Thursday, July 09, 2015

Still Bucktown, After All These Years

This batting stance from Lindsay = everything to me, right now.  After our epic family whiffle ball game at my sister’s house, the Dotytron and I immediately went out and bought some bases, a bat, and a whiffle ball and have been having some (exhausting) games with the kids on the street after dinner.  Lindsay’s batting stance is simultaneously unconventional and ineffective, but he really commits 100% and for that, I cannot fault him.  That lunge, and that tongue sticking out, do me in, every time.

Have I talked to you about how Quincess falls all the time?  Seriously, all the time.  He never puts his hands out and always falls and conks his head.  He gets GIANT, ugly goose eggs on his little misshapen noggin.  Even if he doesn’t make impact with the floor, when he falls, the goose eggs stick out so far that it gets conked again. We suspect it was from his time in the helmet, when he was a crazy man who “crawled” like this: 

Never forget.

Recently I took him to the doctor because we were starting to worry – how often does a kid have to fall and get a giant goose egg on their head before you start to be concerned?  Well, as it turns out,  depending on how they react post-fall:  it can be quite a lot.  Like, more than the Quincess’ current number, which seems to be averaging a head-conk a month (this month he’s got 2).  His pupils have never been wonky (one bigger than the other), he always cries immediately, he doesn’t get sleepy, or nauseous.  He eats normally, he doesn’t act funny, he responds appropriately, so there hasn’t been any indication that he’s had a concussion, which is when the doctors would be concerned. 

The other week we had my ex-bf and his new gf over for dinner.  I was just telling them about how he falls a lot, and he was standing beside me and somehow tripped, from standing, over his own feet, hit the ground, and rolled onto his back, crying.  “Quincess! What happened?” I cried.  “Ionow,” he said, through his own tears, on the floor on his back, which made me laugh so hard.  I’ve been trying for months to record a Quincess “I don’t know” because it’s the cutest disavowal you’ve ever heard in your life.  Lindsay tends to give you cow eyes and spread his hands out, but he doesn’t run the words together in quite so winning a way.

However, Lindsay is taking after the Big Yam in his ability to articulate.  Behold:


Quincess is usually very good about sharing.  He’s never so attached to whatever he’s playing with that if Lindsay comes barrelling up and acts like a giant baby about not having the toy in question, if I ask him to give it to Lindsay, he usually does it, with no fuss.  The other night, he was carrying a tennis ball and was running from one end of the backyard to the other, dodging and ducking and somehow managing to keep it just out of the hammy grasp of Lindsay, who was crying in frustration.  At one point, Quincess looked up and caught my eye and gave me the most knowing, devilishly pleased grin, it slayed me.  He’s a sneaky one, that guy.  When you catch him fiddling with something he’s not supposed to be touching and you say, “Quincess!” to stop, he’ll drop whatever he’s doing and do this exaggerated arm flail, both arms back and forth in tandem, which is a dead giveaway that he’s been up to something no good.  It’s a caricature of: “doo-de-doo, nothing to see here.”  I’ve been trying to catch that on video too, because like that Arrowsmith song, I don’t want to miss a thing.

We took the Big Yam to see the new Pixar movie, Inside Out.  Somewhat predictably for a Pixar film, the Dotytron and I were bawling our eyes out.  I would say that it is one of the least child-appropriate Pixar films in their entire catalogue (depending on your child, of course).  The Big Yam got basically nothing out of it.  I kept asking probing questions, "why is she scared?  Where are they going?" and he was consistently, "I don't know."  To put this in perspective, we recently showed him the original Jurassic Park and when the T. Rex first comes chasing after the jeeps, the Big Yam breathed, "Goll-lee!" It was so cute!  I mean, really.  Kids using anachronisms are just the best.

Inside Out is a journey through the emotional growth of a pre-teen girl, taking place almost entirely within her mind, with lots of clever nods to brain science and psychology concepts.  SUPER KID-APPROPRIATE, AMIRITE?!?  Obviously, because it’s Pixar, the story is nuanced, touching, emotionally resonant and at times, quite funny.  Does my kid understand a bit about entering the “abstract thought” room and “deconstructing”?  No!  It shouldn’t even be marketed to children.  I also found the characterization of the central character’s interior emotional life, lacking. 

A design critic friend of mine recently talked about how the “colour relationships” in Pixar films are terrible and I have to agree.  After recently watching DumboSleeping Beauty, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, there is something to be said for the subtlety of older Disney animated films and animated films that aren't made in the North American vein.  Pixar films frequently look like a daycare exploded on film (see: Toy StoryUp, Inside Out).  The beginning part of Wall-E escapes this trend, but otherwise the animators tend to err on the side of garish.  Bill Peet, whose stories I loved as a child, was one of the animators on Sleeping Beauty:

Can you imagine ever seeing anything looking like that in a modern, mass-produced animated film?  Or, check out Eyvind Earle’s concept art for Sleeping Beauty and try not to have your heart sing:

Kids can handle subtlety.  Look at the vast range of illustration styles in children's picture books.  It's one of the reasons why I can't stop buying them.  As a rule, I generally loathe kids movies that are too pop culture referential.  For a shorthand: any film that features an extended anthropomorphic dance sequence to a modern pop music number (Reel 2 Real's I Like To Move It - I'm looking at you here), makes my skin crawl.  I think my reactions to a lot of kids' movies can be summed in this trailer for the new Peanuts aberration:

This is what the Peanuts are about now  I mean, really.  Charles Shulz is spinning in his grave.

It’s been a jam-packed start to summer vacation.  We’ve had a lovely couple of weekends.  The Big Yam, being the risk-averse, self-preservationist soul that he is, has not been a fan of his new two-wheeler.  He’s been very much against it.  Our neighbour gave us a Co-Pilot Wee Ride bike trailer (like a tandem bike that attaches to the parent bike), so we hooked that up, loaded the twins into the Chariot, and spent a windy morning at the beach two Saturdays ago.  It was so nice, even if the beach did stink, and even if the whole process of setting up, packing, and tearing down did take just as long as the time spent at the beach itself.  

One Saturday we met MHui and co at the new Guu in North York and we brought the Big Yam.  I hyped him up about it and pitched it as a restaurant where “everybody yells at you” and he was so thrilled with the novelty of taking his shoes off in our section. 

Proof that the Dotytron and I have very different ideas of fun: on Father’s Day, me and the kids were booted out of the house so he could sleep in (until 7:30am) and then wax his car (???)  Last night, I went upstairs to read (current bedside reading: Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal – I am so fun!  Party time!) and went back downstairs near midnight to find the Dotytron eating all dressed chips I didn’t even know we had and watching Adventures in Babysitting, “It’s SUMMER VACATION!” was the answer I got in reply to my raised eyebrow.

SUMMER VACATION INDEED! This past week was intensity in ten cities.  I took the days after Canada Day off and it was non-stop action.  Canada Day: park hangs, bike ride, frantic street party prep, taking the Big Yam to see Inside Out, and then the Street Party – which was exhausting.  The next day: first Micelli Monday of the summer – Children’s Discovery Centre, home, nap, swimming, dinner.  Then the next day, my sister and her family and my youngest brother and his gf Aunt Viv (has to be said in your best Fresh Prince of Bel-Air voice), and my mom came over and we went swimming and we hosted dinner and then the boy nephews slept over.  The next day, we went to a memorial service for the Dotytron’s uncle, went back to my mum’s house, had dinner out at Congee Queen, then BACK to our hood for ice cream, games, and another round of nephew sleepovers.  Sunday we woke up, took the kids to the Farmer’s Market, then to my grandma’s nursing home for a birthday lunch, then grocery shopping, then home, then swimming, and then I STRAIGHT UP PASSED OUT AT 8:30PM FROM BONE-TIRED EXHAUSTION.  

It was the good kind of exhaustion.  On our way back downtown on Saturday, as I drove onto the off-ramp of the highway, dusk settling into the nooks and crannies of the Don Valley Parkway, a car filled with sticky, sun-kissed and rice and lobster e-fu noodle-stuffed children, I had one of those moments where I marveled at my life.  Sometimes, I have to turn to the Dotytron and say, "When you were in high school, did you ever think you'd be an adult, driving in a minivan to get ice cream, with KARL LAGERFELD from Markham High and our 4 year old and 2 year old twins?!"  

 We've had my friend E staying with us for the past few days, and now the 2nd edition of Micelli Monday is happening, followed by the most ambitious weekend of life: TWO NIGHTS OF PARTYING for me and the Dotytron.  TWO! WHO AM I?!?  We are planning on hitting a rave on Friday night followed by an EDM festival with my youngest bro on Saturday.  If we manage to survive to tell the tale, it will be a legendary feat.  The kind of weekend that sustains two former partiers through years and years of 6am wake-ups and bleary, weary contemplations of how to fill the interminable hours that stretch before us on a rainy weekend day.  The stuff that will make us feel forever young again.

Sorry, didn't mean to end this on a downer.  We are going to try to suck the marrow out of life this weekend - will report back.


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