Reality to Earth Mother

I like to believe that every generation improves upon the last – we all learn from our parents ‘mistakes’ so we don’t make them with our children, right?  That’s how it should work and while I respect the ‘todays parents’ (I call them Earth Mothers) attempts to improve the world for the next generation, I often find myself wondering if they aren’t a little extreme.

When shopping recently, I happened to comment on these unusual rubber necklaces and bracelets that were on display. They were large and gaudy and I couldn’t imagine anyone wearing such jewelry. (actually, I thought they might be a chew toy for a dog)The sales lady overheard me and rushed to explain that these were for young mothers. They are made to be chewable so teething babies can chomp on these when in their mother’s arms. “This means baby won’t ruin your gold necklace or wrist watch, both of which pose choking hazards” she’s quick to point out.   Seriously? Do we really want to encourage children to chew on people’s jewelry? Are we maybe going a bit too far here?  Here’s a radical thought,,,,,, let’s give the kid a teething ring and say ‘no’ to chewing on moms necklace. (or is discipline not allowed when it comes to eating peoples attire)

Then there’s the issue of sleep. When should little Johnny go to sleep? Wait for him to tell you.  And if he cries, does that mean he’s not ready to sleep? God forbid he should cry himself to sleep.  Play classical music or try setting up your pc nearby to make ‘white noise’ to calm him. He loves motion so take him for a drive.  Or, if you’re really at a loss you can invest in the services of a “sleep coach” Ok, who’s in charge here? Baby’s cry, and they cry for all kinds of reasons, and as my own pediatrician advised, ‘a baby cannot cry themselves to death’. In fact it’s healthy, and for small babies it’s the only exercise they get. If they fall out of routine or mix up their days and nights, you enforce the correct routine. Day 1, they might cry for an hour, then doze off. Day 2, they might cry for 30 minutes.  Day 3, less tears, and so on. Eventually they will get the routine and comply and surprise, surprise, you’ll have a happy well-adjusted baby, who recognizes that you’re in charge. Children need structure, and you can pay for a stranger to come in and do this for you but if really think about it it’s just common sense. Do it yourself, you’ll save a lot of money.

Play ‘dates’ have now replaced regular play. When I was young my parents tossed us out to play after breakfast and outside of coming in for meals, the expectation was we would be in when the street lights came on. All the neighbourhood kids played together, riding bikes, playing hide-n-seek, nicky-nicky-nine-door. Every now and then an adult would emerge to do a head count or pass around the popsicles, and we were fine. Today’s parent ‘selects’ their child’s friends and coordinates with the parents to arrange ‘play dates’.  Little Suzy will play with Amy from 10:23am to 11:47am, after which she will be collected by her guardians, given a healthy lunch, then down into her room for ‘quiet time’. She will be roused at 2:23pm and driven 2 doors down (cause God forbid should you walk her down, she might slip and skin a knee, oh no!) where she will play nicely with little Chloe until 3:14. They will play indoors to minimize the risk of injury and ensure close adult supervision at all times. (are we breeding a  population of overweight, timid children?)

I get that we need to be vigilant with the safety of our children, always, but are we getting a little too vigilant? Where does caution meet paranoia? How will our children learn independent play if we control every aspect of their social time? If the parent selects the child’s circle of friends when/how will the child learn who they like and want to play with?

I raised 3 children and they played outside, constantly. They went to bed at the designated time each day with minimal argument (ok, my middle child was feisty) They skinned their knees, banged their heads, fell off bikes, fought and made up with friends…….and they somehow, miraculously survived into adulthood.

Today’s parent puts too much pressure on themselves to control every aspect of their child’s development.  We respect that you only want the best for your child – we all do, but sometimes the basic principles are still the best.  Lose the rubber necklaces, babies need to understand that they can’t have/do whatever they want. Turn up the tv on the nights they fight sleep (when there’s no good reason for it) to drown out the crying and teach them about routine and structure. Above all, give your child the benefit of free play. Let them get dirty. Let them fight with their friend. Let them learn what fun it can be to be a kid, unleashed. Be there to supervise for their safety and reference only. Let them pick their friends and who knows, you may be surprised to find that one day, their very best friend…..is you.

