Tag Archives: Kids

Growing Up, Pt. 2

[Part one is here.]

I may have started out as a wee fellow, but as the years went by, I moved on up the food chain. I became a pre-teen, then a teen. I got things like insecurity, hormones and a driver’s license. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though.

I had a paper route that defined much of my after-school experience for a couple years. Those were the years when my dad sat at home every day with a few beers, waiting for me to return with the collection money. Wait- sorry, that’s the plan I have for my boys. Only with them I think I’m going to go for modelling. They’re really quite striking lads.

The whole thing could take me up to a couple of hours. I got to know a lot of my neighbors this way, and really enjoyed doing so. People seem to like their newspaper carrier- or at least, they seemed to like me. I think one of the reasons for that was my passivity when it came to collections. Every week, on Friday, I collected mandatory delivery fees. Only with me, they were more like subjective delivery fees: subjective as to how much I was actually paid, and subjective as to whether they ever got paid at all.

Let me just add one more thing: my daily round was extra special because I had a big old crush on one of my customers. Well, I guess it’d be more accurate to call her the daughter of one of my customers- the real customer, her dad, I was vaguely terrified of. These things go hand in hand.

Whenever I came by her house, I would look up to see if she was in her window. Sometimes she was, and she would wave at me. That turned me into a little puddle of Dan every time. I felt as though all the inky fingers and unpaid fees in the world were worth it for that wave. Occasionally she even talked to me. To what extent I sounded like a bumbling idiot in my responses, we will not go into detail. One February I even snuck a valentine into her paper, hoping she would find it. I expect she did. In any case, a friend of hers emailed me soon afterwards and I denied everything.

In that line of thought, I once got a call from a girl who I went to class with in grade five or six. As I recall, she had with her another girl from my class- and naturally, this other girl was the one who I had a crush on. Girls know these things, I don’t know how. I guess it may have been the way I blushed like crazy every time she looked in my direction.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, Daniel, It’s Sam!”

“Hi, Sam.”

Pause.

“So, Jenny’s here with me…”

“Oh! That’s neat.” Dan’s mind becomes more frozen than ever as he contemplates the reality of being one person and a telephone away from Jenny.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just… watching Alice in Wonderland. It’s on TV.” A this point the conversation becomes a little strained.

“Cool… are you watching it with anybody?” Because that’s what girls like to know. Naturally.

“Yeah, my… mom.” There sure are a lot of ellipses in this conversation, aren’t there?

“Uh, cool. Well, did you want to talk to Jenny?”

“Looks like the commercials are almost over. I’d better get back to the movie.”

“Oh… alright. Well, have fun watching the movie!”

“Thanks! Bye!” And in desperation, I hang up the phone.

Boy, were those some stellar years for dealing with the fairer sex. I would say that they were, in fact, more than fair with me, considering the way I dealt with them. Which is to say, not at all well.

I was a big league babysitter not too long after the paper route days, too. All around the neighborhood, I was the go-to guy for childcare, at least until my sister came onto the scene. The bitterness I held in my heart over her usurpation lasted for years. Maybe I exaggerate. In any case, these were golden days for me. I’ve always loved being with kids. It probably says something or other about my undeveloped personality, but it does remain true. It’s stood me in good stead in recent years.

I babysat, more than anyone, the two little gals who lived in the same house as Rupert. For several years they were the darlings of my heart, although I certainly didn’t have the words to say so. We horsed around playing Pokemon, or watched movies, or went to the park. I believe I had as good a time as they did. And there were several other families who meant a lot to me as well, as well as a few who terrified me.

Through all this babysitting stuff I feel as though I was able to share the sweetness of childhood that much longer. My peers were one thing, and I had my share of older folks at church, but my affection always lay most strongly with the small ones in my life.

I guess it all makes sense. Through many of my years as a young adult, I struggled to part ways from my inner child. I felt, in some respects, as though I were doing a rotten job of growing up. I looked at my friends and I thought, “Man, they’re so much more mature than me.” Maybe they were. But it was in finally embracing that child within that I found my feet- both in the ability to decide what I wanted, and in acting upon it. Instead of languishing in self-consciousness and indecisive thought, I learned to disconnect from my over-analytical mind when it came time to act and interact. Not that we- my child and I- don’t still get separated sometimes.

You know, I’m still growing up- but it’s a lot easier to chuckle about old foolishness than to look in the mirror and let out a belly laugh. So wait a few years, and I’ll tell you about all the ridiculous things I’ve done lately. Until then, do continue to take me seriously.


