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Genki des!



parenthood and the pursuit of happiness

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Dear Ezra, age eight
You are eight years old. You are boisterous and thoughtful and sensitive and competitive all at the same time. And there are many days where you have the same worried expression on your face that you did when you were just four months old. Contemplating. Weary. Concerned from birth about this strange planet you’ve landed on. These traits make you a wonderful little boy and will turn you in a wonderful citizen of this planet.

You still worry like your mother. That is, your worry eats at you in some way; your apprehension keeps you up at night. I’ve recently instituted massage night, a night where I rub your legs and shoulders and arms with oil, to help you sort out how to relax. I’m working on teaching you meditation and relaxation; I’m hoping if I get to you young, maybe you won’t be as tense a teenager as I was. That said, you are not afraid to be yourself. If you don’t like something, you say so. You can set a boundary like no other child I’ve seen. It almost makes the fact that you can hardly choke down a cooked carrot somewhat tolerable. You like a plan, no surprises. Heaven forbid someone changes the rules or makes a joke at the wrong time. Your sense of humour is odd. I love it. You can rarely smile at being teased. (Neither can I.)

In the mornings, when you run out of the bed room, I can tell your pitter patter on the hall floor. It’s like one foot is skipping and the other is sliding along for the ride while you tie your robe and rub your eyes all at the same time. If I’m in the kitchen, you come for a hug and I say “good morning!”, and rub your back to bring you all-the-way awake. Then you just as quickly turn and thump down the stairs to the basement to watch cartoons or whatever soccer games you’ve recorded. Daddy tells you to record all the good games, and you’re very diligent at sorting out the schedule and making sure they’re set up.

This year, you’ll play on the U12 league team. You’re only 8. You played U10 in the spring, skipping the second year of U8, and now it seems you’ll motor on and play with your brother. This should be interesting. Will you clash? Will you find a new level of brotherhood? Will something happen in this year you’ll both look back on in your 30s to make you remember how important you are to each other? God, I hope it’s a good year in soccer. Frick, you take it all so seriously.

A day in Edmonton with my dude before his birthday 🎉

Your current life plan includes moving to Spain to work, so you can gain citizenship, and play for their National team or Real Madrid or Barcelona, whichever comes first. No shit. When people ask you what you want to do when you grow up, this is your answer. You’re going to move to Europe to play professional soccer. I try not to mock you when you relay this to people, cause what the hell, it could happen! But it’s hard not to. Also, I try to convince you that by the time you’re 18, the Canadian national team won’t be sooooo bad, but I cannot convince you. They suck, and you know it, and you’re not going to settle.

For your birthday this year, I took you to Edmonton, just you and I. We went to Eurosport, where you chose a jersey for your brother. Then, on to West Edmonton Mall, where you patiently allowed me to shop for winter boots, let me get distracted by a few clothing stores, until we got to the soccer jersey cart outside Winners, where I bought you the Messi jersey you’ve been eyeing for a year. You were going to buy it for yourself, but I bought it for you instead, letting you save all that money you stored up for the occasion. You were happy. You love to keep your money. I encouraged you to ride the motorized stuffed animals: nope, you wouldn’t. I asked if you wanted the waiters to sing: not really. The only requests you made were for a photo in front of the Lamborghini in the mall and for supper.

Highlights! Ezra's birthday trip to WEM.

For supper, you wanted Montanas, and on the way there, you agreed that if the line was too long, it’d be fine to go to Dairy Queen. The line was short, and you got to order ribs. The mash potatoes came with skins in it, which put you off, but this time, you didn’t complain. While we waited, I taught you how to play Hangman. We chose words from the kids’ menu. I was surprised you didn't know this game already. You explained, "well, we aren't allowed violent death stuff at school." Hangman is violent?! Right. I don't like toy guns. I've banned violent video games at my house. But hangman violent? Yeesh. I had no idea teaching kids how to spell under pressure was violent. Sigh. You loved learning that new risqué game; your eyes lit up and you giggled and you glowed under the focussed attention. We had a wonderful time, and I loved getting to know you better, a thing that doesn’t always happen in the everyday run of life.

I’m looking forward to year eight, little dude, and getting to know you more each year.

All my love,