Parenting is hard. I spend half my time wondering whether I'm messing up my kids. They sometimes ask me where I learned how to parent and it's a tough thing to tell the flesh of your flesh that basically you have no idea what you're doing and you're making it up as you go along excuse me for using you as my guinea pigs but I've got no other children to practice on. "You mean, you don't know?"

"Not a clue. I love you more than I can say and I wake up every day determined to do what's best for you but nobody ever explained to me how to be a good parent. Mine were terrible so when in doubt I do what they didn't."

"Wow."

"I know, right?"

(One day they'll be glad I was honest with them... I hope...)

Anyway.

One thing I'm pretty big on, speaking of doing the opposite of what I grew up with, is to raise children who won't be scared to go into the world, even if it's cold, dark, and full of weird noises. That's one big reason we got this crazy little cottage on our small little island. So they could grow up learning to cope. With the cold. With water. With boats. Eventually, with power tools. I want my girls not to freak out and panic when the hot water tank needs new elements. I want them to know how to do basic plumbing, some carpentry, cooking with whatever is in the cupboard (there isn't a decent store anywhere near; you don't want to eat the food from the local "market", unless by "food" you mean "bag of potato chips" because that's the only thing they sell that's "fresh"), and generally learning how to deal with Mother Nature and her various critters.

So far it's working pretty well. They all know how to drive the boats (not super well, but if something were to happen to their parents they could get themselves off the island and/or go get help), they have some idea how to use the fireplace, they understand the basics of survival and they're not afraid to be outside in the woods.

Or in the water, even when it's cold. Today we decided to try swimming even though it's absolutely bonkers to go in the water in April in Ontario, and everyone except the five-year-old went in. What's more, two of them insist on sleeping outside in the tent tonight - 100 feet away from the building, into the forest. They love being out there, and listening for the porcupine lumbering by. They don't care if it's cold (oh, don't worry, it's not going to be that cold tonight - I may be crazy but I'm not stupid), because they have wonderfully warm sleeping bags.

Parenting is hard, and half the time I have no idea what I'm doing. But when it comes to not raising wusses, I like to think I deserve a big old pat on the rugged back.