Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I didn't realize there was a TEST!

Happy Easter everyone!

Tis the season for warmer days, lovely flower bouquets, chocolate and emails questioning if you are a "real" Christian.

Funnily enough, I always thought I was, until I started reading the contents of my Inbox. My "favorite" is the one that lists in graphic detail how Jesus was crucified. Now don't get me wrong - the death of Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity. Christmas is lovely and all - but Easter is the real deal people. (*Note - I find it amusing that Easter Monday is NOT a stat holiday but it is the pinnacle of what it means to be Christian - belief that Jesus rose from the grave.)
So I suppose the blow by blow account of how many litres of blood he shed before it became water is a little to CSI for my liking.

I've also received a number of emails telling me that Satan is the reason I won't forward a religious email. I'm a bad person for forward Wal-Mart emails, if I'm not also going to be an electronic Missionary.

FYI - I also delete the fanatical Muslim emails too - along with the overly crude jokes and boring and unimaginative Dumb Blonde jokes. That doesn't make me a Muslim, a prude or a Blonde. It means I can think for myself thankyouverymuch and I don't appreciate someone judging my faith based on whether or not I hit on an email.

So enjoy the holiday with your family - take in a church service. Hunt for your chocolate eggs. Devour delicious foods and bask in the beautiful weather we are experiencing.

I think that will make you a good enough Christian!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Change for Change sake

So I changed the blog again....

What can I say, I get bored easily. Just trying to build a better mouse trap I suppose.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How not to teach sportsmanship...

The kid was now hunched over.

His shoulders shuddering up and down. In most arenas you wouldn't be able to hear what was happening on the ice, but between the superior acoustics and the intensity of his crying, the sounds of a soul defeated were heard to the very back row of the raised bleachers.

The insult to the injury was that the adults didn't seem to believe he was hurting. Not physically, because at least that would have been tangible, but deep in the core of his being. The sounds emitting from him were those of pain from a wound of the heart. A sound no child should ever make.

What should have been a thrilled victory in a playoff hockey game was quickly becoming a freak show. Adults acting like children, children acting like animals and finally a broken boy sobbing on the ice.

First Born Son is a goalie. It's a thankless position. You will never be credited for the win, and you will ALWAYS be blamed for the loss. If you can't handle that - get out of the crease.

But in this game, the goalie was obviously a little green. He showed his frustration with every smack of the stick against the posts and then the ice. He was annoyed that his teammates stood and watched while our forwards walked right in and smashed away at the puck with little if any resistance. Two goals in five minutes, and he was frustrated. He slams his stick into the metal posts.

"I HOPE YOU BREAK YOUR STICK LITTLE BOY!" Shouts a mother from our team, who then laughs with her friends. I'm am embarrassed at the comment, and the fact that she would yell so directly at a player.

By the mid point of the second period, the cracks were showing. If there had been a backup goalie, this one would have been pulled. One of our forwards rushes the goalie, who covers the puck for the save, and eats a face full of snow, thanks to the forward. The forward is removed for the penalty - and rightfully so - and the ref, sensing that there was a problem, gives the goalie a moment to collect himself. After all, we are talking about 12-year-olds here.

The forward's stepfather is in the stands and feeling self righteous I suppose? Embarrassed? Divinely appointed? yells out "ARE YOU OKKAAAAY GOALIE?" in a tone that left no room for interpretation - "buck up you little punk." The child - looks up into the stands, takes a breath and yells at the top of his lungs "SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE!"

While the "mature" spectators respond with a rousing "OOOOooooh" that would make any Grade 3 bully proud, the child is left at the centre of his end of the ice and he is overcome.

One of the more genteel mothers thinks he could be coughing - maybe he's got a respiratory problem. I know better. I can hear him and he's gasping for air because he's sobbing. It doesn't matter that the referee chides the "adults" for their immature behavior, and he can't hear his mother venting that the offending fans should be removed. He's just broken and hurting and he's on the ice so everyone can see him. The period ends and he flies to the bench as fast as he legs can carry him.

"SEE!" Says one parent "He seems ok now!?!"

