The Results May Vary

Observations from my Mixed Up World


In the End, He Got a Promotion.

I came to the realization recently that I was doing too many chores around the house and I needed help.  It seemed too much to me that not only was I making dinner but I was also cleaning up from dinner while everyone else ran off to do fun things.  Now, I do have fun in the kitchen but loading the dishwasher is pushing things.  The obvious thing to do was to delegate part of the job to someone but that’s not so easy in my house and I suspect, it is not so easy in your’s.  What to do, what to do?  In the end, I had a brain wave.

I called Milo down to the kitchen before dinner and told him that I wanted to have a serious talk with him.  It had been a pretty stress free day so he didn’t resist, which was refreshing.

“Milo, ” I said, “I have some really important news to share with you.  I’ve been noticing that you are getting older and you can handle more responsibilities.  You’ve got a modeling job that you take seriously and I must say, I am impressed.  So I think that it’s time to promote you from child to child class one.  Congratulations!”

“That’s awesome.  I’m so excited. ” He gushed, “What does it mean now that I’m a child class one?”

“Well it means that I can trust you to do some things that I couldn’t before.  For example, I am going to trust you to clear the table after supper every night and put the dishes in the dishwasher.  I couldn’t do that with just a child.  But with a child class one there are no problems.”

“How soon do I get another promotion?  Do I get one every year?  How high can it go?”

“Oh, you got child class one, child class two then tween class one, tween class two and so on into the teens.  And at each level, I will know that I can trust you with more and more responsibilities.  Some day, I will trust you to use the lawn mower and to wash the car.  But those will come in time.”

“Thanks, Dad.  I’m so happy.”

The result:  For the past few weeks, Milo has been clearing the table, scraping dishes and loading the dishwasher proudly and with only a few reminders of his child class one status.

I’ve got to write a book.

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The New Glasses are NOT Helping Me

It turns out that Maya needs glasses.  I’m not upset or horrified or figure that kids will tease her.  Both her mom and I have some latent parental guilt over the fact that neither of us thought there was a problem.  It seems she as astigmatism.  Her eyeballs are more like footballs as opposed to basketballs and the things she sees without glasses are askew.

So anyhow, we picked them up tonight and she is wandering around getting used to them.  Here’s what she said…

“Daddy, the floor looks much bigger now.  It’s up to here.”  She raises her foot 3 inches off the ground.

“You know what Daddy, your belly looks much bigger now too.”

I’m so pleased we fixed her vision.

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Well, here in Ontario, the week of March Break is winding to a close.  None too soon for me, I can tell you that.  Despite the fact that the kids were in art classes for half of each day, there was still an abundance of energy and creativity.  The only natural outlet for the amount of energy and creativity that I’m talking about is for kid’s friendships to be perpetually swinging between states of war and peace.  It doesn’t seem to be a big problem with Milo, but Maya and her friend next door are constant drama.

At least 3 or 4 times each afternoon, Maya and Olivia reach a point where words become as knives, glares are lasers and the screeching deafens banshees.  Each girl will storm back home, vowing to never speak nor even see the other until biblical plagues again punish the Earth.  As the girls pass the thresholds of their various homes they will call for their siblings to burn crosses on the highest hills to summon the clans to battle.  They will demand that the priest of their various gods make sacrifices and read the omens.  Yet before the entrails are even cold a door bell will ring and there will stand their rival seeking to begin the cycle anew and off they go to play Barbies, jump on the trampolines, play house or just run amok BFFs once again.

I’ve always maintained that this behaviour is a girl thing.  Men just get pissed off, tell their buddies to fuck right off, perhaps throw a few punches and then realize that the whole thing is bullshit and go for a beer.  Total time elapsed less than 5 minutes.  Not only that, but these types of blow ups happen only once every few years.  Men can’t hold grudges otherwise they’d never be able to put together a scratch hockey game on a whim.

Women are another thing altogether.  I think that women operate on a model where they are constantly giving each other emotional noogies that they can cling to and nurture for the rest of time.  In my office, not 20 minutes after hearing someone torn to shreds you will watch them go off shopping or for lunch together.  Just like kids.

The ultimate example of women’s need to give and take at the same time is the baby shower.  Under the guise of celebrating the birth of a child, women lavish gifts on the young, apprehensive mother to be and all the while compete in a terrifying game of one-up-manship as they compete to demonstrate why their pregnancy and delivery was the most difficult.  I’ve seen random strangers approach pregnant women in public just to congratulate them on procreating and then to pass on why their delivery was the most horrid on record.  It is so great you’re all sisters.  I’d hate to be your enemy.

