Irreverent Mama

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bekah reads "Brain, Child" and complains, "There's an article here that says that middle school is all pain and suffering. Hmph. I liked school last year."

"Grade seven is a tough year for a lot of people, sweetie. I wonder if you were able to enjoy it because you have self-confidence, especially socially. If you were trying to make it to the top of the social heirarchy, up there with the 'popular' girls, Chloe and Valerie, you might have been miserable all year."

"Well, I don't want to be at the bottom!"

"No, of course not. And you're not! They don't pick on you, do they?"

"No, they mostly ignore me."

"Probably because you don't try to make them like you."

"I have friends I like and trust. You can't trust those two. Actually, Valerie came over one day and asked if I'd like to eat lunch with them, and the girls at my table were all 'Oh, wow! Valerie invited you!!'"

"So what did you do?"

"I said 'no, thanks, I'm sitting with my friends right now'. She went off all put out, because nobody says 'No' to them! I don't think they could actually believe it had happened!"

Bekah pauses, unable to speak over my laughter. "They like to do that. Invite someone in for a week or two, then spit them out. Then that person is really at the bottom!" She muses for a minute. "I just don't know how people like that end up popular, mom! Why do the kids give them that kind of power?"

Me, I'm left wondering how I ended up with such a wise, wise child. "Give them that power", she says. She sees that it is given, not earned nor deserved, merely given. No one will have that kind of power over my Bekah, because she sees this stuff so clearly. She doesn't buy into the system mindlessly. She thinks about it - and strives only for what she can see is good for her.

I am so fucking proud of her!

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Half-way through. Almost. A whine.

You may stop reading here, if you wish. What follows is purest self-indulgance.

Everyone knows summers are a time of relaxation, of loosened restrictions, greater freedom. Long weekends and long summer evenings. Wine and conversation. Holidays and a break from the routine. Everyone knows this.

Except me.

My summers are a long, hot, dreary getting-through-on-willpower-until-September. I'm self-employed, and each summer my income drops. I am not a fool; I have money set aside against this to ensure I make ends meet until things pick up again in the fall. Still - "make ends meet" is the best I can do over the summer. My stepkids, the seething mass of them, are here for half of each summer month. The income drop means little chance of a real get-away vacation. So I continue to work through the summer, crowded and crowded still more by the kids, by the cooking, by the need to ferry them here and there, by the increased housework, by the heat, the heat, the heat in our overcrowded, non-air-conditioned house.

And as the summer progresses, I get more and more tired. Today I am wilting with exhaustion, and more than a little self-pity. Listening to people describe their vacations, or their vacation plans, does not help. Seeing my neighbour sit on his porch with a beer in the afternoon, while I labour away, does not help. Poor, sorry me! If summer wasn't supposed to be all calm and relaxing, perhaps it wouldn't grate so much that mine are a long, slow grind till September.

Still. I have been speaking with someone about another type of work, and it seems likely that by next summer I will have a secondary income to supplement my income lull. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a summer in which I could forgo my annual money worries?

I will have some kid-free time off at the end of August this year, and even though I won't go anywhere, that doesn't prevent me from organizing the yard, working in the garden, digging out that nasty corner in the basement - all of which sound dull, I'm sure, but which will bring me satisfaction. Probably the idea of creating peace and order in the midst of ever-encroaching chaos.

I need that.

Whine over.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"I win, I win!" she cried jubilantly. And, it appears, prematurely.

I've been popping into the bank every couple of days since the first of July, trying to ensure the child support cheque my ex so reluctantly provided would clear. You can do that, you know: show the cheque to the teller and ask if there are funds in the account to cover the cheque. They can't tell you the balance, of course, but they can either proceed to deposit, or hand it back.

They kept handing it back. "Sorry, I can't do that for you today."

Yesterday, however, the nice teller looked genuinely remorseful as she said, "I won't be able to do that. You'll have to talk to Mr. Arsehole."

I considered the implications of this. "No one's said that to me before. Has he put a stop on this cheque?"

"I can't tell you that." (Why not, I wonder? Surely, as that affects me directly, I have a right to know?) "You just need to talk to Mr. Arsehole."

He's put a stop on the damned cheque!

I know why, too. He wanted to "discuss" this in May, and I forced the cheques out of him. I was able to cash June's, but since then he's stewed about it. He wanted a "discussion", and damnit, he's going to have that discussion. He puts a stop on the cheque to try to force me to talk to him. There is no point to that. We've been down that road, he and I: last time we "talked" about child support, after six months - six months - of mediation, he still hadn't tabled a figure! After six months - because no one can accuse me of impatience here - I hired a lawyer. The matter was settled inside three weeks. Six months and holding vs. under three weeks.

Ridiculous. Lesson learned. There will be no further "discussion" of this sort with this man.

I got home from the bank, and I called my lawyer.

Arsehole. He is such an arsehole.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

A single friend was telling me about a frivolous, flirty exchange she'd recently had, and I replied with one of my own.

"Why are you flirting?" she says, trying but failing to hide her disapproval. "You're with someone!"

I gave her a long, quizzical look. A little gray at the roots, a few light wrinkles showing at her eyes, distinct lack of cherry-scented lip gloss. No, not a teenager. Surely no one past the age of, oh, twenty-three (at the outside) thinks that way? Really?

