It’s Not All Mary Poppins

It’s a Simple World

George and Darcy are jointly digging to China. They’re at least a foot on their way.

George: I was singin’ a song when I was lying down about knocking down a tower. Did you like my song, Darcy?

Darcy, quite calm and matter-of-fact: No. No, I didn’t like your song. (There is no insult intended, he’s just answering the question.)

George, equally calm and matter-of-fact: Oh. Well, I did.

The excavation continues.

April 20, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, George, manners, the things they say! | 11 Comments

Storage Delight and Childhood Memories

Once in a while, I have a flash of sheerest brilliance. I really, really do.

This one started with my perusal of the Canadian Tire catalogue. Now, perhaps I am the only woman who enjoys paging through the Canadian Tire catalogue beyond the gardening and patio furnishing section, I don’t know. I’m quite sure it stems from happy childhood memories.

I grew up in a small village – a mere hamlet when I lived there, population 600ish – bisected by a small highway. On my side of the highway was the library, on the other side of the highway was “the Plaza”, a little strip mall of small stores: an IGA (groceries), a Peoples (department), a dry cleaners, a hairdressers, an LCBO (alcohol). I’m sure there are others that I’m missing, but the one I haven’t forgotten is the hardware.

A small Home Hardware, and a wonderful place for small children. The creaking wood floors, the dust motes in the air, the smell of grease, and, oh, the possibilities! This sense of possibility is the same I get when I enter a fabric store or a craft store: all the things you could do! My favourite part in the village Home Hardware was the bins of small bits. Rows and rows of open bins of nuts and bolts and washers and nails and screws and various mysterious metal bits and pieces, the names and uses of which I never knew, but the possibilities! Oh, the possibilities!

Kind Mr. Hilliard who owned the place never prevented this little girl from picking up the bits, running her fingers through the washers, letting those cool, smooth metal scraps pour over her palm and tinkle back into the bin. Once in a while he’d take one of those small paper bags and drop a few of this and a couple of that into it. “Here. Take these home and see what you come up with,” he’d tell me. He understood.

I’m sure he and his Home Hardware are the reason I can never let that Canadian Tire catalogue go unexplored. And this time, well, what a coup! In those cool, shiney pages, under “Tool Cabinets”, I found this little gem, a four-drawer DIY Waterloo on castors, and I thought, “MY tools aren’t wrenches and hammers and vice grips. MY tools are glue guns and sparkles and beads and paper”. Hey! Whyever not?

So off to Canadian Tire I go, and now, in my kitchen, instead of a cupboard filled to overflowing with craft stuff, I have this:

The cupboard that used to be stuffed full is now half-empty, and will soon house the things a kitchen cupboard should contain, things which till now have been stacked five-high in unlikely corners of not only the kitchen, but also the back porch.

When we got to Canadian Tire, we discovered that these babies were ON SALE!! Regularly $169, now yours for a mere $99. So of course I bought two. What else could I do? Given their purpose, no one, not even Revenue Canada, could argue their business-expense worthiness. The second one is on order, and when it arrives, some of that stuff stacked on this one, and the remainder of the craft stuff still in that cupboard will go into it.

Look at these drawers!

Is this not wonderful?

I am a happy woman!

April 19, 2006 Posted by | crafts, daycare, random and odd | 22 Comments

Hugs are Contagious

There has been an altercation, and Zach is crying. Darcy stands to one side, looking very guilty. Even had I not seen what had happened, the evidence is clear. Nonetheless, I play dumb in an attempt to coax Darcy, normally a very gentle and taciturn soul, to understand and express what has just happened. I draw the sniffling Zach onto my knee and put one arm around Zach.

Darcy was the aggressor, though, so I’m not about to give him the first and best attention. I speak to Zach, but of course Darcy is really the intended audience.

“I bet that hurt, didn’t it, Zach?”

“Yeah,” a self-pitying whimper.

“It’s not nice when you get hit. Do you want me to kiss it better?”

