Pause for Tot

You are 2 years old.

Newsflash, girl: 2016 was not cool. Syria, Brexit, Zika, Orlando, Carrie Fisher, that guy in charge of America now (name’s not important), and the list of disappointments goes on. There’s no way around it – 2016 was a steaming pile of hot garbage in the history of the world.

But not in your world. You turned two just before 2016 ended, and by all accounts (i.e. most accounts; see previous paragraph) your second year on the planet was pretty darn sweet. Case in point: your Halloween costume was a pineapple. Doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

And as god and Dora the Explorer are my witnesses, I am determined to remember Sweet ‘16. Even if it means remembering that Prince died (sob) and Hillary lost (weep). It’ll be worth it if it means remembering you, as you are right now, at two years old.

Rae Alice Murphy.

This morning, I asked you what your favourite colour was. You said: apple. Then I asked you what your favourite food was. You said: blue. It’s okay. I know you hit the bottle pretty hard last night.

Your favourite colour is yellow, formerly known as LELLOW. You’d look intently at my mouth and try your darnedest to follow direction and then, “Yaaaaaaaa LELLOW!” It was so adorable, I almost didn’t want you to ever get it right. But then you did.

Your favourite food is groceries. Okay, if I had to pick just one: apples. I have to hide the bowl of Granny Smiths on the counter under a cloth. If you ever meet a woman named Granny Smith, I fear for her life. If an apple keeps the doctor away, you are immortal.

Immortal indeed! On your second birthday, you wore a Wonder Woman shirt WITH A CAPE. It was a size 4, which is the size a 4-year-old usually wears. You are 33 pounds and tall. I want a shirt (WITH A CAPE, IT’S ONLY FAIR) that says, “My baby can kick your baby’s ass.” Just kidding, size only matters when your brother Max is deciding which half of a cookie to give you.

But if you’re a superhero, it’s probably Spiderman. Check it. Last summer, at 18 month old, you were watching Daddy play in a softball tournament. I took you home for a nap between games, but you just weren’t settling so I left you there to cry it out in your crib. As I washed the dishes downstairs, your cry got louder and louder, and closer and closer? Freaked out, I ran to the bottom of the stairs and there you were on the landing, sobbing and… UN-CRIBBED! You had escaped, even with the mattress at its lowest setting. There was no clunk on the floor, so I knew you hadn’t fallen. You had climbed! Or pried the solid oak bars open with your mini bingo wings and slipped out. That week you fast-tracked to a toddler bed with a super duper waterproof mattress cover. (Now if only you could graduate to the toilet.) Later that evening when I was telling Dad about your Olympic future in pole vault, you took me by the hand and led me to your crib. I tore the crime tape away, put you in, and in the blink of an eye you swung your chubby leg up over the side, hoisted yourself up, and used your webbed feet to slide down to the floor, where my jaw was now sitting as well.

Your favourite TV shows are Dora, Super Why, Horrid Henry, and Wanda and the Alien. (Netflix has changed our lives.)

Your favourite game is Hedbanz. Me: Am I am an animal? You: No, you’re a sandwich.

Your favourite movies are How the Grinch Stole Christmas and E.T.

You can say, “E.T. phone home.” When someone asks who you’re gonna call, you know the answer… Ghostbusters! And when Max built a Lego helicopter last month, you shouted “Get to the choppa!”

Your vocab is off the charts. Your aunt Kim who happens to be a speech language pathologist/doctor/professor (FYI feel free to follow in her footsteps) confirms it – you’re the next Cicero, or Pericles, or (please please pleeeeeease) Gloria Steinem.

A few weeks back when Max was in the tub, I had to pull you out of the bathroom kicking and screaming, “I want to touch Max’s vagina!” When I corrected you on the body part name you took note and yelled, “I want to touch Max’s peanut!” You kill me.

There are monsters in your room. You said Max told you. He denies it, but I’m suspicious. Just last week he got upset when I wouldn’t let him go into your room to save you from the creatures that looked an awful lot like your bathrobe and towel hanging on the hook. I finally gave in. He put his arm around you and said, “I never want you to be afraid of anything, Rae.” (Sounds guilty to me!)

You’re going to be a doctor when you grow up. At least that’s what you told my friend, Cecilia, while waiting for me in the Panera Bread parking lot. We toasted your future with a turkey apple cranberry on multigrain.

You do like giving examinations with your doctor’s kit. But what’s up with the constant needles in my face? Maybe plastics will be your specialty. Free botox, yasssssssss.

You might want to get potty-trained first though, Doc McPoopins. Imagine how long it’ll take you to scrub in if you keep using your pants as a toilet and sticking your hands down there. Last week you were excited to wear panties around the house for the first time. Disney princess panties! “Don’t pee on the princess,” I said. You peed on the princess.

You can count to 20, but usually get tangled up around 14.

Speaking of tangles, OMG YOUR HAIR. It’s reddish goldish brown and wavy and unruly and great for catching bats.

Your eyes are dark brown like coffee beans. Your father, Van Morrison, says you’re his brown-eyed girl. You’ve really nailed the stink-eye though, assisted by your big, magnificent eyebrows. These brows will come in handy as you question everything forever.

You have the most jubilant trot. Every stomp (not step – STOMP!) shakes the mugs in the cupboard. You walk to the bookcase or toy box like you’re the next contestant on The Price is Right and you’ve been waiting your whole life to play Plinko.

You love books! Max reads to you. That’s why I waited 5+ years to have you, so Max could do all the work. GENIUS. Currently your favourite story is Jack and the Beanstalk.

Max also taught you how to play “Daddy Goes to Hockey” on the ukulele. Dad and I have resigned to the fact that we will never have a family band.

Your favourite toy is MAX’S LEGOS. Especially the ones that he has already assembled.

You are fascinated by nature. Snow, birds, puddles, and “The moon! The moon!” One morning as we were leaving the house you asked me if I could see “the hun”. You meant the sun. You’re hill (still) learning to make the S hound (sound). It was a beautiful winter morning and you helped me see it. Sometimes it’s hard to see the sun even when “it’s cold enough to turn you into a popsicle.” (Simile provided by Max while I was proofreading this piece, to replace something about a brass monkey.)

You’ve taught me so much already, like this fun fact:  It takes about 6-9 months to grow back a toenail. You lost the nail on your right big toe this summer after squatting it in the door. It’s almost grown back now and looks totally badass.

You like wearing make-up NOOOOOO ya don’t. But you grab my make-up brushes when I’m getting ready for work, and I tickle your face with the bristles. More than once I’ve caught you putting my deodorant on your armpits – on the outside of your shirt. When you’re a bigger girl, you’ll probably have your own lipgloss or something (so yummy, right?) Your body is your own, and if you want to have fun with make-up, I’ll help you. Also feel free to save your make-up money for books and puzzles. Just a suggestion.

You love trying on hats and shoes. Sometimes you wear Max’s old hockey helmet around the house just for fun.

When Dad and Max go to the basement to play hockey, you say “I play hockey too!” You grab your stick and put your boots on the wrong feet and go downstairs to run about, occasionally taking breaks to lean up against an old mattress and suck your thumb.

YOU SUCK YOUR THUMB. A lot. So much, it should have been the first thing on this list.

You like going to the arena to watch Max play hockey NO YOU DON’T. You go there to run around like a wind-up toy, put your mouth directly on the water fountain, and eat stray Timbits off the floor.

When someone sings “Hush Little Baby”, which ends with the line “You’ll still be the best little girl in town,” you promptly correct them with “best little girl IN THE WORLD!” Go big or go home, says you.

But try and be polite, huh? We were at a store recently and you were there in your stroller, arms outstretched like you were flying. A nice man saw how cute you were and asked, “Are you an airplane?” “No, I’m a bumblebee!!!” you corrected him, with the face of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. He apologized and moved along. Sin.

You’re sure not afraid to ask for what you want. Whether it’s a snack, a toy, or my iPhone, you say “I want it. I neeeeeeed it.” Sometimes you lay on the persuasion with “One more time?”(which you never mean) or “Just a little bit?”(also a lie) and “Pleeeeease?” (damn it!) in a voice that weakens even the strongest resolve. Here, just take everything. You win. You’ll be a great leader one day. “I want that report on my desk in 24 hours,” said President Murphy. “And I’ll have that apple on your desk too.”

You logged your second plane ride in 2016. We went to Ontario to visit family and friends. Aunt Robin kept buying you things bigger than our suitcase and her boyfriend, Frank, let you eat ketchup chips for breakfast. My friends’ 11-year-old daughters, Ainsley and Avery, put on a fashion show with you as their wee model! Your looks included geisha, blue-haired umbrella girl, and local Oshawa gal in belly top, leggings, and heels.

Everywhere we went on our vacation, you talked to strangers. (It’s okay, I was with you, but let’s have the stranger danger talk real soon, k?) While shopping, you forced eye contact with total randos and said things like, “I’m shopping with my mommy!” “Good for you,” they’d reply. On the airplane, you announced, “I’m on a big airplane!” just in case someone thought we were on a magic bus in the clouds. You offered a grape to the young man in the next seat; he accepted. (I was dreading you offering him a cube of wet cheese.) While in the checkout line at the store, you looked at a couple standing behind us and said, “I’m a pineapple!” They looked amused slash confused so I had to explain: Halloween. You make friends wherever you go.

We even went to a seniors’ home for a craft sale and charmed the pants off a couple residents who were sitting in the lobby. As we were leaving, I suggested you give one of the ladies a hug goodbye. (Old people make me weak.) You promptly marched up to her and gave her a big hug and kiss. She couldn’t have looked more delighted if she had just made out with Elvis Presley.

You are a fearless performer. I facetimed you from the m5 boardroom a few weeks ago when I was working late and you gave my bosses, Kim and Gary, an impromptu performance of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. They both died of cuteness overdose and now I have to run the company myself.

You’re well versed in all the classics and demand them in succession at bedtime, pulling your thumb out just long enough to shout: Row, Row, Row Your Boat! Rockabye Baby! Old MacDonald had a farm! You Are My Sunshine! Etc. You also sing some tune called “I love you” that Poppy taught you, that includes the line “it’s a sin to tell a lie.” Must be some weird Catholic tune that condemns you to hell or something. (JK, Pop.) I think it’s time to shake up this trad train. Gotta give Gaga a go. Or maybe we could try Metallica’s version of Hush Little Baby. It’s called Enter Sandman. LOL.

Not all your songs are traditional though. You like to sing “Dumb Ways to Die,” (based on the popular PSA for train safety, now also a game on Max’s iPad), which Poppy overheard and thought you were singing, “Don’t wait to die.” YOIKES. Darn tune is as catchy as heck, so I can’t blame you for singing it at the airport in Toronto as we were about to board our flight. But remind me not to teach you the word “bomb.”

We had a great first summer at our new house. We got you a water table for the back deck, which you proceeded to climb into, clothes and all. Gonna need a pool next year, I guess. A small one. Like, super small. One downfall of our new life in the suburbs: our backyard is an amoeba.

You also made your first snowman a few weeks ago! The snow wasn’t sticky enough, so I carved a picture of a snowman in the snow-covered ground. You stuck the carrot right in the middle of him, so Frosty ended up with a chubby instead of a nose.

You are very independent. You like putting on your boots yourself. If I do it for you, you rip them off in a huff and put them on again yourself. Needless to say, getting ready in the morning is very efficient and enjoyable. You like brushing your teeth by yourself too because Dad works at the dental clinic and you want to make him proud YEAH RIGHT YOU LIKE EATING TOOTHPASTE AND YOU KNOW IT!

You’re a tough cookie, so I was surprised when you were unsure of your new daycare at first. On the way there last week, you kept saying “I don’t like daycare” over and over in the backseat. I had to bribe you to go inside with cheese. We are so related. You’re content there now though. The girls at daycare say you’re the first responder when another child is upset. And yesterday you amused them by shouting “Get to the choppa!” while eating your lunch.

Your best friend is Wayne Murphy. I know, who names their kid Wayne anymore, am I right? He’s 71 but about 7 at heart, so it works. When Nanny walks into our house, you look right past her and say “Where’s Poppy?”

When Poppy dropped us off at the airport and you realized he wasn’t coming on the plane with us, your lip started to quiver and your eyes filled up with tears. We had never seen you like that. Nan and I had hearts so heavy, it’s a wonder the plane got off the ground.

I was Poppy’s Girl too (RIP Jack Stagg whose wool socks I’m wearing right now!), so I get it. “Are you daddy’s girl?” people ask you. “No, Poppy’s girl!” you clarify with that stink-eye we know and love. Poppy cries on the spot when you say something adorable. Please don’t kill him with your sweetness; we need him to keep babysitting you.

Sometimes I think about your other Poppy, and how unfair it is that he’s not here to enjoy you, and you him. But Poppy Murphy is doing such a great job (and Nanny Rosena and Nanny Shirley, too), and I know Poppy Jim would be so very thankful for that. So I don’t get sad about it much at all. Not anymore.

You may only be two but you’re the most compassionate person I know. When someone stubs their toe, you first exclaim “awwww” and then rush over to kiss it. Lips or feet, friend or stranger, your love is blind. (Again, let’s schedule that stranger danger talk.) “All better now?” you ask. Your sweetness really does ease the pain. See? You really are going to be a doctor.

Daddy had a really bad back this year. “It’s okay, Daddy. I right here,” you said, and our hearts exploded all over the living room. Dad and I share many a knowing glance. How sweet is this child?, our eyes say. Our eyes also say, how could two twits like us have made something so glorious? It’s quite possible you’re from another dimension. Planet Pineapple, perhaps.

I think you’ve dodged the “turbo ginger” gene, unlike your brother. It’s true – you’re a hugger, a snuggler, and a midnight cuddler. (Max used to hug knives and matches.) But you’ve shown some unusual feist these last couple of weeks – pulling a glass bowl of apples off the counter, yelling things like “I didn’t want dat!” and “I didn’t know dat!” even though we have no idea what you’re referring to. I think, with all your sweetness, I forgot what toddlerhood is really like. So I guess it’s begun. 2017 is going to be fun, and also “fun.”

Bring on the terrible twos; we can handle it. We’ll still enjoy the sweetest moment of the day when you’re back in my arms after work. You take a deep breath and sigh away all the cares of the world as you snuggle into my neck – thumb in your mouth, hand down my shirt, eyes closed, problems nil. In our circle of family and friends, this is famously called “boo-boo time.” Sometimes while grocery shopping, you pull me down toward you, my elbows leaning on the shopping cart handle, so you can cop a feel. I’m squeezing Sobeys’ oranges and you’re squeezing mine. Okay fine, mine are lemons, whatever. Half the city has seen my produce I DON’T EVEN CARE.

You are generous. As much as you love food, you will give away your last cracker without hesitation. You gave your birthday money to twin girls from Deer Lake who needed it more than you. (Rest in peace, sweet Autumn.) Maybe every year you can do something special like that. People say it’s not fair to deprive you of your rightful gifts, but I see this gesture as a gift to you in the first place. Just because everyone has done things a certain way forever doesn’t mean you need to do it that way. Question everything, girl. Use those eyebrows. There is often a better way.

Max adores you. Except the time he discovered his Minecraft Xbox game was broken and all signs pointed to NOT THE DOG. Just remember this when you’re older and maybe not so lovey-dovey: your brother is the only one you’re ever gonna have, and you might need him for spare parts or something. Dad got the ol’ snippity-snip a few weeks back. I’ll explain that if you don’t know what that means when you read this one day. Basically, you’re always gonna be my baby. Even when/if you have babies of your own.

You won’t remember much of your second year on earth. And maybe that’s okay, because it means you won’t be haunted by the yucky parts of 2016: terrorism, police shootings, Gord Downie’s brain tumor, and did I mention that buttmunch running the US now? Yeah. Ew. So much ew.

Maybe I won’t remember the details either. I won’t recall the squishy roundness of your face, or that bananas are lellow, or the way you tucked your head into my neck and all was right with the world. I know those details will leave me, because I’ve come this way once before with Max. It hurts. A beautiful kind of pain.

But I promise you, I will remember what it was like to have a little girl in the year 2016. Oh, how I root for you. Your presence here and your future up ahead have taught me to be more aware today, more tuned in to a world where many don’t want you to succeed. It taught me to be more honest, more kind, more realistic and optimistic at the same time. It made me want to be the kind of woman you can look up to, not just because I’m your mom. I want to be that person who takes the time to snuggle, or dance like a chicken, or talk about weird stuff, or write you a 10-page letter on your birthday.

I know this simple sweetness won’t last forever. You’re going to change, and things will get complicated, and you’ll have bigger problems than your boots on the wrong feet. I was a girl once too, and still am in some ways (stop laughing). I’ll yearn for these quiet moments when the world just melted away. That’s what makes me lean over that shopping cart to give you full range of my meagre dairy section. Because I know this wonderful ridiculous thing has an expiry date.

So yes, 2016 wasn’t exactly a shining moment in history. (And 2017 is looking like a rotting, worm-infested moose carcass so far as well.) But for you, last year was pretty great. And hopefully by the time you’re reading this, we’ll have cleaned this whole mess up and be shaking our heads at the blunders of 2016 the way we do at VHS tapes and hoop skirts and uranium dirt sitting. (“Was that even a thing?”) And you’ll be standing there in your adult-size pineapple costume BECAUSE WHY NOT, with the roads (plural) stretched out before you in all directions. And if things are still crap and people are still hurting, then I hope you’ll be one of the brave ones. Don’t get to the choppa, girl. Stay right here and fight.

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No More Scrooge McMommy

I was never huge on Christmas. I mean I liked it, but there was always this looming thought that it was all incredibly fucking stupid. Some baby was supposedly born a couple thousand years ago and saved the world from sin (might be time to send another magic youngster there, b’ys) and now we give gifts and decorate trees and write letters to an old guy in a red, velvet suit. Yeah, nothing weird about all that.

But I went along with it. I enjoyed the music, the shopping, the lights, the eggnog, the elf porn. Just kidding, I don’t even like eggnog.

Then Dad died and there was no reason to do anything ever again, certainly not go along with some silly traditions based on a pile of lies. The first Christmas after Dad bought the farm, I could care less if we put up a tree at all. I certainly wasn’t about to drag some big fir into the house and painstakingly position it and trim it and tie it to the wall so it didn’t fall over when King Kong Baby climbed it. We put one up, but my heart wasn’t into it.

This year I’ve decided to resubscribe to the hoopla. Some of it anyway. For Max. Do I still think it’s mostly a heap of crap that makes people spend too much money and give their kids too much shit and stress out over the most trivial stuff and eat and drink till they explode? Yes, yes I do. But there’s some magic in it for the kidlets, so I’m going to do it for Max. I’d stick exclusively to reality if it wasn’t so ugly half the time. Maybe we could all use a few shiny, sparkly lies once in a while. I still think Christmas is really fucking stupid. But I don’t know, maybe life is a little nicer when you’re stupid.

So I took Max to the Santa Claude parade today. Nearly froze my short ‘n curlies off watching every goddamn dance troupe in the city kick up their legs. But…well done, girls! At least you’re not pregnant or smoking crack, bravo. We can all agree it wuddn’t no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. More like a Pipers on Elizabeth Avenue Parade. But it was something, I guess. Santa said “Hello there, Max” as he drove by with his very realistic one-dimensional wooden reindeer, so Max thought that was pretty cool. He also said “ho ho ho” so I guess he was talking to me, I dunno, whatever Santa. The floats were fa la la la LAME-O, but if I have to cast a vote the local chicken wing joint, Wingin’ It, gets mine for their thematic combo of aviation and poultry.

I also plan to decorate the house. I’ve started with this tree. It has a hamburger on it.

burger treeI can see this is going to go really, really well.

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You are four years old today.

max 4 years old Max James Murphy, you sneaky rascal. How are you growing up so darn fast? You are four years old today. I am in awe.

When people asked how old you were today, you said: “I’m four. And then five and then six and then seben*.” (*Not a typo.) You are excited about getting bigger. You have your whole life ahead of you. Nobody knows what the future will bring, and that’s just how it’s supposed to be.

I still remember the day I peed on a stick and thought NO WAY. And now here you are turning four years old and I’m thinking the same thing. You can’t possibly be the baby I held in my arms four years ago today, straining to open his swollen eyes for the very first time. You are my endless source of disbelief and my constant reminder that anything is possible.

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Your father and I can barely remember the sleepless, screaming infant you used to be. (I said barely. We’ll never fully forget, which may explain why your only sibling is covered in fur and poops in the yard.) Boy, how you’ve chilled out these last couple of years. There was a time when you wouldn’t sit still long enough to be hugged. But you’re making up for it now, distributing love and affection on demand. I love your sudden, spontaneous smooches, with your arms slung around my neck or your hands gripping my cheeks. It’s like you’ve just rediscovered that I’m your mom, you’re totally stoked about it, and you’ll burst if you don’t let me know. Let’s hope you still feel this way when you’re a teenager.

You have your fiery moments, but Turbo Ginger has geared down. I see how you look at my face when I’m speaking to you now, your curious eyes flicking around, thinking about what I’m saying, asking questions to help you understand. You are a good listener (most of the time). You are a thinker. You are smart. There’s nobody on earth I’d rather talk to.

You are a creature of habit. You have “your spot” on the couch. If someone else sits there when it’s time for some Treehouse, they will be removed with brute force. You take an apple and a frozen yogurt in your lunchbox, every day. And you must have a puppet show at bedtime – the exact same show every night – followed by daddy’s rendition of Christopher Robin. Daddy can’t sing for beans, but you don’t seem to mind.

You need to wave to us out the window every time we drive away, and we must wave back — no exceptions. Waving to daddy as he leaves for work is what gets you out of bed in the morning. If he forgets to wave, you get upset, I call his cell, and he drives back to make amends with extra waving and airborne kisses. But we both know daddy never forgets to wave.

You’re always up for adventure beyond our humble abode in “Torbag.” But your favourite place in the world is right here at home. Our house is small and cluttered. Your bedroom is a matchbox. There’s barely enough room for your train tracks. But to you, this place is a palace. Knowing you see it that way helps me to see it that way too.

You are one of the tallest kids at soccer. You scored two goals on Sunday. “I winned two times,” you said. It’s so hard to resist touching the ball with your hands though, isn’t it? I don’t know how you do it. You took me quite seriously when I said, “listen to your coach and do what he does.” During your first class, every time Coach put his hands behind his back, so did you.

You can walk on the bottom of the kiddy pool at the Aquarena now. You think that’s pretty cool. Although, I suspect you’re thinking – why learn to swim when I can just walk on the bottom?

You’ve outgrown your tricycle. When you pedal, your knees almost touch the handlebars. It’s okay — you got some brand new wheels today. A blue Thomas bike with training wheels. Yesssssssss. Fist pump.

You are starting to get freckles on your nose. And your chubby toddler cheeks are melting away to reveal the young man you’re going to be. I find myself kissing those cheeks extra hard these days, trying to convince them to stay a little longer.

Your front tooth is still loose, but it seems to be hanging in there. Not bad for taking two smacks in the mouth from the same Tonka dump truck.

Your favourite food is “noodles and broccoli.” You eat so much broccoli, we may soon start growing our own. Whenever there’s something less favourable on your plate, you say you’re not hungry and pout. But a few seconds later, you’re clearing your plate. Your father and I snicker behind your back. Don’t be mad.

No food on earth will ever compete with “pock-a-soles.”

You’re putting on your own shoes now. (No laces yet though.) And you lie down on the floor to slip into your coat – the way they taught you at daycare. Your “Go Habs” mittens are the only mittens. There’s a hole in them now, which I guess I’ll have to sew up.

You are the kid who tells the adult in the room that something’s going awry. “Aidan is jumping on the bed.” “Owen said a bad word.” But there’s no emotion about it, just facts. You’re not a tattletale; you’re a reporter. Let’s go with that.

You’re fair and diplomatic. When I ask you who’s funnier, mommy or daddy, you say: Mommy… and daddy. When I ask you who’s a better singer, you say: Daddy… and mommy. When I ask you whose boy you are, you say: Mommy’s boy… and daddy’s boy… and Splash’s boy.

You never forget Splash. It’s probably about time you start calling her a “she” though. Not all dogs are boys, little dude.

You are an expert belcher. It’s all burping and farting and peeing and pooping — all the time. You told me you chase after the “bad guys” at daycare. I asked if you fight them. You replied, quite matter-of-factly, “I punch and fart at them.” I know you’re just playing. If I ever hear that you’re bullying another kid at school, I will do as my grandfather used to say and “take you down a button-hole lower.”

When you poop (yes, I’m going there), you immediately bend over and stick your butt up in the air. I walk into the bathroom and you’re already in the “wiping position.” I think you’d stay there for hours until somebody came. We were at a party a couple months ago and I lost you in the crowd. I passed by the bathroom and caught sight of your butt up in the air, awaiting the first person to come in and give you a hand.

You’re not shy. You’ll sing the Thomas theme song upon request, the Fisher Price microphone practically inside your mouth. And you’re a clown. You take off your clothes before bath-time and stomp around the house chanting “handsome, handsome, handsome,” shaking what your father gave ya. Crazy kid.

You love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You crack up when Donatello says, “butt sandwich.” You say “heroes in a half-shell.” I say “turtle power.” And vice versa. This can go on for hours.

But even crime-fighting turtles can’t compete with a cheeky blue train. We thought by now you would have left Thomas behind. Not even close. You’ve never had a pacifier or a blanket or a stuffed animal, but now I realize Thomas was all of those things for you, and still is.

You love playing hockey in the basement with daddy. You especially love to body-check. Daddy is looking forward to coaching your hockey team one day. But if you don’t want to play hockey forever, that’s okay too. We’ll always have the basement.

You love ketchup. When we ask what you had for lunch, you say: “Caesar salad, chicken nuggets, and ketchup.” Ketchup is a food. Daddy gave you a bottle of it for your birthday today. You thought that was pretty funny. You’ll always remember he did that, just like you always remember who gave you everything. Who gave you those Thomas pajamas? Aunt Robin. Who gave you Gordon the train? Uncle Glenn. When you open gifts, you say WOW, even if it’s socks. Today, you even took the time to open your cards.

You are master of the iPad. And you’re finally holding a pencil properly. (Oh how the times have changed.) You can write your name now. But you don’t care that the letters are supposed to be side by side from left to right. You put the M, A and X wherever you feel like it. Freestyle, baby.

You have an unusual concept of time. You often start sentences with things like, “When I was a little boy last night…”

You like to hide. But if someone finds you right away, that’s not cool with you AT ALL.

You love being outdoors. Summer’s almost here so I expect you’ll be spending some serious time in the backyard watering the clothesline post in your yellow rubber boots.

You are going to be a fireman when you grow up.

You love blue. But you’ll gladly drink out of a pink Princess cup.

Jogging pants over jeans, hands down.

You wouldn’t be caught dead without your sunglasses on. Even when it’s not sunny. Even when it’s dark! I think it’s because your future is so bright.

At least once a day, I find myself staring at you, utterly amazed that the likes of your father and I could create something so perfect. If I could have picked parts from a catalog, I would have created you just as you are.

It’s hard to resist, but I try not to tell you you’re handsome too much. Because how you look is not important. It’s who you are. I hope you always know that. If there’s one thing I want the world to see in you, it’s not your beautiful brown eyes but the kindness behind them. I think the world is seeing it already, even though you’re only four.

I realize as the years go by, the current you will replace the former you in my mind. It’s just the way it goes. One day, I’ll be looking at a young man before me and say “I can’t believe you were ever that four-year-old little boy.” So today, when you blew out your candles (all by yourself today, as requested) I made sure to take note. In that moment – right after you blew out the flames, right before everyone started to clap, just as the smoke from the candles was slowly climbing skyward – I took a mental picture of you. My big, brave, curious, affectionate, broccoli-munchin’, train-lovin’, kind-hearted boy who is four years old today.

I brought you in from the car tonight, asleep in my arms after a busy day. You’re getting so tall and heavy, I can barely carry you anymore. But I will always carry you, in one way or another, no matter how big you get. And you can’t stop me.

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Do I shut my potty mouth when Max learns to read?

As you know, I’m a blogger. Duh. You’re reading my blog. Shut up.

Come fall, I will also be a published author. Fall: the perfect time of year for a book called Motherfumbler. Get it? Fall… Fumbling… Oh shut up.

Anyway, I’m pretty stoked about it all. I’m going to be a household name — in at least four houses where I have blood relatives.

But I sometimes think — usually as my mother is wagging her finger — what happens when Max starts to read? Will I keep writing as I do? Should I curb my vulgarity to protect him? One day, is he going to be mortified by my book about tits and vaginas and what a horrible baby he was? Probably. Well I can’t take the book back now. And I don’t wanna. It’s going to be out there. For. Ev. Er. When he’s five. When he’s 15. When I’m dead. So maybe I’ll include this loving message to him at the front of the book, in case he needs a little help to deal.

Dear Max:

One day, one of your evil classmates is going to bring this book to school, hand it to you, and say: “Page 87 is all about your mom’s vagina.” In fact, I probably just ensured this will indeed happen.

It’s okay if you’re embarrassed. Children are supposed to be ashamed of their parents, especially ones who are really funny and awesome. But when that kid says his mom says your mom is “crazy” or “vulgar” or a “bad mom,” you make sure to reply with one of the following:

1. Oh yeah, well at least my mom can write more than her name on a bathroom stall.

2. At least my mom has a vagina. I heard your mom’s got an alpaca farm down there.

3. Your mom is just jealous, because your dad wishes my mom was your mom.

4. That ol’ thing? That’s what my mom was doing while working and parenting and blogging and playing football and saving the whales and stuff. What does your mom do, other than change your big boy diapers and bleach her moustache?

Now you’re all set. Of course, the best thing to do is just smile and say: Tell your mom – thanks so much for buying a copy. I’m one step closer to Disneyland. Again.

P.S. I’m very proud of you, even if you’re not proud of me (yet).

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Why I Tell My Son About Jesus (Though I Think It’s Poppycock)

We are of that new order of families whose Sunday routine consists of lazing around in our jammies, eating cereal, and watching movies about space travel. “Church” is just a picture in Max’s Little People book.

Yesterday morning (Easter Sunday), while we were visiting my mom at the ol’ homestead in Badger’s Quay, Max came downstairs exclaiming “Jesus was back alive!” After fighting the urge to tell him that Jesus was a zombie who slowly morphed into a bunny, my straight-up bedtime story had stuck. “Jesus died,” he recollected. “But when it became Easter day, he came alive again.” My good Christian mother was tickled pink.

My atom-splitting science teacher of a husband, however, just glared at me, his thick eyebrows twisting into tornadoes. What have you been teaching our son? “Don’t worry, honey,” I assured him. “I’m not getting all Jesusy on ya.”

I went to church on Easter Sunday with my mom and Max. One time too many, I suppose, for an outspoken skeptic or atheist or agnostic or whatever the hell I am. People were moving away from me in church to avoid the projectile splinters that would surely result from a pew-splitting bolt of lightning.

I was raised in the church. My father was an Anglican lay minister for 50 years. I sang in the choir for ten. I know all the words to several hymns. I even have a favourite –– The King of Love, My Shepherd Is. It still gives me chills. Possibly because I imagine the “shepherd” is Robert Downey Junior in a loincloth, but I digress. Now, do I think it’s all a bunch of biblical bunk? Yeah, mostly. I just can’t bring myself to go to church anymore; it’s all so silly. And I can’t seem to shake the fact that some of the world’s most gifted minds thought so too. Charles Darwin. Albert Einstein. Helen Keller. Ernest Hemingway. John Lennon. Jodie Foster. Maybe I’m like David Bowie – a self-described “reluctant atheist.” I want some kind of faith and hope to hold onto, but my mind just won’t let me believe.

