Sitting in the Kid Zone

In defiance of American Thanksgiving, here in Canada we had The Grey Cup to occupy ourselves with last Sunday.

Why the football league would choose to play their most important game in November when it’s invariably snowy and well into the minuses, I have no idea, but the geniuses in the back offices obviously thought that made some kind of sense.   As it turned out this year the Cup was hosted in Toronto, who apparently have a load of pansy-arse football players who need to play inside.  So the frigid weather frosting up the roof outside their swishy dome wasn’t a problem for anyone; not that it would have bothered us anyway, all tucked up by our cozy fireplace.

As something of a sidebar I think it’s fairly amusing that a Toronto newspaper ran a scathing editorial complaining about the influx of Calgarians into their precious city.  One of the comments (and I paraphrase as I can’t remember exactly what they said) was ‘smug Calgarians with their perfect mayor’ – too right we are!  I guess I’d be pissed too if Nenshi was someone else’s mayor.

Anyway, it’s a great opportunity for a get together with the neighbours.  Hubby put together a magnificent spread of all our left-overs which looked surprisingly impressive, and served the dual purpose of making some room in the fridge.  The neighbours of course made their own contributions, so the fridge filled right back up after the game.  Oh well.

The only slight damper on the event was that the TV had to be on and people kept watching some football match.  As a staunch Brit I don’t really get American football; I can’t understand why they run for 3 seconds and then everyone has to stop and regroup.  But then I’m not really a follower of proper football (soccer) or cricket either, so I’m not the best person to ask.

Fortunately I wasn’t alone in my disdain for the football.  The 7-year old and 4-year old from next door were not particularly interested either.  The three of us sat in a corner and they taught me how to play Freeflow.  It was so much fun! I downloaded it onto my Kobo, and I am frighteningly addicted.  How can I be expected to get up and make food for my children when there are dots to be connected?  I’m going to have to start getting people to hide the Kobo and give it back to me at pre-determined times for a firmly regulated period.

It’s a little embarrassing to be the intellectual equal of a 7-year old, but at least he’s a smart one.

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Why Are People So Annoying?

Well, here I am, 3 months into my second half a century, and I have to say, graceful is not a word commonly used for the way I’m aging.

In fact I would go so far as to say I’m a twisted mass of deranged hormones, and I’m starting to find it increasingly difficult to walk around with a smile plastered on my face.  Yes, beneath this polite, unassuming exterior there’s an obnoxious, opinionated reprobate banging on the walls and screaming profanity.

When I think about it, I’m not even sure how I manoeuvred myself into the role of perky, cheerful humanist.  I’ve spent 50 year disguising every emotion behind a cheery grin, because that seemed to be the best way to counter the negative energy that constantly bombards my aura.  But don’t be fooled – behind this rictus of a smile, there raves a crazy woman teetering on the brink of hysteria.

I’m merely suffering from an overdose of all the normal stuff that everyone has to deal with – psychotically moody teenagers, a husband who acts like he’s auditioning for a role in Grumpy Old Men, religious extremists who think their faith makes them better than everyone else, while in fact … (well, let’s just leave it there, shall we?), an overcrowded city peopled by incorrigibly bad drivers.  The usual thing.

Before I explode I think it might be time to take affirmative action and emancipate the dark side.  I’m considering becoming one of those dreadful people who think “I just tell  it like it is” is an excuse for bad manners.  So, just don’t get in my way or you’ll hear a gruff voice behind you shouting “Move your fat arse”, or you’ll feel the tip of my umbrella nudging you along.  How liberating to helpfully tell those surly sales assistants why they’re going to die alone unless they develop some social skills.   And as for the passive aggressives – well I’m going to hide their shoes, and dole out backhanded compliments.

In a small way I started this morning, while we were shopping for one of those swanky touch-free taps.  “What happens when the batteries run down?”, I asked of the sales associate.  A reasonable question given that we live in a household where we will all watch the warning light for weeks (each time I use the tap I will kick myself for forgetting to buy batteries, and then the thought will drift into oblivion until the next time I use the tap) until the poor exhausted batteries finally splutter out their last pathetic dribble of power.  I don’t want to find myself with a non-functioning tap and no batteries in the house.

Well, the helpful answer I received to my perfectly sensible question was “you put new batteries in”.  After a withering look, I explained in words with very small syllables that what I really wanted to know was “will the tap still work?.

Ha ha, the sales associate laughed – “yes, that was a rather unhelpful answer, which I realized as soon as you looked at me like I have a monkey growing out of my ass”.

Okay, well that wasn’t too painful, was it?  I think being rude and obnoxious might just work for me!

Is 50 too soon to don a purple hat and start blaming my age for all the terrible things I say?

