Wednesday, December 15, 2010

13 Things I Want To Tell My 13 Year Old Son

- I don't know why, but I feel compelled to start by saying that I'm not perfect. I don't know everything about everything, I won't pretend that I do. This post isn't meant to be preachy.
I sense you know this already, or at least are beginning to suspect it, like the other day when you were having a problem with your math homework, and I told you "don't ask me" and you made a grunting sound and said "Don't worry, I wouldn't even bother." 

When I was a teenager (back in the nineteen hundreds), I had the idea that my parents thought they knew everything, but they actually knew nothing.
But let me tell you, I do not know everything, nor do I think that I do. There is a lot, I will admit, that I don't know. I pick up a cell phone and have to ask you to turn it on. The damn things are so complicated. Back in my day there were no cameras in the phones. A phone was a phone. Period.
Anyways, these are uncharted waters for me, too, and believe me you, I'm more than a little nervous about what lies ahead. I may not do everything right. I may not say everything right. And honestly- I don't even think there is a 'right'. All I want to do is try to guide you through the next few years, to the best of my ability.
I don't know everything. But I do know some stuff.  I hope you will, at least, give me that much credit.

-Out of anything and everything I could possibly tell you, there is one thing that I want you to know, and not just know on an intellectual level, but on a level deeper than that. To the very core of your being. Do not give in to peer pressure, especially when it comes to drugs. You are allowed to make mistakes as a teenager. I even hope that you do, though, probably- I don't want to hear about them. Experience is a wonderful teacher. But in this instance, experience is a very bad teacher. The kind that takes advantage of their students and has to do jail time.

Drugs are harmful and dangerous, in ways that I can't even really describe. I could go on Wikipedia and print out a list of side effects, but it just doesn't describe what I have seen, what I have felt when I have seen the pain in the people I work with, the burden that they carry that is addiction. I have looked addiction in the eye and it is an ugly, ugly, beast. I have seen young girls with track marks on their arms, their bodies mere skeletons, their eyes hollow and dark in their sockets. They looked ruined. And they are, I think.
And it only started with "just trying it", "just once."
Please do not go down that path.
And know in your heart that any friend who tries to make you do something you don't want to do isn't a friend at all.

-This one pains me to say it, but life won't always be fair.
As your parent, I have tried to protect you from the often harsh realities of the world. I have tried to create an environment for you that is safe, and loving and warm. But as you begin to have your own experiences in the broader world, I won't be able to protect you from the fact that, sometimes, life just plain out sucks. As Dr. Suess says "Bang ups an hang ups can happen to you."
And they will. But just know that this is all part of the process.
And it, too, will pass.
That heartbreak you think you'll  never get over?
Well, you will.
Of course you will.

-It's okay to be sensitive. I see such a sensitive side to you, the child that asks me how my day was when I get home from work, rather than just "What's for supper?" The child that cried at the end of Marley and Me. That snuck into Paytons room after I sent her to bed, and read her that extra story that she begged me for. That makes me my peppermint tea when I am tired at the end of the day, and asks me if I want cream and sugar in it.

-It's okay to cry.

-Even though it will feel like it at the time, getting a zit is not the end of the world.
 And no, the entire HIGH SCHOOL won't notice it.
And no, you won't be the laughing stock of the WHOLE WORLD.
It's all part of the process.
It, too, will pass.
And there will be always be Clearasil.

-I hope you know that you can always talk to us. There is no problem too big or too small. I can't guarantee that I will have the answers. In fact, I probably won't. For most things, there are no easy answers. But talking helps. And you can talk to us. About anything.

-Your socks? Are supposed to be changed on a daily basis, not biweekly, as you seem to have assumed.
Just FYI.

-I hope that you respect women. I don't really want to go into this whole area with you right now, cuz it's kind of awkward, but it doesn't pay to be a playa. OK.  What goes around comes around. Plus you could get all kinds of nasty diseases. And I know that scare tactics don't work, but what the hell? This is a picture of a venereal wart.See, it's nasty. So think about that. Anyways, this is way premature anyways.
You're a long way from that, years, decades- maybe, even. OK, years. I think. I hope.

But even aside from that, treat women well in general.  Think about  the fact that every girl is someone else's daughter, possibly someones little sister. Treat them the way you would want someone else to treat your own little sister. With respect and dignity. Always be a gentleman.

