Categotry Archives: Children


Post-graduate paper


Categories: Children, Family, The Captain, Tags: ,

EssayThis morning, #TheTeen and I got into a bit of a tiff. Mornings are chaotic, and as much as I have really enjoyed #TheTeen’s company this summer, when school starts up again and we’re under pressure, something eventually has to give. Here’s some background, although actually, the deets aren’t all that important. In fact, the deets don’t really matter so I’m not going to bore you with them.

The point is, it resulted in me screaming at #TheTeen for about fifteen minutes, over something that really oughtn’t be scream-worthy. When he left for school, we were on grumpy terms, and I hate that. Just as he walked out, he said, “why are you such a douche? Can you just answer that? Why are you such a douche?” So I thought about what I’d done and what had happened, and I thought the best thing to do would be to write a 1500-word essay about why I’m such a douche.

The essay ended up being just over 1700 words and includes a bibliography. Sorry if the citations are done incorrectly. I do them OLD SCHOOL, mofos.

Why I’m Such A Douche – the essay


It’s been nine long years


Categories: Children, Family, Just for You, The Captain, Tags:

IMG_1192Not really. Not really long years. Nine ridiculously short years. Nine years that feels like days. Nine years that passed in the blink of an eye.

Your brother was in his stroller. I clutched my go-mug of coffee with one white-knuckled hand and the stroller with the other. We took pictures of you out in front of the garage with your new backpack. Well. Your dad and Papa took those pictures because I couldn’t. We started walking across the street, and you reached up and took my hand as soon as I put my coffee in its holder.

“I’m scared, Mama,” you said.

“I know,” I told you. “I’m scared too. But I think it’s going to be okay.”

You with your round cheeks and your bright eyes. Your hands were still chubby-knuckled and you wore the sweater I’d knit for you with the Irish wool mum sent back from Kilkenny. I thought about how proud she would be of you. Then I pushed that thought as far away as I could because I’d already been sobbing for weeks about your first day of Kindergarten. Of COURSE all of the other parents were crying (well, some of them, who may have been on their fifth kid, pretty much just drove by and slowed down to let the little urchins out of the  car).

You were the only child I could see on that playground. I heard some of your hockey teammates call out to me, and I suppose I must have waved to them.

Your teacher came to greet us at the gate, and she knelt down and said, “I know you’re scared, and that’s okay. Everyone’s a little scared on their first day.”

Then you hugged me tightly and took your teacher’s hand and you walked onto the playground. I stood for just a moment watching you, and in that moment felt so pleased. Yet letting you go was the hardest thing I’ll ever do. It will always be the hardest thing I’ll ever do.

Somewhere there is a place where all of the little pieces of mothers’ hearts go.



Everybody get down, make love


Categories: Children, Something or other but True, Tags: ,

I am about a week late for this, I guess, but I’m not one to jump on bandwagons and talk about things because it’s the official week of talking about things, so…there you are. And really, it’s always a good time to talk about love. And it’s almost always a good time to talk about things that are pretty sure to make people squicky. That is so too a word. It’s an adverb.

I have kids. My children currently identify as male. I don’t really care if that’s how they continue to identify, because as the fancy image (from says, love has no gender. I don’t care whether they wear skirts or trousers or kilts or sarees. I don’t care if they want to wear a beard or a brassiere. I don’t care which bathroom they use.

When I talk to my kids about their futures, about romance and dating, about marriage and child-raising, I have always, *always* been clear that I don’t care what the gender is of their preferred partners, either. “When you are older and have a girlfriend or boyfriend,” I say… or  “some day, the woman or man to whom you are married may…” We have always been very clear, both His Nibs and I, that it really doesn’t matter what sort of genitals the person has with whom our children fall in love.

