Raising Steel – Or Maybe Just Jello

Dear Village:

I have a gift for you.

Having now reached the age of adulthood, my 18-year-old daughter is now a full-fledged member of society. She’s a wonderful young woman. Bright, beautiful, and popular. You’ll love her.

At first.

And then you’ll start to see that she’s short a few marks on the responsibility scale. frustrated mom

You’ll start to take note of her growing absentee record at work. This will cross over into late bill payments, missed medical appointments, and more expressive frustration at others who cause her inconvenience. Eventually, she will have trouble holding a job, maintaining a home, and caring for her personal health. And if luck prevails, she will marry and have children to whom she will pass these remarkable skills, creating an evolutionary spiral into a blase pit of indifference.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of such ill-tidings. But I’ve tried to warn you. I’ve tried to get you on board with my kids. I’ve tried to teach them true values and ethics. I’ve done my best.

I am the mom who sent the 11-year-old down the street to the women’s shelter on Christmas morning to donate all of her presents, including the entire contents of a well-stuffed stocking, because she was clearly not impressed with either the quality or the quantity of goodies under the tree. I am the mom who spot-checks cell-phones and computers, who insists on meeting the friends – and their parents, who requires manners, who monitors bank accounts. My kids all clean toilets and do their own laundry; they know how to use the stove, the lawnmower, the vacuum cleaner, and the power tools. They know the difference between fault and responsibility.

frustrated mom2But in the end, they reach an age where I’ve got nothing left. I’ve explained, told, asked, begged, pleaded, threatened, warned, taught, yelled, screamed, cried, and given up. Over and over again. I’ve now even used up my last vestige of power – the holy grail of teenage angst – the wifi password.

And still I sat here and watched this morning as the now-adult daughter jolted out of bed at 8:57 a.m. to ask me in a mild panic if I could drive her to school in ten minutes.

“Of course,” I replied between sips of my coffee, “not!! You’re on your own, Sweety.”

She muttered some blasphemous reply as she stomped into the bathroom. I heard the shower start at 9:05. The final exam started at 9.

I have spent years warning of consequences to such actions. If you screw up, then you will pay.

But Village, dear Village, you’ve made a liar out of me. There are no consequences. You’re making me out to be the fool. Already this school year, this daughter is graduating, even though she earned a mark of 39 in her Grade 12 required English. Without talking to me first, the teacher made a ‘judgement call’ and gave her a 50. Even after she missed or was late 44 classes out of 78. Even after she hadn’t handed in her final assignment on time. Even after I had spent months using every tool in my chest to try to get her to school on time. (The third morning she slept in after I imposed a $10 fine for every morning she was late, she rolled over, threw a $10 bill at me, and tucked back under the covers.) But she needs to graduate with her friends…

She has a part-time job. They love her. She’s an excellent worker – I’ve taught her how to clean. But she’s late 3 out of 4 shifts. But that’s okay, because she just doesn’t get paid for the time she’s late.

So when the school phones me this morning at 9:30 asking where my daughter is, I am thrilled! Ah ha ha! BUSTED!! supermomPlease, school, feel free to lock her out of her exam. Feel free to dock her grade for the marks she misses because of it. Send her home. I’ll deal with her. But please, let there be some consequences!! And yes!!! have the Principal call me back!!!

The next phone call I get is from the daughter herself, within an hour. I smile as I see the caller ID. I breathe, because she’s going to be upset, having to confess to me that she’s blown off a whole course. It’s about time. I will be stern, but understanding. I will bring the lesson home.

“Hello,” I answer carefully, keeping my voice as neutral as possible.

“Hi Mom, it’s me, can I go to my friend’s house I’m done my exam and everyone’s going over there to celebrate that school’s over and then I’ll be home later to get my uniform and you can drive me to work but first I have to stop at the bank, OK?”

“Oh, and what happened with the exam then?”

“Oh, Mr. So-and-So said I shouldn’t be late and that exams are really important and all that and then I just went and wrote it. It was pretty easy I think. I probably passed.”

Pffffft!!!!!

defeatedAnd so Village, there you have it. So long as you’re not willing to back up my best efforts to make my kids accountable, to make them live up to their responsibilities and potential, so long as you’re willing to let them get away with everything, and tie my hands behind my back in the process, she’s all yours. I’ve done what I can. I’ve given it everything I’ve got. But I needed some help.

Good luck.

 

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5 Reasons This Canadian Loves the Sochi 2014 Olympic Gaymes

I wouldn’t consider myself a sport fanatic. I’m not all that athletic. And I usually carry a typical, though intense, quiet Canadian patriotism.

Until the Olympics hit. For two weeks, every two years, I am glued to the tv – now to my computer and smartphone as well!! – foregoing my normal sleep patterns, rearranging doctors appointments, and ordering takeout. I am addicted. To the sports, the competition, the drama, the athletes, their journeys.

But something’s changed. There’s something a little more alluring about Sochi. I’m dreaming about it. I’m tweeting about it. I’m having conversations with complete strangers about the events – a welcome and grateful reprieve from the months-long-crap-talk about the worst winter we’ve seen in decades. And I’ve begun to wonder why the best of the best are demanding so much of me. Why are the Sochi Olympics so all-consuming? Here’s what I’ve come up with.

own the podium I’ve got money on it! If anyone has a problem with more of our tax dollars supporting Team Canada’s athletes, I’m not hearing a whisper of such disapproval during Sochi 2014. Someone decided to start pumping some money into our ‘Own The Podium’ quest for Vancouver 2010. And the difference is obvious, notable, and impressive. Now, it seems that I am (indirectly) invested in our success. I am a part of Team Canada. It’s as close as I’ll ever get, and I’m loving it!

