It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Yosemite Sparky

Q posted this over at Simply Put, and it made me laugh – so I stole it! 🙂

One of the residents of our home is Sparky, a long-haired guinea pig. He bears a striking resemblance to a certain Looney Tunes character.

Separated at birth? You be the judge!

January 31, 2006 Posted by | random and odd | 6 Comments

Hockey Fever Continues

It’s ongoing in Mary’s kitchen, the endless hockey game, only it’s achieving a new level of sophistication. Perhaps because daddy has been taking Darcy to see high school hockey games, but Darcy has learned to body check.


He does it very well, too. Not only has he learned how, but he knows when to do it. It’s quite impressive, really.

This afternoon, Darcy and George were scooting after the puck (a.k.a. a wooden block). Displaying a novel degree of authenticity, they were both in pursuit of the same puck. As you know from previous posts on the subject, there are generally multiple pucks in our games, the ice littered with at least one per player, very often more. Today, however, two boys, one puck. How sophisticated!

But then, it gets even better. George makes it to the puck, which has lodged against the boards, first. George angles himself so as to shoot the puck out into centre ice, when Darcy approaches from his left, and, leading with his shoulder, checks George back a pace and gains control of the puck! It was decisive, it was neat, it was efficient – it was really, really good! Really!

I was so impressed.

George was less so. “Daaarcy!”

Darcy is too busy racing the puck across the ice to answer. George is not letting this go. He “skates” up behind Darcy, and I’m wondering: are we going to get still another level of authenticity? Is there about to be a brawl on the ice?

“Darcy! Darcy, you has to say sorry!” The tears glimmer on his lashes as he holds up his middle finger. “You hurted me!”

I consider intervening with the harsh truth that in a real game the play does not stop so someone can say sorry for a bo-bo on a finger, but I’m curious to see how Darcy decides to handle it. He’s perfectly capable of saying just exactly that.

Nope. Authenticity has its place and all, but George is his friend, and Darcy is a gentle-spirited little guy (with the makings of a great athlete, I might add).

Play stops while Darcy kisses George’s finger better. “All better?” George smiles. And the game commences once more.

January 30, 2006 Posted by | Canada, Darcy, George, manners, socializing, the cuteness! | 12 Comments


January 29, 2006 Posted by | outings | 5 Comments

Fatherly Love

Warm and conjugal, my sweetie and I bask lazily in a Saturday morning no-need-to-get-up. I’ve had my shower, but I’m taking a few more minutes to relax slowly into the day.

Shrieks of fake operatic ululating pulsate through the floorboards from the living room below. Seems his youngest, a ten-year-old boy, is awake and greeting the dawn.

“Well, I think I’ll just get up now,” I grin at the paternal progenitor of the ululator below.

“Feel free,” he offers, loving father that he is, “to stuff a sock down his throat when you get there.”

January 28, 2006 Posted by | my kids, random and odd | 7 Comments

Life Lessons from the Sims

Darcy and George play the Sims with Emma. Darcy’s character in the game – whose name is “Darcy”, if you can believe the coincidence!! – has become an adult.

“Darcy, do you want your guy to get married?” Emma asks.


“Who do you want to marry?”

“George!” George is all in agreement. The game, of course, allows same-sex unions, but, sadly for the boys, they have made themselves brothers in the game. Emma breaks the news, so Darcy, ever-adaptable, picks a local female to marry.

“Will you want to have a baby, now you’re married?” Emma asks.

“Yes! And I want the baby to grow in my tummy!”

Even the inclusive Sims doesn’t allow for this. “Sorry, Darcy.” Emma breaks the sad news. “Only girls can grow babies.”

Emma told me about this exchange later. “He was really disappointed mum! Isn’t that so cuuute?”

January 27, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, George, my kids, sex, socializing, the cuteness! | 13 Comments


“Arthur, it’s time for me to make lunch. You need to pick up those blocks now so I can move in the kitchen. Pick up the blocks, please.”


“No, not ‘why’. When I say ‘Pick up the blocks’, you say ‘Okay, Mary’.”


“Par.Don Meeee?”

“Ahhh… Okay.”

“Okay, Mary.”

“Okay, Mary.”

We’re on our way…

January 26, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, manners, socializing | 7 Comments

Pint-size Political Pundits

George and Darcy are chatting in the kitchen. Then George’s voice changes, his eyes twinkle. “Stephen Harper,” he intones, his voice rich with portent and mischief.

Darcy picks up on the tone of naughtiness, and joins in. “Steeephen Haaarperrr.”

Back and forth they go, each imitating the other.

“Stephen Harper.” Giggle, giggle.

“Stephen Harper!” Giggle, snort, chortle.

I have to ask, but I don’t want to lead with my questions. We’ll make it open-ended. “So who’s Stephen Harper?” I ask, light and casual.

They look up at me. “I dunno,” says Darcy.

“He’s the man in the song,” explains George.

“A song on television?” I haven’t heard any jingles about our man Steve, but I don’t watch a lot of television.


I know they’ve just heard the name. It’s been everywhere these last few weeks, along with Paul Martin’s (his picture’s on the right) and Jack Layton’s (he’s the one on the left). But what does it mean to these two? I want to know, so I set them up.

“Is Stephen Harper a good guy or a bad guy?” (Which would be the question of the hour for Canadians.)

George and Darcy have none of the doubts or hesistation of many Canadians. Their answers ring clear, firm, and confident.

“Bad guy!” affirms George.
“Good guy!” declares Darcy.
“Bad guy!” bellows the loose-canon voter, Arthur, who until this moment had paid not a moment’s attention to the debate.

I think they’re representative of the general populace.

January 25, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Canada, Darcy, George, the things they say! | 11 Comments

Because it’s all about Labels, right?

George scrambles out of his chair so as to get his coat on. The woman at the next table in the coffee shop starts to make small talk as I assist the children into their coats, hats, mittens, scarves, etc, etc,etc.

“Those are nice overalls you have there.”

George looks down at his blue corduroy tummy. “They have a pocket for my lego guy,” he says, indicating the bib pocket.

“Do you know what kind of overalls they are?” she asks.

“Blue!” George knows all his colours, basic shapes, the numerals from 0 – 9, the days of the week, a lot of letters, and can count to twenty-nine. He is proud to display his prowess.

“Yes, they are blue. But that’s not all. Those are OshKosh overalls,” she says, pointing to the label on the bib. “See these words? They say ‘OshKosh’.”

George looks down. “Those words?”

“Yup. They say ‘OshKosh’. Can you say ‘OshKosh’?”

Oh, save me. Can you say brand-conscious? Happily by then we’re ready to leave. George is directed to say goodbye to the nice lady. (Quick, George! Say goodbye quick! Before she says anything even sillier.)

And we wonder why kids care about this stuff so early…

January 25, 2006 Posted by | George, our adoring public, parenting, socializing, the dark side | 10 Comments

Election Day, the Sign Mans, and my Dessert

It’s Election Day here in Canada, and for the first time in years, I went to cast my ballot without my little parade of toddlers. Generally I hit the polling station in the morning, in part to avoid any congestion that may occur in the busier after-work hours, but mostly because I like the idea of taking the tots along, exposing them to this aspect of being a grown-up. It’s the teacher in me, don’t you know.

Today I didn’t. Today I went after work hours, so that I could be chauffeured to and from – taking the car, when the polling station is six blocks from my home! I’m mortified. What kind of a fat-ass wuss am I morphing into?? I’m also incapable of walking six blocks, so I can swallow my moral outrage at using a car for a six-block outing. It’s embarrassing, true; it’s also merely necessary.

A canvasser for one of the parties came to the door earlier today, “getting the vote out”. I assured her of my intention to go to the polls this evening, and she gave me a little bookmark with the candidate’s picture and the address of our polling station. Just so’s I’d know who to vote for and how to get there. Six blocks from my home.

The tots were interested.

“Dat’s the man on the signs on the lawns!” Darcy exclaimed. “Why did the lady give you the sign man’s picture?”

I explained that today all the grown-ups would be deciding who got to be the boss of the country. This was one of the men who wanted to help. He didn’t want to be the boss, but he wanted to be one of the boss’s helpers. I’m talking to three-year-olds: it pays to keep it simple.

“Don’t we have a boss already?” George asks. It would be clever George who thinks of this.

