The secret life of the school age kid

By Lynn Jatania

Once your kids hit school age, it’s an odd thing how they kind of disappear from your life for several hours each day. You might be lucky enough to have a Chatty Cathy, one who can’t wait to share every detail of her day, but those are few and far between. Occasionally you’ll hit on just the right question – “Did you do painting today?” and it’ll unleash a rare full-bodied response. But most likely, they get swallowed daily by this black hole where any number of mysterious things might be going on with an anonymous cast of characters, and all you know about it was that it was “fine” and “okay” and “Can I watch Slugterra now?”

The solution: the birthday party. Sure, birthday parties are fun and delicious and give you something to focus your Pinterest pinning on for a few weeks. But the real score is being able to secretly observe your children interacting freely with their peers. The little conversations, who sits next to whom at the snack table, who is the first to break out a poop joke – it’s like a microcosm of school life in a sugar-filled glass bubble.

First insight: you’ll get to finally hear the names of your kids’ friends – likely something along the lines of, “Taylor, Noah, Cameron S., Cameron G., Cameron B., and this kid that plays soccer with us at break with a red baseball hat – I think her name is Cameron.” Once you know the names of your child’s friends, you’ll probably imagine them gathering in their Sunday best, pretty gifts in hand, eager to explore your house in an enthusiastic but respectful manner. You’ll envision your child with happy, shiny faces all around her, cosy friends playing a cooperative game or sharing a snack or creating a group work of art. 

Warning: it may not be exactly as you had pictured.

When kids gather together, a kind of herd mentality takes over and suddenly the children are racing through your house (or, your wisely chosen offsite location) as if they are a swarm of bees working a single hive mind. The more excited any one kid gets, the more excited they all get. The more squealing any one kid does, the more they all squeal. The moment one starts to stick their paper carrot from Pin the Nose On Olaf on their own face, is the moment they’re all walking around asking for warm hugs and laughing maniacally. It’s more than enough to make you mentally note that your child’s teacher deserves a big end-of-year gift – no, BIGGER THAN THAT.

But if you are a careful observer, a kind-of parental anthropologist, you might notice a few subtle variations in the group, a few personality types emerging.

There’s Mr. Enthusiastic, who’s here! And happy! And who wants to see it all and do it all and have it all – right now! Try to clear a path for him by moving all breakable items, pets, and small children to high cupboards and closets. 

There’s the Mad Crafter – so much to create, so little time. Don’t even think about putting away her glue and scissors for snack time, or you run the risk of getting flying glitter in your eye. 

There’s the Jerry Maguire Kid, the one who becomes your shadow, chatting you up with tales of their little brother’s potty training accidents, fun facts about fascinating science discoveries from the past century, and the story of that time that their dad drove into the garage door and said a bad word. Why yes, I did know that the human head weighs eight pounds, and no, I have no idea what that word means.

There’s always one Loner Rebel, who just isn’t interested in anything you have planned. Leave him alone in a corner of the basement with a bin of LEGO, and when his parents come to pick him up, he’ll astonish you by calling it the best party ever. 

There’s the Sugar Rush Kid – can she have a third cupcake, and do you have any extra sprinkles to put on top? And watch out for The Winner, who thinks cooperative games are for BABIES, and who would like to see prize-winning opportunities on the scale of The Price Is Right, OR ELSE. 

And there, amid the chaos, is your own child – revealed by social situations to be someone you didn’t quite know. Will they be screeching with excitement, crying from stress, or hiding from the Disney Princess in the closet? Will they whisper in corners with their bestie, or flit from guest to guest? Do you spy a little Mr. Enthusiastic or Sugar Rush Kid in there? It’ll be a wonderful surprise, a peek at the secret life of the school-age kid – like a little birthday gift just for you.


You can read Lynn's past columns right here!

Planned Parenthood Ottawa responds to Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum

By Catherine Macnab

At Planned Parenthood Ottawa, we create safe spaces for young people to learn about their bodies, relationships, and themselves. We answer all sorts of important question, like: “Is my body normal?” and “Some of my classmates have been calling me names. What should I do?”

