T’s turning 9

My little boy is turning 9 on Monday, August 7th. (Just in case anyone is so lost in the summer that they are not quite sure of the date he he he) This is going to be a hard one for me as he is with his dad so I will not be seeing him. I lied. I just text his dad(at 6:50 a.m. on a Saturday morning) to ask him to rearrange plans so that I could at least see T and give him a hug and kiss.

T is not so little any more. He was born two months premature. Due October 4th and decided to arrive on August 7, 2008. We were building the ex’s shop and joke that T wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I was scared.

When I found out I was pregnant.

Bear in mind I was 35 not 25.

It is a kinda funny story how it all started. At work I had been complaining that my boobs were killing me. Everyone joked that I was pregnant. I scoffed. We had been trying for 5 years, were in the final process for adoption (where they did home visit etc.) but damn when my 3 lb cat stepped on me I nearly killed her they hurt so much. Clue number 1.

I could not understand why I could no longer drink coffee. I wanted it. I would pour my cup and set it down. Take a sip or two and than allow it to grow cold. I love my coffee. There is life in my coffee. And niceness. And civility. Should have been clue number 2.

It was our first new long weekend in February. For non-Canadians, the government decided that it was too long for workers to go from January to March/April without having a long weekend. So in February we have Family Day or as in Manitoba, the province I live in, Louis Riel Day. A long weekend. My ex decided to go snowmobiling. I was excited to have Saturday and Sunday and most of Monday to myself.

Got home from work and set the groceries down on the floor to be put away. When I heard the first growl I snapped around. Oh shit! Odin my cross Great Pyrenees x Collie x St. Bernard and Nero my Rotti were about to go head to head. And I was on my own. I screamed and yelled. I threw a heater trying desperately to get them to stop fighting.

I had Odin on the porch and was kicking at him. Kicking him, hurting him, something I swore to never do. I had a hold of Nero. Almost had the door to the porch nearly closed when Nero surged forward bursting into the room. Now I am in the porch, desperate to pull these two dogs, who combined, weighed 200 lbs to my petite 115 lb frame, apart. They are snarling, saliva is spraying and I am screaming and yanking at them.

Nero hit the stand up tool box that we kept on the porch. Sockets rained down. I was trying to get the door open, because despite the fact it killed me, I needed to get them outside so the fight could end naturally. My socks were wet from the cream that someone had bitten and it had flowed all over the kitchen floor. I was not aware of this. I stepped on a socket and down I went. Hard.

Oh boy. Now I was mad. To top it off, as I stuck my hand out for balance, I managed to stick it in Nero’s mouth as he was in mid-bite. By the time that my brain even registered that I had been bitten, he had already let go and was looking at me. My anger and frustration, fear and tears turned to rage in that moment. Rage that my damn dogs wanted to fight. Rage that I was alone dealing with this. Rage that I had been bitten! I slammed open the door leading outside and screamed at them to get out.

Stood at the kitchen sink washing the wound while screaming out the window for them to stop. The entire fight lasted no more than 2 minutes, 3 tops. It felt like an eternity to me. I got Odin in the house, put Nero on the porch and looked at my hand. Yep, pierced right through fat and oh my god is that bone????????

Called my girlfriend up and she and her boyfriend left the restaurant they were at before they even got their meal, to come and get me. Hospital here I come. They could not believe my lack of fear and stoicism as my hand was cleaned and bound. Heavy duty meds to counter any infection and I was sent home. With a doctor’s note, I was now off work for the week. (As an aside my hand blew up to 3x’s its size and I could not move it the next day, or the day after that.)

Up until this point my periods had been every 28 days without fail. So when I skipped the Sunday after that fight, I put it down to stress. By Wednesday, I was concerned and I purchased a home pregnancy test. Took it and began to clean the house. Completely forgot about the test for an hour. An hour people!!!! When I did remember in I went in to be presented with 2 double pink lines. The first thing I breathed was ‘Holy Fuck man, I cannot do this.’

