It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The mouths of babes are brutal things

bedheadTyler’s copious fine blond hair is a tumultous mess.

“Wow,” I say, trying to tame this raging bedhead, “Your hair sure is crazy today.”

Big Sister Emily hovers nearby. Her face breaks into a beaming smile.

“Yeah. Cuh-way-zy hair! Just like YOURS, Mary!”

September 17, 2009 Posted by | Emily, the things they say! | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Say what?

question-marks“A gang yetwa go.”
(I can’t let you go.)

I gaga hoeyawn.
(I have to hold on.)

William was a pretty quiet little dude for the first few weeks here.

“You gwanga paya my gwanegwak?”
(You want to play with my train track?)

Once he begain to speak in any quantity, it quickly became apparent that the boy is in need of speech therapy. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to be able to understand the 70% of his utterances I’m pretty sure I’m getting.

“Ungaya woe!”
(Look out below!)

I am not always sure of my translations.

“Wa gum make um why.”
(I [or maybe ‘we’] are going to [or maybe ‘can’] make some pie.)

I’m giving it to the end of the second full week of school before his parents have received some sort of communication from his teacher on this. Give the poor woman a chance to sort out who those small bodies in her class are before worrying about the niceties of their pronounciation. I’m sure she’ll get there.

(Had William been in my care all along, I’d have dealt with this long since, but since he’s only been with me a few weeks, I’m content to stay back and let his teacher, who will be dealing with him over a longer timeframe than me, approach the issue. However, if it hasn’t been addressed by Thanksgiving — mid-October — I will talk to his parents.)

William is pretty cooperative with my corrections. With such wide-ranging mispronounciations, I’ve arbitrarily decided to start with one: the initial ‘s’. (You’ve got to start somewhere, right? If I corrected every mispronounciation to fall from the poor boy’s lips, he’d never get to say anything.)

Tyler was fascinated as we passed by the tennis class at the local outdoor courts.

“Do you think you’ll play tennis one day, Tyler?”

“Yeah. Tennis.” The kids is obviously just humouring me. He’s distracted, still staring at the game.

“Because it’s a certainty you’ll be playing soccer.” Tyler’s father is Serbian, and (I get the strong impression this pretty much goes without saying for a Serb) an enthusiastic soccer player and watcher. I just can’t see his kids not playing, at least for a few years.

“Soccer! Yeah!” No humouring now. The boy is EXCITED!!! Yes, the social conditioning has indeed begun. This child going to play — and he’s going to love it.

William pops into the conversation. “Ah gway wokka.”

Sssssssssoccer.” I enunciate. “You play ssssssssoccer.”

“Yeah,” says the co-operative William. “An’ gasssssssssgahgawl.” (Basketball)

He’s got a ways to go….

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff | , , , , , | 2 Comments

You can’t judge a book by its cover

stinkyTwo little diapered butts toddle by. The stench is eye-watering.

“Noah, do you have a poo?” Noah is not 100% accurate, but he’s pretty good. No harm in streamlining the investigative process.


stinky“Okay, Tank, let’s have a look at you, then.” I do the oh-so-familiar yoink at the rear waistband and have a gander past those pink cheeks to the depths beyond. The second I pull the waistband back, I’m further assaulted by stench. This is the source, all right. Gah.

I tug four or five baby wipes from the box. Normally I get one or two, but, if the stench is anything to go by, this one’s going to be a multiple-wipe event.

And there, nestled in the diaper, lays one marble of poo. Okay, maybe a smallish walnut, but no more. A smallish walnut that flips off the diaper into the toilet, and requires but a quickish swipe at his butt with a single wipe to clean him. I stuffed the other four or five wipes back in the box.

rosesI should know by now that you can’t go by the smell. I’ve opened many a diaper expecting nothing more than wet, and been confronted by a gallon of oozing goo. And this reverse? Teeny amount, discharging 100x its volume in toxic fumes? That would be Zoe.

Sweetest little thing you’d ever want to see, a small-boned delicate black-eyed waif of a girl. Soft-spoken, too, a tiny, hesitant voice… an temperament, too. She was one of those kids I actually had to teach to say “No!” and “Mine!” (Really. They do exist. “Use your strong voice, Zoe. He won’t stop until you speak up for yourself. Strong voice.”)

All that mildness was utterly forsaken in the realm of poop. Lordy, that child was potent. Never seen smelled anything like it.

stinkyWe were in a playgroup once, a large, concrete-walled room with some twenty other children and assorted caregivers and parents. Half-a-dozen of us caught the whiff at the same time, and began the Hunting of the Poo.

It was Zoe, of course. And when I opened the diaper and the other adults saw the single tiny marble therein, lo, there was Great Marvelling.

stinkySeems Tank is another such as Zoe. Thank goodness they only seem to come along once every ten years…

On the upside, I guess I’ll be saving on baby wipes.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | eeewww, individuality | , | 5 Comments



Here we have the components to turn a Klean Kanteen into a sippy cup. (Yes, they’re plastic, but I figure the water passing through a mouthpiece of plastic for an instant is better than the water stewing in plastic for hours. (And yes, you’re right, there is absolutely no good reason to spell those words with ‘K’.))

