So it’s mid-November and you’ve finally eaten the last of the Halloween chocolates you stole from your kids on Halloween night. It’s been a few days since you celebrated some kind of holiday and you’ve noticed Christmas decorations proliferated the shelves of every store you’ve been in since Halloween.
There is a large group of people out there — and I feel comfortable suggesting that much of this large group of people is comprised of men, who think boys can only turn into men when they repress their feelings. This group also believes strength is defined almost entirely by the size of the muscles you have. Much of this group thinks men should mow lawns and women should cook meals.
Back-to-school is something I look forward to as a parent because it was something I always looked forward to as a kid—mostly because of the new clothes. I remember spending the week leading up to the first day laying out different pant/shirt/shoe combinations each night assuming I had the perfect match. Then, the next night, I’d do it all over again. I’d do this right up until the morning of the first day when my mom would yell at me that if I didn’t get downstairs that minute, I’d be late.
The other night I started crying watching Toy Story 3. I’m not even going to explain how this happened because if you aren’t already nodding your heads and thinking “preach,” then you’re probably a legitimate monster from some other world who can’t read the English language anyway.
My daughters looked at me as the tears dripped through my beard. They tend to do this every time I cry.
When we talk to our kids, we tend to raise them using a set of rules dictated to us through previous generations. These rules get passed down from parent to child in great generalizations that become the parenting lesson equivalent of a motivational poster:
“Eat with your mouth closed.”
“Always say please and thank you.”
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
My two daughters play nearly non-stop with babies in our house. They may play with babies 27 hours a day. Truly. They take them to restaurants, they put them to sleep, they take them to hockey games, and to watch Harry Potter movies in the theater. And, they both give birth to and nurse the babies.
My partner and I live together. My partner and I work together, on the same floor of the same building. My partner and I sleep in the same double bed together. My partner and I operate in the same eight-foot by eight-foot front hallway to get boots onto the feet of two girls every morning.
When I became a parent, I wondered how different it would be to travel with kids. I'm sure you had the same worries I did: Will the kids behave in the airport? Will they cry on the plane? Will they adjust to a new environment? Will they like the food? Basically, if you work yourself up enough, the thought of travelling with kids can become intimidating. But it doesn't have to be.
When I was in my late 20s, my parents put my stocking at the end of my bed on Christmas Eve. This is the same thing that happened when I was six. And when I was 16. It was the same thing that happened every year.
And every year, I’d pretend to be asleep as they did it. Because I, like many others of you out there, have never been able to sleep on December 24.
Proving that many people still have a strange relationship with colours and their relevance to being either a boy or a girl, a father recently returned a cake that was made by a local bakery for his son’ first birthday party because the cake was pink.
A cake. Not okay for his boy’s birthday party. Because it was pink.
I can see your broccoli Dr. Seuss tree blowing in your child’s lunchbox. I can see your diced tomato acting as the hair to a Who in the Seussian diorama you’re setting up for your kids to gleefully eat. My kids sees these things too and they tell me how great that lunch looks. I’ll, admit, it is a glorious lunch. And I envy that your kid will eat broccoli, even if it is only because it’s waving like a tree.
Nothing says playoff baseball quite like the arrival of October. Oh, the arrival of October AND of course, comment sections and Facebook posts that show there's still plenty of room for sexist judgement of young women who take pictures of themselves at baseball games.
As an 18 year-old, I liked to wear my pants down pretty low - low enough that if I saw someone wearing their pants that low today, at the age of 36, I’d probably mutter to myself “pull up yo’ damn pants.”
Then I’d reflect on how hypocritical we can be if we allow ourselves to put a little bit of time and space between the us-es we are over time.
Let me start with a confession that many parents have but don’t all love to make: I throw out the art my kids bring home from school. I throw out (or to be more accurate, recycle) a lot of it. I throw it out in bunches in the middle of the night and I sneak it out piece by piece as they eat yogurt at the kitchen table.
Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Avengers: Age of Ultron and probably won’t until it comes out on something more than the big screen many months from now. I also did not know the plane in this movie was called the Quinjet. I’m a superhero movie fan without knowing too much about the universe they come from. So are my daughters. They like Superman and Spiderman and Wonder Woman but don’t know much more than what they look like.
Congratulations! I hear you have a Charlotte of your very own now! I sort of figure us as members of the same exclusive club, as I too have a Charlotte. Let me then offer you some friendly advice on raising a Princess Charlotte.