Friday, March 31, 2006

Tact and the Daycarista

"Darcy, my father made this for me!" Arthur chirrups. The boys are playing with a toolbox filled with toy tools, many of which are handmade from wood. Arthur's father, you see, is a carpenter as well as a contractor. "My father made this for me!" Arthur is pleased and proud. Darcy leans over the block he is "sawing". "My father made this for me!" Arthur repeats. "Uh-huh," Darcy nods. Evidently Darcy's response is lacking the requisite enthusiasm. Arthur looks up at me. "Mary, tell Darcy that my father made this for me." "You've already told him three times, bud. I'm sure he knows." Not good enough. Arthur tries again. "Darcy, my father made this for me!" Darcy just looks at Arthur. He said "uh-huh". What more does this kid want? I decide to see if I can reassure Arthur that he has indeed been heard. "Darcy, do you know who made this for Arthur?" I ask. Darcy gives me a long, steady, "are you kidding me?" look. "His father made it." "See, Arthur? Darcy knows." "Darcy, my father made this for me! Did you know that my father made this for me?" Tonight, I will tell Arthur's dad, "Arthur is so proud of that toolbox you made for him, he just can't say enough about it!"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Trip to the Museum with Darcy

...and Zach and baby Nigel, but mostly Darcy. (Zach's contributions are in italics.) Why are the sidewalks so dirty? Why doesn't the bus come down our street? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why did you tell Zach to sit on the bench? Why is the bus taking so long to come? Why does the bus make that noise when it stops? Why does the bus beep when we get on?* Why is there a white line on the road? Why did you lock the wheels on baby Nigel's stroller? Why do some people ride their bikes in the street? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why did we take a bus to the coffee shop? Why do we need to keep our blood sugar up? Why does that machine have all those chocolate chips in it?** Why does that man make so much noise when he drinks his coffee? Why do we have to walk to the museum? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why are they lifting up that thing?*** We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why did you went onto the other side of the road? Why are you reading the sign? Why did the lady not take your money?+ Why is they speaking in French? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why does that giant dinosaur have his mouth open? Why is the squirrel dead? Why is the toad sittin' there? Why do they not move? Why are all those kids yellin' and screamin'? Why is that door shutted with wood?++ Why is there a toilet not in a baffroom? Why does that man gots only half his face?+++ Why is it time to leave now? Why are we goin' back to the museum? Why did you forget the coats? Why is that squirrel lying on the sidewalk? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why are there cracks in the sidewalk? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? We goin-a see the dinosaurs? Why is Zach askin' about the dinosaurs when we already sawed them?

* It's a bus that lowers so that strollers and wheelchairs and the frail can get on more easily. **Sadly, they only were coffee beans. ***The museum is undergoing extensive renovations. A large crane was lifting a load of something or other to the roof. +Because of the renovations, half the museum is closed, and so admittance is free. No tickets required. ++One of the boarded-off galleries. +++A display, showing the musculature of the face.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sorting it All Out, 2

It's a big ol' complicated world, and it takes some sorting out. George and Darcy have arranged the couch cushions on the floor. Darcy was hopping from one to the other - not allowed, as it happens - while George sat on one. His hopping curtailed, Darcy approaches George. Turns out George is being a police man, and the cushion is his car. Darcy is intrigued. "What are you doing in your police car?" "Just sittin' here watin' for terrible drivers." "And what do you do when you see one?" "I honk my horn and I chase them and I book them." (This boy has been watching too much television.) Darcy's a little concerned. "Police cars don't honk. Fire trucks honk their horn when they come to a corner, to say, '9-1-1! I'm coming through! 9-1-1!! Get out, cars!'" "But I'm talking about police cars." George is wrestling with the implications of Darcy's assertion, and fears he's losing out somehow. Darcy, however, sees no problem, and hastens to reassure. "Yeah, you're a police car, and police cars don't honk. Only fire trucks." This is not as comforting as Darcy had hoped, but in a second, George's face lights up. "Police cars go, 'Woo-woo-woo'!" George is thrilled with his brilliance. A siren outranks a horn any day. "That's right!" The boys nod in satisfaction. Bit by bit the pieces fall into place. We'll worry about the sirens on fire trucks some other day...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Potty Humour Goes Upscale

Took the tots to the Museum of Nature last week, and among the dinosaurs and reptiles and amphibians, plants, mammals, geology, birds, insects and rocks, we found this highly edifying artifact. Now you can toot in five languages. Me, I'm thinking they could have done better than a measly five...Oh, and all you Peters out there who thought your name meant "rock"?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fortune 500 - Look Out!

