The May Slog

I have decided, in a very grouchy and cranky way, that spring is my least favourite season, possibly because of the busy-ness, but mostly because of the weather. I can get behind the sparkly snow and hot chocolate of winter, and its ease of dressing (reach for the same boots and coat every day, all the days). I can get behind the oven-roasting heat of summer, with its cute sandals and freeing ability to leave the house without a coat. And I even like fall, with its gloomy days and darkening hours that make me want to read all the gothic novels and cuddle up by a fire. But it’s the cold damp of spring that gets into my bones and lives there, growing like a fungus, bringing allergies and the common cold and a mud room that smells like wet dog, and we don’t even HAVE a dog. Not to mention that every where I turn there is some sort of half-dead plant and ugly, torn up chunk of grass that is going to require me to be outside in the cold dampness doing yardwork. SHUDDER.

We are entering the crazy-busy time of year for us, the time when year-long activities like Girl Guides and piano and swim lessons are still going on, but spring activities like soccer and ultimate are starting up, and every subject has a major project due. I always go a little comatose in May and June, because everything is just so overwhelming and I’m racing around so much that I spend every free second I have being completely catatonic in front of Facebook. But I did make this Marie Curie costume for Little Miss Sunshine this weekend, for a school presentation she is doing later this month:

I am so, so ridiculously proud of myself. Not only for pulling together this costume on the cheap (dress is a modified Old Navy ladies’ t-shirt dress, lab coat was cut down and modified from a man’s white dress shirt I got at Value Village), but also for convincing her to be Marie Curie in the first place, as opposed to the various pop stars she was considering. The secret: sharing the fun fact that the white kitten in The Aristocats was named for Marie Curie. Sure, she has two Nobel Prizes and whatever, but having a Disney character named after you is what really counts. Take that, Katy Perry!

Also on the plus side: Gal Smiley continues her obsession with all things Disney, particularly the music. She is into music in general, but this winter and spring she’s had a sudden resurgence of interest in playing Disney music pretty much constantly on her new Spotify account, interspersed with viewings of some of the older Disney movies that we haven’t seen in years, filled in with a re-watching of Moana or Beauty and the Beast whenever we have a brief break in the schedule. It’s seriously SO CHARMING.

Our oldest went through something like this when he was thirteen, too – suddenly getting re-interested in watching old Thomas the Tank Engine and Peep and the Big Wide World episodes that he remembered from his youth, wanting to crack out the old train track and set it up. I wonder if this is a typical transition-to-teen thing. Now that he’s fifteen he’s pretty much over it, and although we can still perk him with a bit of talk about trains or Lightning McQueen, he’s moved on to more adult things. I suppose the same will happen to Gal Smiley but for now, I’m enjoying the nostalgia.

So I suppose there are some Spring positives, and the sun is at least shining, and we brought up our bin of flip flops and sandals on the weekend, and had our first barbecue too. Plus, there is a giant bowl of jellybeans on my desk, so I resolve to be less grumpy and try to be positive like Madame Curie and every Disney princess ever, and get through the May Slog. See you on the other side!

It’s Raining

This morning, before school.

Captain JB, age 15: Kay, bye mom.

Me: Wait! It’s pouring rain! I thought you were going to wear a jacket.

Him: No, why would I?

Me: It’s raining.

Him: I spend all day inside, I don’t go outside for recess.

Me: You have to walk to the bus, and wait for the bus.

Him: I’ll be fine.

Me: You’ll be soaked! Take your jacket!

Him: Fine, I will take the jacket and put it in my backpack. Is that alright?

Me, sighing: I guess so. Do you want an umbrella?

Him: Why? I HAVE A JACKET.

And scene.

On Vomit and Responsibility

One time, when I was in third year university or so, I went to a house party for my engineering class.

It had been in full swing for a few hours already, which meant the basement was full of drunken male engineers. I think I was the only girl there. I was definitely the only non-drinker there.

After a short while, a ripple of awareness went through the room, where we realized en mass that one guy had passed out in a corner in a pool of his own vomit. He was breathing okay but it was a terrible, smelly mess, and we all started to exchange nervous looks, wondering if anyone was going to do anything about it.

Then this happened – a conversation between two of my classmates, Terry and Dave.

Terry said, Hey, how well do you know VomitGuy?

Dave, looking wary, said, Not very well at all.

Terry said, How well are you willing to get to know him?

Dave sighed, and said, Not that well, but if you’re going in, I’m with you.

