6.29.2010

The Letter My Husband Wrote In Response to the Happenings at the G20 Protests Last Weekend In Toronto

Hello Mayor Miller,

I'm writing to you, and my various mp's, about the disturbing events of the weekend. I know you had previous concerns about hosting the G20, and now they seem justified. I do, however, strongly feel the various police forces commanded as I understand by Chief Bill Blair overstepped their bounds this weekend, with mass arrests and intimidation tactics, and many of those tactics have as yet to be explained motives. I just wanted to focus on the one or two that really irked me.

I was very, very upset at your police media representative Staff Sgt Mcguire's explanation for the human corral that took place at Queen and Spadina, and his insistence that it was lawful. I recognize that the 'Police Box' is a tactic to prevent swarming by protesters, but it was implemented in the most abusive way and without the proper context of the situation. But what really, really troubled me afterwards was Mcguire's explanation to the media that the innocent bystanders/gawkers caught up in the police box failed to disassociate themselves from 'potential black bloc types' who were in the same area. I was unaware that 'failure to disassociate' was a clear and articulate reason to detain mass amounts of people. Also, your police department is saying that the various protesters and bystanders made a choice to associate themselves with these vague individuals, of whom Mcguire would only say were charged with various 'conspiracy to commit' crimes, since no violence actually occurred. How does one disassociate from something that hasn't happened?

So, from TPS's point of veiw, if you are walking down the sidewalk today or in your office, you must constantly assess everyone around you in order to infer from their dress or actions that those persons may be considering a criminal act, at which point you must disassociate yourself from the entire area, the borders of which are unknown and indeterminate, and hope that the police will let you leave, which they did not do for those at Queen and Spadina who tried to disassociate.

This smacks of impromptu law-making, of making up a crime and seeing if it sticks, which should concern my MP's. This 'guilt by proximity' argument for the abuse of civil rights and mass detainment and subsequent processing of innocents and peaceful protesters sets dangerous precedents for the flimsiest of reasons, and is merely being proposed by the TPS as an excuse for their actions, and if it sticks, it will be a new Orwellian tactic in their arsenal. It says that any size protest can be detained for any length of times in the future if even one person dons a black ski-mask, no questions asked, because it is assumed that the presence of one individual has the tacit approval of the entire group by reason of proximity. This is obviously ridiculous.

This weekend I believe the Police Box tactics, among others, were used not to facilitate legitimate protests, but just to isolate, intimidate and shutdown any and all protests, regardless of their intentions, and this is the real shame of this weekend. The precedents set by your police force will affect every protest or public gathering in the future, long after the few broken windows and burnt cars are replaced. I also believe that the overwhelming amount of police presence made their co-ordination unwieldy, and one group of police ordering protesters to move in one direction probably had no idea they were sending them into another group of police, who would then order them in yet another direction, etc... and then would have no sympathy for the crowd that just wouldn't seem to leave.

In sum, I agree with Amnesty International's call for an independent investigation into the security issues surrounding the G20, and look forward on hearing your explanation in the media of these tactics, and a police apology to those caught up in this situation.

-CW

6.22.2010

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way From the Dentist

Yesterday I had to have a root canal. But wait, that’s not even the funny part. So, I take a Tylenol 3 on my way to the dentist’s office, as recommended, and before things get really fuzzy, I am in the chair. I close my eyes so I don’t see the gigantic needle heading towards my face, and before I know it, I’m drooling onto my little bib, and the entire right side of my face has turned to stone.

‘How are we feeling?’ asks my dentist. ‘We’re not,’ we answer, and I guess that’s what he was looking for, because I am tipped into a laying position, a weird little dental dam goes over my tooth and I do my best to zone out.

The root canal lasts about 45 minutes, and I must be a really sick bastard, because it was kind of relaxing. I mean, it wasn’t exactly pleasant, but hey, I just got to lie back, close my eyes and care for exactly zero whiny children or coworkers for the duration. A mother takes her breaks where she can get ‘em, right?

After being liberated from the drill (I asked if I should lie there and recover for a few more minutes, but they didn’t think I needed to. Damn.), I made my way downstairs, out of the building, and smack dab into the middle of a G20 protest. Except that in my root-canalled haze, I could not for the life of me think of the word ‘protest.’ What is this, I thought? A riot? No, not a riot… an… um… a riot? No, not a riot… an… um… a riot?
And so my thought process went as masked crusaders - fists and placards held high - moved past me, flanked on both sides by police. I just stood there watching, trying to figure out what the hell the word was for what I was observing.

