Thursday, December 29, 2005

If these walls could talk

Our holiday project this Christmas is to paint the walls of Nikki's bedroom. Blue, Green, Orange, and Yellow. Bright, bold, and fun. We've finished 2 out of the four, but need to go back to the store for more paint tomorrow.

Every time I begin a new painting project (and by now, I've painted almost every room in this house at least once), I let the girls take first crack at the walls. They paint words, pictures, you name it. If there's a closet in the room, they get to go wild in the closet, and then I leave it that way. In both Julie and Maddie's closets, there are still colourful reminders of the children the way they were back when those walls were painted.

I wonder what an archaeologist would figure out if, many years from now, he/she were able to remove the top layers of paint without disturbing the bottom layer - the layer with the most interest. (I'm sure Gil Grisam on CSI would be able to figure out how to do that, wouldn't he? ;-) These old walls would tell him which children had lived here, probably their approximate ages at the time of painting, what they thought of each other (yes, if you look closely, that wall says "Nikki is wierd"), what bands they liked at the time (in Julie's closet, it says something about the Beatles - they were just discovering rock and roll back then), and probably a myriad of other things.

I like painting. I like the look of fresh walls. I like the way a room looks early on when there are no scuff marks, no chips in the paint, and no stray fingerprints. I like change. I need a home reno project at least once a year so that there is something changing in my house on a regular basis. My mom used to re-arrange the living room furniture in the house I grew up in on a monthly basis, and now that I've grown, I recognize that same familiar longing for change and renewal in myself as well. Some people can live with "sameness" for years and years, but I get a little stir crazy that way.

I may live within the same walls for years on end, but now and then the writing on the wall has to change. I think it's contagious - my daughters seem to have inherited the trait from me the same way I inherited it from my Mom.

And now it's time to go paint sunny orange on the wall...

Note: By the way, if you have a three-year-old helping you paint, I wouldn't recommend leaving a tray of paint lying on the floor. But if you do, it's comforting to know that little green paint footprints CAN be removed (almost) with a bucket of warm water, Mr. Clean, a scrub brush, and LOTS of elbow grease!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holiday happiness

Happiness is...
- Family arriving from Alberta. Knowing that we (our family) are worth driving across 2 provinces for.
- A day spent with my husband and daughters - lunch at the Forks, and then a movie (yeah, the movie was a little lame, but I was surrounded by my family, so what's not to like?)
- Maddie, jumping up and down on the bed, "Mommy! Daddy! It's Christmas!"
- Julie, throwing her arms around me, after opening Chronicles of Narnia (the book set), "You are the BEST Mommy EVER!"
- Nikki, poring over her new fashion design book.
- My niece Amy scoring over 200 in bowling.
- My nephew Nat, with his unique flare, tossing a bowling ball.
- My nephew Caleb keeping track of everyone's bowling score, and then ranking them in order.
- My nephew Brodie, suffering through pajama pictures, even though he'd rather be almost anywhere else.
- My Mom, looking content with her new life, surrounded by her old one.
- Sitting in church on Christmas morning, surrounded by my family, Marcel's family, and, of course, our church family.
- R, M , J & M coming over for lunch on Christmas day.
- A late night movie with my siblings. As AP says, we all have "experience junkie" tendencies (in varying degrees) and we all like each other. A LOT.
- Watching my newest niece Abigail, in her daddy's arms, get "dedicated" to God on her Mommy's birthday. (Christmas day).
- Listening to my brother Dwight sing a new song he'd written for Abigail and her parents. Watching Abby's daddy get a little choked up.
- Not getting too stressed out about company coming, 'cause my house wasn't very messy and didn't need much work to get it in shape.
- Annual pajama pictures, with the grandchildren all dressed in their new pj's. And this year, with the addition of Abigail, all four of the siblings have another generation represented in those pictures. It feels more complete now (though we hope there's more to come :-).
- Camper breakfast on Christmas morning.
- A new book to read.
- Listening to the children sing 12 Days of Christmas at the top of their lungs.
- Mom's home-made werenki (I have no idea how to spell it - it's a Mennonite dish, a lot like perogies.)
- Christmas Eve with Marcel's family.
- Pépère's pleased look as his grandchildren open the slippers he's had made for them.
- Toboganning with my s-i-l, my daughters, and my nephew.
- A delightful conversation with Maddie as her and I drove home alone from Grandma's house.
- A cuddle with my husband on the couch.
- Knowing that I still have 6 more days before I have to return to work.
- Sleeping in past NINE O'CLOCK!

