It’s Not All Mary Poppins

In which Mary callously shatters illusions

… but I didn’t know I was doing it. Honest!

“I can go outside and play on the cars?”

I am looking after a new child, just for the day. A friend of a neighbour’s child, someone I don’t know at all. He is three. Three, and, so he’s corrected me, “NOT a big boy. I am only three.” Odd, that. Usually by three, they’re eager to claim their Big status. Not that it matters. He certainly behaves like a Big Boy.

He has been eager to play with the cars since he saw them lined up in my drive. Four ride-on cars, one of those Flintstone-type deals, a Red Rocket tricycle, and a Skuut bike. What normal little boy — or girl, for that matter — could pass by all that and not want to try it out?

“Riding those bikes will be fun, but we can’t go right now.”


“Well, because Baby Lily is sleeping. We can’t go outside and leave her all by herself.”

“That’s okay, I can take care of myself!”

I suppose it’s rude to laugh out loud and directly contradict. Sadly, I can’t seem to shake the habit. He looks more puzzled than offended, however.

“Yes, I CAN!”

“Do you play outside by yourself at your house, sweetie?”

“YES.” He’s firm. He wants me to be Totally Clear on this point, and desist with my ridiculous constraints on his perfectly reasonable request. I’m quite willing to believe he does play in his own back yard sometimes. He’s three, he seems decently sensible, this is a quiet neighbourhood, and he has a baby sister. I’m betting there are times when mummy is quite willing to let Big Brother play outside for a few minutes. However, there are almost certainly a few differences which Big Brother has not taken into consideration.

“I bet your house has a back yard with a fence all around it, right?”

“Yes.” He sees where I’m going with this. “YOU have a fence.” So I do, but the the sandy surface of my back yard is unsuited to ride-on toys. The long drive where they ride leads directly onto out street. A quiet, pretty-much dead-end of a street, but a street nonetheless. And besides…

“And probably, there’s a big window so that mummy can see you when you play outside.”


“I don’t have a window. I can’t see you.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“You can for some things. But for going outside, a grown-up need to at least be able to see you. I can’t see you.”

He takes that in for a minute.

“When I play outside, my mummy is WATCHING me?”

“Yes. I’m sure she is.”

“But I can take care of MYSELF!” He’s not outraged, he’s not even indignant, he’s incredulous. All this time, when he was being so independent, he was UNDER SURVEILLANCE?

He wanders over to the window, stares out down the street.

“I can. I can take care of myself.”

His voice is wistful.

June 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 8 Comments