I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

I’m not much of a drinker. No, really! While I’m not above turning to the gin bottle in times of stress, I find that one glass is generally enough. Not because of any high moral ground, but because, even after all these years, my alcohol tolerance hasn’t recovered from 27 months of pregnancy (not consecutive) and about two years of breastfeeding (also not consecutive).

But yesterday, after a hard day’s gardening, I thought it would be nice to sit out on the front steps with a glass of wine. It’s worthy of explanation here that the front steps are made of stone and they meander in long, gentle strides up the three feet or so to the front door, with flower beds dotted along the way.

As I was sitting there nursing my wine, and babysitting the cat (another story), the phone rang. It was Roxy wanting to chat. With my very mild tendency towards both OCD and ADHD, I find it difficult to concentrate on a single task, so while I chatted and drank, I also inspected the flower beds, fiddling about with some light weeding and a little bit of pruning. I also noticed a small gaggle of neighbours congregated a couple of houses up the road.

Being the graceful creature I am, it’s probably inevitable that at some point I would lean too far, or trip on a stray pebble, and unfortunately when it did happen I couldn’t decide whether to save the wine or the phone, and chose instead to catch myself with my face.

So there I am, hurtling face first into a bush with a shriek and all the neighbours watching. It was a spectacle which ended with me sprawled on the ground, covered in wine, and giggling helplessly like a cheerful drunk.

Unfortunately not all those neighbours had the best opinion of me to start with. Well one of them anyway  – after a small contretemp over a parenting issue, which I have incidentally won, now that the child in question has grown up to be a stellar member of society, even though said neighbour might be unaware of that fact (but I digress)  – and I feel as though watching me fall arse over teakettle in a drunken stupour probably didn’t help much.

Now I can’t ever go outside again because I’m too embarrassed to be seen in public.

 

Bracing for Trouble

There can be few things more stressful than being a 15-year old boy. Between rampant hormones, peer pressure and the frustration of being surrounded by stupid old people who know nothing about life or the world, it must be a nightmare.

For the most part Hoss manages to keep it together bravely, but every now and then the effort of it all proves too much. I know, for instance, that he struggles daily to make sense of this darned obsession with sending kids to school – after all, no-one there has anything useful to teach him and it’s really all just a waste of his valuable time. My heart bleeds for him.

The latest drama is braces. Unfortunately it’s his second bout; when his top front tooth came in crooked and threatened to grind down its lower counterpart, he had to have that fixed, even though he still had some baby teeth left. So I do feel bad that he now has to go through the rotten process all over again. That’s more than even a non-hormonal, post-adolescent rational person ought to have to endure.

He keeps asking me to explain again precisely why they’re necessary, and I know this is the point at which any calm-headed, clear-thinking parent would dive in with a convincing and logical explanation. Unfortunately all I can come up with is “well it made sense when the orthodontist explained it”. Was there really a good reason, or was I just made credulous and manipulable by the ambient smidgeon of escaped laughing gas?

Being English I’m still not convinced about this obsession with orthodontics anyway. Crooked, yellowing teeth just give a person character, and frankly a mouthful of huge, perfect white chompers is just a little too Hollywood for my tastes. But, then again, who am I to argue with ten years of orthodontic training?

Ah well … only another 14 months and 24 days of complaining about sore teeth, broken wires and trapped food scraps. I’m sure it’ll fly by.

 

 

When Good Kids Go Bad

As a parent you like to think you know your children; their strengths; their weaknesses; what they’re most likely to be arrested for.

Or at least we did. Until last night when I received a text from Roxy saying “I have 2 grams for $40”. Closely followed by another that said “Oh shit! Sorry not for you! Ignore that!”.

No! There must be some mistake. She’s probably selling stage make-up by weight, or maybe italian herbs for a special pasta sauce. Yeah that’ll be it. So there then ensued a back and forth via text during which I invited her to explain, while she, for her part, became increasingly evasive.

I finally phoned, half expecting her not to answer the phone. If she doesn’t, I thought, I’m on the next plane to Vancouver; I’ll drag her home by the ear and get her a nice little job at the library. Why, oh why, did we allow her to go there in the first place, to be surrounded by drug addicts and – perhaps even worse – musical theatre kids? Is that where we went wrong?

The helpless giggles that reverberated down the line (am I showing my age using the term phone line? Do we still have those?), when she answered the phone definitely reassured me somewhat.

So … what the heck?

It turns out she was participating in a twitter prank to see how crazy you can make your parents. Apparently we passed some kind of test by not immediately disowning her, swearing at her or professing not to have wanted her in the first place. Yay for our awesome parenting skills!

Thanks Nathan Fielder. Ha bloody ha!

The Dance Continues

Unbelieveable! I leave town for five minutes and everything goes all to hell.

On Friday it seemed like a good idea to go to the tree farm for the weekend, but now I’m not so sure I should have turned my back. We left Calgary basking in glorious autumnal sunshine; cool, but cheery as it reflected off the yellows, golds and reds of turning leaves. It really is a beautiful time of year. But overnight on Saturday, winter snuck in and stole about ten degrees from the thermometer, blanketing everything in 2″ of snow.

Larch in SnowIronically I was reading (re-reading, more accurately) Wintersmith at the time. It’s a book by Terry Pratchett (seriously – if you haven’t read any of his books and you like to laugh, read some) which deals, among other things, with the dance between Summer and Winter and the inevitable changing of the seasons. Personally I feel that, given how sluggish she was arriving this year, Summer could have held on a little longer. Just saying.

