When Being A Bad Parent Is A Good Thing

Sometimes a dad's gotta do what a dad's gotta do

When Being A Bad Parent Is A Good Thing

Bad Dad

I was a bad dad today. A terrible, horrible, awful, not very good one. But sometimes you have to be, and it's awesome.

My son hates getting wet. Can't stand a splash on his sleeve or drop on his drawers. The moment he's damp, he's naked. I brought him to a radio promotion at a car dealership, my co-host brought her new puppy. My son played with the dog's water, spilled it on his shirt - and immediately stripped down faster than you can say fahrvergnugen.

So what do I do on our daddy date to the local amusement park? I take him on the log ride.

"I don't want to get wet, Daddy!" he whined while we waited in line. Each log would tip over the edge and cascade in a huge splash every 30 seconds.

"We won't get wet," I lied. "See how the water splashes OUTSIDE the log?"

The Chute Calaway Park, CalgaryHe wasn't buying it, but the line moved fast enough that I could get him into a seat and past the point of no return. The first bump came and my jig was up.

"I DONT WANT TO BE WET!" he screamed. Thankfully, he kept his shirt on.

"I WANT OUT!" was his next demand as he clawed the side of the ride.

We tipped over the top edge and screamed toward the puddle at the bottom - and got soaked.

Oh, he was not happy. Bawling, screaming, wailing like I had beaten him the entire 45 seconds of our trip on the water.

I immediately raced to the photo booth at the end of the ride and forked over $9 for the picture. A ridiculous amount, but when you're a bad dad you've got to pay your penance to have the moment captured forever.

I was a bad dad today. And it was the best day ever. I've got the pictures to prove it.


When Should You Get Your Kids A Cell Phone?

Is There an Appropriate Age?

When Should You Get Your Kids A Cell Phone?

choochiphone.jpg Charlie is not quite 20 months old and he already has his own iPhone 3G.  Granted the internet is turned off and it’s not connected to a cell network, but for the past 4 months he has toddled around the house with the phone at his hip swiping between apps and having imaginary conversations with it.

My older son, Zacharie, was a phone fanatic too - I lured him to take his first steps by holding the phone in front of him like a carrot.  The childhood addiction to phones isn’t new, I’m sure many of you pulled an old school rotary model around your house on a cord when you were kids. 

While the fascination with phones isn't new, the portability and accessibility of phones has changed.  Our kids get their own toy phones before they can walk, so why are we shocked when our 8 year old asks for the real thing?

As we head back to school over the next few weeks, parents are asking themselves - is now the time to get my child their own phone?

3/4 of American teens (12-17) have their own phone an increase from just 45% of teens in 2004.  If you talk just 12 year olds, the number is now nearly 60% versus less than 20% in 2004. [Source: Pew Internet]

Kids say they feel more grown up with a phone on their hip, while parents feel more connected to their kids; it becomes a digital tether so they feel comfortable letting them wander.  You can’t just stuff your kid with quarters and ask them to use a payphone when there’s a problem - when was the last time you saw one of those ancient devices?

Schools, on the other hand, are trying to get a handle on the distraction the handsets cause in the classroom.  Some school districts have banned them in the classroom, while others are loosening rules that were once very tight.

Phones are an entry drug to digital addiction.  We are addicted to checking our social networks for no reason and getting your kids hooked on this habit an early age can’t be beneficial.

One parent's story and rules around why they gave their 10 year old a phone can be found here.

What's the age range you think is appropriate for kids to start carrying cell phones? What are the ground rules that should be set to encourage it's used responsibly and isn't a distraction?


Visting Your Childhood Family Home

How Google Street View Can Help

Visting Your Childhood Family Home


A few years back, Arcade Fire had a great online video for We Used to Wait. It asked you for the address of your childhood home and it used some HTML 5 magic to instantly transport you to your childhood memory. I've always remembered the address 187 Chelsea Rd. It's the first home I remember. The place our family lived in the 70s before I turned 10. Typing that old address into the search bar for the Arcade Fire video was the first time I'd thought of using Google Maps to relive the first neighbourhood I remember and today I did it for real.

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I'm in Picton for a wedding, so I took the day to visit Kingston, Ontario - just an hour away and the first house I can remember living in. I was born in Cornwall, Ontario, but lived in Kingston from 2-10 years old, so this is the furthest back I can recall.

Coming into town, I went east down Bath Rd and turned south on Days Rd. The gas station on the corner isn't the same, but there is still one there with the price much higher than the 35c a litre I remember my parents filling up our big green van at. A half block down was Our Lady of Lourdes, the church where I had my communion and I was an altar boy. Then, on the left, a big empty field. In the distance you can see a penitentiary that looks like Disneyland, in between there used to be a drive-in theatre where we would watch the films out the rear window as we drove down Days Rd coming home from family nights out.

We turned right on Hyde St and a block down I saw my dad's old bus stop. Then a left turn onto Chelsea Rd. The road was more narrow than I remember. The road bends at the intersection with Hyde and my first memory is riding my bike down this block singing We Are The Champions on my way home from soccer practice. 187 Chelsea Rd is a dozen houses down. Wow. That was my house.

I take a picture of the outside, then my wife takes a picture of me. The extra room on the right wasn't always there, it used to be a carport where we kept our tent, where I hung a target for pitching practice.

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I decided to go around back, there was no fence. And then it comes, the yard I used to run in, a tree is missing, the view of our back neighbours, where the shed was - and then a man comes into the back and asks me what I'm doing. I used to live here, I tell him. And he shrugs, "I figured." I tell him all about my first house and then the back door opens. The new owner, who looks a lot like Greg Kinnear, pops his head out. I lived here when I was 8, I beamed and asked to be let in.

There's the basement door. The door I was afraid to open without a light on. There's the kitchen, now renovated and missing a wall, but much smaller still than I remember. There's the dining room, there's the living room where my dad told me his mother had died. There's the fireplace where I first laid out snacks for Santa. Then upstairs. There's the room I shared with my brother. The worn parquet floor and railing where I tossed a bag of used eye patches downstairs threatening to runaway.

There was my first room on my own, now an office. There was my parents bedroom where I remember watching the results of the 1980 Quebec Referendum. There's the ensuite where I watched my dad shave. dearphotographThen to the basement. The door I was afraid to open, the panelling my dad put up. The corner where I would fall asleep sometime during the first period of Hockey Night in Canada. The wall I practiced my slap shots up against a camping mattress. The workshop where I, at the age of 9, asked my mother how she could vote for Flora MacDonald and betray Pierre Trudeau.

I told the Greg Kinnear lookalike all of it. He smiled, played along and asked questions about the colour of the wallpaper and the history of flooding in the basement. I was beaming as I walked back to my car. I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh.

There was the corner I first played "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" with the neighbour. There was the driveway across the street we used to skateboard because it was asphalt. There's Ed's house with a For Sale sign on it, the old neighbour who gave the entire 1974-75 hockey card set and used to take me bass fishing early in the morning.

Then we drove the 4 blocks I walked to my elementary school. The route I used to take with Stacey Connelly, my elementary school love. There's the corner store where I first shoplifted gum. There was where Ms. Majoros' portable used to be. There's where I broke my arm, there's where I got my tongue stuck licking an icy pole. Across the street, there's where I used to play hockey.

And it went on and on and on. You don't know how much you remember until you try to remember. Go ahead, play with the Arcade Fire video. Type in the address of your childhood home into Google Maps and if you're lucky the Street View cars will have visited and you can do that route to school.

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Better still - go there, ring the doorbell and step inside your memory.