Small Town Girl in Canada

I didn’t actually realize I was going to a different country.  I mean…I get that I needed my passport and had to go through customs, but let’s be honest…Canada isn’t really supposed to be another country, it’s more like America’s sibling to the North…with a better-looking leader and lots of geese.

Vancouver, BC
Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I landed in Vancouver and realized that contrary to popular belief, not only is Canada not American, Canadians do not actually even speak the same language as Americans, instead, they have their own strange language that only they understand…and they also speak French. In fact, when I went to the information desk at the airport, I was greeted with a “Bon soir, Madame,” and I was so flustered that I responded in English…but with a French accent…no seriously.  I found myself pursing my lips and trying to sound like I belonged to any of the made-up kingdoms that the Hallmark Channel movies use as I asked for directions to the car rental.

Also, once the lovely French lady gave me directions to the car rental, I had to find directions to the restroom…which is apparently called a washroom…so it took me awhile to find…except for the fact that my French accent is so amazing that I was able to realize that the “Toilette” was actually the “Toilet” and therefore the washroom was actually the restroom…I also just found the correct stick figures, which is the bilingual sign to get everyone around the world to the right place.

Here are additional words that come directly from the Canadian dictionary

“Petrol” – which is what I was supposed to fill my rental car with before returning it…but instead, I got nervous and just let the rental place fill it up themselves for $22.50/gallon (but that’s Canadian, so it’s probably a good deal.)

“Poutine” – a snack with fries and cheese curds and gravy…which seemed weird…but then I realized that last week I made shepherd’s pie…which is basically the same thing…minus the ground beef…and the vegetables.  Actually…poutine is still wierd.

And finally…

“Eh,” – the equivalent to “Cool?” “Huh?” “Maybe?” and every other 1-syllable response that a Canadian might want to use to indicate something positive…or negative…or even neutral.  It’s slightly confusing, and closely related to the American version of “Huh.”  Which can be positive…or negative…or even neutral but also remains slightly confusing.

On top of having their own language…Canadians don’t know how to measure time, distance, speed, or temperature…which can be a bit daunting if you happen to be in a rental car driving to a location that you don’t know how to find at 23:00 (Seriously.  What time even is that??)  My first actual Canadian driving experience included trying to set the cruise control and checking the speedometer to try to find a good speed…and realizing that I was going 100km/hour…which seemed to be the going rate of everyone else, so it was probably legal…probably.  On top of that the signs say things like “Exit in 1200 M” which was no help at all in knowing whether I should move into the right lane within five minutes or five seconds…and I kept trying to do the following math:

If a 5K run equals 3-ish miles…then 1200 meters is a quarter of that…which is more than 1 mile…right? Or not? Oh…it’s not… *swerves right to take the exit.*

The beauty of that scenario is that Canadians are also very polite…so although I cut of half of the Vancouver population at one time or another while driving this week, they were all very kind, and no one even honked their horn or threw a hand gesture.  It was lovely.

In all, my trip to Canada was fantastic.  I didn’t understand half of what anyone was saying…and I was continuously unaware of what speed I should be driving, how far away I was from anything and what I should wear outdoors (let it be known that 5 Canadian degrees is not the same as 5 American degrees).  But the people were fantastic, and aside from the the fact that I kept waking up at 3 in the morning because of the time change, I would go back in a heartbeat.  I’m willing to face the washrooms and fill up with petrol…and I just might start throwing in an “Eh,” here and there to practice for my next trip…because the one thing that I know for sure is that I will miss this lovely sibling to the North, even if they do use kilometers and eat gravy…I mean…there are worse things than kilometers and gravy…and if it comes with a smile and a wave…I’m in!

O, Canada…I will miss you.

From a content, but still-quite-jet-lagged (eh?) Small Town Girl

Small Town Firsts

To be honest…I’m really not that good of a parent.  I have no idea what either of my first kids’ words were (mama? dada?) and I don’t remember when they took their first step.  I always forgot about the Tooth Fairy…because, let’s be honest…who the heck has cash on them at 10:00pm when your kid’s first tooth falls out? And although, like all good moms from the 2000s, I have a Creative Memories scrapbook chronicling the first few years of my 1st-born’s life, by the time my second kid came around, I made one page for him. ONE PAGE. And that was it…I was exhausted.

Pre-Instagram photo from the JCPenney photo studio

Honestly, it wasn’t until Pinterest and Instagram that I realized how much I sucked at protecting my child’s memories.  I mean, honestly, I had no idea that I should be taking a picture of my child every month with a swirly-fonted caption indicating their age and their accomplishments.  Had I known, I would have had plenty of cutesy photos that said: 

Kaitlyn, aged 4 months: eats cereal, cries a lot, probably a genius.

Instead, I took my child to the JC Penney photo center and had portraits taken that included a fake snowflake background and a weird fluorescent flashbulb that made her cry. *Sigh*

So here’s the thing…I don’t remember a lot.  I don’t remember the first smile or the first laugh, or the first potty training session.  I don’t remember the first full night’s sleep or the first time she ate real food…but today? Today I’ll remember.  Today was the first time that my 18-year-old daughter voted…and I will remember it forever.

She texted me the night before the election to ask me the following questions:

  • Who are you voting for governor?
  • How about Senator?
  • Have you read their websites?
  • How do you feel about the Great Lakes Initiative? What about Proposal 1?
  • Why do you feel the way you do?
  • Have you thought about it this way?
  • What about the tax proposal?
  • Where do you stand?
Proudly sporting her “I Voted” sticker.

Oh. My. Word.

I wanted to cry.  And not because I realized that we were going to vote differently on several issues, but because I WAS SO DAMNED PROUD.  Seriously.  My 18 year old daughter was exercising her right to vote, and instead of sitting back and letting others tell her what to do, she studied the candidates and the ballots and voted her conscience.  I have never received a text that I am more proud of than this:

“I have decided I’m not voting for republican or democrat, I’m voting for the general good.”

Tears. Actual tears.

Because here is the thing.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve forgotten to record memories, and take important pictures (my kid has never gotten a yearbook) and make artsy pinterest posts.  I sometimes forgot to make a Halloween costume until the morning of trick-or-treating (the Cowgirl incident of 2007) and I can’t find any pictures between 2004-2006 when the digital camera came into play but wasn’t easy to use.  I’ve forgotten to buy Easter baskets and I can’t remember what she wore on her first day of Kindergarten…

But that’s ok.  Because I will always remember the moment when my little girl exercised her right to vote…not because I told her to, and not because she felt obligated…but because she decided to be a part of the political process and take advantage of the greatest right that she has been given by growing up in America.  And as this election season winds down, and as talk about candidates and proposals, and who voted for whom finally comes to an end (for the next 6 months at least), I will recognize that my little girl…the one whose first word was probably “cat” and whose first step was probably around the age of one…has become a full-blown adult (I mean…I still make her dentists appointments for her) but still…in my (scrap)book, that’s the biggest milestone yet.  

With Lots of Love from a mom-of-an-official-voter Small Town Girl