Cdn gives skiCanada looks good! We have arrived in Sochi with purpose, determination, and a competitive attitude that has the world wondering what happened to the ‘nice’ Canucks. Until a Canadian coach gives a Russian skier a ski to replace his broken one so he can finish his race. Until one athlete gives up his Olympic race to a teammate, who in return, wins us a Silver medal. Until someone shows up at the beer fridge with a Canadian passport – because you know NO Canadian will drink a beer by himself.

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters take gold and silver, with US bronze medallist Hannah Kearney

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters take gold and silver, with US bronze medallist Hannah Kearney

We are kicking our big brothers’ butts all over Sochi. We love our American friends. But they’re bigger than us. And any time we come out on top, the victory is all the sweeter. We are David. They are Goliath. And while I’m sure other countries harbour the same sentiment, I’m claiming this as a uniquely Canadian feeling!

In Women's Hockey, Canada beats the USA 3-2

In Women’s Hockey, Canada beats the USA 3-2

Hockey. At the risk of having my citizenship revoked, I will admit that I am an anti-NHL fan. It’s not the game. It’s the overpaid, spoiled players, the greedy owners who constantly confuse themselves with gods, and the fighting. Yeah. The fights. Regardless of the blood and broken noses, the fights look staged and choreographed. I pity the Leafs fans who have been brainwashed into thinking that Toronto will EVER win anything. So long as the lambs contribute so faithfully and generously to the pot, there is NO incentive for the league or the owners to invest a penny into a winning team. Suckers. But when it comes to hockey at the Olympics, the fast, exciting, even breathtaking action is addictive. The players are ALL-IN. And, of course, the thought of beating the US is icing!!

The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion had this to say...

The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion had this to say…

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Gaymes.  I’m not sure how necessary it is for our home town to sport the rainbow flag right now. But I am sure that the world is making a statement, taking a stand, and passing judgement on the whole issue. And anything that promotes human rights for all is a wonderful thing. And maybe, just maybe, Russia, and 90% of the rest of the countries in the world, will at least begin to see that there’s really nothing to fear when everyone has the right to love and be loved by whomever they like.

So as I sit here in my igloo, watching the Russian and American men duke it out on the hockey rink, wearing my red shirt, and pouring maple syrup on my pancakes, I can’t help but feel that busting Canadian pride that sits quietly under the surface for two years at a time, just waiting for a chance to cheer with my 35 million fellow Great White Northerners. The closing ceremonies are next weekend. It will be a sad slow climb to Spring after that.

 

How To ‘Say The Right Thing’ After A Tragedy

You know who I am. I’m your

sister-in-law / cousin / friend / neighbour / coworker / bridesmaid / carpool member / other

who

lost her husband / just had a baby with Down syndrome / found out her mom has cancer / buried her third-born twelve years ago / was in a serious car accident / lost her job / was just diagnosed with thrombocytopaenia / other

I love you. I know you want to help. And I get that you have no idea how. So please, let me tell you what I need.sadness

Don’t avoid my tragedy. Let me talk about it, ask me questions, listen to my story. I need to tell it, over and over again. I need to settle the details. I need to sort through what happened and understand where I’m at. I can’t possibly begin to move forward until I know what just happened to me. Don’t pity me. I need you to think I’m strong and capable so I will believe that, too. No matter how much I cry.

  • But don’t correct or assist me. If you know of a sure-fired solution to a part of my problem, call me later, after you’ve had ‘time to think on it.’ Don’t tell me now; I’ll only hear judgement, criticism, and disappointment. You can’t possibly understand what every minute is like for me right now – please don’t make me think you could handle this better than I’m barely managing to do myself.

Don’t ask how I am. Not unless it’s the right time and place to get into the gory details. Tell me you’re glad to see me. Tell me I’m looking strong/happy/deep in thought. But stay away from my appearance; I’m likely not at my best.

  • Feel free to invite me out for a spa day. I’d love a new hairdo, manicure, or, ooh, yes, a massage. God knows I haven’t done anything for myself in ages. But don’t go overboard and try to make me over. I can’t make any decisions right now. And the last thing I need is a new hair colour, a colon-cleanse, or my first Brazilian waxing.

Don’t tell me we should get together. Invite me out. Set a specific time and place. A movie, a dinner, a girls’ night out. If I can go, I will; if I can’t I won’t.

  • Make the arrangements. But even if you call and ask me out every week for a year, and I say no every time, know that I know you’re there and that you care – for real. Please don’t leave it open ended; intentions mean nothing. Nobody ever follows up.

Don’t tell me to ask you for help. I won’t. Even if I know what I need, I’m not going to bother you. Every time we talk, you’re so busy with work and the kids and the renovation and the volunteering. There’s no room for me.

  • Call me and tell me you have Saturday open. You’d like to come over and be mine for the day. You’ll be here at 9 and stay til 5. Whatever I need: help cleaning a closet, painting a room, cooking and stocking the freezer, sitting and watching two seasons of Game of Thrones. I’m crying just writing that down.

Don’t forget about me. Call me. I’m not as busy as you think I am. If I can’t talk, I won’t answer the phone.

  • But leave me a message to let me know you’re thinking about me. Don’t worry if I don’t answer – and please don’t pressure me to. But keep calling. I need to know you’re there when I finally get a chance to come up for a breath of fresh air. Write me a card. I likely won’t respond, but know that your card will sit on my desk for weeks, even months, reminding me that I have friends who still care about me, and that my world hasn’t completely fallen apart.

friends
Know that I’m dealing with this the best way I know how. Let me do it my way, but help me to be strong for myself and my family. Help me to find hope again. And know that I love and need you. I can’t get through this without you.

And one day when I am a better version of myself for having survived this mess, know that I will be there for you.