It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Food Expectations

A small chunk of kiwi, speared on a fork, hovers in front of Alice’s mouth. She closes her mouth and tips her chin down and away, in that totally adorable way she has. All I can see is the curve of one chubby cheek under that amazing nimbus of tight blond curls. But, cute or not, I decide I’m going to see this through. Because she is now completely comfortable here, and is almost a year and a half old, I decide the time has come to begin to initiate her into my Food Expectations.

The first: “You can’t decide you don’t like something if you haven’t tasted it.”

Note, they only have to taste it. This means it merely has to get into her mouth. She doesn’t actually have to swallow, nor even chew it. If it sits on her tongue for a nano-second before she spits it out, that’s acceptable to me. It’s the principle of the thing. A first step.

Of course, the initial challenge is, how to get it in? In this case, as often happens, Alice makes it easy for me.

“Alice,” I say slowly, in tones heavy with portent, “You need to take one bite. Open your mouth.” Then I press gently on her lower jaw with my fingertip. Alice is highly offended at my presumption, and opens her mouth to express her displeasure.

Perfect! That kiwi is in there!

Alice is outraged. Her eyes widen, she takes a deep breath, she begins to roar. She is Not Happy with Me. At All. I commiserate with her. “That was a dirty trick, wasn’t it? What a thing to do to a girl!”

From here, it doesn’t much matter to me what happens next. She has tasted the thing, that’s all I ask. If she spits it out, I will praise her for tasting it. If she actually eats it, even better. I wait for a moment. It doesn’t come out instantly, at any rate. What happens next is something that I’ve come to expect a goodly percentage of the time: Alice suddenly looks surprised, stops crying, and becomes aware of the taste of that thing in her mouth.

“Not so bad, now, is it?” I lilt encouragingly, warmest of smiles on my face. “How about that?”

It goes down. Success! And then… she voluntarily takes a second piece from her tray! Ha! Stage One of Food Expectations has gone like a charm.

June 15, 2005 Posted by | Developmental stuff, food | 11 Comments

Life Begins at… Three!

I was preparing lunch in the kitchen as the children played in the next room. Construction noises wafted in from the street, obscuring the beginnings of this conversation between George and Thomas, so we will join it at the moment I became aware of it. The requisite background for the story: Mary is 40-something, Emma, her daughter, is eleven, George is three, Thomas almost three, Zach just turned two, and Alice is not quite a year and a half old.

“Everyone is a adult: Mary is a adult, Emma is a adult, George is a adult.” Thomas is most insistant.

“I am an adult?” George is a bit surprised, but open to the idea.

“Yes, everyone is a adult.”

“But not Zach.” They turn to look at Zach, happily driving small cars along the hallway wall. Alice watches him with interest.

“No, not Zach, or Alice, either.” They agree to this with great solidarity. This causes George to consider the heirarchy, however. He is three already, whereas Thomas won’t be three until August.

“And not you, either, Thomas.”

“Yes, I am a adult.” Thomas isn’t defensive here, just stating a known fact.

“No, you’re not.” It seems to cause George some regret to have to disappoint Thomas with this sad truth. He pauses, thinking, and his face brightens. “Unless: did you have your birthday?”

So there you have it: adulthood begins at three.

June 15, 2005 Posted by | the things they say! | 2 Comments

Swab those Decks

Boys, I tell ya…

I now have three toilet trained boys. I’ve dispensed with the potty in the living room. Anyone needing to answer the call of nature has to trot upstairs to the Real Toilet, do the necessary, and return downstairs again. I generally confirm the cleanliness of the hands in the downstairs sink, but apart from that, they’re autonomous. (You’ve heard of cleaners who don’t Do Windows? Well, I don’t Wipe Bums… They manage perfectly well.)

I’ve been at this job a few years now, and I still haven’t come up with a definitive answer to the Sit or Stand question.

They can sit comfortably. We have this little toilet ring, a little padded toilet seat that sits on top of the regular one, making a smaller and nicely secure spot for tiny bottoms. So getting on and staying on isn’t a problem.

If they sit on the seat, however, they often forget to angle their equipment down, and the pee gets under the toilet ring. Then, when the ring is lifted off, there’s a ring of urine along the front of the adult toilet seat, which I have to clean off before I can sit. Lovely.

If they stand, they tend to get distracted, or to step away before that last drop falls, and the rim of the bowl, or the floor in front, or in dramatic instances, the wall or even the toilet paper roll, get liberally sprinkled.

I dunno. No matter how we try this, I end up having to swab something.

I think back to a story of an uncle, now a highly respected forensic psychiatrist. When, at the age of four, he was scolded by his mother for getting pee all over the toilet, he looked up at her with indignation and asked,

“Have you ever tried to steer one of these things?”

June 15, 2005 Posted by | Developmental stuff, eeewww, the dark side | 2 Comments