But I’m not one of those hypocrites who expects to get married and buried in the church but never steps foot inside in-between. Let it be known: When I go tits-up, you can throw my ashes into the cavity of an old, broken typewriter.

But I haven’t completely forsaken church. Because I guess I’m still open to the possibilities. Refusing to go – never ever ever – would be like declaring I know something for certain, and that is neither true nor possible. The burden of proof is with you though, Jesus lovers. So forgive me for skipping church and watching E.T. with my family instead. I may not be wrapped in the arms of Jesus, but I’m wrapped in somebody’s arms and somebody’s wrapped in mine. This is what’s real to me. This is my heaven. Send me a Jesus memo when you find something.

But even though I’m not all Jesusy, it doesn’t mean Max can’t be. So I took him to church on Easter morning. As his mother, it’s on me to teach him how to be polite and share and wipe his arse, but it’s not my job to tell him what to believe. Especially when I don’t have the slightest clue myself. It’s my job to guide him, and show him some of the options – like the story of Jesus and Easter and Christmas and Satan (just kidding) – and then he can decide for himself.

Besides, I reckon there are worse things to be than Jesusy. As far as I know, Jesus was a kind, gentle, compassionate man who lived humbly and judged no one. If more so-called Christians acted more like that, maybe I wouldn’t have such a distaste for the whole thing.

Anyway, even though I’m not much of a believer myself, I tell my son about Jesus. So that one day, when he realizes it’s all a bunch of horse shit, it won’t be “because Mom told me so.” It’ll be “because that is what I think.”

On the other hand, if he decides it’s all true, I am open to be enlightened.

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Thank U 4 the iPod G-ZIZ.

Easter irks me. But it’s not Jesus’ fault. He’s been dead for over 2,000 years for Christ sake. It’s the rest of us. We’ve crucified Easter over the last couple millennia.

30 years ago when I was a little chick, Easter was so wonderfully simple. Birds tweeting. Lilies blooming. A feed of turkey or turrs after church. A handful of little chocolate eggs hidden around the living room. (We’d find one sneaky egg months later and wonder if it was still good to eat.) And a chocolate bunny that I’d methodically consume, bit by bit, over the next week. Ears first, ass last.

But look at Easter now. We’ve gone and complicated the hell out of it. We’ve got our kids thinking every time there’s a Jesus event – Christmas, Easter – they get a pile of crap. And then we post photos of it on Facebook – you know, so the kids in Africa can see how much we love Jesus. Jesus doesn’t equal love, silly rabbit. Jesus equals candy and chocolate and new clothes and pastel-coloured junk and a week of no school. In fact, we’ve probably got our kids loving the whole crucifixion thing a little too much: Hurry up and nail that dude to the cross already so I can get my paws on some candy!

Nice trick, Bible boinkers. I imagine, deep inside the bowels of the Vatican, there’s a candy factory where they lace little fudge bunnies with extra sugar – to fuel the addiction of the world’s kids to the sweet story of Easter. And it’s not just the Catholics. I’m sure the Archbishop of Cadbury is in on it too.

If we’re going to give our kids stuff, at least we could tell them WHY. You know, as a symbol of the ultimate gift of Christ or something. But sadly, some of us are just not that bright. Or maybe we just can’t bring ourselves to tell our kids about the lamb of god because it sounds an awful lot like the shit of sheep. So we tell them a giant ass bunny brought the goods. Because that sounds so much better.

Here’s an idea. If we insist on showering our kids with Easter crap, how about we throw in a few t-shirts? Give our kids heaps of candy, toys and gadgets, and make them wear one of these shirts to give credit where credit is supposedly due:

THANK U 4 THE IPOD, G-ZIZ.

JESUS GAVE ME SALVATION… AND SMARTIES!

JESUS DIED FOR MY SINS… AND THIS SCOOTER.

THESE LEGOS WERE MADE POSSIBLE BY THE VERY GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS OF ZOMBIE JESUS.

IF YOU LIKE MY NEW EARRINGS, YOU ALSO LIKE THE NAILS IN JESUS’ HANDS.

THIS EASY-BAKE OVEN – PAID FOR WITH THE FLESH AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. RED VELVET, ANYONE?

THANKS FOR THE GOOD CHOCOLATE, GOOD SHEPHERD!

MY REDEEMER IS RAD GENEROUS.

JESUS IS MY COPILOT. THAT’S WHY HE GAVE ME THIS REMOTE-CONTROL HELICOPTER.


 

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Home of the brave.

Shoes. You gotta wear ’em to know ’em. Sure, they’re comfortable when you’re strutting up and down the hallway of your bungalow with your pyjama pants pulled up to your knees. Try wearing those pleather suckers on George Street for six hours and see how you feel. You be hobblin’ like Tiny Tim in drag.

Same thing goes for your kid. You never really know what kind of youngster you’ve got until you test him out in the real world – beyond your 12-foot by 12-foot living room where his audience consists of dinkies, dust bunnies and the dog.

Our recent trip to Orlando confirmed that our little junior is quite the joiner. Not one of those annoying little assholes whose hands are permanently raised in class, volunteering for everything from erasing the chalkboard to shining the teacher’s apple with his face fuzz. Max is the kind of kid who just wants to participate, see what it’s all about, and doesn’t mind that everyone is looking at him.

As soon as we arrived at Hollywood Studios, we got stopped in our tracks by one of those impromptu entertainment troops. They pulled up in the middle of the square in a funny little truck and a slew of crazy characters piled out. A crowd of onlookers quickly gathered around, each one with the kind of smile that hurts your face. After a few tricks and zingers, the actors said they’d now be giving away an ultimate Fastpass and asked for a few pint-sized prospects to come forward and compete for the prize. Max didn’t start shouting “me me me!” He didn’t know the war was over. But with a teaspoon of encouragement, he was game. “Do you want to go up there and try to win?” we asked him. Blank-faced and open-mouthed, a little stunned by all this excitement, he nodded his head. And with a gentle push of my hand on his shoulder, he was gone out there into the big, bad world. He skipped up into the epicentre of the action, stood politely in place, and said his name into the microphone on cue. Phew. I was terrified he’d say his name was “meatball” or “toaster” or “dicksmack” or something. Who really knows what’s going to come out of their mouths? Seriously. He followed his father into the bathroom the other day and said, “Daddy, your bird is disgusting.” And he did NOT hear that from me. Nor can he read thoughts.

