Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Fridge

I have a fridge magnet collection. I'm note sure if I started the it, or if it was thrust upon me, but I have quite a few now, and there seems to be a theme to most of them: My two favourites are "I was put on this planet to..." and "Can't think...blood rushing..." My least favourite is, "You spend the first two years..." Which do you like best? (If you have trouble reading them, click on the picture for the larger version.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Later and Later bedtimes

When does your tot go to bed? Your school-age child? Your teen? Chances are increasing, statistically, that the answer is "too late". The Globe and Mail published an article* a while back discussing childrens' bedtimes, and how they're getting later, generation by generation. Is this because we need less sleep than a generation or two ago? No. Does this explain road rage? Probably. Does this help explain the huge increase in behavioural disabilities? I'm almost certain of it. We take great pride in our "busy-ness". Ask anyone how they've been lately, and they say, with a rueful grin, "Busy." And we all nod sagely, yes, yes, we know how it is. And we do know how it is, of course. We adults also get all macho about how little sleep we need. We boast about our late nights, and, if we're in the minority who get to bed at a healthy hour, we feel compelled to apologize for our un-coolness. Going to bed before exhaustion hits is seen as a weakness. This is wrong. Just plain wrong. Our children need their sleep, they're not getting it, and it is not good enough to lay all the blame at the altar of busy-ness. One blogger not too long ago said their family couldn't use a certain method of sleep-training because their lifestyle would be too constrained if they had to 'make their lives stop' for sleep and nap-time. To a certain extent, there is justification in this position. If the only time you can get the child to a necessary appointment is during afternoon nap, well, you prepare for a cranky child and you take them anyway. As long as it's necessary, and there is no other time to do it. Once in a while. But if your life is set up in such a way that your child is consistently getting less sleep than they need, this is a problem, and, for your child's health, you need to make some adjustments. I once had clients who requested that I give their child shorter naps in the daytime, as they were having trouble getting him to sleep at night. (Actually, this happens all the time, but I am thinking of a specific family right now.) As I do with all families who make this request, I explain that before we start tweaking with the child's sleep/wake schedule, we need to know what that schedule is. I give them some charts, and instruct them on how to fill them out. I'll do the same at my end, and we'll talk in three weeks. Their discovery? Though they thought their schedule was reliable with a few exceptions, their charts showed them that their "normal" bedtime was the exception. Once they started putting him to bed at the same time every night - which meant leaving that dinner at a friend's house early, or hiring a sitter instead of taking tot along - he fell asleep with no difficulty. Routine is so important! What does your child need? The chart on the left is pretty standard. (It is also a link to the site from which I copied it. I didn't spend a lot of time checking it out, but it seems a good one!) There are those that suggest more sleep for certain ages, but none that suggest less is better. If your child is getting consistently less than what is indicated, it is possible that your child genuinely doesn't need as much sleep. It is possible, but, frankly, it is not likely. I had a friend who believed that her daughter, then age 7 or so, didn't need more than seven hours sleep. "She goes to bed at ten, and she bounces out at five in the morning. And then she just goes, goes, goes all day." All this energy must mean the child was well-rested, right? Well, no. Counter-intuitive as it might be, I often see under-rested children who charge like maniacs through their day. I call it "being in overdrive". Strangely, when this child had sleepovers at our home, I'd pop her in bed at eight, the same time as my same-age daughter - and she'd sleep till seven! Was it too surprising that she was having trouble in school? I think not. A good night's sleep might not solve all her school problems (though it might!) but it would certainly help! I am disturbed by the number of under-rested children who come through my daycare, whiney and prone to tantrums until I replace their lost sleep with solid naps. Teachers are concerned about the number of tired children they see, droopy, irritable, unable to focus and concentrate. And what about the manic children, who may not immediately appear to be "tired"? What about the sleep-deprived adults, who make small driving errors that put others at risk, adults who are irritable on the road, in airplanes, at the office, and blame everyone and everything except their bedtime? There are too many tired people out there, and it is not a good thing for our society!

*I'd provided a link, but when I checked to see that it worked, it turns out that since April 8, when the article was published, the Globe has begun requiring that you be a paid online subscriber to view it! Sorry about that!

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, April 28, 2006

You Have the Power

Three little boys pound by, one at each end and one in the middle of a long strip of fabric. Round and round and round they go. Dining room, living room, hall, dining room, living room, hall...

You tolerate these things when toddlers have been stuck indoors by the rain for three days. It's only fair. Oh! The child at the end is shouting in distress! "Hey, guys!" he shouts. "Stop! Stop! Stop!" "What's wrong?" I ask the distressed one they pound past me where I stand in the living room door. "I'm tired of running! I don't want to run any more! Stop! Stop! STOP!!!" His voice trails into the distance down the hall. I wait. They're in the dining room. They're back in the living room. Yell at distressed boy as they pass, "If you don't want to run, then let go!" Child vanishes into the hall, his cries trailing like a banner behind. "Stop! Stop! Stooooop!" Dining room, back to living room. He calls to me, "WHaaAaAAaat?" "LET! GO!!" Child drops his arms. "oh." The other two thunder into the distance. There is peace.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Couth? You Want Couth?

