I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

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Ever feel like you were being watched? Yeah me too sometimes. Courtesy of Middle Child, Twin 1 and Twin 2.

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Sometimes Bullies Need to be Bullied

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I am the kid who got bullied at school. All the time, yes, even in high school. I was brown (still am, but proud of it now) and my parents were immigrants. I was taught to suck it up and turn the other cheek. And of course tell the teacher. But there were some teachers who didn’t really care. And I was not the type of child to go home crying to my parents every time something happened, especially as I got older. I would ignore it as best as I could and then I had enough. I started to fight back. I did get into a couple of physical fights because I defended myself, the result of that was reinforcements were called in and I was beaten up by a group of racist little brats. It was not in school so not much could be done about it. The last incident I remember was in high school when this boy in math class continually called me “Paki” with an assortment of nouns added for color. He was also the child of immigrants but he was white. One day as he whispered profanities at me I turned to him and very loudly, whilst our (stern) teacher was explaining something, told him exactly what he was.  The class was deadly silent. All eyes were on us, and then the teacher continued. He did not send me out of the room, did not ask me to explain.  He let me have my say, he let the boy turn red in front of the entire class as he glared at him. He did not interrupt my victory. Sometimes you can’t turn the other cheek.

Things have changed a lot now. My daughters are not the only brown girls in the school. They do not get picked on for being brown.  But of course kids still get bullied. And I too give my daughters the same advice my parents gave me, walk away and inform the teacher. Stay away from those conflicts. And I know the teachers do their best now to keep bullying at bay. But sometimes they can’t be there and some kids just can’t control themselves. I don’t blame the kids, I know some times there is a serious issue that is affecting them. I do know that sometimes bullies have to be put in their place.

There is a boy (or two) in twin 2’s class that can’t control his arms and legs. He has to hit, he has to kick he has to push. The teacher can’t keep him in her sights every second, and I know she tries because Twin 2 has told me he is always being pulled aside and getting the ‘talk’. But it doesn’t stop him and he would be at it again in no time.

Then I told my daughter if he hit her again or hit any of her friends and the teacher was not there (something always happens at recess) she needed to tell him to stop and if he didn’t listen she needed to defend herself. Yes I told my daughter if he hit her she was to hit him right back.

I am not a violent person and neither are my daughters, they are gentle and caring. It was not advice I liked to give but I want my daughters to be able to stand up for themselves and I don’t want them to go through their entire school life before they learn to do it like I did. Bullies need to learn they can’t keep hitting with no consequences.

Anyways some days later twin 2 came home with a note informing me that she had broken said bully’s water bottle.  She told me that he had been hitting her in the hallway after recess and the teacher was nowhere close by so she had asked him to stop (he didn’t) and then she took matters in to her own hands, threw his bag thus breaking the precious water bottle. She was upset because she thought I would be upset at the note. I wasn’t,  but I had mixed feelings.  Would my baby now turn into a thug?

“Why did you break his bottle?”

“He wouldn’t stop, and I didn’t want to hit him. Are you mad?”

“No, of course not. Sometimes people don’t understand words, you had to make him stop somehow.”

I signed her note and gave her a hug. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, I hope I have not given her the wrong advice.  So far she has not come home with any complaints of being bullied again and it is with great relief that I have not received any notes from school informing me that my daughter has taken it upon herself to bully the bullies.

Balance: Veil, Hijab, Topless Women

Rania El Alloul

(pic from CBC News)

The biggest problem facing society today besides reality shows, sorry I just couldn’t resist, is extremism. Extremists aren’t just a bunch of people (either dressed in all white or head-to-toe black) ready to kill anyone who doesn’t conform to their beliefs. Extremists are all those people who say I am right, and if you don’t agree you are Islamophobic, homophobic, white people phobic, Christian phobic, Jew phobic, or whatever-the-hell-else phobic.

Please someone tell me where has balance disappeared to?   I know what I am going to say next is going to get all sorts of glorious insults from either extremes. But please just hear me out, because we really need to bring balance back to our chaotic lives.

