It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Ambivalence on legs

It’s a long, gentle slope along a quiet road above the canal that takes us to the library. The street dead ends at the library, so it’s very quiet. What with the view through the trees to the water, it’s practically idyllic.

Today, however, a roar becomes ever louder as we stroll up the hill. We round the curve and the noise fills the air. That old expression “a wall of sound” becomes reality. The roar and grind and screech is so intense, it feels as if you have to push through it. And every step only makes it louder.

Two burly “workin’ mens” in their orange vests with the reflective tape manoeuvre a large concrete saw. Lift it up, lower it carefully. It whines and roars on the way up, it screams as it moves down, cutting slices through the surface of the street.

I check the small faces. Emily, in the front of the stroller, is enthralled. Malli is mildly curious. Nigel is hopping up and down in excitement, and Timmy is … Timmy is pulling back on the stroller, trying very hard to make us reverse back the way we came. His eyes are enormous, his mouth tight, his steps drag.

“It’s very loud, isn’t it, Timmy?” I holler near his ear.
“NOISY!” he grins. The saw howls. His grin grows crooked, then trembles. “NOISY!”

He’s a study in conflicting responses. Excitement wars with terror, thrill becomes anguish, agony roils into glee.

Emma scoops him up, sets him astride her hip.

“OH! NOISY!!!” His face flickers between beaming delight and wide-eyed terror.

“He’s trembling, mom! His whole little body is shaking!”

Whether it’s shaking with excitement or panic is anyone’s guess.


We are now close enough that the workin’ mens can hear his calls. One of them looks up. He’s not too tall but very wide, squat, burly, red-faced, lots of black hair on his ruddy arms, pants slung precariously beneath the beer belly that overhangs. He stops to wipe the sweat off his face and neck with the back of a grimy hand.


“Ain’t that the truth, kid.” He gives Timmy a second glance, and his squint softens a bit. “You know what? I’m gonna turn this thing off for a minute. Maybe this is too exciting for some of you, huh?” Kindness … it comes wrapped in all sorts of packages.

We head up the hill in blissful peace.


Though it seems not all of us have quite registered the difference…

July 28, 2008 - Posted by | outings, Timmy | , ,


  1. Isn’t it funny how they all react so differently? Jeffrey reacts very much the same as Timmy. He’s so curious and he wants to watch so badly but he’s also very scared by “what’s makin noises”.

    Poor Timmy was similarly torn: wanting to watch, bludgeoned by the noise. What a predicament!

    Comment by Dani | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. That is a very cute post! I love the different reactions they all have.

    Me, too.

    Comment by K | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  3. This made me tear up. What a nice guy. And damn hormones.

    What a nice guy. And hormones? We won’t even go there. Stupid things.

    Comment by Becka | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  4. Some children have really acute hearing – maybe it hurt!

    I have acute hearing, and yes, it hurt. Perhaps what I was seeing was more pain than fear; that hadn’t occurred to me.

    Comment by Z | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  5. That was so nice of the guy. awesome

    Babies often bring out the best in people. I love it when that happens.

    Comment by ktjrdn | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  6. my daughter is very sensitive to noise. she would’ve cried hysterically if that’d happened to her!

    I wouldn’t have blamed her in this situation. Tears would have been a pretty standard response to the intensity of the sound, that’s for sure.

    Comment by Dana | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  7. “Kindness … it comes wrapped in all sorts of packages.”

    So loved the moral of this story. Especially after such an apt description of the burly belly hanging just so over the jeans.

    It’s so true how little ones can bring out the best in us.

    I myself am sensitive to noise and I have no doubt that it would have upset me greatly…poor little tykes.

    Comment by Zayna | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  8. OH, what a nice thing.

    Comment by kittenpie | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  9. Awwww, that was so nice! What a cool guy.

    Comment by Karin | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  10. Very sweet of Emma to pick him up and the guy to switch it off…

    Comment by Suzi | July 29, 2008 | Reply

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