Some Light Reading For The End Of The World

I’m scared of everything; the dark, being home alone, bugs, ninjas that use trampolines to bounce onto my room. Everything.

A decade ago, my sister suggested that we go to Halloween Night at our local theme park. It was a fun idea. For Diana. For me, it was an exercise it trying not to wet my pants. I clung tight to my sister all evening, as a comfort, or a shield, and if necessary an offering. Although, a bigger, fatter person would have made a much better shield, but scaredy cats take what they can get.

I spent the whole evening being terrified out of my skin, at points throwing myself and Diana sideways with the intensity of my reactions. That was until we got to the pig-man. He wasn’t a person, or at least from the chest down he might have been, but up top, he was a pig. Or sort of a pig.

Pigs share an awful lot of our genetic code which is why they get used in science a lot. This creature looked like he had come out of the wrong end of an experiment. He was making these tortured, animalistic sounds. While I spent the entire night feeling like I was going to die, when I met the pig-man, I was certain my time had come.

I bolted for the exit, throwing Diana backwards towards the pig-man as a sacrifice. “I’m sorry she’s not bigger or fatter,” I called over my shoulder.

That last part isn’t true. The only thing that came out of my mouth was the strangled howl of a person escaping death. I ran the rest of the way through the house, shoving the other tourists out of the way in my bid for salvation.

When Diana emerged from the haunted house, she was furious. “You threw me at the pig man! There was ONE scary thing in this entire park and you threw me at it!”

There may have been one scary thing to her, but for me, the entire park was scary, while the pig-man was the harbinger of my death.

I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake”. Diana recommended it. “It’s really good, you’ll love it.”

I was so scared after reading the book last night that I couldn’t go downstairs to brush my teeth. My son has been sleeping in my bed and not for his comfort, for mine. There have been a couple of times, after closing the book this past week, when I’ve felt like leaning over and shaking my four year old awake. “C’mon buddy, Mommy has to go to the bathroom. You have to come with me. Wake up, wake up; I do this for you in the morning.”

There’s nothing quite like reading about the end of the world, when it feels like you’re living through the end of the world.

Finally, I called my sister on it. “That was a really scary book you wanted me to read.”

“Really? Was it?” The skeptical note in her voice nearly killed me.

“You don’t remember the hemorrhagic plague that killed everyone? And the genetically-altered, murderous pigs?” My mind went back to the night of the pig-man.

“Oh yeah, I guess it was scary.” This admission came out like I had corrected her on the colour of our childhood dollhouse.

And then it came to me, this was her revenge for offering her up to the pig-man. Life is long. But sibling rivalry is longer. I’m scared for what she has planned for the afterlife.

The Recycling Game – The Lazy Mom’s Answer to Pintrest and All Those ‘Learning Activities’

Mama, I see you, pulling out your hair because it’s a pandemic, your children wrapped around you like snakes in a tree. I see your eye twitching when they ask to paint. I feel your pain when your oldest begs for the craft kit that is so finicky, it makes rocket science look simple. I see your exhaustion, and I feel how overwhelmed you are.

Here’s something which will actually help, unlike those endless activity lists for ‘Busy Toddlers’, which just make you feel more inadequate. Oh poor, tired Mama, I created this game just for you, to help you clean your basement, and make your kids happy for ten minutes.

The Recycling Game

  1. Forget to wheel out the recycling cart for two and a half months until it fills to the brim and your toddler has to tap dance on the lid to make the cart close.
  2. Miss recycling day twice more. It’s more fun if you miss it by a minute and try to chase the recycling truck down the street in your pyjamas while hauling an overflowing cart behind you shouting, “Wait! Wait!”
  3. Pile up the recycling in the corner of your basement like an environmentally minded hoarder.
  4. Finally remember recycling day so the cart is emptied. Wheel the empty cart to a doorway. Employ some child labor and have your preschooler ferry boxes of recycling up from the basement to the door, while talking up the fun of the ‘Recycling Game’.
  5. Have your children stand on the steps and throw the recycling into the cart while yelling random numbers when the items go in: Seventeen points! Thirty points! Forty two points! Twenty points!
  6. The game ends when you run out of recycling or your baby falls face first in the snow. If both happen at the same time it’s called Kite Crash and everyone wins.
  7. Forget recycling for three months so you can play again.

Feel better Mama, you can’t see it, but there is an end to the pandemic in sight and regardless of how you feel, you ARE doing a good job.

Please criticize me mercilessly and make me cry

So that was a helluva eight months. Like everyone, I’m a little furrier, and just a touch more stressed.