"Hey, guys, let's play store!" Emma has a PD day today. (PD means Professional Development day. Teachers go to workshops; children stay home and help their mommas in their daycares. I love PD days.) "Yes!" says Arthur. "And will you buy one of us?" "No, silly. I'm going to sell one of you to the gypsies." "Yay! I like gypsies!!" "No, really, what we're going to do first, is make ourselves some money." Emma distributes squares of white paper to the boys. "We'll make five dollar bills." "I wanna six dollar bill!" George is feeling a little competitive today. "Sorry. There's no such thing as six dollar bills. There's five dollars, ten, twenty, and a hundred. No six dollar bills." No fifty dollar bills apparently, either, but if Emma doesn't know this, a bunch of three-year-olds certainly don't need to. "Can I make a two dollar bills?" Darcy asks as he takes his paper. "No. There's no such thing as that, either. I'm not making coins today." Emma hands everyone a blue crayon. "Here you go." "Can I have a green crayon?" George asks. "What's the number I wrote on your bill, George?" "It's a five." "Right. And five dollar bills are blue. If you want a green one, I'll have to give you a different paper, and make yours a twenty dollar bill. So, do you want blue or green?" "Blue." Darcy wants green. "Because green is more than blue, George." Not bad for three, to figure out that twenty is more than five. Not bad at all. He decides to pursue this notion. "What's more than green, Emma?" "Purple. Ten dollars are purple." Arthur decides to make a purple bill. The boys happily occupied, Emma turns to Mia. "Okay, sweetie, would you like to colour some money for our store, too?" Yes, Mia most certainly would! Darcy looks up. "Mia should have pink money!" "That's a nice idea, Darcy, but there's no such thing as pink money." George begs to differ. "Yes, there is! My mummy gots pink moneys." Emma looks to me. I confirm, yes, there are pink bills. That would be the fifty she didn't know existed. "Fifty? That's a lot of moneys!" Darcy is impressed. "Mia's favourite colour is the colour of big moneys!" Big moneys. Way to go, Mia.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Couple of Quotes

Seen on a blackboard outside a business this morning: "Each generation is a fresh infestation of savages." -Harvey Allen From my pocket calendar: "Pretty much all the truth-telling done in the world is done by children." -anonymous Guess which one I think is a pile of ... diaper gleanings?

Friday, March 24, 2006

My Professionalism Save the Life of Yet Another Child

The children are getting ready to go out. My small front hall is a seething, giggling, chattering mass of hats, mittens, snowpants, splashpants, coats, down vests, fleece jackets, snow boots, rain boots, neck warmers, scarves. Some of these items actually clad the appropriate body part; the rest seem to be simmering in the writhing, screeching air above and around the mayhem below. As the clothing gradually accumulates on the right child, that child is then to sit on the step to one side of the hall, and order slowly returns. My working life, though, is a constant battle against the forces of entropy. Entropy which has snuck round behind me while I focussed on the chaos before. Taking advantage of the general bedlam, judging from the clods of dry mud and swaths of grit that carpet my living room floor, two or three little agents of entropy have managed to do a conga-line bunny hop in their crusty boots in the next room before sitting down. Gah! All the children dressed, ready, and sat, I proceed with only slightly snarky attitude to sweep the floor. Sam, that nine-year-old master of the verbal mis-step, watches me and comments,

"You're kind of wasting our time, you know."
Ah, youth, that halcyon morning of our lives when the world and all its doings revolves around our every whim. How fortunate that he has me to act his mentor, training, teaching, leading him to the afternoon of his life! I am so pleased - so very pleased - to help him take the next few stumbling steps of growth, to explain to him the error of his thinking. My smile, as I guide him gently into the paths of maturity, is more of a grimace than a caress, but I do refrain from snarling, and the boy lives still. I am a good woman.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

good vocabulary

George: "If you let a baby play with these, you have to supervise him closely." Darcy: "If a baby eats this, he will get a bellyache." George: "Yes, that's why you need to supervise him closely." Can you tell the boy's mother has her PhD?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Quiz for You - and the Answer

Darcy brought us all into the living room so we could see this. Can you see it? Know what you're looking at? Take your best guess!

Oh, so many good guesses! The one thing I couldn't tell you (but I've now told Si in the comments) is that Darcy has a little sister named Alyssia. Ah-ha! "Hey! Come see! It's A-for-Alyssia!" Congratulations to Kyra and Mama Grouch, (a new and evidently brilliant reader) who figured it out!

