’tis the season for…less and less stress

Yes, it’s that time of year again when humankind goes berserk.  It’s the season of gift giving and life stressing.  What used to be simple days of praise has now become the merchandise mecca of the year.  It’s all about the gifts and the gift giving and the gift receiving.  Or is it?  Besides the present factor, there is the presentation factor.  Oh yes, the hosting of the feasts or the attending of the feasts.  Are you one of those who finds this time of year especially stressful?  Even better, don’t you enjoy all the tv shows and the radio talk shows and expert magazine articles telling you how to survive the holiday season?  Yeah, I can’t stand them either.  So I have decided that I am going to share with you MY way of surviving this wonderful time of the year.

PLAN A:

LEAVE TOWN!  If you can, go and hop on a plane, a train, or leave in an automobile.   GO! GO FAR FAR FAR AWAY!  Why?  You don’t have to deal with any of the visiting drama or the hosting drama.  There is NO drama, except for crowds at the airport, but who cares?  You aren’t related to anyone.  Oh…leaving is not an option?  Ok, plan B

YOU ARE THE HOST

KEEP IT SIMPLE:  

The invite:  If you are the chosen one hosting the get together, send out your invitation in July.  That way everyone has time to book their trip abroad!  Or, sadly,  they can decide to spend time with you.  I feel bad for them.  Well, if you are the hostess with the mostest (like me!), here is your holiday survival plan.

Menu plan:  it’s all about the list … ahem … lists.  Your menu is one list.  This will include the items you are planning on making.  Sub-divide your list into the following categories:  Appetizers / Main / Dessert.  Further sub-divide that list into when to prep each item and what you have to buy at the grocery store.  Example:  vegetable tray: grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, cauliflower.  This list will become your cheat sheet for the next list – GROCERY LIST.  Oh, then there is the list of what platters / bowls utensils will be needed for each dish.  See!  Super easy!  Oh, as the days progress you might find that you cross things off your list because they are either going to take too long or you’re too tired to attempt making them.  Your 5 page list will suddenly wither away to one sheet.  There…NOW it’s easy and manageable.  So, if you started off with apple pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, chocolate cake, you might find that by December 24th your pie kingdom has morphed into “I’ve got ice cream in the freezer.”  Yup, who doesn’t like ice cream?  Someone will bring you chocolates or cookies and voila!  Your dessert is taken care of.

Seating:  Don’t worry about getting too fancy with your seating arrangement.  As long as everyone can sit and eat it doesn’t matter what they have to sit on.  Plastic stools, lawn chairs…who cares?  It’s about family and being together right?

Gifts:  Buying gifts has become a true tragedy.  If you watch every commercial and try to buy the kids what they want, you will find (especially if there are divorced and/or remarried parents involved) that there will be quadruplicate same gifts!  Avoid this catastrophe.  Go for the stuff they aren’t expecting.  Nothing trademarked.  Nothing Disney.  Nothing Star Wars.  Nothing that anyone else can buy.  Surprises are way more fun and they MIGHT even like it.  Huzzah!

Decorating:  No need to go over the top with decorations.  Yes, it’s nice to make your home feel Christmasy, and a visit to the dollar store or your Goodwill store will have enough to make it ho ho hopefully good enough.  A green garland, some red bows.  Ta-da!

Drinks:  Sure it would be nice to have every variety of booze available to your guests, but even restaurants draw the line.  “Can I get a Pepsi?” you might ask only to hear, “Sorry, we have Coke is the ok?”  Well, it’s not really ok but you take what you can get.  Keep in mind that you are actually paying for getting what you didn’t really want.  So, when guests come over (and they are not paying for anything), they can sip on whatever you have on hand.  Newfie Screech?  By golly why not?!  It’s Christmas!

Clean up:  Wow…look at those mounds of dishes that piled up because it was more important to be with your guests than hanging out washing dishes in the kitchen.  In the old days the women would congregate there and gossip while washing and drying dishes.  Gone are those days.  There are now dishwashers.  Sure it might take you 4 days to cycle all those dishes through the magic washing machine, but who cares?  No one else is coming over so you’ve got lots of time.

