Monthly Archives: December 2013

Reality tv moms actually exist

The holidays have left me brimming with stuff to write about, I mean there’s certainly a ton of new material when you throw in Autism, family gatherings, out-of-town family and a huge ice storm that wrecked havoc on homes and businesses. And I’m sure posts on some of these things will come. But that will be later. Right now I’m interested in a conversation I had yesterday with my daughter.

She is currently dancing as part of the cast in a local production. With about 15 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 in the cast, there are obviously a lot of moms who hang around in the back, helping with costumes, makeup and gossiping.

Two of the moms in particular are aggressively vocal, dominating the conversations and spreading their particular brand of nastiness like a poison around the room. They complain about everything, brag about their sons getting ejected from hockey games for mouthing to the ref, brag about yelling at store clerks while they make unreasonable demands and generally treat their children like crap. Being trapped there as witness to their behaviour makes me feel like I’m trapped in some circle of hell watching a mash up of the worst traits of “Dance Moms”, “Toddlers and Tiaras”, and “Wives of some random rich guys” (Or whatever that last one is called.)

I don’t care for that aggressive, put-people-down style of television and until now, I hadn’t believed that people on those shows really, truly exist.

I, and other moms, choose to ignore most of it, but I hadn’t realized until yesterday just how much little ears were paying attention.

“Mom,” my girl asked, “Have you heard those two moms in the change room?” I sighed, knowing at once whom she was referring to. I described them just to be sure and she said “Ya, how come they are so mean?”

I sighed again and explained that some people feel better by putting others down and treating them like dirt.
“But how does that make them feel better?” Good question. One that I don’t have the answer for.

In fact, talking about these moms felt a lot like talking about bullies at school. Sigh. I know some people never grow up, but how do I explain that to a ten year old who wants everyone to get along?

I find it really sad that people feel the need to live like that. Yes we all have bad days, and sometimes need a few minutes to bitch about it/get it off your chest, but there comes a time when it is time to stop dominating the conversation with your complaints, close your mouth and just listen to someone else.

Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if all the complainers in your life (especially those you can’t choose to get away from such as family members or other parents at school or dance) would just learn an ounce or two of self-regulation and stop after two minutes? The very air would be easier to breathe and the negative impact on our children would be greatly reduced.

In the end, I told my daughter how I avoided getting sucked into the negativity, and how I ignored most of it. It’s not the most satisfactory answer, as it seems to leave something hanging, but it was the best I had at the time. And it’s not my job to change these women. But is it at least partly my responsibility when their comments are being noticed by my child? Maybe. But I am not good with any confrontation, even if I am in the right, and I am chickening out of even a gentle rebuke. I know I will bump into these women again at future productions and maybe competitions, maybe then I will say something, and then again maybe I won’t. I know I don’t treat others like that, so I know that the example I am setting my children is the one I want them to see and emulate. And that is clearly my job and it’s one I take seriously.


Family Traditions

Family traditions are important to us. They might be as big as 25 people for Christmas dinner, or they might be as small as Sunday morning breakfasts in our sunroom. My husband and I work towards making our traditions something that the children not only enjoy but happily anticipate.

For our eldest, traditions are a comfortable, repeating and predictable event, for our daughter, they are a fun activity she enjoys while spending time with her family. For now, the baby gets to come along and experience new things.

Some of these traditions are deliberate, some not so much. One though is as new to me as it is to our older children: cutting a Christmas tree.

You see, when I met my husband, I had never had a real, live tree before.

So, off we went, to Spademan’s, the very same tree farm he had gone to with his family as a child, and we’ve been going there ever since.

It’s not huge, but by the time the kids have traipsed from one corner to the other, checking out every single tree looking for the perfect one, we have spent a good 45 minutes to an hour out there.

Our eldest carefully marked the trees in the running with tufts of dry grass and our daughter practiced her head stands and cartwheels amongst the rows of trees. All while I struggled to lug around our chunky baby who was so bundled up that he could hardly move yet was somehow able to surreptitiously remove his boots every few minutes. (there was no snow for a toboggan and we don’t yet have a wagon as I cleverly passed on all of the baby gear long ago) My husband corralled the dog, and juggled the saw, the video camera and the point and shoot camera (having wisely decided that the big camera might be too much to carry this year)

As is usual, we marched back and forth several times between two trees that I think were actually identical twins in an effort to determine which one was better. Someone finally said “I don’t care! I’m not walking anymore, it’s THIS one!” That someone might have been me.

Then, while I plopped myself down on the frozen ground to put the boots on baby again, and my hubby lay on his side cutting down the tree, we tried to get the older two to use the cameras and record the tree falling for posterity. Neither cared to.

But then our daughter stood up and said she wanted to carry the tree back, and promptly picked up the trunk and started dragging it. We looked at each other, shrugged and gathered up our things and boys quickly to catch up to her. I ended up carrying the top end to make it a wee bit easier.

I only took a small moment to correct hubby when he told her she was tough doing manly things, and told her that no, she is a strong woman. I don’t know if she caught the difference or not, preferring to focus on carrying the tree. She wouldn’t even take a break until I suggested it.

Back at the entrance we watched them pull our tree through the funnel-like contraption to fold the branches up to tie them for travelling, and got a big thrill watching them pull a really wide tree through using a winch.

We sat around the big bonfire and drank hot chocolate from our ancient thermos (used only twice a year-the Christmas parade and Christmas tree day) and ate hot dogs that never seem to stay warm wrapped in foil.

On our way home, two of the three fell asleep and the other zoned out completely.

Later, we decorated the tree while watching Christmas movies and despite a few minor quibbles (inevitable in our family of five)everyone was satisfied that our Christmas tradition had happened again.

After everyone was tucked into bed, hubby and I looked at each other and smiled. Despite everything else that may be going on, all is right in our home.