Day, even if I don’t celebrate any of the other popular Days, because this is the day when it strikes me that beneath all the layers – mother, wife, daughter, writer, teacher and so on, I am a woman. That being said, some days, my life is wrapped around my kids to such an extent, that I think I am only a mother, and nothing else. I don’t know how it sounds to everyone else, but I quite enjoy such days, and I feel thankful for them.

Taking Hand Prints

Sunday was one such day. My 5-year old, my 2-year old and I sat down with a Crayola washable paint kit and just went wild with it. We started out by taking their hand prints. These are the steps we followed:

  1. We took an A-4 sheet and rubbed a crayon all over it.
  2. We rubbed a paper towel all over it to make it smooth.
  3. We cleaned their hands, dipped a thick brush in a lot of water and a little paint and applied it all over their palm lightly.
  4. Then, we held their hands and, very slowly, placed it firmly at the centre of the sheet.
  5. I took a thin brush and wrote their name and Sunday’s date on the bottom of the sheet.

I thought it would get messy and take a lot of tries, but thankfully we got it right the first time. I framed my 2-year old’s prints and taped the 5-year old’s prints to the wall, because that’s what he wanted to do with it. Like their birthday posters, this is another thing I plan to do every year, going forward, and save it in a folder or their memory book, to see how they’ve grown each year.

Abstract Artists in the House

My kids enjoyed the activity so much that my 5-year old suggested he wanted to make abstract paintings and my 2-year old joined in. Here is their artwork:

This was my 5-year old’s artwork. For the picture with the rainbow, I told my kid, I wanted to try a spray painting trick I learned in school. I took a toothbrush, dipped it in paint and gently rubbed my thumb across the bristles on top of the paper. My kid said we should do it the “old-fashioned way” and just brushed the paper like we brush teeth, with the paint. It was hilarious, but it turned out quite well actually, didn’t it?

This is my 2-year old’s work. I drew the rainbow, but for 2-year olds, the rainbow is apparently not colourful enough. So, my kid just added the extra burst of colour to my rainbow. It looks amazing, I think.

Posters for Kids

When we were done, I took their paintings and turned them into posters for kids, using Canva. See my next post for a tutorial on that and for before-and-after pics.