It's been fun and full so far. I hope yours has been at least half as good. :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Eating bread with the Bishop

I look around me at all this Christmas abundance, and I feel so blessed. Every day, I fill the little pockets of my children's advent calendars with treats, and I am grateful that I can lavish so much love and generosity on my children.

In the middle of all this, though, I remember one of the most life-impacting moments of the past year. I remember the day I ate bread with the Bishop...

We munch on the Bishop’s bread as we bump along rough country roads in SUV comfort. “It’s for my diabetes,” he’d said when he’d sent his driver into the store before we’d left town. After the bread, the Bishop reaches back from his front seat and hands me a fruit juice. “You can wash it down with this,” he says benevolently, and I receive it like a penitent parishioner receiving communion.

The Bishop laughs his deep belly laugh as he recounts stories of the days when he’d left Tanzania to study in America. “I could tolerate almost anything,” he says, “except for the rock and roll. It’s an abomination that they’re letting it into churches now.”

When we reach the village, throngs of people await our arrival. We step out of the comfort of air conditioning and leather seats, into the hot African sun. I step out alone on my side of the car. The Bishop walks ahead, bowing graciously to the multitude that clamours around him. Always, his chuckle can be heard above the din.

As the Bishop disappears into the crowd, I try to follow, but the masses close the gap and I am quickly surrounded by curious and eager faces. They stand a respectful distance away. There must be fifty sets of eyes on me. Some of them giggle as they examine my blonde hair and pale skin. One woman tentatively reaches out and, when I offer my hand, fifty other sets of hands take courage and reach out to touch me.

I feel hands all around me – all of these people eager to touch the woman whose white skin, to them, means “one blessed by God.” My throat begins to close with overwhelming emotion. My eyes fill with tears. “This is how Jesus must have felt,” I think, “when the hemorrhaging woman reached through the throng to touch his cloak.”

“I am not the Messiah,” I want to shout, as I struggle to move forward without jostling or offending anyone. “Hold your honour for someone more worthy than me.”

Finally, I make my way to where the Bishop and the others are standing. The crowd forms a reverent semi-circle around us. Eager faces await words of greeting from the benevolent Canadians who have brought the food they will eat for the next three months while they pray for rain.

The Bishop speaks first. He urges them not to let sin enter the village. His voice rises as he preaches to them of the blessings God will bestow on them if only they are faithful. They peer at his broad girth, and I wonder if they are hoping they can be as faithful as he has been.

The hot sun is unforgiving as the villagers wait – they’ve waited all day for us to arrive and now they are at the mercy of the Bishop’s words. All this they must endure to take home a few morsels for their children.

I feel hands urging me to step forward. “They want to hear from you,” someone whispers. Tiny needles pierce my throat as I try to speak. What can I say that is worthy of this moment? How can I assure them I long for friendship, not reverence?

“Thank you for your kind welcome,” I begin falteringly. “In Canada…” my voice breaks, “my father was a farmer just like you.” My mind races, searching the past for one kernel of connectedness. “We were poor, and sometimes we didn’t know if we would eat. Just like you, we’d wait for rain, and when it didn’t come…” I pause to wait for the interpreter to catch up. “When it didn’t come, we ate less than we did the year before. My father worked hard, just like you. And yet, sometimes the crop failed, or the markets sank and times were hard.” Pause. How can I let them know they are as valuable as I? “I know that, if there were no food on my table in Canada, and you were blessed with bountiful crops, you would help me too.” My voice drops to little more than a whisper. “I will pray that God will bring the rain.” The words come out of my mouth, but in the same instant I know that God will hear my anger and confusion before I remember to pray for rain.