Asshole. The little goalie collapses on the bench and doesn't move for the rest of the game. His coach props him up against the wall and his coach has to put his helmet on his head once the game resumes.

Mercifully he is replaced by a fellow player who doesn't normally play net. The third period begins and we continue on. More asinine comments - none nearly as pointed. The goalie just sits on the bench - never moving.

We won the game. But in fact - we lost. We lost our self respect, our pride in representing our community. Our humanity.

I see the Home team mother in the parking lot and take the chance to speak to her. She's still rabid about the public flaying her son endured. She yells at me. I take it because damn it, she deserves to vent. I explain that I too am a Goalie Mom, that I disagree with what our fans said and did. And that I was sorry. She seemed to calm down a bit and in the end, I gave her a hug.

And if her son had been there, I would have hugged him too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Always a Bridesmaid

I'm getting pretty good at the Bridesmaid thing.

The first time I was in a wedding party was as a Junior Bridesmaid for my cousin. I was in Grade 7 or 8 and my gracious response to being asked was to turn to my little sister and say "See!? I TOLD you I would get to be in a wedding."


I remember the stress of ordering a taller dress because I grew almost a foot from the time the dress was ordered in the spring, to the wedding in October. It was a chiffony, frothy, youthful dress with cap sleeves - very appropriate for the age of the bridal party. The flowers were horrific - artificial and sparse, to the point that you could see the oasis in the centre. The rigid plastic handle was coated with florist tape and made my hands smell. The arrangement in general left a bad taste in my mouth, so much so that I cannot imagine artificial flowers in a bridal bouquet to this day. This couple is divorced.

Another cousin, this time I'm about 5 years older and getting ready to go to college. I'm the youngest bridesmaid (again) by far and also the tallest. The dresses are strapless and COTTON! Almost the same color and flower pattern as DRESS #1, but two diagonal ruffles make it MUCH more mature. We carry boutiques of lilies, which is my first tell tale sign that I have raging allergies. The pollen makes me carry the flowers as low and away from my face as possible. We have ratty looking pieces of net tucked into our hair and the color pulled out as the accent is Teal. My father is also in the wedding party but we are not partnered, unfortunately, as there is a difference between an usher with experience and a guy who is just showing up for the free bar. Guess which one I got....? He didn't realize he couldn't wear his Jesus sandals with a tux. The upside - I get my first ride in a limo - oh, and The Big Guy came as my date and asked me that night if I would consider marrying him at some point down the road. Yup - great dress! This couple is still together.

SIDE NOTE: I actually DO wear this dress again - have a cute white bolero jacket made and wear this to my future brother-in-law's wedding (and they are still together!!). I actually have some one come up to me and ask if I'm a MODEL. Ok, so, they were drunk....STILL COUNTS!!! I wear it again to my college graduation - again with the jacket. In essence, for an expensive cotton dress, it paid for itself.

A friend from college called me up to catch up one day and told me she was getting married. I conveyed my congratulations and she replied, "Thanks! Do you want to be in the wedding party?" Thinking this was an option based response opportunity I said, "Oh that's ok, I'm sure you have plenty of family you'll want to have stand up with you." The silence indicated she didn't and she meant that to be my official invite to the bridal party... It became pretty evident that I was asked to participate based on my organizational skills, the fact that I had previous experience and I didn't horrify her when I put on a dress. It's too bad the dress she picked was pretty horrific. Navy shot with black, this dress was dark, didn't breath well and had a dropped hem at the back. This presented a problem as I was the tallest girl (again) and my hem didn't brush the floor like the rest of the dresses. Cha-Ching$$ I get to order more fabric. We carry artificial flowers (again) and I vow to myself that I will NEVER consider plastic and fabric flowers good enough for a bridal bouquet. Especially DARK NAVY BLUE FLOWERS. The usher I was paired with was homely, anti-social and at times, rude. The highlight of this wedding was the Blue Jays won their first World Series Championship - none of the guys (and me when I could help it) were on the dance for as they/we were crammed into the bar area where the bartender had brought in a little portable TV. I figured it was fair turn about, since the bride walked up to me during the meal and informed me I had to give a speech to the groomsmen, as the maid of honor who was little if any help during the showers and wedding prep, was also too illiterate to speak in front of a room of family and friends... The couple is still together.

