Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas story...And Gord Bless Us, Everyone...

      The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near him, Daddy bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. ... It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.
      “Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Daddy, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?

      I started writing something completely fictional, something I hoped would be like Dickens but it seemed more like the Brady Bunch Christmas special and I was Jan. It just wasn't me...it just wasn't us. Maybe I'm just not that good a writer, maybe the times have finally changed and Dickens has past his best before date (though I doubt that) or maybe we are just too jaded  to be Dickensian anymore. We are a lot of things but the Brady Bunch we ain't. Nuclear family with the occasional explosion, sometimes heavy on the fallout but with few lingering effects.
      I must confess that I love 'A Christmas Carol'. Sure it's a heartwarming beloved tale of the holiday season but it's the deeper meaning that I love. 'Even if you are wicked your whole life, cool ghosts will still come to see you once a year!' So just desserts and all that. OK, I might be reaching a little...The message has always been to me that everyone can get a second chance, regardless of how crappily they have treated those around them. OK, REALLY bad people likely won't get a second chance, they would probably only use it to do more really bad things. You bastards know who you are and you'll get yours...rest assured. Now as for the rest of us.
      At 44 years old, I would like to think that I am a fairly decent person but good christ it took me an awfully long time to get here. You are probably reading this thinking 'What you? A bad person? No, I say. A thousand times no!' Yes true believers, I was not always as I am today. I looked back over my life and tried to remember something good that I had ever done...and I couldn't bring one to mind. I mean I wasn't evil or anything, I never screwed anyone over to get something I wanted but I certainly never did anything that didn't have my own best interest at heart.
      It's strange that when kids come along, all the other shit starts to melt away and adulthood seems to be what's left. I'm not saying that as soon as Isobel was born, that I became a stellar example of a good person, I didn't. Probably just the opposite. Still clinging desperately to the life I left. Remember kids, playing in a band means you never have to grow up. Look at Mick and Keef. But there were real concerns (money and gainful employment and all the other things that you don't give a shit about when it's just you) and responsibilities and now a little tiny thing counting on me to take care of her and her growing list of needs.
      Now there weren't any ghosts (how cool it would have been though) unless you count a hormonally haunted mother with a hair trigger temper and there wasn't any epiphany about the joys of parenthood and the responsibilities of being an adult. I can't even distill it down to any particular episode, it was a gradual thing.
      I was unbelievably selfish and immature to a lot of people and it just sort of went away over time. If I didn't know better, I'd swear I started to grow up. I remember talking to Frantic Frank a few years ago about how I couldn't be angry anymore, over any of the things that happened in the band. It just took too much time and energy to be mad for that long and I think this is more or less the same thing. I simply couldn't be that person anymore. I know there are many fathers who still put their needs before the needs of anyone else, including their children but I couldn't be one of them. I wouldn't want to be. And while we are on the subject, how do you teach your children to be decent people and contributors to the good of the world if you yourself are a gluttonous, joy sucking swine?  Lets face facts, if you don't want your children to do well, be decent people and make the world a better place for them having been in it, there is probably something the matter with you.
      So what's it all about, Alfie? What does all of this mean? Well like Scrooge, I have come to a few realizations about this life and this time of year is about as good as any other to be reflective. I have learned that it it s never too late to change who you are or who you think you are, you can teach old dogs new tricks. I have learned that children have most of the answers to life's problems. Really they do but few ever actually listen to them. I am learning to listen. My children, oddly enough, are two of the smartest people I know. But if I really have to give one thought, one Chrimbo message, it's this; make the world a better place than it was when you got here. Kindness comes in thousands of forms, all of them free. It could be something as simple as helping an old man to get into his wheelchair, or smiling at someone you pass on the street or giving a pair of shoes to a friend who is going through a rough patch. The deed itself doesn't matter, the effect is the same. I was a cold hearted cynical sonofabitch for a very long time and I just don't want to be that anymore. I have seen the difference something as simple as a smile can make in a person's life and I liked the feeling I got from it. The world can be a pretty scary, shitty place to live but I think it wants to be a good place. Good for us and those that will follow us... but we have to help it along. Be nice to one another.

      We were watching 'A Christmas Carol', the George C Scott version. Izzy asked me why his voice was like that?
      "Because he was full of evil and badness, eventually your voice will go like that too."
      "Really?"she asked.
      "No," I said. "I think he just smoked too much."
      "Aww," she said. "I want my voice to sound like that."
      We continued to watch and she was excited by the ghosts.
      "When do the zombies come?"
      "Wait, what?" I asked.
      "The zombies," she said. "When do the zombies come?"
      "There are no zombies in this, only ghosts."
      "Oh." she said, not hiding the disappointment.
      "Daddy, who's Gord?"
      "Gord, what are you talking about?"
      "The kid on the commercial said 'and Gord bless us all. Everyone.' Who the hell is Gord?"

   From all of us at Fuzzy Blue Chair, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...It's a Christmas WTF...

       Suddenly what  should appear before me but a jolly giant with dark brown curls. He wears a fur-lined green robe and on his head a holly wreath set with shining icicles. He carries a large torch, made to resemble a cornucopia and appears accompanied by a great feast. He states that he has had "more than eighteen hundred" brothers.
      Daddy: "Please, let me go! Don't eat me!"
      Ghost of Christmas Present:: "Why would the Ghost of Christmas Present - that's me - want to eat a distasteful little miser like you?... Especially when there are so many good things to enjoy in life?"

      Ahh friends, it is indeed that time of year again. Fresh new snow falling on the cedar trees that line the backyard. A husband shovels and salts the walk so no one slips on the way to work or school. A mother makes hot chocolate for after school, to warm hearts and cold hands and the days tick down as the moon reflects off of the crisp snow, all signs that Santa will soon be here.
     Sounds wonderful? Sounds Christmasy?  Sounds like anywhere but here. No sir, here it's beginning to look a lot mid October. It is occasionally cold and I think we have had maybe an inch and a half of snow that has now long since melted in the 8 and 9 degree temperatures that seem to keep returning. We're not complaining but it is awfully hard to get into the Christmas spirit when the weather outside is dreich.
      However, we have muddled through. Particularly Isobel. She has been excited in small bursts. First picking the Christmas tree. For those keeping score, she picked a second good one in a row. We got it home and though a bit was missing from the tree stand, I improvised and it went up nonetheless. Turns out it was quite an important bit. Not only was the tree leaning like a leftist (see what I did there?) the damn thing wouldn't stay up.
      "Can we decorate it now?" Izzy asked.
      "Sure," I said." "We can just throw balls at it and hope they stick on. Twenty points if you can bounce it off the floor and get it on the branch."
       "Really!?!" she asked.
        "No," I said. "We have to get it straight.
      And like a Christmas miracle, I took the majestic tree out of the stand and made the straight cut the tree man assured me had made when we bought the tannenbaum. I took up the level fir and brought it back into the house. Hosanna in the highest, the bastard fell over. And lo like the wise men of old,  I went right to the Canadian tire and bought a new stand and our marriage was saved and Christmas was on again and there was much rejoicing and feasting on popcorn and the drinking of distilled spirits.
      So there are a couple of Christmas ground rules I would like to set. First off, I will hang only the decorations that cannot be reached by the other members of the household. Decorating has never been my bag. It was always a means to an end. 'If I decorate this giant bit of wood, the fat man comes and puts prezzies under it. Ergo I will decorate the tree.' And as I got older- 'If I decorate the tree, my mother will be happy and I will get prezzies under the tree. Ergo, I will decorate the tree.' Now it's much easier with Izzy. She is a decoration hog and will happily decorate the tree. Mostly by herself this year. Including a great deal of the hard to reach stuff. Done and done...I think I hung all of two decorations and only because she guilted me into it.
      Secondly but by far the more important of the two, under no circumstances will I pull tinsel out of the cat's ass. Anybody who has ever had a cat at Christmas time know exactly what I am talking about and why silver plastic string is an exceedingly stupid thing to hang within grazing distance of a cat. I have very clear memories of our cat running around the house looking like the Super Chief with shimmering streamers trailing behind it. I reached to pull them out and got a look from the cat that said " I will take your god-damned eyes out if you go near my ass, sonny." He trotted out of the living room looking like a disco ball and I can only assume that my mother took the tinsel out. But the rule was born that day.
       But it just doesn't feel like Christmas...maybe because I am in school and have more time off than the kids do. It's very different to not be praying for the days to go quickly so I can have my four days off. It's also the first Christmas in many years that I haven't been handed a Christmas hamper or voucher or gift of some sort by an employer...but Christmas it is. I think the only real reminder I have had of it was Izzy's mangled version of the 12 days of Christmas. I will do my best to faithfully reproduce it.
      On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me; a runny nose which is not cool. (apparently this comes from a television show but I thought it was really pretty clever so she gets the credit.)
      On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; five crocs in a tree. (it actually sounded like five roosters in a tree but I'm willing to go out on a limb and paraphrase a little here)
      On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; four calling birds. (wait, what? How many?)
      On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; four...wait Daddy, I messed up.( Can't say I didn't see this one coming. She started over, sang it identically to the first time and we moved on.)
      On the fifth day of sickness, my true love sent to me; five gooooooooooold riiiiiiiiings. (Don't cheer, everybody gets this one. And yes, she did sing sickness, also from the aforementioned show.)
     On the eight day of Christmas my true love sent to me; eight margleflerbnern. ( I asked her what she said, she said 'I don't know the real words so I just mumbled something that was close. I asked her why she skipped three days, she said 'I just couldn't do six and seven. Not today.')
     On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; the ninth day of Christmas. (seems pretty self explanatory)
     On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; ten pipers...hey Daddy, pipers! Like bagpipers do you think? (Of course they are!)
     On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; SOMETHING,  SOMETHING, SOMETHING! 
     "Daddy?" she asked.
      "Yep?" I replied, fully expecting to answer something about the significance of the song before she went into her big finish.
       "Daddy, why is called the twelve days of Christmas when there are only eleven days in the song?"
       "I have often wondered about that." I said.
       As a post script, she came up to me this afternoon and said she remembered the twelfth day. It was very much like the eleventh....identical in fact.

