We’ve also just announced a series we’ll be tackling on Sleep. One of the Big Three for toddlers. (Any guesses as to the other two?)
See you in a few days!
© 2006, Mary P
Haley was supervising the children as they ate their vegetables. Vegetables, as you all know now, are always the first course at Mary’s house. You don’t get those yummy grilled cheese sandwiches till the beans are gone.
Haley’s voice drifts into the kitchen.
“Arthur, it’s rude to pick your nose at the table. Here, wipe it on thi–Eeeeww.”
Do I really want to know?
Some years back, I was sitting peaceably in church, in a nice mid-central pew, with my peaceful baby in my arms. Suddenly Emma decided she was starving, and must be fed. That instant. So I left my pew and retreated to a corner at the back of the sanctuary, hoping to feed the child in privacy without having to descend to the nursery. (Being claustrophobic, crowded basement rooms are not my favourite places.) A small girl, about 4, child of a friend, slipped off the pew and followed me.
I proceed to feed.
“What are you doing?” asks small girl.
“Feeding my baby. There’s milk in my breasts for the baby to drink.” I knew her mother would be fine with her child getting this information: small girl was the youngest of four, all of whom had been breastfed for over a year. Her older siblings wouldn’t have needed to ask the question!
She accepted this information with only a sage nod for comment, and watched baby Emma gulp and sigh. After a while, I burped Emma, explained this process to my small audience, then switched her to the other side.
“Why are you putting her on the other one?”
“Well, she’s had her lunch, you see, and now she’s having dessert. THIS side has the chocolate milk.” (Hear my adult smirking. I am so clever, me and my inside jokes. Bwah-ha.)
Again with the sage nod from girlchild.
After church, her mother approaches. Suddenly all the child’s calm sagacity vanishes and full small-child enthusiasm bubbles up as she races up the aisle towards mummy.
“HEY, MUMMY!” she calls out across the sanctuary in her high, piping, oh-so-carrying four-year-old voice. “GUESS WHAT? MRS P. HAS A CHOCOLATE BOOBY!!!”
© 2006, Mary P
Arthur is an extrovert. No, no, that isn’t saying it forcibly enough.
ARTHUR IS AN EXTROVERT.
Yes, that’s better.
With small children (and not-so-small ones) this often means that they talk a lot. Their every action is accompanied by a running commentary, which would be tolerable, well, mostly tolerable… well, sometimes… well…
It would be kinda sorta tolerable on a really good day with great earplugs IF they didn’t expect you to be paying attention while they did it. They don’t expect you to listen, exactly, because generally the monologue is not for communication, it is for their own amusement. It is a monologue, not a conversation. They don’t want to have to listen to you, but they do want your attention.
Your role is to throw in “uh-huh”s and make sure to be looking at them when they look up at you. If, God forbid, you are looking elsewhere when you say “uh-huh” and they catch you at it, the volume goes UP and you’ll probably get whacked in the leg as they repeat their last critical phrase three times over, just to be sure you didn’t miss it. “I gots a red crayon, Mary, see? A red crayon.” A poke to my upper arm. “This is my red crayon what I’m colouring with. I gots a RED CRAYON, MARY.”
“Yes, yes, I see. A red crayon.”
Let me state that tiny extroverts have many wonderful characteristics. This, however, is not one of them.
Arthur’s life is accompanied by a sound-track. He talks his way through every minute of his day, every action.
“Mary, I’m gonna go pee now. I’m going up the stairs. I’m gonna go up the stairs and go pee, now…” His voice recedes as he ascends toilet-ward.
The voice returns “…down step, down step, down step. Mary, I’m back. I finished peeing and I washed my hands and now I’m gonna go build something. I’m just gonna take out these blocks, and I’m gonna put this block here. These blocks are the gate and the truck will drive through here, and…”
Some days I have more tolerance than others. Many days I can tune it out. Generally by the end of the week, I’m worn a little thin.
“Arthur, you know what? I’m getting a bit of a headache, and I need you to be quiet now. Please don’t talk to me.”
“I’m just gonna-”
“No, Arthur. I mean it. Eat your snack and be quiet. My ears are tired of listening.”
