Archive for the ‘Critical Observations’ Category

The Pen is Truly Mightier than the Sword

http://www.insidehalton.com/opinion/letters/article/894326–double-standard-for-picking-up-after-pets

Double standard for picking up after pets

Dear Editor:  On Friday, I was greeted by a huge pile of dog feces on my front step.

I seems someone thought my dog had been loose and pooped on their lawn. This person, seemingly lacking in class or understanding of constructive adult problem-solving, apparently felt the only option was to childishly throw it at the home of a resident who may or may not have been responsible.

In this particular instance, my dog wasn’t the offending perpetrator, although I will stipulate that occasionally my puppy has been off the leash, as we have children who are still learning to keep doors and gates closed.

My issue isn’t with this person, it’s with the general culture of dislike for dogs and their owners who intentionally or accidentally leave dog poop behind, while allowing more acceptance of outdoor cats.

Why do I have to be diligent about picking up after my dog — which I do regularly — while cat owners seem to feel free to open their back doors and let the community serve as their litter box?

Why do dog owners obey the municipal bylaw about picking up after their dogs while many cat owners let their cats roam free, for what seems to be the express purpose of pooping in my yard?

Lola Saldia

The Luxurious Stay-At-Home-Mom

As a Stay-at-Home-Mother (SAHM) I often find myself faced with various questions regarding my choice to make Mothering my only full-time job. Any woman who chooses to have children will inevitably face the issue of whether to stay at home with them, work full-time and put them in some form of daycare, or try to work out some manner of part-time work as well as staying at home. It’s a difficult and delicate struggle, individual to every woman and every family.

Although I believe that God has entrusted me with amazing children and I believe that I have been called to make raising them my first and foremost priority, at the same time I believe that it is up to each couple to determine what is best for them. It is not my place to judge any parent for the choices they make in child-rearing; be it potty training, discipline, schooling or working outside the home.

Unfortunately despite my efforts to live and let live, I am periodically subjected to the insensitive commentary of working Mom’s, forcing me to defend my personal choice. One such instance occured just the other day when I was at the store shopping with my 5 year old daughter. The lady asked me about whether G was in kindergarten yet and in the course of regular conversation the topic of me staying home came to light. The woman said “Wow, you are SO fortunate…I wish I had the luxury of staying home….” See?? Now that’s my problem, I’m sure you heard it too, the inference that I am sitting around all day basking in the glow of Stay-at-Home-Mommyhood; lounging on the patio all day with a fruity drink and servants fanning me with palm branches while my children raise themselves.

The truth is that my luxurious choice comes at a price; not working outside the home means that I am not bringing in a second income, which drastically alters our family lifestyle. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, God has more than provided everything our family could need and more, but staying home with the children has definitely meant a pay cut! Fortunately the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

The discussion with the store clerk, although disturbing, was in no way unique. I have been subjected to any number of comments referring to the perceived luxury of being a SAHM. Let me share some of my favourites with you…

  • “Must be nice! I CAN’T go on all the school trips because I have to work…”
  • “Yeah I would LOVE to stay home with the kids, but I have a mortgage and can’t afford to have it ALL!”
  • “Wow, you’re SO LUCKY that you GET to stay home and not work.”
  • “Boy, I’d love to NOT work, but you know…”

The truth is, both sides think they have it rough. I am not going to lie, I love that I can “go to work” in my pyjamas and not wear make up, I love that I can chat with friends on the phone while I watch the kids play outside, I certainly couldn’t do either if I was working outside the home. However, there are several drawbacks that come along with the choice to Mother-Full-Time.  For example, I don’t get a break from my children throughout the average day; which means I have company while I eat a meal, drink a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom, talk on the phone and every other little task that I attend to throughout the day. I have to be constantly “On”, I can’t let my mind wander while the kids are in the pool or while the little ones are even chewing their food! I am constantly aware that every word out of my mouth is being monitored (whether they appear to be paying attention or NOT), every grown up conversation I have on the phone, in the store or with the neighbour is peppered with interruptions from little voices wanting to have a snack or do a craft or play a game. Or voices that simply want to be heard for a minute and need me to drop what I am doing to watch them complete whatever feat they have been working on.

And don’t even get me started on what I teach my children on a daily basis; there is no daycare provider or ECE teaching my kids to count and tie their shoes, play nicely or share, helping them colour and paste pom poms on construction paper. I am the one who teaches them how to pump their legs on the swing and chew grapes properly so they don’t choke. I spend time daily pouring information into them about character and answering the million questions about the world around them. I believe that they are better for it, regardless of the fact that I may not always know the answer to every question.

My beef here is not with the fact that I am a SAHM or the fact that I have to do all these things, I LOVE my job, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world (most days). My irritation comes from people who have made a different career choice, belittling me or insinuating that somehow I have taken the easy way out.

