It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Good Call

Arthur sits on the bottom step. I see him there as I happen by. This step is the “Quiet Stair”, the time-out spot, the place children go to calm down, to think about their misdemeanors, or to keep them out of Mary’s way long enough for her to overcome dark, vengeful urges. Except I have no recollection of sending him to the stair, none at all.

“Arthur, are you sitting there for fun, or are you on the Quiet Stair?”

“I’m on the Quiet Stair.”

“Do you know why?”


“Okay. Why are you on the Quiet Stair, Arthur?”

“Because… I, uh… it was… maybe I…”

He hasn’t got a clue. And neither do I. Let’s see. This is Arthur. There have been a number of stair-able offenses this morning, but I hadn’t thought I’d used the stair as a consequence for any of them.

“Was it for shoving the furniture around after I said not to?”


“Was it for hitting the tree ornaments with your wooden hammer?”


“For tearing the cushion open with your teeth?”


“Poking the budgie with a paintbrush? Sitting on little Alice? Throwing blocks? Licking Darcy’s face after he said ‘No’?”

“No. No. No. No.”

Hmmm. The mystery will have to remain unsolved, I guess. Don’t suppose it really matters.

“Okay, kiddo. You’ve been pretty quiet here, so you can get up now if you like.”

“No fanks. I think I’ll just sit here for a while.”

You know, I think it’s probably better that way.

December 21, 2005 - Posted by | Arthur, manners, random and odd


  1. Sometimes you just need a little quiet time… B will disappear upstairs, and after a while I’ll notice he didn’t come down again, and he usually will tell me that he’s playing and wants alone time… it’s pretty cute!

    Comment by Angela | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  2. Perhaps he’s storing up time on the quiet step for future misdemeanours ;o)

    Comment by Aginoth | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  3. I agree with Aginoth. He’s doing the time before doing the crime.

    I like that you guys call it the “Quiet Stair.” At my daughter’s preschool, it’s called “The Thinking Chair,” which might explain why she doesn’t like Blue’s Clues very much.

    Comment by Chag | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  4. Angela: Alone-time is a good thing. It’s not something for which Mr. Raging Extrovert has ever expressed a need, but there’s a first time for everything…

    Aginoth: LOL Could be, could be. Either that or he figures he spends enough time visiting, he may as well live there.

    Chag: “Time before the crime”? Not such a good strategy for our Arthur, given how much time he spends there as it is, poor impulsive child.

    The “Thinking Chair”, hmm? Kind of supercilious and a great way to program a kid to equate thinking with something bad. Still, it’s far better than the “Naughty Chair”, such a noxious term, which is what a local daycare calls it. Isn’t there some television nanny woman who uses that term?

    Comment by Mary P. | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  5. Princess number two has been known to go quiet and when we realise that we haven’t heard her for a few minutes, we often find her in her special Dora chair in her room looking through her picture books. She gets that from me, I’m afraid. My parents soon learned that sending me to my room was not punishment; not as long as I had books to read. I just smile at her and tell her that everything is fine and I just wondered where she was.

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  6. Yeah, one of the nanny shows uses that term. Super Nanny, maybe? Or Nanny 911? They’re both the same to me.

    We call it “Quiet Time” or “Alone Time” and it occurs in the offender’s room. I don’t care if they play as long as they are away from the situation and I can get my anger in check. I usually only send them there if they’re fighting (which I don’t allow), so it’s not necessarily a punishment anyway.

    Comment by misfit | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  7. Awwwww. That is so cute.

    And you, of course, know how to use a time out. So nice to see — but I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, you childcare goddess.

    The Quiet Stair is sooo much better than the “naughty potty,” or whatever the hell one of those wretched nannies uses on one of those wretched shows.

    Comment by MIM | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  8. Simon: Nothing wrong with grabbing a few quiet minutes in a comfy chair with a good book. That’s a great trait to pass on – no “I’m afraid” necessary! And I’m sure you’re not really sorry to see it manifesting in your daughter. 🙂

    Misfit: People often assume, because of what I do for a living, that I must watch those shows. In fact, I’ve never seen any of them, not even once!

    I’ve sent my older kids to their room, just to give everyone some space from each other. They want to read or play quietly in there until the emotions recede a bit and we can talk, that’s a good thing!

    With the tots, of course, it wouldn’t be safe to have them out of sight, and as the time outs are quite brief, I’d end up charging up and down a flight of stairs twice in ninety seconds: not worth the effort!

    mim: “Childcare goddess” – LOL. Thank you.

    I am quite absent-minded, though. It’s a good thing timeouts are generally so short, and the child is usually in control of when they leave (with certain escape clauses fulfilled!) because otherwise I’d forget, and leave the poor child stranded there!

    “Mary? Mary, can I get up now? I hafta pee…”

    (That would be an example of not a good implementation of time out…)

    Comment by Mary P. | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  9. bless his lil heart….whatever he did…..he’s carrying a huge burden on his heart..makin himself sit there.

    Comment by kimmyk | December 21, 2005 | Reply

  10. I’ve forgotten to rescue them from their time outs as well. Rebecca will remind me; Rochelle (on the extremely rare occasions she’s there) would sit until she froze in place.

    Rebecca has put herself in the corner; usually one jump ahead of my telling her to go. Or, she’ll go out to the kitchen table and start writing “I will not (whatever the offense was) on her own.

    Odd child.

    Comment by Granny | December 22, 2005 | Reply

  11. ‘Licking Darcy’s face after he said “no”‘ did me in.

    I want that kid to come play at my house.

    Comment by Susan | December 22, 2005 | Reply

  12. We bought a little red timer at IKEA for Ben’s time outs (red is, afterall, his favorite color). We now know exactly when his time out is done.

    On the other hand, we don’t always remember WHY.

    Mommy: Ben, why were you in time out?
    Ben: For hitting?
    Mommy: No…
    Ben: For yelling at the kitty?
    Mommy: No…
    Ben: For jumping on the couch?
    Mommy: No…
    Ben: For pouring milk into the plants?
    Mommy: You did WHAT? Wait, no, that’s not it either.
    Ben: Then why?
    Mommy: Um, ah, because…. Well, your time out is done. Whatever you did, don’t do it again!

    Good parenting right there.

    Comment by Andie D. | December 22, 2005 | Reply

  13. He just knew Santa had been watching…

    Comment by LoryKC | December 28, 2005 | Reply

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