Others speak, and I step back into the crowd. A group of grinning young boys wave me over. They gesture at the camera around my neck and strike a pose for a picture. As they ham it up, I life my camera to my face. Before turning away, I smile and wink, and they giggle behind their hands.

Someone thrusts a bucket into my hands and points in the direction of the mound of maize. Standing on the food they will eat, we fill the sacks held out with eager hands. Just enough sacks to satisfy the photo opportunity, and then we are whisked away again.

As we pull out of the village, I sink deeply into the leather seats, tears stinging my eyes. The Bishop’s bread and juice threaten to erupt from my churning stomach.

I turn to look back at the crowds. Part of me longs to jump out of the car and rush back to them. “You shouldn’t be thanking me,” I want to tell them. “You should hate me with every fiber of your being. I should be stoned in the village square for throwing away more food than you will eat this year. I should be flogged for my closets full of greed. At the very least, I should be barred from the village for keeping silent in the face of injustice.”

The Bishop chuckles in the front seat. “We’ll go to another village now,” he says, settling into his seat. “They have prepared a feast for us. You must try the goat.” He smacks his lips. “I do love goat.”

Later, as I try to swallow the dry hunk of goat meat the Bishop pushes my way, I silently plead to the God of confusion for absolution. Surely, there must be some worthy penance for my sins.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Spanish dancer

Here she is... my little red-headed Spanish dancer. No amount of coaxing could convince her to wear the red flower in her hair (when Julie makes up her mind about something, there's not much anyone can do about it), but she looked delightful none-the-less.

And here's Nikki - nine, going on sixteen.

And here's Maddie, getting a little bored in the audience, wishing she could be onstage with her sisters.

h8s2cln, where are you when I need you?

You'd think that staying up late to make circle skirts shouldn't happen to the same person twice within a 6 month period. But no, that would suggest that I actually LEARN from my mistakes, and I refuse to do that on the grounds that it might turn me into a boring person.

I'm not sure what it has to do with Christmas, but Julie needs to dress like a Spanish dancer for the school concert tonight. Yeah, I suppose I could just slap a colourful skirt on her like the teacher suggested, but that's not the way my brain works. You may hear "costume", and I hear "opportunity". And the one person in the world who knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about is h8s2cln.

Sadly, though, I usually only get the inspiration or motivation the night before it's needed, so yes, I was up late last night. And, of course, when you're stomping on deadline's door, that's when something ALWAYS goes wrong. I had the red circle skirt all cut out, sat down at my sewing machine to stitch it together, and lo and behold - I'd broken my last sewing machine needle last week when I sewed a bunting bag for Peanut. So there I was, at 8:00 at night, rushing around the city trying to find a store that was open and would sell me a lousy sewing machine needle (the fabric store close to our place picked this opportune time to move across town)!

But in the end, Julie will look like the best little Spanish dancer around, with her red skirt and black poncho, with red sequins and a red flower in her hair! Look for pics tomorrow.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not this year

I wrote the following post 2 years ago, after we'd lost Dad. It still resonates today, and this year, it will have a new poignancy while we continue to adjust to a new person in the family picture. For all those who are remembering someone dear this Christmas, this is for you...

It’s not the Christmas Eve phone call that I’ll miss. I never particularly liked rushing out to the shopping mall on the busiest day of the year because he hadn’t gotten around to buying Mom a gift.

And it won’t be the delay he caused each year by picking the very moment everyone was ready to open presents to go outside and feed the pigs.

