Parenting Nightmares

Over the past few nights I’ve had a tough time falling asleep. It’s rare for my mind to keep racing as I lay in bed. But the last few nights are different. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how to work in some preventative parenting towards our teenagers. It all stems from situations that have happened to other parents in my community.

I don’t usually share an opinion on emotional topics, nor do I usually discuss similar situations in my blog. Today is different. In Langley there were two recent loses of teenager life in two different ways. The kids were 14 and 15.

The first loss was a teen girl who took her own life. As many know, depression can hit hard to a great many people. It’s how we help others, or seek out help ourselves, that can be a changing point in this. I don’t have a magic fix to offer here. I have had friends battle depression. Some have lost that battle (such as my friend Jeremy) but many have tackled it successfully in a variety of ways. Suicide is a tragic answer and I always feel terrible hearing about it. Both for the loss of the life and for the friends and family that have to come to term with it and questioning whether they should’ve done more. Those questions are the hardest to find an answer to.

The other lose of life was a young boy at a skate park. I don’t know much about his life, but it sounded like he was a well loved kid and whose father treated him like a best friend. All the boy wanted to do was fit in, like many teenagers. Sadly he overdosed on narcotics. But what makes this story that much more saddening is that his “friends” were Snap Chatting his finally moments laughing about how he was tripping out. From what I understand, of those who saw the videos- no one did anything to help.

What I take away from this last situation is two things:

First- Drugs really are bad. I grew up as a kid hearing to “Say NO to drugs.” As a teenager, I lived right next door to where this teen lost his life. I’m not saying I was a smart teen/young adult living in that neighborhood. I think I felt pretty untouchable and indestructible like many teens. But I knew that it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted and eventually left those “friends” behind. I was lucky, or smart, or unsure, but somehow I have gotten to this point in my life. I have seen and heard too many stories of drug use and overdoses and how it rips a family apart.

Second- Social media can be destructive. People hiding behind a cellphone sharing videos thinking it’s amusing. How are these teens going to deal with the loss of someone so young? A vigil was a great place to start for the grieving process. But again those questions come up, “why didn’t someone help sooner?” In today’s society we hear of far too many people thinking someone else will do something.

So as a parent, I talk to my kids on a regular basis. But when their eyes glaze over and they just nod and say, “yes dad” I just hope that my message is getting through to them. My wife and I can monitor every move they make. But we hope that they are willing to talk to us or help someone in need. Not to be the coward who thinks someone else will do something. Or fear of reprisals from their peers. The loss of a child’s life is the most tragic to bestow upon a family and community.

So stay vigilant out there. Try and help those who need it. Please share with me how you talk to your teenagers about suicide, drugs and social media. I’m sure I’m not the only parent trying to get through those hard talks. We could all use a little help.

Map It Out

The map you read is not the land you travel.

I realized that no matter what map you follow- there is more to explore if you look around. I have often experienced more from life by just trying to figure out where I am by using landmarks. Maps are just “guidelines” for how to get somewhere. GPS doubly so. When I use the navigation in my car to get to places I’ve been before-it’s more just to see the time when I will arrive, not the route to use.

Maps help you get from point A to point B. They’re two dimensional. Maps don’t give you information on what you will see on your journey or the people you’ll meet. Sure looking online might show a landmark or recommend a sight to see, but that’s still not the land in which you travel.

Life is similar in many ways.

You map out a goal and figure out how to achieve it. There may be stops and detours along the way that your map didn’t show you. If you stay the course, you’ll get to the destination. Or maybe your destination will change. In which case you map out a new route. Just remember to check out the land in which you travel.

There’s more to life than just reaching that destination. Explore the world.

Out Of The Corner Of Your Eye

I’m not sure what is going on lately with me. I’ve been having weird moments where I think I see something, only it’s not there.

ere I am JH

Usually I just brush it off. Attribute it to lack of sleep. Only I’m not tired.

Maybe it’s a glitch in the Matrix. One that will drive me crazy. Or maybe I’m imagining it all. Perhaps my eyesight is going. I am getting older after all. Who knows. For now, I’d best ignore it like I have been. Right?

