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May 23, 2013

An update to my May 17, 2013 post.… It seems that Megan and I are also the proud parents of “a biter.”

Every night, a daycare worker inserts a slip into each child’s cubby. The slip relays how your kid slept that day, how they did at lunch, and presents a checklist of the activities they participated in. It also lists the times that they peed and pooed — gripping stuff. Along the bottom, there’s a section where one of the minders will write a sentence or two about your child’s overall happiness and enthusiasm, and a short note about something in particular that they did well. So, after locating the boy within a scrum of toddlers, I scooped Owen into my arms, grabbed his slip, and was treated to the following:

“Owen is having a fairly good day. He enjoyed playing outside in the playground. We had to remind Owen that we use our teeth for eating and not bitting.”

Uh oh.

I looked at the boy and, no sooner as I asked him what he did, a staff member motioned me to the side of the room.

@#$%.... That’s never good.

Sure enough, Owen bit a little girl. I was handed an incident report, much the same as I was Friday, only this time I was the biter’s, and not the bitee’s, parent. This report was definitely the more shameful of the two. And, unlike last week, I strangely never once wondered, “What did this harlot do to provoke my sweet, little boy?”

I glossed over most of the details, but I did catch the part where staff had to separate the two and sternly lecture my kid. There’s an odd sort of guilt that hangs over you when you’re asked to sign and acknowledge that your son used a little girl’s skin as a buffet. I got defensive about it too: “Wow! Owen was bitten Friday and now he’s gone and bitten someone. I guess this happens all the time, right?


It’s oddly reassuring to find out that, yes, kids this age gnaw on one another sometimes. Apparently it’s common among children that can’t yet talk…. That said, I’m not sure the boy’s ability to conjugate verbs aloud is really all that instrumental in the children’s overall safety in Toddler Room #2. I shouldn’t speak for Meg, but I’m largely resigned to the notion that this won’t be the last incident report I’m forced to sign. I just hope that next time he isn’t laughing while I’m recounted the details. It's tough to feign remorse when your kid is busting a gut. Still, best I can tell, he was wasn't foaming at the mouth, so hurray for small miracles.

Fortunately, this time around, the boy didn’t draw blood, so I’m assuming he didn’t disfigure the girl to any degree. There wasn’t a seething parent waiting for me when I dropped Owen off this morning, and the evening pick-up was similarly uneventful. I can thus assure everyone that there won’t be any reports of a daycare parking-lot brawl on tonight’s evening news… Just as well since I hear some moms can really throw a punch. (That said, it would have made for great reality tv – The Real Daycare Parents of Vaughan. Owen, when all is said and done, could be a ratings bonanza!)

So, for tomorrow? We all might want to stay tuned….

May 20, 2013

I just Googled, “World’s greatest feats and accomplishments.” As you’d expect, the results varied and typically seemed to reflect the world’s myriad interests and biases. For example, intellectually, a good number of people seem in awe of Einstein’s far-reaching theories. Interestingly, almost as many people are impressed with the enormity of humanity’s quest to map the stars and understand the physical universe. Others are more enamoured with Man’s feats of athleticism, such as climbing Mount Everest or some uber-insane, Iron-Man-on-steroids type of event. Finally, many people feel that our understanding of “God’s word,” and other religious marvels, rank among our greatest achievements.

Those are ok, I guess…. I, on the other hand, feel that I have trumped them all. No, I didn’t perfect cold fusion or swim an ocean or plot how to get the Maple Leafs into the Stanley Cup finals.

No. Today, I installed a ceiling fan.

Laugh if you will, but no single feat combines the intellectual challenge, the physical requirements, and the frequent use of God’s name in vain, quite like hooking up a ceiling fan.

It’s Victoria Day here in Ontario, so a statutory holiday meant no work for Wormald. As such, we (Megan) thought it a perfect day for us (me) to get the fan up and running. I first realized I was in trouble when the instructions illustrated how to install four different units and none of those units were mine (or even vaguely similar to mine, beyond the fact that they’re all, y’know, fans). Falling on my rich experience of installing a ceiling fan twice before, I quickly took stock of what I had before me and quickly ascertained that none of it would help me this time around. (It was around then that I initially started swearing.)

The first step in installing my fan was removing the old light. Check! I even remembered to turn the power to the room off before unhooking the wires (safety first; after all, installing a fan is less fun if you’ve zapped yourself hairless). After making quick work of the old light, I threaded in between the ceiling joists the safety bar and outlet box specifically-designed for a fan — this spreads the fan’s weight evenly between the joints and is supposed to prevent it from breaking through the plaster under its own weight and maiming and killing everyone. Seeing as nothing fell, and no one (i.e., me and the cat) were maimed or killed immediately thereafter… Check! I was on a roll! Sadly, though, I needed to return to the fan’s instructions and, predictably, things went downhill.

Following a thorough reading of how to install the four fans that I didn’t own, and concluding that I had several parts that other models don’t seem to have, I wondered whether a hole in the ceiling wasn’t the latest hip craze that all the young couples were doing nowadays. Anticipating my wife's likely reaction to “This is too hard, I’m goin’ drinkin’,” I grabbed a beverage, redoubled my efforts, and returned to my trusty instruction booklet — but this time the French version! Confident that the Quebecois were given the same instructions as their Anglo counterparts, I continued on.