Apart from the spelling errors, they look innocuous enough though, don’t they? Ha! Like me, you were fooled. Possibly like me, you thought those little sticky things on either side were only to hold the container together. Shows what we know! Those little sticky things are WARNINGS.

warning label

actual life-sized warning label

If, like me, you were to (finally) notice, get curious, and peel back the tiny cover of that small label, you would find the following hysterical scare-mongering information:

For your child’s safety and health WARNING!

For my child’s safety? And health? I’d better keep reading! Only Bad Mommies ignore advice to ensure their child’s safety and health.

To enable you to better share the joy I experienced whilst reading this thing, I will reproduce it in the same format as best I can: very, very tiny and no paragraph breaks.

Before first use, clean the product. After every use, take all items apart, wash and rinse thoroughly. Sterilize using a Philips AVENT Sterilizer or boil for 5 minutes. This is to ensure hygiene. Always use this product with adult supervision. Continuous and prolonged sucking of fluids will cause tooth decay. Always check food temperature before feeding. Keep all components not in use out of the reach of children. Before each use inspect all items. Throw away at the first signs of damage or weakness. DO NOT warm contents in a microwave oven as this may cause uneven heating and may scald your baby. Wash your ands thoroughly and ensure surfaces are clean before contact with sterilized components. DO NOT use abrasive cleaning agents or anti-bacterial cleaners. Excessive concentrations of detergents may eventually cause plastic components to crack. Should this occur, replace immediately. Dishwasher safe. Food colorings may discolor components. For hygiene reasons, we recommend replacing spouts after 3 months. DO NOT allow child to play with small parts or walk/run while using bottles or cups. Drinks other than milk or water are not recommended. Magic Spouts are not suitable for hot, carbonated, or pulpy drinks. DO NOT use cups with spouts to mix infant formula as this may clog the non-spill valve and cause components to leak. Always ensure the valve is properly assembled. Magic Cups should only be used as an aid to help children progress to using ordinary cups.

There. Cross-eyed yet? Count your blessings. My WARNING!! label was a quarter that size. And my eyes, they are not so good with the fine print any more, even worse at the flipping back and forth between tiny print and large. (“Your next glasses,” the optometrist intoned at my last visit, “will be bifocals.”)

Where does one begin with such a wealth of information?

Should one be insulted that they suspect you don’t know that you should be washing your child’s drinking gear? Or perhaps I one will feel more like a living-on-the-edge rebel, because, though one cleans them daily, one only dismantles those damned things once a week? Should one diligently seek ways to carve out an extra twenty minutes a day for “Sippy Cup Inspection and Maintenance”?

Wash them? Don’t put lumpy goo in them? Throw them out when they’re broken? No carbonated drinks? (Carbonated drinks? As in pop? Helloooo… these are sippy cups. For toddlers.) How stupid do they think we are?

Silly question. They think we’re idiots.

Either that, or these are very, very dangerous sippy cups. And if so…

You’re planning on giving this thing to your toddler? Seriously? Put the sippy cup down, ma’am, and back away from the shelf. Please leave the store quietly, sir.

Oh, and before you leave, hand over the child. You’re obviously too stupid to be in charge of one.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | food, health and safety, Mischief, random and odd | , , , , | 7 Comments

A day off!

Just Nissa today!

Hey now. You count your days off your way, I’ll count’em mine. Caring for a single 17-month-old is a day off in my world.

Particularly since she’s still recovering from two weeks away. She arrived and within minutes was whinging. Sunny Nissa does not whinge. So, within 15 minutes of arrival, she was down for a morning nap.

It’s almost ten in the morning, and, apart from 20 minutes with Nissa, I have…

– had a cup of tea and perused my email.
– swept and damp-mopped the downstairs
– chatted with husband and daughter as we all trundled around in the kitchen
– made a batch of banana walnut muffins
– sorted two kitchen drawers
– made a pot of vegetable soup stock
– had another cup of tea and read a couple of chapters in my current book


Plans for the day:
Take in the beeeeyoutiful day out there with a walk to the bank, with a couple of side trips into a kitchen supply store (towels) and the flower shop,for fresh flowers. Nice, huh?

I like to have fresh flowers in a vase in my front hall. So pretty and welcoming. Cut flowers only. I do not like potted plants. I only kill them. Withered, yellow and/or blackened plants, gasping out their life in my front hall is neither pretty nor welcoming — and the GUILT? If you hate me, buy me a potted plant, knowing that I will agonize as it dies of my loving care, knowing that I will not just be able to toss the damned thing, but that my guilt-ridden agonizing will go on for as long as it takes to die deader than dead. I am a hapless plant-murderer, and oh, the responsibility of that curse! So. Cut flowers, please. I like my decorative foliage pre-dead, thanks.

Domestic diva-ness, a stroll in the mellow autumn sunshine, a few errands, pretty flowers, and probably a half-hour in a coffee shop, followed by some more reading-and-tea time when the tot has her afternoon nap.

Sounds like a day off to me!