Called the ex. Called the doctor for a second opinion. They told me to come in as soon as I could pee again. I drank two bottles of water and off I went. I was scared as shit. I had lost my daughter when I was five months pregnant with her. There has never been any answers for me as to why that happened. This was 15 years prior. I was in shock.

T was an extremely laid back baby in the womb. Rarely moved, when he did it was in response to my drinking a Coke (which I had stopped drinking years ago, switching to Pepsi, but he liked Coke. Or I had eaten a chocolate bar) Or when Patches the cat draped herself over my tummy and purred away. He liked that. He was not a fan of anything with processed sugar so I ate a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.

From day 1 I knew he was going to be a boy. Everyone warned me that saying he was a boy meant that I was having a girl. But I knew. There were a lot of differences between this pregnancy and my daughter’s. However, he had a strong heartbeat, when he chose to kick me they were good strong kicks. Yet still I worried.

Tuesday August 5th, 2008. I worked a normal day. Except I knew that something was off because I barely ate. Got home, made supper which I again barely ate and flaked out on the couch. I was exhausted. Could not keep my eyes open. Something was not right. The ex came in and I told him this as I was preparing for bed at 8 p.m.

Got up at 10:50 p.m. to go to the bathroom. Made it to the bedroom doorway when it happened. My water broke. Now I was terrified. I still had 2 months to go. And it just kept coming. An incredible sense of calm broke over me as my ex panicked. I dressed although by the time I got to the hospital my sweats were soaked.

At emerg I was asked if I was okay to walk down to admissions. My eyebrow shot up. Away I went only to be sent back to emerg 2 minutes later with papers in hand. The hospital is not outfitted for premature births so I was going to be sent to Winnipeg, if in fact my water had broken and I had not just peed myself.

That is right folks. The nurse on duty asked me if I was sure that my water had broken and I had just not peed myself. (Mom I love you and know you have mad nursing skills but I nearly decked this woman). Off I was sent to pee in bottle because well all pregnant women have to pee in little bottles for months and months.

Then came the test to ensure that my water had broken. This one a little more invasive and potentially could lead to infection. And they lost the first one. So I had to allow more invasions only to be told what I had already told them. My waters had broken. Ex was sent home to get me clothes to change into. Thank god I had my book with me. Although truth be told, I would read the same page over and over again.

I was fucking scared. T had been pretty quiet. I was set up on an i.v. drip to, I don’t even remember. I had no one to call. I mean yeah, I could have called mom or the bro. Truth be told, I wanted, I needed a girlfriend who would come running, hold my hand and tell me everything would be totally fine.  My ex was not really helpful in the face of an emergency so there I was deep breathing, trying to control my anxiety and wait.

I was taken by ambulance to St. Boniface in Winnipeg. By 5 p.m. Wednesday August 6th I was dilating and having contractions. Mom got a speeding ticket as she rushed to my side. My bro and SIL came to offer me encouragement. The ex’s mother showed up and wished she could go into the delivery room with me. Also made it all about her. The drugs were wonderful though. No epidural for this girl. No Morphine. They gave me Fentanyl which could be given right up until I went into the delivery room as it did not affect T. Epidural, I was pretty far along in my contractions because I had back labor, might not have worked. So why try?

Again my labor was fairly easy. My contractions were five minutes apart. Lasted a minute. The worst two I had, when T moved into the birth canal and his head popped out. When his head came out I was ready to quit until told all I needed to do were little pushes. Waved my hand at the doctor and informed him ‘I could so do that.’

I had been warned not to worry if T did not cry when he arrived. His heartbeat had been strong throughout labor. But when my little guy arrived and they laid him on my belly, he squalled and screamed. Tears filled my eyes as I reached down and said ‘Welcome to the world baby.’ And he grabbed my thumb and squeezed. 16.5″ long and 3.15 lbs. Six weeks in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and then he came home.

Flash forward nine years later. To look at him you would never know that he was premature. There have been no delays in his development.  He is smart as a whip. Funny with a sense of humor that rivals mine. (He also has a dirty little mind that I am working very hard to ignore) His sarcasm is coming to a fine point. And I am sure that by next year he will be as tall as me, if not taller.

