Friday, December 21, 2012


Some things should just not be done. For example: Being a whining adult. That is totally unbearable. I mean, where do you get off whining about things! Suck it up ! Put on your big girl pants!

That is what I usually proclaim, anyway. I can get quite haughty about it too. (which is actually another undesirable trait, but whose counting.)

So it was much to my chagrin that as I was musing around last night, in one of those moods where I reflect upon the ways in which I act like a moron, that I recalled the last PTA meeting I was at.

I had volunteered to help with the Thanksgiving Parade, where the school participates in the town parade. No one wanted to do it. I thought, "No big deal, super easy..." and then realized that it was actually going to be a ton of organizing and work. (Not like that should have been a surprise, I had done the same thing last year...)So me and my co-chair got busy. Anyway, time went on...not a lot of parent who showed up to the workshops were so excited that they couldn't focus...I end up having to re-do everything that was made at the workshops so they wouldn't fall apart...I stayed up way too late too many nights making snowflakes and sewing Christmas tree costumes, synching the carols we recorded, fortifying garbage bag snow men, we temporarily misplace our attendance sheet and people panicked...blah blah blah, in other words, it was not a piece of cake, more like weevily  hard tack. BUT once it was done and we were at the parade, and everyone was so happy and people actually showed up to be in it, the judges came along and gave us 1st place for youth. Oh! first place, you say? How vindicating! Actually maybe it wasn't such a pain in the ass after all... Maybe I love making a parade happen...(Amazing what someone telling you that you won and letting you carry a banner will do...)

Yet still, when it came time to brief the PTA about it at the meeting, I opened my mouth and whiiiiined. I remember saying something about the ratio of work by me vs. participation by others being poor, I remember actually saying something along the lines of: "I got better things to do that bust my ass for some PTA thing that no one wants to participate in." I remember some lady across from me raised a single eyebrow and look down at the phone in her lap, where she was no doubt tweeting, "SOMEbody forgot her big girl pants today! And now I have to listen to this bloody whiner!" (What? Hey! those are MY lines!)

So, note to self: When you sign yourself up for something like the PTA, you should already know that you will be avalanched by some kind of ridiculously time consuming task that never ends. Everyone at that table was doing something or other that was claiming their precious free time. And at some point they probably all felt like they were putting in more effort than they were going to receive in rewards. For crying out loud, that's life.

I am making it an early resolution: Say NO to whining.

When my kids whine at me, I just look at them and say, "Excuse me? I don't recognize that as language, please try again." 

And I am asking all of you to do that for me.  OKaaaaaay? Pluuuuueeeeeeease?

Though if you don't I can always say, "Well, no one made me stop, so it's not my fauuuuuuult!"

Friday, October 19, 2012

random snippetts

Z: I'm never going to sleep again!
Me: Remember, the only way you can get bigger and stronger is if you sleep. If you choose not to sleep, you are choosing not to grow. If you want to be Shrimpy McShorty pants, that's up to you.
Z: I am not SHORT! I am not LITTLE!
Me: Your choice makes it so.
Z: ....What?
Me: Goodnight buddy.
Z: ....Your choice makes it so?...What does that mean?
Me: "You have the power." 
Z: "I have the POWER? What does that MEAN?!"
Me: "Go to sleep and you will find out."
Z: "Well... ok, I'll do it!"

After listening to the boy shriek at the girl (again) for "getting in on HIS side of the car." Exasperated Mum announces: "OK! Lookit! Now you are giving ME your bad mood! Does anyone like it when Mum is in a bad mood!?"
Wide eyed head shakes , "NO!"
"What gives Mum a bad mood?"
"When we don't behaving." Says The Boy.
Girl : Mum. it's not fair to us if you are in a bad mood. Because that makes US be in a bad mood.
Boy: Yeah, not nice for YOU Mum!
Me: Terrific! Now we are in a bad mood vortex. Let's all stay grumpy forever starting now.
"NO!" Giggles.
( I love it when it is that easy. Sometimes I have to resort to singing Opera style.) When I really REALLY want to snap all over their squabbling little screech-faces, if I, instead of yelling, sing my message like her:

Then there is no way they can maintain their fight. My handsome husband does it too. He is even better at it than I am.
We are a noisy, noisy people.

Z: I think If I electrocute butterflies, they will turn into Gremlins.

E: I like throwing frisbies into the wind. it's like playing catch with THE GOD

What is it about the need to poop JUST as we are leaving the house to get the boy to school? It is like some kind pf imbedded reflex.  Just as we are putting on our shoes, and with no time to spare he declares: OOPS! I need to POOP!
after a while..."Hey, buddy, finish pooping. We have to go!"
He responds, shocked, "How do you know I am pooping?  If I flush the toilet while I poop, my bum gets cleaned by flush water and I don't have to wipe.
Why do I poop? If I push really hard when I poop, will it come out my eyes? I feel it in my eyes."
"If I was in the desert, could I eat my poop?" ...

"You are going to have a birthday soon, Z! What would you like to do for your birthday?"
"Play know, and other stuff that I want to do."
"Who do you want to invite?"
"Santa Clause....not the Easter Bunny....OH! but the Tooth Fairy!"
E: "The tooth fairy might want tooth cake."
Z: Maybe not the Tooth Fairy then. But God can come. And Thor and Spiderman. And that's all!

Attention Children:
Coat hangers are NOT boomerangs!
Pot lids are NOT to be used as flying saucers or shields!
The dog is NOT a horse and CANNOT be ridden!
We play piano with our fingers. NOT our feet or heads!
And those little white things with strings attached in Mum's bathroom cabinet? Those are NOT earplugs. And please stop whizzing them around your head by the string and releasing them.
Z: Then what are they for?
E: They are for catching Mum's eggs
Z: WHAT? Mum is not a chicken! Or a Duck!
E: She still has eggs.
Z: Mum is weird.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some time ago, I was writing about going to the gym and my intentions for being a dangerously healthy individual. I referenced Vladimir Putin.  One should not flippantly state that one wishes to emulate the likes of Vlad. It's a stupid thing to do. Since I voiced my admiration for his physical prowess, he has likely fraudulently won his election, jailed three young feminists for singing a satirical song criticizing him (Pussy Riot). And Voted with China (3 times!) to veto United Nations Sanctions against Syria.

It is chilling  to know that the social activist experiments that I both cooked up and joined in my life could have landed me in jail in Russia. That is something we take for granted: Speaking out, saying whatever we want about whatever we want, pretty much wherever we want to do it. When other countries will jail you or make you disappear. That's not right. There is so much bravery needed to participate in democracy where it is not welcome. And we, here on the biggest platform for free speech mostly fill the airspace with nonsense and hyperbole.
I mean, with Russia, there is a certain amount of grim wierdness to expect, but I was enjoying the badass black trike thing and tranquilizing tigers, martial arts, and saving people from bears or whatever else. It was always a case of: What will Vlad do next?
Well, when you actually take a look at what he is doing...besides leading goose migrations....makes you wonder about ol' Vlady.

"Follow the oil." My Dad tells me. Syria produces about 400 000 barrels a day. That is worth something to somebody.  It is a strategic location. Russia's only Mediterranean Naval defense base is there and a certain 9.8 $ billion dollar soviet era debt was forgiven, and a 4 $ billion dollar a year arms deal happens. Along with heavy investment in energy, infrastructure and tourism.
So.  The west is not going to mess with Russia's bitch. Is that it?  People be damned. It is shocking to see it happen.  For the last year we have all witnessed this uprising and slaughter and...nothing from the U.S. nothing from Europe. So, who else is in Syria? We have China, which voted against sanctions with Russia and is the largest supplier of imports to Syria. In fact, when the U.S. brought down trade with Syria, China upped trade. Big time. Oh. Russia and China kind of hate the U.S. and Western Europe, Brittan etc.
Some sources:

Joseph Sarkisian wrote in the above article in 'The National' about how if the U.S. got overtly involved, it would piss off and ramp up support Bashar al-Assad is already getting from Russia, China, Iran.  Iranian, Iraqi, Turkish, Lebanese, Saudi Arabian and Israeli interests are all at play here too. It is so ugly. And Syrians are totally f*#cked in this. Syria is an arena where these super powers are egging each other on. This battle for freedom that Syrians are so desperately fighting could turn into a global shitstorm if the west gets involved overtly. And there is so much money to be made.

And so Vlad, I can't be your girlfriend anymore.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Florida post script story

We went to  Mai-Kai in  Ft. Lauderdale, It is a Polynesian restaurant that has a Polynesian musical and dance review.  The place is walled in with lush flowering garden paths, totems, waterfalls, a huge wood fired oven, a bar that has that 'Interior of Yellow Submarine decor'. The rest was 'Authentic Island Village' It was like southeast Asia in the Disney Universe. You wander around, they seat you, you eat then watch a show.
Anyway the show is introduced by a gloriously beautiful lady with long black hair, wearing a bikini top and grass skirt, and immediately E is transfixed. Z was asleep on my lap. The drums start and two wild looking men leap out and shriek and stomp and dance in mad patterns around the stage.
Z is oblivious.
E is having a physical, full sensory reaction.
Then the women come out and they are gyrating their hips in circles and make percussion with their accessories.
E is delighted.
Dad is trying to wake up Z.
The ladies danced the hula around the men. Their long, black hair swayed.
Z finally woke up.
The men danced with fire sticks and put fire on their skin without getting burned.
The men danced a war dance with spears and Z was now totally and completely engaged.
 Z was now a disciple.
The beautiful, wild ladies joined the fire dance.
E turned to her father and said, "Daddy, If you married her... then, she could be my mother and I could know how to dance like that."
Also, my drink came in a tiki face take-home cup. But had I paid more attention, I would have read somewhere on the menu, that my husband's drink did not. I walked out with both.  I was stopped at the door by the hostess who said, "Ma'am, I can't let you take that cup."

Recap: Went to theme restaurant. Daughter now plotting to replace me. Son has internalized the Samoan Dance of War. Got caught stealing cup.


