Parenting With Teaching Moments

Don’t you hate it when a valuable teaching moment presents itself so forcefully that it’s completely impossible to ignore it?

Personally I’m a big proponent of the path of least resistance.  Unfortunately I’ve read enough parenting books and had enough conversations with perfect parents who have all the answers to know that my children won’t thank me for my lackadaisical attitude when they’re struggling through their unproductive lives as dysfunctional, semi-evolved adults.

So, when Hoss came out of gymnastics the other day and said he hates it and wants to quit, my immediate reaction was ‘tough titties, you’ve made a commitment and you have to see this through’.

Apart from anything, it’s embarrassing – my children have been dropping out of programs at that gym since Roxy was 3.

Now this is a slight digression, but what she did there when she was 3 was gymnastics-playschool.  One hour in the classroom and one hour in the gym – genius!  I believe both my sons would be model students if only we’d been able to carry that concept through grade school.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, between competitive artistic gymnastics, competitive trampoline and tumbling and the demo team, the three of them have pretty much tried and dropped out of it all.

Well enough!  I’m ready to take a stand … or am I?

After that moment of masterful assertion, the voice of reason presented itself.  I realized that I could save myself over 300 sorely missed dollars every month, and I would be freed from the commitment of having to drive to the gym four evenings a week.  I could use all that extra time to go out and spend the $300.

Let’s balance the pros and cons of mandatory gymnastics for a moment, shall we?  On the one hand, I get to devote four evenings a week dragging a miserable, whining 14-year old to the gym; and I save myself the hassle of deciding how to allocate the spending of that $300.

On the other hand, Hoss undoubtedly learns a valuable life lesson which will cause him to develop into a highly motivated, driven achiever.

Well sod it – when he’s still in my basement at the age of 36, playing video games and shouting at me for snacks, I’ll use all the money I saved for joint therapy.

Wheat-Free Weight Loss

I’ve given up wheat and I’m expecting to become lithe and slender any day now.

I got the idea from a book I saw recently in a bookstore (there’s a shocker – a book in a bookstore).  I didn’t read it, but I managed to get the gist from the title and the blurb on the back cover.  It turns out wheat is almost certainly the culprit responsible for my ever-expanding belly, and simply cutting it out of my diet will decrease my appetite and cause me to miraculously shed pounds.  Well, I’m game to give it a go!

It’s been going quite well, although it transpires that wheat is the primary ingredient in almost anything worth eating – bread, cakes, biscuits, bagels – the list goes on and on.  Thank goodness I still have chocolate, but not kit-kats.  I’m pretty certain that chocolate almonds, being both wheat free and full of essential fatty acids, are probably better than vegetables.

As I was slugging down Hubby’s vodka and orange this evening he laughingly warned me that it’s made with wheat.  Ha ha, I thought, you’re so hilariously witty.  Except he was right.  The brand I was drinking is apparently made only from the finest Swedish winter wheat.  Well clearly it doesn’t count once it’s distilled.

Comfort Food and Raunchy TV

Ah, the life of the landscaper’s wife – another Saturday night home with no-one but the dog for company.

Hubby’s out of town, as usual, doing his thing at his tree farm (Shame on you … I didn’t mean ‘doing‘ his ‘thing‘, I meant pruning or something).  The children are all off doing whatever it is teenagers do on a Saturday night.

So, it’s me, fried chicken, chocolate and ‘The Secret Diaries of a Call Girl’. Thank goodness I didn’t start watching it with any of the children -it’s all Billie Piper (Rose from Doctor Who) cavorting around naked with a string of male clients and female co-workers.  She even slept with Matt Smith (the actual Doctor Who, but not Rose’s which is a good thing because that might have exploded my head).

I had to close the curtains in case the neighbours thought I was watching porn and either reported back to hubby or came to join in.

You forget how tame Canadian TV is until you watch something English.  And North Americans call us uptight!

The Tea-Stained Entrepreneur

For a few hours every day while the  boys are in school I change hats and try to convince the world that what I actually am is a competent, sophisticated businesswoman about town.

It’s a crucial part of the Empty Nesting Project as it gives me something grown up to aspire to when I’m finally abandoned by my ungrateful offspring.

Occasionally the days spill over into evenings as I attempt to promote myself at networking events.  It all seems so plausible in the planning stages, but then evenings like yesterday cause me to shake my head and wonder who I’m really trying to kid.

First, I had to drive from my office, about 1/2 a mile away from the networking location, to my home across town.  After an hour in grid-locked traffic, I executed a rapid change, assembled a quick snack for Hoss and drove him to gymnastics.  Then I was free to head back across town to the meeting.

Shortly after leaving the gym I was stopped by a train.  No big deal, even though Canadian trains pull about 100 carriages at about .0001 miles per hour; I’d had the foresight to stop at Timmy’s for a cup of tea.

So the train passed, and the gates opened to let the traffic through.  But, after about 3 cars the gates closed again and the train backed up.  Oh well, I thought, fretting won’t stop me being late, so I’ll just relax and practice ‘being in the now’.

Eventually the train passed and while I gratefully waited for the gates to open again I sipped my tea peacefully … until the train switched directions again and started to pass for the third time.  Really?  We live in a clogged, overcrowded city where rush hour lasts from 5am to 9pm – surely there’s no cargo important enough to warrant the tormenting of so many tired, stressed commuters!

