It’s Not All Mary Poppins

And the day ground on…

I don’t think I will have much to say today. I woke up at two this morning. I tossed around for a while, and when it became clear I was not going back to sleep, I got up. That was at three. It is now 6:30. In the evening. So, if I’d gotten up at my usual 5:30 or 6:00, it’s now ten or ten-thirty to my brain. My brain which has had something in the order of four hours of sleep. Perhaps.

My eyes itch.

So what can I tell you about the day? Except that it passed in a bit of a blur? There were only four tots here today, because Emily doesn’t come on Mondays. Which is too bad, because Emily’s daddy forgot to sign Emily’s monthly post-dated cheque. I need the man’s John Henry.

(Which means SIGNATURE. Sheesh. What ARE you sniggering about?)

Malli has decided it’s time for a little shake-up to the group dynamic. It was her self-appointed mission today to single-handedly change it from one of cheerful co-existence and even co-operation to a heirarchy: big kids (she and Nigel) on top, little kids (Anna, Timmy, and probably Emily, when she’s here tomorrow) on the bottom.

“Mary! Mary! Anna pushed Nigel!” I glance over at Anna and Nigel, who appear to be playing happily. Independently, and happily.

“If Nigel wants to tell me, Malli, Nigel can tell me. You don’t need to.”

Humph. I am not doing my job. Malli trots over to Nigel. “Nigel, you need to tell Mary –”

“Malli. Let Nigel decide what he wants to tell me.”

Nigel sets down the toy he’s been playing with for the past ten minutes, and walks into the next room. Timmy picks up the toy.

“Nigel!” Malli calls. “Timmy has your toy!”

Nigel charges back to rip the toy from Timmy, but I trip him before he gets there.

KIDDING. I divert him back to the other room and reprimand Malli. “Nigel was done with that toy, Malli. It’s fine for Timmy to play with it now.”

Malli and Nigel play side-by-side in a large pile of blocks. Anna attempts to join. Malli shifts her body so Anna can’t reach the blocks. Anna moves around to Nigel’s side.

“Nigel, these blocks are just for us. You don’t let Anna touch them.”

“You can’t play with that dolly. It might choke you.”
“Malli, that’s just silly. That dolly is half the size of Timmy. He couldn’t possible choke on it.”
“Malli, here is a book. You can sit here and read it to Anna and me.”
“I will read it to Nigel. Anna is a baby.”
“Yes, and babies like books.”
“Not Anna.”

“I am sitting here. You can’t sit here. You sit over there.”
“I am reading the story to all of us, Malli. I would like Anna to sit here.”

“Mary, Timmy bumped Nigel at the bottom of the slide.”
“Malli, if Nigel wants to tell me, he will tell me.”
“But Nigel doesn’t like Timmy. Nigel wants Timmy to go away.”
“If Nigel thinks that, he will tell me. — And Malli? I want you to play on the bouncy toy now, not the slide.”

“This soup is only for big kids. It is just for me an’ Nigel. You can’t have any.”
“This soup is lunch for all of us, Malli. Would you like to pour it, since you’re a big girl?”
“I will pour for Nigel.”

“I am reading this book. You go away.”
“He’s nowhere near you, Malli. Read your book and leave Timmy be.”
“I don’t want him in the living room with me.”
“If you want to be alone, Malli, you can always sit on the Quiet Stair.”

(The Quiet Stair is not only a time-out spot, but also a place where the children can have some desired alone-time. Malli will quite often sit there with a book or a toy, voluntarily, when she has had enough of all this damned interacting.)

“Nigel, you don’t want Timmy in the living room with you, do you.” (It’s not a question. It’s a directive.)

“I am only sharing my dolly with Nigel. I am not sharing it with you, Anna.”

“Bring me the puzzle, Nigel. We don’t want Timmy to touch it.”

“You don’t like Anna, do you Nigel?”

She’s unrelenting, no? And, frankly, not all that appealing in this mode. Little Miss Discord, sewing seeds of resentment and conflict, all day long. Her attachment to Nigel would be endearing if it were expressed as a positive rather than a negative, if it were inclusive rather than exclusive. Her desire to be big would be sweet if it weren’t accomplished by putting the younger children down. Of course, we will work on these things: giving her a sense of accomplishment and competence that’s not dependent on negative comparision or belittling with the smaller tots; ensuring she gets some personal attention each day; praising her for constructive interactions with the smaller children; giving her small responsibilities for them which she can take pride in — all that good stuff.

But … yawn … I’d be tired by now even if I’d had a full night’s sleep.

November 5, 2007 - Posted by | Malli, power struggle, socializing, the dark side, Uncategorized


  1. Ooh – I hope you get some sleep tonight, and that perhaps Malli takes a get-along-with-everyone pill before tomorrow morning.

    Comment by b*babbler | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. Definitely sounds tiring. I hope tomorrow is less tiring (more sleep and less Queen Malli).

    Comment by Katherine | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. Oh, *growl*, I’d find that so frustrating after about the 4th time. I know it’s like you said – trying to be “big,” palling with Nigel, she hasn’t learned the social skills yet – but hearing (and correcting/modelling/rewording) that all day would have driven me bonkers even with 8 hours of sleep!

    (And at our house the “Calm Down Chair” (a bean bag chair) is also used voluntarily as a cozy spot or child’s choice to calm down as well as by parental decree.)

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | November 6, 2007 | Reply

  4. As usual, I can’t but marvel at your patience. Even with twelve hours sleep I’m sure that would have made me loopy by the end of the day.

    Here’s hoping you have a good night’s sleep tonight. 🙂

    Comment by Sheri | November 6, 2007 | Reply

  5. I have few like that…Luckily it comes in stages. Most of my little bossies have siblings.
    ….Do your daycare parents read your blog? Just curious.
    I’m a fan. Great insights!

    Comment by Annie | November 6, 2007 | Reply

  6. Oh how I wish you were here.. Or I there… this time last year. But poor little Adam down the street and Ryan too had to put up with my Miss and her best friends in chatelaine absolutment then.. and no caregiver in sight to work on it.

    Comment by mo-wo | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  7. Oh gosh, that sounds exhausting and I’ve had a full nights sleep. Hope you were able to get some rest last evening.

    Comment by Dani | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  8. oh, don’t you love the bossy rule imposing? Gah.
    (And um, I think a signature is a John Hancock, isn’t it?)

    Comment by kittenpie | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  9. b*babbler, Katherine: She was MUCH better the next day. Thank goodness.

    Ms Huis: I found it not so much frustrating as tedious. Oh, not again, girl!

    Sheri: And why do you assume I wasn’t loopy by the end of the day? 😛

    Annie: Bossy is soooo boring. Oh, well. It does, as you say, go in stages. This too shall pass. As quickly as I can hurry it on its way!

    mo-wo: Chatelaine absolutment. How did you know Malli is French?

    Dani: I did, thank you. And Malli was much better the next day. For which I also give thanks!

    Kittenpie: Um, no. Not so much. (Except when I do it. Snort.)

    (I *think* John Henry is ‘signature’ to the Brits, but I could be wrong. My grandfather, a Brit, used the expression, but he was also notorious for playing with the language, so I may have, as a child, picked up something he was using with irony and not known that. He’s not around to ask, so I’ll probably never know…)

    Comment by MaryP | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  10. Actually, “John Henry” is what cowboys used to call their signatures – it derives from “John Hancock,” which people in the U.S. often call their signatures, after the guy who took up something like a third of the space signing his name to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. So your grandfather was right!

    Comment by Kiera | November 8, 2007 | Reply

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