Well, you won't find it here. George and Darcy are skipping round in small, thunderous circles. Skipping is the wrong word, really, belonging as it does in the same category as "frolic", "lyrical", "diaphanous". Brings to mind fields full of buttercups inhabited by fluffy bunnies and those ladies all dressed in white from the sanitary napkin commercials. The boys' version of "skipping" is more related to "thud", "gallumph", and "ponderous", and conjures up something entirely more earthbound than ladies in white eyelet. So. The boys are skipping, and as they skip, Darcy, showing remarkable ability to fit music to event, sings:

"SWING your partner round and round! BLOW a fart and knock them down!"
Apropos, no?

If You Want Your Caregiver to Hate you and Your Child, part 2

...or, you could send him with one of THESE!!!! You'd think the whistles would be worse, but given their general ineptitude with the whistles - they tended to wrap their lips right over the hole, thus muting themselves - and their unparalleled skill at hammering, this was much, much louder. And, no, it wasn't in the slightest musical. With a few guidelines (no more than two kids at a time, and only one finger on each hand per kid) it was tolerable, but really. What are they thinking? Tip to all you nice mommies and daddies out there: ASK before sending noisy toys to daycare! Sheesh.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

If You Want Your Caregiver to Hate you and Your Child...

Just send him to daycare with a few of these babies round his neck...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Entertainment Doesn't Come Cheap Around Here...

On a bleak and drippy Monday morning, the children yearn to be outside. In truth, Mary yearns for the children to be outside, too. All that boundless energy severely bound by the four walls of this small home. But what is it that so rivets them all? In the grey, drizzly, chill April Monday, what captures their attention? Alas, it is our poor car, which, it turns out, dislikes the wet as much as I. More, in fact, for whereas I will force myself out of my warm bed despite the dreariness of the day, the car will not. Ah well. Fifteen minutes of silence, as they stood welded to my front window is worth quite a bit. Though not, perhaps quite so much as all that.

Monday, April 24, 2006

But what does it Do?

I read about a family that paid $900 US (US!! about 1,035 CDN) for a stroller. I want to know: what does it do to be worth that kind of money? Does it have its own engine for that extra boost up those steep hills? Does it come complete with generator to run the bottle-warmer and baby-wipe heater? It's an American gadget, so it will have a drink holder, of course. Does it make cappucinos to put into the holder? I mean, really. Now, being in the business, I own three strollers, the largest of which cost $960 US ($1100 CDN) when I bought it four years ago. My stroller, however, seats four. I have used it for four years; I fully expect to be using it at least another four, probably something over twice as long a stroller is used by a one-child family. What, oh what, does a $900 single-baby stroller do to be worth that kind of money? What does it do that a $300 stroller doesn't do? Or a $150 stroller? Or a $50 stroller? Or, for that matter, the $18 umbrella strollers I keep for the occasions when I want to take a baby on the bus? Blows me away. Truly, it does.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunrise, Sunset...

So here's what happens if you happen to like people who are cultured AND mellow:

You Are Sunrise
You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary. You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward. Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts. All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.
You Are Sunset
Even though you still may be young, you already feel like you've accomplished a lot in life. And you feel free to pave your own path now, and you're not even sure where it will take you. Maybe you'll pursue higher education in a subject you enjoy - or travel the world for a few years. Either way, you approach life with a relaxed, open attitude. And that will take you far!

Saturday, April 22, 2006


A couple of years ago, children started with me at five or six months old. Now they start at a year. Although I firmly believe the year-long mat. leaves are much better for the family, for me it was easier with six-month-olds. (I cannot speak through direct experience to caring for four- or six-WEEK-old babies (except my own!) but my educated guess would that it would be still more straightforward. More hands-on, yes, but straightforward. These children don't know where their bodies end and the rest of the world begins. They're not likely to make strange...) Six-month-olds, bless them, tend to coo when a new person holds them, and reward the smiling stranger with radiant smiles of their own. Year-old children tend to cling to momma's thigh, view the smiling stranger with a frown of suspicion and wail when momma leaves. This makes my working environment a little stressful for the adjustment period, indeed. Fretful clinginess is the norm, to be juggled with the normal needs of three or four or five other tots. (The others are generally quite concerned and solicitious, but New Baby doesn't generally appreciate their attention!) However, awkward and labour-intensive as it is for me, it is the parents who truly suffer. The parents. Oh, the poor parents. Their tot suffers in their own way, it's true, but it's the parents who agonise. The parents, who remember the tear-filled wails at drop-off all day long. The parents, who worry throughout the day, staring at that picture of baby on their desk, hearing the cries echo in their ears through their working hours, who yearn to sooth and reassure - and can't. Who know that, were it not for their decision (even when it really wasn't much of a choice), baby would be safe in their arms, not wailing at a stranger's house. Baby has his/her moments of anxiety at the door, then gets a lovely cuddle, feels better, maybe a has snack and a bottle, goes out to play in the park, swings on the swing, listens to a story, gets fed some more. Whenever the newness of the situation hits them anew? More snuggles, more cuddles, more lovin'. Meantime, who's loving mom and dad? Who's telling them it'll be okay? Who's rubbing their backs and giving them their binkie? Who's taking away the guilt, the guilt, the nasty "I-should-be-with-my-baby, how-can-I-abandon-him/her-like-this, what's-more-important-than-my-baby" guilt? One of the things that can ease the transition to daycare is a weaning-in process. It may surprise you to learn that I do not think a weaning-in process is necessary for most children. After over ten years in this business, it is my firm conviction that the weaning-in is only secondarily about acclimatizing the child to the daycare. Primarily it is to reassure the parents. In my experience, it takes a six-month-old child three weeks of full-time attendance to make the adjustment to care. Year-old children may take a week or two longer. Children who come three or fewer days per week take longer still. At the end of those first few weeks, the tears at the door should be finished (parents who unconsciously encourage tears can be the subject of another post) and the child should be having happy days at daycare. It takes this long whether there was a gentle two-week weaning-in process, or whether it was done cold turkey, after a single initial baby-caregiver meeting. It really doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference. To the child. It can make a huge difference to the parents. Parents want to see the child with the other children, they want to watch the provider interact with their child, they want to see their child gain familiarity with the new environment. Bottom line: mom and dad want to get a sense that their child is gaining comfort in the new place. They want a sense that their child doesn't feel abandoned to strangers. Weaning-in, then, is mostly for mom and dad's benefit. And you know what? This is not a bad reason. This is not a second-rate, inferior reason. This does not make it something insignificant and dispensible, needy or selfish. If you want it, you should do it. (Conversely, if you don't want/need, or simply can't manage it, you can feel reassured that you will not be guaranteeing ever more layers of trauma to your tot by starting cold turkey.) If you opt for weaning-in, there are a few things you need to know. Having a parent around can make the daycare provider's job more difficult. The extra adult changes the dynamic. It can make some children more self-conscious and clingy to the daycare lady, some may be more prone to act out and show off to the new audience, other will be less attentive to the daycare lady - why listen to boring old her when there's this NEW person in town??? Thus, no matter how experienced your caregiver, you may be making her a little self-conscious, and you are certainly adding a layer of complexity to her day. So, if she asks you to follow certain guidelines when you are with her, please do. (Do not, as one mother did to me, directly contradict the caregiver's instructions. "Come get your hats on, guys." "Oh, they don't need hats: it's not that cold out there!" Well, thank you for your input...) Also, you need to recognize that group care is different than individual care. Not better, not worse, just different. The daycare lady may respond to the children differently than you. There are different patterns of interactions, different dynamics that need to be monitored and maintained when there are five or six children in a room, as opposed to just one. Remember, too, your baby's caregiver has multiple children to care for; she may not be able to chat with you. (I once had a parent complain because she felt "ignored and snubbed" her during her visit. She didn't think I had ignored her child, mark you, but that I had ignored herself - the mother. So, if it will make you feel "unwelcome" when the caregiver breaks off in the middle of a sentence to attend to the children, or fails to make eye contact with you because she's busy scanning the sandbox, I think perhaps weaning-in isn't the right strategy for you. Mm-kay?) Finally, and most importantly, recognize that weaning-in does not guarantee no tears at drop-off when full-time care begins. When the child is spending full days with this new person, no matter how gradual the transition, they will feel the adjustment, and there may well be tears. What weaning-in does do is begin the transition, and, most importantly, it can give mom and dad the assurance they're looking for. You may not get a blankie and a snuggle, mom and dad, but it is going to be all right!

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's a Simple World

George and Darcy are jointly digging to China. They're at least a foot on their way. George: I was singin' a song when I was lying down about knocking down a tower. Did you like my song, Darcy? Darcy, quite calm and matter-of-fact: No. No, I didn't like your song. (There is no insult intended, he's just answering the question.) George, equally calm and matter-of-fact: Oh. Well, I did. The excavation continues.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Storage Delight and Childhood Memories

