Monday, October 31, 2005

Imaginary Friends

The boys are looking out the front window, taut with interest. "Hey, there's the beer man!!" Darcy yodels. "Yeah, wow!" The other boys are thrilled. "Hey, beer man! Beer man!" Beer man? I amble on over to the window, very casually. If there's a beer man out there, I wouldn't want to be the one to scare him off. I peer over their shoulders. Nothing but the bleak grey drizzle we've had for the better part of two weeks. Rather demoralizing after a while. A fortifying pint has a distinct appeal right now. George nudges Darcy. "Look! The beer man brings boxes of beer." Boxes? The eerie thing is, they're all staring at the same point in space on the sidewalk just in front of my porch. I can almost hear the clink of bottles as the boxes thud down. And if there is an invisible beer man in my neighbourhood, how do these underage milk-drinkers rate? Where's my beer man??

Huge Posts - Solved!

No, I have NO IDEA why my last few posts are so huge. Any help from any experts lurking in the ether? Update: It WAS my fault! Thanks to Si, for figuring it out... Is it fixed now?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Meme (was this from you, Susan?)

What were the three stupidest things you've done in your life? 1. My first marriage. Lots and lots of my stupid things encompassed in those three words. 2. Taking my guidance counsellor's advice and not taking a double major - music and English - in university. Too intense, she said. I wish now I'd tried it. If it proved too intense, then I'd have had the choice of which major to settle into. Instead, I eliminated one option untried. Not that I regret my ultimate choices, just that I think it was stupid to decide without trying first. 3. Settling for - ha! suggesting! - less child support than my legal entitlement, out of noble notions of fair play. I wouldn't regret it so much were it appreciated, rather than even the lesser amount greatly resented. Who has the most influence in your life right now? - My partner. His quick mind, his emotional intelligence, his compassion, his constant conversation, his love and support for exactly who and what I am are the core of my life. While we both know I could manage just fine on my own, now that I've experienced true friendship, now that I've known a soulmate, I'd be terribly, terribly lonely. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to pick only five people to dine with, who would you pick? Oh, this one was by far the most interesting. Took me three days to come up with this list, and I'm still not sure about the fifth one. True hostess that I am, I considered not only who would be interesting to me, but how they might interact with each other; I also kept the balance between male-female equal, because mixing up the sexes makes for a richer evening: 1. Jesus: this one was easy. One of the most influential figures in the course of human history. I'd like to have him visit in the last three months of his life, not at the beginning of his ministry. 2. Jane Austen: because she's so intelligent, such cutting wit, low tolerance of fools, and with just the right balance of clear-thinking, hopefulness and wry humour; and she's be a great conversationalist. I revel in the language in her books. 3. Oscar Wilde: I like the idea of having a bright and witty gay man at my dinner party, but I'm a bit leery of the world-weary cynical shtick. He could be a lot of fun, or he could just be a real downer. I'd have to be sure to liquor him up first... As the only gay man present, he'd have no one to flirt with, though. 4. Queen Elizabeth 1: because one assumes that the woman who had the strength of character to flout social epectations and remain unmarried so she could Rule, and who single-handedly dragged the Brits into the Renaissance 100 years after everyone else (probably because her subjects were quite happy to continue their ale-swilling and bear-baiting and cock-fighting, never mind all the painting, singing, writing, and composing those poofs on the continent were up to...) would make for a fascinating dinner guest. (And yes, I know good Queen Bess could down her ale and wasn't against a little cock-fight!) But she liked the other stuff too - she was her own woman. 5. Robin Williams: because I need another man; I wanted someone funny and intelligent, but not too pugnacious, someone the women could flirt with. I'm not sure he's not pugnacious, though, but I'm quite sure he'd be a spectacular flirt! He could probably even keep Oscar on his toes. :-) I also considered Dorothy Sayers because of her quick wit and biting humour, but she'd be too acerbic, cynical, and combative, I think. I considered John Cleese for the same reasons as Sayers, and rejected him on the same grounds, too. I considered Ghandi: the dynamic between he and Jesus would be amazing, but I wanted the conversation to encompass more than faith and social justice issues, and how could it possibly get past those topics with those two men at the table? (Who'd want it to?) So I haven't quite decided for sure, but that's my list at the moment! If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be? - financial ease, not to have to work - long, slim legs - less selfishness in the world Name two things you regret your city not having... - more, and more vibrant, ethnic communities - it pretty much has everything else, being a capital city: museums out the wazoo, an orchestra, theatres, galleries, history, monuments, landscape, vistas, tourists... ...and two things people should avoid. - downtown after 6 p.m.! (Not dangerous, just boring) - Danny, reprehensible owner of a certain Irish pub on Bank Street (only necessary if you're female). Name one thing that has changed your life: Time/maturity/my kids. (So that's more than one. My kids contributed to my maturity, how's that??) Tag, whoever wants to be it!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I succumb...

Sorry, but with much regret I am having to institute Word Verification. Today my emails tells me there have been SIXTEEN spam put on my blog. Somewhere. Not on the index page, so they could be anywhere. Arguably, this doesn't matter then, but it bugs me. So, WV as of now. Sorry!

Never Be Afraid to Say What You Feel

Friday, October 28, 2005

Pre-Hallowe'en Post

George finds one of these little babies on the dining room table. (They're about 3 cm tall.) He picks it up, he rolls it gingerly this way and that, he eyes it long and carefully. "Mary, is this a spider?" He holds it above his head, peers up at its belly from beneath. "Yes, it is." "Is it a toy, or is it dead?"

Guess What We're Doing?

Hint: It's not random chaos. We are doing something.
It's in response to something in the environment.
Specifically, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Give Me Back My Wig.
Yes, indeed! We're dancing!!
Yee-haw!! Rock on, Stevie Ray!!
Bop on, kidlets!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Think Pink

Mia scales the heights, dressed in her signature pink. This child is not a girly-girl, not at all, but if colour choice is anything to go by, she's being groomed for it. Today we have: pink boots, shades-of-pink jacket, pink hat with matching pink mitts. Underneath, her socks are pink, her shirt is pink and white striped. Ah, yes, you say, but her jeans are blue! So you think. In fact, they are embroidered all over with delicate PINK flowers. She's dressed like this, top to toe pink, Every. Single. Day. Mostly it just makes me smirk. Today (surprise!) it's annoying me.

Snarl ...%&$*% Parents... mutter

I'm irritable today. Happens to the best of us. I could say it's because of this thing or that, but really, its just me. Things that would normally not bother me, or bother me fleetingly, are truly, truly annoying me today. I'm cranky. I keep another blog, private, password-protected blog, for the parents. Some of the stuff is much the same as you see here; other bits of it are different, and there are pictures, lots and lots of delightful pictures. I post almost every day. It started out as a labour of love. And you know what? The parents don't read it. Okay, I'm exaggerating because I'm cranky. Of the twelve parents who could be reading it, three read regularly, three read it occasionally, and six NEVER READ IT AT ALL! Never. Of the six who read it at all, only three ever comment. Of the three, one - ONE - comments regularly. Of twelve parents, ONE SOLE PARENT is interested enough in that big child-free gap between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to actually click every day, and comment a couple times a week. ONE. This morning a parent mentioned me how nice it was that I did "that blog thing", adding, and "I comment when I get the time." Lovely. How long does it take to bang in a couple of lines in response to a cute story ABOUT YOUR CHILD? So, it's not a labour of love any more. It's a Professional Obligation, which I meet professionally. I figure it will be a great selling point with future clients. It still boggles my mind, though. I'm having a terrible time getting past this. Stupid *%#& parents...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Book Review: The Passions of "Are You My Mother?"

This is one of our very favourite books. We read it every day. It never, ever gets stale. Ever. Thankfully, Mary, having had lots and lots of practice with it over the past twenty years (it's a Classic), reads it with great poignancy, for this book has lots and lots of poignant moments. She reads it with much expression, too, because there are lots of expressive moments: of hope and then bitter disappointment; of bravery and staunch determination; a moment of laughter; even a moment of despair. Here's the moment of determination. I just love this page: Can't you just see the fortitude and decision radiating from this wee bird's scrawny body? Every feather on his stick-like frame quivers with resolute vigour. You can do it, baby bird! You get out there and you FIND that momma!! So, lots of expression. Too much expression for Harry. As we approach the page of despair, Harry instructs me, "Don't use that very sad voice, Mary." "But I have to, lovie; the baby bird is very sad." "Then I will cover my ears." "You do that." Here is the moment of despair: Pathetic, isn't it? It culminates in him/her wailing "I want my mother!", and when I wail it, let me tell you, it's pathetic. I do baby bird pathos with tear-jerking poignancy. I won't spoil the ending for you, but I can tell you that Harry is happy with how it turns out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Things You Hear Yourself Saying, Part 3

Stop licking your nose, please. It doesn't matter if it's your hammer, it's his tummy. Well, you're not supposed to like the taste. Now what's the cat going to eat? Three is more than two. Yes, it is. She wasn't sharing that with you, you're just stronger than she is. Who wiped their nose on the couch?

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

While on our way to visit family one weekend, Emma (12), suggested that she and I play "Graveyard" in the car. (Q, my sweetie, is driving, and thus can't fully participate, and teenage son is sound asleep in the back.) Turns out the game is not nearly as morbid as it sounds, but is rather a counting game, wherein all parties are assigned a window out of which they are to count as many living creatures (humans excepted), or representations thereof, as possible. The one with the highest count after a certain time, wins. And why "Graveyard"? Well, if anyone sees a graveyard, then all other participants' counts go back to zero. There is some discussion as to how to deal with birds, which, though they may be spotted through one window, are very often within another player's range within seconds. (Answer: if it passes your window, even if it already passed someone else's, you can count them!) And - eeuw - what about that poor critter, laying right on the yellow line? Emma decides, in the interests of fairness, that anything right in the middle is the driver's. The driver objects: "What? I only get squashed ones?" Emma consoles him, "No, they don't have to be squashed. You just get the ones right on the line." He is too pragmatic for that: "If it's on the line, Emma, it's squashed!" Emma: "Eeeuuww."

Monday, October 24, 2005


We like to go to the library. We go most every week. We like the library ladies. We like the toys that squeak. We like to see the computers. We like the way the place looks. Mary oft shakes her head sadly At the way we ignore the books! We like to sing with the lady, We like to make puppets from socks. But the very best thing at the library? Is those great big, climb-able rocks!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Happy Cynicism







Saturday, October 22, 2005

How? Why?

Friday, October 21, 2005

He's Prescient, what can we say?