And on Monday, August 7/17 my baby is going to be 9. OMG I just realized that next year he will be a tween!!!!! Will I keep my hair?

 

 

 

Wonder where he gets it?

This has certainly been a week of discoveries. I took holidays this July (1 week only) for the first time in 3 years. And T and me spent this week up with my mom. Whom I love with all my heart. But lordy spending all this time in a three bedroom smallish cabin is enough to make a woman tear her hair out. Even when T is with me we still have time apart. He goes outside to play, I get fifteen minutes of silence.

On Wednesday I announced to mom that I required 15 minutes, just 15 to go for a walk by myself and rebalance. This was way too much together time. She huffed. T waved as I walked away. I tried to explain later to her why it was required but am not sure that she really got it.

Which leads me to the ‘wonder where he gets it’? T and mom started butting heads on Tuesday I believe it was. Monday when we arrived it was gorgeous out. Mom and GU-S (great uncle-mom’s youngest brother) immediately put T to work. I sat on the deck soaking up the sun and reading. I was to build the fire. There was too much in the fire pit and anyways once I got the fire started the uncle took over.

Tuesday though, was bleak and rainy. Windy too. We were all on top of one another and I allowed T to play his video games on the phone. Not my phone lol but a phone his dad had given him. No sim card but GU-S had hooked him up to the internet so it was all good. I had checked these games the night before and had no issues with him playing. Did I maybe allow him to play too much and too long? Mom certainly thought so while I was just happy that I was not subjected to the boredom song. And this was when the smart mouth and constant desire to be last came to the forefront.

I have never realized, and that may be because he does not pull it that often with me, that T has a need to have the final word. But oh lordy, once mom pointed it out to me, I heard it. I saw it occurring. There were a lot of warning low grumbles of ‘T that is enough.’ There was mom telling me that I needed to nip this in the bud or I would end up regretting it. T was being a smartass and for the most part I could deal but not when I was getting it from both sides.

Wednesday also dawned grey and wet. Oh lordy not another day spent inside with these two! I was not sure that I was going to be able to handle it. (Thankfully T’s little friend KJ had arrived on Tuesday evening and eventually the sun broke through allowing me to sit in the back reading and chilling and getting my shore up time.) Mom asked me a few questions to which I shot back some smartass comments. She than pointed out to me that it wasn’t a wonder T had a smart mouth he learned it from me.

T is always right. He will twist and turn his facts to prove he is right. He also, with mom it seems, needs to have the last word. Mom and me were talking about something, I cannot remember what now but she made a comment and she says to me ‘well I wonder where T has learned the smartass behaviour and need to be last.’ ‘I do not always have to have the last word and I wonder where I learned it from?’ an arched eyebrow as I looked at her.

‘Jay, I am funny not sarcastic and you always have to have the last word.’ She is opening the door to go in. ‘I do not.’ I retort quite like the 8 year old son I have. Mom looks at me and just shakes her head.

I never have noticed that I require the last word. I rarely argue with anyone any more. I do not argue with folks at work, nor do I talk enough to my bro to have any arguments. Which leaves only T and myself. And usually those arguments end with one or both of us in angry tears. And I always get the last word in as the parent.

This picture was taken on Thursday after a huge battle before leaving the cabin. Mom wanted to do her laundry. T had a fight with KJ. He was not pleased that he had to go to Winnipeg Beach with us. There was yelling. I took the phone away and he was reduced to tears. I also threatened to put him in the car myself if he didn’t get in there. Not sure how I would have accomplished that as he is a very solid little boy.

Once in Winnipeg Beach, I made him come along on our walk, threatening that I could not leave him in the car as it was illegal. The RCMP would arrest me for child endangerment. I made him hold my hand as we walked. T was less than thrilled with me.

As he stomped along pouting, mom and me walked behind him talking about this and that. Until he saw the play structure, with boys playing. Mom had intentionally guided us that way. We left him to play while we took a short stroll. Mom wanted to get some pics of me so I told T where we were headed and I would come back for him. Everyone was happy.

