What I Learned about the Coffeehouse


My family did not engage in any particularly interesting conversations during our car rides this weekend to and from the country house. At times people said a few lively things, but overall, we just passed from topic to topic. I did toss out a few mentions of stories from a book I am reading, which is the direction I am going to go for today’s post. In a recent chapter of my book, which is a historical fiction about the city of London, England, I learned all about the significance of the coffeehouse.

With great confidence, I would say that the majority of the population in Canada (and probably England too) has visited a modern-day coffeehouse, like Starbucks, Second Cup or Tim Horton’s. It sometimes seems to me that there is at least one establishment every few blocks in the city where I live. The coffeehouse, whether it’s an independent business, a franchise or a chain, plays an important role in the community. It is most definitely a gathering place, where people meet to catch up, relax or work.

The coffeehouse sells a variety of consumables, but at its core it sells coffee. I have personally observed (though I have a feeling that I’m not alone) that over the past decade the number of such establishments has grown exponentially, and they play a significant role in our culture and society.

Is this a new phenomenon, something that can be remembered as a key moment in the 21st century?

Absolutely not.

My book covers a two-thousand-year history of London, and I recently read the chapter that focused on the second half of the 17th century. The face of London changed dramatically during this time, as it became a monarchy again, faced a massive plague and then a fire, which destroyed much of the city. These were all significant events during the late 17th century, and the book carefully documented all this, with its fictional characters.

And in the middle of this chapter, after the plague and fire, it mentions, in passing, the plethora of choices one of the main characters has about which coffeehouse to visit on a given day. He ends up at Lloyd’s, where he could sip coffee (“which was usually served black, though usually with sugar”) all day.

The author writes, “Of all the many conveniences of the new city since the fire, none had pleased Meredith more than the institution of the coffee house. There seemed to be a new one every month…” He goes on to say that these coffeehouses were open all day and served a variety of food and drink. They were meeting places, and certain establishments attracted a particular kind of person.

Lloyd’s for example, attracted merchants associated with shipping, and it was a well-known gathering spot for men to discuss their business.

I’m not going to go into the details of the direction that coffee houses like Lloyd’s eventually went (think about the insurance industry). I just find it fascinating that over 300 years ago London experienced a coffeehouse craze not unlike the one we have today. How many of you have met a potential employer at Starbucks? Did you sign a contract for a business transaction at your local Tim Hortons? Did you catch up with a former colleague over a latte at Second Cup?

We often say that history repeats itself, and in the case of the coffeehouse, that’s definitely the case.

Has the MeToo Movement Gone too Far?

I know the title of today’s blog post may get some of you angry. But this is how I feel. And before you yell and scream at me, men and women alike, allow me to explain why I ask this question today about MeToo and how I struggled to sleep last night as it’s all I could think about.

I will say it again that I have not been the victim of sexual harassment or abuse. Whatever the reason may be, I am a fortunate woman that I have had only positive interactions with men throughout my life. In fact, the majority of my mentors throughout my career and the people I have looked up to most in life have been men.

The MeToo movement was necessary. Women have been abused and harassed for too long, and it was about time that our society woke up and heard their voices. Whether it was dozens of young gymnasts assaulted by their coach or aspiring actresses who faced harassment from men in powerful positions, our world is a better place now that we are speaking publicly about inappropriate sexual behaviour.

But now I ask my question: has the MeToo movement gone too far?

Canadian society is based on a culture in Britain that evolved over hundreds of years. During the Dark Ages and Middle Ages there was no concept of justice, fairness and equality. For the most part, if an individual was accused of misconduct or a crime, he or she was considered guilty before proven innocent. During the European Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries life began to change.

Over a period of time, and it didn’t happen overnight, British, and its North American colonies that became the United States and Canada, society worked hard to change into one that focused on innocent until proven guilty. Just because someone is accused of misconduct or a crime does not necessarily mean that he or she committed it.

Now I know that this specifically refers to our judicial system. Everyone is given their day in court to defend themselves. However, this is quite different from the court of public opinion. Just being accused of a wrongdoing can ruin a person’s life. There are countless examples, even in the 20th and 21st centuries, of people being accused of the most heinous crimes, going to jail and being found innocent later or being found innocent from the outset. These innocent individuals’ lives are ruined. There is no going back.

With respect to sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse, the majority of women in our society have historically been scared to come forward. There was a stigma attached to a woman who accused a man of sexual misconduct. Never mind that it could rarely be proven “beyond reasonable doubt” in court, society often looked down on that woman, making her feel like she did something wrong.

I believe that changed in 2017, with the evolution of the MeToo movement. Women were not being stigmatized for speaking out, rather they were being hailed as heroes. Their communities supported them and assured them that they would do whatever was necessary to bring these men to justice. And that was what our society needed.

But has that gone too far? While I don’t doubt that many of these allegations are true, what about the ones that are not? But whether these allegations are real or not, the court of public opinion has deemed that the accused man is guilty every time. He is not being given the chance to defend himself. His life as he knew it is over. He may be guilty, no doubt, but what if he is innocent? What if a woman brings forward allegations against him that are fabricated?

This is exactly what has happened over the last 24 hours in the province of Ontario. I am referring to the allegations brought forward by two women against the now former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, Patrick Brown. Everything I know about this story I got from the media. He is accused of sexual misconduct going back about ten years ago, and whether these allegations are true or not, his career and life as he knew it are over.

Because of the court of public opinion, no one wants to be aligned with him at all anymore. His closest advisors abandoned him. His political party, one that he led in the province of Ontario, wants nothing to do with him. He is tainted goods now. Whether he conducted himself in an inappropriate manner or not is irrelevant. He has been accused, and that’s enough for his political life to be over.

I believe that is unacceptable. Our forefathers worked so hard to create a just and fair society, and I fear that we are now going backwards. I am urging caution and thoughtfulness. Sexual harassment and abuse are unacceptable, and women should feel confident in speaking up and speaking out. I know there is no easy balance and it may be a rough road moving forward. But if indeed we live in a just and fair society, I know we can find a way.

It’s not just about the Score


When you play a game or a sport the person with the higher score at the end of it all is the winner. Or at least most of the time, as I guess the goal in golf is to achieve the lowest score. A game, at its core, is about winning and losing. It’s about the competition and one person or team beating the other. But I think that’s too simplistic as I believe with sports, in particular, it’s not just about the score.

For the purpose of this blog post, I am going to focus on sports. I am a big fan of many kinds of sports, both the individual and team versions. I have participated in countless games over my 40 plus years, and anyone that knows me well knows that I am not the competitive type. From baseball and hockey to skating and skiing, they are all a big part of my life.

When it comes to team sports, I will admit I usually participate from the comfort of my couch, as I watch on TV. Whether it be Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association, as I watch the most elite athletes participate in the sport they love, I have to hope that they do this for more than just winning.

I don’t minimize the adrenaline rush that an athlete must feel when he raises the Stanley Cup above his head. His team scored more goals than the opponents did, and his team won. But getting to the championship game brings together so many factors.

Something I love about sports is the drive and determination needed to succeed. Whether the athlete is a 6-year-old child, a teenager, young adult or senior citizen, sports are about physical and mental strength and tremendous resolve. And I must note that success is not necessarily measured by coming out the winner, with the higher score.

Success can be about a team coming together and bonding as a group, maybe making new friends. Or it can be about learning a new skill or a start on the path to living a healthier life. Or even if at the end of the day your team had the lower score, maybe you as an individual, finished the day with a personal best.

Then there’s individual sports, in which I participate in more actively. Many individual sports, like skiing, swimming, skating or gymnastics, can be competitive if you follow that track, or it can also have no elements of judging and a score.

For example, my son, Matthew, loves to snowboard. He is a natural athlete and is seemingly comfortable with every sport he plays. Matthew picked up snowboarding a few years ago, and within a few weeks was flying down the hill. He went from beginner to advanced in a matter of just a couple of years. He joined the Development Team at our ski club this year. And he made this choice not because he hopes to be an Olympic athlete but because he wants to gain skills and spend time with friends.

Matthew is participating in a few snowboard competitions this winter, and I know that for him his score doesn’t matter. He wants to learn to ride faster, do a few tricks in the terrain park and enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a team.

