The Unrelenting Echoes of Summer

The ‘hood battles are raging and the summer days are stretching onwards and upwards. No one is immune to the reaching fingertips of ire and impatience emanating from cranky neighbours who refuse to admit their age is getting the better of them. If one is to listen to them, the kids are running amok flailing wildly among heathens and hoodlums destined to dethrone the king of badness. Nothing good happens past nine- thirty peeps, and children left to pillage and plunder the village into the abyss of indifference and permissive dismissal are future adults destined for the Presidency of an American nation. Alas how are we to survive the madness?!Calm down, peeps.

The children are children playing in the backyards of responsible professional adults paying their taxes, abiding the laws of society and contributing to the well-being of community and ‘hood alike.

There is no crime here, only that of youth being restless and young on summer nights that have magically become windless and warm. The days where summer seems to last forever, where any kid of any age can dream of digging for buried treasure, swim in the depths of a backyard pool and savour the taste of s’mores and burnt marshmallows on a backyard campfire. Tents, giggles, sleeping bags, practical jokes, stolen garden gnomes (oh, my poor Norman where art thou?) all a big part of childhood and growing up in a safe environment surrounded by loving parents and committed neighbours to raising a generation of well-adjusted, educated, intelligent, compassionate and community minded young people.

That’s what my idea of a neighbourhood is.

Watching out for each other against the rallies of the occasional late-night thievery, lost dogs, wayward cats, and kids out past the boundaries of the park at the end of the street. Local spring clean-ups, bottle drives for hockey trips, Mummering Christmases, barbeques and the fence raising- shed building- deck erecting- construction that brings friends and neighbours together.

We connect to support each other in times of confusion and debt reduction, lost jobs, raised taxes, sky-high grocery bills and illness and heart attacks and even the death of someone’s parent or relative. It’s what they mean when a neighbourhood becomes a small village.

We become each other’s indirect relative.

A communal leaning post.

Friends. Allies. Fellow compatriots in a world where we embrace differences and stand up for the underdog. Where we denounce bullies, raise up kindness and understanding and assist at all costs.

It’s in the DNA of every Newfoundlander to have this innate sense of community; to feel responsible for each other because, hey, don’t I know yer father? At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Let’s see more of that. Community. Fellowship. Understanding.

AND FUN.

Hey kids! Your loudness behooves me!

The kids running around playing spotlight after dark, the fires in the backyard pits, the barbeques, the late night dog walking, the chatting…

There is no room for fear of being loud or obnoxious. The sounds of laughter and squealing from children should be a sign of a healthy happy environment fraught with joy and the unending bounds of childhood activity.

It should be lauded as the epitome of strength of home and family; not sullied as unnecessary and appalling.

As the summer progresses, let the children play in the streets and wreak havoc in the backyards. Soon enough they will be grown and gone and our yards will echo with their lost squeals of fun-fueled delight from summers past. Youth is fleeting.

Let’s not wish it away.

 What?! I can’t hear you! Whispering sucks. 

 

 

The Fall

Sometimes I feel like the worst mother in the world. I don’t seem to ever have enough to give or I just don’t seem to give a damn. It’s brutal the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that plague me. And that guilt! I think it’s a universal feeling. Mothers often question their ability to make logical decisions in the face of chaos and drama. Are we doing the right things? Are we making the right decisions? Is there enough wine in the world to get me through the next few years/decades/century?  My answer is probably not.  

Being a mom is hard.

Every time there seems to be a major catastrophe in one of my kids’ lives, I internalize it and blame myself for their struggles. If only I gave them this or if only I warned them about that or if only I was better at being a mom…it’s never ending.

Watching one of the offspring struggle with a life event is heart breaking and standing around waiting for him or her to come to his senses about it is even worse. I’m knee deep in that now and I can’t seem to get myself out; to convince myself it will all be fine in the end, it’s just a few more weeks and things will turn around. We’ll all laugh about it later.

Nobody is laughing right now.

I’m too busy stopping myself from giving in to my tendency to help; to come to the rescue; to bail him out.  

That’s not my job, but it sure feels like standing around waiting for her to grow up is taking way too long. And he sure doesn’t understand why I’m just standing here waiting and not putting out my hand to help.

I am helping. Just not her version of help.

I know what the issue is, but if I give in what would be the learning life lesson; the character building experience; the chance to grow from struggle?  

There wouldn’t be one.  

The child/adult needs this to happen. Consequences from actions. That’s how life works.

I just wish I didn’t have to be the eye witness to the fall and the struggle to climb back out.

But that’s my job.

I’m a mom, after all.

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!

