Category Archives: Parenting

No means no – discussing sexual violence with our sons

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Collaborative artwork made by 138 young women

Collaborative artwork made by 138 young women (Photo credit: ctrouper)

As a parent, I’ve been greatly disturbed by several high-profile cases of young women who have been sexually assaulted and who have also had to deal with images of the incident being shared via social media. Not surprisingly, these cases have touched a chord with the public and prompted a great deal of debate. Much of the discussion has focused on the role of Facebook and Twitter in accelerating the dissemination of the images and how it has contributed to re-victimizing these young women. But in listening to various experts opine on the radio and television, I realized that it’s not about Facebook. It’s about sexual violence.

It’s not just that the alleged perpetrators in these cases, most of them young men under the age of 20, seemed to think that it ok to sexually assault a young woman.  It’s also that friends and family, and in some cases, didn’t seem to grasp the underlying dynamic.  In reporting on the guilty verdict of 2 young men in Steubenville, Ohio, a reporter from a main stream media outlet (a woman) went on at length about the impact of the verdict on the lives of the perpetrators. At best, the victim was invisible; at worst, she was to blame for what happened to her.

As a mother of an 11-year-old boy, I find these events very frightening. As a feminist, I want to believe that I have raised my son to respect and value women and girls. M certainly has lots of strong female role models in his life – his cousins, friends, aunts and grandmothers are all strong and independent. And the men is his life – his dad, grandfather and uncles – set a good example in terms of how they treat and relate to women. We’ve discussed Rhianna and Chris Brown on several occasions – maybe it’s because Rhianna is his favourite singer, but according to M, Chris Brown is a “douche”.

But I know that M’s world view is also shaped by lots of things outside my control. He may not be on Facebook (yet), but he does play video games and listen to dance and rap music. I’m under no illusion that all the images he sees and all the lyrics he hears convey a female-positive image.

So this morning, in between pancakes and the news report, I asked  M if they had discussed the most recent case reported in the news at school. He said they hadn’t but it was clear that he knew what I was talking about. I asked him if he understood what sexual assault was and we talked about whether it was ok to hurt a girl that way, even if she’s had too much to drink – it’s not ok, Mom. When I asked him what he would do if he was at a party and saw someone sexually assaulting a girl, M said he’d tell an adult. Same thing if he saw something on Facebook (he did remind me that he’s not on Facebook).

It wasn’t a long conversation – less than 2 minutes. It won’t be the last. It may not be as easy next time – as he gets older, he may be increasingly reluctant to talk to me about anything, let alone such an uncomfortable subject. As his parent, however, I need to get beyond his discomfort and mine and talk to my son about difficult topics, including sexual assault. I want to help him understand that no always means no. If necessary, I want him to be able to stand up and tell others that sexual violence is unacceptable.

So we’re starting the conversation, my son and I.

Lost in Walmart

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walmart beijing

walmart beijing (Photo credit: galaygobi)

A couple of weeks ago, M and I went to WalMart. As a general rule, he hates shopping, but since he wasn’t having much luck coming up with reasonably priced ideas for Christmas gifts, I suggested (and eventually insisted) he come with me. I was looking for Christmas greenery and since WalMart has a good-sized toy department, I figured we could kill two birds with one stone.

M grumbled about coming with me during the entire 10 minute car ride to the store. When I stopped at the entrance to pick up cedar and pine boughs, he insisted on going ahead of me. He was anxious to get home and watch Phineus and Ferb. I’m usually a little nervous about letting M go off on his own in a store, but I was only going to be a few minutes behind him and despite that fact that this was a very large Walmart, the toy department was easy to find. So off he goes.

Five minutes later, boughs in hand, I walk into the toy department. No M. I walk back and forth several times and check the ends of the isles to make sure he’s not crouched down looking at something. Still no M. Figuring he did a quick sweep and got bored, I walk back to the front of the store to find him. No sign of him.

