in the meantime...

Literary News and Reviews by a Latent English Scholar

Posts tagged parenting

0 notes

Never Mix, Never Worry.

I have been a barely present presence on the Interweb this past week and a half. Turns out being one with the living has its perks too, but I think I’m done now. My half broken computer calls me hence.

What have I been up to?

my new vegan venture

I feel bad that the focus of this blog has shifted from complaining about my family to concentrate on vegan and sustainable living, so I’m starting a new project for the productive junk which will really allow me to get back to the heart of the matter on this space: how terrible everyone I am related to is.

Case in point:

I guess it is Christmas soon or something because apparently the 7 year old is in dire need of a red scarf and top hat by next Tuesday’s Holiday Concert Extravaganza (which is at 1:45 in the afternoon because most parents are unemployed and need something to get them out of the house midday, right? Also, does anyone else find it somewhat unreasonable to ask every family of a male child to produce a felt top-hat in the year 2009? Where the freak does one find a top hat? I went downtown, but there was no one who even vaguely resembled this guy to steal one off of:

classic hobo

Perhaps I’ll hit the business district this afternoon. There’s got to be a tycoon somewhere who’s willing to share).

So we stop at the playground in the midst of our shoppery to let the 2 year old run off some steam and I notice he has to pee. So I ask him, “Hey buddy, do you have to pee?” but he assures me, in no uncertain terms, that he does not need to pee and I am a huge asshole for even implying such a preposterous suggestion. I spend the next 10 minutes watching him tug mercilessly at his crotch and run in increasingly tiny circles until he is kind of hop spinning in place and giving me the finger every time I gently remind him it is time to visit the potty. I finally convince him to push his own stroller to Starbucks for an apple juice, because what the kid clearly needs at this point is more liquid.

As soon as the juice hits the little bugger’s lips, it’s go time. Now he has to pee and I better produce a potty quick and how could I possibly leave it to the last minute, have I no compassion? So I leave the 7 year old to ensure my soy chai latte is indeed “easy foam” and venture into the handicap bathroom because I truly believe that balancing a squirmy, 30 pound, 2 year old boy over a filthy, heppatitus infected public toilet whilst wearing a squirmy, 21 pound, 10 month old girl in a sling across your belly, all the while trying not to get completely soaked in urine, is a HUGE handicap.

All would have been fine if it was summer and he was sporting his requisite uniform of elastic waist shorts and dirty tank top. But, no, it’s winter, so he’s wearing like 16 t-shirts and his jeans with the fastener that looks like a regular button, but is actually this weird hook thing, but looks so much like a regular button that I fight with it at every bathroom visit because I have the memory of a goldfish these days. And his brand new winter coat: his puffy, fluffy winter coat with the cowboy pockets and super handy detachable hood.

Needless to say it is hard to get a grip on his pants anyway because at this point he has to pee so bad that being still is no longer an option. I am squatting on the aids-in-a-petri-dish floor, wrestling wads of used toilet paper out of the baby girl’s mouth while trying to tug the boy’s pants down without undoing them, all the while wondering if my friendly and eager-to-please 7 year old is being recruited into some sort of Starbucks based prostitution ring (don’t look so smug, they have those in the States too, you know!), but it is all for naught anyway because as soon as his little trouser snake sees the light of day, it is all over.

I hop back on my heels to protect the baby from the backsplash while still holding on to the boy’s hands, leaning him forward like my husband taught me (cuz I don’t have a wang, so I don’t know these tricks) to save his pants and shoes as much as possible.

But it just keeps coming and coming and I have to let go of his hands and take another step back or risk drowning my daughter and I in his steamy wake. “I have ax-nit on floor,” he whimpers, still unleashing a vicious stream at maximum velocity. There is so much pee that I don’t have time to marvel at how cute it is that he says “ax-nit” instead of “accident” and aren’t 2 year olds just darling? It is time to build a dam or risk seepage into Starbucks proper and that will never do. I begin throwing handfuls of paper towel at the puddle and, conscientious little planet saver that he is, the 2 year old immediately bends down, still peeing, mind you, and picks up a soggy mass and offers it to me. “Here Mommy. You drop.”

