It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Reality is in the eye of the beholder

“Mary! Mary, Nigel is taking my teddy’s bear’s blanket!”

They all have a bear-in-a-bag, so there is no reason for someone to take someone else’s. Malli is not distressed. She is p’d right o. I launch into the practiced pattern, the brilliance born of inertia.

“Did you tell him that was yours?”


“Did you give him a different one to play with?”

“He only wants MINE!”

Well, that’s a problem. I meander over casually to investigate. Timmy has a bear-in-a-bag, Anna has her bear, who is covered by his teddy-bag turned blanket, Emily is sitting on her bear in its bag, and Nigel? Nigel appears to be playing with the blocks, his bear lying to one side on the kitchen floor.

“Nigel, you don’t play with my bear’s blanket!” Malli stands before him, small fists planted on her skinny hips. “That’s MY bear’s blanket!”

Nigel looks up from his construction, about as confused as me. He is building with blocks. Anna’s pink teddy bag lies on the floor at her feet.

“Malli, I don’t understand. Nigel is playing with the blocks. He is not playing with any of the blankets.”

“He is taking my teddy bear’s blanket!”

“No, he’s not. Your teddy bear blanket is right there.” I point to the extra one, lying, empty, on the floor. Empty, because Malli’s teddy is, unaccountably, sitting in the large bin of blocks, half-buried under the heap. Doesn’t look like she’s playing with it at all. Her blanket’s on the floor, her teddy’s buried under a …

Ah. The light dawns.

Her teddy’s buried under a veritable blanket of blocks. Nigel reaches into the bin for another block.


The wonders of imagination, huh?

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Malli, Nigel | 1 Comment

Book Binge is Back!

Some of you have asked about last year’s Book Binge, and wondered if I were hosting it again. And I said to myself, “What a great idea! I think I shall host a Book Binge again!”

Here’s how it goes: For the month of May, participants keep track of each and every book you read. At the end of the month, everyone will blog their list of books. Simple, no?

For simplicity’s sake, and to allow people time to hear about it and sign up if they want, we’ll start on Monday, May 5th. We will all publish our lists on June 1.

Other rules:

– You can include books you re-read, so long as you re-read them in between May 5 and 31.
– You may also include books you start but don’t finish, just note the page at which you gave it up. Something like, “Quit, page 47 of 322″.
– You may only include books you read aloud to your children if they are at least 125 pages long.
– Students may include textbooks (if they’re at least 100 pages long).
– Unless you have a visual impairment which precludes you from reading print books (in which case, it’s unlikely you read blogs), you may not count recorded books.

If you would like to participate, leave a note in the comments. On Friday, I’ll post a list of links to all participants.

AND, for all you lucky participants, we have these lovely blog buttons! There’s a small and a medium version. All you have to do is copy and paste the the following code into your sidebar or post.

For SMALL (125 pixels wide, suitable for a sidebar),

Copy and paste this code:
<a href=""&gt; <img src="; alt="book binge" /></a>

For MEDIUM (240 pixels wide; your text will wrap to the right of the image),


Copy and paste this code:
<a href=""&gt; <img src="; style="margin: 0 10px 10px 0; float:left" alt="book binge" border="0" /></a>

(And if you, like me, are in awe at the way I have CODE on the blog, without it turning into the button and ‘vanishing’ the code, I can’t take the credit. This bit of playing with the browser’s head was devised by my devious sweetie. Isn’t he just so smart???)

I hope you’ll all join me. I’m pretty sure my list this year will be shorter than last year’s — but who know? I may surprise myself! Here’s hoping some of you surprise your own selves, too!

April 29, 2008 Posted by | books | 86 Comments

I’m pooped out. But hopeful.

Poop, poop, poop. It’s all about poop at Mary’s these days.

Despite earlier enthusiasm, Timmy seems to have no interest in toilet training at the moment, and Emily has never had any. So the status is two in diapers, two out, one in and out.