I took some flak for this, of course. My father one time heard me say  something like “the woman or man you choose to marry”, and he later said, “Jesus, don’t say that. You wouldn’t want your kids to turn out gay.” My father is a wonderful man, and when I told him I’m bisexual, he didn’t really seem to care. My mum was a little upset, but she got over it. Both my parents have been very strong supporters of equal rights, and they both have been very strong supports for their gay and bisexual friends. I guess sometimes there’s still a knee-jerk reaction when it’s your own kids or grandkids that you don’t want them to have to face a life of discrimination, loathing, and upward battles just to be able to live the life the rest of us get to live without question.

I told my Dad that actually, I didn’t care if my kids “turned out gay”. That their sexual preference and/or gender identification had absolutely no bearing on how I felt about them. That I would continue to say what I had said because it’s true.

As I write this, it occurs to me that we far less frequently indicate that we don’t care what cultural background their potential life partners have. I mean, we do talk about it, but it just doesn’t come up all that often. Maybe because we assume that’s a given. I think we’ll have a very interesting dinner table conversation tonight.

A few years ago, I read an article about a family who refuse to disclose their children’s gender to their families and friends, and I always thought that was really interesting. Some people claimed it was child abuse, and that response really mystifies me. How is it abusive to let your children determine their own gender identity without outside pressure? That’s kind of the opposite of child abuse. I mean, when we heard about how some communist countries were determining a child’s future career by the time the child turned six, we were HORRIFIED. And this is part of what upsets us so much about Orwell’s HUXLEY’S* Brave New World. Or at least, it should be. So how can permitting children the freedom to choose the way they wish to become part of society *abusive*?

It isn’t of course. The people who say those things are saying things from a place of fear.

I should also point out that I think it’s perfectly fine to disagree on a personal level (for whatever reason you like) with someone’s lifestyle. I, for instance, don’t agree with the way our neighbours train their dog. I don’t agree with the way some people raise their children. There are some sexual practices or relationship practices/models that I don’t like and/or which don’t interest me. So you know what I do? I don’t do those things, that’s what. Unless you can prove to me that the way someone lives their life is harmful to themselves or others, I kind of try to have an STFU attitude about a lot of things. Sure, I might be a little snarky about it in private conversations, but for the most part, do what you want.If you want me to be a part of it, I will politely decline. But I’m fairly certain my neighbour is not going to ask me to train his dog (although I wish he would); those people aren’t going to ask me to raise their children; and you probably aren’t going to invite me to join in your evening proclivities.

So that’s okay. We can still be friends, even if we don’t agree on some things. If my children end up marrying people of the same gender, they might still invite you to the wedding. And you can say no thank you! That’s okay! If they end up marrying someone Welsh, I will personally remove all the vowels from the alphabet! And again, you can b plt nd s n thks. Heh. Little fun at the expense of the Welsh, there.

Anyway. This is a thing I do. I have no problem explaining my reasoning. And when the kids have friends over who say “God says gay is bad”, I say “I don’t believe that a God like that exists.” And when they say “my mother says gays are going to hell”, I say, “what a sad thing to believe in. I believe that things will only get better in the next life.” Probably, I should be hauled away. For child abuse.

*See comments section: In Which cenobyte Thinks “1984” and writes “Brave New World” and goes all Orwellian on her Huxley.


Call me Ducky


Categories: Children, gaming, Good Idea, The Nipper, Tags: , ,

The Nipper has the Best Ideas Ever Invented. He said, last night on the way to rehearsal, “you know what would be cool, would be if they made a Call of Duty ™ game that’s age-appropriate for kids and they called it Call of Ducky. And you’d play this duck having adventures all over in the meadows and fields and stuff and maybe even a lake. But instead of shooting bullets and guns, they’d spit water out of their mouths. Their eyes wouldn’t turn to Xs when they got hit, because the water doesn’t kill a duck, but their eyes would go all googly and roll around when they got hit and they’d be stunned and then they’d fly away or walk away or whatever.

Then for grenades, they’d poop out eggs, and -”

“Birds don’t poop out eggs, boyo,” I interrupted. “They lay them. Kind of in the same manner a woman births a baby.”