Just listening to Shelagh Rogers this morning (ah, the CBC - my window into the world of thinking adults while immersed in my world of toddlers, bodily fluids, squabbles, and glee), interviewing some members of a musical group from Newfoundland, and I was reminded of a story. Happened to a friend of mine last summer. He had accompanied his girlfriend to her Cape Breton home. Cape Breton, where everyone is related to everyone else, and they all play or sing, or at the very least, drink hearty while listening to others play and sing. Pete was at just such a party. As in most Cape Breton parties, someone pulled out a fiddle and someone else pulled out a flute, and as the beer went round, and round again, the music, singing, and dancing started. Peter is nothing like a shrinking violet. He's having a great time, it's 3:30 a.m., and these guys, hey, they're just great. When one of them stops for breath, Pete's right there. "Hey, you guys are great!" he tells them. "You could be big!" His praise is met with a wry grin. He redoubles his encouragement. "No, no, I really mean it. Big! Really big!" Someone taps his arm. "Ah, Pete?" "Yeah?" "Pete, that's Great Big Sea."

It's Tough to be Two

Zach has a toy. Harry wants it. Harry approaches Zach to negotiate - a vast improvement over the snatch-and-grab tactic of two days ago! (Keeping my fingers crossed, I am.) Zach doesn't want to share it yet, reasonably enough, since he's only just started playing with it. He protests non-verbally, whimpering and moving the toy to his other hand, but Harry persists. Very verbal Harry projects a wall of words at Zach, over-riding Zach's mute resistance. Harry asks and asks again, explains and cajoles. Words, words, words, flow at, over, and around little Zach. His frustration rises. He moves further from Harry, holds the toy over his head and away, whines, then shrieks. I intervene, and begin the process of helping them sort through this. Harry is told to "listen to" Zach, that he's allowed to say "not yet"; Zach is told to "use his words". Poor wee Zach. I imagine that I'm learning a foreign language. I'm at the point where I have the rudiments, though my grammar is shakey. I can get by in functional, straight-forward situations. But I have no real fluency yet. I certainly can't speak convincingly, much less debate, especially when stressed and pressed by a persistent native speaker. Such is the position of the two-year-old. The language is new, and it's tricky. Words are slippery. You can't find the ones you need, or you don't know how to fit them to this situation, or you don't have them at all - it's enough to make you wanna bite someone!! To make matters worse, along comes some adult telling you sweetly to "Use your words!" ARGH!!! It's frustrating. Of course, "Use your words" is the only useful response. A language is learned, whether at 2 or 62, only by constant practice. So the adult kneels down, puts an arm round the child, and walks them through it, in simple words and short sentences, feeding them vocabulary, showing them which words fit, and how they're used. But still, it's tough to be two.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Elegant Cat wanders by. Zach greets him with enthusiasm.

"Hello, Pissycat!"

You know, I don't think he's so far off...


"The crayons go in this box. When you're done with a crayon, you put it in this box. Understand?" "Jeremy's name starts with a J. And Josie!" "You don't listen to a thing I say, do you?" "No."

Excremental Vision

The above title makes reference to a series of lectures I attended in university, "Swift's Excremental Vision" focussing on Gulliver's Travels in particular. In truth, when the long-suffering professor could be heard over the adolescent sniggering of the 19 and 20 year olds in front of her, she had some interesting things to say on the subject. My tykes may be years - decades, even - before they reach such exulted heights of learning, but they are preparing for it with gusto! We've been singing a lot lately, but in addition to the nice little children's ditties I teach them, they've been doing a lot of improvisation. Bob the Builder's theme song is a particular favourite. So far this week, we've heard, "Bo-ob the builder! Can we fix it? No. We. Can't!" (Okay, so that's not excremental humour, but I like it, even though I know I've blogged on it before.) Then there's, "Bob the builder! Can we pee-pee? Yes, we can!" I like it: potty-positive singing. And of course, "Bob the builder! Can we poo-poo? Yes, we can!" Only fair to give both functions equal time. Or this variation, "Bob the builder! Can we fix it? No, we poo!" I don't quite get it, but Darcy practically pees himself over this one. Which is in keeping with the theme, after all. Darcy's ultimate, not-to-be-superceded contribution to this theme was the tuneless little ditty he produced while leaning over the arm of the loveseat. Er - sorry Darcy - the side of the boat. Looking down into the "water" that was my living room floor, he carolled away, "There's water down there! There's pee and poop and barf and snot down there." Some days, he wouldn't be too far off. Darcy has a finely honed excremental vision. Sounds much classier than "potty humour", doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Time for an Object Lesson, part 2

His face freezes, his eyes widen in alarm. "This is MY sweater that my granny made for me!" I radiate sincerity. Well, not sincere sincerity, but a good enough approximation to fool a three-year-old. Parenting, done well, requires some acting ability. "Yes, but I like it." I undo the next button. Harry is starting to panic. His voice rises and quivers, tears spring to his eyes. "You can't have my sweater!" I stop. Put my hands on his shoulders, and look him dead in the eye. "How do you feel right now, Harry?" He looks at me, mute with unhappiness. "It looks like you're feeling sad. Maybe you're worried, too, or a little angry?" He nods his head. "I am sad because you are taking my sweater." "You don't want me to take your sweater, do you?" "No." "Even though I really like it?" "No." "Harry. George didn't want you to take his horse. He was playing with it. When you tried to take the horse, George felt sad, just like you feel sad now." I put my arm around him, draw him onto my knee. "I'm not going to take your sweater. I really like it, but I won't take it, because it's yours. You can't take toys from the other children, even though you really like their toy. Understand?" "I understand." I think - I'm not making any rash bets on it, mind you - but I think he really does this time. At least a little bit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Time for an Object Lesson, Part 1

