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It’s a funny thing about family and kids. I can’t get enough of mine.

When the kids are born, as any parent will tell you, all they are is work for the first few months. They don’t do much other than scream, sleep, execute normal bodily functions and create gobs of laundry and lineups of people who “want to see the baby.”

But in short order, the actually start developing personalities, then they learn to sit up, crawl, signal when they are hungry, smile . . . and from that point on, it’s 24-7 fun. No, really.

There were multiple stages of watching our two boys growing up that I said to myself, geez, I wish I could freeze this moment in time forever because this has got to be the best. And that might have been dragging one of them around the rec room in a cardboard box while he giggled crazily, or skiing, or tobogganing, or snuggling on a sofa watching The Lion King for the 4215th time on a cold snowy day.

Or it might have been a moment of victory or loss in a rink or on a field. Or it might have been a band concert or school grad or an assembly. Or it might have been Christmas morning or Halloween night or watching one of them with a group of friends, happy and confident and articulate and smart.

My point is, I have learned that every great stage in parenting was followed by one that was just as great, or even better.

It is ritual in our home that on birthdays we come together as a tribe and eat broiled red meat – usually at The Keg – and tell stories and talk and laugh. And last night, on the 19th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher David Arnold, we did so again. Of course, Pad wasn’t there because he’s out east at school, but Chris’s girlfriend was there as was Pad’s and Laura smiled and joked held the centre of the gathering as she always does.

I had a bad man-cold bearing down on me but I enjoyed the evening nonetheless and while I didn’t talk much (a blessing to others) I listened and watched plenty.

Pad and Chris exchanged insults across 2,000 kilometres via Snapchat. We explored the wonder of my new iphone 6s with the cool moving snapshots – which put everyone in mind of Harry Potter, which made sense since those books and films are integral to Chris’s world view.

I bought my son his first “legal” beer, we ate a lot of Billy Miner pie, and I paused and thought, wow. This is maybe the best stage of parenting.

Of course, it isn’t. Except when it is. But it was just such a nice evening and it came with a confidence of knowing simply that a kid who was born almost two decades ago, on the very day that Tiger Woods won his first tournament as a professional, was doing just fine.

He can talk to you about provincial funding of education, Syrian refugees, the Leafs and Blue Jays, and he can do a one-take long-shot walking monologue that Rick Mercer would envy. He keeps the company of and dotes upon a beautiful young woman who is smarter than him and treats him well.

And 19 years ago it never occurred to me that a better  stage was going to be a louder, more crowded table that included people who are really newcomers to our lives but have added immensely to our sons’ lives, and ours.

There is no best stage. Every step is a wonder to me, I realize that now. I’m lucky to be able to share a table with them and laugh in the moment. Family is everything.

– – –

Three years ago I took the hockey trainer refresher course and remarked idly at the time that it was no doubt the last time I would be required to have any need for such certification.

I have completed the refresher again, and with it comes a fresh, new three-year term.

Last time I’ll need it, I’m sure.

– – –

I didn’t work out today. I knew last night when I went to bed that I would be a doubtful starter and when my alarm went at 525, I ignored it and tried to sleep another hour.

However bad I am at working out, I still hate missing a day. Right now it feels like it will be two days. We will see.

I did manage to get to work. It’s just a cold. But it’s mine, so that makes it the worst cold in the history of colds, ever. Hopefully the new leaner, fitter me will be able to brush this off in short order.

Or, I may be so sick that I’ll need to stay home tomorrow and watch the Jays’ game. It could go either way.

Pass the tissues.