Saturday, September 30, 2006

Banned Books Week

Did you know there's a "Banned Books Week"? I only heard of it today, at the very end of the week, when I checked out Solo Mom's blog from whom I'm now stealing just about her entire post, as follows: My favourite Stephen King quotation is about banned books. His advice is that if someone tells you can't read something, run, don't walk, to your local library and find out for yourself what all the fuss is about. (Isn't that cool? It's what I've pretty much always done - unless I've read the book already!) In honour of Banned Books Week, I'm offering a meme of sorts. Below is the ALA list of the 100 most frequently challenged books, 1990-2000. Bold the ones you've read. And then run, don't walk, to your local library. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling Forever by Judy Blume Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger The Giver by Lois Lowry It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck The Color Purple by Alice Walker Sex by Madonna Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle Go Ask Alice by Anonymous Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard The Witches by Roald Dahl The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry The Goats by Brock Cole Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane Blubber by Judy Blume Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier Final Exit by Derek Humphry The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Beloved by Toni Morrison The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton The Pigman by Paul Zindel Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard Deenie by Judy Blume Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole Cujo by Stephen King James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy Ordinary People by Judith Guest American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume Crazy Lady by Jane Conly Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher Fade by Robert Cormier Guess What? by Mem Fox The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Lord of the Flies by William Golding Native Son by Richard Wright Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen Jack by A.M. Homes Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle Carrie by Stephen King Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge Family Secrets by Norma Klein Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole The Dead Zone by Stephen King The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison Always Running by Luis Rodriguez Private Parts by Howard Stern Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett Running Loose by Chris Crutcher Sex Education by Jenny Davis The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier This is Mary again. You know, some of those, I can see who might be offended, and fear their influence on an unthinking public. Some deal with s-e-x in a reasoning and measured way, and, even more shockingly, are aimed at young teens, and thus scare the prudish spitless. Some (like the Goosebumps series, of which I've suffered through a couple) don't deserve even the negative attention of the would-be banners. Dreck, utter dreck. But others? Who could object to Anastasia Krupnik? Bright, kind, funny Anastasia? Bridge to Terabithia? A Wrinkle in Time? Great books, teaching compassion, kindness, gentleness, thoughfulness - universal values, I would like to think. I wish. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, September 29, 2006

God is Kind

Today: Nigel said "please". And "thank you". With a smile. After two hours spent screaming except when she was in my arms, Anna slept FOR TWO HOURS and woke happy and didn't need to be in my arms for a whole, entire HOUR! That's three straight hours of peace. :-) Malli came in snuffling but quiet and didn't scream once the entire afternoon and moreover chattered happily to me while fingerpainting FOR AN HOUR. This morning Timmy's mother phoned to tell me that she was staying home today and keeping him with her. (Not that Timmy is any trouble AT ALL, blessings be upon his little bald head, but one less baby is that much less work. On a Friday, no less!) Thanks be. I am grateful.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Under Seige