I swallow a scream, because the last thing I need is a helpful barista in the mix. “No, no touch! Yuck!” I hiss, sounding more evil than I intended, which scares him and he begins lurching towards me with a quivering lip, pants around his ankles, arms out in search of a comforting hug. He’s finally emptied out, so I coax him out of the puddle, try to keep his piss soaked mitts off his sister and begin the daunting task of pulling up the jeans from hell.

But it’s wicked slippery on that there floor.

I feel I need to make a slight digression here. I HATE PUBLIC WASHROOMS. Before having children, I would avoid them at all costs, holding my water for inordinate periods of time, becoming Queen of the Hover. I have nightmares about public washrooms, in which I have to pee so, so, so bad, but every stall door I open reveals a scene more horrifying than the last: pubies, poopies, icky-lady business as far as the eye can see. And we all know that H1N1 actually originated on a McDonald’s bathroom floor in Iowa. So you can understand why what happened next will haunt me until my dying day.

I am yanking up the boy’s jeans with my arms out as far as they’ll extend because I don’t want to germify the girl, but the pants still aren’t undone so it’s a tight squeeze and I don’t have a fantastic grip and his shoes are slippery with his own waste and the next thing I know the boy goes pitching forward and belly flops smack dab in the middle of the yellow pool of his own creation.

I freeze but for a second before the adrenaline kicks in and I have him by the back of his coat, like a hideous parody of a lifeguard frantically pulling my kin to safety. But his shoes keep slipping and I lose my hold—he’s falling again! With lightening fast reflexes I grasp his hood and then the unthinkable happens: one by one I hear the snaps that hold the stupid thing in place releasing and then he is gone, falling to his doom, doing the syphallus front crawl on the bathroom floor and all I have left of my beautiful son is his eerily hollow, unoccupied hood.

Sufficed to say, we did make it out of that bathroom, sans coat, sans dignity. The 7 year old was still there and if he joined some sort of cult in our absence, he’s not telling. Ironically, the first thing the 2 year old did upon emerging from the devastated bathroom was drop his apple juice all over the Starbucks floor. As the friendly barista promptly mopped up the innocuous yellow puddle while ordering my boy another drink, on the house, of course, she assured me that she mops up similar puddles at least 2-3 times a day. And, as I guided my harried clan out of her establishment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of calm, knowing I ensured her yellow puddle quota would most definitely be met that day.

I expect mywholedeal.com to launch in the coming weeks, so check back often. In the meantime, I will be creating some guest posts for the amazing Vegansaurus and probably cleaning up a lot more pee.

Filed under vegan family parenting Starbucks mywholedeal gross vegansaurus

1 note

Vinegar and Baking Soda Ain’t Never Peeked at my Undercarriage

For some reason it took me awhile to get on the natural cleaning bandwagon. I mean it’s not like I’m a real clean freak or anything (laundry’s cool once a month, no?), but when I do clean, I clean for keeps. Picture me 10 months pregnant bleaching the baseboards with a toothbrush—I’m that thorough. But kids lick everything, really just get right into the crevices with some deep tongue action every time you turn your head. When there’s 3 of them at it, you simply must resign yourself to believe we are symbiotic with dirt and the dried out piece of pear the baby is eating out of Raggedy Andy’s overalls is just nature’s own sweet gift.

Bottom line: bleach and the other thousands of harsh chemicals found in conventional cleaners will do way more damage to baby innards than a fuzzy pear or two could ever inflict. Rather than slowly poisoning your kin, try mixing together equal parts plain white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, which works to disinfect everything from mirrors, to counters, to toilets, tubs and floors. Extra tough stains? Sprinkle the mess with baking soda first and then spray the whole deal with your vinegar/water solution and scrub away. I’m not s-ing you people: this shiz even gets bright yellow baby back-side “magic” out of area rugs and it’s super fun watching it fizz.

