“I’m a little smelly skunk. Sleeping under someone’s dump.”
…are Rule People. I know I’ve talked about that before. And because they are Rule People, they very readily become that second-worst bane of my existence, Tattlers. (The first? Whiners. Hate whining. Hate it, hate it, hate it.)
And when tattling is combined with whining — “Maaaaaaaryyyyy, she won’t shaaay-yerrrrr” — my left eye starts twitching as I contemplate running away to Tahiti. Again.
All of which could make one think that I don’t like four-year-olds. Not true!
Four-year-olds, along with being Rule People, are very often Organizers. Emily has always been an organizer, and Emily is now four.
She is not much of a tattler, either, in part because I squelch it pretty effectively, but mostly because she just dons her big-sister-organizer hat, and sorts them right out herself.
“Tyler, you know you have to share the toys. You can have it for two more minutes, and then it will be my turn, okay?”
It usually works. And when it doesn’t, she approaches me for assistence, radiating competence and the attitude that we’re both in this together. She’s not tattling, she is information-sharing. Really information-sharing.
“Mary, Tyler is not sharing, again. (Here she rolls her eyes and heaves a “can’t-they-be-exasperating?” sigh.) I gave him two minutes, but he’s decided to keep it still. Would you tell him he needs to give it to me, please?”
And during those times when Mary has decided it’s time for a tea-break on the couch and “no I won’t help you with that, I’m having my tea now”, Emily steps into the breach.
She organizes circle times. They sing “Old MacDonald” — because, with Noah in this house NO circle time is complete without four or seven verses of Old MacDonald, and Emily knows this and indulges him. They sing “The Wheels on the Bus” — Tyler’s favourite. They sing “The More We Get Together” — Nissa’s choice.
She organizes games. “We’ll do Ring Around a Rosey. You hold Nissa’s hand, Tyler. Nissa, you have to let him hold your hand. We’re going to play Ring Around a Rosey. GOOD girl!”
If you just want to drown in cute, it’s four toddlers playing Ring Around a Rosey, completely unfettered by adult intervention. My tea-breaks last a lot longer when Emily is in charge, because it’s just so damned adorable. Lordy.
Lots of little girls take on the role of mini-mum. At my place, Emily is a mini-Mary.
Only she’s way cuter.
Just NOT. Who makes up these ridiculous, disgusting things for mothers to do? As if there isn’t enough of an unavoidable ew-factor to parenting, we have to make stuff up???
You’re not seriously suggesting, Charmin, that I inspect my toddler’s anus for toilet paper leftovers? Because, you know, my child does not have a cute, furry butt, and the leftovers would not be speckled here and there, all white and puffy-dry. And they certainly couldn’t be removed with a whisk and dust-pan. No, what I’d be faced with — assuming I were demented enough to go searching for it (talk about buying trouble) — would be much, much less appealing. Much.
But somewhere, you know there are mothers buying into this notion… if not enough to actually do such a disgusting thing, then enough to feel guilty that they don’t.
This one threw me, but I know there are more. I recall the daycare parent at a centre I once worked in who expected the staff to pick her son’s nose for him, presumably because she did it herself. Have you run across any other gross and/or ridiculour expectations of mothers?
“Noah. Leave your penis alone. You don’t touch it in the living room. Your penis is private. You can touch it in your bed, or in the bathroom, but not in rooms with other people. Understand?”
Noah removes his hands from his boy bits and sits up.
“Okay. We sing Old MacDonald now?”
From masturbation to Old MacDonald in less than a breath. It’s a funny old world I work in, but I like it.
… signifying nothing.
Monday: Dad comes in, looking a bit harried. “I’m 45 minutes behind where I should be, but it took us that long to get out the door. First she had to have a story, and then we had to sing some songs, and then we couldn’t find her pink boots, only the grey ones. It took forty-five minutes before everything was just right, so we could leave!”
Tuesday: Dad hands me a box of Cheerios. “Do you mind feeding her some breakfast? She wouldn’t sit down to eat, so I had to chase her with the spoon, and I think most of it ended up on the floor.”
Wednesday: Dad to daughter. “We learned something new today, didn’t we, sweetie? We learned how to sit in a Big People seatbelt!” He turns to me. “She wouldn’t get into her carseat, so we compromised with a seatbelt.”
Thursday: “I’m late! She insisted on pushing the stroller instead of riding in it, and now I have a client waiting in my office for me right now.”
