Posted in Life

What Was Your First School Instrument? What Did You Children Get?

How on earth did we pick school instruments when we were in middle school?  I had played a little piano by the time I was forced to make an uneducated choice, and it’s probably the reason why I do not play an instrument to this day despite being very musical.

So how did my son come home from school with a clarinet recently?

I think that was a great choice of instrument, considering last year his class played the banjo and the year before they were given that wannabe instrument and all around general noisemaker, the recorder.

He wanted to play the trumpet, but chose the clarinet…

Granted, my son is way more musical than me, he plays piano and will be taking his level 2 conservatory exams soon.

But boy, how the times have changed from when we were in school, right?  Or have they?!?

What instrument did you play and why?

Was it your first choice?

I remember having to face this dilemma way back in grade 6.  My best friend at the time was a drummer – taught by the drummer from Platinum Blonde – so I wanted to drum.  But with only one drum set and the need for only one drummer, I was out of luck.  Oh, and he was REALLY good, and I was really awful on the drums.

My teacher instead gave me the cymbals and the triangle.


The following year I wanted the trombone because all the trumpets were taken, but my first time using the trombone, I used the instrument to drill my friend in the back of the head (he was sitting in front of me).  That was my absolute reason for requesting the instrument… To use it as a weapon.  What was wrong with me??  But my teacher set me straight, alright.

Bye bye trombone.

She gave me the Tuba.

Little did I know back then that nobody takes the instruments which are impossible to take home to practice… But I got the instrument that I deserved.

I managed to convince the teacher that the Baratone was better (lighter), however every class my friends would toss stuff into it (like the little plastic army guys), so when my turn to play that one note came up, my instrument made either the wrong noise or no noise at all.

The upside was that carrying that beast home (I walked to and from school) made me very strong and I learned one helluva lesson.

The following year I chose the French horn!

A rather unique instrument, but was lightweight, had 3 keys and was rarely used.  So I guess I showed her, eh?  That was until she gave me a solo in one of the school concerts.  Me, my French horn and a LOT of people watching me.  Needless to say, I was sick that night of the concert, but on my BEST behaviour the rest of the year.  I had finally met my match.

If only I had selected a real instrument and actually learned it…

… Like the recorder.  lol.


What instrument do you want your child to learn?

Posted in Being Jewish in Toronto, Daddy, family, Life, school

How Cursive is Better than Cursing!

There are times when I feel that my wife and I are the cool kids in town and that everyone else either sucks or do not understand us or our children.  I mean, come on… tax, science… Who wouldn’t want to hang out with us to discuss those thrilling topics?!?

Then I think about our kids, and how they will view us when they are older and know better, or how others view them and their quirks and oddities… I hope others will find their quirkiness playful and fun, and now strange or odd.  Then again, I hope my kids are comfortable enough in their own skin to not care what others think.

So where is this going?

Ah, yes…

How we’re so cool.  lol.

Well, we had 2 great families over for Shabbat dinner Friday night and after eating, drinking, laughing and talking, we moved from the kitchen over to the family room to continue with the great conversation, while the kids practiced their cursive writing.


The kids practiced their cursive writing… On their own.  For fun… Together… 6 of the 7 children present.


I know!

What got the cursive kick started in our household is the fact that cursive writing is part of the grade 3 curriculum in Ontario, so with Stewie in Grade 3, it only made sense that he would be eager to practice every waking moment, right?  Well not only does he practice his cursive writing, but he also created a cursive writing book for his (just turned 5-year-old) little sister.  This book has the letters in the same way he learned them, however, he also added some fun cursive-games which are completely age appropriate.

More so, having looked through this book, I can say that it is quite amazing what this little girl has managed to produce and if she keeps it up, her Senior kindergarten teachers will be quite impressed.

So now imagine, 6 adults driving coffee and chatting about life, love, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while my son leads the other children through the cursive Olympics…

That’s cool, no?

It’s certainly better than cursing.  🙂

Posted in Community, Daddy, family, Life, school, urbandaddyblog

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.

Posted in Daddy, family, Life, school

Playing School in 2013. Playing School in the 1980’s. As a Parent, should I be happy or sad?

Some kids who may or may not belong to me were playing school at home this morning. I heard this;

“What’s 6 + 6”?

I heard this; “What is 16 X 32? Kidding.  What is 2 + 2?  What, you said, 4?  FANTASTIC!  How did you ever get that answer!!”

But when I really listened I heard this;

“Time for the lockdown drill. Remember to get down on the floor as low as you can and hide. Stay very quiet.”

I’m not sure if I should be happy that they are prepared for the worst-case scenario, or sad that this is what they have to do in order to stay safe in school…

Granted, we did these types of drills in the 80’s should there be a nuclear attack…

That was sad too.

Can’t we all just get along!

Posted in Life

Does this sound foreign to you too: “If The Big Show came to our house, would he fit through the door?”

