Writing and editing
category: Uncategorized

December 12th passed with a few facebook jokes, and with the 21st and apparently the end of the world fast approaching- it is Friday that we are talking about.

This morning in the Globe there was a picture of Noah Pozner’s mom at his funeral. The idea of attending your child’s funeral is such a devastating and nightmarish prospect. As parents, it can float into your consciousness daily – only to be banished out quickly. Too painful, too heartbreaking to even think about. If you stop and picture the scenario for too long, it would be impossible to function, to go to work, to practice or be anywhere except three feet away from your offspring, sobbing.

A few weeks after I had Holden, I was at a friend’s wedding shower. A mom of a (then) two-year-old asked how I was doing and I told her I was fine, but I was scared. Scared that something would happen to Holden, that his health would turn, that I (or someone else) would drop him, or he would choke. I knew life was precious before, but I didn’t realize it was also fragile and despite my best efforts I couldn’t guarantee it. She looked at me sadly and said, “That is why I want to have another one. If anything happened to my daughter, I would kill myself.” My friend is an amazing mom, and not a depressed individual. We never know how we are going to cope in the face of tragedy, but I think she was just being as honest as she could be that day.

I don’t feel the same way as my friend, but the idea of anything happening to Mercedes or Holden scares me so much. Is it wrong that I would rather the earth collapsed and everyone died than be confronted with the death of my son?

There is a certain magic to raising a kid. Two children can have the same parents and upbringing, eat the same food and turn into such completely different grown-ups. Whatever science happens to make a child there is that tiny unknown factor. The little twists and turns in the genetic code that shape how we look and who we are – and then there is something else entirely. I don’t know what that is – I call it magic, maybe it is God, I really don’t know. There is something that makes us INDIVIDUALS. Everyone in the bank line-up is an individual, but with your own kids you can see the miracle of it. Your little sleepy baby has something you didn’t give to him, foggy – but you can see if even then and it separates you from him. Having a baby and watching that magic slowly take root inside of him has absolutely been the craziest most beautiful experience of my life. i’m not necessarily a better person for it – but I think I like everyone more

Hearing about what happened on Friday is so difficult, for me because I think about what the houses of the families who lost children in Connecticut look like. In my house, Holden is really excited for Santa. We have Christmas decorations up, Holden helped decorate the tree and he asked me to tell Santa that he wanted marbles. Those kids were also probably psyched for the holidays, they probably decorated their trees or lit their menorahs and requested weird presents. The beauty and magic of their imprefect personhood is gone.

Several years ago, Mercedes’ high school went into lockdown. A man shot a teacher in the parking lot, a SWAT team came in. The man was the teacher’s estranged husband -I’m not sure if he even went into the building.  The kids at her school had prepared for a crazed gunman. They had lockdown drills (in case a “rabid dog” came into the school). She even had a lockdown drill  at the hippy alternative school we sent her to for her last couple years of high school.

I only had fire drills and once a chemical spill drill when I went to a school that was close to a plant. There are 14 years in between Mercedes and I, and somewhere in that 14 years things have changed. I’m not pretending to know why. This is just the way it is now.

I go to work everyday and drop off Holden. Sometimes when I drop him off I can’t wait to get away. Writing those words makes me feel ill now. I go to work, and other people look after him. I also complain a lot about the price of daycare, but that almost seems silly. I’m not there to protect him during the day, someone else does – I’m not sure that really has a dollar value. I’m not suggesting that everyone homeschool or that there aren’t real financial constraints to the care you get for your child. I think I am just confused about how we all got to this point.

When I drop my gorgeous, maddening blonde boy off, I accept that his teachers might give him cheese, I accept he might fall down and hurt himself, I accept he might fall ill and throw up or come down with a fever before lunch, i accept that he might feel left out or lonely. I can accept those risks, even though it breaks my heart a little.  A school massacre is, however, an unacceptable risk. It seems egregious and impossible that I, who would rather the world ended than have anything happen to my son, would accept it. And yet here I stand accepting it.

I don’t know what we should do about it. The only thing I do know is on Friday night, I felt like the luckiest motherfucker in the universe.

My husband was away for 10 days in the Canadian Texas (read Alberta) teaching the nice folks out there. There are many reasons I married my husband: he is handsome and he makes me laugh everyday. Perhaps most importantly, he keeps me from becoming a neurotic mess. When he came back he had to listen to me for hours on the subject of how I am ruining our son.

David: Look, there are kids who were put in a closet and fed scraps. And they turned into….

Stan: ….

David: uhh. ….people.

