Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

Which one of these mums on the sideline am I?

Hmnn.  Let’s see.

14.  The Prepared Mom

She’s got a golf umbrella; rainboots; warm clothes; drink of choice; fully charged phone; and, maybe even a portable chair. Week after week standing in the cold, driving rain for 1 1/2 hours will do that to a woman.
She snorts when she hears the term “Soccer Mom”.  What’s a Soccer Mom? She’s not sure that she’s ever met one.

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Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

We have been surprised, to say the least, at the lack of public discourse around health care during this election period. As a top-of-mind issue for British Columbians, you’d think it would be as central as the always large and looming economy. So what are the burning issues in health care, and how do the party platforms stack up? Here’s our take, with a particular focus on seniors. (May, 2013, PolicyAlternatives.ca piece written prior to the last BC Provincial Election.)

A month ago, my family and I found ourselves cruising for parking and dodging the construction zones at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.  The appointment was an unexpected follow-up with a specialist, following previous meetings that had happened in prior years.  From the doctor’s office, we ended up visiting two more departments and waited for the doctors in various waiting rooms.  As I watched family members moving from one location to another, I started to feel anxious and  immediately knew why.

For much of last year, Children’s Hospital was in the back of my mind.  Starting in October and ramping up in November, I thought about it a lot.  Then the day came when a close family member went in for a tricky 7 hour operation.  There wasn’t much I could say about what was happening as it wasn’t my story to tell.  And anyway, our brave patient was looking forward to having this important operation done.

I, on the other hand, was my typical anxious self. Unlike another family member, I hadn’t even gone down the road of looking up what could go wrong during this type of operation.  Up until that point, my own experience in surgeries centred on three medical procedures that were different in their scope.  I required a C-section for my twins’ delivery, and when I was in my 20s I had 2 day surgeries to remove growths and tissue from me to see if I had 2 different types of cancer.  The hardest part for these last two day surgeries was the waiting period and not knowing what the results would be.

I thought I would work at my desk while spending the long hours waiting for the operation to be over.  Instead, true to influences from my mother and grandmother, I spent the day doing hard labour in my yard ripping out dead growth.  I even shared photos of my efforts on Instagram.  Every hour I would send a text message to two family members.

Post Op – 7

Post Op – 6 etc.

As I sat in the waiting rooms and thought about how important this daunting operation was last autumn, I was reminded of the seriousness of the healthcare needs that this hospital addresses. One of my twins had an operation at what would have been 40 weeks gestational.  (They were born 3 weeks early.)  My aunt died from the same health condition decades earlier. We have visited many departments at Children’s and have been back for more visits since then.  All of the grandchildren on my side of the family were born there. And there are many other hospitals just like it in British Columbia.  There are major healthcare centres around the province that continue to need increased financial support.

Not just support from private and corporate donations.

Not just the results of fund raising efforts.

But significant financial support that comes from government coffers.

It’s been pretty quiet around these parts – as an election races near – even though there are many critical conversations that need to be had.

What will the future of healthcare look like in the next 4 years?

Which political party has the strongest vision for how healthcare needs can be supported?

This week the MLA for my neighbourhood sent us a copy of her Annual Report.  The 2nd most popular top concern raised in her constituency office after housing was – you guessed it – healthcare.  Hallway medicine at hospitals and medical services for senior citizens have been a focus in the news for some time.  As of 2015, 350,000 British Columbians were looking for a full time family doctor. It’s not surprising that constituents are bringing their healthcare concerns to their MLA when you consider that healthcare is the most significant expenditure in the provincial government’s budget.

It seems that voters have a lot of concerns and questions about healthcare and, most likely, they’d appreciate hearing some in depth debate about the topic.

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By:  Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

Are the details of a simple life mundane and boring?  They can be to some who have their own particular vision about what makes content interesting on social media. But like many people here in British Columbia,  I’m sharing content illustrating what it looks like to live a slow,  local and mostly 100 mile lifestyle. It’s a retro concept – very last century in many ways. It’s a lifestyle that’s not fast paced, chic or trying to be clever but it’s my life. It’s our life. It is – quite frankly – the lifestyle of most British Columbians and is grounded in the real world.  Is sharing on social media about projecting an ideal or about being real?  The story that we share is about our authentic selves and I know where I’m going to place my efforts. How about you?

