The (unexpected) joys of travel???

Travel can bring out the best (and worst) in people.  It can be stressful trying to get from point A to point B which is unfortunate because it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow.  With the airline industry being what it is these days, unless you’re in an opulent, first-class suite on Emirates Airlines (dare to dream!) expectations for air travel are typically quite low and the attitude is certainly one of:  to it and through it! 

Air travel is fraught with perils of all things negative; at every turn chances are high that in one fell swoop you feel what’s like to be on an island in the South Pacific fighting in a multi-round elimination challenge to “win immunity” – or in this case, to board the plane, find room to stow all of your belongings, claim your armrest and get to your destination.

From packing the trunk with overstuffed suitcases (including the extra one that had to be brought along due to the weight allowances which were only discovered the night before), to the unpredictable traffic en route, to the ridiculously long lineup for bag tags (despite the fact that care and effort were taken to print boarding passes the night before), the dreaded security line (which, has much improved since the days of trying to juggle holding a finally sleeping infant, collapsing a stroller, and removing shoes all in one go while fending off glares of other passengers) and finally to the gate, onto the plane and into the “ever-so-coveted” **full blown sarcasm here** middle seat – the mode of travel for the foreseeable future as the windows are coveted by the 3 or 7 year olds and who can survive a tantrum in closed quarters? 

Suffice it to say, gone are the days when Mr. Niceguy and I could spontaneously take off with merely a carry-on between us, drinks at hand.

I practically grew up on airplanes.  Thanks to my dad’s career which took him to Saudi Arabia for nearly a decade, we spent much of our vacation times and certainly all of our summers, jet-setting (totally privileged!) making my sister and me expert travelers.  Air travel back then was also much more glamorous and much simpler – at least that’s how I’m going to choose to remember it…

Catch me if you can

Bitten by the travel bug and sprinkled with a dash of wanderlust (together with my commitment phobic tendencies) to me, there is nothing more exciting than going somewhere new and immersing myself – ok, not just anywhere but places where I can shop, lounge on a beach, shop, check out historic ruins, shop, pick up a new language, shop…you get the idea?  I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the West Coast.  I braved March Break madness and took a flight to visit my sister and her family in Vancouver – Mr. Niceguy, 7 year old and 3 year old all in tow.

Having forgotten what it was like to travel during March Break (this not working thing is still new!), I was not expecting the chaos at the airport that comes with school holidays.

Boarding passes in hand, we made our way to the bag drop off and just when I thought things were going well, while getting some assistance from an airline attendant, a woman bud in front of the 7 year old and 3 year old who, diverted by all the excitement had left a large gap in front of us.  This woman just sauntered into line not minding that an agent of official capacity was speaking to us, not caring that she cut in front of the 50 or so other passengers who were patiently waiting, and certainly not at all concerned that she took advantage of my children!

I will not profess to be cool headed – those who know me or who have read my entries in the past know my longing to be a flighty, cool, hipster chick that lets things roll but alas, I have failed miserably.  Being Armenian, I have a predisposition to the “Armenian temper” and 0 to 60 and back down to 0 is something I can do in a split second.  However, this time, I stayed at 60…ok, 100.  See, this woman took advantage of my children who were surprised to be overtaken; she also took advantage of me and of all the other rule abiders.  She hijacked my travel experience!  I felt my eyes alight, my body temperature rise and I was poised for a fight and when she next paused, like a Maserati Gran Turismo, I maneuvered my cart and we overtook her but not without adding in my shy anger (the kind when you’re about to have a confrontation but can’t look the other party in the face because you really wish you weren’t having this confrontation but you will forever regret that you let yourself be a doormat), “you budded” ever so quietly lest the extremely proper and non-confrontational Mr. Niceguy hear.

She had the nerve to respond loudly, “well, we’re all going in the same direction anyway.”  WHA?I  My instinct took over, my inner struggle subsided and I just scoffed, “Ya, that’s right” and boy was I proud of myself…Mr. Niceguy was proud of me too, having witnessed the whole thing.  I felt so grand and dignified…and surely, this was magnified (and validated) by the fact that I was about to be bumped into the fast security line legitimately

Quick, boots off, lap top out, cell phone, pockets emptied, belt whipped off, push children through the checkpoint, get through checkpoint, boots on, repack bag, snatch children’s hands from conveyor, grab phone, beg children to stop trying to climb up on conveyor, fill pockets, yell at children in front of masses to take seats at far end where I can keep an eye on them, whip belt back on as pants now starting to fall, and no one, I repeat, no one, needs to see my favourite, comfy, “wedgie-proof-travel-undies”, glare at children while I walk over counting to 10 in my head taking long, measured breaths and reminding myself that it’s all about the journey…

As I said, for me the excitement of boarding a plane trumps just about anything.  Forget about the budding lady or the fact that my children were totally out of control, I had the golden ticket:  passes to the Air Canada lounge…this trip was about to get a whole lot more decadent…

After all my years of corporate travel (and only two or three visits to the lounge thanks in large part to budget cuts and middle management) I, nay, WE had arrived.  I was worried about how disruptive the 7 year old and 3 year old were going to be…but perhaps I should’ve been more worried about me.  I couldn’t believe my eyes:  eggs, bacon, waffles, fruit, fancy yoghurt, exotic juices, mouthwatering pastries, and specialty coffees to my heart’s content.  All of a sudden 4 hours of sleep and waking at the crack of dawn didn’t matter.  Croissant dangling in mouth, latte in hand, I got to the magazine table:  Cars, business, fashion – I didn’t have to choose, I grabbed them all!  My troubles melted away….my cares melted away…my fear of having to sit next to the 3 year old for 5.5 hours melted away…like I said, we’d arrived…I could almost imagine being in that Emirates Air suite…

emirate suite

But how long do those kinds of sentiments really last when you’re travelling by air?

We got on the plane and to our happy surprise, were well accommodated. And despite the fact that I once again found myself squished in the old, reliable middle seat, my neighbor was extremely kind and helpful.  I tend to conserve energy on flights with the 3 year old (you have to be ready for the 8 minute circuit:  change dvd, go to washroom, change movie on screen, get something to eat, open window cover, close window cover, turn volume up, adjust headset, adjust air, change dvd again, go to washroom again to finish what was left unfinished…you get the drill) but my neighbor was so great that I partook in some light conversation, shared my Goldfish crackers, and even threw in a few jokes for good measure!

What happened next, however, came completely out of the blue.  After a (typical) seat mix-up that took the airline some time to sort out, a woman took the seat in front of the 3 year old.  She had barely occupied her exit row seat with ample leg room for more than a minute when she stood up, turned around, looked at my 3 year old and said, “Now you make sure not to kick my chair.  I don’t like that.” 

