May 15, 2014

Violence at School


My son, now in grade one, was punched in the face by a child from his class who is prone to sudden violent outbreaks. Two days later, I can see the stress this occasion has caused. I'm thoughtful about the fact that if this happened between two adults, one would be up on assault charges and my son would have the right to proper counselling for PTSD. I worry about the other kid. I have the full knowledge that their home life is fraught with tension, that another older sibling is as predictably unpredictable.

Two days ago, my child told me about the day's event during a quiet lazy moment out in the backyard. Never underestimate the power of being idle. These are the moments that allow the waters of communication to flow easily.

My son has asked to stay home from school today. He attended some kind of counselling session with the school counsellor and the other child that he didn't really understand. I was told he was helpful at the meeting, but I'm not convinced anyone recognised that he might also require help. I was not told about the meeting, nor informed about the strategy. I am still unsure whether it was an exercise in forcing a kid who doesn't know why they're sorry to apologise, or an attempt to practice restorative justice.

Two days on, my son is showing signs of stress, and I think he will benefit from a day of relative safety at home. His sisters can be cranky, but at least not they are not physically abusive. They've been made aware of his needs, the middle child generously has offered to play Lego and the eldest, in some funk of her own, is keeping her distance.

I worry hard for that other child, the assailant. My children have me, a person who's worked hard at having decent mental health skills and predictable behaviours, when they return home from the world. I know personally how hard it is to be a child who struggles, is not particularly valued or liked by teachers at school, and has no support system in an unsafe home. I know what it is like to be seven and to feel completely alone and unloved in the world.

July 18, 2013

Trifecta Week Eighty Six - Fat is a Fact Word


This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.

As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those relentless Trifecta editors. This week's word is crack.


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My son called my daughter fat, and she ran down to tell me in sharp-eyed outrage.

I looked at my daughter, raised my eyebrows, and asked her a single question: “Are ya fat?”

Her 10 year old lips quivered and, for a moment, she looked like she’d say yes.

“No,” she replied, a sliver of insecurity gleaming through a crack in her angry demeanor.

“‘Fat’ is a fact-word,” I told her, “not an insult; it a fact. Either you are or you aren’t. If someone uses it as an insult, you can choose to be offended or reject it as a untrue. But even then ... let’s talk about this a bit.”

I called my son down and together we explored what it means to use a fact word as an insult. He’s six and the only one who’s recently attended public school, where I imagine he picked up this taunt.

“Guys, fat is a fact word,” I say. “Almost all of the people in the world have a degree of fat on their bodies. Some more than others. Some of them are fat.”

By now, my middle daughter has joined the conversation.

“Adam, when you turn a fact word like fat into an insult word, you are more likely to hurt me. I have more fat on my body than you or dad; I’m closer to actually being fat. Did you mean to insult me?”

He shook his head.

“Georgia, when you’re offended by a word like fat and you accept it as an insult you are supporting the idea that fat is something bad.”

The tension in the room eased. I pulled up the article I was saving, published on Huffington Post, showing side-by-side “Barbies”, one manufactured by Mattel and shaped by an artist to represent an average woman. As we clicked slowly through the photos, we talked about the pictures, Barbie, Lego, Archie comics, magazine images and how we hurt people by turning fact words into insults.

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July 14, 2013

Trifecta: Weekend Seventy Six: My writing process ...

I've missed you, Trifecta editors; I've missed you, fellow Trifecta writers. And I see you've grown. Together and without me.

(Don't worry, I think that's exciting.)

Last year my mother died. In the wake of this event and the inevitable rippled, I decided to take the year off. In many more-traditional cultures, life stops for a while when someone close to you dies. Or is born. Or leaves. In ours, we forge on. In my writing, which is a tenuous activity at best, I couldn't do that.

And anyway, here in my muttering space, I had nothing much to say.

It was inevitable my relationship with my mother was going to be left unresolved, mine alone to sift through as opposed to being a two-way thing. My mother's relationship with herself was so intense, so all consuming, that I never really existed. I loved her, and she tried in her brokenness. Her death is a weird thing to mourn.

My mother's biggest concern was to never be "exposed". Ironically, as a mother who made that her life goal -- to the exclusion of good parenting skills, solid mental health habits, or anything reasonable -- she was bound to have at least one kid who would have a deep-seeded need to expose her, to explore the experiences in written format, if only to save myself.

Anyway, I can't promise to be back in any way regular or dependable; I'm saving that for my kids. But here I am, for this moment of time, offering you these three words to describe my (excruciating) writing process:

Read.
Agonize.
Distill.

This weekend's Trifecta challenge is to write 3 words of my own choosing to describe my writing process. You can read more about the inspiration for this challenge here. I hope you didn't mind the bonus, but just in case, I wrote those three words in bold. I'm going to the canoe races, and to a yummy salmon barbeque. I'll see you when I get back.