“Okay, so they’d lay eggs and the eggs would be like grenades and they could throw them and they’d break and then the other guy would get all eggy and that’d be really gross. And then THOSE other guys would fly away or wander off because they’d need a bath. Do ducks bath?

“And there could be other kinds of birds instead of airplanes and jets and things.”

The Captain said, “You could have eagles for airplanes.”

“And swans,” The Nipper went on, “for the navy.”

“And some of the birds could drop bombs. You know, like poop bombs. If they’re flyers.”

“They’d go on missions to find some ducklings and rescue them, or to find a new nest…you know what else would be cool would be if you started out as, like, an egg. With just feet sticking out the bottom. And you had to find your way back to the nest and had some kind of sonic attack for if you got in trouble. Then as you go through the game, your stats would improve and you’d eventually break out of the egg and level up.

“But then you’d be a yellow duckling and you’d be all fuzzy and you’d have your sonic peep attack and a scratch attack, because you wouldn’t know how to spit water yet. Then when you levelled up you’d grow proper feathers.

“And you could level up again and learn how to dive in a pond, and you could level up again and learn how to fly.”

So I’m thinking this would be a wicked game for kids to play. So. My gamer peeps, please make this happen. The Nipper would be forever grateful. I’ll help with the writing and editing. I’m very good at “quack, quack, peep peep peep”.

But seriously. This game would rock. And I bet all of the gamer parents out there would buy it for their kids.

I…took the liberty of designing a game case for you:

Call of Ducky

Call of Ducky




Categories: gaming, The Captain, The Nipper, Tags: ,

Behind the DM's screen

Behind the DM’s screen

Something ridiculous happened today. Before I get to that, though, I’m’a set some ground rules, because this is the kind of discussion that gets out of hand really, really fast.

1) I’m not interested in any anti-religion comments. What follows did not happen because people believe in God. This isn’t a discussion about belief versus fact, religion versus atheism, etc.. And specifically, please don’t post anti-Christian comments. Think them to yourself if you’d like.

2) I’m not interested in incendiary or antagonistic comments. I’ve heard them all, and they’re not helpful.

This morning, The Captain told me how much he and his friends are enjoying the D&D game I’m running for them. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how wonderful it is to watch a bunch of 12-13yo kids (and one 8-yo kid) experience traditional tabletop D&D for the first time. I mean, they’re excited and they’re working together and they’re creative and they’re brilliant and I get to watch their own stories and adventures light up their faces and ignite their spirits. You can’t buy that.

It’s incredible when you get to share something you’re passionate about with your kids. His Nibs joined in too because the kids were all over the ranger, halfling rogues, wizard, and dwarf fighter, but nobody wanted to be the cleric. And everybody knows that 0-5th level parties kind of…flounder without a cleric. Here I’m using the word ‘flounder’ to mean ‘die horribly in writhing pits of fire and rotting wraith entrails’.

Most of The Captain’s friends are great. I like them. I like having them at the house (when they get loud, they get booted outside). There are one or two I’d rather not see on a regular basis, but for the most part, the majority of his friends are fly. Heh. I said ‘fly’. Anyhow, I feel a little guilty admitting that there are kids I don’t much like, but where is it written that you have to like every kid you meet? I think that’s ridiculous.

Anyway, so The Captain and his gaming friends are super into the game, which is wicked. And there are more kids in his peer group who are kind of curious and interested to try it out. There are a few who just aren’t interested, and that’s okay too. And there’s one kid who said he’s not allowed to play D&D because “he’s Christian and D&D is the devil’s game”.

So when I heard that I went a little ballistic. I don’t know where and when that stupid moniker was coined, but I suspect it was sometime in the 70s, in the bible belt down south, by people who were just generally uncomfortable at the idea of a bunch of men hanging out with each other and playing make-believe. But I don’t care. I don’t *care* where the rumours were started. I’m sure that every pastime out there that isn’t theological study or hymn sings have been called ‘the devil’s game’.