If I asked what you thought of this woman, what would you say?  How would you take that?  Would you wonder why she spoke directly to the 3 year old?  Would you ask about the tone in which she made that statement?  Certainly, you may wonder about your own state of mind at the time which would affect your perception when she uttered those words.  Like if you were feeling particularly upbeat after a visit to the VIP lounge, would you take it well?  Either way, you have by now probably imagined what she looked like and perceived what she meant…

I was surprised.  Up to that point, the 3 year old had been an angel (the 8 minute circuits had not yet begun).  The plane hadn’t even taken off yet – no cross check, no safety movie, nothing.  Yet, this woman felt the need to make this statement.  Regardless of whether she was a sweet, lovely woman with a kind face – what happened next was even more surprising.  The entire 5 rows behind her on both sides of the plane had witnessed the event.  Had witnessed this tall, cratchity and grey woman with small, evil and squinty eyes, and a tone that was not quite sweet but stern, make this statement.  She became vilified.  All of those passengers condemned her.  And sadly for her, the occurrence was exaggerated,

“Did you hear what that @#$%^ said?  To that poor little boy?  His feet probably don’t even touch the chair!” 

“That evil woman wagged her finger and said that she would be very disappointed in that poor, little baby boy if he makes a single sound!”

“Wow, what’s wrong with that woman?  Some people are just crazy!”

I actually started to feel bad for this woman.  Unlike the woman who budded in line, in this situation I had 5 rows of people come to my defense – actually, to the 3 year old’s defense.  That felt really good.  What felt even better was the reaffirmation that sometimes keeping cool and maintaining my composure is of greater benefit than losing my @#$%!

In this woman’s case, however, I think had she looked differently or approached things with a little smile, she probably would not have been labelled as such.  Also, had she tried to not intimidate but rather, to request, no defense would have been required and her personal brand would likely not have been tarnished.  Never one to pass up an opportunity, after the initial shock subsided I decided to remain magnanimous and instead highlight discipline, “That lady is going to get mad at you if you don’t behave.”  But I think the 3 year old had learned that “preventative maintenance” would not work having picked up on the fact that the tall, cratchity lady had no credence and there were 5 rows of passengers who would back him up no matter what.  So started the 8 minute circuits…

I won’t go into the details of how I survived the rest of that plane ride…but survive is what I did.  So it should come as no surprise that my initial thoughts are also reinforced:  travel, the opportunity to learn and grow, to see human nature at its best – and worst!  Thankfully, I had a belly full of yummy pastries to get me through it and maybe, just maybe, someday I will make it to that Emirates suite…

kidsonairplane

Photo  was taken by Ma1974 on flickr

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Coming out of the dark…

‘Coming out of the dark’ was the title I gave the first chapter of a book I started to write nearly 8 or 9 years ago…I only got about half a page down when I abandoned the idea.  Perhaps it’s in the cards for me still…

There are (many) days when I wake up and think to myself, how am I going to get everything done?  I have a list that’s at least as long as my driveway (the longest in the City of Toronto – just saying, not actually…or perhaps?) and I’m just not sure where – or how – to begin.  This is a conundrum.  For example, writing this very entry is on that driveway-long-list, and I haven’t even really decided what I will write about.

Should it be about the fact that I’m sitting at my desk for the fifth-to-last time?  And that the lights in my office keep flickering on and off like torture – I’m sure to get a headache from all the flickering which really won’t be fair as the Bachelor is on tonight and I swear I’m going to lose it if he says, just one more time, to a blubbering girl with his Spanish accent, “Look at me.  Pliss.  Look at me.  Me.  Yes.  Look.  I no wanna see you cry.  That hurt me.  Pliss.  Don cry.”  The headache will just make me want to whip off my slipper and toss it at the TV screen…the TV screen that is, in just a few days, going to be my lifeline to civilization.

clare-the-bachelor-crying-juan-pablo

Come to think of it, tossing that slipper won’t be so bad considering that every time I wear those slippers, I get little electrical shocks when I open a drawer/hug my 3 year old/reach out for a napkin you name it!  I mean, last night I spent a good 10 minutes that I don’t have Googling, “What to do when there’s too much static electricity in the house” and “How to train yourself to become immune to static electricity” and finally “Harnessing the power of static electricity.”  After all, on any given day there is an energy crisis and quite frankly, since we’ve looked into alternative sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, why not static electricity?

If an entire monster town can be powered by a child’s screams or laughter, then why not think about static electricity?

Incidentally, I did read about an attempt to charge a cellphone with static electricity…

Ridiculous.  About as ridiculous as this flickering light…which has now stopped flickering.  And so I’m sitting in the dark, in my inner office with a view of three walls and a hallway…who actually thought that this kind of muted taupe-grey and faux wood would actually promote productivity?  I am at least fortunate enough to have a mildly interesting print hanging on the wall of the ocean…at least I’ve always thought it was an ocean…or is it a lake?  Perhaps it’s just a puddle…I don’t know.  But now that I look at it, all it is, is a series of more shades of taupe and grey.  Hummpphh.

I wonder if it’s grey outside…perhaps a quick glance out the window…right…just another wall.  No matter, what I do know, is that it’s cold.  Cold and windy.  On a more positive note, over lunch I thought it would be a good idea to shop for a bathing suit cover-all…I’m really willing the warm weather to return…HAAAAAAAAAPSHOOOOOOOOO!!!!  What was that?  HAAAAAAPSHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Oh no!  A sneeze!  Two!  I knew it!  This morning on the subway a young buck-wishes-himself-next-titan-of-industry (aka a man who fancies himself a highly important corporate person) was sucking on a cough lozenge and I must have caught this cold from him!  He kept breathing on me and I could smell his cough lozenge and it drove me crazy the way he kept rolling that huge lozenge in his mouth for EIGHT subway stops such that I could hear it clicking and clanking against his teeth – I wanted to shrink and just disappear – oh my skin is crawling just thinking about it…

WHY IS THE LIGHT STILL OFF????  DID MY GLOBAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM FORGET TO PAY THE BILL????  Sheesh.  Must be because I resigned…YES!  I resigned.  About a month ago (I was nice and sweet and gave a month’s notice in order to transition properly and because, well, it seemed like the thing to do given I’ve been here for over a decade.)  But seriously…would I really be singled out like that?  And the thing is…it’s not like I’m just sitting here writing this entry.  No.  I’ve had some very important work to do all morning – and it’s all happened in the dark.  Ironic.  I have to smile.  I’ve often wondered if a lot of the time while doing my job here I was “in the dark” – be it the dark side or really “in the dark” and not realizing that there was so much more out there for someone like me…

Weird…the light just went on.  Like a light bulb in my brain.  And oddly enough, I’ve just tackled one more thing off my list…actually two (hint: this article and my little announcement). Time for something more.

