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    If I could do it all over again

O Canada are homanatay lad! – Our great country’s national anthem according to a three year old; not a version translated in a foreign language – although it may as well be.

How do you explain what the meaning of Canada is to a three year old? Does he know what a country is? Does he even care what our Gross National Product is? Surprisingly, my three year old completely understood and better yet, he explained to me why NDP leader Jack Layton would not shave his trademark moustache. It had something to do with marketing and how facial hair relates to the everyday man. Currently I’m enrolling my prodigy son in med school. The sooner the better, because having five kids doesn’t help with keeping the savings account full.

How nice would it be if our children were all in university by the time they were five? Imagine; all the years of waiting at the bus stop, bag lunches, fundraisers with the chocolate almonds, and the annoyances of dealing with teenagers would be a thing of the past. Oh, what a life it would be. A self sufficient 10-year old who could bring in a decent pay cheque.

I thought I was onto something until my wife Lizabeth told me that there is a name for that and is considered illegal in most counties – child labour.

One can only dream – although the thought of paying a fine and jail time is enough deterrent to keep me from putting my kids to work.

Which brings me to why I wrote this article. We Canadians, get up every morning (or afternoon for those teenagers who will soon be on summer vacation) and do not take into consideration how lucky we are to be able to own our home, put food on the table three or more times a day. and how we can all walk freely in the streets. I never have to wonder about roadside bombs or being forced at an earlier age to fight in a war.

I salute all the past, present and future Canadians in the Armed Forces who sacrifice so much everyday so that we can enjoy our freedom. I would suggest that we all sit and take a moment and relish the fact that we live a society where we can go to free public school, choose where we want to live, go to the hospital if we are sick, and have the opportunity to live a long fruitful life.

As I explained this to my three year old, he looked at me with bewilderment ­– or it could be because he has no idea what I’m talking about. M y dream of him being a physician at 10 years old was just that, a dream. I guess I shouldn’t hope that they would grow so fast, as I am sure once the last of my five boys move out, I will surely miss them.

After getting my little guy a bowl of ice cream I can’t help but wish I was a kid again because I would definitely do things a little differently. Here’s a six-pack of things I would do if I had the chance to relive my childhood:

1. Put my Wayne Gretzky card away for safekeeping. Instead of what I did the first time, which involved using glue, Popsicle sticks and those really cool smelling black permanent markers. (Warning: sniffing markers is not recommended. I am a good example of what happens when you do. Also: eating glue and occasionally partaking in the favourite childhood game of hide ‘n’ seek in parking lots is also not recommended).

 Dale Burgos in Grade 10
2. Not let my mom dress me because a denim one-piece suit with a Texaco patch may have seemed cool at the time, but not so much every time I look at that picture.

3. Shave a day before my Grade 10 school picture because the facial hair I was sporting could not remotely be considered a moustache. It looked as if I drank chocolate milk and let it dry on my upper lip. Add to that the fake eyeglasses and polkadot dress shirt. It was not a school pic I am proud of.

4. Eat anything and everything I want. I would not have to count calories or consider high cholesterol.

5. This time, I will not suggest that my little brother pet that cute furry critter on the other side of the fence.

6. Invest heavily in a relatively unknown Internet start-up company called Google. Along that same line, make friends with the nerdy kid named William Gates and hope he gives me high paying job at his future business, a small company called Microsoft.

Come to think of it, I had a pretty good childhood. These seem pretty boring – except for investing in Google, that I would do for sure.

Dale manages the Communications Department for a Winnipeg school division and wants to wish all the kids a fun and safe summer vacation and please, don’t play hide ‘n’ seek in parking lots.

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