Helicopter Vs Public Transit Parents

Were you as shocked as I was to learn a BC father had to be told his four children could not take public transit without him until the eldest child was 12?

Were you as shocked as I was to learn they have been doing this for a year? That math means that he was preparing a 9 year old to ride a city bus while supervising siblings. What. The. Hell.

The father’s position is that he rode the bus with his children for two years to prepare them for this transition to independence. He feels the government, who made this decision, is “infantizing citizens” and reinforcing Helicopter Parents.

<PAUSE> Helicopter Parents – parents who create an environment of fear or anxiety based on real or perceived dangers to their child. Can also be a parent who cannot respect boundaries within the parent/child relationship and insists on being present for all aspects of the child’s physical, emotional and psychological development. As a result the child often feels incapable of functioning with the presence of said parent. <PLAY>

Apparently he has enough support that a GoFundMe page has been started to help him with his legal costs. No. I’m not linking it here.

In an age when people are bemoaning the fact that kids are growing up too quickly, why would anyone support a parent who is putting such a load of responsibility on their child? I’m sure I’ll be inundated with tales of readers who had a great deal of responsibility at young ages. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of accountably and responsibility. I’m just not sure making an elementary school child responsible for younger siblings on a public mode of transportation in the 8th largest city in Canada is the way to go about it.

The other side of this story would be that if something happened to these children, voices would be raised in outrage that NOONE did ANYTHING about these vulnerable children who were in an inappropriate situation. Let’s hope at some point this father realizes that at best, he’s been saved from an embarrassing situation, and at worst, a dangerous one.

 

 

Momma Bear

There are certain moments that are seared in your mind that when you reflect back on them, you aren’t just look back, but you find yourself IN that moment.

For me, it’s in Grade 10. I’m standing at the front of the classroom and I’m turning in to the teacher my  textbook for a Basic Bookkeeping class that I am dropping. Being the person I was back then, I don’t know how I didn’t pass out from the stress and anxiety. Being the person I am now, I’ll like to punch that asshat in the mouth.

It started innocently enough. My Mother is a wiz at math and felt that an entry level accounting course would serve me well. The course description certainly sounded appealing, even for a low-functioning mathematician like me. [Insert laugh track here]. I was terrible at math. It started in Grade 3 when the teacher of my split Grade 2/3 class told my Mother that I was a clever girl and that I’d figure out multiplication on my own; she had other students (namely those in Grade 2) who really needed her help. She was wrong. But, we all have our strengths, and since I never planned to become an accountant, we didn’t sweat it.

However, a Basic Bookkeeping course offered to enlighten the student on how to balance a chequebook, how to calculate interest and develop a budget. You know, simple life skills that all people should have. I was excited to learn “real world” stuff and not B.S. math like Trig and Algebra. [It should be noted that I ROCKED Algebra, something I attributed to the fact it was the only math that had LETTERS!]

I knew within moments that I. Was. Screwed. The teacher was a short, portly man with thinning white hair. I am still amazed that they made belts that long. Even though it was the 80s, this man was from a time much farther in history. His lessons were confusing, incomplete and complex. Within two weeks, I was behind. By the midterm exams, [Yes Virginia, you used to have to write the mid term exam to be exempt from the final exam. Can we discuss how ancient I am another time?] my chances of passing were slim to none. My Mother helped with my homework as I turned myself into knots. An experienced bookkeeper in her own Right, she was stunned at the course material. There were no references to personal finance, rather, we were being taught the same material that she herself was paid to do for a corporation. Spreadsheets for God sake!

My parents went to Parent-Teacher night when Little Sister and I were in elementary school, but I can honestly only remember once that my Mother attended the high school Parent-Teacher night. It was to address this teacher. We went together, since she wanted both sides of the story at the same time. Teachers were stationed in the gymnasium with parents cuing up to speak with the teachers in a civilized fashion.  Around the gym were teachers and parents have conversations, except for at one desk, which was empty. My teacher’s desk. There was a line up of parents several feet deep, with my Mother being second in the line. When it became evident that this particular teacher had no intention of attending, the parents started talking. Quickly we found out that most of the students were in risk of losing the credit. Even the most clever, numerically gifted were struggling.