 

children-playing

 

Senior Citizens

 

They’re everywhere, and their numbers are growing. People are living longer thanks to advancement in research, technology, education, and healthy living guru’s now dominate the marketing world…..but is it a good thing? Are the elderly really living quality lives? And how is it impacting the rest of society?

Thirty years ago our grandparents made it into their late sixties, some into their early seventies, and then they had a stroke or heart attack, ideally a massive one that would take them out so they wouldn’t have to survive their remaining time paralyzed or incapacitated. Then research in medicine found ways to prolong our lives with pills, pipes and hoses so while the body no longer functions, the brain goes on and on,,, and on. Is that really a life worth living? (Personally, I’d like to check out by 80, earlier if I lose any of my faculties)

Is all of society ready for this huge influx of retirees? Commercials are now geared to ‘retirement living’; adult communities where geriatrics can golf, swim, horseback ride and play (wasn’t there a tampon commercial that advertised the same thing in the seventies?) Senior citizens not only enjoy this healthy active community living but based on the extensive advertising for Cialis they are apparently, also sexually active. Wow, I struggle with that one! It’s not that I begrudge anyone enjoying a healthy sex life but do I want to be standing at the bus stop with the geezer who’s seeking medical attention for the erection that lasted more than 4 hours?  Surely they couldn’t drive in that state, could they? (There’s a visual – a slew of old guys driving around in golf carts with perpetual erections…..and there’s a good chance they don’t even know it!)

Have you ever ridden up an escalator in a department store behind the little old lady? We all have. She has her clutch bag firmly draped over one arm and her cane at the ready in the other and when she reaches the top, instead of moving out of the way, she stops to decide which way she wants to go, right there, at the top. Meanwhile there’s a trail of people bunching up at the top of the escalator. I don’t want to appear unkind but in those moments you just want to kick that wrinkled old butt clean across the store. (respectfully, of course) Get movin’ Granny, you’re holding up the works!  (and yes, admitting  that I am closer to being a senior than not, I recognize the irony here)

I worked in a customer service industry and remember many instances where those I called were hard of hearing. In one particular instance an older man hollered to me “I’m sorry dear, you’ll have to speak up. I’m deaf” and I found myself thinking if you’re deaf, why do you answer the phone? (seriously, who gives old people access to a phone, it’s just frustrating for everyone involved)

How many times have you driven behind the geezer who comes to a complete stop on the on ramp because they’re waiting for an opening then max’es out at 40 km/h on the highway? They clutch the steering like their life depends on it and pump at the brake, all the while muttering about these young maniacs passing them. In short, they drive like it hurts and I for one, believe in driving defensively, so if I see silver hair over the head rest, I keep a safe distance away cause invariably this driver is going to do something without warning, like veer into another lane because they spotted the Walmart sign at the next exit. They’ll then literally crawl off the road totally oblivious to the 4 car pile-up in their wake.

I’m not totally opposed to old people. I see their value in society. (I just think they should stay indoors watching Wheel of Fortune)  They add depth to a family’s history, recounting milestones in society, reliving historical events. (who taught us socks, and sandals? ….knee high’s with skirts? …..pulling your pants up to your armpits?….wait, I’m tearing up…..) The grandparent forges a special bond with the grandchild and takes delight in all they do, because they are at a time in their lives when they can take the time to. They have acquired a wisdom that only years of living can and their depth of knowledge of life is invaluable.  If you’re lucky enough to have access to this old mind, do. You will be richer for the experience and it will make you a better person.  (see, I can say something nice about old people)

At the end of the day, we all deserve to live a peaceful existence and if that means we need to be more tolerant of our elderly in society, I suppose I could squish out a little more patience but I’m still gonna steer clear of the silver headed driver, and if you’re ahead of me on that escalator, get out of my way, cause my foot’s just itching to clear the path!  (I know, I know,,,,,God is gonna strike me with lightening for this….)

Disclaimer: No senior citizens were harmed during the making of this blog

 

,old-lady-with-rolling-pin

The 3 Bullies

We have all encountered the bully at some point in our lives. In fact most will have met the bully on many occasions. They are, sadly, everywhere. These are unevolved, unsatisfied and insecure beings, who raise their own status by lowering that of others. They intimidate, manipulate, coerce and use whatever means they have to get their way. There are many different kinds of bullies in life and it’s interesting to note why they are bullies in the first place and how they leverage their muscle.

The schoolyard bully is a 13 year old girl with a feisty temperament and she spends much of her time trying to be noticed. She wants to impress her following. She sports odd attire; vintage clothing, her mothers’ costume jewelry, and is always carrying an old clutch handbag that had to belong to someone’s grandmother. She spends most of her days threatening to “beat you up after school” and if you manage to dodge that encounter she’ll find someone else to nail, because they always find another victim. Bullying is innate to her childish character.  It’s the coping mechanism of a young immature mind, and it is hoped they would outgrow these tendencies as they mature. (Ideally they should learn how to treat people with respect at home, but too often, that’s where they acquire their bully techniques – you live what you learn).

The workplace bully is the boss or co-worker who uses intimidation and threatening behavior to bend the will of their employees and/or colleagues in their favour. It all comes down to control,,,, and they have to have it. The boss who bullies is subtle and masquerades their ‘manipulation’ of people as ‘management’ of them. They are careful to ensure no witnesses to their behaviours, and align themselves with people they can control and manipulate; their henchmen. This ensures they have a fan club should they be called upon to ‘explain’ themselves. The downside to being a member of the fan club is that you are completely at the mercy of the bully now. How unfortunate if you succumbed to that, because you are now his puppet and he has you by the &%^#!  The workplace bully is the hardest to deal with because they are elusive, and the most protected. Organizations usually only find out about bullies when it’s too late, ie, a complaint is filed (someone stood up and pushed back).  Their supervisory responsibility, or lack thereof, has been discovered, and they now have to back-paddle to cover up their own shortcomings.

The co-worker who bullies isn’t strong enough to bully anyone alone so he uses mind games to manipulate your state of mind, usually by means of persuasion or even coercion; they’ll put all their energy into swaying your opinion of people and/or situations to rally support for their cause – often the cause is not worthy of mention let alone an argument, but they are resistant to a procedure, policy, or a person, and they’re looking to build an army. These are generally spineless individuals lacking self esteem and it’s hard not to feel sorry for them – they are destined to spin their wheels but never get ahead, and they’ll never understand why.

The family bully is the elder relative or close family connection that needs to involve themselves in all aspects of your life. (matriarch, patriarch, older sibling, or that crotchety old aunt) They will give you their opinion on everything you do, whether you want it or not. They perceive themselves as senior to you in experience, maturity, and life knowledge, and this gives them license to tell you how to live your life. If they could wedge themselves between you and your partner in bed, they would. This bully is not as threatening as the schoolyard bully or the workplace bully because at the end of the day they do care about your well being and they see themselves as your savior…..thank God they were here to give you direction, otherwise, blithering idiot that you are, you’d surely screw up (God forbid should we learn by our mistakes) Out of respect for the family connection you tolerate this bully to a point, but carefully limit your time together. If they don’t see the avoidance for what it is they will eventually end up alone, the relative no one wants to visit.

Bullying takes many forms. It can be subtle; mental abuse, non physical, and even unconscious. Believe it or not there are bullies out there who don’t realize they employ threatening tactics and that’s largely because those being bullied don’t take them to task, ie, they just take it. If no one challenges them, and as long as the bully gets what they want in the end, they will continue to employ their strong-arm tactics, because they’re successful. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? And it’s easier to walk away then it is to take a bully to task.  The interesting thing about bullies is that they are by nature, cowards. It’s their own lack of confidence and poor self-image that drives them to browbeat those they perceive as confident and successful, and their ultimate quest is domination of these people.

If you manage to survive the bully’s mutiny you are either very courageous or totally oblivious, and I’m not sure which is better.  Either way, I think as a mature, responsible member of society we need to be open to forgiving, if only for our own sanity. The bully can’t be very happy in life and I think it’s safe to say they have bigger issues to deal with than the rest of us. If they didn’t they wouldn’t behave this way. A truly mature, confident and spiritually evolved adult would look to help the bully understand their behavior, and eventually, forgive them. A light heart will move you forward. Resentment and grudges can only weigh you down, and life is too short to be weighed down by bitter resentment, so, be open to forgiving.

I’m also open to lacing the schoolyard bullys’ chocolate milk with a healthy shot of milk of magnesia – that’d be a pounding worth witnessing. Lifting a leg to kick you would be accompanied by a symphony of sounds guaranteed to bring her down a notch or two!

