Monday, June 10, 2013

A few thoughts on spanking

I wrote this awhile ago when I was a relatively new mom. As my four year old continues to assert her independence and "push buttons" and boundaries, I thought it bore revisiting. For me and maybe for you.

First let me preface what I am about to say with the statement that this is my opinion and it is worth exactly what you paid for it :)

I am by no means an expert but I do have strong feelings about the subject of spanking.

“Spanking usually refers to slapping a child across the buttocks with a bare hand. But this leaves lots of ambiguity. A spanking might consist of two light swats on the bottom, administered immediately after an unusual, dangerous transgression (e.g., the three year old rushes out into the street). Or a spanking might be an abusive ritual that is designed to injure, frighten, or humiliate the child."

I am anti-spanking. I will tell you why.

1st - I find it difficult to fathom that a parent could walk away from a situation, calm down, and then walk back into the situation to deliver a blow to their child. Call it a swat, a tap or a spanking, you are still "hitting" a child whom you substantially outweigh and outsize.

If you are not supposed to spank out of frustration or anger , why are you spanking? Is it a lesson? A deterrent? Does a 2 year old understand that 10 minutes after he has coloured on the wall that being struck on his bottom is meant to teach him not to do it again? "studies of spankers and spankees indicate that some level of anger is almost always associated with spankings"

And if you think that being aloof or removed from the situation will make things better when you spank, consider a recent study which states: "Emotions matter. ... spankings are most detrimental when parents are angry, cold, or insensitive."

2nd - How does that child learn the lesson? We are supposed to be examples for our children. If I hit my child to teach her not to pull the dog's tail then is it okay for her to hit her playmate to teach him not to take her toys? Are we not just teaching children that hitting solves problems? It's like the old t-shirt that reads "Making war for peace is like having sex for virginity".

3rd - A recent study of low-income European-American, African- American, and Mexican-American toddlers found that kids who were spanked at age 1 were more likely to have aggressive behavior problems at age 3. They also scored lower on the Bayley test of mental development (Berlin et al 2009).

4th - Spanking isn't more effective than non-physical punishments that include reasoning. Current studies suggest that spanking--even the most restrained and careful use of spanking-- is no more effective than disciplinary tactics that combine non-physical punishments with reasoning. When spanking is used as the primary disciplinary method, it is clearly less effective than the alternatives.

5th - I received one spanking in my memory - I was 3 years old and was "acting out" in church. I was taken to the car and given a spanking that I remember more than 35 years later.   I do not want my child to have a memory like this one.

I will not be spanking DO NOT spank my child. Teaching her to use words, emotions, and cool downs will be is the model in our house. Will Do I get frustrated - no doubt. Will Do I sometimes feel like I am not getting through to her? Probably. But that is the moment when it is most important not to spank.

I want to teach my child that she can trust me, rely on me and always be safe with me. I don't believe that spanking imparts any of those values.

If you do choose to spank your child (and it is ultimately YOUR choice) I would urge you to first read this article written by a woman who was spanked as a child. It may give you a different perspective.

A mother`s hands are meant to hold, to love, to caress, to heal and to soothe. They were not designed to harm, frighten or hit.

Just my opinion

Friday, June 7, 2013

Can I get a woohoo! I'd love to win these awesome Kinvara 4 from Saucony - they'd be amazing to start my marathon training!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kinder Surprised Me

Miss Moon recently changed her name.  No longer Marlowe Grace, she insists on being called Marlowe Grace Gaskin Moon Rapunzel Princess Superhero. And she wears a cape, a tutu, fairy wings and tights as she builds with Duplo or “cooks” a meal in her kitchen. She is awesome.

She really loves building things so it is no surprise that Miss Moon loves Kinder Surprise.
A chocolate egg with a cool toy inside – what’s not to like?  Her regular babysitter brings her one from time to time and Miss M loves to put together the little dinosaurs, cars, dragons, trains, etc…

As much as the tiny parts could make me crazy, I love them for being such fun little toys that encourage building and using your hands to put something together creatively.

Or I did.

We were watching a movie a couple weeks ago when we came across a commercial for Kinder Surprise for Girls.  WHAT?

Aren't ALL Kinder Surprise for both boys and girls?