It’s not his stubbornness or his lack of focus. It’s true - some things will be easier this year without Dad. I’ll get to relax on Christmas Eve. We’ll open presents sooner. We won’t have to plan meals around his unorthodox schedule.

But it’s the sound of him I’ll miss. His voice as he sang “Who is He in Yonder Stall?” His annual reading of the Christmas story in Isaiah or Luke – before any gifts could be opened. The silly sounds out of his mouth while he drifted off to sleep on the couch - still trying to participate in the family cacophony. His inquisitive tone as he pondered a new Christmas question – why does tradition assign the number three to the wise men? What makes us think Mary was riding a donkey?

It’s the feel of him I’ll miss. His shaggy whiskers on my cheek when he hugged me hello. His work-worn hands when he patted my shoulder in greeting or congratulations. His insistent fingers as he tapped my hand at the busy Christmas table to get my attention so he could share his musings.

It’s the smell of him I’ll miss. The Old Spice aftershave lotion he saved for Sundays and Christmas. The lingering odour of the barn embedded in his hair and the blankets Mom covered the couches with.

It’s the sight of him I’ll miss. The tilt of his head and the tiny grin that said “I’m happy to see you” louder than words. The bushy eyebrows over twinkling sky-blue eyes as he teased the grandchildren. The freckled hands cradling his well-fingered black leather King James Version Bible. The gentle smile saved especially for Mom for picking just the thing he needed for Christmas.

We’ll still gather at Christmas. We’ll still eat a big meal and exchange gifts. We’ll still read from the Bible – probably even from the same black leather Bible he fingered for all those years. We’ll play games, we’ll laugh, we’ll sing a few Christmas carols. That’s what we do at Christmastime – we won’t change that because Dad died.

But the heart of it won’t beat the same way this year. The Bible won’t sound the same from someone else’s lips. “Who is He in Yonder Stall” will sound empty without his voice or his unique line of questioning. Mom won’t get that special smile, and I won’t feel his whiskers on my cheek.

We’ll still celebrate the birth of Christ, but it will be the death of Dad that will hold captive our thoughts, our tastes and our smells.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Catching up

In case you were wondering where my witty insightful posts and comments have gone (haha), I've been on another business trip. Another Alberta trip - this time to interview 9 potential candidates for a position out there. First a day of interviews in Edmonton, then a short flight to Calgary, and then a day and a half of interviews in Calgary (plus a half day to catch up on Christmas shopping).

I'm a little tired, I'm happy to be home, my brain is fried from trying to think too hard and analyze too many people, my kids need my attention, I have laundry to do, and I need a day or two just to transition back into my life. I'll be back soon :-)

Just have to share one thought though - as I was flying over the prairies, I couldn't help but marvel at how lucky I am. When I was growing up a poor farm girl on those prairies, I never would have dreamed I'd some day get so many chances to fly over that same landscape and beyond. Somebody pinch me! I'm a lucky girl.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

and yet, my husband still goes to the store dressed like THIS!

Friday, December 09, 2005

My reluctant daughter

A couple of nights ago, Nikki asked me “Mom, what does ‘reluctant’ mean?” I tried to explain, but then, because I read the look on her face as continued puzzlement, I asked her to tell me what the sentence was that she’d read. “I’ll tell you later, Mom,” she said, and then walked away. I knew then, as I almost always know with this daughter, that it was something more important than just a word in a book she was reading.

Sure enough, later that evening, when we were alone, she said, “I was asking about the word, because on my report card it says ‘Nicole is reluctant to speak up in class’.” Ah yes, I should have known that a week after she brought home the report card, she was still processing its contents. Other kids (like Julie) have long forgotten what it said in their report cards, but not Nikki. Nikki is a “processor”.

Let me tell you a little about the mind of this dear girl. She has always been a thinker of thoughts way beyond her young years. She’s always had a corner of the world on her young shoulders. From a very young age, it was clear that she couldn’t just be a “kid” – her little mind was always working; full of things too big for her to fully comprehend, but too important for her to ignore.

