Pixie is 25 years old, lives with her four-month-old daughter between the home of her boyfriend and his mom, and her parents.  The baby accompanied her to the interview, became fussy, and Pixie asked participant Max, who was waiting for her to be finished so I could transport both of them back home, to care for the baby.  We could hear that he was having some difficulties which imposed some pressure on the interview and perhaps foreshortened it.  Pixie, along with Max, were encouraged to participate in the research at a music/coffee shop that encourages discussion among its patrons about civic life.  This exposure seems to have opened Pixie’s life up to new ideas which raise some questions about her choices to date.    

FM: Okay, to start I’d like you to tell me a bit about the family you were raised in – where, number of sibs, what your family did to pay the rent, etc.

I was raised in [a town in Lake County] and Bridgeville and then we moved to [a small village in Farm County] and I started school from there.  I have an older sister and a younger brother. My mom’s a stay-at-home parent.  My dad was a trucker for 25 years for a long-distance hauling company.  

FM: Okay, we’ll structure the story by [talking about] the places you have lived.  We’ll talk about what influenced you to make [each] move and how that worked for you.

We lived in [the town] – I was small so I don’t remember much but I remember moving to Bridgeville and that was, I can say that was a big thing for me because of moving into a new house and everything.

FM: How old were you?

I was 4 or 5.  My sister just started school when we moved to Bridgeville and I started a year after.  So we lived there until I was eight and then we moved to [the village in Farm County] and went to school in Westville and then my dad was on the fire department in [our village] and they weren’t giving him enough – there wasn’t enough for him so he moved to Westville and he followed up with being on the fire department.  And we started going to school, all three of us, we had to walk in the morning to school.  So that was a big thing, getting to walk to school all by ourselves.  We’d come home at lunch – bring our friends home.  Mom would make us all lunch and then back to school.  

FM: When did you first move out of your family’s home?

I moved out when I was 16 down to Eastville.  I was dating a guy for four years and then I moved back to my mom’s.  

FM: So you lived in Eastville with this guy for four years, to age 20?

Yeah.  And then moved back home?

FM: Because? 

Just wasn’t getting along and he had kids.

FM: How many and what age?

He had two little boys, they were three and four at the time, six and seven when I moved home.  

FM: So were your folks okay with you moving back?

Yeah, because they wanted me to move back.  There were open doors for me to come home, so that was nice.  That was good.  

And then I was single for a year and a little bit and I met another guy and we dated for a year and a half and moved in together.  We broke up and I moved back to my parents.   And I decided to do stuff for myself, like if I was going to move in with another guy, another relationship or anything, I wanted to make sure it was right this time.  Not saying it wasn’t right when I moved in with the second boyfriend.

FM: Can I just ask, how old were you when you moved back home the second time?

I was 23.  

FM: And what went wrong with that second relationship?

He said I was trying to change him and trying to make him somebody that he wasn’t.  Well, that wasn’t really the situation and then I found out that he’d cheated on me.  

FM: So you left him?

Yeah, I basically told him that it was done.  Like, he left on the weekend and I was at the apartment by myself and when he came home on Monday we had a simple talk, no fighting, just a simple talk, and I told him this isn’t going to happen no more.  And then I found him walking up the street two days after with a new girlfriend, so yeah.  I was home on the Tuesday and on the Thursday when he decided to show back up in town, here was his new little girlfriend by his side, so that was, yeah, that was…  

FM: And where did you two live?  

We lived in apartments in Westville.

FM: And were you working?

Yeah, I was working at a retirement home.  I was dietary aide.  

FM: And what did he do?  

He was working at a car dealership.

FM: And how did you manage money?

He supported us so that was kinda hard, too, with me not working as much as I wanted to.

FM: What was hard?

I was only working three days out of the week, so I was only making minimal money, six-hour shifts every week, so that was kinda hard on my part that I wasn’t bringing in enough money for myself.  

