It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Snippets of a morning out

On an asphalt-melting summer day, there are few better places to spend a morning than our park, our lovely sprawling lawn-rich shade-drenched park. For much of the way there, we follow a dirt footpath by the river. We check out the ducks and the swans as we stroll. Lately, there have been teentsy-eentsy-weentsy little frogs (or perhaps they’re toads) no bigger than your baby fingernail. Odd how, if something – pretty near anything – is small enough, it’s cute. I hunker down with the toddling tots. Toads. Definitely toads. We indulge in some cries of delight. “Awwww…”

And other sorts of cries from more-observant George.

“Eeew! Nigel stepped on a baby toad! Mary, Nigel’s got a toad under his sandal! Nigel, Nigel, lift your foot, quick, there’s a baby toad under there.” The brothers peer at the underside of Nigel’s sandal. “Oh, no. Mary, the toad’s all squashed.”

“EEEEWWWwwww!” Anna, Timmy, and Emily join the chorus of disgust. From their perch in the stroller, they can see neither toads nor the bottom of Nigel’s sandal. They have no idea what they’re disgusted about, but they do love being disgusted. “EEEEWWWWwah-hahahahahah…!”

Nigel proceeds with more caution. So much more that the 20-minute walk to the park becomes a 40 minute walk. But it’s too hot to go quickly, anyway. A lolling meandre suits me just fine. We meandre to the park. Subsequent teeny toads escape our passage unsquashed.

We arrive, the kids scatter. Anna, Timmy and Nigel to the bouncy toys, Emily to the playhouse to drive bulldozers across the little table therein, Ki-woon and George to the slides.

“OW! Mary, Mary the slides are HOT!”

“Try the one in the shade, then.”

“I like this one because it has the bump in it. Can’t you cool this one down?”

“Just how might I do that, bud?”

“My mommy lies down on it for a few minutes.” (She DOES? Doesn’t that HURT? Is she NUTS?)

“She DOES? Doesn’t that HURT? Well, I’m not going to do that, George. Go down the one in the shade.” (Note the Highly Professional self-censorship.)

“Emma!” Nigel calls from the bouncy airplane. “Emma, I need help getting down!” Belly on the seat, his feet dangle a couple of inches off the ground.

“You’re doing fine, Nigel. You can do it.”

“But I need help to get off!”

Plonk. His feet hit the sand. He eyes her reproachfully. “Emma, I needed your HELP.”


“To get down.”

“But you ARE down, Nigel. You did it all on your own.”

He looks down at his feet, considers for a moment. This is not the response he was looking for, but he can’t find the loophole in the argument. One more reproachful glare and he trots off. And gets onto the next bouncy toy.

We slide and bounce and dig and climb for an hour. Well, the tots do. Emma and I stand and cheer and chat and clap. We all have snack.

“Timmy, that’s Emily’s bowl. Yours is the yellow one. No, Nigel, you may not eat out of your sandal. That’s why we have our bowls. Good job, Ki-woon! Look at you, helping Nigel put his cheese back in his bowl. Nigel! Nigel, what are you doing? Well, if there are crumbs in your sandal, let me wipe it with a cloth. You don’t use your tongue. Eew. [All together now: EEEEWWW! They do love that sound…] Emily, hon? Emily, we have cheese and crackers and kiwi for snack. You don’t need to eat the clover. Yes, George, I know it won’t hurt her, but I’d rather she ate what I brought.”

“Are they all yours?” A woman with a child of about three, stands and smiles at our little group who gaze up at her, chewing. I remove a clover leaf from Emily’s cheek and smile back at her.

“No, no. They’re all friends. It’s a daycare.” She waves at the tots and wanders off.

Emma and I play our familiar game: Crowd that Uterus.

“Well, George is five,” I start. “Timmy and Emily could be 18-month-old twins….”

“And Nigel and Ki-woon could be two-and-a-half-year-old twins,” Emma slots the next obvious age-pair into the equation.

“Nigel and Ki-woon?” (Nigel is a pale-skinned, curly-topped blond with big blue eyes. Ki-woon has the straight black hair, creamy-tea skin and almond eyes of his Korean heritage.)

She giggles. “Oh yeah. Then, ummm…” She pauses, tries a couple of other permutations, but nothing can really get around the lone oriental in the pile of caucasians. “No, that woman is just stupid.”

“Well, we could have adopted him.”

“When we have five others? She’s crazy.”

“She is or I am.”

“Well, THAT makes more sense.” She scampers away giggling, hands over her butt. She knows me well. My swat swishes on air.

The teeny toads have vacated the path, so our return trip is quicker and squoosh-free.

August 16, 2007 - Posted by | eeewww, outings


  1. Eeewwww!
    (couldn’t resist!)Otherwise, sounds like a lovely day!

    Comment by LoryKC | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  2. Love Emma’s sass!

