It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Time for a Career Change?

I begin my life of crime.

Took the tots to the mall today. One day I will have a hidden camera trail me, just so you can experience what it’s like to walk behind my stroller.

People stop dead in their tracks. People do double takes that must hurt. Old men on benches punch each other and laugh as we pass. Little kids shriek. Grandma types come over to coo. Mothers either laugh or groan or simply grow pale. Very few people ignore us.

“Mommy! Mommy, lookit all the babies!!!”
“Are they all yours?”
“I’ll bet they keep you busy!”
“Oh, my God.”
“Holy f*&ing sh*t. Er, sorry, babies.”
“What a lovely little family!”

I only go to the mall when I’m feeling particularly sociable, because there’s no evading it. Today, Emma needed boots. Winter is around the corner, and the girl has no boots. It does not pay to wait. There will be nothing but dregs in another week, and Lord only knows that if I wait until December, the stores will be filled with nothing but sandals and cruise wear. Just TRY buying a child’s winter coat in this city in December. In a mind-boggling display of denial and wish fulfillment, the depleted racks of winter outerwear will be gone, to be replaced by “we-wish-it-were-summer” wear. While I can’t argue the sentiment, it is no help at all to the last-minute mother desperately seeking to clothe her offspring. In attire that will not attract the notice of the CAS.

So. Off to the mall for boots.

A quick stop at the pharmacy for a few small things before we hit the shoe stores. I pass my items to the cashier. “Oh, LOOK at all of them!” The cashier peers over the counter. Timmy flaps his arms at her, Emily beams, Nigel and Anna stare solemnly. “Hi babies! Hello, hello!” She slips my purchases into a bag. “Aren’t they sweet! They’re not all yours, are they?”

“Oh, gracious no.” I point to Emma, loitering in the door a few feet away. “That big one is my baby.”

Emma is so used to this exchange she doesn’t even wince. She just smiles and wiggles her fingers at the cashier. I must have that conversation fifty times a month. It’s a hazard of the job, but how can I complain? Babies do that to people.

As we leave the store, the security sensors bleep at us. We pause and look back at the cashier, who grins at the flapping Timmy once more and waves us through.

Off we go to the first shoe store where, Emma being her mother’s daughter, we buy the second pair she tries on. It’s not that we don’t enjoy shopping, but when you know what you want and you see what you like – there! Done! Besides, with four tots under two, it’s the ONLY way to shop. We don’t indulge in recreational shopping during my business hours…

And then home. We unpack the babies from the stroller, the babies from their snowsuits, and the purchases from the bags. Bah. There is no receipt in the bag from the pharmacy. Those were business expenses. I need that receipt.

I’ve scoured my pockets and my purse and am considering going outside to check the basket at the back of the stroller, when I am hit by a thought.

“Emma. Do you remember me paying for these things?”

She stares at me.

“You know what? I don’t think you did.”

Nope. The nice cashier lady took my purchases, played with the babies, put my stuff in a bag, and chatted with me before waving me (the woman working on mindless autopilot with her four adorable distractions) through the frantically beeping security gate.

I look at my loot: a tub of diaper cream, a pack of vinyl-covered baby spoons and a couple of bibs. Total value, approximately $12.95. All mine, for the price of an invigorating walk to the mall and a few friendly exchanges.

A life of crime beckons.

© 2006, Mary P

November 20, 2006 Posted by | Mischief, our adoring public, socializing | 15 Comments

The Big Picture?

A very old one from the draft file. (Arthur, a former client, was four when this was written; Adam is my son, age 17.):

Arthur presents Adam with a sheet of paper. “Look. I drawed an H and a D and an O. What does that say?”

“Well, those letters in that order don’t make a word. Not all the letters mix to make words. They have to be in just the right order, too.”

“I will go put in some more letters.”

Adam grins his lop-sided grin, the mischief grin.

“You do that. Eventually you’ll make a word, just like the monkeys on typewriters.”

© 2006, Mary P

November 17, 2006 Posted by | my kids | 9 Comments

Pregnancy Humour, or It Doesn’t Take Much to Amuse when your Mind is Flooded by Hormones…

Laura (Mommapalooza) was musing on some pregnancy memories, and got me thinking back (waaay back) to my first pregnancy, when the hormones and all that extra blood flow to the brain had my creativity charged to monumental new peaks. My creativity, and a bunch of other bits.

