Obama is a key informant; he didn’t qualify as a participant only because he does not meet the criteria for insecurely housed, since he is in the process of selling his first house at a handsome profit and acquiring a bigger one to accommodate his wife and child.  He is, at 24, licensed in Heating and Ventilation trade; he considers it financially smart to not have left home to take post-secondary training, and has much to say on that matter.  I invited him to participate because I wanted to hear him on being raised by lesbian parents, which is where the interview starts, but with his permission, we continued through the regular participant protocol.   

FM:  So would you start with telling me something about your family – where you lived, who was in it, what they did to pay the rent, etc.

I was born in Toronto and I lived there with my mom and dad for a couple years, and then we moved to [another city] for a couple years, and then my parents split up.  And then my mom had a partner in [that city], and that didn’t work out.  And then she met her current partner at some point in [that city] and then we moved in with her current partner in Toronto. 

And in Toronto we moved from my mom’s partner’s apartment to a house – a duplex.  At that time, we were travelling up here to the cottage so that’s how I got into this area.  And that’s when my parents decided to move up here.  They just thought that city life was not a good direction for me to be going in, obviously for their personal reasons, not mine, because I wasn’t old enough to have any reasons.

FM: And it wasn’t your choice – you went along with theirs.  Okay, so your mom’s current partner is a woman – let’s call her Matilda.  Was the first partner in [the city] also a woman? 

After the divorce?  Yes. 

FM: Okay, so you’ve been raised by a lesbian couple since you were about 5?

Yeah, from what I can remember, this is a long time ago, I don’t really even know [whether] that first partner was even around, I can’t remember.  

FM: So as far as you’re concerned, your parents have been two women your whole life?

Yes.  That’s where I was going with that, that’s pretty much what happened.

FM: And do you have any contact with your biological dad?

No, not really.  He – I think when I was in grade 7, I didn’t hear from him for close to 10 years, and then he called and said, do you want to get together, blah blah blah, classic, and I pretty much said no, not really. 

FM: Okay, and no siblings?

No. 

FM: Okay, so what kind of work did your parents do? 

My mom was an event planner and she plans events for big organizations… just in general big events like that.  And then Matilda is a building expert. 

FM: And do you call them mom and Matilda, is that how you call them?

Yes. 

FM: Okay, can I ask here, when do you first recall feeling like your family was different from most families?  Was it here, or was it in the city?

Yeah, it was here for sure.  In the city I wasn’t – I was at that stage in my life when friends weren’t really coming over.  Obviously my neighbours and stuff like that, actually one of my neighbours is one of my really good friends to this day.  But I don’t remember -- that didn’t even cross my mind. 

FM: So kids at school would not have any idea?

No.  In Toronto.

FM: But here for sure. 

Obviously not at first.  But they did start slowly asking questions.

FM:  When?  What age? 

Grade 6.  We moved up here grade 5. 

FM: And what kind of stuff would they say?  What was the emotional tone of it? 

They just asked who is that lady that’s always with your mom and stuff like that.  I really just kinda brushed that question off as easily as possible.  And I think I usually just said that she just stays with us.  It’s so ridiculous when I think about it now.  I just said she just stays with us for a little while, while my dad’s out of town blah blah blah.  It’s funny.

FM: So I’m hearing, pretending to be ‘normal’ and hoping they won’t notice?

Yeah, definitely at that time because I was still relatively new at the school.  But there is a few of my friends, and I think that’s maybe how the people started asking more questions, because I did have a few friends and they came over and it’s not like they were the ones that asked me. I don’t know if they knew or they didn’t really care.  But I was never asked by any of my immediate friends, let’s say. 

FM: Okay, so to people who knew you as a person, it wasn’t an issue.  But it was a matter of curiosity for those who didn’t know you well. 

Well -- it’s not even a matter of curiosity for people who didn’t know me well, it’s just the idea of something being different at that age.  How old would we have been, 12?  So at that age, I don’t even know – it’s hard for me to think what they were thinking. 

FM: But you were feeling vulnerable to what they -

Yeah, like I was embarrassed more than anything.  Because obviously if I wasn’t embarrassed I would have just said yeah, I would have said I have two moms, but not even two moms because that would sound more regular, it’s not like saying I have two gay parents.  Like at that time, nobody even knows 100% what that is at that age. 

