It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Think Pink

Do you ever fear that your child will be bullied in school? Do you ever worry that your child could be a bully?

I’m sure all of us hope that our children will be able to deal with them!

If you’ve ever considered the problem at all, here’s a story that will warm your heart. THOSE are the boys who will make their parents proud!

Now we need to hear from their parents and find out what they did right! Kudos to these boys — AND to their parents.

September 19, 2007 Posted by | aggression, Canada, power struggle | 10 Comments

Old MacDonald had a mbrglcock

We are off to the 7-Eleven for stamps.

We amuse ourselves by singing as we travel. We worked through Three Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree, and Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (busy little monkeys, aren’t they?), and we’re well into Old MacDonald, and only halfway there. (It’s not really all that far, probably no more than a km, tops, but Malli and Nigel are walking, which puts us at about, oh, 2 km an hour. Maybe less.)

Good thing Old MacDonald can go on FOR-EEEEEEE-VER.

“Old MacDonald had a farm,” I start. “E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a… What did he have?”

“SHEEP!” Malli is quick on the draw. We baa-baa our way down another block. With the next verse, Nigel picks “COW”; then Anna picks “CHICKEN”, and Timmy wants “HORSIE!!”

“How about you, Emily? What animal do you want?”


“…and on this farm he had a… ” I attempt to prime the pump.


Uh. Well, then. “Do you mean rooster, sweetie? Cock-a-doodle-doo?”

“No. mbrlmCOCK.”

“I didn’t hear that, love. Try again.” Call me demented for getting the child to repeat this three times in succession, but I get the feeling she’s really trying to communicate something. Something non-PG rated, even.


Ah. See? (You don’t? You weren’t listening carefully enough.)

“PEAcock. Can you say that? PEAcock.” Because good enunciation makes for good communication.




Once more, with feeling.



It will do for now.

“So, PEAcock? Do you know what kind of a noise a PEAcock makes?”

Silence from the assembly. They haven’t a clue.

It just so happens that I do. I once visited this amazing place routinely, and I’ve been serenaded auditorally assaulted by their song hideous shrieks.

“Peacocks go like this.” And, after a quick glance up and down the street, I throw self-consciousness to the wind and open my throat in as close an approximation as I can manage.

The children are delighted. Open season on shrieking! We squawk our way up the final block.

I’m thinking that Mr. Peacock is going to be a permanent addition to Old MacDonald’s farm. I just hope they remember MY version of his name…

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Emily, music, outings, the cuteness!, The Tots | 12 Comments

Mine, all mine.

I don’t wake up hungry. I get up between 5:30 and 6:00, get dressed, brush my teeth; I do a few chores, read a chapter from an Improving Book, check my email; I mentally plan my day, set things up for the tots. All sorts of stuff.

Generally I have my breakfast while they’re having snack, about ten. Today, hunger hit an hour early, so I find myself taking bites of banana between shoving shoes on small feet, finding hats, zipping sweaters, getting ready to go to the park.

“What’s that?” Timmy the vulture has landed.

You know by now how I dislike indirect questions, so this one gets ignored.

“I’m hungry.” Malli eyes the banana. The nice thing about indirect, though, is that you can take it at face value.

“You are? Good thing we have a snack to eat in the park!”

“You eatin’ a banana?” Nigel’s approach is better, but of course, that’s still not what he really means. I decide to cut to the chase.

“Yes. This banana is my breakfast. What did you have for breakfast, Nigel?”

He smiles, but doesn’t answer. Nigel’s kind of weird about questions, frankly. Asking them? No problem. Answering them? Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Some days, this would annoy me. Not today! I just pass on to the next child, figuring that if he simply doesn’t understand what I want, a few repetitions will teach him; if he’s just playing hard-to-get, a little peer pressure might encourage him to fess up. Whatever. All I want to do is distract them long enough to eat my banana.

“What did YOU have for breakfast, Anna?”

“I had LEAFS! One-two-free-fowa-five LEAFS!”



Moving right along. I’m about half done the banana now, and two-thirds done with the shoes and hats.

“How about you, Emily? What did you have for breakfast?”

“Bananas! One, three, six, eight, ten bananas!”

“Wow. You sure must have been hungry!”