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Disaster Ahead! Not enough young gamblers for OLG.

Today was a huge announcement from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.  They are going to modernize the entire lottery and gaming landscape in the province.  It was horrible to hear their tragic tale of how falling American gambling tourism has brought the revenues from border casinos down to $100 million from a high of $800 million.  The solution of building a new billion dollar casino in Toronto is not going to be enough.  Luckily, OLG is full of forward looking and thinking people.  They noticed right away that traditional forms of gambling such as casinos and lottery tickets are simply not gaining ground with young people.  So they’ve unveiled their plan to get internet gambling going in Ontario.  Their studies have shown that it is too inconvenient to have to go to a corner store and stand in line for a lotto ticket, so therefore, they will make it so you can get Lotto Max tickets from your iPhone.  That is stunning.  Similarly, it’s stunning that someone would come out and say  there is not enough interest in the youthful demographic to support the province.  I can’t believe that our solution to funding healthcare and education is to make sure that more young people are gambling!  It’s not enough kids that you will need to work harder and longer to pay for my Canada Pension, but I expect to get sick at some time, so please, gamble more of your money away.

Oh well, who am I to stand in the way of progress.  I will now unveil my plan to ensure that I bring up the kids under the new norm.

  • All Christmas and birthday money will now be put in an unmarked envelope and laid beside 5 identical but empty envelopes.  They must guess correctly or lose it to the house.
  • At the beginning of each week, I will take $5.00 from each kid and provide them with a Lunch Surprise Bingo card.  If they make a row based on what I put in their lunches by the end of the week they get $10.00.  Otherwise, the house wins.
  • All TV privileges will be based on the new Spin to Win wheel that I am making.  It will also include other privileges such as take out the garbage, clean the litter boxes and wash the car.  I figure that the built in demand for entertainment will strip me of the need to do anything around the house.
  • There will be mandatory side bets on all games of checkers and chess
  • My wife and I will pepper our language with pithy gambling references such as “snake eyes” and “double down.”
  • I’ll water down all of the drinks that are not served at the dinner table and ask for tips when I deliver them.  Dinner drinks will now cost several dollars but will at least be full strength.

If doing all of these great things doesn’t help out OLG, I don’t know what will.  Please share any ideas that will help out the cause.



Sharing Family Experiences

It seems odd to state, but our family has shared all of the exciting things that have happened together at the same time.  What I mean is, when big things happen in our family, we are all together when they happen.  Vacations are all together.  School plays, swim tests, piano recitals have all been family events and thus, family experiences.  Milo’s new career as an actor and a model is changing our family dynamic.  More and more, only one of his mother or I are able to be with him when new things are happening.  So it is becoming more about how well we can communicate what happened as opposed to communicating about how we felt about what happened.

It would be easier if we were better story tellers.  Milo’s idea of telling a story is to start at the end.  “It was cool.  Yeah, that’s it.”  Or he’ll tell the story in a random order, very free form.

“Yeah, so I went in and after we were done the lady put on her hat.  I wanted to sit down when we were practicing but the other guy had a drink and I like coke so I kinda wanted one.  I’m hungry.  Are we going home?”  What a clear picture of what happened.

If he doesn’t want to share, which is often.  He just gets mad at my probing questions.

“What did you learn tonight at the seminar?”

“Um, eye contact is important and you’re always being judged.”

“Is that all?”

“yeah, pretty much.”

“You were there for 2 and a half hours.  All you got was eye contact?”

“You wouldn’t understand!!!  I can’t explain it.”

“Well, try.  Please?”

“We did an exercise.  She taught us how to never say no.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, like if I was a grandmother who was sitting outside of her birthday party cause she didn’t like it.”

“Do you expect to ever become a grandmother that doesn’t like the birthday party being thrown for you?”

“AAAHHH!!! I hate you.  You never understand!”

I hope we get better over time or we’ll never have anything to talk about.


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What would you tell yourself?

CBC Radio, often my muse, posed an interesting question today.  What would you tell your sixteen year old self if you could send a message back in time?  After pondering for the 45 minute ride home, I’ve come up with this:

  1. Lighten up.  Don’t think that things are so serious.  As Dad always told you, No one takes you seriously so why should you?
  2. Get some compassion.  Things are not as black and white as you think.  In fact, this is the last time in your life that you will ever be so certain that you are right.
  3. Embrace everything that comes your way.  You’ll be tempted to turn away from new experiences because they are new and scary and come at inconvenient times.  Grasp them.  You will wonder what might have been and they won’t take you so far from the path you want to be on that you can’t get back.

What about you?