Now, if you are…

THE GUEST:

KEEP IT SIMPLE:  

Driving:  Give yourself time to get to your destination.  Parking is what it is.  Don’t wear your nicest shoes as you might have to park in knee deep snow.  Just saying.

Host(ess) Gift:  I find two gifts work out best.  Booze or sweets.  Wine or hard liquor is a win!  If you aren’t sure then chocolates or baked goods work (as they double for dessert at your destination).  Note:  Buy what you like to eat/drink since the hosts usually share whatever they have received.

Don’t overstay:  You may be having a good time, but keep in mind that your host(s) have probably been losing lots of sleep planning the perfect soiree.  If they keep mentioning how late it’s getting, that is a definite subtle clue that it’s time for you to pack up your sorry drunk ass and get on home.

There!  That’s all there is to it!  Sure, you may think this a bunch a hogwash and some are saying, “Well, you don’t know MY family.”  Maybe not, but think about it, the less effort you put in the less people expect of you.  Keep the bar low so no one can limbo under it. Low expectations will keep you off the high expectations list.  Each year will bring less and less stress as you continue to regress.

YOU’RE WELCOME!

 

The Real Boo Boo Cure…

Recently I went to my local drug store to buy some health and wellness items.  Bandages, eye drops, headache medicine, burn ointment…you know, the stuff that seems to disappear all too soon in my house.  Me?  Accident prone?  No, I consider myself more of a survivalist.  As I wandered down the aisle I noticed all the kid friendly stuff.  Bandages with cartoon pictures.  Toothpaste in tubes with Disney princesses all over it.  That got me thinking about the tried and true methods of our parents and grandparents to heal our boo-boos and other hurts.  It also made me laugh at my fanciful methods.

My cabinet at home is full of items that will help unclog my intestinal tract and if that gets too expunged then there is the one that will help stop the migration south.  There are little pills for so-so headache days and there are the extra strength ones for those dismal air pressure headaches.  There is the liquid pink potion to help with stomach pains and the fruit flavoured tablets for heart burn and indigestion.  There are the tablets to be used in case one of us has an anaphylactic shock.  It hasn’t happened yet, but one never knows right?  Add to this menagerie the cold fighting liquids, the herbal remedies, and the muscle and joint ointments and you have a cabinet full of illness fighting goodies.  Thinking back to my childhood my parents did not have such a full cabinet.

My childhood home’s main bathroom was where the “medicine” was kept.  Here is an inventory of what was in that cabinet:

  • bandages (Elastoplast brand because my father said these were the only ones that adhered well enough).
  • the everything pill – Aspirin – both children (little pink pills) and adult (yucky, chalky white pills)
  • iodine – used on any scraped knees, elbows, or puncture wounds.  It was red and had a little eyedropper for application.  Once applied it burned and burned and then tinged your skin red.  If the wound refused to clot then (and ONLY then) you would be given a bandage.  (If you ever had an everlasting-Elastoplast bandage ripped off, you would never, ever want a bandage again).

That’s it.  Nothing else in the cabinet.  There were no special kiddie bandages.  Nothing with cartoon pictures at all.  How did our generation manage to survive without the special first aid items that are out there now?  I have put a new spin on first aid making me more of a Witch Doctor than your regular mommy-type doctor.

I do not buy the special first aid bandages.  Also, my bandages are not to be applied to invisible or internal wounds.  Yes, they make a child feel better because now they have a memento of their boo-boo.  Everyone can parent the way they like, but I find this to be futile.  You give them one bandage and suddenly they’ll be returning asking for more until you have more of a mummy than a toddler.  I prefer the dramatic approach.