But

I finally did it, I enrolled in a writing course. Well writing courses. But I’m a grown up. With children. And a job. So that means I complete them one at a time. Because that’s how you eat elephants- one at a time.

That’s definitely the saying.

So in lieu of actual posts, I’m going to post my assignments. Please enjoy them. Or not. But please grade them. And rip into them like you are my mother and my work is an errant, shrieking smoke alarm.

Introduction to Storytelling – Keep a journal

September 16, 2020

The battery in the smoke detector outside my bedroom died at precisely three forty-one am this morning. I wonder whether they program it that way, whether it’s China’s revenge on us for forcing them to produce all our goods.

 I can picture it -the two unfortunate workers sitting next to each other in the factory.

“Should I set it for two fifteen?”

“No, they’ll get a good night’s sleep after that, pick a later time.”

It made me remember when I was little and the smoke detector went off in the night. Instead of a sporadic beep, it was a long wail that pierced your eardrums and was so loud that you felt you could almost see sound.

 I walked out of my bedroom just in time to see my mother whacking the plastic safety device repeatedly with a broom. The smoke detector flew across the landing and onto the floor where my mother pounced on the battery compartment with the aggression of a hungry lion tearing into a gazelle, snuffing out the smoke detector’s life force as swiftly as a predator on the Discovery Channel.

I wish I had been that dramatic when my smoke detector went off. It makes for better childhood memories.

I merely reached up and removed it from its place on the ceiling. I didn’t even need a chair- a benefit of living in a house that was designed for oversized garden gnomes. Then I grabbed the kitchen step stool to reach the shelf with the batteries.

There were no nine volt batteries. Are there ever any nine volt batteries at three in the morning? Perhaps all the charged nine volt batteries gather together to party at that hour, licking one another for kicks. Who knows?

So then I had to make the decision of which smoke detector to move from its floor to replace the defunct one outside the bedrooms. Which begs the question- if I were a fire, where would I start?

The answer is of course – pants, hence the phrase ‘liar, liar pants on fire’. Ergo I swapped out the main floor one because there were pants in the basement hanging on the clothes horse to dry. Then I went and lay awake in bed for three hours and thought about how my children will only have boring stories to tell.

Love’s Echoes

My grandfather died four months ago today. I miss him. But in a way he’s still here. Every day I’m reminded of him in the way that love subtly announces its presence.  He is the reason this blog exists. My Granddad loved telling stories and in doing so made me into a storyteller. So in writing this I’m remembering him, remembering the roots of my family.

Though my children will never have the opportunity to know my Granddad as well as I did, he has a profound effect on their lives. My grandparents were present for every major and minor event in our lives. They accompanied my family on trips, but my Gran and Granddad also took my sister and me on trips. I remember on a drive to the States when my grandfather handed a grim faced border guard a notarized letter from a lawyer stating that he and my Gran had permission to take my sister and me out of the country.

Before my son was born, I talked about my relationship with my grandparents to my in-laws often. My husband didn’t have that same depth of relationship with his grandparents. Part of that was age; my grandparents were young when I was born. Part of it was distance; my grandparents lived close. And also a question of fairly dividing attention; until I was sixteen, it was just my sister and myself on the one side whereas Tex has many cousins. There wasn’t precedent in my husband’s family for that kind of grandparent interaction.

But for my mother-in-law, Zoey, and my father-in-law Pat, my stories struck a chord. They wanted that experience with my son and daughter. To be there. To be present. To be a major part of so many of our family’s memories and to have a relationship with their grandchildren that was entirely its own wonderful entity.

So my in-laws do. My son goes for bi-weekly sleepovers. He visits their farm once a week and has routines and traditions that are his and my mother-in-law Zoey’s alone; ice cream after dinner. As soon as my son walks in the door, my father-in-law Pat sets up the VCR (For the younger generation this is an old style of DVD player.) and put’s on Mini-Tex’s favourite movie. They go out to the garden and say “Hello” to the scarecrow, and he rides the tractor and Mini-Tex takes Pat’s old fishing rod, with the hook removed, out to the boat that’s been parked on the lawn for a decade.

And I encourage it. All of it. Even the visits to the well when Mini-Tex sits up front in the truck with the airbags off. I don’t like it, but I recognize how important it is. The well and fetching water is part of my in-laws life and Mini-Tex loves being in their life just as much my in-laws enjoy being in his. I know from experience that my role in this is to stand back and let that relationship happen. My Gran still comments on this during our twice weekly phone calls- that she and Granddad loved that they were always given access to my sister and me.

