Chicken Soup and Mac n’ Cheese

Dear Grandma,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since you so suddenly departed from our lives. It’s been tough – so tough – and not a day goes by where I don’t think about you.

Memories of you sometimes come at the most peculiar times; I may be doing something mundane and routine like changing a diaper or watching TV, or perhaps it’s something more specific, like making homemade soup or attempting to replicate your famous mac n’ cheese. (You made the best homemade chicken soup and mac n’ cheese, hands down, and I don’t think what I make will ever come close to how good yours was.) They never fail to put both a smile on my face and a tear in my eye at the same time.

I never thought someone would have such a significant influence on me, and it’s unfortunate that I’m only truly realizing how much of an influence you had after you’ve passed. Your “isms” speak loud and clear in my head a lot: “Treat others the way you want to be treated!”, “Come on in if your nose is clean!”, or “Kitchen Witch!” Whether silly or serious, I’ll never forget your words of wisdom.

I wish you were able to meet your great-grandbabies. I know Isla and Norah would have adored their Nana. It hurts so much knowing that you passed just a few months before Isla was born, especially because you were so excited to meet her. I’m thankful that you got to “meet” her while I was still pregnant; those moments will forever be etched in my heart.

I really want to thank you for being such an amazing grandmother not only to me and my brother, but to your 16 other grandkids as well. Your love and devotion to you family has influenced us all in so many ways and we can only hope to be as great as you were.

I miss you so much, Grandma, and one day I know I’ll be sitting down with you again to enjoy a bowl of chicken soup and a plate of mac n’ cheese.

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Grateful

Grateful

On Friday Kyle and I went and voted at an advanced polling station for our federal election. The line up was long and therefore, so was the wait, but we did our civil duty. A couple folks in line were muttering cuss words, one guy realized he was in line for the wrong polling station and wasn’t happy to find out his error, etc.

That evening, after we can come home, we were talking about how long the line up was and how some people were complaining about the wait, but we stopped and realized that while our wait took a while (about 45mins), at least it was peaceful. We’re lucky to live in a country where we don’t have to fight for the right to vote, where we can stand in line and not risk being attacked physically if we vote for a certain party. There are far grater (and graver) things going on in our world today where a wait to peacefully vote for the future leader of our country seems minuscule and petty.

That being said, today in Canada is Thanksgiving. (Bet you didn’t see that segway coming, did yah? ;) ) Perhaps it’s the post-pregnancy hormones raging through me, but this year its seems like I’m especially touchy-feely and emotional. That conversation with Kyle got me thinking about all the wonderful things I have going on in my life, and how my “problems” really are first-world ones. Oh boo-hoo, my big house isn’t big enough. Oh darn, my nice, reliable car isn’t big enough. Ugh, my happy, healthy kids are wanting my attention. You get my point?

Like I said, I don’t know if it’s my hormones because I normally don’t get all worked up at Thanksgiving and reflect like this, but I am so unbelievably grateful for everything in my life. I have an amazing husband who works his butt off so I can stay home and raise our two amazing little girls, we have a roof over our heads and never have to worry about staying warm or going hungry, and we can go about our daily lives without the fear of being attacked for voting one way or another. Despite the ridiculous spats that Kyle and I get into, the acting out Isla does, or the repair bills that may pop up unexpectedly, things could be so much worse.

So this year (or next, for my American readers), while you’re standing in line at the polling stations, perhaps grumbling under your breath about waiting in a long line, be thankful for how good we have it here in North America, and be grateful for the things that matter most.

Pink

Today is Pink Shirt Day, a.k.a. Anti-Bullying Day, a day to wear a pink shirt and let it be known that you are taking a stand against bullying. I don’t have a pink shirt, so I won’t be wearing one today, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take a stand against bullying.

I don’t have the numbers, but I believe it’s safe to say that every person in this world, in some way or form, has been bullied. And, I bet not a single person can say that they’ve never bullied someone either, even if they don’t realized they’ve done it. Talk about someone behind their back? Yep – that’s bullying. Call someone a moron because they misspelled or mispronounced a word? Again – bullying. Earlier this week I read about a young boy who wore a pink shirt to school to show his support behind the “end bullying” movement and he was made fun of. Wow. Some people’s kids.

When I was growing up, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it many times on this blog, I was bullied. From my last name (“Puppy Chow!” “Chow Mein!” “Dog Chow!”), to the darkish upper lip hair (“You forgot to shave!”), to puberty symptoms (“You stink!” “Your face looks like a pizza!” “Do you have chicken pox?”). Eventually those insults stopped once I got to high school, but then an onslaught of new gems came on once I cut my hair super-short near the end of my Grade 8 year:

Grade9

I remember standing in the hallway during break and one of the popular (and attractive) Grade 11 guys hurling a sandwich at me and asking me if I was a lesbian. I’m not sure which hurt more – the words or the sandwich. So maybe the haircut wasn’t such a good idea, but did I deserve the insults? Probably not. Needless to say, I grew it out and during spring break got a new, stylish haircut, went to Palm Springs, and came back an entirely new person. That pretty much ended the bullying, and I was able to survive the rest of high school as a mediocre teenager: Popular enough to get by without being made fun of.

Unfortunately, I know that can’t be the same for a lot of kids I knew in high school. So many were never safe from the hurtful words of the “popular” kids, not even those with permanent disabilities like Downs Syndrome, or brain damage from car accidents. There were kids who crumbled to the “popular” kids’ demands, embarrassing themselves just to gain approval of their peers.

I will also sadly admit to being a bully myself. I won’t even say it was to make myself feel better about my own insecurities, although I’m sure a psychologist would say otherwise. I did it because my friends did it, and who doesn’t do what their friends do? It’s too easy to be a sheep. The girl we would make fun of was a little different than us. She dressed differently, she had a lazy eye, walked funny … good enough reasons for us to make fun of her and cast a shadow on her existence. I remember she got mad at one of us and tried to throw a punch. We even laughed at the way she punched.

Now that I look back on it, I feel horrible for being mean to her. I’m not saying we could have been friends, but I shouldn’t have acted the way I did. So, if one day she reads this, I’d just like to apologize for being a horrible bitch to you. Actually – to every person who I may have bullied, I apologize. And to those who bullied me – I forgive you.

We really do need to take a stand against bullying. There have been far too many stories in the news about kids being teased and picked on to the point where they’re hurting themselves, or even worse. I fear for my daughter ; no parent wants to hear about their child being a bully, nor do they want them to be on the receiving end of it. I truly hope that neither becomes true for Isla.

To parents: Talk to your kids about bullying. There’s a saying that my mom would always say to me, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Do it. Teach it. Lead by example. Don’t turn a blind eye if you get word that your child is being a bully because there may be a reason why. And don’t just tell a child who’s being bullied, “Sticks and stones …” because words really do hurt.

I’ll leave you with the TV commercial for Pink Shirt Day. And, if you haven’t already, watch this YouTube video posted by Canadian poet Shane Koyczan, which I originally posted last week.