Fed up, Mom left the line up and searched for the Vice Principal. He happened to know us from when he was the VP at our elementary school and he knew full well that we weren’t the type of family to blow smoke about a situation. They discussed the frustrations I was having, and he agreed with the need to speak directly to this teacher. With his help, Mom found the teacher.

And then she ripped him a new asshole.

I had honestly never seen my mother like this. She started calmly, logically, and when this sad excuse of an educator started giving her attitude she dropped the hammer on him and turned into a Momma Bear. The last thing I remember was walking away with her and seeing the other parents moving in for the kill. While I wouldn’t have assumed he would have survived the evening, he did live to die another day.

That night it was decided that I would drop the class, and take a SPARE! Yes, the world was ending.

Mom joined me in the guidance office the next day,  with a very sympathetic counsellor, who agreed leaving the class was the best option. I simply needed to turn in my text book.

Brilliant idea.

I walked in shortly after the bell rang and the rest of the class was seated. When I walked to his desk to hand him the text book, he stood up and without moving a muscle, save for his tongue, proceeded to rip me apart.

The Coles Notes version is:

  • I was a pathetic student
  • I was a quiter
  • I was never going to amount to anything in life
  • His course was the cornerstone to success, with I was never going to have
  • He did wish me luck with the rest of my life, although something tells me that was not a genuine sentiment.

I can still remember what it felt like to stand at the front of that class. I was a head taller than this man but his words hit me and flew by me like shrapnel. It was surreal. I could see the students in my peripheral vision. They were almost as traumatized as I was. I could see them pitying me and envying me at the same time. Most of them looked down at their desk. Some of them, as though they were watching a train wreck couldn’t look away. And I suppose it was a wreck of a fashion. A teacher destroying a student.

This impacted me for a long time. Until I realized, the man was wrong. I didn’t respect him. I didn’t like him. Therefore, his opinion of me didn’t matter. No one I cared about felt the same way he did. He was an angry, bitter man. Maybe he was jilted by a Sarah back in his hay day and I was going to pay the price. Maybe he didn’t like the crick in his neck that he developed when he had to talk to me. Regardless, from that time forward, I cared less and less about what other people thought of me. I had support and I was raised to be strong. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for me if I hadn’t had that support and strength.

But when Second Born Son came to me with a serious problem last week that involved the classroom. I knew what had to be done. Much is written about the beauty of teachers who are the foundation of a child’s success; how their love of learning shapes and nurtures a child for the rest of their lives. [And we value the ones who have touched us! CR ❤ Sadly, there are small minority whose impact is much less desirable, and scarring. They too can impact a child for a lifetime.

So fret not; SBS has support. And he has strength. And he has a Momma Bear.

 

Art Imitating Life

It’s amazing how you can be living your life and a message from the Universe will just come along and smack you upside the head. In this case, it was at a high school where I was to experience my first Improv Competition!

Second Born Son was sufficiently vague about what an Improv Competition was. He had spent countless hours at school after class with his Improv team, but until now, we had never seen them in action. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how it could be a competitive endeavor, but in my campaign to be Mother Of The Year, I didn’t bother pressing for details, instead I told him I’d be there! And I was. Inspire of a laundry list of jobs, errands, and a trek across Southwestern Ontario.

I roar into the parking lot with minutes to spare and inhale fast food takeout in the parking lot. With a stomach full of indigestion, I slip and stumble across the icy parking lot and wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I took a header between the vehicles. Safely inside, the cute, if not overly smiley greeter advised me that I’d want to take my coat off. It was really hot in the auditorium. Oh, and I’d have to wait to enter between performances. Oh, and it was $10 to get in. I cursed SBS under my breath and prayed I had $10 to my name after an impressive bathroom shopping spree. (No I’m not posting on that freakin’ bathroom again until it’s done!)

