Director’s Spotlight- Sylvia Badwi Martignani

IMG_3976Welcome to my blog. If you don’t know me, my name is Sylvia and I am a Christian daughter, sister, wife, mother of three, Educator, Teacher, Public Servant, writer, blogger and Entrepreneur.

I graduated from College then University then went on to pursue my Master’s Degree in Education. I have designed courses for the Federal Government, helped raise money for health charities through HealthPartners and I have purchased and sold businesses since I was 23 years old. I was an Oxford Learning Centre franchisee from 2005 to 2016. In my role as centre director of two locations, I mentored, coached, facilitated, moderated, hired, fired, managed and monitored many teachers, managers, directors and employees. I have also led the Greeter’s Ministry at our local church, volunteered to be a Board Member for a Church Daycare and assisted several hundred people with their resumes, essays, entrance applications to Post-Secondary Education as well as taught some professionals English so they can attain their designation/equivalency.  I write a column called “Family Corner” in the Good News Journal (Christian Paper) and I blog. As if all this is not time-consuming, I am one half of an amazing female duo that established the franchising of Christian quality childcare centres. Along with my fabulous partner, Angela Girgis, we are on a mission to expand God’s Kingdom and Preach His Love and Bible Testament to the far-reaching corners of our world. We offer quality, educational, virtuous childcare services that are solely instituted to make an “IMPACT” on our world. We hire local and we participate in all opportunities to support our communities through volunteerism and charity donations. We support Samaritan’s Purse, Yonge Street Mission, Vita Centre, Compassion.ca, SickKids Hospital, Food Banks, the Salvation Army, Canadian Cancer Society, Diabetes Canada, and many many more. Our goal is to build a viable business infrastructure to support Mamapraneurs while leaving a sustainable legacy of positive impact on our world.

Many people ask me, all the time, how do you manage it all? I have three children ages 3, 5 and 7 years old. I have a husband who is training for his black belt in karate and playing hockey in a Christian men’s league. I also paint, take piano lessons and do some knitting on the side. I am a sometimes yellow-belt in karate as well 🙂

So how do I manage all that? How do I ensure that I don’t let anything drop off my priority list?

It’s easy. I conquer each moment at a time. I plan for the tomorrows and I have a strategic implementation plan written out for me to follow but day-to-day, I just isolate each task I need to complete and I just do it. It’s not magic. It’s actually extremely simple.

Yes, I still work through some weekends. I do take time off from my children when absolutely necessary (I went on a girl’s trip last August and it was awesome!) Sometimes, I treat myself to a spa or just read a book at night. Sometimes, we need to give ourselves grace in the knowledge that its ok not to be “productive” in the basic sense of the word. Investing in oneself by taking a nap or travelling with girlfriends is just as necessary as going to work in pursuit of the red-hot career you’ve studied so much for.

So next time you wonder how someone like me can do everything she does, remember this golden nugget of advice- anyone can achieve everything, one minute at a time.

Stop setting up expectations and goals that are unrealistic. Think Big Ideas and start designing the plan to achieve those ideas. People with the same energy will be attracted to you and somehow your will is going to be manifested. Keep faithful and surround yourself with friends who inspire you and keep you sharp. Eliminate those who disrespect you, envy you, doubt you or demean you. There is no time for those people in your life.

Shine bright. Dream Big. Spread your wings. You are Worthy. You are Capable.

Conquer. Each. Minute. And you will find a lifetime of success…

Blessings,

SMARTIGNANI

 

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Adoption in Ontario

baby s right foot on person left palmOk. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I feel compelled to write about it now because honestly, I have been thinking about it most of my life. I would love to present the ever-controversial topic of adoption and dispel some myths surrounding this serious and life-long decision.

I know so many people say that adoption is not a good idea especially if you have your own children. They shift the dynamic of the home and forever change the members in the family. However, my counter argument to this is simply- children of any sort whether biological, fostered or adopted shift dynamics and change lives. That is what God intended when he created them so why would adopted children be any exception.

I will write this blog in terms of myths and try to dispel them as far as I know how. There will be some specific information that I will be unable to transmit because I am not a professed expert on the topic. Hence, I will abstain from providing any false information and I will try to be as factual as possible.


