The great sleepover debate

I said no.

I say no often to my children without giving it much thought, but this seemed like a big no; there was a harshness to it. Saying it hurt a little because I could feel he wanted it so badly, and he’s such a great kid, and he’s almost 10, and I was probably being over protective.

“No. You can’t go to the sleepover birthday at the local ski hill. I don’t know this boy. I’ve never met him or his parents. It’s an hour away on a snowy road. No.”

Sleepovers are a rite of passage, and I remember my first attempt vividly.

I was about six, and I was to sleep over at my best friend Tami’s house. I’d visited countless times before, and our parents were friends.

There was a build up of excitement; I could barely eat as butterflies parked in my belly.

Finally, Friday night arrived and it was amazing until the lights went out, at which time I sobbed and begged Tami’s mom to take me home. She did.

A few weeks later, I tried it out again and made it through the night. I graduated to other sleepovers — sleepovers that found me giggling on my grandma’s balcony with my cousin Becky, or up watching Labyrinth over and over, pausing only to make prank calls to the boys from school.

(Keep in mind, this was before call display.)

Sleepovers were great. Sleepovers are great. I want my kids to have sleepovers and to host sleepovers, but I’ve been fielding invitations from parents since my oldest was about five, and I say no far more often than I say yes, because I’m torn between wanting my kids to have amazing experiences with their buddies, and wanting to make safe choices for them.

I’ve had to develop rules, which include:

  • If I don’t know the child, or the parent, the answer is no. You’d be surprised how many sleepover requests come to my house from children, and parents of children, who are complete strangers. I couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup, I have no idea who the parent is, what they look like, how many children or dogs live in the house, what they do for a living, or whether they have gang ties.
  • If a parent decides at the last moment that the pizza/movie birthday party is now a sleepover, the answer is also no. No. No. No. First of all, WHO LIVES LIKE THIS? Making the decision to extend a nine-year-old’s birthday party into the next day — on a whim — seems insane to me. I can’t work like that. I like plans, and I like having them in advance so I can give my extremely anxious brain enough time to freak out.
  • If there have been multiple playdates, and I’ve gotten to know the kid and the parents and have successfully creeped them on social media, then yes, yes, a thousand times, YES!

When my kid visits your house I want to know that he feels comfortable enough to tell you if he’s scared. If he feels sick. If he’s hungry or thirsty. And I want your kid to feel that way with me before he spends the night.

We’re told to provide our children with the tools they need to engage with the world. We talk to them about stranger danger, and about bullying, and about participating cautiously in cyberspace.

But we’re also told that most child predators are not strangers, and that they’re the next-door neighbour, the basement tenant, the babysitter, the uncle.

As a kid I didn’t notice when I graduated from midnight My Little Pony marathons to sobbing over Heathers and making prank calls in the basement. When my parents said no, which was often, I thought it was just because they were jerks.

Turns out they weren’t jerks. And I’m not a jerk, either. My kids will do sleepovers. But let’s not rush it. Let’s get to know each other a bit, see how they play together for a few hours before they spend the night. How about you invite me in for a coffee while they play so that I don’t have to resort to the social media creep?

That’s a lie. I’ll creep you anyway. I’ve already creeped you. But it’s only because I care.

The mom flu

Once, when I was about 14 I had a sinus infection so severe that I nearly blew my left eye out.

To this day, I have to close my eyes tightly when I blow my nose so as not to accidentally launch my left eye across the room.

It occurred to me over the past several days, eyes closed, blowing furiously into a Kleenex, that I used to be really good at being sick.

As a kid I was sick all the time. I had coughs, fevers, pink eye, strep throat and chicken pox. I even got shingles when I was 13 — a special virus reserved for the elderly — that traced perfect loop-de-loops around my teenaged back.

But at some point it all stopped and I got cocky. My life is a germ factory, and I walk through it daily in short sleeves; my sick offspring literally sneeze into my open mouth and I wake up the next morning without a sniffle.

I rarely get sick, and now I’m out of practice.

Man Flu has its own Wikipedia page, and just recently, Dr. Robert H. Schmerling posted results of a scientific study conducted to determine if this condition is legitimate — if men actually experience more acute flu symptoms than women.

There is no similar Wikipedia page or Harvard study for the Mom Flu, so I feel qualified to discuss the differences between them, and I’ll do so by drawing upon zero actual research, and pure anecdotal evidence. Here is my conclusion: Women rarely give themselves permission to be sick.

