Ah yes, that strange white stuff is falling from the sky for the third
or fourth day in a row; unusual for this area. Our snow is a little
sad. It is more slush than snow usually and never lasts for very long.
I saw a snowman down the street. The kid had used most of the snow
covering the front lawn to make it and, even so, there were still
leaves and dirt mixed in with it…and it was only about two feet tall.
Well, I still think snow is pretty and only lament that it has to be
so darn cold.
You may be wondering why we are not already enroute to someplace much
warmer by now. Excellent question. After nearly three weeks, we are
still waiting for word on whether we got the job or not. At one point
we’d written the whole thing off entirely and were busy working on Plan
B (a leisurely drive down to Baja and a few months as professional beach
bums) when we received a long overdue email from "BC" – the owner of the
resort. He thanked us for our patience, made it clear that he is
definitely not going to hire the other couple, and asked for more
patience while he reviewed a few more resumes. Mmmm hmm. So we wait. In
limbo. Under the Stairs.
Wipe those tears! Life is not so bad for us. Why just last night we
were invited over to the Kozak mansion for vittles and conversational
fun. Kozy and Tweeter, the supreme hosts, plied us with booze (sour
apple martini’s…yum), Kozy’s incredible cooking (thai noodles with
fresh lobster and prawns, beef tenderloin medallions with spinachy
stuffing, yorkshire pudding – HEAVEN!), and a humonous screen TV with
Tweeter’s high-tech supersonic sound system (I felt the earth move).
Benny & wife Banana joined in the frivolity and a wonderful time
was had by all – eventhough we are all five pounds heavier now.
During the course of the evening, Banana told us about friends who, to
my surprise, have been trying to have a baby for quite some time. This
led us to a discussion about children and the people who raise them. I
mentioned that there was a time that I used to offer up my opinions on
child-rearing quite freely but I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut for
Reason #1 – Most parents think that if you don’t have kids you cannot possibly have any concept of how to raise them.
Reason #2 – Most parents do not want to hear truth about their children or their parenting skills.
Reason #3 – Sometimes (very infrequently) I am proven wrong.
Let me start with the first reason – the fact that I do not have
children. I’ve never wanted to have kids. Not because I don’t like
kids; I love kids. Not because I had a bad childhood; I had a great
childhood. I’ve just always wanted so many things out of life that
wouldn’t be possible with a child (and I really, really like sleeping in). I may be selfish – I can live with
that – but I don’t feel that you should have kids simply because everyone
expects you to; raising children is a monumental responsibility and
should be taken very seriously. OK, I think you get it.
I may not be a parent but I am not blind and deaf either. Kids are all around,
everywhere I go – especially on airplanes. I am the person who has to
deal with the angels or monsters parents send out into the world.
The second reason, parents not wanting to hear the truth about their
kids or their parenting skills, is probably the biggest reason I keep
my yap shut nowadays. I have tried being very blunt and this generally
ends up with the parent defensive and angry. I’ve tried being
subtle, but that was a total wash in every case. The parents would
whole-heartedly agree with whatever subject I was discussing, assuming
that I was, of course, talking about someone else. "Oh
god, I know I just hate it when parents let their kids play hours and
hours of video games…BILLY, TURN DOWN THAT X-BOX, MOMMY"S TRYING TO
HAVE A CONVERSATION HERE!!!!"
And it’s not a bad thing, I have since come to realize. Children need
their parents to believe that they walk on water. Having one person in
the world who loves you and believes in you unconditionally is as
necessary to a developing human as oxygen. The world is a hard and unforgiving place.
Sometimes the only thing that stands between a child’s success or
failure is that Mom or Dad who refuses to let the world destroy their
baby’s self esteem.
My own Mom was a perfect example of this. She always saw the Best me;
never the girl who made up fibs, skipped school, snuck out at night,
dated one loser after another, etc. . When my eleventh grade psychology
teacher called my house to tell my mom that I had missed almost half
of the classes and was using notes with her forged signature, my mom’s
hackles shot up, she was offended. Not her
daughter, no way Jose! She insisted that there was a mistake, that all
of the missed classes and notes were legit. She even went through the
calendar, and with my prompting ("Remember I had the flu on November 5th Mom", "Oh yes, I remember") confirmed that all but two of the dates were on the up and up and Mr. Bennet probably made a mistake about those two days.
Do I really think my mom believed me? Yes and no. The logical side of
her brain knew I was skipping classes but the highly dominant parental
part of the brain assured her that I was not. I don’t look back on that
incident and see a dupe, I see a woman who truly loved her daughter.
Now my kid would have got her ass whooped…but that’s another story.
Last, and least, is the fact that my beliefs and assumptions about
parenting have been proved wrong a few times. Yes, I can feel your
shock and dismay. Have no fear, it is a rare phenomenen much like
Haley’s comet or Madonna making a good movie (Oh wait, that last one
has never happened). Whether it’s weird genetics or something in their
cereal, some kids just turn out completely different than how everyone
predicts they will. My hubby likes to joke about how no one he grew up with would ever have predicted his future correctly.