You can find more BCFamily.ca content on Instagram and Twitter.

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Mar 282017

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

When it happened last year, it seemed a bit ridiculous.  But then it happened again.  If the universe really can send a message, I think I need to listen.

Last spring a letter arrived in my inbox.  I don’t send letters (for reasons I will explain later) and I don’t receive many. So I was a little surprised to see real snail mail in my mailbox.  When I looked closer, I realized that it was a Christmas card that I had sent to France four months prior. The addresee had moved, it seemed.

4 months!  Keep in mind that mail from Paris is usually fast.

“Where on earth has this letter been sitting?”, I wondered.

Every year I send out a good amount of Christmas cards.  The numbers have been slashed dramatically over the years, but the result is still the same.  I have to appease my husband as he chokes over the high cost of postage to mail cards within Canada, to the States and overseas.  He’s right but shh.  Don’t tell him I said that.

I reassure him that I promise to not send snail mail during the year for social reasons.

And I don’t.  And I think people know this about me.  I might send a few items to my mum and mail a parcel or two, but otherwise the days of sending smaller snail mail such as letters, cards and postcards are over. In recent years I’ve come to realize that more and more, my friends are not sending Christmas cards. My friends and I don’t even contact each other on our birthdays.  As you get passed 30, birthdays just aren’t that exciting anymore.

Recently, I received another card back that I had sent overseas. “Return unknown”, it said under writing from that country.

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“Gee, mailing cards has become a hit and miss business”, I thought.  Moreover, as I realized I hadn’t received a card from another household who usually send lovely cards, I started to wonder about the back and forth of snail mail – and especially Christmas cards.

But this got me thinking that there are so many other ways that friends use to stay in touch.  And every friend is different.  Some send the rare e-mail. Some send packages and e-mail.  Some prefer to send a text message.  Some only communicate via Facebook. Some have tried their hand at Instagram and Twitter. It’s gotten to the point where none call my phone or my cell phone to have a chat.  We don’t, for the most part, use services like Skype.

And it’s all good. And I have no expectations. And there’s no tit for tat, or however the expression goes.  I don’t pat myself on the back for being the thoughtful one to send Christmas cards. That’s my thing.  For many of my friends it’s not their thing.  That doesn’t mean that they never think about me or that I’m simply the more thoughtful one.

A little more humility is in order.

Some of my friends are so generous with their thoughtfulness in different ways.  They pay attention when I share content on social media.  They send me e-mails on a fairly regular basis to touch base.  They send a parcel or flowers.  (Flowers arrived from a friend and her family just after my husband and I averted a flood from coming into our house!) They make an effort to want to get together IRL – in real life -  as the expression goes.

And sometimes I’m not quick about replying.  Or I’m disorganized about setting get together times and there’s too much back and forth.  Every year I always enjoy choosing a gift for a friend in the States.  But I’m usually completely indecisive about what I want to get, and end up ordering later than I should.

But these same friends have the grace and humility to not be critical of others, or see themselves as the more efficient and thoughtful ones.

And I’m thankful for that.

We all know each other well enough to not read anything between the lines. What we do know is the behind the scenes.

There’s the friend who works so hard, she falls asleep on the toilet.

There’s the friend who has such a busy scheduling supporting her family and community in one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities.  She’s up early and running all day in many different directions. She wouldn’t tell me that but I know it.

There’s the friend who has been struggling with a long term illness and is so exhausted.

There’s the friend who is juggling many balls, looks after 3 fur babies and still remembers everything that’s going on at my end, across two different continents.

There’s the friend who was widowed at a young age and is busy running a business and being supportive of a large family.

Every person has many obligations and copes with challenges and struggles. When they take the time to reach out – however and whenever they choose to do so – I’m happy to hear from them.

And if I’m being completely disorganized but I can get a message out, I hope they’re OK with that too. Well, I know they are because after all these years I think we know each other’s MOs well enough.

