It’s Not All Mary Poppins

My Fall from Grace

“Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you.”

“What a good runner you are, Zach!” I call to the boy leading the pack.
“I’m a good runner, too,” says the boy walking at my elbow.

“Boy, you sure love your beans, George,” I smile at the boy who’s asking for seconds.
“I like beans, too,” says the boy who has managed to down two and a half so far.

“I love to see you boys playing together so nicely.”
“I play together nicely. I played together the nicest.”

“Good job picking up all those puzzle pieces, Darcy and George! You sure worked hard.”
“I can clean up, too,” says the boy from the middle of a demolition of blocks.

“What a nice picture you drew, Arthur. So many colours!”
“Yeah. Mine gots more colours than Zach’s.”

“You each pick a book, and we’ll read them all.”
“Read mine first.”

And on and on and on. All day long. And each time, I respond politely, sometimes telling him that I was speaking to another child, or explaining that I meant all the children, or telling him that right now, it’s so-and-so’s turn to hear something nice. And sometimes I simply opt not to hear him. But my heart, she is weary.

At snack time in the afternoon, we are having oranges. Now, I don’t much enjoy peeling oranges, and for snack, I’ll peel four or five of the wretched things. These ones peel readily enough, in fact, but then one of them just won’t pull apart neatly into segments. The damned things keep tearing in the middle, and my fingers become sticky with juice.

Sensitive George notices my face. “What’s the matter, Mary?”

What a sweetie. I make a dramatically disgusted face at the orange for his entertainment. We share a grin. “Some come apart more easily than others, and this one just doesn’t want to come apart.”

“I can peel them apart easily,” says Arthur.


“You’re the child who can’t pull up his own socks, Arthur. Give me a break.”

Bad caregiver. Bad, bad, bad, bad caregiver…

June 20, 2006 - Posted by | Arthur, the dark side


  1. You gotta love a small child’s ego 🙂

    Comment by Sunshine Scribe | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  2. Hey, I know a child just like that. Oh, wait. I married him. 😀 (To be fair, he’s the best at taking out the garbage and washing the dishes and that counts A LOT for me.)

    Mary, an orange peeler might be a good investment…

    Comment by Kat O+ | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  3. No, good caregiver. Honestly. I truly believe that there is an overabundance of self-esteem in today’s children, and Arthur is a prime example. Contrary to Arthur’s opinion, the ability to breathe is not something to be proud of. FInd an actual accomplishment, and then brag. Or, better yet, DON”T brag. IT’s unbecoming, Arthur. And you’re already enough of a pill.

    Comment by MsSisyphus | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  4. Oh, I just KNEW it was Arthur… seems like something he’d need to hear himself say OVER AND OVER.

    Comment by Kristen | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  5. It’s probably what I would have said at the end of a long day. With the girls it’s always a contest.

    Comment by Granny | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  6. I have to say, you held out a lot longer than I would have.

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  7. Like Kristen said, I just *knew* it was Arthur! Working with my dance troupe, I can still feel it when I praise one person and others were wishing they had been the one singled out. Happily at the college age, they can keep those thoughts to themselves long enough for me to find a good thing to say about them too. 😉

    Comment by Lady M | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  8. Arthur is my student Albert reincarnated!!! Makes me miss Albert to some degree but then I snap out of it.

    Comment by Momma to Ashley | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  9. Ugh.

    I hate, hate, hate the competing for attention. I sort of expect it from my kids (though not too much, as I try really hard to make sure they both get my attention when they need it), but I *really* hate it when it’s a friend of my kids’ who is vying for “Who Is The Best At…”.

    Comment by Candace | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  10. Yeah, I too figured this for Arthur – he’s always talking, for one thing! But this makes me crazy too. I like how you pointed out that it was someone else’s turn to hear something nice. I think they would at least get that, since they learn early about taking turns (not to say it’s always easy for them, but). Cause I would be tempted to just tell him it’s not all about him from way earlier on!

    Comment by kittenpie | June 20, 2006 | Reply

  11. Have I told you 10 times yet that you are the best caregiver. Your daycare is tops. Why don’t you move here again??

    Comment by mo-wo | June 21, 2006 | Reply

  12. Sunshine: Welllll…. Self-esteem is good; blind ego? Not so much. But he’s only three. He’s got time!

    Kat: Orange peeler? Never could get the hang of those things either, which is odd. I’m actually quite coordinated. I swear. Really!

    MsS: I agree: too many children are praise addicts, expecting applause for their slightest accomplishments – and for non-accomplishments, too. It is good to acknowledge (and praise!) true achievements, but sometimes we take it to ridiculous extremes, producing kids who can’t/won’t do anything without a constant stream of affirmation at every step.

    Kristen: and over and over and over again… Because that’s how Arthur’s mind works. Anything in the head comes straight out the mouth, the good, the bad, and the goofy! 🙂

    Granny: I so hate the competition thing. Arthur has a bad case of it. The other children seem not to, so he shows up in bold relief, perhaps exaggerating this flaw.

    Competition can be good, a motivator for improvement, helping you see in someone else’s achievements a goal for yourself. But I hate it when it’s motivated by “I have to be better than you, always”. Ick.

    MamacitaTina: Thank you. I call it going into the Zen state. Step back a pace and watch from a remove. Put your mind in the warm, floaty zone and you can let a lot of stuff roll by. A calm response instead of a knee-jerk reaction, and all that. But at the end of a long day, even my Zen wears thin… 🙂

    LadyM: The thing is, though you of course are careful to praise when it’s warranted – it isn’t always warrented! Grown-ups can recognize that. We hope…

    MommatoAshley: “then I snap out of it”. LOL I’ll just keep providing Arthur stories, shall I, and cure you of the Albert thing altogether?

    Candace: Of my three kids, it was my son – the Middle Child – who was most likely to do this. Now that they’re older, I don’t hear much of this at all, thank goodness.

    Kittenpie: I’m in the job of civilizing these kids – but it’s really a twenty-year project! Judging by some adults out there, we don’t all make it.

    mo-wo: You’re in BC, no? It’s very tempting!

    Comment by Mary P. | June 21, 2006 | Reply

  13. I buy mandarins or tangerines. A little more expensive but self peeling. Of course then I find peels everywhere.

    (Although they have gotten better with constant nagging)

    Bad granny. Bad, bad granny.

    Comment by Granny | June 21, 2006 | Reply

  14. Hey, considering the child in question, I think you showed admirable restraint.

    Comment by Jenorama | June 21, 2006 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: