Monday, 28 January 2013

How we celebrate

Friday night when we were out for dinner, I wrote in crayon on a napkin, “It’s my husband’s birthday. One piece of Tuxedo cake please,” and handed it to our server when Shaune was distracted with the kids. I cringed a little knowing she would now likely change her mind about how nice I’d initially seemed.

I knew this to be true based on my own experience in the restaurant business for far too long. There is very little more humbling in life than to have to clap and sing some obnoxious birthday jingle while crowds of people look on.

Yet I’m certain it’s part of the contract;  written in the fine print, when you become a parent: When celebrating birthdays in public, you must create a scene. Sing loudly along for all to hear.

I brought play dough to keep the kids focused. It works about 78% of the time. However, YouTube cartoons on our smart phones work beautifully when you want to be able to eat your meal in peace. In a recent development Naveen has begun shouting in most conversations. I’m assuming it’s a function of being the younger less articulate brother. A table of retirees were directly beside us thank goodness – grandparent types. And I’m not pointing this out to make some hearing-impaired crack, they just happened to think our two disobedient and loud-talking little nincompoops were adorable.

We spent Saturday in Camlachie at Shaune’s folks’ partying again. There was ice cream cake this time. The kids were in fine “We’re at Gramma and Grampa’s house” form. Which is to say they didn’t listen to a word I said, forcing me to repeat things like “what do you say?” and “Get your shoes on we’re leaving,” so many times that I likely seemed a bit crazy and controlling to the childless side of the room.

See earlier comment about fine print.

And on Sunday I was relieved when the birthday boy wanted to hang out around the house. I bought our favourite birthday cake from Costco and we sang to Shaune right after lunch so we could dig in – Deaglan went practically catatonic when I at first suggested we’d be having it after dinner.

I wished I’d thought to take pictures of Naveen shovelling the cake in.

While at Costco, I also grabbed a giant case of raw chicken wings, I don’t even want to guess how many chickens had to contribute. I believe this to be a show of how cool and uncontrolling I can really be. Shaune was thrilled. Even if he had to cook his own birthday meal. He made the wings Cajun dusted, deep fried with honey garlic and medium on the side. It’s how we used to eat them at Stokes Inland back when we were dating.

Shaune said it was a good birthday. He thanked me for "letting" him have wings for dinner. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


It’s cold here - like double digit minuses. 

And all I want to do after work every night is get into comfy clothes and watch Netflix. It hasn’t helped that I’ve been sick and achy for the better part of a week.

A few nights ago Shaune looked around at all of us and wondered out loud if what he was seeing was right. I had my smartphone and earphones on watching Lost (Oh Netflix, where have you been all my life?). Deaglan at my feet was glued to the flat screen – Lego Ninjago. And Naveen had my tablet while Shaune clickety-clacked away on our laptop. I was unapologetic. It felt too good to be wrong; the kids snuggled in close to me on the big couch, Shaune sprawled out in the big brown recliner.  

The human version of hibernation.

It’s a relief to know the kids play outside during the school day – a provincially mandated number of minutes so that when we’re home these dark, cold, wintery nights with only an hour or so to spare when you factor in dinner and the bedtime routine, hardly more than huddling close together is needed.

It’s Shaune’s birthday on Sunday and when I asked the kids this morning what we should get him, Deaglan gave his standard answer – a fridge while Naveen was convinced Daddy could use a skateboard. 

And a few weeks ago Shaune asked me if I realized that he would be turning 38 this year.

“Yes.” I answered.

“I thought I was already 38. I really did! It’s like I won a free year.”

“Wow, honey, you should maybe not tell that story to anybody else,” I advised.

A newer colleague at work has been a lot of fun to exchange stories with. Her little girl is several months younger than Naveen and she's great at imitating what her daughter would say if she could speak in complete sentences. In her imitation her daughter is very sarcastic with adult tendencies. Stephen Wright meets the Gilmore Girls. We crack each other up. She does wonderful things for my ego. "I love your stories," she always says, "you're soooo funny!"

Today on the way out of the building she was walking with a group of work people and laughing. "Oh my God," I heard her say to a woman, "I love your stories, you are sooooo funny."

