Dr. Peter Marshall
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Dr. Marshall has written for scientific journals, magazines such as Canadian Living and Parent-to-Parent, and newspapers. A list of journal papers is contained in his Curriculum Vitae.
If you would like to read one of his recent articles, please select from the left:

 

 



Spoiled Rotten?

Eavesdropping

A World of Their Own

Cooking for Kids

Work - Does It Build Character?


The Barbeque

 

  The Barbeque

  My father was a klutz - card-carrying, I suspect. Not that he was stupid; far from it. He had "Doctor" in front of his name and the certificates on his office wall were written in Latin. But his ability to fix things in his professional life did not carry over into the home.

  I still wonder why he just didn't quit before he was too far behind. Perhaps it was because he had the belief that men were supposed to know how to fix things--that the presence of testosterone guaranteed the ability to use a hammer, repair a leaking faucet, and have instant rapport with a mis-firing car engine.

  My mother perpetuated this cruellest of myths. Dad's natural instinct was to open the Yellow Pages. "Plumbers have families to feed and mortgages to pay, just like the rest of us," he would remark, in a vain attempt to pass off his cry for help as an act of self-sacrificing socialism. "Everybody else we know does it themselves," she would counter. No argument ensued. My mother had stooped to the use of truth to beat him into submission. Uncle Bruce had thrown interlocking tiles together to create a driveway that was nothing short of a masterpiece. Our close family friend, Mr. Porter--who must have oozed testosterone--had an out-of-body experience every time he heard the sound of a power saw or electric drill. And Mrs. Gabel across the street, who had no testosterone whatsoever, not only assembled a swing set, but also polished off a three-burner, every-gadget-imaginable barbecue in an afternoon.

  It was the barbecue that irked my father the most. His own experience must have scarred him more deeply than we ever realized. I remember the spectacle fondly as it exposed me to a new and exciting vocabulary that proved invaluable on the school yard. He was sitting in the middle of the kitchen surrounded by parts of every size and description. His first challenge was to find the instructions written in English, although I doubt he would have fared any worse had he persisted with the Korean version. As the afternoon progressed we watched our mild-mannered, easy-going father cross over to the dark side of the force. Within twenty minutes all traces of social veneer had been replaced by raw and primitive emotion. We knew better than to be scared of him, but a stranger would have beat a hasty retreat, grateful to have survived his encounter with the Beast of Castle Drive. With regularity Dad emitted a low guttural sound that grew steadily in pitch and volume, to be followed by one of the collection of tirades that accompanied do-it-yourself projects. They always began with, "I don't believe it!" and ended with "Never again!" Among the things he couldn't believe that day was Broil King's policy of hiring only morons to write assembly manuals and sadists to pack all but one of the essential parts. No apology followed when the missing item was finally located; I guess he had no desire to be either reasonable or mature. In retrospect, he must have felt justified in giving himself permission to act in ways that would have put us on the fast track to our rooms.

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