It’s Not All Mary Poppins

And then there’s Tyler

Emily, as you know, is little miss sweet and biddable. She takes her mistakes and misbehaviours to heart, rarely requiring anything more significant than a firm look and a sentence of correction. She does have a tendency to correct in an annoyingly nit-picky way, mind you, but apart from that, she’s pretty much perfect.


And then there’s Tyler. Emily’s younger brother. Tyler is coming up on three now, blond and blue-eyed to Emily’s chocolate eyes and hair. While Emily does have a sense of humour, she leans to the earnest. Tyler is … irreverent. Though hindered by his innate reserve, if he can overcome his shyness, Tyler has tremendous potential to be a very successful class clown. Not the annoying kind a teacher would happily drop-kick out a second-floor window, but the one who gets his classmates giggling … and gets away with it, because he keeps respect, cleverness, and naughtiness in such charming balance.

Earlier in the day, Tyler had asked to play with a certain assortment of toys. I had given him the go-ahead, but had warned him that taking several toys from each of half-a-dozen different spots would be troublesome to put away when the time came to tidy. He understood that; it was okay; he would put them ALL away. We went over this a couple of times. I was confident he understood.

And now it’s the end of a day, time to tidy the house before we go outside to play for the final hour before parents arrive. I delegate the tasks.

“Emily, which toys will you put away?”
“I’ll do the books.”
“Great. Thank you. Noah, you can put the cars into the green bin.”
“And Tyler, you will have to take the toys you put into the blue bin, and put them back where they belong.”

“Tyler. You remember when you asked to play with all those toys, I said it was fine so long as you put them all away. Well, it’s time now. Take this bin and put the toys back where they belong, please.”
“Okay.” He’s less than thrilled, but he heads to the toy shelves.
The babies and I put a few oddments away, and then I give the table a wipe. As I round the corner, my toe hits an obstruction. It is Tyler’s blue bin, with about 3/4 of the toys still in it. And Tyler is… sitting on the floor by the front door.
“Tyler. You are not finished. Come here and put these toys away, please.” Now, as we have learned, this would be sufficient to have Emily wilting in horror and chagrin. However, this is Tyler, not Emily. He has been caught, but horror? Chagrin? Not so much. He gazes at the box on the floor.
“THAT is not where they go!” He grins. “Silly me!”
“Indeed. Put them away, silly boy.”
He takes the bin, and once again heads to the toy shelves. I watch while he puts a few items in their proper spots. Tyler looks up at me and smiles as he continues with his task. Seems I can safely go help the others with their shoes. I hear a few more toys clatter into their bins, and after another couple of minutes, Tyler joins us.

Shoes and hats on, sunscreen re-applied, I sit the children down in the front hall and take a quick walk-through of the house. I’m looking for stray bottles, artwork, articles of clothing — thinks that need to go home and so should be outside with us. I am not checking up on their tidying. I know they all finished their tasks, even (eventually) Tyler.

Which is why I didn’t notice this the first time I peeked into the kitchen:

“Tyler! Tyler, you come here right now.”
He walks over, a little reluctant, but not unduly worried. (Emily? Emily would be… oh, what am I saying? Emily would never, not in a million, gazillion years, even think of pulling this one. Wouldn’t even cross her mind. But this, as I’ve said once or thrice before, THIS is Tyler…)
“Tyler, I told you two times to put those away. That is not ‘away’.”
He looks and nods in solemn agreement. “No. They not away.”
“I think you need to put them away right now, and I am going to watch you until you are done.”
He nods again. “Yes. I am not bad boy, but today I am lazy boy.” He gives me his classic, full-voltage big-dimple smile, thick blond bangs falling into enormous twinkling blue eyes. Modesty, self-deprecation, and charm. Oh, he’s good, this boy. But I’m better. I do not smile back, but reply calmly.

“Today, you were lazy. You were also sneaky. You tried to hide them and trick me. Now the other children all have to wait two minutes for you to finish. They would rather be outside playing. When we go outside, the other children will go and play, but you will sit on the step for two minutes.”
“And then I not be lazy any more.”
“I hope not. Or sneaky any more.”
“I try not, Mary.” And as we go outside, he holds my hand and beams.

Nope, he’s not his sister…

June 7, 2010 Posted by | individuality, Mischief, Tyler | 3 Comments