Don’t enjoy the pickle-y smell? Try the anti-bacterial and sweet smelling lovlieness of essential oils: mix 2 cups water with 25 drops Tea Tree Oil and 25 drops of Lavender Oil for a more fragrant germ buster.

So stop letting those nasty bubbles check out your fancy bits-go natural instead.

Filed under natural cleaning naughty bubbles vinegar and baking soda kids parenting

0 notes

The Kitchens that Saved My Soul

Ah. Good weekend.

My parents came to hang out this weekend and it was just lovely. They bought me a sweet 4-slice toaster, which then led us to quasi-remodel my kitchen and now all I want to do is hang out in there, wipe down my counters and emit contented sighs with every swish of my tea towel.

Okay, so all we really did was lose the microwave (which I have been convinced is trying to kill me for at least 3 years now), rip out an ill-planned shelf and rearrange some crap. But what a difference. So clean, so sparsely populated. And the counter space! Oh, the meals I will craft! It is crazy how a little organization can change your whole outlook.

But, alas, I was so busy frolicking dans la cuisine and making everthing just so, that I have yet to really cook in there!

So my Vegan Mofo post for today is a recommendation for any vegan in the vicinity of Victoria who is too busy primping their kitchen to use it: go here.

Green Cuisine Vegetarian Restaurant

The Green Cuisine has been my favouritest food gettery for many a moon now. Always yummy, never disappointing, this buffet style 100% vegan, 100% organic gem of restaurant is nestled in the heart of Market Square in downtown Victoria. The food is sold by weight (and for those of us who think about weight, the nutritional information is posted right above each individual dish), so you are in charge of your own destiny price wise. For heavier foods (think brown rice, luscious homemade soups or tasty, tasty mojos), the Green Cuisine offers a per bowl rate, so load your to-be-weighed plate up with their countless yummy salads and get your mojo on elsewhere.

I highly recommend the Green Cuisine’s baked samosas. Crispy filo dough and tons of lightly curried potatoes and veggies make these a healthy, filling and delicious alternative to the traditionally fried treat.

The Green Cuisine also offers an impressive selection of breads, baked goods, fresh juices and desserts (fruit crumble=pure yumitude), in addition to their own brand of soy milk and tempeh burgers, available in-store and at Thrifty Foods (beside the other faux meats).

Apart from the food, the ambiance might leave a little to be desired (my husband won’t come in because, apparently, the place wreaks of hippie), but it’s Victoria! It’s 17 degrees Celsius in late October, eat out in the square if you’re that squeamish! I personally enjoy the space: the Green Cuisine offers free purified water and a whole room dedicated to kids, riding toys and all, so I can say, “Leave me be, I’m eating fantastic pickled beets!”

Now, go there already! It’s time for me to watch Top Chef and lust after skills I will never possess.

Filed under vegan veganmofo 2009 Green Cuisine parenting

0 notes

About Face...And Butt..and Thighs...

A friend posted a link to this site on Facebook today and I’ve been exploring while the monkeys are in their cages.

Aside from the bump in the highway that made me revert back to my “maiden” name, I’ve always considered myself to be more humanist than feminist. This is especially true now that I am raising two small manfriends. Peoples is peoples, my idealist little heart sings, and if gender isn’t an issue for me, why is it such a big deal to everyone else?

Lately though, I realize that I have been desensitized to a lot of crap due to the company I keep. And now that I have daughter, said crap is starting to stink again.

About-face.org focuses on the negative depiction of women in the media. The “offenders” they choose to dissect put out messages that are often overtly demeaning or just plain wrong, but still these ads make their way into our magazines, onto our TVs and computers and most days we fail to give them a second look. But the messages are there, marinating our subconscious so that we know thinner is better and that it’s hilarious for men to be rollicking misogynists.

Case in point:

mysogynist ads

This ad appeared in Maxim earlier this year. Talk about catering to your target audience, but come on! Nobody thought the term “skank” was a bit much? What about the poor soul in the fish nets? How’s she going to spray away the gonorrhea and spritz on some self-respect? Is there an ad for that in Cosmo?

It’s supposed to be funny. I get it.

