Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Experience the world through the eyes of a child

Once in a while we get to rule the streets - family and friends relax on the tracks between sessions at the Beaches Jazz festival on Queen Street East.

My teen home was filled with Catholic guilt and conditional love. We were kept in line with angry words, long spans of silence and enjoyment withheld, including Christmas presents and time out on weekends with friends.

When my second son was born, tired and cranky, my self-awareness became heightened.

It was time to become a better parent if I wanted a home filled with harmony, cooperation and love.

    It was heartbreaking listening to Patrick O'Sulivan's interview on The Current, wonder why no one ever stepped in when his Dad was beating him in the parking lot after hockey practice.

    In junior school, my entire class received a caning one day. Someone had done something wrong and No one had owned up to some wrong doing so we were all lined up outside and with outstretched arms, each received two lashes each. It stung like hot coals - swollen, broken skin, shamed in front of the school.

    Names like Bones, Chicken legs, Breastless  came at me as a preteen and I learnt that words could sting as much as that cane.

    Petar was excited to start school at 5 years old in Croatia. He quickly learnt that a bad grade in English would mean a beating at home.

    When he ran away from home for three days, nearing starvation, he reluctantly returned.
    The beatings never stopped until he was old enough to stop the hand himself.

    Patricia grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent with her single Mom who would brandish her with an iron comb and take a hammer to her head in rage.

    Andy's parents used corporal punishment as a motivational tool to increase grades, while at school he faced racial slurs and death threats as a minority Chinese Canadian in his neighbourhood.

    Norman became a good runner as a kid. As a fun loving geek growing up in Mississauga, he'd run or ride his bike to school every day.
    Those skills were useful in making a quick getaway from bullies on the football team at the end of school.

    Deng was a young man in Dafur when he was captured and kept in a deep, dusty hole in the ground for days on end with little food, water - no bathroom facilities.

    When Steve was five, it felt natural to use his left hand but whenever he picked up a pencil, he got rapped on the knuckles hard. Over and over this happened. He was told that it was the hand of the devil working.

    Do you have a childhood pain that cuts deep? Scars that fade but never go away.

    In the early spring the Willow trees attracts aphids but a few weeks later, become an elegant shelter for family gatherings at the Lake.






    Beaches Jazz Festival is fun for the whole family - Moka  brings it's blend of calypso, folk, reggae and parang to the streets summer 2015

    Learning the hula hoop with the family, Saturdays at the Evergreen Brickworks

    Inherited from the Pan Am Games, the colour-changing Toronto sign at City Hall is a perfect selfie backdrop
    Union Summer brought Front Street Eats on the street - a few picnic tables and umbrella for shade makes a difference with the Union Station construction


    In the backyard this  summer, the Nasturtiums went wild - easy-to-grow annual with edible leaves and flowers. 

    Bluffer's Park at the Lake.


    Kayaks and Canoes ready to go for a day sail


    There's nothing like being near the water on a hot day - Bluffers Beach.

    Lavendar is a flowering plant in the mint family that smells heavenly, is edible, has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Bring some indoors in the wintertime.

    Davisville Junior Public School is about to be transformed into a community mid-town hub. Learn more at  midtownhub.ca

    From the exploring kids to the recycling entrepreneur, everyone's belongs at the intersection of Queen and Yonge. 


    Sometimes the best of friends can cut deep with words. What are the North Toronto kids are wearing these days? - the Herschel Supply Company Backpack is a must-have.



    Parenting classes gave me the tools not only to communicate with my kids but to reflect on my own behaviour as a parent, to be in the moment, every day.

    Here what I learnt from Beverly at the Parenting Network:

    • Equal rights, not equal in abilities
    • Keep "No" "Don't" to a minimum. Praise good behaviour. Ignore bad behaviour
    • Use "I" Messages; describe the behaviour, say how it makes you feel, describe the consequences of that behaviour
    • Always offer choices. example: "Time to get cleaned up, do you want a bath or a shower?"
    • Show children your trust, not your anxiety.
    49 Phrases to calm an anxious child

    There's only one rule to live by: Be Kind

    Manifesto of Kindness

    1. Be kind to loved ones: Treat those in your care as you wish to be treated
    2. Be kind to others: Put yourself in their shoes
    3. Be kind to the planet: Plant one tree in your lifetime
    4. Be kind to all living things: Remember reduce, reuse, recycle?
    5. Be kind to Yourself: Put it on your skin if you can put it in your mouth.


    Learn in your own way: essential parenting classes in Toronto, audio downloads and this book:

    Raising Great Parents: How to be the parent your child needs you to be.


    photos: Summer 2015 Toronto
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