Light-hearted bullet dodging

Thought you would enjoy this. I received this email from Arthur's mother yesterday morning: Thought you’d like to know about this conversation we had this morning as I came into the kitchen for breakfast: Dad: Good morning. There’s an egg on the table for you, and a bowl of fruit on the counter. Arthur: And a glass of wine. Me: Wine? No, not for breakfast… Arthur: Why not? Me, being slightly dogmatic: Because most people don’t drink wine during the day – because they have to work and think and be sharp. Wine is for dinner when you’re going to relax. Arthur, after a significant pause: MARY drinks wine during the day. (Does this mean that there might be a glass waiting for me at the door some afternoon?) ----------- Fun and cute, right? Except that I've had parents who have quizzed me on my drinking practices after a perfect innocuous accident involving some alcohol-free tonic water. Thankfully, Arthur's parents are not of this ilk. (Which ilk would be "anal and suspicious".) Still, I err on the side of caution in my doings with the parents: no joshing - and certainly not in writing! - about the amount of alcohol I might be sloshing back during the course of a working day. (Though lord knows some days I could use a stiff shot of something or other...) My email to mom: I'm thinking this is an example of authority one-upmanship. Just as I am regularly assured that YES, mummy and daddy DO allow all manner of activites and behaviours (you'd be amazed what goes on in your home), he's trying the "MARY does..." with you. I guess I'm now officially an Authority Figure. Mary p.s. I'm more of a gin and tonic or beer woman, generally, but I'll see what I can do about the wine. :-) And mom to me: Yes, that was exactly his intent and tone, no doubt in reaction to my dogmatic tone. Cute, huh? In any other profession, you could have this exchange and you would have only one reaction: "that was fun". My reaction is twofold: a grin at a fun exchange with a nice parent, and a sigh of relief at having dodged a potential bullet. Kids say the darnest things -- and that can be a scary proposition!

Playdough Recipe

Ask and you shall receive... In fact, my recipe comes from the More With Less Cookbook, our family's primary cookbook, put out by the Mennonite Central Committee. (No, I'm not Mennonite, but I went to university in an area of the country jam-packed with them! To this day, when I find myself at an occasion where people have segregated themselves by gender - you know, all the men at one table, or down one side of the picnic table, all the women on the other side - I think of it as "sitting Mennonite", a term used by the Mennonite students themselves in gentle self-deprecation.) I don't follow the recipe exactly, though, so here's my variation of the MWL recipe: Mix together in a bowl: 2 cups flour 2 tablespoons alum In a pot, heat to boiling: 2 cups water (cookbook says 1.5 cups) 1/2 cup salt 1 tablespoon oil food colouring Stir liquids into dry ingredients. Knead* until smooth. Store in airtight container. *Kneading can be a treat, given that the stuff is boiling hot! Put on a pair of rubber gloves and rub a dot of oil onto the palms to prevent the dough from sticking. Knead lightly at first: it becomes less sticky as it cools. I sometimes put out a sheet of wax paper to knead on to prevent it sticking to the counter. (Sometimes. More often I forget...)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Come Again?

Sam: Is today the 21st? Me: Yes, it is. Sam: Well, last year it was the 22nd now.

Playdough Press

Take a blob of playdough and a garlic press. Put together with a mechanically-inclined child, and you have hours - well, 45 minutes at least - of absorption.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Earthy Vernacular

The boys are playing with the playdough. We've finally made another batch, and they thoroughly enjoy its bright yellow creamy softness. They are busily playing away at the dining room table as I sit on the couch writing to you, and the murmur of their chatter flows around my concentration. It's a nice sound, punctuated by frequent giggles. Gradually, though, I realise that I'm hearing the same rhythmic pulse over and over again. They have been playing a lot with rhythm these days. Stories that have a pulse, chants, poetry - they revel in them. Recently we've been reading Hippos Go Berserk, much to everyone's glee. So, the boys are chanting as they play. How delightful. My attention caught, my ears belatedly comprehend: "Put your playdough up your aaaaass!" Followed by lovely melodious little-boy giggles. Hmmm...Well, it's rhythmic! And it's risque. You can see the appeal. However, it is my job to civilise them, and this is unquestionably vulgar. They've already had a nice, satisfactory wallow in toddler naughtiness, but the forces of propriety and order, namely, me, are about to assert themselves once more. The problem is, you give this stuff attention, you reward it. I'm not shocked, but I don't want to encourage it. The solution? Be oblique. Indirect often works best in this situation. "What was that, guys? I didn't quite hear you?" Oh, so casual. I keep my gaze on my laptop as I speak, look up only as I finish the question. No piercing glances from me. Because I haven't heard anything untoward, oh, no. "Oh," says George, generally the quickest on his mental feet in such chancey situations, "I was just talkin' to Darcy and Arthur." The tone of voice is casual, but the grin is wicked. In another twenty years, this boy will be just the kind of man who caused me a lot of trouble in my youth. "All right, then," say I, and their conversation moves seamlessly into less bawdy realms. My mission accomplished, I return to posting photographs for your entertainment. The forces of propriety have spoken, the vulgarity reigned in. This is only standard three-year-old mischief, and after all, even such well-brought-up, obedient, and generally civilized little men can enjoy a dip into the earthy vernacular from time to time.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday Throw-away

I'll be back to normal posting next week, when I'm back to work, but for today, those of you who enjoy yer pint (and have a sense of humour) might enjoy this. Just occurred to me. If I were totally into St. Patrick's day - which, despite my predilection for Irish Cream Ales, I'm not, unlike so many of my American friends - I'd have posted this yesterday! You can pretend I did.

