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Rare rant

This weekend, we took the little ferry boat to Granville Island like we do very regularly. Zak started chatting with the driver about the upcoming closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station. The driver was outraged by the decision and this encounter left me in the same state of mind. I can understand that the government needs to cut expenses to reduce the deficit. I can understand that the public servants charged with cutting costs have an insane job to do and are often not very aware of the regional realities. But this is just ridiculous.

With the closure of the Station, the closest Coast Guard boat will now be in Richmond and will need about an hour to make it to False Creek. The boat driver was explaining how although his boat run is extremely safe, he still has to deal with the Coast Guard on a fairly regular basis. Because people apparently jump from the Burrard Bridge on a regular basis, and being the ones on the water day in and day out, the ferry drivers end up fishing them out. They used to take them to the Coast Guard Station but will now have to take them to the public dock and wait there for the police to show up while 30 traumatized kids watch the person die (his words, not mine).

I had no clue these guys had to do such a gruesome job. It makes sense: they are the first ones on the scene and I would assume they are legally required to help if they can. But I never would have thought it was such a common occurrence. He assured us their boats are equipped with large plastic tarps for that purpose.

Anyway, that is one person we talked to about this closure. How many other stories would I hear if I asked everyone I know if they have had to deal with the Coast Guard in our area? Vancouver proper is a city of 578 000 people. It is on the ocean. We need the Coast Guard.

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Conversation at 5:30 am

Our little girl has been waking up very early lately. Often before 5. Always before 6. And even though we let her cry until (about) 6, she doesn’t seem to get it. Her brother is exhausted because she wakes him up and he doesn’t fall back asleep or nap. When he’s tired, he acts like he has ADD. So life is… full of surprises. Which let to this conversation:

Zak: We need new kids.
Me: … (with a blank stare)
Zak: I don’t mean more kids, I mean different kids.
Me: Oh… That makes more sense.

Don’t worry, we don’t mean it. We love our kids. But you know what? Some kids sleep for 12 hours straight after just a few months. My daughter still can’t sleep more than 10 on most days – and if I put her to sleep later, she still wakes up at 5:30 but is more tired and cranky. That is hardly fair. There are days when I wonder if it will ever get better.

Of course, it will. And then another problem will crop up. And when we find a solution to that one, it will be something else. Until… well, until we’re dead, I guess. Even when children are adults, they still manage to bring us problems.

Fortunately, they also bring a lot of joy. And they’re cute. So we’ll deal with it. But for now, we’re tired and cranky. Just like the kids.

The swimming lesson

I went with Zak and the kids to the pool yesterday for their swimming lesson. While Zak went in the water with our baby, I watched our son and his group. It suddenly struck me that 9 out of 10 instructors were male – for preschool swimming lessons.

It is unusual to see that many male instructors with kids that young. I find it tremendously positive. In a world where the extremely large majority of my son’s teachers will be female, it is even more important for him to have positive male role models. True, it’s often in physical education and similar contexts that you see male teachers. But better there than not at all. So I was happily surprised. Especially since our son is usually more comfortable around women – he’s a flirt – I find it important for him to be challenged out of his comfort zone.

But it also made me feel better about society. I read Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids Blog, where she talks about helicopter parenting, but also about how paranoid society has become when it comes to kids’ safety. The two subjects go hand in hand, since it is this constant fear for children’s safety that stops parents from letting them enjoy the freedom they, themselves, enjoyed at the same age. In one of her latest entries, Skenazy mentioned an article in a parenting magazine that suggested how to react if you found out, after telling your daughter she could have a sleepover at her friend’s house, that only her divorced single dad would be there. The article suggested telling the dad that unfortunately you did not feel comfortable with the situation and would be willing to have the girls at your place instead. I found this appalling – as if all males were potential pedophiles and you had to keep your kids away from them, and from great experiences, instead of teaching your kids how to react if someone touched them inappropriately. (Not to mention that, if you really want to be paranoid, inappropriate things could happen even if the mother was in the house.)

Anyway, seeing the male swimming teachers made me feel better. They have to touch the kids! They help them climb the ladder, hold them when they’re lying back in the water, etc. And, thank God!, it doesn’t seem to create any issues with the parents.

Maybe there’s hope for the future of society?

Urban poetry

Around the time that I went back to work, someone wrote a few lines with tape on the West sidewalk of Burrard Street, in front of Saint-Paul’s Hospital. It was written from South to North so that people going North could read the poem:

Have you heard
Do you know
Life is awesome
Tap the flow

I have no clue who did this, but I like it. It’s short and catchy. After a few days I knew it by heart, but I read it a few hundred more times. Not I really have it committed to memory. Which is good, because the letters are quickly fading. After six months and most of a winter, the tape is almost gone.

But I wanted to write those few lines down to make sure I would remember them. Because it’s true. Even though life sometimes sucks, it’s still better than the other possibility – death. Life can really be awesome, even if we all forget about it sometimes.

So thanks to whoever share their thoughts with the thousands of people who walk by this spot every morning and every night. It has become a part of my day and I will miss it when it’s completely gone.

Unless it is replaced by something else…

Let it snow

It took me a while to realize what my daughter was saying, partly because it didn’t sound much like the original and partly because Christmas is now a thing of the past. But regardless of the date on the calendar, Zak has been singing Let it Snow. I think he sings it year round.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since there’s no place to go

And my daughter chimes in:

Leio! Leio!

We should really tape some of that stuff before she grows out of it. A music lover like she is, who knows, maybe some day she’ll be a stinking rich recording artist and those videos will provide us with a large retirement fund.

Or maybe when we’re 80 we’ll be glad to watch those videos on the old, old laptop computer we’ll have kept way past when the technology changes to make sure we could watch those old 2-D, non HD “videos”. If you can still find a plug in those days.

Either way, it would be worth it.

Growing up

My son is growing up. I just noticed yesterday that he doesn’t say to-food anymore. He has learned that the proper word is tofu. I’ll miss it.

My friend was also telling me recently that her son has stopped saying “coote” instead of “cute” – as in “[my daughter] is the cootest baby in the world mama, I hope she never grows up so she’s always so coote”. Yeah, he has a bit of a crush on her. But he’s almost 6 and she’s 1. So they’re not allowed to date until she’s 18. – and she misses the cooteness too.

Anyway, all that to say that eating tofu last night made me realize how little time I have left before my son is all grown up and doesn’t say funny stuff anymore. I have to remember to write them down so I can savour them for years to come – and tell his future girlfriend.

Dinosaur porn

I probably shouldn’t write that post – God knows who’s going to end up on my blog after that searching for all sorts of crazy porn-related stuff! But it was funny. So here goes the story.

Yesterday morning, we were having muffins at breakfast when my daughter suddenly started roaring while moving her arms like a robot.

- You’re a dinosaur?, asked Zak.
She nodded.

- You’re a muffinosaurus, he responded. Then he tried to find a way to shorten it.
- You’re a muffosaurus.

I looked up from my muffin, trying not to laugh too openly…
- No, that one is not going to work, I said, and Zak stopped in his tracks.

But by then our son had picked up where we left off, oblivious to our unfortunate puns.

- She’s a fartosaurus (yup, he’s four!).  A spitosaurus. A sushisorus. A phallosaurus.

I looked up again. Zak was laughing.

It reminded me of that little application that made the rounds for a while: enter your name and find out your porn star name. Well, I don’t know about mine, but I just found two great porn names for dinosaurs: muffosaurus and phallosaurus. And it’s all the kids’ fault!