18th Birthday Story – Rock Star Edition 

Today is my son Kyle’s 18th birthday. A milestone in any young person’s life, I thought I would re-post this story in honour of him. AND, for purely motherly love and embarrassment, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY better than an awkward story about when you were 3years old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a special story about the first time my son learned to speak. It’s all very dramatic and tears at your heart strings so get out your tissues…okay, it’s actually an embarrassing tale of music and Walmart, but still. It was traumatic for one of us. Maybe two of us. The innocent lady who witnessed my child’s descent into the debauchery and the morally deficient world of rock music and was probably scarred for life and myself, who led him there.

Once upon a time, in a land called Grand Falls Winsor, lived a nice little family with a mother, a father two daughters and a young son. They all lived happily in their house playing and frolicking in the meadows. ( okay, there were technically no meadows in GFW. AND we don’t frolic as a rule. Only on very special occasions like Christmas, or when some of us are really drunk. No pointing any fingers, just sayin’. ) Anyway, the boy, who was three years old, had not begun to speak any language intelligible to any human life form. The mother, being very concerned, took said young boy to a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist was a young woman of very good bearing and simply stated “There is nothing wrong with the boy. He will speak when he’s ready. Go home and rest your head, lady” 

So, the despairing mother took her young boy home and after a lengthy car ride listening to the young son speak something akin to the Cantonese and Ancient Tibetan Mongloid tongue , wearily escorted young child into the house. It was during this phase in the young mother’s life that she began experimenting with music. Music she adored when she was young and single and had somehow lost in the day-to-day tedium of Barney and Caillou episodes (it should be noted here that Caillou was seen as an evil child full of whininess and annoying shit that led the mother to bouts of anxiety and desperate pleas of “LET’S ALL GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR BEFORE MA HEAD EXPLODES!” ) Yeah.

One day, while playing her music very loudly, she noticed her young son sitting very attentively. The daughters, heard the rendition of Bryan Adams’ “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” and asked repeatedly to hear the ‘underwear song’. Mother was happy to appease her young daughters as she found this tune particularly humorous, obliged…often. After the young daughters had ventured off to school, the mother took young son to Walmart for a bit of shopping in the afternoon. The son, being very sleepy and ready for his nap at that time, was readily dosing in the cart and humming a tune the mother recognized as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”…Joan rocks. The mother, knowing the son was unable to speak, allowed the son to sing the song at will, while all the Walmart staff looked on adoringly saying how cute the little boy was singing to his mother. Yeah.

As the mother approached the checkout line, she noticed a woman behind her who seemed particularly taken with the young boy. She was smiling and cooing to the child as the mother flung her intended purchases on the conveyer belt. Knowing the young boy was securely occupied, the mother paid close attention to her groceries when suddenly she heard a most familiar sound. “I WANNA BE!” being sung behind her. She went swiftly over to her son. Could it be? Was that him? Had the spell of the Cantonese speak been broken and replaced with the x-rated lyrics of an old Bryan Adams song? The lady who had been occupying and smiling at the young boy thought the boy to be speaking to her. So, she replied “What do you want to be?” The mother, knowing the son was merely repeating the words to a raunchy song, attempted to intervene by pointing to a random balloon and distracting the boy. Alas, the boy could not be sidetracked. Again, he sang out “I WANNA BE!!“. Full of fear for the next line, the mother hurriedly began to throw her groceries onto the belt all the while, the nice lady said again, “What do you want to be?” and leaned closer to hear the boy. The young boy looked innocently up at the woman, his sparkling blue eyes dancing with joy as he sang, quite in tune I must say, “YOUR UNDERWEAR”.  

The lady, aghast and shocked by what she had just heard, recoiled in horror and glared at the young mother. Washed with embarrassment, and stifling a laugh, the mother simply retorted “Oh, it’s a song his father taught him” and pushed the cart out of the store, praising the child for his speech and promising to teach him more ‘appropriate’ songs. Like more Joan Jett, whose song son repeatedly sang henceforth as “I hate myself for lubbing you….” yeah. 

