Friday, March 31, 2006


When I said goodbye to Oliver this morning, I thought: for the rest of today, I won't be able to hold him until I get home. Sometimes I wish I had more time with him, which makes me appreciate the weekends more.

The new big kids

There's an article in the latest New York magazine about early-middle-aged parents who are emotionally/culturally still in their twenties. Unwilling to grow up, or maybe just remaking adulthood in the image of their youth, or something.

I think I'm starting to make peace with the young old fogey that I am (but not so much that old old fogeys don't still annoy me sometimes). After all, if you weren't cool to begin with, you don't have to worry about maintaining your cool either.

Given the focus of the magazine, I do wonder whether this subculture actually exists outside Manhattan. I've certainly seen a parent or two in Toronto who at least dresses the part, but their numbers are probably much smaller here, maybe because there aren't as many cool creative jobs here.

I think my only inclination towards the idea of being a 'grup' was wanting to buy a pair of dark jeans because I felt less well-dressed in my regular denim jeans among the other dads in Mimi's mothers' group, even though I never had that much interaction with them. It was pretty much the reverse of buying a pair of dark Levis when I was 16 because I couldn't find exactly the right pair of 501s, then feeling self-conscious and trying all sorts of ways to lighten them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


One mom to another at the St Lawrence Market on a Tuesday afternoon: 'It's a lot easier getting around here now than on the weekend'.

I'm not surprised. Both of them were pushing huge three-wheeled strollers.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The weekend

I took Oliver to Toys R Us on Saturday to check out the wagons, but he was more interested in the latest fixations: cars and trucks.

As we walked past a display of DVDs he called out 'Bob!' and 'Wiggles!', so I decided to test his knowledge of children's TV personalities. He knows the name of that purple dinosaur, even though I'm sure he's never seen an episode of his show.

On Sunday we visited a friend who is due any day now and although restless, Oliver behaved pretty well. Some replacing of books on shelves was required.

We went swimming in the afternoon and it wasn't until after 5 that he began a nap ... which extended through the evening until some time after 11, with a break for some milk and a change into pajamas, then back to bed until 5 am. He's surprisingly compliant when it comes to being put back in his crib, aside from saying 'Blanket.' firmly in an I-believe-you're-forgetting-something tone of voice.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Music for Babies

When Oliver was just a few months old, we didn’t really have any children’s music, so when we were in the car with him, I would put on the most reassuringly normal music we owned (mainly the Beatles) so that we could sing along. I think I had read somewhere that babies should not be exposed to music that could upset them, e.g., shifts in volume, unexpected noises. Playing music at mealtimes, however, often became distracting, especially if he was upset about something, although this is now less of a problem, mostly on weekends. There were a few times when I would sneak some adult listening in, cradling a sleepy Oliver in my arms while playing something like Brian Eno's Music for Airports or 'New Grass' by Talk Talk. Most of his exposure to music so far, however, has been through the classical pieces on the Baby Einstein DVDs and a few classical-based CDs at bedtime.

Now that he's almost 2 and rapidly becoming more verbal, he'll probably start to respond to music more and so we're faced with the dilemma of finding music that's intended for children but won't drive parents crazy. And whether it's because today's parents want to remain young and hip longer or they believe they relate to their kids better than their parents did to them, there's an increasing amount of children's music for hipster parents being made.

While it's understandable that parents want more options than traditional choices like Raffi or Sharon, Lois and Bram, I suspect that the desire for kids' music that won't send adults running screaming from the room after repeated playings can result in music that both groups find merely tolerable. This is where I think a recent compilation titled See You On The Moon! (Paper Bag Records, PAPER018) falls short. It may feature some indie names but there doesn't seem to have been much thought given to whether it should feature happy playtime music or sleepytime songs, or a jolly first half and a gentle second half. Instead, it veers uncomfortably back and forth between upbeat, joyful and energetic tracks (notably, Apostle of Hustle's '24 Robbers', the only track to feature children's voices, and the cartoonishly nonsensical 'Fruit Belt' by Kid Koala and Lederhosen Lucil) and more downbeat selections that would work well at bedtime (Junior Boys' 'Max', Detective Kalita's 'Baby Brother').

Taken individually, some of the more playful tracks are winning efforts that kids may enjoy, including Alan Sparhawk's cheerily casual, acoustic 'Be Nice to People With Lice', the inspirational title track by Great Lake Swimmers (which contains a nod to Free to Be... You and Me) and Glissandro 70's creaky, rackety 'Voices Are Your Best Friends'. But there are also a couple of clunkers that are a drag to listen to, no matter how old you are: Broken Social Scene contribute an unforgivably lethargic take on 'Puff, the Magic Dragon' (more lava lamp than night light), while Mark Kozelek's 'Leo and Luna', though admittedly about a pair of cats that used to get on his nerves, is delivered with a subdued nonchalance bordering on mopy indifference.

It may be that the artists involved aren't parents (there are a few mentions of nephews and nieces in the liner notes), but I suppose the problem is that it's not unlike other compilations in that it's inconsistent in tone and mood. The solution may lie in judicious CD programming or putting the upbeat and downbeat tracks on separate mixes, iPod playlists, etc. Then again, you may just be able to put it on in the background either at bedtime or playtime and your kids won't care either way.


P.S.: Hot Chip's 'I Can't Wake Up' is a decent lullaby (except for being about not being able to wake up) but kids may get more of a kick out of their silly video for 'Over and Over'.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I sometimes wonder if I'm not worrying enough about how Oliver is doing when he's at daycare, but then when I call and find out he's been eating well, had a good nap, a diaper change, hasn't hurt himself or others, I have to remind myself that they'd call me if something were wrong. That's not always a natural assumption to make.


Well, here we go! This is where I intend to start posting thoughts and experiences from the world of a dad.