New York, NEW YORK!

I had the chance to visit New York City for the first time this past summer. With two kids in tow, we were only there for a day, only visited Central Park and FAO Schwartz, and happened to walk past Trump Tower on our return to the parking lot.  But I was in love before we had even parked the car.

I know how sad it is that I had never been before. In hindsight, I didn't truly understand that the city was real until I saw it with my own eyes. I guess I just thought of it as a character in a movie; something that only exists on TV. By the time we were leaving town, we were already making plans to return.

While I now recognize that the Big Apple is real, my romantic notion of the city is still firmly rooted in fiction and pop culture. Movies and musical interpretations dominate my understanding of NYC so I might still find some surprises when I return - for better or for worse.

With that in mind, I proudly present to you the Top 10 things I expect the city to deliver the next time I cross the bridge.

1. I hope the hooker that grabs my ass in Times Square has, at least, recently washed her hands.

2. When I visit the converted firehall from the 1984 documentary film Ghostbusters, I want to believe that I won't be scared when Slimer flies around overhead, but in my heart of hearts I know I will be.

3. When Jay-Z and I are hanging out at a Brooklyn Nets game, I expect to be discussed as the mystery feller "hangin' with Hov" on TMZ the next day.

4. When I slam my hands down on a cabbie's car, screaming "I'm walking here, I'm walking here!," I expect him to flip me off.

5. If Home Alone 2: Lost in New York taught me anything, it's that no matter how dangerous the streets of the big city are, when your kids go off on misadventures, everything will turn out well in the end.  So Pea and Peanut should be fine if we leave them in the hotel room for an afternoon.

6. As NYC is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, I will expect to instantly become a handsome billionaire philanthropist who doesn't stress over car payments and a mortgage. Dream a little dream...

7. I expect the descendants of William Cutting and Leonardo Dicaprio to still be vying for supremacy in the Five Points, even though I will never go there... they put dead rabbits on stakes, for gods sake.  That's F'in dangerous.

8. I expect there to be more crazy people on the subway than there are normal people. And I'm not talking crazy, like "oh that guy has 20 facial piercings, he's so crazy!" I'm talking "MOVE! MOVE! MOVE! THAT CRAZY GUY'S GONNA PEE ON US!" crazy.

9. Not only do I expect to see Woody Allen filming in a movie in NYC, I expect to be given a supporting role in said film (this expectation ties back to #6 on my list - concrete jungle where dreams are made of).

10. While I know their battles are epic, over there on the Upper West Side of town, I pray the Jets and the Sharks can keep their fierce rivalry in check long enough for me to enjoy an exhibit or two at the American Museum of Natural History - coincidentally, the location of the best Ben Stiller movies ever made, Night at the Museum.


My Alternative to NHL Hockey

During the last NHL lockout, Texas Holdem' Poker made a big surge.  Men around the country needed a competitive spectacle to occupy their time, and the stars of the poker world were all too happy to fill that need.

Well, now there's another lockout.  And those that like poker have stuck with it.  It looks like the rest of us hockey fans are looking for another outlet.

Look no further.  I am offering up my own nightly ritual as fodder for the masses.  Simply put, I suggest we videotape and broadcast my efforts to change my infant baby's diaper and put on her pyjama.

Here's what I promise to you, the fan:

  • Three 20-minute periods, during which the outcome is never a certainty.
  • There will be sweating, swearing, usually some hooking, and lots of shame.
  • Assuming I manage to get the diaper on, I will give a post-completion interview, where I will discuss my strategy during the diapering, which will likely involve some combination of luck, yelling and a complete disregard for whether or not the diaper is even on properly.
  • Headed into the pyjama'ing, I will offer viewers the opportunity to call in an choose the pyjama of their choice.  This will allow you, the fan, to choose a zippered pyjama, or the dreaded over-the-head, buttons at the bottom model.  Because unlike the NHL, I care about entertaining the fans. 
  • On Saturday nights, a pre-game show will be available, where fans can watch as I also attempt to feed the infant dinner.  A post-game show will also feature my midnight frustration at the baby's constant wakings.  The post-game show is guaranteed to offer you a grown man's tears.

There you go hockey fans.  Trust me, after you see me doing this, you'll never need another hockey game in your life.  Oh, and for American viewers, I will also have a glowing diaper to make it easier for you to follow the action.


Bonding Made Easy

Today, I hit a new high as a parent.  Well, maybe it was a new low.  No, it was a high. Yeah, a high.  For sure a high.

Today, my daughter threw-up in my mouth.

Understand the high vs low dilemma now?

Context is simple, really.  I get home from work, happy to see my family.  I've been sick for a couple of days, so I have been avoiding Peanut for the most part, keeping from holding her and getting too close. Since I believe the worst of the cold is behind me, I figure, time to get back to hands on parenting.

As I pick up Peanut, she starts to whine a bit.  It's close to her bedtime, so she's a little crabby.  So, I go to my surefire Daddy-make-me-happy move, and hold her up over my head, a la Lion King.