      As a parent, I am noticing that there are times when you need to bend the truth a little. So's not to damage the fragile ego of a child. Maybe a bit of writing that makes little or no sense can seem like next in line for the Pulitzer. Or a drawing that looks more like a plain mutant than a ninja turtle could be treated like it should be put in the Louvre...and sometimes you just gotta shake our head and take a step back.
      Yesterday Isobel came home with something she was very excited about. A sculpture she made at school, complete with a backdrop for that ultra authentic and steeped in realism look. She said it was a holiday sculpture...she said it is a combination animals that are just right for Christmas...she said it is a cross between a beaver and a duck....
      "Wait, what?" I asked.
       "A beaver and a duck." she said.
      "How is that a beaver and a duck?"
      "See, there's his teeth" she said.
      "OK." I said.
     Even Mrs. Narrator, the great extrapolator and equalizer had to scratch her head.
      "A beaver and a duck?"
      "Yep." said Izzy.
      "What are those, then?" asked Mrs. Narrator, point at three spiky things sticking on the side of the holiday mystery.
       "Those are his spikes." said Izzy.
      "Oh, OK."
      I love my kids, I encourage healthy expression of all kinds. I am absolutely flummoxed by this. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, if you gaze to your right you will behold the Christmas What The F#*k in all of its unnatural glory. Brilliant and creative...but a duck-beaver it ain't.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beginnings and Endings...Izzy Claims her Birthright again...

      A video was on T.V. One of the hundreds of nameless fresh faced teen aged girls that are putting recordings out these days was singing Santa Claus is coming to town.
       T.V: "You better watch out, you better not cry."
       Isobel: "What?"
       T.V: "You better not put, I'm telling you why."
       Isobel: "Why?"
       T.V: "Santa Claus is coming to town."
       Isobel: "LIAR!"
       T.V: "He sees you when you're sleeping."
       Isobel: "I hear you and you're LYING!"
       T.V: "He knows when you're awake."
       Isobel: "I know when you're LYING!"
       Daddy: "You sure about that?"
       Isobel: "Yep."
       Daddy: "Sure enough to risk your whole Christmas if you're wrong?"
       Isobel: "Santa Claus is coming to TOWN!!!"

          I was going to write about something completely different this week but I guess this thing is as much my story as it is the kids. If we are continuing to grow, all of us, the I have had a gigantic growth spurt this past week and I will never be the same...nor would I want to be.
      So I went back to school and felt odd and out of place and yadda, yadda, yadda. Here's the rub, I seem to be doing well. Much better than I ever did in high school. My good god, I am nearly a member of the intelligentsia. Well let's not exaggerate...
      A major part of this course is field placements. Real treatment on real people. I know, right? Needless to say I was crapping myself on Monday morning knowing full well that the following morning I would be in the trenches and really doing what I had signed up for. I have to be honest...I actually thought about turning the car around and going back home. Who was I kidding? Would I want me to care for me?
     Let me put this into perspective though. I am a PSW student. Not a nurse or practical nurse. I am at the bottom of the health care ladder but I spend more time with a resident than any of the other professions. I feed a lot of meals, I change a lot of briefs and I give a lot of showers and baths. If you are no longer able to perform these things for yourself then me, or the many others like me, will help you to do this things or do them for you. Bowels and Baths are what a good portion of my day consists of. I know, right? Would I want me to care for me? With all of this sensitive potentially embarrassing stuff? I jumped in-I didn't figure I had much of a choice and I wasn't alone. All of my class mates were all suffering the same anxiety, I'm almost certain.
      Here's the thing about the elderly, they are for the most part, some of the happiest people I have ever met. They want respect and to be treated with dignity and to feel safe and warm. And we owe it to them...in spades. My first client really set the tone for all of it. If he had been difficult, maybe tings would have been different and I wouldn't be writing this, though in retrospect I doubt it. I helped to change his brief and get him dressed and take him to the dining room. All of the things I was so terrified of doing on Monday morning, I just did on Tuesday. Not flawlessly, not by any stretch. But I did them and I made sure to ask about the things I still had questions about and asked for feedback for the things I felt confident about.
      After lunch, I sat with my client and held his hand. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we just sat in silence. He wandered in and out of lucidity but it didn't matter to either of us. A lady I met briefly, had watched me just sit and talk with this gentleman and at first I thought she might be upset with me. Maybe for spending too much time with him but for good or for ill, I sat with him until I was told to go do something else. Later on that afternoon, I met the staring woman right after she requested me to be her PSW for the duration my time in the facility.
      I got home at the end of the first week and Mrs. Narrator asked me what was my impression of it all. I told her that what I was about to say sounded kind of stupid, even in my head. I can't imagine what it would sound like if I actually said it. But I hadn't held back anything else this week so I figured why start now?
     "This going to sound stupid," I started. "But t feels like I am meant to be doing this. Like maybe this is the kind of thing I should have been doing all along."
      Now that is a gigantic statement to make but hear me out. Do you know when you start doing something new or meet someone and you feel as though it's something you have been doing all your life? Like it was a natural fit? That's what I felt. It was a tiny spark that started about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning and was an inferno by Friday afternoon.
      I'm not talking about finding my destiny but maybe in a way I am. I have had many jobs, musician included but never one where I felt 'I'm supposed to be here.' A man with a dream has hope, a man who feels he has a job to do has purpose, a man who has found where he fits is unstoppable. Maybe a tad flowery but I do feel as though I have gone through an epiphany of sorts. Am I glowing? I feel like I'm glowing? So would I want someone like me caring for me?