First Judge Marengo’s decision to ban Rania El-Alloul’s headscarf was unfair. The headscarf wasn’t disrespectful; it is a sign of respect in many cultures and religions.  It didn’t hinder any court room proceeding, wasn’t a threat to anyone, and since Canada gives equal rights to everyone should this have been made such a big deal? What was unsuitable about it? Canadian Nuns, Sikhs, Jews and Muslims cover their heads willingly because of their beliefs, they aren’t being forced to. So what is so offensive? Sunglasses and hats are worn for fashion, not belief. That is something quite different. And if the court is non-secular are they going to remove the Bible too?

So much time is being wasted on this issue when there are so many bigger problems to tackle. This could have been dealt with better using a bit of balance. Judge Marengo has every right not to like the headscarf, but does that really give her the right to make someone else take it off? I would understand if it was a big hindrance in her being able to do her job, but it wasn’t.  (Now before you rush to comment “go back to your own country” I have to tell you I was born here. Please continue to read before you judge me.)

On the other hand, although I respect Zunera Ishaq’s choice to cover her face, I have to say, that is exactly what it is. A choice. Scholars agree that covering a face is not mandatory. The head yes, but even then a woman can’t be forced. Her decision is between herself and God. Yes I am ready for the storm of condemnations to hell by fellow Muslims who will not agree to this fact. I should remind you before you do denounce me however that it is forbidden in Islam to denounce anyone. That decision belongs to God.

Zunera Ishaq should be allowed to cover her head which is mandatory. Banning women from headscarves that they take of their own free will would definitely be stealing their freedom. She shouldn’t have had a problem with uncovering her face for a short while during the Citizenship Ceremony, although I understand her reluctance since she has been covering it for so long. She needs to remember that Islam is a religion of ease not hardship.

‘God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship’ (2:185) 

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) always exhorted Muslims to follow a simple and balanced approach to life. He discouraged all forms of extreme behaviors. One of those extreme behaviors would be making this a bigger issue than it is. Many people have argued that this is a feminist issue, it is not. Just like women who insist on going topless is not. That is a personal choice. Just imagine if all rights were based on what someone really wanted to do and believed that it was correct. Everyone would have an issue. Let’s please bring balance back into our lives and stop making living harder than it has to be.

Family Dinner Discussions: How to talk about politics, drugs, poop and bad jokes.

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Dinner time and weekend breakfasts are great. When you all sit and eat and talk about stuff together. With all the kids there. My kids have grown older so they spend less time with me now. Or should I say I no longer have some small child clinging to my ankles crying its little head off because the cookies are finished or the cat is sleeping or unicorns aren’t real. I know a time is coming when I will actually miss that.

That going crazy trying to cook and clean and feed and do laundry, all with kids fighting and crying and lacing themselves up around my shins. Ok I guess it won’t be too soon that I will miss all that because every time I see a pregnant woman I drop down to my knees and shout “Hallelujah that’s not me!” I do love my kids though.

Which is why eating together is great. You know food, talk, love blah blah blah. Food is an excellent catalyst when it comes to loosening up tongues and inhibitions. We talk about everything at the dinner table. From politics to lame celebrity news to drugs and farting. We use language that would be otherwise frowned upon, but food just makes everything ok.

A couple of days ago we were eating when one of my teenagers commented about weed. I have learned so much about weed since my annoying inbetweeners became teenagers. For example I had no idea you could make weed brownies. Not that I am planning to or anything. But I feel quite appropriately enlightened. My seven year old twins know what weed smells like. I always thought it was a skunk gone haywire somewhere. This was good motivation to convince the kids that anything that smells that bad can’t be good. They have assured my they won’t smoke it. I have assured them I won’t always be around and they need to make smart decisions and will be accountable for their own actions. I then went on to tell them the grisly details of drug addiction. I hope those nightmares stay with them forever and they pass it down to their kids someday.

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These are baked without weed. Really.

Political discussions usually come on Saturday morning when I am making parathas and Teen 1 makes the omelet (du fromage btw-always). No matter what we start out talking about, it always winds its way to politics. And then there is much shouting and screaming. Especially after Teen 1 claims I am racist. I then tell her, very loudly, exactly what racist it, I was born and grew up in Canada when people were less enlightened and very racist. I am not racist, I just have a keen interest in conspiracy theories.  War is a big money maker, wars are planned. For the greater good of the privileged few.  And I am Mom, I have seen the world. I am right. End of discussion. Go read some damn history books.

