Monthly Archives: June 2016

The forty three

And just like that, I’m forty three. Forty bloody three years old. I was twenty one the last time I looked and then there was work and marriage and children and I’m pretty sure I blinked a few times and attended a few parties and then all of a terrible sudden there was forty three.

Immediately, there are a number of questions that spring to mind. What happened to the hair on my head? Why do I suddenly see less of my feet and more of my belly?

Actually, on that subject, what the hell is going on with all the hair on my belly? It’s as if I’ve donned an organic chest armor that I’ve woven by hand over many moons in my man-cave. All the fibers cut to a uniform length. It’s almost plush. If you shaved it, and managed to keep it all together, you could wrap it around a hairless cat (Sphynx) and make it look quite normal. There’s even a grey patch.

Actually, the hair on my body in general is behaving oddly. I now have hair growing out of my ears. Yes, hair that I now need to clip daily so that it does not get mistaken for an organic new age hearing aid or a winter warmer version of Beats by Dr. Dre.

There is also a chilling amount of hair sprouting from my knuckles, so much so in fact that I’m beginning to have Robin Williams and Steve Carell related nightmares. If you know either of these characters, you’ll understand that the fear is real. And, you know, psychopaths have hairy hands. The future looks grim.

My eyebrows are doing something quite strange too where it seems that the once universal length limit imposed on individual eyebrows has somehow now been repealed. In the past, I never noticed any individual eyebrow exceeding more than a centimeter in length. Now not a week goes by that I don’t find a freakishly long specimen, five or six times the standard length, hidden amongst the other human hair like a bloody mutant on my forehead. I can check the entire crop today and won’t find a single one, but tomorrow morning there will be a six centimeter monster getting ready to colonize my face. 

My nose hair is also stepping slightly outside of the bounds of normal these days. When I look in there, it’s all dark and mysterious. Just as a nostril should be. Then every few days a stray nose hair will step out of line and extended beyond its prescribed boundary, refusing to get back behind the line. Naturally, I immediately pluck these strays but when they’re out, they’re always completely grey. Or it’s it clear like polar bear fur? Hard to say really. Somehow, between the plucking and the plucked, they change colour. It’s a mystery inside an enigma. It also makes my eyes water.

I think that there’s a point you reach as a man, in terms of hair growth and hair loss that once crossed, leaves you in the strange realm where people move to the other side of the street to avoid you. Where beach critters will try to embed themselves in your warm fur, if you happen to remove your shirt on a sunny day in the sand. Or indeed where birds try to pick at you for raw materials for a new nest and then possibly try to build it on your head.

Let me quickly qualify this post and say that I’m not having a mid-life crisis. I haven’t just gone out and bought a topless sports car, nor have I grown anything approximating a ponytail or any other kind of designer facial hair. I’m still married to my lovely wife and have not installed a girlfriend, a mistress, an earring or even a new tattoo. So, I’m completely normal in every way, I think, I’m just flummoxed at how quickly twenty two years has gone. That said, I’ll admit, I am getting a little panicky about all the hair.

Yes, these last two decades have flown by. There were days where time seemed to pass by so slowly that it felt like I was in charge of tracking how fast a glacier moved. As an aside, the fastest moving one is the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland that’s moving at about 1.4 meters an hour. If you’re a glacier, that’s pretty fast. If you’re a human, you’re probably beginning to grow moss and people in white coats are fitting you for your own white coat or sticking post-its on you. But I digress.

Then there were days where I blinked and a few years had disappeared before my eyes like Bruce Jenner’s masculinity. Insert your favorite simile here. Insert rants about the jab at Caitlyn here too.

As I collect my thoughts at the end of the day and stare at the ceiling awaiting the blanket of sleep to fall on my face, I’ll probably not be concerned with the twenty two year hop skip and jump in time that landed me at 43 years old.

No, I’ll probably be thinking about buying a universal hair trimming device with all the necessary attachments for all the crazy hair I’ve sprouted.


The wheels

So there are countless milestones one mentally records when you’re raising children. Some arrive with a brouhaha and others sneak up on you like ninjas in socks. All are equally important. All bring with them warm fuzzy feelings of pride and joy. You know, those feelings that start in your chest and end up tumbling out of your eyes and onto your cheeks in salty applause.

Here is a short list…

The day they sat up for the first time and stayed there without a scattering of pillows to support them. The day the first tooth broke through the surface of very painful and red gums after enough drool was drooled to fill a basin. The day their very first word was uttered that actually sounded like a human word and not something chewbacca might have said. The day they attempted their very first crawl as their attention was fixed on something out of reach and the desire to possess it overcame their natural inclination to sit and, you know, drool. The day they took their first few unaccompanied steps with their arms raised above their heads like an orangutan traipsing through a jungle. The day they made their very first poop in a potty or toilet accompanied by thunderous applause from immediate and extended family all crowded into the bathroom in moral support. This, followed a year or so later by the first successful (read thorough) solo wipe. Yes, the solo wipe. This is a pivotal moment since it is the point at which your dealings with number one’s and two’s are limited once again to you and yours alone.