Running Through A Meadow is Overrated

The Universe can be an asshole.  Here you are happily running along the meadow, gaily skipping through the flowers, birds singing, skies blue with not a cloud to be seen, the sun beaming down upon you with the warmest glow when BAM! the Universe sticks out his foot and you pull off the biggest face plant ever with buttercups and meadow flying in your wake.  There you are, face down in the mud and dirt, your nose bleeding from the epic wallop, laying on the cold earthen floor, your hair left in knots and wayward birds pecking at you bringing twigs and branches to make a nice new nest in there for their offspring.  Your arms ache like shit from trying to break your fall on the way down.   The ultimate insult, the birds crap on your head as you shoo them away.  You never saw it coming.

Thanks, Universe.

YOU SUCK.

That’s how life works.  It’s all a big game and you get knocked down a time or twenty.  It’s not how you get knocked down, although the face plant is painful and embarrassing and epically awful with the nest and crap all over your head, but getting up again is just as hard.  It’s a matter of scraping off that blood and dirt, climbing up to your feet and taking a good look around.  The sun will still shine.  The sky will still be blue.  Those goddamned birds will still be looking for a place to nest and crap, but you can rise above all of that.  You can take a breath and clean yourself up.  The embarrassment will fade.  The blood will be cleaned off (although the nose may be a Marcia Brady nose for a while)

giphy

and you will trudge on once more.  One step at a time at first.  Running gaily may have to wait for you to recover.  But it will happen.  You don’t want to run through a meadow, anyways.  The bugs are awful.  You are allergic to all of that grass and shit.  The birds, seemingly sweet and innocent, will beat you down with their wings and beaks.  They are not nice.  AND THEY INCESSANTLY CRAP ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Seriously.  Avoid the birds.

Instead, take stock, get a breath and beat the Universe at its own game.

You. Are. Better.

l-amazing-photo-pug-and-tulips

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and Other Stuff I Admit to The Dog

The poor dog. She hears stuff that normally, no one would ever say. Like bad jokes. Or random rants. Or cooking tips, because my children who are no longer children refuse to participate in anything that takes place in the kitchen besides eating or drinking so the dog hears all the valuable potentially life-saving tips the wise woman wielding the spatula has learned over the past 50+ years. Sigh. And that. She hears stuff like that. Those random mini-rants that makes one look visibly shaken or in need of heavy doses of medication. Anyone who needs a sounding board should seriously consider getting a dog. Or a cat…no really, a dog.  

Cats are temperamental and have superiority complexes that make them leave the room when they sense things are getting a little boring or heavy hearted. They can’t stand needy people, so they turn and walk away. Unless you are holding a can of tuna, then they MAY stick around long enough for you to say a couple of words. Then they will interrupt with one of their self-involved mews or leg scratching and demand you lay that can down so they can eat while you drone on endlessly about your human needs and emotionally challenged offspring. Ugh.  

Dogs will at least stand there and look at you. Stare at you until you cave and give them a treat for being so kind-hearted and loyal. They’ll sit for an hour and listen endlessly hoping you will at least drop a piece of chicken their way or a bread crumb. And then wag their tails in endless joy that you even had the time to say ‘hey’ at them. Dogs. So sweet. So loyal. So not cats.

Not that I hate cats. I do like them. I had one of my own. They just are a lot of emotional work. They like you only when it suits them and even then, it’s tenuous at best. Fickle animals. They’ll lay on your head and wait for you to pet them one minute and the next, if they sense you need a cuddle, they suddenly have a million things to do like wash their paws, or watch the birds outside or chase that string on the pillow. They are busy!  

Dogs are listeners. Perfect for crazy evening drunken tirades or silly arguments about politics. They don’t talk back or disagree. They don’t even have an opinion, unless you ask them to lay down or roll over. Apparently, tricks are tricky and can only be completed followed by a treat. No treat and no trick. Hmmm….I know people like that, too.

Mags has heard it all. Parenting woes, swear-filled outbursts, overjoyed proclamations and teary worries. She still just stares up at you and lets you get it all out…then fetches a toy so you can play, because everybody likes a good toy to throw.   


Admitting to the dog that life is a roller coaster and sucks sometimes, is different than having to admit that to a real living person. People seriously have the gall to disagree or say you’re being dramatic or have an actual opinion and then give advice and expect you to follow through! What the hell?!  

I don’t want that! Just sit there like the dog and listen to what I have to yell at you. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE DO THAT?!  

Because people are not dogs.

Too bad. There would have been a treat in there somewhere…AND I WILL ALWAYS THROW A TOY TO CHASE.  
 

 

 

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….