       I played a show in Rochester a long time ago. The show was over and I was likely hanging off the bar, smoking and drinking and making a general nuisance of myself. When the time came to pack up the gear, waiting for me on stage was a small electric bass with a note that read 'One day you will have little bass players of your own. They should learn on this. A Fan.'
     I gave that bass to The Boy who has begun to pursue another path and lost interest in playing music. Stringed type music anyway, we have bets whether or not he will start writing his own electronic music. Anyway. Izzy saw the bass a while ago ad asked if she could play it. The Boy naturally said no but I reminded him that he hadn't touched in at least a year and a half so he grunted and conceded and Izzy left beaming.
     I though she too had lost all interest in music until this week, as she has begun regaling us with bass concertos and a few bawdy songs to keep us going through these long winter nights. Her biggest hits like; 'I like lunch, Santa doesn't come to my house early, I play bass like a brosup'. Have really been keeping our spirits up.
     Her latest composition is much too good to keep to ourselves and so;
      " I just farted, can you smell it?
        I just farted, can you tell it?
        I have gas bombs
        I have gas bombs
        I have gas bombs
        So where are you?"
       Lennon, McCartney and Zawada-Baker...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Long Slow Painful Death of the Tooth That wouldn't Budge...Riding in Cars with Izzy...

      I hope that as my daughter ages, her natural sense of humour remains intact. There is nothing funnier than someone who doesn't try to be funny and is.

      She decided she was going to play spy after supper. Hiding under the table and hiding around the room and generally trying not to be seen as all good spies should do.
      Daddy: "What is that rapping I hear, coming from under the table?"
      Isobel: "Daddy, you're not supposed to play like that. The knocking is meant to distract you."
      Daddy: "Oh, OK. Shall I just walk away and ignore you or sit here and act as though I haven't heard anything?"
      Isobel: "Just sit there and ignore the knocking."
      Daddy: " Gotcha."
      Isobel: (knocking on the table) "Just ignore me now."
      Daddy: "..."     
      Isobel: (A large sustained poooot followed by uncontrolled giggling)
      Daddy: "It's going to be kinda hard to ignore that."
      Isobel: (full on belly laughing now) "Poison gas."

      I don't remember a lot about losing my teeth, I suppose few of us do. I remember seemingly going to bed with a full set of teeth and waking up the next day with only a couple of stragglers left. Of course it didn't really happen like this in fact, I do remember breaking a baby tooth while eating ice cream and peanuts. Anyway, I think I naturally assumed that once Izzy began to lose teeth they would all be out of her head and we'd be on to adult teeth in a month or two. HA!
      She has a front tooth that has been in varying stage of looseness for as long as I can remember now. I seemed to get loose in a group of two or three other teeth yet in her face it remained.
She was at the dentist three weeks ago and the nice hygienist lady said 'That tooth needs to come out. If it doesn't come out in a month or so, we'll have to go in and pull it out. The new tooth is already lining up behind it.' It was true, Izzy looked a little like a great white shark. Two rows of teeth...well one double tooth anyway.
     So it became a steady stream of harassment and haranguing her to 'wiggle that damned tooth.' But it wouldn't give up. It was in for the long haul.
      "It'll come out when it's ready." said Mrs. Narrator, as she had with all of Izzy's other teeth.
      Izzy had pulled all of her other teeth, just knuckled down and popped 'em out. But this one, the bane of my child's smile would have no freedom. Must have been afraid of the light, I thought.
      Then I started thinking maybe my expectations were just unrealistic. Maybe I am putting too much pressure on the child's teeth to perform.
      "I'm starting to think that tooth will never come out." said Mrs. Narrator about a week ago.
     I started to think it would never leave her head and I had visions of her walking around with two rows of permanent. A cool concept but likely not one to win her any popularity contests.
      "Don't play with Isobel, she has two sets of teeth!" Teenaged girls can be so cruel.
      It had gotten to the point where Isobel even asked me to pull it out a couple of times. Maybe she sensed impending mockery or maybe she was just sick of it being wiggly in her mouth and wanted to eat an apple again without discomfort.
    Today was the deadline (really how strict of a deadline do they give a tooth that is loose anyway?) and funny thing is, the tooth virtually came out on its own.
      "Izzy, that tooth is barely holding on anymore." said Mrs. Narrator. (Incidentally, Mrs. Narrator is teeth and fevers I am blood and most other bodily fluids...excepting possibly vomit but I believe I have discussed the great vomit jog of a few years ago already.)
      "Oh Pick, that thing just needs a quick pop and it's out. Come into the bathroom and give 'er a yank."
     Not a tear was shed, though a fair amount of blood came out. On her cheeks and lips and maybe even a little on her nose and with a stout jerk the tooth that wouldn't budge, did just that.
      "Yay! The tooth is gone, the tooth is gone!" I said.
       "Finally!" Izzy said.
      "You know what the best part about losing that tooth is?" I asked her.
      "What?" she replied.
      "Say sassafras."
      "Say what?"
      "Sassafras." I said.
      "What does it mean?" she asked. Only my kid.
      "Just say it."

      We had to take some roller derby type stuff out to Mrs. Narrator last week and we had a rare chance to talk. Just to shoot the breeze Izzy and me. Like we used to when I wasn't working and I stayed home with her all day.
      "Daddy!" she said excitedly.
      "We had a new teacher today!"
      "Oh yeah?" I asked. "A substitute teacher or was it another student teacher?"
      "Ummm..not really either one."
       "No," she began. "Mrs. Shaw had to go to the library to sign some papers and so this teacher came and taught us for a while."
      "Oh, I see." I said.
      "Yeah, she came to teach us with her guitar."
       "Oh yeah?" I asked a little intrigued at a guitar playing teacher.
      "Yeah," she said. "She came with her guitar and singed."
      "Sung." I corrected her.
      "Yeah, she came with her guitar and singed some sungs. That's what I said."
       I drove on figuring explaining any further wouldn't do me any good anyway.
      It was quiet for a while and then the following conversation took place. I must state for the record that I cast no aspersions on my six year old daughter's character and contrary to popular belief, I am not old.
      "Daddy," she asked. "Why are there no cocks in Ayr?"
      "Excuse me?" I asked. If I had been drinking something it would have been covering the windshield along with a generous portion of spit at that particular moment.
      "Why are there no cocks in Ayr?" she repeated.
      "What?" I repeated. I couldn't believe my ears. I wouldn't believe my ears.
      "Cocks, why are there no cocks in Ayr?"
      "Isobel," I said, the anger beginning to rise in my voice. "What in the hell are you saying?"
      "Daddy, turn the radio down." she said. I did so.
      "What did you say?" I asked her again.
      She sighed, this was now the forth time she had asked me this question.
      "Why are there no COPS in Ayr?"
      "Oh," I said. "It's because we don't have a police station. We just have cops that patrol through town once in a while."
        "Oh," she said. "I wondered why I didn't see them."
      Now who's old?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Of Cards and Werewolves...That's My Girl...

      It's always a struggle to get them both up and going in the morning. The Boy doesn't care about seasonal repercussions anymore but Izzy can, thankfully, still be swayed.
      Daddy: "Are you finished your breakfast?"
      Isobel: "Yep!"
      Daddy: "Then why are you just sitting on the couch? You should be putting your dishes in the dishwasher or getting dressed or brushing your teeth."
      Isobel: "OK, Daddy."
      Daddy: (5 minutes later) Isobel! Why are you just sitting on the couch? Get dressed."
      Isobel: "OK Daddy."
      Daddy: You know, it is getting to that time of year when being good and bad counts. If you are bad, Santa won't tell the baby jesus to ride to our house on his magical bunny and give us all tuna sandwiches."
      Isobel: "..."
       Daddy: "Didn't you hear what I said?"
       Isobel: "I heard you, I was just wondering what was wrong with you?"

