Give Your Kids The Gift Of Age

After bingeing through Season 3 of House of Cards yesterday, I decided to give Netflix a bit of a break and started digging through the DVD stash. I found a copy of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that I didn’t know we had; Paul must have grabbed it at some point. I told the kids I’d never seen it, but let’s give it a try. It’s about old people.bestexoticmarigold

They stayed.

The only thing better than the movie itself was the fact that all three of them – my oldest son and two youngest daughters – not only sat through the whole thing, but seemed to genuinely enjoy the story. They recognized two of the actors from Downton Abbey, one from Pirates of the Caribbean, and one from a James Bond flick. Their reviews were all quite positive and thoughtful, with a unanimous thumbs up for the film.

Did I mention the movie is specifically about old people? It’s about old people – getting old. And all the crap that comes with it. It’s about broken hips and dead spouses and boring retirements and lost loves and death and fear of, well, life, and aging, and death. It’s about culture shock and homophobia. And misguided family and lost retirement funds. But it’s funny and hopeful and a grand adventure. It’s about loveable characters and one or two not quite so. It’s about overcoming fear and learning to live a full life. It’s about learning to blog in your final chapter.

And the kids watched.

No bored sighs. No extended bathroom breaks, popcorn runs, or naps. Teenagers. Old people. Remarkable.

DSCN0713I think I shall have a little chat with Nana today at Sunday dinner. Last night was her doing. Watching my kids I realize what a gift I have given them by nurturing my relationship with my Mom. Nana comes to dinner every Sunday. She comes to football games and plays and swim meets. She stays over for days at Christmas. She comes to the cottage. She even squished herself into an RV with us last summer and spent a month in a tin can with me and 5 twenty-teens as we trekked across Canada. She puts her four cents into every conversation, whether it’s welcome or not. And never thinks twice about giving a kid a good talking to when she thinks he or she has it coming. She sticks up for me. And she tells me when she thinks I’m wrong. And after all is said and done, my kids see her as an integral part of our family. We’ll be starting renovations on the house this summer to move her in with us. It will be crowded and probably more than a little challenging. But the idea of having to double up bedrooms, store extra stuff, weather yet another major renovation, and all the crap that comes with it, went over with the kids like chocolate on ice cream. No problem, Mom. What do you need us to do? Because Nana needs this.

Wow.

I think she’ll like to hear of the impact she has on my kids. And that, annoying as her requests for inconvenient help can get at times, she has taught my children a healthy respect for and understanding of the elderly. (Please don’t tell her I just called her that…) I want her to know that, as much as she has meant to me as my mom when I was a kid, my life is richer now for having her as Nana. Not sure how – or even if – I could ever thank her for that.

I get that many kids never get the chance to get to know their grandparents; my own have lost their dad. I understand the loss. But kids still need grandparents.

If not their own, then perhaps a borrowed set.old man and child

You see, it’s super easy to get to know old people. You just have to find them – we usually keep a bunch of abandoned extras locked up in batches. Spend some time listening to what usually turns out to be some of the best stories ever! Volunteer to take some of them grocery shopping or to just sit and talk – better yet, listen. Make a friend. Introduce them to your kids. And then bribe them with a good home-cooked meal. Ta-da! Adopted grandparents! Next thing you know you’re buying gifts, inviting them to graduations, and sneaking salt shakers into the nursing home.

In the end, teaching our kids how to treat the elderly is an investment that will eventually make us the primary beneficiary! And if we have to make a few old people happy along the way, well, so be it.

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When In Doubt, The Kid Is Up To No Good

So for those of you who find yourselves shaking your heads at the magnitude of your children’s imaginations for mischief, let me assure you that you are not alone. Nor are the adventures limited to the wee ones.

I finally, after having found a relative time marker to the problem, took a really good look at a ‘blemish’ that has been festering on the nose of one of my daughters. (While I am not into shaming any particular child online, I also worry that T and M will squirm at the insinuation that one of them could do something this, um, ill-advised.) Anyway, this blemish has been a part of our family for at least a week that I can measure – probably more like 2-3 weeks. (Hey, this is not the only major issue on my plate right now – don’t judge.) Not only does it not seem to be healing, but seems to be getting bigger. My sense of humour and the rampant stream of swallowed smart-ass comments have now taken a back seat to concern for her health.

pinnochioWith bright light and good reading glasses on, I ventured near enough to see that the issue of note is indeed quite a hole and somewhat infected. Liquid concealer has not been kind. I do a quick search of the entire face to try to get a handle on the overall problem. Nothing out of the ordinary for a young teenaged visage. But, wait, when the heck did you double pierce your ears? While I’m here, let’s talk about that – they don’t look too good.