Planned Parenthood Ottawa has been teaching about sexual health and healthy relationships in Ottawa schools for decades. We are excited about Ontario’s new ‘sex ed’ curriculum and we want parents to know why it will make schools safer for children.

The Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum hadn’t been updated since 1998 – before the internet and cellphones. We need a curriculum that responds to challenges that youth face today, from curiosity-fuelled Google Image searches to the ubiquity of Facebook and Snapchat. 

Good sex education provides youth with consistent information about healthy relationships that builds their knowledge throughout their school years, just like in math. For example, when we teach children basic principles of being a good friend in grade one (e.g. don’t tickle someone who doesn’t want to be touched), we’re providing an age-appropriate foundation to teach about sexual consent when they’re older.

So what’s in the new sex ed curriculum that’s getting so much press? (*1)

Grade 1-3 students will learn about their bodies, healthy relationships (e.g., recognizing feelings and getting along) and yes, they’ll learn proper names of body parts. This is a good thing and we want you to use them too. Parents, teachers, health professionals and other caring adults are much more likely to understand a child’s description of sexual abuse when that child knows the proper term for their genitals.

In grade 3, children will learn about same-sex relationships. This means understanding that people can love people of the same sex and that some kids have two mommies or two daddies; it doesn’t provide children with a how-to manual for LGBTQ sexual intimacy. 

Grade 4-6 students will learn about puberty, including physical changes and processes, like how and why our bodies menstruate and produce sperm. They’ll learn more about healthy relationships, consent, emotional changes and stresses – with everyone in their lives, including peers and parents – not just early romantic interests. This age is an exciting time in human development when we begin to develop critical thinking skills. As a society, let’s nurture emotional intelligence!

Grade 7-8 students will learn to think critically about sexting, hopefully before they’re asked to participate. They will also learn about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They’ll understand that penis-in-vagina sex can lead to pregnancy and that oral and anal sex can lead to STIs. There’s a good reason for including this information in their curriculum: in Ottawa alone, two thirds of all reported gonorrhea infections in Ottawa are among youth aged 15-19 years. (*2)

Think about it: we give the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer in grade eight, not because all teens are sexually active then, but precisely because most aren’t. Let’s also give them information they need to make good choices before they become sexually active so we can bring down rising STI rates in our city.

Grade 9-10 students will learn about gender identity, sexual orientation and mental health. This means helping youth deal with emotions connected to relationships – anger, sadness, disappointment or jealousy, for example. Youth questioning their gender identity can experience higher levels of mental health distress, so let’s help before they feel desperate. Youth will also learn about factors that influence sexual decision-making such as peer pressure, curiosity, media and accurate information.

A recent study shows that 87% of parents support sex ed in schools. (*3) It’s a good system – schools teach facts, parents teach values. Planned Parenthood Ottawa helps to fill the gaps and provides information that parents can’t, from carefully designed group activities that explore what it means to be a friend, to precise information on the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in Ottawa

All parents want their own children to have the knowledge they need to be safe. That’s your responsibility, and we respect it. The responsibility of educators is to help make sure all the other kids in your child’s class learn to treat them with respect. This is why you should advocate for sex ed in schools.

Catherine Macnab is the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa. For help or for more information, please call Planned Parenthood Ottawa at 613-226-3234 or go to


(1) This curriculum content info can be found in the Ministry’s Parent’s Guide: Human Development and Sexual Health in the Health and Physical Education Curriculum

(2) 2010 is the last year STI data is available by age group. We know STIs have increased overall since then.

(3) 2013 poll conducted by the Ontario Physical Health and Education Association

Sponsored: People on Preston, week of March 23

We’re getting to know our neighbours! People on Preston‬ is a collection of street portraits and short interviews with merchants, residents and patrons who live, work and play on Preston Street. There will be six new stories each week. Click on an image below, or click here to see all of the People on Preston stories in one place.