George and Darcy are playing with the hobby-horses in the kitchen. Harry, attracted to the game, blunders in and hauls at the horse in George's hands. George tightens his grip and a tussle ensues, both boys bellowing their outrage. Only one party's outrage is at all justified, of course, but that's never stopped a toddler. I intervene, speaking at first, then forcibly pulling Harry's hands off the toy when I am ignored. "Harry. You cannot just walk in and take someone's toy away." "I like it." Sincerity blazes from Harry's eyes. We've been down this road too many times, Harry and I. I am completely out of patience with this particular self-justification. I'm not sure whether the boy is just dense, and genuinely doesn't "get it", or whether his inability to abide by this simple standard is wilfull. At this point, it doesn't really matter. It is clear that my calm and rational explanations and redirections have been ineffective. It is time for a little hardball. "That's a nice sweater you're wearing, Harry." It is a nice sweater - a cardigan, really. Hand made, I'd guess, in a complicated nordic pattern, its wide collar cradles his chin in bright colours, the whole thing warm, soft and appealing. "Did someone make it for you?" "My granny made it." "It's very nice. I like it. I bet it's warm, too." "Yes, it is warm." "It's a lovely sweater," I say, as I start to unbutton it. "I really, really like it."

It's all in the Timing

Not a lot that goes on around here has a whole lot of point to it...

"We have to go to sleep," Darcy explains to the two other boys, both of whom are lying down on the living room floor, "or Santa won't come." Santa? What's provoked this game, in October already? Probably ads during kids TV. You can really tell who watches TVO (which has no ads) vs who watches commercial Saturday morning television, more accurately known as ToysRUs ads with program breaks. Harry assures Darcy that he is, indeed, sleeping. "You can't be if you're talking!" Gee, Darcy sounds suspiciously like me at naptime. They all lay still, or in the nearest toddler approximation of still, for 3.2 seconds, until Darcy, clearly the producer and director of this game, announces, "Okay! Mornin' time!" Everyone bounces up and jostles around semi-purposefully, awaiting the next instruction of pretend. George, however, beats Darcy to the punch, and takes the game an unexpected direction. Surveying the floor, liberally littered with toys, he announces dolefully, "Guys, I'm afraid there are no presents." Darcy is not having his game high-jacked like that. "Yes, there are. But not for you because you didn't sleep." Harry is ever helpful. "You'd better cry for Santa, George, and make him come back." Darcy isn't having that, either. "Crying won't help. Santa doesn't like cry-babies." "Let's go back to sleep and see if he comes again!" George suggests. This new idea fits Darcy's script. Down they all go once again. Everyone is very, very quiet for the requisite 3.2 seconds to bring us into a new day. "Mornin' time!" Darcy calls. George is taking no chances this time. "Did he come?" he checks with Darcy. As Darcy looks around, Zach enters the room. "Oh, Santa Claus!! You came!" Harry crows, delighted. "That's not Santa Claus, that's Zach." "Well, where is Santa Claus?" Harry wants to know, reasonably enough. "He's gone back to the North Pole." Ever the optimist, Harry is undismayed. "To get more presents for us!!" he declares, even though thus far it's unclear whether anyone has received any at all. "Let's go to sleep again, and get more presents!" George suggests. "Yeah!" With great enthusiasm, all four boys lay down once more. Another 3.2 second night, another "Mornin' time!", another day spent fruitlessly looking for toys, another sleep. It's beginning to look like the point of the game for Darcy is getting to yell "Mornin' time!", and after a while, it seems George comes to this conclusion as well. "Mornin' time!" Darcy announces. By now at least a week has passed in this endeavour. "You know what?" George asks. "What?" "Santa can't come because we haven't had Hallowe'en yet. Let's be ghosts instead." And awaaay they go...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Earnest Boy

I haven't yet spoken about the after-school children who come in towards the end of my day. They aren't with me for very long, they do their homework, eat their snack, they go home. Many days they have an after-school sport or activity, and they don't come here at all. They're rather peripheral to my focus, all in all. Last year they were two, brothers, French, 8 and 10 years old. This year they have been joined by a third little guy, who is also eight. This boy is soft-spoken, sweet, and very, very earnest. He is completely thrown by my casual teasing and off-the-cuff goofiness. The tots are rolling around on the floor, the eight year olds are doing their homework at the dining table. (The ten year old is at a soccer game.) "I'm going to the bathroom," I tell the homework boys. "If there's an emergency, you guys are in charge." I tap each of them on the head as I pass. French Boy chuckles; he recognizes the silliness. Earnest Boy looks up, alert and eager. "What if someone poops their pants?" "That's not an emergency, sport. I'd deal with it when I get down." I proceed to the stairs. His husky little voice stops me a second time. "What if a parent comes to the door?" "You can tell them I'll be right down." I'm on the bottom stair. I really do need to go. "What if the phone rings?" "Let the machine get it." I'm halfway to my goal, and he's slowing me down! "What if -" "Earnest! I have to go to the bathroom. It's okay. There won't be an emergency." I race upstairs. His voice floats behind me. "Then why did you say -" Click. The bathroom door shuts on his question. The earnest. They have NO sense of humour.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I love these things! From the back of the book:

