Sunday, May 25, 2014

Accidental Activist

Here in British Columbia, our teachers are poised to start rotating strikes on Monday.  Quite honestly, I didn't really think much about it.  I mean, it didn't feel like it affected me personally.  I'm not in school.  I'm not a teacher.  And Q just seemed to be happy to have an extra day off so close to summer break, and hey what's just one day right?

It really seems to be the way, doesn't it?  If it doesn't inconvenience you or take something away from you or make you feel something, you don't really care, do you?  It does sound horrible, but it's true.  This is why there are starving children in the world and billionaires.  Teachers who are asked to take a 10% pay cut (again) and government officials in the same province who are given a 14% raise.

And so I thought about it.  A lot.  Because I really, really wanted to care.  I wanted to pick a side, one way or the other and care about it.  A lot.  

There are two sides to every story.  We are in the tail end of a recession, I thought, maybe there just isn't enough money.  I saw wage comparisons with other provinces.  I read articles from both sides.  I have wonderful friends who are teachers and they don't want to be rich.  They want to do what they love, and make a comfortable living doing it.  I thought about putting all the stats here, but I didn't want to bore you all - so you do the research...

I made my choice.

I chose to support the teachers.

I'm not going to lie, it was an emotional decision.  No, no, not emotional in that I cried when I made it...but I made the decision wholeheartedly with my heart

Teachers do so much more than teach. And so without further ado, here are the reasons why I support our BC teachers (in no particular order):

  • Teachers volunteer food to hungry bellies.  Here in BC, we have the highest percentage of children living in poverty in all of Canada.
  • Teachers help nurture our children's talents so that when they grow up they will be contributing members of society.  They help teach qualities like responsibility and respect.  In kindergarten, Q had a teacher with a hearing impairment.  It didn't stop her at all, but she did most of her listening by lip reading.  This was a blessing in disguise for the kids, because they learned the importance of making eye contact and and waiting to speak to someone.  Not only helpful in this instance, but respectful too.
  • Teachers, sadly, are sometimes the only people who care for some children.  How many inspirational stories have you heard or read that involve a teacher who cared when no one else did? Coach Carter, Dangerous Minds, just a couple of movies that show the importance of one person caring for those no one else cares about.  In grade 12, I had the best English teacher ever.  She liked me, and I was kind of the teacher's pet (I don't want to brag or anything....).  It felt AMAZING and I had parents who loved and cared about me.  Imagine how that would feel to someone who doesn't know what love is...
  • Teachers teach!  I know this might sound super obvious but consider this...we don't invest in education - where's your next doctor going to come from?  Lawyer? Teacher? Nurse? Writer? Politician? I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Well that's what private school is for..."  Really?  There are enough, in my opinion, people living on the east side, who have dropped out, cannot read and are basically unemployable.  If only the elite get jobs, are there enough jobs at McDonald's for the rest of us?  There are tonnes of studies and statistics that show an education is the most important way to stop the cycle of poverty.
I could go on and on and on.  Really, I could.  My son's teacher bought 23 potting plants and soil and clay pots so each child could make a Mother's Day gift for their mother.  As a mother who doesn't have a significant other to take the kid out and buy a gift, this was a very welcome surprise.  But I think I've made my point.  

In the end, I don't actually see it so much as supporting our teachers as supporting our children and their future and by extension, OUR future.  I mean, I'm gonna be old one day.  Like real old, and I'm going to need a good doctor.  I'm going to need a good politician to make sure I'm not living on the street.  I'm going to need a lawyer to construct my will.  The point is - we need to invest in these kids now, so that society as we know it doesn't dissolve around us.  I know, I know, it's a slippery slope.  But are you willing to take that chance?  

I'm not.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I feel like I'm totally failing at this whole parenting gig right now.  Like I'm in way over my head.  Like it's time for the final exam and I didn't study.  

Everything up to this point has been relatively easy in comparison.  I mean, the first two to three years, you basically succeed just by keeping them alive.  They smile, they cuddle, they hit the milestones close to the appropriate times and you're golden.  The next few years, you teach the pleases and the thank yous and the basic math and alphabet, and again - you feel as though you're a pretty freaking good parent.  

Then they hit their tweens and you're all like "what the eff am I doing?"

It's almost comical that I was blessed with my son, because he is the complete opposite of me. I love him more than life itself, don't get me wrong.  It's just that I find I'm scrambling to find ways to relate to him.  If I had my way, we'd read a book together and then talk about how it made us feel.  That seems like a successful bonding experience to me.  

I tried this.  It did not work.  I started reading Q 'Harry Potter' and we got about 3 1/2 pages in before I threw the book across the room in frustration because I couldn't hear my own voice over his whining and complaining about how boring this dumb book was.  I guess he was talking about his feelings regarding the book, though, wasn't he?

Here's the thing about me...if I'm not super good at something, I give up.  Skiing, rollerblading, university, dating - just a small list of things I stopped doing because I sucked.  I can't just give up being a parent.  Nor do I want to, just to be clear...I don't want to give up.  It just my thing, so I don't really know what to do with this drowning feeling besides just feel sorry for myself and wallow in self pity.

I can see Q slowly withdrawing.  I mean, he's never been one to talk about his feelings, but I can see that we have nothing in common that's bond worthy.  And that really scares me.  How do I connect with him as he gets older if I'm struggling to connect with him now?  I find myself riddled with guilt because I'm just not doing enough.  I feel like I'm nagging and yelling more than teaching and inspiring and loving.  

I feel like I've robbed Q of the kind of childhood I had planned for him.  Two parents together, lots of siblings to play with.  Summers filled with family road trips and weekends filled with family BBQ's.  He doesn't get any of that.  I wonder when he grows up what memories of his childhood he'll have.  Me nagging him to help bring in the groceries from the car, because it's just him and me and we're a team (to which he responds...."if we're a team, mommy....we're a horrible team")

I have realized two things:  

My sole purpose in life really is raising Q to be a successful, happy, well rounded person.  I am devoting all my time towards this goal.  Is that wrong?  I mean, what about me?  Do I count at all? Should I count? Or do I count when he's 18 and my "job" is done? Hmmmmm......

Secondly, if I can't connect with my child then I need to change my approach.  If he relates to sports - then I need to (gulp) become more 'sporty'.  For those of you who know me, you know that I am the least athletic person in the world.  I have a very serious disconnect with my hand/eye coordination and it makes things like kicking a ball more humorous than anything else.  (Well, humorous for others...frustrating for me).  But I understand that if this is the way I need to spend more quality time with my son, then it has to be done.  I'm currently looking for a lazy boy shaped bicycle seat for my larger than average rear end, if anyone knows of one.  We'll go for hikes.  We'll kick a ball around at the park.  I'll have to save the painting nails and braiding hair for my niece, I suppose.

I guess the biggest challenge I have with parenting is that you don't really know how good a job you've done until they've grown.  And isn't it too late by then?

So this Mother's Day, I'm reflecting on how I can alter my parenting skills now so I don't lose my child to video games and the teenage abyss.  Am I alone?  Do other parents feel this way?  How do you relate to your child(ren)?  Am I obsessive?

Because seriously, being an obsessive, Type A, worrier sounds nothing like me.

At all.

But honestly, this Mother's Day, I'm also feeling so blessed that I've been given the opportunity to be my Q's momma.  I guess that's part of my fear - how do I give this awesome gift justice?  

Now go hug your momma.  She's done a lot of worrying over you.  The least you could do is give her some huggin'.