All women should be celebrated, and not just on Mother’s Day.

cropped-head-shots-17a1.jpg

Auntie Says…A Mother’s Day Message

Auntie Says…Celebrate all women this Mother’s Day

When I think of Mother’s Day I’m torn between so many images. I can picture little kids carefully cutting out flower pieces to glue to the front of special cards they’re making for their mom. I think of fancy hotel brunches with mouth watering feasts, or gifts from dad of sparkling diamonds laying on a bed of deep blue velvet. I envision long line-ups at the ice cream parlor, and of course, the ever-popular breakfast in bed with the burnt toast. I can hear the laughter of my ninety year old mother-in-law who still lights up a room with her infectious grin. And then there’s the memories of my own mom, who passed away almost four years ago, which bring a smile and sometimes a tear. 

My mom always got swamped with gifts on Mother’s Day. The dining room table would be filled with huge bouquets of fragrant flowers and there’d by boxes and bags everywhere. The phone would ring all day and the calls would all be for her.  

“You kids need to save your money,” she’d say as she buried her face into the roses. “It’s all so beautiful but I don’t need all this fancy stuff.”

I always enjoyed buying for her though because she’d mothered eight kids and as a result had gone without many extras over the years. Several other families brought gifts to my mom on Mother’s Day too. See, our home was busy with neighbourhood kids all the time, and mom also babysat. People wanted her to know they appreciated her and the day to do that was Mother’s Day. 

The commercial side of Mother’s Day is actually quite exclusionary. The ad campaigns we see online, in store, or hear on radio are a forced projection of what “mother” is. While to some, it simply represents the female parent, to me it’s a universal concept that looks more at the act of nurturing and growth and not just as the prescribed role. I suppose I’m switching the noun to a verb. Mother v. mother. (thanks to all my English teachers).

Everyday, our children have female role models in their lives that are not a parent and each is special in her own right. The act of mothering (nurturing, loving, and guiding) is often instinctive and passed to children from grandmothers, aunties, teachers, sisters, friends, and caregivers—each sharing different and unique experiences, history, and influence.

I’d like to propose that this Mother’s Day we all begin to recognize and thank women in our lives for the contribution they make to the upbringing of our children on a regular basis whether directly or indirectly. 

Text your sister and tell her how proud you are of the mother she’s become, or slip an anonymous card into the door of a single parent you know—tell them they’re doing a great job and that you admire her child’s manners or behaviour. Every parent loves to hear good things about their kid. Speak the truth and be sincere—nothing stinks more than an artificial or hypocritical compliment. 

Email your friend and let her know how special she is and that her caring attitude toward your own child is appreciated. Years ago, I received a hand-made card from one of my son’s friends telling me that he thought of me as his second mom. That specialness and memory will never be lost.

Pick up the phone and call your Auntie and let her know how important she is in your life. If you don’t want to call now you can wait for “Auntie’s Day” which is on July 22, 2018 as declared and promoted by New York author and “savvy auntie”, Melanie Notkin. 

I guess the whole thing is, that though Mother’s Day is special and I’m glad it’s set aside for the recognition of moms, kids have more than just a parent to thank for all of their learning and growth. 

To every woman in my life, past and present, you’ve all made an impact one way or another and made me who I am today—I thank you. To every woman in my son’s life, thank you for your nurturing, wisdom, and caring. Happy Day to all who mother.  

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

Auntie Says…The term “bully” is over-used and doesn’t mean anything anymore.

cropped-head-shots-17a1.jpg

Auntie Says…Bully? How about tormenter or bulldozer?—it’s a better fit.

There was recently an article in the news about a school bullying incident that escalated to the point of involving the police. Apparently the Principal and staff could see the situation getting out of hand and chose to use every resource at their fingertips. Bravo. 

The Administrator and staff aren’t miracle workers and realized their own limitations in dealing with a simmering situation. Having outside support is huge in taking a stand against the unrelenting bullying that some students inflict and others suffer.

It was the comments following the article that I found to be most insightful. Many said they were teaching their children to fight back—‘knock the other child down’ they said ‘and then kick them’. While the comments didn’t shock me, they made me sad in that there is a misunderstanding as to what is actually happening in the schools and it makes me think that we need to re-think the word “bully”. 

The word is used to conjure up the image of an overly aggressive kid who pushes a smaller one down and steals the ball. That kind of hands on school-yard posturing hasn’t changed over the centuries and is only part of the picture. Parents telling their kids to fight back are not wrong because they’re giving their kid permission to have a voice. It’s a matter of “how” they fight. Hands on doesn’t work and chances are the kid retaliating will be the one who gets in trouble. We’ve all heard it—he started it—but it doesn’t make a difference. Having someone treat you badly is not ok and screaming bloody murder until an adult arrives (or the aggressor leaves) is an option.

