It’s Not All Mary Poppins


One of my outgoing families gave me a gift certificate at a local children’s bookstore. A gift certificate for TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!! For BOOKS!!

Did I have fun???

THIS one I’ve had on order forEVER, at this very bookstore. It just happened to come in this very week. So I get it, for free! HA.

This one just seemed like fun. Each page has a section that pulls apart to reveal the animal hinted at by the text. Not great literature, but fun for two and three year olds.

I generally like Leo Lionni, so we grabbed this one.

A couple of Ladybird classic fairy tales, for the traditionalist in me:

This one is busy, but what a fun book! It has a bit to touch, and a bit to sniff on each wild page. Lots of fun for the high-stim kid.

And then, of course, the inestimable Sandra Boynton. Some of these books I already own, but as they’ve been loved just about to death, it was time for replacements:

There were others for which I couldn’t find pictures: a generic book on airplanes, a write-on wipe-off numbers book, and an alphabet book from a board book series I quite enjoy, “My First Canadian…”, and a “Fabulous Book of Paper Dolls”, suitably sturdy. (And yes, I obviously did find a picture but was too lazy to put it in once found. Do you have any idea how MANY links and pictures are in this post already??? Phew.)

While we were at it, Emma chose herself three books: a French-English student dictionary, “In the City of Ember”, and “Ma Soeur orpheline”.


© 2006, Mary P

August 18, 2006 Posted by | books | 20 Comments

Rubber-band Man

Nigel and I have a conflict of interests at diaper time these days: I want to clean his parts; he wants to play with them.

He must be reading my email over my shoulder as I empty the spam, because he’s very concerned with the size of his parts. Specifically, the length.

I peel off the diaper, he reaches in, grabs the tip of that thing, and hauls north. Just hauls on it. The stretch is startling. Who knew? Thumb and finger delicately at the tip of the foreskin, they just about reach his navel when he’s done. Me, I think the boy is aiming for his chin.

He’s uncircumcized, as is standard around here. So, that little worry parents sometimes have about lesions forming in there? About a son who won’t, when the time comes, be able to retract the foreskin?* Not an issue.

So not an issue.

* Contrary to popular thought, a you need not – indeed, you should not – be peeling back the foreskin to clean underneath at this age. For most infants and toddlers, the foreskin is attached to the glans, and to pull it down will hurt and even in some cases, injure your boy. Generally, it can be retracted by age 5, but some boys are much later without it being a problem.

© 2006, Mary P

August 11, 2006 Posted by | health and safety, Nigel | 13 Comments

He Knows What I No

Ki-woon sits at a booster seat at the dining table. He holds a water bottle, the kind with the exterior flip-top straw attached to a straw on the inside of the bottle. Ours, however, have no interior straw, so they will spill if they’re tipped upside down.

“No!” He declares, smiling happily. “No, no!”

He tips it over. Water puddles on the tray.

He sets the bottle upright once more.

Smiles. Because it’s okay to do, when you’re not quite two, as long as you know it’s a no-no.

© 2006, Mary P

August 10, 2006 Posted by | behavioural stuff, Mischief, the cuteness! | 12 Comments

Face Value

Z: May I read me a story? (Meaning, in Zach’s pronoun-challenged world, Will YOU read ME a story?)

G: (busy playing with Emma) Yes, you may. Go away.

© 2006, Mary P

August 9, 2006 Posted by | George, the things they say!, Zach | 6 Comments

Two Things:

1. I have an interview tomorrow evening! So, if you would all keep me in your prayers, or think good thoughts, or cross your fingers, or touch wood or SOMETHING, it would be greatly appreciated!

2. Have you ever indulged in any non-PC, unconventional parenting “techniques”, things you might not tell your friends for fear of raised eyebrows and judgement, and yet you just can’t regret? In fact, you are bursting to tell someone who might understand – and even laugh?!? If you have any nitty-gritty parenting stories to tell, we’re hunting for them over at Partners in Parenting, for our “True Grit” series. Check out the link for the first installment in this semi-regular series (and a few submission guidelines)!

© 2006, Mary P

August 8, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Clearly, Someone has Omitted to Teach me the Dialect

Upon being presented with a bowl of corn this afternoon, Nigel immediately burst into ferocious tears. How strange. He normally loves corn.

“All done, Nigel! All done.” George yodels from across the dining table.