September 11, 2009 Posted by | holidays | 3 Comments

Practically perfect in every way

trophy(No, not me.)

“Mary, Nissa’s crying.”

I stand at the foot of the stairs, listening. Nothing.

“I don’t think so, Emily. I don’t hear anything.”

“Well, I can hear her.”

Pause. I listen for another full minute. “No, hon, I don’t think she’s crying.” I’m being polite here. I’m certain she’s not. My vision has been iffy since fourth grade, my memory is fading fast, but I have — and have always had — excellent hearing. There is not a peep from upstairs. The kid is NOT crying. She’s not even rolling over in her sleep.

Not.A.Peep. I say as much.

Emily is unmoved. “Well, I can hear her. I have very good ears.”

“Yes, Emily. I’m sure you do. You are astounding in every way.”

Please note: I am not sneering here. This is not crude sarcasm, intended to confuse and humiliate poor Emily. It is merely irony. Ham-fisted irony, I admit, no neat subtlety or nuance, but irony, and intended entirely for my own amusement.

Amusement which is increased a hundredfold when Emily takes me totally at face value. She nods sagely.

“Yes, I willy am.”

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Emily, individuality, Mischief | | 1 Comment

Second time, same as the first

Four thousandth time, same as the first…

Yesterday was a Monday. It was Tuesday, I know, but it was “a Monday” nonetheless, the day when the tots return to daycare after a weekend at home, a weekend full of activity, adventure, different routines. A weekend full of family time and fun.

A weekend full of everything… except naps.

In this case, it was the first day back after two weeks off. I expected tired children. I expected fragile children. I expected grumpy children. And hoo, boy, did I get it. The whining! The tears! The negativity!

But that’s okay, because I have long since won the Battle of Sleep with these kids. When they get like that, I put them to bed. And they sleep. And they sleep and they sleep.

And when they wake up? They have transmogified from whiny, irritable, tear-streaked critters back into their usual chipper little selves.


In a way, I don’t really mind Mondays. Who’s going to argue with extended naptimes?

The problem is not with the children.

“How was his day?” Noah’s mommy is so sweet. She’s got such a nice way with her boy, she’s delightful with me, and she’s just so gosh-darn cute. I really like Noah’s mom.

“He started out pretty cranky, but then he had a mega nap, and he was fine.”

She is astonished to discover that he doubled his usual 1.5 – 2 hour nap into a three-hour sleepathon. The boy was TIIIIIRED. He had serious catching up to do.

The next day…

“Would you please wake Noah up after two hours today?”

“Did he have trouble falling asleep last night?” Though I’d been careful to wake him a little earlier than normal, it’s possible he slept late enough into the afternoon to mess up his evening.

“Oh, no. He was sleepy after dinner and just fell into bed at pretty much his usual time. It’s just that he woke up this morning at five.”

I have this conversation, or some variant of it, with soooo many clients. The request that I limit or eliminate the child’s naps so as to encourage sleep at home.

If it comes from a parent who has nurtured and maintained good sleeping patterns in their child, I am open and co-operative. If it comes from a parent who has never been able to help their child develop healthy sleep patterns, I am not.

Besides? Early waking because of a long nap the day before? It doesn’t work that way. If he got too much daytime sleep, he’d have had trouble falling asleep at bedtime. He didn’t. He “fell into bed”, and did it at the usual time. A pre-dawn waking is a normal night waking turned into a wake-up call. (Everyone wakes in the night, several times. Mostly we just roll over and go back to sleep. Often we don’t even know we’ve woken — but we all do.) Since he normally wakes at about 5:45 anyway, his sleep is likely getting quite light at that point in the night. He needs to learn to roll over, or at least to play quietly in his bed.

What he does not need is to lose his nap, to pile sleep-deprivation upon sleep-deprivation.

Now, in fairness, she wasn’t asking me to skip his nap, only to ensure it isn’t a protracted one. I can certainly assure her of that… because I can pretty much guarantee today’s nap won’t be protracted. He’ll wake up on his own, at his usual time.

He did his catching-up yesterday. As he does every Monday.

But maybe I won’t tell her that…

September 9, 2009 Posted by | daycare, sleep | , , , | 11 Comments

Happy September!

welcome-back-chalkboard-sign400Ah, isn’t it nice, after two wonderful weeks spent relaxing, catching up, getting ahead, travelling, visiting, hanging out, having festive drinks on sunny patios… isn’t it nice to be back into the usual routines?

Meh. I don’t think so, either.

However, I am looking forward to seeing the little critters back again this morning.

Will Nissa be as much a lunatic as before?
Will Tank still be clambering up onto dining room tables?
Will Noah be talking in full sentences? (He was up to three to five words when he left.)
How will Emily and William make the adjustment to junior kindergarten, and half-day care?

I’ve moved all tissue boxes up from Nissa-level end tables. I’ve put the high chairs back at the dining table and returned the bins of blocks to the kitchen. This morning’s snack is ready in the fridge, our outing planned, and a back-up craft activity prepared should those clouds turn into actual rain.

I’m good to go. All I need now are the tots.

Ah. Maybe it is good to be back.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | daycare | 6 Comments