Urbandictionary.com, a collection of not-quite-ready-for-Webster’s words, defines “humblebrag” as: “Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humour or ‘woe is me’ gloss.” There’s nothing quite as annoying as someone complaining about how tired they are after a fabulous two-week vacation, or that they have no room left on their golf trophy shelf.
The most gratuitous humblebrag offenders these days are parents when discussing their children. Like most parents, I not-so-secretly believe that many of Charlotte’s antics must be harbingers of greatness, but in the interest of being well-rounded (and of not being irritating), I try to ration out my discussion of all things Charlotte, whether online, in this column, or in real life.
But every once in a while, I can’t help but brag — or, more accurately, share my pride — about her. It’s not fair to anyone to couch honest joy in false modesty, so here goes. As all parents know, finally potty training your child is a huge milestone, and a massive game-changer when it comes to leaving the house. Andrew and I are big on rewarding positive behaviour, so when Charlotte’s potty progress was waning a few months ago, we offered a train trip to Toronto and Centre Island as incentive.
It was reward time last week — for both of us. In retrospect, forcing an energetic toddler to spend six hours on a train really was rolling the dice. While Charlotte usually behaves well in public, she doesn’t do well with authority, especially in enclosed spaces. I packed my bag with boredom-fighting ammunition, from crayons to candy, from books to the iPad, laden with freshly-downloaded children’s games. But my girl surpassed all my expectations; all she needed for the trip was jelly beans, the gift bag VIA Rail gives to young passengers, and the window seat to enjoy the view. And while using the washroom on the train can be challenging for all but the most sure-footed among us, Charlotte handled the bumps like a pro.
The hustle, bustle and construction of Union Station was met with curiosity and adherence to my urgings of “hold Mommy’s hand!” While she was a little taken aback to meet our first surprise — Uncle Christopher, Andrew’s brother, would be joining us for the day — Charlotte recovered after the ferry ride and a quick pizza lunch.
I was amazed to see all the lessons we tried to teach Charlotte surface as we enjoyed our afternoon at Centreville Amusement Park, an amusement park for the younger set. She waited patiently in lines, and didn’t get upset when it was time to move on to the next attraction. She didn’t beg for the giant stuffed animals at the game booths nor for the ice cream cones and cotton candy in the hands of other children until Mom decided it was time for a treat. She particularly enjoyed riding the ponies and the Ferris wheel — heartwarming, as they were my own favourites when I was a child.
Despite all the excitement, Charlotte remembered to ask to go to the potty, and we had an accident-free day. When we went to the souvenir shop, she picked out a little ball for Agnes before choosing something for herself. As Uncle Christopher carried her back to the ferry, she fell into a deep sleep, waking up only when we arrived at Union Station.
The trip home was equally pleasurable; my girl eventually climbed into my lap and we giggled together from Kitchener to St. Marys. I knew she wouldn’t sleep on the train, but some quiet cuddle time with my little trooper was just as good, if not better.
What a day! It could have gone so wrong, but Charlotte stepped up to the occasion. I couldn’t be prouder, or more humbled, by what a “big girl” she truly is — and that’s the honest truth.
Most parents can’t wait until next week — Tuesday, to be exact — when children go back to school. Mornings can be madness, but making time for breakfast starts the day off right for everyone. Here’s a time-saving, healthy breakfast recipe for when the days inevitably turn cooler and busier.
Slow Cooker Oatmeal
2 apples cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
2 tbsp. brown sugar or maple syrup
1-1/2 tbsp. butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground flax seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except garnishes to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approximately seven hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; garnish if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator.