One’s Example is the Message

Monday we voted in a federal election in Canada.

The ads for the various parties reminded me of the playground antics at school. Most of the parties were busy extolling their opponents’ deficiencies at the expense of standing strong outlining their party strengths, vision, and values. When it happens at school, we call it bullying. When it happens in Canada during elections, we call it campaigning. We teach our children to lead with belief in themselves, and that a child’s super strength is their commitment to self-confidence and integrity. We also teach by standing strong in defense of themselves, and not descending to the same tactics as the aggressor, they will overcome the bully and in the end win the battle. Sadly, that is not how it often plays out in the school yard.

The one thing that has happened in this election campaign period is that the small-fry started to notice some of the political parties were attacking other parties and then started quoting some of the attack slogans. If there was any benefit to such antics, it was that it, in general, it did raise awareness of the elections race, among a much younger audience than has ever been aware of elections in the past. As evidenced by my daily scramble to answer election-based questions from my children, including the kindergarten duo. Now when I ask why one child did not help another child clean his room or complete a chore, thanks to the Progressive Conservatives campaigning, I am told that the child in question is “just not ready!” (The reality is I may not be ready to deal with the kid!)

While I may not necessarily support the party that won in this election, one thing is clear, the winning party did not partake in the attack advertising that other parties used. I believe this had a profound effect on the voting here as Canadians are tired of the bullying tactics so commonly tolerated in political campaigning.

A message I tell my children Just not ready text framealmost every day is to look past what others are doing and resist the urge to respond in like kind, step up and be more. Do not respond to attacks with counter-attacks. I am often told by my children (the older ones), that no, being the “nice guy” is a weak position and does nothing to stop bullying and bad behavior.

Well, today I have news for them. Not responding in like kind to attack campaigning did net a landslide win across this nation for the one party who refrained from those tactics. This same party, in the previous election, was unable to hold enough seats to form the official opposition, making this win all the more incredible. Clearly the “how” of what you do is as important, if not more important, than the “what” you do.

My two youngest boys play hockey (after all we are Canadian) on a house league team. I am still relatively new to hockey (in the last couple of years) as three older boys (all 18 years or older) have never once played ice hockey. While attending a meeting for the hockey team to discuss administration and fundraising, a tried, and true method was highly recommended, the hallowed bottle-drive. The fundraising game where you use your vehicle to follow a team of little hockey players (suited up in their team’s official garb), through one neighborhood after the next. All in hot pursuit of collecting the “empties” (empty beer, wine, and other alcoholic drink bottles) to take back to the store and cash in the bottle deposit amount to the credit of their team. This traditional form of hockey fundraising is almost as old (and as treasured) as the sport itself.

That was until one mom in the group stated that she did not approve of a bottle drive, given the ages of the team members (11-13 years). This lady stated that if we wanted to set a good example for our children about responsibility with regards to alcohol, the team should not be in receipt of funds resulting from alcohol indulgence. Even more importantly, we should not expose our pre-teen kids to how much alcohol people (often folks the kids know) do drink behind closed doors.

beer bottles Jca1 plus

As the kids are the ones hauling the evidence to the vehicle and processing these numbers as “normal.”  This angle I had never given ANY thought to before now. At first I thought, yep, always one freak in the crowd and then I started to think about it. This lady is right. Children learn from example and actions more than any words. If my kid is picking up an average of 20 -50 beer bottles from most of their neighbors, how does a soon to be teenager understand the limits or respect one should have for alcohol consumption? Thankfully, our team chose another fundraiser this year.

But it made me think. Is what I am teaching my children coming from what I am saying or is more being taught to them by how I am living me life day-to-day? I know the answer lies in not only what I do, but how I do it.

The people of Canada have said it is time for a change that is for sure. Perhaps it is also time, to teach our kids that the attack slogans in this campaign backfired, and a party rose to the top of the polls by not stooping to bully tactics and by “being more.” I guess they were more “ready” to “be more” than anyone imagined.

In the meantime, if I am missing, I will be deep in my walk-in closet, under all the piles of laundry, slowly sipping my Bailey-infused coffee. Savouring each swallow with the full acknowledgment that I will be walking, under cover of night, while my charges are asleep, to return my empty bottle to the store.

The Garden Goat

baileys bottle Jca2



I am now “Busy” … legit …who knew?

I hate the word busy. It indicates a certain level of snobbery. People are always trying to communicate their value and superiority with the buzz word “busy.”  When someone tells you they are too busy to have been in touch or have called my feelings so often get hurt. Somehow this word denotes to me that in the important things in your life, my friend, I was not one of them. (!!) After I get over the initial slap to my ego the rational side of my mind reminds me that life does often go by in a blur. I guess “busy” could describe this. Sadly I must admit to doing this to several friends myself. I think the word I should be using is “unorganized” or a better descriptor might be (NO REALLY is) my “chaotic” lifestyle.  Memo to myself… change my priorities (a future post no doubt!).

