As Fate And Children Would Have It

November 3rd 1997 was a Monday. It was also a seasonally warm day of around 10˚C; a beautiful day for the kids to play outside. The three older kids were doing just that in the afternoon. The older two came in the house, but Chadya was enjoying her time, sitting on the trampoline playing with her collection of rocks and ice-cream pail. The window to the kitchen was open and I could see her clearly. We lived in Bruderheim at the time and were scheduled to go to gymnastics in Fort Saskatchewan, 20 km away, that afternoon. It was around 3:30 and gymnastics started at 4:00 as I recall, so the older two were getting ready. I called Chadya and she said she needed help getting down. I was getting the youngest ready who was about 8 months old at the time, and asked Chadya’s brother Traftan to go help her off the trampoline. He was almost 5 at that time. They had been in gymnastics a couple months and had learned how to get off the trampoline by going on their stomachs and dropping their feet to the stool below. Our stool was an old chair which was missing the back…

(This post is a little out of the ordinary. My daughter Chadya is getting her degree in early childhood education. She had an assignment to recall a childhood memory and compare it with someone else’s memory of the event. She asked me to recall in detail this event and this is what I sent her.)

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….It was less than a minute after he went out the door that I heard crying. Traftan came in to tell me they fell and I ran out to find Chadya with blood all over her little hands which were over her mouth. I carried her to the house and got a wet cloth to wash away the blood and survey the damage. Her brother filled me in on the way things went down (literally). He went out to help, but rather than help her to dismount the way they were taught, or the way she would have on her own, she walked to the edge where he was standing on the stool and he lifted her around her legs. He was standing on the front edge of the ‘stool’ and as he lifted and leaned back in the process; the stool tipped forward to the underside of the trampoline and they fell back. As fate and children would have it, their metal Lil Red Wagon was lined up right where Chadya’s jaw was coming down. As wagon prints would reveal later, her jaw hit the corner somehow, thus having two points of contact a couple inches apart. Her brother hit his head when he hit the ground. As it often is, blood brings the sense of urgency and the head seemed okay. As parents we don’t always analyze the severity of some things that are important when we are focused on what seems urgent. 

So with a cold cloth on her mouth and jaw, and three other kids in the van, we set out for Fort Saskatchewan a few minutes later. The bleeding had stopped but the swelling was increasing. We stopped at gymnastics a few blocks from the hospital and dropped off Chadya’s older siblings in the care of their teacher and I proceeded with Chadya and the youngest to the hospital. 

The x-ray needed for such a small child required special equipment only in larger city hospitals and we had to wait until the swelling came down. The doctor set up an appointment for the Thursday for a juvenile panoramic x-ray at one of the major hospitals. Chadya was unable to eat that night but by lunch the next day she was able to eat french fries. The panoramic x-ray showed she had two impact marks on her jaw causing fractures at each point and the front fracture was separated by a couple of millimetres. The specialist said he would normally wire the jaw to bring them together but because she was so young her teeth would just pull out from the wires rather than solve the problem. We had another x-ray scheduled for the following week. 

Her face bruised badly and was quite swollen. We had a party for her 3rd birthday on the weekend. Her older siblings had swimming lessons the Wednesday a week after the incident; she cried that it hurt while we were traveling home. The next day the x-ray revealed the gap had become a couple millimetres bigger. And in turn, the following week, she was crying from pain again, and the next panoramic x-ray showed the gap had closed.

Through the swollen bruised period, she had people looking at her. She didn’t like that at the best of times, but she handled it well. One person in a grocery store asked if she had surgery. She tolerated the pain very well for such a young child, rarely crying about it and forging forward in getting back to normal routine. 

Below is what Chadya sent me. She recalled more things after reading my text, like the ice cream bucket and how she became frustrated with the rocks in the bucket because they wouldn’t stay apart. She can’t add those things to her text for the assignment.

“A week before I turned three years old, I was playing on the trampoline alone. I was playing with little rocks pretending they were a family. I was ready to get off the trampoline but could not do it myself. I remember calling to the house and saw my brother coming out. He was almost five. I was standing on the edge of the trampoline and he stood up on a white patio chair. The chair had the back facing outward. He wrapped his arms around my legs and lifted me. I remember feeling the chair shake and the sensation of falling. I saw the red metal wagon beside the trampoline as I went down. I hit my jaw on the wagon and felt the shock of cold metal and pain. The next thing I remember is my mom strapping me into my car seat while I was crying. I remember there being blood coming out of my mouth and going onto my shirt and the car seat. I was thinking about how it was making a mess of my car seat and felt bad about it. I could taste the blood and feel the warmth of it as it overflowed from my mouth. I know my mom took me to the hospital, but I can’t remember anything after getting strapped into the car seat.”

Finally a few more thoughts from me if you are still reading. This was such a fun and enlightening experience. It was interesting going through the memories and wondering about some of the details. I confirmed the exact date by looking it up, knowing it was before her third birthday, knowing it was a Monday and pretty sure it was November 3rd. I also looked up the temperature for the day because I knew it was pretty warm and they were in light jackets. In text discussions after exchanging writings, I recalled my memory of 3 years old when I got my tonsils out and the images of the hospital and crib and shot and popsicles that remain to this day. I am thankful I got to spend my evening remembering with my daughter.