Anna, you see, is half there: she’ll poop in the potty, but has no idea about the pee. None. When the weather is a little warmer… like it was last week (26C/82F), like it will be next week, right after we’re done with the SNOW that’s forecast for tomorrow… when it’s a little warmer, I’ll just have the child go bare on the bottom for a day or two, see if the penny drops. Or, in the words of my gran, if she’ll spend that penny where it belongs…

And today? If there were fans here, there’d be shit everywhere. Good lord. Timmy spent the morning squeezing out the most malevolant teeny balls of malodorous atmospheric poison known to man. And sticky?!? Each one had to be scoured off his skinny butt.

I poured a half-cup of prune juice into him. Ten minutes later he had an enormous poop. E-nor-mous. Since it was far too soon to be the result of the prune juice, it seems I may have been precipitous. I now await further bowel mayhem with no little degree of consternation. Ugh.

Then Anna did one in the potty. Easier to clean up, no less odiferous.

“What did you guys eat all weekend?” I gasp through the fumes. “Good lord.”

Nigel has been told not to flush the toilet. His parents do not approve: they want the standards to be consistent, so he’ll remember to flush at home. Tough. With the number of toddlers in my home, soon to be out of diapers? Each of them producing a two-tablespoon pee every hour? And each of them flushing whatever our OLD toilet flushes? Probably an obscene amount of water.

Do I want to be responsible for flushing hundreds of excess gallons every week? No, I do not. It’s environmentally reprehensible. I doubt I could afford it, anyway.

Not that consistency has ever worked between his environments, anyway. He sleeps like a dream here; he rarely does there. He drinks gallons of water at home, and has to be encouraged to drink here. He eats all his veggies here; he’s very picky at home. The list goes on. So why they think that what he does or doesn’t do here would have any bearing on what happens at home is a mystery…

Besides, all they have to do is tell him firmly NOT to flush. He’s so contrary with them, the little bugger would be sure to flush conscientiously every.single.time if he thought they didn’t want him to.

So Nigel does NOT flush at Mary’s. I guess I’m a little contrary, too.

Anna awakes from her nap with a very large, very wet, very stinky poop. I think that brings the tally today up to nine. From two children. (Another good reason for the non-flush policy: because I do not accompany the tots on every single two-tablespoon trip up the stairs, I am not always immediately aware when something of substance has been produced. A quick glance in the bowl gives me all the info I need. And more.)

Today the junior brigade out-pooped the senior at a rate of … well, they produced infinitely more, since the olders produced nothing. (What did they eat all weekend?)

It is a bit raw out there: chill and damp. I am loathe to open windows. I am also loathe to subject anyone to the stench. Anyone walking through the door is going to be walloped with Eau de Porta-potty with their first breath. How embarrassing!

Then I consider: I’m so used to it, I can scarcely smell it any more. The next half-dozen people expected through that door are the parents. The progenitors of the producers of the noxious fumes. If they notice and are repelled, it will only serve to increase their gratitude for the services I render. “Thank God they got rid of all that shit at daycare!” Or it might make them feel guilty. (Guilty about poop? Weird, but it happens.)

Either way, it’s good for me. Appreciation, guilt? All equally promising. SOME parents, motivated by one or the other, have been known to surprise me with chocolates and flowers. Or gift certificates for spa treats.


I live in noisome hope.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety, potty tales | 11 Comments

The child is a genius

We are preparing to go out. (To the park! Because it’s SPRING!!! FINALLY!!!!!) Three tots, their shoes and sweaters on, sit side-by-side on the bottom step of the inside stairs. The fourth is getting his shoes on, and the fifth is descending the stairs, having had her precautionary pre-park pee.

Hearing the child approaching from behind, Emily, who is one of the three on the bottom step, stands up to allow descending child to pass.

Now, anyone who has not worked with toddlers would think that I was still setting the stage for my story. They would not realize they had just read the punch line. Let’s revisit that sentence, shall we?