This is the girl who, at the age of 2, would worry when I pulled into the mall parking lot that I wouldn’t be able to find a parking spot. I’m sure the first word that came out of her mouth was in the form of a question. She needed to know EVERYTHING there was to know – all the little pieces of the puzzle that would help her put her world in order. We’d walk down the street – when she was still young enough to be in a stroller (and trust me, that didn’t last long) – and she’d see a man walking down the street. “Who’s that man? where’s he going? Does he have any children? Does he live close to us?” It wasn’t just a passing curiosity – it was like she NEEDED to know all these things. Only if she knew did she feel like her little world was safe. Oh, how wearying it was to ALWAYS be looking for answers that would satisfy her. “I don’t know,” was never good enough.

When she was about 3, her great-grandmother died. Driving home one night, a few days after Mémère died, Nikki looked up at the moon and asked “Mommy, who moves the moon?” Because she was too young for the scientific answer and I was too tired to try to help her understand, I said, “God does.” The look of concern on her face told me that, once again, that answer didn’t quite satisfy. “But what does Mémère Beauchemin do while God’s moving the moon?” It wasn’t just a random question, it was a genuine concern that Mémère might not be very well cared for up there in a heaven where God was busy being distracted by moon-moving duties.

When she was 4, we lost Matthew. She wanted to send our stroller up to heaven so God would have something to take Matthew for walks in. She also needed to know what we did with his body, and how all those little babies could fit in one little urn she saw buried under the ground.

When she was 5, the World Trade Centre came down, and I knew I’d have to handle it carefully with her. For one thing, I could never lie to this little girl. She NEEDED to know the truth. Fairy tales, like Santa or the Tooth Fairy were a waste of time with her – she needed truth, not fictional characters. She needed to KNOW it was Mommy sneaking into her room to put a quarter under her pillow. So, on 9/11, when she came home from kindergarten, I knew I’d need to tell her about what had happened – better she hear it from me than from the kids in the play ground; or worse yet, saw it on TV. After I’d explained what had happened, I found her standing at the window, watching some fire trucks go by. There was that familiar look of worry on her face. “Are they going to the towers, Mommy?” Somewhere in my communication, I’d forgotten to tell her the buildings that collapsed were far away from our house.

This is the same girl who will not take communion at church, because it just doesn’t make enough sense to her. How could bread and grape juice have anything to do with God? And if it doesn’t make sense to her, then it would be “cheating” to pretend otherwise.

So, when I heard the question about the word “reluctant”, I knew the question behind it was much deeper than just a passing interest. She needs to know what her teachers are saying. She needs to understand the problem. She needs to mull it over night after night.

Unfortunately, this is a little girl who runs the risk of getting lost in the system. As AC said when I reported her night of tears last week, some kids just don’t fit the mold when it comes to “books and larnin’”. No, it’s true. Some kids are too smart for school. When other kids are busy learning the ABC’s, she’s busy worrying that Hurricane Katrina might make its way to Winnipeg and wollop us like it wolloped New Orleans. Unfortunately, she’s in an environment where she doesn’t feel safe enough to ask the teachers all those questions she needs answers to.

So many days, my heart aches for that little girl. Other days, I gaze at her in wonder at her wisdom and depth. Once, a complete stranger looked at her picture and said “she has an old soul.” I don’t believe in re-incarnation, but if having an “old soul” means that you view the world through eyes that are older than your years, then she does indeed have an old soul.

I am humbled to be the mother of this wise and wonderful little girl. Some days, she seems too much for me. Do I give her the right answers to her many questions? Do I make the world safe enough for her? Have I helped her find enough coping mechanisms to face the world?