And then the two of them got VomitGuy up and cleaned him up, then cleaned up the vomit, and took him home.

This event had a huge impact on me. First of all, it absolutely captures the essence of Terry and Dave, two stand-up guys and genuine Good People. Terry is the kind of guy who is very level-headed and responsible and who will step in to take care of things when no one else wants to. And Dave is the kind of friend who has your back, who will answer your call for help, no questions asked.

But I still think of this moment not because the guys were awesome, but because they showed me something. They showed me that doing the right thing isn’t always pleasant and definitely isn’t rewarded. But it’s worth doing because no one else is going to do it, and it must be done. I was pretty nervous that as the only sober person and the only girl, I was going to be asked to do something about VomitGuy, and I admit I was ready to flee the scene rather than step up. But I think I would act differently today, after seeing Terry and Dave in action.

These days, I’m the kind of person who DOES take on the thankless tasks. The kind of person who, when everyone else is giving each other those not me, I can’t do it kind of looks, sighs and says FINE, I will be the one. My year in Girl Guides has shown me that the whole organization is held together with a fragile handful of such people, the kind of people who do too much, but if not them, then who else is going to do it? I have joined the ranks of the vomit cleaners of the world.

This came up last night because Sir Monkeypants went downstairs to let the two older kids know that it was bedtime, and found it a total disaster. The basement is the kids’ zone, and we are pretty casual about it but we do have some basic standards. Although food is forbidden in the basement due to ongoing ant problems, there were food wrappers and other garbage around; video games were all over, drawers from the storage unit were open, toys and board games thrown around.

Of course they got a talking to. But we are left in despair because they don’t seem to have any ownership of things. They don’t look at messes and think, Hey, I live here, I’d like it to be cleaner, I should do something. Instead, they have amazing powers to look the other way and pretend they don’t see it, or to point at others and say it was their fault. I didn’t do it, so it’s not my problem. Someone else – the Vomit Cleaners – will show up sometime and take care of it. It’s the same syndrome that means we have to ask them Every. Single. Night. to do their regular dinner clean up chores – any time we don’t remind them, it just doesn’t happen. And it’s the same syndrome that means that they continue to ask when dinner will be, instead of asking how they can help get dinner started, or to ask when I will be doing laundry because they need more socks, instead of offering to throw in a load.

I think it’s maybe too much to ask them to clean up some guy’s vomit at a party. We can’t all be Terry and Dave.

But how do we make the leap from kids who are checked out, who see the world as someone else’s problem, to kids that want to help? We want our kids to see a problem and then DO SOMETHING. This might be stuff around our house. This might be if a friend gets into trouble at a party. This might be if a stranger falls and is hurt in a public space. This might be trying to address world issues like hunger and pollution and poverty.

These are the kind of parenting challenges you don’t think about when you are nursing a baby or helping your toddler stack blocks or teaching your preschooler the alphabet. For a long time we have been focused on survival skills. Now it’s time to teach them Good People skills. I hope it isn’t too late – and that we figure out how to do it.

Away From Home

We went down to Southern Ontario for the Easter long weekend to visit family, and I got horribly, terribly sick. I was fine for the first couple of days, when we were visiting my family, but by the time we had moved on to Sir Monkeypants’ parents’ house, I was spending all my time making weird noises in the bathroom, while everyone else – all of whom were just fine – attempted awkwardly to chat or play a game or eat in the next room.

Occasionally I would crawl out of the bathroom to head to the guest room to sleep, while Sir Monkeypants’ mom gently approached me and tried to get me to drink some gingerale. I barely managed to blink at her in confusion because clearly I would not be putting anything in my mouth ever again.

Although everyone was very understanding and kind, there really isn’t anything worse than being away from home when you’re sick, is there? All I wanted was my giant bathrobe and my huge slippers and my favourite hot water bottle and blanket, but of course, we had packed none of those things (although when I got home I rashly added them all to my standard packing list; I’m sure Sir Monkeypants is going to love the addition of a whole extra suitcase of Flu Comfort Items to our already enormous list of things we must take every time we leave the house for 24 hours). I needed extra towels and tissues and toilet paper, and I had to do a load of laundry (and yet still drove home in vomit-encrusted PJs, I AM GLAMOUROUS), all of which were harder to locate and get at someone else’s house.

Once we made it home I crawled onto the couch and didn’t move for another 48 hours. It was good to be home.