Growing Up

[This post I dedicate to Tom, who reminds me of childhood- and to his dad, Jim, who I quietly idolised.]

When I was maybe seven, even eight, I used to climb up into the trees on my front lawn and watch people walk by. Middle aged women would jog by in pairs and I would try to hear their breathless conversation. Old men would whistle while they walked past, on their way down the street to get the mail from our community mailbox. I especially liked Don, who was always hollering hello at someone in a way that could make them jump out of their pants if they weren’t expecting it. Other kids went by, too, but I was so absorbed in my game that I wouldn’t call out. I was a ninja, or a spy, or an Indian scout. Really, though, I just liked to watch.

I was born in Ottawa in December of 1988. Back there my folks attended a little church where they called me The Judge. The grey-haired set liked to pinch my little cheeks and give me sweets, cracking up when I just solemnly stared back. It might be a stretch, but it seems to me that even from that time I was lost in my own world, an observer in a world of participators. I suspect I enjoyed those candies all the same.

We moved to Peterborough when I was two- just me and my parents at the time. Eventually I would wind up with a sister, then a brother: Julianne and Michael. One of my earliest memories is the terrific fear I carried through childhood of the bathtub drain. I couldn’t bear to stay in the tub when the plug was pulled; a persistent vision of swarms of lobsters or crayfish coming up out of that black sucking hole troubled me to my soul.

Dad brought Lego into my life sometime in that dark stage, conquering the crayfish with the sweet distraction of construction. He had saved a quantity of the precious bricks from a time that predated the dial-up connection. I can’t express just how many hours I sank into those and the others that gradually expanded my collection. It’s a habit that has remained with me to the present, where I can and do share the same passion with my boys. Kieran became a solid convert just months after I met him nearly three years ago, and Emery is of late going down the same way. I couldn’t be more pleased; the Lego calls to its own with little need for encouragement.

I spent as much time outdoors as I did in back then. I miss that. There was, and is, a small woods down the street from my folks’ place. When I was eight, though, it was not a small woods. At that time it was still enormous, a deep and dangerous mystery that only the kids dared explore. Some of my older peers went there and left their parents’ bottles and butts. My friends liked better to see how far we could get into the swampy areas before turning chicken. I had heard very often- and this was like some legend of a holy grail- that there was a couch somewhere on the far side of the forest. I doubted, sometimes, if there was another side. I did reach it once, though, years after I started my excursions. Who was it that was with me on the big day? I can’t remember anymore. We didn’t find a couch, but we did emerge in the back field of someone’s farm. I guess that’s what it was, anyways.

My dad had a real time of it trying to get me to ride a bike. I’m experiencing the same thing now with Kieran, and am thankful that I was as stubborn and apprehensive: it grants me a measure of patience. I understand. I was dead certain that I’d fall off and tear up my limbs- the awful thing is, I was totally right! Dad finally forced the subject and took me on that final afternoon of thrills and torments. I was drunk with the new sensation, and showed off my new ability to anyone who would watch thereafter. Many trees hold little scars of which I was the perpetrator, but they have nothing to complain about next to me (not me in the link!).

What did I read back then? The Hardy Boys, mostly, I guess. They were always exclaiming over something, maybe Chet’s souped-up jalopy, or Biff’s washboard abs. Joe and Frank’s mom was always nearby with a pie. Their dad was always working a big case that they absolutely had to stay away from, and which they inevitably solved themselves. I loved them from the first motorcycle chase to the last kidnapping. I was also into Brian Jacques– talking mice who lived in an abbey, strangely enough, and badgers with axes twice their size, always coming head to head with the nasty stoats and weasels. It definitely gave me an early impression of the moral character of British woodland animals.

I didn’t always go in for the tame world of books, by the way. Video games played a major part of my formation of hobbies. I used to call Nathan, my pal directly across the street, just about every day the moment I came off the bus and got my backpack off. His telephone number is engraved indelibly on my mind. Then it was Red Alert, and Metal Gear Solid, and the many other cryptic things that yong boys do on a television screen. When I wanted to go in for a real bad boy sort of activity, it was down to Andrew’s to play Mortal Kombat. Remember the controversy? You used to get to pop your enemy’s head right off, spine and everything. Sometimes they would fall on the spikes below. That was hard stuff. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you had to find out sometime.

When I was maybe eight, maybe nine, I went up to my parents’ room one day and opened the box where they kept money for babysitters. I took out a loonie- was the toonie even around yet?- and brought it outside. I actually buried it under the soil in my tree fort, then dug it back up. Then I brought it in and showed Mom. I raved about how lucky I was to have found a dollar in the ground. Looking back, I don’t see how she could have believed this. She probably didn’t. But she let me get away with it, and I’m grateful still.