"You may be angry but you may not scream." "AAAAAAAAHHHHH!"* "Malli. No. Screaming." "AAAAAAAAHHHHH!" "Huh,huh,huh,WWWWAAAAAAA!" "Malli. Anna needs me. If you are going to keep screaming, you can sit here until you're finished." "AAAAaaaHHhh!" "Heh-uh,heh-uh,heh-uh, wwwwaaaaaa...." "What's up Anna? Hey, sweet baby?" (Remember the round, happy baby? Well, she's still round...) "AAAAAaaaahhh." Malli, alone in the kitchen, is trailing off a bit. "wu,wu,wu,waaaaah." "I know, honey. You like me to be in the same room, don't you?" Quiet whimper from Anna. A cough from the kitchen, where Malli seems to have ceased with the glass-shattering. Anna likes me in the same room, she likes to be on my lap, she likes my undivided attention while on said lap. This sharing of attention nonsense that's required at daycare? Completely and unutterably intolerable, in wee Anna's opinion. An opinion which she states, forcefully. And continually. And continuously. Naptime, of which she also disapproves, also demands vigorous opinion-expressing. "Mah-wee? Gots poo." "Good boy, Nigel, for telling me. Let's get rid of that stinky old diaper now." "Tinky!" "Yes, stinky. I'll just put Anna down first. Anna, lovie, I'm going to set you down so I can--" "Uh,uh,uh, WWWWWWwaaaaaaahuhuhuhwaaaaa..." "OW. Anna, let go of my hair. I'm going to change Nigel's diaper now." ".....AaaaaaaaAAwuh-uh-AAAaaaAAAAAaaaAAAAAAA..." And so it goes. So, if I'm not posting much for the next few days till we sort this out, you'll know why... * She really IS getting the "be-angry-but-don't-scream" idea. Really. She used to scream for half an hour at a stretch when thwarted. Now it's a couple of minutes. It's just that screaming is still her default reaction to anger. One step at a time.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Blowing my Cover

"Wuuu-wuuh! Wuh, wuh gaddagadaba. Mah-wee! Mah-wee, wuh, gadda tuck! Tuck, tuck, tuck wane! Wuh, man, man-ha, man-ee. Tuck, wah stikya ai." Nigel is on the very cusp of fluent speech. He has quite a few words, in fact. Individually or in pairs, his words are toddler-clear and effective. In larger groups, they're a little more opaque. Something has captured Nigel's attention out the front window. I come to see what fascinates. A large moving van is parked outside the house across the street, the house which sold a while back. Oh, an activity we can both enjoy! "Yes, I see the truck. The man has the truck. The man has a truck in the rain." "Hass ban? Hass ban? Hass ban? Hass dat?" His enthusiasm is adorable. I'm not snooping, I'm sharing an experience with a child. "Yes, they have a van. What's that? It looks like a table. The men are taking a table out of the van." "Table. Big table. Mrruh! Mrruh!" "Oh, you're right! What a lovely mirror! I wonder if they'll put it in the hall. It has the look of a hall mirror." "Mrrr. Man hass mrruh. Goggy! Yady goggy!" "You're right! They lady has a doggie. A chocolate labrador! What a nice doggie. I wonder what his name is?" "Goggie! Wuss goggie go?" "The doggy went in the house with the lady. I wonder if that's who's moving in?" "Wuss daddy?" "At work, love. Oh, look, Nigel! See the chair?" "Cheh." "That's right, chair. There's six of them, sweetie." I like the lines of them, slim and elegant, but the colour? Never have been a fan of orange. "Let's count the chairs! One..." Nigel's butt bumps into me as he ducks under the couch. "Can you count the chairs, lovie?" "Wuss Ahhma? Wuss Ahhma? Wuss Ahhma?" His voice is muffled. He's right under there now. But what's this? Well, with that light fixture over the dining table, maybe the orange chairs would work. That's very clever, really. "Wuss Ahhma? Wuss Ahhma?" "What? Oh, Emma's at school, love." "Wuss Aaah-Damn?" "At school. Hey, Nigel, Nigel, look at the couch. More for style than comfort, that thing. Ick. Oh, and see the bed, and oh, look at that armoire. Very nice. Nigel? Nigel? Nigel?" A squeak and a bang from the kitchen. A distinctive sound - the hinged cupboard in the corner, where the crackers and cereal are kept. My joint activity has become solo. In the mind of a toddler, snack-stalking trumps neighbour-snooping any day. ~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Monday, September 25, 2006