Myth #1: Adoption is expensive and too long of a process

This may be very true if you would like to adopt internationally or privately. However, in Ontario, “You don’t pay anything to adopt through the CAS. You may even be able to get financial help from the government if you adopt a child through CAS.” This is if you choose, “Public adoption [which] means adopting a child through the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).” In fact, the CAS website clearly states:

Adopting through a Children’s Aid Society is free. It generally takes approximately one year to go through the adoption process. This time period is necessary to find the right match for a child. When we meet with potential families, we are looking for a cultural match, but we also look at the personalities, interests and the needs of a child not just in the short-term, but for their whole life. The matching process is integral to people really understanding what child would fit with them the best.

The cost of adoption depends on a number of variables: the type of adoption you undertake, whether you work with an agency, the province you reside in and any associated travel costs.  It costs very little to adopt through the public child welfare system in Canada.

Range of Adoption Costs

Public (foster care): $0 – $3,000

Licensed Private Agency: $10,000 – $20,000

International: $20,000 – $30,000

Myth #2: Children that are up for adoption are ‘damaged’ or ‘hurt’ and will never recover

I will try to be as objective as possible in replying to this extremely judgmental and painful, albeit common, opinion. Truth is, yes, many of the young wards of CAS have been neglected or dismissed. Adoption.ca states “Loving foster families and ultimately, permanent adoptive families give these children the best chance at successful outcomes and bright futures.” No damage is irreversible. I have worked with children for close to three decades and they were from varying environments with a diverse spectrum of abilities and circumstances. I have even met and taught children who were adopted from Romania where they aren’t touched as infants except to be changed and they become so detached from the world. However, this little girl made it through after 8 years of love and she was thriving beautifully. If you won’t give up on a career or a pursuit of a dream no matter how long it takes, how could you give up on another human being who is little and in need of your love. Be prepared for the damage because no damage is too great for love to handle.

Furthermore, every child is unique. Some have health challenges, some have emotional challenges, some have cognitive challenges. With the right education and preparation, many families embrace the effort to meet the child’s needs. Families need to understand their limits also. Children available through the public system have thorough assessments and are often already receiving helpful services that will continue once they have been adopted.

Myth #3: My children will not be able to accept the adopted child

Here is what the experts say about this:

Whether your biological kid is getting an adoptive sibling or the other way around, you need to prepare the child for an addition to the family. “Talk to your child about how you want to grow your family: ‘I had siblings, and I want you to have them too,'” says Rita Taddonio, a licensed social worker and head clinician at Spence-Chapin, a private, not-for-profit adoption agency in New York. “Kids think everything is about them. You’re making it clear that this is not about your child, so he doesn’t think, ‘I’m not enough.’

“Involve your kid in the preparations by getting him to help decorate the new baby‘s room or pick out toys. If you’re adopting, let your kid attend a family meeting with the social worker and ask any questions he has. Give older kids a role, such as changing diapers or reading books to the new sibling. And make it clear to your child that he’ll still have one-on-one time with you — then plan for it, even if it’s only an hour a week in the beginning, Taddonio says.

Myth #4: Adoption isn’t common

Approximately 1 in 5 Canadians are touched by adoption.

Let this stat sink in.

Myth #5: The birth mother will reclaim the child after I adopt him/her or my child will grow up and seek his/her real family.
Although this is a common fear, it is rooted in your own reluctance to make a commitment. Truth is, once parental rights have been terminated, biological parents cannot regain custody of their children. Also, prior to placing her baby for adoption, a prospective birth mother has the right to change her mind at any time and have her baby returned to her. After the placement, there is a period of time where she can revoke her consent and have the baby returned to her. After that period expires, however, her parental rights to her child are terminated and eventually transferred to the adoptive parents, who will be responsible for raising him/her. The key to preventing a potential birth mother from undergoing a change of heart is to screen her carefully and to make sure she receives sufficient counselling so that she clearly understands her actions and her rights and responsibilities. Remember, too, that until she terminates her rights to her child, she’s not a birth mother. She’s a pregnant woman who’s considering adoption.

grayscale portrait of man woman and child holding hands

 

According to recent longitudinal studies that followed adopted children, searching for one’s birth parents was quite common in adoptions of the past, but not any more. In open adoption today, children — though curious as ever — have less of an interest in meeting their parents. That’s because there’s no burning mystery or dark secret to uncover; they feel secure with themselves and their environment. And in those instance where the do want speak to their birth parents, their adoptive parents will simply pick up the phone and dial the number for them.

