Monday, September 30, 2013

I think I might have to report my cat to Interpol...

Lola is a cat burglar.  I mean literally.  Our smallest black cat... burgles.  She has a penchant for jewelry.  She must be part magpie.  Which is a cute little quirk generally, except that a while back she stole one of my most adored pieces of jewelery - a pendant from my friend Shannon.  I'm pretty sure Lola's stashed it in her secret cat cache of stolen goods.  I'm hoping I'll be able to find it before she puts it on the black market.


And because she, like the other cats in the house, can't actually talk, she won't tell me where this secret cache is.  I've been looking under beds and dressers, carpets.  I've pleaded with her, tears have been shed, but to no avail.

Thing is?  This particular piece of jewelery is one of the last presents that my friend Shan gave to me before she died.  I've been using it as a talisman - a memento amicus as it were.  I would feel the roundness of the blown glass against my throat and it would calm me, I'd feel better, feel closer to her, the pain would disperse just that little bit.  And you need that when you've lost a friend so young in life.  She was only 41.  I desperately needed that object I could palm in my hand and think She touched this too.  She chose this with love.

I keep thinking, Maybe it'll be here, in the bottom of this bag.  I'll step on something under a rug and my heart will leap, Is this it??  And it never is.  And it's now been months and when I reach for it in my jewelery box there are mornings I'm near tears with its loss.

So I'm going to find another one;  or have it made... whatever the case, I will have a pendant of the same shape, size and colour and I will imbue it with all my best memories of her.  It is, after all, just an object.  Shannon was not that piece of turquoise and lavender glass.  But in my mind somehow, this object had become that tie to her.  My attempts to describe her would probably sound corny and clichéd.  But those clichés become what they are because there is that truth in them, that truth to them.

Shannon was a fierce friend.  Shannon's smile could power the Eastern Seaboard in a blackout.  Shannon had this ridiculous vaudeville-esque finger magic trick, that wasn't her trick at all, but rather her version of her father's trick, that always made me laugh.  Shannon would sing to you because the lyrics of that particular song were perfect for the moment and would bring you solace.  I haven't beatified her in death.  I didn't have to.  She was pretty damned perfect on her own. Which is why instead of bemoaning my lost tie to her, I'm making another one that I can hold and take comfort in.  And if that disappears into the ether, I'll create another.  Its tangible weight in my hand will give me strength.  Just as she did.

Love you Shan.




Friday, September 27, 2013

I just ate my own weight in waffles.

Behold the waffle iron!

The best laid plans and all that...  It's the pumpkin's fault.  I had 3/4 of a can of leftover pumpkin in the fridge that I had to use up before it turned into a science experiment.  You know the kind of experiments I'm talking about...   Where a day in the not-so-distance future you think, Hey, I know!  I have leftover pumpkin that I can use for this recipe of cake/muffins/waffles and then you open the container and you have to swallow that little bit of mouth vomit when you're met by green and white pillows of mouldy-mould.

Making waffles is an adventure at the best of times, but for me, first thing in the morning, it takes every single last little bit of my focus.  Turns out, I'm not so good at math first thing in the morning.  And seeing as I decided that I would double the batch of waffle batter to use up more of the pumpkin, I found myself having to do a lot of fractional math... first thing in the morning.

Doubling  1 3/4 cups of milk shouldn't cause a person this much distress.

Okay... 1 and 3/4 doubled is...  nnnnnnnope, AIN'T gonna happen.  

I'll try it this way:  1 doubled is 2.    YAY!  We have 2!   

3/4 doubled is 1.5.  We have 1.5.  

2 + 1.5 = 3.5 cups.  3.5 cups?  That sounds like a lot of milk.   Better double check.

1+1=2  

3/4 +3/4 = 1 1/2

2 + 3.5= 5.5?!?  What the???  Where did the 3.5 come from?  (Flour coated fingers rub my furrowed brow.)  AHHHHH!  First total.  We're good.  3.5

***

4 teaspoons of baking powder

Which means it's really 8 teaspoons.  That's too many teaspoons - there's no possible way I can keep track of 8 teaspoons. Time for conversions.

4 teaspoons is 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon.

Doubled = 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons!!

A recipe that should take about 5 minutes to whip together, takes me, first thing in the morning, when doing fractional math, at least 15 minutes.  (Note to self - write the double batch amount in the margin next time.)  But once the batter was mixed, we were good to go.  It seemed a little extra thick (must be all those ground pecans in the pumpkin pecan waffles), but waffle number one went on the waffle iron.  When the "I'm DONE" beep sounded, I pried the waffle from the iron's grip.  I'm pretty sure that this single waffle weighed 12 lbs.  David ate that one.

"Wow.  This is a WAFFLE!!!"  He growled masculinely for effect.  "WAFFFLE!!!  No one mess with me today, I'm full of WAFFLE!!!"

I added a little more milk.  Maybe it should have been 5.5 cups of liquid.  I still had to smooth out the batter on the iron with an extra spoon, pat it down, convince it to be smaller.  After Rissa said she didn't need a second waffle, I knew that these waffles might be the equivalent to Arctic Bannock.  I tried to the thin the batter out some more and continued to cook.  Eventually, I had a stack of waffles beside the iron, precariously perched ... the Leaning Tower of Waffles as it were.

Moments before physics kicked in.
I turned my back to put something in the fridge and I heard a somewhat moist, heated thud.  Half the waffles had disappeared. What the?  DAMN IT!    I knew I should have moved them!  I looked beside the stove.  There in our extra plastic bag stash - easily a dozen suicidal waffles.


Their own weight was too much for them.  My haphazard placement of the stack could not have been countered - I'd begun my own elaborate Waffle Jenga game and had lost.  Thankfully they fell into the extra plastic bag stash - (the top bags, I quickly calculated, had been placed just the day before - thank God) , not on the floor and could be salvaged.  We now have 126 waffles in our freezer in aluminum foil covered batches of 3 so the next time I get the bright idea to make waffles first thing in the morning we have 42 opportunities to eat them.    Lesson Learned:  Make waffles the night before.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just shoot me now... still...

Instead of writing an entirely new post about the perils of peri-menopause and its attending hot flashes from hell, I'm reposting this, on account of the fact that I'm pretty sure I almost died last night and can't write anything new today...

Is it hot in here?

I awoke in the midst of another horrific hot flash.  Stumbling and growling all the way down the stairs - David and Rissa's eyes got really big as I stomped my way into the kitchen. I was fanning my face with my hands and flapping my arms to get air into my armpits.

"I'm not even going to ask," I said.

"If it's hot in here?" David replied.

"Yes, I'm not asking, because..."

"It's not hot," Rissa cheerfully piped up.  "It's just you."

"Awesome!  That is just freaking AWESOME!!!"  I open the freezer and grab a velcro ice pack and strap it around my neck.