I have lot more buried back there in the tree forts and the parks and my friends’ basements. There’s more to the present than the past, of course, but it seemed suitable for me to give you a window into that old world of mine. I hope, once again, that you got a kick out of this. Feel free to share your own kid stories if you get the urge. Until next time–!


First among many?

Hi folks- Dan here. Some of you may have received an email or linked from my wife’s Facebook account, but for the sake of clarity I’ll just hash out my reasons for starting this blog. And Cam, Tom- yeah, you get the credit for pushing me over the fence.

I have a mind that moves at a few hundred miles an hour. You might not know it to talk to me, though, as it often is drifting somewhere else completely. In short, this is a brain that gets its many kicks out in left field. The best way I’ve ever found to deal with this is to write out my thoughts- this way I can grab hold of a segment of that daily race and tie it to a page (or screen!).

I have an awful lot of opinions, but I’m typically more likely to want to hear yours. I submerge my point of view frequently so that I can get the scoop from someone else. When I write, however, there’s no one to listen to but myself: maybe you’ll get a few of my perspectives this way.

I lead a life that I absolutely love. It’s quiet, it’s demanding, it’s satisfying. Strangely, I haven’t worked in almost two years- I’ve been raising a family full-time instead. Sometimes the lack of outside work drives me a little up the wall. Hopefully this blog will serve as an outlet. I want to share all that I am and have with the people who have shared my life so far. It’s pretty neat being Dan Parrington.

Okay, there’s my motivation. You want a rundown of my life since I last saw you? Hold on, we’ll get there. For the moment, let’s just have a look at my current state of being.

I’m twenty-three now, married and stepfather to two. I have a high school education and fragments of university from U Toronto and Trent. I collect books, and have nearly a thousand on my shelves. They don’t all fit here at my place in town, so I still keep a lot of them at my Mom’s (hi Mom!). When I really want to relax I play video games. When I want a great time I build Lego with my boys- Kieran, 7, and Emery, 4. I’m pretty great in the kitchen, although I can be equally awful. I have some rather fascinating and disruptive mental health concerns that have largely been resolved- but of course things like that are never totally a finished story. I love animals and music. My favourite color is brown in all its shades. I spell words like favor without the u, and realise with an s. I am not a multitasker, at all. I have a dream staircase. I enjoy diagrams. I watch a ton of movies- my favorite is Blade Runner.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really picky. I have my favorites, though. William Faulkner is the author I admire most. I dreamt once that he was staying in the same hotel as me, so I went to see him in his room. He was out, and I was devastated. I still am. I also like twentieth century Russian and American literature. Robertson Davies is my Canadian idol. I have a filthy obsession, usually not talked about socially, with science fiction. I like sic-fi best when it collides with horror. Anyone who comes into my home knows that I hate to see a friend leave without a book, and the same will likely apply to my blog- I hope you don’t mind getting recommended to sometimes.

My family of four, counting me, is the essence of my universe these days. Aura, previously of the Delorme family, provides me with a wellspring of love and care. I try to be the same to her and the boys. Kieran and Emery are very different creatures, and I love to make the comparison. Kieran, soon to be in grade three, is a cautious kid, always prone to apply his mind to a problem long before tackling it head on. He is in the top of his class with reading, which makes me very proud. He has a lot of questions and craves the thorough answer. Emery, who will be in kindergarten next year, is exceptionally bold. Never have I known someone so likely to lean out into an undertaking much further than they can pull back from safely. He’s very bright, bright to the point of constant amazement on my part, but usually prefers action to consideration. So Kieran makes sure Emery is safe, and Emery makes sure Kieran has a good time. I like the combination very much.

Aura is thirty-six as of this past Monday. She tells people she’s twenty-six, and could pass for it, but I am tremendously pleased with my very own cougar. Aura struck me from the beginning with her intuitive nature. She can discern your thoughts and motives at twenty paces. She’s a great organiser, a powerful motivator, and nice to have on a fellow’s arm. She’s pretty any way you package her, but I like her in black or blue, and it especially pleases me when she gets out a sundress. She would be terribly embarrassed to see me writing all this, but she’s absurdly modest on top of everything.

You’ll get to know a little more about me as time goes on, but I hope this hooks you for now. Without any further fuss, let me once again welcome you to the new blog. Check back soon!

Cheers, Dan

p.s. For those as confused as I was, the comment button is at the top of the post.


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