So I tried something I read on the internet and nearly set my house on fire last night

for making toast

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Wait! I’m not even talking about diagnosing terminal illnesses, magical weight-loss tips, conspiracy theories or anything that aims to debunk established scientific truths. We already know that stuff is crazy.

I’m talking about those lists of helpful tips you see everywhere: 18 Ways To Save Time In the Kitchen; 23 Easy Hacks to Change Your Life; or, my favourite, 48 Tricks Every Parent Should Know. And I should know better! I mean, I already wrote 13 Parenting Tips That Can Bite Me  and the so-called useful advice that has come out since then has been crying out for a sequel. Have you seen the baby sleeper with the built-in mop?! Yes, let’s clothe our infants in mops to maximize the amount of dust and dirt that will cling to them when they crawl across the floor. That’s brilliant.

[Read more...]

We forgot about this when we were wishing for summer

We’re almost a week into summer vacation now and I’m already bent over and gasping for breath. This sucker is the marathon of school vacations and I’m going to have to start pacing myself. I seem to have forgotten exactly how this works and maybe you have too.

1. The kids are home all the time! Unless they’re in camp in which case summer vacation becomes the single biggest financial drain of your year. Hurray! No, but seriously. There’s a two-year-old clinging to my back as I type this, a five-year-old whining about popcicles and an eight-year-old who seems to be in some sort of mind meld-like trance with a video game. In order to get them out of here, I have to go with them.

sitting on curb

 Image credit: Getty Images.

[Read more...]

In defence of kindergarten graduation and trophies for everyone

In defense of kindergarten graduations and trophies for everyone

Image credit: Bill Watson.

Tomorrow is Irene’s graduation from senior kindergarten and I am stoked. Yep, full disclosure: I think it’s sweet.

I still remember my own SK graduation, construction-paper caps, orange “drink” in little Dixie cups and all. It felt like a big deal to me. I was proud and excited to move on to grade one. Grade one is a big change for little kids as the emphasis shifts from play-based learning to more and more desk time. A little ceremony helps to make it feel more special than scary.

But man, do some people ever disagree with me. The anti-mollycoddling movement is alive and well. Their voice is represented in blog and facebook posts around the world. (But The Huffington Post comment section is where they seem to truly come alive.)

[Read more...]

Watch out for my kid, a**hole! 5 easy rules for not running over children with your car

5 easy rules for not running over children with your car

I live in the city of Toronto with three young children. I am a driver and I am a pedestrian. I don’t really cycle. But I am a pedestrian first. We all are. If I were to run for mayor of this city, “Pedestrians first,” would be my slogan. (Though it’s probably easier to buy crack in the “Subways, subways, subways.”)

Unfortunately, many of the drivers in this city (and other cities, too, I’d imagine) do not share my love of pedestrianism. They do not, in fact, seem to care about the safety and well-being of my children at all. Perhaps they do not have children of their own. Perhaps they’ve just returned from a decades-long expedition to the antarctic and have never encountered children at all in their entire adult lives. I don’t know.

So I put together a few simple rules to help them avoid running over kids with their cars. Because that’s really freaking annoying when you’re already late for work.

[Read more...]

Because there always has to be that one kid doing her own thing, right?

Because there always has to be that one kid doing her own thing, right?

Not counting the mandatory square dance unit in my all-girl school grade-nine gym class — that was time well spent — I haven’t taken a dance class in my life. My extracurriculars were confined to figure skating, swimming, girl guides, one week of basketball camp and more than a few dodgy day camps run by hungover teenagers. That was it.

My first two kids do all the same activities because I am nothing if not streamlined. So that’s two kids in hockey and t-ball and swimming and zero kids in dance. Fine by me.

But it just so happens that there’s a nursery school program run by a local children’s dance centre. It’s wonderful, lovely, amazing; you should sign your kids up now. Half-day care a couple times a week was exactly what I needed to fill in my childcare gaps. Perfect. They do typical nursery school activities like crafts and singalongs and a lot of dancing. Sure, sounds good. Whatever. I’m in it for the childcare.

The last week before Christmas break there was a little show for family members in the studio. It was totally casual. Just show up a few minutes early and the kiddies will do a little routine. The kids were off school that day so we all went and sat down on mats on the floor, ready to absorb the cuteness. Cue the music! Aaaand … Mary ran over, crawled into my lap and refused to join in until it was time to take a bow.

[Read more...]

On parenting and living in fear

I’m often surprised by how different people try to parent their teenagers. They either seem astonishingly naive or unbearably controlling. Don’t they remember what it was like? Instagram and Snapchat or not, teenagers have always been teenagers. Maybe this is because my kids aren’t there yet and I can’t quite understand their position. Maybe it’s because these parents are often ten or fifteen years older than me and they really can’t remember their teen years as well. Maybe it’s because my teen years were more wild than theirs and I can’t be shocked.

But I was a bit shocked when I caught up with an old friend over the weekend and she vowed to never let her daughters do some of the things we did. Not to put too fine a point on it, but our parents didn’t exactly “let” us do those things either. How did that turn out? I expect my kids will do those sorts of things. I also expect I won’t like it very much either.

[Read more...]

A mild rant about the Beyonce-Jay Z linkbait used to shame me

Something happened to me last week and I’m still annoyed. I’m bothered enough, in fact, to write this blog post about it. I should probably be writing a humdinger of a post that employs insight, humour and the parenting issue du jour ,and wraps it all up in an eminently shareable package that will garner crazy mad pageviews. That’s what I usually do. But today I just want to complain on my blog and not even bother with a big shiny image and the perfect metadiscription, like it’s 2008 or something.

Here’s what happened.

I was messing around on Facebook because I was either procrastinating or taking a break when a link caught my attention. It said something like, Following the Jay Z and Solange saga? Want to see even more pictures? Clearly the answer was YES. There are more pictures?! I only thought there was a video. This is going to be perfect. I can’t think of a better way to trick myself into thinking that I’m not actually avoiding work than by staring vacantly at more pictures of the Knowles family.

You would have done the same thing.

But there were no more Jay Z pictures. There was only an overly moralized scolding about how we’re not paying attention to the important things in the world and then there were pictures taken from other news stories this past week. There were pictures about the kidnapped Nigerian girls and of arrested Iranian youths and, I don’t know, like, Vladimir Putin or something. I didn’t really look.

At first I was mildly disappointed and then I was slightly annoyed. Then I became downright irked. You didn’t just use Beyonce-Jay Z linkbait to shame me, did you? Why don’t you just rip the magazine out of people’s hands at the coffee shop and ask why they’re not reading real literature?  There are people right now playing volleyball at the beach instead of volunteering at soup kitchens. Quick, set up a beach volleyball league so you can lecture everyone who shows up about how selfish they are and throw aprons at them.

I will not even get into the hypocrisy of using the entertainment news story of the day to score pageviews for your own website and then scolding people for falling for it.

But it’s not just this one story. I don’t even remember what it was or how it came into my Facebook feed. It’s several times a day across various social media platforms people complaining about how the rest of us are shallow, celeb hungry idiots who aren’t paying attention to the real news and issues and events. Even if we do start talking about a serious news story, the choir comes out wonder why we only care about this story and not that story or that other one.

If there are important issues and stories some people wish would get more attention, I don’t understand why they don’t just start talking about those issues. Do they think tricking people into listening to them and then smearing them with shame is a more effective tactic?

Are we not allowed to do both? To sit down quietly and catch up on all the important world news stories that are reported on faithfully by all the major news organizations every single day AND ALSO to steal five minutes of mindless pleasure scrolling Facebook for baby pictures and celebrity gossip?

What else is the point of the internet?