When Life Was As Simple As a Peanut Butter Sandwich

There was no internet, or iphone or i-anything. We had jump ropes and played hide-and-seek. Lunches were packed in paper bags or plastic lunchpales. We had milk tickets and rarely drank pop. We played games outside like tag and dodgeball and tether ball. We went to the park and organized softball games or climbed the monkey bars. We played Red Rover in the space that belonged to the person who had the biggest back yard. We went swimming at Jaycee pool and walked a mile or more to get there. We rode our bikes, skinned out our knees (and in my case, my face), and threw a ball against a brick wall when we got bored. We climbed trees, made forts outside and chased butterflies. We went tobogganing in the winter, threw snowballs and built snowmen. We sucked on icicles (nature’s popsicles), chewed bubblegum until our jaws ached and dared somebody to eat a worm. We went fishing, threw rocks in the river and played truth or dare. We had sleepovers, went to drive-in movies and knocked on our friends’ doors to come outside. We ate dinner in under ten seconds, had summer jobs and after school ones, too. We walked or took the bus everywhere and hung out at the mall.
That is what childhood looked like.
Now it looks like this:
Talking is through a cell phone and it isn’t with your mouth, it’s with your fingers. Video games are played indoors. Jump ropes are for the ladies at the gym. Bike riding is for the people on TV or for people who don’t have cars and need to get to work. Organizing outdoor games is unheard of. What’s Red Rover? Climbing trees is illegal, I think. Balls are a part of a guy’s anatomy. Lunch is going to McDonald’s and coffee at Starbucks. A bagged lunch means you don’t have any money and it basically sucks to be you. Fishing is for dads on the weekend. Outside in the cold?! Maybe if there’s snowboarding or somebody has an ice rink in the backyard. Icicles are frozen acid rain. Snowmen are too heavy to build. Tobogganing means climbing back UP the hill. Ugh. Walking anywhere is dangerous. Throwing a snowball means you have aggressive tendencies and anger management issues and will require counselling. Truth or dare is played on the internet and is called Facebook. Hanging out at the mall still happens and the crew you hang with is the Bloods. Selling a ‘pip’ is not candy. After school jobs require a curriculum vitae and a multitude of references. A young person working through University or College gets a disparaging look from the instructor.
Generation gaps aside, there’s a big one here. We are to blame, but let’s not discount the kids just yet.
They work hard to get good grades, they work their part-time jobs in spite of adults barraging them with complaints and cynicism, they do their volunteer work, play team sports, take music lessons, and drive mom’s car to pick up the siblings at the after school tutoring program. They take out the garbage, do their own laundry, buy their books, pay for their gas, clean their rooms and feed the dog. They battle peer shit, try to side-step the drugs and the alcohol, tone down the drama on Facebook and keep their wits about them. They spend their money on i-tunes and at Starbucks, buy Christmas presents for their friends and remember birthdays. They know about the bullies and try to steer clear, defend their friends in the face of that mean kid in math and learn that as much as life sucks sometimes, they’ll always have that guy on Youtube to make them laugh. They love their parents and think they’re lame sometimes and they have no sense of humour at all. Home is a great place to hang out and eat everything in the fridge. Their bed is their refuge. They know a lot about fashion. They think they’re invincible.
So did we.
We are raising a totally different generation of beings. In spite of, or despite all the technological advances these kids are still producing ideas and generating a whole new set of problems…but maybe solutions too. Let’s not judge too harshly. Sure our childhoods were completely different, but so were the times we lived in.
They’re alright…
We three

Confessions of a Chocoholic

SHARE?!!  I think not!

SHARE?!! I think not!

