Irreverent Mama

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Clever, isn't it? Check out the rest of this great blog!

(Oh, and the picture is a link to that post in the blog.)

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Friday, September 22, 2006

The child support saga continues...

So I trot down to the bank Friday, to try, once again, to cash my support cheque for September. It wouldn't clear on the first. You'll remember that I got no support in May, a cheque in June, not in July, yes for August. So, every other month since May.

I present it to the teller, having been careful to choose the kindly, chatty woman who is consistently the most sympathetic. She knows me - I'm in there every month, aren't I? I play nice, telling her that I'm hoping that it's only disorganization on his part, not deliberate. I figure if I come across as an angry harridan, I'll be less successful in my mission, which is to prise some information from her. Like, for example, has he put a fucking hold on it again?

She takes the cheque, scans it, and then her eyes dart around her computer screen. "No, no I can't cash it for you." She lowers her voice. "It's not even close."

"Oh, dear." says me. "I hope he hasn't put a hold on it like before."

"No," she says, a bit distracted as she points and clicks. "No, I'd see that if it were. Let me just..." I don't think, in her distraction, she's even noticed she just told me something she shouldn't. More pointing and clicking. Her eyes widen. "Oh! Oh, my." She looks at me, uncertain, obviously wanting to say something, but prohibited by Bank Policy from doing so. I sit and widen my eyes, trying to project the appearance of a woman who's alarmed, trying to be brave, and sweetly hopeful. 'Help me', my big brown eyes plead. I daren't ask directly, and provoke the Policy Response. I'm close to a disclosure, I know it, and I don't want to frighten her off.

I wait.

"Well. I can say that it will be quite a while before you get any money out of him."

I widen my eyes still further, aiming for tremulous pathos.

"Oh, I wish I could tell you."

I wait.

She glances left, then right, leans towards me and lowers her voice. "HE can't even get his money. He's in Big Trouble." She sits back.

"Well, I can't say that surprises me," I say, with stoicism (this quite sincere). "He's always been terrible with money."

We had a little more general conversation thereafter, then I gathered up the kids and left. Shameful to have manipulated such a nice woman so deliberately, but I needed to know, and now I do. He's had his assets frozen.

I called up Zoe (my eldest, away at university, to whom I send a monthly cheque for her share of the child support) to explain to her that she can cash September's cheque, because I have the money in the bank, but that after that she might not be able to. She came to the exact conclusion I did: Revenue Canada. Who else can freeze assets? He hasn't paid his taxes properly, and they've gone for their money. Zoe says he's been getting letters from them for months which he leaves lying unopened on the hall table. Because if you ignore things you don't want to deal with, they'll just go away right? Especially the Tax Man. The taxman is known for going away if you ignore him.

What is he thinking?

Which leaves me precisely where? One more thing to chat about with my lawyer. If he's renegging on his obligations, if he's about to go bankrupt, if there's a line of creditors, child support is normally way at the top of the list. I need to make sure I'm AT the top of the list - if there is documentation that needs to be filed somewhere, I'd better get at it...

How many ways can one man screw up his life? It boggles the mind.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Crazymumma, the trusting soul, tagged me for a meme. Little did she know that she gave a TV meme to a woman who never watches television. No, I have no moral superiority about this; I don't not watch because I think it's an evil, brain-sucking machine. I just... don't watch. I used to (back when Magnum PI was in its very first reruns.) Now I don't. Not sure why.

Which makes be basically useless as far as this meme goes, but it's the first time anyone's asked, and I hate to disappoint! Sooo...

So I decided to consult with my kids. Lord knows Bekah spends enough time in front of it; she should have some input! Or so I thought. Here we go. Five male and female favourites, as chosen by one of the more delightful 13-year-olds of my acquaintance.

