Dear Dragon – Welcome to Level 3

Dear little Dragon,

You’ve grown so much in every way possible. Today you turn 3. The last year has been absolutely amazing to watch. You’ve learned so much.

Since your last birthday you:

  • have learned to speak in full sentences;
  • learned to jump (but not land softly);
  • learned your numbers (mostly);
  • learned to dance;
  • gained a little brother;
  • started going on the potty;
  • played a tabletop RPG with us;
  • and I’m sure there’s more.

It feels like each year of your life we’ve taken a trip. This year we went to Stratford, Ontario for Katie and Mike’s wedding. Everyone loved you there and you really didn’t want to leave. You danced all night and made Katie and Mike really happy. It was your first long car ride and you did great.

You also went to your first Opinicon, the Coderre family reunion held every 5 years, you absolutely loved it. You said hi to everyone, played with your cousins and had a great time. In 5 years you’ll love it even more.

It was another year of conventions that you both helped prepare and are starting to help sell at. You went to Can-Con, Comic Con Holiday Edition, Ottawa Comic Con, and Geek Market. Your Mum and I love that you can hang out with us and help for 8+ hours a day at conventions.

I both love and fear your strength of emotions. When you’re feeling a strong emotion, everyone knows and it’s just like I was at your age. Thankfully you always swing back to happy quickly.

This year Baby Pegasus joined the party and you’ve been fantastic with him. He adores you, choosing to follow you more than anyone else (with his eyes… I can hear you saying, “He doesn’t walk yet.”) he smiles at you and you can calm him. You are a little too affectionate but you’re learning.

You are strong willed, clever, passionate, loving, curious, and you make everyone smile. You frustrate me with your procrastination and your stubborn streak but you also make me proud, every day.

The year coming has so many exciting things and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Happy Birthday Little Dragon and welcome to Level 3!

Papa

Dear Dragon and Pegasus – Your Mum

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

As of this writing, it’s been exactly 4,950 days since I met your mother. On Wednesday, it’ll be our 13.5 year dating anniversary and our 10th wedding anniversary.

By the time you read this, you’ll probably think we’ve been together forever. Sometimes I feel that way too. It’s hard to imagine my life without her.

The two of us have been through a lot together. She’s helped me through some of the toughest parts of my life. To you, she’s just your Mum, but I don’t think you’ll ever understand how much she loves you. (I’m not sure she does either.)

If there’s one thing you have to know about your Mum, it’s that she’s always thinking of your best interests. (Well maybe not always, but in all the big things.) She wants you to be happy.

She’s not perfect; she’ll get completely sucked into a game or story. She can get overwhelmed and get grumpy. She’s WAY too hard on herself about almost anything. But no matter what, she will drop anything for family, friends, and especially you; to listen and support.

She throws herself body, heart, soul, into her relationships. Because of that, she leaves herself open to being hurt, but so often she makes amazing friends. She sees the best in everyone and loves everyone.

If you reach out to her, she will always be ready with a hug, an attentive ear, and a kind word.

There’s a lot in this world that’s scary, a lot that is bad, and even more that’s sad. Count yourself lucky that you have a Mum that will hug you and be there for you when you need her. The world can’t be all that bad when it has someone so open and willing to love.

She’s my favourite person, my best friend, and by far the best part of me. Remember to take care of her the way she will always take care of you.

Your loved Papa

P.S. She gives great hugs.

Dear Pegasus – Fear of Cults

Dear Baby Pegasus,

You are on your way and I’m both excited and nervous. I wrote about my anxieties in my previous letter but I left one out.

I’m terrified because you are a perfect target for cults. When your Gramma was young, she joined a cult. They separated people from their families, fed them little, sleep deprived them, and made them believe that the central figure was faultless if not deific.

When I was young I noticed similar behaviour in school. In this case, it was a teacher with bad intentions who used all the same tricks to turn the class into his own private cult and he took advantage of select people. Even when he was caught, there were elements of the conditioning left in the class to make people want him to return.

You are growing up in a different age than your Gramma or I, and in some ways it’s wondrous. The entirety of human knowledge is available to you with little to no effort. As is the entirety of misinformation and hate that we as a race are capable of. It means that cults today don’t need a compound, they don’t need their old tricks. They have direct access to you through multiple channels and they prey on your fear, distrust, hurt, and pride.

Modern digital cults are cults of hate. They’re not new but they are much more far reaching. I’m scared I won’t have the ability to save you from them; I’m scared I won’t be able to prepare you to defend against them; and I’m scared they will steal you before you know what’s going on.

Your Mum and I do, and will do, our best to raise you and your sister to think rationally. To look at the evidence, opposing views, and make a critical decision based on that and your values.

