Almost finished my holiday shopping — can you believe it?!

November 20, 2010

The minute Halloween ended, Christmas season began. Or so says the retail world. November 1 I heard my first carol and saw my first splash of red and green. Are there people who like having two months of Christmas? Because I am not one of them.

Before you jump all over me and call me Scrooge, may I point out that I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas at all. In fact, ever since I was a kid, not celebrating Christmas was a big part of defining ourselves as Jews. Our Christmas tradition is to go out for Chinese food and go see a movie. Of course, these days all the goyim go see movies too, so it’s a lot more crowded than when I was a kid. So while I like the lights and the days off and the parties and food, I don’t like having Christmas thrown at me in an overwhelming way for such a long time.

Not that any of that has anything to do with what I’m about to brag about — I have nearly finished my holiday shopping. Despite being Jewish, I still have to keep up with the Jones and buy my kids presents, only for Chanukah (a very minor Jewish holiday that falls sometime around Christmas that has turned into a gift-giving occasion, not that it was that when I was a kid). And this year I hit the early November sales, made lists, and have bought all but a few of my gifts already. I know, you hate me.

If it makes you feel any better, Chanukah is early this year — December 1-8 — so I had to get shopping earlier. And I still have to figure out the food and clothes part (I have nothing nice to wear for the party I’m throwing!).

But come on, you hate me, don’t you. Ha ha.

Advertisements

Are you a “hockey mom” or a “soccer mom”?

October 1, 2010

The New Oxford Dictionary has added a whole wack of new words to the dictionary this year, and while I can’t muster a tonne of enthusiasm that “bromance” and “hashtag” made the list, I am excited that moms have a new definition for our activities. This year, “hockey mom” made the list:

hockey mom n. informal a mother who devotes a great deal of time and effort to supporting her children’s participation in ice hockey.

Now, obviously a hockey mom is much more devoted than a “soccer mom,” which Merriam Webster defines as:

soccer mom n. a typically suburban mother who accompanies her children to their soccer games and is considered as part of a significant voting bloc or demographic group

Obviously we soccer moms are just stuck in our situations, whereas hockey moms put the drive into driving your kid to sports.

My kids don’t play hockey, but even if the definition applies to other sports, I think I’m much more of a soccer mom than a hockey mom. But boy, do I know a lot of hockey moms!

Last summer, when I was coaching Little League baseball, we had a dad who really pushed for his kid on our team, and we called him a “hockey dad.” Can’t find that one in online dictionaries, but I always thought the hockey dad was the guy who pushed so hard that he got into fights with other hockey dads and coaches to get his kid more play time. Obviously, that is not the hockey mom.

Soccer mom was a term invented to define mostly baby boomer suburban moms, so it’s nice to see that we Gen X moms now have a term all our own.


Mommy, what’s a bastard? Mommy, what’s wrong with being one?

June 30, 2010

Recently I took my 9-year-old to see the original version of the Bad News Bears — you know, the Walter Matthau version. I think it was an edited version, because I was waiting for the scene where he writes the word “assume” on a board then divides it up into “ass” and “u” and”me”. Anyhow, that scene wasn’t in it. But there were lots of instances where the boys on the team called each other bad names.

And which bad name jumped out at my 9-year-old? Bastard. So he asked me:

9-year-old: Mommy, what is a bastard?

Embarrased mom: It’s a bad word, an insult. I don’t ever want you to say it.

Overly inquisitive 9-year-old: OK, mommy, but what does it mean really?

Mom: It’s when someone is the child or parents who weren’t married. A long time ago that was shameful.

9-year-old: What’s wrong with your parents not being married?

And there you have it — what is wrong with it anymore? Nothing to my son’s generation. Half their friends are products of unmarried partners, accidents, single parents, and more. So who is a bastard anymore anyhow?


Poor Gen Y, now you get a taste of what Gen X dealt with in our 20s!

April 29, 2010

The recession is over. Haven’t you heard? The media are sure now that we’re all back to prosperity and we’re out of the woods now. The only wrinkle is that the jobs don’t seem to have returned. And according to an article I read in Macleans Magazine this week (ok, the article ran a few weeks ago, but I’m that far behind on my magazine reading. It’s been a busy month!), the poor Millenials, aka Generation Y, are getting the worst of it.

Silly me, I thought those hit the worst were the out-of-work middle agers who lost their secure jobs when they most needed to pay the mortgage, daycare bills and feed their families. But nope, I was wrong. It’s the poor university grad who has to take on some crap job that they are overqualified for because the perfect work experience isn’t dropping into their laps. And I quote:

When Amanda, who asked that Maclean’s not use her last name, got her undergraduate degree in math last June, she wanted to get a job as an analyst. But after four months of unemployment, she took an entry-level position at a Toronto IT firm. While her friends who graduated with similar credentials just a few years earlier started out making about $40,000, she’s earning $30,000.

In fact, most young people entering the job market now are making less than peers who found jobs two or three years ago.

Aww, poor babies. But it sounds a lot like how my entire generation felt coming on the heels of the baby boomer generation. And I think we had it worse, because this recession is just a set back for Gen Y, not a permanent state of affairs like the ones I lived through. I quote again:

Whereas the recession in the early ’80s replaced full-time jobs with part-time jobs, and the one in the ’90s replaced traditional employment with self-employment, this downturn seems to be replacing permanent jobs with temporary jobs.

