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Movie Night, Old School

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beauty and the beast

Last night, my fourteen year-old daughter returned from two weeks at camp. This camp of hers in Algonquin Park is a pretty classic one: no electronics, no electricity in the tents and cabins, and no flush toilets, so the need to catch up on Instagram and Snapchat (and the proper use of a toilet) is almost immediate.

She spent some time regaling us in all her camp fun including descriptions of cabin mates and their personalities, exceptional stories camp activities and sports and then promptly fell into a twelve-hour, post-camp coma which I believe continues to this hour.

She spent the most time very animatedly telling us about the camp theatre production for July, Beauty and the Beast. This is no let’s-look-through-the-dress-up-box-and-see-what-we-can-find camp skit but a well-executed musical with a very talented cast held in a dedicated outdoor theatre. Not that I have actually seen a production, other than a YouTube-posted version, but they’re impressive. (And I was a postulant in a small town amateur production of The Sound of Music thirty-five years ago so I know what I’m talking about!).

As soon as she got home, she and a neighbour wanted to rent the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (not sure if it was for comparison or to just gloat at Lumiere’s accent) but I told her we already had a copy, and after an impressively short ten minutes of rummaging I returned to the family room and handed them a VHS.

Honestly, from the look on her and her friend’s faces you would think I just handed them the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle.

“What is that?”

“It’s Beauty and the Beast.”

“What do I do with that?”

“You pop it into the machine and watch it.”

“Um, machine?”

“Yes, the VHS machine.”

“We have one of those?”

“Yes, we do. It’s a DVD/VHS combo.”

So we figured out the right input channel fairly quickly and the image soon appears on the screen.

“Ugh!” she cried, “What’s wrong with it?!”

“Nothing,” I replied. “We just have to rewind it”

“I have to what?!”

At this point, her friend then says, “Y’know, this sounds like a lot of work. I’m going home.”

However, soon enough though, we were fully rewinded and perfectly snuggled on the couch and watching a VHS-version of Disney’s 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast. (Which, by the way, you cannot actually get on iTunes, at least not in Canada.)  My nineteen year-old soon joined in on the retro movie night and it was a party.

After the movie was over (and remember, Disney movies are only about an hour long!) I suggested to my son, “I’m sure I can bring out you old favourite from the same VHS box, dear.”

To which he replied, “I better go work on my Me Ol’ Bam-boo dance moves, then.”

All this to say, don’t throw away your old VHS tapes or your machine. You’ll never know when they’ll come in handy for a lesson in retro movie watching.

Next up on the marquee: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

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Tuck Shop Austerity

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austerity pic (rabble)

(photo courtesy of rabble.ca)

My daughter is away at camp right now for two whole weeks. I received the Tuck Shop Permission Form which stated: The following items are available for your daughter to purchase this summer at the camp tuck shop. If you wish to limit your daughter’s purchases, you must fill out and return this form …”

Limit my daughter’s purchases? Well, I’ve never visited the camp tuck shop but I am just imagining all the dazzling trinkets and delicious treats it must sell. I mean, why else would my daughter’s camp require an additional $450 deposit on her tuck shop account, basically her spending allowance for the next two weeks. $450 for two weeks. Isn’t that roughly equivalent to the GDP of Greece?

As she was packing, I brought to her the camp’s Tuck Shop Permission Form. The conversation went something like this:

“Let’s go over this tuck shop permission form.”

“Sigh. Can we do this later?”

“Later? You’re leaving for camp tomorrow and soon you’ll be spending money at the tuck shop like you won the Loto649 or something.”

“I know, Mom, we went over this last year.”

And she’s right. Every year it’s the same-old-same-old conversation about budgeting because I just don’t think a 14-year old should have to participate in bail-out negotiations. But she and I rarely agree on a spending plan her creditors (ahem) would approve.

People, this is what happens when you limit a girl’s screen time, take her cell phone away and stick her out in nature. She’ll go nuts shopping at the camp tuck shop! Where or where are Angela Merkel and François Hollande when you need them?