My awesome little girl who loves pink, princesses, fairies, dirt bikes, dragons, dinosaurs, and watching Top Gear and Ironman competitions as well as Sofia the First is now the victim of gender bias. She looked at me and said, “Those are for girls”.  Great.

She saw a regular kinder surprise and told me “Those are only for boys. I'm not allowed to play with them

At 3 yrs old, my really cool kid is being sold a bill of goods by some really stupid (a word I don’t use lightly) marketers.

It’s like the Mattel execs who thought that moms needed help to know how to play with Hot Wheels with their boys.  Mom “has never played with them,” said Matt Petersen, a vice president at Mattel. “She doesn’t get why cars, engines, and all the shapes and crashing and smashing are so cool.”
Give me a break.

What’s next, pink Hot Wheels sets so mom can play too??

Don’t get me wrong – I really have begun to embrace pink.  In the past I was pretty anti-pink but now I rock hot pink knee socks when I run and figure if Miss Moon wants to hop on a dirt bike wearing a pink tutu and fairy wings she should.  But this.  This has me pissed off (another phrase I don’t use).

Shame on you Kinder Surprise. Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

My dream for my child, my amazing daughter is that she grows up knowing she can be anyone she wants, do anything she dreams, and go anywhere she desires.  Supporting gender-specific toys is akin to telling her she can’t be a doctor, astronaut, carpenter, or superhero.  That she must fit in the little box that some bozos on Wall Street and Madison Avenue decided she should wear.

 I for one won’t buy in to that particular box.

As for my awesome pink tutu wearing, dinosaur loving, princess superhero?  Well, tonight we are going to play with blocks while wearing tutus and watching Cars.

Take that Kinder Surprise.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Breaking Up is Hard to Do...

I had a major break-up this week - just a couple days after Valentine's, as a matter of fact.

Due to some health issues, I haven't run since December 6, 2012. For this gal, that's something akin to a crack addict going a week without a hit. Running is my mental health.  It is my sanity.  It keeps me grounded, focused, and feeling strong. It makes me a better mother. BUT I haven't been able to run.

I've had this persistent cough for about a year - off and on with bronchitis and upper respiratory infections - fun stuff for a runner!  Somehow, I still managed 6 half marathons in 2012 - mostly with the help of inhalers, Advil Cold & Sinus, and sheer stubbornness. By late November, however, I was finding myself coughing more and more frequently - by December 1 (the goal race for the 5k and Learn-to-Run clinics I was coaching), I could barely breathe. On December 6, I ran for the last time - our celebration run where I was sucking wind the entire 3k.

Over Christmas, things got worse and by the new year, I couldn't walk from my car to my office without stopping twice to take a break.

Every time I had to stop, brace myself against a wall, and pause to catch my breath, I felt like I was dying a little inside. How was I ever going to run again? I had been training to run the Hypothermic Half Marathon on February 17 before I got so sick but now I wasn't even going to be able to volunteer for the event.

On February 11, I was scheduled to be the guest speaker at the latest 5k clinic at the Running Room.  My BRF Roxanne ( is the coach for this clinic and she had asked me to come and speak about motivation.

Normally, this is a topic I would feel very comfortable with but now?  How could I talk about motivation to new runners when I couldn't even lace up my sneakers without getting breathless?  Nevertheless, I had made a promise and I would be there.

Out of relentless optimism, I packed my running gear "just in case" I felt strong enough to go on their post-clinic training run with them.  Not sure how I was going to approach my talk, I packed up a bunch of Miss Moon's duplo (giant lego) in 5 colours and built a pyramid-like shape to represent Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Always fond of visuals, I needed something to help me focus on the topic at hand.

When I got there, I spoke about life-changing decisions and how they ultimately led to my life as a runner. It was the first time I had spoken in this type of forum about some of the challenges I had faced and there were a few tears. After I finished, I knew I wanted to run with this group of kind, compassionate, and generous new runners.

The first few strides felt great, I thought I was going to feel awesome.  I didn't. BUT I am stubborn and proud and I wasn't about to let anyone see how much pain I was in, how difficult it was for me to breath and how much I just wanted to cry.

After the run, I high-fived everyone, smiled, and stretched with the group but I was dying inside. I had chest pains, my lungs hurt, my body was betraying me and I cried all the way home.

My first run in over 2 months had been an abject failure. Or so I thought.