The son, now thirteen and three quarters has had a varied singing career. I have been called regarding his poor song choices including the popular titles “My Humps” by the Black ‘Eyed Peas, “I like Big Butts” and the infamous “Save a Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I am totally not responsible for. That last one was definitely Hubby’s country music influence. I did teach son how to do an awesome rendition of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing when he was four. I wish I had recorded it. 

Brought to you today in honour of son’s 18th birthday, and to all the women and men who care for their children everyday unconditionally, allow them to sing dirty rock songs to stranger and endure endless episodes of Caillou all in the name of love. 

Speaking and not singing. So proud!

A Graduation Gift

Someone asked me the other day, what graduation gifts I would be giving my two daughters who are graduating university in a couple of weeks. I answered, “a life”. The person giggled and said, “Yeah, you gave them life and gave birth to them, but specifically what gift are you giving them?”   I answered, “I already told you. I gave them the gift of having a life.” We gave them a safe place to grow up. Unconditional love upon which to thrive. A secure upbringing in an environment free of pain and torment. Food to eat. A warm place to sleep. Clothes to wear and the freedom to choose the education they wanted. Limits to understand there are rules in the world one must abide by. Guidance to be healthy and strong and remain that way. The freedom to work and become intelligent independent strong young women in a world that remains unpredictable and flawed. What else could I possibly give them that would compare?

Parents lament over the right path for their children. Did we do the right things along the way? Are we being too strict or too permissive? What is the right balance?

Parenting, for the most part, is the toughest gig there is. Balance between being a disciplinarian and loving mom is a guilt trip worth my weight in wine. It’s a torrential down pour of constant self-doubt and questioning whether the decisions we make when the 3yr old won’t speak, will hamper him when he is graduating high school 15 years later. The answer here: no. No it won’t…and it didn’t. He’s fine. There will always be big decisions to make and questioning whether those decisions will be the right ones. As parents, we trusted our guts. If it didn’t feel right, then it wasn’t right. If it felt like an opportunity for the person to grow, then we jumped and allowed it to happen. We were there when it fell apart, or when it culminated in a win. Either way, we were there.

We were always told by our kids that we are, and were, too strict. We had the attitude that it’s a tough world out there kiddos, better get used to it. The tougher we were the happier we were. To us, it meant they were learning something, maybe a tough life lesson or just to clean their rooms, but learning was always the ultimate goal. They didn’t have to like it and sometimes they were downright miserable about it, but they did it. Not because we were tyrants, but because it was good for them in the end. It may have been painful for us to watch, or to endure, but we stuck it out. We are their parents. Not their friends. We made that clear from the start.

Even now, the kids are adults, we still have high expectations and those same expectations carried them through. Through high school math, through tough regattas, through awful hockey coaches, and through university.

Learning ain’t easy, kids.

Neither is life.

To answer the question specifically, being a parent was the biggest gift I gave my young graduates.

And I can’t wait to see what they do!

“Be funny. You’re not being funny. We were expecting more. You suck”

I was writing a blog post in my head this morning as I was making lunch and breakfast and smiling wanly at the dog who was looking up at me with expectant eyes like “You WILL drop something on the floor for me to eat, right?  ‘Cause that’s the only damn reason for me to be seated at your feet.  That and I feel the inexplicable need to bite your ankles every time you step away from me.”   Yeah.  The post was pretty good.  The only problem is I can’t remember it.  I didn’t have a pen and paper nor the inclination to run for one at that moment, so the post is long gone into the chasm of my memory…there must be so much shit in there that the filing system is completely fucked up.  Seriously, files marked “Shit I Need” are obviously misplaced and gone into the dark abyss of never- never land. The cabinet marked “Garbage That No Other Human on The Face of the Earth Needs or Wants to Know” seems to be correlated by date, time and the place they last washed their feet. Those files are easily accessible and ready at a moment’s notice.  Especially after several glasses of wine and someone proclaiming a trivia game would be awesome right about now.  Fucked. Up.

 So this morning’s blog post is lying somewhere between “Shit I Should Know But Don’t” and “The Most Awesome Facts About Boats”.

This weekend had me spinning wildly between a fun filled DH night with the ladies where it was demanded that I “be funny.  You’re not being funny.  Get her more wine” and D2’s grad.    I’m assuming by the previous DH statements, I wasn’t living up to my “you’re the fucking entertainment” part of my contract.  Maybe I should stop sending out my witty emails in my feeble attempts at humor and pithy attention.  It’s a well-known fact I suffer from Raj-syndrome.  I speak very little but hand me alcohol and I become a sarcastic wino who slings comebacks and insults with mega sardonic phrasing.  I hadn’t realized there were expectations around my verbal nonsense.  That’s a lot of pressure.  I need a drink…and some new material.

Speaking of drunkards, while at D2’s meet and greet portion of her graduation, Hubby and I were entertained by a sufficiently inebriated man who insisted on detailing a story about golfing in the United States.  The story involved an over- ended golf cart and wayward golfers. There was a few racial slurs and sexist innuendos all making that much more awesome for the eavesdroppers surrounding us.  He was going on and on about how only Baymen were the best workers and “I wouldn’t hire a townie to save me life”.   Onlookers were appalled.  Especially a lady who was all decked out in diamonds and an evening gown.  She was particularly insulted.  I was thrilled by her horrified expression and feeble attempts to move out of the way.  There was nowhere to go.  So Larry, tell me more!  We were happily obliging Larry for the next story.  Where the fuck were you last night when I was coming up short for stories for the ladies?  Hire Larry.  He’s available and we could pay him in Lamb’s.  I’ll be sure to invite the evening- gown lady…we probably aren’t going to be invited to any more meet and greets, anyways.  She’s probably on the Regatta Committee…and is disgusted by food fights…and doesn’t think possessing something as awesome as this is ‘appropriate’ for a mother of my stature.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  A dog that sticks it’s tongue out at you on demand is unworthy of attention??!!    If that’s the way you feel, I don’t want to go to your meet and greets.  I don’t want to have dinner with you and your fancy dress.  I don’t want to be in on the secret club meetings at the boat house…okay, yeah I do, but I can let that go if you can’t see how adorable that doggie is!!  Or her tongue!  It’s like she’s giving you the finger only she doesn’t have any fingers so she’s just using her tongue instead.  It’s all incredibly remarkable and awe-inspiring.

It's like she's saying "Fuck You" but in a cute puppy way...

It’s like she’s saying “Fuck You” but in a cute puppy way…

This post actually took me two days to write since I was looking for the perfect pic to go with it.  This may be a sad statement to make, but I have over 100 pictures of my dog on my phone.  100!!! I wonder how my kids feel about that…hmmm…I should be getting my Mother of the Year Award in the mail any day now!  My kids have come to the joyful realization that the dog takes precedence.

 Kid That Lives In My House: “Oh, mom did you remember to pick up my dress?”

  Me: “No, but I got the cutest little hair bows for the dog!”

KTLIMH:  “You forgot to pick me up after my practice…again.”

Me: “Sorry, I was out back playing with the dog.  You wouldn’t want me to neglect her would you?”

 KTLIMH:” THERE’S NO HOT WATER!!”

Me:  “Sorry…I had to give the dog a bath and mini-spa day. She needed to look pretty…she was getting all tangley and mangy looking. AND, you wouldn’t want her to be rejected by the other doggies in the ‘hood, would you?!  She’s got a rep to uphold”

KTLIMH:  *sigh*

Me:  Yeah.  Get used to it kid….

Surviving Grad Night – My Plan For The Ultimate Mommy Pleasing 24 Hour Grad/Prom Day

GAH!!!

GAH!!!