I just hope it’s enough. I hope that in your darkest moments where you consider joining or participating in these things that you know you always have us to talk to.

I love you so much and I’ve yet to meet you,

Your Papa

P.S. This article explains a lot better what could happen.

Dear Pegasus – Being a Man

Dear Baby Pegasus,

As a parent, my goal is to help you be the best version of yourself you can be. That’s the goal, but on a daily basis I’m usually just trying to make sure you and your sister survive with limited trauma.

You’re on your way, two months now before you get here and I’m terrified. I feel like I just got used to having three members of the family. I have no idea what you’ll be like, or how you’ll get along with your sister and it scares me.

I also harbour a strange fear. I’m not sure how to raise a boy. I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by girls and when I made friends with boys it almost always ended poorly. I often have no idea what to say or how to act around other males. I can count on one hand the men I’m close to and feel comfortable with.

Gender is a social construct, but with it comes social constructs on behaviour and shared truths. I feel like I missed the “male” seminar and that means in groups of men I often feel like I’m missing something. Some subtext that I just don’t follow.

Yes I’m empathic, yes I’m a writer, and yes I am a man. But those are despite my anxieties, not because of them.

All that to say I have no idea how to raise you to be a good, great, or any sort of a man. Sorry.

What I do know is that I’m going to do my best to raise you as a caring, intelligent, and good person. It means I’m going to try and ask myself if I treat you differently than your sister and if it’s because you’re a boy. I want to make sure you don’t just respect others but have genuine compassion.

No matter what, know that your Mum and I love you and want what’s best for you,

Your Papa

Top 5 Silly Things all Parents Do

Every child is different and every parent is also just as different, but there are some things we share.

5. Attempt Escape

Everyone has days that they just want a few seconds of quiet where no one is asking to climb you. Kids are awesome, but they’re draining and sometimes you just need to hide. I’ve been known to take my phone into the washroom and maybe spend a little extra time.

4. Hear a Boom and Freeze

You’ve been there. The child just falls, hits something, knocks something over, or goodness knows what. You freeze and wait for the scream, cry, shout, or other loud reaction.

It’s a “do I need to intervene” or “should I wait for them” kind of moment.

3. Not Sleep

Yes, kids like to stay up and wake you at all times. Some are worse than others, but that’s not always why we’re tired as parents. Sometimes you wake up early to get some work done or go to bed late to watch something without having to name each jelly bean’s colour and flavour.

2. Cringe

This is doubly dangerous. Everyone knows kids love to repeat things. One “What the Heck” and they’ll be chanting it for weeks. We went to a party where one of the adults peppered their speech with the F word in the way that I like to spread peanut butter. Keladry walked around for three days chanting “Fok fok fok”.

What people rarely tell you is that it works both ways. They’ll use a turn of phrase or tone and you’ll suddenly be saying, “Oh, yes!” to the waiter. I’ve been told it only gets worse.

1. Secret Snack

There you are with a warm ball of energy on your lap and you’ll want a cookie. You can share your favourite cookie or you can sneak one the next time they leave the room. It’s not just that you don’t want to share, it’s probably not good for them, it’s messy, and gosh darn it they’ve had enough sweets.

My cookie!…


Did I miss anything?

Éric

Dear Pegasus – Being Fair

Dear Pegasus,

A lot of people and media will tell you that life isn’t fair. It isn’t always, but your Mum and I will try to be.

We understand that your sister is a strong personality and demands a lot of attention. She’s adorable and uses that to get her way. It’s her strength that makes her both impressive and a little frustrating.

We will try our best to make sure you both get our attention, you both get to do what you love, and most of all, that things are fair for you.

It might not always seem that way. If you need more sleep but refuse to get it, we might give you an earlier bedtime. That will make you feel like it’s not fair, but it would be unfair of us to let you be tired all the time. (Trust your Papa, it’s not fun being tired all time.)

There will be times where one of you demands that you deserve something (bad idea – I don’t like demands) but we’ll try to make things work.

The absolute most important thing is to talk to us. Not yell at us, throw a fit, but actually talk and discuss. I’m sure you’ll hear this a lot (your sister certainly has) but we have reasons for what we do and we will gladly explain.

We want you to have everything you need to make you the wonderful man I know you’ll be, but sometimes you won’t get what you want. You’ll feel it’s unfair but we always have a reason.

I love you Baby Pegasus,

Your Papa

Dear Pegasus – Secret 2

Dear Pegasus,

You could have had a normal nickname, Lump or Bean or something, but that’s not how your mom and I think. We like geeky and strange things, I hope you will too.

In my first letter to your sister I told her we weren’t perfect, and that is still true. I can be impatient, prone to being loud, and sometimes I’m impossibly dense.