“Yeah,” a little perkier now.

“Feel better?” He nods. “Darcy is a big boy. Soon Darcy will remember to use his words when he’s upset.”

Then I turn to Darcy.

“Were you upset with Zach?”

“Yes. He sat onna rocking chair, and that was my chair.”

“You wanted him to move?”

“Yes, and he didn’t move!”

“Did you ask him to move?”

“Yes, but he wouldn’t.”

“So then what did you do?”

Long pause. He looks down at the floor, he looks up to the level of my chin. “I hitted him.”

“You hit him. Was that the best thing to do?”


“What else can you do when you are upset and someone doesn’t listen to you?” (All right, so maybe Zach doesn’t have to vacate the chair just because Darcy demands it of him, but we’re looking at it from Darcy’s perspective just yet.) This is not the first time Darcy has participated in, or overheard, such a conversation, so he doesn’t have to be prompted for the response.

“I can talk to you.”

“That’s right. You can come get me for help. That would be a good thing to do.”

Time to wrap up. Zach is ready to move on, and Darcy has walked through the process with me. I smile warmly at the two of them, snuggled within my arms. “Okay, Darcy. I think Zach is feeling better now. Now tell me, what are hands for?”


“That’s right. Hands are for hugging. Much better than hitting!”

“I can hug Zach.”

“What a good idea!” Darcy wraps his arms round Zach, and they share a smiling hug. I give Darcy a hug, and then he trots off to play.

Zach is unwilling to give up such a good thing. “I hug Arthur now?” he asks, the first time he’s spoken since he was walloped.

“Sure, if you like.”

They hug and laugh into each other’s faces. Arthur looks down at Zach, playing the kindly big brother to the hilt.

“Did that make you happy, Zach?”


April 18, 2006 Posted by | aggression, Arthur, Darcy, Developmental stuff, manners, parenting, socializing, Zach | 10 Comments

Rules, Principles, Empathy – and a little waffling thrown in at the end

“Leave me aloooone!” Arthur’s voice rises above the steady buzz of play.

Two little boys hover around the loveseat upon which Arthur wriggles, black purse on his lap. He scootches further back into the cushions, his whole body a wail of protest.

“Leave me aloooonnnne!” George and Darcy look at each other and crowd even closer, giggling.

Hmmm. This is bullying, and I have no tolerance for that. The boys may not be doing it consciously, but the impulse is the same, and it needs to be stopped.

“George. Darcy.” My voice is calm but forboding. They stand back a pace and look at me solemnly. “What did Arthur just say?”

“He said to leave him alone.” George offers.

“Exactly. He asked you politely to leave him alone. Please listen to Arthur.” That was the rule. Now for the principle: “If you do something that makes someone sad, you need to stop if you can. Do you have to be with Arthur?”

The boys have the grace to look chagrined. “No.” Good. Rule and principle accomplished. Now for some empathy.

“If you said ‘No’ to me, and I kept doing it, would you be happy or sad and angry?”

“Sad and angry,” offers George.

“Scared.” This is Darcy. Pretty aware for a three-year-old. Good lad.

“That’s right. So Arthur asked you to leave him alone, but you kept crowding him. Do you want to make your friend sad and angry and scared?” (All evidence indicates the answer is “Yes”, but let’s move them past that, shall we?)


“Well, then, you need to say sorry to Arthur for not listening, and then you need to go off and find something better to do with yourselves, all right?”

“Okay.” The boys offer their apologies, which in this house are accompanied by hugs. They move to play with the blocks in the next room. Arthur pops up on a spring, throws the purse to one side, charges down the hall.

“Hey, guys! Wait for me!”

April 17, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, behavioural stuff, Darcy, George, manners, socializing | 14 Comments

He is Risen

Happy Easter

April 16, 2006 Posted by | commemoration, holidays | 5 Comments

Six Weird Things Meme

Kittenpie and Peter both tagged me for this.