Or maybe sticking your foot out in front of the workplace bully when you pass them in the hall… gosh they’d fall on that hard floor, face first…….all those nice teeth  gone……….what a shame……mmmmm

Maybe seat the family bully at the childrens table on the holidays, or better yet, invite the day after and let them think they’re losing it.

How about we just put all 3 in 1 room and see who survives?

Guess I’m not one of those truly mature, confident and spiritually evolved adults.

 

bully-victim

 

Vegetarians, Vegans and Meat Eaters, oh my!

I like food. All kinds. Veggies, fruit, seafood, and yes, meat, especially salami (except liver.. I will never understand how that can be classified as food) and I firmly believe that a diet comprised of all food groups, in moderation, is the recipe for a healthy, happy life. I do not understand how any diet that completely eliminates any one food group can be beneficial. At best, it’s just not fun. Good food, good wine is one of life’s few pleasures and I would sooner enjoy pairing a nice merlot with a medium rare steak, than with a shriveled portobello mushroom doused with bbq sauce and an eggplant slaw, yum.

Eating a balance from every food group ensures the body gets all nutrients, whereas a diet excluding meats, seafoods, etc  requires a very careful review of what proteins and vitamins one gets from veggies and legumes. (you can only eat so much humus) Tofu is common to most vegan/vegetarian diets because it’s high in protein and takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in, often appearing as a meat substitute because it has a slightly dense chewy texture. (Personally I’d rather chew on the soles of my sneakers)

I have 3 children, one of which became a vegetarian several years ago. I thought it would just be a passing phase but no, she is quite adamant that no meat will ever touch her lips again. In fact, she since had a child and has agreed (reluctantly) with her husband, who is a voracious meat eater, to raise their child as a Pescetarian. (sounds like something that should hurt, doesn’t it?) That was their compromise and it didn’t come without repercussions. Cooking three different meals every day is a challenge. A vegetarian diet is very labour intensive – ya gotta peel and chop a lot of veggies to make a meal! And fresh produce, like seafood, is costly and perishable. So the choice of going vegetarian is not one to take lightly. You have to be committed to accepting limited food options (and a life without a decent meal) and you can never ever give up wine. It’s the only way to wash down yet another mushroom meal.

I’ve scoured the grocery stores for vegetarian friendly foods because I struggle with finding new and interesting meals to make when my daughter comes to visit. Her husband is easy – carnivore that he is, I just toss him a slab of meat, any meat, and he’s happy. Their daughter, the Pescetarian, eats most fish luckily, which opens up a whole bunch of options for a good meal. (I still maintain a nice European  salami not only provides good flavor but it also makes a great teething device)  It’s the strictly vegetarian menu I find hard to satisfy. You can buy vegetarian sausages, burgers and meat flavoured meals that boast they look and taste like meat, which begs the question,,,’if you want it to look like and taste like meat, why don’t you just eat meat?’ What’s the point in simulating the flavor – just eat it. (have they come up with a vegetarian substitute for salami?)

I wonder…do vegetarians not crave bacon when they smell it cooking? How about the turkey or roast beef aroma that fills the house…doesn’t it make their mouth water? And when they sit down to dinner and those around them are slathering their meat and potatoes with gravy, are they really content with yet another stuffed pepper poached in vegetable stock? How many new ways are there to cook an egg plant? (I find a nice thick slab of German salami fixes everything…in fact, if you dice it up nice and fine and stash it in that pepper it might even make that palatable)

I suppose I’m lucky that she’s only a vegetarian. The vegan or gluten free diet is painfully restrictive – how is it possible that we bred an entire population of kids intolerant to gluten?  I think they should just give up eating altogether, drink some vitamin supplement and be done with it cause I haven’t tasted a vegan dish yet that was worth swallowing.

I suppose at the end of the day, the choice to give up meat is a personal one. My daughter read a book called Skinny Bitch and it was the feeding and treatment of animals that turned her off. For some it might be that they don’t like the taste, and if that’s the case, you’re just not cooking it right. I respect your right to eat what you like but I feel sorry anyone who can’t enjoy a turkey dinner at Christmas, or roast beef Sundays, and by the way, you’re getting socks for your birthday….I returned the International Foods 5 Continent Salami basket I bought you (ok, I ate it)

vegetarian                                       man-eats-drumstick