After we were done, mom headed back to the laundry mat to get her clothes and I went off to collect T. Who was heading towards me, a little distraught. He had come looking for mom and me and may have panicked a wee bit when I was not where I said that I was going to be.

As we walked along, he informed me that he loved me. And he held onto me. Of his own volition. I made him stop and took this picture of us. We were both happy and in a good mood. I got him ice cream. And one for mom.

More and more do I see myself in T. I am sure that when he is with his dad, his dad sees all sorts of habits/behaviours that are just like his own. I do believe (and this might be wishful thinking) that more and more, his internal unseen building blocks are more like mine. He is tenacious and sarcastic and stubborn. He spins fiction into facts and they sound good. He is my son.

It is summer time…..

Not entirely sure who is more excited for summer. Me, T or mom? Me, I love basking in the sun. Lying on the lounger, reading, getting a tan. T, easy enough, there is no school. Mom because she is home and gets to see her grandchildren and children.

Last year was the first year that my ex and me were in different homes. Which lead to a lot of behavioural issues with T as he tested boundaries, came to grips with the different lifestyle he now had to embrace. And mom got to witness the issues which lead her to have some rather distant feelings towards her grandson.

I understand. My own grandmother and me had a relationship that did not warm until I was an adult. Why? Because mom shared a lot with her, just as I share a lot with mom. This leads to judgements because this is their child that they want to protect. And also it bugged(s) the hell out of them to see disrespect being served to their children.

This year is different. Mom again came out and spent a few days with us. During school. So she walked to meet T after school, went to his school picnic. The two of them were able to spend one on one time together and T is a very different child than he was last year.

For myself, I am more confident than I was a year ago. Between learning how to stand on my own two feet and growing into most aspects of my life, the confidence oozes out of me. I think it may be a little disconcerting for some, but since going back onto my meds and just embracing the joy of life, I am evolving into the woman I always imagined that I would be.

Which leads me to the summer break. And the desire to spend more time up at the beach with mom and T. Actually, just the desire to spend more time with the two of them, and to watch a relationship evolve between the two that I thought might not happen.

I am very close with mom. So when she and T had their differences (okay he was a little brat and mom was frustrated with his behaviour and I really was no help) it hurt me. I want them to share the type of relationship that I had with my amma when I was little, with my grandfather as a teenager and young adult and with my grandma as I became an adult. It is not anything that I can force because than the closeness was not there.

But this year. This year it is. I am watching a relationship unfold that is going to benefit both mom and T. There are no words to describe the relationship I had with my three grandparents. Each one of them treated me differently and I learned so much from them. I loved each and every one of them differently and to this day (amma died when I was 10, grandpa when I was 21 and grandma when I was 39) I still tell T stories about all three of them. Today on the way home from the city T and me, we had a great conversation about gg-my grandma, his great grandma.

There has been laughter, cheers and the two of them have started an Uno contest. I am sure it will last all summer long. So the reason that I am not sure who is more excited has to do with this fragile new relationship that is forming before my eyes. I saw mom’s eyes gleam with excitment as she told me not once but several times how different T was. I witnessed how T reacted to mom, cleaning up (his bedroom folks is walkable!!!!!) no arguing and he wanted to be with her.

As for me, well I am excited to take a week’s holiday in July. I am so excited to see mom and T talking and being together. And they are funny. This is an example (I chortled and chortled about this):

A gentleman rides by us on his bike. I had to remind mom to move over on the path. Tember watches him go by and looks at me.

‘Mom, he has man boobs.’ he whispers kinda loudly.

‘They are suppose to have bells to let us know they are coming,’ mom sighs.

‘You call them bells?’ T is very confused. (at this point I began chortling)

Both mom and T were a little confused. But they got it worked out. And I giggled.

So maybe, truth be told, I am looking forward to this summer more than mom and T. They might be looking forward to spending time together. I am looking forward to the conversations, actions and weirdness that is going to come from our spending time together. There are going to be a lot of funny blogs/ideas that come out from this.

 

Who knew I could smell so bad?