For centuries, chocolate has been portrayed as a natural luxury food. A treat that can only be consumed when broken hearted or stressed. For example, your fiancee just ran off with your maid of honour and you are feeling lost and abandoned. Instead of crying on your Mommy’s shoulder, however, you head to the nearest variety store and buy one hundred Mars bars to help ease the pain. After just one bite, you feel a bit better. Not ready to jump back into a relationship with the store owner’s son…but, not really wanting to throw yourself from the nearest bridge, either. Your blood sugar has evened out. Your mood has improved. You no longer feel the need to be all stabby…your best friend is not so lucky, but it can’t cure EVERYTHING. Scientific fact.
Example two – your boss just landed a huge project on your desk – due tomorrow. What do you do? Why head to the nearest vending machine and throw every quarter you have into it and buy all the chocolate you can find, of course. You sit pie-eyed eating mounds of chocolate hoping one iota of an idea can enter your wee brain before it explodes into a dark chocolate haze. That idea comes slowly at first, then in a wave of undeniable clarity, an idea springs forth from the depths of your magical imagination that is sure to make you the boss’ pet. You type the best proposal in a wild moment of such intellectual fortitude the likes of which you have never seen before. The serotonin in your brain has just had a metaphorical kick in the ass, and you are on the fast track to partnership. Scientific fact.
The wonder drug?
Chocolate.
You betcha.
There’s something about chocolate that eases my pain, or takes away that bit of grief or stress that often hounds me. It has a magical property that I just can’t live without. Maybe it’s the high sugar content; maybe it’s the caffeine; or maybe it’s just a wicked combination of both to which I’m addicted. Either way, I can’t help myself and fall a victim to its power… daily.
Chocolate has become sexy, have you noticed? Any commercial advertising a chocolate bar or the tiniest square of chocolate, has a sexy model with deep red lipstick, licking her lips and staring sensually at the camera. I realize, we all wear out lipstick when we eat chocolate and go around licking our lips because of its deliciousness, but I hesitate to think it as any type of aphrodisiac…but maybe it is. Maybe in some ancient time, chocolate was considered such a rare type of magical treat, that women used it to ‘get their man’. Maybe Cleopatra seduced Mark Antony by putting chocolate in his drink, or slipping him a bite here and there…
Since this post is titled “Confessions” I must confess the lengths I would go to get me some chocolate goodness…So, here:
I eat the chocolate chips right out of the bag. There is no chance any cookies or baked goods will contain chocolate chips unless you buy them and immediately use them. Truth.
I stash bags of chocolate in my car glove compartment for emergencies… like driving.
I keep quarters in a Styrofoam coffee cup on my desk for times when I have to make an emergency run to the chocolate almond vending machine…like three o’clock every afternoon.
Halloween used to be my fave time of year…until all my kids grew up and now don’t go trick-or-treating. Now, I buy extra treats knowing I’ll have some left over after the big night. Unless I leave Hubby in charge as I head to the neighbours for a drink or three, and he happens to find it and gives it away to the last few trick-or-treaters who come to the door.
Dammit!
Christmas is right around the corner and I am confident that there will be some chocolate goodness in ma stocking…or under the tree for me. It’s pretty much a given.
There are no lengths I will not go to get a bit of chocolate sweetness, so next time you have a sweet treat around…watch out. I could be following the scent….

TRUTH!!

TRUTH!!

Helpful Tips for Avoiding Douche-Like Behaviour

So, Friday was Halloween and we celebrated the day by trying desperately to look cool whilst looking like office workers wearing hats. Which is what we were. Until some guy walked in and we had a difficult time deciding if he was wearing a costume or if he actually looked like that. He had a mustache, hat and glasses…so does one always wear mustache, hat and glasses or was it a Halloween costume? Was he trying to confound and confuse us into thinking he didn’t normally look like that, but since Friday was Halloween and everybody looked unusual anyway, ( I mean we were wearing hats) he fit right in? That’s what I’m going with. I wish I had had a mustache, hat and glasses so that I could have made him feel even more at home…next year I’ll be more prepared.
While I am attempting to squash my asshole-like tendencies by being pleasant and over-the-top-helpful-bordering-on-strange-creepy-and-sorta-awkward, I have amassed a list of tips to avoid asshole-like behaviours so you too, can be over-the-top-helpful and borderline strange and creepy.
You. Are. Welcome.
1. People tend to not enjoy negative comments like “you suck” and “stop being so annoying”. I realize this may be a news flash for some, but try to employ a bit of tact when telling somebody you’d rather have a mouthful of wasps than be in their company. Phrases like “I realize you probably suffered some childhood trauma that makes you such an asshole, but please try to be more cooperative” are pretty good. Also, labelling the behavior is a good way to tell someone what they are doing is not so appropriate. “You are yelling and your opinion is not important enough to me to matter” is a great way to be specific. Go You!

grumpy cat

2. When Grumpy McGrumperston arrives at your door to bring all kinds of negative shit your way, I find being the total opposite is a wondrous adventure in both movie trivia and ‘how crazy can I become for the sake of making a point’. For example, when a certain someone decided that I was being totally unreasonable in my expectations to at least attempt at cleaning a room, and became a version of Grumpy Cat 2.0, I went all Mary Poppins on her ass and had a grand time! Singing “Spoon Full of Sugar” with a British accent whilst twirling around with the dog in my arms proved to be an alarming yet effective means of avoiding any kind of conversation whatsoever. It also proves that kids nowadays have no sense of old Disney movies and who in the hell Julie Andrews is, OR the value of a good British accent.

