Saturday, October 30, 2010

Parenting Milestones via Facebook...

My good friend, A has a teenage daughter. J is lovely - sweet, pretty, smart, sassy...everything I wanted to be but wasn't and everything I'd want in a daughter. In fact, I'd scoop up all of  A's teenaged daughters (two and an almost-teen) because I think they're that awesome.

That said, J. has just announced via Facebook, that she has a boyfriend. (Like her sister, who is also newly-arrived at this milestone)

This is what her wall looked like this morning, after her father, Rob stumbled across this new development:

Relationship status: Juliana is in a relationship with Hayden.

17 people like this.

Rob: umm what???
Juliana  what what???
Rob: u 2 ???
Juliana: yeeeeeees
Rob: uggh

Made my whole day!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lost and Found

I lost my son today.

For five whole, AGONIZING minutes, at the mall.

At first confused, then annoyed and then alarmed, I began dragging a strangely compliant Luke around and around the staircase where Matthew had just been.

Several people glanced up, no doubt sensing my blooming panic. No one said anything though, and I fought the urge to scream Matthew's name.

And then, from a bench a woman called out, "Are you looking for a red head?"

I whirled, "Yes!"

"I saw him. He was walking with a man."


He was walking with a man.

He. was. walking. with. a. man.

I now know the truly awful feeling of having one's heart drop to the floor and feeling icy dread crawl up one's spine. I felt gut-punching, staggering, heart-stopping fear.

Momentarily frozen, I clung to Luke's hand, trying to stem the flow of  mental images from the past few days here in Belleville: stolen children, stolen innocence, stolen lives.

And then, a muffled announcement over the PA system, asking me to please come to Information Services.

Choking back tears of relief, I practically flew to the desk where I caught sight of Matthew, looking pale and dazed, holding hands with a security guard. When he spied me, he ran and in that long moment before my arms wrapped around him, I felt, inexplicably, as though I'd been granted a second chance. A gift.

My tearful son explained: shortly after he lost sight of Luke and I (because he'd run ahead, being silly) a kindly stranger spotted Matthew's stricken face and kneeled down to ask if he was lost.

At Matthew's nod the stranger stood up and - careful not to touch him - guided my lost boy to the security guard at the Information Desk, where Matthew promptly offered his whole name and mine, as he'd been taught.

Now, both the security guard and the Kindly Stranger were at my side, offering praise for Matthew's bravery and for knowing what to do. The guard patted Matthew's head and reminded him to seek out a uniformed person should he ever get lost again.

Kindly Stranger stood quietly for a minute before asking Matthew if he was ok. Matthew nodded gravely and then Kindly Stranger turned to me:

"He looked so scared. I have two of my own....I hope you're ok with what I did."

I reached out and squeezed his arm, whispered only two words:

"Thank you."

Thank you, Kindly Stranger for recognizing my son's innocence and fear and for guiding him to safety. For doing the right thing, even if it made you uncomfortable, even if others might warn you to mind your own business, for your own good.

For being a decent, trustworthy man and not the monster who's been visiting my dreams - all of our dreams - this week, here in the Friendly City.

Thank you, Kindly Stranger for letting me see your face and for assuring me that all losses are not forever, there is more good than bad in the world and that this city is indeed a good place.

Today especially, I thank you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Monster in Our Midst

The Reds and I have just returned from dropping cookies and a "Welcome Home" note to our newest neighbours. They moved in last week and while I'm ashamed that it's taken me this long to get over, I hope that they'll appreciate the gesture and the friendly overture, nonetheless.

Because this city needs friendly gestures more than any place in the country right now, frozen as we are at the horror unfolding in our courthouse, a monster in our midst.

I live in Belleville, Ontario.

A few blocks from my home, Col. Russell Williams sits - slumps actually, according to a real-time local news feed - as the details of his appalling reign of terror are laid out for all to know. Deflated and silent, the monster behind the military mask awaits his fate while spectators cringe and gasp, repulsed.

As I type this, frantically trying to keep my agonized imaginings in check, reporters and journalists from across the country have gathered here in "The Friendly City" and are rapidly "tweeting" and updating a rapt but shaken public - we are seeing, almost alongside the family and friends of Belleville's lost daughters, the work of a psychopath in all his glory.

Never did I imagine that the monster was this depraved, this appalling, this...evil.

 Living here, on the beautiful Bay of Quinte, it seems that I've allowed myself to forget the unease and uncertainty that plagued this city following Jessica Lloyd's disappearance. I've played down the shock of Williams' capture and let slip from memory my sense of shattered peace that the Soldier had made my city his hunting ground.

But today, like yesterday, I feel compelled to read everything I can about the court proceedings following his "Guilty" pleas. (Close to 100 separate charges. Holy hell, the Devil was a busy boy, indeed.)

I am drawn to the angst and the surreal-ness of this reality while at the same time, I want to turn away and "unknow" everything I never imagined possible. I am left reeling and sickened by a photographic collection of stolen panties - his modelling of them - and can't imagine that I'll sleep well tonight.

Then again, I can't conceive that Jessica's Lloyd's mother will ever sleep again, period. Not without envisioning her daughter's last hours, in the hands of a madman.