Piet Hein began writing them during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. They were, quite literally, underground literature -- Piet Hein was in hiding as a resistance leader. Soon becoming effective weapons of the resistance, they enable Danes to talk to one another about what really mattered in a range just beyond German understanding and several octaves beyond Nazi sensitivities.
Here's a sampling of Piet Hein's Grooks, taken from "Grooks 1" (Toronto: General Publishing Company, 1969).
MANKIND Men, said the Devil, are good to their brothers: they don't want to mend their own ways, but each other's. DREAM INTERPRETATION simplified. Everything's either concave or -vex, so whatever you dream will be something with sex. A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP Whenever you're called on to make up your mind, and you're hampered by not having any, the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find, is simply by spinning a penny. No--not so that chance shall decide the affair while you're passively standing there moping; but the moment the penny is up in the air, you suddenly know what you're hoping. THE MIRACLE OF SPRING We glibly talk of nature's laws but do things have a natural cause? Black earth turned into yellow crocus is undiluted hocus-pocus.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Fall is Here

With all the damp and windy days we've been having, leaves littering the streets, it's clear fall has arrived. The trees are giving us a more muted version of their usual blaze of colour, probably because of the unusually warm temperatures we've had this fall. It takes mild days and chilly nights to produce those vivid tones I love so well. Anyway - a seasonal blogthing for you:

You Are Warm Nights by the Fire
Peaceful and romantic. The best part of fall.

Friday, October 14, 2005

New Toy

I have never been one of those women who was crazy for shoes, though I have some nice pairs. A clothing store? I'm in and out in a blur of efficiency. Some women go nuts in craft shops. I am untouched by any and all of these. No, the big peril of this job is toys. Toys are just so attractive, and Toy Shops are so much fun! Here's what I picked up last weekend: Isn't it cute??? And look! Each of those layers has another little face! See the lovely little blue ball nestled in the depression in the base? With the cheerful grin, and, though you can't tell from here, delicate rattle? It is, sadly, already lost. I'm not worried, though. It'll turn up - likely under my left foot as I descend the stairs with my arms full of laundry!

Hockey's Back!

The boys are taking a road trip. Settled in the rocking chair, George and Darcy are driving down the highway, the big highway that goes to Toronto. After much discussion, it is determined that they are going to see a hockey game. We have Leafs fans in our midst? Evidently the traffic on the 401 westbound is intense this morning, judging from the number of vroom-vrooms, screeches, and honking of horns that ensue over the next few minutes. This wears a boy down after a while, and Darcy, the driver on the right, has an idea. "Let's stop when we get to the next Tim Hortons!" "Okay, yeah! And get some Timbits. Do you like hockey, Darcy?" "Yes. My daddy plays hockey with me." "I like hockey, too. My daddy will take me to a hockey game because I know all about hockey." George exudes calm confidence. This is quite a feat, given the boy is three and a half years old, and there was no NHL hockey last year at all. "The Senators? That's my favourite team." "No, that's not the best team." "The 67s?" "No, that's not the best team, either." "The Maple Leafs? The Canadians?" My jaw drops as Darcy rattles off all the teams in a 500 km radius. "The Flames?" Wow! 500 km and then some. Clearly someone around here is a hockey fan! George, however, from his heights of hockey knowledge, poo-poos all these suggestions. Darcy is confused. "That's all the hockey teams there is, George!" Okay. He's good, but he's not perfect. "No, it's not. That's not the best team. No, my favourite hockey team is the Red Sox."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

It wasn't that bad a day, really

Emma and I chat idly in the living room as the children play around us. "I could..." I start, then get distracted and wander out to the front porch, leaving the sentence unfinished. Poor Emma is left in a state of astonished panic. She hadn't heard "I could", you see, but rather, "I quit."


Harry sleeps on a cot in the kitchen. "Sleep" is a rather optimistic word for what Harry does most days, but as long as he's quiet, I'm okay with it. Other children his age don't nap at all - Darcy sits reading as I type - but Harry's parents believe he needs a nap, so I do my best! Today, though, I heard more than the usual amount of rustling around through the doorway to my right, but instead of calling out a warning, I grabbed the camera and snuck in there. Think maybe he heard me coming?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The view from my front porch as we prepare to jaunt park-ward. Note the stylish fake Burberry hats - a mere $2.00 apiece. We passed someone wearing what appeared to be the real thing today - he was of the right age, with an air of rumpled affluence. George spotted him instantly. "Hey! He has a hat just like mine!" I'm sure the older gent was thrilled to be comrades by association with little Mr. Dollar-Store hat. Update: It occurs to me I could tell you the names of the backs of the heads! From left to right, they are Harry, Zach, Darcy, and George.

It's Okay

Harry, wriggling on the bench at snack time, sends a box and a book tumbling to the floor. He peers over the end of the bench at his handiwork. "It's okay," Harry reassures me. "No one will trip over them. We can just step around them." "It's okay," I assure Harry, "we won't have to, because you're going to pick them up now." "Oh. I can do that, too!" Yes, indeed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Well, It Usually Works

My nineteen year old daughter is home from university in another city, and has popped in for a visit. Harry, the social and curious animal that he is, races over to check her out. "What's your name?" "Haley." "What's your name?" "My name is Haley." "What's your name?" Harry can see he's on to a good thing here. The question has riveted her attention, so why quit with a good thing? Haley is too experienced to be ruffled by this, though, and responds with a warm smile. "You know my name. I just told you. What's my name?" "Haley." "That's right. And what's your name?" "Harry." "Hello, Harry. Nice to meet you." The niceties accomplished, she turns to continue our conversation, but there is no way young Harry will give up the conversational ball and her attention so easily as that. He starts his next sentence using the word most trusted by three-year-olds to keep both ball and attention firmly in their control: "Why..." You can see the wheels turning: 'Okay, so far, so good. She's still looking at me. Only, what comes next? Oh! Brainstorm!': "... is your name Haley?" Haley laughs out loud. "Well, that's a silly question," she chuckles. "Why is your name Harry?" Harry's a bit miffed at being laughed at, and he doesn't have a good response. He thinks it over for a minute, then decides his dignity is best served by absenting himself. As he leaves the room, he tosses over his shoulder, his voice rich with disdain: "That's a silly question, Haley."


