Thank you Dad…

Thank you for horsey rides and piggy back rides
Thank you for around the world kisses
Thanks for teaching me how to ride a bike and to stand and pedal
Thank you for family bike rides
Thank you for sharing chips with malt vinegar
Thank you for letting me ride in the truck with you to the Motorola picnic
Thank you for teaching me how to skate. I might skate like a hockey player but I skate.
Thanks for our cat Spotty
Thank you for toboggan rides
Thank you for scratchy kisses
Thank you for swinging with us, even if the swing broke once (darn cheap swing)
Thank you for letting us put barrettes in your hair, you looked so pretty at the gas station
Thanks for walking with us on Hallowe’en
Thank you for the camping trips
Thank you for explaining glaciers and why bedrock has scratches in it
Thank you for campfires
Thank you for barbecue dinners
Thank you for your motor-sickle song
Thank you for nights watching tv in the bunny hole
Thank you for taking us to work with you
Thank you for teaching me how to dance
Thank you for listening
Thank you for teaching my kids how to ride a bike
Thank you for being there for us
I love you Dad

Happy Father’s Day

Dad and I

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Falling stars…

When I was a little girl my Dad was the strongest man on earth and the tallest one too. He’d take my sisters and I for swing rides and taught us how to ride bikes, swim, and skate. All three of us skated like hockey players because that’s how Dad learned. He showed us grooves in the solid rock underneath us while hiking, explaining how that rock was scraped by a glacier thousands of years earlier. And he was always willing to give piggy backs and airplane rides.

Every car ride with my Dad would catch him singing, “Me and my motor-sicle” because he wanted a motorcycle, which was totally impractical for a family with three kids. When he spoke, knives never had a silent “k”, same with scissors and its “c”. One time my parents were visiting friends in England and were taken to a fancy restaurant, the kind where waiters roam the hall in tuxedos while offering guests items on silver platters. One such waiter approached Dad.

“Sir? Would you care to take a leek?”

“Why yes,” Dad cheerfully replied. “Could you tell me where the little boy’s room is?”

And he routinely claimed to be perfect, often while singing “Oh lord it’s hard to be humble…

In elementary school I had to write an essay about my hero. I wrote about my Dad and how he got a call to try out for the farm team for the Montreal Canadiens except he’d hitch-hiked across Canada and was busy fighting forest fires in BC at the time. Dad’s lived an interesting life.

I was heading off to college when Dad decided to start his own business, showing us it’s never to late to chase your dreams. My Mom organized a combined surprise birthday and retirement party for his 60th birthday and invited all his friends, figuring we’d end up with a reasonable amount of guests. Every single person happily accepted the invitation, meaning we had seventy people stuffed inside a four bedroom suburban home. It was beyond crowded. Dad loved it. Somewhere I’ve got a picture of Jeremy wandering around the party with a lampshade on zir head, showing zie’s definitely related to zir grandfather.

Dad immediately began volunteering with Meals on Wheels, driving a small community bus, and transporting seniors to medical appointments. Even so he had more time than he knew what to do with. Karen lived two towns away back then. She’d be busy with her toddlers only to find Dad at the front door. He’d gotten bored and biked over. Could he get a drive home? Finally he got a full time job driving a school bus, which cut back on his biking time (and dramatically cut down on Karen’s impromptu taxi service).

This Christmas was quiet as my parents took a train across Canada to spend the holiday with Amy and her family. They had a good visit but Dad started feeling bad while he was there and his Crohns was upgraded to severe once he got home. He’s since been put on steroids and an anti-rejection drug usually given to organ transplant recipients.

Dad’s 71st birthday was on February 1st, a date he eagerly looked forward to…

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Emma, Jeremy, Mark and I all showed up for dinner as did Karen and her family. Dad picked out angel food cupcakes for his cake and happily opened up all his presents. We left as he settled in to watch football. He was tired and sore but otherwise fine.