 

Decentralizing the Sock Box

There was a day when I found out my kids would go find a pair of socks in the overflowing sock box, take that one pair, the pair they found first, sometimes not even their own socks, and not look back. That dreaded sock box. With a family of six (or seven in the case of my childhood home), that sock box/basket would sometimes become a nightmare. It would get to a certain fullness where I would finally set the kids to task sorting the socks. I realize this is a first world problem, also a colder climate problem and one that has many solutions, like having everyone wear the same exact socks so they all pair up. I have too much of a foot thing to have shared family socks, but that’s a whole other story.

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The day I found out that the overflowing sock box was being treated as a second sock drawer for every single one of our four kids, I made a quick decision to disrupt the system by decentralizing the sock box. The socks were sorted that day and a new decree was put forth. From that day forward, there would no longer be a sock box. Each sock without its pair would be distributed to its rightful owner who would either have their own sock box, or would put it in their own sock drawer to await the fateful day of the matching sock to find its way there. Oh the freedom I felt removing that box from its designated spot, freeing up space there, but also in my mind. No longer did that box haunt me as it filled. No longer was I the manager of the socks, because without designating that role to someone else, it fell on me, and no longer did I have to manage the persons I would designate to sort it.

This may seem like a strange topic to base a blog post on, but bare with me. I was thinking of the sock box the other day as I was not able to wash all the dark clothes at once and ended up with a spare sock. I put it in my drawer and got a little giddy about not having a sock box….yes, after all these years and with only two of us in our home. I thought of all the other people who struggle with the sock box situation. I also thought about how many ‘sock box’ situations there are both in our personal lives, at work and/or in business.

We all have things we dread doing–the sock box didn’t fill up because people were eager to sort the socks. Those things may be delayed or ignored until they absolutely need to be done. I can relate to this in the dreaded paper pile, or email pile, or the sorting files on the computer pile. What about phone calls to make, or appointments or cleaning house, or cooking. I personally love cooking and baking to the point of when I am not feeling well enough to do things, but feel like I am being lazy, will set myself to doing some cooking or baking. Not as much now since the family is out of the house, but if there is something coming up where I will need some baking done…well, it’s self care to me. And yes, I know, busyness is not the same as productivity, but sometimes it feels good to do something rather than nothing.

When I had access to slave labour, while the kids were young and didn’t know better, I was able to delegate jobs of lesser esteem through systems of scheduling, objectives and rotating chores. This served our organization well. When they figured out they could start their own systems and have their own organizations, and moved onward and out, most of those delegated tasks fell back to me, but…I no longer had to train and manage those people and there was a lesser need for some of the jobs. Some things became much easier.

Back to now. Working on a business and all it entails is not always easy. There are so many moving parts and so much to learn, especially if you are starting from scratch which was the case for me a few years ago. Learning and implementing, learning and failing, learning what I can do well and what I struggle at, learning many of those things anyway because who else will do it….and how can you manage someone else doing it if you don’t have a clue. Granted you don’t need to know everything your lawyer does, to make sure he gets it right. You don’t need to know everything your accountant does to make sure she has it correct. You do need to know your business to make sure you are getting from them what you need and what serves you best. Starting out is the most difficult because of the learning curve. It is why many people don’t start or they quit too soon. It’s not that it isn’t easy sometimes, sometimes it is downright hard.

Once you get to the point of knowing what skills you are good at that will serve your business or home the best, you can hone in on those things and delegate other things. I always said I would hire a housekeeper once our kids moved out. I have yet to do that. At this point, I use that time to work on my business and my personal growth in the form of listening to podcasts. And it is a decent way to get in some movement. I find it difficult to just sit and listen to podcasts without doing something.

I do know there are things I prefer not to do, things that sap my energy, make me cranky and take forever to get done, not because I procrastinate (well maybe sometimes), but mostly because I have to figure it out, or don’t like doing it, so it feels really hard. So I am taking baby steps in outsourcing. I have a virtual assistant lined up to work on some small things that overwhelm me. She lives in the Netherlands; if you read my last blog post you may figure out who that is. I feel confident in her ability to do certain things because she knows my voice, she has some understanding of what I am looking for, she is young and techie, is up on trends in the business world, has a good related educational background, and is willing to work for some extra money because she is a student.

Over the next year, I am looking to decentralize the ‘sock box’ in my business. I am setting up team members, working to partner with my husband more in setting up systems where he is doing the things he is strong in. It’s amazing how we find life partners who are strong in things we are not. When we can tap into both person’s strengths and have laser focus, we can build an empire of a home life or business.

Along with decentralizing, having each person responsible for their own colourful socks, there is the part where we get rid of those socks that have hung out for way too long in the sock box and no longer serve a purpose. Those things have to be discarded or repurposed. There have been some ‘old socks’ I have released already. It will be a work in progress, but at each change will come an absence of a burden, which is so exciting, just like it was when I decentralized the sock box.

It is so easy to add things to our life. Sometimes when things are moving very quickly, like when we have kids and family stuff going on, we add things without much thought. Often we are too busy to think of the things we will remove, give up or pass on. The lesson I learned from the overflowing sock box is there is always some way to change ‘the way we have always done it’ to have a better system. Did you think of some things you would like to decentralize or delegate?