1. House, from House
2. Chase, from House
3. Seth Cohen, from The OC
4. Chandler, from Friends
5. Luke, from Gilmore Girls

1. Lorelei, from Gilmore Girls
2. Susan, from Desperate Housewives
3. Marissa from The OC
3a. Uuhhhh.....
3b. I need to watch more TV. (Well, we could just stop here.)
3c. No, no! I will think of one! Muuuummmm!!! DON'T WRITE THIS DOWN! MUM!
4. Ava (Eva?) from Canadian Idol
4a. Oh, that's only four!
5. Stacey from What Not to Wear

Phew. Harder than we thought. Now, male leads as dictated by my seventeen-year-old son, Daniel, who watches about as much television as his mother. However, he does watch weird computer shows.

1. Invader Zim
2. Gir
3. Gaz
4. Bugs Bunny
5. Strongbad


"I dunno. That's all I can think of. Can I go back to my computer now?"

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hey, check out the Strapless Bras!!

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The Secret Language of Sleep - Revealed Here!!

I am a tandem cycle!
Find your own pose!

Er, no, it's not.

He sweats.

And farts.

'Nuff said.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The toilet paper is backwards on the spindle.

Backwards to the way I always put it, that is. I immediately lean forward to set it straight, to put it back properly, the way it's supposed to be. Then I hesitate.

I know what's happened, of course. If and when my own kids put the roll back on, not, lord only knows, that they by any means do this as a matter of course, but when they do, they put it on "right". So, what has happened is that one of the stepkids has replaced the roll, and put it "backwards". Except of course, to them it's not backwards; to them it's "normal", the "right way", it's been put back "properly".

I itch to correct it. This is my home, after all. Why shouldn't things be the way I prefer in my home?

Except that we, my husband and I, we want his kids to view our home as "home", too.

Not that this notion is in any way encouraged by their mother. In fact, we have been told point-blank that "It is not good for the children to believe they have more than one home. There (sic) home is with there (sic) mother." All their times with us are referred to, by the children as well as their mother, as "visits". At the beginning, when they said "home at dad's", they were firmly reprimanded by mother - solely in the interests of their mental health, of course. They have learned: the two houses between which they travel are "home" and "dad's house".

Still, the principle is important to me, and to their father. (When my children were travelling between the homes, they referred to both their dad's house and mine as "home". When speaking with me, their two houses are "home" and "home with dad". With their father, I assume, the names were parallel: "home" and "home with mom".)

No such egalitarian thinking is allowed by my stepkids' biomom, though. Thus, it is sorely tempting to say, "the hell with it. If it is not to be their 'home', then they'll have to behave as guests on their 'visits', and fit in to the way it's done here." Sorely tempting, and entirely reasonable.

My husband, however, has a principle: Do what you think is right regardless of the other person's response. (Or potential response.) He's a wise man.

So, although it irks me just a wee bit, I leave the roll as is. It's a small thing, this symbol. The children won't notice. To them, it's just normal. But I know that I've taken a stand for a principle that I believe is in their best interest. Because, whether mom likes it or not, this is one of their homes. Not their primary home, but certainly a home. A place where they have a bed, where they have clothes and belongings, where they can bring their friends.

A place where they can leave their mark.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

I receive wonderful news in the mail today!

you qualify for an

instantly slimming
tummy flattening


of Shaper Shortz

Such a wealth of opportunity awaits! No panty lines! Smooth silhouette! Judging from the women in the advert, a life of slim, jaunty blond-ness awaits only my sending in of the enclosed form. Then I, too, can leap about in bliss, clad only in a shirt, a pair of Shaper Sortz and stiletto heels.

And just think! All this is mine on the basis of my fat, droopy ass and bulgy belly!

I feel so privileged.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First day of school, morning.

Bekah is up at 6:45, showered and dressed by 7:30. As she's heading up to brush her teeth after breakfast a few minutes later, Daniel comes downstairs, hair brushed, jeans, t-shirt, flannel shirt open over top.

"SUCH a boy!" she scoffs.

"Yes, I am. So?" He's amused rather than insulted, calm in the superiority of 17 over 13.