Applause indicates that we have a break and I gain access to the “auditorium” which is only the size of a standard classroom. There is a small stage along the far wall and raked seating which starts a the entrance where I’m standing. There is. no. room. As in, if I’m going to have to be in this “auditorium”, it’s if I’m sitting cross-legged on the second last step from the bottom, only 5 ft from the stage.  Then I’m hit by the heatwave. The soaring, humid temperature is understandable, as I’m sure we are exceeding the fire department’s recommended occupancy level and illuminated by dozens of stage lights. Body odour is a given.

SBS is sitting onstage with his team, along with five other secondary school teams. His cheeks are bright red from the intense heat in the room. If that wasn’t enough, the volume of the organizers, participants and the audience makes for a truly overwhelming experience. Slowly I figure it out. The teams have various categories to perform. Sometimes they require audience input before they start. Each “scene” starts with an audience countdown. Each one ends with a theme-related song hand picked by an invisible DJ. The wave of enthusiasm washes over the less enthralled.

Each teenager in the room that is performing has enough energy ON THEIR OWN to power a Red Bull factory. Times four to six teammates, times six teams! It’s loud. It’s beyond hot and it’s draining to see all these young people with so much bloody energy!

Naturally, the highlight was seeing SBS in action.

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And then to realize how GOOD he was at this! How quickly these team members could move in and out of a scene and come up with new ideas on the fly.

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You forget about the heat. And the noise (mostly because you are now adding to it) and it becomes about the performance. What the performers onstage are doing, they had no idea they would be doing 10 minutes earlier. They are doing the best they can, and supporting each other.

At the end of the day, SBS’ team ranked in the middle of the pack, which thrilled all the teammates. It was their first competition and they felt it was worthwhile. While I was please for them, and proud of SBS in particular, one of the most memorable aspects of the day was the closing remarks by the competition host.

He pointed out that Improv is like no other performance art. Participants must react and respond on the spot, without rehearsal, without a script, character profile or a novel to draw from. There is no director, second chance, editing, do-overs or re-recordings. Just. Like. Life. He encouraged the audience to take the experience home with them and remember the laughter, excitement and creativity they had just witnessed.

This parallel really affected me.

My day, and in fact the entire week prior, had been incredibly busy. I had way too many task on the To Do List for a Saturday. The Improv Competition forced me to be in one place for several hours, and just laugh. Well, and sweat my tush off, but that’s beside the point. The performances we saw were such a beautiful example of what life is, spontaneous, full of meaning, and hopefully, fun. This was exactly what I needed. It’s what we all need.

I could close with a sappy paragraph about how we need to smell the roses, but the fact of the matter is this; life doesn’t slow down. It will come at us as fast as we let it. I’m trying to grab on to more moments like this, because I want to REMEMBER. I want to have a mental image of times in my life when all I can do is look back. If I don’t slow down, all I will have is a blur.

And I’m very grateful to SBS for asking me to be there. And I’m grateful I felt I WAS there.

 

 

If you’re not First, you’re Last!

I’ve never been a huge fan of “Participation” ribbons. They started in the late 1970s to early 1980s and I remember them at Track and Field, right around this time of year.

Some years, I’d never be in the top four in a given event, but I’d still come home with that blue or white or yellow “Participant” ribbon. I hated it. Who cares that you showed up? I wanted to be good enough to actually get a red (First), blue (Second) or white (Third) ribbon. I never liked the idea of conforming or being just like the rest of the kids, so being handed a ribbon that every other kid was getting was NOT working for me.

In the following decades, Participating became a real achievement. They even made MEDALS for it! I watched my kids bring home wheelbarrow loads of Participation medallions that hang sadly in the corner of their rooms. They are prized or valued. They are dust collectors. I guess that’s the problem when your mom isn’t into participation so much as she is into TRYINGYOURFREAKIN’BEST!

