Tag Archives: family

I Will Never Be Mother-of-the-Year – Like Ever!

A few weeks ago, I was out with some work colleagues at one of our favourite restaurants celebrating the retirement of one of our own, a man I’ve worked with since I first started as a wet-behind-the-ears magazine editor at the tender age of 28.

Sigh – I can still remember back to when I was 28 and drove a black, two-door, sporty-looking car rather than a honking huge minivan – but I digress.

I had a car just like this one. It even had the fancy bra and everything. God it was a piece of shit but it had two-doors.

I had a car just like this one. It even had the fancy bra and everything. God it was a piece of shit but it had two-doors.

Anyway, our buddy was pumping back the drinks and we were having a good time when one of the women in the group brought up the subject of her children. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve figured this out yet or not, but I’m a bit of a smart-ass. Actually, I’m a big fucking smart-ass. So, when people start telling me about their wonderful, angelic, gorgeous children, I usually start talking about what little shits my two Goobers are. Not because they actually are – hell, all kids have their projectile-vomiting-pea-soup-Exorcist moments – but because I like to interject a little bit of reality into these types of conversations. My ad manager usually plays along, agreeing with me about my Goobers’ horrid behavior (she should know, she’s actually babysat them).

So, I’m joking about my Goobers when the co-worker sitting next to me – a man – states: “I guess you’re never going to be Mother-of-the-Year.” I laughed, my response being: “Damn right!”

I will never, ever win on of these. But that's okay; it would just get dusty.

I will never, ever win one of these. But that’s okay; it would just get dusty.

Fast forward to this evening. Like most Wednesday’s, I am responsible for transporting my son to and from his Cub meeting – they’re currently in the middle of making their Kub-Kars so this is really important shit. As I back my huge honking minivan out of the driveway – which is currently a very narrow, single-lane plowed through deep snow – I veer off course slightly and end up driving up a snow bank. I have no problem getting the vehicle out – one of the actual benefits of driving a big honking minivan – but I joke to my Goober that I’m acting like I have just learned how to drive. His lightning quick response: “About fucking time!”

And then it hit me – like a tonne of bricks to the head – I sure as shit am never going to be Mother-of-the-Year because I’ve made one of my Goobers a carbon copy of me: a foul mouthed smart-ass.

Personally, I have no problem with my children swearing, as long as the word (or words) being used fits the situation, is meant in jest and is not hurtful to another person – the dog and cats are open season. I do have a BIG problem with the C-word and generally don’t go there, although my Goobers have informed me they hear it from other kids at school all the time.

It wasn’t the swearing that made me laugh with a slight hysterical edge. It was the realization that, by example, I have taught my son comedic timing and he will now be burdened with the need to make every situation – no matter how horrific, depressing or awkward – into a stand-up routine. And that sucks.

I can remember as a little kid, my mother coming home from work to find me sobbing, upset because kids at school were teasing and making fun of me. Her response – a la Singin’ in the Rain – was make ‘em laugh. So I did, using the one thing I already knew they thought was funny – myself. Rather than wait for the big bully of the schoolyard to call me a fucking pizza faced fat bitch with shit-for-brains, I would call myself that first. It was ingenious. Soon, I was known as that weird funny girl and treated with a certain amount of reverent respect because I wasn’t afraid to make other people laugh at my own expense.

Donald O'Connor and his famous Make 'em Laugh performance from Singin' in the Rain.

Donald O’Connor and his famous Make ’em Laugh performance from Singin’ in the Rain.

But – looking back on it as an adult – that particular method of dealing with bullies and uncomfortable social situations is a tricky tight-rope to walk. You have to be pretty sure of yourself and have a lot of confidence to repeatedly beat yourself up mentally for the big laugh. I was neither one of these and it was damaging. I certainly don’t blame my mother for this – she gave me the best advice she could at the time. But when it comes to my own Goobers, I’ve tried to steer clear of the make ‘em laugh approach, relying instead on the you’re-better-than-that, they’re-just-jealous, ignore-them philosophy.

But obviously, if my son is any example, some of that joker crap managed to seep its way through. And I’m to blame. For now, I’m going to watch to see what develops, how he chooses to use his comedic skills. Hopefully, he won’t turn down the self-deprecating route and I can provide him with some other pointers.

I will never, ever, ever be mother-of-the-year – like ever. But I can always hope for smart-ass-of-the-year!

SmartAss

Remembering a friend

My family lost a close and very dear friend back in February 2007. I think about him everyday. Back when it happened, I even wrote an editorial for one of my magazines about him. My publisher at the time pulled the editorial. He told me no one really cared about happenings in my own life. I disagreed, believing my readers  – mostly farmers – would be able to relate. Even so, I caved and wrote something “more suitable.”

I’ve saved that editorial all these years and I’ve decided to publish it here. The Genius once read it at a Toastmaster’s meeting – all the women cried. So be prepared.

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My family lost a close and very dear friend recently.

My children had known him their entire lives, my husband for the past nine years or so, and I had been close to him (and he to me) for his entire life.

He was a joker and a free spirit who loved everyone. And everyone loved him right back. He was also the kind of friend you could rely on. When life was tough, he’d be there to talk with and lend a shoulder to cry on. He had a rough side, too. He was a risk taker, an explorer with an enthusiasm for life. We used to joke he’d probably die in mid-stride, on route to a new adventure.

