The Curse of the Half Birthday

As parents we always cherish our little ones and are often amazed as we see our kids growing up.  Birthday’s of course are a very special event as it marks a milestone in your child’s development.  My wife always marks the event of both our little chickadees in an extremely lavish way as birthday’s are super important to her.

I believe part of the reason too is the fact that both our kids missed out on celebrating their first few birthdays growing up in an orphanage where the occasion was really not celebrated. The only time they were both dressed up in fancy garb was when they had to take pictures for the adoption proposal that was sent to us.  Even in those cases the clothes were borrowed and recycled from child to child.  That being said, my wife feels it imperative that their special day is marked in a big way to help them remember that they are special and loved immensely by the family.  We recently celebrated Regan’s fourth birthday – her first being part of our family,  with glitz and glam where we had approximately 100 people come join us to honour Regan.  We had princess Sophia come to our place and the girls decked themselves out with makeup and nail polish and jewellery. The event was catered and we even had a local Ajax DJ tunes as we rocked the night away. Regan had an absolute blast and what made our day and made my wife cry was when we were tucking her into bed and she gave us both a hug and said ” thank you mommy and daddy for my birthday party”.  Kids really amaze you with their honesty and unfiltered comments.

As we continue to grow as a family we start to build new traditions to mark special events.  One such tradition that was started by my sister-in-law was to mark the half-birthday’s of our two little ones.  I remember the first time she came over with half a cake and a set of balloons to celebrate Caleb’s half-birthday.  She threw me for a loop as I had never heard of half-birthday’s. Well Caleb of course took to it like a fish to water as it was another reason to celebrate.  My wife definitely did not make a fuss at all and wanted to invite our family over to celebrate the occasion – I of course had to put a stop to that. Caleb did comment that he thought his half-birthday was deserving of a birthday gift too!  Needless to say we did end up picking up something small for him to mark the occasion. Now, every year, Caleb makes sure to circle his half-birthday on the calendar and reminds us at the start of the month of his half-birthday of the upcoming event. With the addition of Regan to our family, Caleb is now coaching Regan about half-birthday’s and has also circled her half-birthday on the calendar.

So I would like to say thank you to my sister-in-law for ushering a new tradition to our family.  Although, I have titled my post the curse of the half-birthday, it truly is a blessing to be able to have another reason to celebrate and homour our kids. I guess it will start being a curse if the event starts getting out of hand with a more extravagant cshowercelebration. My sister-in-law, who is an awesome baker and cake decorator actually delved into the art of cake making as a result of our first adoption.  The very first cake that she created was for our shower to celebrate Caleb’s arrival.  She found that she enjoyed it so much that she has gone on to create masterpieces for other friends and family. Check out her portfolio at www.cakemehome.ca

Time to now go and plan for Regan’s upcoming half-birthday that is just around the corner.

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IQ versus EQ

Growing up in a very traditional household with a drill sergeant of a father, the major focus was always around building our IQ.  We would spend a fair amount of time on our studies with little importance given to building our other core competencies in the arts, athletics and music. Emotional qualities such as expressing sadness through crying were frowned upon as it was a sign of weakness.

The goal was very simple, study as hard as you can get good grades to enter a good university, specialize in a skill that is in demand so that you will end up in a good paying job and of course give your parents bragging rights amongst their friends.  Well, I went that route and made my parents proud, however, I noticed that although I was “book smart”, I lacked certain basic skills related to my EQ or Emotional Intelligence.  Over time and having married this special woman who has taught me so much, I am happy to say that I continue to build on my EQ skill set. So, how does all of this relate to my 2 little chickadees?

Courtesy Disney
Courtesy Disney

Well, over the weekend we as a family went out to the movies.  The kids wanted to watch Finding Dory that was just released.  We grabbed a bag of popcorn, some sugar drinks and candy and settled into watching the movie. Part way through the movie our little Regan started to get disturbed over the movie.  She started to say she wanted to leave and she did not like the movie. It was at the part when Dori gets swept away into the pipes that she started to really get anxious and cry and at that point my wife decided to take her out of the movie theatre. Regan and my wife of course did not return and met us in the foyer at the end of the movie.