Marketing Gone Bad

Malli lies on the living room floor, wailing. "Mine! Mine! My Elmo!" "Elmo's in the garbage, honey." "My Elmo! Malli take Elmo home!" "Oh, lovie. Elmo's all dirty now. You don't want to take that yukky thing home, do you?" Stupid question. "Elmo! Malli take Elmo hoooome!" I guess I'd been a little hasty when I threw the thing out. I suppose there's no harm in it. I fish it out, dust it off, put it in a plastic grocery bag. "Here, Malli. You want to take Elmo home, you can take Elmo home." A few moments later, Malli's mother peers in the bag at the sodden package enclosed there, clicks her tongue and sighs. "It's Elmo, isn't it?" "Yep. She insisted." "She's been fixated for a couple of weeks ago. I'll sure be glad when we're through this package." Malli's mummy and I would like to thank the very clever people at Pampers who came up with the idea of putting Elmo on the buttside of their diapers. It's certainly made our lives much more colourful challenging interesting odiferous loud.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Sunday, September 24, 2006


This one taken from Allison. (On whose blog I don't think I've ever commented - surpise, Alli!) 1. What time did you get up this morning? I woke up at 6:20, got out of bed at quarter to seven. (Yes, on a Sunday. I don't sleep in often. But in this case, there was a teenager heading to work for 7 - on foot - and it was pouring rain. I decided to haul myself out of bed and give the girl a ride. I am a Very Nice Stepmom.) 2. Diamonds or Pearls? Neither. Well, they're nice and all, and if anyone wanted to shower me with one or the other, I wouldn't fight it, but really, I like colour. Opals and amethysts, topaz and turquoise. (Emeralds and rubies are nice, too, but I don't have enough money to get within ten feet of either of them.) 3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Notorious Betty Page 4. What is your favorite T. V. show? Don't watch TV. 5. What did you have for breakfast? Soft-boiled eggs topped with salsa, on a bagel. Tea. 6. What is your middle name? Don't have one. 7. Favorite cuisine? Thai (wet coconut curry - hot, hot, hot. Mmmmmm.) 8. What foods do you dislike? Liver, lima beans, brussel sprouts, bland cheese. 9. What is your favorite chip flavor? I looove chips, and am faddish. For a while it was Miss Vicki's Salt and Vinegar and/or Miss Vicki's lime and black pepper. Yummmmm... 10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Harry Manx, Wise and Otherwise. (I think it's been my favourite for aobut two years now.) 11. What kind of car do you drive? Umm...a dark green station wagon. It's too rainy out there to see the writing on the side. It has a jump seat in the back, so we can fit five or six of our kids! Which means only a couple have to run alongside!! 12. Favorite sandwich? Grilled portobello mushroom, eggplant, and swiss cheese on focaccia. (How's that for pretentious? But really, I love them!) 13. What characteristics do you despise? Prissiness, belligerence, willful ignorance, personal dishonesty. 13a. What characteristics do you like about someone? Personal honesty, willingness to communicate, curiosity, laughter. 14. Favorite item of clothing? Varies hugely, depending on my mood, the season, the time of the month. I like long, flowing skirts. I wear a lot of jeans, but that's more practicality than any particular love of them. 15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Australia, South Pacific, western Europe. For starters. 16. What color is your bathroom? Robin's. ugh. Egg. ugh. Blue. ugh. and white. Ugh. 17. Favorite brand of clothing? Don't have one. The only item where that matters to me is running shoes: Avia or Saucony. (Not because I run, but I do spend a LOT of time on my feet.) 18. Where would you retire to? Someplace temperate. With indoor plumbing and electricity. 19. What was your most memorable birthday? Ummmm.... Probably the one where I was five minutes into it before I realized this was a Surprise Birthday party and not just an amazing coincidence of all these friends being in the same pub at the same time!! Imagine that! That was, um, 41? 42? 20. Favorite sport to watch? I watch the Olympics sometimes. 21. Goals you have for yourself? Make enough money from writing to live on. (Which goal I will pursue by vigourously dangling prepositions! And using lots of adverbs! And sentence fragments! And exclamation marks!!!) Survive my childrens' adolescence with as few tears (mine) as possible. Achieve menopause and finally get off the peri-menopausal emotional roller coaster. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, September 22, 2006

