Tag Archives: McKenna

You did *what* today?

Dear Daughter,   I am writing this blog post cautiously because  you are 7 now but someday you may read it and be all like, “Mooooooooooooooooooom!  Did you *have* to blog about this?!? OH. EM. GEE.  You are *so* embarassing me!” 

But it’s a great story.  It demonstrates both your spirit and your independence and your refusal to follow norms.  It also shows what an amazing teacher you have right now, and I think both of you deserve this public shout-out.   So, here goes.  

I hope you realize how proud I am of you.

Love, Mom

Friday morning, my daughter got dressed:  thick black cable-knit tights, white tee-shirt under a very cute black and white sweater dress with a tie-belt (trust me, these are important details for the story).  She looked adorable as usual, and off to school she went.

Fast forward to 4:15 when we are discussing her school day.

Me:  So, how was the day?

Her:  Great!  The only thing was that I had to take *this* off for gym.  (She tugs at her belt on her sweater dress)

Me:  What do you mean?  Was your belt in the way?

Her:  No.  I was hot.  So I took it off.

Me: *blink blink*  You took your *whole* dress off in gym time?

Her:  Yes.  I.  Was. Hot. (Speaking as though I was not understanding the gravity of the gym-situation)

Me:  You know you aren’t wearing leggings today, right?  Those are tights?  Kind of like long-underwear?  You ran around in just your tights and your t-shirt?  (Secretly hoping that she actually had her shirt on – pleasepleasepleaseplease.)

Her:  Oh.  Well, whatever.  I was hot.

I sent the following email to her fabulous Grade Two teacher:

Sooooooooooo, My Daughter informed me that she got hot in gym today and stripped her dress off and ran around without it.  She thought she had leggings on. I will, in the future, discuss with her the difference between “leggings” and “tights.” So embarrassed. Me. Not her. 😉 Have a great weekend!

She sent me back the following email:

She didn’t miss a beat and nor did any of her classmates.  With fashion being the way it is today none of us thought anything about a sweet little girl going hard in a tank top and tights!!  Rock on!  I did have a little chuckle though when she went to the side-lines and was working up a sweat wriggling out of the outfit.  You just gotta love it.

And this is why they need  a shout out.  My daughter is independent, practical and yet the biggest dreamer I know.  And her teacher, Maureen Taylor, is the most caring, unflappable woman I could hope for to teach my daughter. All children should be so lucky to have experiences and educators like Mrs. Taylor.  Parents appreciate it so much.

After we get over the initial shock. 😉

Her Amazing Spirit

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“That’s how she became my friend”: Redefining ‘friendship.’

My 7 year old was playing on the website Webkinz the other day.  Webkinz is a web-based virtual reality world with animals that are based on stuffed animals that come with codes.  You input those codes and are rewarded with your stuffed animal, animated, living in the Webkinz world, where you have a house and toys and food and can ‘interact’ with your animal.  You play games to win currency to ‘buy’ other things for your animal.

There is also a ‘chat’ function, where people can add you as a friend and then trade pre-programmed comments.  My daughter had some KinzCash to use so she went and bought a new outfit for her online dog.  (Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds.)  The automated ‘cashier’ added her as a ‘friend’ on her list.  My daughter told me immediately that she had a new friend.  “She was the girl working at the store where I bought my dog’s pants.  That’s how she became my friend.”

“That’s how she became my friend.”  What a weird thing to hear a kid say while talking about a computer program.

It seems to me that we need to really need to consider our definitions of friends and strangers, these days.  “Friends” used to be the people that you interacted with, in real life.  People you played with, hung out with, invited to your birthday parties.  Now, our friends can be ‘virtual.’  And how many of us have “friends” on Facebook who we really don’t know very well?  Or at all?

I have been a member of various online message boards for many years.  One of the biggest ones that I’ve been on is a board with approximately 1000 members, mostly from across Canada, some from the U.S. and around the world.  When I joined, I knew no one on that board in real life.  I called them my Imaginary Friends.  In order to fund the board, the members had t-shirts made and we bought them through CafePress.  They said “I liked you better online.” It was a fun statement about how most of us would never meet in real life.   About 5 years ago I arranged with one of my IF’s to meet up with her and her family while on a holiday in Winnipeg.  I knew she had boys about the same age as my son and daughter about the same age as mine.  We got along well, online.  So, when we went to Winnipeg and met them at the Children’s Museum and I told my kids we were meeting a friend of mine and her family, I also had to explain how I wasn’t entirely sure what she’d look like because I’d never actually SEEN her in real life.   That was a strange conversation.  We have now been friends for about 8 years.  We have camped with them and they have been guests at our home.

A couple of years ago, unbenownst to me, two of the members from that board who I had become quite close to contacted my husband through some stealthy emailing and arranged to surprise me by flying here to celebrate my birthday, staying at our home.  My husband and the kids had planned to be away at camp that weekend and even the dog was at the kennel, so I was at home alone.  When my first friend showed up, a total surprise,  I had a moment of absolute terror.  “What if she doesn’t really like me in real life??”  “What if she’s a mass murderer?”  (I was pretty sure she wasn’t. 🙂 )  We met up with my second friend a few hours later, also a total surprise!   Now, my son and my daughter had been in on this with their Dad. They knew that Dad was arranging for some of my ‘friends’ to come for the weekend.  The thing that we had to explain was that they were people I had never met, yet they were my friends.  Last year, I flew to Toronto to meet some more of my IFs from the message board.  Some of those friends know me better, now, than some of my real-life friends!   I have interacted with people on Twitter who I don’t know at all, but who I think would be great real-life friends.  What kind of role-model am I being for my kids, meeting “strangers” like that after telling them about the anonymity of the internet?

Me and my Imaginary Friends:

How could they possibly be my ‘friends’ given the definition of ‘friends’ and ‘strangers’ that we had taught our kids?  “A stranger is someone you don’t know.  Never go anywhere with a stranger without asking Mom or Dad, first.”  I taught a class called Stranger Smarts for a company called Kidproof Canada.  Strangers.  Friends.  Can someone be both?

Of course they can.  But what is the best way to explain that to our children and our students while still keeping them safe and aware online?  I fear that I am giving my children mixed messages but hope that I am setting good examples for them.  I hope they can always talk to me about their friends, real and imaginary.  And virtual.

I have questions, parenting in this digital age, about how to ensure my kids’ safety online. I am, however, excited for the chance that they will have to interact with people globally, easily, with things such as MSN messaging, Skype, message boards, and any number of other digital interacting tools at their fingertips.

It’s “penpals” for the new generations, I suppose.

Come to the Dark Side

I love kids. I love the energy, the enthusiasm, the gleeful innocence and hilarity that they bring.  And I have 2 kids of my own who I get to find joy with every day.

I also love the unpredictability.

While driving around town a while ago I turned to speak to my 6 year old daughter who was in the back seat.  This is what I saw:

Darth Kenna

Yes, that is Darth Vader wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt.  That girl cracks me right up.   Her brother must have left the mask  in the vehicle.   Add on that it’s a Darth Vader voice-changing mask and you can imagine how it sounded when she answered me.   I wonder what other drivers who passed us thought?