Just 2 weeks earlier, the latest half-marathon training clinic at the Running Room had started. In my earlier (pre-illness) plans, I intended to register for the clinic and train at the 2 hour pace. I especially wanted to take this clinic as it is being coached by my friend, Armand Doucet (
I missed the first clinic night but attended the second without committing to registering. I went in my street clothes and listened to the speaker then went home convinced I wouldn't be able to participate.

After my painful run with the 5k clinic, I was certain that I was finished with running. But somehow, somewhere deep inside me a light flickered then came to life.  What was my life like before I started running? How had running enriched it?  I needed to run.

I e-mailed Armand. Did he still need a pace coach for the 2 hour 30 min pace group? I offered to lead the group. Even if I can't meet my own goals, maybe I can help someone else meet theirs.

Valentine's Day came on clinic day this year. Armand announced the pace group leaders - my name was among them.  I was committed to leading the 2h30 group for Sunday's long slow run of 9k.

What had I done?

Sunday morning arrived - the day I had been planning to run in the Hypo Half.  I so wanted to be running in that event as it had been my very first half-marathon a year earlier. Around 6:45 I got up and made coffee, looked outside at the messy weather and started planning my excuses.  All the reasons I was going to e-mail Armand and tell him I couldn't run.

By 8 am, I had my butt in gear and started getting dressed. What had once been a ritual of second nature now seemed foreign, unfamiliar.

As I headed for run club, I wondered if I would be able to do it - how could I pretend to lead a group when I had no confidence in my own ability to make it past 1k?  I was absolutely terrified.

Gilles called out the groups and then it was time to go.  It was just Sarah and me for the 2h30 group - everyone else was either running in the Hypo, volunteering or had chosen not to brave the icy roads.

We started to run. One foot in front of the other. Air in, air out. Head up. Hips forward. One kilometre, then two, then three. With every step, I said goodbye.

With each beep of my Garmin telling me to take a walk break, I felt stronger. More alive.

All the fear, the negativity, the anxiety were fading away. I was letting go.

It had been so easy to let those emotions govern me but I was taking charge and freeing myself to be the person, the runner, I once was.

Anyone who has been in a bad relationship knows how hard it is to break up - the difficulty of breaking free from that state of inertia that holds you in a direction you know you don't want to go but feel helpless to change.

Well, on February 17, I said goodbye.  And though breaking up is hard to do, though the status quo is so often easier than change, I did change. I did let go of negative self-talk and self-doubt. I broke up with my fear and anxiety and doubt. I broke free from inertia.

On Sunday, February 17, I took my life back

Is my health at 100%? Not yet but it will be.  Am I going to run my half-marathon at the 2 hour pace? No, but I might just help someone else meet their goal of 2h30.

Today, my quads are sore - a good sore, my wonky knee is KT'd up, and my lungs are a little tired but I am SMILING.

I am smiling because I am free.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Part Deux

I said I would post a photo - here's Little Miss Riding Hood and the Fairy Princess (how Miss Moon described my costume to all we met!)

After a fun hour of trick or treating, Red Riding Hood declared she was "a little sleepy" and we went home.  Once home, however, the last green apple sucker kicked in and she was wide awake until just after 9pm!

Blessings to her pre-school teachers today!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween...okay, ummmm, sure.

As a child, I loved Halloween. What could be more fun that dressing up in a costume and eating tonnes of candy??  Into my teens, my friends and I would dress up for our school dances and in university, the Halloween bash at the local pub was a highlight of the year.  But those were more innocent days.

Fast forward to 2012. I am the mother of a three year old.  We have regular conversations about what to do if a stranger talks to her, about not going with strangers, taking toys or candy from them, and certainly about never going into a stranger's home without Mommy.  Yet, at this time of year, we encourage talking to strangers, in fact we urge our children to knock on their doors and demand candy or face the consequences. What a world of mixed messages!

I always thought trick or treating was for little children but a friend told me that she is locking her doors and turning out her lights tonight because in recent years her trick or treaters have been adults...sometimes not even in costume!!!

Thankfully, I don't get anyone out to my house so I don't have to worry about strange adults in masks at the door.  *shudder*

This Halloween, we are feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy - lots of wind and heavy rain.  In past years, I would have been disappointed by the prohibitive weather.  This year, I am somewhat relieved by the notion that the wee ghosts and goblins will likely stay inside although it will be a crummy run with the stroller.

