Dad, we need to talk. It's about the couch.

Jane takes a tentative step into the kitchen.

Jane: Daaaad?

Me: Mmm hmm?

Jane: How do you know if you've broken the couch?

I hesitate to answer. My eyes narrow slightly.

Me: Whyyyyy?

She turns and flees at top speed.

Jane: No reason!

Lest Dad's head get too big, let's discuss his gut

6:04 am. I am awake. I am grumpy? Maybe grumpy.

I stand beside Alice in the bathroom. She is washing her hands. I yawn and stretch. The bottom of my shirt raises to expose a bit of my belly.

Alice: Dad! You have a big tummy!

Me: Thanks.

Alice: It's huuuuuuge!

I look down.

Me: You think?

Alice: Oh yeah. It's like a beach ball.

Me: Really?

Alice: A beach ball with a belly button. NO WAIT! Your belly button is the thing you blow the beach ball up with!

She turns off the tap and dries her hands. She is very proud of her dad's-tummy-is-a-beachball analogy. She turns to walk out of the bathroom.

Alice: Anyway. It's a big tummy.

Another moment

As this story unfolded in real life, it struck me as awfully familiar. I was right.


Basmati rice. Red lentil curry. Diced tomatoes. Fresh cut vegetables. Bits of toast with melted cheese.

We munch in silence. We think about our busy morning and the afternoon ahead.

Alice: What does dog puke look like?

You have one new message. To listen to your message, press 1-1.


"Oh, hi guys. It's me, Josh. Listen, I guess I'm just calling to let you know that Soleil just discovered how to dial the phone all by herself, because she just handed it to me and, well, here we are. Anyway, we like you guys a lot. Talk to you later. Bye."



Recess on the playground. I am eight years old.

Mike*: Hey, I learned to whistle this weekend! Listen!

He puckers his lips and blows a breathy but sustained note.

Mike: Cool, huh?

We all agree. It's cool.

Me: Check this out. I can whistle blowing in and out.

I demonstrate a thin whistle, alternating between drawing and blowing.

All: Coooooool.

Tim: This is how I whistle for my dog! Whee-oo-wheet!

The rest of us exchange a look.We are baffled.

John: That's not whistling. That's just saying the words "whee-oo-wheet."

Tim looks hurt.

Tim: Yes it is! My dad says I'm a great whistler! Listen. Whee-oo-wheet! Whee-oo-wheet! Whee-oo...

He repeats the sound over and over, hoping that if he whee-oo-wheets enought times, what he believes to be true will actually become so. The rest of us exchange another look and make a silent pact.

Mike: Oh, right. Good job!

Me: That's really great.

John: Yeah. Let's go play hide and seek.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent

An excruciating photo

I was going to post it here. I don't think I can.

I know it has family historical value. As in, "Hey, remember the time Jane got her hair tangled in the ropes?"

We were all in our pal Posie's backyard, celebrating her fourth birthday. The yard's dominant feature is a giant swing set suspended from two tall trees. The set is so large, it is both beautiful and terrifying.

Jane was sitting on one of the swings, twisting herself up until the rope handles were completely entwined, then letting go and spinning at a million miles an hour. It is not a ride for the faint of stomach.

In the photo, Jane has finished her spinny ride and has just realized her long curly hair has somehow become wrapped around the swing's rope handles. The old ropes had frayed into tiny dots of nylon. The dots grabbed onto her hair and held on like Velcro.

I know Bonnie, the photographer, didn't realize what she was taking a picture of when the shutter clicked. Like the two adults in the frame, the horrible realization was still a second or two away.

Jane was so brave. I was chatting with someone halfway across the yard and didn't realize anything was wrong until she was nearly free. By the time I got there, her mother was speaking soothing words into her ear while the gentle hands of friends released her hair from the ropes.

I can't look at the photo. Not yet.

But you can, if you like.

Sorry about everything (The Wes Anderson edition)

My pal Neally thought my Sorry about everything post from a few days back read a bit like dialogue from a Wes Anderson movie.

Turns out, he was right.

Cornnui /n. boredom or mental weariness from corn


Alice: I'm bored.

Me: How can you be bored? It's breakfast.

Alice: There's nothing to do.

Me: You could finish eating your cereal.

She taps on her cornflakes with the back of her spoon. Tiny droplets of milk splash against the inside rim of her bowl.

Alice: These cornflakes are taking forever.

Sorry about everything

It is just after six a.m.. The bedroom is dimly lit by the glow of the early morning sky. The sound of rain comes in the open window.

Jane and Alice are mostly awake. They lie resting for a few more minutes side-by-side on the big bed.