Promise to provide a more “Spincycle-ish” entry next week…but then, this qualifies…doesn’t it?  Promises, promises…

In the dark

SCATTERBRAIN…if only for just one day…

I’m going to take a moment and date myself.  In 1989, Vachon (manufacturer of the pastry called “Flaky”) ran a commercial about a woman – a very scattered woman – that annoyed me to no end.  In those early teenage years I used to wonder how someone could be so scattered, so bewildered, and yes, flaky?  And now, in an ironic twist of fate, I AM HER!

There are days when it’s a wonder that I’ve managed to actually put myself together, get the kids to school with packed lunches and homework completed, and then myself to work.  How does one do it?  Autopilot mostly.  But this particular morning, my autopilot had a massive glitch and here’s what happened instead:

  • I forgot that I changed the station on my circa 1990’s alarm clock from the news to music in an effort to make my “reveille” much more civilized but though my intentions were good, all that resulted was that my dreams were set to great background ambience – in other words, I got up more than half an hour later than usual.
  • The 3 year old (almost 4) woke up with an extremely runny nose and I spent about 10 minutes trying to fish out…well, he calls them “burgers”…
  • The 7 year old remembered that he forgot to remind me YESTERDAY that Mondays are library days and since we’ve already lost one book, I thought it might be wise to spend a few seconds looking for the latest one borrowed before I end up funding an entirely new collection of books at the school library.  Only, it never actually takes a few seconds…AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
  • Just when I thought I was finally ready to leave, a quick final glance in the mirror and I found more greys in an already, severely damaged section of my head thanks to the trials and tribulations of PREGNANCY from which, after four years, my hair is STILL recovering (on most days, side parts are sadly, a thing of the past).
  • My skirt hem came undone, the plastic thingy at the bottom of my car door is on the verge of falling off, my so-called winter boots which do nothing to keep out the cold also proved that they are useless in keeping out the snow and my poor toes have transformed into pale, blue nubs at the end of my feet, and after taking three times longer than usual to drop off the kids at school, I realized I had left my laptop at home and would be adding another hour and a half to my morning commute.

These occurrences must be a sign of my frozen brain – the electrons are just not firing.  So quick, FIND WHITE, STARK, PADDED CELL.  Failing that, stay at home; only then can one be sure to avoid more mishap.  Besides, change of routine can be good, so today is work from home day.  I can be much, much more productive – no disruptions, no social coffee runs, no discussions of how the weekend was (which in my case was a bit of a bust so fortunately, no need to rehash) and no temptations for a heavy, calorie laden lunch (poutine, pasta, chicken pot-pie…it’s that kind of a day…)  No, I will stay at home, get all of my work done tout-suite, and have a very healthy lunch which will surely fuel my brain to produce some of the best work ever seen!

Right.  Laptop fired up.  Logged onto work network.  Ready to go.  But wait…it feels a little cool.  I’ll just go and put on a sweater.  Yay, love working from home.  No high heels, or suit jackets required.  Wow, it’s still really cold and the house temperature appears to be normal…oh no, am I going though perimenopause?  (I have an irrational fear of menopause and everything related to it – seriously, just the mere mention of it sends me straight to anxiety-ville) But wait, that’s hot flashes, not chills, that must mean…oh no, am I getting the 3 year old’s cold??  Ukh…

I can’t concentrate.  Maybe I just need to tidy up – clear work environment equals clear mind.  Done.  Now what?  Write report or do research?    Speaking of research…I still need to book that hotel in Whistler and check out a good Prosecco for a very dear friend…  No!  Must do work.  Must be productive.  A quick glance at the bottom right of the screen and I’m saved.  No wonder I can’t think…it’s almost lunchtime.  Yes, surely I’ll be more productive after some nourishment.

Oh.  My.  God.  I am full.  I think I just need a nice, warm cup of coffee to help me digest…

The distractions are everywhere…the excuses, limitless.  But I finally hankered down, got some work done, recommended a Prosecco or two and even checked out some hotel options, and the truth of the matter is that it did take a lot less time to get stuff done here, than it would have at the office.  So now, I’m going to take my annoying, flaky self, and do something I never have a chance to do on a regular work day…PLAY.  The sun has peaked out from behind the clouds, the snow looks soooo inviting and despite my soggy boots, I’ve just gotta get out there because before I know it, I’m going to have to leave my little padded cell and re-enter the real world.

Snow day

Thanksgiving…thanks goodness it’s over.*

Thanksgiving is not really a holiday I get all that excited about so I’m glad it’s behind me.  For starters, I am not a fan of turkey – whether cooked breast up or down, wrapped in bacon, stuffed with bread or rice, nuts and berries. It just seems like a wannabe Christmas…except it’s missing the best part, PRESENTS.

And Thanksgiving in Canada has nothing to do with the pilgrims in Massachusetts celebrating their first successful harvest and breaking bread with the Native Americans – so I always find it kind of odd when I see “pilgrim inspired” decorations – like the big black hats with gold buckles or historical pilgrim costumes. Pilgrim turkey

And finally, why turkey?  Why not something else all together different and more delicious, like a roast?  Or spaghetti?  Or roast and spaghetti?  Now that’s a fun and tasty meal.  I mean, were there really that many turkeys roaming about that someone thought, hey!  Now that’s a convenient meal?  After some digging, here’s what I found…

According to an article in Slate, turkeys have taken the centre stage as they were fresh, affordable and big enough to feed a crowd.  Furthermore, as cows and chickens were more useful alive and ham or pork wasn’t considered fit for special occasions, turkey became the choice by default, “because the birds could be slaughtered without a huge economic sacrifice.”  Seriously?  Poor turkey.  And they were cheaper (and apparently easier to deal with) than geese.  So these nice, sweet turkeys spend all of spring and summer eating insects and worms and grow to just the right size by Thanksgiving feast.  Well now, that’s enough for this girl to maintain the current status as non-turkey-tarian.

Regardless of the main dish though, I still always find a way to eat too much, lie flat on the ground and complain ad nauseam ad infinitum of a bellyache and turkey coma (despite the fact that I don’t eat the stuff), and pretend to be at least 4 or 5 months pregnant as I drunkenly (on food, not booze) waddle about waiting for dessert. But not this year.

The weekend started early for me as fortunately, I had a reprieve from work.  Though unfortunately for me, the boys also had a reprieve from school.  So after we kissed Mr. Niceguy goodbye (no reprieve for him which turned out to be the reprieve…my, how twisted the universe is sometimes…wait for it) boys and I decided to get dressed and ready to start our fun filled day of monitoring my computer should a work crisis arise and shopping for the ingredients of a fancy salad I had promised to bring.

And that’s when things unraveled.  Literally.  Moments after Mr. Niceguy’s departure (and seconds after my too short hot shower).  The 7 year old and 3 year old tore into my room, screaming with fits of laughter, all while I was trying to straighten my unruly hair…and that’s when I saw it.  Or should I say, them.  The 7 year old had a lump right in the middle of his forehead the size of a small quail egg.  It looked like it was the result of some sort of insect bite. And while examining him, the 3 year old came in for a look when I noticed that he had a lump the size of a small chicken egg on his neck!  But no sign of a bite or any other sort of trauma.  What could it be? Meningitis?  Mumps?  Mono?

