Monday Musings of The Urban Daddy: Toronto Traffic SUCKS!


Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Have to drive anywhere in the City?  I did… It was not fun, and quite frustrating…

What the heck is going on in my City?

City Construction

This is the view from the stop light heading north from the downtown core.  The right lane, as you can see, is blocked.  The right lane has been blocked for a while, during the construction of this building, but the other northbound lane was closed so that stuff could be dropped off / picked up from the right lane.

It boggles my mind and makes me really angry that the City;

  1. Allows developers to take out an entire lane of traffic to help them with their construction for as long as they need to take.  The same annoyance is occurring at Bathurst Street, just south of St. Clair Avenue.
  2. Allow builders to build to the capacity where they cannot do so on their own space that they need to use City streets.
  3. With the addition of bike lanes, parking restrictions and general congestion, that this is even allowed to happen.

Yes, this rant is a real one, and comes from a resident of the City who pays taxes… Lots of taxes, and has to struggle to drive in the city because lanes are closed, construction is taking WAY too long, the Eglinton LRT is dragging along and the roads are AWFUL.

I’ve had 7 flat tires since the LRT construction has begun.

You want pot holes and shitty roads?

Forget the odd pothole that pops up here and there.  Try living around the LRT construction where your only access to the main streets are via roads which should have been torn up and paved over years ago.

In our area, for example, near Allen Road and Eglinton Avenue, the only ways out are Glen Cedar Road – which is an absolute disaster, or to the West, heading towards Oakwood, the roads are worse.

Where is the compensation coming from the developers for taking up our roads, so we can drive where we need to go?

Where is the compensation from the City for either picking terrible contractors, or for not doing their jobs and keeping our roads safe so I don’t have to keep repairing my tires from driving on these roads?  My dealership told me that if my car keeps driving on these roads for a couple more years, the car will be a write off.  The potholes, bumpy and buckling roads and vibrations from these horrid streets are shaking my car apart.

But hey, we’ve got bike lanes, one way streets, no cars on King Street and the Gardiner is falling apart.

Toronto City Council really messed this up… Big time.

Hey Council… You want to put a giant park over the railway tracks in the downtown core?  Before you do that, move the tracks, add a driving tunnel, add a subway or LRT, and then once you’ve used that space to the max, then bury it and put a park on top.  Then above the park, put a bicycle path – enclosed or covered or not – where bikes can shoot across the city and not interfere with traffic and visa versa.

It’s not rocket science…

It has to get done.

Speed it up, make it safe, and remember that there are cars who have to drive in the city.  By pretending that by adding a LRT line I’m going to stop using my car – that I pay lots of fees to the city for, if an exercise in nonsense.  I’m not going to all of a sudden pack my kids and their sports equipment and them and hop onto the subway to take them to their games and practices.

It’s not practical, and is never going to happen.

 

In other Toronto-news:

The Toronto Rock Lacrosse team is the BEST game in town that no one goes to see.  These games should be sold out!  Best game in town!  The Rock destroyed the 1st place New England Black Wolves 21-9 in front of just 9,125 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

As a LONG time season ticket holder, I’d like to see more fans venture down to the ACC to take advantage of a great event.   Coincidentally, the Rock play the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday February 3rd at 7pm at the ACC.

 

The Royal Rumble was last night.

The Grammys were last night.

The NHL All-Star game was yesterday.

 

Great time of year to be a fan.

As long as you’re not driving.

 

Oh, and we take the subway to the Rock games… Convenient, cheap and reliable.  Good thing the games are at the ACC, or we’d drive.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Parenting Frustration 101: Paralysis by Analysis


Being a father of three children is a lot of work.

Work that I love to do more than anything else in the world, but with this work comes the real hard work or the hidden work that gets little recognition, is not discussed at birthday parties between dads, nor does this work get or deserve high-fives among the dads at swim class.

The work I’m referring to is being consistent.

As parents we want our kids to be safe, and felt loved and supported and all that stuff, but if we don’t teach our children the right way to treat others and if we don’t set them up to be able to take care of their own affairs, then what are we doing for our kids besides providing food, shelter and love?

As the “helicopter generation” hovering over our children to keep them free from harm and protect them from a wanton stare from little Suzie or a mean word from little Billy, we do our kids no favours at all stuck to their sides.  We tell them to say please and thank you, and we correct them on everything they do that does not meet our approval but do they remember what we tell them?  If they did, why would we have to do it over and over again, so it seems, or why does someone in their class calling them silly crush them, but us telling them they behave poorly does not?

It’s because they hear our voices and they tune out.  No one wants to be corrected constantly, nor do they want to feel unloved, or disliked, so if our kids are in an environment where they feel any of these things, then we have to step up and act.  Not talk the talk, but walk the walk.

In The Urban Daddy household, we teach our children to stand up for themselves – without violence and without having to tell the teacher – to make sure that they are able to handle a situation now, in later grades, in business and in life. They don’t have to be mean, or demanding – they should try to be nice and use please and thank you, but they certainly do not have to take someone else’s bullshit or be picked on for no reason at all.  I believe we call this bullying.

Our kids have to be organized, and be part of a routine at school and at home.  Organization helps out our family unit and helps their teachers do what they need to do without my kids being a distraction or causing interruptions. Sometimes this is not possible as we are learning with 2 boys, but it is what is expected by us and taught to the kids.  If they are able to do this, they are expected to.  If they are unable to, then they will be taught it.  If they are still unable, they will be helped and hugged.  Never blamed.  Never made to feel bad.

But back to consistency…

Without consistency at home (and I struggle the most with this – always have) the kids get mixed messages and it throws them off.  When our morning routine involves a good morning, the opening of the shutters to let in the light, getting a glass of water to drink, a piece of fruit to eat, and then helping make breakfast and lunches, it messes up the children when the routine is fixed some days but not every day?

Even before the kids come down for breakfast they must get dressed, make their beds and on Monday’s and Friday’s made sure their bedroom floors are empty from toys they do not want to have stored in the vacuum cleaner.  So if they come down one day not dressed, they must be sent back upstairs to be dressed, so they understand the importance of following our routine.  Our consistency.

To be consistent is not something that can be accomplished in one day.  It’s a long-term challenge.

It’s also a long-term challenge when you work hard at home to develop a routine, have the kids buy-in, then be consistent with that routine, but when the kids go to school, or to extra-curricular programs the same does not hold true?  With different teachers, or teachers who do not understand the importance of organization and consistency, and that by putting in that effort in each and every kid, the benefit pays off ten-fold in the near future and for the rest of their lives.

Each and every year I sit down with my kids teachers to let them know what works for my child and what doesn’t. What should be brought to my attention and what should be handled by the child themselves. I do this so that the teachers know that we are on their side, we support them, and that while we check in often, it’s not out of concern for the children, but rather to ensure that they are learning, contributing and being good members of their classroom.

Imagine the surprise of finding out that one of these external providers of education are failing your child, and doing so in a big way.

Imagine the feeling of emptiness knowing that all that support and information your poured into the teachers and all the feedback you received was not worth the air it was breathed into.

I’ve been nice, and I’ve been kind and I will not give them the satisfaction of removing him from this situation and going out of my way to find him a new program to attend.  I’m going to fix this. We’re going to fix this, and at the end of the day, my kids are going to get the consistency, organization and respect they deserve and someone else is getting my hard-earned money.

The problem is that until all the pieces have fallen into place – whether we stay or whether we go – I feel like I’m in a state of paralysis by analysis.

Sharing some stories about my kids


I am thinking about renaming my oldest son, 5-year-old Linus to Archie, from the comic book fame.

You see in the comic book, Archie loves Veronica, while Betty loves Archie.

In real life my son absolutely adores a girl who was in his class last year, but is in the other grade one class this year, but there is a girl in his class both last year and this year who absolutely adores him. Let’s call that girl, Betty. Betty draws pictures for him, she gives him gifts, she saves a seat for him in class. Betty adores him. It’s all so adorable.

Then there is the other girl, Veronica. Linus LOVES Veronica. He told me last year that he and Veronica were going to move in together, start a business together and get married because they are bestest friends.
Oh yes!
Why just the other day at parent-teacher interview, Linus’ teacher asked us about the love affair between the two. His teacher went on to say that the two, “got married” at lunch time with the other kids around – to be witnesses, no doubt.

It’s crazy, eh? He was 4 when he made this pronouncement… Now he’s only 5. She’s 6.

Thank goodness we’ve met her parents and they are awesome!

My daughter, Berry, is making some major headway as she hits the 11-month-old mark. She can sign many words, most importantly, “More” and “eat” and as she signs them, she tries her best to spit out those words. She has words for her oldest brother – not sure she knows the middle child’s name – for “doll”, “pumpkin”, “elephant” which was her costume on Halloween, “cookie”, “mama”, “dada”, “milk”, and she has this one phrase she spits out when I pick her up from her crib which I think is something along the lines of; “About $^#^%#& time you came to get me. Now take me to mummy for mummy-milk, %$#%^$”. It’s the same expression each and every time!

I wish I knew what she was saying!

Weekend Update


OY.

What a weekend!  I’m going to need a few days to recover, indeed.

Friday ended for me in the afternoon with a contentious call with the government and the phone being hung up on me in a conference call over some tax related issues.  I left the office to pick up my oldest boy and the other kids in his carpool and just made it in time.  (Heck, it was -16 degrees out there and the kids were outside waiting).  I dropped everyone off, went to get diapers for the baby and ended up dropping my son at Starbucks to hang with his grandparents while I ran into the grocery store.  I came back to pick him up with diapers and bananas only to find him and his grandmother using those wooden stir sticks to teach him about roman numerals.

Once at home I logged back into my office computer to catch up on some work – set the table for dinner, bathed the kids, ate, cleaned and went back to work until about 3am when I decided it was time for bed. 

