It’s Not All Mary Poppins


If you walked into Mary’s house right now – well, really? A couple of hours ago. Right now it’s naptime, but I like to write in the present tense – so, if you were to walk into Mary’s house, you’d think you were stepping into a sea of contentment. Happy children, playing happily. The quiet murmur of little voices. The rattle of toys. Industrious harmony. So peaceful!

It looks like that. But really? What you see are separate, and probably armed, camps.

After a morning spent squabbling, squabbling, squabbling, and Mary teaching negotiation, empathy, patience… Mary lost patience. “Right, then.”

“YOU. Play with this toy. NOT that toy. THIS toy.”
“YOU. Here’s your toy. Play HERE. Not there. HERE.”
“YOU. Have some shapes. No, not you, YOU have the cups. Go play with the cups.”

Course, as soon as you say “If you can’t play nicely together, you can’t play together,” then all they want to do is PLAY TOGETHER. Which, most days is a lovely idea, in fact, most days it’s one of the top items on the agenda, but today? Today it’s just not working, and for the next half-hour we’re all going to TAKE A BREAK from all the togetherness, okay?

Peace? No, my friends. What you see here is detente.

September 27, 2007 - Posted by | aggression, daycare, manners, power struggle, socializing


  1. Hi Mary–first timer. Liked your comment on Average Mom and thought I would check into your blog (smile). You commented on sleep and your answer was also my experience.

    Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts and sharing information.


    Comment by The New Parent | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  2. The story of my life right now. Moms and caregivers have to develop negotiation skills to rival the most seasoned diplomat’s.

    Comment by Alison | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  3. ooh, wish I could seperate some of the kids at the library like that…

    Comment by kittenpie | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  4. “’If you can’t play nicely together, you can’t play together,’ then all they want to do is PLAY TOGETHER.” Of course, because doing the opposite of what you’re told is always more fun :-). Alison’s comment about diplomacy skills is right on target.

    Comment by Florinda | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  5. I need to learn better negotiating skills than Jeffrey. He seems to know all the moves to stop and melt my heart.

    Comment by Dani | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  6. NP: Welcome! Hope to see you around more.

    Alison: Negotiation skills I have. It’s imparting them to impetuous two-year-olds that wears you down… 🙂 And sometimes, a break (and/or a nap!) is all it takes. Later that day, they were all managing just fine!

    Kittenpie: I’ve seen library staff do it. Guess it’s harder when their parents/teachers are around — and NOT taking care of it!

    Florinda: Don’t I know it! Phew.

    Dani: Little monkeys, aren’t they?

    Comment by MaryP | September 28, 2007 | Reply

  7. You just have to go with the flow. If it’s not working the smart thing to do is try something else. Sometimes I forget that and kill myself trying to make something work.

    Comment by mamacita tina | September 29, 2007 | Reply

  8. Thanks I needed this.

    I might forgive myself my 14 month olds emerging propensity to grab and a remind myself of the job to be done. Or not done, on certain days,.. as the case may be.

    Comment by mo-wo | October 2, 2007 | Reply

  9. Oh how I remember those days! LOL I closed my childcare home in March 2006….I miss the children but I don’t miss the fighting!
    Thanks for the flashback 🙂

    Comment by Christie | October 15, 2007 | Reply

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