-I hope that you, someday, appreciate your siblings. I know that sometimes they can be annoying- OK, most of the time. I know that they did lose your XBox games and your MP3 player.
But some day you will need those siblings.
And they need you. They need a big brother to look up to.
And I know that being the oldest is hard, and we expect a lot out of you. But it also a great privilege.
You get to be their hero growing up.
So be it.

-I know that I don't always show it- it's much more fun to tease you about your shaggy hair, but I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the young adult you're becoming more and more every day. I see you sometimes helping your brother or you sister. You make me laugh every day with your sense of humor that is quirky and silly- not unlike my own. You're smart at school, without ever trying too hard or taking yourself too seriously. You are confident without being arrogant. You have a soft and kind heart. You're not afraid to call your grandma your friend, to post on your facebook status that you love your mother (even though- yes I know, it was just copied and pasted.) Don't be afraid to be yourself. Real friends accept you for exactly the person you are.

Lastly, enjoy the ride.
My parents once told me "Youth is wasted on the young."
I wasn't sure what that meant. Frankly, I'm still not sure I do. But I think it means that teenagers are often times too young to appreciate the boundless energy and passion that they possess. They take it for granted.
Don't waste your youth. There are few times in your life when you get to do basically whatever you want. So I hope you live large, dream big, laugh lots, break your curfew a time or two.
Okay, maybe not the last one.
Live large within the confines or your curfew.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice??

This is what little girls are made of: sugar and spice and everything nice.
So says a nursery rhyme that I recall from my childhood, when there were less taboos about political correctness and something like that could be published without fear of backlash from feminist protesters.

But let me ask you this?
Would sugar and spice throw a plastic hamster (who knew it could be used as a weapon?) at your head and order you to "Get out and stay out" when you try to wake her up in the morning??
She's not a morning person, I figure.
Honestly, I'm kind of scared of her.
And the really scary thing is-

she's only six.

So I finally roused my sleeping princess at quarter after 8, after about an hour of trying.
"Hurry up," I told her. "We have to go in ten minutes." (Which was actually twenty, but I say ten in the hope that she might be motivated to budge from her perch on the top bunk, with her pillow held firmly over her head.)
I gave her her clothes, nervous to see what she would say about them.
But she didn't say anything. She just took them wordlessly.
Relieved, I left the room to give her some privacy to change.
I returned five minutes later to check on her progress.

She had one sock half on.
"Payton! You have to HURRY" I told her, now on the verge of hysteria.

And then she flung herself to the ground, collapsing into a puddle.
"You YELLED AT ME!" she said, crying. Her words quickly became unintelligible.
"Oh for God's sake," I said, leaving the room.
I passed my husband in the hallway.
"She is going to bed EARLY tonight!"
My husband nodded. But we've had this conversation before. Every day.
That early bed time?
 Never comes.

Anyways, by the time I get to work at nine o'clock, honestly, I'm already spent.
And then I have to work eight hours.
I'm very tired, my stress is high and my energy is low.
At work the first thing I saw was a poster that said "Tips for dealing with stress:"
So I read it earnestly.
(I love the word "earnestly" and it's really very sad, because so few opportunities come up to use it. So when I do get to use it, I get really excited about that.)
Anyways the tips were crap.
"Talk about it" "Laugh about it" "Exercise" "Plan ahead" "Relax"
I do not know who designed that stupid poster.
Because I didn't see on there anywhere- binge drinking, drug overdose, or stabbing, which was really too bad.
So I tried to talk about it- but everyone at work was like 'Ohya. That's girls for ya. Just wait a few years."
And then an evil laugh.
I mean, where's the love? I'm still feeling like stabbing something.
And speaking of stabbing-

You would think that when you go to a hotel and you approach the front desk and you ask them for a knife and a stack of heavy duty paper towels that they might ask a bit more questions than "what kind of a knife?"
"Oh, I don't know," I said. "Something sharp."
"Okay," she said with a nod. "Sure thing."
So they went and got me this seriously scary looking knife and a big stack of napkins.
"Enjoy your stay," she said with a smile, and then I had to carry this knife all through the halls, and I felt more than a little conspicuous let me say, but people merely smiled and nodded, as though seeing a knife wielding woman in the hallway was pretty common.
Maybe it was.
What the hell kind of a hotel was I in, exactly??
And then I thought- I hope no one gets stabbed here in this hotel, and then they canvass all the rooms, and the people are like "come to think of it I did see someone walking around with a carving knife."
Anyways- all I needed it for was to cut my sons birthday cake, because we had forgotten to bring a knife with us. I mean, who thinks of bringing knives to a birthday party??
I felt the need to tell that to every person I passed, but then, as it turns out- no one is really that interested in entering into a dialogue with a person carrying a knife that looks like a prop from Night of the Living Dead.
Go figure.
writing makes me feel better.
Now I can breathe.
So thank you, dear reader.