Of course, sometimes it is just about the score. I want my Blue Jays to win a World Series again sometime, and I don’t doubt that the thousands of fans in Toronto who are part of “Leafs Nation” have had enough of the 50-year draught without a Stanley Cup.  You need to win more games than your competition to raise the Cup above your head. The quickest way to do that – score more goals, give up fewer goals and win as many games as you can.

How Automated will our Future be?


Another winter weekend and another Friday night drive up to our family country home for a weekend of skiing. We have such interesting conversations during the two-hour trip. I think I may have to make the conversations of our Friday night drive a weekly blog feature. The topics of conversation are just so interesting. One of the topics we covered during this week’s drive: how automated will our future be, and with that, what jobs will disappear?

It was a toss-up for me about which topic was most interesting during our car ride, an automated future or the history of small pox (David and Matthew like to discuss war, but they also enjoy talking about disease and death). In the end, our sometimes bizarre though, for the most part, fascinating conversation about an automated future, sticks with me most.

Over the past 250 years the world has seen tremendous change. The Industrial Revolution, which altered work from hand production to machines and industry, marks a major turning point in history, and our transition from manual to automated seems to accelerate by the day.

What fascinated my son throughout our conversation were the careers, jobs and industries that exist today, in 2018, that may disappear in the future because of automation. It was interesting to hear his perspective, at age ten, about how he sees the future and the career path he may take – based on jobs that may or may not exist.

For example, he questioned the need for doctors in the future. That may seem shocking to you, but his reasoning was logical, in part. I will admit that he used Star Wars as his prime example of a future with no doctors or no need for them. Matthew has a creative mind and his thoughts are often inspired by what he sees and experiences. But he is also very intelligent and insightful. He is also highly influenced by the technology that surrounds him every day.

So, here is what Matthew explained to me about why he questions the need for trained doctors in the future. It was, as I expected, all about technology. He feels that all medical questions can be researched and answered by the internet – yes, Dr. Google. He thinks that robotics is a technology of the future, where robots and droids can treat people and even do surgery. For him, it’s all about an automated future.

As we rely more heavily on technology, no doubt there are thousands of jobs that disappear every year. Grocery stores are investing in the “self-check-out.” Online retailers like Amazon are testing drones to deliver packages to customers. Factories need fewer employees to build, create and package product. It is all in the name of automation. Fewer jobs and lower cost to deliver a service.

But I also feel that with an automated future, where we lose jobs in factories, medicine or stores, we also gain jobs in other sectors. Technology, as it evolves, still needs the human touch to create, develop and maintain it. The career of the IT professional, web developer or digital marketer didn’t even exist a few decades ago.

2018 may not be when we experience a new Industrial Revolution but rather a Technology Revolution. With an automated future, we have to evolve the way we think and develop our careers. The way my children see their future is so different than how I saw mine. I don’t think a droid doctor will be doing surgery on my anytime soon, but my son thinks it’s coming. He discounts a medical career path as he has determined that technology will kill that career.

For me, as I sit at a crossroads mid-career, in my early forties, I know that I must embrace the Technology Revolution and ride the road it will take me on. This blog is my first step as I bring together the craft I love – writing – with an automated future full of technology – the blog, internet and social media. It’s exciting and a little scary, but I’m ready.

And as for my son, Matthew, and his future career? If you ask him, he will tell you that he wants to pursue some kind of business, and he wants to make a lot of money. He won’t expand and share any details on that dream to me, but I guess I can’t complain. He has an idea of what the future may be, and I’m excited to watch it unfold.

Let’s Talk about Blue Monday

blue monday

I joined a few work colleagues for lunch yesterday and, among a number of conversations, we discussed the weather. It’s been really cold in Toronto, with a lot of grey skies and falling snow. I told them I’m excited that the forecast for Friday is a temperature above freezing and sunshine. We all agreed that we can handle the frigid weather, but the lack of sunshine has been hard.  It’s January, deep into the Canadian winter, which makes me think about the concept of Blue Monday.