After assembling, un-assembling, and then re-assembling everything until I didn’t have any parts left, I made my way to the hole in the ceiling and began connecting the wires. White to white. Black to Black. Blue… Blue? What the hell is that for? Back to the instructions. Nothing about Blue! (More swearing; this time, far more creative.)

I then spent a good 20 to 30 minutes inspecting, re-inspecting and then looking at everything upside down, before I discovered that the blue wire connected to something fairly obvious, the receiver that picked up the signal from the fan’s remote control. (No, nothing in the instructions about this. Somewhere, a factory intern in the far East is laughing his ass off.) After twisting on the final marrette, I was again on my way and summarily packed all the loose wires into the fan’s body. I climbed the ladder and looked to hook the base up to its mount on the ceiling.

It didn’t fit.

The screw from the ceiling box was too close to the plaster and I couldn’t make the 30-pound fan nestle into its base. Upon closer inspection, I couldn’t get the holes to line up properly. This time I went ballistic. I had assumed this fan would take, at best, an hour to install; it had been more than three at this point and I was less than half way. I loosed a torrent of expletives that would have made a sailor blush. It seems an important aside to mention here that this fan was being installed in Owen’s room. Sadly, Owen’s baby monitor was on and he and mummy were both downstairs and had every shout, curse, and off-colour remark broadcast to them in striking clarity. Owen, being the little dude that he is, turned to the baby monitor, smiled, and defiantly remarked, “Da Da!” While what he heard will serve Owen well in the playground, the crass allusions I made will likely warrant him a nasty Time Out should they find their way to his Daycare room!

After an hour of trying to jerry-rig a solution to my ill-fitting base, I enlisted Megan, who, with the use of second ladder, helped me, with sheer brute force, pry the parts into alignment. With her added brawn (and beauty, definitely with her beauty, elegance, and kindness), I was soon able to seat the unit properly. The project approached its fifth hour by this point. It had been some two hours since I last consulted the instructions and, as it turned out, I would never again feel the need to glance at it or its less-than-helpful broken-English.

Then, as weird as it sounds, after hours of sweat, swearing and then more swearing, I reached a sudden inner peace. I was calm. I was clear headed. It was as if Ghandi reached down and, in his benevolence, slapped me. I stopped swearing, mostly, and remarkably, I was able to hook up the fan’s light without incident. With an air of tranquility, I flipped on the power and, to most everyone’s surprise (especially mine), everything worked! The fan fanned, and the light lighted.

It was a Victoria Day miracle! (Take that instruction booklet writer!!)

Next year, no more fans. I shall instead look to do something easy…. Peace in the Middle East. Walk on water. You know, run-of-the-mill stuff. Tomorrow, however, I’m thinking I’m going to have to make sure Owen didn’t learn anything untoward that may get him (me) in all sorts of trouble at daycare!!

May 17, 2013

A toddler-sized thug bit Owen today at daycare. I was presented with an incident report chronicling how an enraged little boy gnawed on my precious son’s arm. After the initial surprise of this news was allowed to sink in, I was shown the wound. After viewing that gruesome sight, I returned to the hand-written and largely-grammatical report. It noted that Owen, washing his wee, little hands, was approached from behind and was, after refusing to yield his spot at the sink, bitten on the back of left arm by his fellow toddler (some Hannibal wannabe, presumably). The two were separated: the offending child was given a stern “Time Out”; Owen, crying, was given immediate aid. By all appearances, very little, if any, blood was spilled, but a layer of skin was certainly ripped from the boy’s up-to-now-pristine person. A scarlet mark was still visible, hours later. Interestingly, the report made no mention of the psychological trauma Owen bravely shouldered the rest of the day.

I noted that, as I read the detailed report of the assault, a similar form had been written, presumably, for the parents of the child that viciously attacked my special little guy. They would be forced to, just as I had, relive the agonizing, shocking, horrifying details of the incident that, one can only assume, shook my child’s well-being to its very core.

It’s important that we remember that this child’s parents are, themselves, victims in all of this — they will forever have to wear the shame of knowing that they’ve raised “a biter.”

Stains like that simply don’t wash away. Along with Owen, keep them in your prayers tonight.

Taken in its totality, the form clearly noted that the unyielding, unrelenting, unwavering attack was undeniably unprovoked. These are the facts as they were presented to me. I was then asked to sign and date the incident report, thus acknowledging that I had been informed of, to the best of his minders’ abilities, what had happened on this tragic day and of how it was dealt with.

Again, these are the facts as they were presented to me.

The truly sad part in all of of this, and what really made me shake my head, is that I’m still unable to shake one nagging question:

“What did Owen do to this kid to cheese him off so bad?”

I know, I know…. That’s not nice, and probably not completely fair but… I mean, c’mon. Sure, kids maul other kids all the time, but get this…. Two days ago I dropped the boy off in the morning and, after being approached by a friendly unassuming tyke, a wide-eyed, smiling Owen popped the little guy in the forehead, turned, and walked away with his toy truck.

And, prior to moving on to the Toddler room, Owen was, on multiple occasions, given multiple time outs for annoying the Hell out of the smaller kids. No one ever said it, but the assumption was always that Owen was proving to be a hoodlum in the Infant room and that he needed to spend more time with the bigger kids who, it was hoped, would sort him out.

Y’know… bites tend to do that.
Unprovoked, eh?