It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Indirect is Good, too

Fastidious George has a cold. Well, he has a drippy nose. Not much of a drip. At all. No great slimey green and yellow strands reaching to chin and beyond – oh, stop that squeamish wincing, you’re all parents, you’ve seen worse, you know you have. Nope. Nothing like that. George has a teeny tiny little barely runny nose. Sometimes you can just barely see a bit of dampness glistening there. If you look very carefully. In a good light.

George sees it differently. Dozens of times an hour, I hear his little voice:

“Mary, I need a kleenex.”

He takes the proffered tissue, and dabs, oh so delicately, at his upper lip. Then screws the infinitesimally damp thing into a tiny ball and tosses it out. Given the option, George would repeat this manoeuvre at eighteen-second intervals, elminating all tissue from my house within the hour. This is why the kleenex boxes are all out of the childrens’ reach.

Well, clearly something has to be done.

“Mary, I need a kleenex.”

I hand it, he dabs, he begins to wad it up. I cringe.

“George, stop. You don’t need to throw that out yet. You can use it at least once more.” See how gentle I’m being with the boy? By my standards, that thing is pristine, completely untouched by snot. He could use the same damn one all day long, at this rate of soilage.

His eyes widen. “I can’t use it again!! It’s all snotty!!”

I snort, but I’m still being kind. He is, after all, showing laudable concern with hygiene. This boy could grow up to be the kind of man who sees mess and picks up after himself! Do I want to spoil this for the future Mrs. George? I think not.

Still, I can’t have him going through a box an hour.

“All right, but don’t crumple it up. Give it to me, I’ll get rid of it.” I take the old one, I hand him a new one. Prepare yourself for just how devious Mary can be…

Twenty-six seconds later, when he requests his next tissue, I take the “used” one he proffers, and I hand him the previous one.

We’ve been alternating two tissues all morning, and neither of them is used up yet.

A brilliant, a simply brilliant win-win solution, and the future Mrs. George gets to have her tidy man. Lord, I’m good.

September 28, 2005 - Posted by | eeewww, George, Mischief


  1. Sweet George! I have been trying to teach the same thing with my daughter. She is taking to it well.

    BTW–thank you for your kind words.

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  2. Misfit: Yup, George is a sweetie, no doubt. And you’re welcome. Mothers have to stick together, you know?

    Comment by Mary P. | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  3. Oh genius Mary! You handled that situation ever so brilliantly!! Good job!

    Comment by Jill | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  4. George could SO hang with my son.

    And they could compare barely-used kleenex all day.


    Comment by Susan | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  5. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  6. Ah, the secret of a quiet life – the deviousness of adults 🙂

    btw Mary? Gave in to Aginoth’s constant nagging and blogged myself.


    Comment by craziequeen | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  7. Mary P., you are beyond devious. Those kids don’t know what hit them.

    Come to think of it, they don’t even know that they’ve been hit!

    Comment by Q | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  8. Bwa ha ha. You sneaky woman you. The future Mrs. George will thank you, assuming this care for hygiene lasts throughout puberty…
    Regardless, very clever.

    Comment by Haley | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  9. Of course, there might not ever *be* a Mrs. George…but there might be a MR. George.

    Just sayin’.

    Comment by misfit | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  10. On re-reading my comment that I posted earlier, it seemed a little too robust, so I’ve deleted it. Sorry for my inconsiderate wording.

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | September 28, 2005 | Reply

  11. I’ve used teh everlasting recycled Tissue trick a few times with our offspring, Aginoth Junior is old enough to spot it now.

    Comment by Aginoth | September 29, 2005 | Reply

  12. Jill: Thank you, thank you. Years of experience, what can I say?

    Susan: I think I’d like your son! And now you have a tip for handling the barely-used kleenex syndrome.

    CQ: As you well know, there is a time and a place for deviousness. I could’ve made him re-use his kleenex easily enough, but it would have made him genuinely unhappy (!), and it wasn’t a disciplinary or defiance issue, so I found another way round it. As you say, all for a quiet life!

    Q: Great, ain’t it? But then you’ve had occasion to note that I made a great fried, but you’d hate to be in my bad books! Imagine all that deviousness set to revenge. (She cackles in sinister fashion.)

    Haley: Thank you! It may take a dip at the onset of puberty – why deny his grade 7 teacher the aroma of goat that is her usual working environment? – but I think it’ll return in his late teens. He’s that kind of kid.

    Misfit: You know, in the interests of equality, that very thing crossed my mind as I wrote it. I didn’t want to imply that care for cleanliness made a man gay, so I left it out. (I like a sweaty man, actually, but prefer to be there for the sweat-making, ar,ar,ar.) Stale-sweaty he-men can keep their odiferous distance, thanks!

    Ironically, George and Darcy provided me more grist for that mill yesterday which appear later today. Stay tuned!

    Simon: I took your first comment in the spirit in which it was intended, and was happily brewing up a saucy, behave-yourself reply. However, I appreciate your consideration! Kind of you, thanks.

    Aginoth: Yes, sadly it does get harded and harder to be successfully devious as your children get older and cannier. Hopefully it also becomes less necessary, as they get more reasonable!

    Comment by Mary P. | September 29, 2005 | Reply

  13. nicely done! that’s quick thinking. but then, you’ve had years to perfect your skills.

    Comment by jungs | September 29, 2005 | Reply

  14. That’s right. In fact, one could argue with some justification that nothing I do any more is “quick” thinking, because it’s the result of years of thought. One wouldn’t be entirely correct, but one could argue that!

    Comment by Mary P. | September 29, 2005 | Reply

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