It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I was wrong

Ha! Not very often you see me say that. At least, not about toddlers. You might even want to write it on your calendars. In other areas of my life, I’m much more self-deprecating… but you guys don’t see those bits. Here on the blog, I am a bastion of self-confidence. (Bet you just want to smack me some days, huh?)

But when it came to Noah and the potty, I was wrong. I was dubious that he was ready to train. His parents were ready, no doubt, cute little over-achievers that they are.

(They ARE! The cutest damned pair you’d ever want to see. She’s slim as a willow twig and has these enormous gray eyes, and a confident yet soft-spoken demeanor. He matches her body type in a masculine way, and he’s got the greatest grin, which generally accompanies the most engagiing laugh. And together? They’re adorable. I love this couple to bits. Every time I see them I fight the urge to squeeze their cheeks and coo “You’re just so cuuuute!” Much as I do to their son, except with him I don’t fight it. Seems I am now of an age now where I’m beginning to get maternal about the parents, at least the younger ones…)

But anyway. They said Noah was ready. I was dubious. He may have been ready physically, but I didn’t think he was there mentally at all. I’d seen no signs of that whatsoever. No talking about his functions, nor even any particular awareness of it happening, no complaining when he was wet or soiled — though if you asked him if he had a poo in the diaper, he generally knew — no response when I brought out the potty. Oddly enough, there’d been a glimmer of readiness some months prior, but since then, nothing. Nothing. So me, I thought the impetus was entirely theirs. This was mom and dad’s idea, mom and dad’s energy was driving this thing.

And when that’s the case? It can go bad in a big way. Power struggles that go on for months. Constant accidents. Children who hide in closets to have their poo. Crying, screaming, tantrums, stomping of feet and tearing of hair. Sometimes the child does that, too.

But not with Noah.

Now, I still may have been right that the energy for this project originated with mom and dad, not Noah, but they lucked out. Not only is Noah a smart little guy, but he’s also gentle and cooperative. He was a bit bemused at first, but he never got contrary, never dug in his wee heels. And he TOTALLY bought into the whole Smarties schtick!

So, no Big Bad Ugly.

He just… learned to use the potty. In two weeks. (Which is how long it takes, if they’re ready. Maybe three.)

He still needs a diaper for sleeping, but during the day he’s clean and dry, with very few accidents (two in a month) — and no more Smarties, even.

So, there you have it. Once in a while, Mary calls it wrong.

But not very damned often.


November 30, 2009 Posted by | Noah, parents, potty tales | , , | 6 Comments


A living, breathing one:

William runs the loop — living room, dining room, hallway —
over and over and over again,
small feet pounding, pounding, pounding on the floor,
and as he runs
round and round and round and round and round and round and round,
he is calling out,
over and over again…

I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!”
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!
I’m out of power!

I wish.

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

My frugal heart

I bought these for the older kids. An excellent activity for those who no longer need naps, but who are NOT allowed to disturb Mary during that precious afternoon quiet time.

The problem is, they’re a use-once, throw-away sort of book. It’s not the expense of this that bothers me most — though that does bother me! It’s the WASTE. Hate that. I am an eco-friendly sort primarily because I loathe waste. Buy an entire book so that your kid can roar through it in half an hour and toss it? I think not.

Besides, in your average family, you have toddlers around for what? Four or five years, depending on the number of children and their spacing? I have had toddlers around for twenty-two years now… I can’t conceive of the heap of paper I’d have tossed, buying individual books for that many children over that many years.


But these are useful books, Educational, even. Parents love to see them scattered about, and heck, they may even teach the children the odd skill.


You slice out each page with a craft knife, and then slip each one into a page-protector. (I’m not normally a big fan of those things, either, but in this case I’ll make an exception. In the balancing of relative evils, plastic, used once for a long time, trumps paper used once and tossed, to be replaced by more, and then more, and then more paper, all to be used once then tossed. Perhaps I’m deluding myself, but such is my reasoning.)