It wasn’t like this at the camp my boys went to. Their camp tuck shop deposit was $60 a month – just enough to cover a few chocolate bars and a wooden spear. As my boys tell it, there was quite an efficient underground tuck currency system at their camp. Heavy-handed negotiations took place as part of some pretty sophisticated trades. As he tells it, my son was awarded extra five extra candy “tuck” by a canoe trip mate for his mosquito jacket during one particularly brutally buggy canoe trip (three is the weekly maximum for a camper so it was quite the windfall for my son). So maybe the tuck shop permission form is more harmless than this alternative and entirely covert barter system!

Her first year at camp she brought home various stuffed animals and assorted other souvenir purchases, most of which quickly cast aside and forgotten, until the following camp season when they were all summarily replaced. After ten years as a camper, I think we now possess everything listed on that tuck shop list. Yet our austerity battle continues well into the night.

Anyone need a waterproof notebook and pen with camp crest? Pewter camp necklace? No? Maybe there is an equally sophisticated underground camp tuck shop surplus distribution network. Somehow I doubt it.

She comes home Sunday. I can’t wait to see her – and her tuck shop acquisitions.

Are you raising a hockey brat?

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Once in a while there is a kid in the dressing room that really deserves a good slap. I only kind of kidding, but you know what I mean, right? Sometimes that kid is even my kid.

Is your kid being benched and you don’t know why?

Maybe your kid teases kids for not playing a good game, for missing the pass, for letting the goal in,

Maybe your kid is the one who’s an attention hog in the dressing room.

Maybe your kid thinks it’s really funny to squirt Gatorade and water all over the floor, walls, equipment and people.

Read more about my take on why coaches might be short-shifting your kid in hockey in my latest HockeyNow.ca post by clicking here.

In the shape of an L on my forehead…

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It’s Friday night and I’m at the hockey arena. It’s no big deal. Since becoming a hockey mom fourteen years ago, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a hockey arena on a Friday night! What can I say? I have an impressive social life.

Only this time, I’m not here with one of my three kids; I’m here with one of my friend’s kids. Again, because of my impressive social life, I need to be at a hockey arena on a Friday evening.

This boy’s parents, our friends and neighbours, are off to a family wedding at an adults-only resort in the Dominican Republic and being fourteen, he’s too young to join them. I think he could have passed for an eighteen year old, but whatever. I don’t even think there was a wedding, but whatever.

Thursday evening, my friend drops off her son for his 10-day retreat Chez Astra with $50 and a list of his weekly activities. I tell her “Hey, not to be rude or anything, but I don’t think this is going to cover my weekly LCBO purchases” and she doesn’t think this is funny.*

At first it looks like I might get out of the Friday night hockey carpool gig because I have company coming to visit . Then my guests decline and I mention this at dinner Thursday evening.

“Oh! So you can take me to hockey then?”

Quick. Think of something.

Only nothing comes to mind, and I concede: looks like I’m spending Friday night at the hockey arena.

After a 30-minute drive during which any question I asked was responded by him pulling his ear plug out and asking, “Excuse me?” I should know better; I drop all efforts to converse. I leave him at the front door of the arena and tell him, “I have a few errands to run (like running to the LCBO) but I’ll be here to watch the last twenty minutes” and off he goes.

This hockey arena has four ice pads and I forgot to ask him which surface he was playing on. I quickly size up the place: Pad 1 has girls on it  – moving on. Pad 2 has little tykes on I,t so I move on again. Pads 3 and 4 both look like they’re hosting groups of 14 year olds. I spend a few minutes checking out the teams on Pad 3 but I don’t see our underage, unemployed free loader. I move over to Pad 4 and see him chasing the puck down the ice.

I flash my best fake yeah-thumbs-up in his general direction, mostly because I sure as hell don’t want to have spent a Friday night at the hockey arena without him noticing my efforts! The game appears to end in a 2-2 tie, and I retreat to the foyer to await his return from the dressing room. I then run into another hockey mom I know from my daughter’s hockey team last season. After some chit-chat, she asks what team Emily is playing on tonight – because it would be normal for me to be here with my own child. I tell her that I’m here with a friend’s son and am just waiting for him to change, gesturing in the direction of Pad 4.