We shouldn’t be surprised by his courage, I suppose. His nickname is Turbo Ginger for god sakes. He chewed his way out of his crib. He ran before he walked. His first crayon drawing was titled, Riptide of Emotion. But I just don’t know where he gets it. When I was little, I’d have crawled up my mother’s hole before I’d get up in front of a crowd. And his father is kinda shy. Except when he’s drinking. Geez, I don’t suppose Max was drunk the whole time we were at Disney… Hmmmm.

So our gutsy little guy didn’t mind doing his own thang during our excursion to the land of mice and magic. And thank goodness; I didn’t pay a zillion clams to have him cling to my thigh like a loser koala bear. This is a buffet of fun, dammit, get your money’s worth.

 

 

 

His audacity was an endless source of amusement for us. Except at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie set which should be called Honey, I Lost Our Kid. Max was up the big leaf, down the dog’s tongue, in and out of giant Cheerios and tunnels. Our kid would go into a little nook, we’d watch and wait, and someone else’s kid would come out. Me nerves. I’m going to have to teach him a new word soon: kid-nap-per. It took all four sets of eyes – two parents, two grandparents – to keep him from ending up in a Columbian brick factory. “Rust hair, strong, make good worker.”

I reckon this audacious child of mine loins is my ticket to greatness. I mean, it’s not like I’m ever going to strike it rich with a bestseller or anything. In Orlando, I kept looking around for opportunities to win things, where I could shove Max up on stage to try his luck. “Remember that time you ruined mommy’s vagina? You owe me. Dance, ya little frigger, dance!”

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Google it up, weirdo.

A work friend made me laugh the other day. He said, when his mom wants him to find something online, she says, “google it up.” It’s like “look it up,” but not in a book — on the Internets machine!

You know how it works. That little box in the top right corner of your web browser, the one that says Google — that’s where you type in what you’re looking for. You press enter, and presto – you get a list of websites that best meet your keywords.

A lot of people end up at my blog this way. Some on purpose, some by accident. Those who get here on purpose, for example, enter terms like: St. John’s mommy blogger, funny mom blogs, Vicki Murphy blog, stuff like that. I didn’t just make those examples up; on my Google Analytics account, I can see exactly what visitors to my website are googling. Don’t worry, I don’t know who you are, but I can see what you crazy bastards are looking for when you wind up at motherblogger.ca and it is motherbloggin’ hilarious.

Go put on a diaper because this list is about to blow the piss right out of you. These are some of the search terms googled by visitors to this ‘ere blog luh. And take note: the following is rated R for Raunchy and PG for Pretty Gross. But remember – I am simply reporting the list of search terms. I don’t even know what half of these things mean, I swear…

St. John’s mommy blogger

Funny mom blogs

Squirrel in your mouth on fire

Tit mom

Son and his friends mom milf provide lemon juice

What is price of lofty mountain grandeur

Vagina tits

Saggy old vagina

Some kids are ugly

Proud sailor mom

Saggy bladder

Pasty white asshole

Penis dummy tit pic

My boyfriend fucked my sister and mother turbo

Mother in sperm ass

My nans massive ass

Mooning from a bus

Milf bent over ass

Mom fucking and taking something big and long

Mom ass fun

Man with boobs wig bra

Male swimmers pubes showing

Magical milfs

Human shaped body pillow

I’m Mexican and my wife is white could our baby have jaundice

Jumbo tits babes

Flapjack ugly faces

Ginger big boobs no bra

Flapjack ugly faces

Communist retro chic

Dog wife

Blogger anal maxi dilation

Brave little brothers wallpaper

Change husband’s diaper

Carrot top 1993

Baby shower cakes vagina

Beef stroking off

Naughty chair slipper

Oh yeah give it to me

Pasty white ass

What. In. The. Mother. From these terms, I draw three conclusions:

1. I have a potty mouth. Google is matching the search terms to the content of my blog, so obviously there are some similarities.

2. Google is great, but seriously – “Flapjack ugly faces”? When have I ever said anything remotely like that (except for last night when I was googling freaky pancake ideas)?

3. There are a lot of weirdos out there, and some of them are you. And filling this post with these terms again is gonna bring even more of you here. Ah well. All weirdos welcome. Except for the sicko who googled “change husband’s diaper.” Not cool.

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New Year, Same Hot Mess

2013. Sounds so space age. But where’s my hoverboard, McFly? Why is earth the only planet I’ve been to? (I so want to see Uranus.) Where’s the cure for cancer already? And why am I still wiping my own ass? Like, GAWD, it’s 2013.

Technology has spoiled me rotten. Almost everything is right at my fingertips and available in a heartbeat. So the things that are still sluggish drive me to utter madness. Breakfast time alone is infuriating. Take the kettle. No really, take it. Even the electric one takes light years to boil. Every time I get a cup of tea, I sprout a chin whisker. And the toaster – has this invention evolved at all since it popped up (ha!) in 1919? By the time my bagel is browned, I’m ready to stick a fork in there just to end the agony.

And then there’s the redheaded rascal at the kitchen table demanding jam instead of butter and his toast cut into squares instead of triangles, who has his shirt on backwards and no pants, who runs and hides when it’s time to brush his teeth – a fate worse than death. And I’m running late for work, of course. So my morning dialogue with him sounds a lot like this: Come on, Max. Hurry up and get dressed, Max. Eat your breakfast faster, Max. We’re late, Max. We need to get going, Max. I can still see you behind the sex swing, Max. (Yeah, right. My husband wishes.)

The fly on the sugar-bowl shakes its head in disgust. I hate me too. Max is just being a kid, savouring the taste of raspberry jam, marvelling at the shape of his bread, swinging his naked legs under the table to the circus music in his head. And I’m here trying to rush him through the simple joys. Hurrying him along so we can get to what’s next. Slap me with a frying pan.

So now that it’s a brand new year, I guess my resolution is obvious: slow down and enjoy the moment. That’s what you’re expecting me to say, right? That’s where you think this is going. And perhaps that is where this should go. But alas…

As my last blog post might suggest, I’m not going to resolve to change my ways very much at all. I am what I am. I was born in a flame. Or the back of the Bonavista North Bus. Or something.

See, I’m fast. I scurry. I do look a lot like a squirrel. (Insert “nuts in mouth” joke here.) I hate golf but love tennis. I’d rather salsa than waltz. I hate melancholy music. (Adele can wail but she makes me want to kill myself every thirty seconds.) I type a gazillion words per minute with all the wrong fingers. The first time I attempted to bake bread, I grew so impatient waiting for the dough to rise I stabbed it 37 times with a cleaver.