 

D2 will be celebrating her prom/grad soon (here, they don’t have ‘proms’ they have grads.  D1 informed me of this when she graduated a couple of years ago. The grads around these parts are what I imagine to be similar to the American version of a prom, but the kids here cringe at the word ‘prom’.  I don’t know either, just go with it)  In preparation for such an auspicious event, I have prepared a guideline for the parent (particularly the mommy )in surviving the broo-ha-ha that seems to follow impending graduate every step her painted toes take her.  A mother of the graduate needs to take precautions lest she fall into the unending abyss of distant high school memories of her own and drunken exclamations of ‘when I was your age, we didn’t have this fancy shmanzy stuff.  We had a diploma thrust into our hands and a ‘get on with it kid’.  You kids today with your video games and Snookie…blah, blah, blah..’’  Yeah, let’s try to avoid the self-loathing and guilt laden lectures, shall we?

Part 1- The Dress

Okay, so a lot of preparation and many woman hours manning a computer searching endless data bases of ‘prom dresses’ the internet has to offer, has left you cross eyed and vomiting pink frills.  No worries, the end of this nightmarish search is nigh.  The girls these days are so overflowing with social media that their cousins best friend’s former next door neighbor has already secured the one dress your darling desperately needs to make all her grad dreams come true and has splashed that picture all over Facebook before you can say, ‘but that’s not a dress, that’s a shower curtain’.  Have no fear.  Get daughter to revisit some of her favourite websites that hopefully occupy this hemisphere, with her three top choices.  Among top choices, check for price, availability and the ever important ‘covers-her-ass’.  Darling should look lovely, not a cheap hooker for the visiting Senator.

Once the top three are chosen and you inspect the website and assure that it does not emanate North Korean phrases like ‘you buy dress, we not take over your army and cyber warrior your ass’, then you are almost ready for the big buy out!  Get out your credit card, mommy dearest ‘cause baby’s buyin’ her first car?!  No!  That’s the price of the dress, silly!

Daughter should take friends trying on different styles of dresses before settling on the ONE style she thinks best suits her frame…and covers all her assets.  I can’t say this enough.

Our excursion to the formal dress salon was important just so I could see if the dress D2 selected was flattering for her…it was, she did a lovely job.  I was left out of the whole ‘let’s try on a gagillion dresses to see which one I like’ which was probs a good idea.  My idea of shopping is getting into the store, getting a dress that won’t fall off or make me suck in my stomach too much and getting the hell outta there.

If you visit the salon, they will actually order the dress for you!  Had I known this little tidbit two years ago, I would have done that instead of ordering it myself off the internet and waiting anxiously for two months wondering if the dress would actually show up.  To avoid this, GET THE NICE PEOPLE AT THE STORE TO ORDER IT FOR YOU.  That way, if it doesn’t come in, you can build up a good rant and blame the disaster on them.  You are free from responsibility…a phrase you have been waiting 18 years to hear.

Of course , the next step is the alterations.  Get the store to refer you to reputable local talent who can hem a dress faster than a dip like me could thread a needle.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  We were introduced to a nice lady who had been hemming dresses for 18 years.  Tip:  If your daughter has severe allergies to cats, it’s probably wise to inquire whether said seamstress has four Persian cats living in her house and occupy every possible living space like the kitchen counters…because when you walk in and see them staring at you ominously, it’s a little creepy.  Not to mention a tad life-threatening for darling.  Not that it’s ever happened to me personally…okay, yes!  But we’re still here!  We rock.

So, we have the dress, the shoes, the accessories…what’s left?  Really?  Did you just ask me that?!!  Uhhh….THE DATE, maybe?!!!  AND…. Tickets, the flowers, the cards, the present, the makeup, the hair, the nails, the inhaler, ( allergies, remember?) the pictures with mommy and daddy and nanny and the neighbour’s cat…. Then there’s the grad dinner, the father-daughter dance, the all-night grad party, safe grad, breakfast….*sigh* …a bit exhausting.