All plans on hold while we rushed to the doctor’s office.  I knew we were done for (along with our plans to go up North the next day) when the doctor came in and exclaimed, “Ugh.  What’s that?”  Not a good sign.  No.  Twenty minutes later, and the explanation that it would either go away on its own (with a little help of some antihistamines) or become the size of a tennis ball requiring hospitalization, we walked out of the office – them ecstatic to be leaving and me completely panic stricken.

And in that state, we accomplished two Thanksgiving dinners.  Two dinners complete with family that we hadn’t seen in such a long time.  Truly lovely, yes, but these meetings always seem to give rise to the sorts of conversations that involve me having to recall people, places and events encountered at a time when I don’t even think I was sentient!  Like, “remember when you were a baby and you would only drink milk after your mother would drop blue food colouring in it?”  True story.  My peculiar particularities started at an early age…but no, I can’t remember!  Or,

did you know, we found out we were pregnant with you just months after we were married when your dad took me to the doctor because I was constantly sick to my stomach!

Great.  A guilt trip on Thanksgiving…  And by the way, gross!  Didn’t a stork deliver me?

But I survived.  And fortunately for us, the lump went down the better path, and started a slow shrink to normal, all under the extremely watchful eye of Mr. Niceguy, who was so worried that he decided to camp at the foot of the 3 year old’s bed until he drifted to sleep.

So Thanksgiving, I’m glad you’ve passed.  But I haven’t forgotten what you stand for and so here goes:

I’m thankful that the chicken egg lump went away.  And the quail egg lump too.

I’m thankful that my illusion of a stork delivery was blown out of the water…the truth shall set you free.

I’m thankful that time with family brings out shared history – and whether I was there or not, recall it or not, it will get passed on and form part of my legacy…and to that end, I’m also thankful that Mr. Niceguy hasn’t run for the hills!

Finally, I’m thankful to have had the luxury of not just one, but two thanksgiving dinners full of too much food, too much laughter and too much love…I know it’s much more than some will ever have.

*Not a typo…just how my mom has always said thanks.  Like “Thanks God”.  I love you mom.  Thanks God for you!  And you too, dad!

Happy Thanksgiving

I want my cake…and I want to eat it too!

It’s Saturday evening and I got a night off of preparing dinner – although I did mix the salad and made the potatoes – Mr. Niceguy took care of the main on the barbecue. It was delicious and as full as I am, all I can think of is now is pushing all that glorious food from our fantastic meal down with some cake.  If it were not for the countless empty calories and extra fat, oh the pleasure of eating perfectly baked and iced fluffy, soft, spongy cake…yummm……

It’s not like I have a sweet tooth – but the idea of consuming something so delectable, so sweet, more of a treat and pure indulgence – well, it’s intoxicating.  In fact, so intoxicating, that it’s enough to forget about the price that must be paid for such decadence.

A French princess (and oftentimes, Marie Antoinette) supposedly said, “let them eat cake!” to the French peasantry, then suffering from a famine and with very little or no access to bread.  The ridiculousness of this statement was that cake, which requires eggs and butter, was scarcer still.  She was oblivious to her peoples’ predicament – and downplayed their suffering and the price of famine.  And for some reason, my mind always wanders to this when I hear, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Is it that same oblivion that makes me think that I can?  Like wanting more wisdom but to still remain blissfully ignorant…

Like wanting a promotion without putting in the effort, spending more time with my kids without risking my career, wanting a toned body without giving up on ketchup chips…and what happens when the cake is right there, staring right at you, and you just can’t have it?

The 3 year old has figured out how NOT to pay the price…with a scream that is so incredibly, ear piercingly, almost cause a car accident, loud!  Mr. Niceguy and I feel like hostages as soon as we’re subjected to it…it’s like someone is using mystical powers to make our brains explode within the confines of our skulls!  Excruciating!  But that’s his way of making sure that he gets to eat his proverbial cake.

My scream is not nearly as loud (and despite what Mr. Niceguy says when we’re in a fight, I AM NOT A TODDLER).  So I have to pay a price – akin to comforting a sweet, sick child and then paying by having a debilitating cold in the aftermath.  An odd example, true, but this comes to mind as earlier this morning when I escaped the insanity at home in an effort to grab a latte at the local coffee shop and pump my veins with some much needed caffeine, stood a sweet little girl right next to me, who probably just started back to school, coughing nonstop.  For a moment I felt so bad and tried to make her smile, but then her mom started coughing too and one dejected, miserable look from her told me that catching a bug for wanting to get out of the house and have some peace and quiet was NOT part of the bargain.

Ugh.  And now I’m caught in fantasy once again… I fantasize about what my life would be like had I taken an alternate path. Had I not had children, had I ignored Mr. Niceguy a little harder (let it be known here that HE pursued ME throughout our first year at graduate school and had it not been for his sweet temperament, sharp, witty mind, gorgeous face and washboard abs – yes I’m shallow – I may have resisted)?  What if I had decided not to go to MBA school at all and instead, followed my high school dreams?

My older cousin had a poster in her room of a really cool garage full of Ferraris.  And at 16 I wanted nothing more than to move to Malibu so that I could live in a beach house on the Pacific, with a Ferrari (or two) parked in the driveway.  I’d be surrounded by palm trees one if which would have a red surfboard with a yellow stripe down the middle leaning against it.  I would spend all of my days listening to the waves crash, looking for dolphins and surfing.  To fund my adventures, I would go into work for a couple of hours only each day as I’d be a $500-an-hour criminal lawyer and really, that’s all the money I would need.  THIS was MY fantasy.  Forget that I didn’t have a clue about what it meant to go to law school or for that matter, to get into law school and stay in law school (too much reading…yikes!)  Also, forget about the fact that I’d never surfed a day in my life…and still haven’t.  Blissful ignorance…

No matter.  Every girl, and I mean, everysinglegirl has a Plan B.  We’re smart that way.  My other path would’ve led me to Paris, the city of lights. A path that I pursued more seriously in my 20’s…  Ahhhhhh Paris….the city of romance, of art and fashion, architecture, music, food that’s incroyable, history, the center of times gone by and so on and so forth. And what girl does not dream of being whisked away by a Marcel, Olivier, Gaston or Jean Jacques?  Having grown up far away from where I am now, I was fortunate to have parents that valued learning multiple languages: by the age of 10 my ears were filled with Armenian, English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Today, sadly I am only 100% fluent in two. In any case it was a dream of mine to get an apartment off the Champs Élysées near the Georges V hotel, live off wine and cheese and simply fulfill one of my deepest desires to become totally fluent in not only the French language, but also the culture. I would tour around the French countryside as a French girl, let’s call her Estella, and before you judge it would work!  I have frequently been mistaken for French!

