One Final Year

chronicling my march towards graduation in 2012

PSA – 5, with visuals.

I was so delighted by my roaring success at baking the other day that I decided it would be a good idea to share my knowledge of all things culinary with the masses. I have a secret tip about an easy way to open jars and so, with the help of my children, I filmed the following public service announcement.

When people ask you what you learned in university today, I certainly hope you add this to your list.

Public Service Announcement # 4 (I think)

Subtitled: what not to do while baking. I fail so you don’t have to.

I decided to bake today, it being a Friday, which means I don’t have classes, and it also being the third day in a row that I have not taken my kids to school, in light of the road conditions (by which I mean, of course, as far as today is concerned, that the roads were clear with occasional spots of light rain).

The baking started off pretty well. I made some muffins. I have made a lot of muffins in my day, and this morning I decided to branch out and make a new recipe, peanut butter banana muffins. I couldn’t find a half-cup measure so I just kind of eyeballed the 1.5 cups of milk required, and I confess the muffins were a little dry, by which I mean, of course, that I wouldn’t offer them to a friend or even an enemy. Eye-balling being, apparently, not such a good plan.

Motivated by this disappointment, I decided to do even more baking. I figured I’d make a baguette in case people stop by tonight. I’d make a baguette and roast some garlic, because nothing says snobby academic like a homemade baguette and roasted garlic and I can assure you, snobby academic is definitely what I am going for. Flipping through my bread machine cook book, on the way to the baguette section I happened across a recipe for chocolate peanut butter rolls. Even though they won’t go as well with roasted garlic, I decided to go ahead and make those instead of a baguette. Unfortunately, the recipe failed to tell me when to add the chocolate chips, so I decided to just throw them right in there at the beginning of the dough cycle. Because, really, what could possibly go wrong?

While waiting for the bread machine to do its thing there mixing the dough for me, I started thinking about bagels. My kids’ Dad makes bagels. He uses the bread machine to mix the dough, and then shapes and boils up the bagels. There are lots of great things about my kids’ Dad, but one of the things I miss most are his bagels. We haven’t hung around each other for seven years, which means I haven’t had homemade bagels for seven years. I decided it was time to change that. Surely I could make bagels, too.

I found a recipe online. It was for the bread machine, and looked a lot like how my kids’ Dad used to make bagels, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. But it only made nine bagels, and I was a little reluctant to go to all that work for only nine bagels, so I decided to double it. But then I worried that the doubled-recipe would be too big for my bread machine, and the bread machine was busy, anyway, mixing its little heart out for the chocolate peanut butter buns, so I decided to make the dough in my food processor. Now, I’ve never used the food processor to do much more than grate potatoes, I’m not going to lie, but it does come with a dough paddle so I figured that meant it must be possible to make dough in it.

I followed the recipe, doubling as I went. I also decided to substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, a vague nod to healthiness on a day that includes muffins, chocolate buns, and, well, bagels. Here is what I learned.

Do not add water first when putting dough ingredients into a food processor. Said water will leak all over the counter, which you will not discover until you’ve added the last of the six cups of flour. You will have no idea how much water leaked out, so you will have to guess.

Whole wheat flour is actually not the same as white flour, I’m just going to tell you that right now. Apparently you can’t just toss a bunch into a bagel recipe – a bagel recipe that in all likelihood does not have near the right amount of water in it any more – and expect it to turn out.

If you mix in the food processor, you are probably supposed to let the dough rise for an hour or something before you work with it. I forgot that step. Forgetting that step meant it took about four and a half seconds from the moment that I first thought of making bagels to the moment the dough was mixed, though. I’m not going to lie, that’s some rapid turnaround.

Bagels are supposed to float to the top when you drop them in boiling water. If they sink like a stone, cut your losses and just stop. Stop. Now.

If the recipe says to cook bagels until they are browned, don’t take them out when they’re not yet browned. When you take a bite out of one, you will discover that not only does it taste super bad due to all of the negligence listed above, but it’s still sort of raw-ish.

If you’re going to try to make bagels again, you should probably follow the recipe. You should not use the wrong appliance, wrong flour, and wrong measurement. I’m just sayin’. Think about it.

I apologize

No. Really. I apologize.

I apologize to anyone who was in the library yesterday between, say, 2 and 6 pm. I apologize to the people at Subway. I apologize to my neighbours. Really. I apologize.

