Anchor-age, Not the Alaskan Kind

Five years ago, I went through a set of circumstances similar to what I’ve had to navigate through this year. A year later I had some small moments of reflection that I see are as relevant now as they were then. I can’t help feeling that most of us are at that place now. So, here’s a re-tread of those thoughts. Hiy hiy for this indulgence.

Grounders

Sooo, did I hear you type the word, cookie?

No matter what kind of curve ball life throws, even those 359 degree ones, there are two things that demand focus in any way they can get it – cookies and bacon.

Okay yes, I’m kidding… it’s whatever requires you to be relevant. In my case, those anchors just happen to be fairly typical – children and animals, not necessarily in that order…and thank you sweet, Geezus for typical anchors.

They see me at my best, and my worst – which they generally run away from – fast, usually to retain the emergency services of a stylist or a good martini mixer, but even so, they will love me again within minutes. If only that were true of the rest of the world…

They do see me cry and rail at times because I don’t often try to shield them from those moments because life is also an awful lot about ‘shite happens’.

My last few posts have reflected some recent hard knocks and I expect I will write in and around those events for a little while too.  Writing  is a critical component of healing for me, as much as talking things out with my son is needed to help his understandings.

We’ll go over what’s happening to whatever appropriate extent and then, what it’s going to take to  cope and keep moving. My Jack seems to understand that, so he pretty much behaves accordingly – he’ll lick my face, then throw a paw at it for priorities – which incidentally are the same as my son’s – cookies and bacon.

My son, on the other hand, seems to have grown some pretty thoughtful insight for his age, which he occasionally jolts me with. He reminds that a laugh is good medicine or that I am forgetting to see my own value, regardless of anyone else’s assessment, and that he’s willing to stand up for me to anyone. It’s those moments that remind me that no matter how hard I’ve been hit by the challenges of life,  underneath and overall, I have done some things right.

I’d like to think that I’ve mostly lived for the greater good.  I’d like to know that I didn’t live in my own head as much as, or more than, contributing meaningfully to community. I hope that no matter what happens, most will remember me for living, giving, and seeing the worthwhile. I’d like to believe this is true for most of us.

At the end of the day, no matter what kind of day, I hope I will have earned the right to my own share of cookies and bacon.  And poutine. God, I really love that stuff, way too much.

RL

What Did You #%&*@* Say?

So, I was reminded not too long ago that my predilection for profanity was especially evident lately. Lately? Where hath these innocents been?

Yes, OK, I have a mouth and it’s pretty potty at times, but I believe I’ve earned it honestly. I’m sorry, but I cannot apologize for it.  According to even more recent studies than the ones that said swearing helps with pain, they now say my kind of swearing indicates genius level intelligence too.  I wouldn’t lie about that…. I’d swear to it….

So, in that vein, I (re)present an updated story I published a few years ago about passing the gift down…

For about a millennium now it’s been said that kids say the damnedest darnedest things. I know this truth first-hand and I’ve kept a journal to capture a good number of eyebrow raising, head scratching and -are you for real- statements that my son has spouted since he started spouting.

I always encouraged free and open speech with him and I’ve always adored hearing what comes out of that new and unfettered brain.  The only thing I’ve forbidden is swearing.  It’s not that I’ve pretended that swearing doesn’t happen; we’re all aware of its worldwide domination, thus he’s heard such a word or two in the homeland.

He had attempted to copy those words, but only once, (that I know of), OK, technically twice, but the second time was just a noun change.  It happened when he was two and a half.  We were on holiday and his dad was desperately searching our vehicle for the camera before the beautiful tall ships we were watching passed by.  While he was frantically throwing items left and right, he yelped, “Where’s my f*#kin’ camera”?

A couple of hours later, on our way home, I noticed my son frantically looking left and right.  I asked him what was wrong and he plaintively asked, “Where’s my f*#kin’ camera”? To be fair, his toy camera did, in fact, appear to be a missing casualty of his father’s earlier desperation.

About two weeks later we were playing tea party and he came out of his room with most of his supplies except one.  With hand on hip and grave consternation, he spoke. “Where’s my f*#kin’ teapot”?  We had a little chat and I have to say he’s been pretty good at finding alternative words of satisfaction ever since.

Actually, he would eventually become a little too efficiently aware; he grew into the Soup Nazi of potty-mouth alternatives. Our self-proclaimed lord of language decency worked his moral indignance to a level that drove me to drinkHe deployed a ‘swear jar’, a wretched vessel of confiscated loonies for every swear word he caught, thereby generously cutting into my own happy hour funding. Which also had me questioning my study-confirmed intelligence for having agreed to this insanity.