I'm married by this time (more on that another time) and I'm a pro when it comes to the ins and outs of weddings, bridesmaids dresses and the like. I know when someone says "Now THIS dress you can wear again!" most times they are lying. In the case of this wedding, I actually REALLY liked the dress and still have it, in the off chance I can find a way to wear it again. Dark green sheath, off the shoulder runched portrait collar/off the shoulder. Has a broach on the hip where the runching comes off the shoulder, down the bodice and hits the hip. Very clean and classy. Had a blast in this wedding and was the luckiest girl for having not one, but TWO ushers to partner with - both of whom were a kick. Real flowers, thank God, and although they are lilies, they don't seem to bother me as much. We do photos before the ceremony which is unsettling to say the least, but it didn't seem to jinx the day - this couple is still together.

When my childhood friend got engaged and asked me to be in her wedding party, I automatically knew what color the dresses would be - PURPLE. Now, not Barney purple, but more of a deep lilac. Easily the best flowers ever - the bride's aunt owned a flower shop - but the dress was the most expensive to date. Made by a seamstress who couldn't seem to make the style work on me without making me look like a football player, the purple dress had puffy sleeves, a sweetheart neckline and full skirt. Again, the tallest - I need extra fabric. Any shot of me looks like I'm the bride's bodyguard. The upside - got to hang all day with the bride's brother - a dear friend, who has unfortunately had the experience of babysitting me. It was all fun and laughs until the photographer made the bride emotional and I was convinced her two military trained brothers were going to rip him limb from limb - since they threatened to do just that. This couple got divorced.

This is my sister's first wedding and I'm the Matron of Honor - appropriate since I look every "inch" a "Matron". As mentioned previously, I'm still hormonal from giving birth three months previous. The color is nice - gold, and the empire waist is very forgiving. The scoop neck, however, highlights my engorged assets and I padded my nursing bra to prevent leaks on top of it all. You could have set dinner on my chest. We carry a single rose, which is very nice and minimal, except I needed a wheelbarrow full of peonies to camoflague the ass I have grown. The shortest guy in the wedding party is the Best Man and we look like I could kill him if a shift my weight or decide to eat him. This couple got divorced.

DRESS #7This outfit didn't actually get worn because I had to cancel as a bridesmaid. A navy blue dressy short and tailored top - it was a little unorthodox because I was 6 months preggers with Second Born Son and it's a September wedding in Florida. My childhood friend was getting married for a second time and thinking that I was not the bad luck omen that tanked the first union, asked me to be her attendant in her second nuptials. I had to back out about a month before due to some quirkiness in my pregnancy that made flying a little riskier. This couple is still together.

Can't tell you about this one until after May 21 2010!!! Stay tuned!!!

Want a chuckle, check out - "Tatoos & Skanks" is hilarious!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just say "NO!"

It was pretty obvious from the start how this was going to end up.

There were a couple of give aways - the frazzled looking mother, the hyper son, the vibe in the air that was charged with energy - his, not hers.

"Mommy, can I have a some gum?" the little one asked. He's no more than 6 or 7 years old and he cannot reach the brightly colored gum packages high above the conveyor belt at the grocery store. I'm standing in front of them and we are all waiting for the teller who is dealing with the first customer at the check out.

"I don't think so," she replies. Her tone is tired, frustrated, weak.

"But I want some," he argues, now trying to reach past me to the gum. I step away and in my best "Elaine from Seinfeld" moment pray to myself that she will handle this the way she should.

Instead, she stalls.

"Here, can you put this on the belt?" she asks, hoping distraction will work. Sorry about your luck sister.

"NO!!! I want GUM! Please MOMMY!" he hollers and launches into a rapid fire rant of repetition "I want some gum! I want some. Give me some gum Mommy!" From time to time mom manages to squeak out "No." or some other objection, but it's ineffective in that HE DOESN'T HEAR HER.

The lady in front of me at the till turns to look. The cashier glances over and looks away - she's seen this played out dozens of times in a day. She's grateful she's got the the belt and the till to separate her from the hell about to be unleashed.

This exchange goes on for easily two or three minutes. A long bloody time to endure a child whining, begging, bartering and finally, ordering. I can hear him debating with her still as I complete my transaction and leave the store.

Parents are hardwired to WANT to do what their children need them to do. There is no question that it can be really difficult not to succumb to sparkling eyes, rosy cheeks and DIMPLES (I however have had to develop immunity to Dimples - Second Born Son has them and if I hadn't conditioned myself otherwise, we would have been in DEEP trouble years ago! Gramma - my mother - isn't quite as strong and it's sad really...)
But there are times you just have to come from the gut with a deep and forceful "NO." The entire tirade I witnessed would have been avoided with a firm response the child understood. The fact is, he likely hasn't heard "NO" said with any meaning in the past, so he knows that if he keeps howling, keeps pushing, keeps working her over, he'll get what he wants; whether it's the 5th or 10th time because that's what he's done before.

She needs to make eye contact with him, tell him today is not the day for gum because _____ (we are going home for lunch, you didn't eat your lunch, we don't have money for that today, you keep swallowing your gum, you put it in your sister's hair - fill in the blank). He will still protest, so then she will need to follow up with "I understand you are frustrated - if you cannot calm down, we will have to leave the store because this is embarrassing for you." And then, if he doesn't settle down (which he won't for a while because you have to unteach the bad habits over time) then you set down your items at the Customer Service counter, grab your child around the waist and march out. Yes, folks - I've done it - once to each child.

What I haven't shared is that SBS was with me this day. His eyes grew wider with each escalation. He looked at me with an expression that clearly stated "Can you FREAKIN' believe this?"

The Rule of Mouth is that you keep your thoughts to yourself until you get in the car. You just never know when someone is right behind you, or related to the person you are about to discuss - it is a small town after all.

"Did you SEE that kid?" He exclaimed as he locked himself in. "That was CRAZY!"

"Yup," I agreed. "It doesn't look good, does it?"

SBS was prone to temper tantrums, and still has them from time to time - but not nearly as often or a bad as when he was between 4-7 years old. He comes by it honestly. There is footage of me stomping off from a soccer game that didn't go my way as a child - preferring to hide in a cedar hedge to sob in privacy than deal with the frustration I was subjected to. Classy!

But time gives you perspective. My parents didn't coddle me into returning to the lawn and join the rest of the kids. I don't/didn't entertain SBS' meltdowns.

If Grocery Store Mom wants to preserve her sanity, she'll learn how to say NO, and quick!

Friday, March 5, 2010

NOT a Team Player

Setting: In the truck, while running errands.
Characters: Me and Second Born Son - but no laugh track this time...

Me: So did you hear why Player X didn't make it to hockey practice last night?
SBS: Yup, he said he's giving up on hockey. He doesn't care about hockey any more. (Note disgusted tone which verges on mockery as though he's quoting the other player.)
Me (stifling a giggle):Oh, well that's too bad. I guess it's not for everyone...
SBS: Ya, he told Y and Z that he doesn't care if ever plays hockey again. He makes it sound like it's not cool any more. It was cool when he started playing, but now...hmfurh (well- that's what it sounded like - imagine a noise that conveys disgust - could have been a shoulder shrug in there too - I couldn't tell.)
Me: Oh, I see!
SBS: (He doesn't acknowledge my amusement at his indignation) You know, I wanted to quit and you wouldn't let me! You said, "You need to give it a chance SBS and when you try you will like it' and that's what I did Mom! AND I LOVE HOCKEY - IT'S THE BEST. He's not even trying and he's QUITTING!! (Insert disgusted sigh and eye roll).
We are now out of the truck and he's stomping across the parking lot.

Me: So, you and Player X - you're not friends any more?

SBS: No, it's all good - we just can't talk about hockey any more.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Comedy 'round the Dinner Table

(envision a family of four happily munching away on dinner, the sound of plates being scraped clean and groans of fulfillment.)

"That was really good," said First Born Son.

"Yup - really good, hon," concurs The Big Guy.

"Mom is ALWAYS a good cook," said Second Born Son.

(noting the patronizing tone I reply to him)

"Well, I just want to make you happy."

"Oh you are sooooo good at that," said Second Born Son. "You are always making us happy, except for me, when you won't let me play on the Wii, but we're not going to go there now, are we....."

I need to start selling tickets......

Monday, March 1, 2010

Walking the Tight Rope

When it comes to your kids, how do you when you've gone too far?

When does encouragement become dominance, pushy, not in the child's best interest? How do you that the direction your nurturing your child isn't going to totally screw them the hell up?

First Born Son has had more than his fair share of drama, starting in Grade 1 when a teacher sat across from me and insisted he had ADHD (he didn't - he was bored, and no, I'm not in denial - I would have accepted that had the Doctor agreed with her) through to Grade 3 when the name of a certain child in his class came up with more and more frequency in stressful situations until, in Grade 4, it became full blown bullying that I'm dealing with to this day.

Then there was the hockey coach last year who messed his head up but-good and sat him for a month. Followed by this year, when he broke his collar bone in November, and sat for a month and a half while he recouped. He's now in the midst of getting his groove back - and considering he's a goalie, when he's having a bad day, the whole team knows about it.

Each year my boys have three constants in their social/extra-curricular circles 1. Winter is Hockey, 2. Spring is swimming lessons, 3. Summer is softball.

The problem is, by the time you get to March/April when its time to sign up for ball, you're pretty overwhelmed with the hockey situation - playoffs have just begun/ended/middle of. But the conversation needs to be had.

"Sure, I'll play," says Second Born Son between mouthfuls at dinner that night. "I want to improve my swing." I am thankful for his realization that his swing stank all last season. I'll get him working on that and he's stubborn enough that he'll swing away until he gets it - God Bless His Bum!

Silence from across the table.

"FBS?" I ask.

"I'm going to the farm for a month this summer, so it's not fair to join a team and then not be around," he said.

"Uh, no you're not. You can maybe go for a week or two, and if you were on a ball team Uncle Bob would be fine with taking you to games - he did it last year and got a kick out of it," I returned.

"Well, if I do swimming, maybe that's all I'll do," he volleys.

And this is how it goes throughout the meal, until he finally comes out with the fact that he doesn't want to get hit with a ball (he goes up a year and pitch control can be a bit of an issue) but he also doesn't want to spend any more time than necessary with his nemesis. Who, I might add, is not as bad during ball season as he is during hockey, where they have to share the net on the same team.

I've coached him the past four years, which is likely too long, but held on because the head coach is amazing and has asked me to stick with him while he moves this group of kids along because he thinks they have potential. But I'm not coaching if my kid ain't playin'. It should be noted that FBS is a better than "good" ball player. Not "excellent" by any means, but has the potential to be. His team won the Consolation Championship last year and they all received team jackets - which he LOVED. It was the first title he had ever earned....

So where do I stop? Is this merely a stalling tactic on his part? Is it more about my desire to play than his?Do I tell him it's not negotiable? That he needs to be social with his friends during the 2.5 months of summer because without that he'll miss out on A LOT, or do I let him find his own way to socialize and run the risk that he won't at all. His suggestion is just "hanging out" around town....that went over badly for him. It's a different group that he chums with - they do get along well but there's not a lot of back and forth unless you put yourself out there.

If I let him sit out this season, he won't go back. He just won't.

This also goes hand in hand with his logic of not being a goalie next year in hockey. Again, understand where he's coming from, - two crappy years back to back. But this kid is not built for contact. He's lean and long, wiry and agile. PERFECT for a goalie. Deadly for a winger, suicidal for a defenseman.

Therefore, I'm at a crossroads and I'm not sure which is the best level of risk to take. Each has it's benefits, and then equal number of drawbacks. While I think I'd rather push him now and keep him active, it's long summer of "but I didn't want to play".

If anyone has the magic answer, I'm all ears!