holiday pet peeves.

With the holiday season upon us, I am reminded of my 3 major holiday reunion/Christmas party pet peeves.

 

Number One.

So many people wanting to touch, to hold, to squeeze, to head pat all of the children. I get it, kids are adorable, you haven’t seen this particular kid in a year or more, you have a real strong bond with the kid’s parent, and you feel that the kid is a cute mini-extension of your friend. Except that s/he isn’t. S/he’s her own person. And she doesn’t know you. (Also, seeing pictures of crying/screaming children sitting on a stranger who scares them called Santa.) More on this.

Number Two.

People commenting on other people’s weight. It does everyone a disservice, and it’s not very interesting conversation anyway. (As someone who has all of the fat sucked out of her by nursing babies very quickly after birthing, I don’t actually want to be constantly reminded about my appearance.. because this is in fact what my body looks like when it’s kinda depleted, something I don’t celebrate.) I love this reminder that it’s really best to compliment people on aspects of their appearance that they chose, like their outfit, hairstyle, accessories, etc. (I wrote about this after having my first)

Number Three.

Hearing/reading comments about how airlines should limit the number of children allowed on board their flights (or hotels/restaurants/all the public places should be (quasi) no-kid zones). The thing is, kids are human beings. If you’d cry ageism if there was an allotted number of millenials or boomers onboard, then this is the same. Some will argue that kids can’t be expected to behave in public,  others would say that adults don’t really always either (and that shaming parents is too easy so please don’t. Odds are they’re already really stressed if they’re travelling with kids around Christmas time and giving them the stink-eye or shaming their fellow parents on social media really just makes it harder to muster the courage to leave their houses at all).

 

some of our faves. a book list.

I love perusing lists of children’s books. Especially lists of more diverse, more representative books — books that are gender stereotype busting, LGBTQ inclusive, that feature racially diverse kids and communities, about Indigenous issues, community and justice. Books that embody the Arundhati Roy quotation : « Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing, » acknowledging that while we need to raise kids in this world, integrating them into messy social wholes, they hold within them something new that needs to see the light of day. Teaching them that it’s okay to live outside of the boxes that we as adults often exist within.

A friend asked what some our favourites were. Here is a short list.

 

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Extra Yarn. If you’ve been looking for a children’s book about knit tagging/yarn bombing, this is it! A kid finds a box of yarn that ends up being magical. Totally endearing.

 

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Le ballon de Simon. Le meilleur livre pour enfants à propos du troc que j’ai lu. Un plaisir à lire. / Best kid’s book about barter I’ve ever read.

 

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Je veux un chien. Un classique. L’enfant veut un chien, ses parents disent non, elle tente différentes stratégies pour essayer de les convaincre mais finalement, elle crowdsource une solution qui lui permet d’avoir un chien à câliner tout en aidant un aîné dans sa communauté.

 

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Counting on Community. By the same author as « A is for Activist. » A beautiful board book that, in my opinion, is better suited to young audiences than Nagara’s first book. (Also, ABC books are highly untranslatable, so they don’t get the love they deserve chez nous.)

 

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What Makes a Baby. Such a solid book for the toddler-preschooler crowd. There’s something really satisfying about your kid talking about the fetus in your uterus (instead of the baby in your tummy), and using anatomically correct language. This gem makes that possible!

 

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Une feuille un arbre. Honnêtement, F. n’a jamais aimé ce livre, mais c’est le parfait livre d’intro à la sociologie pour les tout petits, d’après moi. À chaque fois que je le lis (seule), je pense à cette citation de Durkeim: « La société n’est pas une simple somme d’individu, mais le système formé par leur association représente une réalité qui a ses caractères propres. » Deep. J’ai espoir que notre 2e va l’apprécier un peu plus.

 

 

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We Belong Together. Oh Todd Parr. So many lovely titles, such underwhelming illustrations (to me, anyways, kiddo seems to appreciate). It was important for my partner and I to introduce the concept of adoption early on and this is a really good book for that. The families are diverse, and the concept of ‘family’ is broadened in a real kid-friendly way. (Another Parr favourite is « It’s Okay to be Different ».. F. can crack himself up for hours, no joke, reading the page « It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathbub. » A hoot.)

 

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All in a Day. By my all-time favourite illustrator Nikki McClure (She’s also responsible for ‘To Market! To Market! » which is equally gorgeous). If you’re looking for a book that romanticizes your new farm/homesteading life just enough to get you through hard, drudgery-filled days, this is the book for you!

 

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Entre toi et moi. Un beau petit livre qui parle des émotions et qui touche sur le fait que tout le monde réagit différemment quand ils ressentent ces émotions. Vraiment sweet. Les livres M.Monsieur de Geneviève Côté sont aussi vraiment beaux. (Notre préféré c’est ‘Le château de M.Monsieur,’ dans lequel M.Monsieur coupe un montagne, tchak! tchak! tchak!, pour se construire un château sans se rendre compte que ces copines et copains aiment aussi la montagne et qu’il n’y a pas plus droit qu’eux. Cute et pas trop preachy.)

