Burnaby Lake

“You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?”

Holden Caulfield in “The Catcher in the Rye.”

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On the dock…

We’ve been hanging out at Burnaby Lake a lot these days –  my young lad has aspirations to be on the Canadian Olympic team for the sprint canoe (he’s 12, but by-gosh, he’s got a goal…).  He paddles with his canoe & kayak club there and so, while he’s paddling like mad on the lake, we get to enjoy the scenery in this beautiful park (that is, when we’re not rushing to Costco for groceries, or flying to KMS Tools to pick up yet another tool for the shop, or driving to Ikea, well, just because it’s a trip to Ikea).

Burnaby Lake is a pretty amazing and beautiful lake. It was formed by glaciers a gazillion years ago and is now a refreshingly blue spot on a grey/ green map in the middle of the busy city.

We walked the whole 10-km loop around it once, and nearly died doing it (I think the girl in the red jogging shorts who ran by us, not once, but twice, thought we should have called someone in for back up).

(Did I mention the three other members of our little family are NOT athletic in the least and so we had blisters on top of our blisters, and we had also run out of water half way?)

(And yes, we’re THOSE unprepared people!)

What??? We thought they’d have golf carts ripping around the trails and that we could just flag one down. There aren’t.

We didn’t.

And we had blisters to show for it.


I’m sorry.

And ashamed.  It’s so un-Canadian of us.

And I hate to admit it too, we stand in the middle of Mountain Equipment Coop and look at the carabiners all lined up in a row, and the minus-100 sleeping bags hanging off the walls, and we dream of hiking in the razor-edged Cascade mountains or kayaking the boundless Pacific Ocean or mountain biking in the… oh, never mind.

I digress.

Back to Burnaby Lake and Holden Caulfield.


Piper Spit, Burnaby Lake

Holden’s question was,  fundamentally, “Where does a person go when his environment can no longer support him?”  and I wonder about the restlessness that happens in teenagers or tweens when there are too many rules and regulations, or when there are NO rules and regulations.  We live in a world that seems to rotate in a mad crazy whirl between helicopter parents and negligent parents – a bi-polar parenting model, if you will.   There are teenagers roaming around the neighborhoods at night, pushing over mailboxes, letting off firecrackers, or spray painting fences, or there are teenagers not roaming around at all, primarily because they’ve been hyper-scheduled and can’t make their own way out of a wet cardboard box – kids who are called, as Lenore Skenazy pointed out, “tea cup kids.”  Kids who fall apart, who crack and break.  Kids who are fragile because, in my opinion, they’ve not learned how to be strong, or not learned what strong looks like.   I’m actually not sure if one is worse than the other – to be rebellious or to be overly protected – and it seems to be difficult to achieve balance of any kind these days, no matter how hard we try.  And on that note, my son apparently got in trouble at school the other day for defending his friend.  “It’s not your jurisdiction,” the teacher said.  Now, I don’t know her side of the story, or even the accuracy of all the facts, but, we told him, “It IS your jurisdiction.  If that child is afraid to say something or afraid to stand up for himself, you need to be his voice.”  We’ve always said that. Because we believe our children are strong enough to say when something is wrong.  And it may be our undoing one day because we also happen to live in a world of guns and knives, but I have to hope that for now it will give him the courage to stand a little taller and walk a little prouder.

I guess, at the end of the day, the ducks go where they need to go when the winter closes in because instinct kicks in; likewise, our children will do what they need to do in order to get by.  That primal instinct niggles at them too.  One that isn’t to be ignored.  And whether we are there as parents to protect them and guide them, or we are not there,  they will still try to make their own way and stand on their own feet, however that happens for them.

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2 thoughts on “Burnaby Lake

  1. Reblogged this on anytime adam and commented:
    So many thoughts on this blog my sister wrote. First, she’s a wonderful write; second, she’s an excellent parent. I was happy to meet her husband and children this summer… the only cousins my children have in the same ages.
    I think as a parent, I go back and forth between being a helicopter parent and a negligent parent. Mostly, I think we are helicopter parents because of nature and instinct, but we live in a world where we don’t have 8 children anymore. A hundred years or more ago we would try to do all we can to protect all 8 and know them and show our love, but there would only be so much to go around for all 8 children. So they got a good medium does of hovering that was not too much. Nowadays, we have only two children each, so we ALL hour hovering goes around those two who are getting too much attention and time and protection. So, now we are in a state of evolution. We as parents are desperately try to evolve and adjust to the new situation, that is happening too fast for our instinct, which is 50 000 years old at least. We KNOW we are hovering too much, and so we back off… in my case I back off too much sometimes. One of my friends, she over disciplines her children and hovers in a different way. Her partner babies his children too much. There is no balance. And they seem to struggle as much as we do.

    And parents who neglect? Well, 100 years ago grand-parents and aunts and uncles would have been there to pick up the slack. How are those parents going to evolve? In Sweden, the state is trying to pick up the slack. One 18 year old I know told me he lived happily with his grandparents in Poland, until his mum suddenly showed up at 8 years old and dragged him off to live with her a year, after which she dumped him on her parents again. Then when he is 12 she shows up again, takes him to live with her and her new boyfriend in Sweden, where the boyfriend beats him and his mom calls him ‘fag’. The poor kid has nothing for parents. So the state tried to help, but his mum tells lies and the state believed the mum. So, the kid is now 18 and hates the state… who couldn’t and can’t do the job of a parent. But, as my sister’s blog says, the child’s own instinct kicked in, and he has had to raise himself. He is broken, and missing pieces of his life, and mature in ways he shouldn’t and not mature in ways he should be. But he WILL sort it out. And it that way, I can be a dad to him and help him.

    I think that is part of the key: we as a society need to help these kids. And as my sister is teaching her own son, “It IS your jurisdiction. If that child is afraid to say something or afraid to stand up for himself, you need to be his voice.” We need to help children and young adults who are not getting that help at home… either they are weak or too strong because of helicopter parents or negligent parents, but they need the greater community to be their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

    No man is an island… no child either.


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