I’m percolating a post on Tears and the Compassionate Parent (or something), which I plan to have up tomorrow. In the meantime, you can get your fix of Mary here, where I disclose how I inadvertantly maligned and harrassed my (in this case) undeserving son.
The children dance.
Noah and Tyler jump, cavort and giggle. The concept of “beat” is a bit beyond them, but they’re loving the music in their own ways.
“I’m a fairy!” Anna exclaims, sweeping her arms from side so side in front of her. Gracious, smooth swoops in response to the gracious, swooping music.
“I’m a princess!” Emily extends her arms and swirls them through the air. Gracious (mostly) smooth twirls in response to the gracious, swirling music.
“I’m dancing like A AIRPLANE!” Timmy bellows.
But yes. Timmy stands carefully on one leg, then leans forward, extends his arms straight out from his sides, and lifts one leg a few precarious centimetres off the ground behind him. A wobbling, precarious, ungainly, but undeniable… arabesque.
Guess which one has actually watched a ballet?
Each child at Mary’s has a cubby, a little storage bin in which we stash crafts to go home, notes for parents, and, most critically to today’s story, a change of clothes.
Teeny babies require at least one spare outfit for every venture out of the house, no matter how brief. One just never knows when a blow-out might occur. As they get older, you can dispense with the spares to a large degree.
But really? When you’re sending your child away for the entire day, five days a week? That other spot, it needs spare clothes, too. Seems obvious, no? Yet in every group of parents, there is always one who doesn’t really get this.
Yes, I get the spare clothes at first. They we use them. I send the soiled outfit home, and… it’s just not replaced. Well, not replaced with the EFFICIENCY required. Why? I dunno. Absent-minded, busy, distracted? All those are possible, plausible. Sympathetic, even, because we know how distracting toddlers are, and we know how hectic mornings can be… but most of the parents, despite having MORE THAN ONE CHILD, some of them, manage it. Because eventually, you KNOW your child is going to need another spare outfit. You know it.
And yet some small percentage of parents (despite reminders) just don’t ante up the spare clothes in anything like a timely manner. Which means that, inevitably, there comes the time when we need a spare set of clothes (AGAIN! Imagine!) … and it’s just not there.
My standard way of dealing with this is twofold. I borrow clothes from another child’s stash, so as not to send the unequipped child home half-naked, and I keep the soiled clothes. The parent thinks I’m doing them a favour, and I get Provider Brownie Points for being so thoughtful, when really I’m just covering my ass. Well, no. I’m ensuring their offspring’s ass is covered. It is less trouble to launder the clothes myself than it is to nag them for replacements.
(Why do I not keep a stash of spare clothes myself? Well, I’ve done so, and, over the years, this sub-group of parents has wandered off with my spares, too, never to return… So now I don’t do that any more.)
The other day? The other day, one of the children, who will remain nameless, wet their pants. No problem, sweetie, we will just get your spare pants from your… oh. Of course. This is one of Those Parents. Okay, then, you can borrow from your almost-same-size friend.
Which worked just fine until almost-same-sized friend had a wee accident herself an hour later. Huh. Well, you know what? Those are her pants, she gets to wear ‘em. We now hit Problem #2: Nobody else’s clothes come anywhere near to fitting.
The upshot was that Child Number 1, the nameless one, ended up going home with a diaper (it was a way of giving him/her/it some sort of rearward coverage) and socks inside his/her/its snowpants. Because that’s what there was.
I have the tots dressed and awaiting when the parents arrive, so I told parent what they’d discovered when they peeled the snowpants off at home.
“Oh,” said parent, a little surprised. “Couldn’t you have borrowed from almost-same-sized child?”
Which is a little presumptuous, don’t you think?
But, I’m thinking, as parent heads home with half-dressed tot, this is certainly natural consequences. You don’t provide clothes for your child, your child goes home half-naked.
Which is why, prompt in the morning the next day…
they didn’t bring a back-up outfit.
I found a recipe for finger paint online the other day…
Here’s what it looks like, thickened and ready for the colour:
And here we have the coloured version:
(Note to the wise: though the recipe suggests tinting with food colouring, the smart adult will use tempera paint or powder. Food colouring, though non-toxic, is a DYE, and will stain everything.)
You can expect the children to be a little tentative at first:
But with a little time, they’ll get into it!
This is one of those projects that is more about the process than the product. This little fellow’s “painting” was more like sculpture when he was done, causing the paper to curl, and, when it was dry and we tried to flatten it, it crackled and bits flaked right off the paper. Now, we were using waxed packing paper rather than proper fingerpaint paper, which may well have been a factor.
It doesn’t matter, though, because they all had a whale of a tactile time.
The original meme was for all you mothers out there about your firstborn. This one is for me, about my third.
1. WAS YOUR PREGNANCY PLANNED?
2. WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME?
3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS?
4. WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU?
5. HOW OLD WERE YOU?
6. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT?
Home pregnancy test.
7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST?
My then-husband, father of the child
8. DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX?
9. DUE DATE?
Can’t remember! (She was my third. It was SIXTEEN years ago. The details get fuzzy…) She did arrive sooner than she was due, that I recall.
10. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS?
11. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE?
Nothing in particular.
12. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST?
Nothing. How about that?
13. WHAT WAS YOUR THIRD CHILD’S SEX?
14. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING?
Absolutely not. I wanted a healthy child. Period.
15. HOW MANY POUNDS DID YOU GAIN?
Oh, it was a long time ago… 30, I think.
16. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER?
17. WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW?
No shower, no surprise. Or not.
18.DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY?
At first my GP thought it might be an ectopic pregnancy, so sent me to an OB (who was a complete and utter arrogant asshole), who gave me the ROUGHEST internal I have EVER experienced, told me it wasn’t ectopic, then, despite MY instructions to the contrary, instructed his receptionist to schedule my ultrasound.
And I did NOT have the ultrasound.
19. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH?
Riverside Hospital Birthing Centre, Ottawa, Ontario (which no longer exists, much to the impoverishment of expectant women who wanted a kinder, gentler alternative in childbirth)
20. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR?
Nine. Sixteen hours with the first. Slightly under an hour and a half with the second. Nine hours, I tell you all now, is the IDEAL labour.
21. WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL?
23. WAS IT VAGINAL OR C-SECTION?
24. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN?
25. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH?
Eight pounds, one ounce.
26. WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN?
27. WHAT DID YOU NAME YOUR CHILD?
28. HOW OLD IS YOUR Third-BORN TODAY?
Years, that is.
“Why are there helicopters, Mary?” Emily and Timmy are peering up and out through the living room window as the chucka-chucka of the helicopters thrums through the walls.
“We are having an important visitor in Ottawa today, hon. Mr. Harper is the leader of Canada. Mr. Obama is the leader of the country beside ours, and he is visiting with Mr. Harper today. “
“And he is coming in a helicopter?”
“No. He came in an airplane, but now he is driving to Mr. Harper’s office downtown. The helicopters are watching Mr. Obama’s car to make sure no bad guys try to hurt him.”
“Are there police mens in the helicopters?”
“I would think so.”
Emily nods, satisfied.
A few hours later, Emily and Anna build intricate block-cities on the kitchen floor.
“Who is that on the radio, Mary?”
“It’s Mr. Harper, Em.”
“Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama?” It’s been five hours since our conversation this morning. What a smart little cookie this girl is!
“Yes. They are taking turns answering questions.”
“And when Mr. Obama is done talking on the radio,” Anna declares, “he can come to my house and visit. My daddy will make dinner for us all.”
“I don’t think so, Anna. When he is done answering questions, he will have to go home.”
“He can come to my house and then he can go home.”
“No, lovie. I bet he would like to meet you, because he has two little girls of his own. But he has to go home and be with his girls.”
Anna’s brow furrows, then clears.
“That’s okay! They can come, too! My daddy will make more dinner for them! And their mommy can come, too!”
So there you have it. Barack and Michelle? You and the girls are invited for a home-cooked meal here in Ottawa, any time you can fit it in your schedule. I can vouch for Anna: she’s quite the charmer. You’re sure to be entertained.
I am baking brownies for dessert. Which, if you knew our family at all, would tell you we’re having guests over to dinner. Tell my children we’re having company, and the response is not “Who’s coming?” but “Yay! Dessert!”
Timmy and Anna are playing quietly at my feet. They have woken up a little earlier than the other children, and are thus allowed to play in the kitchen (the furthest end of the house from the stairs), and QUIETLY. If they don’t play quietly, they must go lie down again until the others wake.
Thus, they are playing quietly. Which is little short of a miracle, since they are my two loudest children. Though, come to that, Tyler is emerging as a considerable auditory force. Once he gets some actual vocabulary, the windows, they will be a-rattling. (And my eardrums, oh, mercy me, my poor eardrums.)
They are playing quietly, and I am making brownies. And, because these are brownies for guests, and, because our oven is stuck at 400 degrees (as it has been for the last four years), I am diligently cutting off the slightly-too-dry edges. (The hostess double-standard: For my own family? They can crunch their way into the centre. For company? Perfectly soft’n'chewy brownies, from edge to edge.)
Apart from crunchiness, there is nothing wrong with the centimetre-wide strips of brownie I’m left with…
Lucky Timmy and Anna.
“Here guys. You want some brownies?”
(That, boys and girls, is what is called a “rhetorical” question.)
“Now, be careful. Chocolate is bad for dogs. You mustn’t give any to Indie. It could make her sick.”
“And maybe even DIIIIEEE!” Which could have been said with far less exuberant relish, perhaps, but the content is accurate enough.
“Yes, Anna. Enough chocolate could even make her die. That would be very sad.”
“That would be very sad.” Timmy is showing a more appropriate level of concern, perhaps because he’s had some personal experience in pet-bereavement. Or, as it turns out, second-hand experience. “My mummy’s newt died, and she was very sad.”
“Your mummy had a newt?”
“Yes, and it died. And she was very sad.”
“Not as sad as for a dog, I think.”
He doesn’t lose a beat.
“No. Prolly not.”