Friday, September 28, 2012

And here we are: Fall

And now it is Fall. The trees are turning, the nights, cool. You take the time to reflect on the summer. There is hardly time to reflect, but you do it anyway. Remembering how the kids learned to swim and how they made it out to the floating dock reserved for big kids. Your little kids are now big somehow. They dove to the bottom of the lake and followed fish. You smile, thinking about the camping trips you had with your family. The smile falters as you remember the time you woke up in the middle of the night with the worst nausea. Spending the next day running to the hot, public campground toilets to relieve yourself out both ends as everyone else went for a hike.  It was food poisoning. It was 24 hour flu! Oh well, There is nothing you can do about that now.  Don’t worry about it. So what if no one believes you.

Remember countless bike rides, the Boy’s training wheels off for good. Proudly watching as he rode into trees, walls, houses, other bikes, dogs.  Cruising down hills and watching as your son sails over his handlebars and skids across the pavement because he “forgot the stop part”.

Ah the beauty of summer: The garden grew well this year. Kids helped plant that. That has been a nice thing. The kids got their own plot to plant. The girl’s was choked with flowers, the boy’s rather empty as he could not stop experimenting with his seeds. Some went here, some there.  Planted, dug up, re-planted. And that is how tomatoes started growing in the blueberries. Some experiments were not so successful: Bugs, for example, do not grow into bug plants, and worms don’t make good pets: A worm leash tends to cut the worm in half, for instance.

new lavendar

E's garden

New apple tree

bee balm

Giant cone flower(because I can't spell 'ecanaeshea')

You smile at the memories of hikes in the White Mountains, where you unleashed all manner of trickery to convince your children they like the hikes you and your husband force them to endure. So successful were you that, huzzah! It took! And although they are bewildered by their own enthusiasm, they declare themselves ‘real hikers’. You floated down rivers, scrambled over rocks, had campfires, read “The Witches” by Roald Dahl to them and they are at that perfect age where they believe every word of it and are now forever on high alert to blue toothed, no toed, gloved handed, itchy headed ladies who want to destroy them.

You sent the kids to their grandparent’s house and met your husband in Florida where he was working. A few days of being alone:  All day to yourself, evenings with your handsome and charming husband. Maybe it was the heat of late summer Florida, maybe the rush of being without your kids and responsibilities but wasn’t that night on the boardwalk fun: Dinner, dancing. Dancing like no one was watching. Like a free bird. Except there were people watching. And they saw.  Pierina Legnani was not under threat as it turned out. And as your husband so gleefully re-enacted in the elevator back up to the room, Dancing like no one is watching is not sound advice.

The most useless sink in the world. At the museum of art in Ft. Lauderdale. You have to reach across 36"of shallow sink to get at water, which beacuse of it's lack of depth splashes everywhere. Fashion over function = not good for bathrooms.

Bananna boat. Transports only banannas. Has huge fans because potasium gas is very flammable. I thought this was way cooler that the mansions this boat ride took me to see.

Someone living the dream. Illegally tied to a hurricane devastated dock.

Hollywood beach. You can smell the sunscreen and sweat from the hotel balcony when the wind is right.

Another way of saying "No refunds if birds shit in your food."

Oprah likes this place and we did too. NOT FOR VEGETARIANS!!

Then the children went back with you for another visit to Florida, and they dictated the agenda. There was much swimming in the hotel pool, much avoiding of the ocean after they realized the omnipresent helicopters were not looking for bad guys, but for SHARKS. 

all these were from Ft. Lauderdale museum of art's SHARK exhibit

  There was cuddling of alligators which is somehow great. Sharks= not cool, Alligators=awesome. Something to do with the airboat ride, you guess.

"This is as close as I am getting to the Mastodon"

Kids were very worried for this little dude

High alert for alligators

Officially the coolest dude in Florida

Bike car

Then school started and on that first ever recess of her first ever day of grade 1, the girl fractures her arm. Always something, And here we are. Fall.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

travel day post script ie: the truth

Oh. My. Gawd.
Good new is, we made it to Florida and my Handsome Husband took the kids for a swim while I had enjoyed a glass of wine was able to diagnose that my wits are, indeed, recoverable.

When we arrived at the airport, I went over to a group of police and TSA and asked the guard to tell us (Z) the rules, because I was counting on this to set the tone. Well, the cop totally blew it. He went all, "aw shucks look at that face! Who could say no to you!" instead. So that was a bust.
No fear-motivated subdued behavior resulted there. What we got instead was a 4 year old who had just been handed the license to create mischief. 
And both walked away with a twinkle in their eyes.
And by the way, security guards, flight attendants, pilots and random people: making cute faces at my son and saying, "Aww, you look like trouble!" IS NOT HELPFUL!

