How we made it to 17

One half a score and seven years ago today, I brought forth on this planet a new infant conceived in….

…the usual way.

And today she’s 17.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who never thought we’d make it this far. I was always a big fan of the adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I tend to run away when things get difficult. Yup, I’m a quitter from way back. I quit jobs, I quit places, I quit people, I quit eating meat, I quit smoking, I even quit drinking all forms of alcohol once for almost a year. And then I thought, “Why did I do that?” and had a glass of wine.

So, when I first figured out that I was going to be raising a child by myself, you’d think my baser instincts would have kicked in and I would have left her on someone’s doorstep, wouldn’t you?

But no. I reckon birthing must seriously mess with your hormones and your head. How else can you explain what you’ll put up with?

  • You never get to sleep anymore because the kid cries every hour or so, 24 hours a day, wanting food or wanting out of a wet diaper or just wanting human contact.  You have to do, like, everything for them for years.
  • They can’t feed themselves for the longest time. (They don’t even come with teeth, for pete’s sake).
  • They poop wherever and whenever the poop feels like sliding out and you have to clean it up.
  • You can’t just send them off for a bath because they’ll drown without constant supervision.
  • They can’t dress themselves until they’re around 30. Even now I keep having to remind her that it’s almost winter and that she’ll probably be cold if she leaves the house in just a t-shirt.
  • You can’t go anywhere with them because they’re always wailing about something or shouting out embarrassing things or breaking stuff or doing something gross like sucking the snot out of their own noses or wetting themselves or throwing up for no apparent reason.
  • And you can’t go anywhere without them because they’ll burn the house down or fall on scissors or something. And also, it’s illegal.
  • Kids are bloody expensive, too. They need an entire new wardrobe at least twice a year, every year until they move out. That’s clothes, shoes, boots, coats – the works. Plus there are all those school supplies, extracurricular activities, lessons, musical instruments, skates, toys, electronics. And let’s not even discuss the cost of food. They never stop eating. Never.

 

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point – how the hell did we make it to XUP Jr.’s 17th birthday?

Well, nature makes the little humans really, really cute so they’re difficult to just give away or otherwise dispose of. Often they look a lot like you, which makes it even freakier. And, the very helplessness that sucks the life out of you, also makes it impossible for you not to care for them. I mean, you have to be pretty heartless to turn your back on a completely defenseless little critter that needs you for absolutely everything, right?

And then, as they get older, unlike pets, kids develop some self-sufficiency. They learn to tie their shoes and read and how to aim their poop for the toilet and even, eventually, how to wipe their bums properly so that you don’t have to do a separate load of laundry just for their skiddy underpants.

  • And then they get to the point where you can almost see a real person about to emerge. You can have actual intelligent conversations with them.
  • You can leave them on their own for days without worrying too much (as long as you call two or three times a day just to make sure they’re still in one piece).
  • If you close the door to their bedrooms, you can pretend that your house is occupied by normal, tidy adults.
  • And, the really fun thing is that they’ll do almost anything for money, so for a few bucks they’ll do all the chores you don’t feel like doing anymore.
  • And you find yourself liking them as people – people you’d want to spend time with even if you weren’t being forced to because of your parental obligations.

A really weird thing is that somewhere along the line you even find yourself liking yourself more and you realize it’s because of the kid. They seem to find your flaws and weaknesses and are somehow able to smooth them over or turn them into strengths. For instance:

  • By trying my patience remorselessly, XUP Jr. has actually made me a more patient person.
  • By demanding constant attention, she’s forced me to stop focusing so much on me and fretting about stupid self-absorbed stuff. 
  • By needing so damn much, she’s obliged me to stop farting around and buckle down and stick to a job and make a home.
  • By depending on me for everything, all the time, she’s given me a reason to get up every morning.
  • And just by being, she’s gifted me the incomparable feeling of absolute and unconditional love for another human.

Like every parent since time began, I know I messed up plenty over the years and wish I could have do-overs for more than a few things I’ve said and done. And I know she has a list of ways I’ve ruined her life which she will hold on to forever and torment me with when I’m hold and feeble. But, nevertheless, so far she’s turning into a lovely young woman. She’s happy, confident, smart, opinionated, outgoing, articulate, kind-hearted, funny, talented, interesting, engaging,has good values, etc., etc.

So, I guess overall, we’re doing okay.

Happy Birthday, darlin’

Cosmic Birthday

Today is Zoom’s birthday. She’s had a pretty challenging year, so I thought I’d dedicate today’s blog post to her.

One of the most significant historical events to take place on October 15th occurred in 1520. This was when King Henry VIII ordered 2 bowling lanes to be installed at Whitehall Palace.

whitehall

Why is this such an important historical event?

Because, while bowling had been around for a really, really long time it had also been outlawed in England for quite some time. It seems all the King’s men wasted too much time bowling instead of practicing their jousting, archery and other important knightly stuff so they made the “sport” illegal. (Kind of like today’s employers putting a firewall on the company server so employees don’t waste all their time playing Facebook games).

Henry VIII, however, enjoyed games that didn’t make him move too much, and for which he could wear other people’s shoes, so one fine October 15th morning, he declared his desire for  a couple of bowling alleys in his den. And lo! They were built. And from then on bowling was wildly popular in England.

HenryVIII

But, as I said, bowling has been around for a long time. Archeologists dug up primitive bowling balls and bowling pins in a grave of an Egyptian from 3200 BC.

There is also evidence from Germany that the sport was played in that country as early as 200 BC – except they used stones and threw them at nine wooden sticks, called kegles. Coincidentally, I believe this was also the origin of the expression, “sticks and stones may break my bones, etc., etc.” Germans have a way of taking the fun out of most things, don’t they?

Anyway, some form of bowling was played in many countries from way back. (Bocce in Italy, Petanque in France). In Scotland a player threw a ball with no holes between his legs towards the pins and after he had released the ball the player would slide towards the pins on his belly. I’m not sure why. Maybe the momentum of the throw combined with the mandatory consumption of a flagon of grain spirits before each turn?

The US started tenpin bowling because the original ninepin bowling attracted a lot of gamblers. A law was passed prohibiting people from owing ninepin bowling lanes. So, of course those clever, loophole-loving Americans just tossed another pin on the deck and kept playing.

I haven’t bowled since XUP Jr. was in elementary school. Back then there wasn’t a lot that would thrill her and her friends quite as much as an afternoon of 5-pin glow-in-the-dark Cosmic bowling. When the weather was crappy (which it almost always was in Halifax) it was cheap fun for everyone.

And it was always a great place for birthday parties!  The kids would throw some balls around and dance to the stylin’ disco rhythms of the alley’s sound system and the moms would sit, gossip and slurp bowling alley lattes.

Ah, good times.

And speaking of good times, I want to wish a whole bunch of those for Zoom for the upcoming year. And I hope we can all go Cosmic Bowling some time soon.

cosmic

7 Steps to Eternal Youth

Since it’s MY BIRTHDAY  TODAY….

100candles

(somebody call the fire brigade)

 …… I thought this would be a good time to share with you the secrets of my eternal youth.

When I tell people how old I am they always say, “What? You don’t look a day over 22!”  Okay, they don’t actually say that, but I can tell by the way they say, “Oh ya?” that this is what they really mean.

So, before I reveal all, you might first want to determine if you even need these secrets. Maybe you’re already eternally youthful and have secrets of your own to reveal.

The test is as follows: Tell people it’s your birthday and tell them you’re 10 years older than you really are. If you’re turning 40, for instance, tell them you’re 50. People always feel obligated to tell you that you look younger and they usually subtract a few years from the age they actually think you look. So, this is the only true way of determining how old you really look to others. (Don’t do this with people more than 20 years younger than you because they won’t have a clue).

People will say, “Wow I thought you were maybe 35,” in which case you’ll know you really do look younger than your age. Or, they might say, “Wow, I thought you were maybe in your early 40s”, in which case you’ll know you look older than your real age and will need to read and absorb these tips for staying young:

  1. Delay taking on adult responsibilities as long as possible or even avoid them altogether. This includes marriage, parenthood, mortgages, car payments, any other debts and thereby also avoiding a permanent, pensionable job (aka death knell).
    • Stay in school for as long as possible
    • Travel to, and live in a lot of different places
    • Collect experiences rather than stuff
    • Live your life like you’re working on a biography. No one is going to want to read about your sensible new dinette set or your great split-level house in the suburbs or how you counted down the days to retirement.
  2. In that same vein, and/or if you’ve already plunged headlong into the drudgery part of being a grown-up;  rewind. Remove anything from your life that’s causing you a lot of stress. Stress ages you faster than almost anything else. So, if you have too many bills or your job is making you miserable or you spend too much of your time fighting with your partner, or you have too many toxic friends, it’s time to find a way out.
  3. You are what you eat. You eat crap, you’re going to look like crap. You spend all your time depriving yourself of good things, you’re going to look deprived. Eat what you really enjoy and take the time to really enjoy everything you eat. Then you’ll look and feel happy. Happy is youthful.
  4. Attitude. Don’t think of yourself as whatever age you are because no matter what it is, it will sound old to you in your head and that will affect your attitude. Convince yourself that you’re 10 years younger than you really are and conduct yourself accordingly. Have fun and feel love.
  5. Laugh every day and smile a lot. Yes, they say laughing and smiling scrunches up your face and causes wrinkles, but it actually lifts every muscle in your face way up high, so it’s kind of like an isotonic face-lift, the effects of which accumulate. And it’s free. And smiling and laughing are good for keeping your innards young, too.
  6. Keep moving. Sitting behind a desk or a steering wheel or on a couch for more than 50% of your day will allow old age to find you and settle on you like one of those big, heavy, woollen ponchos.  Staying upright and mobile keeps Senor old age off your ass/shoulders.
  7. Use your brain. Yes, everything was better in your day, but that day is long gone. Find out what’s going on NOW. Read, learn new stuff, explore, question, debate, think — engage your grey matter.

That’s it.

In conclusion, don’t get into the rut of societal expectations if you want to maintain your verve, panache, joie de vivre other French things for a long time. Live outside the box.