And please tune in tomorrow where I will publish my post "Thirteen Things I Want to Tell My Thirteen Year Old Son."
Have a good day!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Holidays

I've always been hesitant about posting pictures of my kids on this blog, on account of all the creepy Internet stalky people out there. I mean, I know it's not most of you- but just today someone found my blog by googling "How to insert a Nyquil soaked tampon." It is entirely unclear to my why this blog came up. I do not recall ever writing about Nyquil soaked tampons. Further more I cannot imagine why a person would even want to-

Anyways, I've decided to post a picture of my kids for three reasons:
1) Because I want to show that I actually do have kids.
2) I want to show that they are not actually traumatized.
and 3) Because they are cute!

That's Gage on the left, who is turning 13 soon.
Our baby, Alex is in the middle- who, at the moment is not dealing well with wearing clothes. He does have clothes- so please do not alert child and family services.
And Payton on the right, our only girl- our drama queen and self appointed princess. Seriously. For a long time she actually made us refer to her as "Princess Payton." She is very sparkly, and probably, if we let her, would wear that garland 24/7 until Christmas was over- maybe even a little bit into the new year.

Anyways, from my family to yours, happy holidays.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Not Connecting With It

Even though the term "not connecting with it" is the bane of my existence right now, I"m going to go ahead and use it as a title anyways, because sometimes- even though it sounds trite- you just don't connect with it. What can you do?

I can, and I will (and I have), read just about anything- except for the usual caveats (no time travel, no meth labs, it has to be set in present day, the MC has to be human- or at least, mostly human, no pirates, no dragons, no wizards, no conspiracy theories and no drug lords, vampires- well, maybe. It would depend. I did read the Twilight saga.)

Last weekend I bought a new book "Not My Daughter", because the plot seemed interesting. It was about a seventeen year old who becomes pregnant as some sort of pregnancy pact at her high school. So I threw it in my cart and was on my way.

A week later, I'm about fifty pages into the book.

I'm finding it difficult, and I'm asking myself: at what point should I just set it aside permanently? It I haven't connected with the material yet, then maybe I never will. Usually I read a book until the end, no matter what, just because I feel like I have to.

Some books have slow starts and that's okay. But I think that this is more than a slow start. I just don't find it plausible. The story is told from the POV of the mother of a pregnant teen, which I thought might be an interesting point of view. But. She's facing possibly being fired from her job because her daughter is pregnant, which I find kind of a stretch- even with her being the principal of the school.

Even where I come from- a small city set in the middle of province that still has a largely rural population- most of our high schools have a built in child care facility- not for the teachers- for the students.
Even ten years ago (okay, more than ten, but we won't go there right now.) when I was in high school, the bus ride home was often crowded with babies and their vacant stares, working the soothers in their mouths, some furiously, some lazily. Their mothers stood, laden with a back pack slung over one shoulder, a diaper bag over the other, and a baby on hip. They did make it look sort of attractive, though. The Playtex bottles in shades of aqua and pink, neatly labelled with cool names "Allyx" "Bryanna"-- are teen moms more inclined to use a "Y" in place of a vowel?  I don't know, but it always sorta seemed that way.

Anyways, coming from this background, the authors handling of the subject matter just didn't ring true to me. The mother was in total denial, insisting that her daughter only had the stomach flu. She was fearing backlash from the community, facing possible suspension from the school board. It seems like this was a book written in a different time. Like fifty years ago.
So I'm considering whether or not I should see it through.
Honestly, at this point, even if I try real hard, I doubt if I'll be able to finish it.

