Targets and Pawns

 
Amidst the horror of the latest terror attack on concert goers in Manchester, the media’s frenzy on covering the ‘next big event’ has caught them drooling and gnashing their teeth for ratings. It also has a President stammering over a speech using the inarticulate ‘evil losers’ phrase that middle schoolers still utter under their breath after their lunch money is stolen. The reaction of the world over yet another horrific attack, leaves devastated families with nothing, really. They’ve lost daughters and sons. Their lives are forever changed. One overly simplistic phrase of an insolent and removed President isn’t going to change anything for these families. It isn’t going to make everything all better and bring back those deceased children out for a fun evening of music and friends. It does bring out, however, the crass and insensitive phrasing of people who have little to no concept of the brevity and revulsion of this terror attack. It does bring out the mindset of a terror organization set on using children as targets. But that’s not new.  

They have been used as pawns in war before. Children are the scope and the targets for the majority of the terrorists groups in war torn countries around the world. Remember the girls kidnapped in Nigeria? They were taken TWO YEARS AGO by Boko Haram. Did anyone remember that until some were just released last October? Hmmm. In Syria, Iran, and Iraq children are taken from families and trained as soldiers. Six year olds are wielding machine guns instead of worrying about math and reading for grade one. They are dying amidst gun battles in the streets and bombs exploding in their apartments. We’ve heard this.

It’s hard for us in our own worlds of car pools and soccer practices to comprehend.

Children are targets because they are vulnerable. Small and innocent.  

Cull the runts of the herds.

Now that they have been targeted and killed on soil closer to home, the spotlight has shifted to our own backyards. Our children have been killed. Not children in countries to which we can’t relate or of which we have little understanding. We should be horrified. We should be repulsed and our fists should be raised in rage and righteous indignation, yet all I see are hunger-crazed reporters out to score a media award for interviewing a bereaved mother, and an ill-prepared aloof President making a speech with such insincerity it is insulting.

We should be outraged yes, but where was our outrage for the past five years? Decade?

The global mistreatment of children has been an ongoing ‘situation’, yet continually falls on the agendas and lists of atrocities yet to be dealt with. It’s easier to look away, than to have to admit the plight of children is in our hands.  

As the world digests this latest attack in Manchester and the death toll of children caught in a battle that has nothing to do with them, lets also include the children of the world where the exact same can be said. Battles that have nothing to do with them, become their death sentence. The atrocities against girls in India. The African children starving and dying of Ebola. The child laborers in China and the Philippines, the street children living in Brazil. The North American children who are beaten, tortured and starved by their own parents, shot down on the school yards and classrooms. Yes, it does happen here.   

As parents, we take care that our children are well looked after, have good food to eat and clothes on their backs and an education upon which to rely. Who looks after the world’s children whose parents can’t/won’t do those things? The children who are taken and beaten and raped and tortured? Who?

It’s a question I struggle with and pains me to bear witness.

This attack demonstrates the little humanity these terrorists possess. They will kill children to further their own illusive agendas and will continue to do so.  

I am bereft of an answer to the question of what are we to do?

It’s too overwhelming to even fathom a definitive answer. Volunteer? Donate to a cause? Sponsor a child? I don’t know.

Hug your kids tonight a little tighter.  

Let’s be better parents and be determined to make our children the leaders we need to bring about a healthier world for their children. A generation of better people and better parents moving toward a common goal of ending greedy terrorists and the organizations that fund them. A generation well prepared to defend their children and the children in countries in which they had the unfortunate happenstance to be born. Intelligent, present leaders who have the foresight to end atrocities and defend the weak.

That’s all I have. I hope it’s enough… 

 

 

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!

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Tattoo Studio…

Apparently, when you turn fifty something inexplicable happens to your brain.  Decisions are made based on what would be fun, or what could transform a little life into something exciting.  Looking down the tunnel towards old age, it gets necessary to move in a more forward thinking direction.  What have I not done in my life that I really should do?  Like, now.  Do now.   Take a plunge.  Leap. Dance.  Get a tattoo.

A tattoo?  Yes.   With Daughter.  She asked me and in an instant I said ‘yes’.  I didn’t even hesitate or flinch.  I just jumped in. No debating, no weighing the options, just jumped.  It’s only a little ink, right?

Let’s do it.  She was so excited.  I was too…until we walked into the tattoo studio for our consultation and then I realized it was actually happening. A permanent drawing on my body.  Ready?  Hmm….

Oh, sure there was a lot of checking with me to see if I was on board.  Was I sure?  Daughter and I looked over literally hundreds of designs.  What size?  Did we want colour?  How about the image itself?  There were many I nixed based on size.  There were more she declined based on simplicity. I was going for simple.  At my age, simple was imperative.  A few weeks later and we had our first appointment.