Cancer got him in the end; his body shivering with pain, his breathing laboured.

His name was Jasper – Crystal Creek’s Jasper Jynx to be exact. He was my dog and, simply put, one of my very best friends.

Jasper as a puppy.

Jasper as a puppy.

Jasper entered my life 12-plus years ago, a headstrong liver and white coloured English Springer Spaniel puppy who cried and whimpered almost non-stop for the first two weeks he lived with me. I almost took him back to the breeder I had bought him from. But I persevered and he soon settled down.

If he could be described in one word, I think it would be exuberant – nothing got that crazy dog down. Everyday was a new adventure, every step a new discovery. He was my constant companion. If I went to the store, he rode shotgun. He slept under the covers of my bed at night. And when I went for evening walks on my parent’s farm, he was 20 feet ahead of me. We would walk four miles a day, from one concession to the next and then along a side concession and back again. His flag of a tail was always in front of me, never behind, always urging me on.

When I met my husband, Jasper was there. He was part of my “dowry” (along with a Clydesdale-Saddlebred cross mare named Bobbi) and made the move to my new urban home. My husband, a city boy who had never had a pet dog (which seemed very odd to me at the time and still does), wasn’t very enthusiastic about his new, four-footed housemate. To his credit, he built Jasper a state-of-the art, fully electrified and insulated, heated doghouse (our friends used to joke that all it needed was a computer and Internet access). But the dog didn’t use it for long. Soon, he was basking in the heat or air conditioning of the house. But never the bed – that’s where my husband drew the line.

A more mature Jasper.

A more mature Jasper.

Jasper and I just weren’t meant for city life. Eventually, my husband and I moved from our cramped city home to a small farm in the country. We hadn’t been in our farmhouse a month before Jasper started cleaning up the new neighbourhood, rousting both an opossum and raccoon family out of our barn and killing a fox.

Nothing gave him more pleasure than to chase barn cats and wild rabbits. The strange thing was, he was always good with the pet rabbits. We once had a massive rabbit break-out – the bunny equivalent of The Great Escape – and it was Jasper who caught them all, one at a time, dropping them at our feet unscathed, with only a few damp hairs and very hurt prides.

When the children came, Jasper was there. He wasn’t sure what to make of them. They smelled interesting but made a lot of noise, especially when he tried to clean their ears. They also didn’t move out of his way. But my husband and I seemed to like the babies so he put up with them. He never growled or snarled when his ears or tail were pulled. He followed the avoidance philosophy – if one of the little critters was bothering him, he’d just get up and leave.

Alex was very gifted at cleaning children's faces. Not all the children enjoyed this.

Jasper was very gifted at cleaning children’s faces. Not all the children enjoyed this.

Unfortunately, the kids grew up and became faster. I had difficulty explaining to my tear-stained little boy that Jasper wasn’t meant for riding. My daughter was convinced for the longest time the dog was really her brother. Both kids were also fond of pretending Jasper was their long-lost mother. I hadn’t the heart or the ability to make them understand the dog was actually a male – a neutered male at that. Jasper would roll his eyes and try to keep one step ahead of them as they crawled after him, yipping like puppies.

My daughter thought she was related to Jasper for the longest time. She thought he was her brother.

My daughter was convinced she was related to Jasper for the longest time. She thought he was her brother.

This past Halloween, my daughter insisted the dog dress as a skeleton, complete with glow-in-the-dark bones. It wasn’t long after that he actually began to resemble his Halloween self, the flesh melting from him. His sleek physique and shiny fur disappeared. We tried changing dog food, thinking perhaps his teeth couldn’t handle the crunchy kibble anymore. We tried soft food and soon shifted to canned. He lost weight while his stomach ballooned.

A visit to the vet before Christmas ended in tears. Tumours were growing near Jasper’s liver and spleen. He hadn’t long to live. We gave him the best Christmas ever, complete with liver pate and shrimp. He had a wagon ride to the bush to chase squirrels and bunnies. He ate ravioli and cheeseburgers everyday. And for the last week of his life, he slept on our bed, between my husband and I.

He’s buried along the windbreak just to the west of our house. We wrapped him in a blanket and buried him with his favourite stuffed toy, Clancy. The kids each said goodbye through their tears and my husband, the man who never had a pet dog, wept.

We look for Jasper everyday, forgetting he’s gone. The children are rallying for a new dog and we’ll probably get one in the spring.
But for now, we remember and honour our dear friend – Jasper.

As an update, we did get a new dog in March 2007. Her name is Jorja (pronounced Georgia), Spring Knight’s Jorja on My Mind to be exact. She too is an English Springer Spaniel but so different from our darling Jazzy. She is quieter, more sedate, steadier and less intelligent. But I love her to death and she loves me – as it should be. She sleeps beside my bed every night and follows me everywhere I go. She loves to lie on the bathroom mat when I have a bath and goes camping with us every summer.

The other half of my “dowry” – my horse Bobbi – joined Jasper along the windbreak in the summer of 2010. This is a sacred space to us now; it is not mown and the grass and weeds grow waist high there every summer. They would both like that – Jasper could hunt for mice and Bobbi could pull mouthfuls of grass. Heaven.