"Interesting look," said David, ignoring the laser beams coming out of my eyes.  He then leaned in to whisper at my ear, "Are you going for an auto-erotic asphyxiation type look?"  I growled at him.

"I am only  44 years old," I griped, as I attempted to start my coffee.  "44 YEARS OLD!!!  My Mom had hot flashes until she was 60!!!  You could have to live with THIS (I point violently to myself, drawing a wide, erratic circle around my head) for another SIXTEEN years!!!"  I grab the soy milk and my hazelnut flavouring.  The mug is warm.  "THIS MUG IS TOO WARM TO HOLD!!!"

Rissa then giggled, which let me know that David must have done something behind my back.   
"WHAT???  What did he do?  Did he just make a 'she's crazy' gesture?!?"

"Nope, not at all.  Un-unh.  Nope."  Both of them looked all sweet and innocent.  David had the decency to look chagrined before admitting "I just raised my eyebrows like this."  (He demonstrated.)   It's the 'Oh boy, fasten your seatbelts' look.  Even though I really, really wanted to... I did not bludgeon him.

"How about I make you an iced capp?  Would that help?"  He moved swiftly out of my arm's reach.

"Maybe," I pouted.  Then I realized what he was offering.  "Yes please.  (sigh)  David, you just don't understand.  I can't do this to you guys for another 16 years.  You'll lose your minds.  You can't be walking on eggshells all that time.  That's not fair to you!  I am considering hormone replacement.  THIS (again another  finger circling my skull for emphasis), is making me consider HRT!!!  It's not supposed cause as much cancer now, but I can't be on hormone replacement for SIXTEEN years!  That's just asking for bad shit to happen to my body!!!  I have enough bad shit happening to my body already!!"

It was at that point that Rissa led me to the kitchen table, sat me down and patted me on my arm in a gesture of placation.  David then put the iced capp into my hand.  It was cool and delicious and took my mind off the volcano in my torso.

What if I commit major crimes before I actually make it to Menopause?  This is only PERI-Meonopause - and already I'm pretty much out of my mind.  Can I make it through another SIXTEEN years?  And more importantly, will I be able to use it as an excuse in court?  Like, for when I murder someone when they look at me funny or drive slowly in front of me or chew with their mouths open?!?   The only upside to jail is that the metal bars will proabably be cool when I bang my head on them.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I want to... but I can't!

I don't know if it's ALL nature vs nurture or vice versa.  But I DO know that perfectionism is genetic.  Rissa got her perfectionist streak directly from her father's side of the family...  from her paternal grandmother to her father to her.  From the ages of two to about seven, Rissa would melt down when she couldn't complete a task.  She was unwilling to fail at anything.  If she couldn't get it on the first try, that child imploded. She wasn't much of a tantrum thrower, but man that kid could simply refuse to communicate.  She would hide behind chairs, tables, simply close her eyes to shut you out.  The stubborn crossing of the arms stance was a staple reaction for my kid. 

I remember her, age four, at AirZone.  AirZone was one of those party places with jumpy castles, big slides and obstacle courses.  Rissa was determined to go down the 20 foot slide.  DETERMINED.  It was a big frickin' slide.   She got all excited and climbed to the top of that monster slide.  Then she looked down the slide and understandably panicked.  It was a LONG way down.  She sat at the top of that slide for a good 15 minutes, letting child after child after child in front of her.

"Rissa sweetie, you don't have to go down honey.  Just climb down the ladder.  It's okay hon."

"NOOOOOOO!"

"Sweetie, it's okay.  Just climb down the ladder..."

"No Mummy!  NOOOOOOOO!"

I couldn't take it any more.  My heart was about to burst.  There was my little girl sitting up at the top of that slide quietly sobbing, mumbling to herself like some some sort of JK schizophrenic.  I climbed up and went down with her - even though it was against the rules.  The minute we reached the bottom, she climbed up again to the top, still determined that she would go down on her own.

"Sweetie, you don't have to do this.  This is a big kids' slide..."

"Mummy I want to!"

"Then just go ahead and do it!"

"I want to!"

"You can do it!"  I put on my best RAH! RAH! voice.

"I want to... "

"You can..."

"I want to... BUT I CAN'T!!!!!"

There might as well have been a pit of rabid, slathering Hounds of Hell, covered in barbed wire at the bottom of that slide, instead of a safe, bouncy landing - she was petrified.  Desperate to go down, but terrified of the drop.  Other parents in the joint looking at me like I'm torturing my kid.  Don't look at me!  I don't need her to go down the slide!  This is ALL her.  I am just a terrified bystander.

45 minutes we waited it out.  Her yelling occasionally from the top, me doing my best to keep my voice calm and give her support. The backs of my legs were bruised from where I had wedged them so firmly under my chair seat to stop me from leaping up to rescue her.  See, I'd said that I wouldn't come get her again.  I'd drawn the line in the sand.  Was it the wrong line in the sand?  Probably.  I should have probably climbed up again, hefted her under one arm and left the building, but for whatever reason, this rite of passage seemed to mean more to her than being the focus of attention for all the patrons of AirZone, so I was all in.

And sure enough after that 45 minutes and countless "I WANT TO... BUT I CAN'TS!!!", she went down.  ONCE.

"I'm so proud of you sweetie!  Good for you!!"  How was I supposed to  play this now?  Do I encourage a second trip down?  Do I just zip my lip?  Zipping the lip is never really my thing.  "Do you want to....?"  I left the end of the sentence hanging there, my tone ambiguous.

"No, Mummy.  I'm good.  I know I can do it now."  Then she ran off to be a four year old again.




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Did you feel the earthquake?

8:02 a.m. Eastern Time.  I was dozing in bed, desperate to grab any extra resting time.  The smallest of shudders had me opening my eyes.  The bed was moving.  It stopped.  I must have been dreaming it.  (I was somewhat stoned on a cocktail of ibuprofen and acetaminophen - DAY 1 of my period.  I'd arisen at 6:30 and doped myself up as best as I could - building a chemical fortress against the cramping.)  The bed moved again, more violently, for a longer period of time.  What the...?  I sat up - ready to grab onto the bedside table lamp in case it crashed to the ground.  Was this the BIG ONE?

Then I saw her.  Minuit.  Our biggest and most irritable of cats.  She was on the bed.  Scratching behind her left ear.  Raccoon-like in size, when Minuit uses her full energy to scratch behind her ears, it can apparently be mistaken for an earthquake. Our fat cat has some incredibly powerful haunches.  She could double as the motor for one of those cheap motel vibrating beds.



I slumped back down onto my back.  I could maybe steal another 30 minutes of pseudo-sleep before having to get up and get ready for work.  If I did nothing more than brush my teeth and put deodorant on, I could maybe have 40 minutes. 

Knowing that I was awake, Minuit made her way up the bed... Doing her best Edward G. Robinson*  "Meah.... Meah...,"  she placed her front paws on my stomach and began to palpate, which this morning, with the strength of her considerable weight behind her?  Was the best ovarian massage that I've ever felt.  There are definite perks to having a fat cat.


*Minuit sounds exactly like Mel Blanc
doing an impersonation of Edward G. Robinson.
  At 2:17 into the clip you get the full effect.

Instead of "Yeah, Yeah" insert "Meah, Meah."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Co-Sleeping vs the World

Three days after she was born, Rissa came home from the hospital.  I was adamant that she sleep in her crib.  David was in a state of paternal panic.  "But she... How will we... What if she?"  Having spent the first three days after my c-section NOT sleeping in the hospital, I was nearly hysterical with exhaustion.  "I NEED to sleep.  I will not sleep if I'm worried I'm going to roll over on her.  Please, for the love of all things holy, PLEASE... LET... ME... SLEEP!"

Rissa slept in the crib...  Until 2:00 a.m., when David brought her into our bed, whereupon I nursed her and then she slept between us, each parent precariously perched on the side of the double bed, infant flat on her back in the middle, blissfully unaware.  Boom!  Pattern set.  Crib for naps and the first part of the night, parents' bed from the middle-of-the-night feeding on.  I'm sure that my mother was horrified, but it worked for us.

Full-time co-sleeping with the infant or even toddler version of Rissa wasn't practical.  Rissa is the most violent sleeper in the world.  She flails her limbs and has 22 elbows which connect with eye sockets, bridges of noses and kidneys.  Plus?  I've always been a selfish sleeper.  Even more so in those first couple of years of parenthood.  I jonesed for sleep.  I wanted time with David to snuggle, even if it wasn't for sex.  'Cause we all know that first year after the baby - is NOT about sex.  A little dirty spooning with one's spouse is a perk I was unwilling to give up.

Seems recently - a decade after I had to really worry about it with Rissa, there is a great hue and cry over Co-Sleeping or Bed-Sharing.   Even Maclean's did a huge cover story on it. It's this dirty little secret.  And we North Americans love our dirty little secrets don't we?  Sure, I will fully admit that until very recently, I thought that parents who slept with their 4, 5, and 10 year olds were out of their gourds.  But  that's because I was and am a selfish sleeper who wanted to have sex in my own bed and that greatly affected my feelings on co-sleeping.  PLUS?  North American society makes you feel like a parental pariah if you 'give in' to your kids. The online forums dedicated to parents asking when they should stop co-sleeping, how long to co-sleep, whether they should co-sleep are all based on societal and familial constraints that tell them they're doing something wrong.   But hey!  If it works for your family - if it means that you're not spending hours of negotiating or constantly getting up and down with your kids and you actually get some sleep?  YAY YOU!!  Congratulations!  You're coping!!  Better to be sane and cramped in your own bed than exhausted and sleep-deprived, I'm thinking.  The kid will not ask you to sleep with them when they head off to university.

North American Pediatric societies do their best to convince parents that co-sleeping is unsafe and preach that it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Here is a particularly lurid ad from Milwaukee's Department of Health.


It doesn't help new parents when studies such as the one released by the British Medical Journal in May of 2013 tell them that co-sleeping infants below the age of 3 months are FIVE TIMES as likely to suffer SIDS than non co-sleeping infants. "No really, go ahead and sleep with your baby, if you want to KILL it."
 
Thing is?  The North American 'norm' of infants sleeping in a separate crib ain't really the 'norm.'   Throughout the world, infants share their parents' beds, or are least within arms' reach, often for the first couple of years.  Yet now in North America, co-sleeping is the latest in divisive parenting practices.  God forbid that you admit that you co-sleep.  The raised eyebrows, the generational 'tut-tutting' with grandparents and older relatives.  "We NEVER slept with our kids..." "She won't be independent..." "You're not doing him any favours..." "You'll never be able to cut the apron strings..."

We North Americans are so frickin' sure of ourselves.  We're so much smarter than the rest of the world, except when we're not.    As middle-class North Americans living in houses where almost everyone has their own bedroom, we don't remember that most of the world doesn't have that luxury and yet they have somehow, miraculously, managed to raise independent and successful members of society.  With industrialization in first world countries, breastfeeding went out of vogue, it wasn't until the late 60s, early 70s that we clued in that, as mammals, perhaps our young might be better off if they were getting the nutrients that they were supposed to.  And breast milk?  It doesn't fill up that infant's tummy the way that formula does, hence they get hungrier through the night.  Hence more waking up, hence more opportunities for co-sleeping.  We're so worried about seeming 'civilized' that our children are expected to be self-sufficient, sleep through the night and generally silent from 3 months of age onward. 

New parents in North America are terrified of SIDS.  That fear, accompanied with articles throwing around percentages and the phrase FIVE TIMES AS LIKELY telling you that co-sleeping will KILL your baby -  are convincing parents that co-sleeping with an infant is wrong when most of the world is managing to do it just fine.  Strangely enough, these international co-sleepers don't have high SIDS rates and when they grow up aren't running around wetting themselves and unable to make decisions as adults. 

How 'bout this?  If you feel like co-sleeping and it works for your family,  embrace that decision.  Tell other people to mind their own frickin' business and that you're coping alright thanks.   A few caveats: Put your baby to sleep on their back.  Don't sleep with your infant on the sofa or in a waterbed.  Don't get drunk or consume drugs and then go to sleep with your infant.  Sleep in a big bed with lots of space for the 6 of you in it if you have an infant there with you.    This is your parenting journey - if you are happy with it, don't let anyone else tell you differently.

Here's some other reading just to really confuse the issues:
 

Friday, September 20, 2013

And that's how you have your car stolen...

Our car was stolen last night, right from our driveway.  The theiving bastards took it right from our freaking driveway!!!  Our driveway!!!  We were violated!!!  Except we weren't.  And it wasn't.  And they didn't.

I had driven the car to the theatre downtown for rehearsal and then walked home, having forgotten that I'd driven there.  But for that brief moment before I could tell David that I had taken it to the theatre and forgotten I had taken it - our car had been stolen.  That 15 seconds of panic was a helluva kickstart to our day, I'll tell you.

"I'm sorry!!"

"It's okay."

"I'm sorry!!!"

"It's okay, I'll call Shawn and tell him I'll be a few more minutes."  (David carpools with another dude named Shawn.)

"I'M SOOOOOOOOOO SORRY!!!!"  

"The PANIC is strong with this one."
Whereupon, he took my face in his hands.  "Heather.  Heather.  Look at me."

"I SUCK!"

"HEATHER.  IT.  IS. OKAY." 

The problem is, we live about a 6 minute walk from the theatre downtown.  Hence, I rarely drive down there. I usually walk.  I take pride in my walking.  I scoff at people who drive instead of walking the 6 minutes.  But last night I had a shitload of costumes I had to take in which I didn't want to carry over my arms as I walked, on account of my stupid Super Spinatus injury, so I drove.  And then I completely spaced out that I'd taken the car and blithely walked home at the end of the night.  My route home doesn't take me past our driveway, so not having the car parked in the driveway couldn't have even jogged my memory.  I was completely clueless.

Has it really come to this?  Am I now losing cars?  We're so screwed.  It's time for dementia testing.  Rule of thumb: If you forget where you put your car, that's forgetfulness.  If you forget what car does, that's dementia.  (pause)  Nope, we're good.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Good thing I never did crack!

Did you ever smell something SO GOOD that its presence within your nasal cavity brought you close to orgasm?  Something so delicious, that you clenched with everything inside you and had a full on frisson go down your spine, making you gasp?  That's me, walking past the open door of a bakery.  The smell of bread, or cinnamon buns or anything with gluten in it can almost get me off.

Restaurants, while you're waiting for your appetizers and main courses, will bring you a basket of fresh warm, saliva-inducing bread.  Bread is now, and has always been, my downfall.  I remember eating those buns that you could get from the deli department.  The ones in the bins - big fluffy buns with airy delicious wheaty centres.  I would just eat them with butter.  Nothing else.  No protein source anywhere close to the carbohydrate. Just pale yellow, delicious butter.  Wolfing them down, already thinking about the second one before I had finished the first one.  Pasta was the same.  I could be half way finished with a bowl of spaghetti and jonesing for the second helping.

Trouble was/is I'm hypoglycemic and those sorts of carbohydrates metabolize into sugar faster than you can say "Oh God, Oh GOD - I want to hump this bread!"  I basically get high off simple carbohydrates.  Have a wheaty product with icing, like say, a cake, and you might as well roll me into rehab.  At my office there is leftover cake from a weekend event.  Approximately 18 pieces of cake slathered in icing remain in the box adjacent to our coffee area.  I walk by this box at least a half dozen times in a day.  It takes every ounce of self-control and Tourettes-like verbalization to stop myself.  "Don't do it!  DOOOOOOON'T!  Bad!  Very Bad! SUGAR!!! BAD!!!"  I may have, uh... devoured the icing off a side piece on Monday and then sat under my desk to wait for the effects to pass.  The box needs to disappear.




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nervous Nelly.

I was joking around.  Throwing out the one-liners.  Getting people to relax.  Chit-chatting.  Looking all unconcerned and unaffected by the process.  Slipped on my kick-ass heels and crossed my ankles delicately, doing my best to channel Julie London.

Then, as I walked in front of the auditioning panel, I felt those same ankles tremble. My feet, in those kick-ass heels caught the contagion.  Then my knees - leaving me feeling like I might have been on boat for too long.  Listening to the introductory chord of the song, my mouth opened, the nerves that had been pooling in my stomach traveled up my trachea and blarrrted from my throat.  Breathless, unsupported... trembly.  My right hand moved from my side and pushed against my diaphragm to add some manual strength.

Ann-Margret from her 1966 USO tour to Vietnam
I excel at public speaking.  I can get up in front of a room, nay a theatre, an arena full of strangers and extemporize.  I'm completely fine, I'm one of the few people in the world who LIKES public speaking.   I enjoy cracking wise - love to get people to relax with laughter.  Public speaking is my sweet spot.  Acting auditons are a breeze.

Me, standing in front of a panel of people prepping for a singing audition?  I freak the fuck out.  My body betrays me, I can't support my tone.  The song which had power and control at home in front of my daughter and husband - becomes this mediocre thing.  In my ears it becomes a sharing of 'meh' with people.  Leaving me wondering, is that note flat or sharp?  Second-guessing each breath, each belt, each tone.

Later, when I'd had a chance to calm down, to get rid of my vocal heebie-jeebies, they tested my range.  No longer nervous, I could hit that out of the park.  Now that I'm older, my used-to-be lyric soprano has tempered and I can hit low notes, nice chesty notes, my own version of Nina Simone notes.   I've still got some range at the top.  My break isn't too defined.  I can belt the hell out a song when I'm not nervous.  I had to be taught to sing softly - I Ethel Mermaned my way through singing when I was young.   Great big voice, no control.  Took me years to sing pianissimo

I have been auditioning for 34 freaking years.  Since I was 11.  At what point in a performer's career do the nerves disappear?  At what point is my body going to believe in me?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Enter the Navel Squid

"Do you want to see what my navel can do?"  We're in the grocery store.  Rissa is in full-on lunatic mode. She has been tying bunny ears on all the bags of our vegetables.  You know... so they'll be securely closed and it'll look like we have an entire cart full of transparent rabbits.  (I really shouldn't be surprised. I think it's genetic.  My father used to race down the aisles of grocery stores with the shopping cart, much to my mother's embarrassment.)

Apparently, Rissa's navel can climb buildings.

"What... it pops off your body, and all on its own...?"

"No!  Noooooo!  It has a Navel Squid, that can come out and use its suction cups you know, ON things."

"I think I need an example."

"Like this."  Rissa's lifts up her shirt to expose her belly button and then she violently assaults my side with her stomach, making a sucking noise deep in her throat.

"It can also push shopping carts..." She detaches from my side and 'sucks' onto the handle of the shopping cart, pushing it forward with her abdomen, a low squelching noise accompanying her movement.

On the way home, her navel squid was singing to me - an extended version of her usual navel trumpet voluntary...



Later... at bedtime.

She is doing the a capella version of Broadway Here I Come from the second Season of Smash (the best and worst in T.V.), desperately trying to figure out the percussive accompaniment at the foot of her bed. She is clapping and snapping and stomping her feet.  She should have been in bed at least 15 minutes ago.

"You need to get into bed.  It is bed time now.  Go to sleep."

Dejectedly, she climbs into her bed.  I make to turn the light off.

"Wait!  Wait!  I need to just... please may I just have one tiny spaz out?  Just a little one.  Like for 18 seconds or so?"

"Fine.  You may spaz out for 18 seconds."

She does her best Linda Blair impersonation for 18 seconds, then lies panting.

"You done?"

"International solvent!!"

"What?"

"International solvent in my nose to calm me down when I'm like this at bedtime!!  I'd be all like... (she moves her head frenetically to and fro...) WHOA... HEY!  WHOA... (She then mimes having something sprayed up her nose, her eyes roll back, her head falls to the side and she lets out a deep throaty snore.)  "See?  Like that."

"International solvent?  Do you know what a solvent* is?"

"Yeah, it's like in nose drops or eye drops."

"Saline solution?  Is that what you think you mean?"

"Yeah."

"Cause a solvent is generally something used to dissolve things, like to dissolve paint."

"Don't put that in my nose!"  She is grasping my hands in hers, now panicked.

"I wasn't going to!"

"You can't put that in my nose!  What if my brain got all..."

"You have to stop talking."

"I can't."

"You have to try."

"This towel is all wet from my hair, I'm going to die of hypothermia."

"You are not going to die of hypothermia..."

"What if the hypothermia..."

My words, now muffled, because I have buried my own head in the towel-covered pillow beside her, "Why won't you stop talking?"

"Because I love you?"

"I love you too.  Now stop talking."


*I had to look it up.  She was right.

sol·vent  (slvnt, sôl-)
adj.
1. Capable of meeting financial obligations.
2. Chemistry Capable of dissolving another substance.
n.
1. Chemistry
a. A substance in which another substance is dissolved, forming a solution.
b. A substance, usually a liquid, capable of dissolving another substance.
2. Something that solves or explains.

A solvent could totally be used to dissolve her insanity at bedtime.  It's like she's some sort of dada-esque savant.



Monday, September 16, 2013

How to create your very own Lord of the Flies...

Step 1: Rent a 70 foot long inflatable obstacle race with 10 foot slide exit.

Step 2: Let children know they can use it.

Step 3: Turn your back for the briefest of moments.

Beautiful bucolic fall day.  Sun shining, birds singing, crisp air.  As the inflatable sought form on the pavement, rosy-cheeked, tow-headed tots and youth lined up champing at the bit to have the okay to enter.  "Is it ready yet?"  "Can we go on now?"  "When can we use it?"  "This is for US?!?"

They marvelled at this amazing engineering feat.  "It's HUGE!!!"  "Look at the climbing wall!!"  "I'm going to spend the rest of my LIFE on this!"  We gave them rules:  Two people at a time on the slide.  Watch out for the little ones.  Have Fun.  We'll be watching from right over here.

Happy shrieks filled the air.  There was much giggling and skipping around to use the course. Then, the children devolved.  And by children, I mean the boys.  After 15 minutes,  boys between the ages of 10 and 13, chose the top of the slide as their 'castle,' refused to let any girls up and gleefully tossed smaller boys over the edge to their 'death.'  "HAH!  You're DEAD!  We just pushed you over the cliff!!"

 Lord of the Flies 1963 - directed by Peter Brook

15 minutes.  Civility was lost in 15 minutes.  Smiles and giggles gave way to the tears and hiccupping sobs of small-to-medium-sized children.  "They boys w... w... won't... let us up there!!"  "He p...p... pushed us over the top of the slide!"  "I don't w...w...want to worship the severed pig's head!"

We then had to install several young adults at the top of the slide to ensure that chaos would no longer reign.  15 minutes folks.  It wasn't hours, it wasn't days.  They weren't lost on an island.  They were within sight of ALL their parents.  It took 15 minutes.  Thank God I had the conch.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Have you experienced the Cat Olympics?

Last night.  High Jump.  Vault.  100 Metre Dash.  One of my favourites was the synchronized diving.  Watching cats accomplish such a feat - takes your breath away.  Literally.  It literally takes your breath away.  When cats land on you,  from a great height, in the middle of the night - the wind is knocked out of you.  Each of us with 15 lb cats on our diaphragms - couldn't even yell out in surprise - there was no air within us to yell.  The subsequent hurdles at 2:00 a.m. were spectacular.

I'm thinking it's the cooler fall temperatures. All three of them seem to have lost their minds.  The relay races  in the upstairs hallway alone have turned our house into the CN Freight Line.  Lola has been in training for track.  She is in compulsive fetching mode.  This week her toy of choice  is a makeup sponge Rissa has been using for face painting.  There were a bunch of them drying on the counter beside the sink.   Lola found them on the counter and began bringing them to me.  I hid them in a container on the counter, but she found that too.  Then I hid them in a bag on the kitchen table, which she also found.  At that point I figured she was just watching me hide them so I tossed her one.  She's been it ever since.  At what point can we begin to make money off this talent?

Lola, mid-fetch




Thursday, September 12, 2013

Second week back - I don't think we'll make it.

The first week back to school was surprisingly easy.  Disproportionate levels of ease.  It was smoooooooth, it was cream cheese icing, it was James Brown.


This second week back to school is kicking our asses. We are so frickin' tired.  It feels like we have a new baby or puppy in the house.  We are devolving to amoeba state, fighting our urge to ooze across the floor in our exhaustion.

By middle of the first week back to school, Rissa had her first cold.  (Because children, not fleas, are the plague carriers. Smiling, tow-headed tots will end the world.  Take your vitamins.  Wash your hands.)  Rissa was sniffing and sneezing, blowing her nose, but as soon as I'd even glance sideways at her she'd be all, "I'b nod sick Mummy!  I'b nod!"  And yet, even with the cold, she was in fairly good spirits.

This week was her first week back to dancing full time.  Having decided to enter the competitive dance world this year, Rissa is dancing 3 nights a week and all day Saturday.  Last night my 13 year old daughter was at the dance studio until 9:45 p.m.  I  don't like to be out at 9:45 p.m. on a weeknight.  And here's the thing...  Sure, she's done dancing at 9:45 - but she's not home until 9:55, finishes showering by 10:05 - and even if she lies in bed, she's still winding down from the exercise at 10:30.  Teenagers need copious amounts of sleep.  Buckets, bins, quarries full of sleep.  It's been documented.  In MEDICAL JOURNALS.  She's running out of steam and it's only her first week back to dance.  And I know, I know, there are tonnes of kids out there who are up much later and are much more scheduled in their exctra-curricular time than Rissa is, but I also know they're not MY kid.  I know my kid.  David and I share these raised eyebrow silent communications:

This isn't looking good.

I know.

She's going to lose it.

I know.

What are we going to do?

See how this week goes, and then we rain fire down upon the dance studio?

How about we have a discussion with the studio?

And then we rain fire?

You can carry the BBQ lighter if you like.

All this to say that I may have to put on my Parent Pants next week.  With accompanying stern face.  Sure, Rissa might look like she's 17, but she ain't.  This morning she slept through her alarm.  Which wouldn't usually be cause for alarm, except that Rissa has NEVER slept through her alarm.  EVER.  She prides herself on getting up early. (I pride myself on having a daughter who can get herself up in the morning.)  And yeah, she wants to dance, but my job as a parent is to make sure that she's educated and challenged and happy, but most important healthy and can make it through her whole week.  Not just school, not just homework, not just dance, not just (what is now laughingly referred to as) down time but  EVERYTHING.  If having her over-scheduled, even doing something she loves to do, makes the rest of her week tank?  Something will have to give.  And it ain't gonna be her, I'll tell you that.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Put on your wetsuits ladies, we're going to a wedding!