You put your page protectors into a small binder, and provide the child with a dry-erase marker and a tissue. (For dry-erasing.) You would be wise to peek in at said child once in a while, lest you be requiring cleansing doses of Purell after too long a period of suspiciously quiet play. (Though why should I be suspicious of quiet play when quiet play was precisely what they were instructed to do? One of the conundrums of my profession…)

Ta-dah! Hours of fun. Emily has completed the entire tracing book every single day for a week. When she tires of it, William will have a go. A few years back, Darcy and George loved these books to bits, and maybe next year it’ll be Tyler and Noah. These two books are now six years old. SIX YEARS OF CONSTANT USE from what was designed to be a throw-away book.

Aaahhh… Warms my frugal heart, it does.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | books, crafts | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments


Dry-erase maker can be removed from skin using:
– vinegar
– hand-sanitizer
– rubbing alcohol
– sunscreen
– denatured alcohol
– nail polish remover
– shaving cream
– facial cleansing pads
– toothpaste
– Tabasco sauce

Well, at least I won’t have to go shopping…

November 24, 2009 Posted by | crafts, Mischief, random and odd | , , , , | 6 Comments

Picky eaters don’t fade away…

they just grow up and get rude…

Remember how I advised you to deal with the pickiness now, before it becomes a life-long habit?

It seems that, along with those words of wisdom, I should also address the issue of older children who believe that everyone should cater to their dietary whims as mommy does. Because those older children become teens who become adults — who still hold to this ridiculous notion. You are not just creating picky eaters, you are creating Dinner Guests from Hell.

Follow that link! The article is acerbic, fun, and her conclusion — I expect you to eat what you can, ignore the rest and not make trouble — absolutely bang on. If all those picky adults’ parents had followed her advice (and mine!) years ago, we none of us would be facing these dilemmas today.

Won’t eat dark meat… good lord.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

By the numbers

How old was your mom when she had you?

How many siblings do you have?

How many people live in your household?

What is your zip code?
Don’t have one

What year was your first car made?
Never owned a car

What year is your current vehicle?
Still don’t own one (but yes, I can drive)

How many piercings do you have?

How many tattoos do you have?

How many creamers do you take in your coffee?

What time did you wake up this morning?

What is the latest you’ve stayed up this week?
9:48 (See wake time, above. My 10 pm is your midnight…)

How old were you when the Challenger blew up?

What year did you graduate high school?

How old were you, or do you want to be when you get married?
First time: 21 (TOO YOUNG); Second time: 46 (Perfect!)

How old were you, or do you want to be when you have kids?
24 – 32

How many kids do you have/do you want?
3 (All I have, exactly the right number!)

How many pieces of jewelry are you wearing right now?

How many different houses have you lived in?
More than 15. (Am now settled, thanks.)

What is your average electric bill?

What is your lucky number?

How many windows are in the room you’re in?

How many TV’s are in your house?

How many boyfriend/girlfriends have you had?
No idea. I’ve dated lots (I loved being single), but does going out half-a-dozen times make you boyfriend/girlfriend? I don’t think so, necessarily.

What time do you get out of work/school?

November 21, 2009 Posted by | memes and quizzes | 1 Comment

They do it, too

While it is now a proven fact that small children can and do cause grevious bodily harm to their loving parents, it is also true that they do it to each other.

Even when they love each other dearly.

From the mouth of sweet Emily, who does truly love her little brother Tyler:

“I love Tyler. Sometimes we walk and hug at ther same time, and fall quite down.”

I tell you, I could just squeeze that child to bits.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Emily, the cuteness!, Tyler | , | 2 Comments

Isn’t there an insurance for this?

My son Adam is six feet tall, slim, dark, handsome. He lives on his own now, and by all accounts (apart from tendon-revealing incidents with a katana), managing well. He cooks, he cleans (so he says), he goes to school, he pays his bills. He even walks.

It was not always so. Once, many years ago, wee Adam, then 15 months old and only just walking, decided he would walk to Mummy. Mummy, after all, looooooved it when baby Adam walked to her! So off he sets.