One plus to being sick is that you can’t really do anything but lie there and watch Netflix. It was sort of like a holiday, except for the aching and total lack of food. But it turned out the Captain had his usual spring-cold-that-turns-into-an-asthma-incident this weekend as well, so the two of us spent two whole days watching the entirety of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and it was divine. I find, as I age, I am getting so, so predictable when it comes to the kind of thing I will like. I like shows with a lot of quirk and a mystery that I can turn over and over again in my mind, with some humour thrown in. You’d think this would be a short list but so far I have found several that fit the bill. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, Fargo, Pushing Daisies…send me your recommendations!

I’m vertical again but still on the dry-toast-and-clear-liquids plan. I woke up this morning and it was already April 6, when last I knew of the world, it was still March. Time to climb back into the world – it’ll be good to be healthy but I sure will miss the Netflix.

Watch Where You Step

This morning I went into Gal Smiley’s room to change her sheets.

An hour later I managed to hack my way out, having done the bare minimum of tidying required to beat my way through the jungle of her room to get to her bed, then down to the sheets underneath all the junk, then back out again. Ugh.

When I was an idealistic, pre-kids adult, I had a teenaged cousin whose room was like this. There was a foot-deep pile of dirty clothes all over her floor at all times and you could barely open the door to get in there – and it was a large room. It fascinated me, because my mother never would have let me get away with that, and also I shared a very small room with my older sister. After two beds and two dressers and a laundry hamper, there was barely three square feet of floor space – if I dropped one sweatshirt that would have covered the whole area.

So of course, like all idealistic, pre-kids adults, I was all, “Oh, I’d never let my kid do that.”

And now I am eating my words, OF COURSE, and they are salty and bitter. Ugh.

The Captain isn’t so bad. He has the biggest room and he’s a tidy guy in general with a healthy respect for all household processes. Plus, he doesn’t really spend any time in his room except to sleep.

The girls are both terrible, though. At least our youngest is a relatively clean person – she does tidy up things like used tissues and dirty clothes – but she always has at least three major craft projects on the go at any time, splayed all over her floor, plus a hundred stuffed animals who are, no doubt, joining in like the shoemaker’s elves.

My middle daughter is the slob, and I really hate to use that word, because it seems like such a label and the kind of thing that will we will have shrieking matches over in about six months’ time. But really, her room is just gross. I was just in there for an hour and there were dirty socks and tissues all over, discarded dirty clothes freely mixing with the not-put-away clean clothes from last week all over the floor, dust balls in the corner where piles of half-broken toys and odd little scraps of paper have piled up. UGH.

It’s going to have to come to a head, I’m afraid.

One thing I wish I’d done differently as a parent is make my kids make their beds in the morning. This was something my mother was militant about. I absolutely hated making my bed as a kid, because it was wedged up against a wall and very difficult to pull out, and so tucking in the blankets and bedspread was a nightmare, especially for a young weakling like myself. So when I grew up and got a place of my own, I just went with a comforter that I’d sometimes, occasionally, lazily pull up in the direction of the pillows. That degraded until I wasn’t making the bed at all, ever, and as a result it’s been almost impossible to get the kids to make theirs.

I just read an article about how the most successful people in the world have one thing in common that they do every day – they make the bed. Not only does it set the tone for their whole room – their spaces are tidier and more open – but it seems to give them an organized, ready-for-the-day kind of mindset. Looking at my daughter’s rooms – and heck, my own unmade bed – it’s kind of no wonder that the house feels pretty chaotic most of the time.

The teen years are probably not the best time to try to retrain them into awesome bed-makers. But I think maybe I should try.

The Joy of Lists

The other day my youngest wanted to see my Highland Dancing medals…

(probably something you didn’t know about me, I’m guessing? I did competitive Highland Dancing for several of my pre-teen and early teen years.)

…so I pulled down my scrapbooks. These are a series of like, 8 enormous, fat books that my mother lovingly curated, detailing my entire life. I cannot imagine the hours of work that went into these books, and I have to admit they make me rather ashamed of the fact that my kids’ report cards and awards and playbills all get thrown in a giant tupperware bin willy nilly. But we all do what we can, right?

Anyway, while flipping through these books, where all of my medals are properly mounted and preserved (thanks, Mom!), we found solid gold treasure in among the kindergarten art and the book from when we went to see Sha Na Na – my daily diary that I had to keep when I was in Grade 4.

The kids were super interested (and also impressed that I could write in cursive – oh, the sad lost days of proper education). So I read it out loud to them and it was HI-LAR-I-OUS.