      It's inevitable really, children just want to do things with you. I have lost many games of risk and monopoly and purposely made myself seem as dumb as possible, all for the sake of the children's self esteem. I am totally fine with it. The Boy had his issues with losing when he was younger and he didn't take it well so we all, some of us more begrudgingly than others, took it on the chin and let him win. There was a point however, that I wouldn't play games with him because he insisted on winning all the time and threw a great wrangy fit if he didn't. He was younger then and so was I, parentaly speaking. I get it now-which is kind of a shame because now I quite enjoy the few times he actually wants to play anything with me and he has become a very gracious loser. Though he seldom loses at anything anymore.
      Isobel has always had an easier go of losing at games, she's more like me I think. She enjoys the competition alright but it isn't about winning so much as it is about just being there and doing it. So when she asked to start playing 'Go Fish' with us I knew we wouldn't have a problem getting her to stick with the rules. As it turns out, Oma had taught her the game some time ago but I was suspect of the rules she was shown. It would be just like my Mother-in-Law to slip in some sort of odd Dutch variant to the game.
     The rules remained intact and Izzy and I sat down on the couch to play.
      "Now Daddy, don't cheat. Don't look at my cards while I'm not looking because that is against the rules." she explained.
      "I wouldn't dream of cheating," I said. "I will play fairly and you should too."
      "OK, let's just play." she said.
      I could go on and on and on and tell you the intricacies of the game we played...and I was tempted to do so but anybody old enough to read this blog that is not familiar with the game play of 'Go Fish', has much bigger problems to worry about. Like finding their way out of that cave.
      "Oh boy!" Isobel exclaimed. "I only have three cards left, I'm going to win."
      "You only have three cards left in your hand but you have nine cards on the table."
      "Oh yeah...crap. I still have three aces and three queens and three nines."
       "You're not supposed to tell me what your cards are." I told her.
       "Right, sorry."
       "Have you got any nines?" I asked.
      "Nope, go fish." she replied.
      "You don't have any nines? Are you sure about that? What about the ones on the table?"
      "How do you know I have nines on the table? You looked at my cards! You're not supposed to do that!" she said indignantly.
       "Izzy you told me all of the cards you have, three nines, three aces and three queens."
       "I told you?" she asked.
       "Well that was pretty dumb." she said.
      We're going to wait a couple more years for Vegas.
      Before we sat down to play cards, Izzy was outside. It being the time of year it is, it was starting to get dark even before Mrs. Narrator got home.
      "Time to come in you," I said. "It's getting dark and soon the werewolves will come out and you don't want to be out here when they do."
      "Why don't I want to be out when they come?" she asked.
      I forgot for a moment that this is my kid and he question took me off guard.
     "Do you want to be ripped to shreds by snarling fangs and claws?"
      "I'm not scared of wolves." she said.
      "Do you want to see your neighbours ripped apart? They'll go after the neighbours if they can't get you."
       "Pfft, yes!' she sputtered.
     I sighed a big sigh.
      "Just come in then."
      I love this kid.

      We have been watching the tragedy that is the end of Biebomez with relish. OK, really we don't give a whole lot of shit about what happens with Selena or Justin or what they are or aren't doing to/with/without/for/against each other. it happened to be on the T.V. when Izzy came in to ask me to play wii kendo with her.
      "I think I want to punch Justin Bieber," she said.
      "What?" I asked.
      "I think I want to punch Justin Bieber...in the mouth, right in the mouth."
      "I think there are a lot of people that want to punch Justin Bieber." I said.
      "Really?" she asked.
      "Really." I said.
      "Why do they want to punch him?"
      "Probably because he's a really annoying little twit." I said.
       "Yep that's a good reason too," she said. "I just think he's creepy and that makes me want to punch him."
   I really love this kid.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Sweetest Candy...Admitting The Truth...

     We were sitting around the supper table and, having just finished a lovely supper, I announced 'that bit of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!' (Made you look) Really we were all sitting at the table and the belching began. I am so glad that the kids are finally beginning to embrace their bodily functions.
      Isobel: "I'm so full..wait a minute. BURRRP! OK, now I can eat some more."
      Daddy: "Nice."
      The Boy: "BElllllCCCCHHH!"
      Mrs. Narrator: "That one shook the house."
      Daddy: "Nice Out!"
      Isobel: "Are you aware that you didn't say excuse me?"
      The Boy: "Are you aware that you are kicking my leg?"
      Daddy: "Are you aware that you have a milk moustache?"
      The Boy: "Yes, I grew it for Movemeber."
      Daddy: "Did you? Well done then,  touche'."
      Isobel: " Yeah, Cliche'!"

      I remember when I was younger I was told (likely by my grandmothers, both of whom were authorities on these kinds of things) 'The worst thing anyone will ever say to you is no.' I didn't really get it then. I thought who in the hell is going to keep saying no to me? If I can find them early enough, I could make friends with them and then I wouldn't have to hear no ever again. Happy life, right?
      It was meant more as one of those woodsy wisdom things that grandparents impart on their grandchildren, about facing ones fears. I, like a good many children my age, was afraid of a good many things. I was petrified of the unknown and doing new things and meeting people and all of those other things that children and folks and people go through everyday with fear and loathing and a gigantic sense of dread. To their credit, my parents and grand parents never pushed me to do things that I wasn't comfortable doing. There wasn't a lot of venturing outside the bubble. I don't regret it but I do feel I probably missed out on a bunch of stuff because I was just too afraid to try it. Well into my twenties, I still had friends talk to girls for me because I was too afraid to try and break the ice.
      Anyway, this isn't about my awkward childhood...we'll save that for a different blog. I have always tried to get the kids to try new things, to face their fears and The Boy has always been pretty good at it. There were a couple of times where he may have hesitated slightly but he was and is a 'jump in with both feet' kinda guy. I envy him for it. I suspect his mother was much the same as a kid.  Ah but Izzy is mine all mine. We all know how she was on the first day of kindergarten, not to mention how I was. I have always tried to get her to step outside of the comfort zone and it's hard. You don't want to badger them into trying something new and then it turns out to be a shite experience but just the same, you don't want them to miss out on life either.
      So this Halloween, it was just Izzy and I. The Boy decided he was just too Minecrafty for trick or treating and so stayed home. (much to Mrs. Narrator's delight) I remember from years past that there was a house, my favourite, that was rife with electronic scary ghosties and ghoulies and things that howl and scream as you walk by. I love this place. it looks like Halloween when I close my eyes. This house has scared the holy jesus out of Isobel for as long as we have been trick or treating in this neighbourhood. I have never been able to get her to go up the drive way, much less go to the door.
      "You know what I know?" I asked her as we were walking door to door, quite a ways away from the super scary house.
      "What, Daddy?" she asked.
       "I think that when you face up to the things that scare you most, then you get a gigantic reward."
       "What do you mean?" she asked. "What do you get, like a present?"
       "Kind of," I said. "You beat something that you were scared of and you get to know that as long as you live, that you will never be scared of THAT thing ever again."
       "Are you afraid of going to any houses tonight?" I asked her.
       "Just the one with the witch thing."
      "I'll bet if you go to the door of that house, that candy will be some of the best candy you have ever had."
      "Really?" she asked.
      "Really." I said.
      "What if I am too scared?" she asked.
      "Well, I won't make you go if you are too scared but then your fears win. It's important to face your fears. That's how life starts to get great, when you aren't afraid to try and do things."
      It sounds terribly Ward Cleaver and gigantically cliched I know, but word for word, that was pretty much how the conversation went.
      We walked in silence for a bit, feeling the mist on our faces. She decided that she would hit one or two more houses and then we would go home. Missing the scary house. I admit I was a little disappointed but the scary house was a real fear and it was a big one. This could go colossally wrong if I forced her to do anything.
      "OK, Pick." I said.
      She went to her last couple of doors and we were headed to the car.
      "Daddy! Look!" she yelled.
     There was a giant face with light up eyed hanging from a tree (It bore an uncanny resemblance to Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein) it cackled a laugh that sounded more like a cough than it did scary. She stared at Marty Feldman for a while and then said;
      "One more house and then let's go home." It was the scary house.
     The witch was on the porch...under a makeshift garbage bag awning to protect her from the incessant mist.
      "What are you dressed as?" asked the man who answered the door.
      "Zombie cheerleader." said Isobel barely above a whisper."
      The man put some candy in her sac and she started moving quickly off the porch.
      "This is the first year that she has ever wanted to come to this house, your stuff is normally too scary. This is a really big thing for her, so thanks. " I said to the man.
      "Come back," he motioned to Isobel.
      "It's OK, honey." I said.
      She walked back up on the porch and stood beside me. The man took two very large handfuls of candy from the bowl and put them in her sac.
      "Good for you," he said to Isobel. "Happy Halloween."
      We didn't say a word to each other all the way back to the car, mostly because it was really damn cold and we wanted to get in the heat but I could see a small grin growing on her face as we walked. By the time we got to the car I figured I should say some thing fatherly about facing her fears. I didn't get the chance.
     "I DID IT!" she shouted to the empty parking lot..