Once in a while, I have a flash of sheerest brilliance. I really, really do. This one started with my perusal of the Canadian Tire catalogue. Now, perhaps I am the only woman who enjoys paging through the Canadian Tire catalogue beyond the gardening and patio furnishing section, I don't know. I'm quite sure it stems from happy childhood memories. I grew up in a small village - a mere hamlet when I lived there, population 600ish - bisected by a small highway. On my side of the highway was the library, on the other side of the highway was "the Plaza", a little strip mall of small stores: an IGA (groceries), a Peoples (department), a dry cleaners, a hairdressers, an LCBO (alcohol). I'm sure there are others that I'm missing, but the one I haven't forgotten is the hardware. A small Home Hardware, and a wonderful place for small children. The creaking wood floors, the dust motes in the air, the smell of grease, and, oh, the possibilities! This sense of possibility is the same I get when I enter a fabric store or a craft store: all the things you could do! My favourite part in the village Home Hardware was the bins of small bits. Rows and rows of open bins of nuts and bolts and washers and nails and screws and various mysterious metal bits and pieces, the names and uses of which I never knew, but the possibilities! Oh, the possibilities! Kind Mr. Hilliard who owned the place never prevented this little girl from picking up the bits, running her fingers through the washers, letting those cool, smooth metal scraps pour over her palm and tinkle back into the bin. Once in a while he'd take one of those small paper bags and drop a few of this and a couple of that into it. "Here. Take these home and see what you come up with," he'd tell me. He understood. I'm sure he and his Home Hardware are the reason I can never let that Canadian Tire catalogue go unexplored. And this time, well, what a coup! In those cool, shiney pages, under "Tool Cabinets", I found this little gem, a four-drawer DIY Waterloo on castors, and I thought, "MY tools aren't wrenches and hammers and vice grips. MY tools are glue guns and sparkles and beads and paper". Hey! Whyever not? So off to Canadian Tire I go, and now, in my kitchen, instead of a cupboard filled to overflowing with craft stuff, I have this: The cupboard that used to be stuffed full is now half-empty, and will soon house the things a kitchen cupboard should contain, things which till now have been stacked five-high in unlikely corners of not only the kitchen, but also the back porch. When we got to Canadian Tire, we discovered that these babies were ON SALE!! Regularly $169, now yours for a mere $99. So of course I bought two. What else could I do? Given their purpose, no one, not even Revenue Canada, could argue their business-expense worthiness. The second one is on order, and when it arrives, some of that stuff stacked on this one, and the remainder of the craft stuff still in that cupboard will go into it.

Look at these drawers! Is this not wonderful? I am a happy woman!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hugs are Contagious

There has been an altercation, and Zach is crying. Darcy stands to one side, looking very guilty. Even had I not seen what had happened, the evidence is clear. Nonetheless, I play dumb in an attempt to coax Darcy, normally a very gentle and taciturn soul, to understand and express what has just happened. I draw the sniffling Zach onto my knee and put one arm around Zach. Darcy was the aggressor, though, so I'm not about to give him the first and best attention. I speak to Zach, but of course Darcy is really the intended audience. "I bet that hurt, didn't it, Zach?" "Yeah," a self-pitying whimper. "It's not nice when you get hit. Do you want me to kiss it better?" "Yeah," a little perkier now. "Feel better?" He nods. "Darcy is a big boy. Soon Darcy will remember to use his words when he's upset." Then I turn to Darcy. "Were you upset with Zach?" "Yes. He sat onna rocking chair, and that was my chair." "You wanted him to move?" "Yes, and he didn't move!" "Did you ask him to move?" "Yes, but he wouldn't." "So then what did you do?" Long pause. He looks down at the floor, he looks up to the level of my chin. "I hitted him." "You hit him. Was that the best thing to do?" "No." "What else can you do when you are upset and someone doesn't listen to you?" (All right, so maybe Zach doesn't have to vacate the chair just because Darcy demands it of him, but we're looking at it from Darcy's perspective just yet.) This is not the first time Darcy has participated in, or overheard, such a conversation, so he doesn't have to be prompted for the response. "I can talk to you." "That's right. You can come get me for help. That would be a good thing to do." Time to wrap up. Zach is ready to move on, and Darcy has walked through the process with me. I smile warmly at the two of them, snuggled within my arms. "Okay, Darcy. I think Zach is feeling better now. Now tell me, what are hands for?" "Hugging." "That's right. Hands are for hugging. Much better than hitting!" "I can hug Zach." "What a good idea!" Darcy wraps his arms round Zach, and they share a smiling hug. I give Darcy a hug, and then he trots off to play. Zach is unwilling to give up such a good thing. "I hug Arthur now?" he asks, the first time he's spoken since he was walloped. "Sure, if you like." They hug and laugh into each other's faces. Arthur looks down at Zach, playing the kindly big brother to the hilt. "Did that make you happy, Zach?" "Yes!"