Way, way, WAAAAAY back when - there were these things called girdles.  Everyone who was anyone wore one.  And you know why?  Because, back in the day, there were lots of form-fitting clothes.  And women wore them.  Because why?  Because of a girdle.  Today's girdles are Shapewear.  Spanx.  Basically they're wetsuits.  Add a snorkel and a mask and you're good to go swimming with dolphins.  They take about 5 minutes to get into, but blessedly, they can come off with a violent downward tearing motion in about 10 seconds.  After which, your body, which has been held in, squeezed and tightened into a flatter version of you, can relax.  Most women will then collapse onto the nearest bed, chair or piece of floor in front of them, emitting self-satisfied emancipated groans of pleasure, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.

I just wore a wet suit to a friend's wedding.  I struggled into one that hides the back fat and goes all the way down to mid thigh, smoothing everything pretty much everywhere.  What's the opposite of a snake working out of its skin?  Whatever that is, that's me putting shapewear on.  Undulating, doing my own version of Afro-Jazz, Belly Dance and Krump to fit me into something that is not the size of me. 

When you're in one of these one-piece suckers, there's this crotch flap... oh dear God... yes there is a CROTCH FLAP.  So that when you have to go to the bathroom, you don't have to strip off all your gear - you just reach down and... you know... part the flap and you pee.  I don't think you can ever take a crap while wearing one-piece shapewear.  I don't know how you could contort yourself on the toilet to reach behind and make sure the flap was open enough for...    Although, who is really going to feel comfortable enough to take a crap at their friend's wedding?  I think it's almost impossible to crap while wearing evening attire.

I digress.  Back to the peeing.  Even with this handy-dandy crotch flap, when I get ready to pee while wearing the wet suit, I have a wee panic.  (No pun intended.)  On account of the fact that even though I reach down and I part the flap, I can still FEEL the wetsuit on my hips, my thighs - so it FEELS like I'm still wearing underwear, which means that it feels like I'm going to pee my pants.  That's when, generally, I pull those flaps as wide apart as I can, turn my head to the side and just let loose.  But all the way through that pee?  I'm still nervous.  Then, when you're done peeing, you can't just let the flap close, 'cause then you'll have pee all over your flap, so you have to somehow, with ONE HAND, keep the flap open while you reach for the toilet paper to dry yourself.  Of course the smart girls probably gather the toilet paper before the peeing begins, but even so, you still can't really have it in your hand, ready and waiting, because then you'd pee on it.  After all of the flap opening, spreading and wiping, then flushing, you finally get yourself together and you smooth your skirt down and you overly wash your hands and leave the bathroom. 

Then when you return to the wedding reception, your spouse usually asks, "What took you so long?"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Banned from Google.

Twice last summer, I woke myself by biting my tongue in my sleep.  Really hard. Lots of blood, can't-chew-your-food-the-next-day, hard.  So, like any modern gal, I Googled it.  Type 'biting tongue in sleep' into Google and the next thing you know, you've got epilepsy.  And then you start reading about all the symptoms of epilepsy and it turns out you have more than one symptom!  (It's akin to being a first year Psych student when you think you have every mental disorder in the book.)  That then sends you on a quick trip down hypochondriac lane, which is NEVER good. You flit from page to page and feel the panic wash over you, start to calculate the cost of anti-seizure medicine when your spouse's drug plan no longer covers you in retirement - and that's when you have to watch cute animal videos to calm yourself down.  Or at least that's my cycle of crazy.

I have had a LOT of cycles of crazy.  Chronic pain sufferers usually do.  You go through that period (could be years) where you seem to be a walking, talking list of symptoms.  Trip after trip after trip to specialists and the ER, vague diagnoses, recommendations for pain management.  When you finally get yourself to the point where you can move beyond being defined by your physical state and answer "Fine, thanks for asking," when someone asks "How are you?" - you head into peri-menopause, which is a whole new level of crazy-making.  It's like some twisted cosmic joke.  And any new symptom that you now exhibit sends you on a mental health devolutionary trek into Google-land.

So for now, until it happens again, I am implementing the Ostrich Method.  I'm ignoring my seizure symptoms and all is good.  I'm on the "if this happens a third time I'll mention it" plan of symptom management.  Only David gets to hear the nitty-gritty about it.  But since having a heart attack for me has been ruled out (Cardiologist convinced it's not my heart - YAY? ), David is MUCH more relaxed and less apt to take me forcibly to the ER.  So far, I've only had 2 olfactory hallucinations and 2 tongue biting incidents.  If either one happens a third time, I have agreed that we're consulting a true doctor, not just Google docs. But until then, two times lucky, right?


Monday, September 9, 2013

It's official. I'm the adult.


Courting trouble

When I was younger, I did things...  I courted trouble.  I was the brash girl with the great rack who wasn't afraid to use words or breasts to my advantage.  Back in the day, I faked my Driver's License with green liquid paper, a fine-tipped pen and a steady hand.  I shop-lifted bad romance novels and inhaled Clove cigarettes.  I made bad choices, I took a walk, if not on the wild side, definitely adjacent to it.  But I never got caught.  'Cause I was a girl and I was sneaky.

Boys?  Aren't generally as sneaky.  And adolescent boys?  Aren't really forward thinkers. Which is why David and I pretty much caught the kid red-handed.  Actually white handed - because he still had the white spray paint on his hands, even though he tried to hide it.  We also had him trapped inside the skateboard park.  Kids? If you're going to deface public property?  Probably best not to do it in an enclosed space with one gate and a high chain link fence around it where two adults can block your only exit.

We could have let him be.  Could have turned that blind eye.  We started to walk past, then my head fell when my social conscience kicked in.  I could see the word that he'd scrawled on the ramp...


'Fucked' - not terribly original - the 'd' started out as a 'b' - poor kid was probably dyslexic.  If this were a park where everyone tagged the ramps - where there were broken bottles and drug dealers, or I guess, more accurately, if it wasn't part of a park that lots of little kids walked through, where they didn't watch the older kids doing their tricks on their skateboards, I probably wouldn't have called him on it. I could've easily gone the "not my problem" route.

The kid, an awkward guy, probably 11 years old, a little extra weight around his middle, wearing a baseball cap and a jersey from a sports team, was still at the edge of fence, behind the half pipe, disposing of his spray can when we approached the park.  He panicked as he saw me walking towards the fence, reaching for his bike which had been left inside the fence.  David imposingly blocked the gate, all six feet of him true adult menace.  The kid looked like he was going to crap his pants.

"Dude.  Is that the best you can do?" I said.

"What?  No, that wasn't me.  I didn't..."

"Aw hon.  We saw you do it.   We saw you from the road and then we watched you ditch the can to the side there.  Why don't you go pick it up?"

Red-faced, this Campbell's-Soup kid trundled to the side and picked up the spray can.

"It wasn't me..."  He wiped at his hands, probably still feeling the paint on them.

"Yeah... it was.  Let me ask you.  Was 'Fucked' the best you could do?  Seriously?  'Fucked?' This is what you chose to leave behind?  Dude.  Kids come here.  Little kids.  Learning to read little kids who like to watch the big kids skate. What about when they ask their parents, "What does that spell?"  What about when they try to sound it out?"