I dare say that Full-Time Mothering is anything but the easy way out, in fact I think that the next time someone gives me a hard time, I will just invite them to sell their big house and cottage and come live where I do, anyone can learn to sacrifice the finer things in life to spend time with the finest people in life and I’d be more than happy to share my secrets!  Now, where did I put those bon bons??

From iPod to iPlay

I have to warn you this post will put me squarely in danger of being labelled an old fogey. Despite what you think I am not a hundred years old, please bear with me, I promise not to use the term “whipper-snapper” or “shenanigans” at all.

During this past March Break, I had 2 separate moments that caused me to consider the world around me, specifically the preteens I came across in two different places. I began to reflect on this incredible phenomenon of youngsters growing up too fast and whether or not this is something that I can control in my children (7&4) As I am a fairly observant person, I tend to pay attention to other people arround me when we are out and about. (my hubby calls in nosy)

I took the children to a local Maple Syrup farm with some of our friends and they spent the day learning all about the making of maple syrup, eating pancakes, petting baby lambs and playing in the giant playbarn. As I stood at the only exit to the barn trying to keep track of the multiple children we had brought with us, I was momentarily annoyed by a group of teenaged boys running and jumping throught the levels and obstacles of this big barn. I was worried that one of them would squish one of the little preschoolers toddling around, or worse, knock over my daughter. As I mentally berated them for being too big to play in here and wishing they would leave, I considered the value of at least approaching them and asking them to take it easy. When all of a sudden, it occured to me that these youngsters were just the sort of hooligans teens that I tend to see leaned up against the wall outside the local mall, up to no good, talking on their cell phones and listening to music with foul lyrics on the latest iPod offering. And yet, here they were running and jumping (using their imaginations!) in an innocent game of tag in a childrens play barn. Hm. Interesting.

The second event that sparked my interest was as I sat with my hubby in McDonalds the other day, when I saw a Father with two young girls pass our table with their meals. I would guess the young ladies to be roughly 11-13 years old. The were both furiously texting messages on their cellphones, it struck me that girls so young had cell phones (I know it’s common, but I still find it sad). Later on after our meal we sat and watched our little ones running up and down the restaurant playland and I was surprised shocked to see those same two young ladies come into the play area and take off their shoes in order to run up the inside of the play structure. I had to take a minute to be sure what I had seen; these professional texters dressed like Rihanna, were now careening down the slide in Ronald McDonald land! Huh. Very interesting.

Having had a few days to ponder these things, I have come to the conclusion that children these days are in fact growing up too fast, which is no earth shattering revelation. However, what I think people have failed to realize, is that children don’t necessarily WANT to grow up this fast. Deep down inside, I believe that our kids want to play and have fun; sometimes they have grown up desires that will hurt them in the long run, but it is our job as parents to help them make more appropriate choices. The media tells us that children have the right to make all their own decisions, that they have spending power and therefore must have the wisdom to know how to wield said power. Not only is this selfish of them for trying to sell their product but it is a lie. Similarly, and lottery winner who becomes an instant millionare does not necessarily have the financial wisdom to properly care for and spend their new-found fortune. Children and teenagers need guidance, not to be controlled, but guided into making choices that will be in their best interest. I believe that is why God has given them parents, we don’t give birth to children and them push them out of the nest to fend for themselves. We are supposed to teach them, guide them and even sometimes deny them something that will be less than beneficial to them. It’s how we show them that we love them.

Think about when your child was small, you didn’t let her eat the whole bag of halloween candy right? Why? Because it would have made her stomach hurt. You didn’t let your son ride his bike off the roof into the swimming pool even though he thought it would be fun right? Why? Because as his parent, you had the wisdom to know it was a bad plan even when he couldn’t see the possibility of injury. It’s our job to see those dangers and to protect our children from all manner of harm, even when they think they know what is best for them and what they are capable of handling.

I wonder sometimes why parents feel that they HAVE to give their children all these new “toys” that come out like cell phones, iPods, laptops etc. I know my opinion is unpopular (it often is) and sometimes comes across as judgemental, but the truth is parents all over are caving to the pressure from their kids, the television, movies, AT&T and MTV. My biggest concern isn’t even that parents are buying their children cell phones, my biggest problem is that they don’t see the tremendous disservice they are doing towards their offspring. Children don’t need any more help growing up too fast, it’ll happen whether we encourage it or not, but why accelerate that maturing if we don’t have to?

Does anyone besides me even remember when we were 11 and 12? We weren’t watching shows filled with sex and drugs, we weren’t texting our friends and spending 6-8 hours a day on the computer. We were having sleepovers with nailpolish, potato chips and freezing each others bras. We were flipping through Tigerbeat magazine, swooning over Kirk Cameron (uh oh, I’ve revealed my age) not counting the bracelets on our arms to see how many dates inappropriate sexual encounters we’d had. Is no one paying attention? Doesn’t anyone see that deep down these kids just want to be young and play like children? We are not helping them by letting them do whatever they want, they won’t thank us for it. Trust me.