 

How you communicate with your adopted child makes all the difference. In open adoption today, a child’s origins are never in doubt. From a very early age, s/he not only knows that the people who are raising him/her are his/her adoptive parents, but in many cases s/he will have a picture or letters from his/her birth parents. All the information is out in the open, should the child be interested in learning more about his/her origins.

Even if they are, encourage them to find their real families when they are older if they choose. They will never forget the love you had for them so it makes it ok. Actually, there is an entire database for them on CAS if they choose called “Finding Your Roots”

Myth #6: I am adopting because I can’t have any(more) children.

Adoption is not a cure for infertility. It’s a way to build a family and share your love with a child whose parents simply weren’t ready or able to become parents. While a child can perhaps soften the pain, disappointment and frustration stemming from infertility, s/he can’t make it disappear. Please don’t place your personal issues, health or otherwise, on the adopted child. You will find that this is too great a burden to bear on the child who has already been through so much. Please be emotionally willing and able to level set your expectations and know that this is a life-long commitment to a human life. There are support groups and networks of families that have adopted that can help you with this.

In essence,  not everything works out the way we’d like it to. Many people, for instance, want to start a family, but for medical reasons are unable to do so. Just because they suffer from infertility, however, doesn’t mean that they can’t — or shouldn’t — become parents. Which is why there’s adoption.

 Myth #7: I am single hence I cannot adopt.

False. A single parent can provide a loving stable home.  Increasing numbers of children live in single parent homes (as the number of two parent homes declines) and thrive beautifully, and increasingly, single parents successfully adopt all the time.

Myth #8: I cannot adopt my foster child.

False. You can and many do. However, if you are seeking a child to be his/her forever home, just skip the fostering and adopt. It will be more challenging if you foster a child, love them like your own then they get adopted and you suffer a great loss.

Myth #9: What should I think about before adopting a child or children?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I provide a child with a secure, nurturing and loving home?
  • Can I make a long-term commitment to a child?
  • Am I ready to take on the responsibilities of supporting and raising a child?
  • Am I willing to participate in a multi-step adoption process?
  • Am I ready to welcome a child into my family?

photography of baby holding the hand of person

If the answer is yes to all of the above questions, then you are ready to learn more about adoption in Ontario and your role as a potential adoptive parent.

Myth #10: People will judge me.

I will tell you this from my heart, people will judge NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDE TO DO. Opinions are just that- opinions. They are optional and you don’t have to listen to them. If this is a mission of the heart and you are adopting for the right reasons- mainly to give a child a much needed, loving and stable home and family. Then do it. Stop caring what others think. Do what is calling you.

Here are resources for adoption:

http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/adoption/thinking-of-adopting/index.aspx

https://stepstojustice.ca/steps/1-learn-about-different-types-adoption

http://adoption.ca/home

http://www.torontocas.ca/media/adoption-process

http://www.canadaadopts.com/adopting-in-canada/open-adoption/

http://adoptontario.ca/

I am ready to adopt- what do I need to do?

http://www.torontocas.ca/contact/interested_in_adopting

If you are still hesitating, please watch this:

 

If you can, and if God has written it on your heart, please adopt a child.

My husband and I were gifted with three beautiful children but we will still pray to adopt a child.

God bless you always.

Smartignani

 

 

Toys you should and should NOT buy for my kids…

Without sounding wholly ungrateful and extremely rude, I want to thank you for buying my children gifts. I do. I want to tell you that everytime you give something to make my little ones smile, even for a fleeting moment, that you have done something special for me. But please… if you want to buy my children something, remember the following- for my sake and the sake of all the parents out there with young children.