EXAMPLE:  CHILD FALLS WHILE RUNNING:

METHOD 1:  The wailing begins.   He/she is in unbelievable pain.  No doubt about it.  The tears are streaming in big fat drops and rolling down his/her cheeks.  Usual first aid is the Mommy Kiss:  Mommy kisses the boo boo and all is well.  My method:  “Come here sweetie,” I coo.  “Is it this leg?” I ask, pointing to the left leg.  “Shall we cut it off?”  Little boys LOVE that one!  Totally in for it!  They rest their leg on my thigh and I pretend sawing back and forth with the side of my hand.  The giggles erupt and all is well.  And no bandages were used.  Little girls usually give me the glare of death and skulk away.  Again, no crying and the irrefutable pain is suddenly forgotten.

METHOD 2:  The crying begins.  He/she is suffering like no other human being ever has.  “Oh my,” I say with hands on the sides of my face, staring in astonishment, “I guess you won’t be able to take the dogs for a walk with your broken leg.”  “I can walk the dogs!” comes the determined exclamation as child gets the leash and heads for the dogs.  Being able to do fun stuff will cure what ails them.

METHOD 3:   The sobbing begins.  He/she will not survive this wound.  If I have tried the sawbone solution or the distraction method and neither have worked, then I pull out the big gun.  The tried and true sure fire way to heal them.  Magic.  I put my magic wand on the injury and with some flair and dramatics I “heal” their injury.  They look at me shocked, stunned, and very silent.  They are also miraculously cured.

Now, some may say that I shouldn’t lie to children.  I don’t think it’s lying.  I tell them I will cure what ails them and I do.  That isn’t a fabrication.  It’s true.  They were there and watched me and they felt better.  WIN WIN if you ask me.

What makes my magic even more special is that MY wand is a Harry Potter wand.  I bring the special box out of hiding and have the child watch me slowly open it and reveal its contents.  The wand sits there, magically of course.  Also, no child is allowed to touch it because it is MY magic wand.  Eventually, when they are older, they can get a wand that magically selects them.  This way, no one fights over who gets to play with my wand and my wand will be safe for future use when fatal child injuries occur.

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I am hoping that one day, when they are grown up, they will recall these fanciful things I used to do.  Maybe I’ll be the crazy Baba which is fine with me because it makes me unique and memorable.  Childhood goes by too quickly and I love letting them live in a world of magic and fantasy while they can.

Bandages or Harry Potter wand?  You now know the real boo boo cure.

Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.

As a child, did you play make believe?  I have a feeling you did.  If you had comic books you might have wanted to be your favourite super hero.  If you didn’t have that form of entertainment, you might have wanted to be a firefighter or a teacher or a doctor or a dinosaur.  You could be anything and be wonderful at it.  When we got a tv and the Super Friends were on, my brother and I loved to be the Wonder Twins.  Here I am, all grown up and I am still playing make believe.  I make believe I am an adult (lol).  The grandchildren are into pretend play too.  Recently I watched in amazement as they huddled in a circle, arm in and then shouting out as they raised their hands out of the circle.  Welcome to the new power partners.

What did they holler?  MINI SQUAD!  Yes, they are little, but I am thinking maybe there is a video game or something with that title.  Their power members consist of a 7-year old, and two 3 1/2-year olds going all gung ho with excitement.  I had to find out what this squad of theirs was all about.  Here is what I learned.

There is a lot of running around.  First you stand in the circle with your right arm into the centre and then as you are lifting your arm out of the circle you yell:  MINI SQUAD!  Note:  there is also a second type of huddle.  Instead of arms and hands in, you do it with arms and fists in yelling MINI SQUAD!  “It’s totally different,” said the 7-year old.  I had to agree.  After that all important battle cry is done you run around looking for stuff.  What kind of stuff?  “Well, the one holding the flashlight is searching for monsters,” said the eldest cousin.  The other two?   “It changes,” she remarked matter-of-factly.  “Bugs, birds, shadows…anything,” she continued.  It doesn’t matter what you look for, eventually the eldest will yell for her cousins to come back to do the rally cry again.  Uh huh.  So, no real rules.  Then I got curious about names of the members.