It was a damp, chill day, but there's no snow yet, so off to the park we go. The slides are out of the question, the bouncy toys are dewed with wet, and the sand is too cold to sit upon. However, there are lots of lovely tubes and ladders!

Monday, October 10, 2005


I have so much enjoyed writing this post, and seeing your responses to it. Thus, this post is for you, my readers. Those who comment regularly, those who email, those who just lurk and send my hit counter ticking steadily upward. When I started blogging, I saw it as a private endeavour. Yes, I was fully aware that blogs are published in a public forum, but of the 5 billion blogs out there, I thought, who'd find mine? Just as you can be anonymous more easily in a crowded city than a small village, I had little expectations of bumping into anyone who'd take note of me personally in the immensity of the blogosphere. I was wrong. What a happy mistake! As a result of all you readers, and specifically those of you who comment, I have discovered what is to me the most satisfying part of blogging: interaction. Reading your comments, commenting back, seeing silly conversations burst out amongst commenters, and finding out that I've actually inspired or encouraged someone - it's all been tremendously fun! Childcare (parenting!)can be an isolating profession. Blogging has given me a community that I can access any time at all from my dining room table. Surely that's why there are so many "mommy blogs"! I am having so much fun! And so, to those of you in my new-found, invisible community: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Parenting Without Ideologies

I keep a library of books for my parents, resource material on a variety of significant topics to my clients: breast-feeding, nutritional guidelines, discipline, developmental stages, sleeping. The basic parenting stuff. This library includes both the sleep-training guru and the no-cry lady. A parent noticed this and was startled that both books could co-exist in the same library. Startled, and, it was quite clear, disapproving. It doesn't matter which approach she favoured: the point is, she didn't think I should be promoting the other. I sighed as I recognized a parental ideologue in my front hall. The older I get, the more experience I gain, the less and less patience I have for ideologies. I am firmly of the opinion that you are a better parent if you operate from principles and a philosophy, rather than in a constant state of reaction. This is not the same thing as forming an ideology; sadly, too few people recognize the distinction. How do you know whether you are developing an approach and a philosophy, or whether you've crossed the line into ideology? In part, I think, this can be determined if your approach has a label. Labels denote tidy packages, with rules and defining characteristics. Tidy packages are limiting: there are things you do and don't do, parameters one must stay within. The biggest determiner of an ideology, however, is flexibility, or more accurately, its lack. Can you think outside the rules? Can you step outside the parameters of your parenting approach and try other strategies? Can you evaluate and reconsider your principles, modify your actions and reactions in the face of reality? Can you do any and all of these, and still be a "Good Parent"? Barring clear abuse, of course, can someone else have different parameters and principles, and still be respected as a fit, loving parent? Is there more than one right way to do things? If your answer to these questions is yes, you are not a victim of an ideology. If your answer is no, you likely are. My parenting principles began before I had children; they were evaluated and modified when actual children came into my life. I wanted my children to feel loved and secure. When my children were tiny, I brought them to bed with me (which I've since learned is called "co-sleeping"); I carried them around for much of the day in a carefully chosen baby sling; I breastfed on demand. All this makes me an "attachment parent", a term with which I had no familiarity at the time. I had some familiarity with the attachment parenting guru: though I embraced aspects of his approach, his ideological extremism was repellent to me. (I was 24; I think I called him "that nutbar". ) I wanted my children to understand that I have needs too, equally important to their own. When my middle child, who had been sleeping well (9+ hours) from 5 1/2 months of age suddenly started waking every hour at 8 months, I was a miserable, desperate, sleep-deprived zombie in very short order. I could not cope with this. Nor did I see why I should have to. A friend recommended a book, and I "ferberized" him - without fearing that I was going to scar him for life. It was short-term pain for long-term gain, I figured, and I was right. In ten days he was sleeping ten hours, and everyone - including him - was happy again. What's not to like? (He's sixteen now, kind and affectionate, a good student, a good co-worker, healthy both emotionally and physically. Those ten days were the merest blip on his radar; it has not, despite the doom-and-gloom prognostications of the most evangelical of the attachmenters, either scarred him or harmed our relationship. This is the boy who still hugs me hello and goodbye, even when his friends are around.) It is a truism to say you must choose the way that is "right for your family". Frequently this phrase makes me wince, since it is too often used to excuse the most blatant abdication of parental authority. This doesn't change the truth of it, however. Choose what's right for your family. Give your baby a soother if it comforts him; keep soothers well away if you'd rather he rely on you for that comfort; put her in her own crib if you can't rest with your baby tight against your body; keep him in bed with you if that makes you both happier; respond quickly to his cries; let her "cry it out" when you feel it necessary. Pick the way that works best for your family unit. Be consistent in your patterns, be willing to modify them thoughtfully when required, be loving at all times, and you will be A Good Parent. So there.