Men are no better at math than women. They are no better at driving, at comedy, or at managing money. One only has to turn on the news to recognize that they’re also not that fabulous at running countries.

But they are great at being sick, and most of the women I know (sorry for generalizing ladies) are terrible at it.

This Mom Flu found me at home, alone, on my living room couch, on a cold Tuesday morning, confused and anxious about what was going on.

“What does a sick person even do,” I asked my dog.

He suggested a rousing game of fetch or a trip to the dog park, but there wasn’t enough Kleenex in the world to make that possible, so instead I washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, tidied up the boots by the front door, started a load of laundry and took out the recycling. Then when I felt I had “earned” some down time, I made tea and sat on the couch.

Tea done, I got up, put the mug in the sink, and looked around.

“What now,” I kept wondering, as the minutes ticked by on my first official sick day in over a year, completely aware that I was failing, and feeling crummy about it because I hate being bad at shit.

I turned on the TV but it seemed noisy and out of place during the day.

So I folded laundry.

Then I tried to nap, because that’s what I tell my kids to do when they’re sick.

But instead I sat on my bed and stared at my dog, who I eventually took for a walk.

Sick Day No. 1 was over, and I’d accomplished about 20 minutes of productive rest time.

I’ve got a Mom Flu. I’m out of practice, and it’ll take a lot longer than the length of the average flu to figure out how to grant myself permission to relax.

Rainy Sunday reading

My perfect rainy Sunday involves a great book, a fireplace, a soft blanket and a hot cup of coffee.

Oh, and a clean house that smells of pie, and children who are playing together (with educational toys), quietly.

I can’t manage most of this — except the coffee and the book, and usually the coffee is lukewarm by the time I actually get to sit down and drink it. I can almost always carve out a small space in each Sunday for reading, but at this stage in my life, the books I read have to meet certain criteria.

For starters, they can’t be overly complicated. There was a time in my life when I expected a lot from literature. I devoured classics, and poured over Oprah’s book list. These days? I need books that take me away but don’t ask much of me in return.

Oh, and I’d prefer if they don’t make me cry. There’s enough sadness in the world. I’ll come back to the classics and the books that soak up my sobs eventually, but these days I need escape.

So, if escapist fiction — often with a historical bent — with the occasional bit of dystopia thrown in for good measure is up your alley, then read on to find out what I recommend, and I’ll do my best each rainy Sunday to offer a few other suggestions.

(Note: I live in a semi-arid region, so there aren’t as many rainy Sundays as one might wish for)

The catch? You have to share your recommended reads with me. I read a lot, and quickly. I’m always running out of books, so the more recommendations the better.

What I’m reading now

The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley (books 1 through 9)  flaviadellucebooks

“It was one of those glorious days in March when the air was so fresh that you worshipped every whiff of it; that each breath of the intoxicating stuff created such new universes in your lungs and brain that you were certain you were about to explode with sheer joy; one of those blustery days of scudding clouds and piddling showers and gum boots and wind-blown brollies that made you know you were truly alive.” 
Speaking from Among the Bones, Flavia de Luce, No. 5

A friend of mine introduced me to this series. It turns out that despite the fact my friend is way smarter than me, with many letters after her name, she and I have a similar taste in reading. This knowledge makes me feel way smarter than it should.

But Flavia is truly enchanting, and I’m so glad we met. Set in 1950, 11-year-old Flavia is finding her way through the world out of her home base of Buckshaw, a rambling old English mansion. Her mother died when she was a year old, her older sisters either ignore her or are terrible to her, and her father is absent. She’s raising herself under the sometimes watchful eyes of Dogger, her family’s butler who suffers from PTSD. Her best friend is Gladys, her bicycle.

Oh, and did I mention that Flavia has a passion for poisons, and also solves murders?

Alan Bradley is a brilliant writer, one I wish I had discovered sooner, and I’m so excited for you to get to know Flavia if you haven’t already.

The Timothy Wilde Series by Lyndsay Fayelyndsay faye timothy wilde trilogy

The Gods of Gotham, Book 1
Seven for a Secret, Book 2
The Fatal Flame, Book 3

I can’t remember who recommended The Gods of Gotham to me, or whether it was one of those books that just kept popping up on my recommended reading lists, and I eventually just bit the bullet and bought it, but however it happened, I’m grateful.

