I went to see “Man Of Steel”, the latest Superman movie (some good performances, shame about the plot). Among the good performances was the wonderful Diane Lane as Superman’s Mum. Kevin Costner was his Dad. He played Kevin Costner (again), but as his style tends towards the understated, dour and mumbling, he did quite well as Jonathan Kent. Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a film review. The movie got me thinking about what it would be like to be Superman’s Mum or Dad. We are so used to the image of the quiet Kents raising Clark to hide his powers, control his temper and keep his head down that any alternative seems strange. But what if Kal-el’s little baby-buggy spaceship had crash landed on someone else’s farm? The home, perhaps, of a typical North American family. The kind of family where Dad is a guy who loves sports, beer, bikes and trucks, and would be so excited to find out that his son could wipe the floor with any high school rival, win any sporting trophy, get into any Big League he (or Dad) chose. The kind of family where Mum does the domestic stuff, defers major decisions to Dad, and takes her daughters to do what girls do. What if Kal-el was not taught restraint, but pride?
Well, I have some news for all you parents of boys out there. You ARE Superman’s parents. There’s a good chance that one day your boy will tower over all of my three girls. He will be bigger and stronger than his own father, capable of doing real damage, should he so choose. If you have raised him to glory in his strength, revel in his power and believe in his entitlement and his superiority, then he is pretty much capable of anything.
So how about this for a deal? I promise I will teach my girls to empathize with boys, to understand that they also have to deal with many challenges as they grow up. I will teach them not to simper, tease or send mixed messages. I will teach them that they can have friends who are boys, and enjoy activities which might also be enjoyed by boys, without having to have a boyfriend. In return, I hope that you will teach your boys empathy, respect for all people, and restraint. Teach them that girls, and women, make good friends before they become lovers, and the best marriages come from joining hands with your best friend forever. Teach them that pink is just a colour, and colours don’t belong to anyone. Teach them that a good education, leading to the ability to hold an interesting conversation, is very attractive. Teach them that with great power comes great responsibility, and they must not use their physical power to make a point or win an argument.
I have decided that this is the best weekend of the year. Better than Halloween, better than Christmas, better than my birthday. This is the weekend of:
School Is Out!
The Sun Is Coming!
Endless possibilities abound….!
The first year we lived in Canada, we were horrified at the thought of nearly 10 weeks of summer holiday. How is anyone expected to manage a full time job and afford childcare for that length of time? The following year we booked every child into every camp possible, and they went back to school in September more tired than they had been in June. Now we are seasoned, experienced, and almost Canadian. It helps that our children are old enough to babysit each other, and had been studying karate long enough to inflict discipline on each other without too much real injury. The prospect of watching them spend the hot months chilling, cycling, swimming and doing what kids are supposed to do (“Stop that, put it down, you don’t know where it’s been, NOW look what you did to your new sandals…”), is just bliss.
Recently we shared a picture on Facebook. This is what the start of our summer has been like, but it is still better than Juneuary last year, when we were still wrapped in our polar outfits and snow boots, and at least we are not underwater like parts of Alberta.
This year the rain has meant that everything I planted in the garden, and many things I did not plant (we have an Accidental Pumpkin patch in the area where I spread my home made compost. I forgot I had put all 7 Halloween pumpkins with their seeds in the compost last November), are growing, and the time of sitting and appreciating the growth, with a little light harvesting, weeding and reseeding, has arrived. July and August are generally scorching, and the amount of ground water means I may not have to water the lawn or beds for some time.
The Unexpected Holiday is Canada Day. You don’t realize until you move from the UK how your body has become attuned to the seasons with their high days and Bank Holidays. I feel a little wrench at the beginning of May when I realize that it’s Spring Bank Holiday, but I am at work. But that is completely overwhelmed, when you have been dragging yourself and your children to the end of the school year (“Just 3 more days… just one more teacher gift… just one more awards ceremony… I really don’t care where your planner or lunch box have gone, you only have 2 more days at school…”), when you realize that it’s Canada Day Weekend! Break out the wine and the barbeque!
And now the endless possibilities… tomorrow I am going to load my grumbling husband and happy dog into the car and drive away. I will leave a note for the children, which will say “Your parents have run away. You must solve the clues and find them or your college funds are in jeopardy.” There will be clues to lead them to the Skytrain, along the waterfront, into Stanley Park and round the seawall. A real adventure to start the holiday, with a picnic and ice cream at the end. Later in the holiday we will go berry picking, camping, climb the Stawamish Chief, explore Simon Fraser University campus, shop for new school supplies and clothes and backpacks, paint the shed, create a mural of salmon on the wall of the house that faces the salmon creek – or do none of the above. The kids will play in the street with other kids, and we’ll dish out freezies, After Bite and bandaids in equal quantities. Before we know it, we will be back in school and greeting our old friends, and loving the run up to Halloween and Christmas!