I used to just laugh at people who spouted crap like this, then I went through a phase where I figured they just didn’t understand the game and tried to explain it to them, in the mistaken view that if someone understands something, they will change their mind about it (this is so very rarely the case). Eventually, I just kind of resigned myself to swearing and muttering under my breath for a while. If in public and confronted with this kind of statement, I still laugh out loud. Because it’s ridiculous. It’s RIDICULOUS.

Trust me, if I was worshipping some dark and eldritch god or demon in my basement, I wouldn’t be chatting about it nonchalantly with my children’s friends.

…okay, I *might*…but that’s not the point.

So then The Captain said, “you know, I don’t know if he really believes that or not. I think he just doesn’t want to play and doesn’t really want to say it.”

And fine. Fair enough.

And really, ultimately, if you think a roleplaying game is against your religion, you probably misunderstand your own religion’s doctrines and liturgies. I’ve studied comparative religion, and for much of my life have followed established religion (not just Christianity, either). I’ve never really understood the fear that some people have of fiction and gaming, particularly as it refers to their religion, but I also don’t care very much. It is they who are missing out, not me. I’m certainly not going to call this kid’s family up and try to disavow them of their mistaken opinion. Particularly since this is the same kid who one day announced to me that, and I am quoting, “gay is wrong because the bible says it’s wrong.”

In that case, he was right in front of me, and I said, “well, I know there are some people who think that way, and that’s unfortunate, because gay is no more wrong than having blonde hair or liking sports. The bible also says it’s wrong to eat bacon, fish, and lobster, and to wear the clothes you’re wearing right now. I don’t want to be too heavy-handed, here, but I won’t have that kind of language in my house. If you choose to believe that homosexuality is wrong, that’s your prerogative, but spouting uninformed opinions like that in my house will simply not do.” I didn’t get a call from his parents. I thought I would, but I didn’t. I’d have been glad to tell them exactly why I’d said it, too.

This isn’t about Christianity being wrong or right, and I don’t want to hear that BS. This isn’t about religious people being bad or stupid, and I won’t hear that BS either. This is about what comes next, and it pertains just to this one family:

They have no problem letting their kids play über violent computer games and watch completely inappropriate horror movies. Zombie movies that scared the bejeezus out of 8 year old The Captain? No problem. Pornographic images on the iPod at school in grade 4? No problem. Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto for 9 year olds? While 4 year olds watch? Not a problem. D&D? CALL THE MORALITY POLICE!

Let’s be clear: I don’t care what you believe in or don’t believe in. I think you’re doing a huge disservice to the rest of the world when you teach your kids things like ‘homosexuality is wrong’, regardless of how you justify that belief. And honestly, I have friends who don’t let their kids play RPGs OR video games. Like, any video games. They also don’t let their kids watch TV. For a variety of reasons.

But this one really stuck in my craw. Just the blatant hypocrisy of it. It’s okay to objectify people as sex objects, and it’s okay to objectify people as targets for aggression and violence, and it’s okay to glorify violence and wanton murder, but it’s somehow amoral or wrong to play a goddamned tabletop roleplaying game?

I mean, I kind of want to ask where in the bible it says “thou shalt not roll polyhedral dice and pretend to be a different character”. Because then I think I’ll probably hear something about false idols and worshipping other gods, and then I’ll be all, “how many hours a day do your kids spend at church versus in front of a screen?” Yeah. That’s what I thought.


New Math


Categories: Crackpot Theory, Questions, The Captain, Tags: , ,

Struggling with Math

“Takoda and Wesley are collecting shells on the beach in identical pails. Takoda estimates she has filled 7/12 of her pail. Wesley estimates he has filled 4/10 of his pail. Suppose the children combine their shells. Will one pail be full? Explain.” — from Math Makes Sense 7 published by Pearson Education.

