Wednesday, 13 July 2016

I think my daughter is moving out soon

My daughter just turned three... and how does the rest of that story go...? She just turned three and then she got a car and then she graduated and then she had her own kids and then I died.

Ok, so maybe it isn't quite as abrupt as all that. But it feels like it.

Fraggle just turned three and she continues to remind me - in endless, hilarious, and infuriating ways - how quickly she's growing up and getting ready to leave me.  She's quickly becoming a not-so-small person.  She has (mostly) logical expectations and (usually) an effective method of articulating them. She has impressive skills and abilities. She's figuring shit out you guys. And it scares the hell out of me. I'm pretty sure I could leave her alone for, like, three or four hours and she'd be totally fine.  She'd probably make me dinner.  She'd at least wash the floor.  

This child has an astute memory and level of determination that rivals most adults. Not just the regular adults - the bold and feisty ones.  Months ago, when asked what she wanted for her birthday, she was quite clear: a(nother) pink stuffy cat, a teddy bear, and a big bucket of animal "guys" (to accompany her existing collection of no less than 80 miniature animals of various types).

When asked the same questions on subsequent occasions, she'd sometimes add something new ("And a train, Mama. And a dog. And a tv.") But despite these additions, her commitment to the pink cat, teddy bear and bucket of guys never wavered.  So of course we obliged, and she was not at all surprised.  She did, however, ask why she didn't get a train.  (No matter that her favourite gift was actually one she didn't ask for - a collection of fake food that she sorts and hoards like she's preparing for the apocalypse.)

This child is also very self-sufficient, and she knows how to use it to her advantage.  Each night after we jump through the 35 bedtime hoops, she says goodnight, all tucked in and ready for sleep.  And three minutes later she emerges to announce that she has to pee.  Again.  For the fourth time in the last hour.  She walks herself to the bathroom, turns on the light (pulling the ribbon we've placed for her), carefully (and quietly, so as not to wake her baby Warner Brother) places her stool, pees, wipes, washes her hands, dries them ("I dry dem berry berry way-o so I don't get all my fings wet"), turns off the light, and returns to bed.

Now, you may say that's great - and it is - but it's also frightening.  This is a prime example of my daughter very strategically working the system.  This child knows we will not - nay, cannot - say no to pee. She knows she gets to leave her bed, no matter what, and that we have to like it.  She knows. She reads it in our eyes.  And although her voice says "I have to pee, ok Mama and Dada?" her eyes respond to ours with "Yep I'm going pee.  Right? You're not gonna do anything about it, are you? Nope. See you in a few, suckers."

There are a million other examples of this little three-turning-thirteen masterpiece that are equal parts impressive and terrifying. She breastfeeds her baby doll. She finds the exclamation points in her books. She spells CAT. She weeds the garden. She climbs the rock wall at the park and swings on the big-kid swing, by herself. She knows the name of our street, city, province and country.  She dances at weddings.  She even watches Full House.

On the bright side, she may need me for a few more years - at least to help her pronounce anything with a second consonant after an S, and possibly to log her into Netflix.  So at least there's that.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

We all know Gord Downie

This morning I woke at 6:30 to the sound of my new baby stirring in his bassinet.  When I brought him downstairs, I looked at my phone.  There was a single notification.  It was an email from @TheHipDotCom announcing Gord Downie's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer.

It took only a single breath before my mind flooded with the weight of this news; the weight of Gord Downie's voice in my life.  I was overwhelmed with how much I love this music, these lyrics, this band.  I'm what you call a true admirer... I'm a fan.

One look at twitter today and it's obvious that the rest of Canada feels exactly the same way.  The Tragically Hip is an emblem of our nation, a worthy representation of our pride.  Even if you're not a "fan" you hear this music wherever you are.  Gord's Downie's lyrics and unmistakable voice float in your consciousness.

Everyone who was struck by this news today - kicked in the stomach by it - knows Gord Downie.  He's our comrade.  We have followed him and his band for 30 years.  We have been to his shows and have sung alongside him.  He has written elaborate, honest, enduring stories about our hometowns, and we have walked with him on our streets.  We have heard these songs on our radios every single day, some of us for our entire lives.  Gord and his bandmates have driven across the country with us, they've strummed with us by the cottage campfire, they've lulled our babies to sleep and hyped them up for living room dance parties.  These songs are quoted at our kitchen tables.  These lyrics have become a national narrative, a collection of lore.  They literally tell the stories of our lives.

I have seen six Hip shows, including four in my Hometown, which is also their Hometown; two benefit concerts for someone else's cause; two in an arena perched on a street named for them; three standing in the grass on warm summer days; one at the National Arts Centre in fancy theatre seats that nobody sat in and that Gord walked across the backs of into he crowd; and one standing all by myself when Hubby got lost looking for beer.

These musicians are my neighbours. I have seen them at my movie theatre and been too shy to say hello. They have sat in the halls of my high school.  They have been awarded honourary degrees from my university. I danced the last dance of my wedding, in our Hometown, to their song.

Gord Downie's voice plays in my mind as a backdrop to my life.  His music is coming home. I feel like I know him, as we all do, and I am so, so sorry this is happening to him.

But let's not act like he's already dead.  His voice is still singing on every radio station and in every house in this country, and soon on as many stages as he can manage.  I intend to hear it.  I intend to add to my collection of powerful memories set to the tune of his music, with renewed appreciation; with will and determination, and grace, too.

A photo on my fridge for almost a decade.