  1. If it tinkles, jingles, beeps, whistles, toots, squeaks, honks or hisses- please, I urge you from the bottom of my heart, do not buy it! The sounds it makes, initially, may seem bearable to you but those same sounds are repeatedly and incessantly going off in the house even when the children are not playing with the toy. You so much as step near the damn thing and it sets it off. We received one toy that would consistently bark whenever someone was near- and would unfailingly wake up the baby when he was younger. Needless to say, that toy met its maker well before it was due to.
  2. If it reinforces a gender bias in the extreme- avoid toys that are extreme in any way but especially those that may incorrectly depict femininity and masculinity.  I am not talking action figures and superheroes, those are cool and they give them a chance to imagine a plot. I am talking about Barbies, Monster High Dolls, and other unrealistic images of girls and women in the form of fake plastic. Let’s try and avoid teaching our young girls that you must have a tiny waist and be busty to be pretty. Instead, buy them dolls they can take care of like babies with cool accessories. That teaches them responsibility and it’s good for boys or girls. On that note, girls also like Lego, cars, trucks and train sets. It’s not just for boys, it is how you nurture your children.
  3. If it takes up a considerable amount of space- reconsider please. Parents are quickly running out of room to put their children’s toys away. We almost wish there was a way for our bigger toys to swallow our smaller toys so that there are less toys to clean up because realistically we are the ones cleaning up the toys and not them. Sorry, I ranted. Rant over.
  4. If it is made up of many smaller pieces– don’t. Just don’t. The girls received a toy that needed a day to be constructed with tunnels and slides then you roll beads everywhere to see them spin and twist through endless mazes. I wasn’t sure which was worse, the lengthy set up or the agonizing pain of accidentally stepping on one of those darn beads. Please, just don’t. I still have not forgiven my brother-in-law for buying the girls Nerf guns. I find those damn nerf bullets in every orifice of their playroom and my entire house!
  5. If it is cheaply made- then buy a $10 Toys’R’Us or equivalent gift card instead. Truth is, those dollar store toys are dangerous for young children. My 2-year-old was playing with a wand that someone bought him from the dollar store and it broke and the batteries fell out (small circular ones) and I saw him almost putting one of them in his mouth. Another time, my daughter was playing with a ball from the dollar store that had sparkles inside it then it burst suddenly and the smell of chemicals inside it was horrendous. Please don’t waste your money on cheap, easily broken, lead laden toys for the children. A gift card or a bottle of wine for mom and dad would be much more appreciated!
  6. If it is messy- think of whether you would want my child to play with it in your place. If you will worry that they would get it all over the floors or walls or end up staining your shirt or your bedding, then please do not buy it for our place. Someone bought my kids coloured bubbles once and the grass was stained purple for a week! Please, no markers, no paint, no playdough, no slime, no jelly, no sparkles!!!!!

I didn’t want to be a negative Nelly throughout the whole blog so here are some gifts you SHOULD consider purchasing…in my opinion, that every parent would not mind:

  1. Gift Card to Children’s Place or equivalent: Because our kids wear the hell out of their clothes and they are in perpetual need of new ones. Their sizes change daily so please don’t chance it and try to buy them something yourself.
  2. Books: Educational, quiet, colourful, and can be used over and over again. Best of all, they are quiet. Did I mention books were quiet? Shhhhhhh
  3. Hats, Mittens, Scarves, Gloves: I can’t begin to tell you how appreciative I am every time we are getting ready at the door that we have extra gloves, mitts, hats, scarves and ear muffs. We live in a cold place so we need a seemingly infinite supply of such things. Just saying.
  4. Gift Cards to McDonald’s or Dairy Queen or somewhere where there is ice-cream: and the gift card comes up again. When you give a family with young children a gift card to a restaurant or treat, you are gifting them with the precious gift of time with their children (I said gift way too many times) but know this- we appreciate it and it gets us out of hiding and into daylight where we will risk taking our little rebellious army and do something together for a change already!!
  5. A movie or tickets to a movie: Either works because it requires them to sit quietly and just watch something while I try to reconnect the million broken pieces of my life or clean my closet or dust between the stove and the counter. If you can take them to see a movie- even better!
  6. A subscription to a magazine or children’s club of like this or this or one of these. Chirp magazine or National Geographic for kids are the best! They are fun, educational and quiet. Ahem, best part of that last statement for a parent? Yes. The quiet part.

Sometimes the best gift of all is coming over and sitting on the ground with the children and playing with them or baking cookies with them. They just like to spend time with you. You are the best present of all.

This blog was not only intended for those of you who are seeking to buy toys for your friend’s kids. I am also going to give an honourable mention to a little tradition we call, Loot Bags.