Woah. Did you see that? Probably not. And neither did I.

Where’d The Day Go?

I lost my day today.

It wasn’t like it didn’t happen. On the contrary, lots happened which is why I’ve lost my day. More like lost control of the day.

First was an early morning Speed Skating Meet. It was the first one at our club for the season. So at least it was close by. In between my children’s races I was trying to finish a book- Aramada. So I often got lost in the story while waiting.

On the way home, I had to stop and put in my vote for a Mayor, some township councilors, and some school trustees. This opened up a healthy discussion about politics with my 12 and 14 year olds. They asked who and why I was voting for certain people. As much as I don’t want to create a bias in their future plans- I couldn’t very well not talk about it with them.

At home we had a late lunch and the kids showered up. We had bought a large picnic pork roast, so I carved it into four different meals. A big hunk for tonight’s dinner in the slow cooker. Some got cubed and tossed in the freezer for future use. I sliced a bunch for breakfasts later this week. That left the bone- which will go towards a split pea soup later this autumn.

Now I am waiting to pick up our 16 year old at school. She participated in a 48 hour Zoom Fest. It started Thursday at 5pm and ended today. The students had that time to create a short film. I hope to see the results at some point, but for now- I’m impressed by her commitment to a deadline and her ability to work with others on such a project.

So my day just went quickly and was filled with a lot of life. Maybe I didn’t lose my day after all.

Rather- I lived it.

Life Is On The Move

Sometimes life happens rather quickly. You can’t stop it- so you need to roll with it. The crazy feeling that you need to keep up with the world can be overwhelming.

You move so quickly that you get a big rush to go from one thing to another. The next big thing. Sometimes the feeling that you could miss out becomes overwhelming.

What if life throws an opportunity your way but you’re too busy being overwhelmed with the daily aspects to take advantage of it?

Sometimes you just need to stop.

Stop and reflect. Stop and enjoy. Stop rushing through every moment. Stop feeling regret for the choices you make.

If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Working From Home

My wife has been a stay-at-home parent since our first child was born. To generate some extra income, my wife began Her Own Business that she could do from home. It has been moderately successful and she has enjoyed it for the most part. Over the past few weeks, she has taken on a regular 40 hour work week for Shopify and she still gets to work from home.

My wife has been really good about it. She has figured out the right way to “check out” when she is done for the day. Even when she would get emails late at night for her business- it never bothered her enough that she would let it interfere with her home life. Working from home is definitely something that I feel she has successfully conquered.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be covering a coworker’s vacation. I will be working remotely from home for most of it. The hardest part is that I need to be available 24 hours/day for phone calls. Most of this time I will need to be able to access my laptop fairly quickly- unless I know the answer (or can fake my way through). Because this territory is new to me, I am unsure of how to balance time with my friends and family while continuing to monitor work.

I hope that I can create a stable environment for myself and that I can do this without regretting taking on a new challenge.

Only time will tell.

The Great Question

The answer to the Great Question… of Life,the Universe and Everything… is…

42.

Today I turn Forty Two. My life has been pretty darned good so far. This year I am planning on making the most of my 42. First is my bucket list trip to Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to travel there since my childhood for many different reasons.

Next will be to meet a couple of my childhood icons at the Calgary Expo at the end of April: Paul Reubens and Wil Wheaton. I dressed as Pee-Wee one Halloween and I loved it. I almost had the opportunity to meet Wil Wheaton, but I chickened out. Not this time! I even wrote about it two years ago: One Day.

I’m also blessed with extra vacation time off this year. I am going to try and make the most of my time by relaxing and traveling. There is so much beauty to see and experience in the world. I may even venture off on my own without the family. Just because.

Here I am, age 42. It’s an important year to me. Not 40 or 45 just because they end in a five or zero. No midlife crisis planned either. Just enjoying 42 years of the earth’s rotation. Especially the last 17 years. Life has been full of off-set plans, like being married on a Tuesday just because. Or naming our first born daughter Random from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series.

42 years of just trying to make my world a better place.

“Forty Two!”

“Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

I guess so.

The Dystopian Now

I have always loved Dystopian Future stories, shows, and movies. Books such as “1984and “A Handmaid’s Tale” were great reads and I wrote a bit about it here: Dystopian Life.

Movies like “The Matrix” , “Brazil” , “Blade Runner” and even “The Fifth Element” show a technological gritty society. Always gloomy and wet with momentary rays of sunshine that bring forth a quick smile on one of the characters. I’m currently in the process of watching “Altered Carbon” on Netflix. Darker than most dystopian shows, but still very riveting.

Here we are, on the cusp of the new millennium, and I feel we are already in a Dystopian world. I drive into Vancouver for work and home again- a dreary wet world stuck in traffic. My vehicle’s dashboard has a screen showing me the radio station I am listening to or I can switch to navigation or many other options. My cellphone connects through my car as well. I can use voice commands to send and read messages or actually talk to people. My car warns me if I’m too close to another car or if one is in my blind spot.

That’s just my drive home. At home, my phone controls the music and media I play in three different areas around the house. Music from anywhere in the world can pump through my home. Nearly every electronic device can be connected. My wife has a Fitbit and it watches her heart rate and counts her steps. It connects to her cellphone and connects with other people as well.

So yes, I think we live in a Dystopian world. The future is now. Rain and technology- that’s my daily life.

Back To The Weekly Grind

Tonight I am back to work.  My two weeks vacation flew by. It was crammed with some great memories and adventures, but duty calls.


Heading back to work is nice. I really enjoy my job and the people involved. It’s also a great way to fund the lifestyle we have come to enjoy. I was speaking with my brother-in-law the other night and he feels it would be a good opportunity for one or more of my children to get into it as well. I tend to agree.  However, I also know that they should get out and enjoy some freedom prior to getting right into a career out of high school.

Personally, I enjoyed life after Grade 12 ended. I didn’t want to make anything with my life, nor did I ever see a future in front of me. Every thing I did and everyone I spent time with was more important to me than making plans for my life. So I lived life. I fell in love. I realized it was all that mattered. Shortly after, things began to just fall into place.

Even today, I wonder how I got here. How did I get to be in charge of people’s lives? Or responsible for millions of dollars of products to be moved every day? I used to pump gas for elderly ladies in Oldsmobiles and get in trouble by my boss for not offering to wash their windows. I used to stock shelves and even mopped puke off of floors. I have no shame in my past. I worked odd jobs but they never defined who I was. 


Now a part of who I am is in my job. I have no qualms about saying that. I put more effort in making life good for my family and making life good for those around me than I ever did before. I have no idea what the future holds for me on the railroad. What I do know is that the days/nights I spend at work- I enjoy. The thought processes to meet deadlines, the challenges to maximize outflow. The craziness of all the other railroaders and hearing about the lives they are working towards. I enjoy those shifts because they fund the time I spend away from work as well. Which is equally as important.

Four days working with three days off? That’s the lifestyle I am loving now. I see my family more which sounds crazy because technically I’m spending more time at work. 

Life is on Repeat…

Funny how life hits you in the strangest of ways. So far this summer I have cancelled plans at the last minute for no better reason than, "Just Because". It kind of bothers me. A couple days ago it was going for a hike to Inch Creek. Last night was the Drive-In movie. A few weeks ago it was cancelling going to the swimming hole up the road.


So today I chose to make a splash… I mean- make it up to the family. We went to the swimming hole for an hour or so to cool down. We got back home and I was about to sit down and write about it, when I remembered that I had done that before. Cooling Off was written one year ago.

So it's odd that life is on repeat. Because two years prior we did the same thing. Every year we went once. As much as it was a nice treat, chances are we won't be going there again this summer.


Now it's time for another evening on the lake as the kids do dryland training for speed skating.

So far the summer is on repeat: Work, nap, lake, beers… not that I'm complaining. I need to get the kids to the Drive-In movies this summer before it's too late. I also need to get some camping and get a few hikes in.

Life could be a lot tougher. But life is pretty freaking swell, even if it is on repeat.