Tonight was my dad’s last night in town, so rather than make dinner at home we figured we’d enjoy dinner out.
Despite having been skiing for most of the day, the kids were fairly wired in the late afternoon – wrestling, yelling, jumping… the usual, really. After many requests to get dressed, put coats on, stop hitting your brother/sister/self, we were finally streaming out the door to the truck.
Standing at the door of the truck, the boys were still bickering and I lost my temper. I grabbed each one by an arm (or maybe the scruff of their necks? Who can remember, really) and marched them back into the house. I stood in the door and told them that I was done, I didn’t care what they did and that we were going out for dinner without them. I turned on my heel and slammed the door.
Now, normally, in situations like these (what — you think I’ve never made this threat before?) one or both of them come barreling behind me with tears in their eyes, begging some form of forgiveness and blaming the other for “starting it.” End of story, usually.
This time, it was eerily quiet as I walked back to the truck. I told Jay to wait a minute – I wanted to “teach the boys a lesson.”
Oh, such famous last words.
Jay said, “Get in the truck, we’ll drive away, they’ll think we’ve gone and that will teach them”, or something to that effect. And so we did. We drove a few hundred meters from the house but… nothing happened. The front door remained closed and the TV remained off (we know, because we can see it from the road). Back to the driveway we go, I tell Jay to go in and get the boys and tell them that “Mum is too mad to come and get you.”
Right about now, the term “backfire” starts to come to mind…
As Jay quietly crept up the stairs, he could hear a very important conversation happening:
“Ok, so what goes in a Mr. Spiff sandwich? Ham! Ok, got that. Where’s the mayo? Oh, here! Do you think we need relish? I dunno – grab it anyway.”
In those few minutes we’d left them to “learn their lesson”, they’d decided they were going to make sandwiches (although they said they wanted spaghetti but didn’t know how to work the microwave for leftovers), have gingerbread cookies for dessert and then watch TV till we got back from dinner. In their minds, a perfect night.
So yes, someone learned their lesson tonight. I learned not to underestimate my boys independence and resourcefulness.
Although none of the kids really ride in it much anymore, we have an old, beat-down Chariot stroller that has seen better days. More often than not, it ferries around backpacks and picnics instead of children. It’s dinged up, dirty and usually at least 2 of 3 tires are flat.
On Hallowe’en night a few weeks ago, we took it with us for Trick or Treating to haul coats, blankets, tired kids and of course, beer. Because Trick or Treating in Pemberton without beer for weary parents is like Trick or Treating without candy for hyper kids. Walking the kids to school the following week, I’d noticed an empty Corona bottle left over in one of the back pouches but quickly forgot about it. I’ll toss it when I get home, I’d told myself.
This morning, Anja and I walked to her Nature Camp and I left the Chariot there, knowing I’d return at the end of the day to collect it, and her. Nothing unusual there, that old Chariot gets left in a lot of places.
As I walked down the path this afternoon, I heard her friends shriek “Anja, she’s HERE! HIDE IT! NO, SHOW HER!”
Isn’t that sweet, I thought. She must have made some nice craft for me. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
As she came peeling up the path towards me at full speed, I noticed something in her hand. Was that… could that be… Oh. My. God. My 4 year old is giving me back my own empty beer bottle. AWESOME. How quickly the warm and fuzzies get replaced by the shame and mortification.
But wait! It gets better.
“MAMA! Look! We found the beer bottle in the stroller and there’s a DEAD MOUSE IN IT!”
That’s right. A dead mouse.
I was torn between being totally and completely grossed out to being in awe of this 4 year old little blond sprite who thought it was the coolest discovery EVER.
“Mama! Look at his feet! Aren’t they cute? And look at the tail, it’s so long! How do you think it got in here?”
And on and on it went. Clutched in her lap, we had to take the empty Corona and it’s petrified contents to show her brothers and friends at school before we could properly dispose of it.
Amazingly, it didn’t take much to convince her to toss him when we got home (though she tipped the bottle over and tried to shake him out, first).
I could also have titled this post “Foreshadowing”.
I was so excited for this race. We’d put in a few really “fun” training runs in terrible weather, the kids were going to be with me and I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I love a good challenge, and the Hallow’s Eve Run certainly seemed that it would live up to expectations. I didn’t really look at the course map – since I’m unfamiliar with the trails in North Van, it would have been pointless, anyway. I knew it went up and down. I knew it was going to be wet. Did the rest really matter?
Early wake up, coffee, kiss the kids goodbye and off we went. It was grey but not raining and the runners were in costumes – except for me. I’m lame like that. We were happily cruising throughout the lower part of the trails and I was trailing Heather, watching her feet and chatting away – as we do. In my world, trail time doubles as girl time and cheap therapy. She popped off a little drop and as I followed her, my left foot rolled over and heard (and felt) that sickening ‘pop’.
You have got to be kidding me.