In recent news, our community has been alerted to the possible presence of a sexual predator - someone the police have been trying to apprehend for over 3 months is suspected of being in our town.  News to strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere.

On a running note, the clinic I am teaching has their practice night on Wednesday evenings. I am committed to running with my clinic so will take Miss Moon to a couple neighbours then head out for our run.  In my mind, at three, she doesn't need candy (I guess no one ever NEEDS candy) so we will go to our neighbours on either side, her babysitter's house and maybe to another friend's house then off for our run.  Her favourite trick or treat location last year was the Running Room, anyway (they gave out boxes of Vector cereal).  I will be sure to post a picture tomorrow but for now, here's a visual for you...purple, green & pink fairy pushing Little Red Riding Hood in a stroller decorated with glow sticks.  :)

So tonight, I hope all little ghosts and goblins are extra safe, that this year could be a return to more innocent times when it was a fun time for children - house parties with bobbing for apples, games, songs, and treat bags.  Perhaps I will host one next year.

Now, out for a run to ward off the effects of all the candy!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

I love being a mother. I never imagined I would but I do. It’s the best thing I have ever done in my life. Ever.

Being a single mother can be challenging; definitely do-able but challenging.  Just like every other parent out there, I make sacrifices and I make tough choices. When I go for a run, I have to decide if I can afford a babysitter or if the weather/distance is suitable for pushing a high-energy 3 year old in the jog stroller. If the answer is no to either, then I don’t run.  If she is sick, I don’t run.  If she is feeling needy, I either push the stroller, or I don’t run.  Choices are made – sometimes I have to look at my budget and say “well, gas in the car and oil in the furnace are more important than a babysitter so I can go for a run.”  That is my reality.

Usually, I don’t mind.  It’s all on me and I am the one making sacrifices so my little one doesn’t have to – that’s my job.

On Friday, I took Miss Moon to the Imagination Movers. 

I bought the tickets months ago when they first went on sale.  The opportunity was there to purchase VIP tickets at a much greater cost ($200 for the two of us vs. $80 for the two of us). Obviously, I chose the less expensive option. The VIP package provided premium seating (first 10 rows), backstage passes to the “Think Tank" (a special “Party Room with an Imagination Movers theme. The Think Tank will have healthy snacks for all our Mini Mover party attendees”), an exclusive performance by the Imagination Movers, meet and greet/photo op with all of the Imagination Movers, a poster, and a special laminated VIP pass.

Now, I would have LOVED to buy that pass for Marlowe but I just couldn’t justify that amount of money, nor, frankly, could I afford it - $80 was stretching it for this momma.  I didn’t think it was a big deal and off we went to the show.

We arrived at our seats (aisle seats 16 rows back) and settled in to wait.  Miss Moon’s best friend soon arrived – stopped to say hello and moved up to her seat with her mom.  They had VIP seats. My heart broke as my angel asked if she could go sit with her friend. I told her no and she asked “Why, Momma?  I want to sit up there too.”  It was the very first time that our situation impacted her in a real way – sure I’ve made decisions before that were tough but now, at 3 ½ she understood that somehow what she had was different, not as “good” as that of her friend. 

Thankfully, the band soon came out and Mover Rich came running up the aisle giving high fives as he went.  Miss Moon got her high five and was mesmerized.  She took one look at her friend dancing in the aisle 14 rows ahead of us, let go of my hand and ran up to join her.  She spent the remainder of the 90 minute show dancing in front of the stage and on the stairs up to the stage.  Mover Scott crouched down and sang to her and she got multiple high fives from all 4 Movers. 

Ultimately, she had a wonderful time and doesn’t know that she missed out on anything.  And she didn’t. She got to go to a concert with her mom, dance with her 2 best friends to her favourite group, AND go out for ice cream afterward.

It is only mommy who had a little heartache over not giving her everything she could possibly want. (WHAT!????)

Yet, a good lesson lies in here for me (and for all of us).  I don’t have to give her the most expensive gifts or the fanciest clothes. I only have to give her my time and attention. She wants that more than anything. The concert she saw was the same as the one the children in the VIP section saw and she had a wonderful experience – something we have talked about each night at bedtime since then.

I used to think that I had to always choose frugality over fun – my little mover taught me that our fun has no limits.