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.

 

 

Time Marching On

Time is moving so quickly right now that I’m referencing spans of time by hair appointments, as in “I feel like I just got my hair cut last week!” But, you know, it’s been a month.

It seems like yesterday that Second Born Son got his driver’s license, but it has been four months. But maybe I’m not a good gauge of time since I think this was last year….

Cutie Patootie!

…when this was last year….

You don’t want to know what went into this document….

 

So you will understand why I’m a little twisted around about the idea of this infant going to ANOTHER COUNTY on ANOTHER CONTINENT for TEN DAYS!!!

Seems like only yesterday that he told us about the planned Vimy Ridge trip, waaaaaay off in the Spring of 2017. The trip sounded amazing and included a couple of days in England, followed by 8 days in France. Several students from his school are going and they get to be part of the the 100th Vimy Ridge Celebration on April 9th.

I am proud and jealous at the same time, but mostly excited for him and the experiences he will enjoy. This is a wonderful age to travel and observe such an important tribute to Canadians and their contributions and sacrifices in World War I.

So, the bag is packed, the documents are in place and the momma isn’t going to get weepy when it’s time to say goodbye.

‘Cuz we got him a great cell package and I’m sure we’ll hear from him daily…..

 

 

 

 

Full Circle Moment

Once upon a time, a little boy invited all his friends in his neighbourhood to come to his house on his birthday. The date was set and his friends promised to come.

The day of the event rolled around. All of the children from the neighbourhood arrived at the allotted time, dressed for a party with gifts in hand.

The only problem was, it wasn’t the little boy’s birthday at all. And he hadn’t told his parents about his guests. His mother, mortified, sent the children home. With their presents.

This took place approximately 70 years ago.

******

Last week, First Born Son came home told and told me about a conversation he had with the young son of a family friend. His birthday was coming up and he wanted to invite FBS to his party.

“You can bring your Mom too!” he stated, and FBS recounted with a laugh.

Touched by the young man’s thoughtfulness, and chuckling over his precociousness, I headed out to find the perfect gift. Two John Deere T shirts for a “hard working” young man.

Although FBS couldn’t join me due to his work schedule, I took the gift to the wee lad’s house. There was no party. His parents weren’t even home from work. His grandmother, who is a caregiver for him and his older sister, was taken aback to when she came to the door. The boy and his sister were delighted to see me, and he gleefully took the gift and shredded the colourful paper. The grandmother sputtered appreciation for the gift, how kind the gesture was, how unexpected, how her daughter and son-in-law would be surprised to learn their son, the birthday boy, had made such a bold invitation.

This boy’s birthday was June 10.

The first story is about my father. His birthday was June 9.

The only thing more striking is the resemblance between this little boy and his grandson at the same age.

The only thing more striking is the resemblance between this little boy and his grandson at the same age.

Although it’s been two years since he passed, I found it somewhat comforting that this story, that he told us many times, came to me in the moment that I realized that I was invited to a party that wasn’t happening; for a young man who just wanted to have some people over to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Duddy!

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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.

2016-02-27 13.53.53

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.

 

 

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

Yes, the summer flew by far too quickly, but that’s not the only thing that has happened in the blink of an eye.

Yup, I'm going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

Yup, I’m going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

This wee, innocent, fragile soul graduated from high school! I KNOW! Crazy right? He just learned how to walk last week, so the fact that he went to his Prom is incomprehensible!

A Boy and his Truck

A Boy and his Truck

Because no Prom is complete without photos, and because I’m not a fan of the traditional “stand beside your date” snaps, we did a full-fledged shoot with the one thing in the world that fills First Born Son’s heart, his truck.

DSC_8348

While other grads were cozying up to their significant others, this grad wanted to make sure he had all the shots he could possibly get with his truck.

This blows my mind. Every. Single. Time.

This blows my mind. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t misunderstand, he had a date. She looked lovely. She was thrilled that he had a cool ride. But he just wasn’t that hung up on pix with a chick when he could have pix with his pickup truck!

Sigh

Sigh

The afternoon was bittersweet, because, with the pride we had in how he has wrapped up this chapter of his life and standing on the edge of the next, I couldn’t help but think of how proud my Dad would be. Not only did FBS rock his suit, and look ever inch a young man, but he made sure his grandfather was represented on this special day. He wore Dad’s cufflinks.

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After what was, in his words, one of the best nights of his life, FBS said “Farewell” to his high school years. He was more than ready to drive off into the sunset, as long as the sun set over his college!

Aviators - the finishing touch!

Aviators – the finishing touch!

Minutes after this photo was taken, he started working for a landscaper and we didn’t see him again until the day before he moved into residence. (I’m only being mildly sarcastic, it was actually two days before.)

As “Move In/Move Out” day approached, advice started flooding in. I was going to cry. I was going to be emotional. I was going to miss him like CRAZY! Well as time progressed, I wasn’t getting emotional, I was nervous. Anxious that he wasn’t allowing enough time to get ready. Not making sure that he was prepared for the practical demands of being responsible for himself. (Grocery shopping wasn’t a priority until his Uncle mentioned he might was to look into it. We did it the next day, at FBS’s insistence!) I never developed the symptoms others warned me about and I was starting worry that I was a lousy mother for not dreading my child’s imminent departure.

I remember my parents’ reaction to my leaving for college. It was a difficult transition and I felt very scared. I didn’t want that for FBS. Both the Big Guy and I felt that doing our job as parents would be to prepare our son for the world, support him in his decisions and be happy for his successes. If I’m sad or upset, I take away from his excitement, and maybe even damage his chance of success. If I make my feelings more important that his, it diminishes what he accomplishes.

Besides, we were both really excited for him. (The Big Guy was most excited about FBS’s Dorm Life – flashback anyone??) There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a young person on the edge of a wonderful opportunity. We could see how excited he was and how he was so ready to GO!  How could I, as a parent, be anything but thrilled for him? Parents are only successful if our children are happy and achieve the dreams the set for themselves. The whole “Bird flying from the nest” analogy is corny, but it’s perfect for this situation. We are excited that he’s ready to fly, and can’t wait to see how far he goes and where he lands!

So, three weeks in, I have yet to cry because I miss him. (Partly because he texts me more now than he did when we lived under the same roof!) I have already seen him grow and change in wonderful ways. He’s starting to learn the things we are unable to teach him; what he has to learn for himself. I’m not feeling emotional when I walk past his room (I know he’ll be back when the food and clean clothes run out!).  I don’t miss him in a negative way; I think about him just as much as I regularly do and I’m always thinking that I can’t wait to hear his stories!

And I don’t have nearly as much cooking or laundry to do!! 😉

I Wish…

I wish we didn’t have to have a tragedy to make us aware of how precious every day truly is.

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I wish children didn’t have to lose their parents.

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I wish parents never had to bury their children.

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I wish husbands only buried their wives after many long and happy years together.

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I wish that anyone who got behind the wheel of a car while impaired only hurt themselves.

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I wish there was a way to turn back time.

“Live every day as if it were going to be your last; for one day you’re sure to be right.”
~Harry “Breaker” Harbord Morant