We made our way down to the studio.  A little red door on a downtown street.  Colourful art and sketches cover the wall of an old walk-up; aged wooden floorboards creaked beneath our feet; plaster ceilings and vintage crown moldings.  There was a park bench and an old tattoo chair adorning a tiny living room complete with sofa and coffee table. Directly across from the green micro-fibre sofa hung precariously from an old nail, a shrunken pirate head with ginger beard and eye patch.  Perfect.

We sat down with the artist in that room to go over our ideas for our tattoos.  She was a young woman, grey haired and sweet.  I saw no visible tattoos, however, just peeking out from under the hiked-up sleeve of her sweater I could see a black swirl like the wispy end of a tail.  Ah, there it is.

She asked questions.  Allayed our fears.  Calmed me down a bit.  We went through our ideas and she took the time to get to know exactly what we had in mind.

We chose daisies and asked the artist to do a sketch and send it to us just so we could imagine what it would look like permanently inked on our skin.

The day of the appointment arrived and Daughter picked me up.  She was so excited, how could I not be?  She went first.  Watching the tattoo artist was like watching somebody paint a picture while doing a bit of surgery at the same time.  There’s the whir of the instrument, the chatter of voices and the wincing of Daughter’s face.  She was so determined not to move, she made herself shake.  I asked Daughter what it felt like and she said it was like somebody scratching at your skin.  Nothing painful.  Huh.  That wincing face, though.

She was done in thirty minutes.  A quick change up for the room to be disinfected and cleaned up and it was my turn.  Ugh.  My brain started going into overdrive.  Was it too big, really?  Maybe she can scale it down to one daisy…then mine would be different than Daughter’s and that would defeat the purpose.  I was back in the room with the shrunken pirate head.  I think I heard him sneer at me, “Oh, whaddya ascared of a little tattoo?!  Pfft…sure if I had arms, I’d show ya all mine!  Dey were good’uns, they were.  All done by a sailor with a hook for a hand and a needle dipped in black ink.  Hehehe…good ol’ days, dey were.  A’course I may ‘ave been a wee bit over da limit wit da rum, if ya catch me drift….”  ‘Oh, my Gawd will ya shut it, pirate!  Can’t ya see I’m panicking here?!’    “Jasus, girl it’s only a bit o’ink.  Nuttin’ to git yer panties in a knot o’er.  An daisies at dat!  Pffft…wuss.  Well, if ye were on ma boat-“      ‘YOU DON’T HAVE A BODY LET ALONE A BOAT!   TOO BAD YOU STILL HAVE A MOUTH! KEEP TALKIN’ CAPTAIN JACK AND I’LL PITCH YOU OUT INTO THE HARBOUR! ’    “Take it easy, Missy!  Where’s me rum…”  ‘ NOW, you’re talkin’…..’

She came out to get me and we were off.

She attached the design to my lower leg first to make sure the placement was accurate and straight.  Then I hopped up on the table and she set to work.  I was on my side, so I was able to have a lovely view of the harbour while she worked.  I think she did that intentionally.  Smart girl.  Captain Jack was laughing it up out in the living room, I’m sure of it.   I asked her intelligent questions like “Has anyone passed out from this before?  Ever been accidently kicked or swatted while tattooing?  What’s the biggest tattoo you’ve ever done and how long did it take you?  Anybody ever vomit on your table?”

She answered my questions with a degree of concern making sure I wasn’t going to do any of those things to her.  Nope.  All good.  Except for that annoying scratching.  “That’s the tattoo.”  Oh.  Then I’m good.

It went well.  The tattoos look great.

I wonder what my next adventure will be…hmmm.

As for Captain Jack, I don’t think we’ll be seeing each other any time soon, although I thought I could hear a verse of  ‘Yo Ho Ho and A Bottle of Rum’ as we were walking out the door….

 

tattoo

 

 

 

 

 