Normally, we wouldn’t think much of Regan’s reaction to the movie, however, my wife reminded me that Caleb had a similar reaction when he was 4 years old and first watched Finding Nemo. He refused to watch the movie until he turned 7. Having been adopted at such a young age,  I believe we were naive as to the trauma and impact that children feel with a sense of abandonment and loss from their birth parents.  Even at such a young age their memories are so strong that simple triggers as a movie depicting the breakup of a family can bring back memories of the traumatic event.

Having done more research it is my belief that although we as parents have a commitment to focusing on the IQ of our children, we must place a greater emphasis on building the EQ of our children. I believe EQ trumps IQ when it comes to determining my children’s success in life.  A strong EQ will allow my children to be:

  • Self-aware
  • Well balanced
  • Curious
  • Gracious and
  • Empathetic

All these skills I believe will help them to be change agents and better leaders in whatever they choose to pursue.

Pondering Fatherhood – 7 Years in the Making

caleb_reganWith Father’s Day just around the corner thought I’d reflect on my blessings and challenges of being a father to date.  See I thought I was ready to be a dad when my wife and I first broached the subject of having kids.  This was 15 years ago when we started the all exciting journey of trying to have children. Well after 2 miscarriages, 3 failed attempts of in vitro fertilization, a depleted bank account and the emotional roller coaster ride we were ready to throw in the towel and enjoy a life of DINK.

However, something kept nagging both of us where we had an unfulfilled need to pay our love forward. So after a ton of research we embarked on our journey to adopt. I certainly was fearful of the process and the challenges that would come with it but my wife Beverley assured me that everything was going to be okay. After a ton of paperwork, background checks and adoption loans we brought our first angel home from India in 2009. Caleb was our pride and joy, at 2 years old and a crafty personality, he made us laugh and cry and more that anything he taught me so much about myself.  I believed I was a man who had a fair amount of patience, boy was I sadly disappointed.  There was certainly new behaviours that I had to learn as I navigated my way through parenthood.  Reading as much as I could on parenting certainly helped but there is no magic bullet or manual when it comes to kids. Needless to say we have both grown as Caleb has gotten older.  Now 7 years later he is turning into a little man and as I look back on his videos when he first walked into our lives I am amazed at how much he has transformed our lives.

Soon after Caleb came into our lives and we settled in, we embarked again on the adoption of our second child. A year after Caleb’s turned 3 we received news that a little girl in a tiny village in the outskirts of a town called Ranchi was up for adoption. We of course jumped at the opportunity to have this beautiful little girl join our growing family. The process however, took much longer in bringing Regan home and after 4 long years of waiting we headed back to India to pick up our little chickadee and in 2015. At 4 years old and only speaking Hindi, integrating Regan into our family was certainly interesting.  We used a lot of hand motions and interpreters (our friends who spoke Hindi, certainly came in handy).  What surprised us is what sponges children are.  Regan has now been with us since August 2015 and can now communicate in English in full sentences. She definitely is “street smart” compared to her brother who is more “book smart”. Together they are always up to mischievous activities around the house.

Now that you know a bit about how we got here what has all of this taught me about fatherhood. Three lessons that I carry with me as I continue to grow in my role:

  1. My children have been my greatest leadership influence in my life.
  2. My children have taught me to love unconditionally.
  3. My children have helped me grow emotionally and admit my mistakes – I am not always right and I am allowed to make mistakes.

Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there.  Feel free to contact me as I love to hear your experiences.

 

Welcome

Hey there! I’m excited to to say hello and welcome to my brand new site. I’m looking to share  my experiences about my 2 chickadees – okay they really aren’t birds but my 2 little angels who are 9 and 4.  Check back in soon as I start to post some of my stories about my 2 crafty kids.