Friday, March 17, 2006

She's Got it All

The iPod, the Team Canada hockey jerkey (Yay, Women!!), and the big red bow (courtesy of Emma and some flowers I received earlier this week). Mia has moved beyond pink.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gift Ideas

I was cleaning up at the end of my workday, when I hit upon the Perfect gift. I was envisioning all my parents contributing to this wonderful, personal, supportive gift. All you out there who have caregivers, I'm about to tell you something that will make your caregiver love you forever. No favour you ask - well, almost - will ever be too great, from here on in. You ready? The monthly, or bi-monthly services of a cleaning service! There are six of them. So, if they each paid for two days, that would get me monthly cleaning. If they paid for four days each, I could have someone come in and beat back the grime twice a month. I can only imagine such luxury.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is this Weird, or is it Just Me?

I was checking out some blogs on the weekend, and stumbled across a few blogs from New Zealand. One little family decided to take a trip to Zion Wildlife Preserve for the day. A family trip to see big wild cats - what could be nicer on a warm, sunny day (which they're having down there, this being the end of their summer)? It's very exciting! Look! You can take your child, and they can stick their hands through the bars and pet the nice kitty! And look to the right of this shot. See that gap? When your child has petted the kitty, the kitty can stick his paw through and pet your baby!! I know we're risk-phobic in this neck of the world - it's a trait that drives me nuts most days - and I can see that the dad in this shot has a firm grip on the child, but even for me, this is pretty wild...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Draw a House

Found this at Ms. Sisyphus. If you have time this is kind of fun. Your older children, home on school break, might enjoy trying this out, too! You draw a house, and then you are provided with an in-depth analysis of your personality. Well, an analysis. Your kids will probably like doing it without the analysis, though that might increase the entertainment factor for you! If you like, you can see my house. (Obviously, someone has lots of time on her hands...) You don't get to colour it until the very last step, which might have changed how I proceeded if I'd realized! Still, as you can see, I had a lot of fun with the colour. You can also see my character analysis there, too. Let's see... You are sensitive and indecisive at times. (Check) You are a freedom lover and a strong person. (Check) You love your house and family. (Yes, indeed) You are a gifted artist as well. (I laugh out loud...) Once you have a problem, you need a friend with you. (Sometimes, I guess. Other times I prefer to worry it through on my own.) Your life is always full of changes. (Not particularly.) You are very tidy person. (Picture me rolling about on the floor laughing at this one.) There's nothing wrong with that because you're pretty popular among friends. (No idea, though I doubt it. Friends are important, popularity isn't. Why would there be anything wrong with being tidy, anyway?) Your life is always full of changes. (Not really.) You will avoid being alone and seek the company of others whenever possible. (Absolutely NOT true.) You love excitement and create it wherever you go. (So NOT true.) You see the world as it is, not as you believe it should be. (I like to think so.) You added a flower into your drawing. The flower signifies that you long for love. (Don't long. Got it.) We also see that you are sensuous, sexual, and privately passionate. (No comment. Like it says, privately.) You are self-confident and happy with your life. (Yes.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I Forgot to Mention...

that the upcoming week is the school Spring Break, and I have closed the daycare, too. I don't know if I'll post or not over the week, but if I don't, I will be back on Monday, March 20. Yay, a week off! I need it!

You know, I think I know that pushy kid... and I think I know the poor trampled-over one, too... I bet you've met them, too! (I'm hoping none of you are that big dork in the blue.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Eating Green, the Direct Way (Updated)

