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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.




Chug big or chug home…

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An unsanctioned event organized by students at one of our local high schools has raised the ire of its principal. So much so that emails have been sent home warning parents of this event and its imminent danger.  Parents have been urged to ask their children NOT to participate in this wasteful and harmful event and have been cautioned that local police have been asked to provide additional officers to enforce safety, should the event take place.

What is this undesirable event that parents should be so anxious about?

Is it an illegal swim party at a local quarry? Is it an unchaperoned bush party at one of the many local farm fields? Is it the private post-prom party across the border at a local ski resort (where most of the students will be of legal drinking age)?

No. In fact, these events (which have taken place or are about to take place on my son’s social calendar) have not been deemed sufficiently objectionable by anyone such that parents should be alerted to potential unsafe and/or illegal activity. The low-down on the street is how we get savvy to these events.

The appalling event that I am being warned about is the annual senior student-organized milk chugging contest.

This will be one of the most uncomfortably awkward and sensitive discussions I will have with my teenagers yet.  There’s no way all those conversations about safe sex, drugs, alcohol, academic challenges, work and money chats will serve me for this one.

I’m not sure how to handle this one. Should I go the sour milk is bad for you-route? Or, that unpasteurized milk may make you sick-schtick? How about, milk that comes from cows who’ve been injected hormones have been fed is unacceptable-deal (oh, but that’s illegal in Canada, so will probably not be too effective).  Or the time-tested, waste-not-want-not talk? No, I think I better stick to the fear tactic that always works best:  “Do you have any idea how easy it is to get addicted to milk?”

This isn’t the first time we’ll be talking about milk-chugging contests, and I can assure you, it won’t be the last.

(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I hope I don’t get my son suspended).



CSI – the drama I could do without

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CSIMy three children are all teenagers now and like many today, they are home from school before my husband or I are home from work.  I am generally the last to return home at the end of the day, and while my own housecleaning habits see me tidying up the kitchen before I leave for work, I am not likely to find it this way upon my return. My keen eyes are trained to decode the evidence before me and I know just what to nag about. Because my kids now know:  I am highly specialized CSI expert. I am a Cuisine Scene Investigator.

“Nobody move!” I shout, with the anticipated impact:  none of my teenagers has moved nor has any intention of moving.  Securing the scene is not as challenging they make it out to be on TV.

I begin my preliminary analysis:

I study the spatter stains and I know right away that my son has made himself a big glass of chocolate milk.

I examine the trail and I know my daughter has been into the popcorn.

I analyze the dishevelment of the dishes and I know my oldest son has emptied his lunch bag.

As I evaluate all the physical evidence and the possibilities I try not to jump to conclusions, but it hard not to.  And as I walk around collecting evidence I make sure that my kids do not interfere with my examination of the data.

“Don’t touch that!” I shout.

“But I was just about to put that away.” they lie.

“Too late! I caught you! You are now one of my suspects!”

“You should not be eating cookies right before dinner!” I bark at my son. How does she know? I see the querying look in his eyes. “You left the cookie bag completely open in the pantry!” He rolls his eyes.

“Did I not tell you that the ice cream was for dessert?” testing my daughter. How does she know? says the look in her eyes. “You could have at least rinsed off the ice cream scoop before putting it in the sink.”

Even today, I walked into the kitchen and found a half-filled coffee travel mug on the counter and know that my husband, too, is home from work. Clearly he did not pick up on the trail of evidence already before him. Clearly he is not a cuisine scene investigator – he’s just another instigator.

I finish wiping down this scene and catalog the evidence before the dogs decide to catalog it themselves (knowing the dogs they’re already accessories to many of their crimes that will go unsolved). I then begin my own cuisine scene and start making dinner. Sigh.

CSI … not for sissies … only for moms.

They love me …they love me not …

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There it is …

The deadline is looming…

Just a few days away…

We can see the “Submit” button from here…

Just have to click it and we’re done …

admissions officeI’ve been helping my teenage son complete his post-secondary school applications.  It wasn’t that long ago that I remember filling out my own university applications.  Actually, I do remember now – it’s been over three decades since I even looked at a university application!  Oh well, those applications – they were some great memories.  

