Yes, Tell Me Your Story Baby

Yes, Tell Me Your Story Baby

Yesterday I was in a store line up. A woman with a four year old girl was in line ahead of me. The child didn’t seem to require oxygen in order to speak, because I am sure I never heard her breathe once between sentences. That little girl was explaining an extraordinarily complex game she had made up, with a set of rules that would rival Dungeons and Dragons. The Mother was trying to pay, and wrangle a younger sibling along with shopping bags, and the little girl chattered on.  I listened with great amusement because it has been a few years since my kids have spoken in marathons like that. I think back now, there were times when their stories seemingly went on for ages. When every small thing they did resulted in a full voice below of “MOMMY COME SEE WHAT I DID“. That was back when they wanted to show me everything, and tell me everything. I am now entering a different phase of our lives. Their stories are less frequent, but much more interesting. They tell their tales with the same feverish enthusiasm and it seems like they just couldn’t wait to tell me, but it doesn’t happen too often. Children, from the day we have them start to pull away from us. I thought it was hard sending them to school full time, or letting them go places without me. That was easy. This part is getting hard. When they keep their stories more to themselves, and have that shared understanding with their friends. They have stories I don’t know about, or that they keep to themselves to build their own internal archive. I just hope those secret stories are mostly happy, and are memories of achievement, or resilience, or love. I sometimes sit and watch my beautiful babies laugh and practice being teenagers or grown ups and wish they would tell me one of their stories, or show me what they did. Tell me your stories baby, and Mama will hold them in her heart.   This post originally ran on BluntMoms.com...
Mom, Can I Have a Gay Best Friend?

Mom, Can I Have a Gay Best Friend?

Things can change so much over the course of a single human generation. It gives me hope for the world. My Grandparents and Parents were intolerant of people who were different, and had old world views about people from different cultures, who had a skin colour that wasn’t white, and who were gay. The saving grace is that I know of a number of gay people who were in our family circle, and nobody realized it, they just couldn’t see it. Flash forward to my younger years. In university, I had gay friends, punk rocker friends, flexisexual lovers and everybody, male and female, wore eyeliner. I held friends as they wept with deep grief when they tried to come out to their families and their world exploded. I knew that would have been my fate if I was gay and told my family. Nobody “different” would be tolerated. My family even warned me not to date the black guy in town. WTF? Of course I dated him… first thing I did was make damned sure I found out why this would be so bad. It wasn’t bad, turns out he was an asshole, but that isn’t about colour. Now I have children. My eldest child and her friend decided that when they get to high school they want to be sure to have at least one gay friend. When asked why, my girl replied “because your gay friends are so fun”. I smiled and had to agree with that one. She doesn’t realize that their being fun is not so much about being homosexual, it is just that I pick fun people generally. I wouldn’t want to generalize that any group of people is any certain way, except for maybe Republicans, but that is another post entirely. We explored the conversation quite a bit. I had to explain to my gobsmacked child that often in high school somebody who is gay will likely hide it. She couldn’t understand that. I explained that many of their parents might hold a dim view of homosexuality, and that they may not feel safe to come out, heck they may not even have fully figured it out yet. Then she asked “how do they know?”. (Sidebar: can you picture the quagmire I had waded into on that day? Picture Mom pouring herself a little snifter to try to explain the fundamental ignorance of homophobes) I explained that currently, at her age, she is pretty comfortable around girls, but boys make her giggle and nervous? She agreed. Well, if you are gay, you are probably more nervous around your own gender because that is who you will eventually be attracted to as you grow up....
There is no HO HO HO in Halloween

There is no HO HO HO in Halloween

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid back when the earth was cooling, we dressed up as nasty witches or snow white for Halloween. The fanciest we ever got was cutting holes in a bed sheet and shouting “trick or treat” while trying to see through the ever shifting fabric and fogged up glasses. Flash forward 30 years or so, the world of Halloween costumes have changed a whole lot. Young girls have precious little to choose from that isn’t streetwalker chic. Teens are invited to Pimp and Ho parties. AAAARGH!! Parents of little girls now have to wade through teeny tiny little bits of fabric labelled “sexy police woman” or “red hot firefighter babe”.  For 6 year olds. Much has been made of this appalling trend, and I am so glad to see parents everywhere are speaking out. I would like to add this perspective to the public conversation of sexual Halloween costumes for children. There is an organization called Children of the Street Society  which has made some strong points on the topic. Here is a quote from a notice that went to schools in their area: Halloween is fast approaching and we’re once again reminding parents and schools about Halloween costumes which glamorize human trafficking, gangster life and sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation and human trafficking are devastating forms of child abuse. Dressing up as a “pimp” or “ho” glamorizes the sexual exploitation of children and youth, an issue which has been likened to modern day slavery. Youth are lured into exploitative situations for a variety of reasons including false promises, gifts, addiction and coercion. The reality of their situation falls far short of the image that is portrayed in the media. Rather than a glamorous life style, the victim faces multiple barriers and challenges including addiction, mental illness, homelessness, sexually transmitted infections, barriers to employment and long lasting trauma from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. With the increase in online activity, more youth are vulnerable to exploitation and recruitment. Statistics show that 1 in 5 youth are sexually solicited online and 75% do not tell a parent. Executive Director Diane Sowden says, “Sexual exploitation and human trafficking are crimes that rely on individuals being unaware or misinformed on the issue. Wearing Halloween costumes that stereotype or make light of these harmful forms of exploitation, only contributes to the problem.” The message is simple: it’s not socially acceptable to dress up as a ‘pimp’, gangster, or sex trade worker this Halloween. Glamorizing or normalizing the sex trade and gangster life, adds to the false perceptions of these harsh realities. Surely we are more creative than putting a 10 year old in a sexy flight...
My Hair Dresser Thinks I Am Cantankerous Old Doll