Here are the rules:
1. Reveal six weird facts/things/habits about yourself and then tag six people.
2. Leave a “You’re Tagged!” comment to let the people you have tagged know they have to reveal six things.
3. Leave me a comment letting me know that you have completed your mission (if you have chosen to accept it!).


I don’t know! I’m not weird! No, really, I’m not. Well, I don’t think I am… Hang on a sec…

…Brief consultation with my family, and they give me — nothing. “You’re kinda normal, mom,” say my teenage children. Is that a weird thing? I think I’ll use it! Okay, so we have:

1. My teenagers think I’m normal. (That has to be weird.)

2. To hear my eldest tell it, I once discussed oral sex at the dinner table in the presence of her new boyfriend. I hasten to add that I have no recollection of said conversation, but given my memory, that doesn’t really prove anything.

3. I almost always leave the bathroom not quite put together, and come down the stairs tucking in my shirt, zipping the fly, and/or or buckling the belt. It comes of years of anticipating bedlam if I linger behind a shut (never locked!) door, I’m quite sure. So far I have managed NOT to do this when we have company.

4. I occasionally carry a hummer in my purse.

5. Although I love words, and have no trouble writing what I want to say, when speaking I occasionally lose words entirely. I will find myself trying to say one word – “jacket”, say – but cannot get past the other word – ummm, “squirrel” – that keeps leaping into the verbal queue ahead of “jacket”. I know “squirrel” is the wrong word, but simply can’t lay my hands (mind? tongue?) on the right one, so I stand there in open-mouthed silence, hoping the right word will leap to the forefront. This quirk often has me resorting to the ubiquitous “thing”, like some annoyingly imprecise adolescent. Urgh.

6. I don’t much like hamburgers, and spaghetti. Serve either for dinner, and I’ll just have the salad, thanks. Except some days, and suddenly that’s exactly what I’m craving, and I’ll scarf down as much as you’ll give me. Now that’s weird.

And I tag…whoever hasn’t already done this and would like to! Leave me a comment to let me know you’ll be doing it, so we can all go and check out your weirdness.

April 15, 2006 Posted by | memes and quizzes | 7 Comments

Fine Art and Deep Concepts

This is my favourite painting in the National Gallery. (“Hope 1”, by Gustav Klimt. The picture itself is a link to the Gallery, if you wish to check it out.) Every time I go, I find my way to the gallery in which this sits, and soak her up. It’s not a pretty picture, exactly; it’s not a nice picture, exactly, but there is so much about it I love. The luminescence of the woman, her expression of defiance, the immensity of the belly which defies the spectres behind her. I just love this painting.

Thus I have a postcard of this painting on my fridge. It’s been there for years, periodically replaced by a new, clean version, carefully posted high above the childrens’ heads.

This morning, Darcy noticed it.

“Mary, why is that lady naked?”

“Well, this is a picture of a painting. Sometimes painters like to paint people with no clothes on, because…” Hmmm… This is no cartoon print, nor a photograph of something familiar and straightforward. This painting is difficult, layers upon layers of complex adult concepts. How does one explain nudity as a symbol of vulnerability? How does one explain danger, defiance, threat, and the ascendancy of the human spirit? How does one explain “hope, the concept”, never mind “Hope, the painting” to a three-year-old?

I take the picture down and hand it to him, pulling him onto my lap. He holds it carefully in both hands, head curled down over the photograph.

“Who are those bad guys?”

“They sure look like bad guys, don’t they?”

“Yes. Mean bad guys.”

“Are they a little scarey, maybe?”

“Yes, they are scarey. And they’re standing too close to that lady.”

“You don’t like them to be so close to that lady? Why not?”

“Because they are bad guys. She isn’t smiling. She doesn’t like those bad guys to be so close to her. She is mad at them. And why is she so fat?”

“Do you think she’s fat? Why else might her belly be so big?” Darcy has a younger sister; this should be familiar ground to him.