It’s not Christmas card season and, therefore, it’s not snail mail season for me.  But I have so many other tools at my fingertips if I want to communicate.  I try to use my Facebook account creatively.  I sometimes (sometimes) use e-mail. More and more friends are using Instagram, which is fun for me because I’ve been keen on photography since I was 10.  Twitter is not really an effective method for communicating with friends but, ironically, I have made social connections with people via Twitter.  And some of us even meet IRL!

How about you? What are some of your favourite and most effective ways that you are communicating with friends?

You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

Mar 282017

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

A little over a year ago, I found myself in a situation that really increased my stress levels.  My doctors were running extra tests for two types of cancer at the same time.  While one might seem routine to doctors, the other investigation involved a test that was less than pleasant. Fortunately, I didn’t know about it until just before it was administered. If I’d had to anticipate this test, I probably would have been basically – well – afraid.

A few months ago I found myself going through a third round of tests for yet another condition. After being expedited into a specialist’s office, it was confirmed that I could add a 2nd chronic condition to the 1st one I have.  Or should I say the first one that took over a decade to confirm.  This latest one took even longer.  Both conditions cause a lot of health complications that can be stressful at a minimum, and very distressing in other ways because they can cause other conditions.  I don’t know about this second disease, but the first one has the word “disease” in the title, which always seemed regrettable to me. I recall that when I first told my sibling the news over the phone, saying the word “disease” caused me to start sobbing.

Normally I don’t write about this topic online because I’m wary of the admin assistant who has been tasked by a hiring manage to tip toe through my digital trail and look for “red flags”. “Oh hello there.  Gotcha. Just a note that I’m just as capable as the next person, thanks.  We’ve all got our challenges.  And that’s a fact.”

I digress.

These recent experiences have left me a bit wary of testing but it’s also given me more perspective about a topic that I’ve already considered.  Despite the fact that it took so long for these diagnoses to come in, the stark reality is that I’m lucky to have access to universal medical coverage and to a health system that can provide this medical service.

Because there are millions of women around the world who have one of either conditions and they have no support.  And in the case of the first condition, in the old days it used to have a devastating effect on a person’s life and could even cause early death.

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As the next provincial election draws closer, the topic of “access to health care” has started to weigh heavily on my mind.  How can we have the most appropriate type of public discourse that measures how our medical services are doing (from hospitals as a whole, to doctors, nurses and all the other staff involved)?  Will citizens ask the right questions of the political candidates and will they even ask the questions? Of course some will be raising the topic of funding and support for healthcare (including care for aging seniors which is facing some dire funding realities). But will enough people ask the questions and will this topic be given enough due consideration? Or will we be distracted by whatever topic the most vocal voices push out to distract us from the more important issues.

Yeh, we’re onto that trick.

A year ago I found myself unexpectedly using the emergency room in a local hospital.  And isn’t that always the way with the ER?  The experience was a real eye opener about the realities that patients are facing and the realities that staff face working in the hospitals.

What are your thoughts about these questions and the upcoming election? Have you been using medical services more intensely lately and what conclusions have you drawn? What types of questions will you be asking of politicians as they send you an invitation to a Meet and Greet or come knocking at your door?

You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

All Stacked Up

Let's Talk Comments Off
Mar 272017

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

In recent months I’ve been writing a lot of posts but not publishing them. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why would you make the effort to write a piece and then let it sit? I think a main part of the reason is because I’m still mulling these ideas over in my head. They’re topics that you can unpack in many ways. But just like a work of art, there’s no perfect moment to press “publish”. I’ll be rolling out these pieces and if you have any of your own experiences to share, please do join in.

I will not be opening the comment places on the posts but will link them to a place on Facebook where comments can be made. This might seem unreasonable to people who don’t use Facebook, but in my experience most people maintain at least a basic account. Heck – even my mum who couldn’t care a less about social media and doesn’t use Facebook, has a way to access content on Facebook.

Top Picks BC Family Day 2017 photo bc family 2017_zpsp0g9eefc.jpg

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca / Editorial

On February 13th your family has two options.  Stay home and relax on one of those rare days when nothing is scheduled.  Or get out and take advantage of the sunshine (hopefully) or community activities.  Community centres across British Columbia will be putting on free activities and many sites and tourist locations will be offering reduced admission and special activities at their sites.  If your family is on a tight budget, BC Family Day can be a good opportunity to squeeze in opportunities that don’t happen at other times in the year.