I think about how much I loved and still love Granddad and then I invite Zoey and Pat to watch my son’s swimming lessons-it’s automatic. I offer for them to stop by for a quick play while they do errands in town. I send them letters and pictures of the kids when they go south for the winter. I do all of that because my grandfather taught me how to ride a bike. Because Granddad made my math homework take 300% longer because he had to explain how knots work because he sailed even though it wasn’t relevant to the question. Because Granddad used to wheel a TV into my sister and my room at their house and play the Hobbit as we went to sleep every time that we visited.

I include my in-laws every chance I get because I miss my grandfather. Every day. I feel my Granddad’s absence keenly but seeing my children receive what I had – the daily unconditional love of a grandparent, somehow takes the sting out of my grief.

 

Four Years Ago Today

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I still relive this day in my head with the same joy and excitement that I felt climbing up that hill and kissing my new husband for so long that the minister commented on it. (Photo Credit : Sula)

Tex,

I’m sorry. Once again, you undoubtedly bought me the perfect card which sums up your feelings for me and inscribed it with a heartfelt and romantic message of gratitude and love. And in return you received a Happy Hanukkah card with a porcupine on it-which is a bit of a head-scratcher because to start with, we’re not Jewish. I’m a little rubbish at personal milestones.

Don’t let my inability to choose heartwarming stationary make you think that I don’t care. It sounds trite, but every single day you inspire me to be a better person; the kindness that you unconditionally show to the world makes me smile. And makes me wish I could be that nice. Most of the time, I settle for having a truly empathetic and loving spouse while continuing to be my mischievous and slightly unpleasant self.

I said it in our wedding vows, but I hunted you down with all the stealth and cunning of a puma. And every day I look at you and think “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” You’re the most funny, interesting, smart person I know. You’re the only person I ever dated who matched the magnitude of my passion and zest for life. Your deep commitment to your interests brings me joy. From the time we met, you are and remain, my favourite person ever. I can’t wait for our next wedding anniversary and all the ones to come.

Also, right now, hold onto those fluttery, nice feelings you have towards me. I need to confess something. I told our mailman that you’re a never-nude.

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It’s exactly like this. Only with black socks. Photo Credit : Twitter.

It just came out. Sorry. But it is odd that in the five years that we’ve been together, I’ve never once glimpsed your feet.

As always,

your loving, but overly chatty wife

The Greatest Love Story of My Life : Casablanca, The Notebook, Beauty and the Beast all in one

My favourite love story doesn’t have a prince. It doesn’t feature Ryan Gosling. And shockingly, even though I love my husband to the moon and back, my favorite love story isn’t even my own- it’s my grandparents’.

What has always made my grandparents’ relationship remarkable to me was the fact that they liked each other. I grew up in a house that felt like the United States during the 1960’s Cold War, where at any moment one side might detonate the nuclear bomb of divorce and annihilate my world. Thus, the feeling of genuine friendship that my grandparents shared, formed the basis of what a loving marriage looked like for both me and my sister.

You couldn’t separate one person from another. Gran came with Granddad; their names were said together, always, because that was their life. My grandparents tackled the world head-on, side by side. They danced west coast style together, they sailed together, they biked together, they geocached together. It didn’t matter that every single one of those interests belonged almost exclusively to my Granddad, they did them together. My Gran spent her life sewing matching costumes for their nights out dancing, scrubbing the boat to ready it for a trip, preparing elaborate lunches to feed my particular Granddad during their outdoor adventures. Gran supported Granddad while he captained the ship of their life.

The way that my grandfather supported my Gran was more subtle. As a child, my sister and I would watch for his love- in the way that Granddad would come up behind Gran and hug her. Or the way that, despite living on modest means and carefully budgeting every month, Granddad insisted that they could afford a sewing machine the price of a used car so Gran could add detailed embroidery to her sewing projects. When I went to university, Granddad truly proved his love for Gran by buying her two dogs then walking the canines twice a day, every day, after that.

In the same way that my sister and I liked to bask in their love for us, we would delight in our grandparents’ love for each other. As teenagers, whenever our family traveled together, despite having our own space, somehow Diana and I would end up in Gran and Granddad’s room. They wouldn’t be paying any attention to us necessarily. My sister and I just enjoyed watching our grandparents be together.