As I have said numerous times, I’m not about perfection, but I am about giving YOUR best EFFORT. If my very best wasn’t as good as your best, then I bloody well want you to get the ribbon for winning, because then I’m going to work harder to whip your butt the next time!

Which reminds me of one of my all time favourite lines in a movie….

YOU'RE LAST

Not exactly what I believe in, but it’s still a great line.

The Big Guy and I have never been the types of parents to tell our kids that they were “the best” at something merely because they were our children, or to make them feel better about themselves. I know several occasions where First Born Son or Second Born Son would come to one of us, crestfallen that they hadn’t received an award they were coveting at school, or hockey, or softball. Sometimes the kid who did get the award was no more deserving, which just added insult to injury, but when the recipient was deserving (which was most of the time) I’d show my offspring why I could see the justice in the decision. Maybe the winner studied harder, practiced more, was more consistent in their efforts. You put in the work, you bring home the hardware – if that’s what you want out of life.

Which is what made last week so very special.

SBS has really embraced his artistic side. His weekly art classes are his favourite times of the week and he spends just about every free moment doing this….

Artist at work!

Artist at work!

He has taken over the dining room, and is often found drawing while listening to YouTube videos about the latest Marvel film or comic book release.

His talent is unmistakeable. And remember, I’m not a gusher!

Original on left, SBS's rendition on the right…crazy, right?

Original on left, SBS’s rendition on the right…crazy, right?

And this…

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Each year there is an art show where all the students, young and old, display their pieces and invite their friends and family to see their work. It’s a lovely evening at the teacher’s studio, spilling out into the back yard.

This year was no different, except for one small detail. SBS won the big award of the evening, Most Improved Artist! The award recognized SBS’s dedication and hard work which was so evident in his art. I loved this for two reasons – one, he was competing against himself, which means he ends up being better, and two, because I don’t believe art can really be judged one piece against another, this award was about the artist’s growth and not his work in comparison to others’.

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He received hardware AND a certificate! Here we have the artist pose with a sample of his body of work.

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And the cherry on the top was that he sold one of his pieces that very night!

Bye Buh Spider Man!

Bye Buh Spider Man!

But what made it so important to SBS was that while he didn’t expect it, he realized after that he was deserving. Isn’t that what makes winning so sweet?

The Big Wee-ner!

The Big Wee-ner!

The hardware now sits in a place of honour in the living room, for all to see and admire! 🙂

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The Birds and the Bees

If you live in Ontario, you recently became aware of the new Sex Education curriculum for public elementary school students.

You also recently became aware that when it comes to talking about sensitive topics, some Ontarians would rather discuss personal debt and their credit score before they would want to talk about sex. Take our provincial government for example. The previous curriculum was crafted in the mid to late 1990s, decades before “sexting” was part of the vernacular.

Pix taken shortly before the last Sex Education curriculum update...

Pix taken shortly before the last Sex Education curriculum update…

Immediate reaction was critical; those parents who felt the new lessons went too far, and those who felt things were left out.

In a nutshell, the new curriculum would introduce the concept of consent starting in Grade 1. Considering grown adults struggle with consent, I think this is bloody brilliant. What better time to educate a human about permission to touch another human being than when they are at their most “touchy-feely”!?

Then, GASP, children are introduced to what masturbation is around Grade 6. Since most kids – particularly in my experience, the male ones, have hands-on experience in this area before this age, I’m not sure why this is so shocking?? Let’s be proactive instead of reactive. Especially when it comes to making babies! Pregnancy prevention hits around Grade 8 and while you might be about to protest that this is FAR too young, let me advise you that a student a year old than First Born Son became a daddy several years ago, at the ripe old age of 14. I’m thinking this new curriculum would have helped him tremendously!