This is my week with T.  Wednesday I was suddenly struck cold, right through to the bone. I even pulled the heater out at work when I was covering my second’s break because I was so cold. Went home, slept, went and picked up K and came home to T. In the evening it wasn’t so bad. But it hit hard over night. I awoke drenched in sweat my hair could almost be wrung out. Gross right? Well I felt worse.

I called in. Something that I had promised myself the last time that I was going to avoid doing for the next six months. I moved and my head throbbed, my eyes squinting because the light was too bright. I had blinds closed, glasses off and it was painful. My hips, my legs, my back ached. I slept almost all day. I did not take T to soccer. Ordered him pizza for supper because I could not move to cook. I have never felt so helpless and useless a mother as at this point.

T tucked me in and gave me his stuffed puppy to cuddle with. Along with his blanket. His dad knew I was ill so he picked him up and off to soccer they went. Home at 8:30 I tell him his bedtime is 9:30 and I am trusting him. He was in bed at 9:30. Friday a.m. I woke up again covered in sweat and my sleep had been so disjointed but I had to go to work. I groused and groaned and snivelled and groused some more, but off we went.

I am glad that I went in. I pushed through my day and as I did I began to feel so much better. By the end of my shift I was no longer forcing my smile or my laughter. Not cured mind you as my head was still throbbing. I made T clean up the floor because it hurt to bend over and pick up the mess on the floor. Hint 2 I was feeling better: the mess that had accumulated in two days of being ill, was annoying me.

Woke up this morning feeling good. Wee headache but livable. Only to discover that T puked in the middle of the night. He also had a wee accident. And he was cold.

It is Summer in the City in our city this weekend. He had to go. ‘Mom I am fine.’

I caved. He pushed through it. I am going to say this kid has way more stamina than I do. I do believe he is built like his chichi and refuses to allow illness to deny or keep him from anything.

As we are walking home, holding hands, I know yet again my guy isn’t feeling very good. Because what healthy 8 year old boy wants to be seen holding his mother’s hand as they walk down the street? He is also complaining that his legs are aching.  ‘Mom when we get home I just want to lay down on your couch.’

As I am sitting at the computer T is laying on the couch. He has not eaten yet, another indication of illness. I look over and use the bribe food: ‘Hey if I make mac and cheese you gonna have some?’ ‘Sure mom.’

Okay, and he is warming up. Maybe he is like chichi and not his wimpy mommy when it comes to sickness.

I start making the mac and cheese and he is patiently waiting. I am playing on the computer, minding my own business, eye on the timer when all of a sudden……pooot poooooot poooot pppppoooooot ppppppppppoooooooooot.

I look over at T with wide eyes and say what was that? Like I don’t know.

T stares at me I think in slight suprise. And than I am guessing that the smell hit him. His face twitched, he gasped and said ‘I didn’t know I could smell like this mom!’

And I laughed as I got up to stir the noodles and said ‘and you can’t even get away from it.’

****T did attempt to get me to smell said disgusting fart by insisting he required a kiss. I held my breath until far enough away.

 

A Mother’s Guilt

“Mom! Mom!” I bolted upright from a dead sleep sure that some new crisis had arisen. “What buddy?” I groggily call back trying to find my glasses. “I am all cured. No stomach ache, no headache!” “That is great buddy, but it is only 7 a.m. go back to sleep!” June 3/17 @ 6:55 a.m. 

This is my week with T. My heart. My soul. I watched him cry and sob as his head throbbed and his tummy hurt. I felt as though that pain would cleave me in two. I could do nothing to help him.

After our doctor appointment on Wednesday I text my boss to let him know that T was down and out for the next two days. I was in a way hoping that he would tell me that I should take the time and be with my son. For it is my week and he is ill on my watch. The offer was not made so I had to take my ex up on his offer to watch T for me. He felt that he ‘owed’ me.

Thursday morning he arrived to pick T up. T was still asleep when he got here. I woke him up and he stumbled up the stairs. Whimpering a little at the pain but a trooper still. I worked at 5:30 this morning so again asked what the plan was. Which is when I found out that T was not going to be home until today when I got off at 2. I walked down the stairs, my heart breaking in two and I cried.