Is it real or is this simply a phenomenon created by our capitalist society to get us to spend big money on sun vacations in the winter? As I read yesterday, the concept of Blue Monday was actually created back in 2005 in the United Kingdom to do just that – sell travel vacations. Many corporations have since latched on to the term purely for promotional purposes.

But society as a whole, or least societies that experience a harsh winter, have embraced this too. From what I have read, the third Monday in January is the day every year that it all comes together – the misery of cold and dark, post-holiday bills to pay and for some, a reminder of New Year’s resolutions.

There is no clear evidence backing up Blue Monday, in particular one day of the year that makes us all feel just blah all day. But I believe that January, in particular mid to late January, can be a challenge emotionally for many of us.

While I am not affected by big spending in December as I don’t celebrate Christmas, and I am definitely not one for New Year’s resolutions, I am affected by dreary dark and cold weather. And as I think about it, while I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of the year, my behaviour and actions are definitely influenced by the start of a new year.

By mid to late January, if things are not going my way, and if every day I wake up in darkness and trudge outside in my heavy coat and clunky boots, no doubt I am affected and feel blue. Lately my anger can be ignited more easily and I am definitely not handling stressful situations as well as I may in July.

I will admit that not all of this can be blamed on Blue Monday, as life has thrown me a few curveballs recently. But I am sure the time of year plays a role. I want to put aside the promotional aspect of Blue Monday and encourage everyone to talk about any funk you may be in. Mental health should no longer be something we sweep under the rug and ignore. It’s real, and I think many Canadians, deep in the winter, as we spend more time inside, behind closed doors, have a hard time coping.

We may not be able to do away with Blue Monday, but I think we can all find some coping mechanisms. For me, I try to relax and find a few moments every day that are just for me. I am not good at that. It can be a 30-minute TV show, a few pages of my book, a few seconds of utter silence, or on the weekend, a day at the ski hill.

And we can talk and write about Blue Monday and accept that many of our friends and family may be suffering from the blues or blahs right now. We can be there for each other and find ways to enjoy the dark and cold days of winter. Before you know it, spring will be here, with longer days, warm sunshine and budding trees.

Trying to Find Ways to Relax


One of the reasons I created this blog, Kinetic Motions, is that my life is hectic and I needed a vehicle to make me slow down and think. I, like so many people I know, am very busy and carry many stresses around with me every day. Slowing down, relaxing and taking some time for myself is hard, and I will admit that I am not good at it. So today I am taking time to think and consider some better ways to relax.

I believe that relaxation is different for all of us. What one person finds relaxing may be another person’s idea of stress and misery. For example, some people choose extreme sports like jumping out of an airplane or rock climbing or swimming with sharks as a way to escape life and relax. For me any of those activities are a cause for only added stress and sheer terror. Then there are those that see relaxation as a week on a beach doing nothing or a day at the spa. These activities are not for me (no, I’m not a beach person and I have never stepped into a spa), but I see the appeal for others.

So how can I relax? How can I get away from the hustle and bustle of life, for a few minutes, hours or days?

After a busy day, if my house is kind of cleaned up and the kids are in bed (not necessarily asleep but in bed) I like to relax with a mindless TV show. House Hunters often does the trick, but a serial drama or comedy often gives me the escape I need. Or if I happen to find a good book to read, taking 30 minutes in my day (often when I am semi-conscious in bed) to read a few pages is most enjoyable.

Sometimes just a bit of silence helps me relax. Have you ever noticed just how loud life is? My house, my workplace, the streets of downtown Toronto, stores, noise is everywhere. Sometimes the quietest place for me is my car. My drive to or from work is when I can be by myself and alone with my thoughts. It may not qualify as silent (honking horns can ruin the moment), but it’s quieter than the rest of my day!

How about an evening out with friends? I don’t do this enough, and I want to give a shout-out to three of my oldest and dearest friends today – Elli, Dvora and Galit – who joined me last night for dinner so we could just catch up, relax and enjoy some sushi. A night out with the ladies – or for my male readers – with the guys – is so important and I highly recommend it. Leave the screaming kids, stressful job and messy house behind for a few hours and go out for the evening.

I wish I could say that exercise is relaxing for me, but I just can’t get into a routine. People tell me about spin class or yoga (I did do that for a while and need to try it again), running, jogging, a personal trainer and so much more. They tell me how it gets the adrenaline going and releases something within them that gives them strength and a sense of well-being. If someone wants to help me with that and lead me in the right direction, I’m all for it.

Skiing is one of the greatest ways I relax during the winter. As I have written previously, when I am at the top of the mountain, and I look out at Georgian Bay and crisp white snow, I can’t wait to fully disengage from the world for a few minutes and fly down the hill. What I just described may make another person shake with fear, and I respect that, but for me, skiing is a great release. I feel energized, healthy and confident. I am often freezing cold and can’t feel my hands and feet after a few runs, but it’s worth it.

And of course, there’s writing. My blog is giving me exactly what I needed. As I wrote many months ago in my “About Alicia” page, “Life is busy. I always seem to be in motion, trying to balance the many demands in my life. Here is the place that I can think, reflect, discuss, debate and just write.”

And of course, relax.

Is Everything in Life a Competition?


Every weekend, during the winter at least, my gang of five drives up to our family country home in the Blue Mountains. It’s about a two-hour drive, which gives us ample time to engage in a wide variety of conversations. Some topics are mundane while others are too crazy to write about. The most interesting conversations happen between my husband, David, and our son, Matthew. The topic in the car for some of the drive Friday night: is everything in life a competition?

While David and Matthew did not dive too deep into this topic (they do get easily side-tracked and somehow often move over to discussions about war), it did get me thinking that competition really is a central piece of every part of our lives.

Think about how life begins. Millions of microscopic sperm swim around, moving as fast they can, competing to find and fertilize an egg. The one sperm that wins the competition and fertilizes the egg creates a new life. The millions of other sperm just disintegrate into nothing. In some ways, we begin life by winning our biggest competition – to create that life.

Once a baby is born, while he or she may not know it, the competition continues. If the baby has siblings, there is a competition for attention from the parents. The competitive nature of a human baby is quite limited, but what about animals in nature? Early on in life so many animals have to compete with the others to simply survive – to eat and sleep in a safe place.

As babies grow into children they learn the art of formal competition – how to win in an individual or team sport or beat an opponent at a game of cards or a board game. A driven student competes against his or her friends to achieve the highest grade on a test. There may be fierce competition to be accepted into the right high school and eventually the university of choice.

The older we get, the more competitions we must face. It may begin with a friendly wager between two friends about who can get the higher grade or be the first to snag a date to the prom, but as we grow up it gets more serious.

Who receives a scholarship or is accepted to one of the few spots available in an elite graduate school program? Does the girl pick you or the better-looking guy in the corner? Who will be the first person in your group of friends to get married?

When we enter the job market, either as a teenager looking for a part-time job or fresh out of high school, college or university seeking a full-time position, the real competition begins. We want to show off our best skills and be noticed. We need to convince a person or group of people to think, yes, she is the best choice. I want to hire her. The pool of applicants for one job can be enormous, and sometimes hundreds of people can be in competition for one position.

Once we have secured that great job, the competition does not end. We must compete to be noticed and work hard every day to move up in the world. And just when we think we have it all, it can come crumbling down. We may be forced to begin the competition again to find the next job. I know that I must never let my guard down and the next competition may be around the corner.

I believe that few things in life are just handed to us. It’s not just about hard work – it’s about the ability to compete and to try to be successful. How often do you hear about someone who “battled cancer” or “fought off an injury?” We compete with each other and sometimes even life itself.

And just because we don’t win every competition does not mean we are not successful. I understand that at the very beginning only one sperm can be successful to win the competition. But a baby will always get tons of attention from close family. 90% may not be the highest grade on the test but it’s still a good mark. We may not get an acceptance letter from our first choice for university but hard will work will bring us many other offers for an opportunity at an institution of higher education. It may take a while to find the perfect job, but with some patience and persistence we will get on the right career path. Competition is a part of life. And that’s okay.

UNLESS: The Message of the Lorax


“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The Lorax.

Last night with my mother I went to a Mirvish play

The story was good but the music, um, no way.

‘Twas the story of the Lorax, who speaks for the trees

who protects our environment – the flowers, birds and bees.