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rules, Principles, Empathy - and a little waffling thrown in at the end

"Leave me aloooone!" Arthur's voice rises above the steady buzz of play. Two little boys hover around the loveseat upon which Arthur wriggles, black purse on his lap. He scootches further back into the cushions, his whole body a wail of protest. "Leave me aloooonnnne!" George and Darcy look at each other and crowd even closer, giggling. Hmmm. This is bullying, and I have no tolerance for that. The boys may not be doing it consciously, but the impulse is the same, and it needs to be stopped. "George. Darcy." My voice is calm but forboding. They stand back a pace and look at me solemnly. "What did Arthur just say?" "He said to leave him alone." George offers. "Exactly. He asked you politely to leave him alone. Please listen to Arthur." That was the rule. Now for the principle: "If you do something that makes someone sad, you need to stop if you can. Do you have to be with Arthur?" The boys have the grace to look chagrined. "No." Good. Rule and principle accomplished. Now for some empathy. "If you said 'No' to me, and I kept doing it, would you be happy or sad and angry?" "Sad and angry," offers George. "Scared." This is Darcy. Pretty aware for a three-year-old. Good lad. "That's right. So Arthur asked you to leave him alone, but you kept crowding him. Do you want to make your friend sad and angry and scared?" (All evidence indicates the answer is "Yes", but let's move them past that, shall we?) "No." "Well, then, you need to say sorry to Arthur for not listening, and then you need to go off and find something better to do with yourselves, all right?" "Okay." The boys offer their apologies, which in this house are accompanied by hugs. They move to play with the blocks in the next room. Arthur pops up on a spring, throws the purse to one side, charges down the hall. "Hey, guys! Wait for me!"

Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is Risen

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Six Weird Things Meme

Kittenpie and Peter both tagged me for this. Here are the rules: 1. Reveal six weird facts/things/habits about yourself and then tag six people. 2. Leave a "You're Tagged!" comment to let the people you have tagged know they have to reveal six things. 3. Leave me a comment letting me know that you have completed your mission (if you have chosen to accept it!). Sooo... I don't know! I'm not weird! No, really, I'm not. Well, I don't think I am... Hang on a sec... ...Brief consultation with my family, and they give me -- nothing. "You're kinda normal, mom," say my teenage children. Is that a weird thing? I think I'll use it! Okay, so we have: 1. My teenagers think I'm normal. (That has to be weird.) 2. To hear my eldest tell it, I once discussed oral sex at the dinner table in the presence of her new boyfriend. I hasten to add that I have no recollection of said conversation, but given my memory, that doesn't really prove anything. 3. I almost always leave the bathroom not quite put together, and come down the stairs tucking in my shirt, zipping the fly, and/or or buckling the belt. It comes of years of anticipating bedlam if I linger behind a shut (never locked!) door, I'm quite sure. So far I have managed NOT to do this when we have company. 4. I occasionally carry a hummer in my purse. 5. Although I love words, and have no trouble writing what I want to say, when speaking I occasionally lose words entirely. I will find myself trying to say one word - "jacket", say - but cannot get past the other word - ummm, "squirrel" - that keeps leaping into the verbal queue ahead of "jacket". I know "squirrel" is the wrong word, but simply can't lay my hands (mind? tongue?) on the right one, so I stand there in open-mouthed silence, hoping the right word will leap to the forefront. This quirk often has me resorting to the ubiquitous "thing", like some annoyingly imprecise adolescent. Urgh. 6. I don't much like hamburgers, and spaghetti. Serve either for dinner, and I'll just have the salad, thanks. Except some days, and suddenly that's exactly what I'm craving, and I'll scarf down as much as you'll give me. Now that's weird. And I tag...whoever hasn't already done this and would like to! Leave me a comment to let me know you'll be doing it, so we can all go and check out your weirdness.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fine Art and Deep Concepts

This is my favourite painting in the National Gallery. ("Hope 1", by Gustav Klimt. The picture itself is a link to the Gallery, if you wish to check it out.) Every time I go, I find my way to the gallery in which this sits, and soak her up. It's not a pretty picture, exactly; it's not a nice picture, exactly, but there is so much about it I love. The luminescence of the woman, her expression of defiance, the immensity of the belly which defies the spectres behind her. I just love this painting. Thus I have a postcard of this painting on my fridge. It's been there for years, periodically replaced by a new, clean version, carefully posted high above the childrens' heads. This morning, Darcy noticed it. "Mary, why is that lady naked?" "Well, this is a picture of a painting. Sometimes painters like to paint people with no clothes on, because..." Hmmm... This is no cartoon print, nor a photograph of something familiar and straightforward. This painting is difficult, layers upon layers of complex adult concepts. How does one explain nudity as a symbol of vulnerability? How does one explain danger, defiance, threat, and the ascendancy of the human spirit? How does one explain "hope, the concept", never mind "Hope, the painting" to a three-year-old? I take the picture down and hand it to him, pulling him onto my lap. He holds it carefully in both hands, head curled down over the photograph. "Who are those bad guys?" "They sure look like bad guys, don't they?" "Yes. Mean bad guys." "Are they a little scarey, maybe?" "Yes, they are scarey. And they're standing too close to that lady." "You don't like them to be so close to that lady? Why not?" "Because they are bad guys. She isn't smiling. She doesn't like those bad guys to be so close to her. She is mad at them. And why is she so fat?" "Do you think she's fat? Why else might her belly be so big?" Darcy has a younger sister; this should be familiar ground to him. "Does she got a baby in there?" "Yes, she does. And is a baby a good thing, or a bad thing?" (With another child, this might be a risky thing to ask, but I'm sure of myself with Darcy.) "Good thing!" My confidence is vindicated. Darcy is happily clear on this one. "So that lady is doing a good thing, right? She's having a baby, and that's a good, happy thing." Darcy nods a decisive affirmation. I guess he's enjoying his little sister! "Sometimes when a painter paints a picture, he's trying to make you think of things. He's trying to paint ideas. He painted those bad guys and he painted that pregnant lady together, so that we could see that even when there are bad things happening, good things can happen, too." "She is happy about her baby. I think those bad guys won't get her baby." "How do you feel about that?" "That's good, that the bad guys won't get her baby. I like that." There are bad guys out there, there are even bad guys standing close, but they won't get the baby. Not bad. I think Darcy has come to his own understanding of "hope".

