Daddy

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things That Happened While My Kids Were Away at Camp Arowhon


My children are growing up!  My boys actually went away to sleepover camp for just under 2-weeks earlier this summer and that marked the first time my middle son was away from us for longer than one day.  My oldest son had been away for a weekend at camp but never anything this long.  I think we worried more than they did, to be honest.

We got them ready for camp at the end of last summer but talking about it a lot, and spending considerable amounts of time speak with different camps and upon deciding on Camp Arowhon we then spent 304 more months getting them ready and buying the stuff they needed for their stay.

We chose Camp Arowhon because of the owner, Joanna Kates’ views on bullying.  She has a zero-tolerance policy and she also carefully chooses councillors and who attends the camp.  It almost felt like we had to get the go ahead nod before we wrote that cheque and there were times when I was not sure we were going to be allowed to send our kids there.

In the end it was all worth while as the kids loved it there.  They rode horses, sailed, learned to canoe, paddle their own kayak and most importantly they grew up.

Another wonderful feature about Arowhon is the 100% ban on electronics.  If it’s found, it’s taken away for good.  Not just for the campers but also for the councillors too.  Kids are there for fun, sun and learning, not for video games, texting and other electronic things.  The camp also does not have a parents day, there are no pictures on the website and if kids and parents wish to communicate it’s through hand-written letters.  We actually received 7 letters from our kids and sent 3 of them  That was a lot of fun too.

And the food… The food was great according to my kids.  My middle son even went as far as to say that the soup was better as good as the soup Mummy makes.  Joanne, if you were not aware, is the food critic for The Globe and Mail newspaper – has been for 25-years – so if anyone knows anything about good food, it’s Joanne.

So with our boys away for 12 days, we were left with our daughter – her first time as an only child - we were experiencing new and different things, so here are 13 things that happened / we did / while our sons were having the time of their lives at camp.

So sit back, grab the bug spray, leave the iPod at home, slap on the sun-screen and get read for the list!

 

  1. For the first time in her little life, our daughter had us all to her self, and she did not leave us alone for a second.  It was amazing getting to spend so much time with her, not having to share that attention with her brothers and not having to compete with them for our time.  Plus she’s still at that age where by 7pm she’s exhausted and ready for bed! .

  2. We hopped in the car and made a run for the border – crossing at Niagara Falls (no line up whatsoever) and even after being questions over and over again as to why we were heading across on a Friday morning) we went, shopped, slept, shopped some more and slide back into Canada (only one car in front of us) without a hitch..

  3. We took apart the kids bedrooms and put them back together again… Cleaner, with much less junk, and in a manner which we expect them to keep it in for at least one day when they get back.

  4. The garden grew!  Raspberries (red ones, purple ones and golden ones), green beans, yellow beans, currents… They all made an appearance and we eaten.  Yum.

9. We slept in.  All of us.  By sleeping in, I mean past 6am.  7am is about the latest I’ve slept in the last 8-years.  But 7:30am was an absolute dream!

  1. My wife and I went out… together.. on a date.  I figures since we actually had to speak to each other for 12 days, it might be nice to take advantage of the relative calm and go out.  You know what happened, folks… By 9pm we were exhausted.  But we trooped, stayed out until 11pm, then went home to sleep.

  2. We got caught up on laundry.  We washed everything!  Comforters, duvets, everything because we knew once camp was over and the house was back to 5 people, we would never catch up.

  3. I got to bed early… Twice.  Early for me used to be 11pm, but I’ve been finding that since I started my own business I never stopped having enough to do around the house, so early quickly became 2am.  I actually got in to bed at 9pm one night and by 10:30 another night.  Amazing.

5. I was outnumbered… In more than one way.  Aside from being one male to two females, many long-time readers will recall that my wife kept her last name when we got hitched, and before we had kids we agreed that any boys we had would take my last name, and any girls would take her last name.   I was in the minority.

  1. My oldest son returned with the new-found ability to play the guitar.  As a matter of fact, the day after he arrived home, he asked me this; “Daddy, is that Sweet Home Alabama playing on the radio?”  Then he said; “I can play that on the guitar!”  Sweet!

3. My middle child learned to horseback ride and he loved it!!  Who knew?!?

2. My boys grew up.  They just seemed so different.  My oldest son did not want to come home – he wanted to stay for a couple more weeks (even wrote a letter to us which arrived the day after he came home saying “send more envelopes!  I’m staying for 2 more weeks, and tell my sister I love her and I miss her.”  My younger son, clearly no longer worried about spending time away from home seemed older, more relaxed, and cooler.  Camp did him well.

As someone who never went to camp – I started working full-time in the summers when I was 14-years-old so I could buy plastic goalie pads for our street hockey games, I kept it up and paid for University.  Camp would have been nice, but University was better.  Now that I see how the kids have changed after just 12 days away, I wonder what it will be like next summer after a month away, and if this is the beginning of the kids independence.

  1. We missed them!  Not at first and not always but in those moments when the chaos slows down and we get to breathe, live, relax and look around we realize what a huge part of our lives those children have become and we miss having them around to share with, listen to and teach.

Now they’re back and we get to talk about camp next year!  2 weeks or 1 month…

 

Thursday Thirteen: You’re turn! 

Did you go to camp as a kid?  What did you like the most and what did you hate?  If you did not, what did you do instead?

Is This What Brothers Do?


Parenting questions to follow:

Last year was all about Skylanders!  My children HAD to have as many game pieces as possible (and that I totally understand from my hockey card collecting days).  If their friends had 25 characters, my kids needed the same 25.  Keeping up with the Joneses, I believe.  But then came the search for the elusive Ninjini character they HAD to have.  Only one other kid had one, and he got it from the United States.  Ninjini was selling on eBay for $80.00 and my kids would have ordered them all if given the opportunity.

