What I Learned This Summer

sidewalk chalk

I’m a couple days late, since summer technically ended last Wednesday. But I love Emily Freeman’s idea of sharing things you’ve learned over the last season, so I thought I’d join in.

Here are three things I learned this summer.

1. You really can trust kids to do things when they’re ready.

I’m a firm believer in letting kids do things when they’re ready . . . in theory. That’s part of the reason we’re choosing to unschool. But sometimes that idea is harder to put into practice.

Several months ago, I noticed that Lydia was starting to sprout her first new adult teeth (the bottom front ones) . . . behind her baby teeth. This surprised me, because we’d been checking on those baby teeth for any wiggliness since she turned five. They still weren’t loose at all. But the adult ones were ready to move in, regardless of what the baby teeth were doing.

I wasn’t too alarmed, since mine had done the exact same when I was five. But I’d had my not-loose baby teeth removed by a dentist, and I thought maybe she’d have to have the same thing done with hers.

I was getting ready to make an appointment for her when her baby teeth started to get the teeniest bit wiggly. Hmm. I hesitated. At the same time, I talked to my cousin (who’s a dental assistant), and she told me she sees the exact phenomenon in their office all the time, and it’s no big deal — eventually, when the baby teeth come out, the adult ones move right into place. (I don’t know if this is true of other teeth in the mouth, but the ones at the very front kind of get pushed forward by the tongue). So I waited a little longer.

Eventually, her baby teeth started to get more and more wiggly. But Lydia would not let anyone touch them. I believe in bodily autonomy, even for the youngest children,  so I let it go. I didn’t believe her teeth were in any trouble.

I was personally pretty scarred from the experience of losing my own teeth. My dad would tie strong threads around my loose teeth and yank them out. Sometimes it took several tries. It was terrifying. I still shudder at the thought.

{Question: Why are we so anxious to get kids’ teeth out as soon as absolutely possible?}

I didn’t want to do the same to Lydia. Her teeth belong to her. She gets to decide what happens to them.

Soon the adult teeth were fully in place, with the tiny little baby ones still hanging on but slowly getting looser and getting pushed further forward.

loose teethHere’s a nice image to haunt your dreams. You’re welcome.

It looked pretty gross, honestly. She now had a double row of teeth in the front, and the baby ones were turning greyish and looking dead and dangly. Everyone wanted them out so bad . . . except for Lydia.

We bribed. We reasoned. We asked really nicely. But she didn’t want us to touch them and she wasn’t ready to pull them herself.

This went on for two whole weeks past the time we thought they should really come out. I wanted so badly to reach over and just pluck them out. It would have been so easy! But I restrained myself. It’s her body, I reminded myself. She’ll pull them when she’s ready.

And finally, one day while she was eating a carrot, the first one came out. Thank goodness! And she was so proud of herself!

The next one came out the next day. She easily pulled it out herself.

Now she has two beautiful, straight, white adult teeth, without having the damaging experience of having someone barge in and yank out her teeth against her will. As a bonus, she never had to have any gaps in her mouth.

Sometimes you have to have patience and trust that your kids know what they’re doing.

{Note: I’m still trying to follow my own advice when it comes to Felix reaching his milestones on his own time, with varying levels of success.}

2. You can hone your skills just by watching other people.

passionflower watercolour

Earlier in the year, I decided to learn how to paint with watercolours. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years.

I watched a ton of YouTube videos. I bought new paints, brushes, and paper. And I practiced. I got pretty good. It was so, so fun and fulfilling.

But I didn’t get to practice nearly as much as I would have liked. I’m just not at a stage in my life where I can often get out a bunch of art materials, spread them across a table, and work to my heart’s content.

But I was passionate about learning. So I kept watching tutorials. Lots and lots of them. I watched while I fed the baby or washed the dishes. While I chopped vegetables or mixed meatballs for dinner, I watched other people play with colours and create masterpieces. I watched them lay down glazes and demonstrate techniques.

And to my surprise, when I did get the chance to pull out my paints, I was better at it than I was before I watched the videos.

Simple watching experts paint for hours on end made me a better painter myself, even when I’d had little chance to practice.

Neat.

3. I can buy underwear online.

underwear

This felt like a revelation.

First of all, you need to know that Canadians don’t enjoy all the same online shopping options you Americans do. We don’t have all the same businesses, and shipping costs here are insane. (I’ve done quite a bit of shipping in the U.S. so I know that the price differences are dramatic). Free shipping is almost unheard-of. So I’ve never even considered doing things like Stitch Fix. Online clothes shopping is mostly unaffordable and unrealistic.

