My parenting philosophy in one info graphic.
My parenting philosophy in one info graphic.
About this time back in late 2005, Wendy and I were out for a drive and she wanted to go look at the SPCA at puppies. We had just put down Elway the Halloween before because of liver cancer and I was missing having a dog around the house.
We went in looking for puppies and came out with a full sized, rambunctious and rowdy Weimeraner/Retriever cross that had been badly abused. In the interview room Maggi physically wounded Wendy by jumping all around while Wendy actually said with a straight face that she thought this massive dog would be a good lap dog.
The scene in that interview room at the SPCA reminded me of when two Loonie Toon characters are locked in a room and fighting. It was hilarious and Maggi came out on top. Then in the line to adopt Maggi, the dog somehow wrestled Wendy to the floor and I remember looking down at Wendy who was flat on her back in the lobby of the SPCA and thinking that this isn’t going to end well.
We took her home and she was confounded by the stairs. She had never been in a house before. If you touched her, she would get so excited, she would run off to another part of the house. If she saw your open hand, she would lay down and cry because she was sure I would hit her.
Slowly she became my dog. I remember the first time she jumped up on the bed and slept there. It was a big deal that she trusted me to be that close. Eventually she realized that no one was going to hit her, stairs could be mastered, and a queen sized bed was just about the perfect size for her to lay on. Over time she also realized that scaring the pizza delivery guy wasn’t helping her get leftover pizza and chilled out even with strangers.
We went on countless walks to the park and she was never happier than when she had her frisbee. She ate with the frisbee, slept with the frisbee, went to the bathroom carrying the frisbee, and carried the slimy frisbee to bed.
She loved to fetch and would do anything to get a frisbee. She hurdled a merry-go-round once to come up with an errant toss. She jumped the front of Lee’s car to get another one. One time two Saskatoon Police Officers stopped just to watch her come down with frisbee after frisbee. After some tosses, their black police uniforms had blonde dog hair all over them. They didn’t seem to care.
The one thing that would drive her crazy was fetching snowballs in the yard. She would tear up all of the snow looking for a ball made of snow.
She would never give up and eventually would bring back any snow as a way to save face. Of course I would make another snowball and toss it out there and it would start all over again.
Maggi was always a bull in a china shop and we were worried when we brought Oliver home that she would be too aggressive with him who was still two months premature. I’ll always remember that dog walking extremely slowly across the floor and giving Oliver a little lick before laying down right beside him. For whatever reason Maggi thought of Oliver as her puppy and was forever overly protective of him. When he napped, she slept outside his room. When he played, she always was near.
Maggi was smart and devious. She never really accepted sharing a bed with Wendy and was always trying to kick her off. She would lay beside us and punch Wendy in the head. She would actually uncover Wendy at night while making a nest for herself. She would also try to push Wendy’s legs out of the bed. She may have accepted me as the alpha male but she never ever respected Wendy as the alpha female of the pack.
She liked Wendy and even loved her but never really respected Wendy. Many times Wendy would get mad at Maggi and she would walk over to me and look back at Wendy with a look of “do something about her.” That always went over well.
This fall she developed a lump on her leg. We had it tested and it wasn’t cancerous but a fat deposit. We dealt with that but there was the danger that it could return as cancerous. In December it did and she started to struggle breathing and walking. This week I realized she was in an incredible amount of pain. The lump grew daily and we took her to the vet who told us that it was not only cancerous but had spread to her lungs. There wasn’t any choice and today we took her to the clinic and I held her as they put her down.
I will endure a few weeks of the occasional dark thought, and I will think: ‘Pretty good trade, 159 months of companionship and friendship and unconditional love for one or three months when sadness creeps in. In fact, that’s a fantastic trade.’ I feel the same as when Woody died: The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.
It was a good trade for my family as well.
This could have been Oliver and I as he taught me our “secret handshake”
Big Hero 6 was a faster learner than myself.
After cancelling cable television and therefore taking advertisers out of my kid’s lives, it changes Christmas. When I asked Oliver what he wanted for Christmas, he asked for one thing and that was “grown up binoculars” which we got him for $10 at Canadian Tire. He was thrilled. He uses them all over the house, even while walking.
I asked Mark what he wanted and he said a good book on history or true crime.
That was it. Now Mark wanted a lens but it was out of our budget (I got one for him anyways as I get a deal from Pentax & Don’s Photo on some gear) but he never asked for it.
So I am left with two options. One is that I have two of the greatest kids ever to walk the earth (possible but not probable) or that the removal of television advertising out of their lives has made them less materialistic.
Of course it isn’t media that does it. We have Netflix and the kids watch and I watch that a lot but it has no commercials. No one is telling the kids to “want this” or “want that”. No “biggest toy of the season” and very little to make them feel insecure that they don’t have something.
As far as news goes, they consume that via websites and while there is video, advertising online seems rather annoying rather than integrated. Who really cares what is on that banner ad.
I keep hearing parents tell me that their kids are so demanding and consumption orientated and before we jump at the conclusion that these kids are flawed, maybe it is television advertising. With no one to tell my kids what is cool all of the time and to tell them what they want, they just figure it out themselves. For Oliver it is binoculars. For Mark it is The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
The whole thing has made me wonder if for all of the worry we put on peer pressure, if media pressure is what we should be worried about.