I was less than 4km into a 42km adventure. I never roll my left ankle, always my right. Gah. I told myself to shake it off, the nausea will pass and I’ll just be careful. *More foreshadowing*
I caught back up to Heather and I did a decent job of being careful for the next little while. We chatted, laughed and sweated for a good chunk of time together. Her family met us at the top of a climb and it was so fun to get a hug and a high-five mid-race, right before a killer climb.
As I was essentially crawling up this trail (can anyone actually run this? Serious question here – it was like going up a vertical river bed), I was on my own and so I put my music on because I didn’t feel like suffering in silence anymore.
Fair warning: I have notoriously terrible taste in music when it comes to getting me going on the run.
The first song that started to play was “Try”, by Pink. Well, I thought. This is a propos, because I AM TRYING, dammit. Trying to get up this hill!
“Just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die”. Huh. Pretty sure she was referring to my burning legs, at that point.
As I finally got to the top of the hill, we crested into in a driving wind and rainstorm. The kind of storm you have to turn your back to in order to put a jacket on and not fly away. The kind of rain that pelts your eyeballs.
The next song that played was “Between the raindrops”. Well. I’d like to be between them, but that ain’t happening.
As we ran along the roads back down Grouse Mountain, Heather caught me and I briefly voiced my concern about my ankle. It was pretty sore and I was toying with the idea of dropping out. The problem was that a) I didn’t really know where I was; b) I didn’t have a phone to call someone to come and get me c) I don’t know anyone’s number by heart anymore — technology!
This is where “Warm day, cold warm” came on. I was NOT warm. I really wanted to be and had a short daydream about going back to Maui.
At this point, I remembered that the kids were with Lizzie and I didn’t want to let them down by not finishing the run. So off I went, back into the trails in pursuit of Heather.
Kilometer 18 or so… I went down again and this time I knew it was waaaay worse that the first time. I sat in the mud, had a little pity cry until a runner dressed as William Wallace – kilt and all – came by and hauled me off the ground. He made sure I was ok, and I sent him on his way with my thanks.
So what does one do in the forest with one good leg and no clue where she is?
She keeps going.
And plays Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” on repeat. And ponders the world. And talks to herself.
Jenny caught me and we had a good bitch fest and speculated on how much longer we had to go. I told her to get going, and that I’d see her at the finish, no matter how long it took.
A couple of kilometers later, Lizzie – AKA “Voice of reason” – met me at the aid station with the kids. After a good dose of “dummy, just stop. The truck is over there”, I pulled the pin and limped to the truck.
And despite having an ankle that looks like something out of “Misery”, I’ll live to run another day.
Earlier today, the kids and I were having lunch outside in the sun at Whole Foods in Vancouver. We’d had a busy day and I was tired, but no more than usual. I noticed an older woman watching us but thought nothing of it.
As we were getting ready to leave, the woman came up to me and asked, in heavily accented English, if I was the kids’ mother.
Me: “Yes?” (Obviously she’s going to tell me how delightful they are, right?)
Her: “Oh! But you are so old! I thought you were their grandmother.”
Me: “…” (Um, what the hell do you say to that?!”)
Her: “And why they are so close in age? One year each? Why you are in such a hurry?(Jesus, lady. You just said I was their granny and now I have kids too quickly? Make up your damn mind.)
Me: “They are 2 years apart.” (As if it’s any of your business and why am I compelled to continue this conversation?)
Her: “It is clear you don’t eat well and don’t drink enough water, you have so many wrinkles.”
She then patted me on the shoulder and mumbled “Sorry” as I stood there, completely dumbfounded.
Who says that?!
The kids were looking at me intently and asked “why did that lady say those weird things, Mum?”
I replied that I didn’t know, that I didn’t think it was very nice and that she had hurt my feelings.
Rory looked at me and said “Mum, I think she needs to go to the eye doctor.”
I moved to Whistler in June of 2000. On my second day here, I went for my first mountain bike ride. I thought of myself as a fairly decent rider; after all, I’d been racing for several years and I had a pretty good grasp of what I was doing… on East Coast trails. Gavin and a few of the shop guys decided to introduce us to the Whistler classic, A River Runs Through It.
Well, damn if I didn’t get totally schooled and had to fight the urge to fling my bike into traffic. The learning curve was steep.
Fast-forward 14 years, and this morning I rode that very same trail with my boys. If you’d asked me on that same ride way back when if I’d be riding this with my kids in the future, I’d have laughed in your face and said “Kids? What kids?” and had another beer.
Riding with my kids is an exercise in patience, coaching, encouragement and sometimes pulling on the reins a little bit. I don’t come close to getting into a rhythm and my own riding is somewhat disastrous because it’s all stop-go, “Mum, watch me!”, “Mum, take a video of this!”, “Whoa, Mum – you made it!” (sometimes I even manage to surprise them).
I love watching them encourage each other, push each other and cheer for each other. Miraculously, they don’t fight when we’re out there and their 2 very distinct personalities shine through.
And through a lot of it my heart is pounding in my chest but I keep my nerves under wraps, for their sake. My hands were still shaking a little bit when I got home.