Friday, August 28, 2009

Damn: the potty training edition


It's days like today that I dearly wish I had not committed myself to refraining from the use of stronger profanity on this site (and in real life, though in real life I almost never quite manage to refrain from it).

But anyway...DAMN!

Just damn.

I've been trying to potty train Graham for almost a full year now. I beat myself up over my failure to do so way last January. Then I decided to just let it happen on its own. Then I tried to put my foot down again in May. That was a disaster that upset me more than I thought it possible to be upset over something like potty training. Then I resolved to just let it happen in its own time. And now?

We're back at square one.

Well, not square one. Let's just say square one as far as number two is concerned: as in, he won't, absolutely won't, poop in the potty.

It's been three days since he's gone at all. I know this can't go on. I know he WILL go eventually. But here's what you don't know...

The last time we got to this stage, he did go eventually. In his sleep. In his bed. And guess what? The humiliation, the discomfort, the sheer GROSSNESS of that experience was NOT enough to convince him that perhaps the potty was a better alternative.


What happened was he seemed quite comfortable to get settled into a routine of just holding it all day, soiling his bed in the night and going happily about his normal routine in the morning.

So now he's not gone for three days and he's refusing to go on the potty. I know eventually he will go. And if I continue to refuse a pull up, I suspect he will go in his bedsheets tonight just like last time.

In fact, I suspect he will continue to soil his bed on a nightly basis as long as I refuse him a pull-up.

Graham has told me outright, over and over, that he will NOT poop on the potty.

Graham will be FOUR in November.

Graham is not frightened of the potty and no longer has any hang-ups about the potty: he is stubborn, plain and simple.

I have pleaded. I have cajoled. I have firmly instructed. I have shouted. I have talked softly. I have sobbed. I have tried rewards. I have tried letting him take the lead. I have tried making him stay bare. I have tried withholding privileges. I have tried EVERY single piece of advice I have been given.

I feel like a complete and abject failure

I never, ever thought that I would find myself in a power struggled of such epic proportion but now that I have, I feel that it's a power struggle from which I must, as the PARENT, emerge victorious. After all, what kind of message does it send to him if I don't follow through? If I repeatedly threaten consequences - no tv, no school, no birthday party tomorrow that's he' s been looking forward to all week - only to turn around and give in?

And yet, deep down, I don't believe, even for a second, that my following through on these consequences - and a million more I tearfully threw at him in the throes of frustration last night, consequences that will make us ALL miserable - will change his mind.



I almost forgot to say thanks for all the tips on locating the Curious George Balloon - thanks to Cheryl and Wendy I believe one was found in the shop at Sick Kids Hospital. Also, many thanks for suggesting we visit our old house to look for our missing kitty. We did just that AND put our former neighbors on lookout duty: I'll let you know if our dear Eddie turns up.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The showman


Are there no lengths to which...

...a guy won't go... impress a girl?

Just out of the frame of these pictures was the object of Graham's latest obsession. Earlier this evening he climbed to the top of this play structure and jumped off about...umm...76 times in a desperate bid to get her to pay attention to him.

Unfortunately for him, it didn't appear to work: she apparently doesn't notice or appreciate great bravery and superhuman athletic prowess in men.

Clearly, it's her loss.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

On preferring sticks and stones

Three weeks later, her words are still with me, roiling through my gut like pesky, intestinal gnats; not exactly painful but just galling and irritating enough to still sting in the quiet moments when I stop and take their measure: yes...they are still there.

Yes, they still hurt.

The words were part - just a very small part actually - of a conversation I had with an acquaintance, a dear friend of a very dear friend, I had met briefly a few times before. She is tall, blonde and pretty and works in independent film. She's thoughtful,

We ran into each other at a girls gathering and were chatting about her upcoming wedding (to a member of Canadian music royalty no less) and comparing notes on parenting. She has a one-year-old and is stepmother to a 10-year-old and a 20-year-old.

She admitted with a grin that she was already thinking about a second child with her soon-to-be husband and I remarked that at least she had a few built-in babysitters. I didn't mention that I had been thinking about a second child for almost three years now, but I noticed and envied the ease and assurance with which she discussed her plans to add to her family.

I always notice that in other women: I always envy that.

And the conversation turned, as it so often does these days, to plastics and phthalates and chemicals and all this crap that has apparently crept into our children's food and toys and how it might be affecting them, particularly their future fertility.

Another woman remarked on a documentary she had seen about the decline of fertility, particularly male fertility, and how the phenomenon was something we had all seen around us. I talked about a book I was reading that deals with this very thing.