But we got through security and all went well, We got some treats for the plane, waited for the plane, and around the time it was unloading, and we were queuing up to get on, that was about the time that Z ran out of his power not to wiggle. Considering it had been 75 min or so since we arrived at the airport you could hardly blame him, really. He spent the flight alternating between sitting upside down on his chair, hiding out under his chair, laying across the chairs and going to the lav. E was ever so helpful by pointing out how she was behaving so much better than her brother, until she reached her tipping point as well.  And after 2.5 hours in the air, my kids were visibly vibrating with pent up energy. But we did it and got to Chicago where we waited for the next plane.
And that was where things get fuzzy for me.

I don't know of anything that can be done with overexcited, overextended, travel weary young kids who are going to stay at a hotel on a beach and finally see their Dad whom they haven't seen in a month. This is where a working DVD player or a smart phone would have been a godsend. They cannot resist the hypnotizing magic of screens. It paralysis them.  Alas, I was traveling like one did in the 80's. So I just apologized to everyone they made casualties of and tried with various failing degrees of success to keep a grin on my face.

And I was reminded, as I read my pre-travel, post: I am full of shit.

Although being spies in the hotel is working, but this time they are ninjas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

airports, children, and coping mechanisms

I will soon be taking the kids to Florida to be with Dad. He is working there all this month and this is a way to have  "vacation" without having a vacation.  Flying with kids and staying in hotels can justifiably give some parents heart palpitations and IBS on the spot, I know this because I have been through enough airports and hotel lobbies to have experienced most every possible scenario. Including the IBS one. And also one that involved boils, but that is another story for another time.

Due to frequent travel and staying in many, many hotels with infants and children, I have some unsolicited advice for the panicking parent who dreads traveling with young children:

Be packed the day before. NOT the day of! (I tell this to myself all the time.)

So many things are out of your control: Long flights, layovers, security,delays, over stimulation, no naps, airport food, being stuck on a plane for hours... then when you finally get to the hotel, everyone is frazzled, over-tired, and crazy excited.  And the whole time you are displaying your children before strangers. So don't worry about it. This may sound trite, but I totally mean it. Give up the ties to control. I tell my kids that we need to work as a team, they like that.  Get there WAY earlier that you should be. (Sounds anti-intuitive, but I find it better to be early with some time to idle than fretting about being late.) Take an ativan if you need to,  or go visit one of the many fine establishments in the airport and have yourself a drinky-poo and get your kids a snack. Sit at one of those tables and watch people go by.  If you are tense, your kids are going to reflect that exponentially. If your flight is at 10 am note this: Airports run on airport time, not normal time. Remember that. Too uptight to have a drink or won't admit to prescription pills? You are just going to have it suck it up, ain't you Shirley? Do deep breathing, whatever it takes.

 Kids to young to sit at a table? Yay! you get to wander up and down the halls! Most airports have playzones that are usually really lame, but we go there anyway. After we get through security and find the gate, then we can wander around. We like to find moving sidewalks and go back and forth on them. Seriously, we could do this all day. I stay out of the shops as much as possible. We examine the airport sculptures and art in extreme detail. We take frequent trips to the bathroom. We wonder where people are coming from or going to. We also invested in a portable DVD player, but most of you have smart phones now, so you can just stick that in your kid's face and they should zone out happily enough, once you have exhausted the fun out of moving staircase rides. But I would recommend that as a last resort only. You don't want to use up all of its allure, you might need it more desperately later on.
Another thing I like to do is point out where I think all the hidden cameras are and see if the kids can spot them too. Note to the kids that there are always security guards watching their every move. Let them know that airport security guards don't like kids who misbehave. Fear is a great motivator!

I always have a little kit with me full of fun stuff like:

BANDAIDS! (never gets old-they have bandaged me, my bags, willing bystanders...a must have.)
Tin of mints
Gum or gummies (for take offs and landing which are hard on kids ears)
String liquorice (takes forever to eat, fun to tie knots in)
Pad & pens pens also good for drawing faces on hand or fingers for puppets
Sticker (activity) books
Those sticky, waxy craft strings or pipe cleaners
Sticky google eyes (Another must have for us-makes everything funny)
Tag readers
all that stuff can fit in a regular size purse, & can be brought out piece by piece like a big surprise.

I always make sure, when we are settling on the plane, to congratulate the passengers around me on their great luck being stuck next to kids. It usually throws them off guard and slices through the hostility and we all have a laugh. And if it doesn't, then I know the person is a dick and I stop caring about their comfort all together.

So, that should get you through the airport, now on to the hotel.

Check in:
If there are two parents, this is a no-brainer. One checks in, the other hangs with the kids.  Easy.
Now try it alone with 2 kids under 5...a wee bit more interactive.
Really I have no insights to this one, sometimes it has gone smoothly, with the kids beside me the whole time, happy to 'guard' the luggage. Sometimes they have both abandoned me to whirl around in the cool door that spins or ride the elevator. We now spend the extra time doing a couple of door revolutions first, before we get to the counter and also check out the lobby a bit, because they just want to see it, so I let them. There is no rule that you HAVE to go immediately to the counter and check in, you can sit in a chair first, walk around a bit, then the kids are usually able to wait for the business of check-in to happen. Usually.

