Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summertime and the Living Is Complicated

I walked the dog in a low-cut shirt this morning. Me, not the dog. Not J-Lo-low, but lower than usual for me. And so, I got to meet a new guy in the neighbourhood, who wanted to shake my hand and know my name. Maybe it was just that he was new, but somehow my Spidey sense wondered if the friendliness was sartorially inspired.

My boy is in Quebec City this week on a school field trip. He has plans to cross the river to Levis, secretly, this week on a pilgrimage to our favourite ice cream store anywhere, where soft-serve ice cream is dipped, not in half-waxy chocolate, but fine Belgian chocolate. I don't even like ice cream, and this stuff makes me moan with pleasure. He got his first suit yesterday and my over-active imagination darts to the morbid idea of him being buried in it. Of all the 14 year olds I know, I would trust him the most. But I would have trusted him far more a year ago, before the invincibility set in. He and his buddies entertained the idea of throwing a pinata from the bus onto the 401. They chose not to do it, mind you, but I'm not sure what they are capable of. When our puppy bites the kids, part of my chastisement to him includes, "Don't bite x. He's very special to me." My boy has medium brown hair. He probably looks like every other grade 8 student who's descending on Quebec City for the Grade Eight Field Trip this week, but he's very special to me.

My puppy is sleeping through the night. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.) Just over a week ago, we tried Ferberizing him, but he outlasted us. We polled everyone we knew on their dog whispering techniques. And then we decided to listen to our guts. We put his soft bed in our closet, plunked him down at 11 pm, and there he slept till 6. And has done so every night since. (This in contrast with his pathetic cries until 4 am, when we put him in his crate.) He still has no fondness for the crate by day, but he seems a bit more secure in it, and we put him in it when we go out so we don't have to hear the sorrows. He is far cuter when we've had sleep, let me tell you.

Am I the only person who must declare the end of a crisis? The May long weekend was when the puppy arrived in our family and it was also the beginning of a month of a fast-paced, multi-faceted project I took on for a client. I had to manage the project as well as edit it. As much as I take unusual delight in large scale military operations like this, I will say that it turned into a crisis, where I needed to be accessible every ten minutes around the clock for the last five days of the project. Correction, the last two days of the project and then THREE DAYS AFTER. I'm still recovering, but today I realized I needed to declare the crisis over: the puppy sleeps at night and the big beast of a project is inviolable at the printer now. Personal hygiene and normal life can resume.

My husband has commented more than once that singing in church is strange. "Where else in the world do we sing?" he says. I once read a home decorating concept that suggested that we make sure we fashion our homes to satisfy the senses that most strongly appeal to us. For many, sight ranks first, but for me it is smell and touch. Sound comes in last. We have an antiquated stereo system and rack upon rack of rarely-listened-to CD's. About a year ago, though, my family dragged me into the 21st century by buying me an iPod. Then, they showed me - more than once - how to buy and download music. Oh, I said. 80s music. I found my favourites. And then, I realized there was lots of music I loved, new and old. Two weekends ago now, though, music came to me in a new way: on neighbourhood porches. Signs were posted throughout the 'hood for weeks, and musicians noted on Facebook where they would be playing. It turned out that Alternatives, an environmental magazine based out of the University of Waterloo, was sponsoring and organizing concerts on porches around our neighbourhood, as part of an upcoming issue. I was held up for much of the afternoon but I was determined to be part of this. Late in the day, I hopped on my bike and rode up and down streets. It was pretty magical. Sidewalks, lawns and even streets were crowded with folks of all ages, standing or sitting in front of musicians who played a wide - and I mean wide - variety of music. I loved how, as I cycled past one and on to another, the musics blended.

I've been feeling guilty lately about being a less-than-adequate soccer mom. I have the competitive streak down pat, and the parental pride, but I wish I had known when we signed our wee tots up for Soccer Fun on Saturdays lo, these many years ago, that our lives would be dominated by the sport. But the guilt is more than that. We actually do manage the soccer juggle, with three kids playing at high levels of the sport, and I do enjoy it, and am glad they aren't lurking in skateboard parks every evening instead. But I just ain't one of those soccer parents. The ones who have the stats memorized, who have the correct Gator-Ade for before, during and after a match, who have decided their lives will happily be dominated by sporting events and who welcome spending weekend after weekend at tournaments. No, I'm the mother who sometimes loves it and sometimes resents it, the one who longs for more unplanned family time, the one who daydreams on the sidelines and plots books on the back of my chequebook while I watch. I did not play sports growing up. I was active but I swam and I ran and I biked. I had sporty siblings, but I just wasn't that kid. I don't bring a deficit to my kids' gene pool, physically speaking. I could have played sports, I imagine, if I had wanted to. Only I didn't. And my dirty secret is that I don't always want to now. And honestly, I feel like I'm the only one out there who feels this way.

This week, I'm thinking about summer. For the first time ever, Dave has to work for the summer, and I am giving myself permission to say that I too need to work. The last few summers, I have felt perpetually conflicted between my roles as mom and writer. This summer, I'm saying it's okay to be both, and I'm creating more of a schedule than I usually do, so that I know when to wear which hat. I'm also thinking about how to encourage my kids to take on creative projects of their own. The oldest is a photographer and will play around with film to beautiful effect. The middle child has noodled around with the idea of writing a novel, but I'm not sure how to set the stage best for that to be explored. The youngest plans puppy training as her goal. I'm thinking about how to extend that un peu. I'm also thinking about chores and whether I can pawn off the weeding on the kids. Why else did I have them?


  1. > But I just ain't one of those soccer parents. The ones who have the stats memorized, who have the correct Gator-Ade for before, during and after a match.

    I don't know too many stats-memorizers either. (oh, and water's fine).

  2. Over 2000 years of Christians singing in Church seems to be a good argument that singing in Church is not strange. Sunday is not the sabbath day; it is the first day of the week - the day God created the heavens and the earth. It is certain is that Christ rose, or was ‘arisen’, on the first day of the week! Pentecost too, occurred upon the first day of the week. Christ entered his own rest from his earthly labours on a Sunday – not a Sabbath.
    The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Sundays celebrate, is the foundation of the Christian faith; thus Sunday is the most joyous day of the week. God has given us a new birth into living hope on this day and we begin the week walking in a new way of life.
    Sunday is not a day of rest but a joyous day of celebration for Christians or should be. What better way to celebrate than with music and song?

  3. Dave - Oh, I know those stats memorizers. They are shocked - shocked! - at what I don't know or remember.