Friday, September 11, 2009

New Beginnings

Last September I wrote about how the rhythm of my life for so many years has revolved around Labour Day being my New Year’s Day. This became true when I was in university and has continued through the years following. The end of glorious summers, the beginning of hockey season. Changes in my life always seem to fall at this time of year. I bought a little black and white puppy at the end of August 1997. In September 1998 my girlfriend moved down to Florida to live with me. Three years later we packed up our car and a Uhaul and drugged the big fellow and drove back to Canada on Labour Day weekend. In 2002 we moved into our house at the end of August and a month later we went to Europe for the first time. In 2003 our daughter was born in September. Two years later our son was born in October.

You get the picture.

Once you have children this feeling of September as the page's turn accelerates when they begin school. So this past week my daughter started Grade 1 and the boy started junior kindergarten.

They stagger the little ones’ entrances into school because it can be a little much. They’re four, those with late birthdays, like my son, are actually three.

There were some tears in the lineups for Grade One. Our oldest was a little nervous but was fine. Full day at school now, she even eats her lunch there. Its really fucking mental when I think about it. It’s a big adjustment, from a half day to a full day, and once evening comes she’s a bit of a mess. Pretty tired out.

But kindergarten? Well, some do ok. Others not so much. Our daughter was a tough sell for a few weeks, crying as we dragged her up the stairs to her class. I don’t blame her. There’s many a morning when I get on the subway in tears.

So Wednesday was the boy’s first day. He’s been excited for this for months. He has the same teacher that his sister did, an absolutely terrific little guy who just extraordinary. He runs a very tight ship, which we like, has high expectations for his pupils and has an unbelievably creative and engaging classroom. Apparently he did just quit smoking on Monday so that might make things interesting in class for a while. (At dinner I asked the boy if he found that his teacher seemed to be tense or on edge – he stared at me like I have two heads).

So at 7am the boy was up and he got himself dressed (have I mentioned before that my children are brilliant). The boy is his own man, always has been, and he, like his namesake, my father, takes his time.

If I had a dime for every time my dad said “Take your time” to me when I was a boy I’d be doing this blogging thing for a living.

Getting dressed, eating, taking a dump.

The boy takes his time.

And on Wednesday he was at the door, backpack on, shoes too, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, fully dressed, at 7:30. A half hour after he woke up.

Easy there big fella.

An hour later we left, walked to the school, dropped off his big sister and walked over to the kindergarten. He gave me a hug and walked up the steps with his mom. A minute later she came down the stairs.

He’d walked into the cloakroom, hung his bag on a hook and walked right into the classroom without looking back and barely a casual goodbye.

He’s cool, that one.


So here we are, camp about to start and there are some nervous folks out here in the ‘sphere.

We’re worried about the goaltending.

We wonder from amongst the forwards who is going to stop the other team from scoring.
We wonder who is going to kill penalties and win faceoffs.
And who is getting sent out of town, if anybody, amongst the regulars.

Mike Comrie is the only skater to come in this summer. Its an odd choice. It’s a terrific contract and if his health issues are behind him he will probably completely outperform it and how many Oilers can we say that about? Folks look at his last couple of years and they were pretty poor but he was the focal point of the offence on the Island so my guess is he faced some tough opposition there. If he gets the easy stuff and he is healthy he is a good bet to produce.

Having said that, please please stop justifying his signing by talking about the fact that he scored thirty goals though. Bobby Hull scored fifty, should they sign him too? Its about as relevant as Khabibulin’s Cup ring as far as I’m concerned. When the playoffs roll around next spring it wil be six years since Tampa won the Cup. I wonder what Dave Andreychuk is doing these days.

Fair play to Comrie anyhow. There will be no booing and if he produces then he’ll be the hometown hero again, at least until he leaves town for greener pastures in a year. His career is hanging by a thread, never mind Winter’s claims that there were three other teams after his services. Whatever. He'll be highly motivated and watch the crowd roar the first time he puts one into the net.

Of course the problem with Comrie’s arrival is that his skill set is a redundant one on this roster. Small offensively skilled forwards are abundant on this Oilers’ club. They need … well, we know what they need, we’ve known it for a while now.

LT is the man when it comes to training camp, as if we didn't know. But if you didn't, check it out.

Anyhow it looks like the blue and the goaltending are set. Up front is where the action will be.

Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, Comrie, O’Sullivan, Pisani, Moreau, Stortini, Pouliot, Brule, Jacques, MacIntyre, Reddox, Potulny, Schremp, Stone, MacDonald, Minard

Is Penner in shape? Is Nilsson ready to be a man? How about Gagner and Cogliano? Can O'Sullivan impress? How much do Moreau and Pisani have left? Will Jacques and Pouliot make the most of what has to be their last chance? Schremp? Can any of the longshots make an impact?

Fourteen of those guys make it. The rest don’t. And there still may be a trade to bring in a little bit of what this club needs.

I know that for many camp is pointless but it means hockey season is almost here. The start of a new year.



Swabbubba said...

Meet the new boss same as the old boss. The year always starts with hope. but this year I cannot drink the Kool aid. I think the team needed more changes to make it more competitive but who knows if the new coach can squeeze more out the players maybe there is hope.

P-Ow said...

In 2003 our daughter was born in September. Two years later our son was born in October.

You get the picture.