Before we tackle this maths problem, let me just talk for a moment about the gross misstatement apparent in the title of this textbook. Maths does NOT make sense. If maths made sense, we wouldn’t need great huge textbooks full of obscure and insensible phrases like “write an algebraic expression for the number of pieces of garbage picked up by students”. First, it’s completely insensitive to refer to a group of students as “n”s. That’s discrimination. And we all know that discrimination is evil. We learned that from the presentation we had from the people in pink shirts. Or maybe it was purple shirts. Anyway, someone wearing a shirt told us that stuff is, like, bad. And whatever.

Second, what kind of name is Takoda? It’s like a weird spoonerism for “Dakota”, which itself is an odd name. I mean, that’s a dialect. And a tribe, I think. But I could be wrong about that, because I was sick the day we learned about First Nations. It’s just weird to be named after a whole language. It’s like having someone called “Welsh” or “Italian” or “Drawl” in your class. So I don’t believe for a minute that “Takoda” is a real person.

Likewise, Wesley is a character in a science fiction programme. I doubt that two fake people would be hanging out on a beach collecting shells. I mean, maybe in fiction, but this is supposed to be basic maths, and not Advanced Applied Theoretical Mathematics for Use in Propulsion and Predictive Statistical Research. That’s a four-hundred-level class, I think. Anyway, the question itself doesn’t even make sense.

Third, what kind of child runs up the beach and hollers, “Look, Ma! I’ve collected seven-twelfths of a pail of shells!”

Fourth, how do we know the pails are IDENTICAL? Was there an accurate measurement made before the commencement of the exercise? You can’t just go claiming your variables are standardized if you haven’t applied rigorous testing. That’s not how science works. I know that because I have read books about people who claim to know scientists. And the people in those books say that their scientist friends MAKE SURE that the conditions under which they collect data are the same each time. Or else their research does not stand up to rigorous challenge, and cannot be replicated.

Fifth, how could a child tell the difference between 4/10 and 5/10? Are there measurements indicated on the sides of the pail? And if so, are Takoda’s measurements in increments of twelfths and Wesley’s in increments of tenths? And if so, their pails are NOT IDENTICAL. And if not, how does Wesley know he has 4/10 and not half a pail? Takoda and Wesley might not actually be children. And if that’s the case, the basic statements of fact are incorrect. And therefore, any conclusions drawn from the experiment will be fallacies.

Sixth, what kind of child would willingly give up nearly half a pail (or just over half a pail) of shells to their buddy? A weird child, that’s who. Not that there’s anything wrong with being weird.

Explanation complete.

And this is why I failed grade nine maths.


Head Like a Hole


Categories: Family, piss in your eye, Rants, The Captain, When There's Weather, Tags: , , , ,

The CaptainFirst, I’d like you to go to Netflix and watch a documentary called “Head Games”. It’s about brain damage due to contact sport. It talks about concussions in football, hockey, and boxing. And entertainment wrestling (not greco-roman wrestling). It’s an incredibly interesting and well-done documentary. One of the really good question it raises is why the only gridiron football league in the US that has non-contact practices is the NFL. Why developmental and minor league gridiron football leagues don’t implement and enforce a rule that of the 5 practices per week you may have as a team, only one may be full contact. Because full contact isn’t necessary at every practice.

I bring this up because in the fall, it was at a practice that The Captain sustained brain damage. He took a helmet-on-helmet hit with a team-mate and was out of the sport for three weeks. If you know anything about Canadian football, three weeks is over half the season. Immediately after the hit, he was disoriented and dizzy. He couldn’t walk right. He had memory lapses. We took him to the emergency room and to his family doctor.

His family doctor, who is a sports doctor, said “children should not play contact sports.”

I was a little shocked. I mean, I know there are inherent dangers in playing contact sport. The risk for injury is high. But I’d never heard an actual medical doctor say that children shouldn’t play contact sport at all. But he went on to say that in his opinion, contact sports for children under the age of 18 ought to be off the table, because kids’ brains are still developing so fast, and that kids in contact sports are guaranteed to sustain concussions the longer they stay involved. He went on to say he’s treated professional and semi-pro hockey players; professional and semi-pro football players, and that he has seen their injuries contribute, over the long term, to serious and chronic intellectual, emotional, and physical conditions.

