The Kids are Alright

Hello
again from Mountain Mecca & Hippie Heaven!

Friday
night I was able to pull my Cinderella act again, this time for Ladeez Night
Out. It’s been too long since I last hung out with just girls and talked about
girlie things. Mountain Momma Rippel, (who shall now be known as BJ – she knows
why!), invited me along for dinner at the way-yummy Thai restaurant with her
and 7 other Nelsonesses. I was quite happy to shed my rags and don some
semi-Princess gear, and glad for the opportunity to meet new people.

The
group was eclectic and fun. One woman was Czek and owns her own landscaping
company, another is an audiologist who just found out she’s pregnant, there was
the tiny little bit who oversees huge dam building projects, and a forestry
worker turned physio-therapist who, BJ would later tell me, was mauled by a
grizzly bear – just a random sampling. Most of these women arrived in Nelson
around the same time and have shared their struggles and triumphs, through the
years, with each other. They are, I discovered, the embodiment of this city:
down-to earth, adventurous, nurturing, passionate, spirited, independent, and
fun-loving.

Our
conversations ran from gossip, (“Did you
see Rob’s picture in the Express? Wasn’t that hilarious?”
), to more serious
matters, including the movie “Sharkwater” and should Wal-Mart be boycotted for
selling shark cartilage pills? But, most of the women being parents, inevitably
talk often turned to children.

Now,
you’d think that my being Childless-by-Choice would make me yawn at the first
sign of offspring-type chatter but, actually, listening to parents discuss
their children is fascinating to me. (I’m not sure others are quite as excited
about the stories I tell about my cat…but, hey, it’s the best I can do.)

A
recurrent theme, not only during the evening’s chit chat but often with parents
I meet, is a concern for, or anticipation of, their kid’s future. Parents worry
about a lot of stuff but I imagine wondering what life has in store for your
child once they are grown must be nerve wracking at times. And even with the
best of intentions to be satisfied with whatever path little Johnnie or Janie
chooses “as long as it makes them happy”, you can’t help but envision them
walking on stage to accept their Nobel Prize/Academy Award/Some Kind of Medal
for Solving all the World’s Problems. Few Parents, I am certain, lovingly lean
over their baby’s crib at night and whisper, “Some day, when you grow up, my special little guy/girl, you could be
Crew Chief at McDonalds!
” Nope.

Of course mom and dad dream big for their
kids, despite the subtle (and not so subtle) pressure that may put on the
mini-humans. Heck, I’m guilty of it and I’ve never changed a diaper in my life!

I have two
nephews, thanks to my sister. Their names are Trouble Maker #1 and Trouble
Maker #2. OK, kidding, kidding. But I have to admit, after growing up in a
household where my dad was the lone male among 4 females, dealing with young,
rambunctious boys was a bit of a shock to the system! Sean, the oldest, was
known for chasing his kid-challenged Aunt around the house to give her a
“Slimer Kiss” (see the movie “Ghost Busters” and you’ll understand). And just
as I was adapting to that little hellion, along comes nephew #2, Scotty,
otherwise known as “He Who Would Not Sleep”. And you wonder why I only have a
cat?! Puh-leez!!

But
seriously, they are great guys. Sean has a fantastic sense of humour and,
growing up, was the kind of kid who’d strike up a conversation with anybody.
Scotty is a little more shy, (he once made up big pages of “sheet music” to
cover his face during a Xmas concert where he had to sing), but he’s an
absolute whiz on the computer and a natural martial artist.

And
thanks to Prez, I inherited three nieces and another nephew. It has been a kind
of sociological study watching all these ankle-biters grow up, and wondering,
along the way, how they would all “turn out”. Reva, a typical talented artist,
was sensitive and sometimes withdrawn; Jamie was jovial with a hint of
rebellion; Brett seemed most like Uncle Prez, athletic and self-assured; we
missed most of Stef’s growing up as she lived “way up north”, (and we were not
a very good uncle & aunt as we didn’t make much of an effort to be with her),
but, from the little time we’ve spent together, she strikes me as a girl who
wears her heart on her sleeve and cares deeply for friends and family.

All
these kids are a work in progress, learning new skills, discovering passions,
crossing the imaginary line to adulthood step by, often painful, step.

As Sean left
highschool and went out in the world, I began to worry about him. Not because
he isn’t smart or talented, but because he didn’t seem to have any particular
dream or goal driving him. I worried that he would drift through life until one
day he woke up and realized he’d missed the bus. I worried, and I worried,
completely forgetting how long I
drifted, and how much my family worried about me, and how that drove me completely batty!

When Big
Sis told me Sean was enrolling in a mechanics course I didn’t think much of it.
Sure, he’s always liked cars, especially when his Aunty Kris took him stunt
driving at a nearby parking lot, but it never seemed like it was any big deal
to him. (Note: when you tell your young nephew, “Don’t tell your mom we did this”, the first thing he will do when
he gets home is say, “Hey Mom, Aunty Kris
was doing 180’s in the parking lot!
”). Soon, I was hearing about how well
he was doing in class, how enthusiastic he was about the course, how he would
get up early and be waiting at the door to leave in the morning. Who are you
and what have you done with my nephew??

First
semester he finished top of his class and was given the opportunity to do a
kind of “compressed” second year. And then, a couple of days ago, Big Sis tells
me he did his two week work experience with Ford and received the highest level
of feedback possible. He’s now been asked to come work for them and has been
offered his apprenticeship as well (says the proud aunt, looking very smug).
Wow! Who-da thunk it? What was I worried about again?

I think
we, (the old and supposedly wise), worry so much about the fate of those coming
up behind us because we realize, finally, how precious time truly is. You go to
bed 16 and wake up 40 and think, Oh my
god, there’s so much I should have done!
We forget that life is not about
completing a checklist or compiling some sort of resume to hand in when we die
– life is an experience, and it’s different for everyone. Worry about your
kid’s future all you want but there is no way of predicting it. Kids from
loving homes with all the opportunities in the world sometimes become McDonalds
Crew Chiefs or crack addicts, and, likewise, kids who grow up abused and poor
sometimes become CEO’s and Nobel Prize winners.

All my
nieces and nephews have qualities which make them special. Whether they grow up
to head an empire or to serve french fries, the best I can hope for is that
they know how much they are loved, and that they follow their heart…wherever it
leads

One of
the women at my Ladeez Night Out expressed concern for her son who is not
faring so well in math. I told her that I
had trouble with math in school, too. In fact, I failed Algebra 11 three
times. Yikes! My confession didn’t seem to console her. Maybe I should have
told her that every second of my 37 algebra-free years have been worth living,
filled with success, surprises, and joy beyond my expectations. Perhaps I
should have mentioned that if I’d followed the path others wanted for me, I
would have been miserable. It might have helped her to know that, with pitiful
mathematic skills, I have traveled the world, rubbed shoulders with famous
celebrities, and had thrilling adventures.

But
probably not.

After
all, my dad didn’t stop asking me when I was going to settle down, quit the
stunt business, and get a real job until he showed up at Prez and I’s beach
house in Mexico! And I’m sure he still worries about me.

QUESTION:
Did you turn out the way your parents thought you would?

Until
next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The
Princess

p.s. – I
shouldn’t say we are completely childless. Yesterday we adopted the cutest
little DeWalt sliding compound miter saw with matching stand! (I’m not saying
Prez did break the old saw on purpose
and I’m not saying he didn’t break it
on purpose – check out the photo of the proud new father and you be the judge).

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