Monthly Archives

February 2020

The Working Man

Luke is a June birthday and as soon as he turned 16 he wanted to find a job. Under #No Coincidences, he happened to mention this in the presence of one of his Bonus Moms, Jodi Wlodarczek, and she quickly went about getting him a job at Oriol Healthcare in the kitchen. Here he was, at the beginning of the summer, a working man! Luke was one of the first of his friends to get a part-time job and he was pretty damn pleased with himself. There was only one problem… Luke didn’t really like to work. HA!

Luke was doing food prep in the kitchen. I think mostly he washed dishes ’cause that’s what he complained about constantly, lol. He hated the smell of the kitchen and how it would get into the clothes he had to wear as part of his uniform – white shirt , black pants, black shoes. Under *we will never really know* lol, I remember someone telling me Luke used to hang out in the storage closet when things were slow and use his phone. If it’s true….sigh… Classic Lukester.

On the upside of employment, Luke loved getting a paycheck and feeling like he was taking care of himself. A couple hundred bucks every month means the world when you want to be able just go out and buy yourself something, or pay for gas in your car. The other thing Luke would talk about when he would come home from work was the old folks. Oriol is a rehab facility and Luke would talk about all the characters that would be eating in the dining hall. He loved those oldies, but goodies, and this is another one of those complexities to Luke’s personality that made him who he was. He always saw the value in every human being and wanted to hear their story. Maybe, just maybe Luke was getting more out of his job than he realized.

So here’s what I need you to know: We don’t push kids to get part-time jobs the way we used to when I was growing up. Part of it is, jobs are harder to come by. Part of it is, we, as parents, decide that our kids other extracurricular activities are more important than working. Part of it is, we just want things to be easier for our kids than it was for us, and don’t they have a lifetime of work ahead of them anyway? We all know the answer to that one, lol. What I do know is how important it is for a young person to define themselves in different ways: as a student, an athlete, a dancer, a friend. What I also know is how important it is for a young person to define themselves outside of their parents. *This is me, figuring out me, WITHOUT YOU.* Like driving, holding down a job happens away from the concerned eyes of parents and it is all them, no matter what happens – good, bad, or indifferent. So, if my child doesn’t work, is it the end of the world? ‘Course not. But it is a rite of passage that holds a lot of value whether you cut grass, babysit, deliver pizza, or wash dishes. Don’t our young folks deserve those same “when I was kid” stories that we love to share with them? I love to talk about my first job at the Toronto Zoo scooping camel poop and training baby ostriches. True story! lol It’s just something to consider. Maybe we DO tell our kids – Get A Job! lol It just might be maximum worth for minimum wage.

The Rise and Fall

There’s Always Time For Dunks

I was caught in a long line of traffic the other day – the cars were backed up almost to Howe’s Farm stand- as inexperienced drivers navigated their way to the high school after a night of freezing rain. Sitting in the midst of this made me think back to all those days I drove, first Luke, and then Logan, to high school every morning.

Both boys hated the taking the bus and the fact that they had to be ready by 6:30 in the morning did not help. Mornings were always challenging for Luke and before he had his license, I drove him to school. It wasn’t a huge deal as I was already driving that way to go to Boylston to teach. Logie was still at Central Tree so Luke and I had this time together every morning. Luke was always making the mad dash out the door, but no matter how late he was, he would INSIST we stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. I would holler and protest and remind him he was going to end up with a TARDY slip, but his very chill response every day was…”There is always time for Dunks, mum.” I laugh thinking about his now. ‘Cause how right is he? As a society we are always so rushed and stressed about time, when in truth, in the grand scheme of things… what IS ten minutes? Especially to grab a bagel and a coffee and start your day off just right? lol Well, in high school it turns out it is a lot, but that is for another blog. :/

I loved the time I spent driving my boys to school. It really is true that kiddos spill more sitting in the car with you then probably any other time. We would talk about music or class or the gossip of the day (as long as it didn’t involve them, lol). Logan loved this radio morning show where the announcer calls up random people and pretends to be asking them survey questions. They were ridiculous and listening to Logan giggle at 14 and 15 years old made my morning. That time in the car was precious and looking back, I am glad it was never a big deal for me. I liked being needed and relished the opportunity to have each boy to myself, even if it was only twenty minutes or so a day.