All of a sudden, my friend’s son comes up behind me and says, “Hey, I’m ready to go!” I wheel around and ask, “Where did you come from?” “My game. Over there” gesturing to Pad 3.

“You weren’t playing on Pad 4?”

“Nope”

“Oh. I see. So. You were not the one I gave a thumbs up to?”

Thank God I didn’t bang on the glass.

 “Did you even watch my game?”

 “No. I was watching the game on pad 4.”

“Who was playing on Pad 4” he asks, and it’s not a bad question.

“I thought you were.”

So, not only did I take a child not my own to a hockey game, I watch almost an entire game of complete strangers. Loserdom has my name on it.

“Let’s keep this between the two of us, okay?” I implore to him.

“Sure” he says. “Just like you’re going to keep the two chocolate bars before dinner between the two of us too, right?”

It’s a deal.

~~~

*Truth be told, she also dropped off all his lunches, and two or three meals for our entire family (which had just grown to six people) but whatever – it’s my story.

Hockey implants

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My daughter and I were hockey implants this past weekend.

It’s not what you think.

Technically, she was the implant, I was the transplant.

She was invited by another team to a hockey tournament in Jay Peak, Vermont (uh huh, so skiing was also involved too!) as a pick-up player. Several players from a team in her association were unable to attend this tournament so they get to pick up players from another team, hence their invitation to us – I mean, my daughter. It was her job to play hockey for this team; it was my job to get her there (well, my husband’s. Given there was skiing involved, we made this a ski-hockey-waterpark weekend).

It seems a lot of parents of recreational hockey won’t travel to out-of-town tournaments. Cost, time, winter roads, whatever. But out-of-town hockey tournaments is what I love about being a hockey mom (in fact, they may even be why I tolerate minor hockey).

And I’m not the only one. When our hockey years are behind us, I can guarantee you that all three of my kids will look back on their minor hockey careers and the out-of-town tournaments as being the bomb dot com. (I learned that phrase from my daughter and I can’t stop using it.)

Out-of-town hockey tournaments offer an opportunity to play teams from other cities (heck, from other countries, as was the case this past weekend!) and is like a mini-vacation (despite a typically busy game schedule particularly if your team advances beyond round robin play). It offers a brief but reliable antidote to the ho-hum doldrums of the cold, Canadian winter. It offers families the chance to dispense with normal routine of school and work – and to travel and sleep in close quarters (the only form of winter camping I’ll agree to).  It offers the potential of a new town or city or food or folklore to explore and who can deny the enriched learning experience kids derive from hotel swimming pools, mini stick hockey in the lobby and terrorizing hotel security guards after quiet hour (despite me having signed numerous waivers over the years promising precisely not to do so!)??

Some of the teams my kids have been on have had six tournaments a season (when playing competitive hockey) and some of our teams have only been to two. Regardless of the number or the timing (except for maybe The Great Hockey Weekend of 2012, which we do not speak of in our household), I will never vote down a hockey tournament weekend.

I like hockey tournaments. I know my kids love hockey tournaments.

I liked being a hockey implant and I’m certain my daughter enjoyed being a hockey implant too.

And I think we make the perkiest of hockey implants out there!

ice haus

Adventures in Solo Travel

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Kids today are so lucky.  They have fewer chores (because they’re so busy) and they get to go everywhere (because they’re parents feel guilty leaving them at home). Parents today are much more adventurous in travelling with their children. I realize I’m part of this culture, indulging my children in all sorts of travel adventures. In return, I hope my kids will look back upon our family travels and continue to be inspired by the world and long to see more of it … preferably on their own … soon.

So my daughter recently experienced the pinnacle of childhood adventures:  the solo voyage. As in sans parents. When family and summer scheduling conflicts prevented us from attending a much loved beach week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my daughter somehow managed to finagle an invite from her uncle to go to the beach with his family – complete with puppy dog eyes, curled lip and promises of ‘I won’t be any trouble at all …’, I have no doubt . Naturally he, being entirely defenceless to the puppy dog eyes and curled lip look, agreed.