(This is the second installment in a two-part series. The first installment, Eating Green, the Devious Way, was published in January.) Food and your toddler. It starts out as normal toddler negativity: "Just Say No" is the toddler motto for life, after all. It doesn't take them long to realize that this one is a real hot button for mom and dad. He gets the best reactions, such a lovely lot of intense attention, when he refuses to eat something; she discovers that if she holds out long enough and loud enough, she will never have to eat anything but lovely pasta and raisins! Today. Tomorrow it will be Only Foods that are White. But, short of holding their nose and popping something in when they gasp for air, what can you do? Not that this technique can prevent them from spitting it out, anyway. In fact, I am often astonished at how much difficulty parents have with this one, because in the end, it's one you are bound to win. Really. The first thing to establish is whether there's a genuine problem. Toddlers are faddish eaters; one day they only want white stuff, another day they only want beans. Track your child's food intake over a week. If their diet is balanced over the course of the week, there's no problem. Their daily intake may not make the grade, but if their weekly intake is balanced and healthy, you needn't worry. Secondly, it's normal for the intake to decrease a bit in the second year of life, because, though they are still growing steadily, they are not growing at the incredible rate of their first year. So, if his intake has dropped, but it's still balanced - protein, fruit, vegetables, grain, dairy - there is no problem. But what if they are really, truly refusing to eat a necessary part of their diet? Not refusing one particular item, but refusing an entire class of food? I've focussed on vegetables, because this is very commonly the issue, but the technique I'm about to reveal works for any food. Before we start, are YOU ready? Look deep into your souls, mom and dad: are you ready to make a stand on this? Are you capable of being MORE stubborn than your toddler? Are you willing to let your child suffer the consequences of her own decisions? Said consequences will almost certainly be some mondo tantrums. (For assistance in dealing with trantrums, check out this, this, and this.) It takes some parental spine, but, if you've got that, the vegetable issue can very rapidly become a non-issue. Really. So you've decided you can do this. Good. So here's the plan. It's very simple. You prepare a meal. You dish it out to everyone except the picky child. The picky child gets ONLY the vegetable portion of the meal. A very small portion. In the case of phenomenally stubborn children, a single green bean on the plate. At this point, it's the principle of the thing. So there you sit, you with your plate full of goodies, and your tot with his beans. Tot will look at your plates and say "What's with the bean? I want the good stuff!" And you will say, "As soon as you eat your bean(s) you may have the rest of your meal." You state it clearly, firmly, non-apologetically. You do not coax, you do not wheedle. "As soon as you eat your bean, you may have the rest of your meal." He will argue, he will roar, he will rail against the machine. You will repeat. "First your bean, then you other food." But what happens if she entirely refuses? What happens if she WILL NOT eat that bean? Well, she'll get hungry. ARGH! My baby will BE HUNGRY!!! What kind of a parent am I?? You're the kind of parent who knows that, given time and opportunity, your child will make good decisions for himself. You trust your child. Your child will not starve himself. Unless he/she has some serious mental disorder, a healthy child will eat. Eventually. So, there you sit at the table, you with your plateful of yummynutrtitious food, your toddler with their single bean. You are maintaining outward calm. Though you may be sweating a bit, you will not reveal this to your child. Your toddler is probably not quiet, at all. You toddler is probably ranting and roaring, livid with fury that YOU would do this to HER. But remember, mommies and daddies: YOU aren't doing this to her. SHE is. Give her long enough to know you're serious. Make it at least 90 seconds. But really, there is no reason you should have to put up with being screamed at during your meal, so at the end of 90 seconds to three minutes, you ask him, in a light and cheerful voice, "So. You ready to eat that bean yet?" The answer will almost certainly be an unqualified 'No!'." So then you say, again, in your oh, so light and up-beat voice, "Well, then, I guess you're not hungry. Away you go and play." And you lift him down. If he stays to scream at your elbow, you gently but firmly take him somewhere else. If you don't have a time-out spot, his crib works fine. (You may ignore the screaming. The issue is the food.) "When you're ready to play quietly, you can come out." And you leave, back to your meal. When they calm down, you get them out. And not before. What if the child is not ranting and roaring, but merely sits in sullen silence and refuses the single bean? You ignore her. Once in a while, no more often than every two minutes, you may ask/offer the reminder, "You ready to eat that bean yet? When you eat that bean, you may have the rest of your meal." If she refuses, you go back to your dinner conversation. You do not bathe her in attention. You do not look worried, you do not coax. It is the child's choice, and you are respecting it. When you are finished your meal, you ask one more time, and then, if the answer is still no, you do as above: "I guess you're not hungry. You may get down now." Now what? You've eaten, but your child, you know it, is still hungry. You can't let your child go hungry!!! And once again, I remind you: YOU aren't letting your child go hungry, YOUR CHILD IS. In an hour, you ask if he's hungry. If he is, you smile warmly (but don't go wild with delight) you bring him to the table, and you present him with -- That. Damned. Bean. Again. (If he's gone all contrary and says he's not hungry, Do Not Argue. "Oh, all right then," you will say, and move on to the next thing. We are removing the emotional charge to this subject, so it will be less attractive to the child as a button to push.) Lather, rinse, repeat, hourly or half-hourly. The child will be offered nothing but the offending food until the next meal, when she gets a fresh start. With a different vegetable. (BWAH-hahaha...) But remember: nothing but this till the next meal. Even if the next meal is breakfast. You can do it. How long will this take? It varies wildly from child to child. Some will cave during the very first meal. Others will persist, but I promise you: if you do this with 100% consistency, it WILL work, usually within five days.* While you are sweating through the tantrums and trauma (and trust me, the trauma is far more yours than your child's!), bear the goal in mind. At the end of this, you will have a child who will sit down and eat what is on their plate, with no fuss. You do not quit with this program until this has happened. At the very worst, a stern look should be all that's required. At the VERY worst. Ninety percent of the time, it will be a non-issue. Focus on that goal in these difficult days: food will be a non-issue. It is not a pipe dream. After this, you needn't worry about taking the child other places to eat. After this, you can kindly avoid serving the one or two items your child hates, because you know they're genuine dislikes and not knee-jerk negativity. After this, you will never again - never again! - have to wheedle and coax. After this, you can just cook a meal without breaking into a cold sweat. After this, mealtimes will be happy times once more. You can do it!