Nigel is muttering something about “toast and cereal”.

“Pardon, Nigel? What did you say?”

Big beaming smile. Silent big beaming smile. Ah. So he is just playing hard to get. Next!

“And you, Malli? What did you have for breakfast?”


“Nothing? You didn’t eat breakfast today?” (Given the oatmeal bits stuck to her cheek, I am quite sure this is a complete and utter fabrication.)

“No. Nussin’. My mummy, my daddy, didn’t give me nussin’ for breakfass.” She opens the blue eyes wide, pathos in every quiver of those long lashes. “Mary? Mary, I need some banana.”

You just had to see it. It was an award-winning performance. Destined for greatness, she is. I pop the last bite in my mouth. Destined for greatness, but not for my breakfast.

“Okay, everyone, are you ready to go to the park??”


September 17, 2007 Posted by | Emily, food, Malli, Nigel, the things they say! | 9 Comments

Even we Paragons have our Bad Days

We are going to the park!

We don hats and shoes, we check sunscreen, we head out the front door and gather on the porch prior to getting into the stroller. And someone stinks. Really, really stinks.

Back into the house. This is, I confess, mildly exasperating.

I open the diaper, and the child’s mother has put the “Let’s-Gag-Mary” diaper cream on his butt, even though I have repeatedly told her the scent makes me gag. It is worse than the contents of the diaper, which are not sweet. Gag me. And this, too, is kind of annoying.

Now that we’ve been delayed, I decide to have snack before we head out, instead of at the park as we normally would. This unsettled Nigel the Anal Methodical. The second our feet hit the sidewalk out front of my house, he starts in.

“We havin’ a snack, Mary?”

“We just did, Nigel.”

“We havin’ a snack, Mary?”

“What did we just eat, Nigel?”

“Peaches and apples and cheese.”

News to me. Far as I was aware, we’d stopped at peaches. “Peaches, that’s right. So -”

“We havin’ a snack, Mary?”

I give up. “NO, Nigel. We are NOT. Today, you are going to STARVE all morning, okay?”

“Okay.” (This submission is a small mercy. I accept it as such. Phew. ‘Cuz otherwise I’d have had to scream and stamp my feet and otherwise be a very, very Bad Example. Any other day, I blip right over these exchanges. Some days they amuse me. Today, it’s only BLOODY ANNOYING.)

Walking to the park, we encounter a large, noisy truck. Now, I, personally, do not LIKE large, noisy trucks. Trucks are boring. And they’re noisy. They have limited appeal.

To the tots, their appeal is (oh, be merciful) limitless, and as a loving and professional caregiver, I make sure we spend a long, long, lllllooooong (pleasewilliteverend) time enjoying the large noisyness. And then – thank GOD – the children start to get restless, and “It’s time to go to the PARK, kids!!”

So off we go. All except Timmy. There’s a magnet in his nose, a big powerful one, drawing his face directly to that damned noisy truck. We turn left, he’s staring right over his shoulder. We ease right, he’s staring left. Which is okay, except ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not ‘straight ahead’, and the boy canNOT walk ‘straight ahead’ when his head is pointed ‘left’ and ‘right’.

The path eases left. Timmy smashes into the side of the stroller. I move Timmy to the other side of the stroller. Timmy walks directly into my feet and I turn my forty-something body into a pretzel to try not to trample him. Forty-something bodies do not LIKE being wrenched pretzel-like. Nor do forty-something brains think their bodies should have to put up with this nonsense. And I cannot even attempt to tell you what forty-something hormones feel about it – this is a Family Blog.

On another day, his fixation would be amusing. Today it’s only BLOODY ANNOYING. When next he veers into my path, I fight – successfully – the urge to accidentally-on-purpose stomp all over him. He escapes by the skin of my determination – which is weakening rapidly.

We continue the next two blocks until that damned truck can no longer be heard with my hand clamped firmly to the top of his head. His eyeballs are rolling around in a desperate attempt to see OUT THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, but he can’t. Nyah. I prevail, and I ENJOY it. It’s for his own good. If he trips me up a third time, I can’t promise restraint.