I can’t believe how streamlined the entire process is now.  This whole world wide web online application thing is pretty nifty.  Since Canadian schools are the only ones on his radar, there are no SATs to take or scores to submit, so the application itself is fairly standard – at least for the Ontario universities.  What it lacks in applicant differentiation, it makes up for in efficiency and simplicity!  We entered his OEN (Ontario Education Number), his student number, his high school code, then pointed and clicked our way to the Submit button.  His application to Manotick Co-Operative Nursery School back in 1999 wasn’t even this easy – and that involved an in-person interview – because arranging an interview with an alumnus would have been over the top, right?

Now comes the hard part:  the waiting.  This I do remember being extremely tedious.  What follows, God willing, is the equally challenging task of deciding which post-secondary institution I want to visit on a regular basis – I mean – which is the right environment for my son.  Of course, the task of paying for that choice – er –  opportunity of a lifetime – is also still a task at hand as well. As I was saying, God willing …

I’m not sure about my son, but I found the entire university application process so easy, that in fact, I told him that I was thinking maybe of applying to university all over again myself.


“You’re kidding, right?”

Of course I’m kidding dear!  I can hardly leave your father in charge of redecorating your bedroom, now can I?

Bring on those offers, Admissions, I got my paint chips all lined up!

paint chips

The Cool Caf Credo

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The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation is ramping up its labour action once again. My kids’ after-school clubs and sports have already been curtailed as a result of the  labour action initiated in September and now I have  heard that teachers may refrain from hallway and cafeteria supervision as this activity  is not part of the essential functions of teaching and marking.

Rather than wade into a polemic debate, I thought I would wade into the high school cafeteria instead.

Hey boys, I’m thinking of volunteering for caf duty at lunch at your school, since your teachers may no longer be doing it. Won’t that be swell?

They actually left the room because they could not contain their excitement. So sweet.

 So just because I’m nice and all that, I have created the following Lunchroom Credo for other parent volunteers considering sharing this prominent volunteer position along with me:

I hereby pledge to …

– Hug and kiss my own children as soon as I see them enter the caf [very important].

– Refer to my teenagers by their toddler nicknames.

– Make sure to hand deliver my teenager’s lunch in a brand-new Hello Kitty lunch box (please note: only for boys).

– Dress appropriately by wearing a blouse and skirt with knee-high stockings and Church Lady shoes; alternative attire might include my leopard print leggings, black leather bodice and red high heel boots (in which case exposed bra straps are entirely acceptable).

– Call all teachers by their first names; better yet, make up a few nicknames like Bri-Bri the History Guy.

– Wink at every cute teenage boy.

– Randomly dispense advice about Canada’s Food Guide.

– Reapply lipstick repeatedly and smack lips loudly.

– Pull underwear out of butt crack at various intervals while walking between tables.

– Endeavour to pass gas at least once while walking past the popular girls’ table.

– Quiz every girl who talks to my sons (list of appropriate questions is available upon request).

– Alert all girls to their exposed bra straps, as required.

– Sing along to all the songs playing over the PA system (even if I don’t know the words).

– Remind my children of their after-school wart removal appointment, in front of their friends.

-Share swigs from my flask with the custodian (in other words, set a good example).

This Lunchroom Credo has been well-received and endorsed by all the mothers I know. Somehow, my kids are not quite as enthusiastic. In fact, they are suddenly no longer complaining that I have a full-time job.

It’s fun being a mother, isn’t it? I can’t wait until my prepubescent daughter’s teachers union begin its labour action.

So how do you endear yourself to your teenagers?

A little too much wind beneath my wings …

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I am very curious to know exactly where the term “dinner hour” came from since I usually have my family’s undivided attention at the dinner table for about – oh – 13 minutes.  Sometimes you just want to get the conversation going at the dinner table and it’s exceptionally tedious.

Not that every dinner time is always quiet in our household.  Heaven knows that the clang and clatter of five dinner plates and two dog bowls served up with mismatched cutlery, a main entrée with a side of door slam, a salad tossed with two insults, two Oreo cookie dunks courtside with a basketball commentary (replaces hockey talk for the time being), one random physics factoid followed with an appropriately timed bodily noise, and one pre-pubescent female served up with a drama or two usually provide for ample dinner din.

But everyone seems tired tonight.  The weekend is not even close and I sense everyone here is still reeling from the clocks switching back an hour.  Judging from the looks on their faces from my end of the table, it seems that extra hour of sleep has hurt more than it had helped.  I am sensing that tonight will be one of those dreaded one-sided, motherloaded conversations and I need to spring into verbal action.