You know the Fred Penner song called “The Bump”? It’s a lively little ditty which starts out,

I’m a bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, bump,
In the middle of the prairie.

Being the exceptionally creative momma that I was, I saw huge potential there. Huge! Soon we were serenading our wee (and eventually not so wee) bump with,

You’re a bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, bump,
In the middle of your mummy!”

See? See how honed was the wit and creativity? It amused us, drunk as we were with anticipation (and perhaps a little terror). But the razor-sharp wit didn’t stop here. Not at all. The next line introduces a new theme…

“The land around is flat, flat, flat.”

The wit, it knows no bounds. See, when I was fifteen I was all prairie, and firmly convinced I’d be prairie forever. Caused me no little adolescent angst. By late sixteen, I’d moved west, achieved the foothills. A nice place to be. During pregnancies, however, the topography became downright mountainous. (Nature. She has a twisted sense of humour or a keen sense of the ridiculous.) Sooo…

“The land around ain’t flat, flat, flat.” Falling-down funny, that was.

“I’m a bump that no one sees,
Just a bump that no one sees.”

Which was true for the first trimester, but had us in stitches by the last. Yes, the joke lasted the entire pregnancy. Because it was just So Funny, don’t you know. And because we were just So Smart and Witty and Creative. Fun times.

How about you? Any fond memories of pregnancy goofiness?

© 2006, Mary P

November 16, 2006 Posted by | my kids, parenting, pregnancy and delivery | 9 Comments

Day of Discovery

The children busy themselves with crayons. Anna, Emily, and Timmy sit in high chairs ranged round the table. Nigel sits on the bench, because he is a Big Boy.

They have papers, large, overlapping papers taped to the table, they have crayons, one in each fist, most of them. They have a little modelling and assistance, courtesy of the Adult in Charge. (Me. Why?) They are all Set to Scribble.

Do we have scribblage? No, we do not. But we are exploring. We are making all manner of discoveries about crayons.

They sound good. Those chunky toddler markers make a great sound when hammered into a thick harvest table top.

They taste good. Anna in particular will have rainbow poop later this evening, and most sport primary-flecked grins.

They roll well, right off the table. They also bounce nicely when you drop them. (We have a lot of crayons. The fallen stay where they are, and Mary picks them all up at once during naptime. Mary does not enjoy the “I-drop-it-you-pick-it-up” game nearly so much as the children.)

They don’t, however, draw very well on your friends.

But for all this exploring and discovering, they have minimal scribbling. Do they not understand their childhood duty to produce Fridge Art?

It seemed for a moment that Nigel (at nearly two the Grand Old Man of the daycare) might have been indulging in some artistic exploration. My attention on the absorbing task of removing green crayons from teeny teeth and teeny teeth from green crayons, I did note the absorbed silence emanating from little big Nigel at my elbow. I attributed it to diligent scribbling, to intense focus on his creative efforts.

I do enjoy deluding myself, truly I do.

Nigel was intently focussed all right. On an empty pop can he’d found on the table. Upon ensuring himself that it was empty (which, thank the Lord, it was), he had discovered that there’s a hole in the top of the can. He had further discovered that – oh happy day – the chunky toddler crayons fit neatly into the hole in the top of the can!!!!!!! He had made this discovery SIX times before Mary decided that Timmy looks just fine with a green grin and stopped plaguing the boy with exaggerated notions of cleanliness. Then Mary discovered Nigel’s discovery.

And then, Mary discovered that it’s a whole lot easier to get crayons into an empty pop can than it is to get them out, though, she did eventually discover, it is possible.

Who says your mind rots when you’re home with babies? Pfft! I tell you, it’s just one Big Discovery after another around here, all day long. All. Day. Long.

