It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Breaking Settling-in Malli

Malli was here again yesterday, her third day with me. She was here a couple of days last week, and clearly thought she’d done her bit at entering the wider world. She most certainly didn’t expect to have to do it again! I could hear her expressing her… misgivings from half a block away. Her face was blotchy red, her eyes swollen, when she arrived. Mum’s face was haggard.

Malli’s a bright little girl, though. Last week, we had worked very intensely on “You may be angry, you may be sad, but you May.Not.Scream.” (You can see in the sidebar. Malli is the one with the Will of Iron.) The first day took 40 minutes to cease the screaming; the second day took eleven. Yesterday, after a week off and with her more upset at the outset, it took only six. She remembered! She remembered the rules, but more importantly she remembered that I am probably one of the few people in the world whose will is even ironer than hers. Must be those supplements.

After she’d ceased with the screaming yesterday, it took a while before she was partaking happily of what Mary’s house has to offer. She didn’t want to be here; she wanted to be with her mummy, and though she took what comfort I offered, she was not going to be happy about it! So there.

“What’s Nigel got? Shall we play potato head with Nigel?”

“No.” It’s not loud, it’s not angry. It’s small, and short, rather pathetic in fact, but unshakeable. “No.”

“Let’s get those shoes off.”


Off come the shoes. No further protest.

“Shall we see what to have for lunch?”


She follows me into the kitchen.

“I like beans. I’m going to cook some beans.”

“No.” She pours some beans into the water.

“Are you ready to eat now?”


She isn’t, either, but I know that if I leave the food someplace accessible and ignore her, it’ll vanish somehow.

“Let’s read this story.”

“No.” She climbs onto the couch beside me.

“Pick a book, Malli.”


“Would you like this book? Or this one?”


“Look at the kitten! Isn’t he funny?”


“I’m going to go to the bathroom. Do you want to come with me, or stay down here?”


I’m not losing patience here. This little mite is undergoing a huge culture shock. She’s moved from a very involved, loving home where she’s the indulged baby sister to two very nice little boys. At two and a bit, she still nurses on demand, mummy lays down to nap with her. Mum has immersed herself in the home and family for well over ten years, and only now has decided it’s time to carve out some private time and space for herself. Four hours, twice a week, is a kind and gentle baby step for Malli, but Malli doesn’t know that.


Me, I’m sort of impressed. She may be bowed, but she is not broken. We can drag her to daycare, but we can’t make her like it! And she will Not.Co-operate. She’s a feisty little thing, and I love the feisty ones.


Doesn’t prevent me playing with their heads a little, though…

“Malli, can you say ‘No’? I bet you can! Just say ‘no’ for me, okay?” I favour her with a brilliant smile, eyes wide, awaiting the “no” I’ve asked for. (Yes, I’m evil. Isn’t it fun?)

Silence. Contrariness wars with accuracy. YES, she can say ‘no’, but damned if she’ll let a word of positivity cross those pretty pink lips. But if she say’s NO, she’s complying with a request! What to do??? I watch the conflict flicker over her face. Heh.

She’s baffled for a moment, but she’s not stupid.

She won’t say “no”; she won’t say “yes”. Suddenly her head is a blur of blond curls with ths vigour of her defiant head.

She won’t utter the word, but that head shake? Deafening!

I love this kid!

© 2006, Mary P

September 22, 2006 Posted by | Malli, Mischief, power struggle | 13 Comments