If you are like us, elevators are the coolest things. Ever. And if you are also like us, the kids are no longer allowed to push the elevator buttons because of the 'me first/not fair' fight that happens over who gets to push which buttons when. By the way, this fight can begin before we have even entered the hotel. Starting with a whisper and escalating into actual in public screams and punches. So the only time kids get to push buttons is if they have displayed beautiful manners the whole way through check-in, and decide quietly who gets the inside/outside button. And further button pushing is allowed only if the strictest criteria of manners has been met.

Which brings me to stairwells.
We have had to deny use of elevators altogether in the past, due to unrestrained sibling insurgencies and, instead, used the stairs, which are an untapped source of hilarity and joy believe it or not. On the stairs, we are secret agents and up and down we go. Z once flat out ran up and down 6 flights of stairs 10 times in a row before passing out from sheer exhaustion and elation. Beats TV.
Do not underestimate the entertainment value of a staircase.

Now the kids are 4 and 6 this has gotten pretty easy, but it was not always so, and having very young kids in a restaurant that is not used to appalling examples of human behavior can be a challenge. I have two tricks that worked almost all of the time when the kids were younger.
1- doopy fingers: where I walk my index and middle fingers around the table saying doopy doopy doopy then 'trip' over a spoon, or fall of the edge, or doopy up the arm of the child. When the kids were little, that would do it for the whole time we were waiting. Of course you don't get much of a conversation in with anyone else, but kids like doopy. But only bring out doopy at a restaurant! Do not dilute the power of the doopy!

2- 'mind stories' where the kids choose characters and I make up a story. Sometimes I am feeling inspired and sometimes I am re-telling what we did that day, but as long as I am telling a story, the kids are in their chairs and not climbing up the buffet table.
When these don't work I just scream at the wait staff and make a huge mess. Kidding!

Hotel pools:
Yes. As much as possible for as long as possible.

These are a few coping mechanisms off the top of my head.
Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A few moments in the life of Mr. Z:
I challenge you!

The now.

"You are goners!" (Actual quote).
Pardon me, while I mine my nostrils for power nuggets.

Now I shall shred.

I shall shred and slay simultaneously!
Now for a little spider-man training...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

conversations with my sister

When I got home from meeting my big sister and taking her to the airport, I put the kids to bed then poured myself  glass of wine and did research. I had to do research because what my sister was talking to me about was so far over my head that I had no choice. She is smarter than me (along with being faster-that bitch.) And time has not closed that gap. So here I now sit with a smidge of wine left in my glass, (I might just have to refill...) and three pages of notes on a subject called "Social Constructivism".  She was in Boston presenting a paper on this matter as part of her PHD and when I picked her up at the hotel and asked what she was up to, I got enough esoteric mind gum to keep me chewing for years. We talked about the a whole rang of things through the filter of social constructs,and I just had to try to share our conversation.

My sister has always been a giant pain in my ass. When we were growing up, she was this bossy, popular, smart jock with glossy curls and impossibly high waterfall bangs.She knew everything before I did. She was an intolerable know-it-all.  She used to talk me into her wearing my new school clothes first. She was good. she was smart, and I was...not so much. As we matured, or I should say, as she matured and I got older, Our differences became even more of an issue. She went to university, I dropped out. She dated an Olympic luge guy, I dated epic stoners. I went to art college and experimented in undocumented performance art and puppetry, she became a consultant. She took on marathons, I took on drugs. She made seemingly reasoned decisions about her future, I followed a seemingly random desire to build wooden boats in Downeast Maine. She left relationships that were doomed to failure, I married into them then divorce out of them. You get the picture.

So as we look at this sibling relationship through the lens of social constructivism, the rivalry my older sister and I have negotiated is through a complex combination of decisions based on reacting to each other throughout our whole lives. (R. Edwards -Who wrote a book about social constructs as seen in siblings)  She, being the first born was placed into a position of power over me, aided by the preconceptions of culture and negotiated by our every action; reinforced by our parents.  Which I take to mean: If she had never been born, my life would have been easy-peasy and trouble free and also it is all my parents fault.

Is how we behave produced by culture or biology and nature? Social constructs are either a by-product of countless human choices building upon each other or laws resulting from nature.
Perception is so dependent upon prior experiences that what people observe cannot be uncompromisable. How you view the world -what your truth is, is directly related to your experiences up to that point: There is no such thing as a fair and balanced opinion.

So our categories of what we perceive as right or wrong are entirely subjective to our experiences. What is "normal" for us can be "wrong" to someone else. Take an untravelled person from United States and switch them with an untravelled person from China and both people will be shocked by the differences of social construct. Their personal representation of the world can be totally undermined by looking through the filter of someone else's culture.

Homosexuality is another good example: It took until the 19c for the concept of homosexuality to be expressed in Western culture. Up until that point, people just fucked. But now, we have categorized and sub-categorized sexuality and in doing so have created cultures and sub-cultures and what a fine mess we have made. People have linked sexual behavior with morality. Now people have to suppress their sexual natures for fear of stigma, which drives human behavior underground and into toilet stalls (looking at you Larry Craig) while at the same time, these very humans are staunchly opposed to the "Immoral choice" of homosexuality. Sexuality is nature, to categorize it and stigmatize it is the choice.  And because we humans are so concerned with belonging to the dominant tribe, which keeps narrowing the definition of itself, we are left with no alternative but to lie about our very human natures. Which is very weird.

