Archive for January, 2010

Supermarket Society – Part I

Ok so as a wife and mother of two, I spend a fair bit of time in the grocery store. Not by choice, I mean, I would prefer to buy my groceries once a month and avoid the lines, impulse shopping and rambunctious children all together. Unfortunately, despite my efforts to plan menus and organize shopping lists, I inevitably forget several things and have to return at least a couple of times throughout the week.  In my travels up and down the supermarket aisles, I’ve come to the conclusion that grocery stores are a representation of so much that is wrong in the world today.

Let me take you on a imaginary tour of the local grocery store to illustrate my point. So I drive into the parking lot and find myself faced with offender number one; the Inconsiderate Driver. Turning the corner in front of the store entrance finds me immediately stuck behind a vehicle dropping a woman off. The woman is in her 30’s, seemingly able-bodied, running quickly in the front door of the store, bags in hand. I ask myself, why didn’t the driver simply pull into an available parking spot and let the woman out there? Why the need for proximity to the entrance? She seemed to be perfectly capable of walking the 100 feet from the closest empty spot to the store. hmmmm? At this point I am waiting for the car to move towards a parking spot, allowing the cars behind him (myself the closest waiting car) to pass him and get on with the tasking of parking. To my dismay and irritation, I see that the driver has put his vehicle in park and proceeded to make a phone call on his cell, with no sense of urgency. I am forced to wait for the cars behind me to pull out from behind my car before I can back up and pull out around the offending vehicle. Having lost three free parking spots to the vehicles that pulled out from behind me, I can only find a spot much further away now in which to park my vehicle.

Offender number two; the Buggy Rebuffer,  is not so blatantly rude, as much as I find it irritating that other people don’t think to be courteous. Most of the grocery stores near our home have coin deposit/return devices on them. People push a quarter into the buggy and it releases the lock, upon returning the buggy to the corral, your quarter is returned. Simple. Generally when I am entering the store and see someone loading their groceries into their car, I offer to exchange my quarter for their buggy. It seems a simply courtesy to me, I need a buggy and they are finished with theirs. I am walking into the store, and I can save them a trip back with their buggy, seems logical. So why is it that no one ever offers to take my buggy and save me the trip?  Ah well. as my husband likes to point out, not everyone thinks like I do.

Upon entering the produce department, I am faced with offender number three; the Disrespectful Fruit-handler.  I approach the tomatoes and begin to gently test the firmness of each piece of fruit. I do so with the understanding that many people will have touched these before me and I will definitely need to wash them before I use them at home. However, I also keep in mind that just because I am not interested in every tomato and therefore discard many in my search, I need to do so with care and respect because there will be many people who come after me who would rather I not treat their tomatoes roughly. This is exactly why I find it so unpleasant to see the woman beside me shoving the unwanted tomatoes to the side as she squeezes every one with vigorous enthusiasm in a haphazard careless way. As I reach down to pick up the rogue tomato that she has pushed to the floor (or perhaps it jumped off the pile in an effort to avoid the insensitive manhandling that was being visited on the more docile tomatoes) I came face to face with the child waiting in her buggy, and I realize that this woman actually guilty of TWO offensive behaviours!

Besides holding the Disrespectful Fruit-handler office, she is also a Thoughtless Thief!  As I have two small children myself, I am always interested when I see other people’s children sitting patiently in the buggy without causing a stir. To my dismay the woman handed her child a bag of grapes and said, “Go ahead, eat these, Mommy’s almost done!” I couldn’t believe it! I spend a lot of time teaching my children that stealing is wrong, that “tasting” the produce without paying for it, is in fact stealing. Don’t get me wrong, as a busy Mom, I often end up with cranky hungry children in the store and open a box of crackers or cookies to tide them over until my shopping list is complete, but those things have a barcode that can be scanned even if some of the product has been removed. Grapes on the other hand need to be weighed to determine the cost, so every plump and juicy grape this child placed in her mouth was one more piece of fruit for which this mother had no intention of paying!

This blog entry has become longer than I originally intended, so I am going to break it into 2 parts. Stay tuned for Part Two of Supermarket Society, to find out who else I encounter on my adventure through the grocery store; including the Express Lane Lout and the Inconsiderate Pedestrian.

Pondering the Pox

As a child I was not immunized for anything growing up, my mother said she believed that it was not a good idea and firmly believed that I never contracted the chicken pox virus as so many other children did, because my immune system was stronger. I don’t know that much about immunizations, I’m not really sure the good outweighs the bad, neither am I convinced that innoculations are the big bad enemy they are accused of being either.  In any event, as a rebellioous teenager, I decided that if my mother believed immunizations were bad, they MUST be good! So I went to my Dr and was updated on the shots I was able to receive at that time. Right or wrong? I’m still not sure.

