Yellow With White Polka Dots

Reposted from the January 2014 post of the same name from  Bunch Family website with permission of the author, Anne, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons


Some of you may know that my kid likes bow ties. He loves to dress up. What you might not know is that he also likes dresses. At home, he ties blankets around his waist as skirts, and occasionally he will wear one of my shorter dresses. He likes to put on my high heels and walk around the house. My only rule is that he shouldn’t run in them.

Ben is very gender-fluid. This means that since he was very little, he’s told me that some days he feels like a girl, some days he feels like a boy, and most days, he just feels like Ben.* My partner Drew and I honour his feelings and encourage him to express them however he wants to. He has gone to school with wigs and nail polish, and sometimes he’s been laughed at.

There have been occasions where he’s been heartbroken, which makes my own heart seize up and want to spring to his defense. There have been times when I have taken his offenders on, ready to spit fire until I realized that they themselves are just kids. Instead, I have tried to engage them, question them on why they think the world is made up of rules that boys are this, and girls are that. Sometimes we get somewhere, and everybody is fine. Sometimes these kids run off, and I don’t know if it will happen again.

Drew and I try to teach our son resilience. I tell Ben he needs to learn how to stand up for himself. I tell him about being beat up when I was six years old for being different. When I do, my kid actually turns it around and comforts me, and I realize how childhood wounds surface in my parenting of him.

I try to remember that we are different people – perhaps Ben is living in a changed world, and he is better equipped with language and an understanding of paradigm shifts than I was. I tell myself that, but I am not convinced.

On the weekend, Drew and I took him to the mall. As we were walking, Ben said to me, “Remember how you said it was okay if I was a girl some days?”

I said yes. He said it was time that I bought him a dress. So, we walked into the Gap and went to the girls’ section, and Ben picked out a dress, bright yellow with white polka dots. He said he loved it. He immediately put it on when we got home. Drew and I told him he looked pretty, beautiful, lovely – all the words we reserve for girls, and boys don’t get to hear nearly enough.

This morning, Ben decided to wear it to school. I asked him if he was sure, and cautioned him that people might laugh and bother him. Ben said he knew that, and he could manage it. He said that he would yell, STOP LAUGHING. IT’S NOT FUNNY. IT’S JUST A DRESS AND BOYS CAN WEAR DRESSES TOO. He had a plan.

We went to see his grade one teacher this morning before class, and his teacher was loving and supportive. Andrew gave her a book to read to the kids in case she felt she needed it. It’s called 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert —  about a boy who loves dresses but is not allowed to wear them, so he imagines 10, 000 beautiful ones.

I held back my tears as Drew tied the ribbon on Ben’s dress into a bow. I held back tears when Ben marched into school along with his classmates, even as I heard some kids start to say, “Hey, you’re not a girl!” I held back tears when some older kids patted Ben’s back and said that he was “waaay cool.”

Now he is in there and I don’t know how it’s going, and I let the tears flow because I am so proud of this child for having such tenacity and self-love. I am crying because I am terrified and didn’t realize that I would have to send my child out there and have to trust the world so soon. I am crying because it is a precious thing when someone values pleasure above the risks in order to feel truly themselves.

If by now you are still reading this and feel irked – then I ask you to examine why that is, and how you are invested in the ways that gender is constructed.

I want you to think about how you would feel about my kid because he is wearing a yellow dress with white polka dots. Would you feel like it’s a harbinger of spring and make you smile? Or would you change your mind about everything else you might already know about him – that he’s funny, quirky, friendly, smart, beautiful?

Because my kid is, regardless what you think or believe, beautiful. And I ask that you never make him, or anyone else who goes against what your prescription of gender should be, feel any less gorgeous and brave.

* names have been changed for privacy

 

Epilogue from the author, Anne:

So, some kids laughed at him (he ignored them) and some kids complimented his dress (he thanked them). Ben said, “It was awesome wearing a dress to school! Can we go shopping again and get another one?”

I marvel that there was acceptance from most of his classmates, affirming that sometimes, six-year-olds do know better than us.

