In which I ask the dumbest question ever

I came home from work yesterday to find the house in chaos. The kids were wild, and Erin had been on her feet the entire day.

Me: Take the dog for a walk. I'll finish supper.

Erin: Are you sure?

Me: Of course. Just go.

She leaves. And then Jane has to go to the bathroom, which she is mostly capable of doing herself.

After a few minutes, I check on her. She needs a bit of help, so I clean her up, and help her with her underwear (why is girl underwear so silly and unpractical?).

Me: I need to check on supper. Can you get your pants on and wash your hands?

Jane: Yes.

A few minutes pass. Henry is so busy yacking at me that I lose track of how long Jane has been gone.


Alice: Ah! Ah hahaha!

I walk into the dining room to find Alice waving the toilet brush around like a sword.

Me: Oh, yucky! Alice! No no no! Let me take that.

I do. She weeps and wails. I pick her up to take her to the bathroom to clean her up. I walk in to find Jane staring into the toilet.

Me: Jane... where are your pants?

Jane: (pointing in the bowl) In there.

Me: Jane... why did you put your pants in the toilet?

Jane: I forget.

He learned to talk like ths from his mother

Jane gazed at me across the breakfast table, her eyes crossed.

Jane: Daddy! There's two of you!

Henry: Shoot the other one!

How and where to cook lentils

Erin suited up to take the dog and kids for a walk while I finished up her dinner prep.

Me: What about the lentils?

Erin: When they come to a boil, turn them down to simmer and put the lid on. Or just slightly askew.

Henry: What's "askew"?

Erin: A street in Leamington.

Overheard: grandmothers defined

I put laundry away in one bedroom while Henry and Jane played with our seven-year-old neighbour, Jonah, in the next.

Jonah: What's that? Is it your guys's toy box?

Henry: No. It's full of blankets.

Jonah: You guys have lots of blankets.

Henry: Yeah. Our Grandma D. makes them.

Jonah: Two of my grandmas are dead.

Jane: Oh.

Jonah: But one is still alive!

Jane: Grandmas are nice. You'll see when they come. You don't have to be shy of them. They're not for shy.

Technology and its noble uses

A few weeks ago.

Phone: Ring. Ring.

Me: Hello?

Female voice: Hello, sir. I'm calling from Bell Aliant to tell you high-speed internet is now available in your ar-

Me: Yes. Sign me up.

Female voice: Don't you want to hear about -

Me: No. Just do it.

Female voice: Alright...

Me: Is this the easiest sell you've ever made?

Female voice: It's up there.

It took until this week for the technician to come hook us up. We'd been without high-speed internet since we moved from Cape Breton.

Henry was more excited than I. And for good reason. Imagine going a whole five months without being able to watch this.

Baa Baa, Black Sheep: the Jane edition

Baa baa, Black Sheep.
February full.
Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Free Bags.

One for my nap hurts;
one for my Dave;
one for the little girl who lives down the Wayne.

Baa baa, Black Sheep.
February full.
Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Free bags.

Of course, the other option is also difficult to believe

I walk into the kitchen and plunk a couple of bottles on the counter.

Me: The lady at the liquor store says I have great taste in wine.

Erin: She was flirting with you.

Me: Is it so hard to believe that I might actually have a developed palate?


Erin: Yes.

Grandma T

For most of the time my Grandma T and I walked the same Earth, she was a tiny and nearly batty old woman. And like many grandsons, I probably didn't show her the respect she deserved.

She lived most of her adult life in Toronto, but moved to London, Ontario when my grandfather retired, somewhere around the time I was born. They visited us in Leamington every few months.

Inevitably, every morning of her visit, she would creep into my bedroom at some ungodly hour to retrieve something she had left in my closet. Whatever it was, it was hidden at the bottom of a crinkly Eaton's bag. The harder she tried to keep the crinkly plastic from making noise, the noisier it got.

Me: (after several minutes of crinkling) I'm awake now, Grandma. Do you want me to turn a light on?

Grandma: Oh, goodness. I didn't wake you, did I?

One year at Christmas, my aunt tried her new hair-trimming kit out on my teenage head.

Me: You're not going to buzz me, right?

Aunt: Of course not. See? This is the longest attachment.

Her first swipe at my skull began at the peak of my forehead and ran to my crown.


Aunt: (looking, tilting her head) Oh my.

Me: What?

Aunt: Nothing. It's just...

Clippers: zzznik

Aunt: Hmm.

By the time she finished, I was nearly bald -- which, at the height of my sloppy, grungy, indie-pop years was just about the worst thing that could ever happen to my head. Grandma T knew just what to say.

Grandma T: You look like one of those football players!

Me: What?

Grandma T: You know! A football player! Very preppy.

I didn't think much of my grandma. Which is not to say that I didn't love her, or that I thought poorly of her. I just didn't think about her.

I was in college when she had her first stroke. It was big. It was followed soon after by a string of others. Overnight, my grandma transformed from the woman I'd always known to a frighteningly pale human form lying very still on a hospital bed.

Our family moved her to a care home in Leamington. She eventually recovered a bit. She could speak and feed herself. But she was never again the Grandma T I had known. She was way better.

Every time I visited, it was a different time, a different place. She was always Marjorie T_, but a younger version of herself. Completely lucid in whatever time and place her mind brought her.

Sometimes she was a five-year-old girl. We'd talk about candy and how mean little sisters can be. Other times she was a teenager. She was very keen to talk about boys.

Grandma T: Sometimes I don't know which boyfriend I like best.

Me: You have more than one?

Grandma T: Don't tell!

Once, she confessed the nicest boy she ever met was a fellow named Gerry T_. My grandpa.

Me: You're just saying that because it's me, Grandma.

Grandma: Maybe. He was nice, though.

Grandma lived just long enough for me to get to know her -- to realize this tiny person I had grown up apathetic to was a complex, intelligent, feeling person.

The day before her funeral, I found a photo of her and and  my grandpa on their honeymoon. They took a cruise of the Great Lakes. In the photo, they're lazily leaning back against a guardrail. Grandpa's arm goes far enough around her shoulders that Grandma can hold the tips of his fingers with her hand. They look look young, attractive, and cocky. Their faces wear an unmistakable expression. It says: "Awwww, yeah."

I didn't cry at her funeral -- something a creepy church fellow pointed out to me.

Creepy: It's OK, you know.

Me: What's OK?

Creepy: To cry.

Me: Oh, I know. I'm not sad.

Creepy: Riiiiight. Look, we both know you can't lie to me. Go ahead. Cry.

Me: I'm not sad.

He grasped my arms, and spoke in a whispered growl.

Creepy: Cry.

Me: (matching his tone, leaning forward) No.

I probably should have explained how happy I felt that day. That I had a picture in my head all day of a smiling young woman and her new husband with their whole lives ahead of them. That I was lucky enough to get to know her before it was too late.

First joke

Alice sits in her high chair as we eat supper. She holds a toy piece of cheese up to her face as if it was a camera.

Alice: Tseeze!*

*literally translates from the original Baby Speak as 'Cheese!'

This makes Henry laugh so hard he nearly pukes out his stew.