Hearing the child approaching from behind, Emily, who is one of the three on the bottom step, stands up to allow descending child to pass.

Let me remind you all: Emily is two and a half. She has a) heard the child coming at her from behind, b) realized she is blocking their path c) decided to move out of the way — all spontaneously, without any adult direction whatsoever.

This is phenomenal. What is really, truly phenomenal about this is that she has never been told to do this. She just has the feel for common courtesy.

This is not to say the other children are wilfully rude. Well, yes, sometimes they are, of course. They are toddlers. (So, for that matter, is Emily. She does occasionally indulge in selfishness or willful rudness. When I say “occasional”, though, I do mean occasional. It’s really quite striking.) But mostly, they are typical toddlers, which is to say, largely oblivious of their impact on others, with occasional sparks of awareness.

This is not to say the other children don’t evidence positive behaviours, either. They do.

The thing is, with Emily, it’s innate. She just gets it. In a dozen little ways every single day, she evidences awareness, concern, consideration and empathy far and away above the capabilities of the average toddler.

The other children need to be taught this behaviour on a case-by-case basis. So I could explain to the other two on the step: “When someone is coming down the stairs, you need to stand up so they can get by. Otherwise, they will be stuck on the stairs.” It would have to be explained, and then it would have to be practiced.

Emily has never needed this explanation. Ever. She just does this stuff. In the couple of decades I’ve been working with children, I have never seen such a young child so naturally aware of others and considerate. (Heck, a lot of 9-year-olds wouldn’t think to shift themselves without their buddy saying “Hey! Yer in my way!”)

She was taught to say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “sorry”, of course, just as were all the toddlers, both at my home and with their families. But Emily is the only one who can generalize: she gets the principle behind the behaviour and applies it wherever it’s required, virtually flawlessly. With the other children, if there’s a new nuance to the situation, if it’s not identical, or at least very, very similar to another situation they’ve enountered, they will need to have it explained anew, “This is a time to say ‘excuse me’, or ‘thank you’.” Not Emily.

She bumps into someone, “Excuse me!” I move to one side so she can get a toy from behind me. “Thank you.” Someone finishes a painting. “Oh, that is a very nice painting!” She tells others when they’ve done a good job, she encourages and excuses, she takes turns, she shares first, she offers to trade when she has something another child wants. She hugs a sad child, she claps for a happy child. All things that toddlers do do, of course — but not like this.

She also instructs the other children. “You hitted him and now he’s sad and you need to say ‘sorry’ and give him a hug.” “He has the book now. You want to read it with him, or read another book?” At two years, five months old! This child is a social genius.

And when someone she can’t even see approaches, she anticipates their need and meets it. No fuss, no delay. She understands.


And when she had stood up to let Malli pass? Malli stole her seat.

Now that’s typical toddler behaviour.

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Emily, individuality, manners | 12 Comments

Frivolous day…

You Are Low Maintenance

Otherwise known as “too good to be true”
You’re one laid back chica – and men love that!
Just remember that no good guy likes a doormat.
So if you find your self going along to get along…
Stop yourself and put up a little bit of a fight.
Are You A High Maintenance Woman?

You’re a Confident Chica

You’re fine the way you are – and you know it
You can make mistakes and still like yourself, because you know no one’s perfect
Your life is great – and you’ve thankful for every great thing you have.
Are You a Confident Woman?

You Are Brigitte Bardot

Naturally sensual and beautiful
You’re an exotic beauty who turns heads everywhere
You’ve got a look that’s one of a kind
What Famous Pinup Are You?

April 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


… but it made me laugh. Email forward from my SIL.

So there’s this kindergarten teacher, and she’s decided her mission in life is to eradicate baby talk and get the kids to use “Big People Words”. One day at Show-and-Tell, the children are talking about their weekends. Little Michael speaks up.

“I went to the park and rode on the choo-choo.”

“No, Michael. You rode on the train. Remember your Big People Words.”

Rosanna has something to say. “Mommy took me to the park to feed the duckies.”