"I'm sorry," he mumbled.

"Don't be sorry, " I said.  "Make better choices."

"I just wanted..."  he began.

"Just wanted what?"

"I just wanted to know what it felt like to..."

"To what?"

"To do it."

My heart broke a little right then.  God, I could see this kid at 12 just wanting to know what smoking felt like and at 14 wanting to know what beer felt like...  Trying to be the bad kid so that he could have something to brag about.  He was nearly in tears.

"How 'bout this?  How about the next time you get this urge - instead of defacing something - instead of writing 'fucked,' instead of that..."  I grasped for a concept - what could I say to this kid?  "How 'bout... you make art?  I swear to God, if you had been spray painting a mural here, something that had artistic worth, I would have given you props for doing it.  I would have come up and told you how great your graffiti was." He hung his head.

David and I left the fenced area.

"Are you going to... to tell anyone?"  He called out to us.

We turned around.  The kid was holding onto his bike handlebars like they were the only thing keeping him upright.  Who would I tell?  What was I going to do?  Have David lock the kid in the skateboard park while I ran downtown to grab the police?  I figured the terror from having strangers call him on it might be enough for today.  "Nope.  We're not going to tell anyone."  We took a few steps away.  Then I yelled back at him, over my shoulder.   "MAKE BETTER CHOICES!"

Friday, September 6, 2013

This video could cure depression.


I freely admit that I'm jumping, gleefully I might add, onto the viral bandwagon here.  Yesterday I discovered Ylvis:



After the initial "what the fuck...?" during the first verse, I got it.  I got that Ylvis are possibly the most brilliant and surreal musical comedy peformers - IN THE GALAXY.  (Or they might just have better financing than the others.)  I knew I was right when I shared it with David and we turned to each other and said "Rissa HAS to see this."  By now, I'm sure she has memorized all the lyrics and will be dancing it at school today.  This video could cure depression.  It needs to be on speed load on the tablet at the psychologist's / psychiatrist's office. 

And right now?  When the world outside our North American sphere seems to be on the brink of war, again, where children are being murdered and women are being raped, I desperately search for ways to keep the panic at bay.  So I'm stock piling things that allow me, even for 3 minutes and 35 seconds at a time, to ignore the state of the world.  So I give you these.  These comic geniuses who will bring you joy.

 Flight of the Conchords,


The Smothers Brothers



 The Arrogant Worms 



Moxy Fruvous

and I get intellectually (and truth be told, a little bit physically) wet, for Tim Minchin.


How about you?  What do you distract yourself with when today's news makes you want to head to a bunker and die?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

SUPER SPINATUS!!!

Or at least that's what I thought the physiotherapist said it was.  It's actually SuPRAspinatusSupra - Latin for above and Spinatus from the Latin 'spina' which means thorn - which really has nothing to do with the spine, other than the vertabrae to which the muscle attaches look kind of spiny I guess, but that's only if you're looking at the actual bones of the spine - which begs the question, were those Romans looking at peoples' spines - like outside of their skin?  When did that sort of thing start happening?  Who was the first guy to think "I know, let's cut this person open and look at all their bony bits?"  Course that would have been in Latin so it would have been more like - "Scio, quis sit iste interficiam aperire et vide omnia frena suis ossea," but I guess WAY back when, when those Romans were naming things they got sort of literal.  But me? I'm sticking with SUPER SPINATUS - it makes me feel like Super Grover.


Your SUPER SPINATUS is the top muscle in your rotator cuff.  Mine is angry. It got pissed off about a month ago and apparently, when one continues to use said muscle, it'll say FUCK YOU and just decide to stop working.  What's truly sad is that I didn't even really injure it doing anything.  I felt a wee twinge one night doing some pushups.  And it's not like I decided one night Hey!  I know!  I'm going to do 100 pushups and completely fuck up my body! after having not attempted them in decades.  That's not what happened.  I worked up to it - you know, gradual-like.  I went the girly pushup route for a while - then I did half and half - then I was doing 10 full-on pushups every night before bed.  Whereupon, one night, I had a small twinge and then a few nights later that twinge became more aggressively ouchy. Now I'm going to have to lie and invent some shit and say that I fell dramatically or did it bungy jumping - I can't say that my body can't handle 10 measly pushups.  I was so proud of those pushups.  What has happened to my body that doing 10 freaking pushups can put me out of commission?

So here's where I started to fuck up a bit.  Once the pain started, I didn't really stop using the arm. The twinges started and I just figured that I'd move through it.  I will admit that was an error on my part.  I was lifting things and holding things and high-fiving things and by the time I got to my physiotherapy appointment yesterday, my shoulder was an achy mass of irritated muscle - even when it was hanging limply by my side.

Then, when you're recounting your behaviours over the past couple of weeks to the physiotherapist it becomes clear that you've been an idiot.  And not just 'cause you can see the look of disappointment on the physiotherapist's face, but because you realize, in your own brain, that you're a complete moron and that your body does not bounce back the way it used to when you were younger.  And everything that they tell you makes complete sense and would be the recommendation that you'd give to your friend the next time that they injure their SUPER SPINATUS.  So now, as I hold my elbows into my body as I'm typing and thrust my shoulders back to improve my posture every time the tape pulls (the tape that the physiotherapist has placed on my back to remind me to sit up straight) I know that it is my own stupidity that will have me visiting the physiotherapist twice a week for the next couple of months. 

One good thing to come out of this adventure is that I get to be stoned for awhile, you know, until the swelling goes down.  Like right now?  I'm totally stoned on Aleve.  The good thing - strike that - the GREAT thing about having my particular body chemistry is that naproxen can make me loopy.  So can 1/2 a glass of wine.  Mix 'em together and you've got a really happy Heather Bunny.  But don't. Seriously.  Drugs and alcohol don't mix kids.  Even better?  I don't have to do exercises yet.  I LOVE this physiotherapist. I have damaged myself so much that it's probably going to take a week or two to take the swelling down.  I'm sure that after that, when I've gotten to know Jeremy really well over the next few months I'll be cursing him when I eventually have to do exercises, but for now?  I just get to lie on the table and let him ultrasound me.  Yeah, that's right.  I'm getting ultrasounded.  And while he's ultrasounding my shoulder I know he's thinking Man, for someone who is 45 her shoulder is freaking hot.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Elbow Licker

"BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAAAA!"

Rissa was laughing... maniacally... behind my back.  We were waiting for our luggage to be pulled from the storage room so that we could all pile into the van and head back home from our girls' dance weekend in Toronto.

"What are you doing?"

"I just totally licked your elbow and you didn't notice!"

"You did not."

"I DID!!!"

"Seriously?"

"Seriously."

"No way."  I turned away only to have her dissolve into cackle once more.

"BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!"

"You didn't just..."

"I did SO just...  BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!"