“So,” I began, “how did you get the name Mini Squad?”  Boy wonder got a shirt from his parents with Mini Squad on it.  His aunt saw it and decided to buy it for her girls and ta-da!  They were now “officially” the Mini Squad because, well, as we old folks like to say:  Been there.  Done that.  Got the t-shirt.

My next question was about the running around and seeking for things.  “Well, it’s different every time.  Unless you have the flashlight because then you are the monster hunter.” Fair enough.

“What are your names?” I inquired.

Eldest:  My name is Flash.  [pointing to her younger sister] She is Spark.  [pointing to her younger cousin] His name is Jonathon.  WHAAAAAAAAAT!!??  OK, I admit I snort-laughed then.  What the heck kind of superhero name was Jonathan?

Well, after my obnoxious display of laughter she decided that they should have different names.  The chooser of names decided that she would be Shadow, sis would still be Spark, and Jonathon would now be Flash…no no…Flasher.  (Ok, not much better for helping stop my laughter.  She should’ve quit while she was ahead with Flash.  lol)  One day she is going to read this and definitely laugh her head off.  (Ha Ha Ha…Plop).  Until she gets bumped into adulthood and realizes the definition* I ain’t gonna spoil the fun.

Ready everyone?  Stand in a circle, arms in.  And ready to move arms out and yell out:

MINI SQUAD!

* Note:  The adult brain can really stunt a child’s imagination.  As a pre-tween I recall a school project where, working in groups, we had to come up with a product and an advertising campaign.  My group decided on something like Jello.  Being so genius, we were happy to show the teacher our progress with our new product called “Jiggle-o”.  She smiled weirdly, took a couple of breaths and then said we needed a new name.  “Why?” we inquired.  She tried to explain without explaining.  To this day I don’t recall her lame explanation.  Our cool product name was changed to…ugh…Wiggle-o.  After I crossed the threshold into adulthood I heard of a movie called “American Gigolo.”  Oh my.  A-ha moment.  Been there. Done that.  Got the t-shirt.

 

 

Is it really “child torture”?

I was once asked why I torture children.  Whoa!  Let me explain.

A four-year old wanted to play make-believe with me.  No problemo!  I am always in for some fun and games.  Well, she started off by saying that we would be playing tea party.  “YOU can be a princess and I’LL be a princess…” at which point I interrupted her (as children are apt to do when we adults speak).

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“I don’t want to play tea party,” I said calmly.  “Let’s play something else”.  Child torture?  I think not.

When I play with children, I love getting their minds working.  I love challenging them.  I want to see and hear what they will think of next.  Honestly, they are brilliant!  There are things that we, as adults, can teach them.  However, their minds, at the young age, have a world focus that is so pure and genuine.  It’s a mind that we adults used to have, but then had reprogrammed along the way to adulthood.  As we went to school we were taught to think a certain way.  We were taught about past beliefs and were not only encouraged, but forced to think that same way.  I recall, as a child, I needed some form of escape.  I think this is what got me reading at a young age.   It was something to release me from reality.

Reading is a great escape.  A good author can have you leave this reality and enter another world using only your mind’s eye.  This is often the reason why I prefer reading the books instead of seeing their counterpart movie versions.  Movies cannot recreate what I have beautifully conceived and visualized in my mind.  This is also one reason why I love the Harry Potter series so much.

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This wonderful woman (J.K. Rowling) has written stories that children are enthusiastic about.  They WANT to read.  Youngsters and many adults (me included) love them!  The stories are exciting, but also sometimes scary.  There are good people and evil people.  These stories, although taking place in a magical world, incorporate everything going on in our muggle…ahem…human world.  Think about it.  J.K. Rowling’s story about Harry Potter talks about bullying.  It talks about shy people.  It is detailed about friendships and how you can end up in arguments with your best friends.   It discusses bravery.  It tells the reader that you will find friends in the strangest of places.  You learn that there are those who will always have your back and those who will always try to put you down.  In the end, the moral of this series for me is that, no matter how difficult life’s challenges may be, it is important to always to be true to yourself and hold onto your beliefs.  Again, my opinion only.  I am sure there are many differing opinions about these books.  Huzzah!  Even better…books that mean something different to everyone.