Not to worry, though, we were eventually off again and then I just had to re-enter the gridlocked traffic I had struggled through earlier (yes, backtracking on myself, just like the bloody train!).

I realized during all this downtime that I had no business cards with me.  It seems a little counter productive to hope that you’ll already know everyone at the networking meeting, but so much about the evening seemed counter productive that I wasn’t even wondering about it by that stage.

I pulled into the car park of the golf club where the meeting was being held, late and less than serene.  Not a totally unheard of condition – I’m so psychotically neurotic about tardiness that I usually arrive everywhere 15 minutes early, but still, serenity is not a state of mind I’m particularly familiar with.

As I struggled to worm my way out between my car and the next I managed to pour my tea all down my leg, but I just wrapped my long cardigan around me and hoped that no-one would notice.  They might not have, if I hadn’t loosened the lid so that when I sat down and took another slug I dumped tea all down my chin and front.  Oh the grace!

Fortunately, I seem to have found a community of business women who will accept me without expecting me to be dignified or refined.  They must realize that after a day spent writing in my corner they can’t expect too much in the way of social graces.

A Musical Triumph

Singing with my choir brings a series of triumphs that warm my soul.  And happily for me the magnitude of the triumphs is inversely proportional to the amount I know about music.

This week I’m happy to report I had to spend hardly any time mouthing the words.

Typically we go round, practicing the parts individually – soprano ones, soprano twos, alto ones and then alto twos.  Awesome, I think to myself, I have this down, no problem.  Until the soprano ones start singing next to me, with their loud, high voices and their melody.  Suddenly the harmony I thought I had mastered becomes a distant memory, replaced in my head by a flat, discordant droning.  And that’s why I spend a good deal of time mouthing the words for the sake of all those around me.

Our choir director is a fabulous, sympathetic soul who records rehearsal tracks for each part individually.  As a soprano two I just have to go online and download all my parts and practice them at the top of my voice as I drive around town.  After a while the soprano two harmonies start to feel so natural that I can sing through the melody without a second thought.  But, until the tracks go on the website I’m at the mercy of those noisy soprano ones.

So, it’s a cause for great celebration when I actually get the harmony and can sing out loud.  Yay me!

We also introduced a new song, a popular and well-known Christmas carol which only has one part for the soprano ones and twos – the melody.  So, when we were told to sight read for the first go through I was virtually note perfect.  It turns out sight reading is very easy when you already know the tune … who knew!

What a great feeling!  Even when the triumphs are pitifully minor, I’ll take them when I can get them.

Strange as Fiction

So, there we were, Hoss and I, watching Doctor Who and lamenting the fact that yet another season has come and gone.  Really … this one was about 5 episodes, and it just wasn’t good enough.

So, we thought, we should rush out and buy another season on DVD – maybe some David Tennant and Rose, or the first season of Matt Smith.  Well, when you have an awesome idea like that it’s hard to be deterred by the mere fact that all the shops are closed.  Except, of course, for WalMart, which never closes because who knows when one might need to buy a bath mat or plastic food containers at 11 o’clock at night?

Unbelievably, the first WalMart we tried didn’t have a single Doctor Who DVD.  Neither did the second; or Superstore.  They clearly need to get their priorities straight.

So, empty of hand and heavy of heart, we headed for home.  “Stop”, shouted Hoss, “that little store has a big DVD sign and a Doctor Who poster in the window – and it’s open!”  And there it was, beckoning invitingly with its TARDIS bedecked window, and filling us with hope for the Who-Fest to come.

Strangely, neither of us remembered ever having seen the store before – right at the edge of a row of shops, and next to some undeveloped wasteland.  But, not one (or two) to look a gift horse in the mouth, we parked outside and rushed over.

What a strange little shop, with its crumbling brickwork and windows so grimy that it was hard to see in.  The ancient, peeling paintwork was a colour which, nowadays, would probably be described as frosty mint, but which, back in its day, was more likely just called blue/green.

The door stuck at first, but a shoulder-shove got it moving enough to creak it open, jangling a bell hanging overhead.  From the darkness behind the counter, a scratchy, disconnected voice said “Come on in.  What can I help you with?”  A head of dark, greasy hair popped up to join the voice, and we were confronted with a gray, partly toothed smile belonging to a stooped figure as ancient as his paintwork.

We had already found a display of Doctor Who DVDs, so, in our rush to escape the cobwebs and thick, musty air we grabbed a season each of David Tennant and Matt Smith, paid our money and left.

We giggled together as we burst back into the sunshine and felt a cleansing breeze ripple over our crawling skin.  “That was weird”, said Hoss, “I can’t even remember seeing anything else in there apart from that one rack of movies.  Did you notice what else they sold?”  “Now that you mention it, I’m not really sure either” I replied, but didn’t think any more of it.

But here’s where it gets really strange … passing the same row of shops the next day, Hoss and I noticed that the store was no longer there.  We were both certain that’s where it had been, but there was no sign of it ever having existed.  I’ve been looking as I drive around the city, but I can’t find that little store anywhere.

Okay, I made all that up, but it’s how we wished the expedition had ended, and it seems like a much more interesting story than “they didn’t have any, so we went home”.