I for one, will continue to monitor what my children watch on t.v and in the movie theatre, even if they claim that the entire school has seen the latest vampire movie. I will decide what time my children go to bed based on what I know to be a healthy amount of sleep for children their age, regardless of how many times my son tells me he doesn’t need to go to sleep before I do because he’s not tired. I will determine what music, video game and internet usage my children are exposed to despite the ever increasing number of children under 13 on facebook. I will continue to do innocent fun activities with my children like snowball fights and hide-and-seek, assuming that they will have fun and making sure that they have lots of non-electronic, child-friendly leisure activities to choose from.

Maybe these teeny-boppers are just waiting for someone to invite them to put down the cell phone and go play in the playland with them. Maybe as parents we should put down OUR cell phones and do the same.

10 Things I Hate About The Gym

1. The Evil Eyes. The way everyone looks at me like I am out of place. Of course I’m at the gym, I’m not very fit (understatement) where else should I be?? I mean, if I was at Krispy Kreme, you’d been telling me to go to the gym! Besides, fitness centres were not made for people who are in perfect shape and perfectly skinny and healthy! They were made for people who can’t tie their shoes…so there!

2. Lack of eye contact. The thing is, now that everyone has an iPod or mp3 player, they are completely oblivious to the fact that there is anyone else at the gym. I understand being absorbed into the music while you are doing your cardio, but it appears that the affixing of the earphones causes the departure of all social skills. Is it so hard just to nod in passing or smile when someone says hi to you?

3. The Booster Juice Bar. Premiere Fitness has a Booster Juice franchise at the entrance of it’s clubs and honestly, I find it pretentious and irritating. Why can’t they just sell regular juice, water, pop etc.. I had a low blood sugar episode soon after I joined the gym and I came stumbling out of the changeroom to buy a bottle of juice and spent 6-7 minutes trying to negotiate a plain glass of juice with no acai or wheat grass. The poor kid behind the counter was so bent on selling me some life changing smoothie with health benefits that would rock my world cost me $20,  that he missed the point that I desperately needed a glass of juice…just juice!

4. The Awful Stairs. I’m of course referring to the huge stairway that takes me up to the second floor workout area. As my health club has a wonderful pool on the lower floor, I have to walk all the way up a giant set of stairs before I can even start working out. Now as much as I loathe the climbing of stairs in general, I specifically have a problem with this set because, after I have killed myself on the eliptical machine I have to then maneuver my shaky legs down a precarious set of steep stairs with some semblance of dignity. Fortunately due to number #2 on this list no one looks at me, so even if I fall, it is unlikely anyone will even notice. 

5. The Divas. Ok so I understand that I am one of the less-than-beautiful people that the club has permitted to join (probably in an effort to remind members what will inevitably happen to them when they stop going to the gym!) But I find it irritating to walk into the change room and see some little blond twit preening and adjusting her bust into just the right angle to ensure that she looks super cute in her workout gear. Who started this? Aren’t you supposed to look terrible when you are working out? Why are girls putting on makeup and fixing their hair and bras to ensure they look sexy before the head onto the floor to sweat and grunt?

6. The Mirrors. There are mirrors EVERYWHERE in the gym! Why? Is our workout routine somewhat more effective if we can see our movements on one of 17 mirrors? Does it help us lose weight when we actually see every ripple and bulging blob move at the worst possible angle? Mirrors in the class rooms, the change roooms, the waiting room, the bathroom, and every mirror has at least 3 angled mirrors attached! Enough! I know I’m out of shape…I don’t need to see all my flabby angles in triplicate!

7. The Naked and Unashamed. Ok so while I’m changing into my workout gear in front of one of the 67 mirrors in the changeroom, I will inevitably see the reflection of someone who is walking around buck naked on their way to or from the shower. Is this uncomfortable for everyone or just me? Why can’t you wrap yourself in a towel? Do you brush your teeth and put on makeup at home in the nude? Does it not even occur to you that the fact that some of us are covering up to change might be an indication that we are not ALL cool with the random nakedness? I’m just saying…

8. Spinning Class. ’nuff said

9. The Televisions. In theory, t.v’s at the gym seem like a great way to keep you entertained and pass the time while working out. Unfortunately they always seem to be left on some stupid channel with a boring show and food commercials or worse a cooking show. Because when you are sweating your butt off on the treadmill, you definitely don’t need to see Rachel Ray slathering pasta with parmesan and serving it up with garlic bread and wine! Of course it doesn’t matter at my gym, where each machine has it’s own t.v with 3 channels, but I always seem to pick the eliptical with the broken t.v…good thing I brought my iPod so I could ignore other people.

10. The Fitness Assesment. When I joined the gym, I had to pay the club my intro fee and also $50 for a session with the personal trainer, where he measured and “assessed” how fit fat I was. Really? Can’t you tell by looking at me that I am fat and out of shape? Could we just agree on that, save my $50 and go for a coffee or something? Or better yet, maybe I could pay $75 and you could tell me that I am NOT fat! That would be a very rewarding trip to the gym.

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