Loose Ends

21 02 2009

You know how when you were in university, and you skipped a few Sociology, or maybe German, or even Old English classes a few weeks in a row? And you knew you really should go back, so you promised yourself I’ll go next week? But then you got all freaked out that the prof would ask where you’ve been, or embarrass you in front of the rest of the class, or there’d be a test or an assignment due,  so you had a series of panic attacks, and the mere thought of that class made you want to yank your eyebrows out. So instead, you went out with your slacker friends, and self-medicated the anxiety about Sociology/German/Old English with cheap draft/donair subs/skunk weed. And, as your fear of walking into that class began to border on phobic, you convinced yourself that you were way too far behind and you probably couldn’t catch up so there was really no point in ever going back to that class again, so you just didn’t. Then, you ended up flunking or near flunking that class that semester and had to take it again the next year, or maybe even make it up in the summer, all because you slacked off a little bit and then psyched yourself out a whole lot. Remember doing that kind of thing? No? No. Me neither. Nope. Not one bit.

But all of that is a round about way of saying that , yes, I am keenly aware that I’ve been slacking on the ol’ blog front again. And because it feels like it has been forever since I’ve posted, I’ve been a little nervous about getting back on my proverbial high horse.

Anyhow, in order to get back into the swing of things, I feel like I need to tie up some loose ends for you, my dear readers. I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what happened at Squiggles’ pediatrician appointment, tossing and turning in your beds at night, wondering if Operation Beefcake was a success. And what about Ol’ Chomper and Lumpy? Are they still peacefully co-habitating in my mouth? Did Neener chop anybody’s arms off yet? How did the school react to the revelation that Roo is, in fact, a smarty pants? Read on…

Operation Beefcake

First, the appointment was supposed to be in late January. Then, it got moved to mid-February.

The good news: Squiggles gained a pound in two months, and she has learned to pull herself up to stand.

The bad news: That’s not enough weight, and when she stands, she stands weird.

So, Operation Beefcake continues, now with added butter, gravy and cream. We’ve also been officially referred to a neurologist, as well as the Autism clinic, and we took Squiggles in to have blood drawn for a slew of metabolic and genetic testing. Good times, good times.

Chomper and Lumpy

The mystery of Lumpy’s origin has finally been solved. After more dentist appointments, more x-rays, more drilling, more filling, more humming and hawing, and finally paying another $600 to see a specialist, it turns out that Lumpy is not just Lumpy. Lumpy is the result of the snapped-off tip of a dental file jabbed up past the root tip of my tooth, for which I’d need a procedure that involves paying $600 to have a specialist slice my gum open, gouge out the file piece along with a hunk of of my tooth root, then stitch my gum back up. Which is exactly what an un-insured, underemployed writer with a serious aversion to gum stitches wants to hear. But, piss-assed broke oral-surgery-a-phobe slacker that I am, I asked the question: What happens if I just leave it there?  The reply? Well, nothing. Ol’ Chomper will continue to feel weird, but nothing will actually happen. Except we’ll save $600 that we don’t have anyway. And there will be no slicing, gouging, or stitching. And, I’ll have to change Lumpy’s name to File-O.

Done. Welcome to the family, File-O. I look forward to having you be a constant source of minor annoyance. At least until we can afford some insurance, and I can talk myself into setting foot in a dentist’s office again.

Neener the Arm-Chopper-Offer

Ever since I convinced Ms. D to make some seating adjustments so that Neener was not sitting directly across from evil incarnate, there has been no more talk of bringing bats and/or swords to school for show and tell. There has, however, been some talk of Neener seeming suspiciously Asperger-y. So, there’s another batch of paperwork, another round of phone calls and meetings, and another referral to the Autism clinic. The clinic coordinator and I are already on first-name basis because she now has files on all three of my kids. Did I mention how much fun all that is? Good times, good times.

Roo the Smarty Pants

Since I don’t yet have the report in hand, I have not yet had the distinct pleasure of prancing it down to the school. But I did  let them know that their guesstimate of her grade one or two reading level is waaaaay off. To which they more or less responded, “Well, that’s great. So let’s work on getting her to use ‘appropriate’ body positioning and eye contact when she speaks to someone, and teach her to ask to go to the bathroom instead of shouting ‘I need to pee!’ before running out of the room. ” Which are noble goals. However, I have been bitten by the neurodiverity bug, and I’ve developed a raging case of Autism Acceptance, so I’m not exactly sure I can just go along with the “let’s-try-to-make-Autistic-kids-look-and-act-as-normal-as-possible” plans that well-meaning school teams tend to conjure up. Ahhh, but there is too much to this whole thread of our lives to start unraveling right now. That is a post for another day.