So here’s what I need you to know: I heard a quote the other day that really struck me: Love is Time. We show someone we love them and that they are important to us, by making the time to include them in our day, in our lives, to spend time doing things together. This speaker said, “Isn’t it the most important thing we can do for those we love? As we stretch and start our day shouldn’t we ask ourselves – how will I make time today to be with those I love?” So for all you parents out there – forget work, and house chores, and the mowing the lawn – how many minutes will you give your child today? To be with them, to show them that you love them? Some times we may have to push to be included – like when your son is at college and would rather hang with his friends (ahem, Logan!) but you figure it out because it’s important and you’re the MOM gosh darn it. 🙂 And for some of us, we would give the world to read a bedtime story for the millionth time, to go to a soccer practice in the rain, or make a last minute dash to Dunkin’ Donuts. I think that’s what my time at the cemetery is, quite frankly. It’s my time, every day, when I choose to be with Lukester, to let him know, even though he is on the other side of the stars, I love him. Love is Time, friends, and we don’t always have all the time in the world. Xxx

I need you to know

Mr. Bays

I started my Friday learning of the passing of an old family friend, Doug Bays. As I sat in my car in the parking lot at school, I sobbed. I hadn’t seen Mr. Bays in a number of years, but the mere mention of his name brought an image of his face to my mind and a million memories came rushing back.

Growing up, my family did not spend long living in one location. My dad was chasing his next big break so we were always on the move. Our longest time in one house was in Kingston, Ontario on good ole Knightsbridge Road. I spent five years between kindergarten and fourth grade there, and when I look back, they are truly the happiest memories for me. Life was simple, joyful, uncomplicated. It was during these years that our family began spending time with the Bays’.

My Dad and Mr. Bays met each other through Sears Canada. The Bays’ lived just outside our hometown of Kingston in Perth Road Village. It was a mere twenty minutes away, but at nine or ten it felt like one hundred miles traveling in the back seat of my family’s Oldsmobile. We went out to Perth Road more weekends than I can count. The Bays lived in an old farmhouse that I loved. I imagined that it held so many secrets in its limestone basement or the passageway between the girls room and the master bedroom. They had a red barn that seemed constantly full of kittens and an old workshop building. The backyard had a large garden and an old tree where a family of long ago had built a treehouse, now filled with cobwebs. Nestled in the woods, at the end of a long driveway, their home was magical in my eyes.

Mr. Bays was quite the character. He was always in good spirits, laughing and telling stories. He loved to tease us kids and always had us working around the property – gathering beans or picking up apples. I wish I had a picture of Mr. Bays, but he was always on the other side of the camera. As an avid photographer, Mr. Bays saw the beauty in the smallest of details, in every living thing. He was just a darn joyful human being.

My Dad goofing around while we were making cider. Good times.

Mr. Bays is tied into a thousand memories I have of life in Perth Road. Making apple cider, raising and killing chickens, lol, yes it is as awful as it sounds, sliding on pillows down the main staircase, snowmobiling through the thick woods, making forts in the evergreens, milk with every meal. What is it they say about the innocence of childhood? Well, this was mine, and as much as I often felt I was journeying into the land of Deliverance, banjos and all, lol as we made our way down Wilmer Road, this time may have marked the only time I lived and breathed without fear or anxiety or sadness.

Can we bring back 1976?