I’ve often said that she will either be a deep thinker and scholar, amazing the world with her insight and wisdom, or she’ll have a nervous breakdown before she reaches adulthood. I hope it’s the former. I hope the decisions we’re making as parents (like the fact that we’re not pulling her out of school when she seems completely lost in a class that’s way too big and she gets lost in the shuffle) are the right ones – or at least they’re “good enough”.

Please God, let her make it through. She’s a tender flower and I love her so, so much.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Things that made me happy today

1. When Nikki came to tell me that, not only had she dusted the living room like I'd asked her, but she'd also dusted the bathroom, our bedroom and Maddie's bedroom.
2. Watching Julie put on a brave face, even though she was fighting disappointment when both of her sisters got something new for their rooms and she didn't.
3. Decorating the Christmas tree with my daughters (actually - they did most of the work :-)

4. Remembering the stories connected with each tree ornament. It's become quite an ecclectic bunch, and I love every one of them.
5. Finding paint in 3 of the 4 colours Nikki wants for her room at the Habitat Re-store for the price we'd have paid for just one gallon elsewhere. Yay!
6. Watching Maddie talk to the Santa figurine, sing lullabies to Baby Jesus, and offer to get the angel atop the tree a snack :-)

7. The VERY yummy recipe for the black bean dip I made for the shower tomorrow (and the fact that I get to scrape the bowl clean as I blog :-)
8. When Marcel came to wash dishes for me at 11:00 at night, after I'd been baking like a crazy (not to mention messy) woman. He could just as easily have gone to bed.
9. Finding the kind of boots Nikki really wanted in the right size this time.
10. Watching Nikki and her dad work together on a French school project - at least an hour of them working together without either of them losing patience with the other one - that must be a record! Maybe there's hope. Funny, with her it seems that almost every year, she reaches a bit of a breaking point (like last night), and then she turns the corner, she settles down a bit (like today) and school gets easier.
11. Finding the missing library book and cell phone in the cavernous hole in the easy chair. (Don't ask.)
12. A lovely home, decorated for Christmas.
13. Did I mention the black bean dip I'm scraping out of the bottom of the bowl? Good to the last drop! All the better with hint-of-lime tortilla chips!
14. Fully decorating the Christmas tree instead of leaving the bottom 2 feet clear - our children are growing up!
15. Hanging one of Matthew's angel ornaments near the top of the tree and watching the light sparkle through it.
16. None of my family whined about supper, even though I'd forgotten a key ingredient in the meatloaf.
17. The fact that tomorrow I get to see a bunch of my favourite people, and celebrate my new niece.
18. The encouraging words from my blog friends after last night's heartache.
19. The nice warm bed that I'm about to crawl into, and the nice warm husband who'll be next to me. G'night and sweet dreams.

Friday, December 02, 2005

These things I do not want to hear out of the mouth of my daughter

...especially when they're accompanied with tears:

"Why does my sister ALWAYS get better report cards than me? She gets almost all 'excellents', and I got 2 'needs improvement' and some 'fairs'."
"I never speak up in class because I'm too afraid I'll make a mistake and then I'll be embarrassed."
"I've been playing alone at recess for 2 weeks now because the last time I played with my friends, we got in trouble, and now I'm afraid of getting into trouble again. So I play alone."
"I wish I wasn't so dumb."

All this I heard tonight, and more. And now I am going to bed with a broken heart. How do I help this girl? Did I say the right things tonight?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes

Maddie and I spent a delightful evening together tonight. Her older sisters were out with their daddy at their first rock concert. (I know, I know - they're kinda young for ROCK concerts! Take it up with their daddy! He turned them into little rockers at a very young age! It's Simple Plan - I sincerely hope they're basically harmless fun. It's their Christmas present.) Anyway, back to me and Maddie...