FM: But with the two incomes - 

With the two incomes we were able to manage.  Had a nice apartment, had food on the table.  Met our needs.  

FM:  Okay, so that ended and you’re back home.  And I take it you didn’t finish high school…

Yeah, I finished high school when I was dating my first boyfriend.  That’s one thing I’ll say for him, that he made me do that because I was young.  Because seeing that I was looking after the kids and stuff, he said I want to make sure that you’re going to school and getting your schooling.  And we had someone across the road, the neighbours, looking after the kids until I got home. 

FM: And did you say what he did?

He was working in the automotive industry so he was sleeping during the day and then gone at night. 

FM: but making good money?

Uhhuh, but he had wife issues and all that other fun stuff.  

FM: You mean he had to pay spousal support?

Yeah, and she basically took him for everything.  

FM:  Even though he had the kids? 

Yeah, but eventually we had to go through court and everything and she ended up getting them and everything.  So that was kinda hard. 

FM: When did that happen?  How old were the kids?

They were four and five at the time.  

FM: So shortly after you moved in?  Okay.  And then?

I basically raised his two boys while he was working, made sure they were looked after, potty trained both of them, made sure food was on the table.

FM: And how did that relationship end?  What made that relationship end?

What ended it was that the boys were only coming every other weekend and his ex-wife was getting upset at me that I was looking after her boys, that she wasn’t there to look after her own boys so that just caused problems between me and my boyfriend.  So he basically said that was the end of that.  And I said, well, okay.

FM:  Did you have any suspicion that he might have imported you to be a cheap babysitter while he and his ex worked out custody?

I think so.  I think so.  Yeah, because I was babysitting at first.  

FM: But he still did seem to take care of you.

Oh yeah, he was supporting me and everything.  He was okay on that part.  

FM:  Okay, so the story so far is moved out with boyfriend#1, finished school, worked at the retirement home, back home, boyfriend#2, back home, then….

And then back into Westville.  When we [parents] first moved into Westville it was November of 1997 and then it would have been the summer, there’s a swimming place where everybody swam there and I met a couple of friends and stuff.  For the longest time, since I’ve started dating my third boyfriend, I met him when I first moved to Westville, so I was 10.  And ever since that we were friends and always known what we’ve been up to and stuff, so when I broke up with boyfriend #2, he was bringing around boyfriend #3.  Because they worked together at the car dealership.  So that was kinda awesome because my second boyfriend basically brought my current boyfriend back into my life.  And we’ve been dating for a year and a half and have a little baby girl, four months old.  

FM:  And are you living together? 

Yeah.  But I’m back and forth at my parents. Like I’m at my mom’s mostly during the day and then I’m at his house at the night.  

FM: And how do you organize finances?

Well, he’s working right now at a lumber yard so he’s supporting us and plus I’m getting my child benefit for the baby so I’m kinda living off of that for the both of us but he’s kinda supporting us too.  So he lives at his mom’s; we have bills to pay there, too.  

FM: How old is he?  

He’s 29.

FM: And always lived at home?

No, he’s moved several times and came back to his mom’s.  

FM: Is this a first relationship for him?

Oh no, no.  He dated another girl off and on for six years.

FM: But no babies?

Yes, he does.  He has an older son, he’s seven and he lives with his mom in MIddletown.  

FM: And does he pay child support?

Yeah.  Well, not really child support but he looks after him, like anything he needs.

FM: So informal support on an as-needed basis rather than regular payments?

Yeah.  

FM:  Okay.  So what’s the plan going forward?

The plan so far is we have a little girl to look after.  We have the house basically after if anything happens to his mom—knock on wood, we love her.  So probably further down the road, we’re probably going to get married.  So that’s gonna be exciting.  I can’t wait.  

FM: Any thoughts about moving out on your own, the three of you?

