Whac-A-Mole

She is quickly scribbling numbers on a pad of paper, eyes darting from train car to train car in search of the diamond shaped metal plate with the Materials Identification Code. Because what my eight year old understands is that, more than the danger in the air from the combustion of diesel, what rumbles continuously past our house inside of tanker cars are large quantities of toxic materials. And she wants to know what they are. Continue reading

Advertisements

Sawdust

Our eight year old is holding a saw. And she is jubilant. A faint haze and the smell of fresh- cut pine hangs in the bedroom and four piles of sawdust lie on the floor like little Mayan pyramids. “We’ve finally figured out what to do with the bunk beds!” she exalts. To her right, the bunk beds sit, carefully severed, top bunk from bottom. Continue reading

It’s Never Neutral

“Go quick, mom. So we don’t miss the party!”

So says our little one, urging my partner Kathy back from the washrooms toward the large crowd of people gathering for May Day in Allan Gardens. A sea of the most unapologetically political groups in the city surround us: Idle No More Toronto, No One Is Illegal, Two Row Society, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), Migrante, The Greater Toronto Workers Assembly, Maggie’s. And others. Continue reading

Glass, Needles & Condoms

I can tell it’s spring.

We are winter weary and in need of fresh air. One of our annual adventures is to trek down to the edge of Lake Ontario. There, a billion huge boulders sit along the shoreline and call to our kids more powerfully than toys and ice-cream : “this is a landscape of unlimited potential.”

“Can we take off our shoes and socks as we climb?” they ask.

“You know the deal- watch out for glass, needles and condoms.”

Off they go, barefoot and bursting with excitement. Kathy and I look at each other, gauging our energy levels, and head off in pursuit. Continue reading

Teaching Kids When To Break The Law

“Your kids are so well behaved!” says a stranger sitting on a nearby stool, eating his breakfast.

It seems well intentioned, but my insides curl and glow like a ball of crumpled paper that’s just been lit. A knee jerk response rises to my lips: “Yes, it’s a nasty habit we’re trying to get them to break,” but I manage to swallow it back with my breakfast bagel. Continue reading

Making the invisible visible: math and social justice

One of my kids is sitting at the kitchen table, working intensely in his sketch book. He is drawing a portrait of a man he met near Eglinton and Yonge Street earlier in the day. Slowly, ‘Sammy’ emerges with his reddish beard, long hair, and orange vest. Slowly, the invisible becomes visible, which is to say that Sammy, who amongst other things, is homeless, has etched his way into my son’s consciousness. Continue reading