When I first posted this story on my Facebook timeline, I wasn’t certain how it would be received. I knew I would get some support, but I was unprepared for the huge number of people in my community and family who flooded Ben, Drew and I with love and encouragement. My friend Lynn observed how brilliant it was that all the comments became part of the story.

It gave us hope, and expressions of desire and longing for the world that my son wants and believes should be. I realize that what began that morning with my young child taking his first leap of faith had a ripple effect. It may be a little thing, a simple garment, a small act — and yet it wasn’t. Maybe one day, it will be.

– Anne

A Short Field Guide to Watching Movies with My Daughters

I’m sure that mine is a common story in this neighbourhood.  Weekly family routines feel excruciating at times. Much like that wheely turny thing in the park, once we’re all on it and somebody starts pushing there’s no turning back. School, work, extracurriculars keep the week spinning. And then comes Friday evening. I’m not sure when we developed it, but Friday night in our household is movie night and for my two daughters it has become almost sacred.

Food is exactly the same each week. A black bean, spinach, coriander what-not-mix with salsa and blue tortilla chips AND a movie. There is no thinking about the food, but the movie picking can be somewhat challenging. No doubt, there’s a lot out there. Just between Netflix and iTunes we’ve managed to keep this tradition up for a couple of years.

This is not to say that every Friday night our family sits down to quality films (note the word movie in the title). I’ve discovered that although our kids may not be so used to gender specific dialogue that subversively specifies roles for girls, there’s still a lot of it out there. Needless to say, My Little Pony has not made the cut.

So it is with a certain amount of trepidation that I’m making these suggestions; having no professional film making experience and living with Neil Burns as one of my close neighbors. But in taking time to think about this process, I’ve realized that we seem to have a bit of a field guide that helps us recognize a great movie, or at least an entertaining one..

These are the measurement sticks that we use.

legend

Magic, kindness, quirkiness, tension (this one is a bit hard on my 5 year old so it needs to be in small doses at times), beauty AND strong child narratives sometimes told from their own perspective.  A big help for us in finding these has been the website A Mighty Girl.  It’s got all kinds of movie lists to start from.

There are movies that I would have loved to put on this list, but could not in good faith because my daughter’s and I don’t seem to have the exact same taste and this is their list too.

Ok, here it goes. Fifteen movies in no particular order:

Song of the Sea

songoftheseasongreview

Ballet Shoes Ballet_Shoesparenttrapreview

My Neighbour Totoro

totorototororeview

The Gabby Douglas Story

The-Gabby-Douglas-Story-postergabbyreview

The Secret Garden

secretgardergardenreview

Saving Luna

savinglunasavinglunareview

The Parent Trap

parenttrapparenttrapreview

Marley and Me

marleyandmemarleyreview

Because of Winn Dixie

becauseofwinndixiezooreview

Fly Away Home

flyawayhomeflyawayreview

A Little Princess

images princessreview

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

My first memory of talking about sex with my kids would be with my older daughter.  I was explaining how I was going to be having a baby, that there was a baby growing inside of me that would eventually come out and turn her into a sister. She was only about two at the time so I didn’t get into the rudimentaries. Before there was ever any talk about sex, there was just a lot of nudity. My older daughter loved to be nude. She would strip down at any opportunity and despite her growing sense of decorum she still sleeps without pajamas. My brother, crashing on our couch one night, recalled being awoken at dawn to her painting at the kitchen table stark naked.  She also enjoyed wrestling in her underwear. I can remember her around four years old greeting one of her little chums who had come over to our house;

“Henry, take off your pants. We’re playing naked Zurg.” There was never any latent sexuality in this kind of play. It was just joyfulness at being in her body and moving around. Although as I write that I can see that maybe a big part of sexuality is just that, or should be just that.

Later there would be questions…

Sometimes I would come upon the kids in compromising positions;

“What are you looking for?”

“My holes.”

Okay then. At least when you find them they will be clean I thought, since you are in the bath.

Or to my husband;

“Is that your bladder hanging behind your penis dad?”

Often the girls would look nostalgically at my breasts, asking if there was still milk in my nipples. Nope I would say, these wells are dry. There were questions about menstruation, or “moon time”, in the hippy parlance of their first care-giver…

“Are you blooding mom? Can I see?” Charming. Nothing beats pooping with an audience until you have to change a tampon, or a diva cup with a curious onlooker.