“Does she got a baby in there?”

“Yes, she does. And is a baby a good thing, or a bad thing?” (With another child, this might be a risky thing to ask, but I’m sure of myself with Darcy.)

“Good thing!” My confidence is vindicated. Darcy is happily clear on this one.

“So that lady is doing a good thing, right? She’s having a baby, and that’s a good, happy thing.” Darcy nods a decisive affirmation. I guess he’s enjoying his little sister!

“Sometimes when a painter paints a picture, he’s trying to make you think of things. He’s trying to paint ideas. He painted those bad guys and he painted that pregnant lady together, so that we could see that even when there are bad things happening, good things can happen, too.”

“She is happy about her baby. I think those bad guys won’t get her baby.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“That’s good, that the bad guys won’t get her baby. I like that.”

There are bad guys out there, there are even bad guys standing close, but they won’t get the baby. Not bad. I think Darcy has come to his own understanding of “hope”.

April 14, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Random, overheard

“George, take the leaf, and glue it, and stick the leaf in your NOSE!!!” BWAH-hahahaha…

“I’ve got more than YOU, because YOU were sharing!”

“We can’t play with those* here, because Baby Nigel might eat one, and it might get stuck inside him, and it makes my mommy sad when Baby Nigel can’t poop.”

“If I was a bird, I would sing and fly and poop on peoples’ heads!”

“ABCD, EFG, HIJK, I dunno to P…”

*”those” being those tiny bears

April 13, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Just a Leeeetle Accident

We are preparing to go out. The children are all wearing their sweaters or jackets, and the ones in diapers are wearing their shoes. The undiapered ones are being sent to the toilet one at a time before donning footwear. George is putting his shoes on, and Darcy awaits his turn when there is a call from upstairs.

Arthur is on his way down, talking, talking, talking. This is nothing out of the ordinary, of course. Except he’s explaining something. “I got some pee on the floor. There’s a leeeetle bit of pee onna floor. It’s okay, because it was just an accident. Accidents happen, sometimes. Just a little bit of pee onna floor, because I forgot to push my penis down.” Understand that none of this is at all anxious. He’s not worried about my response and trying to calm me down in advance, he’s just talking. Talking, talking, talking. He’s not even talking to me. All these words are being addressed to his feet, in calm and cheerful conversational tones, as he comes, one step, one step down the fifteen stairs.

“Sometimes when the pee comes fast, you can have a little accident, and sometimes when the pee comes fast, a liiiittle pee will get onna floor, but it’s okay because accidents happen, sometimes, and I just didn’t push my penis down in time, but I’m just a little boy and sometimes when you’re just little you can get a little pee on the floor and that’s okay and it’s not hard to clean up because sometimes pee just comes a little fast and you if you don’t push your penis down it gets on the floor a little bit…”

I pass through the wall of words and go up to survey the damage.

“A little bit of pee.” The ammonia stench makes my eyes water, and the pee! The pee, it runs from the front of the toilet to the wall beneath the sink, trickles round the garbage pail, peeks coyly up from under the toilet brush in its stand, and meanders down alongside the tub. I’m not even sure I can get into the room without stepping in some. How can one small bladder have produced so much?

“I forgot to push my penis down”. Judging from Lac Urine in my bathroom, he “forgot” for the entire duration of a 90-second pee. Judging from the complete lack of any hint of yellow tinge in the bowl not a drop went down. In fact, I strongly suspect that after the first startled reaction, he simply sat back and enjoyed the glistening arc, nodded in happy pride at his manly production, and hummed along with the musical tinkle of liquid hitting the tiles. “Forgot”, my ar…nevermind.

We were a little delayed getting out this morning, but my bathroom, she now sparkles like the dew.

April 12, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Nursery Rhyme Wisdom

The boys are hammering away at the tool bench, when George announces,

“You can’t jump over a candle because you might burn your toe.”

Jack be Nimble, be forewarned…

April 12, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments