from before sunrise to just after sunset

Reecia, this one’s for you. You told me I didn’t need a special occasion or a particular message to write a blog post; that you’d be interested in reading about our everyday outings and mundane goings-on. So here it is: everything we did today.

It was a long day to choose for scrutiny. The kids got up just after six – early for them – and K is out at an evening work event so it’s been a bit of a childcare marathon for me.

From 6:00 to 7:30 I remained in denial about the start of the day. The kids had joined us in bed and were playing their usual morning games of trying to get me to read books, kicking each other, turning the bedside lamp off and on and off and on, stepping on my hair, kicking each other, dropping toys behind the headboard and whining for their retrieval. Very restful.

I dragged myself downstairs to make tea while the kids warmed up the couch for us:

Fed and watered, we waved goodbye to Thaththa (more on transliterating Sinhala words another time) and headed out to accomplish today’s goals: apply for new passports for the kids and pick up my new orthotics that I’ve left languishing in a sports medicine office downtown. Tasks that sound simple – getting to King and York to pick something up – actually require a week or more of deliberation, planning, and personal pep-talking.

Stuff some snacks into the diaper bag, buckle Malli into the stroller, convince Akka not to bring Tikiri (her doll) in the baby stroller but to carry her instead, and off we go to the subway. On the way, Akka and I discuss the upcoming photo shoot. These are passport photos, so you can’t smile. No “cheese!” No “cheese and crackers!” You have to try to look at the camera and not smile. And after one false start where neither child wanted to sit on the stool, they both did beautifully:

I’m glad I scanned these because I find them strangely cute, in a mugshot kind of way, and a they represent a considerable step up from their original passport photos:

The odd thing is, Akka’s passport (photo on the left) is still valid for another month. What immigration officer could identify my current girl from that photo? I remember being disappointed with her first passport when we got it. She was three months old and gorgeous but the photo looked awful. I’m holding her head up with a white towel draped over my hand. I wasn’t disappointed with Malli’s first passport photo. He was only ten days old and still scrunched up and it took countless tries to get a photo with his eyes open and mouth closed. That’s pretty much what he looked like that day.

Moving on. We buy some pumpkin scones while waiting for the photos, then stack both kids into the single stroller and hike over to the university to get K to sign the photos as the guarantor. Something I learned today: a parent can be guarantor for a child’s passport application. It was exactly the wrong time to drop in on his class – he was presenting to some people who get to decide whether or not the department gets its degree-granting credentials or something equally crucial. But poking one’s head in with two small children in tow – the professor’s children no less – tends to soften the glares. Photos signed, quick hello to cousin Edward, and we’re back on the tube.

The passport office: hell, always. The wait wasn’t even very long. There are several other small kids and they run around happily dismantling those seatbelt-straps-on-posts that direct the long queues. Malli is getting cranky and hungry by the time our number is called. I go up and the chipper woman tells me I’ll have to come back and bring the children’s “long form” birth certificates. Which the application instructions say are “strongly recommended” but not “required”. By this time I’m hungry too and Malli has just spit a mouthful of chewed apple into his shirt despite the prominent No Food or Drink sign and Akka is refusing to even join me at the counter because she’s busy “writing our names” on one of the seats so I just don’t have it in me to fight with this woman. I accept the slip of paper that will supposedly allow me to jump the queue when I come back with the right forms. I back away slowly.

Stop for lunch. The kids behave shockingly well in the sandwich shop that caters to hungry bankers, lawyers and executives in the middle of the financial district. As we leave the restaurant, I recognize a fellow survivor of the passport office walking by with her two children. Her application was rejected for imprecise photos. She’s in search of a photo store with an infant in a carrier and toddler in the stroller. We share impolite words for the system. Then my team is off to the sports-med office where they’ve made me two pairs of orthotics when I’m only supposed to get one. This requires several long phone calls to sort out. Akka plays teacher and reads to me and Malli from one of the magazines. Malli plays with the phone and pages the whole office (so I’m told when someone comes out to the waiting room to answer the page). Eventually my insoles are all sorted out and we’re on our way.

Into the PATH system (Toronto’s underground maze that connects the downtown buildings with various subway stations). Malli is asleep now and Akka is dancing her way down the halls, very nearly knocking into people, and stopping to talk to herself in every reflective surface we pass. On the subway she lies on my lap and I tell her she can’t fall asleep because she has to walk home and that if she does I’ll tickle her awake causing her to pretend to sleep and get tickled awake about sixteen times. Other people love that stuff, though. In the PATH hallways and in the subway people smile at me even after they’ve almost tripped over my dawdling kid. One of them helps me lug the stroller up the stairs next to the broken escalator.

Back at home, I try to get Akka to sleep but give up at the first sign of resistence. I know I’m on my own tonight and if she doesn’t nap she’ll be out for the night before eight o’clock.

Malli is up, and it’s time for a snack. We finish up some soup that our neighbour brought over the other day and then take a trip across the back alley to return her pot. Then some swinging and simultaneous game of catch:

I’ll let the photos explain the rest of the day. The kids get clingy in the late afternoon so I pry them off my legs with some popsicles while I make dinner. Malli didn’t quite finish his popsicle before tucking in:

Bath time started out with fun shampoo horns but quickly deteriorated into a crying mess of soapy eyes.

A sit-down with our new library books mended things (remember Corduroy?).

Skipping Akka’s nap did the trick and they were both out in no time. I poured a glass of wine. The house is still a disaster but I’ll think I’ll pour another.


6 responses to “from before sunrise to just after sunset

  1. I love it! Can you write every day? Because reading about the urban adventures of your team makes me very happy. Makes me want to move to Toronto and join up! Kill time in offices, make masks out of cereal boxes, pick things out of garbages. You know: do my part.

  2. fabulous passport pics!! send me the big versions for my frig 🙂

  3. those are some cute kids.

  4. I love your banner pic! I’m so impressed with your blogging skillz.

  5. in the first photo of the swings where Akka is standing and swinging she has a real young LB expression – for a second i thought it could have been a less recent photo of her mom…

    i’m up to speed – just read all entries in the order written (tara had read me the bagel one before but this time i sat down with all of it). great stuff, as always. keen to follow along.

  6. Love the way you alternate between text and photos to tell stories … it’s amazingly seamless.

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