Eventually, I was magically carried across the street, I think by fairies because I don’t remember my own feet moving, and before I knew it, I was standing inside Winners. Oh, this is nice. I like the air-conditioning, I said, either out loud or in my head, I’m not sure. Soon, I was standing in front of a full-length mirror, staring at my face, expecting to maybe see visible signs of the perverse feeling of being frozen. I saw them all right. The whole right side of my face was drooping, and my right eye would not blink. It kind of half-blinked, but would not blink all the way. I cannot tell you how long it took me to figure this out.

When I went to reach for a sweater that somebody else was already holding (fine, wearing), I knew it was time to leave, so I headed for the subway. I looked in my purse and realized that the purse I was holding was not mine. It was just my style, but I had never seen it before. Where did this purse come from? I looked inside. Oh shit! There was a shirt inside! Yikes, I thought, I stole this purse but first I put a shirt in it and I stole the shirt too! Man, I stole a nice purse! I looked inside again, and there was a receipt. Apparently, I hadn’t stolen this apparel at all, I had paid for it, and I got a pretty good deal, I think. I just couldn’t remember doing it.

I got to the subway without incident, and headed home. I felt like I had been on the train for a while already, so I looked up as we pulled into the next station. What the… where the eff was I? Dufferin? What was I doing at Dufferin, which was about 18 stops away from where I wanted to be, in the total opposite end of the city? I got off and casually made my way up the stairs then back down to the opposite platform to wait for a subway that would run in a direction towards, and not away from, my house. I still could not understand how almost 10 stops had gone by without my realizing that I was headed the wrong way. Huh.

Two hours after I had left the dentist’s office, I was home. Chris and the girls greeted me halfway down the street. The girls came running towards me, and I swear I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. It was like they had butterflies circling their heads or something. I enveloped them in hugs and Chris caught up with us. Where were you?! He asked? Oh, shit. Right. I was supposed to call him when I left the dentist. I told him what I had been up to. He told me that he had even called the dentist’s office looking for me, and was totally worried that I had passed out on the sidewalk somewhere. I guess it was fair of him to worry about that. Once home, I dropped my new bag, and let my frozen face hit the pillow on the couch. I think. I may have missed the pillow, but it doesn’t matter, since I couldn’t feel anything anyway.

By 8:30 or so I could finally drink a glass of water without it dribbling down my chin, so I scarfed down a quick, gentle meal in the time between when the freezing had worn off and the drugs hadn’t. I scanned my not-stolen goodies once more, and congratulated myself on my sweet purchases. The bag really was a good score, and the shirt, although at least a size too big, was cozy and made out of bamboo cotton. I am nothing if not eco-friendly when high. My dental adventures are over for now, but will resume next week when the permanent filling and crown are put on my poor dead tooth. Next week I will be sure to call Chris when I am finished the procedure, at the very least so that he can tell me what he wants if I happen to wander across the road and do any more narcotically-enhanced shopping. Can’t guarantee I’ll pick up the right size, though.

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6.15.2010

End of the Year

At the beginning of the school year, Bee's signature was a wobbly scrawl, full of extra lines and the special flourishes that only a 4 year old can imagine in a printed name. I had to write the ‘s’ for her to copy, the fat curves confounding in her tiny hands. The people she drew were big splotches with splotchy heads and huge grins, which always gave me assurance that she was as happy as the people she drew.

I worried about the start of school – oh my lord, I worried. I worried that she would have trouble using the bathroom by herself. I worried that she wouldn’t be able to get her snowpants sorted by herself. I worried that her teacher would be too busy with all the other kids to be able to see the truly wonderful, generous, sweet spirit that my daughter possesses. I worried that I would be left out of the loop. I worried that her gentle spirit would be crushed by her first foray into institutionalized learning and that the Pavlovian cues she would be expected to abide by would turn her into a socialized automaton or worse! – a conventional thinker.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. She has loved it. Every sit-in-the-circle, please-be-quiet, raise-your-hand, now-go-play second of it. She has discovered the art of making friends and cereal box robots. She has learned the words to O Canada and Three Little Birds. She likes rules and enforcing them, and her favourite days are the ones where she gets to hold the octagonal ‘Quiet Please!’ sign during the announcements, quick and eager to flash it in the direction of the tiny bodies that have a harder time keeping their hands and their mouths still. The recidivism rate does not look good, but that’s ok with my daughter, who realizes that the fun of being the enforcer ends if there’s nothing to enforce.