3. Remember, employing the ‘obviously’ word in a snide Snape-like tone tends to be a real turn-off for members of the opposite sex when they’ve made an observation that you made a few days ago. It’s often better to nod and smile…then laugh hysterically behind their backs after they leave the room. That way they won’t see how much more intelligent you are. It’s better to say something useful about the weather when they’ve returned and you have gotten up off the floor. See how considerate you are?!


4. Apparently, using the phrase “Fuck you” is not a constructive way to handle conflict. I know it came as a shock to me, too. When the need arises to use such filthy language, use this instead: “I have come to the realization that speaking with you any further can only lead to angry outbursts, thus I will only communicate with you in mime.” I think no further explanation of this point is necessary.

There you have it. Four useful Tips In How Not to Be a Total Douche in Public. I should start on the manual. It could be a bestseller…

An Open Letter to The World

Dear World,

canadian-flag-heart

I realize that I am but one little speck of human on a wide open expanse of earth and sea, and my insignificance outweighs any thoughts I may hold in my little head, but I feel the need to voice them. Please humour me this one time, will’ya?

Yesterday was awful. A terrible day in Canadian history. We lost one beautiful courageous young man who was simply doing his duty by standing guard and representing our country. We also lost a young man on Monday who was run down for wearing a Canadian Armed Forces uniform. I ask you…WHAT IS GOING ON?!

It’s heartbreaking to watch the events of the past month unfold as they have.  Deadly viruses threatening the lives of hard working people, extremists and terrorists killing innocents simply for representing the country they love, people killing people out of hatred for their sexual orientation and skin colour.  It’s inane and I don’t know what to do about it…except to inundate the media with positivity.

Let’s outshine the bastards.  Let’s put out a unified voice of strength and patriotism.  We shall not be intimidated, run down or killed for being positive forces in the world.

I am imploring the world to fight the good fight. Someone on Facebook this morning had the right idea.  Instead of asking our military to NOT wear their uniforms, let’s all wear uniforms.  Let’s put on our Canadian symbols and wear the shit out of them.  Let’s have a sea of red and white.  Let’s put on our combat shit, paint our faces and fly our flags.  Let’s support our young men and women who stand at the War Memorials and who stand on guard at the military bases, who protect our waters and who go to war on our behalf to not always return.  The two young men who died this week at the hands of terrorists, should not die in vain.

Fly our colours, wear our uniforms and be proud of who we are.  That’s what they did. So should we.

Thanks for listening, World.