Let me start by saying that I knew my pants were ripped. Really. I did. I ripped them the other day at Piper’s. It was a small little hole in the bum, and I wasn’t too worried about it, because I was wearing another pair of pants underneath them, it being cold at Piper’s and all. So yesterday when I put on my dangerous black cords I made sure to once again put on a pair of pants underneath them, grey leggings even.

Then I went to my Mum’s house and changed her sheets and did some laundry and hoisted a few boxes around.

“It’s too bad your pants are ripped,” my mother said. I’m not going to lie, I was a little surprised she noticed, me having just made a little snag there in the seat at Piper’s.

“Yeah,” I said, and I carried on my day, failing to recognize the ominous implications of her comment.

My day included spending about four hours in the university library. The printer wasn’t working, so much of those four hours, I’m not going to lie, involved me huffing between my computer and various printing stations, strolling back and forth across the library in varying degrees of irritation.

When I got home after picking up a late dinner for my family at Subway, my youngest daughter said, “there’s a hole in your pants.”

“I know,” I told her. “That’s why I am wearing another pair of pants underneath.”

“Those are pants?” she asked. “It looks like you’re wearing men’s underwear.”

I did a double-take. I did a double-take of my own butt, where it became clear that what may have been a little hole at Piper’s was now the entire seat ripped out of my cords. And those grey leggings underneath? Yeah… they did look like I was wandering around with my boyfriend’s underwear hanging out.

Dear people in the library: I assure you those were trousers and not my boyfriend’s underwear. He doesn’t let me wear his underwear. In public.

Really. He doesn’t. They were trousers.

I’ve been taking kind of the smug road up until now in my life. You know. I judge all of you people who are in the library and a) kiss your girlfriend/boyfriend/both b) talk on the phone c) listen to music so loud I have to listen to it, too d) play Bejeweled Blitz when all the computers are full and I am desperate for a computer so I can print off a paper three minutes before it’s due. But I confess that walking around with a gaping hole in my pants probably qualifies as a new low for inappropriate library/Subway behaviour.

I apologize, but do stay tuned for my next trick, when I actually do wear my boyfriend’s underwear out in public. Let’s face it, at this point, I’ve as good as nearly done it.

The Christmas Sled

This year for Christmas things were a little tight. I warned my kids ahead of time. We agreed to only gift each other homemade things and a shift or two ringing the bell for the Salvation Army kettle.

The week before Christmas my youngest daughter disappeared into her bedroom. She was gone an awfully long time, and eventually I called to her, asking what she was doing. “Making your present!” she said. There was some banging, then a pause. “Do we have a hammer?”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. We did, in fact, have a hammer, but I felt a notable reluctance to tell my daughter. It’s not like we have a convenient pile of scrap wood and nails simultaneously lying around, so what she wanted to hammer both boggled and worried my mind. Finally, and with a regrettable lack of enthusiasm, I suggested she look in the tool box. She did, and shortly the hammering from her room began in earnest.

Later, on the phone, I told a friend that my daughter had made me something for Christmas. “It involved hammering,” I said. “I’m very concerned.” The package under the tree was flat-ish and poorly wrapped. I envisioned a broken picture frame. Smashed glass. Two bits of seashells glued together. “Do you think I should secretly open it before Christmas,” I asked my friend, “so that I can prepare my face for when I open it in front of her?”

I didn’t open it ahead of time. Instead the package lurked under the tree, where it eventually disappeared amongst the stacks of other presents gifted to us from friends and family, surprise piles of gifts spoiling us this year.

On Christmas morning, my daughter rummaged amongst the packages until she found her present to me, its wrinkly white paper, thickly taped edges.

“Merry Christmas, Mum,” she said. She clapped her hands with excitement as I began to open it. I smiled at her. I love her love for me, and I prepared myself to get really enthusiastic about whatever was in the package, whatever she could have made with a hammer and something from her room — a tack and a Justin Bieber poster? I had no idea.

This summer my daughters went to New York City with their Dad. They came home with a World’s Number One keychain for me and one of those tourist license plates with New York written across it in DMV lettering which my youngest hung on her wall as her treasure from her vacation.

When I opened my Christmas present, I saw her New York license plate, curved in on one end.

“It’s a sled!” she said, clapping with delight. “I made you a sled! Because it’s Christmas! And because it’s from New York, and people go sledding in Central Park!”

I looked at my daughter, holding the Christmas sled in my hands. “This,” I tried to say, choked-up, tearing-up, “this is the best Christmas present I have ever been given in all my life. Thirty-eight years old. This is the best.” No broken glass, glued-edged, orange macaroni ashtray, this.