Back to my non-tea party playdate (a.k.a. adorable granddaughter).  Did she get mad and storm off when I said I didn’t want to play princess tea party?  Nope.  She sat back for a second, hummed and hawed and said, “Ok, let’s play hospital.”  The new game was about to begin.  Oh sure, I kept changing stuff along the way.  She wanted me to be the doctor and I told her I wanted to be the patient.  She let that one go too.  Then she wanted me to have a baby and I wanted to have a broken leg.  Well, that one I gave in to.  Why?  Well, she had the baby doll all lined up and ready to go.  Lesson learned:  If you want to have friends to play with, sometimes it’s your way and sometimes it will be your friend’s way.

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I know that parents want their children to be happy, happy, happy all the time.  No tears, no issues in life.  Give them whatever they want because you love them with all your heart and would never want anything to hurt them.  The difficulty with this is that the real world isn’t like home.  Eventually they will have to deal with the bullies or they might not get their own way.  What will they do then?  How will they handle it?  If you don’t have them try it out at home where it’s controlled and safe, they won’t know what to do when it happens outside the safe house.

Conclusion:  You may disagree with what I have said.  That is fine with me.  We all have our opinions about teaching children to become great citizens in this world of ours.  There are gads of books out there from psychologists to psychiatrists to other parents.  Every parent worries that they are the worst parent ever and that someone else has the right answer and the best way to raise their children.  NEWSFLASH!  Parents who love and care for their children ARE great parents.  Everyone is doing it wrong and everyone is doing it right.  That’s why there are so many books on this subject because no one really knows the best way.  If your gut tells you it feels right then go with that way.  You will be happy and your child will be happy and happy people go on to live happy lives.

Feel free to challenge your kids during playtime.  No harm…no foul.  Your brilliant lad or lassie will surprise you with what they can come up with.  “Child torture”?  Naaaaah!  Let’s refer to it as…mini-brain stimulation.  When you get that clever answer back you won’t regret it.  Give yourself a star for being the BESTEST PARENT.  (Yes…my made up word, but there should be a word for something better than best)!

Dear Parent / Guardian – Please feel free to print off this star and wear it proudly.

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Food Fight!

You are probably thinking that I am going to regale you with the many high school adventures I had with food fights.  Firstly you would be incorrect as we never had food fights in my high school cafeteria.  Secondly, I can’t throw straight!  (You can confirm that with my dart-playing partner.)  So, what food fight am I referring to?  Let me gently guide you back to your childhood for this one.  If that part of your life has bad memories then you can easily relate while watching (your) children.  Here we go.

Close your eyes and think back to a time when you were playing with your brother or sister or cousin or neighbourhood kid.  Now, recall when a bag of chips came out.  The bag was cautiously opened by an adult to ensure minimum spillage.  The glorious contents of the bag were then deployed into an awaiting cavernous bowl.  YES!  Junk food!  Chips!  Woo hoo!  You would think this would be an amazing event and all would be happy.  NOT! Why?  Well, if there was a younger (spoiled) sibling it got ruined.  Who got the biggest chip?  Who got the chip with the most flavour toppings on it?  Once you got down to the end of the bowl, how could it be divided evenly?  Does this sound like your family?  Chips were a special food group in our humble abode.  Now, let’s ramp up the crazy and discuss the genius solution that my brother and I came up with in order to ensure equality.

Me:  There aren’t too many chips in this bag.

Bro:  I know.

Me:  Our two cousins are here so we need to make sure we share or we’ll get in trouble.

Bro:  I know!  Let’s crush the chips so there’s more of ’em!

Me:  Great idea!

Well, truth be told, we actually had our cousins help us crunch up the chips into bitty pieces so that there would be more pieces for everyone to share. Genius right?  Perhaps, but eating chip crumbs wasn’t that great.