“No, he isn’t done, George. He can eat his corn. We know he likes it.”

The wails continue.

“All done, Nigel!” George is cheerful, encouraging.

George’s language is usually much more precise than this. “He isn’t all done, George. Do you mean he can get down when he is all done?”

George gives me his patented “Adults are soooo stupid” look. “No, I’m telling him he’s all done now.” Which tells me precisely nothing.

Thankfully, at that moment Nigel’s tears are abruptly halted when he discovers that – hey! – someone put CORN on his tray!! He starts in with two fists.

That evening, when mom comes, Nigel trips over a shoe in the front hall and sits down abruptly on his padded behind. He begins to wail. Nigel’s mother picks him up and instructs in a mock-rueful voice, “Oh, All Done, Nigel. All done.”

Nigel stops crying.


© 2006, Mary P

August 8, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

It’s not all Fluffy Bunnies and Baby Giggles: Musings on Sentiment, Symbols, and Parenthood

People make assumptions about me because of my job. This is hardly surprising: people do that to other people all the time, for any number of reasons, and a few assumptions seem reasonable, after all.

For example, people assume I’m patient. It seems a reasonable enough thing to assume when you see a woman knee-deep in knee-high people, and said woman is not drooling along with the kids, screaming, or staring glassy-eyed into space, but is smiling and speaking softly. “There goes a patient woman!” people say. However, they’re wrong. I’m not patient. This is not to say I indulge in screaming hissy fits when the children don’t jump the second I utter a direction. I know what’s reasonable. My expectations are high, however, and I don’t put up with anything I don’t have to.

People also tend to assume I’m sentimental about children. I’m not, not at all. I love children. I take joy in their accomplishments, they make me laugh every day. I enjoy being around them. I respect them as people.

Perhaps that’s where the sentiment ends: I see them as people. Not cute little puppies that tumble about my house, nor live “Precious Moments” figurines. I respect them – and I expect them to respect me back. When this doesn’t happen, I am not a happy camper, and don’t tell me that the delicious sound of baby giggles makes everything worth while. It may make up for that horrible runny poop you are currently wiping off your baby’s butt, but it might not make up for your two-year-old’s biting habit, and it’s probably the last thing on your mind when your 16-year-old hasn’t returned with the car three hours past curfew.

I have long accepted that there is much more giving in parenting than there is receiving. I don’t resent this: it’s just how it goes.

I love all the perks of being around babies. The giggles, the cuddles, the funny things they say and do, the peeks of kindness, the dawning of imagination and empathy. It’s wonderful. And yet. You think baby giggles, toddler snuggles, and the smell of a clean baby somehow, magically, creates balance in this relationship? Adults give till it hurts. Children complain of being hurt when the adult gives a little less than normal. Adults make sacrifices of sleep, relationship, time, career, even health, for their children. Children see eating their vegetables, or taking out the garbage, or coming home for dinner once a week as a sacrifice too great to be asked. It’s the way it is.

But that’s young children and teens, you say. Young children are too, well, young to understand. And teens? Well, we all know how teens are! “When my kids grow up and have kids of their own, then they’ll get it. Then they’ll appreciate all that’s been done for them, because they’ll be doing the same for their kids.” It’s certainly true that having that first baby is often a huge wake-up call for the young parents. I know it was for me. THIS is what my mother did for me? Wow.

While there are some adults out there who speak kindly of their parents, there are many who routinely mock and sneer at them. They make fun of their parents’ clothes, their music, their vacation and home decorating choices. These are merest difference in style and taste, yet we mock. Adult children gripe about how they were raised, badmouth a mother’s choice in clothes or toys for her grandchildren, deplore how grampa does or doesn’t interact with their grandchildren. Sometimes these concerns are real and justified, but more often, as with the clothes and music, it’s just a matter of personal style and child-rearing current fashion.

So, while I am thankful that it appears that my own children, even the one who’s left home for university, don’t appear to be falling into that camp (yet?), it also seems that for many of us, if our own behaviour is anything to go by, we won’t start to feel a lot of the benefits of parenthood even once our children have grown. So, parenthood is a life-long journey of giving more than you get. It’s what it is.

So, no, I’m not sentimental.

People who are sentimental tend to see babies as symbols. Babies are symbols of hope, of innocence, of all that’s new and fresh. As indeed they are. However, babies are not solely symbols: babies are real people, toddlers even more so, and teens are so much people that sometimes they forget anyone else, particularly parents, are people too.