Yeah, eventually he wants to build so buying property – he wants to buy property with wood on it because that’s what he does, he’s a lumberjack.  So he wants to get a property, cut the wood off of it and build a house.  So that would likely be a couple of years.  Like I said, his mom’s house is basically his but if we don’t want it…

FM:  So I gather his dad isn’t in the picture and there aren’t any brothers and sisters?

No, he has a younger sister.  And no, his dad’s not living with us but he sees him – like, they’re together all the time.  

FM:  And where’s the sister?

She just lives outside of Westville.

FM:  And she doesn’t feel like she has any interest in their mom’s house?

No, because she has her own house.  She has three little kids…

[We take a break while the baby, who has been fussing, is handed over to Max, another participant, to manage.]

FM: I was reading this over while you were out with the baby, and the question that came up was you said your current boyfriend is a lumberjack, but he worked at the same car dealership as your second boyfriend.  

Yeah, he was a mechanic.  

FM: But not working in his trade?

No.  He worked there basically right out of high school, because he was doing his co-op there.  He worked there 11 years.  

FM:  So why not now?  

They weren’t giving him enough jobs to do and they said that he was not doing the proper qualifications that they wanted him to do because he was doing undercoatings and he was using too much.  And he basically told them I’m doing my job – wouldn’t you want the job done properly?  They were complaining that he was using too much undercoating stuff, so he said if you don’t like what I’m doing, I’m leaving. And he basically grabbed his tools and left that afternoon.  But he’s still basically talking to them and doing work for them if they want it done.  But all it would probably take if they phoned him and wanted him to come back, he would probably go.  But it would take a lot of butt-kissing for him to come back.  Because he was a hard worker and he was basically one of the best guys there. 

FM: So his pride was hurt, and it would take a bit to go back?

Like I said, a lot of butt-kissing for him to go back.

FM: But his present job isn’t as satisfactory or doesn’t pay as well?

Oh yeah, he gets paid well.  And he likes doing what he’s doing now better than his mechanic job.  Because he’s outside.  He likes outside work.  

FM:  Okay, so looking forward, it’s your thinking that this relationship will stand the test of time and that the two of you will be able to have a proper kind of life.  

Yeah, for sure.  

FM:  Okay, since babe is a bit reluctant to settle, by the sounds of it, maybe we could move on to final questions… unless there’s something more.  

That’s basically everything.  

FM:  I didn’t ask, so let me – any health issues, mental health, substance use, trouble with the law, any of that in your life to date?

Well, right now my boyfriend and I are going through AA because he got himself in trouble on Canada Day, so we’re kinda going through that right now.  So he has to be a good boy.

FM: Because?

He was drunk and in public.

FM:  And going to AA is required by the courts?  

No, not required by the courts, but for him, just for himself, to help himself.  And I’m going to support him.  Because it does take two.  So I help him as much as I can.

FM:  Maybe this has changed, but I thought only people who admitted that they had a problem with alcohol went to AA and their spouses or children or supporters went to Al – can’t remember the name but it’s a spouses’ group that focuses more on behaviours that encourage alcoholism or undermine attempts to get a handle on that.  

No idea.  

FM:  Sorry not to be able to bring to mind that name.  Okay, on then:  To give the people who will read this story some idea about the shape of it for you, would you say what you think is The Most Important Event in this story? 

The most important is the baby.  She is my support, if you want to say. It’s not me no more.  

FM: Okay, next question:  So looking at your life story, how do you think it’s going to turn out?  

Well, as much as I can give you, for what I’ve went through and everything, this is going to be good.  It’s really good.  Both my boyfriend and I know, no more bullshit.  When it comes down to both of us raising her, it looks good.  It looks really good.  

FM: Okay.  Two advice questions. First:  What advice would you give to your younger self, whether or not that younger self would take the advice, that you think would lead to a better probability of a positive outcome in your life, whatever that means to you?

Y’ know what, my advice would be to my younger self, don’t take shit for granted.  

FM: Can you say some more?