Now, let’s discuss family meal time.  How about that can of pork and beans!  I loved this canned delight!  Honestly, when I saw that on the dinner table I was mega-excited!  As a child I loved the thickness of the sauce and how tasty it was.  However, there was a glitch…pork.  The can stated there was “pork” and beans in its innards.  How true!  Imagine a family of six.  Two adults and four children.  There was a “pork” inside.  One “pork” in the pork and beans.  Who would be lucky to get the “pork”.  If you have never had the honour of digesting the contents of a can of pork ‘n’ beans, you cannot really understand the need to be the “Chosen One” to get that insignificant little fatty piece of bacon.  You want Food Fight!  Bring it on!  This was where the debate began of who was worthy.  To this day, I view this canned good as a vessel of divisive evil.

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Moving right along we come to the eternal evil: CEREAL!  I do believe that serial killer was hatched from the word CEREAL!  From childhood to grandparenthood I do not find that cereal has good qualities.  I shall explain.

Cereal commercials show the benefits of these boxed glorified sugar bandits.  They contain fibre, vitamins, iron, petroleum, fairy dust and other things we know nothing about.  For some reason, as children, the FUN cereals were the ones that led to the most trouble.  Do you recall “Count Chocula”?  Healthy breakfast?  Heck no!  We wanted it because it would make chocolate milk.  When my mother actually bought a box we children stood there in awe trying to figure out the type of hostage situation we would have to deal with.   There it was.  The box of our imagination.  It was in front of eyes.  Not only did we get our dream cereal but there was a prize inside!  Oops.  There was the catch.  Since we were only permitted about a 1/4 cup of that prized cereal to mix with our Rice Krispies and Honey Comb cereal we had no idea who would be the lucky one to get the prize.  Dissension occurred.  What if Mom picked the youngest child out of pity?  What it the child with the best grades got the prize?  What if it meant being nicest to mom?  What were the rules to getting the prize?  You want insane behaviour?  Find a child surrounded by other children competing for the two-cent prize in a cereal box.  The rules changed.  You were never ready.

The same deal for the Cracker Jack box.  Lovely box with caramel popcorn.  There was a prize inside.  Gadzooks!  If one child got the prize there was always a fight.  Honestly, the prizes were crap, but it was always about who got something more than the other kid.  You solo kids…you missed out on all the drama in life.

 

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The same holds true for marshmallows in hot chocolate.  You had better ensure that each child gets the same amount of marshmallows in that brown frothy goodness.  That is a misstep that parents make and it leads to traumatic psychiatric treatments.

Popsicles?  Same drama.  For some reason that mixed box of popsicles should only contain purple and red.  Why is there an orange flavour for children?  In the olden days only red and purple were of any use.  They were like the gold bullion of frozen sugar water. Orange?  Bleh.

SUMMARY:  Food fights.  Jealous food fisticuffs are all about who got what and why or who was deemed more deserving.  Perhaps the world is better off with real food fights.  Although I have never partaken in such a vigorous display of displeasure, I have seen reels of The Three Stooges throwing cream pies at many an adversary.  What did I learn?  It appears that the evil ones were stymied.  The good, although creamed, being recipients of said sugary confections, appeared to be satisfactory with the results of their actions.  In plain English:  FOOD FIGHT!!!!!   Whip it!  Whip it Good!   (Let’s “LOL” you children of the ’80s)

 

New illness revealed…

Everyday there seems to be some kind of new disease taking over the world.  I do believe I have discovered a new illness.  It is quite uncomfortable and irritating, and it usually clears up after a couple of days.  If I am correct, and this is a new disease, then I shall be famously known as the woman who discovered, diagnosed, and provided the remedy for the infamous Croatianitus (pronounced:  kro-aye-shun-eye-tis).  What is Croatianitus?

I am sure most of you have heard about Tinnitus.  It is a ringing or buzzing in your ears that only you can hear.  Croatianitus is something similar, but in an opposite way.  Instead of hearing the buzzing in your ears you find that you really can’t hear at all.  There is a pressure built up in your head, sort of like having your head wrapped up in a cotton ball helmet.  When people speak to you, you can see their lips moving and perhaps some sound will break through the fogginess, but your actual capability to hear normally has been adversely affected.