Breaking Settling-in Malli

Malli was here again yesterday, her third day with me. She was here a couple of days last week, and clearly thought she'd done her bit at entering the wider world. She most certainly didn't expect to have to do it again! I could hear her expressing her... misgivings from half a block away. Her face was blotchy red, her eyes swollen, when she arrived. Mum's face was haggard. Malli's a bright little girl, though. Last week, we had worked very intensely on "You may be angry, you may be sad, but you May.Not.Scream." (You can see in the sidebar. Malli is the one with the Will of Iron.) The first day took 40 minutes to cease the screaming; the second day took eleven. Yesterday, after a week off and with her more upset at the outset, it took only six. She remembered! She remembered the rules, but more importantly she remembered that I am probably one of the few people in the world whose will is even ironer than hers. Must be those supplements. After she'd ceased with the screaming yesterday, it took a while before she was partaking happily of what Mary's house has to offer. She didn't want to be here; she wanted to be with her mummy, and though she took what comfort I offered, she was not going to be happy about it! So there. "What's Nigel got? Shall we play potato head with Nigel?" "No." It's not loud, it's not angry. It's small, and short, rather pathetic in fact, but unshakeable. "No." "Let's get those shoes off." "No." Off come the shoes. No further protest. "Shall we see what to have for lunch?" "No." She follows me into the kitchen. "I like beans. I'm going to cook some beans." "No." She pours some beans into the water. "Are you ready to eat now?" "No." She isn't, either, but I know that if I leave the food someplace accessible and ignore her, it'll vanish somehow. "Let's read this story." "No." She climbs onto the couch beside me. "Pick a book, Malli." "No." "Would you like this book? Or this one?" "No." "Look at the kitten! Isn't he funny?" "No." "I'm going to go to the bathroom. Do you want to come with me, or stay down here?" "No." I'm not losing patience here. This little mite is undergoing a huge culture shock. She's moved from a very involved, loving home where she's the indulged baby sister to two very nice little boys. At two and a bit, she still nurses on demand, mummy lays down to nap with her. Mum has immersed herself in the home and family for well over ten years, and only now has decided it's time to carve out some private time and space for herself. Four hours, twice a week, is a kind and gentle baby step for Malli, but Malli doesn't know that. "No." Me, I'm sort of impressed. She may be bowed, but she is not broken. We can drag her to daycare, but we can't make her like it! And she will Not.Co-operate. She's a feisty little thing, and I love the feisty ones. "No." Doesn't prevent me playing with their heads a little, though... "Malli, can you say 'No'? I bet you can! Just say 'no' for me, okay?" I favour her with a brilliant smile, eyes wide, awaiting the "no" I've asked for. (Yes, I'm evil. Isn't it fun?) Silence. Contrariness wars with accuracy. YES, she can say 'no', but damned if she'll let a word of positivity cross those pretty pink lips. But if she say's NO, she's complying with a request! What to do??? I watch the conflict flicker over her face. Heh. She's baffled for a moment, but she's not stupid. She won't say "no"; she won't say "yes". Suddenly her head is a blur of blond curls with ths vigour of her defiant head. She won't utter the word, but that head shake? Deafening! I love this kid!
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Once won't kill him

...she said. Timmy greets me in his usual enthusiastic fashion, bouncing and flapping in his mother's arms. "Did he have his usual naps yesterday?" There are largish bags under her eyes. "No, in fact he didn't." "I wondered, because last night? Last night he was wired! Just wired! It took him forever to get to sleep - I had to try three separate times to get him down. Unless it's teeth? You think it might be teeth?" Oh, such a temptation she lays before me. But, no, Professionalism wins the day. "Well, they spend the better part of their first two years teething. You can attribute a lot of things to teeth, but in this case, I think we can stick with the obvious. It was almost certainly because he skipped his morning nap." "Oh, good. Glad we're on the same page, then." Yes. Sigh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Radio Show