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Seriously though our kids only know what the media tells them, they need to read more books. I lecture on this at great lengths, I know they will retain some of it, and realize there are two sides to every story, someday. Just like I did.

Then of course there is poop. No discussion is ever complete without poop or fart jokes. Or some other jokes. Yesterday Teen 1 whipped out her cell phone in the middle of dinner to tell us some great jokes. They were awful. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. (Note:extreme stupid ahead)

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?

The Holocaust.

Why did the boy drop his ice cream?

Because he got hit by a bus.

What’s red and smells like blue paint?

Red paint.

An Irishman walks out of a bar.

What’s green and has wheels?

Grass. I lied about the wheels.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

How do you confuse a blond?

Paint yourself green and throw forks at her.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Dave.

Dave who?

Dave proceeds to break into tears as his grandmother’s Alzheimer has progressed to the point where she can no longer remember him.

What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor?

Where’s my tractor?

Why are black people good at basketball?

Dedication and hard work.

Roses are grey, violets are grey. I am a dog.

What do you discuss at the dining table?

(All ridiculous humor from here http://anti-joke.com/)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth, The Ugly Truth About Writing

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This is literally me right now. Looking into the depths of my heart, which I have pulled out of my chest. To face the truth.

I am sitting here stalling. My draft lies in a file, wasting storage space on my laptop. I have left it alone for many months because that is what writers are advised to do. Write, leave it. Edit, leave it. Read and edit, then leave it again. But I have left it way too long.

I have tricked myself into believing that I am just waiting for an appropriate amount of time to pass then I will get back to it. I distract myself with other projects, then leave them also. In the back of my mind something keeps eating away at me, I push it away. I write humorous mom posts to keep myself busy. And distract myself…from myself. From the anger that is building up inside me. The frustration of the truth that I don’t want to acknowledge.

I am scared to go back to the novel. Scared it is awful. Scared it won’t ever be any good even after I have put so much into it that I am exhausted. Scared of that horrible feeling when you get another rejection letter. If it never gets done, I won’t have to face all that hurt.

And anger builds up even more. I push it down deep, so that my kids don’t notice. I don’t want them to know I desperately want to write, but I am too scared of the disappointment I will have to face.  I want them to be able to face their problems bravely when they go out on their own in the world.Get back up and dust themselves off after falling. . I want them to be able to keep their spirits up even when things look hopeless and I am not setting a good example. Which means I am failing as a mother now too. More frustration.

I open the draft and stare at it. I get up and go into the kitchen. I have to make dinner first. I always have to do something first. I am so angry I end up putting too many red peppers in the stir fried shrimp. The kids are going to complain and I will try to deal with them patiently, because it is my fault. I will suppress the urge to smack them in the back of the head and yell at them to stop whining about everything. It isn’t their fault. It is mine.

I contemplate blaming everything on my parents and a bad childhood. Blaming someone else makes you feel better temporarily. It gives you excuses to continue being stupid. In the back of my mind I know it is all me though.

I control my anger. Squeeze it into a ball and force it down my throat. It is struggling to come back up in the form of a loud, frustrated scream. I don’t want to worry my husband and kids. But I really want to punch something hard. And break stuff.

I avoid the on-line writing hang out. I don’t want to admit how I am feeling to all those other writers who will understand and try to make me feel better. I don’t want to admit I am scared to keep writing. Putting all my energy, all my hear t and soul into that stupid book, only to find out it was never any good.

And I don’t want any feel good advice. I don’t want to feel good, I am too busy being angry, and all that good advice sounds like BS anyways. We just give it and listen to it to make ourselves feel better.  I am tired of good advice, don’t give me good advice, just agree that everything sucks and then we can go throw rocks at windows or something.

Broken windows remind me of broken down houses. And homeless people, and that I should stop wallowing in this ridiculous hole I have dug for myself because I am so much better off. I should be grateful, happy and stop wasting my time. And go finish the damn book.

Which I can’t do, because I have pulled my heart out of my chest and looked into its depths. All I can find is anger and isolation and the fear of failure. I contain it, but it is building up and I am afraid it is going to explode.

 

(Artwork is mine.)

Furniture Designers are Evil People Who Hate Kids.

