Getting ‘The Cottage’ experience

Evening falls over Lake Nipissing

Here in Canada, or at least Ontario, during the summer months or at times of brief vacation people do what is affectionately known as ‘going to The Cottage’. When people tell you they are ‘going to The Cottage’ you don’t have to know exactly where this particular cottage is, you just know it’s somewhere where peace can be obtained and the hustle and bustle of a busy life forgotten, even if only for a small time. Having never experienced this particular way of life I was more than willing and intrigued to accept an invitation to visit ‘The Cottage.’

The cottage we were driving to was a good 4 hour drive north of Toronto by Lake Nipissing and boy was it a doozey of a drive! Toronto has only two major routes in and out of the city and on a Friday both are jammed. Add to that the PanAm games that are currently happening and you have a long way to go so for a seven and four year old this was their first test of a semi long haul drive and it was exactly as my husband and I expected; half an hour outside of Toronto my son said those famous words: “Are we nearly there yet?!” Thankfully we were able to make use of the carpooling lanes so we did manage to escape some of the traffic but it was a good crawl all the way to Barrie before we were able to set cruise control. Of course there was the obligatory pit stop for dinner which everyone found exciting and another stop further along for Tim Hortons doughnuts before we turned off highway 11 and into the countryside.

Nipissing Beach

Upon arriving at our destination we were instantly struck by the silence. It was glorious! The cottage itself sat meters away from Lake Nipissing and the view was breathtaking. The kids inhaled the pine infused air and marvelled at being able to see more stars than their little city-born eyes have ever laid eyes on. We were greeted by loving family members as we unloaded the rental car and settled into our new surroundings.

Sitting by the beach, listening to the peace and quiet.
Sitting by the beach, listening to the peace and quiet.

The next day the whole family just did their thing. The children became water babies and if they weren’t fully in the lake they were at least up to their ankles in the shallow, warm water. I became a kid too and showed my brood the art of building sandcastles and moats and dams and, and, and! Time completely slowed down and my husband lost himself in the peace and freedom of not being near a computer or telephone. By the time evening gently rolled in we were treated to one of the most stunning sunsets we have ever seen. If it wasn’t for the mosquitos I would have stayed out all night looking up at the galaxy above me and remembering stars I haven’t seen for so long as I sipped my wine and lounged on a beach chair.

My kids meeting 'Mrs Duck'.
My kids meeting ‘Mrs Duck’.

<Deep exhale as I remember the beauty…>

Although we were only there for 36 hours it was a beautiful break and one that left a huge impression on my kids and a yearning to repeat the experience again next year. Now we get it; ‘The Cottage’ is a special term that when stated you know relaxation, peace, play and happiness will be experienced and worries temporarily forgotten. It’s not just a wooden shack by the lake, it’s a place of laughter, reading, jokes and memories. My husband is currently searching for a place right now…

Sunset over Lake Nipissing
Sunset over Lake Nipissing

Parents, tsk!

Yes, I allow my kids to play this game - they think it's hilarious!

It’s been awhile since my last post, nearly two months in fact, but I’m finally back again. The summer holidays are well and truly started now and I’m juggling work, kids, keeping peace, housework and gardening. At the moment I’m having a nice ‘lunch break’ while the kids play cards together (without fighting!) I was perusing Yahoo news when I happened across two very disturbing stories. One came from China where a mother refused to allow firefighters to break into her BMW to save her son who had been locked inside on a dangerously hot day. She claimed she didn’t want her expensive car to be damaged and wanted to wait for a locksmith rather than have the rescue team save her son quickly. The second story came from the UK and involved a security guard deciding a mother could not breastfeed her 9 month old daughter in public so ordered her to leave the store. After the mother refused the IDIOT security guard snatched the little girl from her mother – while she was still feeding – and basically held her for ransom to make the mother leave. WHAT is WRONG with people?!!

I remember when my children were small, especially with my daughter who was my first, the general public took it upon themselves to tell me how to look after my child. It drove me bats**t crazy! One psycho physically removed my daughters thumb from her mouth while we stood on a subway train telling me it was bad for her to do that. That person is lucky to have walked off the subway with working legs! Sometimes things happen that, while in the moment, leave us so dumbfounded that the reaction isn’t there and it’s only later the anger and humiliation come flowing through. But I learnt quickly to be on the lookout for those special individuals and be at the ready to let ’em have it! The funny part about this is that usually the people doing the ‘disciplining’ are not parents themselves; those with kids know better than to step on another parent’s shoes.

The flip side of this thought is that parents are also very good at picking up bad parenting behaviours and will, sometimes without provocation, have no qualms about sharing their views! I’m guilty of this – call me judgemental – and for sure people look at me and think the same. A pet peeve of mine is seeing very young kids being dragged to a restaurant and having to endure a very long and boring evening while their parents let their hair down a bit too long, get gazeboed and pretend their children don’t exist. It’s as if they forget they are parents and shut out the sounds of their screaming infant who desperately wants a feed. If you’re going to do that either a)get a babysitter or b) party at home! Another example, in my view, of questinable parenting is allowing yourself to be guided by an app or book or (the worst of the worst) a celebrity. In my mind you need to learn from your child; no-one can tell you exactly how your child will behave, eat, sleep so to be made to believe you could be wrong because your child does not conform to a certain ‘rule’ is mental. Look up from your tablet/book/screen and at your child. Learn its habits, work with them and you’ll find a way to make life easier on yourself and ensure you are confident in your parenting abilities.

Parenting is a funny business and no-one is absolutely right on how it should be but some ground rules should apply – Yes, rip your car apart if it will save your child from dying within a sweltering car. Yes, allow a mother who has 9 month old twins to breastfeed with dignity while in a shop. No, do NOT assume you can tell a parent how to do their job, just assume they know what they are doing and if it looks detrimental to the child’s health then sure, step in! My rules are more relaxed than others and my kids have amazing personalities and funny little quirks which I know and love.

I’ve just realized my 4 year old son is playing his sisters Hello Kitty Manicure game on the iPad…oh well – anything for peace, right?!!