Ah, spring. The time of year when trees blossom, and flowers bloom. The days when the air smells like a barnyard, and the dogs go missing, to be found days later sitting on the front porch, smoking cigarettes. My family has always been excited by the announcement that spring is upon us. There is much reflection on what is to expect according to the revelation of Wiarton Willie, the rodent weather wizard. There is an equal amount of joie de vivre, when day light savings time is initiated, and the days get longer. No one in my house dares to complain about the loss of 1 hour of sleep.The highlight of this festive time of year, is the much anticipated 1st Robin sighting. What it does to the heart, and soul. How the sight of this bird is so embedded in the family’s collective psyche.
About 2 weeks ago, my daughter squealed with delight, as she came home announcing that she had just seen a robin, perched in a tree outside of our home.
“It seems a little early for a robin.”, my wife said.
“Not necessarily.”, I interjected. “What kind of robin was it?”
“What do you mean, what kind of Robin was it?”, my daughter asked. “The kind with the red stomach.”
“Well”, I asked, “was it a Canadian robin?”
“A Canadian robin?”, my wife repeated, as skeptical as ever.
I informed them both that there were many birds that no longer went south for the winter. Unlike years ago, I informed her, some of the birds stay here, and now, its mostly the people, the senior citizens who migrate south. I went on to explain that these birds, had adapted, and could withstand the harsh Canadian winters. If it was a Canadian robin that was sighted, well, then it doesn’t really count.
“Why do I not want to believe you?”, my daughter asked.
“Because you’re a skeptic.”, I answered, “just like your mother.”
I pointed out that there are geese, and then there are Canada Geese. There are Arizona cardinals, and St. Louis cardinals. There are orioles, and then there are Baltimore Orioles, as well as Baltimore Ravens. Why then is it so hard to believe that there are Canadian robins?
“How do you tell if it is a Canadian robin?”, my wife asked, suspiciously.
“It would be wearing hockey equipment.”, I answered. “But only because its hockey season.”
My daughter stormed off to her room, cursing under her breath as she walked away. “Why do you always have to torment the kids?”, my wife asked.
“I don’t have to.”, I replied, “I choose to. Its like asking why do you have to irritate me? I know you don’t have to, but you like to, right?” My wife tried very hard not to smile. “I know you do.”, I continued. “As bizarre as it is, you like to watch me get irritated.”
“Oh, I do!”, she stated emphatically. “Its so funny to watch you get frustrated, and not know what to say.”
“Oh, I know what to say.”, I told her. “I’m just not stupid enough to say it.”
It was so much easier when my kids were young. They believed everything. None of them ever doubted any of the stories I told them. “You can’t tell them that kind of stuff anymore.”, my wife said. They’re too old for that. Try talking to them about important things.”
I thought about what was important to my kids. Wifi was certainly important, and shoes, shoes were a very important issue for my daughters. I had no desire to talk to my kids about the internet, or footwear, or, in the case of my sons, gaming systems. “I’m not sure there’s anything that I can talk to them about, that they’re interested in.”, I said.
“Well,”, my wife responded, “then just don’t talk at all.”
“I’m sorry.”, I advised her. “That’s really not an option.”
“Do you remember what you told one of them years ago, and the trouble it caused?”, I was asked.
Many, many years ago, when my middle daughter was in elementary school, grade 1 or 2, I had informed her that my family was from another planet, far far away. At school one day, they were asked to talk about their families, and where they were from. My daughter spoke up, and reported that her mother’s family was from Spain, and Morocco, while her father’s family was from another planet, that she couldn’t remember the name of. Well, there was a big tadoo at the school, and my wife and I had to attend to discuss my daughter making up stories, and disrupting the class. My wife was embarrassed, but she embarrasses easily. I informed the school administration that unless they could prove my daughter had been untruthful, we really had nothing to discuss. I was asked by the Principal to confirm that my family did indeed come from another planet. I merely replied that I could not answer a question like that as it could jeopardise the entire mission. We left the meeting no worse for wear, and my daughter received no consequence for the revelation of her family history.
“I remember.”, I told my wife. “And I still think that I should have shot them with my laser.”
“Go talk to your daughter,”, she advised me, shaking her head in disbelief.
I went for a walk with my daughter, to Riverdale Farm, and Sugar Beach. It was, after all spring, and the smell of manure permeated the air.
“Did you bring your camera?”, I asked her. “You’ll never know when you just might see a Toronto Blue Jay.”