When Up Is Down

Sometimes, when you see that perspectives are once again skewed you don’t feel outraged, shocked or even a little bit surprised. You just feel a little nauseated and a whole lot of numb. I’m tired to death of mainstream news.  I’m tired of not hearing that the victims killed in Gaza were killed as much by their leaders’ actions as by the IDF . I’m tired of not hearing that Israel always tries to minimize civilian dammage and always aims for military targets first and foremost. I’m tired of not hearing of the impact  on the lives of the children in Sderot who have had missiles shot at them for years now. I’m tired of not hearing about the tens of thousands of civilians who have been killed in Syria.

I am sick and tired of feeling that Israel must defend its very right to exist and its right to protect its citizens. Do any of us live in a country that needs to defend itself like this? Do I feel the need to apologize to the world because I live in a country ruled by the Europeans who came in, took over and did all that they could to destroy the original native population of this land? Europeans, I might add, who did not have an ongoing existence in this country for over 5000 years. Ontarians were in a tizzy a few years ago when the Aboriginal people of Ontario were staging a slow down on the highway over a land dispute. Hunh, transportation was actually affected. How inconvenient. No guns, no suicide bombers, no missiles. Were the newscasts ever busy that night with peaceful images of the protest.

So really, unless you know what it’s like to live with the constant threat of national security, to send your children off to schools that all have bomb shelters for their safety and then when they’re older to send all of your children off to the army with the possibllity of something truly horrible happening to them just keep your cushy, sanctimonious, anti-semitic opinion to yourself. When innocent children’s lives are at stake, children whose families, friends, teachers, neighbours and leaders only want to be able to live in safety, self defence does not need to be justified. If you don’t get it, it is because you choose not to get it.

Uncertainty

As a parent I am very accustomed to facing uncertainty. I constantly question my actions; did the punishment fit the crime both in deed and in severity, am I being too harsh or too lenient, has the message gotten through, should I have forced them to continue with the lessons, am I forcing them to do something they don’t need to do? These are all doubts that I am accustomed to.

Today I am faced with a new uncertainty, one with the possibility of far more serious consequences. My eldest son is to leave for Israel on December 1st. We have been very excited for him, this program was to be a very exciting way for him to begin his gap year of travel. It is always my deepest wish when their is trouble in Israel that it will end quickly with a minimal amount of harm to all Israelis. Missiles aimed at Tel Aviv are unusual and to be frank this frightens me. There is talk of war. There is often talk of war but missiles are landing while there is talking. I think that I might not feel as worried if my son were already there it is the thought of what we will be sending him in to. He, as is the way of youth, has no fear for his safety. I have always said that I did not know what it was to worry until I became a mother. Right now I am very much a mother.

I know that you tend to feel safer when you are in Israel than when you are here reading the reports, but this year is about his independence his mommy can’t come with so that she’ll feel safer.
So, we’ll continue to watch the situation and, of course, we will pray for a quick and a peaceful end to the current situation in Israel.

May everyone in Israel be kept safe.

Finding The Silver Lining

Every now and then something particular happens that causes me to have a flashback to high school. All someone has to do is to say to me, “Gee I’d know your voice anywhere.” I cringe to myself and there I am back in grade 12 english class over 30 years ago.

We were giving oral presentations in class and I felt pretty good about mine. I’ve never enjoyed public speaking of any kind but I loved english and this teacher was one of my favourites. I was shocked when she gave me my mark, it was much loweer than I had expected. I made an appointment to speak to her about the presentation so that I could understand where I had gone wrong. I was further shocked with her response to me. The teacher looked at me and said, “You have one of the most monotonous voices I have ever heard. It’s flat, nasal and boring. If you were my teacher and I were your student I would hate to come to class and listen to you.”

What do you say to something like that? I left her office hurt and confused. My voice is my voice, just like my eye colour I can’t really change it. How does my voice have anything to do with the content of my presentation? This woman had been one of my favourite teachers and from then on I just considered her a nasty piece of work.

Trying to process what I had just been told I walked down the hall and bumped into a friend of mine from summer camp. He was a year younger than me. We had been in co-ed cabins at camp and I was dating his co-counsellor. We spent a lot of time together at camp and I knew him to be a great guy. He was all tough exterior with an incredibly sweet interior. He had one camper in his cabin who suffered from multiple mental and physical disabilities. He handled this very demanding camper without complaint and with a great sense of humour. I knew that he looked tough, he smoked and did drugs but he was one of the most gentle people that I had ever known.

On occasion I would keep him company while he went for a cigarette in the school’s student smoking area. He was always surprised that I would go there with him, but of course it was about the company not the location.

Anyway, that day he saw me in the hall and immediately asked what was wrong. I told him what happened. He laughed and said, “I love your nasal voice.” he then gave me a hug. His sincere words and his loving hug were the two most perfect things for me at that time.

We were just school and camp friends. The friendship never made the leap beyond. Somehow when I was in first year university I heard that he had cleaned up his act, drugs were no longer a part of his life. I was happy for him and looked forward to seeing him at camp.

He didn’t go back to camp, he took the summer to go to California before university. I’ll never forget where I was when I heard that he had been killed in a car accident while in California. My legs gave out, I sat down and began to cry. Another rough and tumble guy who was near by sat down and put his arm around me. A bunch of us were at a bar on a night off from camp. The news spread like a wildfire.

Yesterday I was at a store with my daughter. I noticed a man looking at me and smiling. I smiled back, he then said my name and then gave me his. I hadn’t recognized him. He works with my husband and we’ve met a couple of times. He told me that he thought it was me but once he heard my voice he knew that it had to be me. Ahh yes the voice.