There, you are all caught up. And I’m sure you can see why I’ve been a little preoccupied these last few weeks. Why I’ve been a little irregular. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since my university days, it’s that hiding from commitments and responsibilities – even something as casual as this little blog – rarely gets you where you really want to be. Unless where you really want to be is passed out on your slacker friends’ couch with a gut full of mystery meat and watered down draft, and bits of skunk weed in your hair. Been there, done that, got the D in ye Olde English to prove it.

But now,  as a writer, a mother, and as a mature, functional human being, I am pretty adept at putting pressure on myself to do things that I either want to do, or just know that I should do. Like writing a blog post. Or starting running again after a six month hiatus. Or shaving my legs and armpits. But it is still an incredibly delicate balance: not enough self-imposed pressure, and nothing gets done because I’ve managed to rationalize my self into inaction. Too much self-imposed pressure, and my eye starts twitching, my hands go numb, my gag reflex gets all uncontrollable, leading me to walk around looking and sounding like I’m about to barf, and I wind up paralyzed  into inaction. Or, at the very least, just hairy and out of shape, with a nasty case of  writer’s block, as the case has been of late. But when I get that self-imposed pressure level juuuust right, I can get beyond fear and insecurity and do what needs to be done. I can use that pressure to turn life’s little lumps of coal into diamonds.Or, to pull off a B in Sociology despite only going to the class twice and writing the mid-term stoned as a peach tree. Remember doing things like that? Nah, me neither.


Keep your enemies close… so you can chop off their arms during show and tell

17 01 2009

In her infinite wisdom, Neener and Roo’s teacher, Ms. D, rearranged the classroom seating after Christmas break. Let’s forget about the fact that Neener and Roo had both taken the exciting leap of making “best friends” at their respective tables. And forget about the fact that unexpected change is not always a cake walk for kids on the autism spectrum. Or for kids with high anxiety. Or both, as the case may be. But let’s, for a moment, remember a mean little imp by the name of Brandee C. And let’s remember her obvious fondness for tormenting Neener. And let’s think about the worst possible mean little imp to seat beside my sensitive little angst-meister. Thaaaat’s right. In an even grander display of her infinite wisdom, Mrs. D put Neener and Brandee side by side.

In an effort to not look like a hyper-protective hover-mother, I resisted my impulse to swoop down to the school and bite the teacher’s face off for springing this kind of thoughtless change on my children, and demand that Brandee be moved to a more appropriate location. Like a reform school for mean little imp girls. Instead, I decided to play it cool. Give it a chance. Who knows, maybe Neener and Brandee could resolve their differences and become BFFs over milk and cookies and long conversations about the Tooth Fairy, and Junie B. Jones books. Maybe they’d learn to get along, and develop a friendship of convenience if nothing else. Maybe Neener could teach Brandee to read, and Brandee could teach Neener how to…make fun of other kids and cackle like a nasty little witch. Or maybe Brandee would target Neener with a smarmy little game of  ‘Wanna play Echo?’ And go out of her way to bond with the other two girls at the table, because it’s way more fun to exclude someone than it is to just hassle them. Or maybe she would snatch things from Neener, and refuse to give them back until Neener erupts in a volcano of angry, frustrated tears, and Ms. D, in her infinite wisdom, has to go figure out what Neener is crying about. And all of a sudden, I’m sharpening my teeth and going into hover-mother swooping mode, and forging the signatures of whoever spawned that mean little imp on applications for reform schools in Mongolia. Or Texas.

When Neener finally opened up about what Brandee was saying and doing, I had no choice. I told her under no uncertain terms that Brandee was a mean little snot, and that she did not have to put up with that kind of crap. I urged her to be brave, to stick up for herself, and to tell me, and Ms. D whenever Brandee started giving her a hard time. Then, last night, in the moments before bed when Neener and I like to cuddle up and talk about what’s on her mind, this conversation happened:

Neener: Mommy, what’s Brandee’s phone number?

Me: I dunno. Why?

Neener: I want to call her and ask her what she’s afraid of. I think she’s afraid of bats.

Me: Baseball or the animal?

Neener: Hmmm. I don’t know. Maybe I can bring them both to school and see which one scares her more.