(High End) Furniture designers are evil people who hate children (and mothers). They purposely design furniture that people with kids can’t buy ( not that we could afford it anyway). I suspect they had some sort of traumatic experience in their lives. Like maybe best friends with small children who visited once too often. Whatever, I still believe there is no excuse for their demonic furniture.  Let me introduce you to the furniture from hell…

Impractical Furniture

Treefury :“Have fun picking the Lego out of me b**ch!”

 

 

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Tibia Smasher the Wicked: “I love shins and knees. But I especially love the chins of your offspring.”

 

 

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Agrona the Poker: “Just waiting for the kids to push me over muhahahaha!”

 

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Slovenly the Spaghetti Lover: Name says it all. (It also loves play dough, mashed potatoes and Cheerios.)

 

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Jaba the Couch: “I am gargantuan, hideous and incredibly expensive. I also make embarrassing fart noises your kids will love.”

 

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Vertigo: “I can’t wait till the young ones learn to walk.” Not furniture but (stair) well deserving of mention.

 

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Poe’s Dining Pendulum: “I make sure the kids never sit still to finish their food. Ever.”

 

 

Furniture 2

Oakenfang: “Give me little fingers. Plump little fingers…..”

 

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Gollum Chair: (old, ugly, creepy and at $35000 it’s preciousssss). “We loves toeses, soft juicy toeses!”

 

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Brian Hyland Chair:

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Pinebelle the Insane: “once you start cleaning me…you’ll never be able to stop.”

 

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Banshee Recliner: “Hello little children, come closer. Don’t be shy…”

Which one was your favorite ( and ridiculously expensive) nightmare?

(All furniture names are a combination of my brilliant imagination and the Evil Name Generator. )

 

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You know you are Desi when…

I don’t want to make other races feel left out or anything and I am sure a lot of you could relate to the following traits, but there are just some things that really let you know you are desi.

You know you are desi when…

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“We are out of groceries” looks like this.  Desi people have this insane fear in the back of their cranium somewhere that when the apocalypse comes we won’t have enough groceries. So we should always be prepared with a surplus, no amount of groceries are ever enough.

You know you are desi when…

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Your freezer is full of containers that are highly misleading as to their contents.  For example you will not find yogurt, ice cream or cream cheese (who keeps cream cheese in the freezer?) in any of these containers. Surprise! If you are desi you will know that they all contain some type of curry. You can never have too much curry, never know when the zombies might come.

You know you are desi when…

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This is something you use for an earache.

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You have used these for toothaches.

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This solves every gastric trouble in medical history.

And this…

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…is the solution for every other ailment under the sun.

You know you are desi when…

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…every cupboard contains a bag …that contains countless bags. Every. Cupboard.

When the zombies come we will have plenty of bags to tie them up in. Of course up here in Canada we won’t have a zombie apocalypse,  that kind of stuff only happens in America.  We will of course send the bags to our American neighbors. Polite Canadians.

You know you are desi when…

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This bin is overflowing every two days.  I fear the day when garbage pickup will be scheduled for every other week.

You know you are desi when…

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…you still think the kids are feeling cold.

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House Sold

Click to read on Dawn: http://dawn.com/2012/05/06/humour-house-sold/

I sold my house before I moved back to Canada, it was quite an experience and I discovered things I couldn’t imagine about people I have known all my life.

Remember the house I got renovated? I sold it. And I moved. But that is another story. Unless you have gone mad and decided to move half way across the world — and having gone through this extremely painful process myself I would not advocate it for anyone — never sell your house. First of all you should only sell your house, if it has a leaky roof, cracked floors, and crumbling walls. Or if a close relative has passed away and left you a mansion on Tipu Sultan road.

Selling your house is an uncomfortable process; it will keep you up at nights and give you plenty of indigestion. You will have all kinds of people invading your privacy requesting tours of your house at odd hours of the day. And they will want to know why you chose to paint your daughter’s room two shades of pink and why the kitchen counters are black. They will shake their heads unbelievingly at the ‘extravagant’ price, then bug you after you sell the house to someone else, why you didn’t inform them first, because they had their hearts set on it.

