Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 09.20.05
Stanstead, Quebec


Home is where the hard-liner is

Dear kids,

As members of Branch 142 of the CUPW (Consistently Unappreciated Parental Workers), your mother and I regret to inform you that the stalemate in parent-child negotiations leaves us no choice but to initiate pressure tactics throughout the household starting immediately.

This decision was put to the membership for a vote last evening. The results were one vote "yea," one vote "Whatever you want, dear."

We are forced to undertake these measures in the wake of a series of failed bargaining sessions, bribes, threats, and reinforcements (of both the positive and negative variety). None of these tactics has proven successful in achieving our demands, namely:

- that the children wash their dessert, snack dishes, beverage containers and/or utensils when there is a sink full of soapy water clearly available for this purpose right before their eyes and not just plunk said food vessels beside the sink on the assumption that a parental unit will wash them;

- that any and all nighttime reading be conducted during the period between the negotiated bedtime and the lights-out time and not insisted upon at the lights-out time because the child has been watching "America's Funniest Home Appendectomies" when he could have been reading something decent and not wasting his time with that junk;

- that the parental units be informed by the children promptly and with due diligence of any unfinished school lunches so that the parental units may ascertain whether said food remnants have been properly disposed of and not left to turn into a science experiment in the bottom of the backpack/lunch box/school locker;

- that the children never use the following phrases under any circumstances: "in a minute," "you always…/you never…," "there's nothing good to eat," and "why can't I have a cell phone?";

- similarly, that the children accept unquestionably and at face value the following parental phrases: "no," "now," and "because I said so"

- that the children understand the difference between the concept of "clean" and "Mom clean," and comply to said standards;

- that the children develop the same understanding of the concept of time as the rest of the world and not interpret the parental instructions "be back in half an hour" to mean "be back when you feel like it, especially if you get distracted by a friend doing jumps on his bike and you decide to help him build a ramp, in which case be home after it's pitch black and we're worried sick about you."

Because CUPW 142 provides an essential service and because we don't want you operating major appliances without supervision, the membership cannot and will not go out on a general strike. We will, however, begin expressing our discontent over the current familial situation in the following ways:

- Every Tuesday, we will accompany you to school wearing sweatpants/stirrup pants (the threadbare ones with the indiscreet holes) and T-shirts that say "Ask Me About My Tattoos." While accompanying you, we will sing the "Pina Colada" song at the top of our lungs and wave at all passing cars. As you enter the school, we reserve the right to call out, "Don't forget, honey: an empty bladder is a happy bladder."

- There will be no driving you to friends' houses nor the retrieving/returning of said friends from/to their respective homes. We will also tell you what we really think of said friends.

- We will not feign interest/enthusiasm over stories about the cute thing the class gerbil did, who did what to whom at recess or the neat thing you can do with paperclips. We will continue to assist you in school projects but begrudgingly and with a low threshold of tolerance. We will absolutely not sell chocolate bars to coworkers on your behalf.

We're sorry it has come to this. We hope negotiations can resume soon and that there can be a peaceful resolution to this situation. Now go to your room.