First of all, at least 50% of all entries feature my best friend Barbie, and my kids could not get over her name, picturing her as an eight inch tall plastic girl with a fake tan and big boobs in every entry.

Like this series, randomly chosen from a 10 page span:

Friday, Feb 1, 1980 – Today Barbie and I were helping Mrs. Havey. They are having a test and we had to set up for it.

Friday, Feb 8, 1980 – Today Barbie is sick. She has been sick for two days now.

Monday, Feb 11, 1080 – Barbie has a rabbit fur coat. She got it from her Aunt Marg. (jealousy implied)

Tuesday, Mar 25, 1980 – Barbie is in Florida. I can’t wait until she gets back. She promised me that she’d bring me something.

…and sure enough…

Thursday, Mar 28, 1980 – Today Barbie got back from Florida. She brought me a purse. It’s from Nassau. I like it.

Good old Barbie. Although I will point out that a) Nassau is NOT in Florida, so that’s a little fishy, and b) a purse is no rabbit fur coat.

The receiving of gifts was a huge, huge deal in my Grade 4 life, apparently. Pretty much any entry that doesn’t deal with Barbie and her comings and goings concerns the listing of gifts I received.

For example:

Mon Nov 19, 1979 – Yesterday was my birthday. I got a Shanana record, purse, charm, earrings, two sets of books, a pack of cards, a radio, and fifteen dollars. On Saturday, I went to my church bazaar. I got two Christmas presents there. One is for [my older sister]. It’s a doll. The other one is for my mom. It’s a pincushion. [Once an early Christmas shopper, always an early Christmas shopper!]

Mon Jan 7, 1980 – For Christmas I got a book full of Life Savers [had to pause here to explain this concept to my children, DAYS GONE BY, am I right?], a camera bag, bubble bath, a weaving loom, Monopoly, a Loveable Snuggles, some clothes, shampoo, a thermos, stamps, candy, and Spirograph. I had fun. [well, I should hope so.]

Wed Mar 26, 1980 – My nana and papa [newly returned from a trip] brought me a shirt that says Puerto Rico, a ruler with all the best sights of Puerto Rico on it [I still have it!], a palm tree charm, a Puerto Rico tree frog called the Cuqui, and a big mexico hat. [My older sister] got the same.

I have now earned a reputation in my house as The Ultimate List Maker, well deserved of course. I mean, who doesn’t love a good list?

The diary also reveals me to be the worst brown noser ever, as entries reveal that I often brought in extra books, collections, flyers, and other info to supplement the learning we were doing in class, as well as performing a few Highland Dances for the class’ benefit. KEENER.

My teacher was a delight that year. She often comments in the margins, encouraging things like, “You’re a lucky girl!” and “You must have missed her” (regarding Barbie, of course). But this one is my favourite:

Mon Feb 4, 1980 – My aunt is in the hospital. I went to see her yesterday. She’s doing fine.

My teacher’s comment on this was, “You have a very busy and interesting life.” For some reason this still fills my heart with delight. Yes, I DID have a busy and interesting life! And I still do! You know what – how about we write about it in some sort of online forum where others can see my diary entries and comment on them and…oh.

And thus the girl becomes the woman.

I love these diaries so much – I’m so pleased my mom kept them. And of course, now I want to force my kids to do the same. Imagine having a year of your childhood captured in entries like this. To know what you were thinking about and what mattered to you and yes, what you got for Christmas that year. It’s delightful. The kids are getting notebooks and pens for Easter, I think!

Back to Business

We had the laziest March Break ever. I worked part time, and the rest of the time we had the biggest movie festival ever. I can’t even remember everything we watched but I think we paid for our Netflix account about 60 times over. I took the girls to the pool one day and we went skiing one day but other than that, I don’t think the kids got out of their pajamas much. I used to find this kind of March Break a waste of time – oh, the lost museum hours! – but this week felt pretty good, although it was tough to get up for school/work this morning, gah.

When we weren’t lying around in pajamas watching movies, I was cooking, cooking, cooking. We had a sad accident a couple of weeks ago in which our big freezer conked out, and we lost a lifetime’s worth of frozen leftovers. It was all the good stuff – a stockpile of our favourite soups, homemade breads and buns, and pies and pie fillings.

Most of it was the kind of stuff that takes a whole day to make, the kind of stuff where you make a triple batch because you know you’re going to be sweating over a stove all day and you may as well make it worthwhile. So this week I set about recreating the stockpile, as much as I could. It was several days of some of the most complex dishes I make, and yet still our freezer is only a quarter full. Sigh.

