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Posts Tagged ‘Parenthood’

My son starts kindergarten in the fall and I am a nervous wreck. Yesterday we got a letter from the school saying that our child should know his full name, address and phone number before his first day of school. Josh doesn’t know his phone number or address! I spent the entire day trying to make learning our address a fun game. It isn’t fun. He knew it and so did I.

What worries me most is that Josh tends to clam up in front of new people. At home he runs around like a Boston Terrier on Red Bull. But in a room full of new faces he is quiet and withdrawn. What if he doesn’t make any friends? What if the other kids make fun of him? I do bullying prevention assemblies in schools and it would break my heart if Josh got bullied.

So today I am at a school doing a bullying prevention seminar when this very talkative Grade 3 girl starts telling me all about her soccer team and the correct spelling of her name and then she gets quiet for a bit and says, “You know… I got bullied too.” I asked her what happened. She told me about a very mean boy who used to pick on her and call her names and even hit her. “That’s terrible.” I said, “Is this still going on?” She shook her head. “No,” she said, “That was in kindergarten.”

I am a black man. But when she said the word ‘kindergarten’ my face became that of a white man. I am convinced this little girl was a messenger of Satan sent to torment me. “Little girl” I said, “Get thee behind me!”

OK, so the King James rebuke didn’t happen but I swear to you, when this little girl said the word ‘Kindergarten’, I almost fainted!

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Last night we had the best Family Movie Night ever! Until recently, our kids have been too rambunctious to sit down and watch a full movie. Our 2-year-old daughter Ariella asks us to put on Wally about 7 times a day. When we oblige, she will sit on the couch completely fascinated by Eva and the Captain for all of 4 minutes. Then she wanders into the kitchen and asks, “Whats that Daddy?” about a variety of objects that she knows the name of already. So Family Movie Night has never really worked.

But Susie came up with a brilliant plan. She set up my LCD projector on the wall and turned out all the lights. She had snacks ready and sippy cups on hand. And when it was dark and our kids were fascinated by the huge screen on the wall, we watched UP.

Well our kids were silent and focused on the screen for almost the whole time! And as they got antsy we broke out the snacks- it was great! Ella sat with Susie for most of the movie but halfway through she crawled over to me, plopped herself down on my lap and rested her head against my chest. What a beautiful moment. She must have felt quite peaceful because just as the final standoff was about to happen, Ariella peed on me.

If you haven’t seen UP, might I recommend you do so. If you have a family, make it a family night! Just ask your daughter to sit on the couch.

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Someone once asked me, “which would you rather watch: a decent 90-minute movie OR 90-minutes of previews for upcoming films?”

My answer was the previews. I get so inspired and excited watching previews… at least I used to. Now I actually put my hands over my ears and insert my head into my lap when a trailer for a good movie comes on.

It all started a couple months ago when I was on a date night with my wife Susie. Date nights are very important to us. When you have kids, your relationship with your spouse can dwindle into that of “child-rearing partners” if you aren’t careful. Sure that’s a major component of any marriage with children but what happens when the children leave the nest? Your raison d’être has left the building. Yikes. So even if we are broke and have to go to a coffee shop, order hot water, and bring our own tea bag- we will go on our date night.

On this particular date night we went to the movies and I can’t remember what we saw. What I do remember is seeing the trailer for the movie Brothers with Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman.

Susie and I were so taken by the trailer we made a pact to see the movie as soon as it came out. It looked incredible. Later I saw the poster and thought it was brilliant. (I love how British people say “Brilliant”. I have to consciously remind myself not to put on a British accent when I use the word. Try saying brilliant with a Canadian accent. It’s just not the same.) Anyway, although I was really taken by the preview I was also a little bothered by it. I mean, they basically reveal the entire plot of the film. If you haven’t seen the trailer, watch it here. I pretty much know the major twists and turns of the story before I have seen the film! It drives me crazy!

So we went to see Brothers a couple weeks ago. I thought the acting was amazing and the writing was brilliant. (There’s that lovely little word again… why am I not British!?) I really enjoyed the film. But I would have enjoyed it SO MUCH MORE if they hadn’t have revealed the kiss!!! Why!? WHY!? WHY!!!???

I think a really good preview should leave you intrigued, enticed and in the dark. Like this trailer for the Canadian film Passchendale. Even the trailer for the poorly received Lady in the Water was terrific. Intrigued, enticed and in the dark. My recipe for a good movie trailer.

So next time you are at the movies and notice a chap with his hands over his ears and his head in his lap, you know why. Cheerio.

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When our daughter Ariella was a newborn she gave us some rough days. And some long nights! For hours on end she would cry and fuss and be inconsolable. One day Susie was at her wits end trying to get Ariella down for her nap. Baby is crying because baby is tired but baby doesn’t want to sleep… the irony. What is wrong with babies? If your boss insisted you have a nap in the middle of the afternoon… was willing to clean up whatever mess you made and even give you some warm milk before you lay down… would you fight against that?!

Susie finally got Ella to sleep in her crib and quietly tiptoed out of her room. If you don’t have kids you may not know the joy that comes upon a parent whose children are sleeping. It is a joy called FREEDOM! Susie cleaned the kitchen and took care of some odds and ends before she plopped down on the couch and basked in the tranquility of a quiet home. A rare moment indeed.

The funny thing about having kids is how much you miss them the moment you are away. How many times have Susie and I been on a date night and found ourselves talking about the kids as soon as we drive away from the babysitter?

Sitting in the peace and quiet Susie found herself daydreaming about Ella. Her fluffy little cheeks… her curly brown hair… those big beautiful eyes… She knew by this time Ariella would be in a deep enough sleep that she could tiptoe into her room and watch her sleep for a while. There is something so magical about watching a child sleep. So she quietly opened Ariella’s door and peaked in the room. Bad move. I’ll give you the play-by-play of what happened next:

– Ariella hears the door open and pops her head up.
– Susie panics and closes the door. Please don’t let her-
– Ariella takes a deep, deep breath and lets out a blood curdling scream.
– Susie stands outside Ella’s door wondering why on earth she had to disturb the sleeping child.
– Ariella takes another deep breath and screams louder than a fire truck on duty. She maintains this ear-piercing wail for quite an impressive amount of time.
– Susie, with head down and shoulders slumped, goes back in the room and picks up Ella.
– Ella is inconsolable for the rest of the afternoon…

Pure bliss meets sheer frustration. I think that just about sums up parenthood.

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