See, back in my 20’s, I traveled throughout Greece and Italy before going back to graduate school where, I was frequently mistaken for French – no idea why.  But imagine being mistaken for a French girl at a beach side bar FULL of Italians sporting face paint in Mykonos, during one of the key final FIFA world cup games between Italy and France?  Every time I got up from my seat to get a drink from the bar, I had to cross in front of all the die-hard fans and I would get the look of a million daggers.  I’ve never cheered as loudly for Italy in all my life as I did then, and when they lost I flew out of the bar as fast as my tanned legs could carry me!  Ever been around an angry mob of soccer fans??

Ahhhh…fantasies.  They all require some form of payment, some form of sacrifice.  And as vivid as my imagination is, I don’t think I could have ever dreamt up where I stand now.  At times, my path has been as clear as water, while at other times, it’s led me to places so unexpected and unbelievable.  Perhaps it is oblivion.  I know I’ve paid along the way, and although it doesn’t always seem it, I can honestly say my cake’s been delicious.

marieantoinette_cake

Heels, hoops and all…you better represent!!

Summer is nearing its close, it’s back to school and this year I was ready!  Instead of spending my two weeks of vacation sipping very expensive cocktails at a five star hotel on the French Riviera wearing a wonderful broad brimmed hat and behind large Jackie O sunglasses (so blasé), I decided to be a mature adult and tackle all sorts of important tasks around the house.  OK fine, it’s not really a choice if the Riviera isn’t a real option.  Anyway, as part of the “staycation” I filled my time with some much needed home renovation (and people renovation) projects:  from basic gardening to full landscaping, (root) touch ups, school supplies, new wardrobes, replacing burnt light bulbs, manicures after replacing burnt light bulbs, and so on and so forth.

Although I am a renaissance woman, and wholly capable of being a quick study in just about anything, there are some things in which I am not meant to dabble.  For example, after a particularly raucous night out with Mr. Niceguy a few years ago which included an open bar tab and hopping from one club to the other, we arrived home in the early morning hours, starving.  After placing an order for chi-thai delivery, Mr. Niceguy mentioned that his hair was getting too long.  I mentioned that cutting hair was right up my alley and that I’ve often trimmed my own hair – front and back.  Note here, I have fairly long hair which is naturally curly so any slight discrepancies usually blend well.  Note also, that I normally don’t handle scissors while drunk.  What I did to the back of Mr. Niceguy’s head was unforgivable.  And the sad part was, I just kept trying to fix it.  Some things are much better left to the professionals!  (Don’t drink and trim!)  So, I started the process of engaging some professional help for some of my home projects.

What I found was that despite fairly lengthy (and though I do say so myself, well informed and knowledgeable) discussions with these professionals I was consistently asked, “Will your husband be there?”

What.  The.  #$%^?!!!!????  WHY???

In this day and age, do people STILL believe that the woman of the house is still just the “little lady”?  That seems so utterly out of date and backwards.  Let’s just be clear about something here:  I am a career woman.  I earn a salary.  And a global professional services firm happens to believe that I am highly capable of raising millions of dollars in financing.  I may wear sky high heels, pretty dresses, hoop earrings and although on most days the quality of my day directly correlates with how good my hair looks I AM STILL HIGHLY CAPABLE OF MAKING DECISIONS, thank you very much.

I mean, I can represent!  I can whip on some boots and dig up a lawn.  I can wield a brush and paint.  I’ve hung chandeliers and constructed closets.  I’ve also gone from work to banquet to soccer field to brunch without missing a beat.  I haven’t let my family down – I’ve represented.  And I’ve made them proud…and that’s what I’m now teaching my boys.  They need to be self-actualizing adults.  Strong, independent, able to make decisions and see them through.  And they need to demonstrate their capabilities.  Though at this age, sometimes I’m not sure they really get the message…

About two-and-a-half years ago, I was in a pretty serious accident.  My two boys, then four-and-a-half and just 9 months old, were sitting in the backseat while I was driving.  As a treat, I decided I would take them both on a surprise trip to Toys R Us and en route, I would go through the Tim’s drivethru for a much needed coffee and a Timbit (yes, one Timbit – it’s my way of demonstrating self-control).  It was an unusually frigid winter day (I believe close to minus 60 with the wind chill!) and the traffic lights were not working so cars were treating the intersection as a four-way stop.  My turn came to drive through when out of nowhere we were struck by a car.  We spun out of control and I momentarily blacked out.  It was my older son’s screaming that snapped me back and all I remember thinking was, please let them be safe.  Luckily we all walked away.  I didn’t realize it then, as it took about 11 more months to transpire, but I had sustained a crushed disc which resulted in severe sciatica.  After visiting a number of different doctors and professionals I found myself face-to-face with one of the most capable and incredible chiropractor-acupuncturists (in the world!!!), Dr. S.

And just this past week, Dr. S paid me a house call.  She is extremely elegant, capable and professional and I can only imagine what she thought when she walked into my world…

Both the 7 year old and 3 year old were completely entranced.  They loved her portable treatment table which they used as trampoline, diving board and fort all while she graciously watched and I begged for the ground to open up and swallow me whole.  Then they proceeded to tell Dr. S about the dead chipmunk we had found in the yard and disposed of moments before her arrival, “He has no eyes.  He has no head.  He’s dead.  Mommy put him in the garbage.” Nice.   And showed her a picture of our dearly departed cat, “This is Hudson.  He’s our cat.  He’s dead.  He’s really dead.  He’s in here (showing her the little urn given to us by the animal hospital).  But you can’t drink from this cup.  Coz he’s in here.  He’s really in here.”  OMG!  And what could I do with needles up and down my spine?!  Then, the 7 year old brought my gluten-free, organic loving Dr. S a plate full of marshmallows and gummies to thank her for all her hard work and because she must be hungry.  Oh boy.

I wished I could crawl under Dr. S’s treatment table…needles and all.  But then I remembered a little girl, age 8, who would walk around with grace and kindness because she had secret powers:  she knew that she was a mermaid in water, and mermaids always took care of everyone, and that she could fly if she really, really put her mind to it…she was special.  That magic was obvious to everyone and if it wasn’t, she made sure it was.  She was strong, capable, imaginative, kind, curious and clever.  That little girl was me.

I can only imagine what the 7 year old and 3 year old must imagine.  What they must believe to be real.  What I know for certain is, that even if they don’t get it right away, I will continue to raise them to make sure that they too convey to others who they are:  capable, strong, generous, kind and independent people.  They will represent well…and garner much laughter along the way!