The Gods of Gotham, set in the 1840s, introduces Timothy Wilde, the best, yet most reluctant, copper star on New York City’s inaugural police force. It’s dirty, and twisted. I pride myself on being a bit of a plot sleuth, able to figure out what’s going to happen before the author shows me, but there are so many twists and turns and gritty bits in this book that I was completely taken by surprise. Wilde is among the only decent humans that Faye reveals, in her exceptionally well-researched period drama.

These are my recommendations for today, what are yours?

Bringing home the (dog) baby

This week our family welcomes its first puppy.

For years I’ve rolled my eyes at the suggestion that raising a dog is similar to raising a child. Often, this comparison comes from people who don’t have children, making scoffing a requirement.

But, having spent the past several weeks planning to bring a puppy into the home, I’ve come to realize that maybe — just maybe — I’ve been too quick to dismiss the similarities. There are a few.

Consider upfront costs, for example.

Dog babies, much like human babies, require a ton of stuff, and as a result, are really, really expensive. My dining room table is buried under bags of dog food, dishes, treats, toys, bedding, crates (one for home, and one for travel), and an endless supply of puppy potty training essentials.

And nobody — not a single person — threw me a puppy shower, so I’m on the hook for all of it.

Then there are the late nights spent coming to terms with the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m bound to screw it up and raise an asshole dog that sniffs crotches, jumps on children, pees everywhere, barks at everything and eats cats and postal workers.

As motherhood approached, I spent many nights tossing and turning, and staring at the ceiling fretting about the same things — minus the crotch-sniffing and cat-eating, of course.

And let’s not forget the unsolicited and often conflicting advice.

“You must follow Cesar Millan’s method, it’s amazing.”

“DO NOT follow Cesar Millan’s method. It’s terrible.”

“Don’t use pee pads.”

“Do use pee pads.”

“You must clicker train. Immediately.”

“Do NOT give him a human name. He is NOT a human.”

When this advice is launched at me, I can’t help but think back to the unsolicited and often passive aggressive advice I fielded during my advent into motherhood, some nine years ago.

“DO NOT give him a soother. You’ll never break him of it.”

“Disposable diapers are great for people who hate the Earth. Do you hate the Earth?”

“No screen time. EVER. Until he’s at least eight.”

“Keep him rear facing until he reaches puberty.”

“Bottle feeding is an option. If you’re terrible.”

“DON’T swaddle him.”

“DO swaddle him.”

“DON’T let him cry it out. EVER!”

“Jeez, just let him cry it out already!”

When I was growing up everyone had dogs, and all any dog needed was a collar, a leash, a bed, a bowl and a belly rub or two. Instead of pee pads and poop bags we had newspapers and shovels. Dogs licked plates, ate scraps, chewed ham bones, and gobbled whatever kibble was on special that week.

Somehow, even without all of the gadgets and canine behavior modification methods, dogs were amazing. They protected us, loved us, and we returned the favour.

Dog ownership has become riddled with pitfalls. The stakes are higher, the expectations greater.

But I’m convinced that, as with raising children, sometimes the simple things matter more than the gadgets and the gimmicks; simple things like consistency, routine, encouragement and praise.

There. Now it’s your turn to roll your eyes.

Call me, maybe?

It usually starts with heavy breathing, but if you wait long enough, you’ll be rewarded by a few tremulous and stuttered words.

By eight years of age, children should be able to facilitate their own playdates. To do so, however, requires endless amounts of coaxing, encouragement and lessons on that old-fashioned machine called the telephone.

Our family is still in possession of what telecommunication companies call a land line. Regular callers on this line include: My mother-in-law, the Canada Revenue Agency telling me that I owe back taxes, people from India who want to help me disable a very bad computer virus, and Diane from Big Brothers Big Sisters, letting me know there will be a truck in my neighbourhood next week.

And now there is a new batch of callers to the land line — heavy-breathing eight year old boys.

Teaching children how to talk on the phone isn’t as simple as you might expect. Kids learn by example, and they don’t see many examples of people talking on the phone anymore. I communicate with one of my best friends multiple times each day, and yet I haven’t heard her voice in over a year.

That makes my heart hurt a little.

My children will never know the frustration of sharing a single, harvest gold, rotary dial telephone with a cord that doesn’t quite make it down the hall to the bedroom.