Fast forward 10 years, to find me sitting in the pediatricians office with a newborn trying to decide if my mother was right all along or if this medical Dr whom I trusted implicitly was right, as he counted the reasons that immunizations were a necessary step to maintaining good health and reminding me that the widespread immunizations were the reason that diseases like Polio and Measles no longer took the lives of small children en masse. Good point. So I had my son vaccinated for all the long-tested diseases, MMR, DPTP and HiB. Right or wrong? I’m still not sure. 

I did not however, choose to give my child the optional, newer immunizations for meningitis, chicken pox and PCV. I wasn’t yet passionate in my view of immunizations, however since Canada has comprehensive healthcare, I figured if we really needed it, the government would probably be funding the shots. Since they weren’t, I figured why bother? Right or wrong? I’m still not sure.

Fast Forward again 5 years to find me sitting in the pediatricians office again with my daughter getting her check up and shots, and my Dr suggesting the now-funded chicken pox vaccine for both my children. Hmm. What to do? Never having had chicken pox as a child (neither had my husband) and never personally hearing of anyone dying from the disease, I was fairly certain that this childhood disease was not that big a deal. However I was frightened to read the statistics of the increased numbers of children having complications resulting in hospitalization and increasingly in Varicella related fatalities. I didn’t know what to do, what happened to the decree that “no one ever died from a little chicken pox”? Apparently that didn’t hold true anymore, but my Dr assured me that he absolutely favoured the immunization and had in fact administered it to all 4 of his own children.

I generally trust my Dr’s and medical professionals in general, I sort have the opposite to “white coat syndrome”, I am usually quite confident in the man in the white coat. That said, this Dr is special, having been in the delivery room with me when my son was born and stood beside the incubator with me for 15 days while I cried at the news I would have to leave him in the hospital for yet another day, I felt a special bond with this Dr. I trust him, completely. I believe he saved my son’s life with wise medical care and not giving in to the emotional please of a heartbroken new mother to just be allowed to take her baby home.  All that is to say that when this Dr encouraged me to vaccinate and I could think of no significant reason to disagree, I went ahead and go both children vaccinated for chicken pox. Right or wrong? I’m still not sure.

Bear with me as we fast forward 2 more years to this past Christmas when my husband came down with a nasty case of the Chicken Pox. Really. He’s 37 years old and he never contracted it as a child either. Honestly I have never met anyone other than he and I who made it to adulthood unscathed by the varicella virus, what an interesting coincidence that we would find each other. Imagine my surprise when, exactly 20 days after he came down with the “pox”, I found my first spots! Never in my life could I have imagined the uncomfortable, painful, icky experience of chicken pox as an adult. I have heard off-handed references to adult chicken pox being “worse” than when you are a child, but that is the understatement of the century!

In any case, I have checked my children every day for the last month to see if they have, despite being vaccinated, actually contracted the chicken pox from us. To be honest I am not one to avoid cuddling and kissing even when one of us is sick 😉  So far I see no signs of infection and I truly hope that they stay healthy because, frankly I have had enough of spots, and itching, calamine lotion and oatmeal baths!

So I guess in the end, I still haven’t decided how I feel about all the different vaccinations out there. I’m confident that the time-tested vaccines are an important part of our healthcare, and all the newer ones I will have to evaluate on an individual basis. In retrospect getting both kids vaccinated for Chicken Pox might turn out to have been an excellent choice after all, can you imagine all four of us getting sick at the same time?

However there is a small voice I hear at the back of my mind that sounds a lot like my mother, telling me that the only reason I eventually succumbed to Chicken Pox is because I caved and got vaccinated as a teenager. Maybe I really did have a stronger immune system before, maybe not. Was the decision right or wrong? Hmmmmm I’m still not sure.

