Tag Archives: Family

Funny things my kids say #27

elvis

We’ve just come home from the 12-year-old’s elementary school closing ceremony. This was a significant event for ET and his friends, not only because they’re “graduating” from Grade 6, but because they’ll be splitting up into two different junior high schools after seven years together.

Throughout the year, his awesome teacher had their class keep gratitude journals and I was excited to read ET’s when it came home today. While the majority of his entries were repetitive and inspired by a lack of homework, riding his bike to school, or arrival of a weekend, there were also a few that begged to be shared.

Here, in a category mash-up of “Lists” and “Funny things my kids say” are the best of the best (without dates, but still in chronological order):

11 things my kid felt grateful for this year

1) Not stepping in dog poop

2) Women’s rights

3) Elvis being mentioned in the book he was reading

4) Staying at his grandparents for the weekend

5) A friend giving him a slice of pizza

6) ELVIS! (It was Halloween and he was Elvis)

7) Getting to read to the littles (Primary/Grade 1 students)

8) Stop, Drop, and Read

9) Listening to Elvis

10) Writing poems

11) Being in Mme. Chiasson’s class (This was today’s, the last day of school)

Sigh… my baby is growing up!

When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream. – Elvis Presley

Previous: Funny things my kids say #26

Seriously?!? I need to rant…

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I don’t often go on a public rant, but the fact that some people are actually complaining about Thursday night’s Amber Alert in Ontario… it makes me want to simultaneously cry and vomit.

It doesn’t matter if you thought it was too late at night (around 11 pm) or if you were woken up from having the absolute best sleep of your life, this was an alert about a CHILD who’s life was in IMMINENT danger. This was an attempt to save the life an 11 year old girl.

Here’s a recap:
At 3pm Thursday, Riya Rajkumar was dropped off to celebrate her 11th birthday (also Valentine’s Day) with her father. After they failed to return as expected at 6:30pm, Riya’s mother alerted the police that her daughter was missing. Reportedly, she also subsequently received messages from her ex-boyfriend that he might harm Riya and himself. The first Amber Alert was issued around 11:00 or 11:30pm (reports vary). About an hour later, the police had cause to enter a house where they found Riya already deceased, and the alert was cancelled. Shortly thereafter, a motorist reported the suspect’s car, the police executed a “high risk” vehicle stop, and Riya’s father was apprehended. Police confirm that this arrest was a “direct result” of the Amber Alert. He has since been charged with the first-degree murder of his daughter.

So, back to the people who were so terribly inconvenienced by this Amber Alert…

It’s not like this is happening every day. Amber Alerts are only issued under the most exigent circumstances, when it’s believed that that a child has been abducted and that they are in imminent danger.

Statistics show that almost every missing child (99.8%) is returned home safe, but this is in reference to all “missing” children. This includes those that just miscommunicated their plans, misunderstood directions, became lost, or ran away from home. Even when children are abducted as part of a custody dispute, the majority are never in serious danger. But these aren’t the case in which Amber Alerts are issued.

Between 2003 and 2012, Canada only issued 64 Amber Alerts, involving 73 abducted children. Of those, 70 were recovered and returned safely and three died.

As for those people who were so rudely disturbed in Winnipeg (even though the alert was an hour earlier due to your time zone), I agree that you were too far away to be of any help. Unfortunately, the technology isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it used to be.

When the Amber Alert was first introduced in the US in 1996*, it’s broadcast was limited to interrupted programming on radio stations, and a “text crawl” along the bottom of TV programs. When the technology became available, electronic roadside signs would also display the alert, but it’s only very recently that Amber Alerts began broadcasting on mobile devices and social media. On April 6, 2018, the CRTC placed mandates on Canadian service providers to ensure the majority of wireless carriers across the country became compatible with the alerts. (Canadians cannot opt out.)

This is a GOOD THING, people! The speed at which an alert is broadcast is a HUGE factor when a child’s life is in danger.

In cases of child abduction and murder, delays are critical. In fact, retrospective review shows that missing children who are murdered are killed within a very short period of time. Incredibly, 44% of the children were dead within only one hour after their abduction. 74% were dead within three hours, and 91% were dead within 24 hours after being taken.

