Happy Father’s Day, Peter!

Photo credit: Marcelle Cerny, 2012

Happy father’s day, Peter! I think you know this already, but you have two boys who absolutely adore you.

I should tell you, though: one of them wants you to shave more often.

Here’s  what D (age 9) and S (age 7) had to say. Thanks again to Defining Motherhood for the idea. 

What is daddy made of?

D: Daddy is made of kindness, caring, and responsibility.

S: Hmm. Love, and water.

What kind of little boy was daddy?

D: A fun, cheerful boy. 

S: A nice little boy.

What did Daddy need to know about mommy before he married her?

D: That you’re really kind.

S: How beautiful you were.

[Ed note: Whose idea was it to include this question? It’s brilliant!]

Why did daddy marry mommy?

 D: He loved you a lot, and he knew that you were a big part of his life.

S: Because you looked beautiful.

Who’s the boss at our house?

D: I think being the boss is equally shared between mommy and daddy.

S: Both of you.

What’s the difference between moms and dads?

D: Well, they’re opposite genders….and one gave birth to me, while the other helped.

S: Moms can give birth to babies, and Dads can’t.

What does daddy do in his spare time?

 D: He reads. A lot!

S: He plays with me! And he loves me.

What would it take to make daddy perfect?

D: Nothing. Daddy’s already perfect.

S: A hug and a kiss from me!

If you could change one thing about daddy, what would it be?

D: Maybe I could make it so that Daddy could bend time, so that we could spend more time together.

S: His beard!

M (confused): Why? Daddy doesn’t have a beard.

S: Yes he does. And it’s hairy!

If daddy was a superhero/movie character/book character, which one would he be?

D: Mr. Fantastic. He’s already stretching every day.

S: Captain America! ‘Cause he’s got the same beard as him.

Me (confused again): But, Captain America doesn’t have a beard either.

S: Oh yes he does. It’s EXACTLY the same as Daddy’s.

What should we celebrate about your Dad on father’s day?

D: His kindness and his love for his family.

S: How good he is of a Dad. How well he gives hugs and kisses!

What’s your favourite thing about your Dad?
D: Everything!

S: That he plays football and baseball with me!


And then my heart grew

I have a vivid memory of sitting cross-legged on the playroom floor, amidst colourful Duplo blocks and balls of various sizes with ABC playing softly in the background.  My very pregnant belly rests on my thighs and contracts every few hours while my first born, just over a year old, quietly plays beside me.  When he crawls over my legs and slobbers on my cheek, I cry.

The birth of my second child was imminent and while I was longing for the moment we’d meet, I was terrified that I could never love him as much as I love my first.  But the second he was placed in my arms, my heart swelled to new proportions and tears of joy rained on his face.

Pema Chodron reminded me of my uncertainty when I came across a quote.  What beautiful sentiments to include in a card to a mom-to-be.

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless.

What about you?  Did you have similar fears before your children were born?

Our Story of St. George and the Dragon

Daniel and Sebastian,

I used to take you for walks in our old neighbourhood. On Bond St. near Gould is St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church.

image credit: wikipedia

On the front is a mosaic depicting St. George slaying the dragon. When you were perhaps 2 and 4, you asked about the story of St. George. So I adapted it and told it to you many, many times at night while you were going to sleep. Here it is:

Once upon a time, there was a village. And the village didn’t have a well in it, so every day the villagers had to walk to the well outside the village to fill their pots and buckets with water for cooking and cleaning.

One day, a dragon decided to move into a cave beside the well. Of course, the villagers were terrified. They had to sneak to the well to get their water when the dragon was asleep so that the dragon wouldn’t eat them.

After a few days, a man riding a white horse carrying a long spear came into the village. His name was George. Seeing the spear, the villagers wondered if George could get rid of the dragon for them.

“Please, sir, can you help us get rid of the dragon that’s moved in beside our well? We’re afraid to get water because we’re worried the dragon is going to eat us!”

“Of course I’ll help you!” said George. “Can someone show me where the well and dragon are?

Only one person was brave enough to take George to the well. When they got there, there was no sign of the dragon. The person went back to the village, and George sat down beside his horse to await the dragon’s return.

After a short while, who should return, but the dragon!

George said to the dragon, “Dragon, you are terrifying the villagers. They have nowhere else to get water. Would you please move somewhere else?”

The dragon laughed and said, “I like it here. And you are going to be my lunch!”

George replied, “Now dragon, if you try to eat me I will poke you with my spear!”

The dragon wasn’t worried about a man with a spear. It walked toward George, and George took his spear and poked the dragon. Poke!

This made the dragon very mad. “Ouch! That hurt! What did you do that for?”

“I told you that if you tried to eat me, I would poke you. And I did! Now please move someplace else.”

Of course the dragon was quite angry now. “I will not move away. And I will eat you!”

George replied, “Remember, dragon, if you try to eat me I’ll poke you with my spear!”

The dragon rushed at George, but George was very quick with his spear and he poked the dragon twice. Poke-poke! This made the dragon furious!

“Ouch, ouch!! That hurt!” The dragon started to rush back at George. “Little person, I am not going to eat you now. No, I will jump on you and crush you!”

And George replied, “Please, dragon, go somewhere else and leave the villagers alone. And if you do try to crush me I’ll have to poke you with my spear again!”

Of course the dragon tried to crush George, but he was too quick. He took his spear and poked the dragon again and again. Poke-poke-poke-poke, poke-poke-poke-poke, poke!

“Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch!!!” cried the dragon. And it ran far away and was never seen or heard from again.

George went back to the village and told the villagers that the dragon had fled and that the well was safe again. They thanked him with a feast. The next day, George got on his white horse, took his spear, and continued on his journey.

The end.

Of course, you both wanted more “St. George stories”, so I made up “St. George and the Bugbear”, “St. George and the Griffin”, “St. George and the Elephant” and “St. George and the Crocodile”. I should write those down,too. Perhaps one day you will share them with your own children!

Peter Leventis is the father of Daniel, 8 and Sebastian, 6 and husband of Marcelle.   She’s eternally grateful to him for missing a good chunk of game seven of the Stanley Cup Final to finish this post, and is very aware that she owes him one.

No real dragons were harmed in the writing of this post.  

Budding Gourmet in the House?

This is how I know I’m a lucky Mom:

This is my six-year old, Sebastian. He made dinner for me last Saturday night. Peter and Daniel were out of town this weekend, so Sebastian decided that he’d look after making a meal for the both of us.  From scratch  and  by himself, more or less.  I looked after getting the baking sheet in and out of the oven. I cut the chicken, too. But he supervised, “to make sure I didn’t  cut myself.”

His menu: crunchy homemade chicken fingers, asparagus, and potatoes.

He set the table, and wouldn’t let me into the dining room until it was ready.

Hot chocolate for him. Milk for me, on his insistence.  Because it’s good for me.

I think I should let him cook more often.

On this night…


six years ago, I lay in a narrow bed in a room with three other pregnant women. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and being induced. My son had been diagnosed as intra-uterine growth restricted in my 22nd week. I’d been on bedrest for four weeks for signs of pre-term labour and to conserve my energy. As we understood, the placenta, that vital organ connecting him to me, was no longer working as it should. It was old before its time. Blood was no longer flowing freely between it and him, and it was time for him to arrive. To complicate matters, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care ward has been closed to new patients because of a Norwalk virus outbreak. If he is born too small, or if he requires intensive care, we have no idea where he will be sent. Out of town, certainly; out of country, quite possibly.

We try not to think about that, he and I. His father and I send him entreaties of love and plumpness. Mere ounces matter, now.

He was so quiet, curled inside me. So much quieter than his brother, the nocturnal acrobat. I gave my belly an occasional nudge. Occasionally, I got a nudge back: gentle, noncommittal. From the bed across from me, a colossal snore. From beside me, the hushed voices of a woman on the phone. I remember her, remember that her water had broken around her 26th week. Somehow, impossibly, she kept leaking fluid, but stayed pregnant, 27, 28, 29 weeks and onward.

The night trickles by. In a room with three other women, someone is always there — nurses checking blood pressure, fetal tones. One woman wears flip-flops; her cadence is distinctive: flipFLIPflop…flipFLIPflop. She is pregnant with twins and too weary to lift her feet so late at night. Be quiet, all of you. I want to scold. I have important work to do tomorrow. But arguing seems to require all the energy I’m trying to horde. I stay silent.

Morning arrives with the news we’ve dreaded. The NICU is still not open. My contractions are ramping up. He’ll be arriving today. My husband and I walk endless loops of the halls, down one side, out the other, until I proclaim that there is nothing I need more than to just lie down. Now. I ask for drugs; the uncertainty of the situation takes away my confidence. But the one bolus gives me all I need, and I settle into the rhythm of the contractions, feeling him slide down, descend. I hear the doctor ask me to reach down and touch my baby, find his head, but I’m concentrating on moving him out of me and my hands miss the mark, to much laughter. It is only then I realize that I’ve been joined by a cast of thousands: doctors, neonatologists, nurses. I welcome them to the party.

And then..another push, and he is born. He is yelling already. The doctor lays him on my chest momentarily, and I commit him to memory. He has his great-grandfather’s feet and my hands. And then, to be assessed and weighed. Possibly to be whisked away, but he is weighed again: someone had read the scale incorrectly. Someone has converted grams to ounces incorrectly, and my boy gains in stature at the stroke of a pen. Ounces matter.

Happy birthday, Sebastian, our little big guy.