Lorraine’s parenting quiz

Originally published July 2, 2005 Hamilton Spectator

Everyone always says there is no way to know when you’re ready to have kids. There is no test, no gauge, no alarm that goes off. Like most things in life, when you have the money you don’t have the time and when you have the time, you don’t have the money.

So I thought I’d invent a simple quiz to help narrow down the process.

1. When you hear a crying baby, you instinctively:
a. want to pick it up to calm it
b. run screaming from the room to drown it out
c. turn up your cell phone so you won’t miss a call
d. what crying baby?

2. People who use flash cards and educational music on their infants:

a. are giving their child a huge intellectual boost
b. are probably doing no harm
c. are stupid
d. what are flash cards?

3. If you glance out the window and see your two-year-old eating bugs, you:

a. grab the phone, dial 911 and run shrieking into the yard
b. pinch his cheeks until he spits it out
c. realize the grass needs cutting
d. do nothing. It’s your third kid

4. When planning your vacation:

a. you only considered Disney resorts
b. you resign yourself to driving, because of the expense
c. you desperately search for a place with 24 hour daycare
d. I have to bring my kids on vacation?

5. The proper place to anchor a child seat is:

a. in the rear centre seat
b. behind the driver’s seat
c. behind the passenger seat
d. a child seat won’t fit in my Miata

6. The best way to ensure you’ve bought the right size diapers is:

a. to tuck in two fingers at the waist
b. if the kid is purple, they’re too small
c. if the kid keeps having blow outs, they’re too big
d. diapers come in sizes?

7. The ‘six week after’ rule in childbirth usually refers to:

a. the safety zone for resuming marital relations
b. the first time you will get a shower
c. when your child has outgrown all the new baby clothes you bought
d. the cooling off period where you can give it back

8. It’s nice to name your child in a way that denotes some of their heritage. For this reason, you
name your child:

a. after his father
b. after both grandmothers
c. a name containing all ‘y’s’ where vowels should be
d. Tequila

Mostly A’s: Show off. None of the other mommies are going to like you.

Mostly B’s: At least you’re honest, and your kid will be just fine.

Mostly C’s: There’s hope for you yet. But be ready for adjustments.

Mostly D’s: Welcome to my world. There are times in life you hit the ground running. And then there are times you just hit the ground.

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Unsweeps Month

When they run all new programming on TV to chase ratings, they call it Sweeps Month. I am having an unsweeps month, or at least a couple of weeks. I’m rerunning stuff for a bit. This ran in The Toronto Star Wheels, April 23, 2011.

Parking is usually a hassle. If you can find a spot, you have to find a way to pay for it. With meters now gulping larger and larger denominations, the days of scrounging around the floor mats for spare change are gone.
A lot of people like the idea of just jamming in their credit card to pay for parking. I do that in Toronto, where the notion of less than twenty bucks to park is just quaint. But I stand before these machines, hesitant to hand over my card. I’ve encountered some that will only let you select the maximum. I hunt for the ‘one hour’ button. It doesn’t exist. At the risk of being late, I insert my card, and I can hear a small gremlin inside chortling as it grabs it and stabs away until my card maxes out with a death rattle.
Where I live, in Burlington, it’s a different sort of problem. I usually walk, but sometimes have to drive to my hair salon. There’s a 2 hour limit on meters. Two hours? Do these people think blonde hair just grows on heads? At the two hour point, I run outside looking like foil-covered leftovers to feed the metre. The only high point is my regular practice of dumping a lot of change into the ashtray. Actually, I call it the stashtray; I always have a stash of loonies and toonies in there.
That is, until my son started driving. Now, I’m lucky if I have my No Frills quarter.
After finally being caught out once too many times, I hauled Christopher, 19, out to the car one day.
“Do you see this little bin?” I asked him. He nodded. “Yesterday I put about 6 bucks in there. Today, there are just some useless pennies and 8 nickels. You stole my money. I need it for parking.”
“Nooooooo….” he began. “That isn’t your money. That’s CAR money.” I blinked.
“Car money? What the heck are you talking about?”
“If it’s in the car, it’s car money. It’s like, help yourself for a coffee or whatever. Besides, I put money in there, too,” he finished.
“You put money in there that’s the change from money I gave you !”
“Yeah! I put money in there!” I would trade several years off my life to understand teenage logic again.
“Do not take the change out of that bin. Got it?” He nodded.
With a recent warm spell, I headed out to the car to dig some of the crud out of it. Cloth grocery bags that had been kicked under seats, papers, notebooks, receipts and wrappers littered most of it. Reaching for yet another bag, I realized there was something in it. A sweatshirt. A large white hoodie with USC across it, I wondered who it belonged to. I couldn’t recall seeing it on either boy, but it was in our bag. Shrugging, I tossed it into the wash.
A few days later, Christopher came downstairs to find me working away, happily sporting my new find.
“Where did you find that?” he asked.”
“This sweatshirt? In the car. It’s mine. Like it?”
“It’s not yours! It’s mine. I’ve been looking for it all winter,” he said. This is funny. His idea of looking for something is yelling ‘Mom’.
“No, no, no,” I countered. “I found it in the car. That makes it the CAR sweatshirt. Which means I can help myself,” I smiled.