My youngest daughter, lucky enough to spend her early years at home with dad instead of at a daycare occasionally claimed to have a penis.

“Dad has a penis.”

“Yes.”

“I have a penis too.”

“Nope, you have a vagina, like me and Aimee. Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina.”

“No, I have a penis. Like dad.”

“Ok. Whatever you have is fine with me, as long as you go to sleep now.”

The interest in the penis subsided until the Christmas season when wrapping paper rolls were brandished, phallic and festive at once.  Lately she seems less interested, maybe the novelty wore off?

Typically any conversation around sex hinges on either babies, which both girls love, and how to get one, or on gender and biology; who has what and how does it all match up? I feel like I have had the talk about babies so many times that it is like being caught in an awkward Groundhog Day but without the help of Bill Murray.  The first time one of the girls asked about where babies come from I decided to stick to the facts, but provide only the bare requirement of information. I told myself that if they were asking about digestion I would have no qualms and so I pushed forward, past my weird feelings.

“I want to have a baby.”

“Well, maybe someday you will have a baby”

“I want one now.”

“Only adults can have babies.”

“Why?”

“Because your body is not done growing and so it can’t grow baby.”

“You grow a baby in your stomach.”

“Well, it looks like it’s in your stomach but women have a special place for babies to grow.”

“A vagina!” Close but no cigar, I think.

“Well, the baby comes out of the vagina when it is born but it grows in the uterus.”

“How does it get in the stomach?” Why bother explaining I wonder.

“It grows from a seed.”

“Okay. I’m hungry. Can we get cheesies?”

And for awhile that was enough. But like an addict, every time the topic came up they needed more information, more details, to be satisfied. I struggled to find a way to answer the questions without creating more questions, or to be honest without bringing up the question. It. Basically, doing it. I felt like I could get through any baby interrogation as long as I didn’t have to describe the act in its entirety.

The next time babies came up we were stuck in the car during a rainstorm, waiting for a break to make a dash into the library. The drops hit the windshield in gusts. The girls had their dolls in the back seat and were talking about how they would have so many babies when they grew up. Ha, I thought. I hope you do! Justice!  Anyhow, the older one, eager to assert her power by displaying her superior knowledge of biology began, in a very pedantic way, to explain how babies were made.

Little one: “They grow inside the mum.”

Big one: “Yes, but not in the stomach, they grow in a special place, by the vagina.” Not bad.

Little one: “They come out the vagina, but not the peehole.” Already superseding my own childhood anatomical knowledge by maybe a decade. What can I say? I went to Catholic school.

Big one: “That’s right. And we can’t make babies because we don’t have the special place yet.”

Little one: “Where do we get it?”

Big one: “From a seed!”

This is when the talk turned to me. Uh oh.

Big one, to me: “Where does the mum get the seed?”

“Well, the mum already has the special place, women are born with the place, the seed is just to grow the baby. You have the place. It just isn’t ready until you’re an adult and then you get the seed and grow the baby.”

Big one to me: “So we just need the seed. Where do we get the seed?”

I am starting to sweat. I look at the rain. Still pelting.

“Well, you get the seed from your partner. Usually.” I amend, thinking about donors and same sex parents and surrogates…keep it simple, right?

Big one to little one: “See, we can have babies when we’re adults. Do you want to have a baby with me?”

Little one: “Yes!”

Big one to me: “We are going to be partners and have babies together.”

“Well, usually you need a boy to give you the seed. The dad gives the seed to the mum. Or sometimes a close friend, or…” I am faltering. This is getting too complicated. How do you explain the many and varied ways of obtaining a seed. But it doesn’t matter. I have lost them at the dad part.

Big one: “We’ll just get the seed from dad! We can be partners and dad can give us the seed.”

Gag.

“NO, No no it doesn’t work like that. You can’t get the seed from your dad.”

Big one: “What about Ben? We can get a seed from him.” (her cousin)

“You can’t get a seed from anyone you’re related to. It looks like it’s letting up, come on!”  Imparting this final fact I choose the rainstorm over any more strategizing and open the car door.