We play our run-and-freeze game when we get to the broad path in the park. Nigel and Malli are sent to run ahead. When I say “Freeze!” they are to, yes, freeze. It’s a safety procedure which I’ve not tried on these two yet. Malli gets it in short order. Nigel? Let’s just say that Nigel will be holding onto the stroller for a while yet.

“Freeze! Good job, Malli!… Nigel? Nigel, stop! NIGEL!! NIIIII-GEL!!! FREEZE.”

Several times in a row, with careful explanation and demonstration in between. The boy’s nowhere near having a clue.

“Okay bud, you have to hang on to the stroller.”

“But I want to run ahead!”

“Not if you can’t freeze when I say freeze.”

“I dii-iid.”

“You think so?”

“Yes, I did.”

He DOES think so, too. “And that, buckaroo, is why you are holding onto the stroller. Hush now.”

And it’s not cute or funny. It’s just DAMNED ANNOYING.

And we get home and Malli pees ALL OVER the bathroom. First accident she’s had in a couple of months. The puddle is ENORMOUS, her dress is saturated, her panties beyond that – and her spare clothes are a long-sleeved shirt and lined jeans, and it’s 34 degrees today and I just stepped in a tributary of the piddle puddle. Ugh. And the hem of my skirt slaps against my ankle. And sticks there, sealed to my skin with pee.

I’m quiet on the outside, but I’m not matter-of-fact about it on the inside. It’s just DAMNED ANNOYING. REALLY, REALLY ANNOYING.

When I call Timmy to change his diaper, he lies on the floor with his head facing me. Not his butt, his head. He has done this every.single.diaper change for a solid year. AND IT’S BLOODY ANNOYING.

It’s naptime now. I think they’ll stay in bed for a while. Until, oh, until the mommies and daddies come. In four-and-a-half hours. It’d be for their own good.


September 14, 2007 Posted by | aggression, Malli, Nigel, the dark side, Timmy | 12 Comments

Me? Organized?

I have never really considered myself to be an organized person. There is generally clutter of one sort or another laying about my house, there are tasks that should get done but don’t, there is a to-do list far longer than my arm.

But gradually, it’s creeping into my consciousness that I may be more organized than I give myself credit. My husband reminds me that I tend to a dozen kids through the course of a week. My friends remind me that they have trouble keeping up with one toddler, never mind five or six. My children generally take it for granted that I know where stuff is – and I generally do. (Except my purse, my cell phone, and my keys…)

So, maybe I don’t do so badly, all in all. Still, clutter-busting articles and info. always call to me with their siren-song of a beautiful, open home, light bouncing off all those glowing, clean and clear surfaces…


And that is why I found myself reading this article. I loved it. It’s so organized! Three steps here, four key points there, and lots of good ideas. And, and, and… I… I already do just about every single thing she suggests!


Craft Storage?




There are always things I could do better – with school just kicking off, the tips for dealing with the notes and reminders is timely, and I hereby promise to do better this year. My old storage-and-filing system is not very efficient, and, besides, it would be nice to see the front of my fridge after the end of next week…

But all in all?


I think I am organized!

September 13, 2007 Posted by | crafts, daycare | 6 Comments

Music Hath Charms…

“Hey, guys! Circle time! Come sit with me!” I pat the floor in front of me, and the tots come pounding from every direction. We love circle time! They arrange themselves in a circle a blob around me mostly in front of me. At any rate, they are all looking right at me – it’ll do!

Anna’s not quite ready, though. She stands up. “I sit in lap!” she declares, and plops herself down on Timmy. Timmy responds to this with an ear-to-ear grin (and if you remember Timmy’s ears, you’ll know just how big this grin is…).

We commence to sing.

We start our circles with “Hello, Everybody”, or “The More We Get Together”. Then we move through our repertoire. So far it’s only about half-a-dozen songs and chants. It will gradually grow over the next year, till they’re overflowing with songs, chants, and nursery rhymes.

Our current favourite is “Three Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree”.