 

Bullying has evolved over the years. It doesn’t necessarily mean hands-on, violent confrontation—it’s become sneakier, slimier, and more silent. Imagine someone walking by your work station every day, several times, whispering, ‘you stink’ or ‘I’m gonna get you’… always out of earshot of any authority figure. What if you were being deliberately ‘nudged’ in the hallway—just enough to throw you off balance—constantly. It’s sometimes done with a smile by someone who’s considered a “good kid” and not necessarily your likely suspects. It can be like a game or power play to them. Imagine going to work everyday and having your co-worker treat you like that. What if, every single day—over and over—you’re told you should ‘go kill yourself’…‘go off and die’…‘no one loves you’? That’s a slow erosion of an individuals self worth and confidence. You might want to punch them in the face in the lunchroom, but then what?

I remember reading about a woman who was the target of an online hate attack. She said that though she knew all the words were false, it ate her up inside. Every time she turned on her computer it was there…mocking her. While computers and phones can be turned off, the hateful whispers, innuendos, the seemingly innocent jabs in the hallway, or the open mocking by individuals, doesn’t go away. The question I ask, is whether or not this nonviolent/hands off bullying is being viewed as being as serious as a bully knocking down a kid and stealing the ball. I’m not sure it is and I think it’s worse—much worse—and frightening.

Maybe we need to change the word ‘bully’ to ‘thug’ or ‘goon’…how about ‘bulldozer’? 

The real question is, what satisfaction do these bulldozer kids get out of making someone else feel like crap? I know one person had commented on the recent bully story saying that the home life of the tormentor needs to be the focus. I totally agree. The focus needs to be off the act and on to the wrong-doer. They’re inflicting life long pain for what we all see as ‘no reason’, but there has to be some pay off. I’d like to know what it is.

If you have a story to share…let’s chat.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Contact her at  faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

U.S.A. Student Activism–March On!

Auntie Says…My thoughts are with the American students. March on!

Columbine. That word pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

It was April 1999 and I’ll never forget seeing the images of terrified high school students running for their lives. I, like everyone else, was horrified and sickened, but It got worse—much worse. School shootings in the U.S. became, I hate to say it … commonplace.

While for the most part I don’t talk politics or religion, my heart and voice are with every student in the U.S. marching and protesting for a safer tomorrow. I’m optimistic as I witnessed the planned walk out one month to the day after the Florida school shooting. It was an illustration of choosing a course of action in solidarity and it makes me proud.

The young people of today are the voters of tomorrow. Getting angry about the abhorrent gun laws, political rhetoric, and the seemingly lackadaisical attitudes surrounding school shootings is not only necessary, but required, for change. It takes a lot of courage and tenancity to take those first steps against the status quo and I applaud these young people for what they’re doing.

Like many, I’ve wept as the body count rises in the name of U.S. democratic freedoms. Even from a  distance where I don’t feel the same physical (gun violence) threats, I can still understand the grief faced by so many —too many. I seriously don’t know how they all cope and carry on after such harrowing circumstances.

In Canada, we don’t face the same fears about school shootings, but we still feel our neighbor’s pain and the aftershocks of grief and anger. For every individual that dies, there are survivors—the other students, the family, the teachers, staff, and first responders—forever changed in a way that we can only imagine, but there’s also the public. Let’s not forget the average person watching the tragedy unfold on TV and how it affects them. It’s a mood of uncertainty and helplessness suffered by millions of people in both the US and Canada. It’s a sad truth of the day.

Even if you don’t think your kid is aware of the news and current events, believe me—they know. The kids talk about it to each other and in class. They watch YouTube .It’s not a secret and yet as far as I know, the schools here don’t do anything like security drills or heightened vigilance. Who knows how much all the school gun violence south of the border is adding to the anxiety and depression for teens everywhere?  After a televised incident, I’d bet that all the teachers and administrators walk back into the school with a heavy heart. How could you not? It doesn’t matter where the incident occurs, it affects us all.

When I see the anger and determination on the faces of those young people marching, it gives me hope. Hope that there will be change. Hope that someone amongst those students, is a strong and forever leader—a compelling voice—that will bring about positive transformation. I also hope that the protest continues until it’s voice is so strong that it can no longer be pushed aside or ignored.

We joke about having ‘first-world problems’—school shootings should not be one of them. Let’s pray that the students voices raised in protest will be heard and acted upon. #NationalWalkoutDay #StudentsForChange #EndGunViolence #AuntieSays

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com