Conversations With….The Dog

Maggie: I shall sit upon your lap and chew on this tasty bone for the next few hours. You are my favoritist human and I shall not be vacated from this spot for any reason whatsoever.
Me: Okay, Mags I need to get up. I have stuff to do. Can’t be lounging around here all day while you chew that nasty looking bone.
Mags: I’ll ignore that last ‘nasty’ remark and remain seated fervently chewing upon said bone. I am your best dog.
Me: Up! Mags, Up! I gotta go. (shoos Maggie from my lap)
Mags: Well! That’s quite rude! I wasn’t finished yet! Oh, wait are you getting food?! I LOVE FOOD!? *jumps wildly around my feet* FOOD! FOOD! FOOD! I WANT FOOD! I’M SO HUNGRY I HAVEN’T EATEN IN LIKE HOURS.
Me: No, Mags I’m not getting any food. Calm down. You have food in your bowl you haven’t touched yet.
Mags: FOOD! FOOD! I LOVE HAMBURGERS! ARE THOSE HAMBURGERS?! THAT’S MY FAVOURITE!!! IS THAT CHEESE! OH HOW I LOVE CHEESE! *jump, jump*
Me: Ugh, Maggie. NO! Stop jumping! Look! I have a ball! *tosses ball down the hall* GO GET IT!!
Mags: OH MY GAWD YOU JUST THREW MY FAVORITIST BALL!! *scurries after the ball and brings it back. Places it at my feet for another throw* Here you go. You lost this. THROW IT AGAIN!!!
Me: Seriously, I have stuff to do. *tosses ball* GO GET IT!
Mags: I GOTTA GET THE BALL!! *retrieves the ball and places it at my feet. Sits staring up at me: Um, here you go! Hehe…waiting here…THROW IT AGAIN!!!
Me: Ugh, Mags. *throws the ball* GO GET IT!!
Mags: I’LL GET IT!! *chases the ball when one of the kids comes in with a friend* YOU! HUMAN! I KNOW YOU! I DO NOT RECOGNIZE OTHER HUMAN WITH YOU! INTRUDER! INTRUDER! I SHALL BARK AND JUMP VICIOUSLY TO SCARE AWAY NASTY INTRUDER!! BARK! BARK! I AM PROTECTING YOU. STAY BACK!
Me: MAGGIE! Shhh…(so doesn’t work) *D2 opens the door and allows friend in to let Maggie have a sniff.
Maggie:*sniff, sniff* BARK! I don’t know you! BARK! You might be a vicious intruder. *sniff, sniff* Hey!! DO YOU HAVE A DOG, TOO??!! *sniff, sniff* I SMELL SOMETHING! DO YOU THINK I’M PRETTY?! MY HUMAN SAYS I’M PRETTY SO I MUST BE. YOU WILL THINK SO TOO. I SMELL BACON!! DO YOU HAVE BACON?! ARE YOU MADE OF BACON??!! I WANT SOME I WANT SOME I WANT SOME!! I think I love you….*follows new friend around the house and sits on her lap* AHH…BACON….
Me: Oh, God…

What?  I'm pretty.  That's all you need to know....

What? I’m pretty. That’s all you need to know….

 

Growing Pains

My postings have taken the proverbial nose-dive…it’s not due to anything specific, just time and energy.  It seems I am lacking both these days.

Life is marching on and with it comes kids becoming awkward young adults.  Case in point, D1 and her purchase of her first new car.  After listening to her pleading and begging, three years of it to be exact, we took her out Saturday for ‘car shopping’.  A somewhat daunting task that had us juggling dealerships and models and bi-weekly payment schedules.  In the end, she bought the car she liked the most or in her immortal words ‘the car I’ve always wanted’.   The white car shall take a place in ma driveway whilst my little Toyota shall be relegated to the street…tossed aside and left to wonder its fate as the daughter’s car, all shiny and bright, gets admired and awed over like a…well, new car. Daughter is thrilled, however, her new life as a bill-payer is also becoming a weight that we warned shall be hers forever more.  Don’t wish to grow up too fast, dear one.  It ain’t all it’s cracked up to be….

It’s been a busy time, me adjusting to life as a mother to adults living all under the same roof and subjected to daily musings of ‘do you need help seeing that mom’?  or ‘Did you forget I told you that already?’  Ugh.  I’ve caught myself singing their baby songs in the morning, remembering that a song could settle even the middle one on a restless night (which invariably lasted for four years) and could bring a smile to a bouncy baby boy.  Now the babies are practically grown (or are grown) and I’m left feeling empty-nested, but without the empty nest.  When did that happen? I can still see them settled next to me for Chapter One of the new book that’s all the rage, Harry Potter.    I insisted that when the last one came out, we would be reading it together.  Big dreams die hard, and that one fell to an awful fate of “Mom, we are too old to have you read to us.  We think we can read that ourselves” and “I’m waiting for the movie.  I’m not reading all that” (D1)  Ugh.

How I see ma little girl…good commercial.

Nursing school, University schedules, junior high school yearbooks and new cars are taking the place of Harry Potter stories and baby songs.  I’m lamenting my new role as Mom, The Chief Food Supplier and Educational Supporter.  Give me a good book surrounded by pajama clad kids and a round of You Are My Sunshine, any day.

This growing up stuff, sucks….

