We went for a walk down McVicar Creek to the Marina, which is now called Prince Arthur's Landing but it's easier to say the Marina. So I will. I do.

(Only a couple of weeks before, Isaac and I had walked along the frozen surface of that very same creek, him insistent on panning for gold, me taking photographs of the rotting ice and not really doing my very best to not panic about the possibility of my seven-year-old falling through the ice to the rushing waters below. In the end, obviously, we made it safely back onto dry land, only to have him sink thigh-deep into a puddle of frozen mud once we were back on the trail. Nothing a hot bath couldn't cure. The pictures are nice, though.)


But this walk, along the same but entirely different creek, went in a different direction. This time, we ended up on the shores of Lake Superior, open water in the harbour, the promise of spring. This time, we happened upon these two. It took me a second to figure out what they were doing, her in her wheelchair, him on the granite bench, rolling the dice between them. I gazed at them for slightly too long before Remembering, then apologized, asked if I could take their photo. They said sure.

“I just love that you're playing Yahtzee out here,” I said.

“Oh,” she said, “we like our Yahtzee. We have fun.”

“We do,” he said. “We have our moments, but we get along.”

Labour Day

Skipping stones, Hazelwood Lake, last light.

It's Labour Day. With a U, because we are in Canada. And I'm writing this at 5:24 in the morning, because — yet again — I can't sleep. Which reminds me of what it was like to be pregnant and constantly awake. Which is making me think about how the summer itself parallels pregnancy: nine weeks, instead of nine months, ending with a Labour Day.

At the beginning of it all, you're sort of surprised and giddy and excited and just slightly nauseated at the thought of summer: on the one hand, I mean, you made it through that craptastic winter. But now the reward is, you know, nine unstructured or only semi-structured weeks to carefully fill with day camps or travel or camping trips or — what we're doing right now — JUST HANGING OUT.

By the middle of the summer, like the middle trimester, you're more or less used to how summer works — the slower, more casual pace, the later bedtimes, the raspberries and swimming, the not deciding what will be for dinner until half an hour or so before dinner when you throw something on the barbecue. You're even enjoying yourself. It's like it's always been summer/like you’ve always had a tiny human growing inside you and it always will be/and you always will. And it's manageable, sometimes even pleasant, if occasionally slightly unsettling.

But now, at the 11th hour of summer vacation, at Labour Day, I'm done. I am done with the free-flowing schedule and the lack of structure. I am done JUST HANGING OUT and its accompanying nonstop requests for screens or to bake cakes or to arrange playdates, of juggling work obligations with childcare, of trying to write between 7 and 9 AM and conducting magazine interviews with two boys and two friends thundering screaming to the house. I am ready for these children to vacate the premises, much as one is ready, at 40 weeks, for said infant to vacate the uterus and give you back your body.

Except. Except that our school district, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to add a [insert loooong string of exclusives here, beginning — ironically — with "mother”] PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DAY IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING LABOUR DAY to the school schedule. What kind of asshats schedule a PD day for the day after Labour Day? (I know what kind: the number-crunching, budgetarily minded kind, but that's a different blog post.) For the record, I really haven't experienced full-out labour: Rowan was breech and therefore a planned C-section; Isaac emerged naturally after approximately eleven minutes of intensity. But I kind of imagine that this is the equivalent of being told, after 24 hours’ worth of mind-numbingly painful contractions, that one is only two centimetres dilated and, well, nothing to do but push through the next 24 hours.

Which is what we’re going to have to do.

When these two children leave the house for school on Wednesday (Wednesday!), I will take their picture, and I will hug them both tight, and I will — very likely — get teary. And those tears will be equal parts joy — at my two enormous, beautiful, growing boys making their way out into the world — and part relief: that the labours of summer are over and those two enormous, beautiful, growing boys are back, thank God, in school.

Rainbow loom meltdown

rainbow loom  

Happy new year! Here's my first post of 2014 on Today's Parent, on my own and my son's matching Rainbow Loom meltdowns:

... in theory, one could create any number of things on the Rainbow Loom, assuming one had the manual dexterity of, say, Glenn Gould. For the rest of us, in particular the six-year-olds among us, mastering the Rainbow Loom is freaking hard.

I discovered this when I sat with Isaac on Christmas morning and we attempted to make the first, very basic, anyone-can-do-it, bracelet. We were fine actually getting the elastics onto the loom. But when it came to hooking them over each other, things deteriorated quickly. Isaac would try, as hard as he could, to stretch one band over the next, only to have it pop off the loom, taking with it several of its multicoloured friends. With each mishap, he grew more frustrated.

“It’s hard, honey,” I kept saying to him. “Learning new things is hard. It’s OK not to be good at things right away. You’ll keep practicing — you’ll get better.”

But he didn’t want to keep practicing in order to get better. He wanted to be good at Rainbow Loom right now.