Still carrying my armful of boughs, I trudge back to the toy department, but  M’s not to be found. By this time, I’m starting to get a little bit worried. So I head back to the front of the store and ask the lady who is standing at the door greeting customers if she’s seen a boy in a brown ski jacket. She hasn’t and suggests I have him paged.

At this point, I have no idea where he might be. On the off-chance that he might have wandered back to the car, I pay for my greenery (which by this time is getting rather heavy; I figure I can move faster without it) and head out to the parking lot to see if he’s waiting by the car. He’s not there.

So I go back into the store and head back to the toy department. He’s still not there, so I go back to the front to see if he’s finally turned up there. The greeter lady hasn’t seen him and suggests I check the electronics section. I’m quickly moving into panicky-parent mode, envisioning the worst case scenarios. I don’t think M would go off with a stranger, but you never know.

There’s no sign of M in the electronics department. I walk past the toy department and am heading down the main aisle to have him paged, when I spot him rushing in the opposite direction. I call out to him, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. I’m now practically running behind him, calling his name, when he finally stops and turns around to look at my, a panicked expression on his face. “Mommy,” he says, with obvious relief.

Me: Where have you been?  I’ve been looking for you for over 15 minutes.

M: I was in the toy department and then I went to the electronics department.

Me: You were supposed to meet me in the toy department.

M: I didn’t find anything interesting there, so I went to check out the games.

Me: How would I have known where you were?

Despite my anxiety about having lost him in the store, I purposely keep my voice calm. I can tell he’s upset and there doesn’t seem to be any point in raising my voice and getting him more worked up. M tells me that he stopped to play a game in the electronics department. He looks a little chagrined, having figured out that this was probably not the smartest move on his part.

We head out of the store and back to the car. I can tell he was genuinely worried, because he’s clutching my hand, something he never does any more. He also tells me repeatedly that he’s sorry, something he tends to do when he’s anxious about something he’s done.

We make it home, both a little wiser. Next time M and I go to a store, I will make sure he knows where to meet me. However, I rather expect that the  next time, he’ll stick pretty close to me. It turns out getting lost in Walmart was a good life lesson for M, but not one I think he wants to repeat anytime soon.

The lesson of chocolate frosting

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Home-made birthday cake

When it came to planning M’s birthday party, I didn’t mind paying for the deluxe package at the indoor play centre he had chosen as the venue – it included enough activities to keep a group of 10 and 11 year old boys busy for a couple of hours, plus pizza, drinks and gift bags.  But I did balk at paying $40 extra for a birthday cake.

Based on past experience, M likes the idea of birthday cake more than he likes eating it.  Even if is a fancy bakery cake with a picture of his favourite Pokemon on it, he only has a couple of bites of icing.   So aside from the fact that $40 for a cake seemed expensive, even compared to a store-bought cake, it was going to be a waste of money.  But a birthday isn’t a party without a cake, so I decided to make one myself.

Making the cake was the easy part.   I’m an ok baker and I used a recipe my mother gave me a couple of years ago.  I made the same cake last year and M said he liked it.

Frosting the cake however, was a bit trickier.  My previous attempts were highly unsuccessful.  The last time I actually made frosting was almost 20 years ago, when I made a birthday for my husband.  As he recalls, it had the texture of concrete.  And I don’t think it tasted much better.

So after that experience, I swore off making frosting.  I would make cakes that didn’t need to be frosted, or if icing was absolutely required, I’d buy frosting-in-a-can.   Last year, I asked my neighbour, who is a birthday cake genius, to make the icing, so I could frost the  cake I had made.  He turned up with a huge bowl of creamy, yummy chocolate frosting, enough to cover 2 cakes.

But this year my neighbour was unavailable.  So I decided to bite the bullet and try making the frosting myself.  I bought a big bag of icing sugar and did what I usually do when I’m desperate – I called my mother.   She’s been making frosting since before I was born, so I figured following her tried-and-true recipe would significantly increase my chances of success.

Her recipe is simple:  melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 1/4 cup of water; remove from the heat and add 2 squares melted bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 vanilla; stir until well-blended and then add 2 cups of icing sugar, beating with a wooden spoon, until smooth and the desired consistency – thick enough to stay on the cake.  I followed her directions to a T.

After beating the frosting for what seemed like 30 minutes, it was still too thin, so I called my mother back.  She told me to add more icing sugar.  I was a little nervous about putting in too much and ending up with chocolate concrete (a la the last frosting episode), but I added a bit more.  I kept beating it with the wooden spoon (if I’m going to make frosting regularly, I’m going to need to lift weights to strengthen my shoulders and neck muscles – they were killing me), until it seemed thick enough to spread on the cake.

The frosting went on smooth and thick.  M declared it was tasty.  I decorated the iced cake with 2 different kinds of sprinkles and stood back and admired my handiwork.  Not only had I made a fine-looking cake, but I had successfully conquered my fear of frosting.  Admittedly, with a little help from my mother.

Frosted cake

Birthday cake decorated with sprinkles

Final product - frosted and decorated birthday cake

At the same time as I was wrestling with my frosting demons, my husband called to say that M was being difficult at soccer and he was bringing him home.  When M got home, I asked him what had been going on.  According to M, he wasn’t allowed to play in goal this week, as he had been the goalie last week.  He didn’t want to play any other positions, because in his words, “he sucked at them.”

One of the comments on M’s final report card was that he needs to work on taking more risks – he prefers to stick with tasks he’s comfortable with and is often resistant to trying new activities.  Sometimes getting him to try something new or unknown is like trying to blow up a boulder with a firecracker.  Lots of noise, but the boulder doesn’t move.

I’m not sure how much of M’s aversion to risk-taking is attributable to his ADHD.   He is a perfectionist and most perfectionists, he doesn’t like to fail.  Really, who does?  Since M also has low self-esteem – pretty typical of kids with ADHD – not being able to do something well feels like failure to him.  So not surprising that he tends to stick with things he knows he does well, like math and tennis.

But while learning something new can be scary, it is also a way to develop new skills.  Like playing mid-field or striker and passing and shooting the soccer ball , rather than just catching it in goal.  Or figuring out the elements of a story by participating in a creative writing exercise in class.   Or, in my case, making edible frosting for the first time in over 20 years.  Accomplishing something new is also a good way to build up your self-esteem.  M was a little intimidated by performing with the school choir for the first time this year.  In the end, he really enjoyed it – not only did he have a strong sense of accomplishment, his singing improved.

According to his report card, M has a hard time asking for help.  When faced with a task he finds  challenging, rather than asking the teacher or a classmate for assistance, he balks.   This year, he was much less disruptive in class when he decided he didn’t want to what the other kids were doing – rather than kick up a fuss, he would just withdraw.  His teacher found this a bit frustrating, but we saw it as a big step – while he wasn’t doing what the teacher asked, he was dealing with his frustration in a much more appropriate manner.  Over the course of the year, M did become more comfortable with asking for help, especially when he ran into a conflict with another child.  He had a very good relationship with a couple of the counselors in his after-school program and he was increasingly able to seek them out proactively when a situation with another child arose.  In the past, when he would try to deal with a conflict on his own, he’d usually end up losing his temper and getting into trouble.

As I explained to M as I was frosting his birthday cake, taking a risk can be hard.  My last effort at making frosting was such a disaster, that I avoided doing it again for almost 2 decades.   But even though I had to call me mother several times, I finally succeeded in making frosting that looked and tasted good.   No matter how old you are, there’s no shame in asking for help.  Even if M felt more comfortable playing in goal, there was no reason he couldn’t learn how to play another position.  Since his dad is one of the coaches, he could ask him for extra help.  Although he doesn’t need an excuse to watch the Eurocup of soccer, he could pay special attention to how players in different positions worked together.