Nothing mattered to me. I went to work, and thank goodness it was quiet. I spent my day tidying my desk and getting all my paperwork caught up that I had been neglecting for the longest time. Got organized. Do not need my boss to put down that the thing I need to work on is maintaining a clean desk. (In an aside, I have read that a messy desk is the sign of an intelligence person so who am I to argue?)

I text my ex. I tried calling. I could not get through. My heart begins to race. T never gets sick like this. The last time he was this sick was at about a year and a half, and we were in hospital for three days while he had pneumonia. I was scared sick, than feeling that I had failed him as a mother.

My evening was relatively quiet as I sat here. I text the ex a couple of times. I asked that T call me. I waited. And than he did. In tears. Telling me that his tummy hurt. Asking me why I had to go to work and could not come and get him. I tried to be so strong. I told him how great he was doing because he had not asked for Advil since 6:30 a.m. and it was 9:30 p.m. I asked how the pain was. Had he eaten? I could hear his fear. I told him I loved him and could I please speak to his dad?

I burst into tears when my ex got on the phone. I demanded to know what he was doing to help T. I was livid because I could tell that he had been drinking. His dad came out. It was a party. (Yes there is some lingering anger issues here) He tried to tell me it was all good. The I did not need to be there, he was. And I said to him “That is not what this is about. I am his mother. That I cannot be there to hold him, to help him kills me. When we get off the phone you go inside and you cuddle him. Promise me!”

He promised. I think he was chastened. I was sobbing. My baby needed me and yet I could not be there for him.

Do I not trust my ex to do the right thing? Not at all. However, I felt that he did not quite see how extreme this was. Our son is never sick. Sniffles, flu, but down and out? Never.

This morning I lasted until 9 a.m. before I text to see how T was. And was told he had not eaten. That he had puked. And I freaked. This was an escalation, not a getting better. Now I am panicking. I made an appointment with the Quick Care Clinic because, well, I am a mom and I jump to insane conclusions when my normally healthy child is so ill.

On Wednesday I got everything done before 8 a.m. Today, I was done by 7:30. I do what I have to do. But that is not where my heart is. I argue with my phone when I received messages that are not about T. I tried calling my ex and finally shot him a message saying that his house line was screwed and to please let me know what was going on with my son.

When I showed up at 2:30 to pick up T he did not come out to greet me. I was concerned. Asked the ex where is he? In the house.  I went in and he is laying on the couch his head covered and I look at the ex and say ‘He is still sleeping??????’ T pops up and looks at me. ‘Hi mom.’

Than he stood up. Oh dear lord, really? The pants he wore were six inches above his ankles. I looked at the ex and went really? What the hell are those? T bursts into tears and falls on couch covering himself with his blanket. I rush to him and apologize, brushing his tears away.

I tell him we will stop at home and change before the appointment at the Quick Care Clinic. That is when he tells me he does not want to go. His dad and I cajoled and he agreed. We walk outside and he trips falling head over heels. This has not been a good week for my baby.

His head is aching a little and as we drive along I try to hold his hand. He is not in the mood. Still a little weepy. When suddenly he announces that he is starving. I look at him and ask what he has eaten today? Nothing. We drive along and I tell him he has a choice. How is he feeling? Does he want to see the Nurse Practitioner? T tells me that he is feeling better. He is hungry.

I ask again what he would like for supper? He says to me you mean lunch right mom? Okay buddy what do you want? McDonald’s mom. I am really hungry.

I stared at him. The good mom is already nattering away, ‘Jay don’t you dare. He has not had anything substantial to eat in 72 hours. That is not the way to go.’ Mom who is experiencing reality and relief ‘Jay let the boy have whatever he wants so long as he eats it.’ T did ask for milk with his happy meal and drank it all. As well as eating everything.

As I sit here typing this, he is curled up in his bed, eating half a freezie watching Youtube. He was cracking jokes and making fun of me earlier so I know that he is on the upswing.

