A sucker for Holidays

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I seem to have gotten talked into purchasing not one, not two, not three but SIX pumpkins today for carving.

While certain eleven year olds promise to help carve said pumpkins by at least scooping the guts out, I know in my heart that this is bullshit said specifically to lure me into the hell of carving all these pumpkins.

One would think I had learned from the apple picking situation a few weeks ago when someone ended up with 12 pounds of apples that are in a bag in the kitchen.

Today I announced that I was thinking about making and canning applesauce in order to use the apples up, only to be met with the heartfelt please of Terrance to NOT can applesauce. He then cited a canning episode circa 1996 whose proceeds were thrown out when we moved in 2006 after having lived in the darkness of the basement for years.

I am however remaining firm in my boycott of the Gingerbread House, which last graced our household in 2002, when I flipped out after attempting to get the walls to stick together and having the icing harden and then the child I was doing this "for" abandoned me, leaving me alone at the table until 11:30 p.m. and filling my heart with unreasonable holiday hatred.

While purchasing our pumpkin bonanza, the clerk asked "Wow - How many kids do you have?"

The assumption, I suppose was that I must be the mother of Six to have purchased Six pumpkins.

I stared at her. "One", I answered and then indicated towards the door where Emily could be seen peeking in. "She's out there guarding our chosen pumpkins. Apparently she is concerned that some pumpkin thief is going to run down the street and grab our pumpkins between the time we chose them and the time I purchased them."

The poor high school gal doesn't know what to say, so she simply stares at me.

"If you don't have enough carved pumpkins at Halloween, a puppy dies", I say.

Then I walk out to herd my pumpkins into the back seat of my car, leaving the silent clerk watching me exit.

Not a receptive audience

Monday, October 19, 2009

When crossing the border to come back to your home - which is not in the country in which you are a citizen - do not, under any circumstances, decide to be funny and answer the question: "Are you bringing back anything with you to Canada?"

With this response: "(Giggle) A hangover?"

Because the border guard will not find it funny and then you will subject to a great deal of questioning AND lecturing about why it isn't funny to say that.

Where My Wild Things Are

Monday, October 12, 2009

I was six years old when I first saw the book.

My surroundings are what I imprint upon. I was on the floor which had your standard issue industrial school carpeting. The cubbies were to my left and formed the wall that ran the length of the room. The bathrooms were behind me.

The teacher whose name could have been Mrs Walker (?) was sitting on a blue chair in front of us.

Now, books and I have always been friends. There are pictures of a sleeping three year old Dawn, hiding in her closet with the lamp, surrounded by books. I remember being in those closets - small, dark, tight spaces of safety. Me and My Books. Later on in life when I felt stress or anxiety, diving into a book was my first reaction. My college room mate would laugh as I would bring home a massive stack of fiction to read in between studying for other exams. "They relax me", I would explain.

This book, however, was different. From the moment Mrs Walker held the book up I knew that this was special - something I maybe shouldn't be seeing - and so I held my breath throughout the reading and when she had finished, I stood up and asked if I could hold this book. I needed to absorb this book. I needed to possess this book.

In fact, the next library day found me at the librarians desk asking about where I could find this book to borrow and my first memory of ordering from a book club was my amazement seeing that this prized book was one of the ones offered and begging for the 50 cents to order it.

The book was, of course, Where the Wild Things Are.

Now, psychologically, the adult Dawn could deconstruct why the book was so important to First Grade Me. A tale of the Wild Things who were both menacing and loving - terrible and fierce and Max - the boy who tamed them with a magic trick - this tale was not so far off from my life in the world of Adults. I navigated some pretty Wild Things in my day to day life, and while this was perhaps the most stable time in my remembrance of my family life, it was still business as usual.

It was in 1976 that my father threatened to kill Santa if he came into the house on Christmas Eve. I locked the door behind him as he ran out on the porch with his loaded shotgun, looking for Santa to shoot.  I had the sense to hide before my mother got the door unlocked and my father began to search the house for me.

Now, I had seen my father shoot things. Our Pet Dogs when they wouldn't stop barking. Rabbits. At the car as my mother pulled out of the driveway...with his child(ren)in the car. His unpredictable behavior made him the undisputed King of the Wild Things.