"I've been up over an hour, I've picked out just the right outfit, and you get up five minutes ago and are all ready to head out the door - and you're wearing the same stuff you've been wearing all summer."

Daniel looks down and shrugs. "It's comfortable and it fits. Plus it's clean. What more do I need?" Fixes Bekah with his classic grin - one eyebrow quirked high, the opposing corner of the mouth up.

"SUCH a boy!" she grins up at him. Me, I'm thinking the boy has a point. No morning clothing crises for him. He gives me a quick hug, and he's off. Bekah leaves shortly thereafter.

End of the school day.

Daniel, the socially charged teen, will spend hours reconnecting with friends before coming home in the early evening. Bekah, at 13 still mostly a homebody, comes home direct.

"Hey, sweetie. How was it?"

"Great. All the grade sevens are so short. Boy, we must've grown a lot this year." (She needs to tell me this?? The kid who started out last school year an inch and a half shorter than me and is now an inch and a half taller?) "I dressed just right."

"And your teachers?"

"I have Mme. Desjardin again. For math and science AND homeroom." I groan with her. Mme. Desjardin is a very nice, very sweet, very earnest, and veeerrry boring teacher, whom poor Bekah has already suffered for two years. "BUT I have M. Renard for French! He's so cool." I perk up a bit at this. Guess I'll be going to ALL the parent nights this year. He's funny, clever, and very attractive. Way better than that brash young stripling she had last year. "OH, MUM! He's OOooLD!"

"Um, honey? So am I. By your infant standards, anyway."

"Hmph. And Ms. Wozniak for music and Mr. Papadatos for art again of course, and Ms. Adams for English. M. Lethuillier for history, Ms. Bronson for physed."

"Sounds like a good group."

"Yup. They're all easy."


"Uh-huh. Except for M. Renard, all you have to do to get good marks is listen in class, do the homework, and remember what they told you and write it down on the tests."

"How's M. Renard different?"

"He's way harder. He expects us to think!"

Imagine that! I knew I had good reason to like the man.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

I have claustrophobia.

It's not a sensible, neatly defined type of claustrophobia, either. Elevators? Mild uneasiness, nothing more. Closets? Not a problem at all. Teeny bathrooms in trains and planes? I can manage those, though I did get woozy the one time the latch stuck a bit. Vague intimations of fainting, firmly resisted. Caves? Well, I'll never, ever be able to manage a cave. However, these are not a frequent feature of urban life. All in all, you'd be justified in wondering how claustrophobia is an issue for me.

Would that claustrophobia were merely physical. Mine isn't, primarily. Mine's mostly psychological and auditory. Lucky me.

The Man’s kids are here and - surprise! - I’m feeling claustrophobic. It was not too bad initially - only Serious Dude, Gawky Girl, and Singing Girl were here to start, in addition to only one of mine, one being back to university and the other being off to a friend's cottage for the long weekend. (See Cast of Characters, below, if this is all too much for you. I'd understand if it were...) BigBald Boy is off to university - HURRAH! two down, six to go! - and Drama Girl was at a camp, expected back tomorrow.

The four children who are left are the quieter ones. They retreat to their rooms, leaving only a heap of shoes in the front hall as evidence of their passage. This causes a brief twinge, but is easily surmounted. I step over the shoes and out the door.

When The Man and I returned from our quiet coffee break at our favourite coffeeshop, Drama Girl had returned! She is home, and her humungo sleeping bag fills one loveseat; her mega-humungo duffel bag the other; a pillow in the armchair, and assorted other bits of camp detritus spread onto the floor. I feel the crowded-tension grip me between the shoulder-blades. Drama Girl herself is in a room upstairs, and from that room comes a wall of hyper-stimulated, sleep-deprived, over-excited SOUND*. It makes the head reel, it truly does. My tension-enhanced shoulder-blades cradle my ears. The noise, it creeps into every pore.