One question- why? 

Why are we spending an inordinate amount of time and money on giving away toys and ‘stuff’ to children who were invited to give your child toys for their birthday? I think loot bags is a silly tradition because no one shops for expensive toys for loot bags. We almost always come home with tiny whistles, bubbles, markers/crayons, colouring books and some form of candy or sweets. Please stop this silly tradition. Our kids don’t need to be given something everytime they breathe. You already gave them great food, playtime, and cake. Let’s stop at the cake. Really. Parents- let’s revive something called “Being at the party is a reward all on its own”

So whether you are a “well-meaning” friend or another “mom of an army” like me or “super dad”- please remember that above all else, parents always look at three things to assess the value of a toy and its potential existential duration within the child’s grasp/memory:

1. Safety (watch out for small bits and pieces that can swallowed)

2. Usability (will it last and does it need to last)

3. Educational Value (is it making my child brighter or dumber)

And there you have it. I hope this helps any of you in determining what is a good gift for a child and what is not.

A good rule to remember is “Would I buy that for myself if I was kid and I could see/play/hear/use it everyday?”

Thank you and to all a Merry Christmas and an exceptional 2018!

From me and the Fam to you and yours.

Smartignani

Puilt *Parent Guilt

1909559_5032225223_5452_nListen… both moms and dads suffer from guilt all the time when it comes to their kids. Sometimes it is a neurosis that far exceeds what is to be considered normal, wreaking havoc with the psychology of the brain and the dynamics of the family. Sometimes, the impact of puilt is so strong that it begins to fray at the edges of the natural internal joy granted through childbirth.

Slowly but surely, parents are so deeply entrenched in their feelings of remorse and regret that they often live a double-life filled with external demonstration of contentment warring with an internal battle of sadness, self-hate and isolation.

But I am not hear to bear the grim news that puilt is incurable, untreatable and often invisible when experienced by individuals- I am her to tell you that ALL THIS- all of it- NO QUALIFICATIONS, JUSTIFICATIONS, EXCEPTIONS, DEGREES or INTENSITY of puilt IS NORMAL.

Did you hear me? Yes. Normal. Your love for your kids makes you want to shake the heavens and crush the earth to give them what they need. Your inherent need to protect them drives you insane with doubt and thoughts (mixed with vivid imaginings in my case) of the various ways your children will be harmed. Every time I hear a story of a child being hit by a car, diagnosed with a chronic illness or abducted- I see my child’s face. Despite the sheer madness of it all- this is normal. You were made to love them beyond reason.

This sums up the “beyond reason” portion.

IMG_0879I know we have all asked ourselves at one point or another these questions: “Do I do enough?” “Are they happy?” “Am I working too much?” “Are they angry because I get angry?” “Are they yelling because I yell?” “Should I have spent more time in the car talking with them than on the phone?” “Am I horrible because they ate McDonald’s three days this week?” “Are my parenting skills destructive?” “Am I too protective?” “Are they developing abnormally because of me?” “Should I have exercised more so they can be healthier?” “Am I horrible if I don’t have technology? “Why are they so selfish- am I spoiling them?” “Did I eat too much when I was pregnant with her?” “Does he have seizures because I can’t stay up all night to watch him breathe?”

Puilt makes it evidently clear that we are responsible for these little lives that God made for us and we are forever filled with it.

But as I was in the ambulance with my toddler and puilt is ransacking my every pore and penetrating my every cell, the paramedic looked at me and said “I was in your house and I saw the crosses, I know you are religious.” I nodded hesitantly while secretly praying that this will not initiate a discourse on the theoretical epistemology of spirituality. Then he proceeded to say to me “When my baby had seizures, I was terrified and I am a paramedic. I get it. This is tough but your son is not yours.” Pause. Really awkward though because this was either a classic Star Wars confession of “Sylvia, I am his father” or an immense recognition of guilt “I switched our kids at birth” type of thing.

It was neither.

He looked at me and said, confidently, poignantly and almost sadly “God loans us these beautiful tiny beings so we can love and adore them but ultimately they are not ours, they are His.”

What?!

Let that sink in. The gravity of what he is saying. It angered me but in some strange way, it also brought me comfort.