November 4, 2012

Trifecta, Trifextra: Week Fourty -- Why I write


This weekend's Trifecta task is simple: forge an answer as to why I write. Not as easy as it sounds so I gave this one the not-over-thought treatment and am offering it in the raw:


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I WRITE BECAUSE
i need to find "like" minds
i have to explain myself
i try to support others
i worry
i hurt
i truly hunger to communicate
IF I DON'T I’LL DIE

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Trifecta is a twice weekly writing challenge. While I haven't been that regular recently, I remain grateful for the prompts, and committed to take the challenge as often as I can manage.

October 22, 2012

Trifecta, Week 48 -- Sinister -- UPDATED

I'm back with another offering for this week's Trifecta Challenge. This week's word is:

SINISTER

3: singularly evil or productive of evil

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Politics as Usual

I've been watching the American elections more closely than ever before. What can I tell you, it is quite entertaining.
 Which is not a good thing. Say anything you'd like about entertainment, it does not propel us forward. Sure I have lightbulb moments that help me with my angst and love life, but mostly I'm just trying to avoid doing stuff: Cleaning my house, weeding my gardens, teaching my kids, advocating for change.


Today on CBC Radio's daily newsmagazine, The Current, I learned something sinister: those American (inter)nationally televised presidential debates are run a private, non-profit corporation, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), owned and operated entirely by the Republican and Democratic Party. I mean Parties. And their budget is courtesy of for-profit corporations and their lobby groups. Who own the television networks?

Oh.

I see.

This explains why the candidates’ parties are allowed to stage their positions and audience questions, control the moderators and the camera angles, and keep all other possible candidates far away from the podium. Seriously, how do these debates prove adequate knowledge to voters? Most Americans I know are completely engaged but can't get answers to their deep concerns about the choices being made on their behalf in their country.

The debates may well be a staged fraud, and Americans are only now waking up to realise they've been conned since the birth of their modern nation.

And why, you might ask, would this Canadian be so riveted by the manipulation of a few to continue to hold power when it is not my country?

We have it here too. The lies, the choices that don’t exist. The colonization of our minds.
In Canada as everywhere, the stakes have never seemed higher. Unlabeled GMO foods. Factory farming. Pipelines and tankers carrying bitumen oil, perhaps the most impossible thing to clean up from proposed remote riverbed, mountain range and sea paths. Global warming? Compact florescent lights, anyone?

We are in the same leaky bloody boat.

Solidarity?

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The radio broadcast referred to above can be heard at The Current: Are the US Presidential Debates broken?

Update: Here are three parts to a story carried on PBS about this story.

Part 1:



Part 2:


Part 3:

I said it once, and I'll say it again. Canada's election process and debates are pretty much the same disaster as those in the USA. We are in the same boat. We may have to work together to right this wrong and be governed by people who want to govern all of us, and not just control us.

These are the rules for playing at Trifecta:

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.

October 19, 2012

Trifecta's Trifextra, Weekend Thirty Eight -- Three wishes, and a price paid

This weekend's Trifecta challenge is to write 33 words of my own of three wishes asked for, and the high price those wishes extoll upon the wisher:

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My three wishes were for us to stop endangering plants and animals, to eradicate the senseless global economy and to finally achieve world peace.

Mother Nature did her best work and devoured “civilization”.

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October 18, 2012

Trifecta, Week (Holy Cow) 47 -- Black


This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.

As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those crafty-but-cute Trifecta editors. I personally picture them with dancing around a cauldron.

This week's word is black.

BLACK

3: dressed in black

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Sartorial Therapy

I wear black. Not sometimes, all the time. Pants, shirts, dresses, coats, skirts, tights, socks and shoes. Black. Sure I have this one bulky hot-pink woolen scarf I knit myself for really cold days, and I did wear a red skirt once. But black is it, down to my pajamas and undergarments.

It may surprise you to know, like the childless and unmarried, one who chooses to wear black is endlessly grilled on why, when will this change, what's wrong with you. Heads shake. I would say "nothing" but that is not entirely truthful. It’s just, you know, what right have you to ask?

Listen. I am colourful enough. I spout opinions, don’t know how to keep quiet. I am loud; I call attention to myself by default. I stick out like an infected, inflamed cuticle.

I don’t need colour.

More significantly, when I was a child, another mercilessly critiqued my wardrobe misfires and the unique items that I wore -- lilac shoes, peach pants, a puffed-sleeved, pinstriped blouse that buttoned up one side of my newly-developed bosom. I still hear that kid’s taunts, others gleefully joining in. That was just the tip of my life of being bullied.

That child is now adult, and wishes I would "stop calling attention to myself" for suffering her behaviour. That was then, this is now, get over it.

But my childhood scars are no different than those of a woman who has had cancers cut from her body: scar tissue left behind hardens over time and irritates the flesh around it. The remedy is for a surgeon to score the tissue with a scalpel. My own remedies are to stand out less or to scratch at the memories 'til I bleed.

My predilection to black drives some people to distraction. On that single day I sport my scarf, they effuse over colour’s cameo in my life as if it changes the world. They present me more colourful items; my rebuff bites hard.

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The rules:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
This week's word is black.