Axiom: Let sleeping children sleep. Note: they are not committed to returning the favour!

Last night on the way home from swimming lessons, Maya fell asleep in the car.  It’s not my fault.  Just because I had the car really warm and that I drove to some extra places on the way home and the vibrations from the car were just right, there is no reason to think that  I may have encouraged it.  We really did need to visit the store that sells patience and hope to parents.

So there I was, home at 6:15pm and Maya is dead asleep in the car.  So I took her into the house and manhandled her into pajamas.  Then I laid her head gently to rest on her pillow and settled in for a nice, one-child evening of watching Survivor.  Once Milo was asleep, we settled into bed ourselves, perhaps entertained ourselves a bit and the night was over.  In theory, that is.

1:15am    – the pitter-patter of small feet wakes me up.  I can’t believe it’s morning already.  Nope.  Maya is too hot to sleep.  Fix her up by reducing the blankets and laying with her for 20 minutes.

2:22am   – “Dad, I can’t sleep in my bed anymore.”  The fact that I wake up is the only clue that I have  that I actually fell back to sleep. Take Maya back to her room, relocate the cat that is purring too loudly from her pillow and lay with her for another 20 minutes.

5:18am   – The icy cold hand touching my neck rips me from deep sleep.  I’ve clearly been dreaming something creepy because I scream in terror.  Loudly.  With my heart pounding in my ears, I launch into a half-hysterical lecture that no, it is still five O-fucking-a clock in the morning and it is not time to eat, nor time to watch tv, not even time to pee.  But it IS time to be asleep.  March Maya back to her room, find the appropriate amount of stuffed animals, move the cat – who is now purring just right apparently – back to the pillow and lay with her for 20 minutes.

6:20am  – accept the fact that I may as well make breakfast and pack the day’s lunches since there is only 10 minutes left before the alarm.  Vow to myself that if she falls asleep in the car tonight I will form a one man orchestra and march around her with drums, kazoos and her ukulele playing Good Day Sunshine as loudly as possible.

Where can I buy a bull horn?

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Deception 101

One of the nice things about kids is that they tend to be terrible liars.  When I was a kid, I couldn’t even intend to tell a lie to my mother without breaking out in nervous laughter.  It really gives the whole thing away, when you walk in the room, take one look over at mom and then burst out laughing.  I’d just turn around and walk back out.  So I’m not sure what I was thinking when I started to teach Milo how to tell a lie that was both good and effective.  How did I ever end up here?

Milo’s modeling agent wants us to take him to New York in the summer to take part in a huge modeling/talent convention.  Since we aren’t sure if this is a good idea for us, we told Milo to keep quiet about it to his friends.  One of our big fears is that our little egotist will alienate all of his friends if he isn’t careful.  But is seems that Milo didn’t realize we were talking only about the New York possibility.  He’s doing a bridal runway show this weekend and had to get measured for a tuxedo Monday night.  The next day he really wanted to talk about his fitting but was scared that he wasn’t supposed to say anything.  So he invented a cousin’s summer wedding as a pretext to the fitting.  Now I find out that he’s been telling friends about how he can’t wait to score with the pretty flower girls and how he’ll be charming them all with his keen dance moves after the wedding.  Note to self – time to cut him off from watching The Big Bang Theory.

So after he confesses all of this to me, I had to take the time to explain that we are only being closed mouthed about New York.  The rest of the modeling gigs, he can share.  Humbly.  Very humbly.  But that doesn’t solve one small problem.  For Milo to do the bridal show this weekend, he needs to miss play practice.  This will require some deception because he is not supposed to miss any practices.  I figure since he is playing a Yeti and has only 3 lines in the whole play, he can miss one practice but I’m not about to say that.  I’m also pretty sure that he can ad lib with some grunting and cavorting around but again, I can’t say so.  So I laid out what we will tell the play’s producers.  “Ok, Milo.  We will tell the producers that we have to go out of town this Sunday and we were unable to avoid it.”

“Wow, Dad.  That’s a great idea, because we really are going out of town.  That’s like the truth.”

“That’s right.  When you need to lie, you need to lie with the truth.  That way you can say that you told the truth.  You just didn’t tell the whole story.  You always have to keep the story simple and as truthful as you can.  That’s what makes it believable.”

The realization that I am training my son to lie like Machiavelli suddenly dawned on me.  “And don’t think you can pull that shit with me, ” I told him, “You have to always tell me the truth.  Or else.”

“Don’t worry, Dad.  I won’t”  Suddenly, I feel like June Cleaver accepting a compliment on my lovely dress from Eddie Haskel.  What have I done?