The next time the seemingly inevitable seed conversation rolls around I am parking near St. Joe’s in order to take the older one to the asthma clinic. I can’t remember what sparked the question this time; I must have remarked offhand that this was the hospital where she was born.

Big one: “But not (my sister), she was born at home, in the bathtub, right?”

“Yep.” It sounds so makeshift and somehow slipshod. I wonder if I should have made up a lie that she was born decorously in a birthing tub. Too late.

“So dad gave you the seed, right?”

“He sure did.”

Silence as I unbuckle her and lock the door and we make our way across the street.

“But how did you get the seed?”

Think, think, think.

“Well, like I said dad gave it to me.”

“But how? Where does it come from?”

“Well, it comes out of his penis.”

“What!” in total disbelief. “Well, that’s weird.  Can I get a cookie after the doctor?”

So that was it. I did it. Could’ve been worse. I guess. At least I was the first one to tell her, not some know-it-all on the playground. I did mention later that most parents like to be the ones to explain about seeds so that if she had friends who wanted to know the whole story she should tell them to ask their own parents. Besides, who knows what level of broken telephone would occur in her retelling of the facts. For now I had escaped the inevitable explanation: it. Bare facts had sufficed, the strange image of a seed (likely a sunflower seed or orange pip , as that’s the extent of my kid’s seed knowledge) emerging from a penis confounding enough to distract my daughter from the next inevitable question. That would be another story, for another time. I had, at least, a respite, time to gather my resources and prepare for the next level of inquiry.

Art in the Park

Since the fall, Linda Naccarato has been spending her Saturday mornings between 11 and 1 at McCormick Park creating outdoor artwork with children.  The materials range from sticks and leaves, to ice balls and snow cakes.  I had a few opportunities to join with my children over the past few months and it’s a great way to get out of the house and meet up with others.


naturalplay

■ – I’ve heard that you’ve been teaching art outside at McCormick Park since September. How did this start and how has the experience been so far?

Linda Naccarato – I was first contacted by the Friends of McCormick Park to lead some eco-art activities for the launch of the McCormick Park Cafe and new playground. On the day of the launch, I was overwhelmed by the support from the local community and their determination to make the park a centre for the neighbourhood. At a community meeting not long after, we discussed the possibility for a weekly, drop-in program that would connect kids to nature and attract families to the park. The experience has been incredibly positive so far, and we have a solid group of families that have now incorporated natural art making and creative play into their Saturday routines.

■ – What kinds of things are you doing with the kids and how has their reaction been?

LN – My focus is really to foster a variety of opportunities for open-ended natural play. Each week there is a new activity, like building structures with sticks and yarn or weaving with fabric and natural materials, but there are also lots of loose parts (stones, shells, bark etc.) to encourage the kids to play in their own creative ways. Although I’m always modelling new techniques, I try to keep my resources simple and accessible, so that parents and kids can easily reproduce them at home and continue the momentum to play outside.

The kids reactions have been fantastic. I love seeing them try something new, like drawing with crayons on hot rocks, but my favourite is when they use the materials in unexpected ways. It’s great to see them feeling comfortable to dive right in, experiment and create!

artwithlinda2

■ – Can you give me a little information about you and your creative past? How did you come to be an art teacher?

LN – I come from a background in Visual Arts, and while studying Design in University I quickly realized how important it was for me creatively to keep my hands busy and my fingers messy. Luckily, I have always worked with kids, leading camp groups, working in preschools and teaching afterschool art programs, so I had a wonderful outlet to keep on experimenting and really play with art again. I eventually followed this path to Teacher’s College, where I focused on integrating art throughout the curriculum. The majority of the work I do now is in schools as an art educator, teaching diverse art practices like recycled textile weaving and natural shibori dyeing, practices that connect art-making with nature and the environment. Teaching art to me is all about showing kids another way for them to express their ideas, and think creatively.

■ – I’m inspired by your willingness to get out in the middle of winter to get creative. What drives you or inspires you?