This morning I went over the whole event with my husband. From being recognized to the death of my friend. We decided that teachers have a limitless ability to dammage their students however, if she hadn’t been so nasty to me I would never have had that soothing moment with my friend. For me, my voice has become inseparable from the memory of a young, sweet and sensitive man who died far, far too young.

Broken Tear Ducts

We are into the big countdown to our eldest son’s departure. He is very excited. My husband and I are a mixture of emotions.

Of course we are excited for our son to have this wonderful adventure. He will begin by spending three months in Israel on a program which will enable him to get an inside look at a film shoot. I have a feeling he may be a coffee boy, we’ll find out. After this he will be travelling around Europe with two friends. They will be taking part in the “Work Away” experience. I think that it will take more organizing than the boys realize but I am not overly concerned about them handling the situation. I know with all of the forms of communication today we are far more available than when any of us went travelling in our youth.

He will return mid June, just in time to get his act together so that he can head off to a job at summer camp. After camp we will get a couple of weeks of him and then it’s off to university. So along with excitement and concern there is this third emotion. Cue the kleenx.

My husband came home from work the other day looked at my son and gave him a big hug. With a frown on his face he said something to the effect of, “This is it, you’ll be gone soon and it will never be the same.” At least that’s what I heard. My son sensitively responded with, “Yep, this is when I become an itinerant member of our family.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You don’t say something like that in front of a menopausal mother. I quickly turned my back as the tears statred to trickle. Not quick enough. I heard my equally sensitive husband tell my son to look at me. With a laugh in his proud voice my son asked if I was crying over him leaving. Trying to save face I responded with, “No, my tear ducts are just broken.”

Nothing dries the tears up like a couple of guys teasing a woman for being emotional. Anger is so much better!

Do I Gotta Play?

As I mentioned in my last  post the math tutor came by yesterday. He left us with a little gift, a math game for the whole family to play. He was quite excited to have taught my kids this game and he stated with even more excitement that the game is even better when the whole family plays. Whole family math games, yay. Did I mention that I was able to sense the tutor’s excitement through his lack of a scowl? I once saw him almost smile. This is the same man who thinks that English class should consist of learning to read technical manuals because, after all isn’t that what most adults are faced with reading most often? I don’t smile so much when he’s around either.

So after dinner I bravely asked what the game was all about. I’m still not sure why I asked. In theory it’s a simple game. One person decides how to manipulate a number, for example multiply it by two and then add one (that’s the kind of thing I would do) every other person takes turns giving the manipulator a number which is then changed according to the secret formula. Once you think you’ve figured out what’s being done you can guess at the next answer.

The boys laughingly told us that the math tutor told them that his favourite student’s family plays this game for extra dessert. I announced that I would give extra dessert to everyone if we did not have to play the game at all.

I turned to my artsy son and suggested that he gives me a list of a movie cast and then I’ll guess the film. He responded with, “Sounds like a Sporcle quiz.” So we waited for the game to end. After about three rounds my husband got the game out of his system and we went back to being us.

I”ll do a momentary math lapse and I’ll try to encourage my family to read certain books but really I’m happiest when we can each of us just be ourselves. What better place to be that person than at the family dinner table?

Out To Lunch

I always enjoy going out for lunch with any of my girlfriends however, I seem to be finding that I am spending far more time out to lunch than out for lunch.

I’m not sure if this has always been the case and I’ve just become aware of it (which I suppose is an encouraging thing) or as I always fear, maybe, just maybe this is the beginning of Alzheimers. There is also the possibility that I am dumb as mud, but let’s not go there.

I had an excuse for being slightly out of touch when the kids were little. I mean, four small children, who wouldn’t be forgetful with that going on? Yes I know all you type A’s out there would handle it so much better. Yay you.

The kids are older now, I don’t think they can really be used as an excuse anymore. Kind of like the excess pregnancy wieght. Unfortunately that boat too has sailed. So what is it now? Have I just gotten into a habit of forgetfulness and mildly space outedness?

Today being my case in point. My husband is out of town along with our eldest son. I am home with the three other kids. No biggee,(sp?). I lined up the math tutor to come on Sunday instead of Monday as the twins have a math test on Monday. I casually mentioned to one of the twins that the tutor is late, an unheard of event. My son responded with “It’s not 2:30, it’s only 1:30.”  I wittily replied, “What?” He answered, “We changed the clocks last night.”  Me, being witty as well as astute this time, “Whhhat?? Are you joking?.” He smiled at me shook his head and said “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”

Really, how did I miss this? Usually everyone you speak to on the Saturday of the clock change in a clear attempt to demonstrate how on the ball they are says, “Don’t forget to change your clock tonight.” In a world where it seems that everyone is more on the ball than I am how come no one said that to me yesterday?

So now I’m out to lunch, shocked and annoyed. Why, you may or may not ask am I annoyed? I woke up a 6 this morning which with the time change means that I woke up at 5a.m. on a Sunday morning. That my friends is just a crying shame.

Personally, I blame my oldest sister. She has maintained her memory throughout all of her child rearing years and she’s uber organized. She spoke to me on Saturday and she knows that I’m a lost cause. Where was her reminder? Not to be overly dramatic or anything but, why has she forsaken me?

Last week when I was having a conversation with my eldest son and I was once again either missing the point he was making or just not getting what he was telling me he very lovingly said, “Don’t worry Mommy we’ll take care of you and get you into a good home.” More and more I hope he means what he said. A room with a view would be nice and an occassional box of chocolates, but not the cheap ones where the chocolate is grainy. Please, kids, don’t let me forget that I love chocolate and could you put me in a home where one of my friends is so that we can go for lunch together? That is if I remember my friends and if I’m not in the nursing home years before my friends are.

Crikey, I’m ending this post right now before I start crying. Where did I put the kleenex…?