She clapped her hands again and threw her arms around my neck.

We have a friend who works with wood. I asked him if he could bolt the sled to a piece of plywood or something so that it wouldn’t bend too much over the years. My daughter jumped up and clapped her hands in excitement. “I was thinking you could make it go downhill!” she said. I elbowed her out of the way as one does when adults are talking, worried she was asking for something that might take actual work on the part of our friend. “Something flat, you know, like a piece of scrap, if you’ve got something like that. Couple of screws. It’ll be super,” I said.

Today our friend gave me the Christmas sled back. “That’s second-growth Cedar; tree from our yard,” he said.

I held the Christmas sled in my hands. I remembered sitting in the living room listening to my daughter hammer in her bedroom upstairs. I remembered the garbage I expected her to make me. I remembered the face I thought I was going to have to pretend to make, the mustered-up enthusiasm. And instead this is what I got, on this Christmas I thought would be so … dry, so all about the Salvation Army kettle and about how little we had to offer each other.

You could never find this in a store. Nothing you could buy could ever be worth as much as an eight-year-old hammering her souveneir into a Christmas sled for her mother, a smooth and polished slope for it made to measure by a friend.

Six years

Six years ago I lived in a basement apartment on Uplands Drive. There was mold behind the drywall from a flood from the upstairs suite that happened before I moved in; I didn’t know about the mold until later, until after we’d lived there for a year and a bit and I’d spent much of that time so sick I had to crawl to get to the bathroom, or crawl to get to the kitchen to make food for my children, pausing to lie down every five minutes or so. I can still feel the cool of the tile beneath my face.

Six years ago, I didn’t have a job. We’d been in Nanaimo for five months, and I’d applied for plenty of work, but with no post-secondary education, no work experience save some volunteer experience in places that seemed, suddenly, very far away, I never seemed to make the interview cut. Maybe that was because six years ago I wrote most of those resume cover letters while drunk.

Six years ago, I drank too much. Trying to recover from a nasty end to my marriage, I drank away the stress. The stress was crippling; the drinking, moreso. Six years ago, sick, unemployed, drunk, crawling on the floor in a cold basement suite, I yelled at my children. Six years ago, my children were six and two years old. Six years ago, we would all sleep in the same bed, because, unemployed, secretly hiding all that failure, I couldn’t afford to buy myself a quilt, and would cuddle with the girls to stay warm. I could put $20 of wine on my credit card but for some reason I couldn’t spend $60 on a quilt. Six years ago, this is the mental state I was in.

Six years ago today, I got on the ferry to go spend Christmas week in Vancouver with a man while my kids visited with their Dad. This man was not the right man for me, but I wanted to meet someone very much indeed. I was afraid I couldn’t take care of my kids. I was afraid that I couldn’t take care of myself. But with someone else? With someone else I’d do better. Someone else would be my safety net. Someone else could both help me with the kids, with the bills, with the cooking of dinner and help me do better myself. With someone else, I’d rise to the occasion. God knows, I knew six years ago, I couldn’t do it on my own, could not do this – the child-raising, the home-maintaining, the surviving – as a single person. Six years ago, unwilling to acknowledge any mercenary motivation, I told myself it was just that I “didn’t want to be alone.”

Six years ago, I could not have begun to imagine that just one month later, I would quit drinking for good. That within four months, I’d have found a job; within a year and a half, the Vancouver man and I would call it quits and that would be good; within two years my relationship with my kids would be completely turned around, and that every day – every day! – would be full of joy; within two and a half years, I’d be finding success as a writer; within two years and nine months I’d have bought a little townhouse for us on my own; within three years and two weeks I’d be in university; and within six years I’d have a semester left to go. Within six years, I would have all of this – sure, some material things, like a little house and little yard and more than enough blankets and two black and affectionate cats, but mostly, mostly a bounty, an absolute bounty, of friends and love.

Six years ago, I could not have imagined that I would turn into a sappy cheeseball. I would have shuddered at the thought. But sappy cheeseball I am.

Six years ago, I could not have imagined one day sitting in class and having the person next to me, in an argument discussion with the professor about the upcoming exam, say “look, we can’t all be Kyla f@#$ing Hanington.” Kyla f@#$ing Hanington wasn’t Kyla f@#$ing Hanington for most of her life, either, and I find it both laughable and wonderful that today drunk, sick, poor, floor-crawling, unemployed me might be seen as Kyla f@#$ing Hanington by anyone at all.

Maybe this is what happens when we let go of our safety nets. The relationships, the booze, the self-doubt, the limitations. Maybe this is what happens when we say, “well, I’m probably going to die alone and be eaten by dogs but, what the hell, I’m going to do it anyway.”

Do it anyway, and see what happens.

Verklempt

Ah, exam week, why is it you always take me by surprise? How can I find time for studying in between all the sleeping, napping, Terry Pratchett reading, flirting, and Chopped watching? Yet come you do, at the end of each semester, so as you’d think I’d be expecting you by now.

Oh, exam week, now you are over, and I feel verklempt, because this means I have only one semester left of university. I should be happy, shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t I be dancing – possibly naked, possibly across a lawn? Or singing? Perhaps jumping up and down whilst wearing a sparkling bonnet? But, no, exam week, right now I can’t decide if I should cry for sorrow or for joy.

Yes, exam week, I miss you already. Now that the semester is done I see that I will soon have to leave the bubble, and I so do not want to leave the bubble. I love university. I love everything about it: the learning, the talking, the professors, the students, the library, the wonderful Christmas-y delight of a new batch of books each semester, the conversations before, after, and occasionally even during class. So it is with sadness, actual real sadness, that I see the end of the road before me, that I see that for all intents and purposes, despite a semester left to go, it’s as though I am already done.

But still, exam week, this delights me. Not because I want to be done -clearly not – but because when I started here three years ago I was sure, sure, I’d drop out, or flunk out, or get kicked out, just ’cause. I was 35 when I began university; with an nine-year-old and a five-year-old that I was (and still am) raising on my own, so I had, it seemed, barriers both real and imagined.

Now I am 38. I have a twelve-year-old and an eight-year-old that I am raising on my own. And, exam week, I don’t think I’m going to drop out or flunk out or even just get kicked out. I think I’m going to graduate at the end of next semester, graduate in spite of all times that I told myself over the last, oh, twenty years, that there was something fundamentally wrong with me (stupid? lazy? maybe stupid, definitely lazy) that made it so I’d just let myself down if I tried university again. But three years ago, exam week, I decided not to let all those fears stop me. I don’t know why I decided that – the fears were still there. And, now, let me repeat:

I don’t think I’m going to drop out or flunk out or even just get kicked out. I think I’m going to graduate at the end of next semester.

So you see, exam week, why I’m feeling so verklempt? It’s really just because of all the ways that I love you; how can I help but already miss you?

It’s Like She Stole My Life

My friend Blake was so, uh, moved by my recent blog posts and facebook statuses along the lines of “I dunno how I do all the stuff that I do … except for vacuuming, sweeping, paper-writing, and fruit-eating, ’cause me no do those things” that he sent me the following link:

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

Frankly, I found it horrifying. It was as though someone had stolen my life, except stolen a version of my life that was funnier and involved far cuter pictures than the one in which I actually live. So, in lieu of doing my dishes, studying for exams, vacuuming, or cleaning the bathroom, I poked around a little bit and found this recent post, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html, which frankly, and I say this with no little regret, could also have been pillaged from my own life.

In my other writing life – I do actually have another writing life, one in which I write about things that are not (necessarily) related to being a student – I try to write about things that are tough. I basically fear that Thoreau was right and “the mass of (humans) lead lives of quiet desperation,” and I also fear we’re all so busy comparing our insides with other peoples outsides that we assume we are the only ones. Let me explain. Most of the time, I certainly assume you all are just having a glorious time: you know, you’re madly in love with your partners, undoubtedly having lots of terribly satisfying sex, you’re never lonely, you have enough money, and if you’re a parent you’re a great one, and you don’t feel even the slightest amount of horror when you look in the mirror, and you’re generally proud of yourselves, and content, if not outright delighted, with the lives that you lead. But then, sometimes, when talking to someone there will be suddenly that faint scratch upon the surface, and I see then that all is not well on the insides, not always, not at this moment – and that is what I try to capture when I write. I write, in my other life, mostly just to say you are not alone. I have to do it in writing, because most of the time I find I can’t just lean over, touch the other person on the arm, and say, I saw that. I know. So I write it out instead, and I offer up my own insides, so that other people can see them exposed and know that in this way, at least, they are not alone.

I don’t know if it always works the way I do it. It works profoundly, even painfully, well in these Hyperbole and a Half posts.

I saw that. I know. You are not alone.

Costco

Today I hustled up to Costco in Courtenay, an opening statement that itself requires some explanation.
1) I don’t hustle. Like, ever. In fact, I notoriously drive like a granny, if the granny in question is half-blind, has road-anxiety, and is prone to wagging her index finger at those passing in cars. So when I say I hustled up to Costco in Courtenay, I mean to say that I was a passenger in a car (my car, in fact) that was hustling up to Costco in Courtenay.
2) Hustling was necessary because I have a 3000-word paper due, oh, three weeks ago and if I don’t get it done by Monday I am expecting to be, well, even more ashamed of myself than I currently am.
3) Costco in Courtenay was necessary because they sell glasses, unlike the Costco in Nanaimes. My oldest kid is legally blind (fo’ reals. Good eyesight is just one of the many gifts I have passed onto her) and as she’s super sporty (which, obvs, she also gets from me) she tends to run through her glasses fairly quickly, what with taking volleyballs and hockey pucks to the face on a regular basis. I just got her glasses priced out at a local glasses place here and the cost – some $500 – had me in fits on the floor.

It’s not that I don’t want to spend 500 bucks on getting my kid glasses; it’s that at this exact moment in time I actually can’t, but her walking around with glasses held together with hockey tape was getting pretty old, let’s face it.

So my buddy and I hustled up to Costco in Courtenay to see if they could beat $500 for my 12-year-old’s glasses. They could. Lenses and frames for $120. Together, not each! I did a little jig there in front of the 72-inch televisions, and handed over my American Express, the only one of my credit cards with even the remotest amount of life in it at all.

And then, suddenly, as the credit card was leaving my hand, I remembered the other credit card – the new American Express that had come in the mail, the new American Express sent to replace this one, this one that expired exactly three days earlier – the other credit card that was sitting, unactivated, in a soup bowl in my kitchen (because where else would you keep a new credit card but in a soup bowl, I ask you?)

I grinned at the woman there. This might not work, I said as I handed her the card. Apparently it’s expired. Do you think that matters?

She gave me a look.

I get this look a lot. I think every professor I have ever had has given me this look. I am not sure it’s a nice look, but it’s a familiar look, and thus somewhat comforting.

So, we’ll give it a shot then? I said hopefully.

She suggested I phone American Express, possibly in the hopes that I and my mournful, pleading tone would become American Express’s problem rather than hers. After many minutes on hold later, American Express did, in fact, over-ride my old credit card and allowed it to make the purchase, and in ten days my daughter will have stylish new glasses to replace the askew, hockey-taped pair which is currently serving her so inadequately. (Let me repeat: 120 dollars. One hundred and twenty dollars. Okay, so, I know that big box stores are bad evil the root of all that is wrong in this world, and they put small local businesses out of business, and we should all feel shame if we so much as set foot in one, but, um, one hundred and twenty dollars! I’m just sayin’! Costco in Courtenay… think about it!)

I was so excited, nay, so elated, upon returning home that I decided to garden, because nothing says ‘it’s time to get down to your history paper on F.R. Scott’ like weeding last summer’s pea plants. This went marvelously well until I got tripped up on a rusty old metal spike and ripped up both my leg and my favourite pair of pants. And why is there a rusty old metal spike in my yard? Because it is holding together one of the vegetable boxes, of course, and although I have almost cut myself on that exact same spike at least three times in the last year I have never taken any action to, you know, remove it. Now that I have successfully been cut by it, however, it seems obvious that action-taking earlier might well have been a good idea. I’m thinking there’s a tetanus shot in my future, and possibly the sewing up of a trouser leg, if only I had a darning needle and if only I could sew. I bought these pants for two dollars. I’m not giving up on them that easily.

With days like this it’s a wonder I’ve ever gotten any school work done at all. I’ve gotta say, I don’t think it’s looking very good for me and old F.R. Scott. Surely even my (extremely) long-suffering professor will be hard-pressed to take the lure of low prices at Costco as a valid reason for being late(r) with my essay. Still, Gord, 120 dollars! I’m just sayin’!

MRSA

There has been a little silence in blog land lately as I’ve been laid low by MRSA, otherwise known as flesh-eating disease, although in my case the flesh remained mercifully un-et.

During The Great MRSA Event of 2011 I had plenty of time to think about all the stuff I wasn’t doing, like, for example, school work. I also failed to do any work work, writing work, or house work, but I did manage to squeeze in a little Call of Duty playing with my brother, and if that’s not sick time well spent I just don’t know what is. Yet even between doctor visiting, Call of Duty playing, Tintin reading, and couch sleeping, I still managed to compile for you, my concerned readers, a list of What Not to Do While Sick with MRSA. In the interests of blogging accuracy, I actually did do all of these things myself. What I won’t do for you people.

1) Do not accept an invitation to a Grey Cup party if all you are going to do is lie on the couch and talk about how sick you have been.

2) If at a Grey Cup party, do not stand up, invite people to look at your MRSA, and take off your shirt in the middle of the kitchen so all assembled guests can examine your armpit. I’m just sayin’. In the scheme of things, this is probably Not A Good Idea.

3) Do not take pictures of your infection and post them on facebook. Your facebook friends do not want to see this, and frankly, my facebook friends wish someone had told me this two weeks ago, if not a year ago when I was even sicker than I am now with much the same thing yet still had the wherewithall to maintain a live photo journal, bless my little cotton socks.

4) Do not, under any circumstances, google MRSA.

5) If you do google MRSA despite knowing this is Not A Good Idea, and you learn that MRSA can be passed onto pets, do not clutch your cat to your chest in order to get all primate on it, pawing through every inch of fur to look for worrying skin lesions. If the cat happens to be a long-hair, do not try to cut the cat’s fur in order to have a better view of its skin. Trust me. The cat will not thank you if you do this. The cat might actually consider removing your face and in case this has never occurred to you, I can assure you that if cats decide to turn, they could take over the world. Let’s not do anything that might encourage them to take up arms claw.

Hockey

We went to a hockey tournament this weekend. This was sort of in lieu of doing my 3000-word essay that was due yesterday, although I’d like to go on record saying I brought eight books with me to the hotel, so my intentions were there. But I also brought a couple of other kids with me, because when you’re a single Mum in university there ain’t no way no how that you can afford to go away to a hockey tournament if you just go by yourself. So you take on a couple other families’ kids, and they all chip in for food and gas money and hotel bills and suddenly it turns out you can take your kids to this hockey tournament after all, but all those kids and you in a hotel room does mean that you carted all those books around for nothing. But they looked really pretty all laid out on the desk there, as though the hotel room was inhabited by an intellectual.

Some of my youngest daughter’s teammates started hanging around in our room, too, I think because I kept making quizzes about Justin Bieber for them to answer (Selena Gomez is …. ? and Justin Bieber’s girlfriend is …..? And Justin Bieber’s first album was …?), so when I wasn’t sitting at the rink wincing every time an opposing team took a shot on net, I was surrounded by a gaggle of happy, funny, Justin Bieber-loving little people. Those books on the desk kept calling me, ‘though. I mean, I am in university, after all, and in all this time I’ve never just not done a paper. Hell, I’ve written papers with my kid, feverish, on the couch next to me puking into a bucket. There, there, I said, cleaning her up and getting her water, then sitting back down with her feet in my lap while I typed, tip-tap, away. If I can write papers with my kid puking, surely there’s nothing that can stop me getting a paper done on time.

I thought about dropping my kids off at the rink and not watching their games. I thought about kicking all the nine-year-olds out of the room. I thought about bringing books with me to the stands and taking notes between checking out plays. But I didn’t, and I’m glad that I didn’t.

I am all for doing well in school. I figure if I am there, I better be putting in the effort to get the most out of it that I can. Plus, I adore my teachers, and I want them to adore me in return, and even though they probably don’t give a good god-damn about it one way or another, I am loathe to disappoint them in even the smallest of ways.

But I am also a parent, and I have these two little people walking alongside me for the moment, and I don’t want to miss too much of it. I want my kids to know that their Mama never missed a practice or a game, and I didn’t miss those things not because I felt obligated to attend but rather because I wanted to be there more than anything in this world. More than good grades, even.

My little daughter, who can barely skate, who is so literal that, when told her job as defense was to protect the goalie, proceeded to spend the next four games doing nothing on the ice but screening her own goalie, regardless of what end of the ice the play was in, who spends most of her life following the bees in her head, came out on ice the last game of the tournament wearing an A. Her team has rotating captains and assistant captains, and my little daughter was chosen as an assistant for the last game. She grinned up at us when we screamed her name as she took the ice, and every time she skated by, thirty seconds or so after the play had passed us, she’d grin impishly up into the stands.

Sometimes, I think it would be a lot easier to do this whole university thing if I didn’t have kids. Let’s face it, if I didn’t have kids, there would be no hotel room, no gaggle of Justin Bieber fans, no extra children to accompany us to hockey tournaments. And there would be no hockey tournaments, no cold bum, no impish assistant captain with a big sister screaming and jumping with delight.