“Big People Words, Rosanna. Mommy took you to feed the ducks.”

Little Amelia is next. “Mommy and Daddy and me went to visit Nana.”

think, thank, thunk“You mean your grandmother. We use Big People Words in this class, remember?” [If you’re like me, you’re now thinking this teacher’s a bit anal: “Nana” is her name. Good grief.]

Brave young Eric decides to test his luck.

“I read a book this weekend, Ms. Jones!”

“You did? Good for you! What book did you read, then?”

So far, so good. Eric frowns, considering his words carefully.

“The book was called … Winnie the Shit!”

April 22, 2008 Posted by | Mischief, random and odd, the things they say! | 6 Comments

Better parenting through laziness

“Mary! Anna hit me!”

Entirely possible. Anna’s a dominant little thing, and when her excellent social skills and superbly infectious chortle don’t soften up the opposition and get her her own way, she’s not above popping someone. She is, after all, two years old.

The temptation is to march off to investigate. Did Anna actually hit him, and if so, what, if anything, had been the precursor? Not that there’s a valid reason for slugging a friend, but oftentimes the culpability for these little exchanges is shared. The involved parties are not so much assailant and victim as they are partners in mayhem.

But … Timmy is awfully prone to this behaviour, this seeking adult involvement, demanding redress from a Higher Authority. (In this case, me.) He’s not a tattle-tale yet, but he’s heading in that direction, and I’ve been down that road in the past. The constant demands of a tattler for justice is very, very, very, very, very, very, very tedious. Mind-numbing. The persistance of a steady drip-drip-drop of water that turn a rock into a few grains of sand. Tattling, for me, is right up there with whining as the Chinese water torture of parenting.

I simply do not get paid enough to accept that level of boredom ten hours a day. I don’t know if there is an amount that would make it tolerable to be that bored ten hours a day.

But if you don’t do something, violence is liable to break out, right? There’s been an aggression. Tot A, who perceives himself (rightly or wrongly) as victim, is bent on justice/vengeance, and if you don’t provide it, they’ll get it themseves. And then you’ll have Tot B at your elbow, complaining that she’s been wallopped.

I confess that my response to this sort of tattling was born of sheerest laziness. I did not want to deal with this, I did not want to have to go and hunt out both parties and sort it through, I did not want yet another he-said, she-said” exchange. But you can’t just say “Sort it out”, because two-year-olds “sort” with their fists. If they’ve never been taught to “sort it out”, they have no idea how. You can say that to seven-year-olds. With two-year-olds, it’s a cop-out that’s only going to end in escalating violence.

So, much as I’d like to say “sort it out”, I won’t be doing that. But do I have to get up, when I just poured myself a cup of tea? Because if I leave that thing sitting there, we all know what will happen. Do I have to forfeit my paltry-but-treasured three minutes of relaxation? Do I have to?

No, I don’t. I don’t have to charge into the next room to sort it out for them, either; I don’t even have to help them sort it out. I certainly don’t expect them to be able to sort it out themselves. But what then? Aren’t those all your options?

Read on, my dears, and bask in my words of brilliance.

I lean forward, with a look of sincere concern on my face, take his hands in mind, and say with warm supportiveness,

“Timmy, did you use your words?”
“Did you say, ‘Anna, don’t hit me’?”
“Yes. I say, ‘Anna don’t hit me!’ ”
“And is Anna hitting you any more?”
(Obvious question. Timmy is here with me, and Anna, whatever she may or may not have been doing three minutes prior, is in another room, not hitting him.)

I sit up straight, and fix a beaming, joyous smile upon his earnest visage.

“Well, good for you! It worked! Anna hit you, and you used your words, and now Anna isn’t hitting you any more! You used your words, and it worked!! Good job!”

I smile, I clap, I am practically delerious with joy at the boy’s accomplishment. Timmy trots off, happy, Anna is playing with the blocks in the next room. And I don’t have to get up and let my tea go cold.