My Hair Dresser Thinks I Am Cantankerous Old Doll

Everybody under the age of 30 looks 12 to me. Honestly, are there even any actual adults working in banks or stores anymore? Even the dude selling me a car doesn’t look old enough to vote. Being on the cusp of the jaunty decade that will be my fifties, I understand, at least theoretically, that I look my age. It’s not like I have any horse anesthetic injected in my forehead crinkles, nor is there any bit of me worth tattooing. (I understand you need at least a few square inches of taught skin for the artist not to produce a Salvador Dali creation that jiggles when you walk.) So really, I get it that the under 30 set views me as practically a geriatric. I don’t have any real issue with being viewed as old and harmless. There are advantages to being a stealth 30 year old in a 50 year old costume. For instance, when I ask for help carrying a heavy purchase from some young buck at the hardware store just so I can look at his ass, he has no idea of my ploy. Dirty old ladies are real, just ask my friends. Where the friction point between generations is for me, a late Gen Ex, and my Millennial hairdresser (or is it stylist, I am never sure) is my haircuts. When my usual hair artist went on maternity leave, I kind of bounced around trying to find a new home for my locks. Apparently, there is nobody over 40 doing hair, so I went with a series of young people to see what new style I could rock the world with. I mean these youngsters set the standard for music, social media, fashion and coffee shops… can they not help one grouchy old girl with her hair? I started with an appointment at a local trendy salon. I was assigned to this diminutive hottie from the Philippines.  He had funky hair and was not afraid of multi coloured spikes. He had promise. As he stepped on his stool and put the cape over my head, it felt like Edward Scissorhands was grooving through my hair. This was going to be the one… I knew it. Alas, it was a mediocre haircut and I waddled out of the salon with no spikes of my own. Apparently I am not spike worthy. The next three young women disregarded my requests for interesting colour combinations and a modern cut. Nope, I left all of their salons looking like Mama from the Carol Burnett Show. I used some decidedly unladylike language each time I grumbled my way into the car. Have I gotten to the point where I...
The Front Seat Smackdown

The Front Seat Smackdown

“Oh for shit’s sake, will you two knock it off?!” “But Mooooom… she ALWAYS gets the front seat!” And 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . we count down to older sister eye rolling followed by the smackdown with a rapier sharp-cut to the solar plexus, gutting her little brother. Now she is mad, and he is crying inconsolably in the back seat – and we aren’t even out of the driveway. I need some help with this “front seat privilege” issue. The boy has recently become heavy and tall enough to technically be allowed safely in the front seat of our airbag enabled vehicles. The girl is a solid 20 pounds over the safety weight and is very tall for her age at 13. She has had front seat exclusivity for over a year.  He feels he should be able to step into his birthright and have it at least half the time. There was peace in the land until recently, because he would never consider breaking the laws of the land when I told him the police would give me a ticket for letting somebody too light in the front seat. I hooped myself with that one. Here is the groaning conundrum: She is older, well behaved, a straight A student, helpful and generally owns her position as queen of the house, but a good Queen, more like Elizabeth, not like Maleficent. The boy is, um . . . harder to raise. He argues about every . . . single . . . fucking . . . thing. With me, with his Dad, and particularly with his sister.  He fights getting out of bed in the morning for school, and it seems like a continuation of the hairy fit he threw when he had to go to bed the night before. Every night, every morning. This is the kid who loses a full wheelbarrow of privileges at least once a week. There are days when he is lucky he gets to eat with the family and not out in the dog house. When it comes to the car, it would gall his sister, and frankly, me, to relegate him to anything but the trunk on some days. I have been letting him have the front seat when she isn’t in the car with us. Maybe that established the wrong precedent by giving him a taste of the throne of power. Either way, we seem to be locked in this endless debate and I am tempted to let her drive so I can curl up in a fetal ball in the back seat and we can just ride in silence. Three years . . . in three short years we will hand her a set of...