How about maps. Before we had satellite imagery, we sent geographers and cartographers into unknown places to draw up maps. They went out, tested, observed measured, then gathered together to agree on what a location looked like. These maps were then peer reviewed, discussed and declared official. They were presented to the population who accepted it. Even when the maps turned out to be inaccurate. But once something had been accepted as truth, it is very difficult to change that perception.

 Another,sobering example is Rwanda. When the Dutch decided to move in to Rwanda, they categorized the population as "Hutu" and "Tutsi" based on their appearances and characteristics, then they favored one over the other. These definitions were repeated and accepted enough and decisions were made based on these physical characteristics until one day things get ugly and: Genocide. The reality of social constructivism.

And the core of  all of this, how we see people, how we organize ourselves into class, professions, culture, sub-culture, how we educate, what we educate, what we accept, what we reject, our lives, our society, how we view emotions, roles, gender, race, sexuality, mental illness, facts, reality, this: We make it up.
It is like the bloody Matrix.
So I am going to keep my notes handy and remember when I am worried about a social faux pas I might have made, or concerned that I might not be doing things "right",  that all of this has been constructed  by decisions that the masses have made over time, and I know that the masses are not very smart because I have history to look at to confirm that we do an awful lot of very stupid things. And also I can just look around me. Also I can just look at my own life. There are plenty of examples everywhere.

 My sister told me this:
"You can do whatever you want. Anything. Just know that humanity has created rules. Use them. Play by them, but do what YOU want to do within it."
She also said, as we were saying goodbye, "It has been great to talk with you now that you are no longer a colossal idiot. I can say these things, because I don't care about social pretenses anymore."
To which I reply, "It is great to talk to you too, now that you are finally cool."


Helen Moussa,
  1. Canadian citizens' idea of "the woman refugee" is not inevitable, but historically contingent. (Thus the idea or category "the woman refugee" can be said to be "socially constructed".)
  2. Women coming to Canada to seek asylum are profoundly affected by the category of "the woman refugee". Among other things, if a woman does not "count" as a "woman refugee" according to the law, she may be deported, and forced to return to very difficult conditions in her homeland.
  3. Such women may modify their behavior, and perhaps even their attitudes towards themselves, in order to gain the benefits of being classified as a "woman refugee".
  4. If such a woman does not modify her behavior, she should be considered un-Canadian and as such should not be admitted to citizenship.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Family visits

Uncle Itchy, Aunty Nancy, cousin Katie and cousin Erin arrived this afternoon. We had been anticipating their arrival and cleaned up the house and everything. Although E thought it a bit silly to clean her room, as she said she would simply close her door and not allow anyone in.

Judging the people who slowly emerged, blinking, from the car, Z, instead of introducing himself, declared, "Well, this is not as much fun as I thought it would be." And ran off.
E was overcome with shyness and hid her head behind me.

After Z excused himself for being rude and tried a more successful hello  and E broke the ice for herself by appearing in a series of fancy costumes, where she would make an entrance, curtsey, then disappear and return in another costume to repeat the pageantry until she found her voice and could actually talk, we went to show them the tree house. Standing on the tree house deck, Cousin Katie suddenly yelped and declared something bit her.
"Katie's scared of bugs. She's a girly girl" Her mother scoffed.
"Well at least she didn't shriek..." I joined in, happily riding cousin Katie's bug phobia.
Suddenly something stung ME right under my chin and I shriek. And flap. And probably cursed.
We had upset a hive of deadly, silent wasps. Everyone evacuates the tree house. Except Z, whom I did not realize was still up there until he got stung too.
Happily we discovered all of us survived the attack, and after some ice and a cuddle, we were none the worse for wear.

Z informed me that his real mother was lost and now he is stuck with me, his fake one. apparently his real mother got chopped into pieces. Later revised to loosing just her head, later revised into both of them walking in the desert, when Z stopped to play with a kangaroo and his mother wandering off and becoming lost. Yet the outcome is still the same. He is now stuck with me, his fake mother. 
I told him he could hang out with me until he found her and he said, very formally, thank you.
Then he told his father that when he grows up he will go into war and drive his father there too. Then fight him to the death. This future epic battle was caused over having to sit and find his calm spot due to another battle Z was fighting in his head.