Sheerest laziness brought me to this strategy. Inertia, even. But when you examine the response, it’s excellent.

The child who comes to you is seeking any number of things: justice, vengeance, comfort, indignation, attention, reassurance. If you charge in and sort things out, a few things happens:
1. You become his enforcer. With that kind of reward, why would he stop coming to you? You’re creating the very thing you’re trying to avoid: a tattler.
2. You’re showing him you don’t expect him to be able to do this on his own, or that
3. His attempts to solve his own conflict were inadequate.

However, when you outline what has already occurred, and frame it in terms of conflict-management, you are:
1. Giving the child support, attention, and reassurance, all worth emotional goals.
2. You make sure you are not integral to the process. (So you’re less likely to be called in next time!)
3. You are reinforcing the child’s strategy.
4. You are supporting the child’s own efforts at conflict-resolution.

(Now, if the child has not used their words, then you have to get involved to get the child to talk to the other child, etc. But generally, as soon as a child is verbally able to tell you about it, they would almost certainly have lodged some sort of verbal protest with the aggressor before coming to find you. “Hey! No! Stop that!” is perfectly reasonable use of words.)

And yeah, I’m likely stretching the facts just a little, because we all know that if the child hadn’t charged off to find me, the other child’s response to his howl of protest would probably have been to pop him one again. But that’s okay. We’re working on principles here. We want the child to understand what the process is, that he’s done things correctly, and know that he can be the agent of his own conflict resolution, not you. When he can routinely and effectively resolve conflict on his own (which will take years, of course), you can put one tick on your Successful Parenting checklist.

Because really, what is effective parenting but working yourself out of a job?

April 21, 2008 Posted by | aggression, parenting | , , , | 16 Comments

Truly awful read

One of the books the children chose from the library this week is Jenny Offill’s “17 Things i’m not allowed to do anymore”. I will not be reading it to the children. (Not that children are its intended audience, anyway: it’s a poke at parents.)

It’s supposed to be the story of a bright and mischievous little girl who gets into a serious of scraps through her curiosity and creativity. And there are a few points at which that is what is really happening:

“I had an idea to dedicate my report to all beavers that ever lived.
I’m not allowed to dedicate my report to beavers anymore.”

“I had an idea to walk backward all the way home from school.
I’m not allowed to … ”
“I had an idea to freeze a dead by in the ice cube tray.”
I’m not allowed to …”
“I had an idea to wash my hands in the dog’s bowl before dinner.”
“I’m not allowed to …”

Walking backwards — if you do it as she evidently does, without casting careful glances over her shoulder — is unsafe; washing hands in dog water and making dead-fly ice cubes are unhygenic, but all are the sorts of funny things that lively, creative kids do. (I’m not sure what’s wrong with dedicating a report to beavers.) There are other ways the adults could have responded than by making yet another arbitrary “you may not” rule. So yes, here you have a lively, creative kid doing cute and unconventional things, and being pressed into the mold of conventionality by boring adults.

But then there are these items:

“I had an idea to staple my brother’s hair to his pillow.
… to glue my brother’s slippers to the floor.
… to tell my brother he’d soon be eaten by hyenas.
… to throw cauliflower at my brother at dinner.”

All of which, judging by the pictures, cause her younger brother evident distress and sometimes real physical pain. In each case she is told she may not do whatever the offense was any more. But these are not the same as the other offenses. These are not a lively, creative kid being unconventional, or at least, not merely. These are examples of a lively, creative kid being unkind and insensitive.

This is the problem with Rule-Based Parenting, of course. You end up with a million teeny-tiny specific rules, which, with no governing rational, can seem entirely random and arbitrary to the child.

What is required is a little Principle-Based Parenting. How about, instead of “You may not” rules, we have some “We always try” principles?