I’m pretty sure M won’t suddenly embrace trying new things.  The last coupe of nights at supper, he’s refused to eat his carrots because they weren’t baby carrots from a bag.  But he did go cycling today with his dad and I on some nearby trails, something he’s never done before.   The next time he  get nervous about moving outside his comfort zone,  I’ll remind him about the frosting.  Sometimes we just have to push ourselves a little bit – when we do, the rewards are that much sweeter.

By the way, both the cake and the frosting were delicious.

Home alone – how old is old enough?

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Home Alone (film)

Home Alone (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent conversation with M during breakfast:

M:  How old enough do you have to be to stay home alone?

Me:  It’s up to every parent to decide.

M:  How old do you have to be to stay home alone after school?

Me:  There is no specific rule.  Parents decide based on whether or not they thing their child is mature enough.

M:  But isn’t there a law about when you can stay home by yourself, after a certain age?

Me:  When a child is 10 or older, they can stay alone without a caregiver, but it is still up to the parents. 

M was quiet for a couple of minutes.

Me:  Are you thinking that you would like to stay home by yourself after school?

M nods.

Me:  How come?

M:  I don’t like daycare anymore.  It isn’t fun.

Me:  I’m not sure that you are old enough to stay home by yourself for 3 hours every afternoon.  Would you do anything but play on the computer and your iPod?

M (shrugging):  Probably not.

Me:  I’m not sure you are old enough to stay by yourself (and just in case he missed the point) – it’s something Mom and Dad, as your parents, would have to talk about.

At this point, M changed the subject.  He hasn’t brought it up again, but I expect it is a matter of time.

A number of my friends with 10 year olds are dealing with the same question from their kids.  Daycare is a bit too structured and perhaps just a bit babyish when you are almost 11 years old and nearly in grade 6.  In M’s case, how much he wants to stay home may vary according to how he is getting along with other children at the daycare.

But I expect the real issue is independence.  M and his friends all want to do more things on their own.  For M, it started with walking to school by himself.  We only live 3 minutes from the school and the route is well-travelled, so the risk factor is low.  Nonetheless, it took me several weeks to be entirely comfortable with him going the entire way without a parent.  His dad had no such qualms – he actively encourages M’s independence and often laments the fact that M doesn’t take more responsibility to do things for himself.  But I struggled with letting M go off by himself.  Part of this was probably the age-old maternal reticence to cut the apron cords.  But M is also impulsive and doesn’t always make the best choices.  The fact that his meds haven’t fully kicked in by the time he leaves for school just increases the potential for M to get into trouble before he reaches the school yard.

We eventually worked out a transition plan that worked for everyone:  for a few days, one of us walked M as far as the school parking lot; for a few more days,  just to the bottom of the cul-de-sac that leads to the school; and then just across the street.  It took about 3 weeks, but eventually he went by himself.   

That was last year.  He walks (or runs, depending on the time) on his own most days.   As much as I struggled with the need to keep him in view to ensure his safety, M also needed to be able to walk to school by himself.  He needed to develop the confidence that he could do it.  He also needed me to trust that he could get to school safely, on his own.  We’ve never received a call from the school, so I know he makes it every morning.

But staying home alone after school is a much bigger responsibility.  Even his father agrees that M may not be ready for this.  I’m sure he could walk home by himself.  I’m less sure he could always remember his house key but we could leave a key somewhere for him, just in case.  I am definitely unconvinced that he would do anything but play games on the computer and/or his iPod.  He doesn’t get a lot of homework, so that’s not an issue.  But after three hours of straight electronics, his brain cells would be pretty fried, which wouldn’t be good for any of us.  He would probably be surly and cranky by the time one of his parents got home – we’d be competing to see who could stay later at work.  At daycare, M gets a fair amount of outdoor exercise at the daycare; much better for him than playing hours of electronic games.  Plus, he is interacting with other children which is always a good thing, even if there are conflicts from time to time. 

