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teaching my daughter the C word

We arrive an hour early for our stress management session. They say it’s five, I wrote down four. This throws off the whole evening. It’s rainy and dark and the parking is meter. I am sure the error is not mine, but I’m also sure Mom’s terrible time management  has already come up in session, so I swallow it and we hunt around for a light supper while I phone and rearrange her homework date for later.Unknown

Beaucoup cafe is full of tailored cashmere and the display case is entirely empty again, save a few arrogant empty shiny croissants all hairspray and bouffant. So, we scuttle further down Fir without an umbrella and find Prado cafe. Ah. The soft turquoise cups, pussy willows, and long wooden tables put me at ease on this rainy flittered away day. Nora shares a story about the moment she discovered pussy had multiple meanings. I decide she’s old enough to hear my audition experience yesterday.

“It was for an ad criticizing Christy Clark’s education cuts. I was supposed to say, “After fifteen years of funding cuts” and I stumbled and said, “After fifteen years of cXXnts.”Unknown-1

Nora doesn’t laugh. She blinks innocently and says, “What does cXXnt mean?” I sigh and point to the pussy willows. To think she’s learned this word from her mother first. Nice. Nice one, Mom.  She tilts her head quizzically and repeats the word to herself, “cXXnt, cXXnt…”

I interject quickly, “It’s actually one of the worst swears out there, I’d say it’s worse than the F word. You don’t want to be saying it freely in public. I never say it.”

She is shocked, “Really?! It doesn’t seem all that bad. Why? It just means vagina!”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Personally, it’s an ugly sounding word and I don’t like any ugly word associated with the female anatomy.”

She replies, “But it seems okay to make fun of boy’s parts. Those names are just kind of silly, I think.”

I nod. “True. Dick is just funny, isn’t it? Willy. But cock is worse.”

She tilts her head again, “What is?”

I sigh. That’s two new words to add to the vocabulary from Mom. What a winner parent day.

“Cock. It can also mean rooster, but I don’t suggest you use that word either. It’s pretty harsh.”

She makes a “life is weird” face. Unknown-4

Prado serves an excellent roast beef on ciabatta with a lovely fresh arugula side. I am relieved to put something clean in my mouth. We chit chat about PG things and then head back to her session. While she’s in there I plug my meter and wait in reception. I play online Risk and I get blown off the planet again and again and again. I wonder if parents with better time management are better at world domination? I bet they never say cXXnt in front of their kids.

 

 

Unknown-2

Nora comes out of session and says nonchalantly, “I was so busy talking about school I didn’t even get to talk about family.” I look at the session leader. Oh my God. What does she know about me? Is she judging me with her face? Is she smiling because she has to? Does she want to call social services? Does she go home over a glass of sherry and say to herself, “That Lucia is a raving HYENA of a Mom.”

We drive in the rain towards the homework date and I discuss the week with her and who she is with and who picks her up and how many days until we go to Italy. Inside I say to myself: okay, my daughter comes from a broken home and she has three bedrooms and she’s always dropped off late for dance – but I am taking her to Italy. That has to count for something.  I get along very well with my ex, that has to count for something too.

I say, quite proudly, the liberated entirely cool Mom that I am:

“Daddy seems very happy lately, it’s really nice to hear it in his voice on the phone, we had a nice chat today.”

And my daughter snaps:

“Why do you say that? Do you think he isn’t usually happy? Maybe he was different when you guys were married but my Dad is a very peaceful happy person.”

I sigh. “How do you manage to take a compliment and make it into a criticism? Nobody is happy all the time and your Dad has had a hard year, his Mom dying recently-”

“You just make it sound like it’s unusual for him and that’s NOT TRUE.”

“I never said that! You don’t have to defend him. I love your Dad. I respect your Dad. When do I ever say anything negative about him? Of course he can be very charming and big hearted and tender. I say good things like that all the time! Why do you see me as this hideous person who says bad things and I don’t and I’m sure he doesn’t either!”

Silence. I drop her off to her friend’s house. Before she opens the door, I say,

“I’m a good mother.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”images-1

This friend (let’s call her Butterfly) is one of my favourites. She is always thinking outside of the box. She can’t seem to follow directions, she is always off on her own wild tangent, she is inventing constantly. She sees the word entirely uniquely. She is always cracking me up, fluttering around with all her colours, Butterfly. But creative types often get dismissed as ADD or “broken winged birds”. I’m sure it can’t be easy to handle a large class room with very little support and creative kids get shuffled to the side…a problem…an interruption…

“After fifteen years of cXXnts”

I get home and buy the groceries, walk and feed the dog, clean the house, then I’m back to pick up the kid. Her Mom opens the door. She’s got a pink streak through her hair, a hipster boyfriend manning the grill and a cool bicycle hanging from the basement suite ceiling. I whisper to her, “Your girl is amazing. She is one of the most creatively intelligent children I’ve ever met.” She is surprised and deflects. Then I invite them to Bowen for a weekend to stay in our suite. The boyfriend turns his head and nods.

On our way home my daughter says, “That was nice, what you said to her Mom. I wonder what your friends say about me?”

“They always say three things: you’re beautiful, you’re kind and you’re smart.”

Her eyes widen, “Really?! They say I’m smart?”

“Yes. Because you’re articulate. You’re able to put into words what you think and feel.”

She nods. “Yup. I think that’s my super power. That and understanding people’s feelings.”

I nod, “Yes, I think I’m similar.”

She turns sharply, “Really?! I don’t think that’s your super power Mom.”

I turn right onto Victoria and take a deep breath. Don’t take it personally, don’t take it personally.

“Oh yeah? What do you think my super power is?”

“You have two. One is a power for good and one is – well – not a power for good necessarily.”

Oh boy. Here we go. I yield for pedestrians who are dressed far too darkly to be seen.

“Mom, you have the super power of being able to change my perspective.”

“What?”

“I might not notice something or think it’s boring and you have the ability to make me see it in a new way.”

This is quite the summation of what I hope to achieve as a human being and it brings me to tears.

“Can…can you give me an example?”

“Well, like when the bullies were bugging me about my shoes and you suggested I make it into a joke instead of letting them hurt me. And I didn’t think that was going to work but it did.” images-2

I nod and wait for the red.

“And your other super power….the one I’m not sure is good…”

“Oh, do we really have to bring up my faults right now?”

“Well Mom, every super power can be used for evil or good you know. I just don’t know how this particular super power of yours can be used for good. ” She chuckles.

“Okay, now you have to tell me.”

“You have the super power of doing the exact opposite of what people tell you to do and you get away with it, because you don’t like to be bossed around.”

I laugh my head off. Damn, this is so very true. Then I ask,

“So, what do you think the dark side of your super power is?”

“Well, sometimes I can see people and understand them but they don’t want me to. They want to be private.”

“Ah…yes.”

And without being too leading, I suggest…

“I find…I can get all upset thinking about other people’s feelings and I don’t have to sometimes. Do you find that?”

She nods, opens the door to our condo and kicks off her boots.

“Hey Bunny, guess what?”

“What?”

“You know the audition I did where I said the bad word?”

“Yeah?”

“I got it.”

She zips off her coat. “Really, Mom?”

“Yeah. Sometimes it’s our mistakes that make us.”

“Hm.”

I’m not entirely sure what I mean by that, but it sounds good.

I tuck her into bed, under her stars, under her planets, under her fuzzy blankets. I kiss her sweet head and let the blind deaf old dog pretend he is protecting her as he snores by her side on the carpet. Russia is not bombing North America on our planet tonight. We are, for the moment, at peace. 4-up on 2016-05-18 at 8.46 PM #4

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