So, yes,  I can swear like a drunken sailor.  Actually, I feel that analogy is an insult; I’m certain my stupendous ability could teach a sailor a thing or two.  Lest you accuse me of hypocrisy, I look at it like being an artist of abstract art who had to first prove that she can paint a real-life landscape before delving into free-flow style. My swearing is not a replacement for regular speaking skill, just occasional, as required, colorful enhancement.  Certainly some days need more color than others.

Also, as a public service announcement, there have been recent studies that state hollering four letter words helps to alleviate pain. Think about that the next time you hammer your finger.  No really, look it up.

swearing hammer guy

OK, back to my son.  What I’ve always told him is profanity is adult language; he’s free to swear when he is 18 or paying the bills, whichever comes first, (not gonna lie – secretly hoping it’s paying the bills).

No, I don’t really believe he will never swear again before he turns 18, but I’m pretty sure he’ll have learned to speak several appropriate adjectives first. After that, if he wants to add a little color now and then, fine, but more importantly, maybe then I can earn some #*@kin’ coins back.

RL

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Big Troubles and a Fence

Being bullied as a kid feels like you’re walking out into a dangerous field that’s surrounded by a big fence electrified by fear. I remember this from when I was nine years old. I’ll always remember because no one forgets their encounters with bullies, ever.

playground 1For whatever reason, in grade four I caught the eye of our school bully. His name was Shane and although we were in the same grade, he was almost a head taller than me. I suppose it’s not surprising that a bully might have sought me out; I was one of the smallest in our class. I’m sure he felt confident I was one of the weakest.

Shane would look for opportunities to push me around and because he was so much bigger than me, it didn’t take much of a push from him to knock me down. He would generally follow that up with slapping me and threatening worse after school. There weren’t many options for me after school, it was either run like hell for home, try to hide behind people as they were walking, or just take the beating while trying to fend off too much damage. Teachers weren’t much involved outside of class in those days and my parents were otherwise occupied with the drama of their own lives.

One Saturday I was heading over to a friend’s a few blocks from home. I had a temporary shortcut because a house between my street and hers had been torn down and I could cut through the now open yard. The only impediment was a fence in the back that I could climb over at the alley.

I started to walk across the yard, but suddenly a shadow caught my eye. Shane stepped out from behind some building debris that I’d just walked by. His face was sheer glee at having me cornered and alone. My mind took in the entire scenario in about eleven seconds. I knew exactly what was in store.

My heart dropped as I watched him slowly stepping toward me with the promise of pure menace. Within those eleven seconds, I figured my only options to get away were to run back by him or run for the fence. As my panic escalated with his every step, it felt like I couldn’t move my feet anyway. I knew I had reached the point of no return.

He got closer and as he raised his hand, instinct took over. I closed my eyes and I ran toward him. Hard. His head being higher than mine was providence; it turned out it was the perfect height for my hands to reach his face, which I blindly pummeled with my fists. Hard and fast.

I heard a cry. I opened my eyes and saw that Shane had stepped back from me. He was holding his nose and just staring at me. Then he took his hands down and looked at them. They were covered in blood. He couldn’t see it, but so was his face as the bleeding from his nose dripped steadily down his chin. We stared at each other equally stunned.

Then he brought his hands back up to his nose and started crying. I took this as my cue to head for the fence. At the same time I started to move, so did he, but the other way, for home I presume.

My body was unbeaten, but the adrenaline continued to stream throughout it. I didn’t bother running to the fence, but I’m pretty sure I scaled it like a parkour athlete.  I was safe and I would remain safe.  Shane never bothered to come near me again.

 I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a life changing event.  It wasn’t just that I was able to defend myself, no matter the miracle was unplanned. It was because it was the first time I was consciously aware that I did something I had no idea I could.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the last time I would encounter bullies in my life, but sometimes, when I do come up on the short end of the stick in those meetings, I remember that sweet, sweet time I kicked ass. Like a boss.

 RL

Educate, Not Dominate

(Warning:  usage of full racial epithets in this opinion piece, because I don’t believe one is more important or blatant than the rest in this point of view).
 

Our truths are largely based on what side of a fence we grew up on. One side, one truth is largely equal to merely indoctrination as education, and this is not restricted to religion.  It’s about everything we grew up to believe about the world.

Education is not about only learning more about our side of the fence, it’s supposed to be learning about all the other fences too, or as many as we’re able.  This should be a lifelong effort, and if not, why not?