 

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The Great Big Book of Feelings. A great ’emotions’ primer. Nice illustrations that invite young readers to identify people’s feelings by their facial expressions. I often think the page about being shy makes shyness and introversion seem like a fault, but then it occurs to me that that is my feeling and a great invitation to start a conversation about feelings with my kiddo. Which is the whole point.

 

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Desmond and the Very Mean Word. A great book about racism and the way kids act it out because of the environments they are brought up in. A good in to talk about institutional racism, intergenerational abuse, and how all kids like sweets.

 

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Partir. Je veux acheter une copie de ce livre pour tout les enfants réfugiés qui vont s’installer dans des communautés francophones. C’est un si beau livre. Les premières phrases : « Un jour, parfois, il faut partir. Et si, ce jour-là, le vent souffle trop fort, tu peux en oublier qui tu es, oublier d’où tu viens.. » Ma soeurette me l’a offert quand on a déménagé à la ferme, et j’en ai encore l’oeil mouillé quand je le lis avec les petits.

 

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L’homme sans chaussettes. Si tu as toi aussi cherché un livre d’enfant qui aborde les thèmes de l’itinérance et de la pauvreté, c’est un beau titre à ajouter à une bibliothèque. It’s an honest take on how children might react to seeing street involved people with mental health issues. It really spoke to me.

 

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Fatima et les voleurs de clémentines. Un très beau texte. Même les petites peuvent faire de très grandes choses!

 

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Sex is a Funny Word. The sequel to « What Makes a Baby, » for the older crowd. It’s a revolutionary book that reimagines « the talk. » It’s styled like a graphic novel, defines sex, talks about gender identity, boundaries, respect, sexy feelings, bodies etc. in such an open, respectful way. It’s full of really solid lines, the kind I wish I thought of myself and want to muster in my daily interactions with people (especially young people).

 

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Robert Munsch. I didn’t grow up reading Munsch so when I kept seeing his name on so many books, I thought it was maybe all overblown, the Munsch mania. But then I read of few of his books and fell in love. There’s probably no need to sell Munsch to anyone, but the fact that the kids are somewhat diverse, that the girl and boy characters do equally awesome things, and often parent duos (albeit all hetero) aren’t all achingly traditional in their divisions of labour, makes me quite happy to read and re-read his work.

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Les fantaisies d’Adèle. (Stephanie’s Ponytail in English) Is kiddo’s favourite. « C’est MA queue de cheval Et moi je l’aime beaucoup! » It’s assertiveness training for us all.

 

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Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type. And last but not least, a fun barnyard book about cows that organize a strike for electric blankets. Complete with laying hen comrades and wily ducks. Labour organizing 101.

 

Titles that we don’t have but are on our list :

Shin-chi’s Canoe, by Nicola Campbell

Something Beautiful, by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

 

on languages.

This is one of my favourite photos of our first year on the farm.

It’s a photograph of a sketched map made by some hunters who came knocking to ask if they could hunt wild turkey on our property. I found it on the kitchen counter one day. I imagine that P. had no idea what these (presumably unilingual) francophone hunters meant and thought they were talking about rockets (« fusée ») instead of rifles (« fusil »). I often imagine what that conversation might’ve sounded like and get a good chuckle. IMG_2775

To me, it’s the perfect visual representation of all of the misunderstandings and all of the long conversations where either P. or I re-asked or re-framed very confused questions to figure out how to register livestock with the traceability people, or to sign up for a farm number with the Ministère de l’Agriculture, or to figure out how to get the municipal go-ahead to lay pipe under a road. We have spent a lot of time having very broche à foin conversations.

French is P.’s third language and his accent gives him away : he is francophile, not a native speaker. People might expect that they will have a harder time understanding him or appreciate that he might not understand everything they say. French is my mother tongue. I haven’t spoken it, à temps plein, in many many years. Having kids, to whom I diligently speak only ma langue maternelle, has been a real eye opener. While my french vocabulary to talk about socialisation, or democracy, or identity is pretty solid, finding my every day nouns is often a pretty frustrating game of hide-and-go-seek. Borne fontaine, clé anglaise, cure-pipe, the list goes on. I may have an easier time as passing for someone who could be from la belle province (et même là, je sonne pas mal franco-ontarienne), but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my french is rusty, that my cultural references are vastly different (/quite anglo), and that it takes me some good energy to decipher fast french conversations about agriculture or culture.

I love languages. The idea that every language is a key to understanding a whole new gamut of concepts, of ways of being, of worldviews fascinates me. I had always hoped to partner with an allophone (someone whose native tongue is neither french or english) and while it can be sometimes isolating to not understand what is being said, I am grateful that our children will be trilingual. As frustrating as it is to feel your language skills are less than or worry that you never quite have le mot juste, the trilingual jokes and language play in our house make it all worthwhile.

Chez nous, les tasses ont des oreilles.

We « j’aime jam. »

F. est déjà un petit interprête.

And we talk about rockets in the pastures.