Thursday, January 29, 2009

Deep End of the Ski Slope

They say you have three kids so that any one can be expendable.  Well, based on the incredulous reactions I get from others whenever I say that in front of my kids, I think I actually might be the only one who says that.  But my bluff was called yesterday.  I lost Guinness, or rather, he lost me, when we were standing less than 15 feet away from each other.

I was picking up the kids from ski school yesterday afternoon and was directed to a nearby station where they were selling class pictures.  Cayman was walking right next to me, and I thought Guinness was on the other side of her, but it was really just another kid in red.  Red, as it turns out, is really popular in ski wear.  Next year, I just might dress the kids in a slightly less popular color like puce.  

The place was teeming with kids, parents, and instructors, so I wasn't worried at first.  He isn't the type to wander off by himself, and he was carrying his skis, so he couldn't have gotten far anyway.  But as time passed, the crowd started to thin out out, and there were fewer kids, parents and instructors, and more scary, bearded, sketchy looking people.  I wouldn't say that I started to freak out, but at times like these, your mind inevitably replays every child abduction movie and show you've ever seen.  Ransom, Deep End of the Ocean, Without a Trace.... 

Michael had been with Ellington, bringing the car around.  I was hoping Guinness had some how bumped into him and was waiting in the car.  No such luck.  So we left Cayman and Ellington in the car (with responsible adults!  We were down one, so they weren't expendable anymore), and spread our search out into the rest of Whistler Village.

By now, the scenes were flashing through my mind like lightning.  There is always that moment of irony when the parent passes right by the child, so I started memorizing things just in case.  That guy with the van with the tinted windows shut the door right as I was approaching?  He looked a little sketchy, so I gave him the gimlet eye so he knew I was onto him and took careful note of his license plate number.  I saw an adult holding hands with a child wearing a red ski jacket and started speeding up to catch them.  Realized that it would take more than 10 minutes to bleach Guinness' black hair blond and slowed down.  Wig!  And sped up again.  

At one point, I checked my phone to see if Michael had texted me that he found Guinness.  It was 4:44 pm.   Holy crap, I didn't need to see that!  (As many of you know, the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese because it sounds like the word for "death").  I started to wonder when we should involve the police.  Luckily, I had in my hands a photo that was just taken of him that morning - the darn cause for my losing him in the first place!  I could already read the newspaper headlines, "Child Abducted from Whistler Ski School, Mom Busy Shopping", and was just about ready to prepare my grieving mother's plead, when I got Michael's call that he found Guinness.  

As it turns out, Guinness had dropped his skis just as we set off to the photo station.  When he looked up, Cayman and I were gone.  I can just imagine how the noise seemed to get louder for him and the crowds and colors started to swirl around him as he spun around looking for me.  Well, that's how it goes in the movies.  He waited about one minute and then told an instructor that he was lost and was taken to the ski school office where they texted Michael and then waited and waited and waited for him to check his phone.  And once Michael found Guinness, he took another five minutes comforting Guinness and bringing him to the car before he called me.  All told, Guinness was "lost" from me for just under an hour.

Lessons learned:
-Make sure your children have memorized your cell phone number (which Guinness has), and then check your phone regularly in case someone actually tries to contact you.  Unless you know it is near 4:44, in which case you should wait a couple extra minutes between your phone checks.

-If you are picking your kids up from a school or an organized activity, check the main office first, as that is generally the "lost and found" station for both kids and inanimate objects.

-Once you have found your child, let him cry an extra minute or two while you notify the other parent who is frantically searching for the child and spare her from falsely accusing sketching looking men with dark tinted vans.

-Dark vans with tinted windows should be avoided if you don't want to look like a sketchy child abductor. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

One hen, two ducks, three Pokemon battles

They say the average human being only uses 10% of his or her brain.  I want to know, does that estimate include all the useless trivia that is clogging up my brain, or am I even worse off than the average human?  