God gives us our children with the full knowledge and complete expectation that we will mess it up somewhere along the way. He knows our limitations and our strengths, cause’ ahem, He created us. So why do we take it upon ourselves to believe or live our lives as if we are in control? How can we honestly say we could change anything or everything if we don’t have an ounce of control over their health (from a chronic illness perspective)?

So what does this mean for us in regards to puilt?

I don’t know- maybe it means that we need to relax a bit and know that the Maker will take care of His creation. Maybe you should only feel puilt about what you can control? Maybe we should…wait for it…surrender our children to the will of God.

This means we try our best. We love and cuddle, treat and snuggle, feed and discipline, clean and pray for them but at the end of the day- we are just taking care of them for God. We are grooming them for Heaven. We are teaching them values and ethics that they can utilize to become the best versions of themselves possible.

We are trainers working with a most beautiful creation.

So how am I dealing with the seizures and the puilt and the anger and resentment? I am getting through it day by day. I don’t feel guilty about feeling puilt because I know that the One who made me knows me so I have nothing to feel ashamed about.

Whether you are a mom and dad, adoptive or foster parent, single parent or blended family- remember this- the One who made you knew you before He decided if you should, could, would have a child. Whether it is natural, adopted or fostered- love them like they are the Almighty’s and let Him take care of them.

Blessings,

Smartignani

Judgement and Consequence

I wanted to write this for a while but I don’t think I have enough hours in the day. With three active children under the age of 5, I am like a feather caught in a whirlwind torpedo of activities: potty training, teething, tantrums, tucking in, tickling, travelling and tumultuous transformations.  But I am still holding it together… I think.

I am sure oKasketaldi_haurra_001ther parents can see the wild look in my eyes because I haven’t slept in 6 years or the suspicious glances flicked at me because each of my children including the baby have a bump or scratch (all self-inflicted, I assure you). I am positive that other moms are looking at the way my 5-year-old crosses her arms and stomps and yells “NO! Mommy- I don’t want that!” and thinking that she is spoiled and lacking in discipline. Or shaking their heads when my almost 3-year-old decides to pick her nose and eat it (gross, right?) because we don’t correct her (which we do every time) and that she will forever be a perpetual proboscis picker.

Here is the thing… I don’t really care about what others are thinking or feeling or perceiving or believing. My world is centred on my children whom I know intimately since the moment of their first wail into the world.

I was at the mall the other day and in the little play area and I saw a mother struggling with her toddler while trying to jiggle her baby on her shoulder. She was getting so frustrated and her cheeks were flushed and her baby was getting quite stirred (literally and figuratively) because she was over-jiggling. The two moms next to me were talking about this particular poor soul and saying the following:

Lady 1: “Oh my, that little girl is NOT happy!”

Lady 2: “Mom needs to get a handle on her before X (her own toddler) sees that behaviour and starts to copy it!”

Lady 1: “Some people just don’t know how to control their kids! It’s because she decided to have a baby, the little girl is probably needing attention”

Lady 2: “Exactly! This is why I am spacing mine apart. Exactly for that reason”

At this point, I had enough. I huffed really audibly as I stood up and I spared them one sneer and a quick “You are far from perfect yourselves ladies!” and then I confidently and quickly approached the mom of the melting down toddler and shaken baby and softly said:

“It’s ok, mine do the same thing. My 2-year-old is in there playing happily, for now, can I offer you a hand? I have a baby too but he is sound asleep, would you like me to carry your little angel while you deal with your baby girl?”

The relief that washed over the mother was indescribable. She hesitated for about one second then she gave me her baby. I stood there making googly eyes at the baby and she calmed down and started to give me the sweetest smiles. I was singing her silly songs and dancing with her while her mom was dealing with her sister. The lady told her 2-year-old that she will get some Skittles if she just calms down and tells her what is wrong using her big girl words (we do the same). The toddler stood up and in between bouts of tears and noisy, wet sobs proclaimed, “I pooh”. Profound declaration but adequate explanation of her crappy disposition (pun intended).