From a Dr. Seuss book to a movie and now musical show

The story’s a classic and one you should know.

It focuses on industry, consumption and waste

Of capitalism and greed it gives a bad taste.


As our society goes on BIGGERING and BIGGERING until

We just keep on growing and growing at will.

Our desire for things that we definitely don’t need

Like a new smartphone or fancy car or maybe a Thneed?


The songs were quite terrible and the dancing I’d score as fair

And the script swayed from the book here and there.

The musical version of the Lorax wasn’t the best

But it did get me thinking of the time I should invest.


Success is not about money or celebrity or fame

Doing good and making the world better is the name of the game.

The direction I must take with my life is much clearer

To help change the world and with my blog I get nearer.


To finding the path I wish to go now

Thank you the Lorax, I will keep my vow.

How Many Steps does it take to get on the Ski Hill?

ski hill

Do you participate in winter sports? Skating? Hockey? Tobogganing? How about Bobsledding? Have you ever thought about all the steps you take from the moment you leave your house until you actually participate in your beloved winter sport? I thought about this this past weekend, as I enjoyed my time at the ski hill

I probably should not have gone down this path, like I did at the grocery store a few months ago (how many times do you move your milk before you actually drink it?). Honestly, it made me depressed. I could not believe how much preparation I do each time and how much stress I go through to participate in this winter sport.

Do I spend more time preparing myself for the ski hill than I do skiing? Very often the answer is, yes.

Now that I have you thinking about this too, let’s go through the process. Or I will take you through the process of getting me and my extended family to the ski hill on a winter weekend. Note that we are often up to sixteen people in our house. That alone often adds steps, complexity, craziness and even rage.

My typical ski day begins at 7:00 am, when my alarm goes off. I press snooze a couple of times and throw myself out of bed by about 7:15. To get a few minutes back of my day, I lay out our special ski clothes the night before. I grab my pile (my bed is usually filled with at least two sleeping children so I can’t get ready in my own bedroom) and head to the nearest empty bathroom.

By 7:30 I am dressed, my hair is kind of brushed and I am basically awake. My kids are still asleep. My sister, brother and their kids are usually awake at this point, and the collection of random children are loitering around the house. I head to the kitchen to prepare the ski hill lunch. Different people contribute to this process, and the kitchen is usually a scene of mayhem, as we attempt to also eat breakfast.

By 7:45 am I am back in my bedroom coaxing my children to wake up. I throw their clothes on their heads and  also throw some kind of bribe at them to get them moving. It works.

8:00 am and the house is awake and alive, with a mix of screaming adults, wild children and barking dogs. Some have eaten, the lunch coolers are packed and it’s time to put on the many layers necessary to stay warm for hours outside during a Canadian winter.

Which brings me to those layers. The first one is the stylish and tight-fitting long underwear. Next is the heavy sweater – it can be a fleece or wool-blend. On top of that I wear my packable down jacket, and my top layer is a heavy (but stylish of course) ski jacket. Try getting all those layers on a pile of rowdy children.

When the clock ticks to 8:15 am panic ensues as no one is ready. Children’s ski and snowboard boots must go on the feet, balaclavas on the heads and coats zipped closed. We toss the lunch cooler bags in the car, strap in the kids and we are off – hopefully by 8:30 am.

I have been awake for 90 minutes already and I’m just leaving the house.

It’s a 20-minute drive to the ski hill. We park and gently nudge the children along the snowy path from the parking lot to the locker to the meeting area for their group lessons. I wave good bye to my kids at 9:00 am. Now it’s time for me to get ready, or rather, to continue to get ready.

Back to the ski hill locker room. By 9:10 am it is, for the most part, child free and a little quieter and calmer. The adults wipe their brows and recover from the insanity of getting the children on the ski hill.

ski hill
Our loaded family ski locker

And now, for the ski boots. They are big, heavy and clunky. I walk like some mechanical robot when I wear them. But it’s the only way to protect my feet and ankles and to connect to the skis. Next comes my balaclava, helmet, goggles and two layers of gloves. I pull out my skis and poles and close the locker.

ski hill
How long does it take the adults to put on their boots?