Part 2- The Party

Once the dress has been secured, it fits, it’s not laden with cat hair, the wrinkles have been steamed and darling has managed to secure its location away from the teeth of the dog, tickets are in her hand, appointments have been made, wine has been purchased (for mommy of course)  it’s time to make sure mommy has some moments during the next hectic 24 hours.  Here is my time table for this event:

Friday evening:

Happy hour with Bestie and neighbours to ensure mommy is in a great mood for the next day and prepped for all that is to ensue.  Ensure D2 is getting to bed early and not out partying it up with friends too much the night before, lest she be the spawn of satan the next morning.  Darling needs her rest so she can remain her pleasant and effervescent self and mommy needs her wine.  Both are important aspects for a smooth day.  Trust me, on this one.

Saturday morning:

6am:  Take out dog for walk

6:15- 8:30   Down copious quantities of coffee, eat breakfast, clean floors, send Hubby out with son to Canadian tire.  THEY NEED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE…’cause they’re boys and they’re messy.  It’s a well known fact.

9am:  See if D2 is awake, ask her to make it to the kitchen without touching the floors.  (what? Her first test of the day.  Let’s see if she can do it!)

9:20:  Calm down D2 and assure her I will not be piggy-backing her to the kitchen nor force feeding her food.

9:30:  Tell daughter to get into shower before mommy decides to get in there and drain the hot water tank.  Nothing sends teenage girls into a tizzy more than NO HOT WATER!!  hehehehe

10:00  Get Bestie over to have some more coffee, and start on D2’s hair.  Ensure the shellac is close by as that ‘do can’t move for the next 10 hours!

11:00  It’s five o’clock somewhere…nip of wine while darling is on the phone and getting her makeup done.  What?  No judging, people.  I will gladly have a glass ready for you when it’s your turn….

12:00 officially lunch time.  Get Hubby to run to Subway, feed all the darlings and myself and drain that first glass of wine.  Yeah, this is shaping up to be a great day.

1:00  What do you mean, you want me to go with you while you’re getting your nails done?!  Okay!  Sit and get nails done while D2 gets hers done.  Have second glass of wine while waiting for that stuff to dry. I fucking love grad day!

1:30 Get darling in her dress, meet the date (the most exciting part as Hubby interrogates the boy) take pictures, avoid the dog photobombing by licking herself in front of the photo, have some wine while the friends wander around the house and eat, make sure son hasn’t escaped to Nurse Betty’s house to hang out with friend, make sure neighbor girls come by to see the pretty dresses and show their mommies what’s to come, smile profusely knowing that it’s almost over, share some wine with DH ladies and show off those nails!  We rock.

2:00- 6:00  stay home and fidget while D2 is off with friends getting pictures at their houses with their parents and their dogs photo bombing the pictures, have some more wine, order some food for supper, get ready for meet and greet.  By this time, the first bottle of Merlot is gone and you are well on your way to making a great impression at the meet and greet with the other parents and graduates.

6:25 attend meet and greet after Hubby swears profusely about the lack of parking, D1 complains her grad was better and son is itchy in his tie.  Stumble into the centre to see D2 with her friends, take awkward pictures with people you don’t know, have awkward conversations with parents you don’t WANT to know and send darling on her way to the dinner.  Get Hubby back into the car to drive home and wait until we are summoned back to the grad to dance with D2.  Open second bottle of Merlot while waiting…

8:00 Go back to the centre, plough our way to see daughter, take more pictures, watch Hubby and D2 dance, cry like a baby, take more pictures, give D2 kiss and see her at home, cry like a baby, get in car and go home to cry like a baby and finish off that bottle of merlot.

10:00 Wait in front room for D2 to come home only to change, and leave for the rest of the night.

Midnight:  Pace the floor, worry about D2 and her friends, text to see if she’s okay, go to bed.

5am: Open door for D2 give her a big hug and send her to bed

5:05:  Back in bed and smile that you have survived grad night.  Only one more to go…..

D2

D2