I finally found one by fluke, when I walked into an EB Games location in downtown Toronto, but by the time I let the kids open her (only a week as I contemplated selling her on eBay) their interest in Skylanders was waning because the new phase of Skylanders were coming – Swap Force - and no one wanted to play with the older once anymore.

Geez.

In fact, Linus would play the game and Stewie would watch… for hours. Sometimes. Boo would use the character names or expressions and we would laugh because it was funny coming from someone who never played the game.

In our house, that fad has fizzled.

Now it’s all about Pokémon.

First Linus, the oldest, became interested, then midway through the school year, Stewie expressed his interest in collecting the cards and learning to play the game with his classmates.

What I don’t understand – and it might just be because they are brothers – and I don’t have a brother, is that they trade cards, they give away cards and they steal each others cards.

What’s up with that?

Do they not understand that if one kid has a gold card in their room at 9am, and by noon that card is missing that it is painfully obvious that the other took it?

But they deny it.

They yell.

They scream.

They accuse.

They write notes to each other.

They send each other bills for the missing cards based on a value clearly decided upon while reading a Richie Rich comic ($1,000,000).

Then the card(s) turn up with an elaborate story involving wind currents, forgetfulness, and finger-pointing at anyone and everyone but themselves.

We know what’s going on.

They know what’s going on.

Why do they do it?

Is this what brothers do?

When a Parents Says: “You Can Go Play With Your Neighbour AFTER Lunch”, Here is What a Child Hears…


On the weekend our children get up nice and early.  6am, usually, but 5am is not out of the question.

I believe we have convinced them not to come wake us (or each other) at that time, but I could be very wrong about that since they may not come and wake us up, but they certainly wake us through playing, talking and laughing.

Aside: Parents – How many of you also have become light sleepers as a result of your kids walking, talking, crying, calling, etc., in the middle of the night?

So after a 5:30am wake-up and plenty of playing around the house, my daughter Boo decided that she HAD to go visit our neighbour 2-doors down for a playdate.  These girls have become best friends, they go to the same school, were in the same class and we would walk to school together in the mornings.

But at 8am, it’s not nice to knock on someone’s door and invite yourself in.

“After lunch.” We told her.

“You can have a playdate with the neighbour, but after lunch.”

What she and her brother Stewie heard is a completely different story…

10 minutes later, the front door opened and by the time I got to the door, I saw Stewie entering the neighbours house, with no sign of Boo.

“Stewie!” I called out.  “Where is Boo?”

“Inside” he yelled back.

“Absolutely not!” I replied.  “It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and I said you had to wait until after lunch!  Get Boo and come back home!”


Both kids came back home and were greeted at the door by myself and my wife.

“What are you doing?” I asked.  “We said you could not go until after lunch.  It is only 8 o’clock in the morning!”

“We just finished lunch” was Boo’s reply.  “We ate breakfast at 6am, and were hungry again, so we just ate lunch.  You said we could go after lunch.”

Yes.

Yes, we did.

 

Canadian Living Likes The Urban Daddy too…


Father’s Day is a great time to check out some of the great Daddy bloggers on the Internet, especially the – ahem – Canadian ones.

I was thrilled when I received word from David Eddie who writes for Canadian Living saying he wanted to add my blog, The Urban Daddy, to his article titled; Daddy Blogs You Should Be Reading.

David, in case you were not already aware, has blogged under “Mack Daddy” and has written and published (is this not one in the same) a few parenting books;

  • Damage Control: How to Tip-Toe Away From the Smoking Wreckage of Your Latest Screw-Up With a Minimum of Harm to Your Reputation (2010)
  • Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad, (2003)
  • Chump Change (1999)

You can see more of David’s work, here.

Here is what David wrote; “Moms have ruled the blogosphere, but daddy bloggers are throwing their ball caps in the ring. Here are the daddy blogs you should be reading.

While women are naturals at communicating and forming communities, it’s tougher for us guys. I was a stay-at-home dad for many years—I even had a blog called Mack Daddy, which quixotically tried to make being an SAHD seem cool—and I know that, as a dad, you can feel isolated, like you’re the only guy in the world going through what you’re going through. Reading some other dude’s blog is one of the best cures. Dad bloggers offer a unique window into what men think about their lives in the wake of having children.

Maybe in some utopian future when we’re all riding around in hovercars, we will speak only of “parent bloggers,” making no distinction between male and female. Until then, dad blogs add a spicy flavour to the blogosphere. A flavour kind of like…barbecue.

Here are some of my go-to sites that let me know I’m not alone:

The Urban Daddy is the blog for products and practical tips, especially for things to do when your kids are driving you up the wall. Warren Orlans, the Toronto father behind the blog, says he’s “not your typical daddy,” and I’m not quite sure what he means by that. (What’s typical these days?) But, like me, he has a three-kid, two-career household. Also like me, he and his wife have the odds stacked against them: three to two. He’s very good on the topic of “juggling”—which is especially useful for readers who live in urban jungles. Don’t kid yourself: It is a jungle out there, and Urban Daddy is a great guide to avoiding the bear traps, vipers’ nests and poison darts.”

Please go read the entire article, here.

Opinion: Canada would benefit from granting fathers paid time off


Some of you might recall a couple of moths ago I asked for some participation from the Daddy community to assist a graduate student, completing her Masters of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, surrounding fathers and paternity leaves.

The link to that post is here.

Well, with the research gathered, reviewed, analysed and computed, Xiaoyang had the opportunity to write an article for the Vancouver Sun, and the link to that story is below.

Opinion: Canada would benefit from granting fathers paid time off.

 

Please take some time to read the article based on data you and I provided and see what the conclusion is…