I had myself a Seinfeld moment.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Shaky commitments

On my run this morning I was listening to some of the greats –you know, Ludacris, Jayzee, P Diddy, when a city bus blocked my path. The driver got out and strolled into the Starbucks. The passengers looked on, they didn’t seem the least bit peeved. It was Saturday after all.

The driver’s body language was unapologetic, he walked with one hand in his pants pocket, slow but deliberate, his hair trimmed neatly; he was handsome, maybe 35. He likes a good strong coffee, I thought. Maybe he’ likes a coffee joint who gives its employees a decent wage and benefits. Maybe he's an advocate of fair trade. Who knows?

I ran past, crunched the snow-covered boulevard, and went back to admiring Sean Kingston’s rapping. I had no clue what he was talking about but liked it nonetheless. 

I considered what I wanted to accomplish this year. I don’t bother much with resolutions but it’s almost impossible not to think about them a little when you’ve got a fresh new year ahead.

Over the Christmas break Deaglan called me out on one of my failings. “You never play with me anymore,” he said. Shaune looked up from his phone. This oughtta be good, he probably thought. I’ve said it before; I just don’t know how he does it. He plays with the kids all the time. Me? I cuddle. I kiss. I snuggle. I read. But I can’t seem to get the playing part down.

It feels like swimming to me.

When I’m in a pool for exercise purposes, 15 minutes feels like seven hours. And I keep looking up at the clock. But after that day, I tried harder. I started with the easy stuff. We played Candyland over and over. We did Spiderman puzzles. I’ve been working my way up to role play, the hardest kind of play for me. 

I just never know what to say when I have to be the evil Batman.

And I’ve been thinking about how little I wrote last year. It bothers me every single day because I think about writing almost all the time. But I don’t sit down to do it because well, because there’s laundry to fold, dishes to put away, the kids to snuggle, and I’m at work all day.

More play. More writing. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

You say tomato he says potato

Naveen has it figured out. He's found a loophole in language development.
He’s decided that he’s good with what he’s learned so far – he need not go further.  Hair style is the only criteria necessary when evaluating one person's resemblance to another. It’s his only criteria. He doesn’t care about skin colour (this kid has ethics!), height, weight or age (he’s so not judgemental!) or even what species you are (we should all be so open-minded!).
Anytime he sees a woman with longish dark-type hair he happily exclaims, “Look Mommy, it’s you!” It doesn’t matter that we're watching a Revlon commercial or that the woman he’s pointing to is 23 years old with legs up to her armpits. 
And when he sees Janet Jackson footage back when she had short cropped hair (I was watching an educational documentary called Celebrities who are Hot and 40) naturally he thinks of Aunt Pat, Shaune’s 70 year old, Caucasian aunt. In his defense Aunt Pat does have short hair. And for a long time when a certain episode of Cat in the Hat came on, he would scream with great delight that it was Grampa. He was pointing to  an animated clam at the bottom of the ocean who had a mustache. 

What can I say? The more I saw this clam, the more I was inclined to agree.
He has no use, either,  for most of the five senses. He feels strongly that the phrase "sounds like" is all you really need.  Last night at dessert he told Deaglan that the chocolate frozen yogurt sounded just like a popsicle.  And today he noticed that his winter coat sounds like his older brother's.
I like his style. Simple. Efficient. To the point. 
When I was running my 10K on New Year's Eve I was thinking how all these extra words I have at my disposal can be really quite dangerous. It was cold and dark and I was feeling insecure, lonely, and thirsty. Hundreds of people whizzed past me.

I began to question whether I'd actually been running the right mileage for the past three months - maybe Shaune had actually downloaded the Indian version of RunKeeper, thinking he was being racially sensitive. Did their metric system work the same way their money did? 

Because I'll tell you, half way through I felt like I'd been running for hours, possibly days. I started resenting all the trim little LuLu Lemon bottoms that kept passing in front of me, while I lagged behind uncomfortably in my Costco get-up. I started making up stories about  the faster runners. Those show offs.

But you know what,  I made it. And in record time. I might be a little competitive after all.

Here I am prior to the race. 

Here I am after the race in the parking lot right before an enormous coughing fit.