It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Why not?

The tots are devouring their lunch. With four or five toddlers around the table, it’s a pretty common occurance that one person is not enamoured of the day’s culinary offering.

Noah, Gronk, Nissa and Emily love, love, love lentils. Tyler eats them stoically, but it’s plain they’re not a huge hit.

Emily, Gronk and Tyler are great with spicy things. The others, not so much.

Nissa, Tyler, Gronk and Emily adore green beans. Noah chews and chews and chews and chews and chews, hoping, I figure, that they will eventually magically dissolve without his actually having to swallow them. My suggestion that if he doesn’t like the taste of something, the trick is to swallow it quickly and get rid of it falls on deaf ears. Eventually he builds up enough saliva in there that it’s swallow or drown — spitting it out is NOT an option at Mary’s table — and it goes down.

I don’t often feed him beans…

William? He’s like Mikey on that old commercial. He hates everything. William has a weird relationship with food, though it is, in fact, making significant improvements lately.


Today, I’ve hit the jackpot. Four tots around the table, and they ALL (even William!!!) love the asparagus-feta canneloni they’ve been served. The helpings are going down with unfettered enthusiasm, and seconds have been requested all round the table — even by William! (Seconds for William is by way of a breakthrough. I take huge satisfaction in this, and, increasing my professional pleasure, so does William. He is beginning to see himself as a “good eater”. As I say, a breakthrough.)

They’re eating and chattering — and then, suddenly, they’re not. Each child is frozen in place.

“Do you hear that??” William demands, his posture alert, his eyes wide. Of course, this being William, it sounds more like “Goo you ee-yah gak?”, but, as I’ve said before, I’m getting better at interpreting William-speak.

“Oh! Oh! It’s the garbage truck!!” Noah practically vibrates in excitement.

“Wanna see! Wan’see gahbidge fuk!” Showing remarkable self-restraint, Nissa does NOT launch herself from the table. Instead, all eyes turn to me.

“Can we? Can we go?” Three sets of pleading eyes rivet themselves on me. (The fourth set, Gronk’s, are steadfastly focussed on his food. Garbage truck? Doesn’t even register when there’s food in view. A study in dietary contrasts are William and his brother.)

You know, lately I’ve been a little crochety. “No” has come to my lips far more readily than “yes”. I’ve been all about order and predictability and rules and standards and, here I confess my failings, “don’t bug me”. Maybe it’s not crochety so much as inert, but still… it results ina lot of ‘no’s’. It would be easy to say “No, we’re eating,” because The Rule is that you don’t leave the table as long as you want more. It would be easy to say ‘no’ because their request is an impulsive thing, and I’ve been sort of stuck-in-the-muddish lately, woefully anti-spontaneity. It would be easy to say ‘no’ because … that’s what I’ve been doing lately.

But suddenly — hooray for the return of the normal me — I thought, “but why not”? And really. Whyever not? So they go to the window for a minute or two before finishing their meal. This is a bad thing?

Do you not sometimes just look at yourself and wonder why you do what you do? Why have I been full of ‘no, no, no’ lately? Why resist the happy impulse to celebrate? What gain is there to me in refusing such an easy request? I give myself a mental shake and grin at their hopeful wee faces.



Three children thud off the benches and hit the ground running. Three eager bodies crowd into the living room window.

“There’s the garbage truck!”
“No, it’s the blue-box truck!”
“Oh, blue-box! YAY!”

The guys in the blue-box truck see their bouncing audience and give a cheery wave.

“The garbage guys WAVED at us!!!!!” William is in four-year-old boy heaven. Who needs celebrities when you have garbage guys? Heck, in the four-year-old universe, garbage guys ARE celebrities. And they WAVED at him!!!! Awash in wonder, he can scarcely take it in.

“Well, wave back, then!” I nod encouragement.

Six little hands (two each) flail in the air. “Hi, gargage mens! Hi, garbage guys! Hi, hi, hi!!!”