LN – I know, playing outside in the season of Arctic air blasts seems pretty crazy! The truth is my inspiration comes from the many kids I’ve seen who would rather stay inside no matter what the weather is. I think that we need to model all seasons of outdoor play and teach our kids to really embrace the weather outside our windows no matter what that is. I have visited Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools in Northern Europe, and the children there loved being outside, whether it was in rain boots or snowsuits, they loved the freedom and all the opportunities they had to explore outdoors. I’m more than happy to bundle up each Saturday and share some of that enthusiasm for natural play with our Brockton neighbourhood families.

■ – I can’t wait to get my kids out there with you painting snow and making nature based art. What are you looking forward to this season?

LN – I love that winter gives us a white canvas to work on outside, so I’ll be excited to create art with seeds, sticks and coloured ice. Making art outdoors in a public space like the park also gives us a chance to make a little magic for unsuspecting neighbours and might just encourage someone else to get outside and create something.

artwithlinda3

For more information on school workshops with Linda or if you are interested in starting your own neighbourhood natural art drop-in,  check out www.artwithlinda.ca, and follow her @artwithlinda on instagram.

A Christmas Miracle

It was holiday time again. Shopping, stressing and eating too much and then feeling too much guilt about eating too much and then eating too much again. That’s what I was “looking forward to” during the 3rd week of December.

The husband was away for work … again… and I was trying to hold down the fort without too many video games, ordering out, the occasional play date and the mandatory “families coming soon so you have to get a haircut” kind of day. That day was Sunday. We walked up and down Queen Street to find the perfect place for a trim. No, I wasn’t looking for something with chandeliers and fancy chairs; I was searching for an “open” sign. After about ten blocks we found one. Our “stylist” was a rough guy who pulled my kid’s face and sneered at me when I tried to tell him to take more off the sides and leave it a little longer on top. It was as if I’d ordered grain-fed kobe beef at Tim Horton’s. Okay, fine!  Do as you wish, strange man with a buzzing blade at my only child’s neck. I’m Canadian. I’m sorry. When it was done I paid him a whopping $8 and we walked home.

I, feeling satisfied that I had not only managed our passport photos with a new hair cut (I had mine cut at a really fancy place the day before for $70 because I’m a grown up! Shut up!) but we had felt the fresh cold air on our faces and the boy looked amazing. Sure, he was non-stop itching and complaining about being itchy. But…. I COULD SEE HIS EYES!!  I was great. We were great. All was great. I could do this. I could do anything. Dinner was easy and we ate happily as I read about Greek mythology and he gobbled up his noodles and kale. YES, I said KALE.  I was that awesome a mom.

Then to tempt the fate of Theseus, I said, “Let’s have a bath and wash that hair so you won’t be itchy.” He actually said yes. I was still so awesome. After playing in the bath and laughing and bonding and generally being an ad for a single mom who eats Cheerios with her clean cut son, I started to blow dry his hair. (Don’t ask me why. I never do this… well, actually, I don’t wash his hair that much either. I’d say it’s a philosophy but I’d be lying.) We were in our warm, cozy pajamas with our teeth brushed. I was ahead of schedule and felt pretty great about myself while blow drying his hair when I saw something on his scalp. I picked it out because of course it’s lint from his socks in his hair. It probably happens all the time…. right?  Sure.

But the lint had legs and dropped onto the floor. I screamed. I put the blowdryer on his head and started to look. His hair was moving…. not like Mariah Carey with the fan on her cause it’s in her contract, I’m talking about moving because it’s alive from legs. I gasped and I said in a frightened panicked voice that should never be used with children,

“WE HAVE LICE!!!!! OH MY GOD!!!”

My son doesn’t even look at me before he starts to scream louder than the blow dryer.

“WE HAVE LICE!!! WE’RE DOOMED!! DEAD!!”

I turn off the blow dryer before dropping it into the wet sink. I start to pace madly in the 3’x3’ bathroom.

“What are we gonna do? What can we do? I don’t know how to deal with this.”

And he says, “You should text someone. This is an emergency.  And I shouldn’t go to school tomorrow.”

“Right. I should text someone. You’re right.”