I remain, your truly

Kayjai, A Proud Canadian Girl

Conversations with Mags…the Dog

Me: Mags, we need to talk about this ‘attitude’ you seem to have developed.
Mags: What?! Attitude?! Me? ! I have no ‘attitude’. I’m just a better dog than all the others, that’s all
Me: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. You’re not better. In fact, you are anti-social and don’t like humans or dogs. You’re a downright bitch.
Mags: Well of course I am. I’m a female dog. The smartest and prettiest dog ever. AND, humans that come to MY door need to pass a security test. I smell them to make sure they are okay to enter MY house. I’m protecting you. I don’t know why you get so upset when I bark at intruders. They need to be screened. You humans are so trustworthy and stupid. Gawd.
Me: Okay, first of all we are NOT stupid and since when did you use the word “Gawd”?
Mags: Our human child says it all the time when you’re not here.
Me: ‘Our’? Ugh, I suppose she does. And not all humans are untrustworthy, Mags. You trust me, right?
Mags: Barely. You need all the help you can get. You let anybody come traipsing in here with their little humans who incessantly chase me around and try to pet my head. I hate that.
Me: I let people we know in the house. Not complete strangers.
Mags: The dude that fixed the fridge was what? Your bestie? I hardly think so. And you let those other humans sit in my spot and mess up my blankie. Poor blankie….
Me: Yeah…okay. Speaking of ‘bestie’ you need friends and you can’t have friends if you bark at them and antagonize other dogs all the time. You’re getting a bad rep and you need to be friendlier.
Mags: Other dogs are stupid. They slobber and walk around as if the world is a happy place. It isn’t happy! It’s scary. Stupid.
Me: Mags…how about Howard?* You like him, right? You guys play together after you ‘screen’ him, right?
Mags: Howard is an idiot. That dog just sits there and stares blankly into space. Does he not know how to chase a ball or run? Seriously, what’s wrong with him?! I run around the yard and he just sits there and looks at me like I’M the one that needs help.
Me: That’s because you scare the crap out of him! If you let him sniff you and…
Mags: Wait a minute…YOU WANT ME TO LET THAT IDIOT SNIFF ME??!! ARE YOU CRAZY??!! That dog is going nowhere near my butt….
Me: It’s how you animals make friends, Mags.
Mags: Where do you get your information from, Mom?
Me: Ugh, anyway Howard is adorable. He’s all fluffy and cute and is actually FRIENDLY TO PEOPLE.
Mags: Yeah…dummy. Just like I said.
Me: You need to at least try, Mags.
Mags: Okay, I’ll let our human daughter’s friend in. I like her.
Me: Yeah, obviously. You pee on the floor every time she walks in the door.
Mags: I get so happy. Is she coming over now?! IS SHE HERE?!! HERE?!!
Me: NO! Stop it.
Mags: Ugh….let’s play ball! I wanna play ball!
Me: We aren’t done talking, yet.
Mags: BALL! BALL! BALL!
Me: NO
Mags: BALL! WUBBA!! WUBBA!! *runs to the door* I GOTTA PEE!
Me: Okay, but NO BARKING AT THE NEIGHBOURS!
Mags: JUST LET ME OUT I HAVE TO GO!!
Me: Okay, okay. There.
Mags: *stands stationary for five minutes surveying the yard, then…* BARK, BARK, BARK!!!
Me: Mags!! Come here!
Mags: *runs happily to me* WHAT?! GAWD, THEY STARTED IT!
Me: Ugh….
*fictional name to protect the innocent…and adorable.
I think Mags just rolled her eyes at me. Can dogs do that?

I'm so pretty, it hurts.

I’m so pretty, it hurts.

The Bracelet

For the past couple of days, I have been wearing a charm bracelet that was given to me when I was nine years old. It’s silver with little charms that dangle from rounded chains connected by other rounded chains. It’s like those paper chains we used to make in school from colored construction paper and then hang from Christmas trees as garland. Only made of silver. And much nicer. It was brought back for me from Holland. I’ve added some charms to it over the years, but I still keep it in a special place in my jewelry box. The person who gave me the bracelet was very special to me. Although she is no longer with me, I wear the bracelet at times I need to feel her presence; when I need to feel her closer to me and to be nine years old again. I think we all need that from time to time.
A friend just recently lost his father. It’s tragic and sad and reminded me of her. Not of her death or of her illness that took her, but of the woman who was very involved in my life, who said I would always be a little bit hers. Of summers at the cottage, trips to baseball games and our first ride on a plane. She died at the age of fifty after a stroke and health problems that left her weak and unable to speak. I still miss her and carry her with me everywhere. The memories remain even if she is no longer in my presence.
I wanted to say something that would ease the pain of losing a loved one, but there is nothing that can be said; only that the person may be gone, but you carry that person with you always. He is not lost, he is not gone forever from your memory or from what makes you, you. He is gone from your house, from his house, from his car, from the physical portion of your world, but he remains a part of you. The words he has spoken, the essence of who he was, what he meant to you, how he made a difference in your life, is not gone. He is carried through your life, through your children and through your words and actions.
I’ve lost my parents, my brother and my friend, but their presence is always one I feel. Words I say to my kids, I can often hear my mother’s voice. When I look at my son’s eyes and see his passion for golf (yes, golf) I see my father. Every time I get the opportunity to work with a struggling student, or hear the rumble of a motorcycle, I see my brother’s smile. When I feel the sand between my toes and hear the ocean, I think of Oogie and remember how much she loved the sound of the ocean waves.
Sometimes it takes a tangible object like my bracelet, to bring them closer. I still have my mother’s jewelry, I still have trophies that once belonged to my brother, I still have my father’s slides and old projector, and I have my bracelet. All things that once belonged to my loved ones, but I keep in remembrance. Not that I need these things to remember, I have them because they once loved these things. They once touched them, admired them, and belonged to them. I guess they make me feel closer to them for having something they once loved, but I don’t need these objects all of the time.
My loved ones are never far from me. I just know where to look….