FM: Including you, I’d say.

Yeah.  Because I’ve been raised around more gay people, if you will, it’s just been – it was all the same for me, I didn’t really say these guys must be gay. Because my mom has gay friends.  And actually two of them are very close.  I consider them my uncles, maybe.

FM: So a male gay couple? 

Yeah.  So it was a lot more normal for me – 12 years old, you’re not going to know what a gay couple is, it was just more these people are together and I didn’t think anything else of it. 

FM: Can I say that at 12, kids probably have no idea why any adults are together, gay couples or straight couples, you don’t even think about it.  But you knew your situation was different -

Yes.  And that’s why I think I was embarrassed of it.

FM: So when was that the worst, and when did it start to get better, if it did?

I think at that time, if that was the first time I ever had to encounter it, that would probably be the worst time.  And it wasn’t even that it was bad, it was like – now when I look back at it, it was more of an anxiety.  I don’t even know.  It’s hard to explain.  I definitely wasn’t scared at all, that wasn’t it, because I knew everybody that was asking me these questions, I was just not wanting to be that person with the different family.

FM: Okay, so it might have been not so very different than if your parents were in a wheelchair, say -

No, because that would have been in your normal category.  As long as you have a mother and a father, whether they be disabled, deaf, blind, whatever, to me you could still say whatever, people wouldn’t even have asked.   Because they saw my mom and some other woman with her they were asking, who is that woman.  If that was a man, they would automatically assume that was my dad and not ask anything at all. 

FM: Okay, you’re saying it is a different and more difficult kind of difference than other things that make people ‘abnormal’.

Yeah, absolutely.  And I think – it’s all the age.  It’s all the age.  Once I got older and into high school, basically when I was done grade 8, when elementary school was over, everybody already knew and it was basically a thing of the past.

FM: So it took about 3 years from grade 5 to grade 8 for everybody to get used to this kind of difference?

Yeah.  And never once, I don’t think, did I say that my parents were gay.  I never ever said that, to my memory.  I just  - people add two and two together. 

FM: Okay, this is so interesting.  So you didn’t ‘name’ the difference, you left that up to the other, they could do with that whatever they wanted. 

As far as I can remember I never said that my parents were gay – like I said, there is just that feeling, not even a feeling… I just didn’t want to say to all my friends.  I never said it.

FM: Did your parents seem aware, concerned that you were having some discomfort?

No, I never let them see, never told them, didn’t act any differently anyways. 

FM: Why not?

Dunno.  Didn’t want to …  Dunno.  Maybe didn’t know, myself, how to approach them myself.  This is too funny, just trying to remember back, so long ago now.

FM: When did it cease to be an issue for you? 

Pretty much high school. 

FM: And the kids didn’t care so it was not an issue for you? Put this together for me, that kids who are gay say it gets really tough at high school.

People at high school, especially in today’s society, people are a lot more judgmental.  I would definitely say I was one of those people, way too easy to judge.  But obviously that’s what today’s society is, [and] when I was in high school, just go with the flow.

FM: So they did readily judge -

Absolutely, for sure.  There is, for instance, a young man, who I’m sure was gay, very flamboyant.  You know [the TV show] Will and Grace, and Will is gay and his friend is gay.  If Will was walking down the street, he just looks like any other man walking down the street, but Jack is very flamboyant, just bouncing.  But there was this guy in high school, when he walked he flounced around, very flamboyant like that.  And he was very easy to judge on his sexuality.  The group that I hung out with, we said things among ourselves but we never tried to make an example of him or anything like that.  Because that would be – I know that would be unacceptable for sure. 

FM: So when your friends were talking about him, did they draw any parallels between him as gay and your parents as gay?

No.  Two different worlds. 

FM: Forgive me for squeezing your brain, and tell me to back off any time, but it’s not often we get the chance to have this type of conversation.  Do you think that girls who were gay had an easier time than flamboyant male gays?

Oh yeah. 

FM: Even if they looked pretty dyke-y?

Yeah, for sure.