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Random, overheard

"George, take the leaf, and glue it, and stick the leaf in your NOSE!!!" BWAH-hahahaha... "I've got more than YOU, because YOU were sharing!" "We can't play with those* here, because Baby Nigel might eat one, and it might get stuck inside him, and it makes my mommy sad when Baby Nigel can't poop." "If I was a bird, I would sing and fly and poop on peoples' heads!" "ABCD, EFG, HIJK, I dunno to P..." *"those" being those tiny bears

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Just a Leeeetle Accident

We are preparing to go out. The children are all wearing their sweaters or jackets, and the ones in diapers are wearing their shoes. The undiapered ones are being sent to the toilet one at a time before donning footwear. George is putting his shoes on, and Darcy awaits his turn when there is a call from upstairs. Arthur is on his way down, talking, talking, talking. This is nothing out of the ordinary, of course. Except he's explaining something. "I got some pee on the floor. There's a leeeetle bit of pee onna floor. It's okay, because it was just an accident. Accidents happen, sometimes. Just a little bit of pee onna floor, because I forgot to push my penis down." Understand that none of this is at all anxious. He's not worried about my response and trying to calm me down in advance, he's just talking. Talking, talking, talking. He's not even talking to me. All these words are being addressed to his feet, in calm and cheerful conversational tones, as he comes, one step, one step down the fifteen stairs. "Sometimes when the pee comes fast, you can have a little accident, and sometimes when the pee comes fast, a liiiittle pee will get onna floor, but it's okay because accidents happen, sometimes, and I just didn't push my penis down in time, but I'm just a little boy and sometimes when you're just little you can get a little pee on the floor and that's okay and it's not hard to clean up because sometimes pee just comes a little fast and you if you don't push your penis down it gets on the floor a little bit..." I pass through the wall of words and go up to survey the damage. "A little bit of pee." The ammonia stench makes my eyes water, and the pee! The pee, it runs from the front of the toilet to the wall beneath the sink, trickles round the garbage pail, peeks coyly up from under the toilet brush in its stand, and meanders down alongside the tub. I'm not even sure I can get into the room without stepping in some. How can one small bladder have produced so much? "I forgot to push my penis down". Judging from Lac Urine in my bathroom, he "forgot" for the entire duration of a 90-second pee. Judging from the complete lack of any hint of yellow tinge in the bowl not a drop went down. In fact, I strongly suspect that after the first startled reaction, he simply sat back and enjoyed the glistening arc, nodded in happy pride at his manly production, and hummed along with the musical tinkle of liquid hitting the tiles. "Forgot", my ar...nevermind. We were a little delayed getting out this morning, but my bathroom, she now sparkles like the dew.

Nursery Rhyme Wisdom

The boys are hammering away at the tool bench, when George announces, "You can't jump over a candle because you might burn your toe." Jack be Nimble, be forewarned...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Which F-word would that be?