6:30am wake up.  Got the kids ready for skating (Pancakes for the big boy, oatmeal and raisins for the younger son), and just made it to the arena in time to lace up and jump on the ice.  By just made it I mean my skates were still undone…  One the ice, my little – not so little – boy decided he was not skating and spent most of the time on his ass or his back whining and crying.  I asked him in front of his skating coach if he was having a meltdown and he said, “no”.  OK.  So off the ice we went so he could calm down / pee.  Once in the dressing room we call his mummy and he explained that his feet hurt from the skates.  Too tight.  Hmmmm. 

So back on the ice we went for the last 10 minutes of class.  I signed the boys up for the end of program ice show (LOL) and in my amazement turned to see my 5 year old standing by himself on his skates and jumping up and down on the ice.  “WOW”, I blurted out.  He said he taught himself that, not the instructor.  He’s getting it.  Yay.

So after class we went home – Stewie cried the entire way.  We ate lunch then packed up our stuff and went to the mall for the afternoon.  After finally finding a place to park, I woke up Stewie and Berry (2 month old baby) and in we went.  Part way through the mall trip the boys saw the Godiva store and they were making chocolate dipped strawberries.  Guess what the boys cried and whined for the rest of the afternoon?!?

I also walked into Harry Rosen – again – with the boys and again could not get a sales agent to come up to me.  Even after falling in love with a gorgeous $85.00 dress shirt but wanting to ask a question about it, no one wanted to give me the time of day.  You would think any customer is a good customer, eh?  They don’t know what I can afford and if I am going to buy one shirts to 10 of them… Their loss.  I’m going to contact the store’s PR department!

So from the mall – and another Stewie meltdown (“I can’t walk”) we took the kids to dinner at the Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill.  The kids “ate” while I held a cranky baby so my wife could eat.  I was glad we were all out together and the prospect of eating cold food didn’t matter to me that much considering my wife is with the baby all day and all night and she deserves to eat and have a few minutes to relax.  So we hung there for a couple hours and off to home and bed – 10:30 for both my wife and I.

Sunday began with a rush as we all headed out to the kids karate class.  Stewie and his friend were the only kids in the Little Dragon’s class with 4 sensei’s. They had lots of attention and both did very well.  In Linus’ class, he performed much better than last week, but he was distracted from 2 seriously goofy kids in his class.  One was jumping up and down like a frog and the other was a complete goofball – taking flying leaps at the karate dummy’s and looking out at the parents instead of paying attention.  Must get him away from these boys…

After karate we split the boys up and went to birthday parties – I took Stewie to a party where I knew no one and he was not being adventurous.  He fell in love with a giant gumball machine (he’s never eaten gum) and required me to hold his hand for most of the 2 hours we were there.   We left a touch early and met my wife and baby at a new outdoor mall to check out a new store called Anthropologie… Beautiful clothes there and Linus really liked the fancy door knobs.  We left there to go grocery shopping and from there she took the kids and I drove to the other end of the city to pick up Linus and his friend from their birthday party – set to end at 6pm. 

Once in the Car, I turn on the radio, listen to a little satellite radio, then bored, switch over to real radio only to find out that there were 2 blockbuster NHL traded made by my Toronto Maple Leafs.  The managed to get another team to take 6 average commodities in exchange for 5 new bodies who appear to have more upside and come with a name.  I get Brian Burke now… He’s building the team with young talent… He has my confidence now.  After an awful 5-3 loss Saturday night (after having a 3-0 lead) the team has totally transformed.  WOW.

So I picked the kids up from the party, chatted with some dads about the trades and off to drop my son’s friend, then pick up our nanny to bring her back home.  I learned a very valuable lesson with my son and I in the car… Don’t hold your pee too long or your kidney’s hurt and you pee in your pants… Hopefully we both learned this lesson!  When you gotta go, you gotta go!

Home, snack, bed for the boys, while my wife cared after the baby, I cleaned up the house, showered, and hopped back on my office computer to clean up some files and do some tax research.  Saw the Royal Rumble was last night – Toronto-born wrestler Edge returned from a ruptured Achilles and won the rumble.  Yay.

I started working,  blinked and decided it would be best for my sanity if I went to bed earlier than Friday night, so Sunday night’s bedtime came at 2am… UGH. 

Monday brought a tough, slow morning for me…  The baby is sneezing and her eye looks a little puffy and red, but I have some serious meetings today and an appointment at the gym with my personal trainer…  Also have to get my ass in gear so that I can be home for the kids swimming tonight at 6pm since it’s parent’s night and the one night of the year the parents get to watch the kids swim. Exciting.  My wife is coming to see – she’s never seen them swim.  The boys will be SO happy!

After that it will be some more work, then off to bed so it can all start again tomorrow…

Update: Linus was smiling and waving in the pool and having a fantastic time so we asked him in the car if is always this happy in the pool.  He said “no”.  Puzzled we asked him why he was so happy, and he said, “I don’t know”.  Odd, but he was REALLY REALLY happy.