FM: So more tolerance toward -

Yeah.  I think at that time it wasn’t – there was a phase when – always [there are] groups of people who dressed differently and whatever.  I know of a couple of girls I went to school with who are gay and all through high school you wouldn’t have known – or I wouldn’t have.  I didn’t know them personally at a friendship level.  I knew of them mostly through sports. 

FM: Well, let me venture this: do you think if your parents had been guys instead of women, that it would have been more difficult for you?

For sure.  For sure. 

FM: I find that really interesting because when I first moved here, I remember seeing two real estate agents [women] who were openly gay – gave the same home number on their cards and billboards – and I thought this was a very gay-positive community.  But pretty soon I heard homophobic talk, really vicious, directed at men.

Yeah, for sure, absolutely. 

FM: Okay, let’s go another direction for awhile at least, but thank you very much for this.  Okay…  tell me what you’re doing now.

So now, I work in heating and cooling field.

FM: Full time?

Full time.  I have a house, a wife, a daughter.

FM: A beat up truck and nice car for the summer?  So life is good; you want to live here?

Oh, absolutely.  Because the job I’m at right now is so good, I’m not leaving at all.

FM: Did you ever think you would?

No.

FM: Always knew you’d want to stay here?

Yeah, more or less.  I had gone down to the city to visit my friends and stuff like that, and I didn’t really find there was very much to do. There’s nothing to do except spend money and cause trouble. 

FM: So you knew clearly what the choices were, what it would be like to live here but also what it would be like to live there, and it was an easy choice to live here?

Yeah, it was a no-brainer.

FM: So how’d you make the transition from high school to work?

I was pretty fortunate in that my wife’s father was in the trade and the people that he was working with at the time were looking for another guy and as soon as I heard that I jumped on board.  So pretty much right after high school I was in the trade I am doing now.  So it was good.  They put me through school so I got my license, and it worked really well. 

FM: So your wife is also local, and do you still work with her dad?

No.  I left that first job that I had right out of high school, I worked there for three years, and then I worked with another plumbing/heating/cooling guy for a few years, and now I’m working another heating company.

FM: And you’re how old?

I’m 24.  I find it funny that I’m 24 years old and for every current job that I ended up getting, there’s been no resume.  I have put out resumes but I didn’t get any of the job that I put resumes out for.

FM: So [it’s] all who you know?

All who you know and I don’t like… especially if you’re going and trying to get a job, over the phone is not good.  You have to go there in person and make a good first impression and that’s better than a piece of paper in my mind. 

FM: And then becoming known in the community for the work you do -

Word of mouth. 

FM: Lots of people in the construction trade tend not to work year-round, they’re seasonal more or less.  You?

I worked at a marina for five years before – through all my public school and high school – and I didn’t have any bills to pay, relative to the real world, and I realized that seasonal work just won’t cut it.   So I do work full time.  I wouldn’t even apply for a job that’s part-time.  Worst case scenario, you do what you gotta do, but definitely not seasonal.

FM: And heating / cooling is indoor work -

Indoor and outdoor. 

FM: And you said got your license.  Was that an alternative to being an apprentice?

No, it wasn’t an alternative to being an apprentice, just the way that this specific trade works.  You can be a Joe Blow off the street and go to school for six weeks and you can have a license that’s just as good as a guy who’s been in it for 10 years.  You don’t need hours; like a plumber, electrician you need hours, those are all apprenticeships.  As far as I know, apprenticeships are based on hours, you go to school for six weeks and then you go to work for six weeks.  So that’s what apprenticeships are about.  But in heating and cooling, there is no – I shouldn’t say no – I didn’t go for apprenticeship, just went to school.  Cut to the chase.  I’m not even sure there is an apprenticeship course for heating and cooling. 

Now for cooling there is an apprenticeship because it’s quite in depth.  Actually, a friend of mine did something like that, too.

FM: But you don’t feel in any way that your qualifications aren’t as good as it gets? 

Me personally I’m always out to make myself better, so if there’s any opportunities to get better, I take them. But the licensing levels are 3, 2, 1 - 1 being the highest.  1’s are commercial guys, you can work on anything.  2 is you’re restricted to 400,000 BTUs which is huge, which is what I have.  So for anything residential, this is all I need.  But like I said, I’m always out to better myself.  The only issue with that would be money to pay for the course. 