The Captain and I talked things over with His Nibs and with the doctor, and after The Captain watched “Head Games”, he suggested that if he got another brain injury, he would be done with contact sports.

Fast forward to last night.

I understand that accidents happen. I understand the inherent risks in allowing your kids to play contact sports. I understand that hockey is a fast, rough game.

But when I got a text that said The Captain had been hit from behind and wasn’t getting up, I started to get pretty concerned. When I got a text that the opposing player didn’t even get penalized, I started getting really angry. When I heard that The Captain had to be helped off the ice and into the change room, and that the ref had said “we can either penalize everything or we can only penalize the big stuff. It’s up to you; if we call everything, the game’s going to go really slowly”, I was starting to seethe.

Here was the scenario: less than 5 minutes left in the third period. This is the third (and last) of our first best-of-three playoff series in which both teams have won one game. Our team was up 4-2. The Captain, coming in fast, recovered the puck from in front of his own net, and skated it around the back of the net. He and a teammate were skating together when an opposing player hit The Captain from behind, sending him flying headfirst into the boards. The Captain later said that his first reaction was to jump up and start beating the snot out of the kid, but because he’d hit his head really hard, he knew he should just stay down. So he stayed down. And that’s when the pain started.

Now here’s the thing: he won’t be playing any more playoff games, and that blows because his team is doing really well. He won’t be playing football this summer, because he’s sustained two brain injuries in one year. He won’t be playing hockey again either unless we can find a non-contact league. He should still be able to referee.

But what really REALLY pisses me off is that the other team wasn’t penalized for a hit from behind. My thirteen year old has to quit playing a sport he loves because of a dirty hit, and nobody is taking responsibility for it. What really pisses me off is this: WHY HAVE RULES AT ALL IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO ENFORCE THEM? Why have rules that are, ostensibly, there to protect players and to reduce injuries (such as the ‘no checking from behind’ rule) when you can just arbitrarily decide not to call them so that the game can go faster? Why even have referees or rules at all? Why fucking bother?

Yeah, I’m mad about this. I’m really mad about this. The Captain is also a referee. He makes the calls he sees. BECAUSE THAT IS HIS JOB. You can tell me about how it’s up to the refs to use their judgement when it comes to certain calls (you don’t want to call that icing because a player was reasonably close to the puck? Okay. You don’t want to call that interference or tripping? Did the players get back up right away? Okay.) all you want, but there’s a reason there’s a rule on the books about how long a player ought to be penalized if s/he injures another player.

If it’s accidental injury, if it’s a clean hit and you didn’t mean to injure them, it’s not a penalty. If it’s a dirty hit, and there’s an injury, it can be anywhere from 4 minutes to a five-game suspension. (Depending on whether the offending player appeared to intend to injure another player, the manner in which the injury was sustained, etc..) I can’t comment with certainty on whether this was a clean or a dirty hit, since I’ve received conflicting information. The kid who got hit (mine) and his team-mate say it was a check from behind. The ref didn’t feel the need to call a penalty. There is the chance that I don’t understand the difference between a ‘check from behind’ and a ‘push from behind that sends a player face-first into the boards hard enough to cause brain damage’.

It’s also reassuring to know that the Saskatchewan Minor Hockey Association’s Concussion Education page is non-functional.

Would it make a difference if the kid who hit my kid was suspended for NEXT season? Nope. Not at all. I AM fairly certain that the kid didn’t set out to injure The Captain. At least, I’m hoping that’s the case. But the other kid is 13. He knows as well as everyone else in this sport that nothing is against the rules in a sport if you don’t get caught or called out for doing it.

One of the things I really do love about our coaching staff (who I will miss dearly because they’re all quite wonderful people) is that they focus on skills development, positional play, and the game itself. They don’t train our players to be assholes. Bruisers. “Enforcers”. They teach hockey. And our kids are good players. They don’t tend to get chippy. They don’t tend to back down when other teams are chippy either. Our coaches tell our players “don’t injure a guy. Don’t hurt a guy. Play the puck.” I admire that. And that’s why it makes me EVEN MORE ANGRY that the refs at this game decided that a play on which a kid was seriously injured was a “little call” that they couldn’t be arsed to make.