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Merry Christmas

I know. But I’m stuck here working, and just dug this up. I posted it on Facebook at Christmas when I wrote it. but most of you aren’t on Facebook with me because I hate Facebook and have very few friends. Very few. And I like it that way. But this is a peek into Lorraine Makes a Turkey. It’s Easter; turkey happens, maybe. I do know the bunnies are back in my yard. I love bunnies, but not in a cook- them kind of way. Turkeys aren’t so cute, so I’m okay with eating them. I go outside and yell, “buuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnieeeeeeeees” to them. They think I’m odd.

From last Christmas:

So, I’m in charge of the turkey. No problem. I’ve done this a hundred times, though admittedly with a sister lurking at my elbow. But that sister had *just* got her power back, so, I’m cooking the turkey. (*note: Roz lost power during the big outage last December in Toronto)

I brine. It’s a brilliant goof-proof way to do the turkey. But first, you have to clean the turkey. I just launched it into the sink, where I gave it the once over and declared “now, this is a clean turkey”. In Sommerfeldville, you have to say that. My Dad always did; my sister always does. I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen a dirty turkey, but it seems important to remark on how clean it is. So, check. Then you have to pry it open, because the Turkey People always tuck it all up like a Romanian gymnast. In one end I find the neck, which we call the penis, because, Sommerfeld. In other end is the little bag of goodies that looks so much like a scrotum I wanna barf. Not that there is anything wrong with scrotums, but please, be real, they’re pretty ugly.

Once clean(er), I rub it with salt as if I’m putting sunscreen on my firstborn. Not the second kid; we all know you just fire the second one out the door and yell “don’t eat the really weird bugs” because hell, the first one lived, and parents get tired. I then dump it in the cooler and fill it up with cold water. This takes forever because I gave No Power Sister my big measuring cup because I couldn’t remember what I ever use it for. I just remembered.

Then I have to put this whole mess somewhere cold, and I think the deck is colder than the garage. I don’t want to screw up the only part of Christmas that has been entrusted to me. I plunk it out back, and think, “hey, what if a raccoon rips open the lid?” because that could happen. I look around for a rock. I do not have any rocks. I do, however, have a 24 pack of beer that weighs at least as much as a rock. Right? It occurs to me that a raccoon might be able to lift a 2-4 of beer, but then I think that if its liver lives through all that beer, the salt-soaked turkey will destroy its heart.

I bought a bunch of herbs today. I wasn’t sure what kind, because this detail was always a sister’s job. I know we stuff things up there before we bung it in the oven, so I just bought things that looked like a person on a cooking show might hold them up and say “now add this”. And a lemon. Some of the herbs spilled out on the belt, and my checker wanted me to get other ones, but I told her not to worry, it was only getting crammed up a turkey’s whazoo. Take that, spellcheck. The man behind me in line, buying seasonally appropriate eggnog, kind of looked at me funny. Dude: you’re buying stuff that tastes like snot.