T is my life. Nothing and no body matters more to me than he does. That I could not be there for him each and every day that he was ill, when he required his mother to hold him and cuddle him, rips my heart asunder. The stress and fear that I felt because he was not in my presence, where I could ensure his well being, was crippling.

T is my life. He is my heart. He is my soul. He is my inspiration. He is the reason why I want to achieve and be a better person. And he is the only boy (man) who has the ability to rip the heart from my chest. And I will love him forever.

 

Would you jump too?

When I was a little girl and well let’s face it right up until the time that I moved out of the house, I did not get all the things I wanted. Cabbage Patch Kid phase, I was the only kid on the block without one. One of my friends had two and I was green with jealousy. I cannot quite recall the other things I wanted in life that all my other friends had but what I can tell you is my mother’s comment on all these passing phases. (And yes I realize that having a Cabbage Patch Kid now would earn me some serious cash but alas, I am missing out. Thanks a lot mom.)

My mother was a single mom in a time era where divorce was still frowned upon. But that is a subject for another story. Here we are discussing her absolute disdain for popular phases and my desire to follow them. (Just remembered another one, in grade 7 it was Melissa Jeans with a white stripe down the side. Finally got them as they were on the down swing. And the pair I had were defective. The zipper refused to stay up. I walked around half the day with my zipper down, showing off my scarlet granny panties for everyone to see before one of my friends alerted me.)

Our conversations would always start off the same. ‘Mom I really really need a Cabbage Patch Kid.’ ‘Jay, it is really close to Christmas just wait until Santa comes.’ So I was excited. Ten years old and although I knew Santa was my mom, I had expectations. I wrote a letter I believe to Santa. And than came Christmas. There was no Cabbage Patch Doll under the tree. What on earth! Santa always got me at least one of my asked for gifts on my list. Why had he forsaken me?

Now every smart child knows that the time to ask for a much needed item is not during the holiday season. So I waited. And waited. My Amma passed away just before Christmas that year and in January I was struck with (as the doctor put it) good old fashioned Scarlet Fever.

Finally I asked again for a Cabbage Patch Kid and this was my first (probably not but the first time I recall it) introduction to what would become my mom’s famous last words. ‘Jay-lyn Anne you are not going to die without a Cabbage Patch Kid. If all your friends were to jump off a bridge would you do the same?’ I think I may have made a smart ass comment about knowing how to swim but alas, it failed to impress.

Let us fast forward 33 years. There is a new fad in town. It is called a Fidget Spinner. It is a plastic toy for kids to keep their hands busy. Are you kidding me? It is literally a piece of plastic that kids spin around their fingers. M has indicated to me that it is kinda neat but I am appalled.

She bought K one. I said when I saw it, no way in hell is T getting something dumb ass like that. His dad has agreed to ‘make’ one for him at home in the shop. Not sure if his dad is waiting for him to forget or will actually make him one. I do not care. I refuse to spend money on something this dumb. Which brought back the statement ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you too?’ and I understand now where my mom was coming from.

T and his dad came to the store to shop yesterday. We had a conversation about the Fidget Spinner and how I most certainly was not going to buy him one. With a slight pout and whine T asked me why not? I did not use the statement my mom used on me but I did tell him that the reason why was because his interest would last as long as it did for his talking Elmo and Chuck the Truck. He asked how long was that? I said one day!

As I said one day to him, the statement if all your friends jumped off the bridge would you do it too? And I finally understood what my mom meant.

The Invisible Brake

I am sure that as every teenager passes into that realm of being a responsible adult by learning how to drive every last one of us….we have driven with our parents.

I am unsure if when a father teaches his daughter or son that the same things occur when a mother teaches the same children to drive. I will actually never know. My mom taught me how to drive. Kinda. I mean, because of her, I learned how to drive a standard. The rest of it, I learned in an automatic. Most cars I drove were automatics because well my mom did not trust me enough to let me drive her car.

When I was 14 we took a trip down to Texas. My mom allowed me to sit in the driver’s seat in a McDonald’s parking lot and practice shifting gears. Totally awesome right. I am one of those summer babies. So while all my friends hit their landmarks in school, I hit them all before the next school year started. (Try being the only 17 year old in your group of friends graduating, sober, boring and watching everyone else have a grand time) PSA Drinking does not lead one to have a good time. But in moderation and with good friends, it can enliven an evening and make for good memories.

So while all my friends were getting their driver’s license’s I was held back by my age restraint. And than the fact that the first time I went for my driver’s test, my brake lights did not work, second time I failed everything but the parallel parking aspect and third time is the charm. Got my license.

Alright, I have my license. Hey I even had a job. I was well on my way to becoming a responsible and active adult member of society. But mom, well mom had some issues.

The first time we drove together after I got my beginner’s was in the Kmart parking lot near our home. There was a lot of shouting. It was a Sunday. (This was before Sunday shopping was a thing, so the parking lot was empty.) I stalled a lot. Do you know, that really to shift gears is so easy, 20, 40, 60 and 80 and 100. Learned that from a boyfriend. Prob only good thing cause I don’t recall his name.

Mom yelled. I slammed on brakes. A lot. Not the invisible one. The real one. I stalled. She drove home.

Which leads me to this recollection.

One Friday evening mom is going out with the girl friends. I am going to babysit for one of them. Mom decides that I should drive from one end of the city to the other. Back in my day it would take about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending on how I hit the lights. Today, it would take us close to an hour and a half.

Hyundai Pony. A blondish gold color. Very basic. Had the radio on to my station. Yes, mom allowed me to have my radio station on. She sat in the passenger seat which underneath the glove box had a shelf that held the interior warmer. This is an item that you have when you live in Manitoba.  One plugs it in along side their regular block heater. This one though kinds takes the chill outta getting into a car in -40 degree celsisus weather.

The drive from home to the downtown area of Winnipeg is uneventful. It is twilight and I have made most of the lights so it has been clear sailing. Part of my route is a known route for it is the way we drive to my grandparents every week. Mom and me we are talking. Laughing. Having one of those really rare mother daughter (when she is a teenager) moments. Where all the animosity, the ‘you know nothing attitude’ the exasperation because well how do you understand a daughter who is nothing like you? That night mom and me, we were in a groove.

We are driving up Donald Avenue. This area is center downtown Winnipeg. It is a bus route. It is Friday night approximately 7ish in the evening. Traffic is enough to make mom a little nervous. So we are cruising along. I am doing all the right things. I am, for one, in the damn lane I need to be in. Two, I am watching all angles of traffic…..including the buses to the right of me. And yes, I am aware that the bus has it’s flasher on. Yes mother I am aware, I am watching.

Well mom had very little faith in my ability to gauge traffic. To this day she still grabs the door handle if she thinks I might be about to kill us all. First she says ‘Jay, watch out.’ I look at her and say nothing. (From the corner of my eye) ‘Jay-lyn do you see that bus?’ I glance at her and return my concentration to the road. Please note, the bus is 50 feet in front of me, edging out and I have already taken my foot off the gas because a) my depth perception is a little off and would rather be safe than sorry b) mom is starting to panic.

The bus swings out into my lane. There is more than enough room to spare. I am no where near crashing into and killing not only ourselves but the bus riders. Mom shrieks. I look at her in dismay. Radio is playing Bon Jovi. And mom slams on her invisible brake.

Her invisible brake? The shelf that held the interior warmer. She slammed her foot into that shelf like it was going to bring the car to a complete and utter halt. My head whips around and in a split second I gape at her than return my attention to the road. The bus soars off into the distance and four cars are able to slide into the gap.

I glide to a stop at the red light. And my head swivels to look at mom. Mom stares back at me. I cannot even ask the question. But I do. ‘Mom what do you not trust me?’

Mom looks at the the shelf. She looks at me. (and this is poetic license)

‘Onward Jeeves.’

**If memory serves I think there was a lot of giggling and accusations shouted in fun. I demanding to know if she didn’t trust my driving skills or what? And her defending her actions……’but that bus was soooooo close.’**