So, instead of “you may not do X, Y, Z to your brother”, there would be a discussion and explanation. “In our family, we always try to be kind to each other.” There would be focus on the impact of her actions on her poor brother. “We try never to do something that will make another person sad, or actually hurt them.” Further misadventures would then be evaluated with this rubric: “Do you think your brother is happy now? Or is he frightened?”

She is rude to her mother at a couple of points. How about, instead of “you may not pretend your mother is a waitress”, we have “you will treat mommy with respect” — which would also include not sticking her fingers in her ears and pretending to be deaf when her mother speaks.

The author seems not to see this distinction. Any attempt to mold a child’s actions, no matter what their actions and no matter what the actions’ effects on other people’s health and happiness, is arbitrary and stifling of the creativity and energy of innocent children. (Because children are always kind and sweet and gentle and loving in their innocence, aren’t they?)

But the worst part of the book? The really, really appalling bit?

“I had an idea to say the opposite of what I mean to trick everyone.”

The picture shows her saying “I’m sorry” to her mother, who is hugging her in gracious, grateful love and forgiveness.

The last line of the book?

“I am allowed to say the opposite of what I mean forevermore.”

Apparently Ms. Offill believes that expecting kindness, respect, and consideration for others is merely teaching a child hypocrisy. Further, that such hypocrisy is only the natural, reasonable outcome of these expectations, for which the child can not be held accountable. Obviously, the fault is in the soul-deadening conventionalities of the soul-dead adults around her bright liveliness.

Kindness? Respect? Consideration? Empathy?

Shame on us for expecting such things!

April 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Small mysteries of life

“What is that present, Mary?”

“It’s a present, Nigel.”


The package is very toddler-attractive with its lilac, ladybug strewn birthday festive-ness. And now I am wrapping it again, this time in postal-quality brown paper, this layer adorned with hats and party horns. This is very, very interesting.

“Why are you putting more paper on it?”
“Is it a birthday present?”
“Why it gots bugs onnit?”

“This is a present for my friend Jen. It is her birthday soon, and this is her present.”

“It is a birthday present?”

“Yes. And now we have to get our shoes and coats on, because we are going to mail it.”

“Why we gots to mail it?”

“Because Jen lives far, far away. A long way away.”

We set out. It’s a little over half a mile to the SevenEleven which houses the post office. The sky is clear, the air mild, the day sunny. Altogether perfect day for a stroll. The package sits in the otherwise empty stroller, with Timmy and Anna holding onto either side. Nigel and Malli walk ahead.

Where is Emily this week? Yesterday morning I got a call somewhat later than I was expecting to see her. Emily had been a little cranky that morning, but mild crankiness in a two-year-old, even a sunny one like Emily, is hardly cause for concern. Halfway here, a little voice informed her mother,

“My tummy feels funny.”

“Oh?” slightly anxious mummy. “Funny-good, or funny-bad?”

The answer was non-verbal but very clear: Funny-bad. Definitely funny-bad. And the poor child must sit and stew in it, because there is nowhere to pull off. So Emily is not with us today. I now await eruptions from the rest of the crew. So far, however, all is well.

“Is THAT Jen’s house?” Nigel points out a charming three-story on a corner lot. (You’d like it, Jen. The boy has good taste.)

“No, lovie. Jen lives a long way away.”

I live a long way away!” Anna is assured. Given that two of them live on my street and one lives a block over, Anna, at a whole ten-block remove is indeed the furthest-afield. These things being relative and all.

“You live pretty far, but Jen lives very, very far away.” These is no point in using map or globe: on either of those Jen would be less than a couple of inches away. How does that make any sense? One resorts to simplifications and repetitions. “Very, very, VERY far away. Much, much too far to walk. Even too far to bike.” (Anna comes in the bike buggy most days.)

“Ooooh.” She is suitably impressed.

“Is that Jen’s house?” Nigel doesn’t tend to be easily dissuaded from his ideas.

“NO, Nigel. Jen lives far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far AWAY!” Anna has absorbed the notion, at any rate.

“That’s right, Anna. She lives a long way away, and this is her birthday present.”