It’s not that I don’t stop and smell the roses. I see beauty all around me. And I sit and ponder the meaning of life all the time. But then I realize my sitting and pondering has made me late for the Sit and Ponder Conference and I have to go turbo on everyone’s ass to get there.

And it’s not that I can’t relax. Oh I can relax. I get out of bed at the last possible moment. I am the mayor of Dreamland and the cloud people need me to lead them.

In a nutshell: life is chaos, it’s all my fault, but I just can’t help it so bite me. I’m a busy woman who is chewing what she has bitten off as fast as she can. I’m a hot mess, always in a rush to get where I’m going, dragging poor Max behind me. But damn it, I’m doing it. I’m getting there. Max is happy and smart and wonderful.

There is room for improvement for sure. Setting my alarm for 20 minutes earlier sure seems like a good idea. And driving the speed limit, that seems wise. But at this dawn of a new calendar year, I’m not going to make a grand pledge to change. To get my shit together so I can slow down and savour the moments and not smash a toaster. Because this motherfuckery works for me, mostly. So, save a few tweaks to spare my boy mommy’s madness, I’m going to resolve to keep making it work for me. A more ambitious pursuit is bound to fail because this bitch is a squirrel.

So my new year’s resolution is to keep clipping along. Typing fast. Working hard. Laughing loud. Raising my boy the best way I know how. And, wherever we go, leaving a trail of fire behind us. Word to your mother.

 

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Call me crazy.

I forgot my father’s birthday this year.

It’s okay, because he’s dead.

I never forgot his birthday when he was alive. Mainly because he reminded me constantly that his birthday was three weeks away… two weeks away… one week away… tomorrow… you get the idea.

He would have been 70 years old on September 17th.

But he expired in January of 2010 at age 67. The current life expectancy for a Canadian: 81. 67… Not a bad run, dad would have thought. He was like that. Never asked for much, except things like justice, respect, silence during CBC News, and a sleeve of golf balls on his birthday.

I forgot his birthday this year because my brain is so preoccupied with work and laundry and work. Or at least I think that’s why I forgot. I forget why I forgot.

Maybe I forgot because somewhere inside me, I’d rather not think about the man that’s not here to see my baby grow into a boy, or read my maniacal musings about motherhood, or call me every single day for no particular reason at all which drove me crazy until I realized there would soon come a time when the phone would stop ringing.

Dad was an eternal optimist, always looking on the bright side of the darkest things. So let’s try that for a second: Maybe there is an upside to going tits-up too early. Maybe expiring prematurely has its benefits. Sounds nuts, I know. Call me crazy, but it’s not so black and white.

On my flight back from Halifax a couple weeks ago, there was an elderly couple sitting in the row behind me on the opposite side of the plane. They must have been 80, at least. How lucky, I thought, as I always do when I see octogenarian duos. How lucky to still have each other. To still both be on this side of the sod. And soaring way above the sod, no less!

But I know, more often than not, it’s not as “side-by-side rocking chairs on the front porch” as I imagine.

I’ve seen The Notebook.

I’ve seen Away From Her.

And everything in the movies is totally true.

Seriously though.

I’ve had friends lose parents to Alzheimer’s disease long before they were dead. Just a few days ago, a friend and colleague of mine, Michael Pickard, lost his dad who had suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. In a beautiful tribute to his father, he wrote:

Due to dad’s Alzheimer’s, we lost him an inch at a time. And it’s only when I reflected as the disease went on did I realize I missed him even when he was right in front of me. I have been missing this humble, clever, precise gentleman bit by bit for several years.

Read the whole story here. Tissues required.

I have several loved ones with parents and grandparents suffering from dementia. Folks who were once wits and writers and knitters and know-it-alls, who now don’t know their own child’s face.

It does not sound like fun.

When I first moved to St. John’s in 2000, I lived in the basement of a couple in their early eighties. In the middle of the night, I’d hear my landlady screaming at her husband, “You son of a bitch! You never touch me anymore!” I was like – Dude, really? You’re like a million years old. He won’t touch you because he might break your hip.

I soon learned that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s. And he was suffering, too.

So I wonder. When your parent lives a long life, but spends the last chapter with mental illness, is that how you remember them when they’re gone? Or do you rewind to how they used to be, their true selves? From what I can gather, you remember how they were at the end, especially if it was an extended period of time. It’s human nature to recall what you experienced last. Same reason Max always chooses the last thing I say, which is why, when I list out his possible dinner choices, I put broccoli at the end.

Maybe it’s different for everyone. Maybe everything is different for everyone.

Anyways. I think there is something to be said for dying young. Not “young young,” but “barely a senior” young. I mean, not that I condone it. Or want it. All I’m saying is – dad departed this earth when he was at the top of his game. In his prime. At his best. (Except for the giant tumor in his bowel.) He is immortalized for me at 67. Too old to be cheated, but young enough to have been of sound mind. (According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, only 2 to 10 per cent of all cases of dementia start before age 65.) When I close my eyes and see my dad, he is strong and vivacious and full of life. Because, save the last two weeks of his life, that is exactly how he was for as long as I can remember.

And those last two weeks don’t count. He did not suffer long, so the heart-wrenching image of him dying has been filed away in a drawer in a cabinet in the back closet in the attic of my mind to make room for the dad that was animated and hilarious and brilliant with eyes bright blue and ever curious. He would want it that way.

Perhaps I am just trying to find something good in the sorrow. Truth is, I would give almost anything to watch his black hair turn to grey. To see that quick walk to church on Sunday mornings slow to a creaky crawl. To see what other books and poems would emerge from his freaky mind; ideas that will never see the light of day now.

If I had the choice, maybe I would even opt to see him lose his marbles. Put his pants on backwards and put his purse in the fridge. And yes, carry around a purse. A bedazzled clutch. If it meant I could have him around a little longer.

I just don’t know. Maybe that’s just selfish.

Or maybe loss is loss. Michael and I lost our dads in totally different ways, at different ages. His at 81, Alzheimers. Mine at 67, cancer. But I bet the dad-shaped hole in each of us feels about the same.

Alas, things are what they are. So, going by dad’s example, I will look at the upside of how it all went down. And be thankful for how I remember him. Like this…

See – he did have a purse.

And this.

So talented.

And this.

Rockin’ the moo moo.
Ha ha.

See, thing is, if you knew Jim Combden, you will know his marbles had already scattered. In a good way. Delightfully demented was he. So at least I got to see that, and laugh at that, and love that for 30+ years.

And if you know me, I already know what you’re thinking: The crazy apple doesn’t fall far from the crazy tree. Thank goodness for that.

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