On Being The Best

One of the lessons I hope you take with you into adulthood is that you don’t always have to be the best, you just need to try your best.

Does that sound familiar at all? I hope so because I’ve been drilling it into your heads since you were both little. I may, in fact, get it tattooed somewhere on my body, or maybe even yours’.

The first time I showed up to try speed skating I was a bundle of nerves but I got out on the ice and slowly, oh so slowly, made my way around the rink with pin-wheeling arms. It seemed like the most difficult thing I could do at the time.

Then I had to show up for the second week.

They say showing up is half the battle but I disagree. Showing up is easy. It’s the continuing to come back, especially when you suck, that’s hard.

But to get from to sucking to doing something well, you need to continue to show up and then put in the effort.

When either of you competed in sports and activities or even in your daily school work, your dad and I always focused on your effort, not the end result.  If we saw you were putting in 100% effort the result didn’t matter to us. What mattered was that we knew you were giving it your all.

What’s funny is that you never needed us to tell you when you weren’t trying your best, you knew.

How was I mom?

You tell me, honey.

You knew.

So always try your best. Even when no one around you knows you weren’t giving it your all, you will. And when you gave it 100% of your effort. You’ll know that too.

It’s not about being the best, it’s about trying your best.

Remember that.

Love, Mom.


On Not Missing Bus Rides

It’s early Sunday morning. I’m at my desk drinking coffee, the two of you are still in bed exhausted from a full day at the annual community fall fair.

We’ve been going for ten years and this small fair is anticipated with as much excitement as Christmas morning. When you were little we would go together, me holding onto Adam’s hand and pushing Liam in a stroller. Each year I would give you more and more freedom, now these past two years you’ve both gone on your own.

Yesterday, Liam you were chomping at the bit to get out the door. You and your two friends were off and running before set up was even complete and I didn’t see you for hours.

Adam, you made a few trips over, asking the organizer questions about your DJ gig later on in the evening but for the most part you hung out with me at the house.

However we did go on a bus ride together. I wonder if you’ll even remember that when you’re older?

They had chartered a bus and driver for the fall fair and you could take it for a free ride around the neighbourhood. You had already gone once but as we walked across the street together, the bus pulled up and you asked if I wanted to go for a ride with you.

I said no–I had seen my friend with her two kids and wanted to track her down.

This didn’t phase you at all. Off you went to get on the bus and go for a ride yourself.

I did find my friend and chatted but it was only for a moment and as I walked back towards the house I looked through the window of the bus and saw you sitting, still waiting for the ride to begin. I climbed on the bus through the front doors and when you saw me you burst into a big grin.

We took that bus ride together, you and I, looking out the window and talking about everyday things. And then we saw the Penguin Guy. This poor guy whose job it is to stand on a busy street corner waving a sign advertising a dozen roses for $24.99. Only for some reason we’ve never been able to figure out, he wears a large penguin head while he’s doing it.

What do penguins have to do with roses? This is a mystery I fear we will never solve.

Today, as we drove past, you noticed Penguin Guy was wearing a WTF t-shirt and pointed it out to me.

“That’s what he’s probably thinking every time he has to put on his penguin head,” I said.

We both burst out laughing.

Then I mentioned how I wish I had a camera so I could take a picture of it and in words wise beyond your years, you responded, “Just take a picture with your mind, mom.”

So I did.

Of that entire bus ride with you.

What I want to tell you is this….when the two of you are grown, and if you have kids of your own, you too may find yourself in a position when you have to choose between a bus ride with your child or chatting with a friend.

Always take the bus ride.


Love, Mom.

On Lemonade Stands

To My Sons,

The two of you have been running summer lemonade stands for years. Your first was on Canada Day 2005–Adam, you were four and Liam you had just turned one. There were no signs, just the two of you sitting at a green IKEA table with paper cups and a pitcher, a jar of change on the ground beside your blue chairs. Sales weren’t big that day but you did learn a valuable lesson in marketing. The next lemonade stand you held you made signs to advertise.

Since then you’ve run many more lemonade stands. There were times it was for a charity and other times it was to make money for yourselves. You made signs to wave at drivers coming up our street. You yelled to pedestrians who were a block away. You sold lemonade to people on bikes, skateboards, and scooters. And you should be extra generous with your thanks to our neighbours who bought from you time and time again, usually overpaying your 25 cent price and giving you a loonie with a “keep the change” as they walked away.

Each and every time you made a sale, I smiled. I smiled because these kind people took time from their schedule to stop at your little table for a paper cup filled with lukewarm, slightly weak lemonade.

Your two-fold lesson for today is simple. When you are older, even on the days when you feel like you can’t squeeze anymore into your already busy day…

Always stop when you see a lemonade stand and always overpay.

You’ll be giving back the kindness that you received many times over and that’s always worth your time. Plus, there’s something magical about drinking lemonade made by kids…

Even when it’s lukewarm and weak.

Love, Mom

On The Courtesy Flush

To My Sons,

On the surface this may seem like a superficial lesson but it’s not because in a way I’m asking you to think about others.  Others who may be forced to use a confined room with no windows where this lesson was not implemented.

Fact: One can only hold one’s breath for so long.

Let us discuss the courtesy flush.

At some point in your life you’re going to use a washroom that:

(a) Is going to be used by someone immediately after you are finished, or
(b) Is in a public place.

It’s at this point the courtesy flush comes into play. The concept is simple. If you are using the washroom for a bodily function that requires you to sit down, you should flush in the middle of said duties to reduce the smell. The sooner you execute the courtesy flush, the better.