The argument many people have is that sexual education should come from a child’s parents. In a perfect world, it would. In a perfect world, all parents would be perfect too, so the type of information passed to their children would be flawless. Alas, we have flawed parents who are teaching their flawed perspectives of sexuality on to their children. There are some parents who get it right and are able to give their children a healthy understanding of their sexuality; and there are the others. I’m thinking of the parents of a girl who came to school and accused two boys of making inappropriate comments to her (think along the lines of various sexual positions) that they would like to try with her. Oh, did I mention they were in Grade 4 at the time?! Following a traumatic interrogation of the two boys, it eventually came out that the comments were never made, and that the young girl shows an inordinate amount of knowledge of risqué vocabulary which, she eventually told the teacher, was due to the fact that her much older siblings allowed her to watch porn with them. THAT’S one way of educating the child in the home!!!

Now what about the parents who have their own personal sexual issues? Whether it’s an extreme religious view, homophobia, a history of molestation or perhaps being exposed to a sexually transmitted disease; is it ok that they pass along these traumas to their children? To make sex an evil and unhealthy activity that will only serve to warp yet another generation?

We were fortunate enough to have a really good conversation about sex with both our sons. The Big Guy wasn’t sure what to expect when talking to his sons, since his parents didn’t feel the need to have the conversation with him. His knowledge came from friends and the stilted sex ed program of the 1970s. I can remember feeling traumatized when the girls were corralled in one class room for the talk about the female reproductive organs, and then the following year, they threw us together with the boys to discuss how babies were made – THAT made for a very interesting afternoon recess, I can tell you that much! We were all afraid to stand too close to each other, for fear we’d make a baby!!!

Somebody needs to tell these two what is causing all these babies - and put an end to it!!!

Somebody needs to tell these two what is causing all these babies – and put an end to it!!!

Today the challenges are hitting children younger and younger. They see images online, in movies and in life. Technology provides good and bad opportunities, and denying the education necessary to navigate the waters won’t make these facts go away.

At the end of the day, sexuality is part of what makes us human and if we want our children to be healthy, whole individuals, we have to make sure they have all the information they need at the age they need it at, in the society they are faced with.

Time Warp!

The most remarkable thing has happened!

This wee lad…

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woke this morning looking like this!!!

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It’s hard to believe that Second Born Son turns 14 tomorrow. The same kid who required two hour-long trips to the hospital in order to get into this world, is now in high school! It seems like yesterday that we took him to speech therapy! Yes – don’t get me started on the fact that I devoted hours to helping get this kid to talk. I’m painfully aware every time he starts discussing his latest video console obsession!

SBS is such a wonderful combination of light and fun. He hates it when animals or the elderly are endangered. He could care less about what other people think of him. For example, he’s not fazed by an unusual coat or jeans he’s grown out of; after all, he’s comfortable!

Our son has impeccable comedic timing, so it’s no surprise that he’s joined the Improv Club at school. He’s always been a fish around water…
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and has now earned Bronze Medallion with his eye set on the Bronze Cross in the spring!

His artistic ability is amazing!

Original on left, SBS's rendition on the right…crazy, right?

Original on left, SBS’s rendition on the right…crazy, right?

Artist at work!

Artist at work!

He’s a good friend, a great brother and a wonderful son!

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I cannot imagine our lives without him!

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Happy Birthday Sweetie!

A Man with A Plan

You want to know one of the things I love about being a Mom? It’s that you just never know where your life is going to take you.  A simple dinner can turn into a complex conversation about prejudice. Getting ready for school can veer off into a political debate.

Take, for example, a conversation last week, around dinner time. Second Born Son has been jonseing for some extra cash, since he has a serious “graphic novel” (comic book to the rest of us) addiction going on. He has every last coin counted out on his desk and he’s done the research for the upcoming Free Comic Book Day (May 3 cannot come fast enough!). However, the books he really wants, will not be “free” this year.

CURSE YOU UNIVERSE!!

SBS is a clever little dude, so he comes to the Mother Ship to figure out a solution to his financial woes.

