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With Love

All of my kids are rentals. They always have been. Which is just my adorable way of saying I have no children of my own. Not one. It also means that I can always give them back. I can get them all wound up, feed them sugary delights, let them experience their free will and then completely drop them off at home with their not so unsuspecting parents.

I’m in there somewhere!

It’s the price one pays for having an hour or two of freedom from this…

Apparently, it’s well worth the price.

My first couple of rentals came along when I was still really just a kid myself. I loved babysitting my nephews but they were a handful. Now those two boys have sons that tower over me.
Over the years I accumulated more nieces, nephews, God children and some that just called me “Aunt”. I played with them, fed them and put them to bed. I would take them to fairs, plays and shows. We would sing silly songs. I would tell them stories and we would make things. There was a time when I spent endless hours making them gifts. I always wanted them to have something special to keep that I made especially for them. Sadly, only a few of those things have survived. They made me gifts. I still have every one. I have files of pictures drawn and painted. When they come off the fridge they go into a file. Other things, I proudly display in my home.

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I would also buy them books. I love to read and I wanted to share that with them. I’m proud to say that most of my rentals do love to read and are more grateful for those books now than when they received them.
Now that I am a Grand Aunt, things are different. The biggest change, the one that brought on almost every other change, is the computer. Everything we now own  is computerized. I like to think I keep up pretty well, but at Christmas I got a real awakening. One of my grand nephews took the hand-written card I had attached to his Christmas gift over to his father and asked him to read it to him. I know my grand nephew can read, my penmanship isn’t that bad and it wasn’t a longwinded note (I know, hard to believe) so I asked him why he’d asked his dad to read it.

Grand Nephew: I can’t read writing.
Grand Aunt: What?
Nephew: They don’t teach you how to write in school anymore.
GA: Well, I had heard that, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t be able to read it.
N: If they don’t teach him how to write it, how are they supposed to read it.
GA: How does he write his name?
GN: I print it.
GA: No. I mean how do you do your signature.
N: He prints it!
GA: So if he signs a legal document at some point in his life he will just print his name?
N: That’s right.

Then he read the card to his son, “With love, Aunt Michelle and Uncle Paul”.

Over the years I have learned to keep my mouth shut when it comes to rearing children lest I hear those heartbreaking words, “you don’t know, you don’t have kids”, or a reasonable facsimile. How has this happened? I’ve always considered my signature part of my personality. Half the clothes kids wear today have someone’s signature on them.

I guess if I want to communicate with anyone younger than me I am going to have to pick up my printing skills. I have visions of future scientists uncovering some old Christmas cards and trying to decipher them much like we do the hieroglyphics in the caves from prehistoric man.

I feel so old!

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How many times have you heard that phrase? How many times have you used it? I can tell you that back when I was being told, “In my day I had to walk 10 miles to school, in a blizzard, with no shoes or shirt and I had to carry my six brothers over my shoulders while delivering newspapers along the way.” I swore I would never, ever do that.

I was wrong. (Please don’t ever tell He-Who I said that)

A few years back I had an opportunity to “speak out ” about something that really bothered me. What I found myself over and over again coming back to was how disappointed, disillusioned and just plain angry I was at young people and their behaviour.  Apparently they are being referred to as Generation “Y”. Personally, I call them Generation “Entitled“. It may not be catchy or easy to remember, but their sense of “Entitlement” makes it the most legitimate moniker.  Here’s how it went…

Generation Entitled enters the workforce with extremely high expectations. Of course, they were taught that life should be positive, creative, and challenging. They have been pampered, nurtured and programmed with a slew of activities since they were tots, meaning that they are not just high-performance but that they are also high maintenance. Their multi-tasking talents have resulted in an inability to concentrate for long periods of time on a single task. This is often carried into the workforce. Generation Entitled wants to learn as much as it can in a short period of time and then move onto something bigger and better.

They also believe in their self worth (often over inflated).  They’ve grown up questioning their parents and now they’re questioning their employers. They do not know when to shut up or when enough is enough!  “Respect” is something they take ownership of and not something they give.  Today’s youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives than the other way around. They place a higher value on self fulfillment.  And they believe in their own value enough that they’re not shy about trying to change the companies they work for. They are surprised when they have to work for their money. They want the corner office right now!

This type of attitude contributes to them being viewed as a bunch of overconfident, inexperienced kids unwilling to pay their dues. Quite frankly, with the state of the employment market today I believe we have done them no favours.  They are unprepared for the realities of today’s economy and cannot comprehend the negative environment they are now finding themselves in.

Personally, I am grateful I wasn’t raised this way. The difficulties I have encountered along my path have made me stronger, more resilient, and better prepared to face anything. I will always have an attitude of gratitude for whatever life throws me.

Ok, apparently I had some pretty strong feelings about this. Did it make me feel better to rant about it? If I am honest…maybe a little. However it wasn’t until this year that I really started feeling better about it. Not because anything had changed as far this particular age group. No. Not at all. What happened was I started paying a little more attention to some of the young people that are coming up behind them.  The little ones. The unspoiled ones. There is hope, people. There is hope for all mankind because there are still some really special children living among us.

JANE has just celebrated her 10th birthday. She is as bright, energetic and lovely as her namesake, Jane Goodall. Last year Jane had the opportunity to meet the woman she was named for.

She was such a calm person. When she was on stage she didn’t have to yell at you really loud like some people on stage do. She was a really good story teller but she kept your attention by speaking softly. I got to give her a big hug and she seems so genuinely nice.”

Jane meets Dr. Jane Goodall - Photo Courtesy Jo McArthur/JGI Canada

Jane meets Dr. Jane Goodall – Photo Courtesy Jo McArthur/JGI Canada

A little over a year ago Jane asked if she could grow her hair out so she could donate it.

At school, my friend Lavina came in with her hair all cut off. When I asked her about it she told me she donated it to make wigs for kids who had cancer. We looked for a local program that did that and we found “Wigs For Kids“.

When all was said and done Jane was able to donate enough hair for two kids wigs. Sporting a new style and big grin from ear to ear, she was one very happy girl.

Before and After

If this is any indication of things to come, it seems we have no worries about Our Jane living up to her name. Jane Goodall would be proud.

LIANA is 5, going to be 6 in September. Her Mom tells me …

She needed a good haircut and because one of her classmates from last year had donated her hair I asked her if she would like to do that – Liana got very excited about the idea of donating her hair to little children who were sick and didn’t have hair. At first she thought the hair would make them better, I explained that the hair would make them feel better about themselves while the medicine and doctors tried to make them feel better. She is very proud of herself and her haircut. We are proud of her too.

Before and After

Liana donated her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths… since she didn’t quite have long enough hair to donate for some of the wigs for kids type of organizations out there (she had 8 inches cut off).

Neither one of these girls knows each other, they actually live more than 200 k from each other.

SARAH is a writer.  Her Father is someone I have come to admire through his writing.  Known as The Hook of You’ve Been Hooked, his stories about his crazy misadventures as a Bellman in Niagara Falls always leave me laughing. Recently he shared a wish for his daughter in An Open Letter To Ellen DeGeneres. A must read in my opinion…

My 14-year-old daughter is an old soul, possessed of more compassion and wisdom than most of the adults I’ve ever met. She genuinely cares about the state of the world, especially the plight of children and animals. Sarah is the type of kid every parent wishes their child would be.

She is also a brilliant writer whose greatest wish is to see her series, The Misadventures of Misery, in print after years of scribbling in notebooks and typing away at her computer in her room.

  • A young girl owns a bookstore in New York City.
  • Her best friend is nicknamed Misery because of her perpetual bad luck.
  • A visit to Misery’s hometown results in the revelation that her relatives are all supernatural beings.
  • Soon the girl and her best friend realize everyone is different, therefore, everyone fits in.
  • The adventures continue from there, with the possibilities being endless.

While other kids are tearing each other down on Facebook, Sarah is giving life to her characters.

While other kids are following feuding celebrities on Twitter, Sarah is placing her creations in unbelievably hilarious predicaments.

A touching tribute to a lovely girl.

ERIC recently graduated from grade eight. Eric is He-Who’s grandson so we were invited to share in the festivities.  We were very proud of him. All the kids were amazing. Each one having worked hard to get to this point in their life. There were all kinds of special awards for all kinds of achievements given out.

Proud Grandpa and The Graduate

Proud Grandpa and The Graduate

After the ceremony the class had a celebration dinner and I sat and talked with Eric about all the kids in his class. I was especially impressed with how this class seemed so invested in each other. They were a team and they all helped each other reach their goals. He was able to point out each kid and share a bit of their back story with me.  One girl had lost her mother to cancer that year. Another very frail looking young lady was very ill herself. There was a boy who had “run home” to quickly change from his suit to something more comfortable. His home was the local homeless shelter where he lives with his Mom. Eric himself is autistic which means, even though he is quite brilliant, he had to work more than twice as hard to be on that podium.  As he chatted and continued to explain about all his classmates I looked in his eyes and realized how much hope there was. These kids…all of them…Jane, Liana, Sarah, Eric and his classmates, they are our hope. There is hope for all mankind because there are still some really special children living among us.

Just in case I haven’t convinced you to have faith in this new generation of kids. This video features some really  insightful kids and their take on a recent racial “controversy”.

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