Friday, July 4, 2008

A Blast From The Past

Another July fourth is here, the year seems to be flying by, so I'd like to wish all my American friends a happy fourth. This day makes me think of summertime, baseball, and of course the latest Will Smith blockbuster. Actually, I mean fireworks but that guy is like Mr. Fourth of July Box Office. It's been well documented where my kids stand on the topic of "big bang booms". For me though, I can't think about fireworks without remembering the time Dad had the bright idea to set some off in the backyard. I think it was for New Year's Eve if I'm remembering correctly. Everyone was watching from the safety of the kitchen as he set it up and lit the fuse. Deep down we all knew the combination of Dad and any kind of explosives was something we wanted to see but from a safe distance. As the fuse burned, he scurried into the kitchen to watch with everyone else. It was the perfect spot to witness a gust of wind knock the firework over just as the fuse got down to the end. It took off like a shot, slammed into the shed, and ricocheted up over the neighbour's tree. In my opinion, you can't buy memories like that.

Now that I have my own kids I understand that creating memories is what it's all about. If I do my job right then they'll grow up smart, healthy, happy, and looking back on their childhood as they say "it sure was fun having that silly bastard around". What other possible motivation could there be for piling your whole family into a cramped car or overstuffed minivan and drive across the country? Looking at it from a rational point of view, you'd have to be a complete fool to do something like that. My parents drove right across Canada with us more times than I'm sure they'd like to remember. The one that gets talked about most is the one we all refer to as "the vacation from hell".

They foolishly piled me and my two sisters into the minivan which was packed to the gills and we headed out. We weren't even out of the city and things started to go wrong. They had to make a stop so Mom could drop something off at her brother's house. She put it his mailbox and on her way back to the van slipped on the grass and slid right underneath us. If you're not even twenty minutes from your house and one of you is already under the van, it's probably a sign that things are not going to go well. So after deciding Mom wasn't in need of medical attention, and recovering from hysterical laughter, we headed out of town. Good thing too or we might have missed the traffic caused by the highway construction going on. That brings up an important point. If you combine gridlocked traffic and a minivan of bored kids, you're just asking for trouble. It's also not a good idea to sit in front of me if I have easy access to ice cubes. Those two unfortunate situations collided and an ice cube found it's way down Dad's back as he drove. To say he didn't find it as funny as I did would be a bit of an understatement. If he wasn't amused then the guy hold the slow sign was downright offended. Another useful tip, the guys in charge of holding signs at construction sites do not appreciate it when you floor the accelerator. Also, "sorry, my kid's an a-hole" is not a valid reason in their books.

So after finally making some progress it was time to pull over and relax a little. For us that meant we did a little fishing. Everything was going well until my sister fell off the rocks and into the water. She may have had some help, accounts are sketchy on the subject. Either way, seeing her windbreaker balloon up with air as she splashed about and Dad struggle to pull her out still makes me chuckle. Apparently, it wasn't helpful to have me standing beside trying to hook her with my rod and reel her out. I think it would have made a heck of a nice picture though if I'd been able to do it. I wish I could say that was all that went wrong on the trip but I'd be forgetting about the van breaking down and getting stuck in a little town for a couple days. That left us with plenty of time to swim in the hotel pool. That would have been fine if I hadn't been overcome with the urge to dunk Mom under the water. Since her swimming skills are minimal at best and she doesn't like to put her face in the water to begin with, that probably wasn't the best idea on my part. Dad still talks about the panic on her face when she resurfaced and I'm not sure she'll ever really forgive me for that one. In my defense, adversity does bring people closer together so I was just adding to the overall bond building experience that was our trip.

At the time, all of that seemed like a horrible experience and I'm kind of surprised they didn't just leave me somewhere. Now, it's just more funny memories we can look back at and laugh about. Ultimately, that's what it's all about. Whether it's taking the family on a trip that's obviously destined for trouble or almost blowing up your shed and essentially firing the first shot against the neighbours (they haven't retaliated yet but I still contend they can't be trusted), I just hope I can do as good a job as my parents have done and give my girls lots of fun memories to take with them into adulthood. If I can do it without blowing myself up, even better.

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