      I have come to many realizations in being a parent and at 44 years old I have boiled it all down to this. I have long since reached the zenith of what ever 'cool' I ever had AND that I will loose said cool exponentially, the older my children get. My parents may have been cool at one point but they are about the furthest point from cool...they are the Pluto of cool. As their parents were to them and I will be to my children...rather as I am already becoming to my children. Sad but true my fellow, fading hipster parents.
     Now bearing all that in mind I have come to this gigantic realization. At 44 years of age, I am sicktogoddamneddeath of being cold. Leather jackets look cool and hip but they don't keep you warm for shit. If you want to stay warm in a leather jacket, you pile layers of clothing underneath you until you look like Randy from A Christmas Story.
      And so dear friends, I have decided it is time to by a proper winter coat. I have lived in Canada for all but 11 years of my life and I have spent all 44 years in the Northeast. I don't think I have had a proper winter coat since I was in grade school. I'm starting to think cool has always been a euphemism for pneumonia. I am willing to entertain suggestions for stylish, yet functional winter wear and I will be having a candle light memorial for my leather jacket which I will bury in the backyard next to half a cat...kiss my ass winter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween 3...Izzy Gets behind Fitness...

      She was standing in the kitchen, tossing magnets at the fridge and replacing all of the family photos with her own art masterpieces.

           Daddy: "Whatcha doin' Pick?"
           Isobel: "I'm putting up some of my art."
           Daddy: "And what's happening with all the photos?"
           Isobel: "I'm moving them out of the way and then putting up my pictures."
           Daddy: "I got that but what are you doing with the photos after you put up your art?"
           Isobel: "I'm putting them over here. I'll put them back on the fridge when I'm done. If there's room left."
           Daddy: "OK, so long as you put them back. Neatly."
           Isobel: "Don't worry Daddy, I know just where they all go. I am totally agonizing on the fridge."
           Daddy: "And on me too!"
           Isobel: Hahaha...wait, what?"
           Daddy: "Skip it."

      It is that time of year and we will not break with the traditions of the past. Submitted for you approval, a tale as horrific as it is true. If you fear the macabre, if you are loathe to sleep with the lights on, turn away and read no further. But if you possess courage untold, then press on and read...you have been warned...
      It was Mrs. Narrator that heard it first, a sound that she couldn't quite identify. It sounded like it was above her, though she couldn't be certain that it wasn't beside her or behind her. At first it was small and nearly imperceptible but there just the same. Like something you don't notice until you notice its absence. She had been working from home while the kids and I were off at school.
      "What the hell is that?' Mrs. Narrator asked the cats. The cats, of course, remained silent.
       Now Mrs. Narrator is not one to be unnerved but she isn't made of stone. So when the sound changed, she started to get a a little agitated. It was louder now and more constant. Like the sound the ice droplets make against the snow during a freezing rain storm. 'Click, click, click click click...'
      "For real," she said. "What IS that?" but nobody answered.
      It was a late night for me at school. Five o'clock lab and so I wouldn't be home for at least another two hours. It was time to get the kids, time to get out of the house and away from the sound. But that was all too easy, too simple and whatever it was was not going to be denied its due. By the time she got back it had grown in strength and intensity. Imagine someone bouncing a red, white and blue rubber ball off of a two by four and then throwing a bucket of ice chips into a porcelain bathtub, every couple of minutes.
      Izzy noticed as soon as she came upstairs.
      "Mummy, what is that sound?" she asked.
      "I don't know baby," said Mrs. Narrator. "But it's driving me crazy."
      "It sounds like it's in the wall." said Izzy. "No wait, it's in the roof. No it's outside...or is it?"
      "I know baby." said Mrs. Narrator. "It sounds like it's everywhere at the same time and then it just stops."
      "OK," said Isobel. "This is seriously creeping me out."
      "It's OK baby." said Mrs. Narrator.
      It was about a quarter to five when I finally got in my car. I picked up my phone to check for messages and noticed there was one from home. it was a little confusing but, so was Mrs. Narrator. It read, 'We've got a critter in the house.' We had two asshole cats, two rotten kids and a foul tempered wife...that's five critters by my reckoning so I eased the car into drive and crept out of the parking lot. 'She is obviously feeling jaunty.' I thought, completely misreading the tone of the text. 'No need to hurry home.' I continued on my leisurely way.
      But the sound was not taking its time. 'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
    The cats were now getting jumpy and pawing at the walls, yowling and hissing. This only served to fuel the fires of Isobel's imagination, which in turn made Mrs. Narrator edgier.
      "Mummy, I don't like that sound any more."
      "Me either baby."
     It was finally my turn at the register. With the storm coming, people were getting panicky and stocking up on water and food. I just bought some oatmeal and a bag of cookies. It's important to keep regular and I have a vicious sweet tooth.
    'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
      I put the key in the ignition and headed for home. It was going on six o'clock and so the traffic was still rather heavy.
     'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
      The trip home, that would normally take me about twenty minutes, would take me about forty five now.
      'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
      I thought I'd better text her.
      "Don't wait for me for supper," I wrote and hung up the phone. Not safe to text and drive after all.
     'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
      By the time I got home, the noise had become almost constant. Not loud enough to be heard from downstairs but Mrs. Narrator had been listening to it all day and would swear by this time it was deafening.
      "Go into our room and listen for yourself!"  she ordered. She and the kids were sitting at the kitchen table. None of them venturing upstairs with me. I went to the bed room and remained quiet, waiting for the whatever it was to make itself know...I didn't wait long. 'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
     It seemed above me and then just as quickly behind me and then in front and then beside me. 'Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...Thump...thump...thump...click, click, click, click....thump...thump...thump...'
      "God-dammit!" I shouted and ran downstairs.
      "What is it , Daddy?" asked Isobel. "What is making that awful noise?"
      I swallowed hard and tried to speak as calmly as I could.
      "We've got a @#*ing squirrel in the attic!" 

     It's hard to keep healthy once you pass forty. Both Mrs. Narrator and I have crossed that thresh hold  and have made a concerted effort to maintain some degree of health. There are days though when watching t.v, eating chips and drinking beer makes a whole lot more sense than running on the treadmill or doing plyometrics. (whatever the hell that is) Luckily we have Isobel as a coach.
      Mrs. Narrator had been riding the stationary bike, working up a sweat when Isobel came up to investigate.
      "Hi Mummy," said Isobel.
      "Hello my girl." said Mrs. Narrator. "What's up?"
      "Wow, your muscles are tiny."
      "What?" asked Mrs. Narrator.
      "Your muscles are tiny."
      "My muscles aren't tiny," said Mrs. Narrator. "Look at these." She flexed her biceps at this point. (for the record they aren't tiny. Sinewy and well defined is how I would describe her biceps. Incidentally if I don't describe them as such she is likely to wrap them around my throat.)
      Izzy pondered the pose a moment.
      "Where are you going to show those off, the tiny gun show?"
      I'm so glad she doesn't come down into the basement anymore...



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Letter Word...Best Served Cold...

                    We were in the kitchen getting the lunches ready. She had been bending over getting stuff out of the cupboard when she stood up quickly.
         Isobel: "Ugh, what is that?"
         Daddy: "What?"
         Isobel: "Ugh, that smell. That awful smell. That horrible smell. Was that you Daddy?"
         Daddy: "No." (No really, it wasn't.)
         Isobel: "Oh god it stinks. Maybe it was one of the cats. It had to be, they stink like that bad all the time."
         Daddy: "It could have been but I haven't seen the cats in a while. I think they are upstairs."
         Isobel: "God it STINKS!"
         Daddy: "It is pretty bad. Maybe something went down the drain and got stuck. Like food or something, it's happened before."
         Isobel: "No, I think it must have been the cats to stink that bad."
         Daddy: "Honey I told you, the cats are upstairs. They can stink but I don't think it's two floors worth. It's not the cats."
        Isobel: "I guess it must have been me then."
        Daddy: "What?"
        Isobel: "Ahahahaha!"