In the “Who Would Have Thought It” category, there’s actually a lot of controversy about the courtesy flush. In fact, there are people who actually argue over the rhyme and reason of this midway flush. People who are given only an limited number of days to live on this planet, just like you, and are choosing to use that time to argue over toilet flushing.

As your mother I’m begging you, please do not ever get into an argument on the internet with a stranger about a courtesy flush. Actually, don’t argue with anyone about anything on the internet, little dudes. That stuff stays out there forever and forever is a very long time.

Remember….courtesy flush. Your future partners and anyone sharing a public washroom with you will appreciate it.

Love, Mom

On Finding The Awesome

To My Sons,

There is a book called “The Book of Awesome.” It began as a website in June 2008 by a man named Neil Pasricha. Neil was going through some tough personal times and wanted to focus on the positive things in life, thus 1000 Awesome Things was born. Every weekday, Neil would list something that was awesome. They weren’t things like winning a lottery or getting a dream job, but simple things that bring joy, like Sleeping In New Bed Sheets (#973) or Stretching Your Legs After A Really Long Car Ride (#32).

The thing is, throughout your life you’re going to go through some tough times too–big tough times and small tough times. Missed opportunities, broken relationships, disappointment, and even simply being bombarded by world news on a daily basis–wars, murders, robberies, homelessness, disease.

At the time it will be all too easy to get caught up in it, mired in your own mud of despair. But you need to know one thing. The cliche is oh-so-true, time really does heal most wounds. What left you feeling anguished today will be a distant memory a year or two from now. But that doesn’t help you in the moment, does it? Like when your first girlfriend has broken up with you and you’re in your room listening to R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts with a knot in your stomach and your heart shattering into pieces.  That whole ‘time heals all’ cliche will feel like a load of crap.

And for the record, while you’re in your room alone, you are not alone.  I will be somewhere in the house with tears in my eyes and a knot in my stomach wanting to help you put together the pieces of your broken heart. I will see your tears and hear you cry and it will shatter my heart, this is something you will learn if you ever have children of your own. I will also most likely want to throttle the girl who hurt you but will keep it to myself, just in case you get back together.

 So, no, time and healing is a bunch of crap at that point.

What isn’t crap is there really is awesome in everything and we only need to open our eyes to see it.

Think about it. We live on a planet in a galaxy that is so large we will never find an end to it.  This little planet happened to be the just-right distance away from the warmth of a star to create the perfect conditions to grow life. And as far as we know we are the only planet with life on it.

The only one! And you’re a part of it!

If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.

But know what else is awesome?

Closing your eyes while swinging on a swing.
The smell of freshly brewed coffee.
Finding a quarter on the ground.
Being in the first car on a roller coaster.
Being in the last car on a roller coaster.
Hell! Just being on a roller coaster.
Getting a surprise card in the mail.
An automatic toilet not flushing mid-pee.
Hot chocolate with marshmallows waiting for you after an afternoon of playing in the snow.

I can name 50 more things just off the top of my head and I bet you can too.

And you know what’s awesome about that? You’ll come up with completely different awesome things than I do but the moment you say them out loud I’ll nod my head in agreement because you’re right, that is awesome.

Picture me at my desk while I type this, my favourite pen sitting within arm’s reach. You know the one–it’s black and covered in smiley faces.  God only knows I yelled at you more than once to please return it.

I’m sorry for being such a crazed mom at times.

It’s a fine tip with a medium blue ink that never blotches or smears. I found that pen at the Dollar Store of all places–two for a dollar–and once I realized how awesome it was, I went back and bought five more packages.

And you know what? Every single one of those pens is awesome.

Yes, life is going to get shitty sometimes. You can’t avoid it, it’s just the way thing are.

But being able to find the awesome that surrounds you–and it does you just need to look–will help you through those tough times.

I promise.


On Social Media And Caring

To My Sons,

It’s easy, isn’t it? You share a post on Facebook, RT a link, make a comment on a photo, support a cause by “liking” it.

Nice picture!
RT this if you hate cancer
Like this if you want to support #MentalHealth

You scroll through your Facebook feed, read the 140 characters written by strangers on Twitter, ‘heart’ pictures on Instagram, click on the thumbs up on StumbleUpon.

Look at me, it says! I care!

Remember the story The Emperor’s New Clothes? The weavers promised to make the emperor a suit that was invisible to those who were unfit for their position or, in a nutshell, stupid. So the Emperor was left walking around the kingdom naked. For the record, it was a child who spoke out and was all, “Dude, you’re naked.”

I’m paraphrasing here.

Social Media is a bit like this. You’re clothing yourself in the comfort that you care through your LOLs and Likes, your RTs and comments but the reality is you’re clothing yourself in nothing.

You’re the naked guy walking around the streets.

I will tell you this…a scientist has never discovered the cure for a disease by liking a post, art was never created by retweeting a tweet, great athletes don’t become great athletes by reading articles on ‘how to become a great athlete’. Think of all the discoveries that never would have been made if those people had been too busy liking Facebook updates.

It will never matter how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter. These are simply numbers, and they are numbers that can lie. What matters is how many people you connect with in your real life. This includes your “bury the body” friends, school friends, sport friends, family and even the woman you held open the door for at the store. You made eye contact with her, smiled and let her walk through first.  What you didn’t know was she was having a bad day and you stopping to hold the door made it a tiny bit better.


Clothe yourself in something better than the invisible cloak of a virtual world filled with people you don’t really know.

Volunteer, laugh with friends, make discoveries, spend time with your family, move your body, get outside, read books, create art, put yourself out into the real world.

The warmth it will provide your soul is beyond anything you will ever find in front of your computer screen.