Takes a whole village to calm me down

Last week I was unable to write and it took me until Sunday to figure out why.

My youngest son is going away and I am not happy about it. There I said it.

I have tried every little trick in the book to get him to stay at home, but he has decided that it’s time to fly the coop. Last year he applied to go to school in Edmonton and BC, but using some well developed tricks that I developed over the years, I was able to get him to stay at home and go to school in Calgary.

Ford makes great cars. The model comes with Bluetooth, Satellite radio and the works.  He even got a trip to Toronto thrown in. It worked.

This year I had nothing to offer and his urge to fly is stronger than my ability to bribe, so in 3 weeks he will be gone to the University of Saskatchewan to continue his Engineering program. Ever been to Saskatoon in the winter time? Me neither, but all reports say it is awfully cold. I gave him a really warm coat, he will need it. Maybe after a year he may decide I am not such a bad roommate, but he will be in for a surprise, we have plans for his room.  Great commercial.

You may recall from an earlier blog that I admitted to being a helicopter parent. I actually followed my kids around like they were royalty, walking a few steps behind them everywhere they went. I also drove them everywhere if required; my minivan had over 500,000km, most soccer runs. I thought I had it all covered, I was able to raise perfect children.

My kids are adults now and they are beginning to tell me stories about life as teenagers. How could I have missed so much, I get embarrassed and total surprised by their stories, I am not able to write about them so I won’t.  I didn’t give my kids an allowance, there was no need, they had no place to spend money plus I pretty much gave them everything they needed or so I thought.

Jo stayed home for three months when J2 was born. The first day back to work she committed the cardinal sin; she called the sitter to see how things were going. It turned out to be a pivotal moment in our lives.

Starting the next day after that call, Jo stayed with the kids for several years as D and E came along. When we got totally broke Jo had to go back to work and we hired a live in nanny for a couple of years.  She moved out as the kids got older and we hired another nanny to come in everyday and mind the kids.  Eventually we did not need her, the little one was now in school full days which coincided nicely with me losing my job, no I did not purposely lose it, so guess what, I stayed ‘home’ for about 4 years.

 I actually started my own home based software company, working when the kids were in school.

The last 3 kids went to a French Catholic School where the students are bussed. The bus picked them up in front the house and dropped them off in front of the house; they had no time to get in trouble.  One by one they went off to high school and had to take public transportation. At first I drove but then it became impossible.

Then I lost control.

I avoid talking to my daughters about their teenage years after all they were angels and Ill like to keep it that way.  My boys on the other hand have stories that I still don’t know how it was possible for them to have actually done the things they talk about.

As it turned out we were justified in our parenting style, we could not leave them alone.

So you ask yourself, how did I get this way?

Growing up in St Kitts the whole village raised you. My dad was very strict so to do anything I had to be sneaky.  For the most part the kids I grew up with had a lot more freedom than me to move around so to fit in I had to be very creative.

Unlike my kids I had to work really hard with my dad.  If I was to list my chores you would feel sorry for me, but don’t, I devised ways to go out and have fun like my friends.

I recalled having to sneak away from the house to go to the local beach, which was just a couple hundred yards away.  It was easy though, didn’t need much, we swan naked.  A day at the beach would start as the sun got over the trees and the sand would warm up.  For the most part the bathers were local folks, totally safe, but sometimes we would get visitors from far away, like St Johnston village, 1KM away.  Ah ah.

Occasionally my dad would show up to get us and we would scramble up the hill behind the trees lining the bay, which would take us close to the cane field. I think that would be Buckley’s cane field. The trick was to race home and get there before he did and pretend to be working. I actually did it once naked. Piece of cake.

As we got older, we became more innovative in avoiding our dad.  My weekend chores included cleaning the back yard, feeding the birds, harvesting the birds. The cleaning part was my least favourite job so it required me to be ingenious.  It was very difficult to get away on a Saturday morning.  I hated Saturdays.  My dad kept a tight rein on us.  But I was able to escape.

As I got older my weekend job expanded to bottling ‘duke’ (like a brandy) and wines, sweet oil (cooking oil) and filling canisters (bottles and lamps) with kerosene. My dad would import barrels of alcohol and other goods and bottle for sale.  I would occasionally have a taste of the alcohol; hey I was a kid.  That job was ok except it took away from my play time.   Again I devised ways to ‘run’ away and have fun.

There was a downside to running off to early, you could not return home for hours sometimes, until my dad took his afternoon nap. Also my teenage years night time jaunts presented some unique challenges. There were quite a few of us sneaking out and we only had one house key.

I was the master of escape. I bet you are wondering what my escape techniques involved. Another time. All these years I was certain my dad knew what I was up to.

Was I a fool to think my kids would be different?  Yes I was, they weren’t.

Oh well, you go when you got to go; I left home before I was his age. Hmmmmm. I feel better.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.

PS. I just made up a song, when you read this if you can hum the tune from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, it would help with the imagery.

I was a bad ass, my baby sister called my TonTon, the rest of the family and my friends called me Macaroni, my enemies call me Redman or Cheche. I walked with a stick. Whenever I was challenged I would back up a couple steps and draw a line to indicate my badness, cross it and we fight. Never lost a fight. Hahahaahaha.

The real reason behind the line was to give me a good running start.

Actually it is a rap.

I bet my sons can’t top that.

2 thoughts on “Takes a whole village to calm me down

  1. Wow Uncle Tony. This is the first of your journals that I have read. Life is so busy for me recentlt that I have little time to unwind. But I really enjoyed this. Have you thought of writing a book, if so please sign me a copy as this is good bed time read that I can incorporate into my busy life.

    Three years ago when Mel went Uni I cried like a baby. But you have to set them free. Like you said we all left home earlier than our kids and we have brought them up with good values, not dragged them up. It is time to give ourselves a big pat on the back for a job well done. The experience of being away from home will make them appreciate so much more upon their return.

    Now my daughter has left Uni, I am using FB less, so how can I easily follow your stories in my hectic world. xx

  2. Hi Uncle Tony,

    You have some wonderful memories of your childhood! I continue to wait for the next chapter.

    The Bird’s have to leave the nest eventually.

    God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.

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