FM: How much did the course cost? 

I’m not sure because I was put through.  For my oil I was put through school by my first employer, so I was very fortunate in that sense.  I just got my gas license a year or two ago, I challenged the exam and that cost $1100. 

FM: Challenged the exam means you studied on your own and just took it?

Yeah, they go over a bit of stuff, night class for four weeks, just once a week and after that you write the exam.  We went there for a few hours once a week. In my mind anybody could do it.  It comes easy to me, not so much everyone else. 

FM: Do you think that having Matilda in the building field, and then working in a marina as a youngster, do you think that helped you feel confident about the work?

I’ve always been a hands-on kind of person anyways, so that whole thing comes naturally as opposed to having to work at it.  Obviously it would help for sure, just because it would make me better before I get there.  

FM: Were you a good student?

I would say I was a decent student.  I wasn’t an angel by any means.  I definitely had my issues.  I don’t have a very long attention span – I get bored pretty easily so needless to say school work wasn’t my forte. 

FM: Did you like school?

I loved school.  I wish I was still in school.  Get to play sports.  Get to goof off all day. 

FM: So it’s not very often that someone hates school work and loves school.

Oh yeah, just because I was so social.  There’s not too many people who didn’t know me.  Through sports or whatever. 

FM: Were you a big sports guy?

Yeah, huge.  Huge.

FM: What sports?

Everything.  You name it. 

FM: If, say, the teachers were on strike and there were no sports -

I heard about that.  That would drive me crazy.  I would definitely not like school as much.  For sure.

I was talking to one of my younger friends I told him jokingly too bad teachers couldn’t have gone on strike when I was in school, and he told me, no [you] don’t want that, there’s no extracurricular.  And I said, yup, that sucks to be you.  Because looking forward to playing sports after school and all that other stuff that comes with school, if that wasn’t there it would be a lot harder to drag myself in and out of the classroom for sure. 

FM: Okay.  So housing…  when you move out of home and how did you think about that, how did you make the decision?

It was starting to get to a time in my parents’ house where I wasn’t agreeing with what they were saying.  I’ve always been as independent as possible for myself.  I don’t like asking anybody for anything.  Before I’d ask anybody, I’d just as soon do it myself.  So there was definitely a time.

FM: It was time to go?

Yeah.  We had a huge fight at home and that’s when I knew it was time.

FM: How old?  Out of school?

Yes, I was out of school and I was working and I stayed at my best friend’s house for a while.  And then me and my best friend and a couple other guys moved out and rented a place of our own.

FM: How’d that work?

Good.  Real good.  Lot of good times there.

FM: Party house?

Definitely.  Because I never did the college thing or university.  So that was pretty much my ‘college day’, if you will. 

FM: Was roomies welching on the rent a problem?

No.

FM: Importing girlfriends? Hangers on?

No.  It was awesome.  And we had a female room-mate, three guys and one girl. 

FM: Who cleaned? 

We all did. 

FM: Very good.  How long did that last?

About a year, a year or so.  And then – it was my friend’s parents’ house that we were renting, and his brother was moving back from out west with his family so that’s what gave us the push to move out.  We had to move out.

FM: And where from there? 

Back for a short period of time, back to my friend’s house, which is actually my girlfriend of the time, my wife now, her parents’ house.

FM: So your best friend was your girlfriend’s brother.

Now brother-in-law. 

FM: Still best friend?

Yeah, and he works with me now, too.  He’s now finally come to realize that seasonal work won’t do, so he’s trying to get himself into a career that is full time.  So he’s co-oping with my work right now. 

FM: Co-op? what school?

It’s a training centre, one week on, one week off. 

FM: Did you do that?

No, I just went to school for the straight 6 – 8 weeks, whatever it is. 

FM: Where was your school?

For the first class, it was in Middletown, at [the college].  And the second, it was in Ottawa.

FM: Did you move there for class?

Yeah.  Come back every weekend, though.

FM: So that wasn’t the party time?

No. Not at all.  I didn’t know anybody there.  Trade school is a lot different than college school.  I can only assume. 

FM: From what you hear?  Because it strikes me that some kids get into difficulty because they combine school and partying.