As your parents we’ll do our best for you, we’ll try to help, understand, and encourage you. At some point we will fail. I’m sorry for that but it’s inevitable. I hope you’ll forgive us. No matter what, there is one thing we’ll never fail to do and that’s love you. No matter what, we’ll always love you!

If I have one wish for you, it’s that you grow up to understand the strength in love, in emotion, and in knowing yourself. That you’ll understand the power of words and the unmitigated strength of kindness.

I love you Baby Pegasus,
Your weepy Father

Not Now Kid / Mysterious Force

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There’s a trope in YA and children’s entertainment that drives me up the wall. Parents not believing or not trusting their kids.

You know the scenario. Something bad happens and all the characters are yelling about it and the kid/protagonist tries to get their attention but no one listens. Normally it ends up that the kid is right.

It’s a trope that was immensely popular in the 80’s and 90’s and has, thankfully, fallen out of favour. The idea behind it is that if the parents knew, they’d be able to fix it and if they couldn’t then why would the kids. Or if the parents knew then the kid would never be allowed to fix it because it’s too dangerous.

The only example of this trope that I enjoy is Candace from Phineas & Ferb.

The problem I have with the trope is that it promotes the idea that parents are obstacles and not resources. It also makes the parents look really stupid.

It’s a difficult balance between supportive parent and irresponsible or negligent parent. Especially when the kids/protagonists in question are battling monsters or other terrible things.

 

What do you think? What YA trope pisses you off?

Later Days,

Éric

Blush: Consent from kids

The last time I talked about consent and kids, I focused on how to teach kids how to ask for consent. This time around, with the holidays here, I want to remind the adults that read this that the children in their lives are not obligated to give hugs or kisses to anyone.

Image from Elise Gravel, a cartoonist.

For example, our daughter is terrified of men with white hair. This includes her great-grandfather, friends of the family, and, of course, Santa Claus.

Although her great-grandfather is getting older, we managed to get a picture of them by having her sit beside him on her father’s knee. It’s not the snuggly picture that we ideally wanted, but it’s a good compromise that lets her know that she has been understood, but still lets us get a picture of them together.

So remember, at holiday parties this year, that just because there is a child involved, does not mean that they are automatically obligated to give you a hug. It doesn’t matter if you’re a super close friend, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or stranger; if the child does not give you a clear indication of consent, don’t touch them!

Our daughter’s consent is uplifted arms, or pro-active climbing onto your lap, in case you come across her this season.

Happy Holidays!


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Consent and kids

Last week we went to a family birthday party (five celebrated at once, from the ages of 1 to 70!) and a lot of fun was had. However, it definitely brought to my attention that our daughter has no concept of personal space, boundaries, or consent.

She’s 1 years old. This is normal.

Normal it may be, but consent is something she needs to learn. And now that she’s walking and able to chase down other kids, she needs to learn it fast.

Fortunately, there are some pretty great resources to help us. I encourage everyone to read at least this guide (it’s 4 pages) if you have any children in your life, whether they belong to you, your family, or your friends.

My sister is already really great at respecting my daughter’s limits. Every time she visits, she asks “Can I pick you up?” before touching her. I know that if she ever says “no”, it will be respected.

As adults, we need to be aware that a child’s “no” to hugging, kissing, or being held, is not them casting any aspersions on our character. They’re just not in the mood to be touched, and we should respect that. Offer an alternative, like a high five, a fist bump, a blown kiss, or a simple wave.

Along a similar vein, if the child has agreed to be touched, and then wants to stop, they should be listened to.

This is all common sense, and easy to follow because we’re adults. We understand the reasoning. How do we teach it to children?

Part of teaching consent to kids is modelling it. Showing that they have agency over their own bodies is a big step to understanding that others are also to be respected.

My daughter and her cousin, whom she terrorized last week.

She walked up to the only other person her size and tried to hug them. She kept her balance (and grip) quite well as he tried to wriggle away… I feel like I dropped the ball at this point. I should have taken her aside and explained that he wasn’t interested in being held, just like she didn’t want to be held by the strangers at the party. I might not have gotten through to her, but I should have tried, multiple times if necessary.

Teaching them empathy is another part. Our daughter also pulled the his hair. He cried, understandably. But she doesn’t seem to understand that having hair pulled hurts – she does it to herself all the time, and doesn’t seem bothered by it. She thinks it’s funny when she pulls other people’s hair. I made her apologize to him (I held her while I apologized for her because she is non verbal) and told her not to pull other people’s hair. I don’t think it has sunk in yet. She pulled mine the next morning.

It’s a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome.


References

http://www.teachconsent.org

Parent Discussion Guide

https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-healthy-sex-talk-teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-teach-your-children-about-consent/


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.