And as my daughter has discovered things about herself and her world, I have discovered many things about her. The boys love her (uh oh), and so do the teachers (phew). She can’t open the little Tupperware containers I bought in quadruplicate to send her snack in. She is better at remembering to send home, fill in and hand back forms than I am. Her musical tone and pitch is unbelievable. She doesn’t like the water table. She knows who Hannah Montana is. She is very, very good at thinking on her feet. (She told a boy that had not yet received an invitation to her birthday party that his was ‘in the mail.’) She made a set of pan flutes but always calls it a kazoo. She hugs everybody.

Her first year of school, Junior Kindergarten, is coming to an end. Bee has an end of year party, a beach day and a pizza snack to look forward to before she discovers what summer break is. Next year, Senior Kindergarten is, to my relief, supposed to be in the same class with the same teacher and many of the same kids. I’m sure this continuation of a familiar routine is as much for the parents as it is for the students – we’re both still getting used to this new life 10 months of the year.

And I’m still getting used to the differences in my daughter as the completion of her first year of school draws near. I’m still getting used to the independent, clever little thing that thankfully still bounds towards me with as much enthusiasm as she bounds away from me with.

And her signature has grown as sturdy and confident as she has. I don’t need to help her with the ‘s’ anymore and her splotch-people have evolved into stylized characters complete with clothes, sunglasses, hair and hoofs/fingers/hands. They are more controlled sketches often in contextualized settings. But the smiles haven’t changed – the smiles are just as big, just as secure, just as open. I hope they always are.




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6.08.2010

On Blogging

When I started blogging in 2006, I had an infant and a new life as a new mother, and it was wonderful and strange and daunting. And, although I cherished the forum as a venue to find my legs as a parent, I didn’t really start to blog because I was in search of a community – hell, I didn’t even know the community existed. I wasn’t experiencing any crippling isolation; I wasn’t feeling unsure of my every move and I wasn’t confounded by this tiny person I was now responsible for. I was actually loving infanthood and motherhood and (knock wood) things were going really, really well for me.

But starting a blog certainly fed and filled a need for me – the need to write.

It was like I had been handed my dream job – my own editorial column in my own imaginary magazine that I could pretend people were actually interested in reading. I could write whatever I wanted, in my own voice, without compromise, expectation or deadline.

And now that I had a child, I had an excuse to write. I had consistent, ever-evolving subject matter that I was hopelessly devoted to. I had a point of view, and the funniest, sweetest muse a writer could ever hope for.

My baby, motherhood, this new community, this new forum – it inspired endlessly and gave me an outlet all right, a creative one, where the one thing I knew I was good at could meld seamlessly with something else I was discovering I was good at too.

I didn’t, and still don’t, have any self-imposed rules for blogging. I do it when I am inspired, or, more accurately, when impediments of time, laziness, expectation and obligation are not blocking my way. I’ll never be famous for it and it’ll never mean more to anybody than it does to me. That’s ok.

A friend, after catching up on my recent posts, said to me that she envies my archive, because, while she has a shelf-full of scrapbooks that mark occasions in her daughter’s life (beautifully, I might add), I have a record of how I felt about those occasions. That’s a pretty nice way of looking at it, I think.

Self-indulgent as well, to be sure, but the way I see it, parenthood – motherhood – is so much about giving away, giving to, doing for and going without, that it’s nice to be a little self-indulgent with my thoughts.

The fact that, in the course of this crazy ride, I have found the community that I never knew was out there; that I have embraced and been embraced by it; that I have learned more about who am I am who I want to be through it? Well that’s just gravy.

So on this, my fourth anniversary of life as a blogger, I just want to say thank you; for indulging, for reading, for writing, for commenting, for teaching, for arguing, for enlightening, for laughing and most of all, for sharing this little space, this little pocket of time, with me.


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6.07.2010

I Am a Terrible Mother and I Scream At Old Ladies

Cassidy freaked out at a restaurant last night. It was a full-on, high-decibel shitstorm of a freakout, accompanied by a scream of glass-breaking proportions. It escalated into what was perhaps the most humiliating moment of my motherhood, thus far. And then the most enlightened.