Mom told her that it will be ok and that she will change her. Toddler hugged her and looked up and me. I smiled and I handed the baby back to mommy informing her that she will have to change two poopy diapers and that I know exactly what that is like too. She took the baby and the toddler and went to the family washroom. I walked back to the main benches where judgy lady 1 & 2 are sitting and I wedge myself right next to them. My daughter is standing aside as one of their sons shoves another child off the climbing thingy. Lady 2 who was afraid of the toddler’s behaviour affecting her angelic son turns to her friends and says “He is so assertive- isn’t that cute?”

Wow. Perceptions.

I turn to her and gently respond:

“That is not being assertive, that is called being aggressive. Assertive is standing up for yourself and giving your opinion but what he is doing is pushing and shoving other children out of his way. That is being aggressive. So is judging a mom who is in the middle of a toddler meltdown. You should really stop and look at your house made of glass before you start throwing rocks!”

Yup. That happened. True story. I did say all that.

I expected a fight. I expected cursing. I even expected her to punch me in the face.

Instead, I got a teary and ashamed lady who quietly said “You are right. He is a little terror and I don’t know what to do with him? What should I do? He is our only child and I am having a terrible time bearing another child. I am scared that he will be the only child and that he will become a bully. I was bullied in school by a boy. I don’t want my son to be that way.”

Ah, what? What just happened? This, I did not expect.

I proceeded to spend the next hour with this lady and her friend who felt equally ashamed and mom of toddler and baby at the special play place at the mall. After the apologies and the brief discussion about how we should be kind to one another and stop the judging because we ALL need help, we started discussing strategies and parenting tricks that worked for each of us.

My toddler and the baby got tired and hungry and wanted to leave but I certainly did not. We agreed to meet again soon and we even exchanged contact information. We went from being four strangers waiting on their kids to play to four friends who joined the same Mommy Facebook Group.

It was super cool and I even got to hold the little ray of sunshine baby girl again while the lady I helped held my baby boy. All around awesomeness.

Moral of the story:

STOP judging other moms. Get off your butt and help. You are not perfect. Your children are far from perfect as well. The only perfection is founded in our humanity. So like Ellen DeGeneres says “Be kind to one another”.

Love,

SMartignani

…and she is now starting school!

100_0955Okay. So my little baby who started me on writing these blogs back in 2011 is now starting junior kindergarten! I can’t believe how time flew. I am terrified of her going to school.

She is not scared but then again, she has no idea how mean kids can be and how hard school can be. She wears glasses. She is too little. She has a slight lisp. She cries- A LOT.

She is a walking magnet for a bully!

I am not sure what I can do to overcome this senseless and paralyzing fear of her going to school. Other than set her up with a nanny cam to track everything that happens, everyday, at every minute while she is away from me. Wait- that is a fabulous idea!! No, but wait, where can I hide it without it being completely and utterly obvious?

I can’t believe I am even thinking it. Spying on my child. For her own good? OMG. I am one of those moms!!

Ok. Deep breath. It is going to be ok. She is going to be alright. I don’t need to worry. I am being paranoid. Overreacting. Absolutely and incredibly overprotective.

I need to let her go. Millions of parents do it every year around the globe. She went to Summer Camp with children up to grade 6. She was fine. Mind you, her daddy was there the entire time (it was at our business and he is the principal at the camp) but still… she was good. The older boys and girls loved her. She defended herself and even gave the teachers a piece of her mind when she needed to but what if…

No… no what ifs. I am sending her to school tomorrow with confidence. I taught her to be kind. I taught her to speak up when she is angry or hurt. I taught her to run and scream when a stranger (be it man or woman, boy or girl) ask her if she wants a candy bar or invite her into their cars.

I taught her to remain close to her teachers. Not to let anyone touch her in her private places. I told her to tell me if anything hurts and if anyone hurts her in anyway.

I think I taught her enough. I think she will remember everything I taught her- hopefully.

Tomorrow, I will muster my courage and surrender the single most treasured being in my life to an educator. Tomorrow, I will look into the teacher’s eyes and let her know that she will have the power over my soul. My eldest child who was my greatest achievement of 2011. My daughter who is my angel and her younger sister’s light.

Tomorrow is the beginning of 18 years of academic challenges and accomplishments. 18 years of learning and scholastic strides. 18 years of incarcerated and strategic environmental osmosis of information.

Tomorrow is her first day of school and I almost wish it took a little longer for tomorrow to come.

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