A lot a bunch some one of you, asked if I could post the link to the show. I don't think we're the, ah, most polished interviewees in the world, but it's not a bad start! (The commercial host of the show is, an organization whose mandate is to link children with the best toys and resources for their growth and development.) You know, if I'm going to branch out into the commercial world, I've got to get less self-conscious about giving the plugs. So maybe I should take the parentheses off? ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Seeking Daylight

The third week of September is drawing to a close, and I'm still adjusting. Six weeks ago, I had three three-year-old boys in my home every day, plus a couple younger tots. Now I have an almost-two and a one-year-old. That's it. In another week I'll start another one-year old. Heck, this is practically NOT WORKING!! And as a result of these super-light, super-easy days, my house is now SPOTLESS! And I've gotten ahead in my BOOKKEEPING! And all my TAX FILES are PERFECTLY ORGANIZED! AND you can SEE the BASEMENT FLOOR! And I've caught up on all those blogs I was so neglecting over the summer. Well, one of those, anyway. You guess which. There is a totally different rhythm to my days now. We have Morning Naps around here. AND afternoon naps! Woo-hoo! (Well, the almost-two doesn't nap in the morning. But he's very quiet. Doesn't even say please boo.) I am beginning to feel just the teensiest bit housebound, though. With all this morning napping going on, our window for outings is awfully small. We've had a lot of rain, so I really didn't notice how constrained I was feeling until yesterday's glorious sun. I knew I was feeling constrained because this morning I had to wash all those nose prints off the living room window. Need. To. Get. Out. But babies need to nap, and I am a self-confessed nap nazi. Not for other people. You want to drag your kid from pillar to post all the time, that's your call. (Just don't whine to me that your baby is whining at you all day. You makes your choices, you accepts the consequences.) But for the kids in my care? Naps are top priority, really. Because babies need their sleep, for their good humour, for their brain development, and, frankly, for my sanity. Really. Who wants to be holed up with five whining toddlers all day? Not me! Really. Who wants to hang out with cranky, under-rested babies? Not me! Really. Not -- Okay. Can someone come and sit on my couch while they have their nap? I'll let you play with my laptop! Just for twenty minutes, thirty tops, so I can sneak out and have a coffee? Anyone? Wait! Someone just sneezed up there. I'm sure he's waking up. He's had 45 minutes. Surely that'll tide him over till after lunch! Once won't kill him. Really.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


(Read this first, for context, then come back. I'll wait... Okay, done now? Good. You may proceed.) "Baww! Baww! Baww! Baww! Baww!" "I can't play with you right now, hon. I'm changing Timmy's diaper, and then I'll have to make lunch." "Baww! Baww! Baww! Baww! Baww!" "Oh, all right Nigel. Just take your ball and go play, please." "Gank oo." ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Monday, September 18, 2006

We Are Having Directional Difficulties

Seems I need to invest in larger pieces of paper.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Supercharged with Sweetness

Okay, so you all know I've been in the Kidbiz for a couple of decades. While I wouldn't call myself jaded, it does perhaps take just a little more than standard issue sweetness to provoke an "Awww" reaction from me. This post got that reaction. All eight times I listened to it. Plus the two more times when I got my kids to listen. (My 17-year-old son broke up smiling all over at exactly the same point I did.) "Good ni--ight!" Awwww.... ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Radio Show

Guess who's going to be On the Air next week? Any of you who are interested, check out World Talk Radio on Tuesday, September 19 at 4:00 Eastern Time. Someone out there stumbled over Partners in Parenting, and invited Laura and me to chat. How's about that? Or maybe I don't want you listening in at all. My first step to public acclaim or my most recent opportunity to publicly humiliate myself? I'm a bit conflicted...
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Saturday, September 16, 2006

That's My Girl!