Jen Broad

Jen Broad

“With Bridgehead it’s not dealing with money it’s dealing with people. It all filters down. If I feel valued and respected at work then my employees feel the same and the customers feel the same as well.” (Read more)

Amanda Acker

Amanda Acker

“I’ve practiced my entire career focusing on oral and systemic health. There’s the business side of the things and the healthcare side. For me being a dental hygienist is about providing primary health care to my clients. One of the major roles we have as dental hygienists is essentially removing infection from the body. It’s not merely about making your teeth whiter, it’s getting your mouth and your body healthy!” (Read more)

John Fritz

John Fritz

“For me, yoga’s always been that accessible exercise that keeps me grounded and focused. It’s also really helpful for dealing with stress. I had some issues with my heart and found that the breathing exercises in yoga correct my rhythm. Yogatown keeps me happy.” (Read more)


Joe Cotroneo

Joe Cotroneo

“I was born and raised down here; 271 Preston, where the Adult High School soccer field is right now. I lived down here until they expropriated in the ‘60s. After that I got into the electrical business. I was a contractor for 20 years. Then I just got tired of it. I’m of Italian background, my wife’s of Irish Background. I had this idea of an Italian pub. I went with it. Pub Italia had a nice ring to it. I trademarked the logo; the green, red and white shamrock. The shamrock’s now Italian in case you’re wondering.” (Read more)

Darrell Thomas

Darrell Thomas

 “One of my friends was going to her prom. She bought fabric and wanted to make the dress with her friends. I’d never even laid eyes on a sewing machine. My friends thought it was funny and they made me sew it. I made this strapless dress and she won best dress. (Read more)

Pinterest roundup: the DONE WITH WINTER edition

It's Monday! And that means we're sharing a few of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards. This week we're DONE with winter, although to be honest, we were pretty much done last week. And the week before. Here are some ideas that might bring spring a little faster! 

Are you following Capital Parent on Pinterest? Follow us for family crafts, great kid-friendly activities, recipes and more. You can read all of our past Pinterest round-ups right here.

Ottawa giveaway for Mike the Knight!

Mike the Knight in the Great Scavenger Hunt is coming to the Centrepointe Theatre and we have a family pack of four tickets for one lucky family to see the show!

The Glendragon Scavenger Hunt is on and the stakes are high; Mike is determined to discover the most knightly way to tackle this chivalrous quest. With a little help for the would-be-hero from his closest friends: Sparkie and Squirt, a pair of quirky dragons and his valiant friend Trollee, as well as his wizard-in-training sister Evie, Mike leads the charge through daunting challenges and unexpected encounters. 

Set in an enchanting world filled with medieval castles, plucky trolls and flying dragons, Mike the Knight in the Great Scavenger Hunt unfolds through a mix of adventure, comedy, music, song and dance, and of course a little bit of magic! 

Driven by his passion to help others and, along the way, be the best knight he can be, Mike the Knight embarks on an enchanting and interactive adventure of ultimate detection and discovery that’s perfect for the whole family. 

Sounds fun, doesn't it!

Please make sure you're free to attend the show before entering this give-away! It's taking place at Centrepointe Theatre on Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 1:00 p.m.  Just use the Rafflecopter contest app below to enter. It's easy to win! Remember, the more actions you take, the more chances you have of winning.

Please note, the winner will have to pick up their tickets at the Great River Media offices at 250 City Centre Ave. (Suite 500). Thank you, and good luck!

Ottawa blogs we love: Ottawa Road Trips

Laura Paquet's blog is an especially good reference during March Break and other family holidays. Use it to help plan your next family getaway. 

Laura Paquet's blog is an especially good reference during March Break and other family holidays. Use it to help plan your next family getaway. 

By Lynn Jatania 

Some blogs are a labour of love, and you can see the true affection for travel that lives behind the amazing library of adventures showcased over at Ottawa Road Trips ( Your dedicated host, Laura Paquet, is a freelance travel writer who is passionate about destinations near and (not too) far, and her zest for exploration will have you booking a getaway in no time.

Laura has a real knack for finding the out-of-the-way treasures – the places that are a little off the beaten path that you’d never find yourself. Did you know that there’s a Barbie Museum in Stittsville, and not one but two separate chocolate museums on the Outaouais side of the river? Have you heard of the Butter Tart Trail, a lovely driving excursion north of Toronto with plenty of treats along the way? Did you know that if you time it right, you can sail on a historic tall ship right out of Brockville harbour? We sure didn’t – and Laura’s infectious enthusiasm has us wanting to try them all.