When Abducted Child Was Killed
<1 Hour                         44%
Within 3 Hours            74%
Within 24 Hours          91%
Within 7 Days               99%
Within 30 Days             100%

So yeah, even if the latest technology still has a few glitches and it means a couple of times a year a few people are “disturbed” or “inconvenienced”, based on those timelines, it seems pretty clear to me that it’s vital we use every tool at our disposal to broadcast Amber Alerts as quickly as f*cking possible

Seriously, if you’ve chosen to keep your cell phone turned on at night and by your bedside (maybe in case someone YOU love has an emergency), and you are awoken by one of these rare Amber Alerts, I really don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to be able to control your anger enough that you don’t feel the need to complain to the police by making your own 911 call.

Do I feel the need to rant about this because I’m a parent and one of my boys is 11 years old, the same age Riya Rajkumar had just turned? No… it’s because I’m a responsible member of society and a decent human being.

* The first Amber Alert was issued in Texas, after 9 year old Amber Hagerman went missing while riding her bike. She was found murdered four days later. The case remains unsolved. (The US Department of Justice subsequently created the backronym, America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.)

The Holidays – It’s Complicated

Holiday Christmas lights with one bulb not lightingRelated Images:

Written at the request of the OHSW team of the Nova Scotia Health Authority for inclusion in their seasonal publication. I’m fortunate to be a member of an organization that recognizes mental health as an intrinsic part of overall wellness.


On an office door not far from mine, there’s a whiteboard counting down the number of days until Christmas. I’m sure this excited person simply wants to share their good cheer, but instead of bringing me joy, this perky daily update triggers a flutter of anxiety butterflies in my stomach. This is partly due to the shrinking window of time left to fulfill my family’s wish lists, something I haven’t even begun, but those flapping butterflies have a deeper origin than just my hatred of shopping.

Honestly, if Christmas and I were in a relationship, our Facebook status would be “It’s complicated”. I love it, I really do, it’s just that almost everything about it also messes with my head. In this, I know I am not alone.

Although it’s most often portrayed as an idyllic time of year when loving families come together and share bountiful meals, this isn’t true for many people. Unfortunately, when everyone expects you to have a “Merry Christmas”, it can be very difficult to tell them otherwise. And, when negative aspects of the holidays are discussed, the focus is on tangible things, such as increased debt, the unhealthy diet, or the difficulty of winter travel.

Over the past few years, however, I’ve become more aware of how the season affects my “intangibles”. How my insecurities and issues become magnified by the intensity that surrounds the holiday. Dressing up for parties makes my body image worse, and meeting new people increases my social awkwardness. I feel more pressure for everything to be perfect, like it’s my responsibility to ensure everyone has a great time. Instead of feeling rested with the break from work and a week spent with my family, I get fatigued by the lack of me-time, and then feel guilty I’m not enjoying every moment of our “togetherness”. Christmas knocks me off-balance.

Nevertheless, I’m being honest when I say I love Christmas, because this magnification also affects my positive “intangibles”. At the party I was anxious to attend, I laugh with friends and find joy. When family gathers for a meal, I feel intensely blessed by the comfort and prosperity which we enjoy. And, after my husband and children are in bed and it’s dark but for the lights on the tree, the love in our home feels larger and more pure. So yes, my relationship with Christmas is definitely complicated.

At this time of year, moods and emotions, both positive and negative, intensify. You only need to look at a child to see it; anticipation and excitement may be at peak levels, but so is impatience and disappointment. This is happening all around us. Just as love and happiness are being amplified, so are grief and loneliness, and any strain in relationships. This is why, even though it’s easy to get lost in the holiday frenzy, it’s important to have compassion for yourself and those around you.

Unfortunately, knowing all this doesn’t do much to quell my anxiety triggered by the whiteboard down the hall. It does, however, reinforce that I’m not alone. So, even with an increasing number of butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I’m going to try to embrace that countdown. As for our relationship status on Facebook… maybe it’s time for me and Christmas to try being “in a civil union”.

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Funny things my kids say #25

sheep_0

Last night, ET was yelling to me from his bed that he was having trouble falling asleep.