What I have been reading a lot of lately is the Junie B: First Grader series by Barbara Park. I got the series to read with Payton, who has now, herself, risen to the ranks of first grade. We are both enjoying the books. They are hilarious. Last night when we went to bed, Geoff was reading his Stephen King book and I was reading Junie B.
They're really quite clever.
Anyways, that is all for today. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Open Letter to Superstore

I am writing with a heavy heart to tell you that it is totally, completely, over between us.

We had a good thing going, we did. But lately we've been growing apart. I've strayed before, we both know, but I've always found my way back to you. But this time will be different.  No matter if you have one kilo bricks of Cracker Barrel cheese on sale again for nine dollars or not.
But damn, that's a good deal.
But at this point, I'm feeling foot loose and fancy free with my cheese wheeling, and if I have to pay a few dollars more at Safeway, I'll do it, if that's what it takes to make a clean break.
And I even fell for your Joe line. I bought that argyle sweater that looked so cute. But later on, after that brief rush was over, I went home and put it on. That thing itched the fuck out of me.

But still, I went back for more, all in the name of cheap cheese and laundry soap. That deal you had on Gain, that was hard to resist. And so I stayed firmly by your side, though I knew in my heart that the line ups were getting longer. The aisles got all mixed up. The taco kits were in the cookie aisle, the corn by the ice cream. The whole thing was seriously messed up, and I spent so many days and nights wandering around, trying to find what I was looking for, sighing in despair, and at times- going home empty handed. I'm still not sure where the soy sauce is. Would it be so hard to keep it by the rice? Would it??
I believed for a while, that it was just happenstance that I always ended up with the one cart that didn't steer properly. I now believe that every cart is broken, with shoddy wheels.

And for a while, when the self serve check outs became available, I had new hope for our relationship. I thought, maybe, we could still make it work.

But today was the worst it's ever been.
The line ups were so long and so big and so deep that I waited  for over thirty minutes. Pathetic, I know. I stood there, shifting my weight from one foot to the next, looking forlornly at all of the people you were serving before me while I read an old issue of Hello! Canada! But I just couldn't concentrate, despite the fact that they had a rather enticing recipe for a Christmas Flan. I was tempted to leave, right then and there. Leave with nothing but the clothes on my back and a dream in my heart. But no, I stayed. Stayed because I wanted that tub of sea salt cashews too much.

And after all of that?
You could give me a smile. A gesture, for returning to you. For waiting for you.
"It's pretty crazy here today," I commented, feeling the need to reestablish my connection with you, however fleeting, though I knew there were others. So, so many others, including the lady in front of me, who bought only bird seed by the ten kilogram bag.
And you looked at me, and I saw something there. Annoyance. Something vaguely condescending, and you said and I quote: "Ya, well. That's what you get when you go shopping on the last day of the month."
"Oh, really?" I asked, nicely. "That's a busy time?"
You gave a haughty laugh. "Payday. What do you think."

You want to know what I think?
Here's what I think:
I think that not every one in the whole bloody world gets paid on the same bloody day, and yes I know that I used the word 'bloody' twice there, but at this point, I don't even care about that.  And I think that if you KNEW, which you say (so condescendingly) that you did, that the last day of the month is a busy time, you MIGHT have found it in your heart to open more that FOUR check outs. And do you think that you could hire at least ONE of them that didn't make it look as though the zombie Apocalypse was, like, a real thing??

I didn't get paid today. But that doesn't mean that I didn't need to go out and get my milk and my bread and cashews and mini cheese quiches and a fine cracker assortment and three pairs of socks with Christmas hams on them and an animated bell shaped Christmas light display.

Anyways, you had moved on. Pressing that little black button until all my items were all crammed together at the end of the counter. "Stripe out" was all you said when I handed you my debit card. I hadn't even paid yet when you were pushing the next person through.
Our conversation was over.
I packed my groceries- if you can call them that- and walked away, feeling a sad, sinking sensation.
I knew I would never return.
The price of Gain be damned.

As an aside- if there's anyone out there jonesing to buy me a Christmas gift but is asking themselves the question: what to get for the girl that has it all (OK, I am sure that no one is asking that question), but I'll tell you anyways (mother) that I saw this saying and I would really like it on a mug:
"A metaphor is like a simile"
I love it so much and I really MUST have it. It's exactly the kind of geeky joke that I would fall for, head over heels.
Just sayin.
Christmas IS coming.