So anyway. I’m pretty angry. And yes, The Captain will probably make a full recovery. After missing a few days of school, the rest of his playoff games, and next year’s season.


I’d go out on the ocean

1 comment

Categories: Children, Family, Just for You, The Captain, The Nipper, True Stories, Vacation, Tags:

The manager of our restaurant is close personal friends with Joe Paopao, the Throwin’ Samoan. He used to come home at lunch bruised and battered from running patterns for him in the street. Our manager drawls his vowels, and flattens them, like the peaks of things threaten him. He lives on the west coast, where the mountains are worn down by time and rain and broken dreams, and the view just up the street goes out and out and out all the way to Hawaii. Is it any wonder he’s afraid of sharp, front-formed vowels?

The Nipper is the age I was the first time I set foot in the Pacific Ocean. I walked hand in hand with my grandmother, both of us skin and bone, dry burlap over wooden coat hangers – me from whooping cough (also, pertussis), she from lung cancer. She would be dead five too-short years later, and I would be wondering who would lead me staunchly into the rest of my life. I would curl inward like a dry leaf, my heart a bolus, my throat constricting so tightly my breath seared it through and through.

But tonight, our boys, bursting toward salt water, smiles bigger than the sunset – tonight our boys remind me that although I have lost, the nature of love, mysterious and deeply terrifying, is to love all the more. Because tomorrow, Nama will be the same as she was the day she died. She will be the same as she is in every memory I have. But tomorrow, our boys are new people again, beginning the journey to becoming young men.

Even though they sometimes still need to hold my hand.



Full Stop


Categories: education, Grammar, The Nipper, Tags:

PunctuationThe Nipper is learning punctuation. They were studying periods, exclamation points, and question marks in class. He told us they have hand signals for each one (they clap for an exclamation point, raise their eyebrows and touch their chins for a question mark, and they hold their hands out in front of them, palms facing away, for a full stop (and they say “errrrrch”)). But he was a little confused why they’re all considered terminal punctuation.

I told him its because a period, otherwise known as a full stop, is just that. It’s a full stop. It stops the words from tumbling all over the page pell-mell, coming to a big heap at the bottom where no one can suss them out. Because words, you know, have energy, and when nobody’s watching, they’ll just skitter across a page if there’s nothing at the end of a sentence to keep them in their own yards. He didn’t believe me, so I showed him a book of poetry with left-justified pages in some places and right-justified pages in others, and some weird shape poetry.

“So,” I told him, “punctuation that ends sentences always has to have a full stop. An exclamation point is a full stop that’s really excited. It jumps up and down and leaves this weird line above it. You can always tell when words are meant to be excited or exciting if there’s a jumping full stop at the end.”

“Ohhhhhh,” he said. “That makes sense. But what about a question mark?”

“Ah. Sometimes, full stops get confused, and they wander around a bit looking for the answer. The sentences in front of them ask the questions for them.”

“*I* get it!” He cried, then commenced walking in vaguely question-mark shaped patterns around the bedroom. “With a question mark, the period kind of walks around wondering where he’s left his shoes!”

“Yes, that’s it precisely,” I said.

And that is why question marks always go barefoot.