What causes Croatianitus?   This condition is most often brought on by being in public places with Croatians.  These are a jovial and entertaining group of people.  They prefer loud music and even louder conversations. This friendly group of humans started out in Croatia.  From there, emigration began and they moved to many different countries all over the world!  They brought their sense of joie de vivre with them and settled in cities where there were others of their kind.  Their raucous laughter and joke telling was studied in order to record their decibel levels.  After numerous studies, dB showed them way above healthy levels…closer to “shot gun” deafening.

I have been studying this society for quite some time now.  I have attended their marital rituals and other religious ceremonies.  I have been invited to and frequented other social events including annual group performances which showed their softer side.  Colourful, cultural dances and the vocalizing of historical songs.  All is well until their show is over and the socializing begins.

It appears very harmless.  Oftentimes you will move to a different room and sometimes even a different location.  Having completed their ceremonies, they become lax and free-spirited.  They congregate and speak.  This is symptom number one of Croatianitus.  You believe you are in a regular conversation, however, when this group forms you will find that they begin speaking at a dB (decibel) level of perhaps 30.   Very safe.  As more of them enter the room, there are more in-depth discussions beginning.  In order to be heard, the repartee of each mini-group grows in loudness.  Suddenly, you notice that the traditional music has begun playing in the background.  When did that occur?  You are already beginning to notice a difference in your hearing.

Symptom number two is when you realize that you yourself have begun to annunciate and speak louder.  This is an automatic self-preservation tactic.  In order to be heard above the din you must assimilate with the masses.  You lull yourself into a false sense of security at your ingenuity.  Little do you realize that as the seconds and minutes tick by, you have gone from “normal-speaking” person voice to the “Croatian” speaking voice.  This voice is at least three times louder than your normal speech and you feel comfortable because the “Croatians” smile at you happily and proudly as you have adjusted in order to join their world.

Symptom number three is the most fatal one and oftentimes is mistaken for tiredness or regular tinnitus.  After cavorting with these cheerful and partying persons, it is time for you to go home.  You start to say your goodbyes but you can’t hear your own voice.  After much analysis I believe that this is the reason why these people give big hugs and double cheek kisses at the end of the night.  No one can really hear them, and it is said that actions speak louder than words, so this is their way of showing you their joy and gratitude for your attendance.

Remedy for Croatianitus is a bit of a longer process.  It is all about patience.  You will notice that your ears will continue ringing.   The buzzing will stop, usually by next morning.  The newfound deafness could take up to a couple of days to clear, but you will get there.

The best way to ensure you don’t become prone to this illness is to limit exposure.  After intense study on this group, I have found that a two-hour maximum exposure limit will allow you to hear in about one hour after departing their company.  Anything longer than that and you are looking at the three day rule until full recovery.

How do I know all about this?  I myself am a Croatian.  I chanced upon Croatianitus after moving out of my parent’s house.  As mentioned previously, there were six of us in that house and the Over-Talking (a.k.a. “speaking over another person while they are still talking” because we didn’t consider that rude).  We knew we had to speak louder in order to be heard.  THAT was our training ground.  There was no “excuse me” or “pardon me for interrupting” it was survival of the fittest, or in this case, the loudest.

After departing the humble abode of my youth and moving in with Wiseguy hubby, he started lowering the volume on the tv set one night.  He asked if I could still hear everything.  I could. He lowered it again…and again…and again.  Surprisingly, I could still hear every word being said.  THAT was when I first realized there was something unique about being nurtured (trained) in a Croatian home.

EPILOGUE:  It has been five hours since departing my last Croatian function.

  •  Congregating time after concert = 2 hours.
  •  Hearing in my right ear = returned after 2 hours.
  • Hearing in my left ear = returned after 4 hours.