*(Updated bit: When I say "within five days", I do not mean the child will eat nothing for five days! I mean the child will stop fussing about eating what they're given within five days. They may stare glumly and sigh, but they have accepted the inevitable: no more screaming and fighting.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, March 10, 2006

Penalty Block

Darcy has been to a fair number of hockey games in his short life. He explains some of the subtleties to his friends. "If you do a bad thing to another player, you'll go to the penalty." Arthur grasps this concept somewhat incompletely, and remarks to George, "At ten o'clock you have to come with me and go to the penalty." George is having nothing of this. "No I won't go with you. I don't have a penalty." He's a little indignant at having been so impugned. Darcy tries a second time. "You don't go when you want to. It's only if you do something bad." Arthur is not to be deflected. "Come here, George, and I will give you this penalty." George and Darcy look at his offering in some disdain. "That's a block. A penalty isn't a block. It's where you go if you were bad to another player." "It's like the Quiet Stair, Arthur," George adds. "Yeah," Darcy concurs. I'm impressed. It is like the quiet stair. The parallel is perfect. "But I wanted to give this penalty to George," Arthur insists, holding out the block. Evidently, Arthur's mind is made up and is not to be deflected by mere facts. "That's NOT a penalty!!" Darcy and George bellow together in exasperation. George makes an appeal to the referee. "Mary, can you tell Arthur to go sit on the Quiet Stair? He's not listening to us at all." Two minutes to Arthur for wilfull oblivion.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Head's Getting Sore, What with all the Bashing It into Walls I'm Doing these Days

"I'm tired. We're walking too fast." "I don't think so, Arthur. Look, the other boys are running. Why don't you go run with them?" We are in fact proceeding down the street at standard toddler pace, an erratic shuffle: occasional full stops to check out specks of dirt and peed-on snow lumps alternating with sudden darts up the sidewalk. On average, we amble. The boy is not being force-marched. "No. My legs are tired. They don't want to run." "Well, there's no other way to get home but by walking. You can walk with me, or you can run with them. It's up to you." "But we're walking too fast for my legs." "Arthur. Walk with me, or run with George and Darcy. No complaining." "But my le--" "Arthur." The rest of the ten-minute walk is accomplished with Arthur, holding on to the stroller as he mutters non-stop under his breath. Well, what passes for Arthur as under his breath, and I opt to ignore it. "...too fast...tired legs...heavy boots...don't want to run...tired...walk too far...walk too much...tired...don't like walking...sore feet...tired..." The litany ends when we reach our front porch. Arthur is the first one in, and the second one out of his winter gear. Freed of snowsuit, he bounds into the livingroom. "Hey, Darcy!! Let's RUN!!!!"

Skank Barbie, Update

Blogging Baby did pick up the post - aren't they efficient? You can find it here. The BB blogger who wrote the post, Melissa, comments that she's not one to demand a product be pulled, because every parent has the right to make these choices for themselves. Upon reading that, I realized that this is probably what many thought I was suggesting, when in fact, that wasn't foremost in my mind. So, to clarify: How you write your letter is entirely up to you. My letter will not not say, "This is a disgusting product! Stop making it this instant!" (If that's what you want to say, you go right ahead and say that. It's a good message!) My letter, however, will say, "This is a disgusting product, I'm disappointed in you, Mattel, for dreaming it up, and here is why I would never, ever buy it." I figure, if enough people write that kind of letter, the product will be discontinued, without anyone demanding that they do so. So, write your letter with whatever slant seems best to you. It doesn't matter, so long as you write that letter!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Barbie Rides the Skank Wagon