I think the best part of this story is… as I spent time making memories with my family, and Mr. and Mrs. Bays, and Jennifer and Melissa… just one and a half miles down the road, the man that would be my partner in life was also growing up. The infamous John Inwood lived literally over the hill and around the corner by the baseball diamond. Worked at the General Store that we would walk to and buy our penny candy and banana popsicles. Turns out John’s Grandma and Jennifer and Melissa’s Grandma were sisters. That when I would go to the cottage on Draper Lake, John Inwood was probably swimming through the weeds two cottages down at the exact same time. I mean, SERIOUSLY. You just can’t make this stuff up. The Universe is some kind of wonderful.

So Peace be with you, Mr. Bays. You were a good man with a big heart and an even bigger smile. You teased me, but never too much which I appreciated lol. I will try and find the beautiful in the ordinary just for you. With love Xxx

I need you to know

New Driver Alert

I reached out to my boy, Eric, as I was contemplating writing about Luke and driving. “Was he really as bad a driver as I remember?” I asked him. “Most definitely,” was the response. “The worst.” lol It was true. Some people, like Eric and my good friend, Sue, were born to be behind the wheel. Doesn’t matter the weather or the traffic or the vehicle, good drivers confidently navigate the roads with ease and love every minute. Luke was not that guy.

Luke was looking forward to the freedom that comes from having your license. I don’t think he was prepared for the steps and practice that needed to be completed to achieve this goal. First up was the permit. I told Luke to study, made sure he had a hard copy and a digital version to review, and he must have looked at it at least a time or two because he passed. Barely. lol. Like by just one point passed. I remember him walking out, practically in a cold sweat because he was worried he wasn’t going to get his permit. Oh, Lukester.

Luke went through driving school at CMSC in West Boylston. He hated having to go in every day and attempt to pay attention, but he managed to make it through. The driving lessons were a bit more complicated. I don’t know how it works where you live, but the teens were expected to put in so many hours as the driver, as well as so many hours observing others drive. Sigh. Apparently Luke slept through a good portion of that time, and twice he told the instructor he had appointments so he needed to be dropped back at the high school early. Crafty bugger! 🙂 I was Luke’s co-pilot most of the time and managed to keep him between the lines. lol But in classic Luke fashion, he took from each driving session only what he thought he needed and when the time came to take his test, he was incredibly anxious. Luke was surprised to learn passing on the inside was frowned upon during a driving exam and the resulting *Fail* totally pissed him off. Take two got him his license, but I wish you could have seen his face when, at the start of his test, he climbed in the driver’s side, buckled up, and hit the gas without putting the car in drive. lol We all heard the roar of the engine and when he looked my way, “For fuck’s sake!!” was written all over his face.

But he was off! Driving to Dunkins, driving to work, driving to school. I am certain he and the Altima had some adventures together, lol, but some things a momma just doesn’t need to know. I do know the snow gave him a hard time, as well as highway driving, and he tweeted about almost biting the dust coming back from Solomon Pond Mall once. Of course, it was the lady driver’s fault. lol Sassawanna Road in Rutland is where Luke and a tree had a run-in. I only found out because he tweeted about the incident, and I was *stalking* his Twitter, as the kids like to say. Of course, I was a naïve mom and asked him about it. Sigh. Classic parenting gaff. Never ask about something you read on social media when you are not supposed to be on there!!!. So he told me his version of what had happened. Sort of. And promptly blocked me on Twitter. HA! I earned that one.

So here’s what I need you to know: I worried every time Luke went out in the car. Heaven forbid a siren go off when he was out driving. I immediately would go into panic mode and text him. But the truth is, kids need to get their license. It is an important step up in responsibility and one of the first things kids can do on their own, separate from mom and dad. I think that is what is so scary. We aren’t with them, can’t be with them, and have to trust and have faith that they will be okay. It is a BIG deal and excruciatingly difficult to watch as they get in their car and head out into the world. It’s not exactly the same as pushing them out of the nest and hoping they will fly, but it’s close. Prayers to all you parents of future drivers. You’re going to need them. 🙂

I need you to know, The Rise and Fall