I took the kids for our regular "one hour walk."  It actually ends up taking about two hours at the kids' pace, but they would freak out at the thought of a "two hour walk", so the little white lie continues.  It is supposed to be our chance to hang out, get some extemely light exercise, breathe some slightly less smog-filled air, and basically spend some quality time bonding.  Today, I found myself ignoring the kids' chatter and, instead, chanting a little ditty I had to memorize in 7th grade in order to trade seats in Industrial Arts class.

One hen
Two ducks
Three squawking geese
Four limerick oysters
Five corpulent porpoises
Six pairs of Don Alberto's tweezes
Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array
Eight brass monkeys sitting on an ancient sacred crypt of Egypt
Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic, old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth
Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul and stall around the corner of the quo, the quay and the quivery at the very same time.

Why I remember this but still haven't fully memorized my home phone number of two years, I do not know. The useless stuff is there, burned into my brain, using up precious grey cells and squeezing out important information that I could use in real life.  It is far too late for me to do anything about it.  But I do worry about my kids' useless information.  I wouldn't mind if they knew things like that kid from Jerry Maguire.  Maybe as doctors, they might need to know that the human head weighs 8 lbs. 

But what, in twenty years from now, is Guinness going to do with all the useless Pokemon facts he has knocking around in his head?  Is anyone going to care that he can rattle off the name of every Pokemon by type, evolutions and favorite attacks?  "Mommy, guess what Torterra evolves into?"  "I don't know.  Aquadoodle."  "No, trick question!  Torterra doesn't evolve into anything!"  Why can he memorize all these details, but not be able to name 10 animals in Chinese - after having taken two years of Chinese class in school?

How can Ellington not be 100% sure of his letters yet, but be able to use the word "capice" properly after having heard it once in Alvin and the Chipmunks?  Well, grammatically properly, not necessarily a how-a-four-year-should-talk-to-his-mother properly.  "Mommy, I want you to wipe my bum bum now, capice?"  "Yes, I do capice.  And no, you can wipe your butt yourself, you little stinker."

Meanwhile, Cayman doesn't seem to have her own font of trivia.  Of course, she's good at a lot of things, just none that lend themselves to spouting off random bits of information.  
Art, gymnastics, swimming.  Reading, writing, arithmetic.  Emotional manipulation and subterfuge.  Hmmm...I guess she'll do okay in life.  

Friday, January 2, 2009

Visitors Beware!

They say that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  I think that definitely goes for a visit to Casa Chen.  Oh, we'll tell you that we have a free guest room.  And as we give you the tour around the house, you will see that the master bedroom and the kids' bedroom  both have en suite bathrooms.  So you might assume that you will have private use of the guest bathroom.  Well, you know what they say.  Don't assume or it will make an ass out of u and me.  In our case, you will just have to see one of our kids' asses.  

Just this afternoon, Michael's cousin Mike was taking a leisurely shower when Ellington burst through the locked door (our kids have ways....), quite anxious to use the potty.  Well, they're both boys, and to be honest, Mike would have been at a slight disadvantage if it came down to an argument.  So, he made no demur and then stood by helplessly while Ellington sat down on the potty and started to go number two.... He's just lucky Ellington didn't ask him to wipe his butt afterwards, is all I have to say.  :-)

Actually, this is just cementing the close relationship between Uncle Mike and Ellington.  In the middle of Mike's stay with us in Las Vegas a couple years ago, we traded the twin bed for a queen, and told him it was because Ellington had accidentally peed on his original bed.  To his credit, Mike didn't even blink.  But for the record, and in Ellington's defense, I have to say that it was just a joke and Ellington had not peed in the bed that day.  Though this doesn't necessarily preclude his having peed on any bed or on any floor in the vicinity any other day.... 

So come on out and visit!  We've got a free guestroom and bathrooms to spare.  But may we suggest that you take really hot showers so the steam can help preserve your modesty?