There’s Just so Much Crazy!

One of the most stressful parts of this whole business of the emptying nest is that I now have a houseful of people over whom I have a rapidly diminishing amount of control.

And believe me there isn’t much sign of the rational problem solving and self-control that one might expect to come with maturity.

Traumatic as they were at the time, the crises of childhood and pre-adolescence were at least short-lived.  The chocolate bar pried from determined little hands at the supermarket check-out, or the tiff with a friend may have seemed like the end of the world at the time, but you could at least be sure that within 5 minutes the healing would begin.

Oh how I dream of those explosively brief over-reactions.  Nowadays the dramas are bigger, the voices are louder and frankly the language is taking on some brutally vivid shades of nutjob.

My youngest just saved up his money and bought a second-hand dirt bike which so far has been nothing but trouble and is proving to be less than a bargain.  He’s murderously angry …  and so like a man in his determination to assign blame for everything.

If I had $1,000 in spare change under the sofa cushions I would toss the stupid thing out and buy him a new one with a nice shiny guarantee.  I know, I know … I’m told by friends and acquaintances all over that children should be taught fiscal responsibility and respect for their belongings by buying their own stuff.  My weakness is clearly the cause of the dysfunction in this family, and I can only imagine the harmony that exists in the houses of those lucky folk who have it all so figured out, and whose children, presumably, are perfect.

The teen heartbreak of course continues.  My daughter still pines over a young man who tossed her aside under pressure from his fanatical family, and apparently God.  Neither of them is moving on because neither of them wanted to break-up, but it turns out it’s not that easy to get over someone who keeps texting to say how much they miss you.

It’s touching that he feels close enough to my daughter to pass on all the terrible things his mother says about her, but it’s not doing much for her self-esteem.

I’m trying to stay open-minded and accept that Mrs Stepford is really only doing what she feels is best for her son, even though that involves running roughshod over his feelings – and those of the caring, bright and highly respectable girl that he loves.  In fact, in a perverse kind of way I almost envy her that single-minded certainty; is it possible that free-thought, common sense and logic are over-rated?  It must be quite comfortable to just do and believe whatever you’re told regardless of whether it’s right or rational.

For some reason this post has taken me days to write – possibly because I feel like I’m absorbing and assimilating all the crazy and I’m really trying not to rant (too much!).

So, I will sign off for now and sail off in search of calmer waters.

Making the World a Better Place

Much as I love my freelance copywriting business, I struggle with a compunction to do more than just fuel the capitalist machine.  What I really want is to change the world.

So a while ago I had the bright idea to seek out part-time, short-term contracts with non-profits to fit in around my copywriting work, and boost my sense of fulfillment.

The upshot of that is that I’m currently doing some fundraising work, trying to sign up child sponsors in the mall.  When my youngest learned my plans he was appalled.  “Oh great, so when my friends ask what my Mum does, I have to say she’s one of those people who stand in the mall accosting everyone!”  Well, yes, that’s exactly what you can say, and thanks for your support!

Its been an education, hanging around desperately engaging people in conversation, largely against their will.

Most people develop a fascination with the nearest store window, or their shoes and rush past as quickly as said shoes will take them.  Others are willing to risk a tentative “hello”, but a slight upward flick of the wrist, creating a subtle, hip-level stop sign with their hand, indicates that you better hadn’t try to get more out of them.

There’s a certain type who have no intention of helping, but they have plenty to say about the particular bee they have lodged in their bonnet.  As soon as you engage them you can see their eyes light up with a fanatical spark, and you know you are about to be put straight on the ways of the world.  You want to turn and flee, but it’s too late because the fundraising fraternity frowns on blatant rudeness.  I’ve had the good fortune to be enlightened on a variety of topics from politics to the futility of charity, and strangely enough, none of those soapbox orators were remotely tempted to pull out their wallets and actually help.

We also see a lot of creatively crafted excuses – “My grandmother already sponsors” seems to be a popular one, even from adults who, in their middle age, should probably be considering autonomy by now.  My personal favourite, though, has to be “Oh, sorry, I’m from Nova Scotia”.  Who knew that our friends in the Maritimes have special dispensation from acts of charity?

We also saw a spy in the mall the other day.  He was lurking very suspiciously, leaning on a store window wearing dark sunglasses and pretending very ineffectually to be reading the newspaper he was peering over.  Well, maybe not a spy – if he is one he probably won’t last long.  Maybe mall security, although I would have thought the point of plain clothes security is probably not to draw attention to yourself with the use of caricature.

I’m not sure I want to make a career move of standing around for hours on end, with a smile plastered on my face, suffering rejection over and over again.  Frankly, the novelty is wearing a little thin.  Although I forget the agony every time I sign up a sponsor and think about the  child whose life just got dramatically better.  I guess that’s the point of the exercise.