Eighty Men Died Trying to End That Spree

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Categories: education, The Captain, True Stories, Tags:

Nieuport 17 front view (painted, minus prop/nose cowl)

Nieuport 17 front view (painted, minus prop/nose cowl)

It seems like the only time we really have is time that’s under pressure from five different directions. We were at the rink Thursday, Friday, twice on Saturday, and yesterday. We’ll be at the rink again tonight, tomorrow night, Friday, and Sunday nights. It’s the nearing-the-end-of-the-regular-season crunch to get all our games in. And then playoffs start. It’s been a good year for our team; they’ve played well, they’re in the top third of the standings, and they get along well as a team. In addition to the games, we have a kid who’s a ref, so when we’re not watching him play, we watch him make calls. It’s an interesting game, when you’re watching the officials instead of the play. Not better; not worse. Different, though. And you really notice the douchebubble parents an awful lot more when it’s your kid they’re jeering at. I’m not…supposed to go to The Captain’s reffing too much…

The point here is that when we weren’t at a rink, we were at the kitchen table (I am loathe to think about what my beautiful oak table is going to look like when we take the newspaper off it; I suspect it will have glue or water or – gods forbid – paint thinner stains on it), trying to put the finishing touches on the Nieuport 17. The Captain has more or less given up on the Sopwith. I hope he completes it on his own when he’s not under so much pressure. I’d finished putting together the individual parts of the aeroplane Thursday or Friday. The Captain helped me glue the tissue paper to the frame.

Nieuport 17 Painted

Nieuport 17 Painted

From there, we sprayed the covered parts with water – this was the coolest part of the whole thing – and as it dried, the tissue paper shrunk and kind of sucked itself on to the stringers. That was wicked. Having learned that Canada has outlawed the distribution of the substance one needs for the next bit (I swear to Christ, it’s called dope. I went to a shop and asked for dope and they told me it’s illegal to distribute it in Canada, and I said, I know, but this isn’t dope-dope; it’s for covering a balsa airplane with tissue paper, and the guy blinked and said, I know, that’s what I was talking about, and I said oh, well, we’re on the same page then.), so I had to jury-rig something. The purpose of covering the tissue paper with dope (snigger) is to seal the pores in the paper and to harden it up a bit. Because tissue paper tears like…well, it tears like tissue paper, really. And it’s delicate like a delicate thing.

So I was dopeless. But I happened to have a can of Games Workshop “Purity Seal”, which is crap for the purpose for which it was invented (sealing your hand-painted miniatures – it leaves a horrid crust on your paint. Seriously, never use it). So I took the smallest section of the aeroplane and sprayed it with the purity seal.* It worked, as my aunt would say, slicker than snot on a doorknob.

The Captain and I assembled the aeroplane. Much Swearing was had when it came time to attach the top wing, because it had warped, but after I left it overnight and came back to it, and weighed the wing down on each side with glass bowl while the gluick dried, it seemed just fine. The Captain painted the aeroplane – and here’s where karma must have caught up to us – he ran out of the alumnium colour with about 2 square inches of the fuselage left to go. And the hobby shop wasn’t open yesterday. So we finished the rest of the painting (I showed him some drybrushing techniques before he went off to the rink), and as the paint dried, we watched copious amounts of Doctor Who.

Nieuport 17 "flying" without a prop

Nieuport 17 “flying” without a prop

I had to hand-letter the insignias, because the decals that came with the model were for a French plane, and I’ve discovered that Cs are VERY DIFFICULT. But I fucking ROCK at 5s. When The Captain went off to bed, I strung the wires between the wings and mounted (poorly) the machine gun on the top wing. I think the ‘motor’ won’t work (the elastic is too long and I’m not sure I can anchor it properly inside the fuselage, but we’ll see. I put some modelling clay in the bottom of the fuselage at the pivot point. This morning, The Captain put the wheels on and put Plastic Billy Bishop in the cockpit. He coloured the instrument panel and glued it in place.

All that’s left is to finish the bit of the fuselage that needs paint, install the motor, and gluick the prop to the engine block. And then the Nieuport 17 will be complete.

*NB – when it says “use in a well-ventilated area” on Games Workshop Purity Seal, they mean, like, a park or an abandoned street, or possibly a missile test site. I shit you not. I took the pieces outside to spray them, but couldn’t leave them in the cold to dry because they’d warp, so I brought them inside. I had both doors and several windows open for several hours. Even still, I had to close The Nipper away in the computer room so that I didn’t intoxicate my child.

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