When I pointed out to him that he had only been in bed for five minutes and that it might take a little longer than that, he said in a very sad voice…

“My body is ready to sleep but my brain wants to read some more.”

I know what you mean kid… every afternoon at work!

Previous: Funny things my kids say #24

The elephant in the room

 

stigma

Wow… it’s actually used as the example.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stigma recently. Mainly, because I just received this little blue elephant in the mail.

elephant

This guy is from the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and is part of their Elephant in the Room  anti-stigma campaign. He now lives on my bookshelf and indicates that my office is a “stigma-free” zone. This is a safe place to talk about mental health and mental illness, without fear of being viewed or treated differently.

Mental health has long been the elephant in the room; something we all live with but no one wants to discuss. Let me say that again. We ALL live with mental health… be it good, poor, or somewhere in between. Get it? The same way we all have physical health, we all have mental health.

When we, or someone we love, have problems with mental health we feel uncomfortable discussing it because we are afraid that we will be judged negatively. This is stigma and it is real. Here are a few facts for you:

In Canada:

  • Only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness
  • Just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member with a mental illness
  • 55% of Canadians said they would be unlikely to enter a spousal relationship with someone who has a mental illness
  • 46% of Canadians thought people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behavior
  • 27% said they would be fearful of being around someone who suffers from serious mental illness

(from Canadian Medical Association (2008). 8th annual National Report Card on Health Care)

Those are some scary numbers… and Canada is relatively progressive in terms of its views towards mental illness. Luckily, these attitudes have gotten a little better in the past eight years, especially with the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, but Canadians still report that the stigma of their mental illness is often worse than living with the disease itself.

As I wrote about in this previous post, stigma has had a huge impact on my life. When I experienced major depression in university, I was scared to seek help. I was embarrassed and wished to die rather than talk about my problems. When my suicide attempt was unsuccessful, I was worried more about how much I had humiliated myself than I was about getting better.

Like two thirds of the people in Canada who suffer from depression, stigma kept me from getting treatment. It took further serious suicidal ideations after my children were born to scare me enough to break my miserable silence. I was in real danger of leaving my babies without a mother and that was the only thing that got me to admit to my illness.

Now that I have “come-out” of the mental health closet and disclosed my illness, both personally and professionally, the stigma I once felt has all but retreated. There are still times when I feel that my words or actions are being judged differently than if I didn’t have a mental illness but those instances are rare.

I am more fortunate than most people. I have amazingly loving parents and a sister who is unwavering in her fierce support. I’m married to a wonderful and understanding man and I have a secure job with accommodating superiors and compassionate co-workers. I have loyal friends who I know will stick by me and a doctor who gives me hugs and sends me notes of encouragement in the mail.

When I broke my silence, the world outside my closet was kind and welcoming, the stigma that had kept me trapped was my own.

I only wish everyone’s truths could be met with such understanding and support.

If you would like to join the fight against stigma, please visit the Mood Disorders Society of Canada or a Mental Health organization in your country to learn the facts.

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Funny things my kids say #24

SantaJesus

This morning, prompted by the carol mix we had playing, the 8-year-old asked The Husband…

“What was Santa’s career before Jesus was born?”

The Christmas spirit is strong in this one… even when it bumps into his practicality!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Previous: Funny things my kids say #23

A backcountry adventure

Filtering water for breakfast.

Filtering water for breakfast.

My boys are away on their annual camping trip to Kejimkujik (while I’m stuck at work). But this year it is with a twist.

Yesterday, The Husband left the comforts of car camping and took the boys on a backcountry adventure. They are strapping their gear to their backs, portaging with the canoe, and venturing out to camp on a remote island site.

This is very exciting for us as parents because this is the way we always camped before we had the boys. We would hike or canoe for hours to get to a site. There is just something magical about being out in the woods with no one else around; no light to dim the stars and no noise to drown out the loons.

Fingers crossed that the boys love the experience as much as we do so that this can be something we continue to do as a family. Although, as long as they still get to roast marshmallows, I’m sure they’ll be happy.

Do you have a passion that you hope to pass on to your children?