Enjoy your BC Family day, have fun and have a good rest – whatever you decide to do.


BRITISH COLUMBIA: Government funded free activites at local community centers around British Columbia. (It’s worth checking out what’s going on in a neighbourhood community centre.)

BRITISH COLUMBIA: Go for a nature walk in a local setting or farther afield. Choose from settings by a lake, river, ocean, waterfall, marsh/bog/wetland, or through a forest, large park or mountain setting.  If you’re going to an area that’s on the edge of the wilderness, bring the appropriate emergency hiking supplies, including a compass.  Cell phones won’t always work once you are farther away from a cell phone tower. In the Lower Mainland, there are a number of communities where you can find attractive walks along the Fraser River.

BURNABY: Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Arts and crafts activities can be combined with a walk around the lake)

BURNABY: Burnaby Village Museum Carousel (Crafts, heritage carnival games, a children’s entertainer and unlimited carousel rides at one low price. Pre Registration is recommended.  The museum will be closed.)

BURNABY: Lower Burnaby Mountain hike (Free to join. There will be hot chocolate and light refreshments afterwards.)

CHILLIWACK: $5 Chilliwack Scouts Pancake breakfast, 9 – Noon, Chilliwack United Church Hall, 45835 Spadina Avenue.

DELTA: WinSkill Park (Obstacle race through the park. Registration required.)

FORT LANGLEY: Fort Langley (Complimentary Canada 150 admission for everyone, plus special activities are planned)

LANGLEY: Campbell Valley Regional Park (Arts an Crafts activities can be combined with a walk in the area)

LANGLEY: Greater Vancouver Zoo (There will be 3 special talks and admission is 30% off.)

LANGLEY: Fraser Valley Family Day (Admission by donation. Face painting, obstacle course, music and visits from Vancouver Stealth, BC Lions and Vancouver Giants players.  Proceeds from admission tickets support local charities.)

MAPLE RIDGE: ACT Theatre (Free Lantern making workshop and craft)

NEW WESTMINSTER: Anvil Centre (Science World on the road and a large variety of arts focussed activities.) See page 2 of brochure.

NEW WESTMINSTER:  Queen’s Park Greenhouse (10:30 – 12:30 PM) Tour the greenhouse and make a small lettuce garden to take home.

NEW WESTMINSTER: Fraser River Discovery Centre (Gold panning, science talk, puppet show, a walking tour and other events. Registration is required for the 1 1/2 hour walking tour along the Fraser River.)

NEW WESTMINSTER: River Market (Activities, games, crafts and programmes.  If you’ve always wanted to learn how to make soap, there will be a 1 hour drop in class. Cost $12.50.)

NORTH VANCOUVER: Lonsdale Quay (Family Day market featuring local artisans, a farmers’ market, a pancake fundraiser, balloon animal twisting, musical performances and a variety of vendors. 10 – 3 PM.)

NORTH VANCOUVER: Cypress Mountain (50% off Skooter and Child Lift/Trail/Tubing tickets)

NORTH VANCOUVER: Capilano Suspension Bridge (BC Family Day rate of $85 for two adults and one or two children ages 6-16.  A visit to the bridge includes the treetops and cliffwalk sites.)

NORTH VANCOUVER: Seymour Mountain (Children 12 and under and a maximum of 2 children per paying adult can access free children’s lift tickets after 2:30 PM.)

NORTH VANCOUVE: Grouse Mountain (50% off for admission for BC Residents, and many special activities on the day)

RICHMOND: Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston (Free general admission.  Age restrictions not listed on their website. Check out the Britannia Shipyards as well.)

RICHMOND: Richmond Children’s Festival, Richmond Cultural Centre ($5 admission which includes a number of special events. An additional $12 adds on admission to a special Circus West performance)

RICHMOND:  Steveston Community Society (Pancake breakfast, free.  Registration is required.)

RICHMOND: Richmond Nature Park (A scavenger hunt and treasure hunt in the bog has been scheduled. Admission by donation.)

SURREY: Surrey Nature Centre (Nature walk, story time and indoor/outdoor activities.)