The Child We Keep in the Garage

My youngest, in his relentless quest to drive me crazy, has decided he would like to move out to the garage.

Now we’re not talking about one of those nice finished garages, with cheerily painted walls and carpeted floors.  No, this is more your damp, spider infested dumping ground.  If you don’t know what to do with something, just open the garage door and toss it as hard and far as possible.  Someone else can worry about it later.

And do you think we ever have room to park a vehicle in there?  Long dead are the dreams of order we harboured when it was being built, attached to the house and bigger-than-double.  My poor husband keeps going out there and building bike racks, cupboards, shelves and anything else he can think of to contain the chaos, but it’s just too big for all of us.

Hoss has started hanging out there with his friends, watching the little TV, listening to music and skateboarding in whatever floor space they can clear.  It’s not a bad haunt for teenage boys whose standards are not famously high.

But as a bedroom?  I’m fairly certain the garage heater, which sounds like an aircraft taking off, and smells of burnt dust is not designed for indoor use.  And I think the mice who take up residence when the weather gets cold might object to having to share.

I’ve tried to explain that it would require some fairly extensive renovation to make it habitable.  I also protested my fondest hope that it might be rendered tidy enough for me to park in when the weather dips down to -45.  Sadly, it all fell on deaf ears, serving as further evidence that the only pleasure in my life is ruining his.

The upshot is that he is now playing a new game called “let’s see how many ridiculously absurd requests I can make before Mum rips out all her hair and dashes barefoot out into the snow screaming to be left alone.”

Things like “Mum, can I paint the ceiling?”, “Mum can I put a fireman’s pole through my bedroom floor down to the sitting room?” or “Mum, can I buy ‘Scary Psychotic Blood and Guts Serial Killers’, rated MMMM on playstation?”

I feel certain this is a perfectly healthy phase of questioning, pushing boundaries and establishing limits, but he’s been going through it for about 13 years now and I’d like it to end soon.

Anyone Got a Good Joke?

It’s really hard to comfort a homesick child when all you want to do is shriek “well come home then!”.

When they were growing up it seemed like such a good idea to teach them independence and a fascination with the world.  Then when they leave town you realize all the parenting books were horribly wrong.  What you should have been teaching them is to stay home, close to Mum so she doesn’t get lonely.

But, the damage is done, so now that Roxy is away at university in Vancouver, loving her classes but still desperately homesick, it’s my sorry lot to bite my lip and assure her that it will all pass soon enough.

She thinks she’s missing the boyfriend as much as she’s missing me, but clearly she’s deluded.  It’s probably some form of defensive projection.

So, to try and lighten her stress I’ve been texting jokes.

You see, part of our bond stems from the fact that we both think we’re hilariously funny.  While we gasp for breath with tears of hilarity rolling down our cheeks, more often than not we find ourselves surrounded by the bemused, humourless stares of those unfortunates who just don’t get the joke.  Clearly it’s a form of humour too sophisticated for the general public (although the general public assures us that is not the case).

Anyway, I thought texting jokes throughout the day would achieve a dual purpose.  Firstly it might arouse a chuckle, and secondly it might help her appreciate the fact that she’s not here.

It’s been fun, so if anyone has a good joke to share, don’t be shy … let’s have it.

Isn’t The Universe Supposed to Provide?

I’m feeling a little let down by the Universe right now.

I decided to have a nice cup of tea before choir, which seemed like a perfectly reasonable course of action.

The preparations went so smoothly … 3 Tetley tea bags in a pre-warmed pot, steeped in freshly boiled water; all kept at the perfect temperature beneath my “where there’s tea there’s hope” tea cosy.  Perfection just waiting for some 2% (semi-skimmed) milk and my favourite polka dotty cup.

But, oh no!  Horror of horrors, there was no milk in the fridge.  You can’t have a decent cup of tea without milk; the Tetley Tea Folk would be mortified!  To clarify, the Tetley Tea Folk are the little cartoon characters who make and advertise Tetley tea bags.  I’m sure they were feeling my pain all the way from Yorkshire.

Happily, we have a second fridge in the mud room which we primarily use to keep every condiment known to mankind, even though we only use ketchup, mustard and Daddy’s sauce.  But, and here’s the important part, we also use it to store the occasional spare jug of milk in order to avert crises just such as this one.

Well I’ve read ‘The Secret’.  I know how it works.  So, as I walked toward the fridge I visualized a new jug of milk.   I could see the milk sitting there on the shelf; feel the condensation on the handle; I could even taste the lovely cup of tea that milk was going to become part of.  I practiced gratitude and thanked the Universe for that milk.

It seemed foolproof, so what went wrong?  The milk wasn’t there, and all my dreams of the perfect cuppa were thwarted.

Am I missing something here?