Friday: Child comes wearing a jacket inappropriate to the weather. “She refused to wear her snow-suit, so we had to settle for this. I figure if you can get these tights on her under her jeans…?”
The door closes on dad. Emma looks at me, her eyes wide with disbelief.
“How old is she?”
“Not quite two.”
“And she weighs, what, twenty pounds?”
“Something like that.”
“And he can’t win an argument with her? What’s she going to be like when she’s fourteen? Geez. Come on, guy, she comes up to your knee. You can take her.”
She’s right, of course. When your opponent’s primary weapon is neither reason nor strength, but merely a loud shriek… okay, a really, really, really loud shriek… it’s just noise, guy. Noise. There are some battles you just don’t need to lose against… noise.
“I think we’re both agreed that she’s quite bright.” The mother is leaning toward me, a confident smile on her face.
In fact, we agree on no such thing. I don’t think she’s stupid, but I’m not convinced she’s particularly bright. She has her strengths: her fine motor control is astonishing in a child her age, and her unquashable good humour is an inarguable strength.
But bright? Maybe. It’s young to know for sure, but if I were asked for an opinion — which I was not — I’d say she was average.
But you can’t say that to parents. Other people, unfortunates that they are, might be burdened with average children, but mine? Mine is exceptional!
You ask a hundred parents if their child is below average, average or above average, and I’m betting that 90 of them would say they had above-average kids. To say anything else, is, well, it’s insulting to the child!
Here’s news for you: that’s impossible. If everyone were exceptional … pause for a second to absorb that reality … ‘exceptional’ would be, by definition, ‘average’.
So, this lovely little girl is probably average. Most of us are. If we’re fortunate, we have areas of particular strength or ability that is possibly better/more than average, but, taken as a package, we’re average.
And you know what? That’s okay. You capitalize on your strengths, you work to ameliorate/minimize your weaknesses, and you become the best you can be.
Not everyone can be exceptional. But everyone, barring some unfortunate extremes, can be kind, considerate, polite. Everyone can do their best, can give and take, can contribute to their environment, their family, their society in some positive way.
And that? That is good enough.
I’m not sure why this memory sprang to mind today. It could be that I’m diligently tallying receipts for my accountant’s worksheet this week. It could be the lesson I gave Emma in how to record any cheques written. It was certainly the My Life is Average post she read out loud to me this afternoon.
Some years back, I had in the crew a very energetic, cheerful, hockey-obsessed little boy. Even before these two (remember George and Darcy?) and their hockey obsession, there was Liam and his. Liam came equipped with a father, an energetic, cheerful, hockey-playing dad. Both of them, father and son, shared an impish grin and a lively sense of humour.
We were about seven months into our second year of our association when I, for reasons I cannot recall… heck, there probably was no reason; it was probably totally random… about seven months into our second year as a team, I looked, really looked, at that month’s post-dated cheque. (All parents, upon signing the contract, provide me with a year’s supply of monthly post-dated cheques.)
At the bottom left of the cheque. On that line where you write what it’s for? The line that most parents ignore, but, which if they use at all, they write “Childcare”?
HA! Not “childcare”, not “daycare”, nor even the less-pleasing “babysitting”.
No. At the bottom of that cheque, as had been at the bottom of every cheque that year, it said…
“for sexual favours”.
It’s hard to kill someone when you’re falling over laughing, but I gave it a damned fine effort.
And yes, we’re still friends.
We’ve had a new baby around here for a month or so, but I thought I’d wait till she’d settled in to bring her into the blog. I also needed a name, and Emma thought of a brilliant one.
The new baby is a chipper little dumpling of a thing — we call them “Buddha babies” around here — with dark, dark brown hair, brown-almost-black eyes, pale skin and a shriek of joy that can shatter glass. And eardrums.
She’s a crawler just yet, but is pulling up on the furniture… when her hands aren’t busy stuffing things into those apple cheeks. She’s quite adorable.
Her name is Lily.
… and he has one at his house.
“Let’s get your socks on, Nissa.”
“I have socks at my house!”
Understand that the tone here is not competitive or edgy. Noah is just informing us … of the wonderfulness that is his home.
“Who would like to play playdough?”
“I have playdough at my house!”
“One orange for each of you.”
“I have oranges at my house!”
“Shall we go for a ride on the toboggan?”
“I have a toboggan at my house!”
Emma, sixteen, swooshes Noah up onto her hip and plants a kiss on his head. “Noah, I think your house must be a grocery store, a toy store, and an amusment park, all wrapped up together.”
“Yes. I got that at my house, too!”