Yes, my Prez was one of those kids I would have been afraid of in
school. A ne’er-do-well whose greatest scholastic acheivement, prior to
dropping out, was blowing up the toilets and closing down the school
for a day. That he would someday be an A-list stunt perfomer, earning
six figures, with a house in Canada & Mexico, and known among his
friends as a man with high ethics and integrity…who could have
guessed? Fred’s Dad had passed away before I was in the picture but I
can tell you that his Mom is terrific and the Prez probably owes a lot
of his success to her. And he should pick up the phone right now and
call her and tell her how great she is and apologize for being such a
trouble-maker all those years!
So there you have it, my reasons for staying mum about Mom (and Dad).
Oh I know what you’re thinking: Please, please, tell us what you really
think and feel about parenting, please! Well, if you insist…
The last few years I’ve spent a great deal of time around the
chronologically challenged (young people) and their handlers (parents)
and during that time I’ve made a few observations. Here they are:
a) "Well-adjusted" kids are the minority. I’ve noticed that
kids who are friendly and outgoing are often also brats, and kids who
are polite and well-behaved are usually shy and withdrawn. Not much
middle ground. And working at Chapters I began to see why this is so.
Parents seem to fall at either extreme of the "care spectrum". There
were the ones who’d come in and dump all their kids off in the
children’s section then head directly to Starbuck’s. The little
hellions would fall instantly to yanking books off the shelves and
making a general mess (I once saw a kid pick his nose, wipe the booger
on the inside of the book, and stick it back on the shelf). Then there
were the "overachievers" who’d march in and demand the latest and
greatest study guides for their poor prodigy who looked like they’d
give their eye-teeth for just one hour of unscheduled, good old
fashioned, non-goal-oriented play time. Yes parents need to care, need
to be involved in their kids lives but they also need to recognize that
being bored and just doing "kid stuff" is important too.
b) Kids spend way too much time in front of electronic devices. Do I really need to explain this one?
c) Let them fall on their ass. Probably the most difficult thing I can
imagine having to do as a parent would be to watch your baby girl or
boy, of any age, fail or get hurt. The urge to step in and help must be
overwhelming but we all know, because we’ve all been there, that
without those experiences we can’t grow. We learn more from our
failures than from our successes. Yet I’ve seen so many parents step in
to "help" and what the kid learns is that they don’t have to be
responsible because Mom or Dad will always bail them out.
d) Parents are scaring their children. I don’t really blame parents for
this, I blame CNN. We live in such a strange society, we panic at the
thought of West Nile virus or terrorists but think nothing of stuffing
our mugs (and our children) with McDonalds and Coke. I, personally, do
not know anyone who has been killed by West Nile Virus or a terrorist
but I know people who’ve died of heart disease and diabetes. The same
parents who will not allow their children to walk one block to school
for fear of pedophiles will happily leave them, unattended, at Chapters
for hours. Easy prey for any of the many adults wandering around. I don’t get it.
While I was at the airport recently, sitting in the stall of an
incredibly clean washroom (astoundingly clean, really), a mother came
into the washroom with her young child. "DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING IN HERE!" she cautioned, "EVERYTHING IS EXTREMEMLY DIRTY!!"
Was she in a different washroom from me, I wondered. Washing my hands,
I noted that the dire warning only inspired the toddler to reach out a
hand to the counter. "THAT’S DIRTY!!"
the mother practically screamed. On and on she went through the whole
bathroom process, "Don’t touch! That’s dirty! You’ll get sick if you
touch anything in here!". I saw them later in the waiting area, the
child was crawling all over the floor, touching every germ-laden
railing and handle in sight…I shook my head. I still have an image in
my head of that kid, lying on a couch saying, "Doctor, I just don’t know where my fear of washrooms comes from but…(sobbing)…it’s destroying my life!!"
But what do I know, I don’t have kids.
e) Monkey see monkey do. Want your kid to read? Read. Want your kid to
be healthy? Exercise and eat right. Want your kid to succeed? Get off your tushy and show
them what motivation is. Kids catch on to double standards real quick
folks. Your behaviour will show them what is really important to you. Your words, at a certain point, become almost meaningless.
I could go on and on but I think I’ve rambled enough for now…and my dinner is almost ready.
Parents you have a tough job, the toughest in the world. Tough and,
mostly, thankless. My hat is firmly off to all of you brave enough to
rise to the challenge. Would I, in your position, do any better?
Doubtful. God, I can barely look after my cat!
I’ll close with the story of the uber-parent of the animal kingdom: the
Emperor Penguin. Adult penguins walk about 70 miles across the icy
wasteland of Antarctica to mate and lay their eggs. After the egg is
laid, and months without food, females head back to the sea to eat,
leaving Dad to egg-sit, without food, through the bitter winter
(temperatures drop to -80F at times!). The chicks hatch, Mom returns
and now Dad makes the long trek for food. Mom raises and protects the
chick, then both parents spell each other off until the babies are old
enough to be left alone. Many penguins die during the ordeal and, in
the end, when the chick is independent, the parents return to the sea
and will likely never again see the children they made such sacrifices
Now that is love.
To my parent friends…I salute you!
And the next time your kids complain about something, tell them that at least they don’t have to eat regurgitated fish!
Now that’s dirty!
Cheers all, and until next week I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!