In another ironic twist, we had spent the weekend planning a family ski trip which I’m hoping might partly make up for the fact that we can’t go to England this Christmas.  Yes, we start talking about skiing, and hey presto, it snows! Very fitting you might think, except that, sadly, the trip’s not likely to happen if we don’t get in another few weeks of landscaping. So the more old man winter taunts us with the prospect of skiing, the less likely it is that we’ll go. Now that’s cold!

Verdict? Anyone?

A Triumph of Technological Wizardry

For ages now I’ve been thinking that it would be nice to customize this blog.  Make it my own.

Well after months of forethought and planning I managed to gather my children and coerce them into posing for an ’emptying nest’ picture.  With varying degrees of co-operation.  The exhibitionist of the group was just happy to have a camera pointing at her and she skipped and waved on cue.  The boys, as you can tell, were slightly less enthusiastic, but they walked where they were told and for that I am extremely grateful.

Picking a new theme was a challenge, primarily because I couldn’t work out how to change the header image, but google came through for me and together we worked it out.

Here’s the result – and I would love to hear what you think of the new look.

A Crash Course in Defensive Driving

I wish my children would learn how to drive!

As an exemplary driver myself I’ve tried to set a good example.  I’ve tried to explain that even though their father laughs at me for driving like an old lady it’s actually called defensive driving and is probably the reason why I’ve never had a ticket (shall we count the tickets their father has had?  Oh, right … that would be too big a number for the human brain to comprehend).

The first lesson came earlier in the spring when Sunny Jim got driven into, as he turned left, by an oncoming vehicle running the now red light.  It wasn’t his fault, except that he should be smart enough to assume that everyone else on the road is going to be driving like a clueless moron (an assertion I stick to, and I’m not often disappointed).

Crashed car

Happily, this is not Sunny Jim’s car, but it’s an excellent  example of what happens when you trust anyone else on the road to behave like an even remotely intelligent/competent human being.

During the course of the summer, SJ bought himself a new car and Roxy got that car. As it’s now in the shop being fixed Roxy is driving my car, I’m driving hubby’s truck and hubby is driving one of the company trucks (it’s not a simple system but it seems to work).  All good so far, except that yesterday, while driving my car, Roxy rear-ended someone.

It really was the merest bump; no-one was hurt and you have to look very hard to find even a scratch on my bumber.  BUT seriously?  Does anyone else see the irony of the fact that she only crashed my car because I had lent it to her while the other crashed car was in the bodyshop?

I think there’s a lot to be said for raising the minimum driving age to 32 … except that I’d still be Mummy Chauffeur, so maybe that’s not such a great idea.

Bittersweet

I haven’t blogged for a while for a multitude of reasons, the primary one being that I’m extremely easily distracted.  Yes, despite the fact that I’m as passionate about this blog as I am about any other hobbies/interests I might have, I find that entire weeks can go by without a word and without a qualm.  So after skipping all kinds of adventures, from Sunny Jim graduating, Hoss breaking his arm and Roxy coming home from  Vancouver for the summer, here’s what’s on my mind right now…

… the trouble with teenagers is that they think it’s perfectly acceptable to have their own lives.  I have a houseful of young people all expecting food to be readily available and laundry to be felicitously completed, but the amount of quality time they have to spare for their mother is negligible (ah yes, I remember the good old days when I was the one in charge of quality time).

So I planned a family trip to the farm and told everyone to be available on pain of death.  We used the farm as a recreational property when the children were younger and it’s where many of their fondest memories were created.  It was a place where we would meet up with the extended family and they would get to play with their cousins; until hubby planted trees there, and it became a place to go and work.  The appeal faded rapidly.

Well this weekend was to be work-free and I have looked with anticipation towards some relaxing family fun.

They say nothing stays the same and in some cases, it turns out, that can be a good thing.

I steeled myself on the morning of departure for three or four hours of shouting at everyone to pack, then having to repack for them because they failed to take anything even remotely practical.

I prepared myself for their complete failure to comprehend that sitting comatose in front of the television is infuriatingly unhelpful when we’re trying to get away.

I braced myself for the sudden flurry of activity when it’s time to leave and they realize that: they didn’t have any breakfast and they’re starving; they forgot to pack videos for the drive; they didn’t charge their cellphones and can’t go anywhere with a potentially depleting battery; and so on.

Well, glory be!  At the time of departure they all plodded out with their packed bags and got into the car without even a grumble.  There was no arguing over who would have to sit in the middle because Roxy had very cleverly decided to bring her boyfriend, necessitating a second vehicle.  They all arrived with any necessary entertainments for the trip and didn’t even complain when they had to wait half an hour for food.

I’m happy to report that the weekend was a little slice of heaven.  The weather was fantastic and  it was all family harmony the whole time we were away. There was no whining or arguing; there were no calamities or disasters and I didn’t once want to throttle anyone!  Good times.

Grandma and Grandpa joined us, but unfortunately most of the extended family couldn’t come because, due to Roxy’s scheduling restrictions at her dinner theatre job, our ‘weekend’ was actually a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.  But the children’s cousin did come out and he was a great addition to the group, as was Roxy’s boyfriend.

And that’s all good you might think, but it does drive home how rare those moments together are now, and how they are only going to become increasingly infrequent.

We’re home now and Roxy is already at work, and SJ has gone to visit a friend.  It’s a good thing I took lots of photos to remind me that I did successfully corral them and keep them gathered for a few short days.