Unfortunately, Mummy was sitting on the couch at the time. The couch, baby Adam soon discovered, was not nearly as firm and supportive a walking surface as the floor. He teetered and he staggered a few wobbly steps, before tumbling forward, his short arms reaching towards their goal — Mummy.

His short arms, tipped by pudgy fingers. His fingers which, though pudgy, managed to slip RIGHT UP MUMMY’S NOSE. One small finger in each nostril. The boy was aiming for brain, and, Ye GODS, it hurt. The tears, they streamed down Mummy’s face… which was a little confusing since Mummy was also laughing.

Some things are just too ridiculous to be taken seriously, you know? Even when they hurt.

It could have been worse, though. A woman I know had a lively two-year-old who broke her nose. Yup. She was reading a bedtime story to him, and so great was his delight at a particuarly gripping bit of Bob the Builder that he flung himself backward against his mother’s body — the back of his rock-hard head making bone-breaking contact with her nose.


This sort of thing, perhaps not as drastically, happens every day. Becky’s son unwittingly inspired this post by recently plugging his mother with a hot wheels car, right in the face. Those things are hard.


I note that all my stories are of boys. I’m SURE there are equally lethal little girls out there. Hey… Let’s hear them! Have you been injured by your loving offspring, male or female? Any tales from the front you care to share?

Come out, wounded parents, and tell me your stories!

November 18, 2009 Posted by | health and safety, my kids, random and odd | , | 22 Comments

language is slippery

“I’m not as old as I used to be,” Nigel announces.

(Nigel, for those of you new to Mary’s place, is an alumnus. He headed off to Big Kid School a while back, but visits on PD days.) “I used to be four and a half, and now I’m four and three quarters.”

(Does he know the difference between one-half and three-quarters, I wonder? Does he even kinow what a half and quarter are? I doubt it, but he does know that three-quarters is more than one-half. Whatever they are. It’ll do for now!)

“I’m not as old as I used to be.”

He means, of course, that he’s not the same age as he used to be. He’s not somehow getting younger — show me how you do that, Nigel! — he’s gotten older. It’s a subtle distinction in vocabulary, but a world of distinction in meaning. A lot of language is like that.

Fascinating to watch them catch the nuances, and really, quite astonishing what we manage to figure out as young as we all do.

Slippery, and fascinating.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Nigel | , , | 4 Comments

All pooped out

smartiesLittle Noah is totally potty trained, and the thing that tipped the scales for us was not the infamous pee-bottle, but Smarties.

Yup. Good old chocolate-y motivator in a candy-coated package. Noah was told he would get one for a pee, and two for a poo. Suddenly, using the potty was very, very interesting!!

After a week of success, Noah was told that he would only get Smarties for poops. No more Smarties for pees.

He took it well, really. Because really, this would cut his Smartie intake by about 90%. A toddler with the will to pee can drink a LOT of water, and make many, many, many pees in day. But poo? Well, there’s only so much a body can poo.

Or so you’d think.

“I haffa poo, Mary!”
“Away you go to the potty, then.”

And yes, there in the bowl is a decent little arc.

“Good man!”
“I get Smarties now?”
“Yes, you do.”
“Not when a pee?”
“No, no Smarties for a pee. Just for poo.”
“Tank you.”

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“You do? You already did one this morning, but if you have to go, away you go.”

There is substantially more wait time and effort for this one, but, after a minute or so, there in the potty lies another reeking rainbow. Smaller than the last one of only an hour before, but definitely a poo. Wonder what he had for dinner last night?

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“Again? Are you sure?”
“Uh-huh. I got to poo.”
“All right, little man. Do your best.”

He sits. And he waits. And he sits. His face is an intensity of concentration, stern and fixed. He waits some more…

“Mary! I did a poo!”
THIS I have to see.

And there, in the bowl… a smidge, a dot, an iota of shit.

He has managed to squeeze out, by sheerest force of toddler will, the requisite excrement.

Smarties are one helluva motivator, I tell you.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Noah, potty tales | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments