Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What more do you want from me ??

In the movie "28 Days"  a character is told he should get a pot plant. If he keeps the plant alive for a year he should get a pet. If both the plant and the pet are alive after 2 years he could possibly consider himself mentally stable enough to handle a human relationship.

It has been well and widely documented how utterly crap I am at keeping pot plants alive. And yet I keep trying.

Exhibit A

I gave up after several years of green thumb failure and tried to do fish.
They died.


A snap-shot of what life as a goldfish in my hands can be read  HERE.

I have also managed to keep two puppy dogs alive, deliriously indulged and happy in their kingdom.
Four kids have been born and raised and nurtured and are thriving.
But it bites that I can't do fish.

I guess it's because people tend to act as though a goldfish is the simplest form of animal life to maintain. Fish are not expensive and University dropouts love to regale me with stories of their neglect and the resilience of their little gold comets. How hard can it be ?

1.Feed them occasionally.
2.Keep the tank clean.
3.Don't let the cat eat them.

For at least 8 months now, two gold comets and two.. smallish stripey? silvery ?...fish have lived in my care and I thought I was doing really well. I started to talk to them and I thought we were bonding.
After noticing the tank was a bit green and needed some TLC yesterday it was time to spring clean. I researched and only took away 1/3 of the water. I gently scooped my be-gilled darlings into a safe bowl, siphoned off their water to save for re-tanking. I drew enough water and let it sit for 2 days to allow any ammonia to dissipate.
I washed the pebbles, I cleaned the filter. I put the fish in a plastic bag with air and let them float on top of the new tank water to acclimatise.

I set my little darlings free into their lovely clean tank. They were so excited. Flitting around. Exploring the rocks and aquatic plants.

Within an hour both small silvery fish were belly up, gone to swim in the heavenly oceans in the sky.
Three hours later we said goodbye to one of my little golden comets.
The lonely little fish left in the tank looked at me with what can only be described as gobsmacked disappointment.
His little fishy lips were whispering "And yet you are allowed to raise humans!"

I posted on Facebook that I had cleaned the tank and 3 out of 4 fish didn't survive my cleaning frenzy.
The Man I Married begged me on Facebook to not clean the kids bedrooms until he got home.

Today I bought more fish.

Because I am a perpetual optimist.

Good luck fishies. You are going to need it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You will always know -Advocating

Shoved against a wall, by a man three times his size, defenceless, wordless and shaking with fear.

One day when J-man was in Grade One, not quite 7 seven yrs old, his regular teacher was away for the day. He had a substitute teacher that day, a well respected, old school guy with years of experience.

I was waiting for the home bell to sound, watching the class play a last minute game of scuttle-ball. As the bell sounded the teacher called the winning team (J-mans team) and sent the kids to collect their bags.
J-man was so excited by his teams victory, the excitement and hype of an energetic ball game and by the fact that a long school day was finally over.
I watched as he grabbed a small soft plastic witches hat and scuttled it sideways across about 4 metres.
I watched as his substitute teacher grabbed him up by his little polo shirt collar, and rammed him up against the brick wall of his classroom, screaming in his face.
"You are just a naughty, nasty, little boy"
"You are bad"
"I've had enough of you today".

The teacher, fully 3 times the size of my little guy, with a military style buzz-cut, red, angry face and fists clenched thrust J-man aside and stalked off to collect the other sports gear.
I was so stunned I didn't even absorb what I had seen.
J-man cried.
I got his bag, and waited for the teacher, who addressed me with the same level of anger and scorn.
"Are you the mother? Did you see what he did? I should have known you'd take his side. He could have killed someone there !" (Yeah! with a soft plastic witches hat and all his 6 yr old strength!)

I took my little boy home, cried and wondered what to do next.

The next day I was at the school early to speak with the regular teacher. For some reason I still couldn't comprehend what I saw, what I heard.
I felt silly for making a fuss... (let me tell you now, if I saw that sort of shit now I would rip his lungs out before the witches hat fell to the ground, but I was young, scared and overwhelmed :-)

I told the teacher what had happened, what I'd witnessed, that my little boy had cried himself to sleep and wet his pants in fear that the 'angry yelling man' would be back again the next day.
I told her I didn't want to make trouble.
And she stopped me there.
She told me the most important thing anyone has ever told me. The most essential thing that I have clung to and held to my heart since that day.

She said,

Twenty years from now, these teachers, this principal, will not remember your name. 
But you will always know, forever, that you stepped up and advocated for your child.

From a truly awful experience came the most important words.

If you have a child, special needs or not, there will be moments where you are called to step up and make a fuss, or to be quiet and tell your child it is okay to be treated in such a way.

Have you hit that point in your parenting when you have had to choose to make a fuss?