A house that you have lived in for a long time becomes part of you; it hosts your celebrations and shelters your rainy days. It watches your children grow and becomes their first friend; its walls hold up everything from little pink and blue bunny rabbit cut-outs to posters of sleek cars or rock stars with bad hair-dos. It provides a personal little haven known as the bedroom, where your moody teenagers retreat to when the world doesn’t treat them right. It listens patiently, never judging, never offering unwanted advice to the angry adolescent but pacifies them with the knowledge, that here, they are accepted. It sadly hears your fights and joyfully watches reconciliations. It guards every secret obsessively.

I miss my house. And it took me months to wind everything up. Twenty years of possessions are hard to get rid of. And you won’t believe the junk I had. Actually, you probably would because every Pakistani woman has an incredible imagination when it comes to recycling. Closets that were full of spare dupattas of cast away suits, clothes piled up for repairs or distribution to various destinations, shoes that had been worn out and forgotten about, hair clips, scrunchies and makeup kits that were never used. Stashes of candy, hidden from the children. I could almost hear my house moan sadly as I continued to deprive it of all its belongings.

The kitchen cupboards were stripped of countless empty ice-cream containers, unused dishes, utensils and plastic bags. Oh how we women adore our plastic bags! Of course my maid had a field day, and I felt a bit guilty at her bliss on receiving such trivial little titbits. I know my house will miss her too. The way she helped me scrub and dust out each and every corner was admirable, getting our house ready for the new owners as we reminisced and even shed some tears together.

Sniff. Enough! Never regret a decision, it wastes too much time. Just learn from it. Which gets me to the real point. When we put our house up for sale, a wise old person told us it is ethical to ask your neighbours first if they are interested. We did, fortunately everyone already had their own house. Neighbours are one thing. Relatives are another.

Never sell your house to a relative. Especially if you are the type of person with a lot of ‘lihaaz’ (read: doormat). That is where they get you, at your lihaaz. Because of lihaaz you will sell your house at a rock bottom price and then listen quietly as your relatives whine incessantly about how broke they are. They will also want to get it renovated some more before they move in. Never mind the fact that you still live there. Lihaaz aap ko mar day ga.

After the house is sold, your relatives will come often with the pretext of helping you wind up the house. They are actually coming to make sure you don’t damage any of the walls while moving out large and heavy furniture. Speaking of large and heavy furniture, don’t bother trying to sell it or give it to any of your best friends. Your relatives will do you a big favour by insisting that you leave everything and they will take care of it for you. Later they will complain to all and sundry that you left your broken down junk for them. That ‘junk’ that will later adorn their drawing rooms.

And then of course there is the large collection of electronic gadgets that you will leave for them. And they will have the gall to phone you up to tell you the stuff you left for them (that they had asked for, by the way) doesn’t work, and it is costing them a lot to get it fixed. So you offer to give them their money back… oops, you gave it to them for free. So what to do now?

Don’t let it come to this, heed my advice and never sell your house. Especially not to relatives.

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Arranged Marriage:Dear (Not So) Suitable Boy

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Contrary to the Indian movies that often portray every young girl’s goal in life as securing that Suitable Boy’s proposal, most girls just wanted to have fun.

Dear (Not so ) Suitable Boy,

I have been meaning to write to you for some time now (about 20 years) but somewhere along the way, after I realized you most certainly were not my knight in shining armor, I married someone else and had five kids. So yeah I was a bit preoccupied. No, I didn’t end up marrying the knight in shining armor. He still hasn’t shown up. Curse you, Disney. Curse you.

I remembered you and your audacious proposal yesterday night as I was scooping fat cat’s dehydrated poop out of the litter box. Please don’t be offended, you do not in any way remind me of dehydrated cat poop. I just get random thoughts scooping poop.

I just want you to know that it never would have worked. I was done the second I realized I was about to be shown off like prize cattle, when I saw you sitting there in my aunt’s drawing-room with your mom, your dad and your female sibling. I am surprised you didn’t bring your grandparents. I stopped at the door and I checked you out. Sorry I wasn’t raised in Pakistan, yeah I checked you out and you did not even make my “last guy in the world list”. But let’s be honest, you were there with your family to do the exact same thing. I just beat you to it.

Yes, in those few seconds I was able to sum you up and sweep you aside. I was a narcissistic nineteen year old what could you expect? I knew I was on every eligible bachelor’s mom’s list, most likely first or second, because I fit what every desi mother-in-law wanted. Tall, thin, fair, but most importantly, Canadian National. God bless our hypocritical, stereotypical desi double standards!