Even the off moments of my grandparents’ marriage were endearing. The same night that Granddad unwittingly revealed Diana’s actual age (as opposed to the one on her fake ID that she carried in her pocket) to the nightclub bouncers, my sister and I sat in my grandparents’ room beforehand. Both Diana and I were ready for a night of dancing, but Gran and Granddad still had to put on their matching country Western outfits. Granddad carefully set a map on their bed of how to get to the club and said to Gran that the directions were there and could she please remember to bring them.

Fast forward to the four of us walking to the dance club, Granddad is about two minutes away from loudly declaring Diana’s underage status to the bouncers. Granddad turned to Gran and asked whether she had brought the map. “What map?” my Gran asked. “The one I said that I laid on the bed for you to bring in your purse, and you said ‘Mmmm hmmm’” replied Granddad.

“Dear, you talk an awful lot, sometimes I don’t always listen” my Gran confessed. All of us laughed and I marveled to myself how wonderful it must be to live with someone for so long that on occasion you just allow the cadence of their voice to fall around you without listening, not in an inconsiderate way but more in the manner of letting your chatty spouse talk. Then my Granddad shouted Diana’s age to the bouncers, setting off a course of events that would end with my other, paternal grandmother being dropped off by the police at midnight and the spell of goodwill was broken. Evidently we hadn’t needed the map, only a set of Ontario legislation for Granddad.

It wasn’t just my grandparents’ friendship that makes their love special to me- it was the endurance of that love. My grandparents met, married and had children in their teens. They traveled across the globe as a family when my grandfather was in the military. They lived in more places than I have, which is astounding because I’ve moved a lot in the past couple of years. And through all of that, they were together, creating stories, supporting one another.

My whole life, I’ve been fortunate to watch my grandparents live their marriage vows; for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Often I’ve marveled at the achievement of loving the same person for your whole life, choosing to endure every peak, plateau and decline together and the determination it must have taken for both of them to achieve this.

The last time I visited my grandparents, my grandfather turned to me and said “Gran and I are friends.” I smiled at him and replied “I know” because I do, their love for one another has been a fact of my life, every day since I was born. My only hope is that I can create the same caliber of love story for my own family.

Love and Thunderclouds

“Are Grandma and Grandpa at my house?” my three year old asked me as I walked him home from daycare. His grandparents had appeared the day before and stayed over to help us with our upcoming move. Tex’s parents had dropped my son off at daycare but I had neglected to inform my little boy that Grandma and Grandpa wouldn’t be there when he returned.

“No buddy, sorry” I replied.

A grey cloud appeared over my three year old’s head and I heard a clap of thunder as his face darkened. “I want to go see them!” Mini-Tex all but stamped his little foot.

I felt badly, because I understood my son’s sentiments exactly. I was raised partly by my grandparents. Every other weekend when we were small, my mom would drive my sister and me to their house. What followed were the best two days of my week, filled with love, extra attention and fun.

As we got older and started school, my favourite moment was the school secretary announcing over my classroom’s intercom “Please remind Sarah not to take the bus home today”. That announcement signaled only one thing- that Granddad was picking up Diana and me from school, then he was going to drive us to his and Gran’s house.

My grandparents were present for every important event in my life, every performance, every achievement. My grandfather left school at grade ten and only later completed his GED, so education was paramount to him. My sister and I would proudly display every one of our report cards and he would fawn over our academic triumphs.

Christmas didn’t begin until we stepped foot in their house. It didn’t matter if it was the 27th or the 29th, to heck with Santa, as far I was concerned, Christmas at Gran and Granddad’s was the “true” Christmas. To me, if my grandparents weren’t there, it was as though I couldn’t totally celebrate.

The worst part of the year came after Christmas. Each January, Gran and Granddad drove down south for twenty nine months. Or at least that’s how their winter sojourn felt to my childhood self. Like my birthday wasn’t actually my birthday until they returned. Sure I enjoyed partying with my friends, but I never truly turned a year older until I received a hug from my grandparents and the completely unnecessary congratulations of living another year.

From the outside, my son’s scowl looked like frustration and anger but I knew better. It was an expression that said “I love my grandparents and they love me and we are accustomed to being together”.

As I apologized to my surly looking three year old, I did my best not to smile and in my head, I made a mental note to talk to my husband about when we could visit his parents next because even though I’m grown up, a part of me desperately wants to see my grandparents too.

Flying Electronics and Other Talents of My Mother’s

Does anyone remember Flava-flav?

Flava Flav

This man? Who has ingeniously sidestepped the issue of strangers asking for the time by wearing it around his neck? (Photo Credit : heidibenj.blogspot.com)

He’s a national treasure. Along the same lines as Trump, or that guy who tries to bankrupt rich people by selling them tickets to a nonexistent festival.