Don’t get me wrong I think I know a thing or two about “busy.” As most of you know I have 9 kids, a fulltime job (beyond the one my offspring thinks is spelt M-A-I-D!) not to mention being the chief protector of my home against the in-house home wreckers (…a 24/7 service)!

These days I get up in the morning, stiff, every bone aching and think if this is what I feel like in my forties I can hardly wait until my sixties.(!!)  I attribute most of this to either being too busy or not busy enough.  My grandfather was known to tell his children that the human body rusts out well before it wears out (words of encouragement no doubt to lounge-lizard teenagers). I am determined to prove the opposite. I swear there are body parts on me that if I was a car I would have been deemed “scrap metal” a long time ago (and no not “those” parts just ‘cause I have a bunch of kids…don’t even think it)!

so busy I am so busy

I guess “busy” could describe this!

As a child I had to be kept busy even if it meant I had to ask to do chores. In order to alleviate the anxiety caused by having nothing to do I would invent all sorts of wild activities much to the chagrin and horror of the parental team (babysitters included) charged with my care. My goal in life has always been to pack in about as much as can be squeezed into a day (something my husband has grown to loathe and detest about me). That worked well when I was younger. I was always “busy.”

Lately there just seems so much left to do after the day is done and my forty-year-something-old eyelids are closing in disbelief it is already midnight and “the day” is truly over. The good news to this is that I have absolutely NOTHING in common with those who toss and turn restlessly hoping that sleep will come and take them to slumber in oblivion.  I can barely remember turning out the light, far less my head hitting the pillow. I used to tell everyone (those jealous insomniacs) that I was enjoying the sleep of “the just.” I have come to realize it is more likely to be just total exhaustion nothing to do with any righteousness on my part.(!!) As I lay flaked out on my bed the caption on such a sight should read “I am woman…hear me SNORE!” I seem to think some of my fatigue is due to being at least as busy as my fellow human.

In trying to raise (I use the term loosely) my kids the notion of organized sports has often come up. I have been most successful in keeping any of such commitments to a minimum. This has meant that I have managed to elude “hockey” up until the 7th child was well past his 8th birthday.  (Not too bad.. eh?  After all I do live in Canada).

We had a very dear friend whose son was in hockey (he actually ate, slept and breathed hockey) and this kid really influenced my son. Sadly the friends moved away I thought with them would go the desire my kid seemed to have to play hockey. Well not so much.  Three years later still a burning relentless desire for hockey is alive in this kid.

So in spite of driving “a van” for years (no sports mom here! ) don’t you know I now have kid #7 in hockey. (!!)

Not sure what it is but as soon as anyone has heard that this kid is in hockey suddenly now I am being referred to as “busy.” Really?  You mean 9 kids, laundry, groceries, (more laundry) chauffeuring, refereeing, supervising, diapers, more laundry, appointments (not to mention the school stuff times 7 kids), husband and a full-time job outside of home apparently does not count as ”busy.”

Put a kid out on the ice in a league and you are at once “presto” a “hockey mom” and recognized as legit “BUSY”!

Hockey stick hitting puck words saying hockey mom animated graphic

Put a kid out on the ice in a league and you are at once “presto” a hockey mom and recognized as legit BUSY!

Now to be fair to the other hockey moms out there “busy” can apply. Emails show up with practice times for whenever the team could get the ice time and then you have to scramble and shuffle the rest of the family’s itinerary to comply. Compounding this is that your arrival at practice could be for 5:30 am (bring it on… a “sleep in” for me usually is not past 6:30 am). Don’t forget one has to arrive 30 minutes early (to suit up) and there may be extra travelling time if the practice or game is in the next town or two. Then there are the fundraisers, the meetings, the pictures and the special events. Uh-huh…yep “BUSY” is right.

Being “busy” is definitely the superior position as it somehow denotes an innate value far above your average fellow-man. People nod and discuss others as being “busy” and suddenly the listeners are held captivated by the worth and integrity of the person being described. Then some people will talk about in spite of so-and-so’s “busy” schedule they made time to do such and such. More value. More nodding of heads in awe as we imagine that this “busy” person is kind of like superhuman and already floats above the rest of us lay about slackers.

We are so caught up with the word “busy” no one has stopped to think what “busy” really means. “Busy” could be cleaning out one’s basement, playing cards, alphabetizing the cans in the pantry…I don’t know…taking a bubble bath…who knows? “Busy” always sounds so legitimate boasting both integrity and discipline not to mention the inherent superiority factor.

Perhaps it is not so much about the word “busy” that makes one valued as it is the rampant fear that until we attain recognition as “busy” by our peers any one of us might be is vulnerable of being identified as the opposite  …”LAZY!”

Definitely “busy” implies a distinct value of almost superhuman proportions…and now thanks to hockey I can now join this elitist club. I am now officially “BUSY”….only thing… I am left wondering what I was before. (??)

A verifiably “busy” Garden Goat

Hockey mom goat wearing helmet with hockey sticks

Hockey mom goat wearing helmet with hockey sticks caption reads I am now officially “BUSY”….only thing… I am left wondering what I was before. (??)

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