Thanks dad for always supporting me in my desire to fly higher. Love ya. Happy Father’s Day.
Dear Classes of 2022-25
You’ve got this.
Exams are hard to begin with and now you’ve been thrown a curveball. Across the country schools are either still writing exams in person, moving to online or rescheduling – sometimes all three within the same institution. That sure doesn’t help what is already a stressful time. On top of studying many of you are figuring out rapid tests, re-booking train and plane tickets and wondering if you’ll get home to be with your families over the holidays. This is not easy.
Beneath the facts and figures, multiple choice, and essays however, there is deeper learning.
As you support your floormates with a cup of tea and help your roommate replace their lost ID, you’re building empathy. You may also be developing some for your profs who are changing things on the fly in environments that are traditionally very slow to change.
By adapting to fluid educational realities while also studying and revising travel plans, you’re developing resilience. I know, that’s a buzz word, but it’s true. Your mental toughness is remarkable and your capacity for quick recovery is clear.
With each residence restriction, extra-curricular revision, and inter-varsity reversal you’re building confidence. Confidence in your ability to overcome the next challenge, in your learning from each experience and in the belief that you have the stuff to pursue your next passion.
Empathy, resilience, and confidence. These are precisely the skills your communities, countries and planet will need from their next generation of leaders. They may not be written in the form of exam questions, but they’ll make a bigger impact on your life than any test you’ll ever write.
One dad who always seems to nail it is Ryan Reynolds and he’s done it again with his Aviation Gin post for Father’s Day with his signature drink, the Vasectomy. It got me thinking about my own experience and in the spirit of swapping stories over a fine beverage, pour yourself a Vasectomy and read on.
I thought having my vasectomy at a clinic that was literally called “The Gentle V” was an excellent start. Located in small town Ontario, the building was tucked away from the downtown core in a quiet spot surrounded by trees, and a charming pond with swans floating about with puppies on their backs. Or at least that’s how I remember it, the realities of what was to come slightly clouded my memory.
Check-in was efficient, friendly and included numbing cream with a glass of sparkling water. When my number was called I strode in with confidence, dropped my drawers with purpose and hopped atop the bed confident that I was safely and quite literally in the hands of someone who had completed dozens of these a day, for years. So when he brought out the needle and explained that he’d be freezing the area for the procedure I was completely relaxed. That only lasted a minute or two.
I thought something was up when I felt the incision.
“Stay still please.” I was instructed.
I became more unsettled when I saw smoke. “Wait… Is that smoke?” I asked.
“Totally normal.” I was told.
I began questioning my inner fortitude when I felt an intense and burning heat. I bit my lip. This must be what all guys go through I thought.
And then it was unmistakable. I felt a cut, a searing sensation in an area of my body that I least want to experience pain. My body spasmed as I stifled a cry. A head jerked up to meet my eye.
“Wait, can you feel this?” I was asked.
He tugged on a part of my insides that aren’t normally meant to be tugged on and in a fraction of a second every pore in my body pumped out sweat, drenching me instantly.
“YES!” I cried.
That’s when the wheels fell off. The whites of his eyes went as large as dinner plates. He jabbed at the intercom button and ordered the nurse to urgently arrive with fresh towels, more freezing solution and, what I thought was a nice touch, a glass of orange juice.
“Drink it.” I was told.
When my vision came back and my sugar levels were restored I was given an update.
“The first side didn’t freeze properly. I need to finish and then I’ll give the second side another shot. That should be better.” I was told.
It was. Round two didn’t feel a thing. So that’s how it should be I recall thinking. I gingerly got dressed.
“Well now you can tell your wife you’ve experienced a pain similar to childbirth!” I was jokingly told with a slap on my shoulder. I refrained from telling him I thought this currency would be of little use to me and duck-walked out.
Science is marvellous and humans are imperfect but a great drink will always be a great drink. Here’s to the vasectomy.
Who knew the pressure of attending University would be harder the second time through?
Starting back to online school after two weeks of holidays wasn’t pretty this morning…
For 41 years I’ve been designing my family holiday card. It first started with my drawing an image, my dad photocopying it and all four of us sitting around the kitchen table with a different coloured marker, colouring our section in. The image created was meant to capture the spirit of the season. Over time it grew into something that embraced the season as well as the feeling of the year, and then grew further into incorporating my kids and dog into the image. I struggled with this year’s visual but ultimately felt a nod to the realities rooted in the holidays was the best way to go. It will also be an archival piece with a story attached to it years from now. I hope you enjoy it.
So my daughter went shopping with some friends and came home with some new clothes for school. When she showed me the sweater and asked my opinion, my old man brain blinked a response. Fortunately it’s still nimble enough to allow me to provide a more appropriate response.
At 6:21pm last night my daughter lost the backing to her very recently pierced earring in our garage. Our garage is pretty typical, which is to say it’s filthy, so the idea of finding it was a lost cause. This was sort of a big deal because the earrings they use for new piercings have to stay in for six weeks or else there are a host of nasty issues that you’re up against. These earrings also have a specific backing, so replacing it with one of my wife’s wasn’t possible. We scooted over to our local tattoo shop only to learn they don’t do piercings (despite Google’s promises). Shoppers Drug Mart was a long shot and our lone jewelry store was closed. As our daughter had to work the next day and tape or a band aid wasn’t a long-term solution, we were left with one option. Drive the 26km to the next town where the piercing was done. A further complication – it was 6:36pm, the shop closed at 7:00 and they weren’t answering their phone.
“Dad, should we make the drive?” my daughter asked.
I could have said, “NO. It’s too far. We might not make it by 7:00pm.”
Or, “NO. We don’t even know if they’re open.”
Or, “NO. I’ve got to make dinner and feed and walk the dog.”
Or, “NO. I’ve had a long day already and would rather relax on my sun-soaked front porch with a cold drink.”
Instead, I said MAYBE.
“MAYBE they’ll be open.”
“MAYBE we’ll get there before they shut.”
(And to myself): “MAYBE this is an opportunity to connect with my teenager whom I’ve seldom seen this week.”
We arrived at 6:56pm. They were still open. They had a replacement and we asked for another one, just in case. Disaster averted, hugs all round and feeling good about our effort, we decided to go out for dinner. Saying “MAYBE” was the best decision I made all week. For the entire car ride there and back, and during our outdoor meal, we talked. Like, really talked. About life, relationships, self-worth, values, happiness. Meaningful stuff. I listened. I shared my opinion. It was being a dad in all of its best moments.
Parenting is a full-time job and challenging obstacles pop up countless times in countless ways. It’s easy to say NO when things are busy, you’re tired or you have other items on your list to cross off. Sometimes saying NO is the right thing. At other times, if we can check that impulse and embrace the MAYBE, truly great things come from it.
Great partnerships are worth celebrating. 23 years and counting (this past Sunday!) with the most amazing person I know, who I love more than anything (including peanut butter and jam).