It’s time to walk over to the actual ski hill.

ski hill
Starting the walk to the chairlift
ski hill
Skis are on and I’m ready to go

If I’m efficient, I can be on my way to participate in my beloved sport by 9:30 am – yes, 2 ½ hours after I wake up. We strap on our skis, line up at the chairlift, sit down and up we go. If it’s cold and windy like it was last weekend, I cover my face with my gloves and pull up my balaclava to protect every bit of bare skin. We “unload” (yes that’s what the sign actually says) off the chair and get ready to ski down the hill.

It can take me two or three hours, with many steps, to arrive at the top of the ski hill. Is it worth it?

Oh yes, it is.

I look out at the view in front of me – the glistening white snow and the frigid and almost frozen water of Georgian Bay – and I start to fly. All the stresses of the week and steps to get to the top of the ski hill disappear. I may only get in a few runs before I pick up my kids for lunch, but I’ll take it. Oh yes, it’s worth it.

My Toddler is a Menace


She’s everywhere. And I mean everywhere. If Nessa is awake, then she is on the move. I know that toddlers are active and curious little beings. I’ve had three of them. But wow, this toddler takes the cake.

Enjoying her mess.

Is it a third child thing to be a toddler menace? I am a middle child, so it’s easy for me to say this. My other two children were definitely active and curious toddlers. I remember when Matthew was an infant we bought all kinds of baby proofing equipment for the kitchen, bathrooms and electrical outlets. We set up a baby gate at the top of the stairs and were ready for anything.

We never used any of it.

He wasn’t interested. If I gave Matthew a couple of pots and a spoon in the kitchen, that kept him busy. If I put him in his bedroom to play, he sat with his toys and books and basically just stayed there.

Julia kicked it up a notch and was a more calculating, curious toddler. She was not a menace, but she quietly hid precious items in unfindable places and giggled in a sly way when she knew she did something wrong. She still does.

But Nessa is a menace to society. And she doesn’t even walk yet! My adorable and quite loveable third child travels around on her bum. I call it “bum walking.” It takes quite a bit of talent and strong abs to move around at the speed that she does. She was quite the lump of a baby for the longest time and wasn’t interested in moving at all. When she started to scoot around, slowly, on her bum, we were amused.

Nothing stays on her feet for long.
Interesting hat.
Taking her loot for a ride in the doll stroller

Over the following months, Nessa perfected the art of bum walking, and now that she has combined that with standing and climbing, she can move around quickly and grab anything she wants.

Nessa can open cabinet doors, drawers and even zippers. If it’s within her reach or close to it, she eyes it and goes after it. She has some favourites:

  • Kitchen pantry: removes a mix of spice jars and chocolate chips one by one and scatters them on the floor
  • Kitchen utensils drawer: deftly opens it and takes out tongs, serving spoons and whisks. She particularly likes to open the oven warming drawer as well and drop her treasure in.
  • The water cooler: she figured out that if she pushes on the blue or white buttons that water comes out. Fun!
  • Diaper bag: whether it’s open or not, if she can reach it, she opens it and empties it.
  • Bookshelf: Nessa loves her books and it’s adorable to watch her “read.” It’s not as much fun when she feels the need to read every book on her shelf out all at the same time.
  • Cables: in particular iPhone cables. Nessa likes to chew on them. Yes, I know, that’s a problem.
  • Anything that belongs to her brother and sister
Elastic bands block her way
If the doors are open, she dives in.
Creating one of her early masterpieces – after she dumped the crayons and a stack of paper on the floor.
That’s how Nessa likes to sit on her little chair

The list goes on and on. It’s hard to get angry with her because she is just so cute. Oh, and she often sings to herself as she scoots around the house, looking for the next place to cause trouble. Could you get angry with this face?

Maybe Nessa is just really intelligent, way beyond her years (or months, she is only a one-year-old). Could it be that her tremendous curiosity is a sign of her need to explore the world and soak it all up before she turns two?


Or is she just a menace? Cute and cuddly, but one little troublemaker.

I would love to hear stories about other toddler menaces. Were you one? Do you or did you have a child in this category? Am I right about the third child? Leave me a comment here, post your thoughts on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

The only time she stops moving.