There’s everything from local area day trips to weekend journeys to far-flung adventures, all with Laura’s personal experience and recommendations attached. We’ll be using her list of five day-trip beaches as a guide to our summer plans, and we’re absolutely enchanted with the idea of driving the A.Y. Jackson trail to see the actual locations that he painted. When the holidays roll around, her gift ideas for travel bugs – everything from ski passes, to campground reservations, to firing a vintage cannon at Fort Wellington – will be tops on our list.

With the honest voice of an enthusiastic and practical traveller, Laura leads you to the gems that you might otherwise overlook. Near or far, it won’t be long until we’re hitting the road ourselves.

Notable Quote

Did you know that Group of Seven painter A.Y. Jackson moved to Ottawa in his 70s and spent part of his later years capturing Ottawa Valley landscapes on canvas? Me neither, until I spent a very pleasant day exploring part of the A.Y. Jackson Trail west of Ottawa.

Kathy Haycock and John Almstedt, two artists from Lake Clear, launched the self-driving route in 2012. They had a lot of research material at hand, as Haycock’s father and one of Almstedt’s friends often painted with Jackson and kept notes on the places they stopped.

Almstedt and Haycock loved the local landscape of forested hills, rocky outcrops and small lakes, but they suspected visitors passing through rarely ventured off Highway 60 and other main roads. “Part of the idea of the [trail] is to encourage people to explore,” Haycock says.

The extensive trail — which meanders from Springtown (near Calabogie) to a spot on the Opeongo River on the east side of Algonquin Park — features 11 locations in the Ottawa, Bonnechere and Madawaska valleys that Jackson painted or sketched in the 1950s and 1960s. On the website, you can see Jackson’s images of several sites, juxtaposed with photos of those places today. Sometimes, the differences are surprising.

Read the rest of this post - and more - at Ottawa Road Trips ( Looking for other great blogs to read? Check out our growing list right here.

Sponsored: People on Preston, week of March 16

We're getting to know our neighbours! People on Preston‬ is a collection of street portraits and short interviews with merchants, residents and patrons who live, work and play on Preston Street. There will be six new stories each week. Click on the links below, or click here to see all of the People on Preston stories in one place.

Sylvie Lapointe 

Sylvie Lapointe 

“I finished school in March and I moved in here in October. I had very little [business] experience but lots of drive. It was a time when esthetics wasn’t very well known; 1987. People didn’t even know what facials were. They thought a facial was just makeup. So it took a long time to build a clientele. I cleaned houses for four years; that helped to pay one rent. After four years I was able to stand on my own two feet and didn’t need the second job.” (read more)


Antonella Ceglia

Antonella Ceglia

“La Roma Restaurant originally opened in 1962 on the corner of Somerset and Bronson Avenue. Our family took over in 1990 and brought La Roma ‘home’ to Preston Street. This year, our family will be celebrating 25 years in the business. Our mom Maria and our entire family have so much to celebrate and are truly grateful for all of the wonderful clients and friends we have made over the years.” (read more)


Anna Popadopoulos

Anna Popadopoulos

“Our recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.  My mother has always been baking and she had us involved in the process as children.  It might have been a way that she kept control of us [laughs].  Since we were immersed in baking from such a young age, my sister and I just love it and have always dabbled in the kitchen.” (read more)


Dr. Karen MacDonald, DDS

Dr. Karen MacDonald, DDS

“During my third year of pharmacy studies I started to think about what I really wanted to do. I wanted to be more hands on with patient care. I worked for a year, applied to dental school. Now I’m here. We are not a hard sell dentist office. We advise you of what we think is best for you in terms of care.”(read more)


Angie and Amanda Cambareri

Angie and Amanda Cambareri

“For us our late Uncle Vincent, who passed away at age 11 before we could have met him, represents the creative potential that we saw in ourselves that was inspired by him and his talents. We sell clothes and there are a lot of beautiful things here. At the end of the day, the whole essence of our store is to help each woman reach her full potential. That’s what we do every day. It’s their potential that we’re translating.” (read more)