Thing is?  When Rissa starts laughing like that?  Those belly laughs?  It's hard not to join in.  I didn't know if she was lying or not, but man she was having fun on whatever crazy train she was riding, so I too, climbed on board. We were laughing so hard that the desk clerks started looking like they might ask us to vacate the lobby. We moved out into the valet parking area before the concierge picked up the phone to call the cops. As I was waiting to help load our luggage into the van, Rissa was again pitched into the throes of lunacy.

"I licked THAT elbow and then I licked THAT one right after - and you totally didn't feel it!!  BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAA!!!"


By the time we rectounted her elbow licking rampage to David, Rissa had surreptitiously licked my elbow 7 times.  There might have been a slightly cool feeling upon my funny bone, but not once did I catch her actually doing it.

So of course, in bed, I had to try it with David.  But just thinking about it gave me the giggles.

"Don't even try it," he said.

I was laughing so hard by this time that I was snorting.  "I won't.  I won't."  I tried to calm myself with deep cleansing breaths.  "Besides, you'd be all prepared for it, so it wouldn't work."

"That's exactly right," he said, eyes half closed, one arm under his head.  "I think that Rissa is making this up anyway."  His elbow was out there... in the open... right there... inches away from me...

I held my breath, my eyes laser beams boring into his closed lids.

"This is just one of those things where an urban legend..."

"BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!"

"You didn't!"

"I totally DID!!  And it was awesome!"

We did have a stern conversation with Rissa before she left for school yesterday - letting her know that we didn't want to receive any phone calls from the Principal's office when she started licking strangers' elbows.

"Mummy.  Please.  I would only lick the elbows of people I know.  Stranger licking is just gross."




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where did the time go?

For all you parents dropping off your children (of all ages) at school this week...  an excerpt from More Work Than a Puppy (or what your mother never told you about procreation).  I was told by the mother of a university-aged daughter that I'd missed an important demographic.  I added this particular monologue in 2005 with a few revisions this past spring.  Keep a tissue handy...




I’m dropping her off at university today.  And as we’re driving there I hope that I haven’t screwed up.  Have I given her the right values?  Will she make the right choices?  Will she ever need me the way she did before this day?
Home movie flashbacks fill my head.  She was so accident prone.  At two, she was riding one of those springy horses in the playground.  Giggling and smiling – until her hands slipped and her chin went down on the handle and I’m looking at her chin bone.  My two year old’s chin bone is visible, and I’ve gone to that calm maternal place where I have to be in control and make sure that she doesn’t panic—but her chin bone is showing—but I still smile and tell her everything will be okay... And as her arms encircle my neck, she doesn’t even realize that she’s bleeding. 
Then she’s 4, playing with her friend on the concrete stoop across the street.  She’s wearing a red nylon jacket with a hood, you know the ones - that have that soft white flannel inside?  She’s swinging from her knees on the metal railing and in slow motion I see her fall - on her head - on the concrete.  In the 5 seconds that it takes me to reach the other side of the street, the white flannel of the inside of her hood has turned literally blood red.  The doctor says that it it’s a cut no bigger than the tip of her baby finger.  But to me, at that moment, her brains were probably seeping out into the hood.  So I tie the strings tight around her chin to make sure that no brains fall out.
At 11 she falls through our glass table in the rec. room.  (She’s trying to jump over it after using the couch as a trampoline.)  I hear this crash from the basement and fly down the stairs even before I hear the crying. She’s lying there in the middle of transparent shrapnel – her left leg bloody from the knee down.    And as she reaches for me, she’s saying “Mummy – Mummy, I broke the table.  I’m sorry.”  She hadn’t called me Mummy since she was 6.
I look at the young woman she is now.  She’s 18.  So self-assured… and right about absolutely everything.  Everything’s black and white for her – there are no Fifty Shades of Grey for her.
Have I told her everything she needs to face the world?  

DON'T DO DRUGS!  


She looks at me.  

“I mean, don’t do the bad drugs.  Organic is okay. Stick to organic... Don’t do acid! Oh God, do they even DO acid now?  Is it Ecstasy now?  DON'T DO THAT!! ...  Pot’s fine – it’s great with sex... OH!! USE CONDOMS! – I know you’re on the pill, but use condoms – PROMISE ME YOU'LL USE CONDOMS!  ... And act crazy on the bus if you’re riding late at night.  If you act crazy on the bus, people will stay away.” 
We pull up at her dorm.  She had the option to go to Trent, but she wanted Queens.  What the hell has Queens got that Trent doesn’t?  Besides all the good stuff?  The reputation stuff.  Everyone knows that a reputation can be totally wrong.  Reputations are like rumors.  Who started this one? Queens isn’t so great.  It’s 2 hours and 8 minutes away according to the Google Maps.  What if something happens to her?  It’ll take me 2 hours and 8 minutes to get to her!! 
If she had gone to Trent, she could have lived at home.  She’d be getting free food with me.  I’d make sure that she was eating balanced meals.   I would do her laundry.  I’d even fold it and everything!  She’s going to be living in a dorm.  With other kids, and I don’t know these kids.  These kids will be a bad influence.  They’ll lead her into stuff.  Bad stuff.  If she stays at a dorm, her life will go to hell.  She’ll hang out with the wrong crowd.  What if they turn out to be small-minded and prejudiced?  We always took her into Toronto once a month so that she could see that there was more to life than small-town white-bread people.  We had dinner in Little India, we went to Chinatown.  She knew that there were different colours of skin.  Does Kingston have a Chinatown?  Or is it going to be one Chinese restaurant that serves bad fried rice?
I’m trying so hard to be the cool Mom who can let her go and trust that she’ll make the right choices.  I wonder if she knows I’m faking it.  I’ve been crying myself to sleep for the last six nights. 
God, what am I thinking?  She’s not dumb.  She’s never been prone to peer pressure.  What, she’s going to stop using her brain now?  Now that she’s been accepted to Queens with a 93 average?  If I were a sane, rational mother I would know that she’s going to be fine.  I would know that.  But she’s my baby.  I breastfed her and snuggled her and scared away the dragons from under her bed. 
How did 18 years go by so quickly?  In my head she’s still 5 years old, ringing the doorbell, wearing her little yellow duck boots - completely covered in mud - and she’s holding a bouquet of dandelions that she picked especially for me. 
I feel like I’m leaving that 5 year old on the curb with her suitcase in hand – not this woman who is ready to start her own life.  She’s following her own yellow brick road, and I’m Glinda the Good Witch... just pointing her in the right direction.  And she’ll be okay.  She smiles as she waves to me.  I start to drive before I cry.  As I’m pulling away, she runs up to my window and knocks on the glass.  I roll it down and she gives me a great big, wet, sloppy kiss.  And then she says:  “Don’t worry Mom, I’ve got my ruby slippers.”
© Heather Jopling 2005, 2013