Superhero shenanigans

Pride and Prejudice…the spincycle version

One of my all-time favourite movies is Pride and Prejudice – the BBC version.  I’ve seen it more times than I can remember and at first, I thought the title should’ve been, “The Charming Mr. Darcy” (swoon).  But after watching it many, many more times, I came to appreciate its meaning…how both Elizabeth Bennett (the heroine) and Mr. Darcy both prejudged each other given their circumstances and ingrained thinking.  In the end, they realize that their prejudices were ill-found…

It’s just past 7:30 and I’ve decided to skip the 3 year old’s soccer game this morning  and instead decide to lounge around…beep-beep-beep-beep…

Hmmm…it’s Saturday.  Who could be texting??  I can’t really be bothered…I mean, it’s the weekend…everyone should just chill and relax, like me.  I can be the Queen of Relaxation – when I want to or more like, when I allow myself – I can be so good at it.  Mr. Niceguy has taken care of everything and the 7 year old is downstairs playing video games (sue me, it’s summer vacation).  Beep-beep-beep-beep…

Why does it keep beeping?!  It’s breaking my focus.  My concentration.  My zen.  Oooommmmm….

Beep-beep-beep-beep…

Ooooooommmmmmmm…..

Beep-beep-beep-beep…

OOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!!!…..

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP…

OK!  OK!  I’ll just check it…OH NO!  Texts from my mommy friends…Oh.  My.  God!!!  The playdate is TODAY and I forgot that I was supposed to get up early and prepare!  Quick scan fridge…nothing.  Pantry….nothing.  Basement pantry….boxes of mac & cheese and our emergency if-the-world-comes-to-an-end cans of chili and space age/military grade, vac sealed meal replacement kits that Mr. Niceguy bought from some kind of disaster readiness website.  How could I let this happen?!  Incidentally, I’m more ready for the end of the world than I am a playdate!

Not a problem.  I can put it into full gear – besides, I’ve had a few hours minutes seconds to relax.  I am recharged, refreshed and raring to go!

T-minus 1hr 45mins:  In car, 7 year old in tow, pull up to grocery store.  Veggies, fruit, cheese, bag of chips (again, summer, sue me), juice, and a diet coke for me.

T-minus 1hr 30mins:  Need more caffeine!  Hit up a Starbucks…can’t do the day without my latte fix!

T-minus 1hr 24mins:  I wonder…if I add up all the time I wait for the baristas to prepare my lattes how long would that be…and why can’t they ever get my name right?? What if I started pulling some Bart Simpson name pranks…

T-minus 1hr 23mins 30secs:  REALLY?!  I don’t have time for this!!!  NEED MY LATTE!!

T-minus 25mins:  At home.  Fruit chopped, veggies chopped, cheese cut, house tidied up, beds made, teeth brushed (I had no time!), hair straightened (this could be a blog topic all on its own) we’re ready.

T-minus…THEY’RE HERE.  Kids all run into the basement and chaos ensues!  And moms can all relax, put their feet up, and dish!

I’ll digress now and say that I have chronic foot-in-mouth-itis.  I frequently say things that I shouldn’t say…and consequently, do things that I shouldn’t do.  For example, when kicked under the table to keep quiet or go along with something, I have often blurted out, “hey!  Whatchya kick me for?”  And after each occasion, I remember that perhaps I should’ve tried to be a little more incognito – and perhaps I should remember that my actions (and lack of discretion) result in the “outing” or inconvenience of someone else.

Sometimes I’m like a toddler with no filter.  I chalk it up to honesty and being an open book, but one mustn’t forget about tact…

So at this playdate, a few weeks ago, I said something I really shouldn’t have said.  Something that I didn’t even realize was in me.  And I remember the moment, the instant the words were out of my mouth:  I felt hot, I felt a flush rising from my chest to my face and head – I felt so uncomfortable that I just wanted to black out (like that may have been an easier out and I could’ve blamed my momentary lapse in judgment on something medical).  What I really wanted to do was to rewind, go back in time, and never utter those words which were made so carelessly and without any cognition. Thankfully when I apologized, she accepted my apology.

This was all the result of an ill-conceived bias…like group think and blindly following along with a majority’s views.  Like being under compulsion (Vampire Diaries reference here…and yes, I’m still addicted).  It can make an appearance at the most unexpected times – and when it’s someone like me, with no filter, it really can pop out of nowhere.

For example, when walking into someone’s house for the first time and there’s underwear in the middle of the floor.  Look, this really has happened to me and it made me feel totally uncomfortable.  It made me question what I thought about that person. Like who leaves their underwear on the floor knowing that they’re expecting company?  Who??  Feels a little intimate…no?

And now I was the one that had dished out the uncomfortable.  I was the one that had put someone else in a very awkward position.  I was the one who had “left underwear on the floor.”  And for a penance, have been feeling absolutely horrible – despite remedying the situation.  I’ve totally beaten myself up and cringe every time I replay that careless, awkward moment.  (You know that face…the “oooh” smush face and shrugging of shoulders made when thinking about it.)

But I think it’s time to move on and time to take it a little easier.  We all make mistakes and hopefully, we learn.  After all, that’s what I would tell my boys.  That, and I am fortunate that my mommy friend could look beyond this one instance.  She has taught me the lesson of being more gracious – and she was tolerant of my toddler-like ways.  Just like Elizabeth Bennett changed her views when she ran into Darcy after he had taken a swim in his “underthings”, the next time I see underwear on the floor, I swear to be more discrete, shrug it off and not jump to any conclusions…oh, and save everyone’s pride, including my own.

PRIDE-AND-PREJUDICE-1995_400

Bleep! Bloop! Blurp!…men are from Mars, women are from Venus…ummm…ya!

Monday:  Start of week 2 on this major acquisition which is happening at lightning speed.  It’s definitely the “dog days of summer” as I’m totally working like one.  I’ve arrived home from work only to find that the 3 year old is burning up with a fever of 102…oh no.

Tuesday:  Acquisition still full steam ahead.  Fever is now at 103.  Leave work early and rush home to takeover watching 3 year old from grandma…coach 7 year old’s soccer game…and sneak in an episode of Bold and the Beautiful…it’s the little things…

Wednesday:  Fever spikes at 104.  Sleepless night tallies 2.  Work from home day.  Develop financial model day.  Try and get disgusting antibiotics down my toddler’s throat day.  Try not to have a nervous breakdown day.  Think happy thoughts…ommmmmmm….