The home alone question is the tip of the iceberg.  As he gets older, M’s increasingly going to want to assert his independence by doing things on his own.  Regrettably, I don’t think this includes cleaning his room or helping out around the house.  Intellectually, I know this need for greater independence is part of growing up.  We all went through it.  Emotionally, it is harder because the less he needs me, the less he is my little boy.  The reality is that he does still need me – after all, I was the one he woke up the other night when he was up repeatedly with a stomach bug.  But in addition to doing things for him, M also needs me to give him room to try things on his own. 

Of course, he would like more freedom.  But it is also up to me, as the parent, to decide when he is capable of handling additional responsibilities.  I can’t discount the fact that he has ADHD which can make it harder for him to make good choices.  Part of him may want to escape the organized chaos structure of the daycare, but what if being on his own everyday after school actually makes him more anxious?  

For the moment, M seems content to stay where he is after school.   I expect this will be the first of many similar discussions we’ll have going forward.  Some of them will probably be more like arguments.

However,  we’ll continue to inch slowly towards M’s emancipation from parental oversight.  I fully expect that from time to time, he will chafe at our limits.  Sometimes we will want him to take on more responsibility than he is willing to do at the time, such as homework and chores.  I will undoubtably continue to wrestle with my own need to protect him versus letting his stand on his own two feet.  But eventually we will get there.  I just can’t put an exact age on when.

Start of a long, long weekend?

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Emotions associated with anger

Emotions associated with anger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Easter weekend is a welcome break – a rare 4 day weekend.  The  schools are closed Friday and Monday.  Both my husband and I get it off too.  Usually we travel to see our families – between 4-6 hours away.  This year, we decided we weren`t going anywhere.  Maybe a day trip, but no long car trips.  We like our families but it is always a bit discombobulating to be away from our house and our routines, especially with M.

No matter how much my husband and I are looking forward to just hanging around and relaxing, there is always the challenge of keeping M occupied.  He would be perfectly happy to spend the entire 4 days playing computer games / Wii, watching You Tube / television and listening to music on his iPod Touch.  The only way this could be better would be if he was allowed to stay in his pyjamas the entire time.   But we know from experience that M has a tipping point in terms of media time – he`s good up to about 2 hours and 15 mins.  Much longer and he gets overstimulated, which causes him to become cranky and argumentative.

Since it was a holiday/weekend,  M woke up early this morning (he only sleeps in on school days).  He`s old enough to amuse himself, so we can sleep in a bit longer, although someone usually needs to get up and give him some breakfast and his meds.  He will eventually eat if no one is standing over him, but he won`t take the meds without prompting – he doesn`t have a problem taking them, but if he`s distracted by the tv or the computer, he won`t remember to take them.

This morning, I got up about a half an hour after M.  He was on the computer, watching America`s Funniest Home Videos on YouTube.  I wanted to go one the compter too, so I gave him a deadline and read the paper while I waited for my turn.

When the appointed time arrived, M got off reluctantly.

M:  What should I do now?

Me:  Read a book.

M: But I can read a book on the computer.

Me:  No, you can`t.

M: yes, I can – I can read Archie comics.

At this point, we spent a few minutes debating whether an Archie comic is really a book, before I told M to find one of his books and read it.

M:  How long do I have to read?

Me:  30 minutes.   

M grabs a book on the history of New Zealand his grandparents sent him, sits beside me on the sofa and flips through it.

M: I`m finished reading.  How much longer before I can go on my iPod?

Me: You just had over an hour of computer time.  You can`t go on your iPod for at least an hour.

M (voice rising): But you said 30 minutes!

Me:  I only said you had to read for 30 minutes – I never said you could go on your iPod right afterwards.

By this point, M was getting agitated with me – he clearly thought he could play on his iPod after he finished reading.  Instead of backing off and admitting we had misunderstood each other, I dug in my heels.  Not the best strategy with M, but in my defense, it wasn`t even 9am on the first day of a long weekend.  I was busy on the computer and I figured M would have lots of media time over the next few days.  An extra 30 minute break wouldn`t kill him.