Then came yesterday. I called Mom to let her know I’d hurt my wrist at work and was going to see a doctor, half hoping she’d volunteer to drive me home. She worriedly informed me that Dad was feverish and exhausted. He had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, which relieved me as I strongly felt he needed to get checked out. Karen stopped by and convinced Mom to take him to the hospital. It took both of them to get him into the car. He was discharged several hours later with nothing wrong but “mild dehydration”.

I got off work today to find a message from Karen saying Dad’s in the hospital. Once again he was feverish, exhausted, and incoherent. This time Mom called an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital where blood tests show no infection. The doctor on call was all set to release him again when my Mom asked what she should do tonight when he wakes up feverish and delirious. This prompted another meeting. Thankfully Dad’s gastroenterologist stepped in and had him admitted. Now we wait for more tests and some different medications.

And now I sit here wondering when my Dad stopped singing.

Silent Night…

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I should be in bed. Jeremy’s been in zir room for over an hour now and I’m fully expecting zir to wake me before sunrise. Zie’s so anxiously hopeful about getting a remote control car, to the point where I’m glad I bought it (and remembered batteries) because I’m pretty sure zir Christmas would be crushed without it. The flip side is I’m also reasonably sure finding a big purple remote control car is going to be the highlight of zir day.

Tomorrow should be relatively peaceful. I say ‘should’ because nothing ever truly goes as planned. It’s about as un-chaotic a day as anyone could organize though. Emma and Mark are coming over for lunch and then Jeremy and I are spending the rest of the day on our own. I did originally invite their grandmother to join us but their Dad came down to spend Christmas with her instead. This meant the kids visited them yesterday.

To say I was nervous about the visit would be an understatement. Their Dad called the day before to inform me that he was going to warn the kids that if they acted up the person who was misbehaving would be sent home.

“That’s fine,” I assured him then added, “As long as it extends to you too.”

“I don’t fight with the kids!” he said, sounding affronted. I simply waited. “I only point out the flaws in what Emma says.”

“Yeah, don’t do that.” His version of pointing out flaws involves picking at her until she blows up then cheerfully complaining about how argumentative she is.

He agreed then I got Jeremy to call zir sister and warn her about their Dad’s new rules. I didn’t want it to be their Dad who shared the news because I knew he wouldn’t be tactful.

The kids started their visit while I was at work. I wondered aloud if I’d need bail money. Thankfully I didn’t because I don’t think our laundry quarters would stretch very far.

Jeremy was worried before zie left because we didn’t get a Tim Hortons coffee mug for zir Dad this year. Their Dad asks for one every year without fail, dropping repeated requests that start back in May. Two years ago I bought him one and Jeremy carefully placed it into a gift bag and signed the tag. Then it sat underneath the tree until I took the tree down and placed it under the end table… where it sat until the summer. By that time the package of coffee inside was about to expire and Jeremy gave the mug to someone else. Last year Emma bought him a mug with her own money. Once again it sat unopened until the summer when she took it out of the package and used it herself. This year he told her he really wants a mug because he threw away every single other mug they’ve given him because he didn’t feel like packing them when he moved. There was no way on earth I was buying him one but that didn’t stop Jeremy from worrying.

I pointed to the counter and the racks of freshly baked cookies. “I’m filling a gift bag of cookies for your Dad. Don’t worry sunshine, you’ll have a present for him.”

Jeremy sighed with relief and headed off to bed. Zie sighed too soon. Their Dad opened his gift then said, with obvious disappointment and sarcasm, “Oh cookies, yum, thanks kids.” Meanwhile he didn’t bring the kids anything, not even a card. I told Emma that if he didn’t want them, I’d take them back. There’s plenty of people who’d appreciate homemade cookies. There’s plenty of people who did appreciate them. I’ve been giving them out all month.