Sometime soon, probably today, I'm going to reach 7,000 hits. Go, me, again! Who'll be the lucky 7,000? How should it be commemorated? UPDATE: You know who got 7,000? A spammer! Now there's irony for you...


Your Kissing Purity Score: 29% Pure
You're not one to kiss and tell... But word is, you kiss pretty well.

Go, Me!!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, it's Thanksgiving here this weekend. Don't know how much/if you'll see me before Tuesday, but I may just pop in. Meantime, here's a thought for a busy weekend:

Friday, October 07, 2005

More Parroting

Mia, as I've mentioned before, is in the "parrot" stage, a walking, giggling, pooping echo on legs. This affords me no little entertainment. Yes, I take the opportunity to shape her pronounciation a little, but why stop there? Just as I was about to settle the children at the table, I note that Mia is less than fragrant. "Phew, Mia. I think you have a poo in there." "Poo!" "I think you do! Come, let's get you a fresh diaper before we eat." "Dipah! Eat!" "Because you are a stinky girl." "Tinky giwl!" "Yes, you certainly are odiferous." This for my own amusement. There's only so much entertainment value with the subject matter at hand, after all. Moreover, short, simple words do get to be just the teeniest bit boring after, oh two or three steady years of it. Seems Mia feels that way, too, because after a short pause for due processing, out comes... "Oh-da-fuss!" Hey! She said "odiferous"!! "Lie down, relax and recline," I offer, and I wait. Will she? Will she? "Ee-kine!" (Of course she will! This game has potential.) "We'll clean you with this wipe. It's lovely and soothing." "Wipey. Soofing." ("Soothing!" She said soothing.) "And now some cream. Emollient cream." I smile down at her. Can she grab that one? "C'eem!" "Emollient cream." I try again, rolling the syllables out in all their luxuriance. "Amawen." Not bad, not bad at all. There is a sudden crash from the dining room, where one of the three-year-olds has thrown a ball onto the table. Thankfully the place settings, on the table and ready for lunch, are all plastic, because several are bouncing all over the floor, while a multi-coloured plastic ball floats in the pot of soup. My response is muted but sincere. "Oh, shit." Oops.

Please make it stop...

No, George is not throttling Harry: they are riding a motorcycle. George, however, is the brains behind this game, while poor Harry is unconvinced and unwilling. "Maybe if I just go limp, he'll think I'm dead and go away."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lurking Menace

Here we see a nice, kid-friendly t-shirt. Bright, with a child and a clown, and a balloon, even. Seems innocuous, even whimsical. Wrong. It is a shirt of menace. It's the balloon, you see. Mia loves it. Mia is convinced that no snuggle with Mary is completed without taking due note of the "boon!" Due note includes a few pokes at it with an astonishingly sharp finger. Picture, for a moment if you will, over just exactly what part of my anatomy that damned balloon lays. Ouch.

Another Great Kid Word

From the mouths of babes, or in this case, Mia once more. Mia's version of "Thank you" is "sank-oo"; her version of "you're welcome" is "ekkum". But why use two sets of words when you can combine the two into one, all-purpose word of politeness?


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Parrot - oops

Mia is at the parrot stage. Everything you say to her, it comes right back atcha. Well, a word or two, at least. "What a nice day!" "Nice day!" ""Okay, everyone. Let's get our shoes on!" "Shzz!" "Let's go to the park." "Powk!" "Do you want some cheese?" "Chiz!" "Gah. You need a clean diaper, miss!" "Dipah!" "Did your mummy bring you today?" "Mumma b'ing!" "Is that your daddy's new truck?" "Fuck!"

Seven Things

I've been volutarily tagged by Susan, and thought I'd post it first. (I already have something written and saved to post this afternoon - how organized is that??) 7 things I plan to do before I die: I don't make these kinds of plans. However, 7 things I'd like to do before I die: 1. When I'm angry, truly, righteously, justifiably angry with someone, I want to actually show it, no holds barred, and not be frightened of the consequences. I want to experience the cleansing of anger. 2. Be debt-free - this includes the mortgage! 3. Write a book. Or two. 4. Travel widely. 5. Learn to speak French. 6. Retire into affluence. 7. See my children launched into content, productive adulthood.

(This one for Q: And get married? Still not at all sure of that one, my dear, but if I ever decide to, you're the one!)
Seven things I can do: 1. Play piano. 2. Read very quickly. 3. React calmly to a crisis. 4. See the bright side. 5. Admit my errors. Mostly. 6. Give a gracious apology when appropriate. 7. Teach (which includes potty training - you can do it, Susan!) 7 Things I cannot do: 1. Tolerate loud noises. 2. Enter a cave. 3. Express anger without feeling afraid. 4. Fly a plane. 5. Memorize stuff - I used to be able to! 6. Keep my house clean. 7. Stay awake after 10 p.m. more than three nights running. 7 Things that Attract me to the Opposite Sex: 1. Nice calves. Thighs are good, too. 2. Eye crinkles, a little grey in the hair. 3. Good listener. 4. Good conversationalist - not just chit chat, but the Real Thing. 5. Able to laugh at himself. 6. Values compatible with mine. 7. Well-read and/or well-travelled. 7 Things I Say Most Often: 1. Shhhhh! 2. - Thank you 3. I love you. 4. Hands are not for hitting. Hands are for hugging. 5. Walk in the house. WALK. 6. What do you say? 7. Good job! 7 celebrity crushes: This one was tough. I've never formed crushes on plastic people. I also just don't pay a whole lot of attention to television, etc. However, I have lusted after: Whoever that was who played Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. Marianne preferred Willoughby, stupid child, leaving Brandon on the loose: Oh, pick me, pick me!! Colin Firth when he played Darcy in Pride and Prejudice; all that dark and brooding sexuality, yum; Sean Connery - it's the grey hair and eye crinkle thing; For a while, I had a Pierce Brosnan thing, but it seems to have faded. And that's it. Can't come up with seven. 7 People I tag: I'll let you tag yourselves, whoever wants to!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's Tough to be the Centre of the Universe