At this point, she throws up.  And since I'm craning my neck looking up at her, a substantial amount of vomit lands in my mouth.  I immediately realize that she had corn for dinner.

Next steps: (1) hand the infant to my wife, (2) head to the washroom, (3) spit, (4) rinse, (5) repeat, (6)  change throw-up stained shirt, (7) curse out wife for laughing at me, (8) receive baby back from my wife and continue evening bonding session.

At least is wasn't crap, right?  RIGHT?


Letter to the outside world

It's been two hours since the infant took me hostage.  It all started innocently enough, with a bottle of milk in one hand and a soothing bedtime melody playing on the radio... a beautiful lullaby, by the great children's musician Noel Gallagher.

By and by, we rocked.  We stared into each others eyes and before long, sleep fell upon the infant... or, at least, a semblance of sleep.

Then, the moaning began.  Powerful, incessant, belaboured moans seemingly designed to drive me up the wall.  Moans so loud neighbouring children were kept awake in nearby chambers.  Moans so long I wondered if my captor was planning on inhaling ever again.

Stockholm Syndrome perhaps setting in, I began to empathize with my captor. 'She's just trying to get to sleep,' I thought.  'Years from now, I'll look back on her moans with fondness'

But not today.

After what seemed like hours (in reality a mere dozen minutes), my captor lay quietly asleep in my arms.  Time for a quick getaway, I figure.  Not so fast, papa.  Not so fast.

The mere thought of laying my captor in her crib beckons the moans, return.  Now, louder.  And in my annoyed state, the moans take on an arrogant tone.  Like a child dangling their finger a centimetre from anothers' nose, as if to say, 'what are you gonna do about it?'

In time, quiet sleep returns.

Then moans.

Then sleep.

Then moans.

Then, sleep?


Nope, more moans.

Then sleep.

Then moans.

[Hours pass in the same fashion... ok, about 30 minutes, but that's a long time dammit!]

And then, my escape arrives.  But for how long? The joys of teething.


The Petrified Dad

Backgrounder: I'm doing this 30-Day Blog Challenge.  This is blog post #3, covering the "A problem you have or have had in the past" topic.

I was talking with a colleague of mine at work today.  She's about 4 months pregnant, and I asked her if she knew whether they were having a boy or a girl.  She told me that while they weren't going to find out, she knew one thing for sure - her husband was absolutely petrified of having a girl.

Totally get it.  To most soon-to-be dads, girls represent the unknown.  Girls think differently and act differently; they have hair that needs to be tied, often in weird configurations like pony tails or pig tails; they like glittery art-and-craft-stuffs that make most of us cringe; they wear cute little dresses that we never know how to put on properly. That can be a lot for a guy to wrap his head around, and I didn't even mention the ultimate kicker: feminine hygiene pads.  [Shudder.]

Personally, before the girls were born, I was in the "healthy and happy" camp.  As long as everything was where it was supposed to be, I would be happy.  I knew that, eventually, with coaching and genuine enthusiasm and a whole bunch of trial and error, I could learn the lady ropes.  And then, when the girls were born, I realized that really, there isn't much of a difference between having a baby boy and having a baby girl.  Pee-pee tents and hair accessories aside, it's all the same.

But, while the differences between having a baby boy and baby girl are subtle, the difference between having a teenage boy and teenage girl are astronomical.  And that's the thought that makes me just as petrified as my colleagues' husband.

I've been thinking a lot more about these differences lately, after Amanda Todd became a household name in Canada and around the world.  I've been thinking about the video she made and about the incessant abuse she faced for months before making a truly tragic choice.

I fear that my girls will face challenges that I will never be able to understand.  I fear that girls use different tactics to put each other down; that we as a society have allowed the physical to dominate our judgement of others, especially in and amongst our little girls, and that teenage girls more so than boys feel the need to 'fit in' at the expense of another girl being marginalized.  And I don't know how to handle that.

I know what my approach would be with a boy... teach him to throw a mean right hook, and to never start a fight, but to always finish one.  It might not solve all of the problems, but it's a good place to start.

With girls, though, the challenges they face are unlikely to be physical.  Girls play psychological games with one another.  They harass and torment and ostracize one from the others.  Their attacks often leave no visible bruises or cuts, but internal wounds.

My point isn't to say girls have it worse than boys.  No matter the gender, bullying of any kind hurts and is unacceptable.  My point is that I believe things are different between the sexes.  I have an idea - good, bad, or otherwise - I have an idea as to how I would approach things with a boy. With two girls, the abuse they could potentially face as teenagers is foreign to me. Therein lies my petrification.

So, I've decided that my approach will be to remind them as often as I can that their self-worth has nothing to do with how they look or about what they wear.

I will remind them as often as I can that their self-worth isn't allowed to be dictated by anyone else's opinion of them.

I will remind them that it is never acceptable to treat anyone with anything less than complete respect.

I will remind them as often as I can that there will always be people who want to be ahead of them socially or academically or physically, and that's OK.  Let them think that way; just be comfortable with who you are, and in the end, nothing else matters.

And most importantly, I will remind them that I will always be there for them.  'Cause that's good to hear, no matter what challenges they face.