Firemen are symbols. Especially post-9/11, they are symbols of heroism, self-sacrifice, and courage. They must be prepared to be that way every working day – and they do. They act with courage, they save lives. However, if your best girlfriend has ever dated one and been cheated on or summarily dumped, you know that the symbol is not the whole story. While many are perfectly lovely men (and women), some can be real jerks. It is what is it.

Once you get up close and personal with a symbol, it loses much of its mystery and takes on a more real, more human face. Warts and all. Children are many wonderful things: innocent, funny, kind, cheerful, vibrant with life and love and energy… Still, those of us who work with them day in and day out know their wonderfulness sometimes takes a bit of bringing out, a lot of encouragement. We know that there are also things that need to be dealt with, trained away, subdued, and modified in order to bring all that wonderfulness to the surface.

Because children are people, warts and all.

© 2006, MaryP

August 7, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

If I Sit Down to Blog Properly, that Basement is Going to Come Upstairs and Eat us All Alive

Today is a day off for me, and I’m taking the time to do some serious basement organization. (Woo. Hoo.) You can get your tot fix over at Haley’s today. It made me laugh! 🙂

August 4, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

If I Sit Down to Blog Properly, that Basement is Going to Come Upstairs and Eat us All Alive

Today is a day off for me, and I’m taking the time to do some serious basement organization. (Woo. Hoo.) You can get your tot fix over at Haley’s today. It made me laugh! 🙂

August 4, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Calling His Bluff

Lately, Zach is emerging as a child who will cut off his nose to spite his face. This is not an uncommon pattern in a two-year-old, masters of manipulation that they are.

Yesteday morning, he arrives in a funk. Nothing that happens is right. He flops around dramatically, he throws himself to the floor with great fanfare, he fusses, he pouts. (He pouts beautifully, this boy. He is a beautiful child. He is so adorable that his pouts are worthy of framing. He is a beautiful child, and man, does he work it!) Whatever his internal workings this morning, the external is one giant pose. Each and every negative action he takes, he is playing to the audience, done with one eye on my reaction. Which is unforthcoming.

After giving him a welcoming cuddle, I utterly ignore the flopping and flailing, invite him to join our activities (making a garage from a clementine box), and otherwise treat him as if he isn’t behaving abominably.

He will have nothing of it.

“Here, Zach. You can have the green paint brush.”

“Nooooo!” More floppage on the dining room floor. I survey his prone figure, being sure not to make contact with that lustrous green eye, peeping up from under his arm, fringed by those ridiculously long lashes.

“You know what, sweetie?” I announce cheerfully. “I think you must be tired. Off to bed with you for a little-lie down.” It’s 9:15 a.m. He has been in my house for about six minutes. I have had about enough of this. (I told you I wasn’t patient. Of course, I am PMS-ing. In mid-cycle, I can put up with it for EIGHT minutes.) Even though nap time isn’t officially for another four hours, I trundle the child upstairs.

When I put him in bed, he rolls over with a big dramatic flop and buries his face in the pillow.

Three minutes later, I return. He is wailing.

“Hello, Zach. Are you ready to join us now?”


“You want to stay in bed?”

He rolls over, presents me with his back.

I let my shrug sound in my voice. “Okay, if that’s what you want. But since you want to be up here, you can stop that silly yelling.”

I have a brief – and very satisfying – flash of his astounded face as I pull the door closed. There is silence behind it. Dumbfounded silence, I am sure. In Zach’s world, I was supposed to coax. I was supposed to wheedle. I was supposed to sit on the side of the bed, stroke his back and speak soothing words of reason. While he ranted and roared and made me really, really work to get him to play.

I will not do any of that, for innumerable reasons, an entire post all on their own. Let’s just say I have too much self-respect to allow myself to be so blatantly manipulated. I know he wants to join the others; he knows he wants to join the others. He can be the one to tell me this. I stand outside the bedroom door, and wait. Let a couple of minutes pass. (Emma, Haley, and Adam are home with me today; the children downstairs are well attended.)

When I open the door the second time, “Hello, Zach. You ready to join us now?”, the answer is a calm, if snuffly, “Yes.”

Victory is mine.

© 2006, Mary P

August 3, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 19 Comments