If it is, as so many things are, “all in good fun”, is it really no big deal? I have learned to laugh off everything from off-the-cuff remarks to full-on, Talledega Nights style,  outright sexist ambushes from friends, family and complete strangers. I smile, I chuckle where I am supposed to or I look appropriately distressed for just the right amount of time to trick my conscience into thinking I am doing the right thing and then I nervously laugh alongside the rest of the normal, everyday people. But do I really want my kids to do this too?

There is something to be said for having a sense of humour and not being the uptight downer all of the time, but why does having a sense of humour have to entail enduring the propagation of norms that shouldn’t be norms?

I don’t want my sons to be misogynistic, heavy drinking, jerks who value women only as non-entities, their sole purpose in life only to fulfill the needs of men. I don’t want my sons to think those qualities are amusing or even the slightest bit okay. I come back to my eloquent statement at the start of this tirade: peoples is peoples. That’s what I want all my children to remember: everybody feels, hurts, elates and loves.

But what does any of this have to do with VeganMoFo, you ask?

Check out this little gem:

About-face.org contributor Sabrina Sierra cites

the most disturbing part of the commercial is when the off-screen narrator announces that the teriyaki burger is “more than just a piece of meat”—implying that Audrina, a woman, is just a piece of meat

But couldn’t he just as easily be drawing a correlation between Madame Bikini and the burger,  implying that Audrina, complex woman that she is, is also more than “just a piece of meat”? I mean, she eats crap and cares about her body-so many layers, so many complicated, complicated layers.

I know, I know. Not likely and not good enough.

To me, the most disturbing part of the ad is when she states

"To look this hot in a bikini, I got to give up, like, everything."

So many issues! Where to begin?

On the one hand, it’s pretty damn honest. You can’t go around stuffing your face with the greasy flesh of tortured dead animals and other processed “foods” and expect not to eventually look like a character straight out of Wall-E. So we’re supposed to believe that she gives up the lion’s share of junk, but sneaks in this one, er, treat. Everything in moderation, right?

And while we’re still on this hand, let’s look at the woman. She really isn’t AS emaciated as some of the role models we are supposed to aspire to. She’s got curves, no bones are protruding anywhere. I believe this girl fuels her party machine on a regular basis, though I seriously doubt it’s at Carl’s Jr. I am sure she is at the bottom end of the spectrum of what is considered to be a healthy weight. So, is telling people they can still be healthy and enjoy and occasional indulgence really so wrong?

Here comes that other hand.

More than just a piece of meat." Whereas, by a huge leap of the imagination that I am sure only I will take, I can almost skew this statement enough to make in empowering to women (look past my gold bikini and into my thoughts and travails), when it come to animals, there is no way to make it anything more than what it is: an accurate summation of how this society views other species. Animals are exploited their entire lives until finally all that is left are some valueless pieces of flesh.

So, let’s empower women by empowering animals. Human-beings are not supposed to eat the processed, horrible garbage that poor Audrina has to deprive herself of anyway. If people primarily ate the wonderful whole foods that occur naturally in, you guessed it, NATURE, we would all be the shape we are naturally supposed to be, and I bet it would look closer to Audrina than Kirstie Alley (I’m sorry, Kirstie. Now put down the popcorn chicken).

I love my daughter with every cell in my being and I don’t want her to starve herself so she can look like some impossible ideal. Nor do I want her to compromise her health by embracing the flip-side of that coin and eating whatever chemically over-processed crap might satisfy her flavour-hole because “why should she be deprived of anything”? It absolutely KILLS me when I see obese parents rearing obese kids and insisting that they are happy with how they are, big is beautiful and how dare we judge? Those parents aren’t even giving their kids a chance!

Our bodies need wholegrains, fresh veggies, lean protein. Our brains need healthy, natural oils. Our bodies do not need petroleum products, sugary soft drinks, the hormone and antibiotic soaked flesh of other living creatures. Is it really so hard to offer an apple in place of chocolate chip granola bar? Fruit juice in place of Kool-Aid? Grown-ups are in charge of buying the groceries: a kid will never have to give up “like everything” if they are never exposed to garbage like Carl’s Jr. in the first place. None of my children have ever eaten fast food.  Do they miss it? NO BECAUSE THEY’VE NEVER HAD IT! Fast food isn’t real food. My kids eat real food and they like real food. I am sure they would love the taste of some salty, beef tallow fries, too, but until they can make an educated decision for themselves, until they can weigh the pros and cons of ingesting that poison and make a real choice, I won’t put their bodies through that. I will feed my babies real people food, not mad-scientist, capitalist tripe.

whew.

So, I guess what I want to say is that I am giving my children the gift of a healthy start. Our humane diet leaves little chance that my baby girl (or either of my strapping lads, if they so choose) won’t look smoking hot in a gold bikini. But she will also have a strong heart, a complex mind and a kind soul to fill out that healthy rack.

(Special thanks to dirtyolive.net for the fodder!)

Filed under , vegan veganmofo 2009 family parenting healthy eating

0 notes

Grandpa Mac, Woofer and Dad, circa 1979
I Miss My Grandpa
And I always will.
It has been six years today since we lost my Grandpa Mac to evil, evil cancer. If I had to lay bets, I would have guessed that he’d be the last of my grandparents to go, but life is one crazy mixed up mother-so-and-so.
To me, Grandpa Mac was incredible. He’d arrive in the summer with fishing and canning and berries and jam in his wake. He made root beer. He competed in the BC Summer games and let me and my cousin make bullets in his creepy laundry room. He took me bowling and on long hikes and let me pick stuff from his garden. He introduced me to the wonder that is beets. He taught me how to play crib and Scrabble and crokinole. He offered porridge, but always made me pancakes.
He taught me how to Nordic ski, tried in vain to teach me downhill and let me drive his truck when I shouldn’t have. He had the sweetest orange snowmobile and I loved to watch him tow my Dad behind it. He showed me mica and skat and how to be easy-going when everyone around you is just the opposite (not that I’ve mastered that skill, by any means).
He made me feel athletic when everyone else around me made me feel fat. He made me feel listened to when I really just thought I was a nuisance.
He made me feel better about losing my cat. He taught my oldest son how to walk. He never thought he’d see a great-grandchild and he held two.
He is the only person in my entire existence that I ever spent an extended amount of time with and NEVER had a disagreement with. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it speaks volumes for him.
I love my Grandpa Mac. No one in the world is perfect, but I am thankful I’ve been allowed to idolize him as such.
Cheers, Grandpa Mac. You are thought of everyday.

Grandpa Mac, Woofer and Dad, circa 1979

I Miss My Grandpa

And I always will.

It has been six years today since we lost my Grandpa Mac to evil, evil cancer. If I had to lay bets, I would have guessed that he’d be the last of my grandparents to go, but life is one crazy mixed up mother-so-and-so.

To me, Grandpa Mac was incredible. He’d arrive in the summer with fishing and canning and berries and jam in his wake. He made root beer. He competed in the BC Summer games and let me and my cousin make bullets in his creepy laundry room. He took me bowling and on long hikes and let me pick stuff from his garden. He introduced me to the wonder that is beets. He taught me how to play crib and Scrabble and crokinole. He offered porridge, but always made me pancakes.

He taught me how to Nordic ski, tried in vain to teach me downhill and let me drive his truck when I shouldn’t have. He had the sweetest orange snowmobile and I loved to watch him tow my Dad behind it. He showed me mica and skat and how to be easy-going when everyone around you is just the opposite (not that I’ve mastered that skill, by any means).

He made me feel athletic when everyone else around me made me feel fat. He made me feel listened to when I really just thought I was a nuisance.

He made me feel better about losing my cat. He taught my oldest son how to walk. He never thought he’d see a great-grandchild and he held two.

He is the only person in my entire existence that I ever spent an extended amount of time with and NEVER had a disagreement with. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it speaks volumes for him.

I love my Grandpa Mac. No one in the world is perfect, but I am thankful I’ve been allowed to idolize him as such.

Cheers, Grandpa Mac. You are thought of everyday.

Filed under family parenting

0 notes

Good Friends Make it All Better

the CoreWhat a week!

Just got home from meeting the most beautiful baby that didn’t come out of me. Did I ever need to be surrounded by the relaxed, unconditional love that is the Core.

The Core is five of us lovely ladies that have been best friends since elementary school. We call ourselves “the Core” because we are all very different and we’ve all branched off and made friends with similar interests at various times, but when it comes right down to it, the five of us are at the Core of it all. We will always be friends and always come back to each other.  And even though we’ve spread ourselves across the globe—one of us now calls the Cayman Islands home—and chosen markedly different paths in life, it is so comforting to know that when we do get together, everything is just as it’s always been.

Four of us have kids of our own now, the latest addition to the Baby Core having the courteousy to be born on one of her surrogate aunties’ birthdays yesterday. I am so excited to watch our babies grow up together and so thankful to have such kind and funny people in my life that can pull me out of any funk I stumble into.

And that is the key right there: we have been through some intense and stupid stuff in our 20+ years of friendship, but we always, always, always know when to let stuff go and smile and laugh again. I love my girls like family, even though I don’t talk to them every day or even every month. There are no secret grudges or imaginary plots (well, maybe some, but we drink those puppies away). We understand that life is busy and it often gets in the way of communication, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be there in an instant when we’re really needed.

The Core makes all the bull-shit seem even more bull-shittier, but also funnier and less consequential in the long run. I have the love of an amazing man who is my family, my life. I have three super-incredible babies who make every second of my day make sense. I have caring and supportive parents who will never judge me no matter how clueless I can be at times. And I have friends: plenty of fabulous, amazing, gorgeous friends who are marrying and procreating at an alarming rate and will keep my heart busy and happy for the rest of my life.

Things are good. I can breathe again now.