             A few days ago a classmate told me she was pregnant. It was not a planned pregnancy but she is happy nonetheless. She had mentioned to several others in our lab group that she wanted another kid before she got too old. She's twenty-two. Isobel was born when Mrs. Narrator and I were both 38. Before she got too old...jesus. Anyhow, she asked me what it was like when Isobel was born...or rather when I found out I was going to be a father.
       I thought about it for a few minutes and said exactly what I thought on that Mother's day weekend almost seven years ago. I was terrified and wanted to run away screaming. I wanted to shout at Mrs. Narrator, "You rotten swine, you have ruined my life." No wait, that one was much later. I was unbelievably freaked out by the entire situation. Somebody reasonably wise in these matters said to me at the time that, 'The world had not stopped turning.' It hadn't. People all around the world and all through history had babies and nobody ever dies as a result. OK, that last bit is not entirely true, many women have died having children but to my knowledge, no man has ever died as a result of having a child. Not even that odd trans-sexual fellow/lady.
       So getting back to my classmate, she had mentioned that the father her unborn child was less than impressed at the thought of being a parent. That he felt as though his life was over, that he would live in small cramped apartments for the rest of his days and that his days of being the life of the party, were effectively over. She was honestly concerned that he was going to leave her.
      I think it is every guy's inclination to put your head down and run in this scenario. The guy's brain is simple...sometimes very simple. 'Can I eat it? Can I screw it? Can I fix it? Do I need to fight it?' There are finer points and subheadings like; art and music and finite math and breakfasts I have smelled but they all originate from THE BIG FOUR. Baser instincts that haven't evolved much from our primitive ancestors. The delivery systems may have changed but not the message.
      So, when faced with the one thing that doesn't fit into any of the aforementioned categories of the male brain, something as radical as offspring, the need to run away from it becomes overwhelming. And now that the science lesson is over, here's the rub. I wanted to run away but I didn't. Why? Am I so old fashioned? Not especially but I felt then that despite the desire to do so, running away would only compound my situation. It was the easy way out and I have never taken the easy way out. I am far too stupid for that.
       Maybe it was because I grew up in a house with a mostly absent father. Not so much physically but certainly emotionally. I had clothes and food sure but I don't think I ever once thought that my father loved me. I know it was a different time and fathers didn't say that kind of thing to sons...at least not in public. But I guess, somewhere inside my tiny little man-brain, that I would not let my child grow up with that doubt. The best way of doing that was to stick around and help turn the child into a well adjusted person. (OK, maybe not so well adjusted. It is Me and Mrs. Narrator we're talking about)
      But here's the thing, the crux of this whole deal. I like being a Dad. Yeah, I bitch a lot and I holler at my kids probably more than I should but I am a better person because they are there. I have always tried to get jobs that paid well so they wouldn't have to feel the pressure of less money coming in. It hasn't always worked out that way and I had an awfully lot of shitty jobs but I had a responsibility to them. That's what Dads do. You suck it up and you keep going because there are little people counting on you to do just that. Recently I have gone back to school to actually do something resembling a career, rather than just another factory job. Why? Because I owe it to them to try and make a decent living so they can go to school and try to do things resembling a career. Not to mention that it will be nice to hear my kids saying that their old man went back to school in his forties and now he is doing something he loves.
      My classmate said that her boyfriend has dreams of being a chef, that he is convinced are  now over. If anything, I would think that this should be his inspiration TO be a chef. You have a life that you are now responsible for and you'll want to give that new life every opportunity you can afford it. Factory work is likely not going to cut it. Running is the easy way out but nothing worth doing is ever easy, it's hard as hell...but that's what makes it great. Any fool can make a baby but it takes a man to be a Dad.

      There is that weird connection between mother and child, that sends a signal to the mother the second her child is in distress. I think fathers have it to a lesser degree.I was walking through the house the other day and I swear I heard Izzy scream. I walked quickly out the back door and at the bottom of the stairs, were her boots and skipping rope. Without her in them. I called out to her and was met with silence. I wasn't panicky by this point but concerned. I came back inside and headed to the front door. I still couldn't see her and so out the back again. I was a little worried. I walked around the side of the house and saw her playing in the front seat of Mrs. Narrator's car. Bobbing up and down below the dashboard. I flung the car door open.
      "Make sure you pick up your boots and stuff." I said angrily.
      "What's the matter, Daddy?" she asked.
      "I didn't know where you were," I said. "I was worried you might have wandered away or something.
      "Were you scared?" she asked.
      "I was a little scared, yes." I replied.
      "I told you." she said.
       "Wait, what?" I asked.
       "I told you I would scare you back."
      "You didn't do that on purpose, " I said. "you aren't that evil."
      She just shrugged her shoulders...she is that evil...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When is it Enough...ScreamPark...

      We were out getting her Halloween costume and she was having a hard time deciding what to be.
      Daddy: "What do you want to be for Halloween?"
       Isobel: " I want to be a scary clown in a mask, so I can scare the crap out of you."
       Daddy: "You wont just scare me."
       Isobel: "Really?"
      Daddy: "Oh my god yes. Many people are afraid of clowns."
      Isobel: :OK, seriously I want to be a scary clown."
      Daddy: "Really? Is that really what you want to be? Don't pick a costume because you think it is going to scare me, pick what you want to wear."
      Isobel: (Looking at Zombie cheerleader costume) "I want to be a zombie cheerleader but you'll say no."
      Daddy: "Why would I say no?"
      Isobel: "Because I want to have my neck open and bleeding."
      Daddy: "OK, we can do that."
      Isobel: "Really!?"
     Daddy: "Really."
     Isobel: "Coool."

      It is said, that all that is needed for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. I don't know that I am any more good than any other man and I am likely to ramble but I have an audience and I feel I can't sit back and do nothing anymore...
      By now there are very few who haven't heard the name Amanda Todd, at least not on this side of the border. She was a fifteen year old girl who was bullied to death, literally. She felt she had no alternative nor any place to turn and so took her life last week. I did not know Amanda nor was she even from my home province but she was somebody's kid and now she is dead...and for what?
      I think what disturbs me most about this, is the absolute depths of depravity people have been sinking to. The vile and vitriolic remarks posted on her memorial wall. It saddens and shames me that there are people this senseless.
     Hilary Clinton wrote that it takes a village to raise a child. When I first read that I thought it was hippy clap trap. More touchy feely shite that doesn't mean anything to anyone other than the voting public. BUT then I became a parent and I got it. We as parents are the village it is our responsibility to raise our children to become better people and carry it on to their children and so on. And we as a parental society have failed Amanda Todd and every other kid who thought they had no alternative to take their own life.
      I understand bullying, I don't like it or approve of it but I get it. I used to think it was a survival of the fittest thing. It's human nature to point out things that are different and it's a defense mechanism to mock things you are afraid of or that you perceive as different but I was wrong. It's not Darwinian to kick somebody when they're down., it's cruelty of the highest order.
      When I was younger bullies picked on you at school and then you went home and all was well. I also remember that there was a kid who I went to school with who's mother got wind of what he was up to. The next day he came to school and apologized in front of the class. he was not much of a bully after that. But there is a different element now...anonymity. All thanks to cell phones and the Internet. Why stop when you can make somebody's life miserable over and over and over and no one will ever know? It doesn't end,  social media has made it possible to be bullied day and night ad nauseum and all with a crystal clear conscience.
      I have heard a couple of times from a couple of people that "this kind of bullying is just like any other. it's just a phase that they go through and that they'll grow out of it."
     I asked Mrs. narrator if she thought that our kids could ever be capable of being that cruel. Her answer was a resounding no. Do you know why? Because we have always instilled in the children that everyone has the right to be who and what they are. My god, our family is a postcard for diversity. I'll tell you something folks and it's free from me to you; Cruelty is not a fucking phase. It's a learned behaviour and if you don't nip it in the bud, it grows into very cruel adults who think it's OK to ask a  twelve year old girl with esteem issues to lift up her shirt on a fucking web cam. Where were the mothers to make people like that apologize to the whole class?
     I am sorry but if you are arming your child with a device that will allow them to be horrific to people guilt free, then you are as much to blame for the actions they commit. Yes, it's a knee jerk reaction to horrible thing but guess what? It's true. The Boy is on the Internet almost more than Mrs. Narrator and I combined but is he saying and doing things he shouldn't? No because he is monitored and his Internet access is monitored. Is it a complete solution? No but it's a start.
      And I think that is where it needs to start. We seem to have shifted very far away from the responsibilities of being a parent in favour of becoming your child's best friend. I am not, nor will I ever be, my children's best friend. I don't want to be. I am their father and they both know that if they screw up they will answer for it. I have never hit my children nor threatened them with hitting and I still know that both of them will do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because they are afraid to do the wrong thing.
      It's an odd thing to say but your children aren't people, stop treating them as though they are. Your children are your children-your responsibility. Start taking an interest in what they are up to when they are on their computers. Maybe we should start charging the parents of children in bullying cases. The plain truth is if we don't do something to steer our children back to the fundamental differences between what is right and wrong, I weep for the future and I am absolutely shitting myself thinking of what is in store for my generation when we can no longer care for ourselves and we are left in the hands of the people who think it is alright to lampoon a child who commits suicide.