The ladies (Including Uncle J) took E to get her ears pierced. Something she had been "ready" for for a week now. We all piled into the car and went to the mall, where I started to immediately feel the effects of my allergy to such places. E was rather awestruck, "This is a huge building with lots of smaller buildings inside it, and we can buy everything?!"
Unfortunately, by the time she was sitting in the ear piercing chair, with dots on her ears, she had psyched herself out so much that she started having a panic attack. But still she did not want to leave. I pulled the plug when I noticed she was actually beginning to hyperventilate.  Uncle J decided to give her a treat to help slave the trauma and immediately she is better, skipping about the store. She winds up with a makeup kit and a glittery collapsible pocket brush. I wind up with a disapproving frown. Uncle J winds up making fun of me. Then he gets her a milkshake from D&D and I put my foot down. More whispered hallarity. I decide Z will need a little treat to make it fair and we all tromp back to the ear piercing place where an identical glittery collapsible pocket brush is purchased for him. (By Uncle J, again.) I feel somewhat grumpy. When kids get stuff for no real reason, they think all of a sudden that this is the way it will be from now on, and it takes work to change the course of that. But nobody cares about this but me and my handsome husband. Everyone else laughs. Phooey.

Later Husband and I go and spray the hornet's nest and exact our revenge. The things were huge and horrible.

And today is family reunion day. Should be good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rhyming with children

The kids are at a fun stage of life where they rhyme everything, yet they have a limited vocabulary. They have no problem making up words to accommodate their efforts though, and the results?
The results go like this:

Loop, soup, goop, POOP! Ha! Hahahahahahaha!
See, bee, fee, me, re, PEE!  Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
luck, buck, suck, F...! (They know what this one means, so...not funny.)

(Funny story: I was trying to get us out the door, and one thing after another was holding us up. Because I am REALLY trying to curb my pirate mouth, I caught myself before I hissed out a no-say word and instead said "FFFaa fa fa fa." Z interjects,"Don't you mean, fuck, Mum?" Actually not really a funny story.) 0_0

Ruby, looby, nooby, BOOBY! (Intentional)

Whizz, fizz, his, biz, JIZZ! (Unintentional)

Itch, witch, gitch, litch, B....! (Unintentional)

Hunt, runt, zunt, lunt, C....! (Unintentional)

Sass, nass, lass, bass, ASS! (Unintentional)

Sick,  Rick, Lick, Nick, D...! (Unintentional)

Hit, bit, git, rit, dit, SH..! (Hopefully unintentional)

Bigger, Tigger, N.....! GAHHHH! stop rhyming!!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dialogue with a six year old

At one hour post bedtime E peeks her head in my room;
"I just need to take this (diamond costume jewellery) to get it wet. I need it to change my dreams if they get bad, or switch from dream to dream to dream. I need to wash it because it has to be clean. It works bad if it is not clean."
 What is interesting to me is that all on her own, she has developed ritualized coping strategies for the things "that bump the night". She has used the same piece of costume jewellery and has the same ritual of getting it wet, rolling it in a face cloth, shaking it out, jingling it in her hand, whizzing it about a bit to test it's strength. It doesn't happen every day, but it has been occurring since she was three and a half or so.

E: I have a song for you, Mama: "I looooooove you Mamma, even when I'm dead. I looooooooove you Mamma, even when you're dead. Dead dead dead, dead, dead, dead, deeeeeeaaaaaaadddddd....
DEEEEAAAAAADDDDD! (Jazz hands flourish, spin and drop to one knee) TAH-dah!
Do you like it, Mum?     0.0

"I have been thinking, Mum, and I think that I really do not want a very, very dangerous job. Like a fireman, or a saver guy. when I grow up. Because I like to be comfortable.

Me:"E, there was a bat flying around the house last night!"
E: "Why didn't I see it?"
Me: "You guys were asleep. Dad and I were downstairs and all of a sudden, a bat starts flying around! I don't know how he got in. I wonder if he has been in the house all day! So we opened up the big doors and..."
E:"Did you take a picture?"
Me: "No, actually I didn't think to in all the excitement..."
E: "I don't believe you."
Me: "Really? Why not?"
E: "I really need prooth. Like a picture to prooth to me it really happened. It's my scienthitic mind."
Me: "Oh, I see."

Picking blueberries together and for conversation I say,"Ask me a question."
Z: "How did pterodactyls fly?"
E: (scoffs),"That's easy! They had hollow bones and they didn't fly, the glided, they didn't figure out real flying until they became birds. I have a question: How did the earth begin exactly? How did all the plants and animals and water and rocks and people happen and what was there before our earth? That's what I want to know!"
Me: "That is going to take a while..."
E: "That's ok, I got time."

E: When I grow up, I want to be the owner of a restaurant that has the best kids play place in the world and also the best food. Will will also have music. and YOU can work for me , Mum, because you will need something to do when I grow up, but I won't pay you because you are my Mum. Well, I will pay you with love, maybe.

E: "Mum, why do you have skin on the back of you arm that is not filled with bone and when I wiggle it, it goes 'wolla wolla wolla?' why is it like that?"
Me: "That is where I store my cape, so if I am needed, I can whip it out and go save something."
E: "Prooth it."
Me: "There is no emergency right now."
E: "There is an emergency somewhere in the world."
....we stare at each other straight faced for a while...
E: "Ok, then."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Z: "Uncle Jason, I love you."
Uncle Jason: "You just love my candy stash."
Z: "It's pretty empty right now."