At least we ate very, very well while enjoying an endless stream of cheesy, family-friendly action flicks and Disney musicals. So all in all, a pretty fine staycation.

How was your March Break?

Superfan

My favourite band is the Trashcan Sinatras. They are a fairly obscure Scottish band, featuring lush, layered guitar work (which I love) and pun-filled, riddle-filled lyrics (which I love).

If you know of them at all, you probably only know the song Obscurity Knocks, which was a minor hit on alternative radio in the early 90s.

(There isn’t even a video on YouTube. When you don’t have a lyrics video for your top song on YouTube, you know you’re off the grid.)

My sister FameThrowa and I fell in love with this song, and their entire first album, Cake – holy crap, is that 25 years ago? Man, I’m old. Their second album is called I’ve Seen Everything, and it didn’t do as well, even though it is so, so beautiful and perfect and clever. Their third album is A Happy Pocket and it was never even released in North America, even though it is delightful and catchy and brilliant. After that they were dropped by their record label, but still release indie records from time to time.

They came to Ottawa once, back in 2004. It was on September 24, and my due date with Gal Smiley was September 21. I bought a ticket anyway and I would have gone if she had been able to hang in there for a few more days. As it is she was born on her due date (my children are extremely punctual) and I had to admit it was not a good idea to go to a concert with a three-day-old baby. Sigh.

FameThrowa went though, and she is such a badass that she actually went to the sound guy and hooked up some equipment to record the whole concert for me, then delivered it to me on CD a week later.

No, you cannot have her, she is MINE.

Anyway! They just announced they are going to do a little tour, and on this tour, they are going to play the entirety of their first two albums, which are masterpieces.

AND, they are coming to Ottawa! This little dinky city with no music scene to speak of! I am ASTONISHED.

But I will take it. I have a ticket. I spent all morning listening to their music and feeling overjoyed. It is amazing, isn’t it, how music can just lift your spirits? All is well with the world when your favourite song is playing.

Now, what does one wear to an indie band concert, happening in a pub downtown (lord, where will I park?), on a Sunday evening, when one is pushing 50?

Are pajamas okay?

Making Me Happy

I’ve been absent online, some due to work and life, but mostly due to the Olympics.

The Olympics are like a national holiday around here – all rules about screens and TV watching go out the window as we have our television on basically all the time any one of us is conscious. We even record the overnight coverage, so we have something to watch during the four hours a day that the CBC isn’t actually showing Olympics or talking about Olympics or comparing this Olympics to years past with moving vignettes. It gets to the point where our kids are bored – they wander off to do crazy stuff like read a book – while Sir Monkeypants and I remain glued. I admit it, I’m a junkie, and I do not care to reform myself.

Of course, Olympic season means flag time. We are reaching an apex with the winter Olympics, where we have already made almost all of the flags of winter participating countries, but there were still a few obscure ones left to make, and one of the new ones even made the leader board (Lichtenstein, who sent like, four athletes to this games and has two medals, good on ya, Lichtenstein!).

I love, love, love the flag making. Here’s a photo montage. It makes me happy.

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Last night while watching Olympic coverage (of course), I got into a conversation with Sir Monkeypants about Women Athletes Who Wear Makeup. I put it out there that perhaps curling isn’t a sport so much as a game, because the girls are always done up with full makeup and hair. Rachel Homan, the Canadian skip of the women’s team, even curls with her hair loose and out, not in a ponytail or anything, which I can’t even do while wiping the kitchen table, let alone a “sport.”

But then Sir Monkeypants pointed out that almost ALL the female athletes, regardless of sport, were wearing makeup while competing. We looked at close up shots of the Canadian women’s hockey team, for example – they are wearing helmets with face guards, but when you look closely yup, almost all of them have on eyeliner and a little foundation under there. Later we watched some bobsleigh and the women had on makeup when they took off their helmets, and then we watched some downhill skiing and again, most of the women were fully made up when they took their goggles off at the finish line.

Now, I get that you are about to be on international television. And perhaps you are such a devoted wearer of makeup that you would not think of appearing in public without a little eyeliner and mascara, at least.

But as a total non-wearer of makeup, I was surprised. Isn’t it uncomfortable? Doesn’t it make you sweatier, or smear all over? Doesn’t it drip into your eyes and cause them to water, possibly causing you to make a medal-losing error?

I guess I just don’t associate makeup with sports. What do you think?

