This morning I woke up bright and early to a sunny Sunday morning and decided to do an extended version of my walk with Max … until Emma decided to come with me. Actually I encouraged her to come because at that point Jason and Chris were both still asleep and I figured she would torment them till they woke up bitter and unhappy.
I knew Emma’s six-year-old legs were not up to the challenge of a brisk walk around Quidi Vidi so we opted instead to walk around Kenny’s Pond. This meant that Max and I got less exercise on the walk, but considerably more entertainment.
One-on-one time with either of my children is always a good thing, and too rare –although they bicker constantly, they also insist on doing everything together. It was nice to walk along chatting with Emma as she pointed out flowers she informed me were called “dragon-snaps.” (“Where did you learn that?” I asked. “Daycare!” she replied, shutting down any possibility of argument.) In the car we listened to the Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had a Million Dollars,” and I said, “What would you do if YOU had a million dollars, Emma?” She thought for a few minutes and said, “I’d use it to help kids who were, you know, sick and stuff.” AWWW! I swear, that was her unprompted answer. What did I do to deserve this little gem?
My favourite moment of the morning, however, came when I explained to her about Max’s habit of peeing every few minutes along the walk. “He does that so other dogs will know he’s been here,” I explained. “See, he sniffs in the grass to see if he can smell other dogs, then he does his pee so that when other dogs come, they’ll know Max was here.”
“Oh,” Emma said. “So it’s kinda like, ‘I’m just gonna send an email to anybody who happens to be passing by.'” Of course, when she saw how this cracked me up she said it fifteen more times and for the rest of the walk we referred to the dog’s bodily functions as “sending an email.” When she saw him sniffing a patch of grass hopefully she said, “He’s like, ‘I’m just going to check my answering machine…’.”
One of the things I love about being with my kids is getting to explain things to them, because they come up with the most interesting questions. In the last two days, besides explaining why dogs pee on a walk, I have also had the opportunity to explore creationism vs. evolution, the basic outlines of our criminal justice system, and the difference between civil and criminal law — all prompted by random questions the kids threw at me. It’s always fun and their perspective is always refreshing.
One question I’m tired of answering, however, is, “Why do people get cancer?” We’ve been through several rounds of this already and now we’re going through it again as Jason’s dad is in hospital with a brain tumor and not doing at all well. In their short lives the children have already lost their Uncle George and their Nanny Kay to cancer, and we tried to gently prepare them last fall for the possibility that they would also have to say good-bye to Aunt Gertie, who had surgery for breast cancer at age 91. Aunt Gertie, however, proved to be the most resilient member of the family so far, which provided the positive lesson that sometimes, people survive cancer (they haven’t seen much evidence of that so far). Now we are trying to explain to them that Poppy Cole probably won’t get better, and I am getting tired of explaining cancer, explaining sickness, explaining death. Having to do this over and over with your children at this age really hammers home the brokenness and fallenness of the world we live in.
It does, however, make us very grateful for the older relatives who are still alive and well, including my parents. My mom celebrated a birthday on Friday and we are definitely blessed to have Grammy with us for another year. I’ve been pondering doing a post on Good Advice my Mother Gave Me, in honour of her birthday. This has the potential to be a very long blog entry, although if I limited it to Good Advice My Mother Gave Me Which I Actually Took, it would be much shorter. Let’s see, I could include:
1. Marry a man who can cook, who makes you laugh, and who treats you kindly. (Actually, I can’t remember if she ever put this into words explicitly, but she certainly taught by example and made it clear that these were the appropriate priorities. Point taken and followed to the letter, with excellent results so far).
2. Credit card debt is evil. Only charge what you can pay off at the end of the month. (This was stated explicitly, and I have pretty much followed it, and looking at the financial mess most people I know are in, I am eternally grateful for my mother’s wisdom on this issue).
3. Never comment negatively on food you eat at a church potluck; the person who made it is probably sitting next to you. (Ain’t that the truth. Also, a subset of church potluck wisdom: don’t put lids on the dishes you bring to potluck, because then you’ll have to look for the dish and the lid afterwards).
I can think of tons more good advice, like Always Send Thank-You Cards Promptly, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t fall in the category of things I’ve managed to follow. Well, there’s always room for improvement! Happy birthday, Mom!!