I run downstairs and find my phone. He runs down right next to me. So so so close to me that I want to push away that clean cut little face. That face that I have loved with my whole being since the day they handed me this perfect helpless being. That face that looked up at me for love and comfort but I wanted to say, “You are gross. You have bugs in your hair. GROSS!” Instead I just itched my own head and began texting. I group texted to my next door neighbour who was on vacation in Orlando and another neighbour down the street.

“WE HAVE LICE! I’m freaking out! Help me. Help me.”

Within seconds the Internet was crawling with panic.

From a Burger King somewhere in the USA:  “WHAT? I just choked on an onion. Hold on.”

From two streets over: “It’s ok. Do you have a lice comb?”

From me, as I scratch my head and my kid jumps up and down yelling, “EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!”

“We don’t have a lice comb. I don’t even know what that is. Help.”

From Burger King in USA: “I just found a living one on my oldest. We have another 16 hours of driving!”

Yikes, no help there.  Then at this point I did what no one ever does anymore. I did the unthinkable. I crossed the line of couth. I actually called the woman from two streets over on the phone. She was shocked. I was shocked. My son was itching but shocked.

“I’m freaking out. What do I do? I’m in my pyjamas and it’s Sunday night and I don’t have a lice comb.”

“Come over.”

“What? Are you crazy? Didn’t you get my text? WE HAVE LICE!”

“I know. It’s ok. Come over.”

I tell my son we are going to her house. He says, “I don’t think I should go to school tomorrow. It’s an EMERGENCY.”

I say, “Put your coat on. I’m freaking out. We have lice.”

Somewhere in between the panic of getting our coats and boots on and nearly slipping down the stairs, I did make some mangled attempts at deep Zen breathing. My son looked up at me. An opportunity had smiled through the scratching. He said,

“Mama…”

“Ya.”

“Mama, is this one of those times?”

“Which times?”

“Mama, is this one of those times when it’s ok to say a bad word? I mean, this is the kind of time where people might say it, right?”

“Yes, this is the kind of time.”

“Well, mayyyybbee, could I say a word? I feel like I really need to say a word and this is the right time to say it.”

“Hmm. Yes, this is definitely one of the times when I would say a word that was bad, sure.”

“Mama, do I have permission to say a word? A bad word?”

“Yes. Go ahead if you need to.”

Then he stopped moving, which is rare even in sleep, and he looked up at me with his one boot on and his coat open over his matching soccer ball pyjamas and his fresh hair cut. He looked up and me and he paused and he said with such force and pride,

“Fuckin’ time!  Fuckin’ time!”

I fell to the floor. I was laughing so hard and yes, there may have been a few tears that were on the precipice of panic that leaped into complete hysteria with hilarity. Now I know you are not supposed to laugh when your child swears because then he will do it again but I had no way of controlling it. I banged the floor with my fist and I laughed and I looked up and him and he was satisfied.

We reached the lice-checking neighbour/angel with her 8-year-old and 14-month-old. Two hours and a thousand lice later, my boy was clean. Then she did the nits. I thanked her and she said, “Uh, you’re next.” I laughed until I realized she wasn’t laughing. I sat in the chair with my head covered in coconut oil as she pulled living things with living legs and living proboscis off of my head. She breast fed as we put on our clothes to leave and I thanked her profusely. Her husband handed me a shot of vodka and told me we were always welcome unless we had bed bugs and then the door would be double locked. Everyone has a limit.We locked the door and made our way down the street to our salvation.  We passed a 22-year-old guy in his skinny jeans and full beard. He smiled at my son sweetly as if he remembered his first jaunt out in the dark in his pj’s. My son said, “Whoa, watch out. You don’t want to get my lice!” I said, “Hi.”

My son took the next day off school and I did twelve loads of laundry. We sat around picking each other’s heads, wearing shower caps and smelling like the coconut vacation we hadn’t had. It was almost Christmas and I felt like I had witnessed the most open-hearted miracle all year. My lice-checking angel would certainly have let Joseph and Mary birth a baby in her one- bedroom Parkdale apartment. There was a star hanging over Seaforth Avenue. We took the lice-checking angel three bags of fruit and vegetables the next day. And yes, got her to check my head again, of course. I’m not crazy. Yet.