My mother, while a bit more stable in her overall demeanor, had her own role in the kingdom of my Wild Things. A role which would take center stage  once my parents divorced. As long as I did as she wanted, she was a benevolent ruler in the Kingdom. Benign neglect, I have called it - feral childhood. Yes, we were fed and clothed. But there were conditions - always conditions.

My mother was not Max's mother. There would be no hot dinner waiting for me when I woke. No, more likely I would be told that I was ungrateful and didn't deserve to have dinner - but if I insisted than I could make it myself since she was not my slave and furthermore since I had the audacity to complain, I should really start saving up to buy my own food.

First Grade Dawn didn't know all of this. She only knew that there was a book that whispered to her in a way she had never experienced. It was a book that told her that it Knew Adults were not what they seemed, and revealed them for what they were. Odd monsters with feathers and fur, feet and beaks, human noses on animal faces.

The book knew that the Wild Things Roared and Gnashed and Stomped as they pleased. However, when Max saw the Wild Things he was not afraid. No. Max was in charge of the Wild Things. He was the Adult in the world of Wild Things, the voice of reason.

And Like Max, First Grade Dawn wanted to be in control, to tame her Wild Things with her magic tricks. And also like Max, First Grade Dawn wanted to go home and be someones child, somewhere where he was loved best of all. Loved Unconditionally.

It was the first time I heard a book speak to me in the secret language of the best stories. Maurice Sendak winked at me from behind the pages of the book - He knew what adults were and had hidden the truth in those pages, right in front of them. They read the pages to us, and I felt delightfully subversive as his critique of the Big People in charge of our lives was laid out in front of them.

A door was opened for me as Mrs Walker read Where the Wild Things Are to me - and 18 other children - in 1976. I sailed over and across weeks and years and a day - and have never looked back.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I wouldn't say that I am at a truce with Emily's teacher.


I would characterize it as being stopped at a red light, and eyeballing the asshole in the car next to you who is going to try to cut you off as soon as the light turns green while making that split second decision as to whether you are going to Gun it OR just let them pass you while pretending not to notice.

Most of the parents at the school with whom I have spoken have nearly all said the same thing - Leave it alone. Some of those parents have had issues with the same teacher and they have all, one by one, said to me "You can't win. She won't change."

Add into this consideration the news that it is the fifth grade report cards that the high schools look at here in Montreal when they make their admission decisions. If she wants to be considered for the better high schools, she needs to have a strong report card. Pissing off the teacher and writing about her on the internet is NOT, I hear, the way to help your child get to a strong report card.

In fact, one of the Moms got into such a panic when I told he I was writing about the teacher on my blog that she infected me with some of her panic. Like when the lead gazelle bolts with no predator in sight. "You can't do that" she whispered to me. "If she sees this, that's it - your daughter will never get into a good high school...."

At which point all my self critical voices jumped onto that whisper and began to echo the thought. In fifteen short minutes, I spiraled to Emily in her mid 30's, unemployed and still living at home fighting with me about how I ruined her chances in life during 5th grade by opening my big mouth and writing about her teacher.

Thankfully, the other voice - the one that gets irascible and feisty when told not to do something? She put a chokehold on the critical voices and put an end to that pretty darn quickly.

So, we wait. Interim report cards just came out and Em seems to be doing fine. She complains about the amount of homework she has - but what 5th grader doesn't? She doesn't seem to love this teacher, but she doesn't seem to hate her either.

Terrance and I were always attentive to Emily's homework and we are more attentive now. From the perspective of Emily, she doesn't really talk about what she has learned. She and her father and I go over her homework and make sure she understands the work - be it grammar, math or science.

Being the academic geeks we are, Terrance and I correct the mistakes in the textbook and send in detailed explanations as to WHY the word defend can not be paired with the suffix "able" unless one is using it during a legal argument OR why the use of the suffix "ture" is incorrect. It SHOULD be the suffix "ure", but due to a multitude of words USING the "ure" suffix ending with the letter "T", it is commonly mistakenly assumed to BE "Ture"...

She must LOVE us. I can only imagine she is Dreaming of the parent conference day when Emily's parents come in to visit. We never get answers back - just more of our anal retentive fussing into the lightless void.

Yep. Two years of this, as Em will have her for 5th and 6th grade.

Still deciding whether to hit the gas, or let it pass....
◄Design by Pocket