Thursday:  Fever down to 100…progress!  Sleepless night tallies 3…wrong kind of progress!  Tag out of babysitting – Mr. Niceguy’s turn.  Drop 7 year old at camp, race downtown, park car and walk to my desk.   Oh, there it is again…like a forbidden drug…the travel shop.  I always look at the window with such forlorn on my way to the office – do I go to Delhi?  Sounds so exotic…I can just smell the spices.  Do I take a whirlwind trip to NY or Las Vegas?  Or a month jaunt to Europe:  London, Paris, Florence…just $499 / $899 / $1,099…

Friday:  Temperature normal!  Hooray!  And I got some sleep!!  But the list of things to do has been piling up and I have a really full weekend ahead.  Oh boy…I just need to make it to Saturday…

Saturday:  4:57 am, I hear a pitter patter in my sleep, reach out my arms from my horizontal position, twist to the right, grip the 3 year old, lift him up, twist back to the left and plonk him between Mr. Niceguy and me – all without opening my eyes.  4:58 am – did I just do that?  Do I dare open my eyes?  5:08 am, I can’t take it anymore – I rush to the washroom and then rush back…sleep, why do you evade me?  5:14 am, I hear him.  Thump, thump, thump…that distinctive walk…it’s the 7 year old.  And before I know it, he’s standing over Mr. Niceguy.  I’m in a horror movie.

7 year old:  I had a bad dream.  [He says without fear – almost like it was super cool]

Me:  Oh.  You ok?  Why don’t you squeeze in here – your brother’s here anyway.  But we’re still sleeping, it’s too early…

7 year old:  My bad dream starts with a ‘T’

Me:  [10 bucks] Tornado?

7 year old:  [Pretends he’s shooting guns – with the sound you make while clicking your tongue in your cheek] “Tch-tch”  Ya.  In the basement.

Me:  Tornadoes don’t happen in basements.

7 year old:  [Points gun at me] “Tch” – You got it!

Scammer.

After nearly an entire week of sleep deprivation and disruption, for which I maintain a healthy level of fear as well as an almost twisted sense of reverance, I feel like I’m losing my mind.  As an aside, it goes without saying that thanks to the “PTSD” brought on by the early days of parenthood which were laced with unforeseen, unexplained, and unbelievable levels of sleep deprivation, I am compelled to pay homage and respect to the power of sleep.  Those early days were like nothing I’d ever experienced:  infinitely harder than cramming for my hardest exam or preparing for a job interview.

Getting back to it, sometimes in this house full of boys, I feel like I’m in that same sleep deprived state… trying to navigate like an alien from another planet, or better yet, winding around like a drunkard.  Hyper emotional, totally unpredictable, yet somehow, fully functional.

It’s like I’ve arrived in my most elegant gown, strappy sandals, without a hair out of place, in perfect makeup and dripping with bling to a backyard BBQ complete with flip flops and finger food.

Misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood.

And this was confirmed by none other than Mr. Niceguy…who in a moment of absolute, rational, logic, set me straight.  Kids in bed, tidying up complete, we put our feet up and started watching a taped episode of the Bachelorette.  And that’s when it happened.  Another poor guy, totally smitten with the Bachelorette gets sent home…and I’m defending how she was absolutely right to send him home.  How she was so gracious and kind and how her words would surely lead to a mutual respect and potential future friendship…to which Mr. Niceguy responded, gesticulating like an alien robot:  “Bleep, bloop, blurp!”

Me:  [Whiny]  Whaaaaat??!!

Mr. Niceguy:  You can’t be serious…they’ll never be friends!

Me:  Why not?  He’s sooooo funny…and so sweet!  I’d wanna stay friends with him.

Mr. Niceguy:  Ya.  Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.  There’s really no point to him being friends with her, is there?  Think about it…

And there it was…and there it is.  We often make light of our differences by magnanimously referencing the book with that very same title – and incidentally neither of us have even read it.  Still, it’s our way of diffusing misunderstandings, resulting differences and feelings of slight.

I don’t need to survive another crazy week to recognize that Mr. Niceguy and I have lasted as long as we have, despite roadblocks, hurdles, obstacles, bumps and sticky wickets, because somehow we have become totally aware and completely accepting of the fact that we are completely different beings.  And let’s face it, because Mr. Niceguy humours me by putting up with my meltdowns, crazy mood swings, my choice in TV (the Bachelorette and the Bold and the Beautiful, to name a couple) and declarations that I am the boss of this house (which totally fall on deaf ears), to name a few.

Though we may be from different planets, what I do know for sure is that we’re both on a fantabulous ride together!  Oh, and that my people add a lot of colour…and wishful thinking!  And if Mr. Niceguy were to read this, once again he’d say, “Bleep, bloop, blurp!”  Pffft….

 

Mars Venus

Underachiever…in the profession of potty training

Is being an underachiever so bad?  It sure seems easier than trying to claw your way to the top or compete with all of the overachievers…

Let me point out some of the things that an underachiever (probably) never has to do:

    1. Never have to toss someone under the bus – and for that matter…
    2. Never have to take credit for someone else’s achievements
    3. Never have to kiss anyone’s ass
    4. Never have to put in “face time” – hell, that you showed up is an achievement in itself
    5. Never have to play the comparison game, you know the one:  I have a better house / car / job / spouse / top / purse / vacation home, etc.
    6. Never have to pretend to read the newspaper and know about the latest market / economic trends, who won the game last night, and what’s happening outside of your own little fiefdom
    7. Never have to play golf
    8. Never have to pretend to like golf
    9. Never have to answer the phone if you don’t want to…except perhaps to make friends with the telemarketers
    10. Never, ever have to make small talk.

Now I’m not suggesting that tossing someone under the bus or doing any of the above are the keys to achieve, or that becoming an underachiever is by any means a glamorous aspiration…though it does have a particular appeal some days.  So, would it be so bad if you turned out to be one?

I am, literally, waist deep in toilet training my 3 year old.  YES, I know I may be late out of the gate but sue me, I have a full time job, a 7 year old that also needs my attention and a love life to maintain with Mr. Niceguy!  In any case, I was told by the teachers at his daycare that in order to progress to the pre-school, he would have to be toilet trained by September.  I was told this in January and figured it would be a piece of cake…like it (sort of) was for my older son.

March Break came and went, as did Easter, Victoria Day weekend and Canada Day Weekend…and still, I am no closer to having a toilet trained toddler! I have poured through books, internet sites dedicated to toilet training, mommy sites and blogs and even WebMd to determine if there was a medical condition impeding our success (God forbid I’m to blame!)  I even asked his GP who basically told me that I had to be patient and, in not so many words, to basically, lay off.

Let me digress and provide context here.  My parents submitted a picture of yours truly, their first born genius baby, at the ripe age of sometime well before 18 months, to a local publication, sitting gleefully atop the potty, reading the Beirut Business Journal.  Thanks mom and dad for that ingrained pressure.

Anyway, feeling utterly perplexed, I decided to turn to trusty Google and found:

…toilet training is a mutual task, requiring cooperation, agreement and understanding between child and the caregiver, and the best potty training techniques emphasize consistency and positive reinforcement over punishment – making it enjoyable for the child.

What about making it enjoyable for the parent???!  I guess I could have been more consistent and not raise my arms up in defeat every time he answered my questions, “Do you want to do pee pee in the toilet?  Would you like some chocolate?  I will give it to you if you go to the toilet?” and “Don’t you want to be a big boy like your brother?” with a resounding, “NO!”