Things went downhill from here.  M started shutting the laptop lid down on me, throwing the newspaper and yelling at me.  I grabbed his iPod which was on the couch and told him he`d he couldn`t have it for another 30 minutes, on top of the original hour.  I grabbed the iPod and the computer and started to head upstairs, at which point M latched onto my ankles to prevent me from leaving the room. 

We were making a fair amount of racket and after a few minutes, my husband came down stairs.  He tried to calm M down to no avail.  We finally carried him struggling and screaming up to his room.  My husband didn`t want to leave him alone in his room – M tore him room apart the last time he was shut in his room.  I went back downstairs and could hear M`s door slamming repeatedly and M swearing at his dad.  M`s door already has a hole in it from when he put his fist through it a couple fo years ago – it is usually covered up with a dart board.

My husband decided to take the door hinges.  This prompted a new wave of swearing and yelling from M.  Once the door was off, my husband left M`s room and I stayed behind.  M was still yelling but he was also crying.  We sat at opposite ends of his bed and he told me how much he hated his life and his parents.  On a whim, I grabbed on of the many stuffed animals that live on M`s bed and tossed it at him.  he trew it back at me, as hard as he could. 

We went back and forth throwing a stuffie at each other.  If it fell off the bed as we were throwing it, I would grab another animal  from the pile and we keep going.  After a few minutes, M stopped launching the stuffie at me like it was a missile.  he kept throwing it, but he obviously wasn`t angry any more. 

Eventually we both stopped and apologized to each other.  M also apologized to his dad.  He couldn`t tell me why he got so upset, but I expect it was partially because he could see the weekend stretching out before him and didn`t know quite how he was going to fill up his time.  His regular weekend activities are cancelled due to the holiday and most people are away or busy with family. 

Admittedly, I did not handle the situation very well.  I have learned the hard way that changing the terms of engagement on M generally provokes a negative reaction on his part.  Since I can be just as stubborn and intractable as he can, I have learned to back off before I box myself into a corner.  But this morning, I ignored the warning signs and ended up in a battle of wills with M.  Tossing the stuffie at my head allowed him to vent his anger.  Once he was done, he was highly apologetic, as he always is when he has a temper tantrum.

As it turns out, one of his friends is around today and he went over there after lunch.  I went back to bed for a little while and M made some origami animals (also a gift from his grandparents) and played cards with his dad, without further incident.

Three more days to go – tomorrow, M`s dad can get up with him.

Different worlds – same language

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I have always been upfront about M’s challenges.  My colleagues, friends and family may not know what’s happening on a daily basis (unless they read my blog), but they know he struggles from time to time.  M has taken his meds in front of friends and when they ask questions, we simply answer that he needs them to help him pay attention better or to be less anxious.  We don’t make a big drama about M’s issues, but we don’t minimize them either.  We don’t want M to be embarrassed about the fact that his brain works a bit differently from other kids.  And we want him to know that we, his parents, aren’t embarrassed – we accept that he has certain challenges and many more strengths.

Despite the fact that friends and family are very supportive, many of them don’t have a true understanding of what we go through every day with M and what it is like for him.  It’s as if they are visiting a foreign country – lots to see and do, but a completely different experience from that of the natives who actually live there.

So it was wonderful to have a chance to chat with a long-time friend who has a child with many of the same challenges as M.  She and I don’t live in the same city – not even in proximity to each other.  We really only get to see each other once a year when she comes to town for work. 

Naturally we spent a better part of our evening together talking about our kids.  Part of it was catching up on the essential information – age, grade, hobbies.  But we spent most of our time discussing how it is for us, the parents, to parent these wonderful complex children we have in our lives.   My friend is the single working parent of a teenager, so she has a lot on her plate.  But I understood exactly what she meant went she talked about the sheer amount of energy it takes to help her child successfully navigate school.  Not to mention the time and effort required to identify resources to support her child.  Neither of us begrudge one single moment we spend with our respective children or advocating on their behalf.  But once in a while, it is reassuring to talk to someone else who really understands what you are going through – who knows that some days are a total grind and others are an adventure of discovery.  Someone who knows without explanation what you mean when you talk about your child’s recent meltdown.