A moment passes in silence, broken only by chomping and smacking. He opens his mouth, looks at my weary yet forbidding eyes, subsides. Chews some more. Takes a breath, opens his mouth. Sees my glare. Stops. This no-talking business is a big assignment. I relax my visual vigilance as he seems to be absorbed in the happily mouth-occupying task of snack-eating. I turn to the kitchen.
“Mary, I’m swallowing now.”
George and Darcy play hockey. George swings the puck towards Darcy. “We are very old, but we’re not in heaven yet, so we can play hockey.”
Darcy likes this idea. “Yeah, we’re old.”
The boys stop playing, stand upright in consternation. It’s a Radical Thought. Heaven without hockey? Impossible! A place without hockey is, by definition, That Other Place. What a conundrum. Is there a solution?
Yes! and George knows it. “Oh, yes you can! There’s ice on the clouds!”
© 2006, Mary P
I’m on holiday this week. For you entertainment, here’s one I drafted up a couple of months ago but never posted:
In the summer, the children are to arrive already lathered up with sunscreen. Saves me having to do five or more of them, and, since it’s had time to be absorbed, it’s effective the moment they walk through the door. No half-hour waits while it takes effect.
However, a quick sniff and discreet rub of Katie’s wee arm tells me there is no sunscreen on the girl. Just to confirm, I ask dad. “She wearing suncreen today?” He launches into a long and repetitive apology.
“Sorrysorrybusysorrysorry, sorrysorryforgotsorrysorry, soooorrrry.”
I attempt to reassure. And stem the flow. “No need to apolo-”
” -gize. I just need to know whether -”
“- whether I need to put some on her before we go out, is all.”
“No, really -”
” – really, it’s okay.” I turn my attention to Katie, hoping that will deflect dad. “We’ll just put some on now, won’t we, lovie?” Big smile for Katie. I glance up at dad, hoping to draw him into the conversation, but he is undeflectable.
“Oh, stop it!! Grovelling does not become you. And will you quit interrupting me and LISTEN?” No, no I didn’t say that, of course. More’s the pity.
I know he’s apologizing, but why do I feel like I’m the one being given a hard time here?
© 2006, Mary P
I found this post a few weeks ago, and it took my breath away. It’s a tough read, and if you’re in the early weeks of your pregnancy, you might want to wait a while to read it. But it’s an amazing post.
It’s been busy around Mary’s house this week.
I had an interview yesterday that went well (with both mom AND dad, which is unusual). They will let me know “soon”. They’re nice, though momma has a tendency to be a bit Earnest. Happily, Dad is nicely grounded, so I’m sure I could work with them.
Two more calls on my machine, which I will answer today. Feast or famine, I tell you!
And – tadah!! – that interview I had last Wednesday? They signed!
What did it for mom? I made laughing reference to a “junk food nap”. That got me the contract, right then, right there. It’s a Weissbluth term, and doesn’t it turn out she’s a Weissbluth fan. She’s delighted to find someone who will ensure that her baby girl will get the rest she needs.
Me? I’m delighted to have a client who understands the “sleep begets sleep” principle, and won’t be trying, as so many do, to get me to skip naps so that the child will go to bed without a fuss. (This doesn’t work, you know. You DID know that, didn’t you?)
We were also in synch on food, activities, discipline. Her husband is a nice guy, even though he is a lawyer (well, student) and I’ve a healthy leeriness of lawyers. (Some of my daycare colleagues have been put through the mill by lawyers who like the contract when it works in their favour and fight it like crazy when it works for the caregiver.) He will be my first lawyer.
The baby – a girl! – is round and friendly, two very appealing baby traits.
I met mom on Wednesday, and mom and dad came on Friday to sign the contract. Quick, quick turnaround.
Yes! One down, one to go.
© 2006, Mary P
Parents of toddlers all experience humiliaphobia (fear of public tantrums) at one time or another. Who hasn’t been mortified by their offspring, at least once or twice, in an indescribably public forum?
* That’s why my first ever Good Parenting Citation goes to Mamacita Tina, for her skillful handling of a potential department store meltdown. It’s hard to keep a cool head when your child is off theirs, but the reward? Well. Imagine the Freedom!
Ian and Laurel are lucky: they’ll never be the kids no one wants to invite to the birthday party. Well done, Tina!
Pour yourself that well-earned drink and kick back and enjoy. You’ve earned it.
(*Like the graphic? The picture is a link to a site where you can buy it as a greeting card. Cute, huh?)
© 2006, Mary P