I spend Friday dealing with school board bureaucracy, driving here and there, getting forms signed, proving to yet another bureaucrat that Flora exists, and—my favourite—sitting opposite a woman who does not know how to type with all ten fingers, OMFG, how does she have this job?—as she inputs the information I just wrote out on a paper form into a computer.
I feel a little tetchy—my time is precious and it is being wasted here—deep breath—the things we do for love—I squeeze Flora’s hand. Done and done, the girl will be starting her high school classes a semester early.
A few weeks earlier, Sean and I were engaged in a similar form-gathering, filling-out, and cat-herding process to get Cinder enrolled into a metal-working program at the local polytechnic, giving him a taste of post-secondary life while still in high school.
Both times, as I finally cleared the final hurdle and declared victory, I came face to face, again, with our ridiculous privilege.
Stop cringing, fellow white friend—take race and skin colour out of the equation for a minute, and just think about this. That particular Friday, all the things that I had to do—they all had to happen before 3 pm on a regular workday. I am so lucky I am, for the most part, mistress of my own work hours. I can run to one appointment at 11:10 and then cross the city to another one at 11:45, and then circle back to wrap up some more form signing at 2:00. I don’t have to take a sick day, vacation day—or lose a day’s pay—although, to be honest, all through that Friday, I am grinding my teeth at the reality that all this shit that I could do online that I’m being forced to do in person means lost time, lost work that I will have to make up on the weekend, and where will that time come from?
Still. I am able to make that time on a weekday.
Most working parents aren’t—or when they do, it comes with a financial penalty.
Most immigrant parents do not start with jobs that give that that kind of flexibility. Most working class, poor parents can’t afford to take a day off to battle bureaucracy. That’s privilege.
So is this: I am an over-educated woman, who can shake my pile of degrees at the average teacher or bureaucrat and cow them into submission. I understand how the system works, and how to work it. I don’t take “This is the policy” for an answer. I don’t take “No” for an answer when it harms my children. My education—which is a gift from my parents, by the way, and is therefore generational privilege—means I question, challenge and navigate the system. I make it work for my children, rules be damned.
But I can make it work, because—privilege.
Not everyone has the same capacity, ability, access.
Flora and Cinder are benefiting from privilege they were born into.
Will they recognize this when they are older?
Ender wants a cheese tortilla, and I tell myself to fucking focus, so I don’t burn it, because there is no such thing as multitasking.
Here’s the problem: I put the pan on the element, and I need to heat it up a bit, right? So, I do. Watching a pan heat up is fucking boring. I’m writing, I turn back to the computer… Fuck. The pan is smoking, so hot. I turn down the heat, grab the tortilla, Ender’s fake cheese… put it on the open. Turn to the computer.
The smoke alarm goes off…
So I’m not going to do that this time. I watch the pan heat up… turn my attention to the sink. Fuck. Too hot. Take it off the element, let is cool down. But then, stay focused on it as the tortilla browns, and the cheese melts.
There is no such thing as multitasking.
I wish I found watching pans heat and tortillas brown fascinating. Or at least fulfilling.
But, I don’t.
I’ve been busy, and you haven’t been around much, and as always when we don’t spend a lot of time in which other’s sight and arms, I forget how much I love you. It’s not the same for you, I know—you miss me, long for me, and when we are together, you don’t need to spend any time at all remembering who I am, or how you feel about me.
When I don’t see you for a while, I forget all the feelings. I’ve tried to explain this to you, others, before. They don’t quite understand—neither do you.
I understand, now.
On Saturday, I wake up with no voice—I fall asleep at 7 pm, Ender beside me—wake up at 9 am. The voice is back, but there’s also some snot. I am not happy—I do not have time for illness, a fuzzy mind, on the schedule.
Also, I’ve been taking these stupid cold showers purely in order to avoid the flu, and now I feel betrayed.
Ok, they’re not so much cold showers as… after my delicious, wonderful HOT shower, I turn off the hot tap and stay in the stream as the water runs cold and then leap out of it, and throw some of the cold water onto my face, and my exposure to the cold is for like, maybe 10, 15 seconds. But still.
Don’t make fun of me. As far as cults and weird quirks go, my cult is fairly harmless and my quirks don’t generally damage others.
But this cold—I feel betrayed.
I have learned this, from children and animals: when they fall sick, they sleep and heal. Nothing else.
I sleep. I heal.
And tomorrow, I probably won’t let the water run cold after my delicious hot shower, because, betrayed.
You: But you just said you weren’t doing it right.
Jane: You’re not suggesting I stay in the cold stream longer, are you? Because that’s just not happening.
I have a lot of things to do, and I want to do none of them. The chinook winds are blowing like mad outside—most of the snow on our driveway is gone. The glass panes are rattling. It feels like spring even though it is January.
Ender: Cheese tortilla?
Jane: Seriously? Another one?
He’s hungry. Or bored. Or needs love.
Then stretch myself on the couch, wrapped in blankets. Sleep. Heal.
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