SQUAMISH (BRITANNIA BEACH): Britannia Mine Museum (Includes 50% off admission.)

SQUAMISH: Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish and Ski Callaghan Nordic skiing (Both locations are offering 50% off admission and other activities)

VANCOUVER: Vancouver Art Gallery (Includes $5 off admission and free admission for children 12 and under.)

VANCOUVER:  VanDusen Garden (open 10 – 4 PM)  and Bloedel Conservatory (open 10 – 5 PM) ($5 combined admission or $3 admission to one site. Create a bird feeder, visit a world class Elizabethan hedge maze and enjoy indoor games and face painting.)

VANCOUVER: Commercial Drive (Free admission to special BC Family Day activities at the Britannia Ice Rink and local merchants are offering special deals for the day.)

VANCOUVER: Vancouver Giants (There will be a post game family skate)

VANCOUVER: Vancouver Museum (Free admission for youth 18 years and under)

VANCOUVER: Science World (Includes 25% off admission.)

VANCOUVER: Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens (It’s a perfect time of year to visit the gardens, following Chinese New Year.  Children 5 and under and Seniors 65 and older will get free admission)

VANCOUVER: Pacific Spirit Regional Park (Visit a campfire and learn about plants and animals using stories and songs.)

VICTORIA: Royal BC Museum (Special Family Day events are planned to take place at the museum)

VICTORIA: 14 BC Family Day Events

WHISTLER: Audain Art Museum (Special afternoon art felt event, free with admission ticket)

WHISTLER: Whistler Blackcomb (50% off lift tickets for BC residents)

WHISTLER: Save $50 on accommodation in Whistler

WHISTLER: Family Day activities in Whistler

OTHER: Most communities have HIGH STREETS where you can find one-off shops featuring local and British Columbia’s artisans. For adults and parents with older children, a stroll through a high street and a stop at an interesting cafe can be a fun way to spend the day.  Some popular areas are Kitsilano; portions of Broadway (near McDonald), 10th and Sasamat near UBC and 4th avenue; South Granville Rise (although these shops are a bit more name brand); Commercial Drive; Ambleside and Dundarave (because you can also walk on the boardwalk); and, Chemainus and Comox on Vancouver Island.

***Please check an organization’s website before heading out to ensure that details of  the event are accurate and haven’t changed. Many of these events are at a specific time and some require registration.

What is your favourite activity to do on BC Family Day?  You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

The Unsexy Life

Travel Comments Off
Jan 302017

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Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca / Editorial

The last trip outside of British Columbia that anyone in our family took – other than 2 road trips to the San Juan Island and Oregon respectively – was 10 years ago. My husband and I went to a family wedding party in our honour in northern Alberta and we flew to Athens and various Greek islands for our honeymoon.  Since then it’s been a matter of logistics and monetary concerns that have kept us within a 100 mile radius here in British Columbia.  (If you’d like to see what that 100 mile lifestyle looks like, check out the Instagram.com/BCFamilyca account.) We live in a beautiful part of the world and enjoy visiting with family on Vancouver island once a year. Otherwise we explore natural settings closer to home.

Sure, other people in our situation are tossing a few diapers in a bag and heading to the airport with one toddler aged twin under each arm.  That just hasn’t been our story.

I grew up in a foreign service family and know the value of traveling and exploring other cultures.  In our own family, here in BC, we live a multicultural lifestyle; study a second language (and others too); celebrate many festivals from different countries throughout the year; and, constantly learn about different cultures.

So there have been no flights to X or Y.  No trips to Hawaii, Mexico or Cuba.  No jaunts down to Disneyland, Vegas or Palm Springs.  No photo spreads on Facebook about our trip to Paris or Tokyo. No quick whirlwind visits tying in with a class reunion overseas or someone’s destination wedding. No couple trip down south while the grandparents babysit. No girls’ trip to a winery or guys’ trip to see a baseball game in Toronto.

These facts make my family very unchic in some people’s eyes. Not long ago I met up with a couple from out of town. We spent a lot of time talking about their professional and personal interests and the new changes in their lives.  And they asked us…. um… well nothing, to be honest.  It must have seemed that our lives hadn’t changed, in their eyes, since the last time they saw us. They just didn’t ask us anything about ourselves.

Surely we can’t be successful or truly middle class if we live like this.  What the heck must we be doing to not be able to pull any of these scenarios off?  But I also know that a lot of other BC families are doing the same. The cost of living, real estate, transit and food, and children’s activities in BC is high.  Stable, long term, well paid jobs in BC are not plentiful. A lot of families are carrying heavy debt loads.

We haven’t sold it all and taken off on a boat or backpacking trip around the world.  And despite putting in many years of work working for the man between my husband and myself – oh yes, I have the resume to prove it – there will be no pension in the future to finance more traveling.  (Side bar.  84% of British Columbians work for small businesses.  I wonder how many of them will have pension financed travel in the future?) We’ve got our eye on running a healthy budget and not abusing credit card use. It’s not sexy or gripping stuff but it’s not a bad thing either. And it’s not that other globe trotting families  with household incomes under $100,000 a year are not living within their means. Maybe they’ve paid off their mortgage. Maybe they have lower overhead in other ways. It’s also not that our family have other priorities such as eating out at fancy restaurants or buying lots of clothes and tech toys. ( I use a non-WiFi activated phone on a $20 per month plan.  When I found out recently that I could download a Mandarin-English dictionary complete with character search into my phone, I almost cried.)  In our family living within our means is simply about breathing easier.

I’m not relaying some deeply personal information here.  If you’re shrewd, pay attention and hang in our hood, you’ll observe this fact about our family and other families we know.

Our story is the story of many British Columbians  – and not just those who are living in low income households. It’s not a sob story and it’s not about discussing a 1st world problem.  It’s just a story about a lifestyle that’s not uncommon but is also not often acknowledged.

That’s all.

How does your family juggle budgetary concerns, logistics and travel plans? You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

Reunions and get togethers. photo lost and found a_zpszrolsujl.jpg

This year has been the year of get togethers, anniversaries and reunion invites. I miss more than I can attend but that doesn’t stop me from pondering the social considerations and politics of getting together with long lost friends and relatives.

How do you feel about getting together with friends and family after being apart for many years?

This year I had the opportunity to travel and attend a family function that would have meant meeting people I haven’t seen in many years. “But of course they want to see you?  They know you.  But they don’t know me and don’t stay in contact.  I even read a comment shared by one of them that she goes to family events and doesn’t recognize any of the people. Why should I spend the money to go? They never stop by when they’re driving through.”

It was a wasted effort.  It didn’t matter what I said.  I was seen to be the negative one for not getting the vision.

I have mixed feelings about the prospect of reunions and get togethers. They have the potential to be a lot of fun but there are also pitfalls.  The people I knew best most likely will not attend. Past experiences have proved this theory to be true.

Plus the people I chummed around with most often have either moved away or have fallen head first into their busy careers. I have the “I’d love to get together. I’m just so swamped right now.” e-mails to prove it. In the intervening years we have pretty much fallen out of touch, as the saying goes.

Of course you can get together after not meeting up for years and pick up where you left off. But sometimes the lack of any communication creates an awkward situation.  You don’t really know how their career or personal life has been going.  No, you’re not even privy to random and never terribly revealing – on a personal level – Facebook posts. You haven’t stayed abreast of the news about their growing children. The list of pitfalls goes on.  One couple I know told me some years ago that they weren’t interested to take part in social media efforts.  Why would they want to stay in touch with someone with whom they haven’t socialized in 15 years?  In a few years (and not many at that) it will have been 15 years since I’ve last seen them.  I’m guessing I should add myself to that “why bother?” list.  It’s a shame because I really did enjoy their company and I think we could have maintained some exchange of friendship and information long distance.

At least we’re contacts on LinkedIn.

Friends are close for a reason, a season and a lifetime.  Some friends keep a strong connection long distance, even after many years of absence.  But not all good quality friendships are destined to go that route.  And that doesn’t mean that anyone is at fault.   Of course I’d love to have the opportunity to meet up but how should I act? How deep should our conversations go? Should we renew closer contact after the get together? Maybe they won’t want that and I don’t want to be the one making them feel obliged.  What should I do when I meet people like this at a get together? What will happen if you’re comfortable with the awkward lack of connections but the other person harbours ill feelings? Will they avoid talking with you or keep the conversation painfully cool and impersonal?

And then there’s the truly uncomfortable issues.  I’ll admit that I have a good memory. So it’s hard to forget those times when people said to me “Gosh we were following what happened.  That person/group of people really didn’t treat you very well.” Great – you suspect you hadn’t warranted the treatment that you received and now you have the proof.  Of course we should forgive and move on but do people change?  You’ll be getting together with some people who weren’t terribly friendly with you in the past.  Should you be chummy with them now as if nothing happened?  After all, you’re all fellow family members, colleagues, dorm roommates or alumni. Meanwhile your support group – the people with whom you’d like to meet up – most likely will be a no show.

I should just go, talk to people who seem pleasant, hit the appetizers and leave.  Or maybe I could squeeze in my spouse and children into the event and hide behind them. There’s nothing worse than staying away for all the wrong reasons.  Or are they wrong?

Ugh.  Sometimes it’s easier to just not… you know…. who will miss you? Your absence will be noted and the party will go on just fine.

How do you react to these opportunities? Do you just put on an optimistic face and stride forth?  You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

Have you read the blog post about the 10 types of moms that the blog author plans to avoid? Yes, the one with the click baity title. The one with the “I don’t mean anything by my conversation and questioning – I’m just curious” angle.

“I think we should amend that definition [of curious] just a little bit to something along the lines of, “eager to learn or know about something that pertains to you.” (Kat Boogard, Muse)

Asking about something that pertains to someone else could come across as nosy if you’re asking the other person to reveal personal information that doesn’t need to be shared. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have these conversations about sensitive topics with other parents.  But maybe asking for an elevator speech right off the top is not the best approach. If you take the time to get to know someone over time – and after many hours of conversation – there’s a good chance that you’re going to hear what it’s like to parent multiples, raise a child with special needs or any other topic that comes to mind. (Just thinking back to that “hey mums, you’re so touchy – I’m just curious and genuinely want to connect” post.)

The person who asked if I was my children’s nanny and then proceeded to ask a lot more questions about how they came from somewhere else (once informed that I wasn’t a nanny) wasn’t being nosy. Careless and inattentive? Yes. Nosy? Not so much.

What about the person who asked me if I’d used drugs in order to have twins? I “Oh you mean did I have intercourse before my children were conceived?” Or, putting it more bluntly, “Are we talking about my sex life?”

Yeh…. pretty nosy.

The person who keeps asking me more and more questions about how I met my husband, not accepting the answers that I have given, is being nosy.  Why do I say that? It’s the “yes but where/how…” replies that are repeated that are a dead giveaway. And by the way, most likely I have no idea how he/she met his/her partner. Does it really matter?

(His/her is awkward. I’ll continue using “her” only but this topic involves both genders.)

Spend time getting to know someone, and you might gain the insight that you are seeking. You’re also likely to see that person in action, interacting with children or revealing what life is like for her. Everyone’s entitled to have different feelings about certain types of questions. Some people don’t care if you ask them how they procreated, for example. Others do.

What’s the solution? Someone who barely knows your name or barely knows you, asks you a nosy question. You can tell that the information request is just about that person fulfilling a need for information. It’s not because there is a hope that you will start a meaningful friendship.  How should you respond?

  • Look back at the person silently but don’t answer.  Reveal a flash of a distracted look, like you were thinking about something else and didn’t hear the question, and then change the topic.
  • Give a vague answer back.
  • Give a vague answer back and (if you’re feeling irritated) ask that person the same question. Watch the squirming begin. It happens every time.
  • Ask “why do you ask?”.  This reply doesn’t work for questions that have a simple premise.  But it can work sometimes.

It’s always best to avoid deciding that you don’t want to talk with someone and get to know her just because she doesn’t want to pony up about certain areas of her life.  Deciding to write a post proving that these sensitive feelings are a bit much,and you really care, is not going to help your case. It’s likely that you don’t know and might never fully understand why someone doesn’t want to talk about a specific personal topic.

It would take a long time to walk those 1,000 miles in her shoes.

Let a person reveal herself, over time, in a way in which she feels comfortable.

Your patience will be rewarded.

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