And that is going to be the title of my new book (I’m writing that like I already have a book). “How to Raise your Kids so They Become People”

I think it will be a best seller. I mean – isn’t that enough? Look, I gave you life and I like you more than I like anything else in the universe. I’m not going to stitch hemp nappies for you or rock you to sleep when you are 15. I won’t drill you on Mensa tests or help you gain early acceptance into Harvard. Just go play in the closet. I’ll help you with the therapy bills later.

I don’t put Holden in the closet, but I have noticed lately that there is some room for improvement:

1. Hair brushing. Two weeks ago I found a little dreadlock in Holden’s hair. I cut it out and then promptly forgot about it. This week I noticed he had two dreadlocks. Oh dear. Since then I have brushed his hair TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Total record!

2. Fingernails: Why is it always the pinky fingernail or toenail that grows the longest? If you take a quick look at your child’s hands, the nails don’t look that bad, until you realize  – oh dear – my son has a coke nail. A dirty coke nail. In my defence, cutting Holden’s nails is about as dangerous as running with a pride of lions. Often I tell myself his nails are okay because I’m so scared to broach the subject.

3. Musical Education: I’m not big on kid’s music but I decided the drive to school would be more peaceful with some Raffi (who I do like). Holden doesn’t like my music, and he is so-so on most of the Raffi album except for the song “Joshua Giraffe” We listen to Joshua Giraffe on repeat all the way to school and all the way back. That is about 1 hour and 10 minutes of Joshua Giraffe everyday. I like the anti- zoo message, but I am going to stab myself in the ear if I  have to listen to that song again.

Oh well, I manage to get him to daycare without food on his face, like 50% of the time, and maybe 90% of the time he isn’t wearing his pyjamas. Sometimes I worry about being those awful smelly vegan yoga hippy parents. But then I just love it when I see him with his hair all wild and too long and hands dirty from picking up rocks outside. When he sees a lobster he says in a a high pitched voice, “Don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!” And when he does stuff like that, I think, “He is going to be AMAZING.”

It is okay if it ends up only being me who thinks so, right?

My son is two and so sometimes I look at babies and I think, “That shit is so easy.” Of course, when I had a baby I thought it was the most complicated, difficult and anxiety producing job ever – and maybe it is. I might have forgotten. But you can put babies down and they don’t move. They sleep a lot – okay not when you want to sleep – but a lot anyway. Also you just have to show them a shiny piece of paper and they will be in awe. One day when Holden was just a couple months old I came down with a flu. Everyone was at work and so I lay down on the couch with a plastic bag and whenever he made a sound I would crinkle it by his ear. That bought me, like, two hours.

Now my son is two and people who spend time with us say, “Wow, he is really energetic.” or “He really seems to know what he wants.” or the worst, “He is so spirited.”  That is all a nice way of saying he is a little tyrant. His teachers at school say he is easy going and happy all day, and they have only seen him tantrum when I come to pick him up. I know that is a good thing –  and totally normal – but really?  Do parents ever catch a break?

Lately, every night there is a really serious blow out.. i suppose there is an art to picking your battles with your kids  On one hand, there are times when it makes sense to put your foot down – even with a two-year old.. They want to be independent and so often it is a good idea to avoid conflict if it can get you through the day calmly and sweetly. The problem is I am not skilled in figuring out what I should be bothering about. Most of the time after we have had a big power struggle, I wonder if it was even worth it. Here is a shining example:

1.Before we go out Holden sits on the stairs and waits for me to put his shoes on. At school he can almost manage to put them on himself. But at home, he just sits like a little boy King and waits. So, I said to him,”Help me put your shoes on.” He starts singing and then gets up and dances a monkey dance in the living room.

Stan: Holden, come here and help me put your shoes on.


Stan: Holden come here now to put your shoes on so we can go.


Stan: :Holden, if you don’t come to help me put on your shoes we aren’t going.

Okay – really? We aren’t going? Awesome parenting. And then what ensues is 30 minutes of total breakdown before the two of us are sitting on the floor, Holden snivelling and basically just touching his shoe as I put it on his foot. Does he learn that putting his shoes on by himself is a great thing to do? No, he learns that his mother is a controlling crazy person. I felt so embarrassed about the whole thing that I just dropped the shoe thing, making the whole event meaningless. Complete parenting fail.

2. The same day: Holden is wearing underpants and is standing on the kitchen counter when he pees.

Holden: I peed!

Stan: Oh well!

First of all, what is he doing on the kitchen counter? He was on the kitchen counter because I am a really amazing parent. .

Secondly: It was clearly an accident, but really peeing on the kitchen counter is unacceptable everywhere in the world.

Oh my god, I am screwing him up!

And speaking of screwing up – since when is Black Friday a thing in Canada? We had Thanksgiving last month – I thought Black Friday was one of the bad things about being an American along with expensive hospital stays and having to stomach Rush Limbaugh. I’m not on board.