It’s less than a minute later before the truck roars off to the next house. Peace descends.

I grin, again. That was fun. Really. They’re just so cute, and they’re so enthusiastic, and now, they’re just so happy. And all I had to do was say ‘yes’ to allow for two solid minutes of purest joy.

“Okay, guys. You ready to finish your lunch now?”

Satiated with excitement, a much calmer group trots back to the table to readdress the canneloni and corn.

“Hey, Mary. Can we go see when the garbage truck comes, too?”

My response is immediate. “Sure. Why not?”

December 17, 2009 - Posted by | Ottawa, our adoring public, the cuteness! | , ,


  1. I hate it when I get stuck in a “no.” At the moment, though, we’re a bit stuck in two year old naughty hell. Which always seems like there’s no way out, but we’ve always come out the other side. So I’m sure we will this time. This one’s made of different, harsher stuff than her brother though.

    Sorry. Went off on my own little thing there. What I wanted to say was lovely post. You are right. x

    Comment by Mwa | December 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. Maybe I’ll let mine pig out on raw cookie dough this afternoon. Why not? I always say no.

    And William’s reference to the “gahbidge fuk” was tactful. I too had a child who called them “fuks”.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | December 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. I struggle with this lessons regularly. Thankfully, Hubby knows how to give me “the look” so I remember to say yes. Latest “no/yes” struggle? Can Boy Terror wear his Santa hat in the house. The rule is, no hats in the house. But one look from Hubby, and I remember….a Santa hat in the house is not going to kill me. And when else is the little elf supposed to wear it?!

    Comment by Tammy | December 17, 2009 | Reply

  4. Cute and true. I’ll have to remember that as I’ve been “no”-ing a lot lately, too. Now, to just tell myself “no” to more computer time & get back to the Xmas stuff awaiting my attention…

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | December 17, 2009 | Reply

  5. A lesson we could all use a reminder of. Isn’t it wonderful when they are so excited that they are wiggling and vibrating about it. I realize that there must be no’s and that routine and rules are important. I think that makes the yes’s feel that much better. 🙂

    Comment by Dani | December 17, 2009 | Reply

  6. When I gave up running a day care centre in my home, I worked for a group of companies where I got to supervise & employ – wait for it – garbage truck drivers!! It’s true. I had wonderful conversations with the drivers about the adulation they received from children. Driving garbage trucks is often a very stressful job, but their fans always brightened their day. Yay for spontaneity!

    I don’t envy the drivers, particularly in winter. It must be a BRUTAL job. No wonder they enjoy their enthusiastic little fans!

    Comment by Maisy | December 18, 2009 | Reply

  7. Sounds like a delicious lunch to me too. Could I get a recipe? I think we all need the reminder once in a while that we should take the time to enjoy simple pleasures.

    Sorry, I have no recipe for this one. Our local grocery store makes them fresh. (There’s also an onsite bakery, of course, and a sushi bar! Aren’t we spoiled??)

    Comment by Odie | December 18, 2009 | Reply

  8. “spitting it out is NOT an option at Mary’s table”

    Do you mind if I ask how you enforce/teach this one? I mean, I’m guessing holding the little darlings in a headlock and shoving it down their throat is out, so… Is it just a matter of getting past the stubborns? Do you take spitting it out as a sign of “all done”? What?

    “…headlock and shoving it down…” Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind some days, but no, you’re right, not an option. When I see a child is considering it, they get a warning, said in stern tones, “No spitting.” Sometimes that’s enough, particularly with a child who understands that I (almost) never say things I don’t mean, and I (almost) always follow through on what I say.

    If the mouthful ends up dropped on the plate anyway, the child is immediately lifted from the table and plopped abruptly onto the Quiet Stair, where they remain, ignored, until mealtime is over — which is a much longer period than time-outs generally last. And no more food until the next scheduled snack or meal. It doesn’t usually take long before they realize it isn’t a viable option.

    Comment by Rini | December 18, 2009 | Reply

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