(*A wall, of, like sound? And it just keeps coming and coming and coming and she's all, like, "It was just so cool!" and her one sister is, like, "Yeah, wow!", and the other is, "No, really??", and we heard all about the games - so FUNNY!! - and the boys and the cabins - so COOL!! - and the boys and the meals and the boys - so FUNNY!!! - and the counsellors - so COOL!!!! - and the boys and the nonsense and the boys and the play and the boys. Oh, and the boysboysboysboysboys. Drama Girl does love her the boys. And it's all just so COOL! And so FUNNY!! The girl exudes goodwill and positive energy. In waves. Tidal waves. A veritable tsunami of good humour and hormones, she is.)

Then The Man, returning from dropping Little Guy off at a birthday party, comes home with a television.

(Aside: It was a sleepover party. When did we find this out? Well, just as The Man rang the doorbell of the party, Serious Dude says, "So, I'll see you tomorrow, dad." Dad expressed surprise. "Oh, didn't you know?" Well, no, son, I didn't. Do you see a sleeping bag? Pyjamas? A toothbrush? Oh. Serious Dude hadn't thought of that... Hostess opens the door to an apologetic dad and a request for a spare toothbrush. We know she understands, because she, too, has an eleven-year-old boy. But sheesh.)

So, the television: Not a new one, not even a functional one, but a 1950's vintage, sitting-on-its-four-legs HUGE television. It was cast off by the side of the road and it amused him. I can see the appeal. It’s so retro, so stolid. A piece of furniture rather than an appliance, encased in wood, durable and sound. And large. When he plugged it in, we discovered a white screen - not even snow! - on every channel.

“Well, that’s okay, sweetie." I says. "You can just run right down to Radio Shack and buy parts.” Bwah ha. I am so funny. I’ll bet there are TUBES in there. Ha.

He thinks maybe an artist friend would like it, or maybe the drama department of Drama Girl's high school. Meantime, amusing and clever and ironic though it may be, it has NOWHERE TO GO, and sits, squat and commanding, in the middle of my very small living room. I did mention the camp detritus everywhere? So now we have camp stuff on every chair, and this immense television smack dab in the middle of the floor.

Where am I now? At the dining room table. It’s not like there’s any space in the living room. Oh, but I have to sit at the far end of the table, because for some totally random reason, Stepkids' BioMom has been sorting her pictures and has sent over some photos. Not framed, not in books, just loose - piled in bags, tumbled into boxes, literally hundreds of them, going back years. Most of them are poor quality, blurred and ill-framed snaps of long-forgotten events and places. None are dated. The Man figures it’s probably her way to process BigBald Son's heading off to university. Oh. Thanks. Let me just budge up to the far end of my dining room so I may accommodate your therapy. Gah.

The bodies, the bags and boxes and volume and giggles. I feel myself getting smaller and smaller, more and more compressed and compacted and intruded upon and crowded. I’m crowded, crowded, crowded... sigh... Why does this make me want to run out, get drunk and rowdy, maybe have sex with a stranger? Nah. What I really want to do is run away from home until it's all over - like when the kids have all grown up and left home - in about another seven or eight years. Because I cannot breathe in my home. There is simply not enough air.

Failing any of the above, I went for a walk by the river, that solace to my frazzled psyche. Watched the wind ripple the water, breathed deep and thought good thoughts. Remembered how lucky I am that they are all good kids, that they get along, that their teachers like them, they go to bed when asked, no tattoos, no exotic piercings, their taste in music not excessively inane. Take more deep breaths and enjoy the space, the quiet, the beauty. Let it seep into my soul.

Go back home. Drama Girl has gone off with friends, Serious Dude is at his sleepover, the other girls watch television (the actual small one that works) in the basement. The house is quiet.

Bung the camp detritus into the back porch with the rat.

Feel much better.

Cast of Characters for this post are my stepchildren:

BigBaldBoy, 18
Drama Girl, 16
Gawky Girl, 15
Singing Girl, 13
Serious Dude, 11

And, peripheral to this post, my own:
Zoe, 20, back to university in another city
Daniel, 17,
and Bekah, 13.

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