Let me see now; how can I get their attention?

“My bra strap came undone in the middle of a meeting today.”


“My security card fell in the toilet today and I had to fish it out.”

An eye roll…

My skirt was stuck in my panty hose as I left the public washroom.”

A slight movement in the corner of someone’s mouth…

So I set up for the ace …

“Oh – and I accidentally farted in yoga today.”

Yeah, the clatter and clang of the dinner dishes are back in full swing, but the last one might have just been a little over the top.  I’m about to open my mouth in a half-hearted retraction, and my daughter gives me the “Please stop talking” hand gesture, my sons actually get up and leave the table and my husband serves me the, “Are you happy now?” face.

Needless to say, pretty soon I am finishing my dinner entirely alone.  My plan has backfired.


It’s kinda nice…

Once in a while…

I just might try this again sometime.

What was the scintillating conversation at your dinner table tonight?


“Now, this won’t hurt a bit …”

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– and other dentist lies.

Imagine how excited my two teenage boys were when I reminded them they had an 8:00am dentist appointment one Friday morning. Now imagine how delighted they were when they realized it was a PD Day.

I know.  I just might win an award.

To inform them how lucky we are to have dental insurance was not a selling feature at that moment.  I had robbed them of their rightful hours of extra sleep, and I’m pretty sure they were going to make me pay for it with attitude … once their brains woke up.  So while one son was having his gums prodded and poked, and his teeth picked and scraped, I tried to chat it up with my older son who is in no mood for reconciliation let alone his upcoming floss and gloss routine. So I was returned to my scintillating article in National Geographic on The Teenage Brain.

The sounds that permeated the office produced for me a flash-back:

Doctor! You better come take a look at this!”

That’s what the assistant said one day when I was at the dentist having yet another cavity filled. After injecting me with an anesthetic, the dentist and assistant promptly disappeared while the meds took effect, leaving me to ponder the ceiling tiles and listen to the swish and gurgle of the spit bowl. About 156 ceiling tiles later, I began to take a keen interest my expanding right cheek. I noticed from the lower line of my vision that one side of my face was turning into a zeppelin. I was about ten years old at the time.  Needless to say, I developed a fairly significant mistrust of dentist from that day on.  Subsequent visits filled me with loathing and apprehension, and then I avoided dentists altogether once I left home.  To quote Dr. Seuss, dentists are as cuddly as cactuses and as charming as eels and my fear of them has not entirely wavered since that hematoma-filled memory some 37 years ago.


I’m curious what motivates a person to become a dentist. Of all the Nurse, Teacher, Police Officer and Fireman crayon drawings that adorned the walls of my kindergarten class of 1968, I don’t remember a single 5- year old’s rendering of a dentist. Seriously, no amount of financial gain could motivate me to enter a profession that millions require heavy medication to endure.  No one has ever heard about ‘anesthetized accounting’ and yet ‘sedation dentistry’ exists. Why is there such a thing as sedation dentistry?  Because it is believed that 75% of Americans experience dental phobia to some degree. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes dental phobia as a “marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable”. The fact that dental phobia is even listed in the DSM causes me anxiety and apprehension that is excessive and unreasonable, and surpasses the level of anxiety and apprehension I feel at having referred to this manual yet again.

So when both boys had finished their PD Day field trip, the dentist came out to inform me that all was fine.  For my oldest she added, “We might take an x-ray of his wisdom teeth next time, though, and see if they’re ready to come out.” I had this sudden longing for noxious oxide as the memory of the removal of my 4 impacted wisdom teeth resurfaced.

Later that day, my son finally he asked about his wisdom teeth (and I pondered his future dental phobia). “Why do we have wisdom teeth if we don’t need them?” To which I responded with wisdom, “They go with your tail bone that doesn’t have a tail.”

Haha. Very funny. Why are they called wisdom teeth, anyway?”

Well, ” I began, “I believe they are called wisdom teeth because they grow in during adulthood, long after our other teeth have grown in…”

And obviously,” he smirked, “yours were taken out a long time ago?”

Ha. Ha. Very funny.

Did you also just lose your short-term memory teeth?”


Anyway,” he continued, “when do you think I will get mine out?  He asked.

Why, over the summer holidays, of course, or perhaps on your birthday.

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