A large, heavy truck trundles by, the noise of its passing rising with the surge of shifting gears. Zach points, bouncing with glee. "Fwuk! A fwuk!!" Darcy's grey eyes dance with mischief. "Fwuk?" he drawls, in a this-has-potential tone. Zach knows better. "No, fwuk." He may not be saying it, but he knows how it should sound. "Fwuk!" "Not fwuk." Zach takes a breath, tries again. "FFFFuk!" Oh, this just gets better and better. Darcy is loving this. "Fuk?" George, who is just as bright as Darcy but lacking Darcy's quick sense of humour, clarifies the "confusion". "No, he means 'suwuk'." Which, of course, doesn't help as much as he thinks. "But he's saying 'fuck'." Darcy knows full well this is a naughty word. I do, too, which is why I'm letting this conversation continue uninterrupted. Darcy and I are sharing a joke, here. Zach has had quite enough. He looks at both bigger boys in some disapproval. "No, no, no! Issa truck!" So there.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Husband is heading out the door for a run. He comes into the kitchen for a goodbye kiss. He and I, we don't "do" the peck-on-the-cheek goodbye kiss. Our motto: If you're going to kiss your sweetie, KISS your sweetie. Baby Nigel disapproves. His screech is immediate, loud, and demanding. "Get your lips off that cretin, woman, and attend to ME!" Which of course just provokes me, contrary critter that I am. I will not have my love life dictated by a 15-month-old. I remove my lips from my sweetie's long enough to grin at the boy, so he will understand he is being deliberately ignored, then return with renewed enthusiasm to the task at hand. Because it's important, you know, that a kid understands his place in the grand scheme of things.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Whoa Nelly, Momma...

Because some kids have sensitive inner ears, that's why... And you know how picky some kids are about their sleep rituals? Is this a new variation? How on earth do you suppose it happened to happen??

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Being Reasonable with a Toddler: Making things Happen

Mid-morning, I lay two and a half year old Zach down to change his diaper. First diaper change of the day at Mary's house. Good grief! This diaper looks like it's been changed by a blind man. A one-armed blind man. On a roller coaster. At sea. Onced I would have been confused, but I'm savvy now. I know what this is. This diaper has been changed on an upright child. "He just won't lay down for a change any more," his parents explain at the end of the day. "It's always been a struggle, but lately, it's getting so much worse. So now we change him while he stands up. Sometimes we finish while he's walking away." They are utterly serious. Once again, I find myself shaking my head in bemusement at the nonsense otherwise sensible people take from their toddlers. He won't lie down? Okay, then. Diaper changes are not optional; if he won't lay down voluntarily, you need to lay him down. And see that he stays there. "But he won't!" they wail. "We've tried and tried to explain, but he just won't co-operate. We don't know what to do." This is becoming a theme with me, I know, but here it is again: Toddlers are not the most rational of people. You'd noticed that, huh? But you know what? Sometimes, neither are parents of toddlers. I see this most often when a parent is acting on a chosen principle, a principle which simply does not work (or is not working the way it's being implemented) and yet which they insist on trying to implement. Case in point: I will always be rational with my child; I will always have a reason for my interactions with my child. A laudable principle. In fact, it's an excellent principle, one which I try to act upon in all my doings. Too often, though, the principle is misapplied, and the result is a parent held hostage to the tiny tyrant who runs their home. And you find yourself trying to put a diaper on a child while he walks away from you. Being rational with your child is a good thing. But, too often parents, they... parents, [snort] in their delusionary state, actually [chortle, snort] expect that their two-year-old will be (you ready for this?) rational back! Oooooh... heeheeheehehee... Ah. Sorry. Let me just pull myself together a moment. Okay. I'm better now. Little Suzie wants to go outside and play in the snow but adamantly refuses to put on her boots. Little Johhny loves to ride in the car, but fights getting into the carseat each and every time. Freddie won't eat anything green. Boris will only eat peanut butter and macaroni. Despite her evident exhaustion, Sadie refuses to go to bed. Anna will not take her medicine. All everyday stuff for parents of toddlers. What's a parent to do? I've gone on before about how one is reasonable with a toddler. Give them your reason, certainly. It is good for them to understand that mommy and daddy are rational. (They have to learn about rationality somehow!) Give it in a short, simple sentence. "You must wear boots because it's very cold outside." "You will eat those beans because they will make you strong." "You are very tired. It is time for bed." Having given your reason, do not wait for the child to suddenly morph into a rational creature before your eyes. They weren't rational five minutes ago; they're not going to be rational now. In another couple of years, yes. Now? No. These things don't happen instantaneously. So you've stated your expectation, you've given your reason, and your offspring is glaring up at you with the "I don't wanna and you can't make me" expression on their face. Can you feel it? Can you feel the urge welling up within you, primal and raw? "You wanna bet I can't make you?" And of course, being good, 21-Century parents, you fight that urge down. No, no! Don't fight it! USE it. Because sometimes... No! Often, with toddlers, you do have to make them. You don't have to bully or threaten; you certainly don't have to shout at, and you never need to hit them; but you often have to calmly, implacably, unyieldingly insist that something happen, and very often that means physically. "It's very cold out there. Time to put on your boots." "No wanna." Pop the child into your lap, and pull on his boots, calmly repeating yourself, ignoring his struggles and anger. "It's very cold out there. Time to put on your boots." For the vegetables? This isn't one you respond to physically, but it's definitely the time for implacable. I've discussed this here and here, so I won't say it again, except to encourage you: Win this one now, and you won't have to fight it every meal for the next ten years. For diaper changes? You hold them down, saying calmly, "You lay still for a change. You can play when I'm done." (There are several ways to do this. Here's one for the flexible among you!) Point is, there is no point in waiting for the child to respond rationally, if they've once stated their intention to be unreasonable. They will learn to be rational, in time, and with your firm, and sometimes physical, guidance. But in the meantime, you have to see that rationality prevails for everyone. Changing a diaper on a child who is walking is not rational. Letting a child choose to be inadequately nourished is not rational. Getting into a prolonged coax/plead/whine session with a toddler about wearing clothes appropriate to the weather is irrational. When you expect rationality from a child who is pre-rational, you end up joining them in their irrationality. Be the grown-up! Be rational. Be rational for both of you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, April 07, 2006