Absolutely, for sure.  That’s a huge problem.  I just have a huge issue with college and university in general.  You spend minimum tens of thousands of dollars on your books and whatever, and if you make it through school because you don’t drop out because you don’t like it or whatever, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be in the field of work that you went to school for. 

FM: Did you know that before you made your choice, or do you know that now because you hear what’s happened to all your buddies?

Yeah.  For sure.  Pretty much everybody I know who’s been to college are not doing what they went to college for.  In my mind they would have been better off to work at Tim Hortons for 2-3 years, however long they went to college for, to save up money so they don’t have a huge loan to pay back, so they actually have the time to figure out what they want to do.  Rather than go with all their friends to wherever they go, the huge campuses, because it seems that that’s where people go, is where all their friends go..  

Like a lot of my friends are still local.  I would actually say that most of my friends when I first hung out with when I moved up here are the ones that I still hang out with.  Like the little group that I hung out with in public school, we’re all still here.  High school, not so much, because the guys from the public school there [in Lakeville], we met them there, although a lot of the guys from Riverville knew them through hockey and whatever.  But the Riverville guys are all still here. 

FM: So why do you think that the Riverville guys stay put and the Lakeville guys go off? 

Couldn’t tell you.  Couldn’t tell you. 

FM: There’s some feeling that Riverville is the wrong side of the track relative to Lakeville.  Did you experience that at high school?

No, there was just as equal amount of kids from Riverville as from Lakeville, so there wasn’t discrimination. 

FM: Okay, so we got you to your friend’s parents’ place for a while and then what?

And then we bought a small house, a fixer upper, a good starter home, and we’ve owned that for close to five years now.  And it’s actually up on the market to sell.  Need a bigger house; it’s that time. 

FM: So the ‘we’ that bought the house was your wife and you?

Yes. 

FM: And you would have been 19.

Yeah. 

FM: Do you mind giving details about the financials?  Like how much you paid, did you have-

We bought it for $88K, we got a mortgage for $92K, and we were fortunate enough to get the down payment as a gift from my Uncles and the lawyer expense was covered by the mortgage amount. 

FM: And then you worked your butt off fixing it up?

Completely renovated the house, finished it up.  And I would never do it again. 

FM: But what’s the asking price?

$134,000

FM: So appreciated $42K over 5 years: not too shoddy?

That’s a pretty good return. 

FM: And a real tribute to the sweat equity that you put into it.

Yeah for sure, if I had to pay somebody to do it, it would have been a lot harder to afford, obviously. 

FM: Wow.  So we haven’t covered health and legal involvement.  Start with that – been involved with the law at all?

No.  Try to steer clear.  I’ve got speeding tickets and stuff, minor stuff, but haven’t been to jail, haven’t had handcuffs on. 

FM: And social life.  So some kids have said there’s nothing to do, that most of their buddies have gone, but even then, not much to do.  What do you find?

I will agree that sometimes there’s not much to do.  Not a movie theatre close by on those nights where you do get bored, but for the most part there’s always something to do, it’s just whether you want to do it or not. 

FM: What do you and your friends do for entertainment or recreation?

Anything outdoors I like.  Biking.  Fishing.  My wife just got me a bow for Christmas so I’m going to get into hunting this year.  Pretty much everything.  I like video games.  That’s the beauty of it.  As much as I’m an outdoor person, I’d be comfortable sitting on a couch playing video games. 

FM: And is your wife equally satisfied with her social life?

I would say so.  Obviously since we’ve had a kid, that’s definitely put a damper on some things, we can carry on like we used to.  It all comes with the package.

FM: Are your buddies into family phase?

Yeah.  Two of my good friends have kids, not the same age but. 

FM: So now a social life that includes family responsibilities. 

Yeah

FM: And any history of health concerns, including mental health, substance use, as well as physical health.

No, not at all. 

FM: Do you aspire to own your own business at some point?

Oh for sure, that’s just the next step of bettering yourself.  Going back to where I said I’m not going anywhere from the job I have now, that would be the only circumstance I would leave that job, is for self-employment. 

FM: Are there any supports or assistance that you can see might be needed to make that next transition? 