How did she get to be so wise, at such a young age? She knows how to make her momma smile. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, September 15, 2006

Raising the bar on Nigel, Part Two

So you all now know how I decided to take it to the wall with Nigel. How he was NOT getting down from the high chair before he said 'please'. How, at time of writing, we'd been head-to-head for 23 minutes and counting. You know all that. You marvelled at my persistence. Persistence which has been honed through years of such interactions, persistence which has been forged on the anvil of toddler-iron, sealed with the heat of toddler passion. Persistence which is essential to the job, to my sanity. You couldn't survive in this career if you can't out-stubborn a toddler. The stand-off (sit-off?) continued. My every attempt to get a "please" out of the boy was met with distraction - "wass dassss?" "where kitty?" - or silence. Distraction was accompanied by wide-eyed smiles. ("See how sweet? Too sweet to resist!") Silence with glares of reproach. ("Damn you, woman!") I'd wander off to reduce the tension and let him get bored. I'd come back, perky and full of smiles. "Ready to get down now?" A little bounce of enthusiasm. ("She's come to her senses!) "Yeh!" "Okay, then. I'll get you down as soon as you say "Please"!!" "Wass dassss?" And in the end? At the end of this half-hour-plus standoff? My reward for my persistence, my good humour, my refusal to give on this point? He fell asleep. Of course he did. So did I win? Well, I didn't lose. He slept for three hours. All that mental resistance takes a toll on a tot. And today? Today we will back off the p-word. Oh, we'll get there, of course. I'm just planning my strategy and picking my day. Because I'm stubborn that way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Raising the Bar on Nigel

Nigel is developing into a chatty little dude. He has a fair number of words, which are, typical for his age, coming out in one- and two-word declaratives. "Telegraphing", it's called, because minimum words are used to convey maximum information. "Kitty! Ball!" "Yes, the kitty is playing with the ball, isn't he?" Nigel has all kinds of words, and we hear them a lot. All except 'please' and 'thank you'. Hmm. Now, I usually have more success with 'please', so I'll often start with it. (Why is please easier? It's all in the motivation. "Want this cookie? Say 'please'!" You can see how it's easier to get out a 'please' than a 'thank you' - he's got that cookie stuffed into his mouth to the tonsils: why is further communication necessary?) The boy has a good vocabulary, and is all about chatter these days. It's time for some pleases around here. Nigel is in his high chair. "Up! Up! Up!" "Would you like to get down, Nigel?" (Yes, I say 'down', he says 'up', but we know what we mean.) "Yeh! Up! Up! Up!" "Okay. I'll lift you. Say, 'Up, please'." "Up! Up! Up!" "Please..." He gives me a long, level stare. "Say 'please', and you can get down and go play." "Wass dass?" Smart kid. It's the old "Look behind you!" trick. "That's a cup. Now, do you want down?" "Up! Up! Up!" "Up, Please." Silence. "Okay then. When you're ready to say 'please', I'll let you down." I move into the kitchen. I can hear him through the open doorway. I listen as I do a sink of dishes. "Out! Out! Out!" Guess he figures it might work better with a different word. Maybe he won't have to comply with the 'please' stuff, if he uses a dif-- "Out, please." Nuts. That didn't work. He opts to just struggle against the seat belt. I can hear him grunting, and then... "Tuck! Oh, Mah-wee! Leg tuck!" I pop my head around the kitchen door. In his efforts to free himself without resorting to the dreaded 'please', he's wedged his foot in the chair and is indeed, 'tuck'. I free the leg. "Ready to get down?" "Down!" "Say 'please'." "Wass dass?" "Never mind 'what's that'." Let's try a little motivation. "Do you want to ride the horsie?" The hobby horses are his favourite toys these days. "Yeh! Hoh-sie!" "Say 'please'." "Hoh-sie!" "Please." "Hoh-sie!" "Please." Silence. I remove myself. Put Timmy down for his morning nap. Read George a story, while Nigel stares reprovingly. "Done! Down! Up! Down! Out!" "Please." "Where cat?" "Please." "Where Ah-ma?" "Please." "Wass dass?" "Please." Twenty-three minutes...