We spent the first part of the evening wandering around our favourite bookstore (where you have to climb Pooh's tree to get to the children's section :-) I'd promised to buy her a little something, since it was buddy night for us, and her sisters got concert tickets. Well, she didn't find what she wanted at the bookstore. Nor at the dollar store, or Children's Place, or Zellers. She didn't even want doughnuts at Tim Hortons. She wasn't in a very materialistic mood tonight, which made me smile because when I promised her something, I had visions of her begging for EVERYTHING.

In the end, we headed to Value Village (big second hand store), and her and I both found some "gently used" pants (I got lucky AGAIN! I don't know what's up with my luck with pants lately!) As her treat for the evening, she picked an Itsy Bitsy Spider game. Not bad for $1.99 - I love the fact that 3 year olds have no concept of the "monetary value" us adults place on things!

As we were leaving Value Village, she said to me "Are you having a rough evening with me, Mom?" Hmmm... what kind of signals was I sending her? "No, sweetie, I'm having a very FUN evening with you."

Later, in the car, this conversation took place - making me wonder once again, what she's picking up from me:

Me: "I really like you, Maddie."
Maddie: "Do you still like me when I'm bad, Mom?"
Me: "Yes, of COURSE. I like you ALL the time, Maddie. Every day of your life."
Maddie: "And when my sisters are making too much noise, do you still hear me?"
Hmmm... wonder what's behind THAT question?
Me: "Yes, sweetie, even when your sisters are making too much noise, I still TRY to hear you."

And then I turned the tables on her...
Me: "And when I'M bad, do you still like me?"
Maddie: "Mo-om - YOU'RE not ever bad!"
Me: "But sometimes I get grouchy and impatient."
Maddie: "Yeah, well sometimes I do too."

Do you WONDER why I like that kid so much? :-)

(By the way, ccap, Maddie picked out SEVERAL things she wanted to buy Abby, long before she found anything she wanted for herself :-)

Just a few words of advice…

I’ve just finished reviewing 52 resumés, so, in case you’ll be applying for a job any time soon, I thought I’d offer a little unsolicited advice, based on what I’ve seen.

The next time you’re submitting a resumé for a job you want, DON’T, under any circumstances:
- include a picture of yourself talking on a cell phone with a fake smile pasted on your face. Your wife might tell you it’s the best likeness of you, but that doesn’t mean a potential employer wants to see it.
- include a whole page of quotes from everyone you’ve ever known, expounding on how great you are. One word – OVERKILL!
- tell me you’re overqualified, but you want the job anyway. I’m not impressed.
- phone and ask if you can go straight to the interview stage and skip the resumé stage. What are you hiding – the fact that you don’t know how to write?
- write a three line sentence in your cover letter using every big word and excessive adjective you can think of. If an employment counselor told you it was a good idea, don’t trust her – she doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
- write a lazy e-mail. You may be able to get away with “l8r” or “btw” with your friends, but it just doesn’t work when you’re applying for a job. GRAMMAR, people!
- brag too much. There’s a fine line between honesty and outright arrogance – don’t cross it.
- cram your entire resumé onto one page. I don’t CARE if that’s the way the resumé book told you to do it – they were WRONG! I can’t POSSIBLY know enough about you to consider interviewing you if all I have is one page.
- apply for a job in Alberta, and then proceed to tell me you’re not willing to move there.
- bold almost every line in your cover letter. No, you won’t impress me by YELLING AT ME!
- tell me that you’ve hob-knobbed with some of the most wealthy people and corporations in the world. That might get you a job with an investment company, but not a non-profit organization.
- tell me you habitually work 16 hour days, 6 days a week. That tells me a few things about you – none of them flattering. Like a) you have no life and have to cling to your job for your sense of fulfillment, or b) you like to avoid your wife and kids and so spend most of your time at the office, or c) you work at a very inefficient pace and can never get the job done on time, or d) you like to soak the company for every bit of overtime you can get, or e) you haven’t got a clue what the word “balance” means, or f) you’re a workaholic with no personality.
- tell me that God wants you to have the job. God might, but he needs ME to cooperate!