“And we are going to her birthday party!!”

Oh, dear. We’re going from bad to worse here. “No, I’m afraid not. She lives too far away.”

“She not have a birthday party???” Anna is horrified at such deprivation.

“Yes, she probably is, but we’re not going to it. Because we live too far away.”

“We are not going???” Anna is horrified at such deprivation.

At the post office, the children watch with interest as the parcel is weighed, labelled, stamped.

“Is that a stamp?”
“What are you writing?”
“Did that lady give you a paper?”
“Does that paper stick on the present?”
“Why did you put the present on that table?”
“There are numbers on that thing!”
“Can we have some candy?” (This is a SevenEleven, after all.)

Outside in the sunlight, present successfully dispatched and the tots candy-less, we resume our walk.

“Hey! Where is Jen’s present?”
“I mailed it, Nigel.”
“But that lady took away your present!!”
“It’s okay. I gave it to her, Nigel. That was the post office. The woman in there will send the present to my friend Jen.”

“For her birthday?”


“For her party?”

“Yes.” Ha! I think he’s finally got it!

“But where is Jen?”


April 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Sharing, sharing, sha– wait a minute.

“Timmy’s not sharing!!”

Timmy has (yet again, siiiigh) brought a toy from home. Toys from home are, of course!, MUCH more interesting than the toys at Mary’s house, simply because they are Toys From Home. For the other children, they are new toys, novelty items; for their owner they are “MY Toys”, items of proud ownership, badges of cool. Being the owner of the most-sought-after new gizmo has endless appeal to many adults: why should toddlers be more mature than their presumed guides through life?

You can see, however, where this push-pull of appeal of novelty and pride of possession would create somewhat of a logistical/social challenge.

As I’ve mentioned before, sharing is a challenge for quicksilver Timmy, requiring constant monitoring and frequent assistance/reassurance. I’ve been busy preparing the craft in the next room — a whole eight feet away — for an entire three minutes. Clearly, I stretched the limits of civil self-restraint way beyond the bounds of reality.

“Timmy, lovie.” I approach the situation, evaluating as I proceed. He’s brought not one but two teddy bears. Surely we can manage to allocate two bears between four children with minimal uproar? Especially since there are already SIX bear in residence, giving us eight bears between four children? Surely this is not an impossibility?

Except the bears, the entire wooly tribe of them, are scattered here and there across living room floor and couches. No one seems to be interested in them at all.

“Timmy, you gots to share!”

Anna makes a lunge for Timmy, who, near as I can make out, has no toys at all in his possession. He rears back from her.

“N-n-n-n-no! Is-is-is-is my-muh-muh-muh-my-my-my-mine!” Poor tyke. A stutter is quite the handicap, particularly in moments of stress. Which is when, oh cosmic injustice, the stutter becomes much more pronounced. (He’s on a wait list for speech therapy.)

But what is the problem? “Anna. What do you want? What does Timmy need to share?”

“Dat!” She lunges once more. More rearing-back and jackhammer declarations from Timmy.

“Anna. Stop grabbing at Timmy. Use your words and tell me what you want. Or you can point to it. Timmy, Anna’s going to point, but she won’t grab.”

“Timmy gots to share dat!”

And she lays one non-grabbing finger on his vest. A cute grey wool vest embroidered in South American style with colourful people and vibrant geometrics.

Ah. The nuances of sharing.

“Anna, sweetie, that’s Timmy’s vest. A vest is clothes. We don’t have to share our clothes.”

“But I WANT it!”

“I’m sure you do. It’s a very nice vest, isn’t it? Timmy, we like your nice vest. But it’s Timmy’s vest, lovie. He doesn’t have to share his clothing.”

Anna is singularly unimpressed with this reasoning, but acquiesces with moderate grace. Which is about as much as you can reasonably expect from a fashion-thwarted two-year-old.

And Timmy is still wearing his vest.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Anna, manners, Timmy | , | 4 Comments