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


My sweetie and I jostle in the kitchen. A little coffee slooshes. A drop lands on my sock. "Good thing my socks are black," I note. "Yeah," he says, ever the optimist. "If that's the worst liquid you get on you today, you'll be doing well." ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

So Sleepy...

...because I was up late writing a post on sleep. Heh. Very silly, I know. Make it worth my while, go check it out! ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Monday, September 11, 2006

Stop! Listen, What's that Sound?

Do you hear it? Not the bird chirping, nor the washing machine humming its spin cycle, nor even the whir of the laptop fan. It's nap time, and what I'm hearing is...nothing. Remember my concern over Timmy, who was to start full-time at the beginning of this month? His fretfulness, his lack of resilience, his clingy-ness? My belief that this was sleep-related, and that with some decent sleep under his diaper tabs, he'd cheer up? Well, I was right. Yes, I am smiling smugly. I think it's justified. If I hadn't been right, I'd be back to banging my head into walls. I was pretty sure then, and I've been proven right now, but hoo, man, I'm relieved. How did we accomplish this? I know you're all dying to know. Day One: Timmy arrives, smiling, at 8:20. By 8:40, he's rubbing his eyes. Up he goes to bed, where he's bundled, rolled in the flannel blanket. This makes him grin. A wee baby burrito. I sing him a song as he lies swaddled in my arms. He beams up at me. I place him down, pat his back as I sing a second verse, then leave. He was NOT impressed. Some experts suggest you stay in the room, others say go in at intervals, still others say cold turkey. Obviously, option one isn't an option for me: I can't stay in the room and leave the other children untended. Of the other two choices, I do what seems to work best. I like the idea of reassuring the child of my presence by visits of decreasing frequency, but I've learned that this just enrages some kids and makes them cry harder. No kindness in that. Timmy proved to be of the enraged school of response. He liked it when I touched his back and spoke soothingly, but when I left again? "GET YOUR ASS BACK IN HERE, WOMAN!!!" And he's right back to his original outrage. Okay, then. That nap took 32 minutes. The afternoon nap took 15. Wednesday morning, 6. Wednesday afternoon, 4. Thursday and Friday, a squawk or two as he settled, but then quiet. Today, first day back after a weekend, a bit of regression: 4 minutes this morning, 90 seconds this afternoon. The rest of the day? He's smiley, he's responsive, he's active. He plays with me, he plays with the others, he plays with the toys, he plays on his own, he tries to play with the cat. He explores, he vocalizes, he puts day-old dust-covered Cheerios in his mouth. (Where is he finding them??) In short, he is the very picture of a bright and sunny 12-month-old. Phew
Related posts: Later and Later Bedtimes Setting the Stage for Healthy Sleep (PiP) No-Cry (Gentle) Method (PiP) ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Heart in Motion