I might write a recipe book.

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MIgraines, media and manual labour. And Maggie.

I woke up with a migraine, which I most decidedly did not have on my rather lengthy to-do list for the day. I staggered downstairs early to get a pill and an ice pack, and of course, the cats circled around me like little bridesmaids. I just missed kicking one of those bridesmaids in the head. I fed them, went back to bed, and had weird dreams.

I’m up for real now, and I just looked outside. I’d had a dream that I’d cleaned up the backyard. I’d walked around with a garbage bag picking up crap that had blown around; of course, I didn’t actually do that, so now I’m wondering why that stuff is still out there. I could have sworn I picked it up. I do this sometimes. I’ll weird-dream that I’m doing the things on my towering pile of chores, then wake up and realize I haven’t already vacuumed or shopped or whatever. So I then have a headache, a lot of undone chores, and three bridesmaids.

JoJo is sitting here right now playing Groundhog Day. She got fed three hours ago, but because I just got up half an hour ago, she thinks we’re starting over. She’s waiting for second breakfast. Which will not happen, but she’s adorable for believing it might. Maggie offered to switch laundry for me, but then remembered she can’t reach the dials, and she doesn’t have thumbs. She instead offered to sit right here on my lap all day.

We packed up Ari’s residence yesterday to haul him home from school. There was a whole shelf of cleaning supplies I’d sent up in September, none of them opened. He held up one and said “I don’t even know what this is for.” It was toilet cleaner.

Toronto Life has an article on Nigel Wright this month. They’d called to talk to me because I wrote a blog about knowing him back when we were kids. Well, not much knowing him, but being a classmate. Because Harper’s former chief of staff is notoriously private, when he got turfed for handing that Duffy idiot a cheque and Harper threw him under a bus, every media outlet in the world, it seems, has been trying to dig up dirt and information on him. Wright, not Duffy. Duffy never shuts up. There is little to parse through, and my blog pops up eventually. I’m patient, but no matter how long they talk to me, the answer is the same: everything I know is in that blog. A bunch of us from that era are friends on FB, and the chatter got funny last night. They figured I’d talked to the writer, but I’d said everybody carried briefcases, a fact that made it into the article. In grade 7. Some didn’t remember briefcases. As my memory started to flutter and I wondered if I’d got it all wrong, names piled in with who had briefcases. Yup. Tons of them. Whew. God, we were weird little kids.

Back to work. And writing a shopping list. At least I won’t have to buy cleaning supplies for a while.

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“Let’s talk about something cheerful. I nominate the apocalypse.”

I love Gail Collins. Of course I do. That title is the opening line from her column today. She takes a tour through the last few end-of-times scenarios we’ve been enjoying lately. Maybe ‘enjoying’ is the wrong word, but when the Rapture was nigh, I, along with some rather weird friends, had a Twitter party that night. It was an anonymous account and my, did we have fun. There is a rather lovely quality to an event that will either permanently erase you in a puff of smoke, or won’t, and you can have another G&T and giggle. Oh. G&T. I haven’t had one of those in months. Where’s a good Rapture when I need one?

Ari comes home from school today; I’m on my way up there to get him in a bit. I’m happy, because absence has made both our hearts grow fonder. Well, my heart, his stomach. He just wants to start eating something other than pasta again. He’s been texting over the past few days. “Bring the vacuum please.” “Can you bring a cooler?” “Boxes would be good.” I’m glad I have a big LandRover this week, as I’d imagined having a hard time cramming all his crap into the Elantra, never mind hauling all the other stuff up there. I told him just to throw away his pillows. I think we’ll be throwing away other things, too. A boy in residence is like a stew of ewwww. The good news? He had a great year. Computer engineering scares me. I’m glad I’ll have one of them on my side.

Remember at the bowling alley those machines with the claw and all the stuffed toys? Remember how easy it should have been, but when you snagged a blue bunny you would get it aaaaaaaaaaaaalmost to the little slot and then the claw would mysteriously drop it? I’m sure it was invented by computer engineers to drop it right at that instance. Some little kid sorted out that nonsense, here.