No.  There are support systems out there, for sure.  There’s like first time business [loans].  So that’s not an issue.  It’s just whenever.  Like I’m in no rush.  I have it so good that I’m in no rush to go anywhere. 

FM: Do you think that you’re particularly lucky?  Lots of people aren’t so happy with their work?

You work for what you got.  If you’re not happy with your job, get another one that you’re happy with.  There’s no one saying you have to work here.  I have some very strong opinions, my very own personal opinions about people in the work force.  You make your own way; there’s no excuse for anything like that.  There’s always going to be points at your job when you don’t like your job; that comes with the title job, that’s for sure. 

FM: But suck it up or change?

Yeah, absolutely.  There’s nothing worse than a whiner.

FM: Let me hear you on this.  Some people say that the work ethic of local people is not good -

We’re getting into my very strong opinions of things now. 

FM: So let me hear them. 

Okay.  So a lot of – if you follow the work ethic of your parents, that’s where I’ve been fortunate enough, to have two hard-working parents, and my first job at the marina was an amazing boss to have for a first job.  I think that your first job really dictates pretty much the rest of your life, because unless you win the lottery you’re going to be working.  He told me some pretty valuable stuff about work ethic.  So one of the first things he said to me is he wants an employee that doesn’t have to be told what to do, he wants that person to watch and to know what needs to happen next.  So that really set the tone for what – that has definitely paid off for me, anyways. 

Now opposed to other people, if their parents are on welfare or whatever, there are definitely reasons why the system is there, to help out those who are less fortunate than others.  But in my opinion there are just as many, equally as many, people who are abusing the system as who need the system.  So if you grow up in that sort of environment where your parents are sitting on the couch, your house is a disaster, there’s cat shit all over the basement, you come to think that’s acceptable, or normal.  So I think for sure – that’s what you know so that’s what you follow.  That’s your standard.  So I think if you watch whatever your parents do, nine times out of 10 you’ll follow.  If your parents won’t have jobs, you won’t have a job.  You’ll find a way to live but that might not be the initiative of going out and getting a job.  That’s getting pregnant and getting a cheque. 

FM: What do you think could be done to change that generation to generation pattern?  Anything come to mind? 

The people who allow it.  The government.

FM: If it was better monitored -

Monitoring is key.  If you had somebody banging on your door twice or three time a year, unexpected, there’d be a lot of people changing their tune.  I know there are a lot of people on disability who are shingling roofs.  And there’s no part of a disability shingling a roof.  And that’s what drives me crazy.  Just to look at what I do, and I’m still trying to make ends meet, and you drive by houses and people are sitting on their couch drinking beer, and yeah, that’s what I’d like to do, but it’s just it wouldn’t work, I prefer to better myself. 

FM: What about a strong mentor?  Like your first boss.  What if a kid from a ‘loser’ family was placed with a guy like him when they were say, 12.

100%.  100%

FM: Very interesting.  I imagine you would agree that say teenagers in a family that’s drawing social assistance of some sort should be ‘helped’ to get into the labour force part-time while they’re still in school?

Absolutely.

FM: Starting when? 

I started working when I was 12.  That’s just me.  I wanted toys that I didn’t want to have to ask my parents if I could have.  You work for what you get. 

FM: They must have said that.

Not saying that they didn’t help me out or give me anything, that’s not the case at all, it’s more to have my own independence of some choices that I make financially, because at that age you’re just starting to get into that, handling money, savings, blah blah blah.

FM: Well, you were; not everybody is. 

No.

FM: Okay, this is very interesting.  Interesting interventions that you’re suggesting.  Okay I think I’m pretty close to running out of questions, but if it’s okay, we’ll go to the finish-up questions.  So, for people who will read this story, to give the story some shape, what would you say is the most important event in the story?  It could be something that happened, or something that didn’t happen, an absence or a hole of some sort.  What would you say?

I would say my first job.  For me, my first job.  Because the first job I worked ridiculous hours and so that’s what set the bar and set the tone for the rest of my life.  I started out getting paid $5 cash.  Because I wasn’t even legal to be working.  I’d say that’s the biggest part of my life.  That’s the biggest part of anybody’s life.  You start out strong and finish strong.  I guess.

