Friday, July 30, 2010

“Atypically Speaking” – Reflections of a Square-pegged Zoomer

“Kyle the Red,” my 11 year old son confided something to me a month ago.  “Mom,” he said, “at the end of cadet’s group last night, all my friends were saying what age their parents are and when I said that you’re 51, they laughed at me!”  Frankly, I was a bit astounded.  I couldn’t believe that the same peer pressure that makes today’s children so acutely brand-conscious of clothing, electronics and life-style could place superficial labelling on what’s cool or hot as the case may be, in parents.  “Did that make you feel badly,” I asked – anxiously.  “Well, sort of,” he admitted. 
“Whoa,” I thought – “that’s one thing that even a super-mom can’t fix!”
A bit overly-sensitive, Kyle admitted that he had no reply for his cool friends on that evening so just fell silent.  I tried to make Kyle feel OK about his decrepit parent.  I asked him, “do any of your friends’ mothers roller-blade, bike ride or play tennis with them?”  “No,” he answered. “Can they help their kids with school work and projects or show them how to do things on the computer like I can?”  “No,” he said again, not really brightening up at the mention of my somewhat redeeming qualities.  Then, playing my ace-in-the-hole, I levelled an even, poker-faced gaze at him and asked, “Can any other mom cook like I can?” And the sun finally broke out!  Kyle smiled and we moved on.
Kyle has few points with which he differs from other kids in his respective peer group; I, on the other hand, have very few points with which I correspond.  I’ve grown accustomed to being different; I have, in fact, elevated it to something of an art form or new-age religion in my “latter years.”  My pedigree alone defies demographic designation.  I am a Catholic-Jewish, Irish-French-Portuguese; white Jamaican-by-way-of-Hunter River, P.E.I., Canadian – and an atypical one at that!  “Put that in your pipe and smoke it,” like my French-Canadian grandfather used to say!
There is also the point of where I was brought up.  For most people that is a straightforward fact to share yet the question always stumps me.  I’ve moved around - a lot!  By the time I finished high school I had been to thirteen different schools.  So how do I best answer that question?  “I was brought up with my brothers and sisters – six of them in total,” is one way, or, “think of me as a little, white, plastic ball that was “pinged” and “ponged” in a marathon rally between Ontario and Nova Scotia for several decades,” is another; but perhaps the best is – “I wasn’t brought up, I was brought around, and around, and around!”
In consequence of my nomadic existence, (although I do not have the scientific data to back this up), I believe that I have a genetic adaptation – an arguable enhancement to the human genome that predisposes me to packing up and moving at a moment’s notice.  Add “genetic mutation” to my list of anomalous traits.
I do not maintain a tidy, sequential time-line for my life.   My phases – childhood, adolescence and adulthood converge and overlap in a tangled, woven web that can only be explained in terms of E=MC2.  I was often “old” in my teens, predominantly a “teen” in my twenties and frequently a “child” now, in my fifties.  My milestones and life-marking events are also strewn about at random.  Sometimes sedentary as a youngster, I took up sports in adulthood – skiing, running and sailing in my twenties, swimming in my thirties then rollerblading in my forties.  I had my third son at forty-one.  By age, I could be his grandmother but he is a large part of what anchors me in my youth and I like it that way.  At forty-six, I left an abusive marriage of sixteen years and was reborn.  Weightless and un-tethered, I leaped forward to experience the exciting, nebulous wonder of being alive!   

Now I am recycling old dreams.  I became a computer programmer in my twenties but as a child, I had dreams of being a writer and as a teen I dreamed of being a photographer.  Those were great, meaty dreams that I should never have put away but I’m ready now to take a bite out of them.  Among a generation of “freedom fifty-five-ers” I’ve deliberately broken ranks to take risks and explore my “what ifs” – and to tell you the truth, I don’t care if I crash and burn, as long as I get a taste, if only for a moment, of what it’s like to soar!

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