They won’t understand the agony of having their older brother answer the phone, hold the receiver two inches from his mouth, and shout, “DANNA, THERE’S A BOY ON THE PHONE FOR YOU, I THINK HE LIKES YOU! IS HE YOUR BOOOOOOYYYYYYFRIEND?”

They’ll never experience having their older sister answer the phone shortly after 8 p.m. only to say: “Sorry, Danna can’t come to the phone right now. It’s almost her bedtime. Oh, and will you please tell all of your other friends to not call so late? You will? That’s great. She needs her beauty sleep. Grade nine is so tough.”

It’s for these and other character-building reasons that we’ve opted to hold on to our landline and finally teach our children how it works.

Any good lesson starts with a plan, so together, my child and I come up with a suitable script. We decide to write down our address so that after he’s asked his friend to come over, he can explain where “over” actually is.

That settled, he begins the mission and dials, which takes several tries. Careful, though, because when the number is officially dialed, the child will immediately begin speaking.

“Wait until someone picks up, bud.”

But people never pick up these days and he’s caught off guard by voicemail. He panics,  hangs up, and lobs the phone onto the couch as if it bit him.

“YOU DIDN’T TELL ME WHAT TO SAY,” he shouts, accusingly.

“Just say your name, who you’re calling to speak with, and your phone number,” you explain, all while mentally kicking yourself for not simply texting his friend’s mom like you’ve done every other time.

And so he dials again. And waits. And when the beep sounds he reads his script perfectly, except instead of his phone number, he recites his address. He realizes what he’s done at the last second, hangs up, and throws himself and the phone onto the couch in melodramatic agony.

“UGH! This is so HARD!”

This kid perseveres, though, and you’ve got to give him credit. He gets back up, grabs the phone, dials like a boss, waits, states his name, phone number and reason for calling. And it’s perfect. He did it. He raises his hand, drops the mic (phone), you grab it on a bounce and give him a high five.

In a few minutes, you reap your reward. The phone rings. And there it is, the beautiful sound of heavy breathing.

Just wait for it, and be patient. This is beautiful. They’re figuring it out.

“… Hi… this is Billy, can I speak to …”

Thumbs down for 100th Day

I don’t want to freak you out or anything, but 100th Day is tomorrow. If you’ve got a child in elementary school in my neighbourhood and you don’t know about this, or you did know but forgot, or the notice is still in your child’s locker, or you neglected to check the teacher’s blog for the past week, you may as well just put on a pot of coffee. You’ve got plans tonight.

For those who don’t have school-aged children, 100th Day marks (you guessed it) the 100th day of the school year. If you’re thinking, “hey, that’s weird, we didn’t celebrate that when I was a kid,” you’d be right. But then, we also rode bikes without helmets, so now that we know better, we do better.

And what’s better than celebrating the 100th day of school?

I’ll tell you what’s better. Sleep. And that’s something you won’t be getting tonight because tomorrow is 100th Day, and your five year old is expected to participate in the 100th Day fashion show, wearing his unique 100th Day shirt.

Let me just get in on the record that 100th Day is terrible, and was probably devised by a grouchy teacher who just can’t stomach the idea of letting us weary mothers curl up with a cup of tea on a Tuesday night and watch Netflix.

After all, it’s been almost a full week since Valentine’s Day, so we’re probably bored by now, and just rubbing our hands together in anticipation of the next fake holiday.

So, while the rest of the world (dad) is sleeping, you’ll enter motherhood’s Octagon (Pinterest) to come up with an amazing idea for a thrilling 100th Day shirt, despite knowing that your five year old will refuse to wear it anyway.

The goal of the 100th Day shirt is to glue or paint 100 things to it. But trust me, the teacher’s not counting, so if you give up at 60 your child will still pass kindergarten.

And remember, this is supposed to be a learning experience for your child, so it’s important he or she do the bulk of the work.

Ha! This would be possible if we were celebrating Eighth Day, but as delightful as my five year old is, he is not going to glue 100 things to a t-shirt.

You know what my five year old can do 100 times?

He can lose his gloves.

He can say my name 100 times in rapid succession. He does this best when I’m on the phone. With the doctor.

He can come up with 100 reasons why he shouldn’t have to eat his dinner, and he can easily think of another 100 reasons he shouldn’t have to go to sleep.

But glue 100 things to a shirt? Not in the realm of possibility.

So this shirt’s on me, but luckily this isn’t my first rodeo. I have an older child, and we’ve been through this 100th Day bullshit before.

I’ve learned not to glue edibles onto a five-year-olds clothing. Ever. There will be no Goldfish Crackers, or shiny Skittles rainbow. There will be no giant cup of cocoa with 100 marshmallows glued to the top.

Gluing edibles to a five year old and sending him to school is like painting him with honey and introducing him to a bear.

Let’s be honest, if, in a moment of weakness, a colleague walked up to me with a Skittles-covered shirt, I’d pounce. I wouldn’t be proud of myself, I’d apologize, but I’d eat them, glue and all.

A good planner would have collected 100 bottle caps (or 60, as previously mentioned) or the same number of corks. Thankfully, I accidentally mixed up the dates, and thought 100s Day was last week, so I’m a full week ahead of schedule.

As a result, my son will arrive at school tomorrow with 100 fingers painted on his shirt, thumbs down.

Confessions of an overreactor

It happened so fast, and so slowly at the same time…

Seven o’clock in the evening, and he’s fresh from the bath, snug in his Minion pyjamas, and smelling delicious. I grab him and give him a squeeze. He’s partial to aggressive hugs, because it feels like wrestling, and he loves wrestling.

He’s five (“but it’s almost my birthday,” he tells me daily), and he’s clean, and warm, and happy, and just about ready to cuddle up on the couch for a cartoon and a snack before bed, but first he has to show me something. He always has to show me something.

“Watch me, mommy! Watch me, I’ve been practicing!”

I give him a nod of encouragement, and off he goes.

And he spins. He’s a human cyclone. I’ve never seen anything spin so quickly. He’s a Beyblade come to life.

“Wow,” I exclaim, unintentionally encouraging him to continue, and before I can stop him, he launches into his final, glorious spin — the spin to end all spins. It starts with a flying leap; he’s airborne, and it’s beautiful.

But he’s too dizzy. He’s not going to land it, he can’t, he’s coming in too hard, too fast, and much too close to the toy box.

I see it happen in slow motion. I’m on my feet, arms outstretched before I even hear the “CRACK” of his orbital bone hitting the pointed edge of the furniture. I cry out before he does, I grab him before he hits the ground, and push his face into my chest, certain that the pressure of my heart, my hand on the back of his head is the only thing keeping his eye in its socket. I run down the stairs. I’m shouting as if the house is on fire. As if we’re both on fire.

“ICE PACKS! GET SOME ICE PACKS! OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD,” I yell, racing through the house toward the kitchen, toward my husband. When did my house get so big? Why are there so many stairs? Have I been running for hours? I’VE BEEN RUNNING FOR HOURS!

“HIS EYE! IT’S HIS EYE, OH GOD, I CAN’T LOOK,” I shout, frantically pressing my sobbing child into his daddy’s arms, before turning my back on him, shoving my fist in my mouth and bearing down on an anguished scream. I stare at my chest, looking for gore but find nothing, save a few boogers, and some tear splotches — all of which might be my own.

My husband’s calm voice comes to me, breaking through the din of my own spiralling thoughts — thoughts that march right past Band-Aids and straight to white canes, helpful golden retrievers and eye patches. “He’ll never be a pilot,” I sob, inwardly, hiccupping outwardly.

“It’s OK, buddy. There’s just a little blood,” my husband says. “Here, you hold the ice pack I’ll go get a cloth. It’s going to be fine, dude, but it was close. You just about lost an eye,” he adds, setting his son on the couch with his blankie clutched in one hand, ice pack in the other.

Suddenly I realize I’m the only one still breathing hard. I’m the only one still crying. I go to my son and hug him, gently. He hates it.

“Stop it, mommy, I can’t see the TV,” he says over my head, more concerned with what he’s missing on Alvin and the Chipmunks than the fact that two minutes ago, in my imagination, his whole life changed as I clutched him against my chest.

I leave the room to collect myself. My husband passes me in the hall, walking casually, probably thinking about trucks, or football or deadlifts, unaware of the tragedy that’s just played out in my mind.

Unaware that while my son will go to sleep this night with a bit of a bruise, and tiny cut that probably won’t even scar, I’ll be awake imagining how bad it might have been. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and cut up pool noodles and glue them to the furniture edges. It’ll be ugly, dammit, but it’ll be safe.

And spinning? Spinning will be banned.

Some people are calm in a crisis. I am not one of those people.