It led us to a very interesting discussion of the reasons and agenda for flirting. Yes, I'm with someone. The person I was flirting with knew that, because the man I'm with was with me. He, my man, is perfectly comfortable with my flirting (as I am with his), because we are both sure of the other's loyalty, and we both understand flirting in the same way. Neither of us sees is solely as foreplay, nor even primarily.

Me, I like the 18th-century model, when flirting was a social grace. Frivolous chat was expected. Clever banter, light-handed and tastefully suggestive, was admired. A man who couldn't flatter, a woman who couldn't tease, in oblique and quick-minded ways, were a detriment to a dinner party. It did not mean that these people would shortly be steaming up the conservatory, (though, as ever with humans, it existed as a possibility); it's just that sex wasn't the sole point. And flirting wasn't exclusive. A man and woman banter; a third person of either gender could join in, and the game just expanded. It was about social skill, not mere bedding.

Flirting is a safe way to express attraction and appreciation. Depending on the parties involved, they can certainly choose to act on that attraction, but it needn't. In and of itself, it's just talk. Play. Verbal cleverness. It adds a sparkle to a conversation, a liveliness to a gathering.

The younger a person is, the less likely they are to understand this. There is little subtlety to the sexuality of a twenty-something. You flirt with someone, you're indicating a desire to be getting naked with them in fairly short order. This is why I rarely flirt with anyone younger than myself. No sense in confusing the poor things. The older a person gets, however, the more nuanced sex and sexuality becomes. Thank God.

This is why I love fifty-something men. They "get" this. Their wives (usually) get it, too, so the fun is all-inclusive. (No fair flirting with someone if you can see it is sending their partner into a seething fury.) That gleam of appreciation, that welcoming smile, that twinkle of mischief in the eye; they add flair to the evening, life to the conversation. At the end of the evening? Everyone goes home with the person they came with.

And, if all goes as it should, puts all that positive energy to good use. :-)

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Street people come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and orientation, all capabilities, mental and physical. You live in a city, you become accustomed to them. I am a compassionate person, some would call me a sap. I give money, sometimes buy meals for them, or show them the 24 hour place that will serve them no matter what their appearance, sometimes stop and chat after tossing a twonie in the ball cap.

But it struck me as a little bizarre this morning when I passed a young woman holding a cardboard sign that said "HUNGRY. Anything will help, food, drink, $, cents". Signs like these always get to me. It must be awful to be hungry, and have no money, no recourse to help yourself. "Hungry." The pathos of this chokes me every time. Except that this young woman weighed at least 300 pounds. At least.

(I'm quite sure of this, because my sister weighs over 300, and this woman was just as round and several inches taller.)

This woman says she's HUNGRY. I'm sure she is. I'm also sure that if she were to eat exactly what I eat any given day, she'd be hungry all day long. But she wouldn't be in need.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

"How a woman can get a man to think she is a sexy mama."

Oh, dear. Oh dear, dear, dear. Some poor girl found this blog with that Google.

I heave a sigh of compassion for this poor girl, who just doesn't get it. The question is all wrong: "get a man to think" she's sexy. Pfft! This girl doesn't know her own strength.

"Get a man to think..." Well, are you or aren't you? "Sexy" comes down to confidence, honey. You think you're sexy, you know you're sexy -- you're sexy. It's a fact. What goes on in his head (and mostly, it doesn't go on in his head, anyway) will be in response to what you think of you.

And what you think of him. A sexy woman doesn't look at a man and say, "Oh, I hope you like me. Please like me." "I hope he likes me" is not sexy. A sexy woman doesn't plead and worry: sexy is fun. Anxiety? Not so much. A sexy woman looks at a man she finds attractive and smiles in appreciation* and anticipation. The man sees the smile, sees the appreciation, sees the fun, and he's attracted.

Sexy? It's way fun!

* Not 'appreciation' as in "oh, thank you for noticing me!" 'Appreciation' as in: "Oh, men are so yummy! 'Specially that one." You have the power, hon.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Chain mail. Don't you just love it? How about those chain letters with supernatural bribery at the end? "Send this to five people in the next five minutes and your wish will come true in 1 day. Send it to ten people in five minutes, and your wish will come true in half an hour."

Pathetic how people fall for this stuff. Everyone knows it's nonsense. Look at me: Even with TWENTY recipients in THREE minutes, my ex is still alive. No lightning, not even a bus, and no big insurance payout for me. See? Arrant nonsense. Why do people succumb?

Today I received a forward in support of a worthy cause. Really, a worthy cause, which is why it will remained unnamed so as not to sully its merits by revealing its tactics.

It was a poem. No, it was a POE-WEM. Ahem. The beloved daughter of an about-to-be-bereaved mother lays bleeding on the pavement, composing for said mother, with her last dying breaths, the most dreadful doggerel going, in which she wonders why other teens didn't heed their mothers' good advice, and so spared her life from its untimely end. Her dying breaths went on for a cruelly long time, given the number of stanzas the poor girl was able to churn out, back of her hand to her pale brow.

It was followed by a petition. We were urged to sign it, then to forward it, and if we didn't?

If you receive this petition and do >nothing but delete it, your
>selfishness knows no bounds.

Because if you can't sway people with maudlin sentiment, then you can always try insults!

Of course I deleted it.

Truly selfish, I know, to spare my friends saccharine Victorian tripe. I hang my head in shame.

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