Filed under friends family kids parenting

0 notes

The Copernicus Crater
as published in Island Parent October 2008
I never use my grown-up voice with my kids. It is not my real voice. My actual voice prompts telemarketers to ask for my Mommy or Daddy, so I’ve concocted a more professional alter-ego: “the Grown-up.” I reserve “the Grown-up” for important tasks like diverting phone calls with unsavouries (salespeople and in-laws, for example), discussing speeding tickets with police officers, or placating indecisive people. It is the voice I use for the various tasks I must take-on despite finding no particular joy in their accomplishment. So I am surprised to hear “the Grown-up” ask my son to go play with the toys in the waiting room that January afternoon.
He has a dent in his head. It’s worrisome because it is fresh, yet unprovoked. There’ve been no accidents, no renegade pebbles or misfired cartwheels. The day he was born, I stroked and kissed that head, investigating every millimetre of the perfect orb I was unable to pass by conventional means. That giant melon is home to the most incredible imagination and compassionate soul you could ever hope to meet. The doctor tells me we’ve made her day; she loves a challenge. After the preliminary examination, she cannot tell us what caused my son’s formerly pristine skull to develop an indentation comparable to the Copernicus crater on the moon. The lack of tenderness around the site or an obvious cause, such as a fall, rules out trauma. That the dent arrived so suddenly —it wasn’t present at bathtime the morning before—is more than perplexing. X-rays are ordered for the following day.
“Will they put me in THE tube?” His father had a CAT scan some months back and the notion of being sucked up by a magical, robotic straw was attractive yet undeniably frightening to my little boy.
“I don’t think so, kiddo, but I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” I smile back at him in the rearview mirror as I steer towards home. Not being able to give my son the concrete answers he so desperately craved was difficult; even harder to take was the prospect that the X-rays would lead us down a road we were unprepared to take.
“It’s probably no big deal. I’ve got lumps all over my head.” I know my husband is doing his best to be reassuring, but his cavalier attitude is eliciting the opposite reaction from me.
“Your head didn’t get lumpy overnight. It took years of neglect for you to become so hideously deformed!” I know this is a sore spot. Before we married, my husband had not visited a doctor since birth, despite numerous Emergency-Room-worthy skateboard and dirt bike injuries that have left his body creaky and arthritic well before its time.
He is used to my knee-jerk outbursts. “You did good. We’re getting it checked out.” He pulls five-foot-five me into six-foot-five him. The boys are squealing at each other in the next room. This is how I always want it to be.
Hospitals are not foreign ground for me, having spent the majority of my first six years being poked, posed and prodded by a myriad of white coated professionals. I do not fear hospitals; I am forever grateful for hospitals and those wonderful individuals who so selflessly devote their lives to fixing the lives of others. I always say yes when the cashier asks me if I’d like to donate two dollars to the Vancouver Children’s Hospital; I would not be here to shell out two dollars if not for Children’s Hospital.
My memories of my stay at Children’s have not faded, but I see now they are qualified. For an only child pretty much in constant pain who had never been to an amusement park, Children’s Hospital was my Disneyland. I had my first experience living with other kids, sharing my room with various girls during my stay, most of them older, who were always dying to play Candyland with me and style my waist-length hair. Clowns and magicians often made their rounds to our rooms and twice a week the nurses would line us up in our wheelchairs, fashioning a somewhat depressing looking train, and snake us down sterile but happy hallways to the giant library for arts and crafts. Friends and family visited often and we had wheelchair races on the roof of the hospital. A reporter even came by my room once and I actually got to be on TV. Then, to top it all off, when I finally boarded that ferry home, I felt better. Not fantastic, that would come later, but better and, although I was fearful the pain would return as it always had in the past, I now knew a place existed solely for the purpose of helping kids like me.
How different my memories of our time at Children’s are than those of my parents. They were young then, younger than I am now. Mom, not yet working, just graduated University three months before my birth. Dad derailed his teaching aspirations and took a retail position to support us. His job offered no paid vacations nor the extended leaves necessary for one on a constant bedside vigil. But he was there the whole time. They were both there the night my IV had an air bubble and began belching out my five-year-old blood, soaking the sheets and soaking my pyjamas, devastating because I was only allowed to wear clothes from home the night before a surgery. My parents were there when countless doctors stuck fingers in places little girls shouldn’t need to think about; they were there when the anaesthesiologist underestimated my medication and I awoke in the operating room, drugged and ranting that Joanie loves Chachi; they were there, holding me steady, as I learned to walk again on legs feeble from disuse. Hospital regulations allowed only one parent to sleep in my room at a time, so Mom and Dad alternated nights. How terrifying for the one left alone in the hospital dormitory, with only the uncertainty of life to contemplate.
I think about all of this as I walk my child towards the medical imaging unit. I think about how generous it was of my parents to leave me unburdened my whole youth, with only the adventures to reflect back upon. In the waiting room, I hand my son a scrap of paper and a blue crayon fished from the depths of my purse. I ask him to draw me a diagram of what he thinks the robot tube is going to look like. I know my place, I had excellent teachers. I contemplate uncertainty in silence.

The Copernicus Crater

as published in Island Parent October 2008

I never use my grown-up voice with my kids. It is not my real voice. My actual voice prompts telemarketers to ask for my Mommy or Daddy, so I’ve concocted a more professional alter-ego: “the Grown-up.” I reserve “the Grown-up” for important tasks like diverting phone calls with unsavouries (salespeople and in-laws, for example), discussing speeding tickets with police officers, or placating indecisive people. It is the voice I use for the various tasks I must take-on despite finding no particular joy in their accomplishment. So I am surprised to hear “the Grown-up” ask my son to go play with the toys in the waiting room that January afternoon.


He has a dent in his head. It’s worrisome because it is fresh, yet unprovoked. There’ve been no accidents, no renegade pebbles or misfired cartwheels. The day he was born, I stroked and kissed that head, investigating every millimetre of the perfect orb I was unable to pass by conventional means. That giant melon is home to the most incredible imagination and compassionate soul you could ever hope to meet. The doctor tells me we’ve made her day; she loves a challenge. After the preliminary examination, she cannot tell us what caused my son’s formerly pristine skull to develop an indentation comparable to the Copernicus crater on the moon. The lack of tenderness around the site or an obvious cause, such as a fall, rules out trauma. That the dent arrived so suddenly —it wasn’t present at bathtime the morning before—is more than perplexing. X-rays are ordered for the following day.