All right, folks. This is Mattel's latest offering to our little girls: Bling Bling Barbie. Never mind the body image concerns so many have about Barbie, this latest incarnation goes way beyond that. I'm not going to list the many, many things that are wrong with this doll. I think it's self-explanatory. This toy is being marketed to 6 - 8 year olds, and the doll herself is supposed to be sixteen. SIXTEEN. I'm pleased and proud (and entirely unsurprised) to announce that my 20-year-old has never, ever dressed like this. I want to start a letter-writing campaign. There is an online petition, but letters, by virtue of taking that little bit more effort, carry more weight. Mattel's address is: Mattel, Inc. 333 Continental Boulevard El Segundo, CA 90245-5012 310-252-2000 tel 310- 252-2180 fax Strong protest pulled the "Math is Hard!" Barbie. We can get rid of Barbie the Skank, too.


"I made a 'D'!" George straightens his back and looks at his creation. Sure enough, a long and wobbling upper-case 'D' stretches across the page in front of him. Darcy looks up and nods approval before returning to his own page. "I'm writing a sign that says for firemen to go to the fire." "You are? What letters are you writing?" George peers at Darcy's page. "Purple!"

She's Not Blond

I was complaining of the ringing in my ear that sometimes happens. "Why don't you wear ear plugs?" suggested my friend.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Through a Mirror, Dimly

"Arthur, please lower your voice." "I'M NOT BEING LOUD!" "Yes, you are. Please lower your voice." "BUT I'M NOT SHOUTING." "Perhaps not, but you're TALKING LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME AND I'M TIRED OF IT." "Why are you shouting?"

Monday, March 06, 2006

You Didn't Want to Know This, Dads...

...but when your son's caregiver, who has changed many, many baby boys and has some basis of comparison, catches sight, while changing a diaper or assisting on the toilet, of the smallest penis she's ever seen on a small child, she does wonder about the paternal version...

The Wall is Put to the Test

Mary is craving spring, and even though it's a good five or six weeks till it arrives without further chance of snow here in Ottawa, some sponge stickers caught my optimistic - desperate? - eye on the weekend. Here the children bedeck their construction paper grass with pastel foam tulips and bright red ladybugs. Zach adds a few personal touches with a pen. Storage for the artwork till mummies and daddies arrive has always been a problem, and then I found a great idea in a book, also on the weekend. Cool, huh? The clothes pegs are plastic, in various pastel shades.

And, of course, Zach had to try it out...
Seems it works like a charm!
I am delighted.
p.s. This post was written a week ago. A little more painting has occurred since then. One day I will post final pictures!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday Toss-off

You can expect more tales of the tots tomorrow, when I'm back to work, but for now those of you who appreciate yer pint now and then might get a chuckle from thisbr>

Good News!

This is a joke (though it has the ring of authenticity to it, not the least because I think the dad is being a Big Meanie to refuse his kids their mother's company in a scary storm just because he's coming home that night...) But it's funny!!

Several years ago, I returned home from a trip just when a storm hit, with crashing thunder and severe lightning. As I came into my bedroom about 2 a.m., I found my two children in bed with my wife, Emily, apparently scared by the loud storm. I resigned myself to sleeping in the guest bedroom that night. The next day, I talked to the children, and explained that it was o.k. to sleep with Mom when the storm was bad, but when I was expected home, please don't sleep with Mom that night. They said OK. After my next trip several weeks later, Emily and the children picked me up in the terminal at the appointed time. Since the plane was late, everyone had come into the terminal to wait for my plane's arrival, along with hundreds of other folks waiting for their arriving passengers. As I entered the waiting area, my son saw me, and came running shouting, "Hi, Dad! I've got some good news!" "What's the good news?" "Nobody slept with Mommy while you were away this time!" Philip shouted. The airport became very quiet, as everyone in the waiting area looked at Philip, then turned to me, and then searched the rest of the area to see if they could figure out exactly who his mom was.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

(Mostly) Only the Canadians will Get This

Rick Mercer's blog is one of the Blogs of Note these days. I will say up front that I generally don't like sneering Rick: clever as he undoubtedly is, knee-jerk cynicism and nay-saying makes me change the channel fast. It's too simple a response for the intelligent, an easy way out - simpler to sneer than to think through the issues, and maybe, just maybe, see some grey areas, give the opposing way of thought its due from time to time. Knee-jerk cynicism is the adolescent's way of pretending to be mature and worldly-wise. Having said all that, this one made me grin:

Friday, March 03, 2006


I've got it, too.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Reeling, I Am

It's been an eventful week, and no, I'm not talking about the painting. I'm talking about the pooing. Oh, the pooing. (WHAT? Why haven't you mentioned this before?? Well, because there are only so many things I can talk about in one post a day. Lots of things happened: Our van is having work done on a radiator that blew up this week. I've been sewing up a storm for Emma's costume for her school musical. I also had a couple of interviews - and have one person who has said she'll be signing on. Yahoo! So, lots of things.) Back to the pooing. Oh, the pooing. There's a reason George and Darcy have revisited the topic in their play. It seemed innocuous at first. Little Nigel is on antibiotics for an ear infection, and of course it's effected his gut: lots of...activity. This is not a "keep-the-child-home" event, as it's not contagious. Inconvenient for me, no doubt, but not contagious, and, despite a couple of up-to-the-armpits explosions of green goo - don't you just love scooping the stuff out of a child's bellybutton?? - nothing too out of the ordinary. As long as it's not contagious. Then a mommy was sick for a day. Then the mommy's son came down with it. Then another tot had a bout of the oozing ick, and had to go home mid-day. Then another child was kept home. Then one of the after-school boys had a violent bout of losing everything possible from both ends, all one long, long night. He's home sick now. A daddy collapsed with an exceedingly violent bout. Seems the older you are, the worse it is. Emma is laying on the couch looking green even as I type, tentatively nibbling on a slice of dry toast after a night of spewing. I was marvelling over this in the "fascinated by the horror" way you watch the replay of a nasty skiing fall, or the pictures of a multi-car pile-up in the paper, with the father of the only child who has NOT succumbed. "Wow," said the dad. "Isn't that wild? My child had diarrhoea for four nights running, ending a couple of nights ago. One bout at three a.m., every night. Apart from that, they've been perfectly normal." PARDON?? Your child had the squits at three in the morning, and you sent him to me five hours later? THREE DAYS RUNNING? (Four nights, three days because there was a weekend in there.) And you don't SEE ANY CONNECTION between that, and the mysterious spread of this disease to EVERY OTHER KID in the daycare? And now you're TELLING ME???? I didn't kill him. Because I am a professional. And he's evidently an idiot. Didn't even see the significance of what he was telling me, nor grasp the mind-numbing irresponsibility of it. You can't get mad at the mentally deficient, now, it's just not fair. At the end of that day, when I'd had time to calm down, I had a quiet talk with him about my sick child policy, of which he claimed to be completely unaware. (Oh, come on. Most parents give me a phone call when something like this happens, just to find out what I think. Like I should need a policy to promote common sense? Though of course, I do need one. Which is why I HAVE ONE IN THE CONTRACT.) Today I sent an email to the entire daycare list, reminding them of said sick child policy which states that children are to be kept home for 24 hours following vomitting, diarrhoea, and/or a fever above 100F/37.5C. Just in case anyone else is thinking of losing their minds. I'm still reeling. A child has diarrhoea every night for four nights, and you send them to daycare. What was he thinking? It's enough to make a woman want to call in sick.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Playdough and Poop Cones - three minutes of Darcy and George

"I’m making dog poop." "You are?" "Uh-huh. See?" "Well, I’m making cookies." "You want to know how to make dog poop, Darcy?" "Okay, George." "Well, you take your playdough like this, and you wole, wole, wole it, and then you fladden it out. You fladden it out like this. Then you wole it some more and make a pile, and that’s dog poop. Then you fladden it out again and make a cake. You make a cake like this, and it’s all nice and warm." (Mmm...Warm dog poop cake.) "Now we need to wash our hands." (My heart warms: my training is paying off!) "Yes! Wash, wash, wash, wash, wash." "When we’re doing making one cake, we can make some more dog poop, and then we can make another cake! My cake is made out of chocolate. Chocolate poop." "Now I need to make a surprise, George." (What? Warm chocolate dog poop cake isn't surprising enough for you?) "Is it dog poop?" "No, it’s a house." "With people in it?" "No, it doesn’t have people in it. It just has pretend people in it." "And dog poop?" (Surprise!) "No, 'cuz they don’t gots a dog." "I will make them a dog." "But your dog can’t poop in the house, only in the yard." "I will make you a dog pooping on the ground outside, a dog pooping on the ground." "I’m making pine cones for the ground outside." "Hey, your pine cones look like dog poop!" George is delighted. "Yes, but they’re pine cones." Darcy is firm. "Pine cones?" A little coaxing. "Pine cones." More firmness. "That look like dog poop." "They’re poop cones." Impish grin from Darcy. "Poop cones?!?" Bawdy laughter from the both of them. Yeah, and the poop cones will keep the bad guys away from my house. (I'll just bet.) And now we need to wash our hands again. Yeah. Wash, wash, wash, wash, wash.