Education has always been key in resolving conflict and ignorance of intents.  The process gets all muddled up with the yeah buts, if you knew what he/she did, we need this or we need that.

So what’s really needed?  What is really needed to live ably and in relative comfort?  The big questions are, what is worth killing children for?  What is worth demeaning their value as people?

What’s worth a walk up to a child and looking her in the eyes to  call her dirty, a camel jacker, a nigger, a redskin, a chink, a honky, or any other of the demeaning terms we need to make up to dehumanize another person?   Nothing?  Thank the Universe you have not descended into madness.  Yet.

Childrens eyes 2I say ‘yet’ because I wonder how many people wouldn’t be able to do that, but do remark loudly and viciously about the lowness of those children’s parents when in disagreement. These are most noticeable in the comment sections of news stories like those about children dying in the Middle East, resources on someones land, or for the change of an American football team name.

Would these same people kneel down to this child and look her in the eyes and tell her that the purpose of their gain is worth her loss of worth or life?  We know there are some who will, and have.  They have become madness embodied.

This is what’s meant to be feared.  They say they do this on behalf of all the people, their people, and unbelievably, they are believed.   What fear is the madness based in?  Loss?   What fear of loss is so great that it’s worth dehumanizing or killing a child over?

That madness spreads like dust, but dust can be cleaned away.  How do we stop the advent of madmen?  We educate all of our children now.  We all have to stop, whenever it’s made possible, to ask if we’ve truly made an effort to look over the top of our fences.  Have we really searched for the reasons behind our fears and anger about something, or most importantly, someone?

If not, why not? It’s never been easier.

RL

 

 

What Did You #%&*@* Say?

For about a millennium now it’s been said that kids say the darnedest things. I know this truth first-hand and I’ve kept a journal to capture a good number of eyebrow-raising, head-scratching and are-you-for-real statements that my son has spouted since he started spouting.

I’ve always encouraged free and open speech with him.  I adore hearing what comes out of that new and unfettered brain.  The only thing I have forbidden him to say is profanity. It’s not that I’ve pretended that swearing doesn’t happen; we’re all aware of its worldwide domination, thus he has in fact heard such a word or two in the homeland.  

He has attempted to copy those words, but only once, (that I know of), OK, technically twice, but the second time was just a noun change.  These happened when he was two and a half.  We were on holiday and his dad was desperately searching our vehicle for the camera before the beautiful tall ships we were watching passed by.  While he was frantically throwing items left and right, he yelped, “Where’s my f*#kin’ camera”?  On our way home a couple of hours later, I noticed my son looking left and right.  I asked him what was wrong and he asked, “Where’s my f*#kin’ camera”?  To be fair, his toy camera did, in fact, appear to be a casualty of his father’s earlier desperation.  

About two weeks later we were playing tea party and he came out of his room with most of his supplies except one.  With hand on hip and grave consternation, he spoke. “Where’s my f*#kin’ teapot”?  We had a little chat, and with a couple of follow-up check-ups, I have to say he’s been pretty good at finding alternative adverbs and adjectives ever since.

Actually, he became the Soup Nazi of swearing alternatives. This self-proclaimed lord of household language decency sometimes works his moral indignancy to a level that merits a good grounding.  He believes he should be the decider of whether or not I’ve been appropriate in my usage. He also thinks that I’m not aware of just how much he is collecting in his swear jar, (the wretched vessel of confiscated loonies for every swear word caught).  It has got to hold enough coin for the coveted MacBook by now.  You’d think he’d lay off for a day.

Yes, OK,  I can swear like a truck driver.  Actually, I feel that analogy is an insult; I’m certain my stupendous ability could teach a truck driver a thing or two.  I look at it like being an artist of abstract art who had to first prove that she can paint a real-life landscape before delving into free-flow style. My swearing is not a replacement for regular speaking skill, just occasional, as required, colorful enhancement.  Certainly some days may need more color than others. 

Also, as a public service announcement, I’m pretty sure I heard about a recent study that said four letter words help to alleviate pain. Think about that the next time you hammer your finger.  No really, look it up.

swearing hammer guy

OK, back to my son.  What I’ve always told him is that this is adult language; he is free to swear when he is 18 or paying the bills, whichever comes first.  No, I don’t really believe that he will never say a swear word again before he turns 18, but I’m pretty sure that he will have learned how to speak ‘real-life’ fluidly first.  After that, if he wants to add a little color now and then, fine, but more importantly, maybe then I can earn some #*@kin’ coins back.

RL