Not only would Ari approve, I think Gail would, too. If the world is gonna end, what better place to be than inside a machine full of toys? That kid wasn’t missing at all. That kid had a plan.

lucy 2
This is my friend Danielle’s dog Lucy. She would love to live in a machine full of toys.

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RIP Adrian Mole

I was reading what should have been a pretty bad article on The Guardian (everybody is trolling the depths these days it seems, even papers that should know better) about moments when your parents have embarrassed you on Facebook. While reading the comments, I cracked up:

“Despite having fewer than ten followers, my father thinks his Twitter account is some sort of international message board. He uses it to advertise second hand cars. It’s not a lucrative business.”

Maybe it’s the passing of Sue Townsend last week, but the comment struck me as very much in the voice of Adrian Mole. If you haven’t read his Diaries, you’ve missed some of the funniest writing in the past thirty years. Read some readers’ favourite Adrian Mole quotes. Click on this link. Stupid WordPress refuses to let me put in a tidy link. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/apr/11/adrian-moles-best-quotes-what-are-your-favourites). Hey WordPress – I hate you. The series started with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, and eventually became a series with 8 million books sold all over the world. I love Adrian. While poking around my used book store 3 weeks ago, I found a copy I didn’t have of the second last installment. I bought it, and finished it a few days later. It is still sitting on my bedside table. We’ve lost a great voice, and unfortunately, Adrian’s voice goes silent now too.

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Miss Bigley, Heiress to $15,000

“Exactly what you ought to do to learn more about, watch well before you are abandoned.”

Geesuz, my spam is getting more personal by the day. This came accompanied by a link I’m supposed to watch. I didn’t, though I admit to being slightly curious if there is information I should have before I’m abandoned.

pipster 2Who won’t abandon me? Why Pea, that’s who. In fact, she’s so enamoured she feels the need to run around squeaking all the time. All the time. If you have a cat, you know what happens when spring hits. I sent this pic to Roz because I believe my cats are cuter than her cats (not really; I love her cats). Because she was the one who rescued Pea,  I feel I should do the same thing that those organizations who let you sponsor a kid do: send you updates. We had a kid for years; Christer was home sick from school and tore down the stairs announcing that he was going to sponsor a kid with his paper route money; he made two payments, I paid for years and years after that. It was good for both of my sons to have this experience. The takeaway for me? Don’t let your kids watch TV when they’re home sick.

Every time I send Roz a pic of Pea, she promptly asks me to return her. I refuse. This morning, her day started at 5am when her two, Bob and Jimbo, decided to toss a bag of avocados and a bottle of hot sauce off the kitchen counter. Like I’m gonna trade for that.

I’m glad it’s finally getting warm. That means somebody is gonna have to climb up on my roof and check out that weird shingle action in one corner. I’ve told The Poor Sod he has some mail here and should swing by on the weekend to pick it up. Coincidence? Of course.

Ari is wrapping up his first year at school, and heading into exams. He told me yesterday that an essay deadline had been pushed back to Sunday, so we had more time. We.

Photo credit: me. That’s Pea watching Friday Night Lights with me on my iPad. We were having a girls’ night in. She just asked me how that is different from all the other nights. Maggie told her that’s a sore spot and to be quiet.

Oh, the title of this post? Just to see if you read all the way through. Great story on a great scammer of the fairer sex, and she was born right here in Ontario.

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Yanked last blog

Sorry. WordPress is screwing up links. Pulled it. No time to mess with it.

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“I could not simplify myself”

First Roger Angell with This Old Man, now Peter Matthiessen in the New York Times. Jeff Himmelman has a great piece here.

I seem to learn the most from the old dudes.

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Judge Judy meets GM

My first column with the National Post is up today on Driving.ca…bookmark that site and check in on Monday mornings.

Oh, and who hasn’t thought of putting Judge Judy on the GM recall nightmare? Well, I think of putting her on every court case. Just to say what everybody is thinking.

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