“Well, yes, we do.” (I will suffer no snide remarks about Mr. Martin’s efficacy or lack thereof in the position; fact is, at least technically, he is the boss.) “We do, but now it’s time for someone else to get a chance. Even the boss of the country has to take turns.”

This they understand, and it’s on to more pressing matters, like can Zach eat the Smartie that rolled under the potty and looks just the teeniest bit damp. They took a vote, and Zach ate the Smartie.

A few years back, less experienced and more eager to enrich, I attempted a more detailed explanation.

“Say that your mummy said you could have either a brownie or some ice cream for dessert, but you all had to have the same thing.” I explained to little Kaleb, then four years old. “So everyone in the family would get to say what they wanted. That’s voting. Each person would be voting for the dessert they want. Whichever dessert had more people wanting it, that’s what everyone would eat.”

He seemed to grasp this, and then I very skilfully made the connection between voting for something like dessert and voting for leadership of the country. We all troop into the polling station, I take my ballot, mark it, drop it in the box, then back out into the sunshine we go. (Because generally we are sensible in this country and do NOT hold elections in the WINTER!)

“Did we voted?” Kaleb asks.

“Yes, we did.”

He scrutinizes my face carefully, puzzlement all over his. “So, when do we get the dessert?”

So this evening I went and cast my ballot. In another hour I’ll turn on the television and start watching the returns. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get the dessert I wanted.

January 23, 2006 Posted by | Canada, commemoration, George, the things they say!, Zach | 11 Comments

Eating Green, the Devious Way

Very few parents of toddlers manage to avoid the struggle over Green Things. Food fads are very common and idiosyncratic at this age, but the suspicion of vegetables is almost universal.

What’s a parent to do?

There are a number of ways to get vegetables into your children. We can classify these into two approaches: the Devious, and the Direct. This post deals with the Devious.

Under the Devious, first and foremost: GOOD MODELLING.

1. Good Modelling. This one is of critical importance. You will be far less likely to get your tot to eat healthful meals if you don’t. So, suck it up and eat your beans! For the sake of your child’s long-term good health, you can make this change in your patterns. And hey, it’ll be good for you, too!

I know a mother who hates vegetables, and who, quite literally, never eats them. Her two daughters – surprise! – never do, either. I am appalled, and predict a life of constipation followed by colon cancer for the entire lot of them.

2. When the kids cluster round your feet as you prepare dinner, claiming to be STARRRRVING!, give them vegetables. Take the cooked sprig of cauliflower from the pot, run it under cold water to cool it, and hand it to your child. So what if that means they’ve eaten all their cauliflower before dinner starts? They’ve eaten all their cauliflower!!

3. Vary the presentation. Make cucumber flowers by dragging a fork down the outside to make grooves, then slicing it. Put peanut butter or cheese in the celery. Make roses from the radishes, little people from mushrooms. Be imaginative.

4. Dip them. Some kids would eat styrofoam if they could dip it. Besides the traditional sour cream option, there’s ranch dressing, plain yoghurt, or melted cheese.

5. Frozen veggies. Many toddlers LOVE frozen peas, corn niblets, and tiny cubes of frozen carrots. I often give them out for snacks.

6. Hide them. I’ve been known to put smooshed peas or flattened cauliflower UNDER the cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich. Really.

7. Camouflage them. Pureed, vegetables can go a lot of places: in the lasagna, in the mac and cheese, in soups. I routinely use pureed squash to thicken and sweeten soups and stews. Pureed squash makes chicken noodle soup taste really good to most kids. Just don’t tell them it’s in there…

(Word to the wise from one who knows: don’t use spinach for this. It turns the broth an unbelievable emerald green, that simply can’t be explained away.)

Those are all options in the Devious category, ways to sneak vegetables into your child without the direct confrontation. But wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to set a meal in front of your child, and have it get eaten without fuss? I bet you get tired of this song-and-dance routine some days, jumping through hoops provided by someone who only reaches mid-thigh! Don’t you look forward to the day when a piece of broccoli is just another item on the plate, not an invitation to bedlam and domestic upheaval?

It can happen! It won’t happen by Devious means, however. To achieve that goal, my friends, you will have to employ the Direct Method.

Next installment (when I finish writing it): The Direct Method.

© 2006, Mary P

January 23, 2006 Posted by | food, parenting, power struggle | 24 Comments