“Will they put me in THE tube?” His father had a CAT scan some months back and the notion of being sucked up by a magical, robotic straw was attractive yet undeniably frightening to my little boy.


“I don’t think so, kiddo, but I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” I smile back at him in the rearview mirror as I steer towards home. Not being able to give my son the concrete answers he so desperately craved was difficult; even harder to take was the prospect that the X-rays would lead us down a road we were unprepared to take.


“It’s probably no big deal. I’ve got lumps all over my head.” I know my husband is doing his best to be reassuring, but his cavalier attitude is eliciting the opposite reaction from me.


“Your head didn’t get lumpy overnight. It took years of neglect for you to become so hideously deformed!” I know this is a sore spot. Before we married, my husband had not visited a doctor since birth, despite numerous Emergency-Room-worthy skateboard and dirt bike injuries that have left his body creaky and arthritic well before its time.


He is used to my knee-jerk outbursts. “You did good. We’re getting it checked out.” He pulls five-foot-five me into six-foot-five him. The boys are squealing at each other in the next room. This is how I always want it to be.


Hospitals are not foreign ground for me, having spent the majority of my first six years being poked, posed and prodded by a myriad of white coated professionals. I do not fear hospitals; I am forever grateful for hospitals and those wonderful individuals who so selflessly devote their lives to fixing the lives of others. I always say yes when the cashier asks me if I’d like to donate two dollars to the Vancouver Children’s Hospital; I would not be here to shell out two dollars if not for Children’s Hospital.


My memories of my stay at Children’s have not faded, but I see now they are qualified. For an only child pretty much in constant pain who had never been to an amusement park, Children’s Hospital was my Disneyland. I had my first experience living with other kids, sharing my room with various girls during my stay, most of them older, who were always dying to play Candyland with me and style my waist-length hair. Clowns and magicians often made their rounds to our rooms and twice a week the nurses would line us up in our wheelchairs, fashioning a somewhat depressing looking train, and snake us down sterile but happy hallways to the giant library for arts and crafts. Friends and family visited often and we had wheelchair races on the roof of the hospital. A reporter even came by my room once and I actually got to be on TV. Then, to top it all off, when I finally boarded that ferry home, I felt better. Not fantastic, that would come later, but better and, although I was fearful the pain would return as it always had in the past, I now knew a place existed solely for the purpose of helping kids like me.


How different my memories of our time at Children’s are than those of my parents. They were young then, younger than I am now. Mom, not yet working, just graduated University three months before my birth. Dad derailed his teaching aspirations and took a retail position to support us. His job offered no paid vacations nor the extended leaves necessary for one on a constant bedside vigil. But he was there the whole time. They were both there the night my IV had an air bubble and began belching out my five-year-old blood, soaking the sheets and soaking my pyjamas, devastating because I was only allowed to wear clothes from home the night before a surgery. My parents were there when countless doctors stuck fingers in places little girls shouldn’t need to think about; they were there when the anaesthesiologist underestimated my medication and I awoke in the operating room, drugged and ranting that Joanie loves Chachi; they were there, holding me steady, as I learned to walk again on legs feeble from disuse. Hospital regulations allowed only one parent to sleep in my room at a time, so Mom and Dad alternated nights. How terrifying for the one left alone in the hospital dormitory, with only the uncertainty of life to contemplate.


I think about all of this as I walk my child towards the medical imaging unit. I think about how generous it was of my parents to leave me unburdened my whole youth, with only the adventures to reflect back upon. In the waiting room, I hand my son a scrap of paper and a blue crayon fished from the depths of my purse. I ask him to draw me a diagram of what he thinks the robot tube is going to look like. I know my place, I had excellent teachers. I contemplate uncertainty in silence.

Filed under parenting illness uncertainty head dents adventure