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Lastly, aside from watching and discussing and leaderboarding the Olympics, here’s something else making me happy right now:

These two Royal Daulton teacups, scored at the Value Village for $2 each. I am not a regular at the Value Village, as I am not the kind of person who enjoys the Thrill Of the Shopping Hunt, and the big score that can sometimes come from there. I’m more of a “Dammnit, I need a shirt, I will go to the mall, grit my teeth, and buy the first thing I touch that is possibly my size” kind of person.

However, I popped in last week looking for some Girl Guide supplies, and there these beauties were. Little Miss Sunshine loves them too. We like to drink whatever we are having with dinner – usually water – out of them. We’re fancy pants Olympics watchers, we are.

Milestones

We have officially moved past the age of little baby hangers. All of Little Miss Sunshine’s clothes were falling off the smaller size, and I had to go out and buy a couple dozen regular sized hangers to put in her closet.

I’ve been ferreting out the little hangers ever since, bundling them up into sets of 10 to sell at the local baby-stuff consignment shop. They keep turning up, just when I think I’ve got them all, and I’m sure one day I’ll come across one in the back of some closet when they’ve all moved out and I’ll burst into tears. But for now I’m pretty happy to say good riddance to something else that’s cluttering up my over-burdened household.


In other news, our oldest two children have landed their first jobs! They are working as Teaching Assistants at the ski hill we go to. It’s a paid position – they are making something like $30 per Saturday, plus they ski for free. It’s a long, hard day – they are on the hill from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., sometimes getting an hour for lunch but sometimes only getting a few 15 minute breaks. And it’s only for eight Saturdays during the season. But it’s a job, and I’m so pleased with them for actually getting out there and doing it (with some prodding, of course).

The jobs meant we had to open bank accounts for them. We’d opened one for our oldest when he was born, and then found out years later that most of the “welcome baby!” money we’d deposited there was gone, because the account had gone dormant and the bank had been taking out $30 a month for dormancy fees, and I’m sure it is no surprise to you that we are NO LONGER WITH THAT BANK. So up until now the kids had just been keeping their birthday/Christmas money in a drawer at home, but now they are all legit with the bank cards and all.

The best part was the signatures. All three of them (we got an account for the Little Miss, too) can barely write in cursive and laboured over writing their name like they were in kindergarten. Now that cursive is no longer taught in school, are we looking at a bad signature epidemic? I suppose it’s only a year or two before we’re all identifying ourselves with microchips embedded in our fingers anyway, so whatever.

Anyway, so far the jobs are going well – they are exhausted at the end of the day, but I am surprised at how much they both seem to actually enjoy working with and chatting with the little kids, especially compared to how short-tempered and mocking they are with their own younger sister. And we are worried that this will kill their love of skiing, because they are basically spending this whole season skiing backwards down the bunny hill, instead of fun stuff.

But they both do seem to appreciate money flowing in to their bank accounts, so that’s good.


Lastly, we have entered the realm of braces. Our middle child, Gal Smiley, got braces back in December and it’s been a very new thing for us.

I hope the braces result in a happy ending, but right now I am constantly questioning whether or not we have done the right thing. I know she thinks I kind of forced her into it. The thing is, I have some serious hang-ups about teeth and I know my own issues pushed her to get the braces.

My own teeth are crooked and large, and I always wanted braces as a kid. I even begged my mom to take me for a consultation. But she just did not have the money to pay for it – she was a single mom with four kids, and there were higher priorities. My bite is passable, and there weren’t any health reasons to require braces, it would have been a cosmetic thing. So the answer was no.

I think everyone has one thing about their physical appearance that they just don’t like. Maybe it’s knock knees or the way your hair frizzes out and cannot be tamed or the way your nose is a little bit off centre. It’s the kind of thing that your friends rush to tell you “oh, it’s nothing! I don’t even notice it!” but YOU do, and it bothers YOU, so it’s a thing. For me, it’s always been my teeth.

So I marched my two oldest kids in to the orthodontist as soon as they (finally) lost all their baby teeth, and while the Captain was given a pass (his teeth are not bad, and he REALLY did not want braces), the orthodontist and I agreed that Gal Smiley would benefit from having some crooked teeth fixed, and her bite adjusted.

She wasn’t sure, but I pushed, and now here we are. She is having some pain, and is sometimes unable to eat, and doesn’t like to smile with them, and I really, really hope I have done the right thing. I’m super nervous about the permanent retainer that this will result in – how will she floss? – and if we have damaged her, socially, in some way.

She’ll have to have them on for another two years. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, braces advice welcome!