My friend and I were not comparing battle scars or war stories.  We were not commiserating with each other.  We were simply being honest with each other and sharing our common parenting experiences.  We both love our kids to bits.  But we both know it can often be hard work.  And occasionally it is just nice to talk to someone who really understands what it`s like.

The apple doesn’t fall far from this tree

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The Apple Tree

Image via Wikipedia

M comes by his challengingness honestly. I was very much like him as a child – quick to anger, easily frustrated and prone to throwing things. I remember enough of my childhood to understand what it is like to be M. In other words, the tree and the apple have a lot in common.

As I have gotten older, I have learned to manage my anger. Throwing a fit doesn’t exactly endear me to my friends or colleagues. Moreover, I trying to set a good example for M. But it isn’t always easy, especially when I am stressed or not feeling well. On those days, I struggle to keep my temper, to keep my anger from boiling over. In moments like this, I usually take a walk – fresh air helps clear the negative thoughts from my head.

But sometimes I lose the battle and boom! It’s like the scene in The Exorcist, where Linda Blair’s head is spinning around. Not pretty.

This morning was one of those days. I woke up feeling like I was hung over. Except the cause wasn’t over-imbibing alcoholic beverages, rather inadvertently eating something I shouldn’t have.

I am highly allergic to dairy and sugar. Because even small amounts can make give me a migraine headache and/or make feel nauseated and wretched, I am very careful about what I eat. I check labels whenever I eat something new. But last night, after curling, I had some sweet potato chips and vegetable chips. I didn’t ask to look at the labels – who would put sugar or dairy in either of these snack foods?

Someone did. So I wake up late, feeling like a busload of tequila shooters ran over me. M was already on his way out the door, so I didn’t have to worry about him. I wasn’t moving very fast, but I got ready to go to work.

At 9:15, I emailed my boss to say I was running late but expected to be there by 10 am. By the time I left the house, it was about 9:30. On my way to the bus stop, I stopped into the pharmacy to buy a monthly bus stop. They ran out early last month but since it is only Feb 2, I figured there would be no problem getting one. It’s another 5 mins to the bus stop from there – even with a transfer, I would still be at work by 10 am.

So much for my best laid plans. Not only was the pharmacy sold out, but so was the newsstand further down the street. Plus I had to wait in long lines I both stores to find this out. Since the newsstand is further away from my bus stop, I had to walk another 10 minutes.

By this time, the blood is boiling in my ears so I call my husband and complain (loudly and rudely) about how much I hate our public transit system. Of course, I have to wait for a bus once I get to the stop. After checking my BB for messages. I call my husband back to remind him I am going to a farewell party for a colleague after work. Since I am still waiting for the bus and still annoyed with the bus system, I start yelling again – he comments that he understands I am upset but I am not upset with him so why am I yelling at him?

This is like waving a red flag in front of a rampaging bull. In my current state, I can find plenty to be angry with my husband about. I am pacing around the bus stop like a mad woman. Fortunately for him, the bus arrives and I hang up. No use in making any more of a scene.

I get to my transfer stop, only to discover that I will have to wait another 10 min for my bus. While walking to work from my house takes over an hour, it is a relatively short walk from the transfer point to my building. I decide to walk. We’ve had snow and ice pellets over the last couple of days and most of the sidewalk has been recently ploughed. Except for one section that is covered in 2 inches of slippery icy crystals, which make it hard to walk on. As I am slogging my way through this mess, muttering under my breath, a bus goes by.

At this point, I start to laugh. The situation is so silly. It is almost 10:30 – normally it takes me 20 minutes to get to work. An hour is a new record. Fortunately my boss is understanding about this sort of thing. When I finally arrive at work, I am feeling calmer.

I later apologized to my husband for being a crazy woman.  I have told M many times that I understand what it is like to loss your temper and behave badly.I really do understand that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just get mad. But I’m glad he wasn’t around to witness my meltdown this morning. The apple doesn’t need to see the tree losing its leaves..