Surprising Sources of Joy

  1. Sleep – As a mother of two it is incredible what a natural resource this is, who could have know that it would be so valuable? I definitely wish I had used the sleep hours of my youth more wisely. Perhaps someone will someday invent a way to save up all the hours young people spend out carousing instead of sleeping until they are older and in desperate need of good quality sleep.
  2. Bathroom time – more specifically, time alone in the bathroom! No matter how many times I ask if anyone needs to go on ahead of me before I go, I cannot even lock the door before someone will absolutely die if I don’t open the door!
  3. Hot coffee – I’m not addicted, I can live without it, but I truly enjoy a good cup of coffee. And as I rarely get to finish it while it’s hot, I take immense joy when it happens.
  4. Reading – Finishing a book for pleasure is as elusive as the fabled hot coffee. How I crave the hours I used to spend lost in the beautiful imagination of a great author. How I miss the freedom to stay up until 5am in the morning to finish a riveting book. But of course as a mom I cannot afford to lose that much sleep…for explanation please see number one on this list.
  5. Playing in the snow – I was never a cold and snow lover, but there is a pure, organic joy that comes from throwing snowballs and making snow angels with my kids. It’s so much more fun when they are around…plus I think it’s awkward to make snow angels by myself now.
  6. Waterslides – Really, there was nothing that would get me in a bathing suit before I had children, let alone plunging down the giant flushing bowl waterslide before my kids were born. And yet, it’s one of those really fun things I get to do as a mother even though I am all grown up.
  7. Snuggling – I think it’s safe to say that physical touch is my official Love Language, and I always knew that, based on my love of therapeutic massage, hand holding, neck rubs, hugging etc… But my children have given me a new sense of unparalleled joy from snuggling. I love to cuddle next to them at bedtime and breathe in the smell of their hair and baby breath as they relax and fall asleep. Snuggling is my favourite…without a doubt.
  8. My Dog – I was raised with dogs and have always loved them, but there is something different about Bailey. He brings me joy, whether I’m he is keeping my feet warm or insinuated himself on top of me when I am feeling sick. The times when I lay with my head on him and imagine him sitting on my Mom’s lap before she died, or the funny way he insists on sleeping on my hubby’s pillow. I’m not sure but there is something about that dog that brings me joy.
  9. Barbie – I have many a feminist friend, who would cringe at this one, but it’s true, I love Barbie. I am not ashamed to admit that despite the possible negative effects this doll and assorted paraphernalia has had on the social consciousness of young girls all over the world, I LOVE all things Barbie. I love to change their clothes and keep their hair pretty. I adore all the Barbie movies and music. And I especially love sitting with my little princess and share our love of pretty dolls in pretty clothes waiting in a tower to be rescued by a prince. I know I know, she is more than capable of rescuing herself without the help of a man! But still….it’s nice to be rescued sometimes…..
  10. Domesticity – Truth be told, I never envisioned myself as a mother at all, let alone a stay at home mother. I always pictured myself an independent woman with a career, perhaps a husband, but certainly not a soccer mom or anything even remotely this domesticated. But if I could go back in time, I would do it all exactly the same. I could never have imagined the utter joy that I derive from the perhaps mundane tasks of making meals, driving kids to school and gymnastics. The happiness I experience at school concerts and Tae kwon do testing, making pancakes and birthday parties. Everything in life is more fun as a wife and mother. Christmas morning, apple picking, making cookies, tobogganing, camping, eating pizza, playing the Wii, watching movies, eating ice cream, picking out a Christmas tree….the list is endless. Having a family, despite the fact that it rarely feels glamorous or sophisticated, truly brings me more joy than I believe any career or independent lifestyle could ever do. Huh…who knew!?!?

Have a New Kid by Friday

“Have a New Kid by Friday”…that’s the title of the book. Sounded good to me, it came highly recommended so I bought it. In my excitement I didn’t consider the fact that this would not be a book on how to swiftly alter my children and form them into the perfect little angels I imagined they could or should be. But in fact the author in his wisdom had discovered the key to improving the behaviour and attitudes of our children, is to work on our own attitudes and behaviours as parents. WAIT just a MINUTE!!! That’s not the book I ordered?

As I made my way through the book I realized the author was right. Am I inconsistent with consequences? Am I trying to mitigate every mistake I have made with over indulgence? Do I nag my children? Do I automatically assume that they will make wrong choices and therefore “warn them ahead of time” only to find that they adequetely fulfill my negative expectations? How am I doing at encouraging them and being supportive, or am I quick to point out how they could do things better and more efficiently? How about letting circumstances teach them? Do I quickly meat out consequences or let them learn the pain of loss due to their own bad choices?

The questions are seemingly endless, and I dare say I will have to repeat the book. But I have begun to evaluate the “molehills vs mountains” that pop up in our daily life. I must learn to be consistent and not back down, the children will respect me more for following through, in the long run if not immediately.

I’m starting to think that in order to get my “New Kid by Friday”, I am going to have to work awfully hard at becoming a New Parent by Wednesday at the latest…hmmmm

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