Root Vegetable Poetry

For this issue on Roots, I really wanted to do some printmaking paired with poetry.   I ended up doing some old school “potato prints” with my children, simply by cutting these vegetables in half, painting them and stamping them down.  I’m really happy with the minimalistic, almost abstract quality of the prints.  For the poems, I was inspired by Douglas Florian, who’s animal poetry is some of my children’s favourites.  I’ve been reading Omnibeasts (pictured below) since my first daughter was 1, and now she can recite some of the poems by heart.  Florian’s clever rhymes and paintings hold the interest of children and parents alike.  See more of his work at douglasflorian.com

Product Details

 


 

beet

 

 

THE BEET

For flavour, you can’t beat a beet,
But if you cut it in half, you can make it bleed.

 

 

 

carrot

THE CARROT

Care for a carrot?
Of course!
I’ll take it for the first in a super soup.
Maybe with melted butter as a side in a second.
Or for dessert I can make
it into a delicious carrot cake.
Oh heck, give me a raw one and I just might
Give in and give it a great big bite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

sweetpotato

SWEET POTATO

They say it’s one of the healthiest foods
It really packs a whack of goods
Full of Vitamin A and Vitamin C
And extremely low in calories.
It’s characteristics are so fine,
And to your body it’s very kind,
But the biggest reason I like it to eat
Is that this chubby lump is very sweet.

 

 

 

 

ginger

GINGER

You sure make me feel less queasy
and your superb taste is so easy
Your flavour is so versatile
hanging on my tongue for quite a while
Put me in your favourite curry
or blend me up in a soupy slurry
Ginger’s flavour never fails
Especially when drinking Ginger Ale.

 

 

 

parsnip

PARSNIP

Spicy, slicey, dicey, dip
A bulbous top with a skinny tip
A special flavour in a soup
Or roasted, shaved, a unique root
What I’m talking about here, I’ll let it slip
Let me introduce you to the lovely parsnip.

 

 

 

 

 

radish

RADISH

It’s never sadish or badish.
It makes me gladish; it’s radish.

 

 

 

 

potato

POTATO

Oh Pota- to, potato oh
How much I love you so
You make me turn a smile
With all your different styles
Mashed, roasted, scalloped, baked
So many ways, so many takes
But for my favourite delicious sin
I first peel off your velvet skin,
Then scrape out those little eyes
and turn you into french fries.

Things That Roll on My Porch

valcoOur 1st Baby Stroller – the Valco (three wheeled large stroller) – This was the first thing that rolled that we put a baby in. It was an expensive stroller which was bought by our collective families as a shower gift.  It cost about $500 which now seems like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a stroller.  This stroller was recommended by my brother.  It’s quite big for what it does — not exactly a cadillac, but big enough to feel uncomfortable and awkward when going into a store and also big enough to get some bad looks from the childless while walking on a busy sidewalk.  After the children were babies, this stroller lived in my backyard for 2 years growing moss on it.

macclaren The MacClaren Umbrella Stroller –  This stroller is an incredible feat of engineering.  We’ve got the model that reclines so a baby can have a nap.  You can fold it down with one foot and one hand to fit in the trunk of your car or bring it onto transit.  You can have a kid stand on the back of it when they are tired.  We bought one and then another so that we could each push one kid in a stroller.  For us this was the ultimate stroller, one that you can enter any store with ease.  Our youngest child eventually didn’t buckle any more as she was in and out of it all the time.  The worst thing about this stroller is that if your kid gets out of it and you’ve got a diaper bag or knapsack on the back, it’ll flop backwards causing swearing, sweating and bending.

smartcarThe Mec “Smartcar” – This trailer/stroller is extremely handy for 2 kids, although it can be trouble if you’ve got two grumps.  The kids sit side by side and can easily sit on each other, hit, knock each other’s snacks or drinks over.  But the smartcar is the champion of winter.  It handles amazing in snow and ice with its big wheels.  Our first Smartcar was bought on Craigslist from a family who claimed that it was left on their front lawn.  After trying to find it’s proper owner, they decided to make a bit of cash.

