It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Because I know how to multi-task

“I wanna blue one. I wanna blue one! I wanna blue one, I wanna blue one, I WANNA BLUE ONE!!!!”

Busy helping Emily align her shapes on her card, I speak without looking up. “Nigel, lovie, if Anna wants a blue square, please give her one. There are lots of blue squares.”

We’re playing with the bright and shiny flat coloured tiles, the wooden ones in various shapes which come with equally bright wooden cards on which are painted shapes and pictures. You can put the tiles onto the pictures, see, and create mosaics.

“There isn’t lots of squares. There is only one.”

Well, that’s just silly. There are lots of blue squares, just as there are lots of white diamonds, green triangles, red hexagons and purple trapezoids. Lots of them, lots of blue squares.

Lots of blue squares, all, I now realized, piled up on one of the cards — Anna’s card, over which she hovers like an avenging fury. There was indeed one sole blue tile in the container, now held in Nigel’s small pink fist.


She has a pile of blue squares on one card, and beside that, a pile of red hexagons. Look at that! She’s sorting by color! (That they all happen to be the same shape is, I’m sure simply happenstance: all the tiles of the same colour are also the same shape.) But sorting? Very cool — a pre-math skill.

“I WANNA BLUE ONE!!” She makes a lunge for the last blue tile. Nigel yoinks his hand back. The pre-math brilliance is going to have to take back seat to the social not-so-brillance.

“Anna. You have a gazillion blue squares (MY math skills are excellent, no?). Nigel can have one. If Nigel has one and you have some, then you can BOTH be happy!” At least until someone else decides they can’t live without a blue square, but, praise be, that does not happen this morning.

All is calm. We continue making our pictures. Well, I’ll be honest here. I’m sitting on the floor with them, but I’m also reading while they play. It’s allowed. My presence is calming, I am within arm’s reach for assistance, I can chat with them as required, AND I can find out whether Q (short for Quinn) and Tom’s marriage will survive the multiple stressors of her problematic pregnancy, his ambition and highly demanding career, her visiting mother and sister, and her interest in a community legal issue which may well be putting her on the opposing side of her husband’s firm’s interests.

(Bed Rest, by Sarah Bilston; it’s a light, entertaining read, but I’m really caring about this marriage. Frankly, if she took off with the handsome and sensitive nephew of a neighbour, it would only serve her jackass of a husband right. But she seems to genuinely love the jackass, and I suspect they’re going to– miraculously, unrealistically — patch it up in the end. Too bad for the nephew, though: he’s a nice guy.)

“I can’t reach the pieces!”

“Nigel. Do not sit in the container. No one can reach the pieces.”

“My BUM is in there!” He is very proud.

“Yes, it is, and it’s in the way. Put your bum over here.” He obediently plonks down on the patch of floor indicated, but the others recognize a good game when they see it. The tots giggle delightedly as one bum after another plonks atop the tiles while Q receives some hard-hitting but fair sisterly comments. Will her pride and wilful denial allow Q to accept these words as the wisdom they are? Will she respond with knee-jerk defensive rejection, as she is so wont to do with her sisters?

“I am making cookies!”

The tiles have made a lateral move. No more are they being placed with (minimal) precision in the proscribed spots on the cards; now they are laid out in lines along the floor.

“This is oatmeal and this is chocolate chips, and those are for Emily.”

The children make smacking noises as they fake-eat their cookies. All this air-eating makes them hungry, though. Q, whose most recent ultrasound has given her some worrying news, must wait. I have some real, live babies to feed. And, by the time they’re safely settled round the table, Q’s mother will have arrived from England, and maybe I’ll find out if the woman is really as bad as Q thinks she is …

January 4, 2008 Posted by | aggression, Anna, books, Nigel, socializing | 2 Comments