Live as much as you can, don’t hide from nothing, get out there and do stuff, get out there and let people know what you are doing, what you feel.  That’s what I would say to [the baby].  Like, don’t let people walk on you, man.  Put your foot in their ass.  

FM:  So be more assertive? 

Yeah, like if you want people to know who you are, let them. Don’t let people talk about you and make up their own stories, let people see who you are.  Rather than living in denial and this crap that everybody else does.  I think people, like yourself, don’t let people know like hey, I’m here, I’ll let you know how today’s going.  

FM:  What brought that ‘truth’ to your awareness?  How or why did you come to realize that?

Well, the relationships that I’ve gone through, and just like watching other people deny themselves, deny the outsiders.  Like, me, I consider people who I hang around with close friends and family, like people you would trust.  Right, and then there’s the outsiders.  There’s some people you don’t tell things to because, okay, what are they going to do to you. 

FM:  So you and your friend both hang out at this music store / coffee shop a lot. Is that what you’re referring to as – is it that they’re people in denial or that they are people that you feel you can share yourself with?

Yeah, they’re like hippies, like bring back the hippie days.  They’re good people.  I’m glad they came into Westville.  That’s one thing that Westville needed was young people coming in, making a business for themselves and doing something good for the town.  Like they’re awesome people, everybody likes them in town.  

FM:  You’re referring to the people who own or operate that business?

Yeah.

FM: What about the youth who hang out there?  

Music lessons that get taught, so there’s kids that come in after school and do the lessons.  And then there’s other people around town that come around and have coffee.  The older people in town they come in and look at stuff, and some of the older people even do music lessons and stuff.  This is so awesome, there’s a guy that comes in once a week and he plays the lap steel guitar.  Love it.  If I could pick up an instrument and just play it, it would be awesome.  But I can’t – it don’t work.

FM:  Unfortunately!

FM  Okay, second advice question:  What advice would you give to people like us who would wish to be helpful to young people like yourself?

If people are willing to listen, that’s understandable enough, and then see what we can do together.  Like if someone wants to talk about oh maybe, making up a newspaper, that has been mentioned a couple of times down at the coffee shop.  Like we have [a newsletter] and that basically covers the town of Westville and a lot of the stories in there are stuff that goes on at the coffee shop for people.

FM: So are you saying there needs to be a place that gathers and honours what young people have to contribute?  

Yeah, well, it’s been a couple of years now but a bunch of the townspeople all decided on making a skate park near the arena for the kids, on one condition, not allowed to vandalize and no graffiti.  So that’s kinda kept up to its word.  Some damage was done but consequences were paid after and those kids had to go up and clean up the playground.  

FM:  Are there places other than the coffee shop -

To hang out?  Umm, not really.  

FM:  Where did people hang out before that coffee shop opened?  

At the park.  Up and down the streets.  Causing shit.  Still do.  But there’s a lot of people in the community that will say, hey, what can we do to help the kids stay out of trouble, keep them off the streets, give them something to do.  But we’ve got an awesome skate park so that kinda kept them occupied for a little bit.  

FM:  One other question comes to mind.  Your mom, your family.  Are they cool with your situation?

Yeah.  

FM:  Do you think they wish any future for you other than successful parenting?

Work.  

FM: What kind of work?

Anything.  Just so I can have some money for the future.  For me and my boyfriend and our baby.  And just if she needs anything like medicalwise. Like braces, glasses.   Like that’s covered but it’s also nice to have money floating around in the bank account just for the fun of it.  Maybe school.  And for me too, if I want to go back to school.  Like I know OSAP gives you only so much and if I go back to school, like my career that I’m going for, what if I don’t get a job right away, how am I going to pay that money back?  Like that sucks.  Like I would like to go to school to do horticulturing and stuff but to do that, to go to [college] then I’d have to move to fulfill my career because there’s nothing around here.  And it’s expensive to wake up one morning and oooh, I want to go do this.  So it’s a work in process.  

FM:  Okay. Anything more?

I don’t think so