Then there’s the day your child rides a bicycle without training wheels for the very first time. For the big guy this was June 4th 2016. He’d been riding with training wheels on for quite some time and on this day, my wife commented that she could no longer hear the loud clatter of the plastic wheels as he zipped up and down our avenue. Ergo, he was already balancing. What followed next was a flurry of activity to secure a matching spanner and remove the castanets wheels from the bike. In short order we were ready.

Then there were a couple of simple instructions handed over to the grey helmet about sticking a foot out when the bike stopped moving and watching where he was going. The helmet bobbed up and down vigorously in acknowledgement and then suddenly he was off. The back of his seat was being held ever so gently while he found his balance and then just like that, he was surging ahead under his own steam, weaving all over the road in a slalom but staying upright. After one or two more assisted starts he was starting on his own and balancing as if he’d been born to it.

Stopping was a bit of a problem though. It was as if absolutely all of his wits were being used to pedal and steer and he could no longer spare anything for using the brakes. My son, ever the innovator, solved this problem by simply leaping off the bike mid pedal. By the end of the session he was stopping conventionally again though and the day ended on such a high note for him that he literally beamed until bedtime. The joy of the freedom of that first ride was with him as he drifted off to sleep that night (a brand new maroon Karate belt also hanging in his cupboard).

I imagine his dreams that night were filled with the inspirational music from chariots of fire. Very proud of you my boy.


The tear gauge

My wife and I have been parents for going on seven years now. During that time we’ve been using a rather unsophisticated tool to gauge the level of emotion that our children have invested in a given situation. Specifically, the tear gauge.

In short it goes like this; the more tears there are, the more emotional investment there has been in that situation. It’s been a rule of thumb for us until quite recently that is, when the little guy changed things up for us. But more on that later…

Our eldest boy is completely emotionally transparent. Whatever emotion he’s feeling you are immediately able to see a corresponding physical manifestation of that emotion etched on his angelic little face.

When he’s angry, there’s a frown and copious amounts of tears of frustration complete with expansive Italian hand gestures (we’re not Italian so I’m not sure where he gets that from). Also, I get the feeling they’re saltier tears.

When he’s sad, there’s a waterfall of tears of sorrow and a pitiful, usually quivering, bottom lip. The defining characteristic for sad tears is the length of time the tears go on for and the size of the drops, they’re really quite extraordinary. Dollops of tears is a better description actually.

When he’s sorry, there’s a single digit set of tears that seem to hang suspend in his eye sockets for an eternity. I’ve watched them, they’re like chandeliers. If we could bottle them we’d probably have hoverboards by now because they definitely have anti-gravity properties.

When he’s laughing there are usually no tears but sometimes a single ninja tear of joy will escape out of an eye towards the end of an honest to goodness belly laugh. The best kind of tears.

Actually I think if we were to collect them and measure them using a garden rain gauge or the like, we’d be able to draw a direct comparison between the amount of tears and the level of emotion. For now though it’s all just based on parental intuition.

So then it came as no surprise recently, when we were all saying goodbye to my in-laws at the airport as they set off on an extended holiday, that the big guy had plenty of sad tears on tap as he begged to be allowed to go with them. We managed to cheer him up over the course of the day though and by bedtime he was in balance again. He is, in the best possible way, ‘what you see is what you get’.

The little guy is a conundrum. He has all of the same behaviors with tears that his brother has with one notable exception in the amount of lip that is projected when he’s sad. It’s truly quite a masterpiece of muscular control that mimics beautifully any number of cartoons you’ve ever seen where a character is ‘sad’ and wishes to show it using tears and a backup lip method, you know, just in case you didn’t see the tears.

That little lip tugs at my heartstrings so gently and deftly that it becomes something akin to my Kryptonite. I’m the proverbial putty in his hands.

At the airport that day, he was completely cool, emotionally aloof, smiling and a little playful. He gave hugs and kisses goodbye at the appropriate time and waved with a big happy smile as his grandparents disappeared into the belly of the departure lounge. The balance of the day saw him in a good mood and bedtime was a sinch. We were left with the feeling that we’d pulled off a coup. How easy was that goodbye today? So easy. Let’s pat ourselves on the back.

Later that night he woke up crying about a bad dream he’d had where some piggy’s were breaking his house. When asked what happened to them he said they all flew away on an airplane. Here’s where i whipped out the Sherlock Holmes signature hat and did a little detective jig around what actually happened.

There’s been a surge in Angry Birds paraphernalia recently given that a movie has just been released. You can’t pass a shop window without seeing one of these critters lolling about on a shelf. They’re round…they loll. The little guys are fully immersed in the Angry Bird universe and as I understand it, piggy’s are the antagonists.

So, the little guy had obviously had a dream about piggy’s and it shook the box of Cheerios in his head. Somehow his grandparents had been woven into the story in the plane that took off and he’d then woken up in tears because the birds were flying away.

Or perhaps it was because he’d fallen out of bed.

Yes. Forgot to mention that the parents with six full years of experience and some change (we’re practically journeymen) had decided to take down the bed rail that very same day and all the restlessness in bed, no doubt trying to escape piggy’s, had caused the little guy to tumble out of bed and land unceremoniously on the floor.

Cue the Daddy. Cue the tears, the sad ones.

So what we have here in our halflings is an open book and a Chinese puzzle box. It’s going to be a wild ride.