Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Striking a chord

June 22nd, 2014

I’m in the thick of it already. Summer vacation chaos. Trying to meet deadlines between beach dates and camping trips. Working to the sounds of Looney Tunes, water fights, and children playing Yahtzee at my kitchen table.

School holidays started two weeks early this year. As though 9 weeks of summer break isn’t long enough for my kids to completely forget everything they’ve learned since September. These bonus vacation weeks come courtesy of a B.C. teachers’ strike that’s been a depressingly long time coming. Here are some facts that influence my position on this whole mess:

• The school system in British Columbia is currently funded $1000 less per student than the national average.

• This province also has the highest rate of child poverty in the country.

• There’s money for all kinds of other things around here. For instance, big sporting events. Big sports arenas. Big pay raises for politicians.

• The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that the government broke the law the last time they negotiated with teachers.

Before the teachers went on strike last week, my kids’ school managed to squeeze in a music recital. It was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing end to the school year.

Whenever my frustration and outrage have boiled over this week, I’ve found myself watching this video again.

There’s so much to love about it. The tune. The kids’ energy. The way the song goes off the rails through the middle section and how they manage to pull it back together by the end. The big finish. The visible pride they take in performing something they’ve been working hard on all year.

The way they all work together to create a complex, harmonious arrangement.

It gives me a glimmer of hope that maybe the grown-ups responsible for the public education system in this province will manage to do the same before school starts in September.

Oh please, please let school start in September.

Perhaps it’s time for me to go and re-read this great Rabble post that explains why teacher strikes make British Columbia better.

After that, if anyone needs me, I’ll be right here, self-medicating with freezies and searching frantically for inexpensive mid-August summer camps. 

Dancing to a different tune

January 31st, 2014

I told a story on the CBC Radio show Definitely Not The Opera this week. It was for an episode that’s all about seeing your parents in a new light.

It’s a tricky maneuver, telling a story about your parents on national radio. Especially when it involves describing how you saw them when you were a child. I’m now a parent myself and can look back and recognize how hard they worked and how little I appreciated their efforts at the time.

That must be part of the joy of becoming a grandparent… knowing that your own offspring are finally going to understand how grateful they ought to be.

Anyway, my story on DNTO is about the first time I saw my parents dance together. They have some moves, see, and the first time I saw them on the dance floor, I realized that they’d had a whole life before me during which they’d had quite a lot of fun.

Thanks for giving up on nights out at jazz clubs in favour of endless chores and exhausting family vacations, Mum and Dad! 

Telling my story on DNTO also made me think about how my own kids see me these days. During the brief moments in between dropping them off at school, trying to meet deadlines, shopping for groceries, doing laundry and desperately trying to make it to extracurricular activities on time, I’m not exactly a barrel of laughs most days.

It’s been a good reminder that when your kids see you having fun, it makes you more human in their eyes. And presumably less of a bossy, errand-running, robotic parental unit. Note to self: loosen up a little.

You can listen to my story about my parents here (my bit starts at around 0:13:45).

Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking up new ways to thank them for all of their hard work. It might be an impossible task, but at least I know I’ve given them one gift they genuinely enjoy: a new dance partner who really knows how to move.

 

 

Happy birthday, Garfield

June 19th, 2013

It’s Garfield’s 35th birthday today. Yes, the fat orange feline has been loving lasagna and hating Mondays since June 19th, 1978. Why do I know this? Oh I’m pretty much a Garfield expert these days. For the past couple of years, it’s been non-stop Garfield around these parts.

My children’s intense love for Garfield mystified me at first. I was a huge fan of the strip as a kid, but I’d been under the impression that it had gone downhill since its heyday of the ’70s and ’80s.

Turns out Garfield didn’t go downhill. I just grew up.

Even though he’s on his 55th book (the 56th is due out in September!), Garfield is just as appealing to contemporary 8-year-olds as he was to 8-year-olds in the ’80s. It took us a while to discover this. We tried to start our kids off on Calvin and Hobbes originally. But although they loved the idea of the boy and his toy tiger, many of the (genius) strips went way over their heads. Garfield, though, was an instant hit. The perfect starter comic. Adults may find it hopelessly corny, unfunny and repetitive, but to kids it’s pure comic gold.

In fact, Garfield is arguably the most successful comic of all time — it holds the Guinness World Record for most widely syndicated newspaper comic strip. Pretty amazing considering it’s still repeating the same old gags. And especially since, according to its creator, it was never really meant to be funny in the first place. Jim Davis has long admitted that his strip was a carefully constructed marketing scheme: cute, bland, repetitive, non-threatening.

Nevertheless, to kids Garfield is really, actually, totally hilarious.

I was out with my daughter and some neighbourhood kids a couple of weeks ago, doing sidewalk chalk drawings in the evening sunshine. Our 4-year-old neighbour looked up from her yellow scribbles and announced:

“I’m drawing Garfield. He’s the funniest cat ever!”

New friendships were forged that day, based entirely on profound, mutual Garfield appreciation.

We’re in the fat cat’s debt for other reasons, too.

The strip has been an influence on my kids’ developing senses of humour and their love of drawing. It’s inspired original cartoon strips and characters. My son’s need for a steady diet of Garfield, in fact, was what motivated him to learn how to read. We just couldn’t read him enough of it. He was forced to start deciphering strips himself in order to satisfy his cravings.

For me, the Garfield bonanza of the past couple of years has been a welcome nostalgia trip. That’s one of the best things about having kids: everything old is new again. In a world overloaded with LOL Cats, Grumpy Cats and other exhaustingly overhyped bits of internet cat nonsense, it’s been nice to retreat to a gentler, unjaded form of feline humour. Garfield’s been around so long that he’s gone past lame and crass and come back around to become a symbol of innocence and simplicity. Through my kids’ eyes, I’ve seen Garfield anew and come to appreciate him all over again.

Our pre-bedtime Garfield reading sessions are as comforting as a mug of warm milk.

I’ve even laughed at a couple lately.

Happy birthday, big guy. And thanks for all the good times.

 

 

SET ASIDE TIME FOR FAMILY READING

September 11th, 2012

Published by Postmedia News and the Victoria Times-Colonist
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Vancouver author Tanya Lloyd Kyi wanted her kids to find as much joy in books as she does. But while her daughter, now eight, took to books readily, her son?s response was quite different.

“He had a harder time sitting still and would run around the room a little bit more while I was reading,” she says. To keep his interest, Kyi switched to shorter books and read for shorter periods. That helped but they still ran into problems.

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TAKING THE KIDS TO THE CON

April 7th, 2012

Published by The Snipe
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My house is filled with superheroes. Since my husband works in the comic book industry and my six-year-old son shares his dad’s interests, I’m constantly gathering up piles of dog-eared Avengers comics and tiny plastic action figures. So a family trip to the Seattle comic convention is hardly a getaway from my daily life. Still, it’s a trip I’d been dying to take for years.

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