Z has his training wheels off for good now. We made attempts when he was 3, but he wouldn't stop. What do training wheels have to do with stopping? No one knows.  But now he has figured out stopping and therefore has no training wheels and has immediately moved on to stunting.
He is  riding his bike and picking his feet off the pedals, making weird maneuvers, wobbling dangerously.
Me, riding behind him, "Mr. Lincoln! do not pull stunts while we are riding on the road!"
Z: "I AM NOT STUNTING!" Snarls, growls.
  Me: "Excuse me?"
Z, Exasperated: "These... are... cool... moves." He made sure to say that very slowly so his poor, dim mother could understand.
Z,"Have you ever seen a guy ride his bike up a tree, back-flip it around, jump over a car and not fall off?'
Me, "No"
Z: "I am going to be that guy."
Me, "Just wear your helmet and keep your shoes on."
Z, "OKAY-YUH ...but that's boring"
Me, "What does boring mean, Z?"
Z, "It means I don't want to listen to you."

Eating outside and the crickets are so loud we are almost shouting over them. Dad kind of shorts a circuit and blurts,"I wish these crickets would pipe down!"
They keep cricketing.
E yelps, "Crickets! Be Silent!"
Crickets keep cricketing.
We all look at Z.
He had the same look on his face as Superman did when he realized he could fly.

"This game is boring!"
"What does boring mean, Z?"
"It means I don't like to loose."

"Get dressed, Z"
"NO! Getting dressed is boring!"
"What does boring mean, Z?"
"It means I want to wear my spider-man suit."

Z running around with socks on his hands, feet and sticking out of his pockets: "I am SOCK GUY!"

At Home Depot looking at paint samples. There is one of those 15 foot stairwell ladders beside us. Z takes off his shoes and socks and pulls a pair of bright pink fuzzy gloves over his feet.
"Ok, buddy."
Exactly one instant later, "HEY MOM!"
Glove-on-feet-guy has just climbed the 15 foot stairwell ladder and is about to transfer himself to the very top shelf, 15 feet above me."GLOVE ON FEET GUY CAN FLY!"
Everybody in store the collectively gasps. I think someone shrieked. I laser focus on my boy.
Me: "Get...DOWN. 1...2..."
Z: "Okay OKAY! Just don't count!"
Without the power of 1...2... I would have nothing. The threat of what might happen if I get past...3 is Kryptonite for him. For some reason, I have never had to go beyond the 3 and produce anything. Which is good, because there is nothing there. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

"I want...I wish I had the Carmel-coloured-Gogogon-that-has-white-stripes-that-is square-and-I-don't-know-what-it-turns-into. I wish I had that." This is what we heard on a 45 sec loop for weeks. Any time He remembered that he wanted the Carmel-coloured-Gogogon-that-has-white-stripes-that-is-square-and-I-don't-know-what-it-turns-into, he would not hesitate to remind us. Constantly.

So the day came and they we going to get a toy. They had worked for it and been good for it, and Z was in the midst of a nasty tonsil/belly double whammy, so he was going to go get a toy. When he was at the toy store, he saw a Bumble-Bee Transformer. (And this is where I admit that my husband took a sick kid to a toy store. It builds your immune system, okay? Shut-up.)  Dazzled by the Transformer, he decided to get that instead.
Within a few minutes of playing with this too-complicated toy, Z realizes his mistake.
Tears and heartbreak: "I chose the wrong toy! I CHOSE THE WRONG TOY!"
Me, "You, Z, have buyer's remorse. You were dazzled by the fancy toy, and you forgot about what you really wanted. Remember this, kiddo, this is important stuff."
Z, "I didn't want a horse! I wanted a Carmel-coloured-Gogogon-that-has-white-stripes-that-is-square-and-I-don't-know-what-it-turns-into! You are boring, MUM!"
Me, "What does boring mean, Z?"
Z, "It means I got the wrong toy!"

"This walk is boring!"
"What does boring mean, Z?"
"It means, my feet hurt."

Reading an encyclopedia for kids about atoms, we discover that the nucleus of an atom is like a bean and the atom is a football field and the rest is space. The kids deduct from this that since there is so much space between the nucleus and it's atom, they should be able to run through "solid" objects, like the wall. So they try. And try. I stopped the experiment before concussions, though. Gotta love science!

"This food is boring."
"What does boring mean,Z?"
"It means not really very good."

Z: "When I go to sleep a night, My friend Wolfie comes and gets me and I ride his back all night. Then in the morning, he waits for me in the woods until I sleep again."

I have animal friends in the forest, and if you don't give me a popsicle, I will make them eat you.

Z was mad at Mum and Dad. Mad in the fist clenching snarl-faced way that only a furious 4 year old can be. He is forbidden to use the word "Stupid" and had been sent from the table for calling his food "boring". As he leaves to go to the stairs, positively vibrating in anger, he turns to us and through clenched teeth and squinched eyes he says: "You, you, BALLS!"
Have you ever tried to maintain "Stern Parent Face" Whilst choking with laughter? It hurts.

"The snarlface"

I just wanted to be "Red Hands and Foot Guy..."

What do you mean, "stand normally" This IS my normal!