And then he got creepy. Joking that his mother should tell her friend she was too busy banging an 18 year old and a 13 year old to answer the phone. He couldn’t understand why no one else thought that was funny. Plus he repeatedly told the kids that all he wants for Christmas is to unwrap an 18 year old. The kids are 17 and 19 years old and found their Dad’s unsubtle hints that he wants to have sex with someone their age beyond gross. Hearing about his comments makes me want to get a scrubbie from the kitchen and scour myself raw. I can tell myself (truthfully) that he’s gotten worse over the years but still…

Finally it was time for them to leave. Their grandmother bustled around, making sure they had their Christmas cards and that everyone was in their coats and set for a goodbye hug and kiss. Meanwhile their Dad wandered over to the bed and laid down, immediately pretending to fall asleep instead of saying goodbye. He might claim he passed right out except when Emma announced she was sure he was lying on her tablet, he conveniently rolled over and off the device.

Jeremy hasn’t said more than five words about the visit. Instead zie’s been anxious and fidgety about everything else. Repeatedly commenting about the remote control car, dissolving into tears when I asked to pause the Christmas music zie’d wired to the tree so I could listen to a video for a minute, barely able to sit through dinner. Zie settled down at bedtime and has been quiet ever since but I can honestly say I’m glad zie only sees zir Dad about once or twice a year. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish zie had an amazing father. But as Karen says regularly, it is what it is.

I’ve got a very laid back day planned for tomorrow. Roasted sweet potato soup and homemade cinnamon buns for lunch with Emma and Mark followed by a quiet afternoon and an easy dinner. And this is what’s waiting for Jeremy when zie wakes up.

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I can’t say it’s a silent night anymore because we’re now getting wind gusts of 100km/hr but hopefully tomorrow will be filled with peace.

Sweet dreams and best holiday wishes to everyone!

Watching the train wreck…

There was a missed call and a message on my phone when I got on the bus after work. They were from Emma and she had news about her father. Could I please call her back? I looked up as the bus stopped and Emma got on board; I don’t usually run into her on the bus so that was a surprise.

She sat beside me then said with a wide grin, “Guess what? Dad got arrested!”

I thought I’d misheard her at first but after a moment I managed to ask what for. Had he tried to sell his old pain medication? Was he caught buying pot? Her answer wasn’t one I’d come up with and yet it wasn’t a surprise. He’d assaulted his ex-girlfriend, the same woman he’s been stalking and harassing for several months now. He doesn’t like it when women break up with him before he’s ready. I know that from personal experience.

My first comment was inane. “I need to apologize to our mediator.”

Emma gave me a blank look.

“She worried about me,” I explained. “She thought your Dad was going to try to hurt me and I told her not to worry. I guess I should apologize except…”

Except it had been so long, I couldn’t even remember her name. Besides, there was no way she’d remember me.

Emma went on to say that her Dad had been released but had to go back to get fingerprinted. She and Mark were trying to figure out how he’d miss his appointment. Maybe he’d just sleep in or they figured he might to the hospital the night before with chest pains. Then she wondered how he’d react in court. Would he get angry and lash out like he does often? Maybe he’d get probation or put under house arrest.

And then she was gone, hurrying off the bus with Mark’s younger brother, who’d coincidentally gotten on the bus a stop after Emma. She’s coming over for dinner tomorrow night.

I quickly called Jeremy to see how zie felt about the news. Zie sounded more resigned than anything else. “It’s not like it’s a surprise,” zie muttered. And zie’s right. Their Dad gets more callous and self-centered with each passing year.

Jeremy says zie’s fine with what happened. Zie almost never sees zir father and just as rarely hears from him. But zie’s been on edge all evening, snapping and wanting to rant about anything and everything. The latest was a rant on how the government (I have no idea which one) is too lazy to restrict model airplanes to lower air space. Ironically zie doesn’t actually want those restrictions because the best videos come from the highest planes. This quickly segued into how gamers are being discriminated against because of inflated statistics that claim all video gamers are violent. Or maybe it was just 98%. Or maybe zie’d pulled that figure out of zir ass… but zie’d read it a while ago. I think I whimpered around then. Jeremy’s thankfully back watching videos and hopefully relaxing.

I’ve told people before that observing my ex is like watching a very slow train wreck. Everyone knows it’s going to end badly; the only questions are when and how bad. It’s a ride I’m glad we’re no longer on.