Copulation increases in the McLean household when it becomes clear the Oilers don't have what it takes that year?

quiltmom said...

Hope that your little ones enjoy kindergarten and grade one. Sometimes it is a bit of an adjustment but before you know it they will get into the rhythm of school. Each year I welcome 25 or so new students into my full day kindergarten and we have alot of fun and learn together- where else would I get told that " my dad rode a cow" and when I asked what happened- she responded " He got buckd-ed off.. Sometimes its is hard not to laugh when they look at you with their serious faces and give you their earnest responses...
Every day is a new adventure for a child- and its a great view to be part of.. 32 years later and I still love it...
With best wishes,
Anna ( aka quiltmom)

Baroque said...

My nephew had his first day of preschool this week - he was a little nervous at first, because he is very used to his routine, but loved it and can't wait to go back. His mom teared up a little after they dropped him off, though, and his baby sister (6 months) gave mom and grandma as dirty a look as a cute baby can when they left and came back without her big brother.

If she could talk, she would have said "I may be little, but I can count to three, and I know that two is a smaller number than three, and I know that my bid brother isn't here, and I want you to tell me what you did with him or I'll fill my diaper with something the likes of which you have never seen in retaliation!"

She's got a bit of an attidute, my niece does. :)

Dog Kennels said...

You know, I never thought about it like that, but you're right. Labor Day is kinda like New Year's. A lot of events revolve around it.

Black Dog said...

P-Ow - if that was the case, I'd have about twenty kids ;)

Great stuff, Baroque, as always.

Thanks for that Anna, appreciate it. Both of our kids have made the adjustment already, the boy certainly much quicker than his sister did two years ago but that's partially because he knows what to expect because of her.

And she's settled into grade 1 nicely.

doritogrande said...

September is also the start of University for many. Sure it's nice now, but wait til that boy of yours is trying to pry 10K from your cold dead hands for University tuition. And that's only the first frigging year!

One more year, one more year and I get to start my own life. The Oilers could make this an easy year for me to finish off and win more than they lose. That'd really help with my Oilers/term paper-induced insomnia.

Lowetide said...

On the Thursday morning before my oldest (the boy) was going to school for the first time my boss (a nice fellow, father) took me aside and gave me the opportunity to tell him I'd miss the Tuesday (after long weekend) morning meeting because I would be taking the child to school.

I told him that it was fine but would check with my wife (wise thing to do in these matters). I remember like it was yesterday how she reacted: a terse stare that women you have slept with hold in reserve for moments when they want to make a point, followed by a breezy "he'll take the bus, since we paid for the pass and that's how it'll be" that told me all was well.

Told the boss following day, drank wobbly pops all weekend and enjoyed life.

Monday night (evening before back to work and school for my son) my wife casually mentions that we'll be driving our son to school in the morning. No big deal, my boss was a cool guy so a quick message left for him on his office phone and that's an extra 20 minutes in bed next morning.

Next day I drive with my wife (and baby daughter) to school, trying to park amid the madness that is 15 minutes before the bell.

Wife sees teacher, voice quivers, is reassured by teacher and we're off. Pretty teachers by the way.

Anyway, I drop my wife home and she laughs nervously, gives me a kiss and I'm gone baby gone to work since the son will take the bus home at 11:45 am from kindergarten.

Get to the office, boss smirks and gives the I-told-you so. I settle in and work the PC like a madman.

Phone rings.

"I'm thinking it was a mistake to take him to school because now he might get on the wrong bus because he doesn't know where it parks."

WHAT? 10 minutes later I'm back on the damn road with instructions:

1. Arrive at school
2. SPY on my child and make sure he gets on the 8A bus.
4. Follow bus home but leave "Rockford Files" distance between bus and car so child doesn't see Dad.
5. Drive BY the house when I see Mom waiting for son because she doesn't want him to think Mom has made a big deal of things.

As I write this it becomes clear what an idiotic day it was, because I did indeed drive to the school, did indeed make sure the boy got on 8A and did too follow him along the trail and up the hill home.


Except, at the top of the hill the bus turned right, slowed then stopped in the middle of the street and now I'm directly behind the bus.

Stopped in the middle of the street. I see the lunchkit, the little shoes and then the jeans and then my son running toward me.


So, I open the door and he jumps in and boy is he excited about his day. THis and THIS and THAT and THAT and all the rest of the way home (basically 4 blocks) he's a steady-talking machine.

For some reason (look, this wasn't my day) I follow the bus all the way around to our house. My wife is waiting for the bus with other Moms and when the bus pulls up I don't know whether to blow the horn or sneak into the driveway.

So I make no noise and park in the driveway with chatty-boy. Ramble ramble this, ramble ramle that. I get out of the car in time to see my wife RUNNING toward the house and then stopping when she sees me.

Now, I've known my wife for more than half the time I've been alive and have seen some things. So please believe me when I say here "SS" look (it stand for suck shit) would have killed Hitler in his duck boots standing.

I tried to explain all of the stories but each time ("didn't I tell you NOT to get too close?") she had a retort that sounded less ridiculous than what I was saying.

On top of that the boy was all talked out and hungry for either a "hot cheese sandwich" or "circle meat" and Mom missed out on all the excitement of day one.

I go back to work. Phone rings.

"What should we do about tomorrow?"

Black Dog said...

LT - awesome stuff, oh my God that's brilliant