It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Kids are so sophisticated these days

They need such fancy toys. They are not satisfied with simple things, like we were. Which is why, when you head out with your baby, you need a diaper bag the size of a small car, which means you need to drive a car the size of a small country.

Which is why, when I take four tots to the coffee shop, I break my back carrying stuff to entertain and keep them quiet for the 20 minutes we will stay and absorb the ambience.

Ha. I kill myself. I take a small canvas bag (6 inches by 6 inches by 10 inches tall), which contains: 3 diapers, a ziploc bag with a dozen wipes, and four water boxes.

But how do I entertain them in the coffee shop?

Well, for starters, I feed them. An eighth of a muffin at a time. (Really. The top is divided in four, the bottom likewise.) And for each piece, they say “Please” and “thank you”. And they take small bites, and they swallow before they take another (SMALL!) bite. And they try very, very hard to keep their lips together when they chew. Because practice is a Good Thing. (And auditory and visual close-ups of mastication are not.)

And when the muffin is gone, but Mary’s coffee is not? (Because Mary has been so busy TALKING while the children eat?)

I bring out the Big Guns. My left hand. (Because I am left-handed.)

The first two fingers of my left hand march across the table toward a tot.

“What’s that?” tot asks.

“It’s a man. He’s marching. See? March, march, march — BING!!” The “man” reaches the edge of the table in front of the tot, leaps up and BINGS him on the nose. Great hilarity ensues.

The man marches, he skips, he skates. The children discover THEY have men, too, and the mans run and skip and march and stumble all over the table. Which means that Mary can put her man away, drink some more coffee, and enjoy the fun. Because those mans? They are having LOTS OF FUN!!! They are having so much fun, all those mans, that they don’t notice the GIANT SPIDER coming towards them.

The GIANT SPIDER with only five legs … It creeps, creeps, creeps toward the frolicking mans, and then “SQUOOSH!!” it flattens one. Then the spider has to flatten all the other mans, who run, slide, and take fantastic leaps out of its way, giggling, giggling, giggling.

When all the hilarity threatens to become intrusive to the other patrons (who are few and thus far, smiling) and — hey, what a coincidence! — Mary has finished her coffee, we head out. The mans dance and sing along the stroller, along the other childrens’ heads, they fly through the air. All the way home.

It is only when lunch appears on the table that the mans revert to fingers.

Yes. Children these days need SO MUCH sophisticated paraphernalia to keep them happy. Yes, indeed. It’s sad, really.

November 26, 2007 - Posted by | manners, outings, parenting


  1. ha. Good stuff. hands make good puppets, too, I found when one could somehow talk Pumpkpinpie into eating something that her mother couldn’t…

    I must admit, though, when we went out, I did carry a massive diaper bag, because a) cloth diapers are bulky and b) I had bottles in there, too. As she got older, the bag got smaller. Boy, was it ever nice to carry a smaller bag once she was done with bottles and moved into slimmer disposables when daycare started! Then my favourite thing became this little purse designed for a few wipes, a few diaps, and your keys and money. Ahhhh.

    Comment by kittenpie | November 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. The tickle spider makes frequent appearances in our home, too. And as a weird girl vs. boy thing, our daughter always lovingly strokes the tickle spider and wants to be its friend, while our son tries to bash it with his small fist.

    Comment by karyn | November 26, 2007 | Reply

  3. I wish I could get kids’ overly-lavish-fill-our-house-with-crap-toys grandparents to read the links I send them so they could read this…
    But now that I’ve made a comment like that I’d better not send it to them, oh bother!

    Comment by Jennifer | November 27, 2007 | Reply

  4. it’s a simple idea, but sometimes out overwhelmed and so-caught-up-in-the-moment brains don’t think of simple things…

    I’ll keep it in mind…

    though I don’t carry much around, my 3yo is very social, so she just loves people around, that is her big entertainment in coffee shops and other places like that… but I’ll sure make use of it with my very active 1yo (he’s in training so we can enjoy the coffee)

    thanks for the education Mary.

    Comment by marcelarhodus | November 27, 2007 | Reply

  5. Lolly had long chats with ‘finger mouse’ when she was little, doubt she would admit to it now! Dumpling is a little more sophisticated but a glove puppet made of an old sock, now thats fun!

    Comment by jenny uk | November 27, 2007 | Reply

  6. Oh – my niece loves playing “little man”!

    Comment by June | November 27, 2007 | Reply

  7. I admit our diaper bag is big but it’s also mostly empty. We carry 3 diapers, wipes, cup, toddler silverware and two small tonka cars. Jeffrey is placated very easily in most restaurants, but if after the meal mom and dad still want to sit? Those two cars are the greatest gifts in the world.
    I’ll have to show him that he has “little men” to play with. 🙂

    Comment by Dani | November 27, 2007 | Reply

  8. We learned from one grandpa that a hand can also be a good “wind-up” toy. Just wind up the thumb and watch it flip madly back and forth… or tickle! You just never know. Pumpkin loves it when her daddy plays this game, too.

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | December 1, 2007 | Reply

  9. One my daughters favourite toddler games was using our hands to act out the “Monkies Jumping on the Bed” song.

    And of course, there was always the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” favourite – with adaptations like “Big Hairy Spider” and “Super Fast Spider” for variation.

    Comment by Sheri | December 1, 2007 | Reply

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