Helpful Tips To Survive The Impending Arrival of School As Mothers Everywhere Collectively Sigh

back-to-school-pdt

As school approaches, some young ones are entering the halls of academia with bated breath and a full back pack with shit nobody needs. Parents watch, teary eyed as their son or daughter board the crammed school bus teaming with like-minded juveniles waiting to trade sandwiches and securing the best seat for the rest of the year, all the while thinking their teacher is going to resemble the wicked witch of the west and be the meanest thing since Gordon Ramsay yelled “Get the hell outta ma kitchen!” 

IN my house, my youngest son is entering his last year of junior high.   It seems like he’s been there forever.  D2 is starting University and is quaking in her proverbial rubber boots and D1 is beginning nursing school.  She seems to have grasped the phrase “shit-wiper” very well.  Ahhh…the future looks very interesting for ma brood…

In starting the school year off right, I thought I would dispense some tips to assist with all the scheduling, fighting, crying and air-punching that may occur in the coming days…and with the kids’ having to watch us do all those things. Yeah.   Let’s not forget the kids.  It’s not always about you.  Geesh.

1.     *It pays to pay.  That’s right. Pay somebody to get all the school supply shit that your kids need so you can spend more time shopping for important things like wine.  And, shoes to wear to the 10 minute parent’s meetings at report card time.  ‘Cause really, what else are you gonna talk about to the twenty-something teacher just out of university and worried about going to the bar on Friday night with her boyfriend?  Pfft…

2.     *Don’t stress about what ‘other’ parents are giving their kids for lunch.  Throw caution to the wind and give them the healthy non-allergenic, peanut-free, organic, sugar-free, soy-based, gluten free shit we all grew up on and loved.  That leaves a tossed salad with fat free dressing and an apple.  YUMMY!  Don’t forget the tofu cookie with carob chips!  A kid’s gotta have some fun.

3.     *  Fashion…where’s Stacy London when you need her?  The kids are concerned about shit that we have no clue existed and NEED us to buy it for them.  It’s like our God-given duty as parents to wander the earth in search of the latest this or that to make them look…like what exactly?  Like a super-model from California?   Puhleeease.  Throw them a pair of jeans from Walmart and tear off the dreaded George label, affix one you made with pieces of fabric from hand-me-downs that their cousin gave you like a dozen weeks ago and voila!  An instant ‘new designer’ label from New York that the Olsen twins endorse, and you bought off the internet that ONLY YOUR KID has.  She thinks you’re fucking awesome and you get the Mom of the Year Award for Originality and Creativity. Win- Win!  You rock!

4.     * Homework…we all know this sucks royally, but the kids have to do it.  So let’s all take a breath before submitting to the dreaded homework duty like an addict before random drug trials, and take stock in knowing that homework will NEVER go away.  And besides…we all have Friday drink nights to kill a few more brain cells, so when we do go back to assisting our kids with the homework, we can answer honestly that we have no fucking clue how to do any of the math they have placed in front of us.  Google it, kid.  It’s the new encyclopedia. 

I hope you have all found these tips useful in the coming days.

Good luck and good schooling.

May the bus be early, the clothes be clean and everybody be smiling so mommy can get back to her shit, because really…it IS all about us. 

He's probably sitting at the back of the bus. Good thing.

He’s probably sitting at the back of the bus. Good thing.

 

 

Texts With Daughter

Texts with D2 as I wait to pick her up from rowing practice:

Me: Here

D2: —–

Me: Kinda no place to park so…

D2: —–

Me: You should maybe rush a little.

D2: ——-

Me: Still here

D2: ——

Me: Nice Police man drove by and I waved.  I think if he comes back he’ll make me move.

D2: ——–

Me:  Your response and caring are overwhelming

D2:  ———

Me: Waiting patiently kind of

D2: ———-

Me: People are mad at me for blocking traffic

D2: ——–

Me: They’re probably calling me mean and nasty names now

D2:—–

Me: Like yucky face and poo-poo head

D2:  ——

Me:  The police man came back

D2:——-

Me:  He’s now yelling at me furiously.  I probably shouldn’t have stuck my tongue out at him.

D2:———-

Me:  I’m now making a scene and he’s giving me a ticket.

D2: ——-

Me:  You’ll have to call your father for a ride home as I’m now in the back of the police car going to RNC headquarters.

D2: ————

Me:  Get bail money ready.

D2:————

Me: I see you’re stunned into silence by my behavior

D2:————–

Me: They let me go since I know *people*

D2:———

Me: Now I’m parked safely facing the lake.  It’s lovely.  So glad you care.

*I watch as D2 exits the boat she’s been in the entire conversation*

Me:  Ignore all my previous texts

D2:——-

Me:  Here

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