One Step at a Time…

“…One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…”  Thank you Neil Armstrong. Neil will always be remembered and quoted for saying this phrase when this astronaut landed on the moon.  It is a phrase that can be applied to many phases of our lives.  The most memorable comparison for me is when I get informed that any child has gone from crawling to walking.  Yes…one small step…

I am sure you have noticed a trend in my writings regarding children.  I am amazed at their tenacity.  I adore their independence. I marvel at their simple wisdom.  We adults oftentimes lose perspective of our lives because we have been educated.  We are taught to follow certain paths in our schooling.  From kindergarten to elementary school. From middle school to high school.  Perhaps we have advanced to College courses or even University.  Education is very important and yet I admire the free spirit of the young.  Don’t get me wrong, being brought up by universal standards of quality (and the wooden spoon of “tough love”)  I can now appreciate even more the wonderful open qualities of youth.

It was repugnant to me when my parents would refer to me as the “Pepsi” generation. I believed it was supposed to mean something like “you are so spoiled you don’t drink water, you drink Pepsi.”  I still haven’t really figured it out, but it sounds about right.  (Note:  my parents never purchased name brand so that is why I assumed this was something they heard and adopted).  Anyway, every generation goes through the “you have no idea what it was like when I was growing up.”  To be fair to my parents, they were right.  They were raised in a village with many many siblings (no, not 4 or 5…try 8 or 9).  Schooling was done by grade 3 due to farming obligations.  They worked hard to make their lives better and better for their children.

Wiseguy and I had started our lives in a less-than-prominent-societal situation.  We fell in love (so cliche), but it was true.  We moved into an apartment.  No real funds.  First and last month’s rent.  No furniture….seriously….no furniture.  A room on the 11th floor of an apartment building with a wonderful balcony.  Our view of the sky was magical.  There were no buildings around us.  We could actually see the CN Tower in Toronto from our balcony is Mississauga (yes, that is a city in Ontario, Canada).  Yes, we were that weird couple that got together for love and not money.

So, our lives as a couple began as one small step.  We found each other.  We became best friends.  We knew that we could live as a family.  We decided to throw caution to the wind and move in together.  A simple one bedroom apartment.  A small starter home.  We married a year later.  There were many doubters.  There were many personal and family consequences.  Again, we decided to do what we thought and believed was best for us.  Many doubted. Many disbelieved.  There were those beautiful few who believed in us and they are always remembered and special in our hearts.

The years have passed, sometimes feeling slow but nowadays feeling so quick.  We have raised 3 beautiful children.  We look at our wonderful grandchildren and I am in awe whenever I see them.  I was once asked why I quiz children and “bother” them.  I honestly answer, “I don’t bother them.  They are smart and I LOVE hearing their answers.”

Children are magnificent!  I can tell you honestly that what they think about is waaaaaay more interesting than what you have to work on at work.  Their minds are agile and fresh and ingenious.  You used to think like that until you got pigeonholed at school.  Think the same.  Act the same.  Behave the same.

Yes, our world is comprised of structure and rules.    I am not saying this a bad thing.  However, sometimes thinking and behaving “abnormally” can be fun!  Grab a box of crayons and a colouring book but DON’T colour inside the lines.  Oh I know there are new colouring books for adults…very intricate and detail oriented.  Your mind goes CRAZY if you colour outside the lines.   Even better, get a children’s colouring book and colour a monkey purple and green and pink.  Believe me, not colouring to “specific norms” will feel really weird and almost heart wrenching.  I slowly got over the “brown monkey” syndrome when I coloured my monkey green and yellow and my granddaughter said, “Here, add some pink to his head.”  Hmmm, sharing and good advice from the eyes from a child.  Monkey can be different just like people are different.

I just received a text (yes, I am a modern Baba a.k.a. grandma in Eurospeak) that my youngest grandson took his first steps yesterday.   Little “Jumpin’ Jack” will be one on May 19th so Mr. “I’m-on-the-move” has decided that there are too many adventures in life that he needs to explore and got his groove on early.  Congratulations little JJ (Jumpin’ Jack!)  May your new elevated levels of adventure be as fun and exciting as you hope them to be.  May your bumps and bruises heal quickly.  May you always know that every adventure you undertake will always start with one step at a time.