Passing on Perfection

There was a conversation about my sons earlier this week. The person I spoke with made a profound comment.

“Your sons are just perfect.”

My heart sank.

Crazy, right? Mothers around the world would love to have their offspring branded as “perfect” and yet all I can think is “NOOOOO!” I thanked her and dismissed the comment at the same time. After all, there is no way IN. HELL. that my kids are perfect. Their mother certainly isn’t.

I’ve had issues with that word, that concept, for a while now. I don’t believe in “perfect”. Perfect is limiting, unattainable, and damaging. Lifetimes have been wasted in the quest for perfection. It’s a conversation I’ve had with The Big Guy throughout our relationship. He’s a big believer in “perfect”. As you can imagine, it makes for interesting chit chat.

The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

He is driven by details, and is brutally hard on himself. He pours over the fine points. I am deadline driven. I can accomplish a huge amount in a very short period of time. Together we are a great combination, even if we don’t come from he same point of view. Perfection is something he values, and I’m still wondering why he ever wanted to be with me since I know that I don’t rank very high on the Perfect Scale. Nor would I care to.

You learn so much more from a mistake. I don’t want perfect children. They would be very uninteresting. They are better prepared for life with the flaws that they have and learning how to overcome or embrace them.

Perfection is a relative term. My idea of a perfect evening could be pjs, a bowl of popcorn, a great movie and a blanket to cuddle under. Yours might be an evening at a restaurant with friends. Which is actually perfect? Is my vision wrong because it doesn’t match yours? My definition the following night could very well change. Was my first night not “perfect” because I picked a new “perfect” the next time?

THAT'S more like it!

THAT’S more like it!

Once perfection is achieved, which in and of itself is almost impossible for the majority of us, the next mammoth task is to maintain perfection. Any less is failure, which perfectionists know full well, is the antithesis of perfection.

Now please don’t misunderstand, I believe in putting your best effort forth. I think its important to have a personal best. I have looked a photographs I have captured, which at the time were my best, and now I can do better. It’s about growth and the continued development of me. Tomorrow I will do better than I did today, just as I am better today than I was yesterday.

Perfection is uninteresting, predictable. Perfection is the starting place of downfall and disappointment.

Give me flawed, real, genuine. It speaks to me and is a far better motivator.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

It seems to be a right of passage – to bemoan the future of society when one looks at the generation that follows.

Kids these days. No respect for authority. No standards, and on and on.

But I found it rather ironic that based on the behavior of adults lately, how can hold child to a higher standard?

For starters, teachers in Ontario are protesting Bill 115. It is a detailed Bill handed down from the Provincial Government. One of the points of this Bill is that it suspends the Right to Strike, something that has been exercised thoroughly in the past. The Province has stepped over regional school boards and handed down a contract that, amongst other things, freezes teachers wages and reduces the number of sick days they are entitled to. A number of other Public Sector employees have been put the same position, not to mention the Separate School Board Teachers, who signed their agreements, in spite of not being pleased with the situation they were in.

However, the public school teachers’ union decided to protest the legislation, and starting in November (prior to the government handing down the Bill), started one day walk-outs in protest. Parents were given two days notice to find alternate childcare as schools were closed. Just about every school district had participated in rotating strikes. Once the Bill was passed before the end of the year, one day rotating strikes would be in contravention of the Bill. Both elementary and secondary school teachers planned another day each, of walk outs.

Now, the position the union is taking is that their members cannot in good conscience teach children about democracy when their own Rights are being stomped upon.

Hmmm.

How about a child’s Right to an Education?

How about not using children as hostages?

How about not punishing parents for something they have no direct control over?

Now, I’m not a fan of government legislating away Rights. But you know what I’m LESS of a fan of?? Teachers, who are in positions of authority and already complaining about lack of respect and support from students and parents, talking about taking action which was deemed ILLEGAL by the government. The Premier was elected by the people of Ontario, therefore, he acts on behalf of the taxpayers. If you don’t agree with the government, you get to vote them out at the next election.

In the meantime, you have children seeing teachers talking about breaking the law. Yup. Like it doesn’t apply to them. Fortunately, the government stood behind their legislation and indicated that any walk out would be deemed illegal (uh….YA?!?) and the Union backed down.

This week, teachers took the streets in front of their local MPPs’ offices, as well as Queens’ Park to protest Bill 115. Hmmm, taking your message directly to the politicians you are trying to communicate with. What an educated concept! You enact the democratic process as you exercise your Right to peaceful protest, while NOT breaking the law, and maintain your standing with parents and students (not alienate them). BRILLIANT!

Then there is the shining example that is Lance Armstrong.

From the first time that our sons told their first fib, we have been very clear on our position; no matter what it is that you have done, it will be twice as bad if you lie about it.

Didn’t complete a project? Bad.

Didn’t complete a project and then lie to Mom and Dad about it? BAD BAD.

We watched the build up to the Oprah Winfrey interview (first portion to air tonight) and viewed a montage of Armstrong denying, denying, denying, denying, denying that he took performance enhancing drugs. Not him. No way. NEVER! Now that he has lost his corporate sponsorship, endorsements, titles and respect, he has decided to fess up. Oprah has been guarded enough to say that he does not confess in the way that she expected, so I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that he will say that the entire sport is doping, so therefore it is an even field.

If we all cheat, does anyone do anything wrong?

I looked at my sons and said, “Do you see? Even adults have a hard time with this concept of why it’s bad to lie; and it’s made it worse for him, like it’s worse for you.”

While a small fortune has been raised in his name for research, the base of his foundation is built on a lie. Cancer survivor turn seven-time Tour de France champion turn celebrity. Dare I say, hero?

No. Liar.

How can we have a higher expectation of children, when society presents such questionable role models?

Parenting just got harder.

 

 

TechNOlogy

The discussion of technology has been a controversial one when it involves my parents. They don’t own a computer and my mother’s cell phone is dated, but functioning. They feel they have all the technology they need and are rather leery of the concept in general.

Don’t even bring up facebook.

Unfortunately, they have only heard of the negative aspects of computers/social media/internet. They know everything they want to know about teens posting X rated photos of themselves, cyber bullying and people over-sharing on Twitter and facebook, companies failing to protect our identities and viruses that cause access to banking information.

They know about this blog, and I’ve read specific entries to them, but they don’t read it on any kind of regular basis. Perhaps that’s why I’ve lived this long!! Little Sister and I have tried to talk them into getting a computer and are swiftly shot down.

I’ve tried to tell them about the positive aspects of computing; the ability to reach around the world from your couch, talking to family in different time zones with simple key strokes, shopping without pulling out of the garage (ok that’s something I appreciate more than they do!), about connecting with their grandkids, about finding friends.

So at Christmas, Little Sister and I risked our lives and our sanity by buying our parents a tablet.

Technically NOT a computer.

DSCN0530

 

You know something memorable was  being said here, dontcha?

So while they have a tablet, and as of last night, an email address, they refuse to entertain the idea of facebook.

Second Born Son got his facebook account this week. We made an agreement that when he reached a certain age and with a certain level of maturity. Some people think it’s not a good idea for a person his age to have a facebook account, but The Big Guy and I have a different perspective on this.

We live in a technological age. Toddlers have toys that interact and compute. If we can give him guidance and structure on how to use this technology, then we are doing our job as parents. When the day comes that he needs to learn how to drive, we will take him out and give him the tools and experience he needs. Why would we do any less when it comes to the internet?

I don’t believe that the internet, or facebook, is the root of all evil. I think people who over share their thoughts online are the same people you stand behind in the line at the grocery store who talk too loud and describe in great detail their most recent medical procedure. These people are just as irritating whether there is a computer in their hands or not.

For us, the key is supervision and transparency. I have the password and we have set time frames for when he can be online. It won’t be perfect; as with his brother, there will be glitches and growing pains. But I’d rather be beside him and help him navigate the internet, than leave him to figure it out for himself.

He can learn alongside his grandparents!

Cuba – AKA The Opposite of Roughing It

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Ok, that break was a little longer than I planned, but a “medical event” messed with my time line, my Christmas and my enjoyment of all things chocolate. So while I’m back in the saddle now, we must get caught up, now mustn’t we!

When we left, I was sharing the joy that was furnace replacement. As I mentioned, we finally had the new furnace up and running hours before we were to fly.