And honestly, I’m not really even interested in buying my clothes online. I don’t mind shopping for clothes, and only need to do it every couple of years.

But underwear. What a pain!

The underwear available at our local Wal-Mart are all garbage quality and mostly hideous granny panties. So: no.

My favourite underwear come from LaSenza, a flashy lingerie store at the mall (an hour away) that makes me feel very uncomfortable, plastered wall-to-wall with ginormous posters of almost-naked women. It’s located right next to the food court, so everyone can watch you examine underpants while they eat their Cinnabons. When panties go on sale, they’re offered in huge bins right in the front doorway, and you have to sift through piles of lacy thongs to get to the comfy cotton hipsters (the only cut/style I buy). I always dread it.

One day I groaned to Ben, I wish I could just buy my underwear online. And then I thought, Well, why the heck not? I searched for the La Senza website, and before I knew it, had six pairs of clearance-priced underwear in my cart for less than $30. Shipping cost $4. They arrived three days later.

Hooray! No pawing through piles of panties in front of families eating fake Chinese food! This is the only way I’m doing it from now on.

And that’s it for now! What cool things did you learn this summer?

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Comments

  1. That is so strange and cool about the teeth growing thing. I have never seen such a close up shot of that but remember seeing kids have double teeth as a kid.
    Your art is amazing. I don’t know how to do watercolors well, granted I can’t draw as well as you, but I am not terrible (just not as gifted as you). This is really great. I think I could look at your art for hours if you had a book of them all.
    is La Senza ethically sourced? I buy some of my underwear from Pact usually because they are organic and Fair Trade. I ask because the price sounds nice for La Senza and look pretty and similar to some of Pact underwear, so I am curious for myself for the future. I hate going to the store/mall haha.

    That is so sad about the shipping costs to Canada :(
    Victoria the Justice Pirate recently posted..Luray Caverns and Museums in Luray, VAMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Victoria! You’re always so generous with your compliments.

      Unfortunately, I seriously doubt La Senza is ethically sourced — I’ve never looked into it. I guess I never made it a high priority since I wear my underwear until it’s falling apart? I should find a better source. I’ll take a look at Pact, thanks!

  2. I’m living through a body autonomy moment with my child too. She has a giant splinter in her toe and screamed hysterically when I tried to pull it out. So we’re waiting and watching it. It doesn’t seem to bother her too much and it’s not infected. It’s been a few days and it appears to be working its way to the surface. We’ll see what happens. All in all, I think this is better than holding down a screaming child and getting the darn splinter out sooner. There’s always this fear that if you don’t intervene, something bad will happen. Probably why there are so many c-sections. It’s hard to trust.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. I think I would do the same as you. You’re keeping an eye out for infection, and of course you’ll intervene if she clearly needs medical help. We probably all need to calm down a little bit when it comes to that kind of thing. And I TOTALLY agree with the c-section comparison. We’re too quick to doubt our bodies and freak out.

  3. Thank you for the reminder that children will hit milestones in their own time. My 4-year-old has been potty trained for nearly two years, but she still asks for a diaper to poop. We thought it would end well before this and kept saying to each other “It has to stop eventually…” but here we are nearly two years later. Sorry for the TMI, but your post reminded me that eventually she will outgrow this and I don’t necessarily need to drag her to a child therapist over this. :-P

    • Kids are so weird, eh? What I sometimes do is ask myself if I really think the kid will still be doing it when they’re grown up. No? Then it’s probably not that big of a deal. She won’t still be pooping in a diaper when she moves out. She’ll get there eventually, and in the meantime you’re teaching her that you trust and respect her.

      • Thank you! That is so sweet. I never thought of it as me teaching her that I trust and respect her. That makes it easier to be patient.

  4. I get SO excited anytime you post one of your watercolors. Watching your skills grow has been absolutely amazing!

  5. Good tip on watching tutorials again and again. I have commented before on your beautiful watercolors. This advice would apply to me and my crochet obsession which has been for the last year and a half now. I got into a comfort zone with a few stitches and made only scarves and blankets. Now I’m trying to branch out and learn more. I made a few baby hats (I’m going to be an aunt in a few months!) I think watching other people make things is extremely helpful as well, moreso than getting a library book with illustrations. Just got to get out of that comfort zone!!

    Interesting about the baby teeth! I agree with you about trauma and the yanking of teeth. No thank you!

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