I hadn’t seen it coming. We were on our way back from a weekend out of town, and the girls had slept almost the entirety of the 3½-hour drive home. It was about 6:30 when we got into the city, we were almost home, and after figuring that there was little to eat in the house, we decided to stop at a nearby noodle shack for dinner. The girls were cheering our decision in the backseat, happy after their cross-province naps. So we stopped.

Things started cheerfully enough. But then I decided to pour some of the mango shake we had ordered into a small glass for Cassidy, which I knew was a bad move even as I did it. Then I took the chopsticks away from her because she was using them as drumsticks on the plate. She thanked me for my actions, uh, loudly. Then the kind and patient waitress tried to distract her with a green crayon. Wrong move, lady! Then – and I don’t even really know what this was about at all – Cass decided that she wanted the bamboo skewers pictured on the menu, RIGHT NOW. There was no distracting her from the fact that she wanted, and could not have, a set of bamboo skewers artfully composed in a picture in a menu.

The decibel level rose quickly, but so did I, and I fumbled to get her out of the highchair, unable to get to the buckle as my daughter’s body bucked and contacted against me.

Meanwhile, three seniors next to us got up and left, telling the waitress that this was not the dinner experience they were hoping for. Me either Golden Girls, me either, I thought, but my anger was rising.

I got Cassidy out of her seat (which fell over with a crash as I lifted her out, in case my screaming banshee had not attracted the attention of every single person in the restaurant), and I made my way out, right behind the seniors.

Oh my, one of them clucked at me, shaking her head, what behaviour.

I’m taking her out, I snarled at her, adding, she’s TWO.

Well, we’re leaving, she stated.

I snapped.

Well, where are we going? I shouted, Because I’m tempted to follow you!

They walked into the noodle joint a few stores down, and I swear to god, I almost walked in after them, to ask for a table for two.

Instead, I sat on a nearby bench with my two year old, who was by now screaming, I WANT MY DADDY, even as she crumpled against me. My face reddened. I felt like a terrible, ineffective mother.

Everybody that walked by gave me a look. Some were sympathetic; most were just annoyed. I surveyed our situation quickly. Couldn’t go back in the restaurant – I knew that even when Cass calmed down, she would be teetering, with any little upset ready to set her off again – and honestly, I didn’t want to face the other diners.

I didn’t feel like I could sit on the bench for much longer either, as Cass would soon want to get down or go back or demand something that I would not be willing to acquiesce to. Plus she had lost her shoe in the fray, and was now wearing only one sandal, and no jacket, and it was getting cold.

I motioned to Chris through the window, and he came out. I asked for his keys, told him to enjoy dinner with Mischa, and get mine to go. We’d be in the car. Of course, as soon as Chris came out, Cassidy freaked again, more of the I WANT MY DADDY variety, so I tightened my football hold on her and hightailed it to the car.

Halfway there, she seemed to snap out of her rage blackout and clue in to what was happening. Calm as anything, she sniffed and looked at me. I feel better, she chirped. This, I know, is her way of saying sorry, I’m ready to be a human again.

Too late! I answered, quickening my stride.

The screaming started again.

We sat in the front seat of the car together for the next 40 minutes, and once she was calm, I told her why we were there, why we couldn’t go back to the restaurant, and why that behaviour was unacceptable.

But even as I was doing it, I just wanted to cuddle her. I wasn’t angry with her, had never been angry with her, and wasn’t particularly bothered by the fact that I was missing dinner. What really bothered me was that I had been judged, openly, by the old ladies. That their impression of me, and my child, was a terrible one. I shouldn’t have cared, but I did.

Cassidy cried, a very vulnerable, soft cry, and told me again that she feels better. All of a sudden, I had a bolt of insight. This wasn’t about a two year old, having a two-year-old tantrum because she was overtired/overstimulated/overtaxed. Ok, it was, but it was something else as well.

This was Cassidy. This is Cassidy. She gets overwhelmed, loses her impulse control, the situation escalates, and then she regrets it, wondering how she got to that escalated place, and wishing the situation would just go away. But it doesn’t, because there are consequences, so she has to deal with that uncomfortable, regretful place until things cool off, and it sucks.

She’s always going to be like this, I realized.

She’s me, I realized.

I gave her that cuddle, and we sat like that for a while, until I saw Mischa come skipping happily into my rearview mirror. Chris was behind her, holding the dinner I hadn’t eaten.



the apple


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