Do you know that one? It’s a chant, and a great favourite. Goes like this:

Three little monkeys swinging in a tree
(hold three fingers at head-level, pointing to the floor, and swing back and forth)

Along came a crocodile
(make biting motions with one hand, fingers straight, tapping on thumb)

As quiet as can be. (continue biting motions, and whisper this line)

The first monkey said, “You can’t catch ME!” (shake finger side to side; shake head, too. Then pull your arms wide apart, and…)

SNAP!!! (CLAP your hands together)

Next verse is “TWO little monkeys”
Then “ONE little monkey”, (yes, macabre, I know), but in the last verse, after the “SNAP!!”, the monkey calls out “MISSED ME!!” in a nyah, nyah voice, while you wiggle your one finger in the air.

Okay, so great fun. Off we go. Timmy twiddles his fingers, bobs and nods and flings his arms about with the rest of us, peering out from behind Anna, who really is perched right in his lap.

Then we come to The Very BEST Part of the ENTIRE Song… The children spreads their arms as far as they can fling them…

“…you can’t catch MEEEE…….


And Timmy brings his hands together – WHAP!! – one on either side of Anna’s wee head. Because of course, she’s IN HIS LAP. Which means she’s smack dab in the middle of the CLAP trajectory. What’s the boy supposed to do??

And Anna, bless her laughter-prone, social little self, ROARS with laughter. Whether it’s because she likes having her ears boxed, or whether she just loves to SNAP her own hands together, and hasn’t noticed that Timmy’s just smacked her upside the head, I don’t know, but she LAUGHS… Oh, how she laughs.

She laughs through ALL THREE VERSES. And with every verse, she gets her head whacked.

And then, she laughs for ALL THREE VERSES for the SECOND rendition, because Mary HAD to get her camera and record this! Had to! ALL THREE VERSES!

At the end of the day, I show the video to the parents.

Anna’s dad’s eyes widen as we watch the first frame. “Did he just hit her in the head?”

“YES! He did!”

Dad snorts. “Can you play that again?”

“I don’t have to! Here’s the second verse.”

“He did it AGAIN! And look at her laugh!” he chortles.

“Want to see the third verse?”

“There’s MORE? Hell, yeah!”

And we fall about the front hall laughing. Because we’re loving and nurturing people. The children are magically drawn to our howls of laughter, and shriek their delight at our feet. What’s so funny? Who knows? Who cares? There’s some kind of PARTY going on, and they are SO THERE!!

And when Timmy’s mom arrives, we get to do it all over again.


September 12, 2007 Posted by | Anna, daycare, Emily, music, the cuteness!, Timmy | 8 Comments

Idle Chatter

From last month:

“I’m painting a very hot day.” George’s page is steadily turning solid red under his brush. “It’s so, so hot that the sun turned everything to fire.”

“Kind of like today?”

“Yeah. Mary, why don’t you have an air conditioner like at my house?”

“Some days it would be nice, wouldn’t it?”


“Did you know that when you paint things fast, they dry fast?”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

Still don’t, but it would be unkind to say so.

From last week:

Anna: “I’m doing sumpeeng my daddy. He doeen sumpeeng his daddy, too.”

Nigel: “It’s not for my daddy. It’s just to put on my wall. I’ll ask my mom if I can put these on my wall.”

Anna: “My daddy put the wall. My daddy might…so happy!”

Nigel: “You daddy will be happy because you made him a picture. He will put it on the wall.”

From yesterday:

George (who started SK last week and has dropped by after school to collect little brother Nigel): I made a new friend at school today!

Mary: Good for you! A new friend on the first day of school! A boy or a girl?

George: (incredulous) A boy, of course!!!

Mary: What’s his name?

George: I don’t know.

Mary: You didn’t ask him? Well, maybe you could find out tomorrow.

George: Why?

September 11, 2007 Posted by | Anna, George, Nigel, the things they say! | 7 Comments


I smile as I pass my daughter’s room. A steady thump-thump of bass and a rowdy, raunchy straight-ahead rock melody pounds at the door. She doesn’t have the volume way too high, but she’s obviously having a good time in there. It’s her voice that makes me smile. I can’t catch the words, but I love to hear her sing.

When she emerges to have her shower, I ask what song that was. I hum the catchiest bit. She stares at me for a moment. “You liked that?” The girl’s obviously uncertain, and I hasten to reassure her. “Yes, really. It was fun. What song was it?”

She grins. “It’s called Teenagers.”

“And that line I was humming?”