         So, we have this thing around here called 'Scream Park'. Izzy asked me about it and I explained that it is "A haunted house kind of thing."
         "What do you mean?" she asked. "Like real ghosts and stuff?"
         "No, Pick." I explained. "It's a fake haunted house where all the lights are out, except for scary lights and people jump out and try to scare you."
          "Oh," she asked. "Can we go to it?"
        I thought about it and I knew from several reliable sources, (my brother and his kid and a friend and his brood) that it is and I quote " Bad f*#@ing Scary!" My first reaction was that it as perfect to put a scare into her but then I went on the website to look for prices. On the upper left of the screen is the number 817. Eight hundred and seventeen brave souls shit themselves and ran out before they completed the Scream Park attraction.
     I reconsidered and started leaning toward a nice peaceful haunted hayride. But she kept at it.
      "Can we go to Scream Park?" she asked me.
       "I don't know pick, it's pretty scary I think."
       "I'm not scared." she said and she meant it.
      "There are people going to jump out at you are scream."
      "What if I bring an axe?" she asked.
      "You're not meant to hurt the people in the park."
       "Then they better not jump at me, I have an axe." she said.
       OK, so she's a tough kid but it would do her in, completely and totally and scar her for life. If I am going to leave that sort of mental mark it better be over something more than just Halloween hi jinx. So I thought I would test a little theory. This afternoon, I screamed. Not a big scream but a scream nonetheless. It was broad daylight and she was upstairs in her room. I screamed and then she screamed and ran out of her room and she was scared. Holy crap was she scared.
      "Don't tell your mother," I said and hugged her and calmed her down and assured her that Scream Park would still be there when she was ready for it.
     Tonight when I was saying goodnight, I asked her; "Are you still scared?"
           "Nope." she said.
            "Are you still mad at me for scaring you?"
            "Nope." she said but I knew there was something else.
           "What's the matter then?"
            "You know I'm going to scare you back, right?"
       "I would expect nothing less." I said. Thinking what can a six year old do to scare me? Then I remembered that this was my kid but even scarier, she is Mrs. Narrator's kid too...moody, patient and devious. I won't sleep well until Halloween is over...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God damned bicycle anyway...For real?...

      We had been at my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner. We were heading home when Isobel spoke up.

      Isobel: "Daddy?"
      Daddy: "Yes, Turkey Lurkey?"
      Isobel: "Daddy, why does Uncle Doug always call me Izzfest?"
      Daddy: "Uncle Doug likes to put things like that together. We have always called you Izzy and Izzy is kind of like Ozzy. Ozzy has Ozzfest, you have Izzfest."
      Isobel: "OK...who's Ozzy?"
      Daddy: "You don't remember? Ozzy Osbourne? You know, bark at the moon? You used to watch that video all the time?"
      Isobel: "Pfft, no."
      Daddy: "Well, you used to watch that video over and over again. You used to love Ozzy."
      Isobel: "And that's why uncle Doug calls me Izzfest?"
      Daddy: "And the Princess of Darkness, yep."
      Isobel: "What's wrong with him?"

       I was remarking to myself the other day that since she learned to ride her bicycle,Isobel has virtually left it untouched. I figured she would be tearing up and down the driveway with unrivaled zeal. I asked her about it "How come you don't ride your bike anymore?" I asked.
    "I still ride it. I'm just not riding it now."
     "I haven't seen you ride it for a while. You better ride that thing before you forget how."
   ...and so I have only myself to blame.
      The thing about bicycles, is you always fall off them. Usually one really bad fall in the learning to ride phase of your biking career.
      I remember mine well. I had inherited my brother's old bicycle. A wicked banana seated beauty complete with ape hanger handle bars and a flashy new paint job, courtesy of the Old Man. My father had become obsessed with the colour British Racing green. Everything within reach was painted this colour, whether requested or not. My old school banana bike-British Racing Green. My brother's new five speed-British Racing green, which has often led me to wonder about the legality of ownership of a 'brand new' bicycle that you paint the second day you have it. Anyway, the bikes, The Old Man's car, the dog (well not really but if he'd been a tad slower he might've) you get the idea. British Racing Green as far as the eye could see.
     So there I was, ready to mount my new steed. With my trusty squire by my side. Actually it was my friend Jeff Morrison and he was neither a squire nor trusty but he had a bicycle nearly identical to the one I was about to ride and he could ride it. I knew how to ride a bike of course but this particular bike was still fitted to my brother's frame and my brother was and remains noticeably taller that I am.
      It was across the street from my house, thirty feet at most, up a dead end street where the only car visible was parked in the driveway of a man we knew worked the night shift. Or was a vampire, either way he wasn't getting up to interrupt my ride. I was ready, Jeff was ready and we were off.
     I made it about seventeen inches and realized that while height is mostly inconsequential in the riding of a bicycle, it is crucial in the stopping of one. My feet groped for solid ground and only the very tips of my tiptoes found it. When I discovered I couldn't reach the ground, I began to panic and that panic set the front wheel of my new British Racing Green banana seated charger into a vicious shimmy that I couldn't correct no matter what I did.
     I am to this day unclear how it was possible but I managed to go over the handlebars...well overish. I somehow managed to land on the handlebars, the bottoms of the handlebars. I soon discovered that The Old Man had not put the handle grips back on the handlebars and so the rough un-filed steel tube was now firmly embedded in my left armpit. I was impaled.
     "Go get The Old Man!" I screamed at Jeff Morrison, who by this point had stopped laughing and started staring with a sick amazement.
      "Wow..." he breathed.
      "Jeff! Get my FATHER!"
        Oh there are fathers who are kind and gentle and understanding and who can fix problems regardless of what they are. There are also fathers who will assess any situation and determine no matter what has transpired, you are some how the cause. Guess which kind I got?
      "What the hell did you do to that god-damned bike? I just painted that you know?"
       The Old Man pulled me off the bike, literally and I swear it made a noise like a balloon being pulled through a watermelon. I didn't go to the hospital, rather just down to the Dr's office to see Dr. Lichtenheld. A wonderful doctor if  you enjoy war criminals administering your health care.
      "Is it safe, Mr. Baker?"
      A big band aid and a tetanus shot and home we went. I think i took the rest of the day off  but was back on my bike the next day. The Old Man never stopped bitching about the paint job I buggered up.
      "You better ride that thing before you forget how." I blame myself.
      She had a friend over and had pedaled up the driveway, expertly I might add. The way down the driveway was a different matter, she had forgotten the difference in speed and made a sudden turn out of panic and went down. I haven't heard her cry like that in a while. Huge sobs of pain and embarrassment echoed around her as she ran up on the porch.
      "What happened?" I asked, fearing that maybe an arm was broken or a tooth was out.
      "I...fell...off...and...and...arm and...legs and both legs...and..."
       I looked her over quickly and noticed that apart from dirty streaks on her face and road rash, she was alright. I have to admit, that for a second as she walked up wailing that she had fallen off her bicycle, 'What the hell were you doing wrong?' crossed my mind but it didn't stay long.
     I picked her up and carried her inside. I kissed her forehead and had a look at her arm. Road rash and a good case of it.
     "Let's get you cleaned up and then I'll go get your bike."
     She tried hard to hold back the tears and speak in a strong voice but the facade was fading fast.
     "Leave it out there," she said with a quivering voice. "I'm never getting on that stupid damn thing again."
     But she will...we all get back on the bike sooner or later.