© 2006, Mary P

November 15, 2006 Posted by | individuality, Mischief | 8 Comments

Thinking Outside the Box

Spoon: a common eating utensil, or item of cutlery, somewhat like a small spade, with a bowl-shaped end on a handle, that occurs in a number of sizes and forms. Its main [purpose is] for conveying food to the mouth…


Well, maybe in some places. Places more civilized than my dining room. So far this lunch time, spoons have been used to:

– spray lasagna across the dining room table
– beat on the table top
– beat against the metal legs of the high chairs – GA-DING-CHINGA-CHINGA-DING!!!
– beat on your friend’s head – AAAAH!
– stir lasagna
– play peek-a-boo
– play “I drop it, you pick it up”
– dip into your friend’s bowl
– conduct an imaginery orchestra
– smear cheese sauce on Anna’s stuffed toy
– propel cheese through the air (off the back of the spoon)
– gag oneself
– knock your bowl off the table
– impale your friend’s bib

Which is why Mary has just declared lasagna to be finger food.

© 2006, Mary P

November 14, 2006 Posted by | eeewww, food, manners | 11 Comments


A new baby starts next week. She spent a couple of hours here today.

Emily, I think, will do just fine. She’s cheerful. She’s social. She’s doesn’t make strange. She’s alert and inquisitive. She’s a busy little explorer with a ready smile. And if all that weren’t enough….

She sleeps!!

From 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., and twice a day, 1.5 hours each time. Three cheers for Emily’s mommy and daddy!

I love them already. All three of them. Mwah!

© 2006, Mary P

November 13, 2006 Posted by | parents, sleep | 10 Comments

Must you DO that???

Has your baby ever scared the living daylights out of you? Prepare to empathize with poor momma panda, just savouring a quiet moment and a relaxed meal while her baby naps…

(p.s. What WAS that? Just a sneeze.)

© 2006, Mary P

November 12, 2006 Posted by | Mischief, parents, sleep | 14 Comments

Poppy Day

It’s Remembrance Day, of course, the day we commemorate the losses of life in the First and Second World Wars, but to the kids, it’s “Poppy Day”. Poppy day, because everyone wears poppies in the days leading up to the Remembrance Day services, and, here in Ottawa, many people then leave their poppies atop the Tomb of the Unknown Solder after the service at the War Memorial downtown.

“Everyone”, I thought, and honestly believed. Everyone whose countries fought in the world wars, at any rate, so I was surprised when Jen asked about the poppies she’s seeing everywhere. A quick google check taught me that Britain, Australia, France, and Belgium do. There are possibly more. But not, so it seems, in the states.

This is pretty funny, since it was an American who first wore a poppy.

In 1915, John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in France wrote the poem, In Flander’s Fields. (Which all Canadian school children hear each and every year at Remembrance Day assemblies in their schools.)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

McCrae was to die in France in 1918. Moina Michael, a young America woman from Georgia read the poem and, in 1918, decided to wear a poppy year-round in honour of the war dead.

Two years later, Ms. Michael bumped into a French woman, Mme. Guerin, who, apparently, was quite the mover and the shaker. She saw the poppy and decided it was the perfect symbol to use to raise funds for war orphans.

In 1921, Field-Marshall Haig approved Poppy Day appeal to raise money for disabled veterans. The same year, Mme. Guerin convinced Canadians to start selling poppies here, too.

Round the world the symbolic poppies rippled.

Poppy Day, Remembrance Day – the day we wear a blood-red flower and think of the sacrifice of brave men and women, and treasure our freedom.

© 2006, Mary P

November 11, 2006 Posted by | commemoration, holidays, random and odd | 17 Comments

This is the view from the back of the bus.

Note the one empty seat? That’s for Emily, who starts next week!
© 2006, Mary P

November 10, 2006 Posted by | random and odd | 10 Comments

May I Crow a Bit?

My sister called this evening. “Hey, I saw you in Macleans*!”

“It’s out? But it’s not on the website!”

That’ll teach me to be too cheap to buy a hard copy once a week… but, my sister tells me, if you look on page 51 of the November 6th issue, there I am! Cynthia Reynolds, who interviewed me back in August, graciously allotted me an entire paragraph – and a reference to this very blog – in a tightly-constructed 800-word article. Isn’t that amazing??

Why, you may be asking, didn’t I tell you all before? Well, because I was waiting for the article to come out.

And I missed it! Boo.

What brought me to the attention of Ms. Reynolds? That ever-popular Benign Neglect post I wrote back in July.

Macleans. Amazing.

Fame and fortune are is mine. At least a little.


*Canada’s national weekly news magazine, for international readers. (Probably the equivalent of Time, for Americans.)

© 2006, Mary P

November 10, 2006 Posted by | our adoring public, random and odd | 18 Comments