Once upon a time, Flava-flav had a reality show. My sister and I loved it. And by loved it, I mean we were university students home for the summer in a place whose night life consisted of going out to the Dairy Queen and searching nearby bushes for our indoor cat when it got out of the house. Brampton is dead sexy, what can I say?

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The place I grew up is this man in city form. Every young person’s idea of a good time. (Photo Credit Twitter)

There wasn’t a whole lot of choice when it came to entertainment.

So there we were crashed out on the couch, and we stumbled upon a Flava-flav’s “Flava Of Love” marathon. I don’t need to tell you just how awesome twenty women competing for this wizened, Viking hat and clock wearing man’s affections are. It was akin to discovering a buffet of deep fried Mars bars. A terrible idea but to a young person, 25 seems ancient so who cares if your bad choices lead to a heart attack in four years? You should dig in. Flava-flav = great. Endless Flava-flav= the best day ever.

My mother did not agree. However my entire life, she abided by Barbara Coloroso’s advice, the former nun’s mantra is “If it’s not morally threating or life threatening: leave it be.”

During the first episode, my mother huffed at the television. In the same manner of an alligator, subtly warning its prey that they’re about to become lunch. The second episode she roared, with such primeval anger that I’m going to continue with the alligator theme – “There must be something better to watch- you change that channel now!”

It may have been the episode where one of the girls takes a laxative and poops on the floor during the Flav-a-flav equivalent of the Bachelor rose ceremony.

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Every facet of the show renders it a timeless classic. (Photo Credit Wikipedia.com)

With the same stupidity and naiveté as tourists, my sister and I ignored the danger signs and continued enjoying the low brow delights that only reality TV can provide.

The third episode is when my mother lost it, and ate the television whole like she was some sort of character out of a children’s story.

Not actually.

But my mom did step in front of the TV and bellow “If you don’t turn this garbage off now, I’m going to chuck the TV.”

Now she had our attention.

  1. Because in addition to being extremely fit, my mom was and still is freakishly strong. I joke about her bench pressing the neighbour’s sedan, but until she proves she can’t, the Grumans park carefully. It was unclear where she was going to chuck the TV; out the window or in the garbage but the fact of the matter is, in the sport of large electronics shotput, my mother is capable.
  2. My mother is a passionate person. And passionate people are unpredictable at times. Where other people jump in feet first, my mother has been known to hurtle herself backwards into life butt first. It makes for better, more interesting entrances. And good photos- as evidenced by all the pictures of my Mom throwing her backside into the ocean while surfing. In addition to being physically capable of throwing the TV out the window, my sister and I feared for the squawk box’s life and could picture our forty inch TV sailing over the deck in homage to my mother’s frustration with reality show culture. Other people might have merely unplugged the television, but my mother, who once bought her friend a live animal rather than a standard gift of perhaps socks, could be relied upon to be erratic at the best of times.
  3. My Dad would have quietly tolerated and accepted the smithereens of electronics laying on our lawn when he returned home. This was the same man who contentedly assumed his fate when in a span of less than a week, my mother, sister and I brought home a skink and two cats in succession. My Dad rocked at rolling with the punches of living with three weirdos.

Consequently, off went the TV. My mother stopped snapping her jaws and ceased bicep curling our couch in preparation for setting the Guinness Record for World’s Longest Television Throw. My sister and I still watched Flava-flav that summer but never when my mom was home.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you. And all of your quirks. Especially the ones that make for good blog posts. I’m allowed to watch Flav-a-flav type television now, but you’ll be happy to note that my husband sends me to a far corner of the house and forces me to wear head phones.

Also, if you curse me with your standard dastardly spell of “I hope you have a child just like you” please note that you will be called upon to hurl our television out the window and onto the patio when my children watch bad television. My pipe cleaner arms are not designed for shot put of any type.

In Ten Years

My sister and I didn’t like the shots. Either the colour was off, one child wasn’t looking, or the framing was wrong.

But you know what?

None of it matters.

Because in ten years, we won’t remember any of that.

Instead we’ll look at that slightly imperfect image and think “our babies were so little”.

Or we’ll remember the moment when we first met up, stripped off the boys’ matching jackets and realized that we had almost dressed them in identical outfits.

Or the surprise I felt when I saw my brother-in-law walking in with my sister – he booked the day off work.

