The “Write a Blog Post on Four Hours’ Sleep” Game

I walked the boys to school yesterday, which makes me feel virtuous, what with readying their minds for a day’s worth of learning without consuming even a smidge of fossil fuels. Et cetera. It was only -19°C out, otherwise known as downright balmy — the school herds the kids inside only once the temperature hits -25°. We are hardy souls. So there I was, feeling downright virtuous as we walked along, the kids all adorable in their matching snowsuits. And I tried hard to feel virtuous. Really, I did. Except that the entire walk to school I was instead consumed with feeling anxious and irritated as my sons played what is fondly known as “The Shoving Game,” which — loosely — involves running full force into each other and knocking each other into the piles of dirty, rotting snow along the sides of the street. The Shoving Game also involves a certain amount of sitting on top of your opponent/collaborator, perhaps occasionally sprinkling his face with snow, hacking away at large ice boulders and hurling them into the street to see them explode, using my body as a human shield, maniacal laughter, and walking along the top ridges of said rotting snow banks, any moment liable to crash skull-first onto the unyielding pavement below.

Also, there is screaming.


It takes maybe five minutes to walk to school when you just walk. Longer, obviously, when you play the shoving game. It felt like an hour. An hour, in, say, stirrups, during which time I tried to remember that this is normal — even healthy — behaviour, that these kids need rough-and-tumble, outdoor play, that they are, by and large, quite good at negotiating the boundaries of their bodies. And even when Rowan momentarily (and not entirely innocently) shoves him too hard and Isaac bursts into sudden, over-reactionary tears, those tears are gone in moments — especially if I don’t intervene.

And I tried not intervene. Really, I did, but it’s almost physically impossible not to find yourself spouting aphorisms like “Careful!” or “Watch the road!” or “If I have to tell you again…” when all you can see is — when you can practically hear — your child’s head splitting open like a ripe cantaloupe on asphalt. I was trying to be cool, trying to be Zen, but mostly I found myself wishing that this city’s blighted urban planning program had seen fit to install more goddamn sidewalks in residential areas here in the 1960s, and occasionally trying to subtly frogmarch Isaac a few steps forward to gain a little bit of distance before the next onslaught.


This is my current, ongoing parenting challenge: maintaining serenity in the face of justified chaos. I tried again last night, when I desperately needed the kids to play in the basement and they just as desperately insisted that they would play in the basement only if one or the other of their parents stayed down there with them, because the Basement Is Scary. So I sucked it up and went down there with them and decided to quilt while they played the “Use the Couch As Leverage to Hurl Yourself over the Spare Bed, Coming Precariously Close to the Edge of the Cupboard Game.”

I had a bit more fun than I had that morning, which just goes to show what an awesome parent I must be.

P.S. I have a new gig! I'll be blogging weekly at Today's Parent Canada, as "The (Other) Mother." Please check it out!


Rowan is home sick today. Just before midnight last night, our bedroom door opened and he appeared, backlit by the light in the hallway, and then … well, you don't need to know the details except for thank God hardwood floors and not carpet. I love kid logic: I think I need to barf. I'll go see my moms. Today, he's home, bopping about the house in his pajamas and seemingly perfectly fine, if slightly low-energy. He's kept down food, he has good colour, he's practicing his tae kwon do patterns and creating bigger and better Pokémon decks and revelling in the pile of books we picked up from the library and the extra iPod time. He's totally happy — a quiet day at home, both parents to himself with , dare I say it, no sibling to dilute the attention.

It's so rare to have just one child around the house with both of us. And despite the extra laundry and the nagging worry that we haven't seen the last of this gastro bug (why, why, why did I decide it was a good idea to finish off his uneaten oatmeal yesterday?), I do like it. One minimally ill kid is so cozy, so happy, so easy. He wanders into my office and hugs me, offers me trivia tidbits. We lie down on opposite ends of the couch with our reading material and his bare foot nudges my thigh. I sent a couple of e-mails, write a couple of paragraphs, fold a couple of sheets, ruffle his hair, and revel in this sweet, quiet, stolen day.

The egg: A cautionary tale

Once, there was a boy.

And the boy loved an egg very much.

Nobody knew that he loved the egg, though. And this was hardly surprising, because when the mother responsible for making his lunch hard-boiled the egg and peeled it and put it in his lunch, he ignored it outright. And then, when she, ever hopeful, later that evening put the ignored egg on the dining room table — nay, directly on the boy’s dinner plate — the boy very firmly took the egg off his dinner plate and explained, in no uncertain terms, that he did not want the egg. Oh fickle heart.

Because the boy, in fact, DID love the egg. In fact, he loved the egg and only that egg more than anything in the world and knew utterly that, without the egg, he would be doomed to a life of misery and despair and unending want.

He knew all these things at the precise moment that his younger brother picked up the discarded egg from the table and took a bite out of it.

And, oh: the PASSION. Oh, the FURY. Oh, the utter VEHEMENCE with which the boy defended his rapidly disappearing egg. “It was my egg, my egg,” he wailed, “my only, only egg, my favourite egg, the only egg I wanted. My egg. My eeeeegggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHH!”

The brother, meanwhile, had crawled into the boy’s other mother’s lap and happily — if not entirely innocently — popped the last bite of egg into his mouth, which ratcheted the boy’s histrionics to new heights. The boy suggested, passionately, furiously, vehemently, that the egg would now have to be surgically extracted from his brother’s stomach, and that perhaps a butter knife might be an appropriate implement with which to perform this task.

His mothers suggested that they disagreed with this suggestion. In fact, they suggested many things, but all their suggestions were handily dismissed. The situation continued for quite some time until one mother or the other suggested that the point of “enough” had been reached. The boy disagreed, but the mothers prevailed, and peace was once again restored to the household. More or less.

The end.