"Well, maybe it's not such a bad thing really," said the first woman, she of the one-year-old and the two step-children and the blithe plans for more. "I mean, the earth can only handle so many children, it's probably just the earth's way of self-correcting and saying 'no more'."

I didn't say anything: I didn't think I could say anything without bursting into tears, so I didn't say anything.

"I mean, at some point, something has to force people to really stop and look at why this is happening, about whether it's because we're overpopulating the earth, right?"


I think I may have just mumbled something or changed the subject, or at least someone did, and the conversation went on. I spent the rest of the evening not thinking about what she said while continuing to chat with her and thoroughly enjoying our conversation. The night ended when I sincerely wished her good weather for the upcoming wedding and headed for my car.

It wasn't until the way home that I let myself replay the conversation; until I let the hurt and the indignation wash over me.

I cried much of the way home actually, but more out of plain old frustration than any real anger, because I know her words were not meant to be hurtful. I'm quite certain, in fact, that she would have been mortified had I taken her aside and told her how I was feeling.

She probably would have been mortified if I sought to confirm that any plans she had to stop and really look at the issue of overpopulation were meant to be executed after her partner had fathered his fourth child.

She probably would have felt badly if I had gently pointed out that positively glowing with happiness and good fortune whilst that speculating that someone else's ailment might be the result of a necessary and perhaps even deserved Darwinian correction is, at the very least, staggeringly insensitive.

I probably should have told her how I felt, but I didn't.

Perhaps I would have if I had known that more than three weeks later her words would still be there, roiling around my gut, gnawing at me and making my eyes sting with tears when I watch my only child try and make a playmate out of our 12-year-old cat.


Do you live in the Toronto area? Do you know where one can purchase a Curious George balloon? If so please, please spill your secrets in the comment box - I have a dear friend who may have to renege on a serious promise to a toddler who's about to turn three. We can't have that, can we? Help!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

We Miss Eddie

So...umm...yeah...this sucks.

"We Miss Eddie. Eddie (Edgar) is our small, tabby (black and grey with
white tummy)
cat who went missing when we moved into (our new address)
last week. If you have seen her, please call us!"

The poster's been up for more than three weeks now: no one's called us.

I think it's pretty safe to say that Eddie isn't coming home.

Despite the fact that these posters are up all over our new neighborhood. Despite the fact that Rob and I have spoken to countless new neighbors and ventured out separately many a night calling for her at the top of our lungs (and annoying said new neighbors).

Despite all these things, I think it's pretty safe to say Eddie isn't coming home: it's been exactly a month since she slipped out the back door three days after we moved in.

She (yes she's a girl) is a scrappy cat and a mouser, so she might well be managing just fine. But what keeps me awake nights is the knowledge that she won't be fine at all once the cold weather hits. And despite the fact that I've babied her for the past nine years much the same way I've babied her feline brother, she's always been skittish and fearful of people: I'm almost certain she would never let any well-meaning cat lover take her in, no matter how much she needed it.

I feel awful and Rob feels awful. Graham did feel awful but cheered up considerably after I marshaled my considerable acting ability to convince him that Eddie had just gone to live with another, perfectly wonderful family. (Does that count as a lie? Probably. Do I care? Nope - he just lost his Oma for chrissakes).


In other, more cheerful cat news, it's been almost exactly a year since so many of you weighed in on the tough choice I made with regards to our other feline friend. I'm happy to report that Horace is still living healthily with his facial lesion: he ain't as pretty as he used to be but at least he's present and accounted for.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sweet Carolina

Graham is in love.

Graham is in love with a much older "woman" who every evening rules the playground just steps from our new front door. Her name is Carolina and I'd guess she's about 13 years old.

Carolina is tall and beautiful with long, dark hair. She travels with a fawning entourage of younger girls who are noticeably less confident than she and quick to conform when she rolls her lovely eyes and tells them they're being "so immature!"

Graham noticed Carolina the very first time we visited the playground and he's remained in her thrall ever since.

"There she is Mommy! There's the girl! I'm gonna go play with her!" he shouts gleefully. Ever the picture of blissful optimism, he generally runs headlong in her direction only to be summarily dismissed.

"I think she's a little old for you to play with Graham," I cautioned him a few nights ago, after she once again rebuffed his enthusiastic invitation to join him on the slide with a giggle and a bemused pat on the head.

"But she has pretty long hair, Mommy," Graham countered. "I have to play with her. I JUST have to."