“Bud, what it comes down to, is if you want extra money, you need to get a job.” I tell him.

“I don’t want a JOB!” he replies, as though I have suggested that he donate a kidney.

I can see the hamster running on its wheel and his eyes light up.

“I know, you can pay me to do chores!” he announces, with a look of excitement that is reserved for Christmas morning.

{{POW}} – DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING BATMAN!

“You mean, like recycling, compost, feeding the dogs and picking up poops?” I ask.

“YES! For $20 a week!!” he exclaims, thrilled that I’m picking up what he’s putting down.

“Why would I do that? You are supposed to do that now?” I ask, almost literally scratching my head.

“I KNOW, but you wouldn’t have to TELL me to do it, I’d just do it. And I’d keep my room clean too!” he generously offers.

<PAUSE >Now, I know what you are thinking. You think, ‘Hey Sarah, the kid is asking for an allowance.’ I am in no way, a fan of allowances. I read A LOT about the concept and aside from the fact that I didn’t have one, nor did The Big Guy, I feel like the items that he’s asking for compensation for, are part and parcel of being part of this family. I understand the dynamic of teaching the child the importance of understanding how to handle money. I get that some feel it is good for a child’s sense of self to be responsible for their own currency. However, SBS has demonstrated that with proper guidance, he CAN save money, UNTIL he finds something he SIMPLY. MUST.HAVE. We have also endured his frustration with himself when the coveted item he purchased last week in the throes of desire, quells into another item for the Not So Cool bin once it’s obtained. Boyfriend likes the chase, is what I’m saying. <PLAY>

So, with this in mind, I size up the situation.

“If I was going to pay someone, and I’m not saying I’m going to, I would want a lot more than that,” I reply. At this point The Big Guy is in the room, as is First Born Son (who, by the way, has never asked for an allowance). They can tell by the look on my face that this is going to be entertaining. I’m waiting for them to break out popcorn.

“You tell me what you want me to do and I’ll write it down, we’ll have a contract!” gushes SBS.

“Well, I’m thinking you need to set the table every day, do the dishwasher, start helping with laundry,” he looks up from his note pad at this point, “and you have to help with outside work.” The pen goes down. He’s not picking up my puttin’ down any more.

***ZOINKS***

“What???”

“Well, if I’m going to pay you $20 a week, you are going to have to earn it!” I tell him.

~HOLY BANK ACCOUNT ROBIN!~

“Go for it! That’s $80 a month!” goads FBS. I shoot him a death stare.

“I don’t know,” says SBS, doodling on his “contract” post it note.

“Well maybe I should tell you about my terms for this,” I offer. The Big Guy is smiling now.

“What terms?!” asks SBS.

“Well, right now, I pay for a lot of things for you. I don’t mind doing that because of the things you do help out with. But if we are going to switch and I have to PAY for your help, then I get to cut back on what I spend.”

“Like what???” he asks, genuinely concerned.

“Well, I pay for pizza and milk at school. I won’t pay for that any more, or any pita days.” I state. His jaw drops. “When we go to the city, I treat you to snacks or lunch. I won’t do that any more. I won’t pay for movies either. And now that I think about it, your brother was doing odd jobs around the neighbourhood and he was earning money for some of the clothes he wanted. So maybe it’s only fair we do the same for you?!” My hubby and elder son are transfixed, as though watching a real life episode of Dragons’ Den.

“NO WAY, I’M OUT!” announces SBS. He packs away the note pad and pen. Said contract is in the trash.

“No, hey, wait a minute,” I call out to him, “this could really work out well for me!!

The next morning, the pad is out again.

Lordy! I don't get paid every Friday!!

Lordy! I don’t get paid every Friday!!

I note the reduced rate, as well as the omission of outdoor work and laundry. He has been asking each morning since if I’ve come to a decision about this “counter” offer.

This conversation is going to resume tonight. I have a feeling he is going to enjoy the status quo!