Edited to add Emma’s view of the situation.

Is there anything new?

Jeremy and I were watching Doctor Who last night when the phone rang right in the middle of an alien invasion. I hate when that happens.

Jeremy rolled his eyes and pressed pause on the video. He knew who was calling. I have his Dad’s number set up with an “it’s probably a wrong number” ringtone, which is appropriate since I figure about 60% of his calls are either butt dials or him trying to reach someone else.

I find it frustrating that when my ex asks about Emma and Jeremy, it’s always a vague, “So is there anything new going on with the kids that I should know about?”. He doesn’t know the kids well enough to ask any specific questions plus he is prone to manipulating and playing games so sometimes he already has an answer and wants to see if I’ll cough up the same one. I’m neither willing or interested in playing games.

Last night he stepped up his questioning by asking “Is anything happening in the kids’ lives that I should know about?” as well as his usual version of the question. By then Jeremy had moved off his chair and onto his new exercise machine.

I turned to look at him, one foot on one of the pedals and the other hovering mid air as he swung back and forth. He was wearing a pair of ladies pyjamas and his purple toe polish glittered in the light. He tucked his hair behind one ear, showcasing his new earring and smiled when he noticed my attention.

‘Your son’s probably trans,’ I thought to myself.

“No,” I said out loud. “Nothing’s going on. The kids are both fine.”

The call finished with a request for me to text him Jeremy’s phone number. This number used to be Emma’s for years, their Dad had it memorized back then. Meanwhile he asks for Jeremy’s number every couple of months. I think he’s called once.

“Tell Jeremy I’ll call him either tonight or tomorrow morning,” my ex said earnestly, ignoring that Jeremy was right beside me and I could easily hand over the phone.

“I will,” I agreed. He didn’t call.

How to Dad…

When Jeremy was small, people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up and his answer was always the same, “I want to be a Daddy.” But over the years that answer slowly faded.

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy told Emma that he felt mostly male with a bit of female but if he’d had the choice he would have been born a girl. Two days ago I asked him why there was such a difference between his two statements. If he felt mostly male then why did he wish he’d been born a girl?

“I want to be a parent when I grow up but I want my kids to love me and look up to me,” he replied. “Kids don’t really respect their Dads. They love and look up to their Moms so I’d rather be a Mom.”

If I could go back in time and pick a better father for my kids I would. But then again I wouldn’t have Jeremy or Emma.

“Hon, all sorts of kids love their Dads and think they’re wonderful,” I assured him. “You’ll be a good parent and your kids will look up to you.”

He nodded but he didn’t look convinced. My Dad’s a great father but Jeremy hasn’t seen much of him in years and, while Jeremy looks up to my friends P and M, they’re not fathers. Jeremy’s only real parental role model is me and I’m not male. I’d thought I’d told him over the years that mothers and fathers are equal but I either didn’t or Jeremy wasn’t listening (or a mixture of the two).

If Jeremy wanted to be a mother because he felt female that would be one thing but wanting to be a mother because he feels Dads aren’t good enough… well that was heart breaking.

Then came yesterday. A friend of mine posted a Cheerios video on Facebook, saying it was finally a decent media portrayal of a father, so I immediately watched then called Jeremy in before I even finished so he could watch it too.

The video is beyond cheesy. The Dad does a non-stop narration on being a father, while complimenting and high-fiving his kids. The kids meanwhile follow him around while pretty much hero worshiping him. And at the end, apropos of nothing, he suddenly starts flogging peanut butter Cheerios. Jeremy loved the whole thing…

Obviously one video isn’t going to be a cure-all for Jeremy’s views on fatherhood but it was nice to have some back up to my claim. I also picked up peanut butter Cheerios on the way home from work today.

And, because I’m on Facebook all the freaking time anyways, I’ve now made a Because I’m Fabulous Facebook page. Feel free to go and like. Or, if you’re too shy, just go and look. I’ve got extra pictures and quotes and stuff.