And so he tried - all night that night and all night again tonight when, upon arrival at the playground Graham pushed his way into her gaggle of pre-teen admirers and announced, "Hi there! You might remember me from last week at the playground."

I don't believe Carolina did.

No, she just smiled weakly and turned back to the task at hand: impressing her friends with her brand new cell phone.

Graham was undeterred and determinedly stepped into the circle again.

"Well, gee, that phone sure looks like it's got everything except the kitchen sink!"

Yes, he actually said that.

And this time he actually got some genuine laughs and oohs and ahhs from the girls before they moved on.

I can hardly bear to watch the way Graham puts himself out there these days, the way he cheerfully wears his tender heart on chubby sleeve.

I just watch with a strange mixture of apprehension and admiration, scarcely believing this is the same boy who only a year ago inspired me to worrying about his extreme shyness.

And it's funny; while I am thrilled that Graham seems to have well and truly outgrown his shyness, I never imagined that his new-found fearlessness would somehow terrify me in a way that his introversion never did.

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Friday, August 14, 2009


When I hit my late 20s about 10 years ago, I figured I was pretty much "full up" as far as friends were concerned.

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a ton of interesting people who I had known since practically forever and with whom I barely had time to keep up friendships. I was busy, really busy, and I just didn't have the time nor the inclination to invest in a brand new friendship.

And then I met her.

It was at a keg party of all places. An affair to which Rob - my then newish boyfriend - dragged me. We were surprised to arrive and find a house overflowing with hundreds of debacherous teenagers and when he got lost in the crowd I gravitated towards a woman closer to my own age who seemed similarly bemused at the attention we attracted from boys a decade our junior.

Sheona was a colleague of Rob's - a set script supervisor - and after a few drinks we let our inner cougars roar and formed a bond that I have come to cherish as one of the most important in my life.

Here's the thing about friends you meet later in life: they love you for the person you are, not the person you were. There is no comforting common history and no sense of obligation. There is simply chemistry and a sense that no matter how busy you are, you must fit this person into your life because they were sent to make your life make you better.

And so Sheona was. And has.

Sheona has inspired me to dream and to dream big. She is a mother. She is a partner. She is a maker of beautiful, important films that celebrate life and loss. When I spend time with her I come away invigorated, renewed, filled with the sense of my own strength and possibility.

Sheona helped me through endless rewrites of my film script and sat proudly through its premiere. She celebrated with me when I married, mourned when I learned I might never have a child and celebrated again when Graham made his debut.

Her daughter's birthday party was the first one Graham ever attended and when I read the eulogy at my mother-in-law's wake it was her face in the crowd that steadied me and gave me the strength to continue.

Sheona moved 3,000 miles away from me last week and I don't know what I'm going to do without her.

She has been my rock these past several months. I have literally cried on her shoulder and she has fortified me with her wise words and the gentle, pragmatic way she has of looking at the world.

She and her actor partner are off for greener pastures on another coast and as much as I know we will always be friends, I am still bereft over the distance that geography will inevitably create between us.

Godspeed Sheona.

Thank you for being my friend and for making my life better. Thank you for teaching me that one's life can never be too full to accommodate a kindred spirit.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm working it!

It's not that I've dropped off the face of the earth.

It's just that I'm swamped over here.

So swamped, in fact, that I barely had time to write this post for Work It Mom about how busy, working moms can maximize their time.

Check it out!

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Friday, August 7, 2009

This just in: Don Mills not dead! Sinful Love lives!

Back when I wrote my very first post here at Don Mills Diva, I pointed out how ironic it is that Rob and I made our home in Don Mills.

It is ironic because back in 1985 Rob was the lead singer in Sinful Love, a Ramones-style band that had a local hit song and video - Don Mills is Dead - which points out, in no uncertain terms, that our chosen neighborhood is lame.

So last night, as I searched YouTube to see if anyone had posted video of me reading at the BlogHer Community keynote (vanity, thy name is DMD), I realized that someone had posted a video of Don Mills is Dead.

The video and song below were written, directed and produced by Rob and his band mates in 1985 when the technology we take for granted today was years away from even existing. It achieved regular rotation on MuchMusic (Canada's MTV) and garnered Sinful Love a cult following in Toronto.

Rob was 18 years old.

Sure, his haircut leaves something to be desired. But you know what?

I couldn't be more proud.

(And also, the woman who opens the door and shakes a frying pan at the band? That's my late mother- in-law. Secretly, I think she was proud too)

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Catch of the day

"Many men go fishing all of their lives,
without knowing that it is not fish they are after".

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