I am distracted by what turns out to be a self-inflicted attempt at personal decor that didn’t work out too well. Mmm hmm. That should teach you. Get some rubbing alcohol on those ears and clean them up.

And get a hot cloth on that thing on your nose and see if you can steam it up a little.

I chuckle as I make myself a tea. Reminds me of the day she shaved off an eyebrow. Silly girl.

Then the realization strikes.

Wait a minute.

Hey, kid. Come here.

Now I want you to think carefully before answering – and don’t even think about lying to me.

Is there any chance that thing on your nose is cause by a failed attempt at a piercing?

I swear I could see the thought-bubbles bursting around her head as her brain worked feverishly, ‘Terminator’ style, to sort through the possible responses to my question.

Yeah.

Bite lip. Harder. Pain. Blood. Do. Not. Laugh.

(Follow long lecture re: dirty needles, infections, self-mutilation, permission vs. forgiveness, and threats of some very nasty medical procedures.)

So then, daughter. While I’ve been trying to hold my witty tongue from all of the unkind comments whirling through my mind these past few weeks, the gloves are now off. And you, Nanny McPhee, are about to experience some uncomfortable consequences.

It’s days like this that even up the score board a bit. Mwaa haa haa!!

Let’s Stop Profiling The Police

So here’s a video that’s gone viral – recorded by a  – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume the gentleman is – a black man who, as he was walking down the street with his hands in his pockets, was stopped by a police officer and questioned as to his actions and purpose for being there. The officer was responding to a 911 call from a store owner who had been robbed several times before, saw the man walk by several times, and wanted to make sure that wasn’t about to happen again.

The man is clearly annoyed with the conversation. The deputy is obviously attempting to be non-confrontational. And in this new world of ours, it comes down to a battle of the pocket cams.

We the people, elect and support a government system that includes a team of trained professionals who are expected to enforce the law, protect its citizens, and prevent crime. All of that training comes from years of collective experience, mountains of research, and never-ending expert collaboration. Our on-the-street officials are as ready as they can be for every possible scenario they can encounter – regardless of personal distraction, public opinion,  and danger to self. Some say they ‘choose’ the job and therefore accept the inherent dangers of their duty. Knowing police officers as I do, it is more a matter of calling than choice; we all are drawn to our strengths.

And yet these people, on whom we depend for our very safe and secure way of life – take a minute to imagine life without them – are consistently and constantly criticized, condemned, and confronted as they do their best to provide a service that very few of us truly understand.

The police, and their governing bodies, put into place a division of investigative officers whose responsibility it is to police the police. It is the mandate of the local special investigations unit to ensure that our officers are acting within the designated parameters of their training. The  pressure of the perpetual scrutiny they endure from their peers, their supervisors, their overseers, and an increasingly informed – more often than not, out of context – public, must be, at times, overwhelming.

I don’t know a living soul who goes to work one day, facing the annual performance review, without any nerves or misgivings. Most of us simply have to meet the boss in his or her office and have a conversation. Some of us have to go through the dreaded ‘self-evaluation’ process. But all of us suffer at least a small degree of anxiety over someone else’s opinion of our actions, especially when that person wields such power over our own futures.

Few of us have to actually perform for our supervisors beyond the intial training stages: teachers and doctors and the like.

But the actions of our police officers are now examined under the most powerful microscope available. They are placed at the mercy of the camera lens and answerable to an entire world of armchair critics.

Imagine trying to do your job, whatever it is, with several cameras on you every minute, knowing that anyone and everyone will analyze every word you utter, every move you take, every decision you make, specifically looking for fault and error.

Celebrities and athletes know this pressure. We see it all the time. And they screw up regularly.

Now imagine trying to get everything perfect – for the world to see, cameras rolling, people screaming, time racing, panic running rampant, innocent bystanders, your baby’s first birthday coming up this Saturday – all with a gun pointed at you.

Yeah, every profession has its bad apples. And every profession self regulates against them. But most of the people doing the job they’re doing actually care about their work. They do their best. And when you’re talking about the ones who put their lives on the line for the rest of us, how fair is it for us to get all pissed off when they err on the side of caution?