us customsThe first significant hitch she encountered was US Customs.  I guess runaways are extremely clever these days, including those with an official consent to travel form notarized by a lawyer, signed by both parents AND carrying a return airline ticket. Evidently US customs officials are impervious to the puppy dog look and curled lip routine but good on her for trying. She fared much better with Canadian Border Services upon her return and the usual, “Are you bringing back any weapons, alcohol or tobacco?’ was replaced with “I bet you had a lot of fun! Welcome back.”

This solo adventure of hers took another unfortunate turn when Hurricane Arthur decided to take its own unfortunate turn towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina where she was staying with my brother. If anyone could turn a hurricane on its heels it would be my daughter, but alas, the Governor did not think know of her powers (primarily reserved for use at our family dinner table), and Dare County issued an evacuation order for Hatteras Island. While I am certain she had visions of a SWAT team lowering their ladders from helicopters evacuating stranded tourists such as herself, she soon found out what it really entailed: a day’s driving stuck in the worst traffic jam imaginable.

And now she is off to sleep over camp for two weeks (something she has done now for seven summers).  While there will certainly be someone there to feed her and do her laundry, I know she will return from camp grateful for a flushing toilet.

bluesfestMy sons are also on their own solo adventures this week. My 18-year old is at the national Canadian Big League Championships in Thunder Bay, Ontario (ten days of residence living at Lakehead University will be good training for his body to get used to dorm beds) and my 16-year old is experiencing Ottawa’s largest outdoor musical festival, Bluesfest 2014 (requiring him to master one of the biggest travel obstacles for today’s youth:  public transportation). Their adventures, however, will probably not be titled Adventures in Solo Travel but rather Travel in with Solo-Cup Adventures. Sigh.

So this house is just a little too quiet for me right now and I think it’s time to embark on some solo (or solo cup) travel adventures on my own. But I am a seasoned traveller, right? None of this Customs nonsense, lousy beds, public transportation woes or guilt can get in my way, right?

Stay tuned!

airplane

 

The Worm in the Apple

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It’s sad really. I was the apple of my kids’ eyes for what seemed like only a nanosecond. I have three kids and I was their go-to friend from birth until – well – about that time around Grade 8 where they each dropped me like a hot potato.  I suppose that’s about when independent social lives start to bloom and a mother’s presence not only is no longer necessary, it is a downright intrusion of the You Suck variety.

I frequently chaperoned field trips until returning to work outside the home and even then offered one field trip per child per school year which was happily approved and anticipated by each of my kids.  Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

I happily hosted non-birthday parties around Christmas and Halloween for all our kids and their friends. Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

We all posed for family photos at various events and important tourist shrines. Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

The eagerness to have “Mom” participate in any aspect of their lives other than stocking the frig and doing the laundry, waned considerably around Grade 8.

Initially my boys still permitted my attendance on the field trips, but disappeared with their friends upon arrival, leaving me to chaperone the girls or whichever group was last assigned to a parent. Soon thereafter field trip forms start coming home with the preamble, “But they don’t need any volunteers”, or with the box “No” already checked off next the question, “If volunteers are needed, may we contact you?”, even from my daughter.

I have become middle-school-redundant.

And so today, we are off to my daughter’s Grade 8 graduation ceremony after which is a class dance at the local RA centre.  All was going very well with our graduation planning until she learned that I was volunteering at the dance.  This elicited a “You’re kidding, right?” response from a now grown-up thirteen year-old (in all fairness, I did sign up for clean-up, thinking I could stay out of the limelight and her wrath).

Just when I thought I would have to politely decline my assistance at the dance, an email from the organizer came out suggesting the window from the kitchen to the hall would be closed and parents could (should?) keep a low-profile.

So there.

I’m not the only one!

I’ve been practicing a few dance moves though should things get a little boring.

 

 

 

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