It makes me wonder who would steal a kids stroller/bike trailer and what they would use it for.  I’ve used it to buy groceries; which is strange because once full of groceries it feels eerily the same weight as my two kids combined.  I also feel like it would be a great cart for the homeless to keep all their belongings in or for someone to collect beer and wine bottles with.  I’ve come close to returning beer bottles with this thing instead of the car, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It’s just too depressing using something that you should be pushing your kids in to feed your alcoholism.

Thinking about it now, using this stroller as a way to return and get more booze makes perfect sense – forget shame, think happiness!  I should have used this on my way to pick up the kids from school.  Drop off the empties, get a few tall boys, and chug them back so that I’ve got a little buzz by the time I meet the kids.  My kids require booze. I’m wondering if I came to the school with some beers whether I’d be the most unpopular parent in the schoolyard or a champion.

I once left my kids outside of the beer store at Dufferin Mall in this stroller because it wouldn’t fit through the door and I couldn’t be bothered to get them out to come with me.  I just wanted to run in to get a few beers on the way to the park.  I came out to find mall security, asking me whether these were my kids.  I almost felt like saying “of course not, who would do such a thing?” and walking away.  After doing that, I realized how simple it would be for someone to come along and just roll them away.  My wife was not super happy when I relayed this story to her about my brush with Dufferin Mall police.

This first smart car has now made it to the family cottage where it rolls impressively on soft sand carrying kids, beach chairs, umbrellas, sand toys, food, tents, and crocs.  Much better than using a wagon.  Now we have a second smart car/trailer which i used when the kids couldn’t make it back from school because they were up in the night or the unfortunate combination of stayed up too late, got up too early.

wagonThe Wagon – Useful for a short period of time and for short distances.  The thing I don’t like about it is it’s loud hitting every bump on the sidewalk.  It has a little door that the kids like to try and open, even though it’s just as easy to step up and over.  The front and back seat is also something to fight about, especially if a bird poops on one seat and you don’t clean it off for almost the entire time you own the wagon.


trike

Trike with handle – Used for when kids are first learning to pedal, but are completely inept, so you do all the work.  Most of the time I’d have to pop a wheelie with this thing or my kids would just steer themselves into traffic.

 

scoot

Scoot bike – One of the best things that ever happened to us and our kids.  This is when they can first actually propel themselves without you pushing or pulling them.  Total freedom for parents and kids alike.  When your kid first tries it, it’s totally frustrating for them and terrifying for you. (Will they brake in time? or continue on into traffic?).  But it’s worth persevering.  You can actually feel human again as it’s your child’s first step to independence.

princessbike

Pink bike with training wheels, streamers, a basket and toy child seat – When girls are 3 years old they want to be as fancy as possible and need to accessorize, even on a bike.  The more pink the better.  I skipped the training wheels with the second child. They sound awful and cause anxiety when they hit the pavement.
twowheeler

Pedal bike – The only thing better than a scoot bike is a pedal bike your kid can ride.  Teaching your child to ride a pedal bike seems like a bank commercial or an episode from the Wonder Years but it’s impossible not to smile when you see them ride a pedal bike for the first time.  This bike means you can travel some distance, even means you might be able to ride your bike alongside as well.

scootersScooters – We’ve got 2 two wheeled scooters our first born received as presents.  One of them my eldest daughter smashed her face on the sidewalk with. There is a lot of potential for face injury with these.  Our second child has a 3 wheeled scooter and she can really fly on it.  The 3 wheels makes it stand up, which causes less bending (big +). The biggest bummer about the scooter is that you can’t lock it at school, so once you drop your kids off, you have to carry the scooter and helmet over your shoulder like a hobo.

carriageCarriage – Yes, at one point we did have a beautiful old school carriage.  It’s big wheels and suspension made it great to push. You could put the baby in facing you or facing out and completely enclose it with hood for a nap.  It fit a lot of groceries too, but in the end, way too Mary Poppins for me so it had to go.  I was getting enough looks in my Portuguese neighbourhood watching the kids all the time.  We passed this down to my brother in law and it was stolen from their porch by a homeless woman to keep all of her belongings in.  I know this because my sister in law saw her in the park and confronted her but couldn’t put up much of a fight.  I hope this thing is still being used out there somewhere.

It’s a good thing we have a large porch and we never actually use it to sit on.