To back up a bit, each winter the boys have played hockey. Since The Big Guy was a hockey player, it was a natural progression for the boys to play. However Second Born Son bowed out last year, and First Born Son called it a career this summer. At first we were a little surprised, but we looked at this sudden discovery of time and funds as an opportunity. Without the stress of the politics of hockey, without running to an arena four or five days a week, without the cost of equipment ($$$$), gas ($$$) registration ($$$), tournaments ($$$) not to mention the gate fee at every away game, we were practically swimming in money.

But not really.

But almost.

So we decided to take a family holiday, and booked a week in Cuba. The boys were beyond excited. The departure date crept up on us, thanks to the distraction of the highly combustible furnace.

We went from no heat to 27 degrees and humidity. HEAVEN!

DSCN0254

Now I was fortunate enough as a child to travel with my parents and Little Sister to a number of destinations. I would have liked to have done more traveling with our boys, but we felt that making a commitment to a team sport, not to mention the financial obligation, was the priority; especially when the boys seemed to enjoy hockey so much.

But an hour in the sunshine and thoughts of arenas, penalties and slap shots were banished. We were all about the sun, waves and OLA!

DSCN0304We made a deal with the boys; they had to try new foods in order to appreciate the local culture. We also did some research on Cuba and the politics of the country so that there would be an understanding for the history of the nation and its people.

They realized they liked calamari, lobster (in small quantities) and the amazing, generous and sincere service we received.

We figured out the lay of the land and checked out a local market.

DSCN0013

Everything from hand-made jewellery, toys and artwork could be found. Not high-end and precious, but beautifully crafted, simply presented and whimsical.

DSCN0015

The amazing part was, these toy vehicles were two for 5 Cuban dollars, which is pretty much at par with Canadian dollars. Five dollars. Second Born Son was stunned, thrilled, but stunned. We grabbed a number of items for gifts and had an enjoyable experience meeting local people. As part of our travel tradition, The Big Guy and I purchased a piece of art to bring home. The trip had only just begun and was already a huge success.

DSCN0021

Except for the sugar cane juice. Not a winner.

There were a couple of provisos for the trip. 1) Mommy was going to spend a huge amount of time in a chaise. This was not to be questioned or debated. 2) Fun must be had by everyone!

We wanted the boys to see us playing A LOT because Lord knows, they certainly see us working A LOT. The Big Guy took care of that right away!

DSCN0103

We also decided to sign up for an excursion. While there was a ton of activities at our resort, we wanted to capitalize on the packages available through our carrier. Since were away during SBS’s birthday, we felt it would be appropriate to plan a special day on his Special Day. A dolphin excursion was the perfect plan.

DSCN0146

After the dolphins we had lunch and then enjoyed the afternoon on a catamaran. I do believe there are catamarans in Heaven, in case you were wondering….

DSCN0166

DSCN0161

I made one of the best decisions, which was to leave my “Big Girl” cameras at home and take a simple point and shoot. This meant I ACTUALLY GOT TO BE IN PHOTOS!!!! I KNOW – amazing!!!! It was funny, however, watching “photographers” using their cameras in bright sunlight, with their flashes, then looking at their LCD screen and scowl because they just couldn’t figure out why their pictures weren’t turning out. I didn’t have to worry about babysitting the camera bag and the boys took a ton of photos. It was interesting to see the trip from their perspective.

DSCN0320

First Born Son likes to play with light…..

DSCN0434

SBS was more about food….

That night was SBS’s birthday dinner, where he was treated like a Prince!

DSCN0246

It was important that the boys understand the social climate in Cuba. The average wage is $5 a day for those working on our resort. The work ethic was outstanding and the grace and kindness shown to us by just about everyone at the resort was remarkable, noted even by FBS and SBS. They developed a better appreciation for the things they have, as well as an understanding of new corner of the world.

DSCN0401

By the end of the week, we had enjoyed walks on the beach….

DSCN0257

Lovely dinners out….

DSCN0339

Quality time in the pool…

DSCN0318

…and donuts for breakfast!

DSCN0444

I’m so glad we took this time together, since life is moving far to fast. We hope to have another trip in near future, but if it’s longer than that, we know we have some awesome memories of Cuba.

DSCN0192