Me: Pfffffffffffttttt. (Which is the sound of me stuffing a pillow in my mouth in a shoddy effort to hide the evidence of my hysterical laughter.)

Neener (slowly and thoughtfully): I need a sword too. A real sword.

Me: Why?

Neener: To bring to school for show and tell.  Maybe I could show it to Brandee.

Me: Brandee big on swords or something?

Neener (grinning like a Cheshire cat): No. But I’d show it to her. And the next time she teased me, maybe I could chop her arm off, and she’d be all, like “Hey! Where’d my arm go?”

Me: Pppppffffffffffffffffttttttttt.

Part of me was alarmed. These were by far the most aggressive words and thoughts I’ve ever heard Neener express. For all my threats of biting off body parts, and my kickin’-ass-and-takin’- names bravado, I’ve gone out of my way to shield my kids from ideas and images of any sort of violence as much as possible. And another part of me was sad. Sad that she feels so helpless. That she’s trying to figure out how to be brave, how to defend herself, and how to push Brandee’s buttons the way Brandee pushes hers, and that the best she can come up with is flying mammals and/or sports equipment, and bringing medieval weaponry for show and tell. And still another part of me was overjoyed that at least she was not content to wallow in a mire of victimhood, that she was at least thinking of ways to fight fire with…bats. And that she was discussing it with me first.

Maybe Neener’s new found blood-lust is all my fault. Maybe I should not have expressed to her my opinion that Brandee is just not a very nice person. Or maybe I should not be encouraging Neener to talk so honestly and openly about about how she feels. Or encouraging her to stand up for herself. Or maybe, if there is any blame to be laid, it belongs squarely on whoever spawned the evil little imp who started picking on my daughter in the first place. In which case, maybe I should find out Brandee’s phone number. And ask her parents what they’re more afraid of, Mongolia or Texas? I’d hate to forge their signatures on the wrong reform school application.

Operation Beefcake

7 01 2009

I’ve got a rather ironic situation on my freakishly cold little hands these days. And not the Alanis Morissette song kind of quasi-cosmic-ironic situations that are not so much ironic as they are inconvenient piss-offs. I mean, a black fly in your Chardonnay? Pfffft. That’s not ironic. That’s just what you get for drinking Chardonnay in the woods. Me, I’ve got actual irony. Serious irony.

You may recall a few months ago that I was a tad perturbed by Baby Squiggles’ size (if you don’t recall, you can read all about it here.) Yes, Squiggy has always been a bit of a beefcake baby, just as her sisters were. As of August, at her 9 month well-baby visit, she tipped the scales at 20 pounds, and was around the 90th percentile in weight and height for her age. And I was worried that she’d outgrow the sleepers I got her for Christmas before fall even rolled around.

Enter irony.

A few weeks ago, at her one year check-up, we faced another perturbing reality: suddenly, it seems,  Squiggles is no longer a beefcake baby. In fact, she has only gained 1 pound since August, and has dropped to the 30th percentile for weight, and around the 50th for height. Which might be perfectly normal for her, as babies do tend to level off in their growth somewhere around age one. That’s what all my trusty books and websites tell me when I go hunting for some information and insight on the subject. Don’t worry, they all say. It’s probably just her growth  leveling out. As long as the rest of her development is otherwise normal, don’t worry. But what if it’s not? What if she’s not following a typical developmental trajectory? What if, at 13 months, she’s still trying to master rolling over? If she’s not crawling? Or interested in bearing much weight on her legs to stand? Or, on the odd occasions I do manage to get her to stand, she stands on her toes? And when she sits, she’s still prone to spontaneously losing her balance and falling backwards? What then? Well, the short answer is worry. And get that baby’s skinny, developmentally delayed butt to a doctor. Which is exactly what’s happening. Our family doctor referred us to a pediatrician, whom we will see at the end of January. She’ll probably order a battery of pokes and prods and diagnostic imaging studies that will test, among other things, my child’s patience, and my maternal fortitude. Again.

In the meantime, I can’t just sit around worrying and wondering about the possibilities. I already know what most of them are, and they range from no-big-deal to the stuff of parental nightmares. Stuff that makes autism and CP (which are my two if-there’s-gotta-be-a-diagnosis-please-let-it-be-one-of-these picks) look like sunshine and lollipops. I also can’t just sit around helplessly waiting for…well…help. Luckily, the OT and PT tricks I learned when Roo was a baby facing very similar development issues have come flooding back to me. I’m working on strengthening Squiggle’s muscle tone in her trunk, which is key to sitting up without falling backwards, not to mention crawling, standing and walking. I’m doing daily exercises with her to help develop  overall gross motor co-ordination. And I’m trying my damnedest to fatten that baby up.

Enter Operation Beefcake.

I will be the first to admit that Squiggle’s new skinny baby status could be all our fault. Actually, I hope it is because that is by far the least unsettling reason for the sudden change in weight-gaining pattern, and by far the easiest thing to fix. Squiggles is an incredibly picky eater when it comes to the taste, texture, temperature and timing of her food, and she rarely if ever yells at us to tell us when she is hungry. So, maybe we just haven’t been agressive enough in stuffing her little face since she started solid foods. Maybe we gave up too quickly when she started refusing her food a third of the way through the bowl. Maybe we let her get away with not finishing her bottles too many times. Maybe I should have been letting her eat cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All my former parenting philosophies and ideals have been tossed out the window. Again. And they’ve been replaced with a new mantra: Do what you’ve gotta do. If that means it takes one hour, four varieties of mouth-opening tricks, and several re-heatings to feed Squiggles one jar of  ultra-pureed baby food, instead of the anticipated fifteen minutes to shovel in a bowl of homemade chicken and sweet potatoes, then so be it. If that means sitting with her and cuddling her while she drinks a bottle, instead of plunking her on the floor and leaving her to her own devices in order to get a jump on the dishes, then so be it. If that means feeding her cheese and toast with jam until they come out her ears on days when that is all she will eat, then so be it. If Operation Beefcake is a success, Squiggles should grow into that sleeper I bought her for Christmas in no time. Who knows, maybe after a month of cheese feasts and therapy exercises, by the time that ped appointment rolls around, we’ll show up with a chubby, toddling Baby Squiggles, and the doctor will laugh us out of the office. And I’ll laugh a little when she tells me I have nothing to worry about. A little too ironic? Yeah, I really do think.

Domestic Blister’s Holiday Harangue

24 11 2008

T’was the month before Christmas in the ol’ Blisterdome

and the rabid consumerism was making me foam.

Each TV commercial, each Holiday flyer

Pushed me up on my soapbox a little bit higher.

The toy pile in the basement was so out of control

that I found myself wishing it would all turn to coal.

With heat so expensive, that coal’d be fantastic.

It would burn so much cleaner than cheap Chinese plastic.

With a plethora of presents from occasions before

Destroyed and discarded all over the floor,

I thought of the Christmas well-meaning gift-givers,

Making that pile grow. And it gave me the shivers!

I thought of the meaningless mass of such stuff,

And I said to myself “Enough is enough!”

Instead of just buying and fostering greed

Why not throw the money at stuff we do need?

Dance classes for Roo! Tae Kwon Do class for Neener!

Some ice packs for Mr.’s vasectomied wiener! **

Warm socks for Squiggles! New undies for me!

Sure beats mouthfuls of melamine under the tree.

We don’t need more Dora or Barbie or Tink.

How ’bout health insurance, for our trips to the shrink!

With gifts about quality, not just sheer amount

Maybe each would be precious, maybe each gift would count.

Instead of just ripping through wrapping galore,

Perhaps we’d find something not sold in a store.

The meaning of Christmas, of true appreciation,

With money left over for a sunny vacation!

And my hope of all hopes, if I had my druthers

Would be for my children to think about others.

To think of the people they love oh-so dearly,

Not the mountain of merch that stunts our growth, yearly.

And knowing they’re part of the luckiest few,

Think not “What’d I get?”, but “What can I do

To make the world brighter? Make a sad person happy?”

But I better shut up now. I’m getting all sappy.

Maybe this little Buy Less scheme will work,

Or maybe I’m being a self-righteous jerk.

But I don’t give a damn, not a fiddler’s fart.

I refuse to believe Love’s on sale at Wal-Mart.

It’s not on for a buck at the ol’ Dollarama.

It’s snuggled around us, like a cozy pajama.

Our big basement toy pile now seems out of place,

So we’ll donate that junk to someone with more space.

And focus instead on the things that have meaning,

Things that require a whole lot less cleaning.

Less stuff means more time to enjoy all our blessings

And hopefully fewer gargantuan messings.

With a few thoughtful gifts, and our spirits restored,

The Blisters can laugh at the Holiday horde

For whom Boxing Day Sales are reason to brawl.

Happy Christmas, poor suckers. Good luck at the mall!

** The vasectomied wiener depicted in this poem is fictional… for now.

Lest We Forget

11 11 2008

Today is the day when I can’t help but remember how totally fucking stupid we human beings really are. How we refuse to believe that there are things more important than our own possessions and obsessions. How we pay lip service to ideas like equality and justice and peace when it’s easy. How reluctant we are to believe that losing and hurting and dying feel the same for us as they do for the stranger whose eyes we’ll never meet.

I don’t know how to explain today to my children. School has done a good job teaching them the rote ideas like ‘wear a poppy’ and ‘ remember the brave men who died’ and ‘say Happy Remembrance Day’. On one hand I want them to know more. I want them to know about the complexities of politics and the impossibilities of peace. I want them to know the stories of terrified men and women the world over who died fighting for life. I want them to comprehend the notion of sacrifice, beyond just shutting up for one minute, one day a year. I want them to know that ‘Never Again’ was wishful thinking, and Remembrance Day should never be preceded by the word Happy, and that it’s not all about being able to recite In Flanders Fields with a big dumb grin glued on your face. It’s about real violence and real death and real grief and real destruction and real degradation of all of humanity. I want them to know how totally fucking stupid we humans really are because we can’t get our collective act together enough to stop massacring each other. No matter how hard we try. And it has been, and probably will be forever thus.

On the other hand, I don’t want them to know a damn thing about the why and the how of this day. I don’t want them to have a clue about violence, or death, or grief, or destruction, or degradation, real or otherwise. I want them to believe that compassion and intelligence can prevail. That all is fair in love, and that nothing is fair in war. That equality and justice and peace can be present in every word, every thought, every moment, every person. That the warmth of the sun, the joy of a belly laugh, and the security of love feel the same for them as they do for the stranger whose eyes they’ll never meet. I want to tell them that we humans might not be so fucking stupid after all.

“Let us resolve afresh at the dawn of this new century… that this might be a truly pacific peaceful century.” – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

No Rest for the Sick-ed

19 10 2008

Ahhhh, Fall. The patchwork quilt of amber and crimson and orange covering the hardwood hillsides. The faintest hint of frost in the air. The raspy voices, the phlegm-tastic coughs, and the rivers of neon yellow snot oozing down my children’s faces. Ahhhh, Fall. Ahhhh ahhhh ahhhh choooo.

As ever, the Blister family suffers from impeccable timing. I have about 100 hours worth of writing work to get done. I have twelve days to finish it. And at the rate of 75 cents per word, each one better be pretty bloody dazzling. Or at least coherent. That’s all for the slightly soul-sucking, but gigantic- bill-paying gigs, which take priority over everything. Eve-ry-thing. That means no time for running or yoga or reading or stalking people on facebook. Luxuries like shopping and leg shaving and sleeping past 6 a.m. and every-second-day showers are on hold. But in order to maintain sanity, I have to squeeze in some real writing. The writing that does not turn a dime, but fills the soul vacuum created by doing writing in which I am not allowed to bitch or swear or say what I think. This blog, and a few of my other side projects that might some day propel me to fame and fortune – or at least result in a lump sum of money we can use for a down payment on a house – can’t be neglected. Oh and then there are the kids. Apparently they can’t be neglected either. Not even when they are whiny and boogery and demanding. Neener still needs explanations about the world. Roo still needs bear hugs when she’s echoing and gnashing and melting. Squiggles still needs boobs and bottles and bum changes and stories and songs and help learning how to roll over and clap again. Throw in a night of Neener’s nightmares, Roo with the barfies, and Squiggles refusing to sleep anywhere but on my chest, and you have one exhausted Mrs. Blister who still has to get shit done. No matter how badly she wants to curl up alone under a blanket, with a cup of tea, a package of Halls, and a box of kleenex and hibernate until Christmas morning.

Of course, I’m not on my own in all this. Mr. unquestionably does his share, but we’re still struggling to really find our groove, manage our time, and define our roles. He’s having a hard time prying the domestic reins from my strong, steady, stubborn hands, and sometimes he’s not sure he really wants to. And I’m having a hard time cracking the various whips that need to be cracked in order for me to get my writing career moving as fast as I want and need it to be. I’m too busy frigging around with the domestic reins that I’ve held for so long, and grown so adept at handling. There are a million little challenges to this arrangement that I could not have anticipated, and they all seem to be surfacing at once. Right now, at the worst possible time.

But the timing of this miserable Fall cold that has gripped us? Yeah, I coulda called that. Naturally we’d all wind up feeling and acting under the weather just as I am heading into an intensely busy and stressful work period. Nothing new there. I know that deep in my sub-conscious mind, the part of me that relishes and thrives on struggle and adversity is positively giddy these days. It’s the same part that winked at me and said I told you so when I got my first A on a university term paper. A paper written the night before it was due, 15 minutes at a time, in between bolts to the dorm bathroom with the worst case of the barfies I’ve ever had. It’s the same part that hysterically insisted that Mr. and I were meant to be together when all other evidence and opinion pointed to the contrary. It’s the same part of me that smirks and says bring it on at the thought of all three of my children being somewhere on the autism spectrum. I don’t want to make a habit of quoting Bruce Cockburn, but sometimes he nails it. “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.” And I don’t want to make a habit out of quoting my mother, but sometimes the ol’ doll nails it too. “No guts, no glory.” So pile on the work and pile up the laundry. Bring on the barfies and the boogers. If need be, I’ll sneeze and cough my way through the next two weeks, and come out on the other side with my best work done, my family still functional, and maybe even a shred of sanity leftover. And as for those nasty little phlegm balls that have been getting a free ride in the back of my sore throat for far too long now, I say this: if you’re big enough to choke me, you’re big enough to get out and walk. Haaacaaaaapaaaathoooey!

Passing Indifference

1 10 2008

Sorry about going M.I.A. again for a few days there. I was back at – you guessed it- the little house in the big woods for a somewhat sad occasion. My grandfather, Papa, died. I say somewhat sad because, well, he was 91 years old. For years, he’d been living in a home, unable to walk or talk much thanks to multiple strokes. Late last week, he slipped peacefully into death after a good, long kick at the can on planet Earth. Just the way it should be. So, it’s tough to get too bent out of shape about the peaceful and expected passing of a 91 year-old grandparent. Especially since, in the heart of that grandparent, I was a distant, distant, second place grandchild. If I was even that.

It’s not that Papa didn’t like me.  It was just that he so very blatantly adored my younger brother. The only male grandchild. His namesake. And that only male grandchild namesake was also a supremely gifted brown noser. Especially to old people. So, when Papa walked into our house, he’d smile and nod hello to me, then ask where my brother was, how my brother was, and what wonderful things had my brother done lately. He’d make a fuss over how handsome and smart my brother was. How proud he was of him. Most of the time, I laughed it off. Yes, yes, the sun shines out of my brothers arse, and I skulk in the stinky shadow. But it still stung to spend most of my life largely overlooked by my only living grandparent. This inequality was never, ever malicious or ill-intentioned, but it was always there. Which is why the faintest whiff of favouritism or preferential treatment raises my hackles when it comes to my own kids. I don’t want them to experience that kind of indifference. An indifference that cuts both ways.

Now, my mother will be quick to point out that while my paternal grandfather did indeed favour my brother, my maternal grandmother made no bones about the fact that I was her favourite. Which is true. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see my fifth birthday, so there was no long-term balance of the grandparental favoritism, which made it sting even more. My brother got to spend years developing a special bond with his grandfather while I watched from the periphery, holding on to a few faint memories and oft-repeated stories of how my grandmother had treated me like the crown princess for the few years we shared. It just wasn’t the same, and I always felt a little jealous, and a little cheated in the grandparent department.

Still, at Papa’s funeral, I bawled like the big sentimental sookie baby that I am. I cried, remembering how my brother and I used to hide from him when he’d show up at our house at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, how we’d sit in the closet, trying to stifle our laughter as he hollered up the stairs, “Hellooooooooo? Helloooooooo? Anybody hoooooome?” Until finally, finally, we’d go downstairs, pretending we’d been asleep the whole time. I cried because, despite his presence in my life for over 30 years, I barely knew anything about him. I cried because I never made the effort to make sure that he saw his newest great grandchild before he died. I cried because, like I said, I’m a big sentimental sookie baby. Seeing him one last time made me realize that I don’t hold any grudges or resentment toward my grandfather for so clearly favouring my brother. My brother, that all-important only male grandchild, his Papa’s namesake, the golden child with the sunshiny arse, deserved all the grandparental love and adoration in the world. And so did I.