English: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) S...
WWE: The Big Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, he actually would fit through the front door of our house as we have a large front door on our mid-town Toronto home.  If this were our last house, then no.  He’d have to go to the back of the house and through the door on the deck – that is if the deck could hold him…

The Big Show, a WWE Superstar and the “world’s largest athlete” stands 7’00” tall and weighs somewhere in the neighbourhood of 450lbs.  Questions about him, and other WWE wrestlers are not uncommon in our household, and the surprising part is that it’s not just coming from one or two if the kids, but from all three!

“Mummy, who do you like better? Damien Sandow or Cody Rhodes?”, asks 5-year-old Stewie.

“Who???” replied my wife.


“Mummy, if the Undertaker was going to give me the chokeslam, I would just keep kicking him in the knee so he couldn’t pick me up”.

I think it’s awesome that they have so much interest in Professional Wrestling, aka Entertainment!

My wife thinks its crazy.

Of all the kids, 5-year-old Stewie is the most obsessed with wrestling and why not.  It’s aimed at his age.  He knows that WWE Superstar Tensai is a terrible wrestler, and he knows that if the Big Show jumped on his bed, the bed would break. Stewie doesn’t try to wrestle with his brother but he like the WWE and the male soap opera that comes with the shows.  While the discussion and bantering is usually above his level of understanding (like World Champion Shaemus telling his opponent that his last name is “Lipshitz” because he is part-Irish and part-Jewish, then continuing to say that his father always said; “If your lipshitz (lip-shits) then what does your arse do?”  It was funny.

Second to Stewie has to be 2-year-old Boo.  She also loves the WWE and it’s cast of characters.  She mimics the move that WWE Superstar Kane (aka the devil’s favourite child) makes before he causes fire to shoot out of the ring posts and if you sing to her, “Weeellllll…” She will finish with, “It’s the Big Show… The big, bad show that I know” which is Big Show’s enterance theme song.  Boo also loves to sing the theme song that belongs to the “Funkasauras, Brodus Clay”.  Somebody call my momma, indeed!

Now the problem with watching WWE here in The Urban Daddy household is that 7-year-old Linus, is still developing his ability to determine what is acceptable to do to his siblings and what is going to get him in a boatload of trouble, like when he thinks it is okay to try some of the moves on his brother, sister or nanny – like when he pulls a sock out of his pants and proceeds to deliver the cobra to them.

I used to show them on TV in slo-motion that it’s all acting and they do not touch each other most of the time and I thought that was sinking in, but  if his brother is in the wrong mood – granted they are the same size and weight – Stewie races over to Mummy, tells he Linus was wrestling with him and it never ends well.   Even if Stewie started it, or was enjoying it, once he tells mummy, mummy tells Linus and Stewie that they are never to watch wrestling again then of course she tells me to never have it on the TV.

As a result, I tend to watch my PVR’d WWE and TNA shows during my blogging / course time which is usually after 10pm until (recently) 3am.  The kids see it sometimes when flipping the channels and sometimes on You Tube but they certainly have some friends at school that they talk about it with in order to get their fix, but they also ask each of us a LOT of questions.

Today’s questions – and keep in mind my wife knows nothing about wrestling and detests the “violence”;

Linus – “Who would win a match between Andre the Giant, The Big Show, Mark Henry and Ryback?”

Stewie – “Why do they say Let’s go Cena, Cena Sucks?”

Linus – “Can I see King Kong Bundy?  Is he still alive?  How much did he weigh?”

Stewie – “Daddy, who would win a match between all the people of Canada and every wrestler in the world?  You know who?  The people of Canada because I would kick all the wrestlers in the legs and beat them myself.”

Linus – “Why did King Lawler have a heart attack?  Was it because of CM Punk?”

Stewie – “How do the wrestlers choose their music?  Is it choosed for them or do they pick it and if they pick it, how do they know if its any good?”

Linus – If Ryback can pick up Tensei, can John Cena pick both of them up?  I think the Rock can because he picked up the Big Show.”

And so it goes… Every day, tons and tons of questions about wrestling and little Boo walking around imitating the wrestlers.  “Feed me more” in her best Ryback voice.  Or I’ll say “Woo woo woo” and she will blurt out “You know it!”  I’ve even seen the kids running around pointing their fingers in the air while channting; “Yes.  Yes.  Yes.”

I grew up watching wrestling on TV and attending events back at the old Maple Leaf Gardens here in Toronto, and I’d wrestle around with my friends but I knee what to try and what to stay away from and I think they are able to do the same.  The concern nowadays is that if they try this stuff at achool, it looks bad on them and, well, I’ll get even more peculiar looks from the parents.  I would like to think they know not to do that, but I cannot be 100% sure they do.

We coddle our kids so much these days.  Whatever happened to a good chairshot and a powerbomb before bed?