      We were sitting around the appetizer table at my sister's place, stuffing our faces and chatting. The Boy Uncle Doug and I. My brother was explaining the coolness of his latest skull t-shirt.
     "The leaf glows in the dark." he said.
     It had a gigantic pot leaf on it behind the skull which apparently glows in the dark.
     The Boy is still young enough that he doesn't recognize the Cannabis Sativa leaf on sight and so if I tell him that Uncle Doug is really into horticulture and that's why a lot of his shirts have leaves on them, he takes it as just 'Sid using big words to make himself look smart again.' It's not going to last much longer and then I foresee a long and mostly confusing talk ahead. For now, it was nothing more than a skull with a leaf that glows in the dark.
     "Oh yeah?" I said. "I remember I had a Big Brother shirt that had eyes that glowed in the dark."
     "Wait, what?' asked The Boy. "You had a Big Brother shirt with eyes that glowed in the dark?"
     "Yep," I said. I loved that shirt. I wonder what ever happened to it?"
      "Who's eyes were they?" asked The Boy. "Dirty Dick or Johnny Fairplay?"
      I took three things away from this little snack time exchange.
     1) I am unbelievably old.
     2) The George Orwell character has been almost entirely usurped by the CBS television program.
     3) Johnny Fairplay was actually on Survivor.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oh Yeah, That's My Kid...What the Hell, Already?...

We were driving to the mall to get something to eat. I stopped to get a lottery ticket. $40 million, why not?

      Isobel: "Daddy if you win the lottery can we get a farm?"
      Daddy: "Honey, if I win the lottery you can have your very own farm."
      Isobel: "Really!!?!?"
      Daddy: "Sure, but if I don't win the lottery I'm gonna kick the crap out of both of you."
      Isobel: "Wait, what? You're going top kick the crap out of both of who?"
      Daddy: "You two. You and The Boy."
      Isobel: "Why would you do that?"
      Daddy: "Well I have to blame somebody for not winning, might as well be you two."
      Isobel: "Oh."
      Daddy: "Oh? That's it? You're not worried that I'm gonna kick the crap out of you and your brother if I lose?"
      Isobel : "Pfft! I have my feet. He's on his own."

      It's coming to that time of year, when Izzy and I start cruising around to costume shops checking out all the Halloween goodies. The creepy lights and smoke, the gimmicks and make up and masks...ah favourite time of year.
     Now I should interject a couple of things here that might be important as we go along. First off, we used to go to Canadian Tire and Walmart and places of that nature...well lit places because Isobel was absolutely petrified and lost her mind at the one honest to god costume shop we went to. Maybe it was the creepy crawly things on the floor or the motion activated jump out and scare the bejesus out of you things or maybe it as a combination of all of them but whatever the reason, she screamed in the store, started crying and announced that Halloween was stupid and she didn't care if she didn't get any candy. She just 'wanted out of the damn store anyway!'
      Now I should also add (and I am almost certain that have mentioned this before and that I am likely to mention it again) that I nearly shat myself the first time I saw the Exorcist. It touched something way down inside and it still bothers me to see it to this day. BUT every time it comes on the television I watch it. Now a days, I am forced to watch it alone downstairs, Mrs. Narrator is also terrified of the Exorcist but doesn't have the same sick compulsion to watch it that I do. I like to be scared. Even a couple days after when the nightmares have stopped and I ask myself why I keep doing this I'll remember that it's because I enjoy having the bejesus scared out of me.
      OK, so there we were at the costume shop and the first thing we see on the way in is a gigantic picture of Linda Blair and not the one from the dirty magazine.
      "Look Daddy, The Exorcist! Isn't that the movie that scares you?" Izzy said.
      "Yep," I replied. "That's the one."
      "What's so scary about that?" she asked in a kind of disbelieving tone.
      Now I have a copy of this movie in the basement that I watch from time to time on my own...this is one of those moral dilemmas that one faces all the time. Do I go fetch the movie when we get home and show the mocking first grader exactly why this is the scariest movie ever made? Only to deal with the fallout until she's about 24?
      "Kinda tough to explain, Pick. Maybe when you're older we can watch it together."
      This Halloween store was really the show room for the spook set. They had a working version of nearly every lawn display and motion activated thing a majinx in the place...and we tried them all. I figured I would be rushing her out of there, screaming and bawling and cursing Halloween and all that it was but she wasn't phased by any of it. In fact, she went back to the ones that made her jump and scream and tripped the motion sensors again. Only to jump and scream again. She did it over and over again and her reactions were genuine pretty much all of the time. I know when she's being fakey and there was no fakery in the way she leaped away from the gigantic jumping spider. Hell, it scared me at least twice.
     "Daddy?" she asked. "Can we go back around to them all again?"
      "Let's go look at some costumes first."
       The Boy, who had been mostly silent up to this point came running at me with his costume choice. He has been the Ghost faced killer ( not from The Wu Tang Clan) for the last two or three years and this year was really just a variation of that albeit an unsettling one. His mask is hooded again but in the front of it is a mirror. Of course he can see out through the back of it but you can't see his face. it is a baffling thing to the human brain to see a body but not to be able to see a face. Well it bothered me anyway.
      Next came our delicate little snap pea. Did I mention that clowns bother me too? They do. Did I mention that the first mask Isobel tried on was a scary clown mask? Not just her idea of a scary clown, Pennywise had nothing on this thing. Clowns are scary enough but couple that mask with the eyes of a child and your brain goes into overdrive. The expression in the eyes betrays the look on the face and suddenly you are a monkey on the savannah looking into the face of certain death. Cuddly , fluffy death.
     "Isobel, that is just about the creepiest thing I have every seen."
      "Really?" she asked with glee. "Is it really scaring you?"
      "I wouldn't say it was scaring me but it is bothering me. Why don't you try a different mask."
      She took off the clown mask and went to look for something else. I walked over to The Boy to see what he had picked. He had not found anything that rivalled the mirror mask. I had to agree.
      I felt a tug on the back of my shirt and turned to see Isobel...in the disturbing clown mask.
      "Take that thing off, it's creepy."
      "Muahaha!" she laughed her big fakey, evil laugh.
      "Really Pick, go take it off and go find another one."
      I turned back to The Boy and felt a familiar tug on my shirt. Scary clown, wiggly evil fingers and "Muahaha!"
      "Isobel, if you don't take off that freaky clown mask, not only are we not going to see the motion stuff again, we will leave this story right now."
      "OK." she relented and started to walk back to the rack of scary clown masks. (yes, a whole god damned rack of them) I saw The Boy was wandering off toward the door and turned to call him.
      "Daddy," I heard.    Clown mask and all, it was like a scene from a bad Karen Black movie, I expected her to pull a knife from behind her back and hack me to death with it.
      Oh yeah, that's my kid.

      We did make it to the mall and on our way through Walmart, we naturally looked at the Halloween stuff and video games and toys and well, pretty much everything the Merchant of Shame has to offer.
     "I'm hongry," I said. Let's go eat and we can look at this stuff on the way out.
      "OK," said Izzy. "I'm hongry too. ( that's not a typeo folks, it's the way we say it. When you're really hungry, you're hongry)
      "Daddy?" she asked me after we sat down to eat.
      "What's up buttercup?" I said.
      "Daddy, it's not even Halloween yet, right?"
      "Then why the were they playing dang Christmas music already?"
      "What?" I asked. "Where were they playing Christmas music?"
      "At Walmart," she said. "We were walking around and Christmas music was playing and I was wondering what the hell was going on?"
     I have to admit I didn't hear any Christmas music but stranger things have happened. We finished our mall Chinese food and headed back out through Walmart.
      "Daddy, listen!" she shouted. "That's the Christmas music!"
      I gave a listen and a laugh...it was Bob Marley.
             ...well he did want peace on earth.