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Daddy Daydreamer

I'm not sure why I had to defeat my son at chess

His growth as a player took a back seat to my need to win

Chess board

I learned chess as a youngster. I found the order and strategy compelling. So I was more than happy to teach my sons how to play. There is a rhythm and motion to the game: looking ahead, planning your moves, setting up your opponent for a masterful maneuver—there is something about that.

My boys have progressed to the point . . .

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Posted in: competitionchess

October 27, 2016

The Big Man With a Cold Heart

A story by youngest, as told to Dad

Kid at school

"Hey," I told youngest, aged 6 at the time, "we haven't written a story in a while."

"I know," he replied.

"Do you want to?"

"Not really."

"Aw, come on—it'll be fun. I'll write the first paragraph and you can finish."

"Okay," he mumbled, humouring me.

"Alright, let's do this!" I said, and began the story:

One day, there was a big . . .

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Posted in: kid stories

October 13, 2016

Ribbon Bear and the Encounter at Planet JS-4

To boldly go where no bear has gone before

ribbon-bear-planet-js4

The following is an entry from Captain Ribbon Bear's log.

Captain's Log, Stardate 2016.10.06.We arrived in orbit of the planet JS-4, finding a pre-warp civilization thriving on the southern continent.

"Honey Bear, Chester, Jujube—you're with me," I commanded. "We'll form a landing party and investigate the temporal disturbance on . . .

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September 29, 2016

I had the best teacher ever in Grade 4

Mrs. Sdao understood our personalities and what made us tick

Apple on desk

After my eldest son headed off to his first day of Grade 4 and a new year of scholastic adventure, my thoughts transported me to a brisk Ottawa evening in April, 2014. Winter had mercifully loosened its grip to an anemic spring, but a chilly wind lingered as I walked toward my Class of 1983 Grade 4 reunion.

The gathering was held at a posh . . .

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Posted in: school

September 15, 2016

I felt as if I ruined my son's birthday

A great day ended on a disappointing note

birthday candles

In August, you, my eldest, turned nine. It is amazing how quickly time has passed. You are growing up to be a fine person. You are persistent, stubborn, happy, thoughtful, emotional, intelligent, athletic; more of a leader than I ever was at that age. You are courageous. You are my son.

Morning of your birthday. You wake up . . .

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Posted in: emotions

September 01, 2016

As my sons saw their dad cry for the first time, our love for each other grew

By attending to our messy feelings, we found room for empathy

Sketch of man crying

This essay originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on June 15, 2016.

I had never let my children see me cry before. I had this tough-guy notion it would make me look weak. But one morning, messy emotion got the best of me.

My eldest son was not feeling well. Although ill, he was looking forward to spending a day with me at home. . . .

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August 18, 2016

Fuzzy Bunny and the Baby in the Belly

Little brother wants to be a big brother

Stuffed animals: Fuzzy Bunny and Whasa Bunny

"Fuzzy," S asked, "do you have any gē-gē's or dì-dì's?"

"I don't know," Fuzzy Bunny answered. "What's a gē-gē and a dì-dì?"

"A gē-gē," S said, "is how you say big brother in Mandarin. A dì-dì is how you say little brother."

"Oh!" Fuzzy said. "Well I have one gē-gē and one dì-dì."

"What . . .

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August 04, 2016

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