Little Zach is thrilled by a new toy he has discovered.


he declares, trembling with excitement. My ears ring in less than excited response. "Yes, that's a new horse. Please don't shout in the house, sweetie." Harry's face appears round the corner, eyes narrowed with indignation, "I'm not shouting!"

Name that Leaf

Do you know what kind of leaf this is? If you said "Maple", you are correct, of course, but you may be surprised to know that not what they're called around here. For any child under the age of five and north of the 49th parallel, this is, ever and always, a


Monday, October 03, 2005

Antiseptic Scrub, please.

Suffered a nasty start to my day, at our local coffee shop. I had arranged the boys (Harry, Hunter, George, and Darcy) on a curved bench in a corner, pulled a chair to the other side of the small round table, and we were set for a happy half-hour of conversation and snack, me with my coffee, they with their bagels and cheese, before heading off to the park. The boys are adorable, chattering at reasonable volume, remembering their pleases and thank-you's, being just about as sweet as it is possible for a three-year-old to be. Which is plenty sweet! Sitting as we are by the front door, several people stop to comment on the children, or exchange simple pleasantries with them. A grandfatherly type is sitting at an adjacent table. Fifteen minutes or so after our arrival, he rises to leave. Looking at me, he chuckles, "That's quite the crew of boyfriends you've got there." It's hokey, but he's of a generation that talked like that, and I've been raised to be respectful to the elderly, so I smile. Even as I open my mouth to respond, however, he continues, "Don't you think you should pick someone closer your own age?" My smile falters a bit at that, for by my standards he's veering into the realm of questionable taste, and it felt just a little barbed, but he's still chuckling, so I try to respond lightly, going along with his feeble joke, humouring him until he goes away. "I'm rather partial to three-year-olds," I say with a grin. He's on his way out the door. This uncomfortable exchange won't last much longer. He's not done with me yet, though, and he tosses this last at me as he pulls the door open. "Well, you can still abuse them." Pause. "Or beat them up." My stomach contracts with shock and utter disgust. "I don't think I'll do either, thanks!" I call after him, with some savagery, but he's already passed through the door and probably has not heard me. Yuk. Yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk. It took a good two hours in the autumn sunshine to wash the taint of that exchange from my soul.

You Gotta Watch those Germs

The boys are playing blocks and trains on the kitchen floor. I am so glad I brought that tray of toys out! I'm helping to add another block, verrrry carefullly, to the precarious top of a teetering tower. Darcy trots over and tugs at my sleeve. The tower stays upright. "Mary, I saw some germs on the kitchen floor." Ah, to be young and keen of eye! I've no doubt his eyesight for fine detail is better than mine, but I'd no idea it was as acute as all that. Impressive, no? "You did! Where?" "Right onna floor by the garbage can." "Well, that would be where you'd find germs, all right. Can you show me?" He indicates a nebulous area in front of the can. I peer down, but beyond an escapee carrot peeling, I don't see anything untoward. I indicate the peeling, and he looks at me with mild derision. "That's not germs, Mary, that's a piece of a carrot." Of course. Silly me. "Well, I don't see any germs, Darcy. Are you sure they're still here?" "No, they're gone now, but I touched one, and it didn't feel good." "Oh, dear. Would you like to wash your hands now?" "Yes, please." I've now scoured the floor under and around the garbage can, because you never know, you know...

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I was tagged by Homestead for this one. Go to your 23rd post. Find the fifth sentence. (I like this game: it's short and simple.) All right, let's see... My twenty third post was May 9, and the fifth sentence is...

This is the sort of child observation that has adults cooing “Children are so observant!!"
(That sentence was typed, by the way, accompanied by a very unladylike snort.) Okay. Assuming none of you have been tagged already, I tag Haley, Clare's Dad, Mim, Si, (aka "The Bunny Squisher"), and whoever else would like to take part.

What are the Odds?

Tripped over this at a random blog while surfing this afternoon. The blogger had turned out to be Piglet. Naturally, I had to try it, and....

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!
How funny is that??

Saturday, October 01, 2005

this love is a weed

Off the Practical Man disk: "This Love is a Weed".

this love is a weed it's not a fragile flower it didn't bloom in a day it won't fade in an hour you can trample it down you might think it was gone but when you look around it's taking over the lawn this love is a weed that you can't root out and it's stronger than fear and it's deeper than doubt it's a humble claim and a green, green fire it's the flower and flame of a soul's desire this love is a weed it's a stubbonrn seed when the nights get cold and it puts out shoots and it sends out roots and it just takes hold it can raise a blade from the deepest shade it's a rugged breed it can wait for rain, it can deal with pain this love is a weed this love is a weed but weed is just a word for what's hardest to kill that's what I've always heard if you're looking for roses they might not be what you need: roses bloom and they fade but this love is a weed.
I've always been a fan of weeds. Now I know why.