Alice: I'm so sorry, Jane.

Jane: What do you mean?

Alice: I mean, I'm sorry.

Jane: About what?

Alice lets out a long sigh.

Alice: Everything.

Jane rolls onto her side to face Alice. She rubs her arm.

Jane: It's okay. You didn't do anything.

Alice turns away.

Alice: Then I'm not sorry at all.

An exchange of skills

Jane: Alice taught me how to make baby dragons out of Lego, and I taught her how to roll her eyes!

Clear Erin's calendar for the next day, she would like a cup of tea

Friday evening at our friends' house. The scattered remains of a wonderful supper lay scattered about the table. The laughs and shrieks of our kids playing in the backyard drift through the screen door.

Hostess: Would you like some tea?

Erin: Sure. You don't have jasmine, do you? I haven't been able to find any for a while.

Our hosts exchange a look.

We do, but... we're pretty sure it made us sick.

They bought this new jasmine tea a few days back and brewed it for lunch the next day. Shortly after, they experienced gut-wrenching pain. At the time, they assumed they had come down with the flu. By suppertime that night, both were feeling a bit better, but neither felt up to a full meal. Our hostess made herself a second cup of tea, at which point the wrenching pain returned.

As they tell the story, my inner voices are having a debate.

Inner Voice One: Oh god. We know how this is going to end.

Inner Voice Two: What do you mean?

Inner Voice One: They're going to say Erin can try the tea if she likes. They may even offer her the box. They are very very nice people.

Inner Voice Two: She wouldn't take it, would she?

Inner Voice One: Think for a moment about how much Erin loves jasmine tea.

Erin loves jasmine tea. Its aroma, its colour, its flavour. I remember early in our marriage, Erin ordered by mail these exquisite tiny balls of dried jasmine leaves. Drop one into your cup of steaming water, and it slowly unfurls into a delicate flower.

Inner Voice One: She's going to take it. Just watch.

Our hostess is just finishing her tale.

Hostess: we can't say for sure that it was the tea that made us sick.

She shrugs.

Host: It was delicious, but I'm not taking any chances. You can take the box, if you like.

Inner Voice One: Wait for it... Wait for it...

I'd love to! Thanks!

Inner Voice One: Told you.

The weight of the world

It's just after six in the morning. Henry and I are walking the dog along the Confederation Trail. The sun is just starting climb over the trees.

Me: You took a long time to fall asleep last night.

Henry: Yup.

Me: Everything okay?

He sighs.

Henry: It just takes forever to fall asleep. I just can't stop thinking about things.

Me: And then you start to worry that you're thinking too much about things, and then it's an hour later and you're still awake.

Henry: Yes! It's just like that.

The trail here is intersected by a street. Henry hits the button to activate the pedestrian crossing. We walk across and continue on the trail. Our feet crunch in the gravel.

Me: So what is it you're thinking about that's keeping you awake?

Henry: Mostly Lego.

Why don't you go ahead and tell Alice it's time to go home

We had dinner at our friends' farm a few weekends back to celebrate their birthdays. I had a lovely talk with one of our hostesses about their beehives, which were just a few dozen paces from where we ate supper in the yard. Jane and Henry were enamoured with the chickens pecking and scratching behind the barn.

Alice was more a fan of the hammocks, of which they had three suspended between trees in the shady side yard. Here she is about ten minutes after I told her we would be leaving in five.

My Little Battle Pony

Henry is flapping.

He does this so rarely anymore. You have to catch him in a moment of unguarded bliss. His hands flap like little baby wings. Just like when he was a toddler.

"Dad!" he yells. "Check out my pony!"

He runs to where I sit on the couch sipping my coffee. He is holding a My Little Pony doll. It is a purple unicorn with pink hair.

"It's awesome," he says.


Not very many minutes ago, he was complaining that the girls never want to play anything cool.

"I don't want to play with stupid ponies," he said. "The girls only want to play boring normal stuff."

Boring normal stuff, by Henry's definition, includes things such as playing school or house. Not obviously cool stuff such as ninjas or dragons.

We encouraged him to give the girls a chance. They played his games for most of the morning. Fair is fair.


"My pony can fly," Henry explains. His eyes are wild. "He has super strength. He shoots fire out his horn. And, he's the captain of the Pony Ball team."

"Cool," I say.

He runs back to the game. He is flapping.


Moments later, he's arguing with Alice.

"My pony just shot fire on your pony!" he says.

"No it DIDN'T," she insists.

"Yes, it did. See? Whoooooooosh. Fire. All over you pony."

Alice sighs.

"Fine," she says. "But my pony isn't very happy about it."