Um, sorry, but that was exactly what happened to my generation when we left school. There were almost no career jobs. We were all underemployed. And permanent jobs were out of the question. We were lucky to find temporary or contract work. Heck, I built a career out of temporary and contract work..

Why is it tragic that these over-coddled kids have to work their way up and into a career? We did it and most of us are just fine. And back in my day, living with my parents past my early 20s was entirely unthinkable. I worked as a secretary, copy writer, whatever it took, while paying rent and buying food all by myself. Why can’t they do the same?

Post-script: I just re-read this and I think I’m maybe too hard on Gen Y. It’s not their fault the demographics worked in their favour, giving them, up until this recession, anything they wanted in the work world. It’s their parents’ fault. 🙂


Baby boomers continue to dominate even into old age

April 26, 2010

As a kid, I grew up aware of the giant generation ahead of me, the one who set the world on fire, who changed the rights of women and minorities. As a young adult, I was aware of the giant generation ahead of me in the workplace, who took up all the jobs, caused the recession of the 80s, and kept me from establishing a solid career, or at least from finding a solid, permanent-seeming job.

As a young mother, I was aware of the giant generation ahead of me that paved some roads for working mothers but left many unpaved. Where is the national daycare policy they promised? Where is the work-life balance they promised? And as a working person, I am certainly aware of the lack of a real social safety net they are leaving for my old age. I have no expectations of social security or old age pensions, something the boomers will enjoy, because their giant generation will bankrupt those government programs.

I know I’m sounding bitter. I am bitter. I’ve been bitter all my life about the boomers, but that’s a feature of my generation, the disaffected Gen X. But recently I read a great op-ed article that was so much more eloquent about the boomers’ self-absorption and how it over-dominates public policy discussions.

In a piece titled Beyond Boomercentrism, Paul Kershaw argues that Canada puts too much focus on boomers and not enough on the young. Our government is all caught up in pension reform that daycare policies and early childhood educational standards are lost. He says:

…We must move beyond the boomercentrism that guides our priority-setting to invest in the smart family policy parents require now, and that children deserve.

And I was reminded of this piece this past week when I read another article about the movie business, something I know a bit about. It was all about how theatre owners need to prepare for the aging demographic.

What will happen when the boomers are all gone, or are no longer much of a consumer force to be reckoned with? Governments and corporations need to retool for other generational priorities soon, not just to please Gen X and Y (and Z), but to be ready for post-boomer days before it’s too late.

I may be bitter, but I think I’m right.


My mother never had it this bad: The demands of a working mommie’s busy week

April 17, 2010

We have just made it through a working family’s version of a week of h-e-double toothpicks. And I am sure every generation says this about their parents’ years, but I am pretty sure my mother never had a week like this.

With both my husband and I working for ourselves, we usually have some time to run errands and the like during the week. But lately we’ve both been taking on new contracts and are both working full out. For him, it’s meant a race to get home by 4:30 to race the boys to their swimming lessons. Or rushing the boys out the door in the morning to before-care (a daycare feature of their after-school program we almost never used before) so he can get to work early. For me, this week has meant four days of working downtown, instead of only two, meaning no time working from home. It meant working nights to catch up. But I also had two breakfast meetings that had me leave home before the kids even woke up. And I had three evening sessions that meant I got home after the boys were in bed. Plus we had our first baseball game (my son’s team, but as coach it’s my team too), two baseball practices, and I had book club. I’m exhausted just writing it down.

It was so bad that:

  • We didn’t sit down for a family meal together until Friday.
  • I didn’t see my kids for two 24-hour stretches.
  • It took me 2 1/2 days to do three loads of laundry.
  • The guys had to wait around one morning for pants to come out of the dryer because they had nothing clean they were willing to wear.
  • We ran out of milk and vegetables.
  • My older son was practicing for his spelling test on the walk to school Friday because it was the only time I had to help him.

On the bright side, I did bike downtown four days in a row, so at least I got some exercise despite the schedule. And on an even brighter note, it’s really made us appreciate how easy we usually have it, and how great it is to have a weekend to relax. Of course, the weekend would be better if it would stop raining for this afternoon’s baseball game.


Gen X film classics saluted at the Oscars in tribute to John Hughes — when did we get so old?

March 9, 2010

I grew up on John Hughes films. Breakfast Club. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Pretty in Pink.  St. Elmo’s Fire (OK, not a Hughes film but also stars Brat Pack gang). These classic films helped define Generation X, our whole generation. After The Big Chill put a fine point on Baby Boomer angst, along came John Hughes to explain Gen X to the Boomers, and reflect ourselves to ourselves.

So I just loved the tribute to John Hughes at the Oscars last Sunday. I loved seeing the clips, but really loved seeing the old Brat Packers grown up. Some have aged better than others (Matthew Broderick compared to Judd Nelson??) and some don’t seem to have aged at all (hello, Maccauley Caulkin?).

Thanks to Jenn for starting the discussion about how the aging Brat Packers make us feel about our own aging. With my birthday just over a week away, I’d say I’ve held up pretty well against Ally Sheedy and Mare Winningham (did you see her last week in 24?). Are there any films as good as these about teenagers nowadays?