Continuing on…I was dumbfounded to read about Elimination Communication, a practice that was recently observed in Vietnam where infants were potty trained starting at birth and achieve success by 9 months of age:

The 4 keys to Elimination Communication include: the baby’s signals, the baby’s natural timing, common potty timing, and the parents’ intuition. It is believed that a deeper bond is created between child and parent through the strengthening of this communication.

Well…I guess we missed THAT boat.  @#%@#$!!!!  I can only figure out one out of the four keys:  like I always have to go in the morning and so that’s likely common potty timing…but what is this about the baby’s signals?  The natural timing?  And clearly my intuition has been TOTALLY OFF AS HE IS NOW 3 YEARS OLD!!!!  Seriously?  The only signals I get are when we are in the full throes of the act – I defy ANYONE to tuck my kid under their arm like a football and reach a toilet / potty / any patch of grass in time!  And when you become a practiced sprinter like me (did I ever mention that I used to run 100m dashes in elementary school and was really good?) – even if you make it to the toilet / potty / patch of grass, good luck trying to get him to GO!!!!!!!!!

So during these past few weeks of “training” all while battling a bad back, acupuncture treatments, multiple loads of laundry (because let’s face it, the 3 year old could care less if there are “presents” in his undies) and tears of frustration while I ask all my other mommy friends (and even non-mommy single guy friends – that’s how desperate I’d become), I have decided to throw in the towel.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I have a brilliant, headstrong, loving and funny little boy…so, in this instance, and for the time being, I’m going to declare myself an underachiever…and I’m feeling more relaxed already…

Potty

More than just a mommy in Strollerville…I’m a princess!

Some time ago we moved to our current neighbourhood, what we jokingly called, “Strollerville” (a term I first heard made by Professor Richard Florida).  At that time, the 7 year old was a new toddler, and the 3 year old was my next project.  Strollerville is the mecca of neighbourhoods for young (yuppie-ish) families – right on the subway line, which makes it easier to get downtown (I swear nearly everyone in this neighbourhood is either a banker, lawyer or stockbroker), within walking distance from some very well known and one-of-a-kind retailers, great schools and parks, plenty of free street parking, and easy access to the city’s major highways.

Yet, coming from a very chic and trendy neighbourhood downtown where children were almost never to be seen outside the 9am to 3:30pm window, and where the closest thing to a kid’s play place was the Baby Gap or the Potterybarn Kids on Bloor Street – which, ironically were almost always devoid of children – Strollerville was like being in a theme park with children everywhere!  And although I missed the sounds of luxury imports racing up and down our street, I knew that we had made the right decision for our little, growing family – particularly since I no longer was mistaken for “the nanny” when I would take my (then) toddler out for a stroll!

Strollerville is now my home and I’ve found that I’ve marked my time here in the most unexpected way. True, the trees have grown, the house could use a fresh coat of paint (thanks to my two little terrors), new restaurants and shops have popped up, and the little boy who would always ride the bus with his mom is not so little anymore…

My first weeks commuting to work were the most harrying for me.  I had to wake up an extra 45 minutes earlier just because we had moved 10 minutes away from the core!  Anyway, I would see this woman with a little boy, about the same vintage as my 7 year old, nearly every day on my way home from work.  They seemed to have such a connection – he was very sweet and quiet and never tested his mother, while she had the kindest disposition.  They even looked like each other.  He was very obviously the center of her world.

Now I’ll take a moment to digress here…I am no less connected to my two boys, who are definitely the centers of my world but I cannot recall a single day where I haven’t been tested, pushed, stretched, taxed, overwhelmed, etc. by them!  Particularly in public when their inner Satan chooses to come out and party.  I mean, simply recollecting the shenanigans of this past weekend, my birthday weekend, when they repeatedly begged to leave dugout seats (I repeat, DUGOUT SEATS) at a baseball game (after the top of the FIRST inning) and simply became more insistent with every minute culminating in both of them on my lap in inning 5, completely obstructing my view, each whining into my ears (too closely and spitting God knows what into my ear canals…eeew), and then breaking down in tears when I unexpectedly took all my frustrations out by yelling at the ump!

Or as recent as last night, when I was given a hard time because I’m planning to go out (sans les deux) with my other mommy friends and have too much food, too much wine, ice cream on the giant piece of (faux) Canadian shield in Yorkville, while wearing my too short for me shorts and stilettos, and pass judgement while people watching, without them. Here’s how that went:

Me:  So guys…just a reminder that mommy’s going out

7 and 3 year olds in unison:  WHY???!!!

Me:  It’s mommy’s birthday.  You want me to have a nice birthday, don’t you?

7 year old:  But your birthday passed.  How many times do you have to go out for your birthday?

3 year old:  Ya.  Issss my bertday (His “bertday” was actually 4 months ago)

Me:  No, it isn’t your birthday.  It’s my birthday party.  And mommy’s friends are going to take her out.  She deserves it.  [Note:  I am all flustered and like a volcano that’s moments from erupting…]  I’ve cooked and cleaned for you, I take you to school, I pack your lunches, I play with you, I buy you all the greatest toys and clothes, I go to work so that I can earn money to keep a roof over your heads, so guess what?  I’M GOING!

Them:  [Totally un-phased] can we come too?

Me:  NO!!!!!!!

Anyway, I hadn’t seen this woman in some time but today, as I hopped on the subway a little earlier than usual; there she was sitting just perpendicular to me, with her son.  He had grown so much…  Still, just as obedient and quiet as ever – she was reading the newspaper while he was busying himself with a Nintendo DS.  And when she thought the volume was too high, she gently leaned in, whispered something to him, and he, without a moment’s hesitation, turned it down.  I noticed that she didn’t wear a ring on her left hand – perhaps she is raising him by herself – and when I looked up at her face, I noticed that time had also moved for her.  No longer as youthful looking as when I first moved to the neighbourhood.  Her hair had more greys, and there were a couple of lines near her eyes that crinkled in just that way when she smiled at her son.  But she was no less beautiful, and no less lovely than when I first saw her those years ago…

I have no idea how long before my boys stop being boys.  But what time I do have, although laced with tears, frustration, bewilderment and anger, is also wonderful, loving, happy, and most of all, magic.  And just when I think that once again, things are just too hard and too complicated, I got the best belated present…

Them:  OK…we know you really want to go out.  Is that what you’re going to wear?

Me:  WHAT?!  WHY?!  I just got this today…doesn’t it look nice?  (Snap: why do I even care?  Honestly?  I just want my IV drip to start hooked up to a bottle of Pinot….)  Are you saying this to upset mummy?  Is this all because you really don’t want me to go?

3 year old:  I don’t want you to go.  [Figures]

7 year old:  I don’t want you to go either but…if you have to go, you have to go.  Hmmm…mommy, you do look nice.  You look pretty, beautiful…you know, more than a princess. [Melt]

Meandboy