The fonder heart

It’s been days since I’ve been asked to find his wallet or his keys, his ID badge for work, or his protein shake.

And for that matter, I haven’t washed a single shaker cup this week, nor have I had to carry on a telephone conversation over the sound of the blender as it pulverizes bananas, blueberries, and avocados together with strange powders labeled Mutant, and Freak.

To be truthful, I haven’t watched much Forged in Fire this week or Gold Rush, or sports.

When I was a kid, my dad worked his shift at the mill and was home each night for dinner and the six o’clock news. I can’t recall a single night of my childhood that my parents were apart. That’s just how it was.

But modern marriages aren’t what they once were. Surprisingly few of us have the benefit of a spouse at home, every night, forever.

Living with a spouse who travels for work, or who works ‘in camp’ is the pits. There’s a lot I miss when my husband is away. I miss being the only grown up in the room. I miss having someone else available to make decisions, even if I don’t always agree with them. I miss having someone else reinforce the rules, carry the burdens, and the groceries. I miss having someone else take out the garbage.

I miss physical contact. Certainly, there are plenty of hugs and kisses when daddy’s away, and while the hugs and kisses of children are sweet, there’s something reassuring about the simple shoulder-to-shoulder brush of arms as you stand beside your spouse at the sink doing dishes. There’s intimacy in the hand on the back as you walk out the door.

As I sit here typing, the snow is softly falling, and has been for nearly a week. I miss having someone else shovel.

But it could be worse. Actually, there are some moments in the separation that are quite lovely.

When he’s away, I make tea and drink it in bed, pillows piled all around. I read late into the night without anybody suggesting I go to sleep or turn out the light.

And when I do sleep, I sprawl. Nobody breathes in my direction while I slumber, and there are no audible nose whistles, save my own, which are adorable.

When the kids are in bed, I watch multiple episodes of Dateline on the big couch, and I can stare at my phone the entire time without someone questioning how I can possibly know what’s going on, and whether I can even put the phone down, and what’s so funny anyway, and who are you texting, and what is she up to?

The cat likes me best when he’s away.

Yes, it could be worse. Because let’s face it — some people have their spouse home every night and would give anything for a bit of breathing room. Or a lot of breathing room.

Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder. My heart is fond.

Take me out to the ball game. Or not.

My son is a lot of things.

He’s an artist, a comedian, a reader, and brilliant at making paper airplanes.

He’s a Star Wars aficionado, a Lego-pro, and a video game wizard.

He’s likeable and clever, has great rhythm and a huge heart.

But he can’t whistle. And he’s not athletic.

Tonight at midnight is the deadline to register children into the local house soccer league. All I have to do is open up a web page, log in and enter my credit card number.

There’s still time. I can still make the cutoff.

But I won’t. Not this year.

When he was five it was cute to watch him chase the ball down the field, turn the other way, stop, then summersault for no good reason. It was funny watching him and his buddies hanging off the nets like sweaty, colourful little bugs tangled in a web.

While the summersaults are less frequent, the other kids are playing to win, and he’s playing for orange slices. He’s never scored a goal, and it’s starting to bother him. His friends won’t pass to him, and I get it. They want to win, and he’s far from a sure thing.

He’s taken a ball to the face once or twice, and is now a bit gun shy. He isn’t interested in practicing at home, and when other boys are racing onto the field at recess and lunch, he’s hanging off the monkey bars, swinging, and playing pretend.

That’s where he’s happiest.

There are so many other things that my son is that it seems ridiculous to spend a moment worrying about what he isn’t.  But when you’re raising little boys there’s an expectation that you’ll do your utmost to raise athletes, something that’s reinforced whenever we meet anyone new.

“So, do you play hockey? Basketball?”

He’ll answer, “I’m in karate,” which he is, but his biggest takeway from the dojo to date is learning how to count to 10 in Japanese.

Tomorrow. Maybe he’ll find a sport he’s passionate about, tomorrow. Maybe he’ll be captured by curling, throw his heart and soul into a martial art. Maybe he’ll lace up his skates and opt for ice dancing.

Or maybe he won’t.

Anything’s possible, but I’ll wait and take direction from him. I’m tired of pushing. I’m tired of my own expectations, and I expect he is, too.

So, no, this spring you won’t find us on the ball diamond or the pitch. We’ll be in the front yard, riding bikes, shooting hoops and tossing paper airplanes into the cherry tree. And I’m OK with it, as long as he is.