Do Marie-France Comeau's parents feel a swelling pride that their beautiful daughter fought so hard and so well for her life? I felt an urge to pump my fist in the air when I read of her attempts to outwit and and outmaneuver the Colonel - her Colonel. Felt doubly saddened when I "remembered" that in the end, she too died at his hand.

*A memory of that same sensation whispers through my mind. I felt the same way almost twenty years ago when the world learned about Paul Bernardo and the terrible things he did to Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffey. A few years later, I read a book about the infamous case: for several chapters, it seemed as though Kristen French stood a chance of release, of freedom, of life - until I abruptly remembered that she too, died at the hands of a madman. *

Today, I am back to feeling unsettled and uneasy. Sickened and heartsick at all that I've read and heard. Horrified that this is real and that this monster walked among us and that there are still more heinous truths to be told.

Terrified that there are more just like him, watching, waiting, learning...hunting.

On the other hand, despite these grim thoughts, I long to appease those who might pull their shades tighter still and double-lock their doors in the wake of these dark days. I remind those around me that while evil - clearly - exists, the world is not full of demons and the Russell Williams' of the world are few and far between.

I suppose that dropping a plate of cookies off on a stranger's doorstep may seem foolish and unwelcome in this day and age. Odd and some might say, a bit inappropriate, given the raw feelings that one man has inspired in this city, in particular.

But - especially today - I hope that my new neighbours are touched and delighted with the gesture and that my children absorb the lesson I want them to learn: Strangers are simply friends we haven't met, yet.

I hope.

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
G.K. Chesterton."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Because It's Tuesday...

Today, we are being lazy. By "we" I mean, me. The Reds will simply play until I tell them it's time to get dressed or put away their toys or find their outdoor shoes or get in the car.

Today, I haven't told them to do anything except sit down for morning snack - popcorn - and to please stop driving their cars down the staircase as the "plonk!" of them landing was getting on my nerves.

We are still in our pyjamas and housecoats. No one has brushed their teeth and I don't remember changing Luke's diaper. The breakfast dishes are still on the counter, unwashed, not stacked. The dishwasher needs to be unloaded and I really should get to organzing the desk drawers.

If I were to wander upstairs, I would likely stumble over laundry baskets filled with clean and folded clothing. I might find that the toilet paper roll needs replacing and that there are globs of toothpaste on the mirror, courtesy of last night's "Toothpaste Spitting War."

I have managed to pay the phone bill, but only because I could do so online. Ditto correspondence to long-losts and my cousins in Holland.

The toys that the boys received for their birthdays are presently scattered from the back kitchen door all the way to the front stairs and I don't care. Not. One. Bit.

Because today? Today is perfect, just as it is. Later, I will tidy and clean and nag the Reds to get dressed and cleaned up. Maybe I'll take a bath with a good book.

But for now, I will wallow in this idleness and love every. single. minute.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Luke is THREE!

Three. Lukey-Pookers, aka The Interloper, aka Menace aka three. How'd that happen?

Not so-little boy, I love you so much. In fact, every day it seems, I love you more. Your cheeky grin, your morning cuddles, your daily search for Matthew...all of this and so much more endear me to you.

I love that you are entirely your own person and that frankly, you don't give two HOOTS what anybody else thinks about ANYthing. You are Luke and you will stand your stubborn, determined, pigheaded ground.

Dang it!

You crack me up, Luke. I love that you use words as though you were born talking and that some of our most intense conversations take place while I'm changing your diaper. I love that you want to hold my hand while we're walking and that you can balance along pretty much anything along the way.

I love how giddy you get when I say that it's time to get Matthew and how you have to match your socks to your shirt and how your baseball cap is more necessary than pants, in your world.

I love your fire, your fierce temper and your need to put shoes in the shoe box and hats on the hook.

I love how you run for Nanny and Papa and have no fear of animals, insects or crickets. I love you in footy-pyjamas and clothes you've picked out yourself. I love that you sing along to every song but seem to like the softer ones best. I love that, intentionally or not, you and Matthew often sing in harmony.

 It makes me laugh that after a rainstorm, your most fervent wish is to drink from the mud puddles at the bottom of the driveway and yet you cannot stand it if your hands are dirty.

Sometimes you are grouchy. A right curmudgeon in a toddler's body. Given to foul moods and abject rudeness. But then suddenly, you smile and it's like the sun coming out on a bleak winter's day and all is forgiven. Forgotten. Someday you will rule the world with that cheeky grin, my boy. Likely, someday soon.

Thank you for asking me to dance for no reason, for eating practically everything I cook and for wiping away MY tears when I cried over Uncle Andrew. Thank you for playing close by so that you "can touch you sometimes, Mummy," and for faithfully wishing me sweet dreams.  Thank you for sleeping through the night and knowing EXACTLY where I put my keys.

Thank you, my prince of Edward County, for being so many things I long to be - fiercely independent and completely unmoved by sarcasm, guilt or cajoling. I LOVE that you stand your ground so calmly and without questioning yourself. I wish I could be more like you, son.

I love your inquisitiveness, your surefooted-ness, your expansive hugs and exuberant kisses. I love that while it may take you awhile to warm up to people or a situation, once you do, you're in with you whole gorgeous self.

For all of this, for every part of you, I am grateful. Thank you for choosing me to be your Mummy, Luke. I am blessed, so blessed because of you:

Your brother may have made me a Mummy, but you, my very soul, have made me complete.

Happy Birthday, Luke.

I love you.