"Adam! I just spilled water in my laptop! What do I doooo?"
Adam is halfway down the stairs before I finish. I don't even have to repeat myself - that's a first - for him to remove the headphones and race to my rescue. Of course he will race to my rescue. Why have a seventeen-year-old son if not to be your personal Computer Geek? He surveys my handiwork. The laptop is now upside down (the better to drip dry) atop the couch. "K. First you need to turn it off." He effects this, then flips it over. Watches me dab the excess from the keys with a tissue. "It's solid-state, which means the current flows over top of the stuff in there" (simplifying for his mother, I suspect) "so once you remove current, nothing more is going to happen, unless djsir $&Djfud@ sfeuie 3rjwp &*sjfd." No, I have no idea what the "unless" part was. I blanked it out. Couldn't bear to deal with any unless-es just yet. It's just an ACER. Pretty close to bottom-of-the-line. A poor, slow, lurching ACER, but it's the very best I could manage, and it's my baby. Oh! how I love it. And oh! how I'd miss it. All those unrecorded URL's? My writing? My drafts of this idea or that. Correspondence. Budgets. Contracts. Emergency numbers. Pictures. Um. Maybe it's time to do some backing up? Maybe it's TOO LATE! Maybe it's ALL GONE! Maybe my ENTIRE LIFE has just been washed away by a single, inattentive slosh of water. Don't speak to me of "unless". You want to know "unless what"? Ha. I'll bet you're the kid who picked the scabs off their scrapes and now likes to watch surgeries on Discovery Channel. Oh, wait. That's me. Well, I'll bet you just love to watch thrillers. Yeah. I'll be you keep your eyes open when the music reaches the crescendo and the stupid, stupid woman is reaching her hand for the doorknob to the basement stairs. Not me! So, no, I don't know "unless what". "Now you just need to let it evaporate dry. That will take a few hours." His voice is matter-of-fact, soothing. I decide to wait until morning. Every time I pass it, I hover, a nervous mother with a sick baby. I want to turn it on - I want to know - but I can't risk making it worse. Tick, tick, tick. I wake in the night, worrying. How sad is that? First thing this morning, I come downstairs. Reach for the ON button. And I can't do it. Wander back to the kitchen to make myself some tea. Step in the fridge puddle. DAMN. The fridge leaks, the porch leaks, my washer overflowed all over the basement yesterday, my laptop could be fried. Not a good weekend for Mary and water. Fortified with my tea, I approach. Push. Wait for the whirr -- and it's fine! Well, mostly. It takes four and a half minutes to boot up, the cursor freezes at random moments, sometimes the cursor vanishes entirely even while my text keeps appearing, and sometimes my text stops appearing but I keep on typing, and three seconds later, it all appears. But it's always done that. This is fine, for an ACER. I'm so happy. I'm delighted. I'm relieved. I'm thrilled. As soon as Adam wakes up, he's going to back up my computer for me. He loves computers in all shapes and sizes, he'll be thrilled to know it still lives. He'll be so thrilled he rescued it, thrilled to effect its further preservation. In fact, I may just go get him now. Right now, at eight on a Sunday morning! He'll be so thrilled.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Friday, September 08, 2006

Heart Stopping

I just spilled water in my laptop. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Natural Consequences and Kindliness

"Hey, bud. If you lift that, it will pinch your fingers. It will slide right back and pinch those little fingers." My words stop Nigel in his exploration of the sliding dustcover on the piano keys. He turns towards my approach. His dimpled hands hover over the half-revealed keyboard. Don't they grow quickly at this age? Back from two weeks holiday and is now tall enough to achieve a long-term goal: push that cover right back. And push he does. I'm now close enough to put actions to words. "If this cover slides back," I slide it back, "it will pinch your fingers", I drop the cover very lightly onto his pudgy fingers. "That will hurt. OW!" I hope that the expression of pain on my face will get the point across without the experience. Seems not. He's back at it a couple of minute later. "Hey, Mister. You will get those fingers pinched." The warning comes from across the room. He drops his hands and trots off. "Come over here and we'll read this book." Five minutes later, the same. Five more, again. Then four, once more. Three minutes after that, as I change Timmy's diaper, George's voice. "Nigel. Nigel, leave it alone or you will hurt yourself!" The cover has no lock. Short of duct tape, there's really no way to seal the keyboard shut, and I'm not about to do that to my piano. The boy will either listen, or learn the - "AAAAAAHHHH!" - hard way. Nigel sucks his fingers. The piano receives an accusing glare. George beats me to it. "See? What did Mary say? And now you've hurted yourself!" George beats me to the second part, too. "Come here and I will give you a hug and kiss it better." Awww... Lots of learning going on around here today.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P