We just got back from spending a lovely Canada Day weekend with my family. Mom and Dad still live where I grew up – on a small lake in Muskoka (Ontario’s cottage country), in the middle of the forest. I love going back, not only because it’s home to me, but also because it’s satisfying to see my own children experiencing many of the same things I did while growing up.
The toddler, who is nearly three, spent most of the weekend swimming in the lake. He bobbed around in a life jacket, utterly fearless of the deep water and waves created by passing motorboats, delirious with j0y. We watched the fireworks display from a neighbour’s pontoon boat, went rowing in the antique wooden skiff that my dad recently refinished, and sat around the fire when it got chilly.
The entertaining part of being home, however, is seeing my little brothers. Now fifteen and thirteen, they’re at an interesting age. The older one, Graham, is increasingly concerned with being cool and stylish, and is perpetually frustrated by the younger one’s silliness. David is certainly a force to be reckoned with and I can hardly blame Graham for feeling the way he does. On the other hand, David provides more comedic relief than anything I’ve ever experienced before.
David spent the weekend carrying around a stink bomb in his pocket – a tiny glass vial of evil-looking yellow liquid that an adult accomplice picked up at a magic shop. A mere few drops are enough to send people running. David is constantly threatening to use it and takes it everywhere with him, because you’ll never know when it’s needed. (He also has sneezing powder on hand.)
J. and I returned from an evening boat ride to find David playing ‘fetch’ with my brother-in-law. Peter was launching the soccer ball as high and far as he could from the dock and David was in the kayak, paddling wildly halfway across the bay to retrieve the ball. They repeated this more times than I know.
David is a pro at jumping on his pogo stick. His max is 500 hops in a single stretch, and he’s can even do it hands-free, though jumping with eyes closed has yet to be mastered. He is also teaching himself how to ride an off-road unicycle. He told me his goal for the grade nine challenge is to ride his unicycle and play violin at the same time. Last winter’s project was to attach a rocket to his remote control Corvette and send it flying across the frozen ice on the lake. (The experiment failed because it was too cold.)
Then there was the time he accurately guessed the number of jelly beans in the jar at the local Halloween party, and spent the next six months eating orange and black jelly beans, and trying to pawn them off on whoever wanted some because he actually hates those flavours.
A few months ago, he stayed home from church because he was sick. When my parents returned, they found him snow-blowing the neighbour’s driveway. “Why are you doing that?” they asked him. “Well, they asked me to!” he answered. “But how did they know you were even home?” “Because they saw me out tobogganing!” he responded. So much for a sick day.
David never ceases to amaze and bewilder us all, yet my son couldn’t possibly have a better, more creative uncle with whom to play and develop his imagination. In a time where so few kids seem to spend their days outdoors, inventing games and crazy schemes, free from gadget attachment, David is one of the greatest assets to our family. His boundless energy is refreshing and contagious.