Bigger grin. “The words for that are ‘teenagers scare the living shit out of me.’ ”

I had to listen, of course. With lyrics like that? How could I not?

It’s a jaunty, boppy, happy melody with nicely grinding guitars, good edgy/raw vocals. It’s fun, fun, fun melodically.

That chorus is SO MUCH fun, in fact, they repeat it, oh, 87 times, only pausing once or twice (okay, three times) for an actual verse. Which is just as well, because the verses don’t really hang together. You can’t trust adults, say the first two, but the third says other teenagers aren’t about to fill your world with love, either. Guess it sucks to be you, then.

(Emma read that paragraph over and said, “That’s about right, mum. They’re an Emo band, and that’s how they see the world.” ‘Emo’ being short for ’emotion’. Sadly, it seems that the only emotions these groups explore are the negative ones: cynicism, angst, world-weariness, anger, rage, loneliness.

“Doesn’t that bother you, Emma?”

“Well, I don’t listen to only Emo. That would be too depressing.”

Sensible enough. But she is 14, after all. All that Emo stuff is going to feel PERFECT some days.)

But this tune? This particular melody, despite the words? Is so FUN. It really is.

The disjointed themes of the verses don’t really matter when you’re fourteen, anyway. You’ll like verses one and two when you’re pissed at your parents, and you’ll rock with verse three when you’re fed up with your friends. And you’ll always get to dance your rage away. So, no matter who your adolescent angst is hating that particular day, this song works!

Yes, I am kind of mocking it, but I also truly enjoy the song. I will be copying it onto my iPod. As soon as I get one.

“I’m glad you like their music, mom, because I want a MCR poster, and they are just the kind of group that you would look at and say ‘WHY do you want THAT on your wall??’ ”

She’s right. I do. I certainly wouldn’t want anything so studiously bleak on my wall. I don’t like the black and the sneering. I find the aggressive posturing distasteful. But I’m also fully aware that my revulsion is a goodly part of their appeal – and so I deliver the goods, because really? This is a pretty safe and controlled way for a good, reliable, responsible kid to express some needed rebellion. She’d have nothing to rebel against if I didn’t curl my lip just a little.

So curl it I do, because, well, ICK. “I didn’t say I’d like the poster. I don’t even know I’d like the rest of their music. Just that this one song is fun. But it’s your room. You want to have bleak depressing skinny guys in black on your wall, go right ahead. But put them on this wall, okay, so I don’t have to see them from the hall.”

Emma giggles, triumphant in her wildness, pleased to have received permission. “Prissy’s mom? She would NEVER let her have that poster in her room! And she would completely HATE that song.”

“You don’t know that for sure. After all, you’re surprised I like it.”

“No, really, mom! Prissy’s mom won’t let her say ‘butt’. She has to say ‘bottom’.”

“I guess ‘living shit’ wouldn’t pass the vulgarity filter, then.”

“I guess not.”

Seems I’m just conservative enough to give her something to kick against, make her feel a little wild and defiant of conventions, but I’m also cool enough to not be a total embarrassment. This is no easy tightrope to walk.

Another parenting hurdle successfuly breached.

Heh. Teenagers. 🙂

They said all teenagers scare the living shit out of me –
they could care less as long as someone’ll bleed.
So darken your clothes
or strike a violent pose;
maybe they’ll leave you alone –
but not me!

September 10, 2007 Posted by | aggression, music, my kids | 12 Comments

No one to blame but…

“Timmy, Anna, Emily, you sit right here. Malli and Nigel, you sit right there. No, Emily, over here. You’ll be in the way over there.”

Five little faces look up at me from the carpeted floor of the adult section of the library. There are two books I want to hunt up before we head down to the children’s section. The tots are quiet and calm, and I’m looking forward to the luxury of 90 seconds at the computer to find the call numbers, and then another 2 minutes to seek the books on the shelves. It’s a small thing, but 3.5 minutes of adult time in my day is a treat. A treat of greater significance than anyone who hasn’t tended to under-twos could ever grasp.

Which includes the librarian, evidently.

“Excuse me,” she says from her desk at my elbow. “But is there a reason they need to be sitting there?”

My hackles rise, but gently. I am not a reactive sort. Though I don’t like the implication of the question – GET THOSE KIDS OUT OF MY SPACE – perhaps I’m misreading her intention.

