A day in the life

Ever since I saw ‘the old guy‘ taking on the stairs just before New Year’s, or maybe even before that, I’d settled in my mind that this would be the year of family walks for the Johnsons. Regular family walks.

Over the course of the last two years, I’d given in to the vehemently opposed greek chorus and subjected them to walks as little as possible. But no more. It was time to get active, even if I had to wear earplugs to dull the cacophony that is three versions of ‘but we went on a walk [a month ago]’ accompanied by ‘this is the worst day of my life.’

To that end, I’m pleased to report we’ve already ventured out a handful of times in 2013 and [the older boys, anyway] seem to have grudgingly accepted that this is the way forward, perhaps because I made my intentions clear: ‘we will go for a walk every day that we can.’ Now, they try to negotiate the length of walk instead: ‘how about a ten minute walk?’


When the Gort got home from school today, I rallied the troops for a walk. I’d checked the weather report and things were heading into negative territory within hours. We drove to the Battalion Park stairs, a choice made based on its proximity to the Superstore which we also needed to visit, rather than its spectacular scenery.

The boys ‘volunteered’ for a twenty minute walk and we headed towards the stairs. I spotted a spry gentleman heading for the bottom. Even without my glasses I could tell it was ‘the old guy.’ ‘Look,’ I told the Gort, ‘it’s the same guy we saw last time.’ By the time we reached him, he’d done at least four ‘laps’. I couldn’t help but notice he was taking the stairs 3 at a time on the way up.


I thought about telling him how he’d inspired me, but ever since I basically insinuated to our 84 year old neighbor that we’d worried he’d died, when he’d [only] taken a week-long trip to Victoria to see his son, I’m careful with what I say to the older set.

‘Hello,’ I offered instead and allowed my cheery smile to communicate the extent of my admiration. As I’d just finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I couldn’t help but make a comparison between the stair-guy and Harold, even if he was older and wearing sensible shoes. Was he preparing to walk the West Coast Trail or was he merely ‘keeping fit’?

We tooled around the very windy, treeless expanse for many icy minutes and Percy said awesome things like ‘somebody smells like chicken poop’ right when an older gentleman passed us going the other way. And then he announced the dreaded: ‘I have to pee’. This is usually when I relish being a mom of boys, because I direct them to a tree. But there were none and it’s winter. So we headed to Staples.

We were those people who walked into a store and utilized their restroom without buying anything, and then we headed to the Superstore. The reason I take my children grocery shopping with me rather than, say, going at night by myself, is that I don’t want buying groceries to become ‘me’ time. It’s a chore and one I’d rather not do in my ‘free’ time. Which is why I endure, repeatedly, the tribulations that follow.

The Hen and Percy fighting about who gets to sit in the cart and practically clawing each other’s eyes out while sitting side by side in the bottom basket. Standing in the bulk bin area [filling a bag far-too-full with Lindt Snowman Truffles] whilst Percy walks around peering into bins; doing his best to pilfer candy from them. Denying requests for gummy candy and Leapin’ Lemurs.  Returning the bananas Percy ‘helpfully’ put in the cart when I wasn’t looking, and urging him to return the store price sign for the bags of Pistachios to its rightful place.

And then there’s the checkout, where a mother’s ability to multitask is put to the test. Deny all requests for candy. Unload the cart whilst trying, sort of to keep an eye on children so they don’t (a) get in a fight, (b) take things they shouldn’t, or (c) disturb the items on the conveyor belt. All whilst making sure the cashier doesn’t charge double the price for the Lindt Snowman Truffles.

I failed at (b) because, despite my explicit instruction, Percy decided to help himself to a Kinder egg sitting on a shelf, offered for sale. The Gort alerted me to this transgression and I had no recourse but to purchase the verboten egg. And then I failed at (a) because, as punishment to Percy, I allowed the Gort and the Hen to split the [paid for] nibbled upon chocolate egg, except there was a disagreement about who got the bigger piece and next thing I knew there were tears and possibly shoving at the end of the line.

All whilst a manager spent the better part of five minutes trying to fix the price on those stupid chocolate truffles.

It was a sign from above that I shouldn’t have bought them. That, along with the stomachache I had after eating five of them, okay, six seven. [But did I mention Percy opened his car door on the way home? While the car was moving at 40 km/h?]

4 thoughts on “A day in the life

  1. Laughing with you, not at you, I promise! Is it better or worse being a country where people understand what it is you are saying (muttering/screaming) to your kids?

  2. Now that sounds like an awesome family adventure!! I’m sorry, but “something smells like chicken poop?” I actually LOLled at that!! And then read it to my better half. My question is how does the wee man know what chicken poop smells like?

  3. Oh, and the old guy….. made me think of this morning. I was waiting in line for something and the shop keeper offered this little group of (very) elderly ladies some chairs to sit on….another even more elderly woman walked up. It impressed me how quickly the others bounced up to offer her their chair! (It was like none of them wanted to admit to being the one who needed the chair.) These tiny little Japanese women are just adorable – makes me want to bring one home with me!


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