Sidling Shadows

She moves like a languid lynx

slinking across glass littered alleys

tacky with the tears

of so many shattered dreams.

Hard and heartless, she has closed down

using her body as a commodity.

To survive, to entrap, to getting what she wants.

Unsure that even she knows.

Men made her this way.

From a father who held her too dear

to a brother she fought with fear.

From boyfriend to boyfriend

each one always the same…..

It was only the faces and bodies

that changed.

Women too had a hand here.

A mother who turned from her tears

to a sister who could only feel relief.

From girlfriend to girlfriend

relationships found growing in rocky graves

mistrust and jealousy….

It was only the clothes and hair

that changed.

No time for tears.

No time for love.

No time for comfort.

Delving into the underbelly

schooled in trash

she moves like a languid lynx

sidling through the shadows.

Your worst dream.

©Jay-lyn Doerksen

August 10/17

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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.

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.’**

Parenting Styles

Of late, I have been thinking about this a lot. Not in respect to friends or aquaintances, but rather with regards to myself and my brother.

My bro and me are 7 years apart, with myself being the elder.

By the time my brother was born, my parents were already living in seperate homes. By 1982 they were divorced, truth be told I believe in was as early as 1980 but that is neither here nor there. What happened was, our dad took a long walk off a short pier. No, he did not commit suicide, but he dove into a bottle and remained there until the day he died. My brother and me, blips on the screen and only when our mom really stuck to her guns. For the most part, she allowed his parenting responsibilities to slip because well, he wasn’t a parent. Or rather not a great one.

So, I was an only child until I was 7 years old. Than he came along. LOL yes, I am referring to my brother. I was ecstatic I had a brother. A wee part of me, okay like a massive part of me wanted a sister, but hey what do you do? Once they come out it isn’t like you can return to sender, according to my mom, it just does not work that way. So I made do. Yeahhhhhhhhhh a baby brother.

And I did love him. I protected him. I raged for him. Until the day he decided he was smarter than me. Than the war was on. And well, I am the knowledgeable fount of information that no one wants to know, so that makes me so much smarter. I am laughing and digressing at the same time.

And than things happened. I got older, he got older, but I was a teenager. Do you know what it was like to be a teenager in a single parent home in the late 1980’s? If you weren’t born than, than no you don’t. If you were, you remember it was unpaid hell. You had to look after the younger sibling sometimes up to three times a week for free! And not only that, they could say you twisted their ears off, and despite evidence to the contrary because they still have both ears, you were the mean one. And the infant child is coddled while he/she smiles the evil smile of all younger siblings.

I use to swear up and down that our mom parented my brother and me differently. With me she was strict. Bedtimes, weekends home by 8:30-9 p.m. and no later. I was tangled in the leash as she tried so hard to protect me. And than there was my brother. Oh how my mom and me fought about the differences in parenting. I screamed and raged that she was so much tougher on me. That she allowed my brother to get away with murder. She did. And even when she did put her foot down, it was kinda like my bro knew how to talk his way around it.

All of this is not a criticism of how our mother raised us. I am the woman I am and I have the morals and a compass by which I lead my life all because of her. Essentially, how would my mother deal with this.  My brother, he too has morals and a compass that guides him, and he would not be the man he is without our mother. Having said that, my grandmother (mom’s mom) and my mother had/have both apologized to me for how a) grandma always insisted that mom treated us equal when she so did not and b) mom apologizing because she admits to having been more permissive with my brother than me. But she was playing the role of both parents and it is a heady one.

All of this leads me to my current topic. The differences in how myself and my brother and me raise our children. Despite the fact that he is younger than me, my niece is now a teenager with my nephews coming right up behind her. T is 8. The one thing my bro will ever be able to hold over me for being first, having kids.

And suddenly I see the differences. My brother and sister in law, they are hands on parents. They know what their kids are doing morning day and night. They know who all their friends are. They spend their time with their kids. My niece watched Netflix one morning without permission and my bro wrapped her device in layers of tape and bubble wrap. Yet she spent the afternoon at home with him unwrapping said device.

Their boys are in baseball, basketball and play video games. All with their dad and mom, in their corner, being there for them. Bro and nephews play a lot of video games together and yet all three of those kids are verocious readers.

Part of me wonders, is he so reactive and so involved because our mom was permissive? Do not get me wrong, she was involved with his sports and encouraged him. But in some cases, there were parameters that were missing.

Than I look at myself. I talk a lot to T. I am always talking and bugging him to talk to me. I tell him that us having conversations is how I know what is going on in his day to day life. Never mind that I miss two weeks of that life every month. I sit outside (now that it is warmer) reading and watching him play. Because that is what he wants of me. Not to hover over him. Not to intrude, but just to be there.

Inside, he likes to play with lego. Watch Youtube. Play his Scrap Mechanic. He creates, and draws and I am there. I have asked him about that. I will say to him we never do anything and he always responds to me with the same thing. Mom you are here, you are beside me. You are always in the same room as me, always within reach, what more do we have to do?

And we are happy with that.

For the longest time I have compared myself to my bro and his parenting style.

I also know that our mom, and my bro, they think that I am permissive. And I am. Which leads to the whole point of this blog. Which actually has just turned into a reminiscent of my childhood.

Our mother was very strong handed with me. Curfews, knowing where I was and who I was with. My bro, he went where he wanted and came and went as he pleased. And I truly believe this has lead to how we each parent. Neither one of us is better than the other (although were you to ask the bro he would tell you it was him) we are just different. And there is nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it is how come each and everyone of us is unique.