“I’m about to use the computer.” I indicate the row of computers in front of us. “I have a book I want to find.” (Yes, I’m really after two books. I’m already jockeying to minimize the imposition I suspect I’m guilty of. Because I’m that kind of person…)

(Which could make me the kind who doesn’t like to impose, or the kind who will lie to keep the peace. I’ll let you all be the judge of that.)

Or the kind who suspects this woman is about to prohibit something, and is trying to get her way by minimizing her requests? That’s probably it.

“Well,” she says, casting her gaze upon my toddlers, still sitting quietly on the rug. “They’re kind of in the way for adults who want to walk through.”

I cast my glance around. I see no such adults bearing down upon us. Just a couple in the stacks behind us, one at the computers, and a few more checking out on the other side of the library. But I don’t say so. Because, some days, I’m a total wuss.

But I am increasingly convinced her reaction is about HER, not the kids, not other patrons.

“So, how about you take these kids downstairs, and I’ll phone the childrens’ librarian? She’ll hunt up the book you want and phone it up to me. I’ll have it ready for you when you go to check out.”

She beams at me, having found a blameless way to rid herself of our unwanted presence. Her entire demeanor brightens. “Then these little guys can enjoy themselves, right?” (Oh, because otherwise, I suppose, I’d be subjecting them to untold misery as I completely selfishly pursue two call numbers.)

But why, I now* ask myself, does the childrens’ librarian have to do this? (*Two hours after the event. Because I process conflict slowly…) Why couldn’t this woman take the titles, send us on our way, and hunt down the books while we were downstairs? Because she didn’t want us lingering even long enough for me to give her the titles. Because SHE WANTED US OUT OF HER SPACE. IMMEDIATELY.

I’m convinced. We were making her feel crowded, sitting too close to her desk.

“So you just head downstairs, and I’ll find those books for you. That’s my job, after all: we’re here to serve you!”

Various retorts fly through my brain. There is no reason why I can’t/shouldn’t stand my ground. “No thank you. I’d rather do it myself,” is perfectly acceptable. I could move my tots to the far end of the row of computers, where we would not be impinging on her personal space around her desk. I could just fix her with an icy glare and turn my attention to the computer.

But I do none of these things, because really, three and a half minutes is so small a thing that it seems ridiculous to be making an issue of it. On the surface of it, her suggestion is perfectly reasonable, and could, to another woman than I, appear helpful. Generous, even. So I simply nod, gather up the children, and head to the elevator. I am polite, just barely, but not gracious.

And I’m still annoyed.

At her, because she was officious and pushy and disguised it as “service”. I know it was just three and a half minutes, not much for me to make a fuss about – but then I think, “Yeah! Three and a half minutes. ALL I WANTED WAS THREE AND A HALF ADULT MINUTES — AND AN ADULT TOOK THEM AWAY FROM ME!” An adult! Not a toddler. Another adult.

But mostly, I’m mad at myself, for being such a wuss and letting this woman rob me of such a very small, but very real treat. I didn’t have to do that. I decided to. Lesson learned for next time.

Meantime? Bah.

September 7, 2007 Posted by | outings, the dark side | 11 Comments

I think I might be sick…

Prepare for a rant. Read this post, watch the embedded video, then come back here. Go now!

I am feeling sick. But NOT because of what the Freegans are doing. Not because of the dumpster diving. Not for a second.

I am sick to think that all this food – fresh, wrapped, unspoiled, perfectly good food – is being thrown out, in every city, every day, when there are people starving. Starving – which doesn’t mean, as we so often use the word – “feeling a bit peckish”. It means dying.

People DIE, adults, mothers, grandparents, children – BABIES – DIE, every day, because they don’t have enough food. And we have so little respect for that, we Doesn’t that make you feel just a little ill?

Why isn’t it going to organizations like Second Harvest? Or to women’s shelters? Would it be so much more difficult to send it to a food bank instead of kicking it to the curb? How can people do that?

We are a selfish, selfish, and criminally lazy society. And I am now off to consider what I can do, in my city. Here and now.

September 6, 2007 Posted by | health and safety, random and odd, the dark side | 6 Comments