Good morning everyone. To be honest I hope you aren’t reading this when I post it. It’s early and I can’t sleep.
Not sleeping well on a Christmas Eve/Christmas morning used to be my normal routine. As a kid I would go to be early with all of these expectations of Christmas morning in my head. I desperately wanted to sleep but never could (even then I knew that sleep would make Christmas come sooner). I would read, count sheep, read some more and eventually around 4 a.m. my brother and sister would wander into my room while we debated if it was too early to go upstairs and wake up my mom (it was but it didn’t stop all three of us from taking the opposite view).
Around 5 a.m. we would try to wake up Mom only to be hollered at to go back to bed (later on I found out that she was awake too but wasn’t going to get up at 5:00 a.m. to open presents). Around 6:30 a.m. she would wake up and tell us that we couldn’t come up until the coffee machine was done perking her coffee. The normally fast coffee maker would slow down to a crawl on Christmas morning as we huddled at the bottom of the steps waiting for it to finish while Mom set out our Christmas stockings. Every drop of coffee was heard and seemed to take forever.
After what seemed like hours, her coffee would be done and we would open our stockings and then our gifts before Mom would make us a big breakfast. Since our stockings always had candy in them, at least once that morning Mom would say, “no more chocolate until breakfast” which would generate howls of laughter from her and us as soon as the words left her mouth.
After breakfast the wrapping paper would be carefully gathered up making sure nothing got tossed out. Mom would then turn on the Disneyworld Christmas Day parade and we would collectively mock Regis and Joan Lunden. Joan Lunden isn’t nearly as irritating as Kathy Lee Gifford but it was Christmas morning and we were high on chocolate and strong coffee. Some toys would be assembled but in a family of readers, the books would distract us and soon all three kids would be in our rooms reading whatever soft cover book was in our stocking. Since all three of us were up all night, it lead to a Christmas Day nap and some quiet time for Mom.
Then we would do something fun. We went public skating one year, tobogganing on many of them, often we took Misty our dog for a walk along the Meewasin Trail and there was often friends who stopped by. Once mom would make her initial proclamation of “no more chocolate until breakfast”, you would hear someone say it every time someone ate a candy, including her.
Eventually it was time for the Christmas dinner. Mom had these crystal glasses that meant the world to her. She would always warn us to be careful and it seemed like every Christmas she would break one in the weirdest of ways. Even weirder was that even with brain cancer, she never broke many things except for those goblets. The Bay sold them and we would always pick up the replacement glass for her on Mother’s Day but it was kind of a tradition, Mom breaking her prized goblets. It wasn’t like she dropped them. Something would fall out of a counter (which never happened) bounce and the ricochet into the goblet. We would just sit there with a look that said, “I can’t believe that happened”. Even weirder is that as kids, we never broke one and we were the ones who broke everything.
Then it was a night of talking together, playing crokinole, and drinking too much strong coffee.
I hated crokinole. Mom played it all of the time as a kid and would sit there and do all of these crazy trick shots and then go, “Jordon do you want to play?” Let me see, getting humiliated by my mother who was a poor winner seems like a lot of fun. She was undefeated for her entire adult life. I was winless. So I would play and get beat badly and then get taunted for losing. I was so happy when Jolene and Lee were there and could be beat as well. To be fair, my mom was insanely competitive and would accept any video game challenge we made to her. She got as good as good as she gave. Then we would wind down and make plans to take the tree down on Boxing Day. Christmas always started the same (waiting for coffee to perk) and ended the same (waiting for more coffee to perk).
Taking the Christmas tree down on Boxing Day started because my great Aunt Beth spent every Christmas with us. Aunt Beth never married and adopted Mom as her favourite niece and spent every holiday with us. She would come down from Regina on the bus and stay for a couple of weeks. We loved Aunt Beth but she was eccentric and lived alone too long. She was also really short (that matters) and smoked a lot. i used to bug her that she lit her last cigarette when rationing ended after World War II and then just lit one smoke of another since then. It wasn’t that far from the truth.
Aunt Beth would come in the second week of December and so would the smell of Player’s Light cigarettes. So to get the smell of nice pine Christmas Tree, our tree had to go up before Aunt Beth got here. Which meant by Boxing Day, we were tired of the tree and Christmas decorations in general so it all came down. She never realized the reason and I don’t think she cared that much either. There was still cookies to eat and festivities to take part of.
So today is going to kind of be the same kind of day. The boys aren’t awake yet but they will be upstairs soon. My coffee is being made as I write this and I assume I will be joined shortly by Oliver and Mark (who will also be drinking my coffee) We will have a nice breakfast together and then head downtown where we will take some photos of an empty and abandoned downtown core. Mark, Wendy, Oliver and I have new camera gear to test out. Someone has to feed Bridge City with fresh photographs. Then back home for a charcuterie board for lunch and maybe the kids will have a nap while Wendy cooks our Christmas dinner before spending the night goofing off and drinking too much coffee.
Hope your day is a good one. Merry Christmas.
(tomorrow, the decorations come down)