FM: Okay. A judgment question, which I think you’ve covered.  People form an opinion about how a story is going to end, for good or not so good.  How do you think that your story is going to proceed, up or down?

Up, for sure. 

FM: Okay and two advice questions.  What advice would you give to your younger self, whether or not you’d take that advice, what advice that would help this transition into adulthood, being your own man, be easier or smoother or have a better outcome?  What would you say?

I would say… I’m going to be telling all my kids to work hard for what you want, because you can have what you want, it’s just a matter of what needs to be done to get it. 

FM: Okay. What advice would you give to people like me who would like to be helpful to young people, what could we do that – let me interject here for young people who are not as advantaged as you... 

Definitely goals I think are key.  You always need something to strive for, whether that be even the smallest thing, the littlest thing, there’s always something that somebody wants.  Just to find out what that is, that’s a start.  There’s always something that somebody wants.

FM: So I’m hearing the importance of forming or articulating a goal, from a very young age.

Goals always change, that’s okay, goals change to new goals,  so having those goals in general is the biggest thing.  Because if you have no goals, you’re just going to be a bum.

FM: Back to your feelings about kids raised on welfare.  When or how would you go about ‘making’ a kid develop a goal, when they weren’t raised to that? 

That’s a tough question.  I have no idea.  You would have to just look on the friends of those kids, because kids will follow each other.  Not necessarily their goals, someone else’s goals they could strive for.

FM: But what you’re suggesting here is what we would call social inclusion, that you invite a kid into aspiring to what his/her friends have/are doing, etc., so the problem with kids raised in welfare, for shorthand, is not just that they don’t have aspirations from their family, but probably also that they’re not friends with kids who have aspirations.  That ‘losers’ go with ‘losers’

That’s for sure.  Because the government allows it.  Because there’s definitely people who need low-income housing, but that just attracts those people and losers attract losers.  That’s where the kids need to make their own choices.  Whether that be a good choice or a bad choice, I don’t think there’s anything you can really do about that.  For sure you can influence a choice. 

FM:  Yeah.

It’s just sheer laziness.  The kids nowadays I would say are extremely lazy.  For sure.  For sure. 

FM: How much younger than you is the lazy generation?

I’m going to say, I dunno, just because I find now the subject is childhood obesity.  When I was 12 years old, childhood obesity, you’d never even heard of it like you do now, for the sheer reason that kids are getting lazy.  They’re eating the wrong things and getting lazy.  When I was little, I liked MacDonalds, I could crush four burgers.  But I was active.  Once that Dairy Queen goes up, Riverville’s childhood obesity is going to go up. 

FM: Okay, but let me say that in order for you to be active, your parents had to do quite a bit of road work.

Absolutely.  Your parents are your role models so they pave the initial road that you take.

FM: But I was being literal – they probably drove, what, 60km to pick you up from football, right, and if they hadn’t been willing or able to do that, you couldn’t have played football 

Right, couldn’t have done it, even if I’d wanted to.  But at the same token, if my parents didn’t want to pick me up from practice, I would have stayed at a friends’ house in Lakeville.  Because if parents don’t want to pick people up from practice, they don’t care where they stay.  That’s the choice that I would make, anyways. 

FM: What if you weren’t athletically inclined?  Like maybe you were a nerd and liked chess -

Yeah. I don’t know.  You’d be shit out of luck there.  Pretty much.

FM: Okay, I think I’ve tortured you enough.  Thank you very much for thinking as hard as you did about how your childhood was marked by being raised by a lesbian couple.  I would say that it might come under the category of ‘what doesn’t break you makes you strong’

Absolutely. 

FM: Turning what might have been a thing that isolated you socially into something you just soldiered on through.

Just shake it off. 

FM: Which lesbians probably need to do in their day to day life more than straight people.  Because they’re different.

Yeah, absolutely. 

FM: Yeah, the whole thing about turning an adversity into a strength.  Because there’s also people in this study who were quite privileged and have crashed and burned in the transition to being their own person, and it’s a mystery that we’re trying to understand.  Some adversity but not too much, the right kind, the right supports at the right time – like your first boss, for example, was a solution to a problem you didn’t have yet. 

I would say so.

FM:  Okay that’s it for me:  Anything else?

That’s it; that’s my life story!