Besides being turned off by the fact that I was about to be paraded in front of a guy I did not know (why can’t people just arrange a normal lunch with lots of people?) it was the moustache. That ridiculously thick moustache that made Tom Selleck look like a fuzzy lipped female. Had you never heard of Johnny Depp? Apparently not. You looked like a forty-five year old, (yes I am aware that you were not actually forty-five, but damn that was some ‘stache!) a forty-five year old who was accompanied by his parents and little sister to check out a nineteen year old chick. That is not a good first impression.

I did my utmost to be as obnoxious as possible to your mom and little sis. I refused to go into the drawing-room to meet you, I didn’t see the point since I had already decided we were most certainly NOT meant to be. So they came to meet me in the other room. I disagreed with everything your sister said, I mocked the fact that she didn’t enjoy Jane Austen which she was required to read for school. I love Jane Austen. The second a tray of drinks was brought in I hopped up and rudely grabbed a drink for myself to the shock of both my aunts.  And your mom. I wanted her to realize what Canadian National meant. It meant I was not the standard docile girl who had been embedded with the concept that I had to marry whichever Suitable Boy thought I met his mom’s standards. I would not be cajoled into an arranged marriage just because everyone thought you were a Suitable Boy.

Fourteen hundred years ago my religion gave me the right to decide if I liked a guy enough to marry him, but along the line somewhere all that got lost in stupid cultural backwardness. Up till the point where girls were displayed to be evaluated by a boy and his family. To see whether or not she was good-looking enough, submissive enough, to make a good daughter-in-law and wife. Then the poor girl waited, hoping not to be rejected as Prince Charming went on to check out the next eight girls on Mama’s list.

The point of all this is, you probably have kids now. Unless you jumped off a cliff in a fit of drama, your ego bruised by a girl who had the impudence to refuse.  If you have a daughter please don’t parade her in front of dozens of young men and their families. Let her peek in the drawing-room first. And if she doesn’t want to go in and meet them, don’t make her.

Sincerely,

The Canadian National you are so lucky not to have gotten hitched to.

P.S. Do remind her however, that the knight in shining armor rarely shows up, she should not waste her precious time waiting for him.

Resident Evil: Messy Kids

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Friday is the last day of the week the house stays clean. As the kids come home from school, my neat and clean abode slowly turns into Boxing Day aftermath.  Yes my kids have issues. They are suffering from “our mom is too good to us syndrome”. Yeah I need to work on that.

By Saturday there are dirty dishes in the sink. On the dining table. And on the coffee table, under beds, near the computer table and yes even in the bathroom. Unwashed clothes decorate floors in bedrooms and outside the clothes hamper, the litter box needs to be emptied and toys need to be put away. The walls are screaming their discontent at being adorned with what seems to be yesterday night’s spaghetti dinner. And this is the start of my weekend. Sound familiar? Well at least I’m not alone.

I am the mom, I do not get tired, I am never sleepy, I do not need to relax. My only aspirations in life are to cook for, feed, clean, wash, and pamper anything I have given birth to or married. I realize that: “you look tired today”  is not my friend sympathizing with me. That is her  saying “Woman you need a face lift, hair dye and a week at the spa.” The only thing I can afford from these options is the hair dye, which I am not gonna do anyways. Honestly I rather be grey than have to scrub that dye from the tub every time I wash my hair. Being perfectly coiffed is so over rated. I am just going to embrace my inner Carol. I mean just look at her!

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I have some suggestions on how we should deal with these problems:

1. Pack up all their stuff in black garbage bags and inform them it is being donated to the Salvation Army.
2. Take it out to the front yard and put up a garage sale sign.
3. Collect it all in the backyard, surround it with a circle of rocks, light it up and roast marshmallows over it.
4. Bury it in the compost heap.
5. Take pictures of it, especially close-ups of underwear and then post it to their Facebook walls.
6. Invite their friends over for a get together and not let them know about it.
7. Pack our own bags, get in the car and drive to South America. Take all their electronic goods to pawn off along the way.
I am thinking either # 3 or #7. Let me know which worked out best for you!