Non-communication with Mia

Little Mia chews her way slowly through her second bowl of spaghetti, her face tomato-sauce red from chin to ears, with the odd speckle on nose and forehead. The other children have long since left the table. Mia looks up at me and says something indecipherable. "Are you finished, Mia?" "Yes." "Give me your bowl, then, and we'll go wash your hands and face." She clutches the bowl protectively. Body language contradicts her expressed wishes. Hmmm... Best clarify. "Are you finished, lovie, or do you want to keep eating?" "Eating." I've fallen into this trap too many times not to try it again in reverse. "Do you want to keep eating, or are you finished?" "Finished." As I thought. We'll try it one question at a time, then. "Are you all done?" "Yes." Seems clear enough, right? Think again. "Do you want more?" "Yes." All right. "I think I'll just leave you alone and let you sort this out yourself, okay?" "Thank you." Confusing, but polite. The girl will go far.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


"Mahwee! Mahwee I got it!" "What do you have, Zach?" "I got it for you!" Zach comes to me, holding his finger triumphantly aloft. I recognize this pose. "Where did it come from, Zach?" Realise that I still do not know what "it" is, but I have my suspicions. "Did you get that out of your nose?" "Yeah!" "Well, here, let's wipe it off on a kleenex, okay?" Two minutes later, he again approaches me, finger aloft, beaming smile on his face. This, he is confident, is a sure-fire way to get immediate adult attention. Besides, he's proud of his excavating skills. I determine to disappoint on the reaction front. I give him a look of boredome. "Another booger?" I yawn. "But no more, okay? I'm not interested in boogers." "No?" The boy's illusions are crumbling. I don't like boogers? Boogers are boring? He contemplates the greenish mound on his finger. And pops it in his mouth.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's a Compulsion, I Tell Ya...

The usual mad scramble of getting multiple toddlers out the door is under way, punctuated at every single step by Darcy's "why's". "All right, it's time to go out. Put your toys away, please." "Why?" "Everyone? Take your slippers off now." "Why?" "Here's your coats. Darcy, would you help Zach with his coat, please?" "Why?" The questions are reflexive. He's not thinking about what he's asking: "why" is just popping out without any thought whatsoever. Given that we have gone through this procedure at least four hundred times in his life, there really can't be that much mystery in it any more! I call him over and speak gently-but-firmly into his wee face. "Darcy. I do not have time to answer all these questions. I have good reasons for everything I'm telling you. I know that if you stop and think for a second, you can figure out why we're doing all this. There is not time to explain every single thing. So, Darcy: Please stop asking 'why'." His blue eyes meet mine. He nods, and then...

His eyes widen, he gasps, and smacks both hands over his mouth. We fall together, laughing.
Related posts: Why, Why, Why More Why's Overheard Museum Trip

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


See that post a couple down? Delightful pictures of small children running delightedly through the park? Running in shirts and runners, no jackets or boots, through the sunny spring day? Well, this morning it's snowing. Because that's what we call spring in this city.

Snippets 3 - Artistic Version

"I need a new paper, Mary." George holds up a lightly-scribbled-upon sheet. "Just turn it over, love, and draw on the other side." "No, there's a word here, and it says 'Don't colour on this side'." "That words says 'Cognos', George. You can draw on it." "Here's my picture, Mary!" "Look at all the blue in it. It makes me think of water, or maybe the sky." "No, it's not water or the sky. It's an elephant." At least it's not pink... Kid 1: I'm drawin' a airp'ane. Kid 2: I'm drawin' an airplane, too. Kid 1: No, dat's not a airp'ane. Kid 2: Oh. What is I drawin', then?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Two Days Absence

Hello! It just occurred to me that I should tell you all that I will be out of town at a family funeral until Monday evening, and thus likely won't post until Tuesday - or perhaps even Wednesday. (Not because I think I'll be so distraught. This is an elderly aunt whom I didn't know well, though what I knew of her I certainly liked. We are going to show family support to my husband's parents, whose sister she was. There's a fair amount of driving involved, though, which I hate, and I know I'll be tired!)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spring has Sprung!

We broke temperature records by four degrees. Four big, fat Celcius degrees, not those teeny Farenheit degrees.