Or my gratitude when I watched my brother-in-law interact with all the babies and said a silent “thank you” to the universe that my sister ended up with someone so kind.

A gratitude that was almost matched by everyone’s delight when my husband showed up with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

I’ll remember my shock when my sister told me that she took my son down the 720 degree corkscrew slide. And that my son was the one to suggest such a thing. My little boy’s bravery was nearly outshone by his 6’6 uncle going down the same slide. I picture that giant man bursting out of the bottom like toothpaste exploding out of a tube after an elephant sits on it.

I’ll smile, when I think of the relief I felt when either Diana or I, caught one of our children wandering away out of the corner of our eye, only to see our Dad swoop in to herd the wayward child back.

And when we realized that both the toddler and the preschooler were completely toast and decided to take this imperfect picture, how both boys refused to remove their jackets afterwards until they were roasting.

All of this will be conjured up because of this imperfect photo and another set of photos which so perfectly captures the day. Right as we were leaving, Diana hopped into a photo booth with her son. Partway through, my little boy decided to crash the party. All the fun, surprise, joy, excitement and love of that day is held in that series of images. I’ll remember all of that.

Failing At Being French

Some people aim for an authoritative parenting style, others a permissive, personally, I go for a Darwinian vibe in my daily life with my son. As in, if he manages not to be eaten by mountain lions, or freeze to death before age five, then he’ll probably develop the skills to survive most events in life unscathed.

Not really, but based on what happened last Easter, a person might assume that was my parenting strategy.

After finding all the eggs hidden in the house, my mother and I took Mini-Tex to the park on his brand spanking new push new tricycle. Sounds fabulous right? It wasn’t. It was Ontario, during spring, sort of, which is to say, it was windy, a little snowy without having the decency to be sunny or have any snow on the ground to reflect the meager amount of light coming from the sky.

Ontario can be a jerk like that.

As it was, my mother and I were trying to make the best of it. Enjoying one another’s company, talking while watching my son wander farther and father away from us into an open field.

I had just read a French parenting book which was all about how you should feed your children to wolves and allow them to fight for lives alone so they can develop independence. What can I say? The French are crazy, and clearly don’t love their kids. However the book claimed that if a parent did this, they could talk on the phone and drink their coffee in peace, so I was on board.

This was why when Mini-Tex wandered so far from me, inspecting all the grass in the field, I stayed put. That was when it happened- a rogue bobcat tried to eat my toddler.

Not actually. It was a suburb in Ontario. I’m not even sure they have rabbits let alone any predators. But Mini-Tex abruptly broke through a thin layer of ice covering a giant divot. It looked alarmingly like this.

The hole looked deeper than it was because when my two year old plunged through the ice, he fell on his knees, effectively soaking himself up to the armpits in freezing puddle water.

My mother and I screamed like frantic teenagers and sprinted towards him. I reached my child first and hauled his shocked little self out of the hole. “I’m chilly” Mini-Tex whimpered as I tucked him under my arm and ran with him like he was a football and I was about to score the final touchdown for the Superbowl.

My mother followed behind me. “Take the baby” she cried “I’ll get the toys”, gathering up the sand buckets and shovels we had brought to hack away at the permafrost. Without stopping to put on his helmet, or do up the safety straps, I deposited my toddler into the tricycle. Between his now soaked jacket, and his chubby toddler pudge, Mini-Tex was firmly wedged into the seat. The helmet and straps were merely a formality, a nod to our family’s respect for safety. But in the grand scheme of dangers, at that moment, my two year old was at greater risk of losing a foot to hypothermia than falling out of his new ride.

The three of us dashed towards my grandparents’ home, the only indicator of my speed was the sound of my mother’s wheezing behind me. A four time Boston Marathon alum, my mother is fast, so clearly the adrenaline coursing through my blood was having an effect on my stride.

Once inside the door, we set about stripping my frozen child. I pulled off his sodden jacket while my mother popped off my son’s boots, emptying a significant amount of frigid water onto the carpet in the process. Pants and socks were the next articles to go.

“Blankets!” my mom and I shouted as we propelled my pants-less toddler upstairs. My Gran met us on the landing with the requested item. “What happened?” she asked her voice the picture of concern. Once under the comfort of a warm quilt, Mini-Tex answered. “I fell in a muddy puddle.” He continued to tell the story all day, much to the delight of my family.

As much as I would love to drink my morning beverage in peace, I decided then that I wasn’t cut out for the French parenting style of allowing your preschooler to pilot hot air balloons alone or feed starving great white sharks hunks of steak. Quel dommage.