    Sigh, we miss the park. By the time we could get out the door, it’s already high 90’s and getting hotter. You’d think they’d be smarter in these parts and plant trees around the playground equipment, but nooooo. Sigh.

    Comment by mamacita tina | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  3. Isn’t it funny how people always ask if they’re all yours? I once took five of them all less than a year apart, one hispanic, all the rest not at all looking alike, out when I was pregnant and people still asked. How busy do they think I get, even if it was physically possible? 🙂

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  4. Oh, I love baby toads. They’re so cute when they’re all tiny.
    I love when people ask if they’re yours. When my husband was off work last summer he and our good friend used to take walks with our son and her son. (They’re about 6 months apart.) People always asked.
    However I can say, my cousin has an 8 year old, was told they couldn’t have more kids. Adopted two boys (5 and 3), adopted a little girl (1) and Luana just gave birth (surprise!) to twins last month. I don’t even want to think about car seats and those kids!

    Comment by Dani | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  5. What? It’s a million-to-one chance, but it’s possible! There were a pair of biracial twins born in England last year who appeared to be different races.

    Comment by Lynn | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  6. Um, yeah. I live in Utah, and I need two hands to count the number of families I know personally who have SEVEN OR MORE children. One woman I spoke to the other day has NINE–two in the middle are foster kids who will likely be adopted soon.

    Can you see where I’m going with this?? MARYP NEEDS TO MOVE TO UTAH, obviously. 🙂 For reasons of her own personal comfort, of course–this has nothing to do with the fact that I strongly considered moving to Canada just so D could go to Mary’s daycare.

    Comment by stefanierj | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  7. Hee hee. I like Emma.

    Comment by kittenpie | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  8. I was going to say that I knew a black/white set of twins. And a number of blond/dark ones. Also a family that was 1x twins, 1 x triplets, 1 x twins all within 3 1/2 years of each other!

    did I mention my mother co-founded the twins & multiple birth assoc in the UK?:-)

    I’ve met foster families who have several kids at a time – although admittedly usually older ones. Pre-school kids tend to be short term commodities though, so sometimes they’d collect a few at a time.

    There was some programme advertised on Tv a while back about the fmily woth 17 kids (I think) and still going.

    My mothers best friend in our childhood had 8, and we had 7 plus fostered ones. We used to get party rates everywhere we went:-)

    It’s always a better bet to ask “are they yours” and be told no, that to say “whose are they” and get the huffy reply “they’re mine, why?”

    Comment by juggling mother | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  9. Families can be complicated around here, because of divorces and remarryings. Some big families, not all the children the same colour.

    Comment by z | August 16, 2007 | Reply

  10. lol, i like your daycare stories the best! Emma just sounds so like Lolly, if i win the lottery I’m flying over for a visit! x

    Comment by jenny uk | August 17, 2007 | Reply

  11. Lory: It was a lovely day out! Apart from the ‘eeewww’.

    Mamacita Tina: Her butt gets swatted a lot. Or, rather, she scampers away, giggling, with her hands over it a lot. 🙂

    Our playground is beautifully shaded. Not every part of it all day, but you can always find shade. It’s a lovely thing.

    Kelli: People see a woman with a mass of children, and don’t think to evaluate the ages and assess the biological logistics! They just pop out the question! I think it’s the shock of the sheer number of tykes.

    Dani: My husband has five kids. After a while, you stop thinking about the numbers. I guess your cousin will be driving a roomy mini-van for the foreseeable future… At least they’re decently spaced – well, apart from the last three! (The kids, I mean; the carseats will be tight!)

    Lynn: I saw those children. One as flaxen and fair as you can get, and the other, a gorgeous little black girl. Amazing!

    Stefanie: But with all those good Mormon SAHMs, I think I’d be plum outta work! And I’d make a fearsomely expensive nanny for just one child…

    Kittenpie: So do I! 😀

    Juggling Mother: It’s always a better bet to ask “are they yours” and be told no, that to say “whose are they” and get the huffy reply “they’re mine, why?”

    Quite right. Because once in a while, they actually ARE ‘all hers’. When I was a teen, I knew a family that had 8 or 9 biological kids, 7 or so adopted, and a few foster kids. There were usually 17 – 21 children in the family. When I knew them, they owned TWO homes side by side, and the oldest son and his wife lived in one house with half the children.

    They were a lovely family. Everyone from both houses always had dinner together in the parents’ home: dining hall style. You’d take a plate and walk through the kitchen, food would be dollopped on, and then you’d go to the dining room and sit around the enormous table.

    Z: There’s that, too. I’ve some experience with divorce and remarrying myself, come to that, and large numbers of biological children…

    Jenny: I think it’s the age. I found it really hard when my eldest was 14, but I’m loving Emma. Different kids, and different maternal expectations!

    Comment by MaryP | August 17, 2007 | Reply


    apparently so!

    Comment by Claire | August 19, 2007 | Reply

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