It’s Not All Mary Poppins

It’s called ‘crawking’

Or at least, that’s what I call it.

And really, my sweetest of sweet little Lilies, it would be SO MUCH EASIER if you just got yourself upright and walked, baby girl.

Really, it would.

Love you, kiddly-boop.

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Lily | , , , , | 7 Comments

Some things you just don’t want to hear

Floating down the stairs from the bathroom, a small boy’s voice…

“Mary? Mary, the toilet paper isn’t working.”

July 15, 2010 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety, potty tales | 5 Comments

Kiddie lyrics

A B C D, E F G, H I J K Elmo P…

July 14, 2010 Posted by | the things they say! | 2 Comments

It’s just for the day, it’s just for the day

A friend of a friend’s child is here for the day. He’s just turned four. A veteran of a small home daycare in his own city and a year of pre-school, he is well accustomed to group care. There was a possibility that it might be for the rest of the week, but only today was confirmed. I do a certain amount of this during the summers, taking on kids for a day here and there between school and daycare, between gramma and grampa’s visit and the family summer vacation.

There was a possibility that it last more than just today. Until I spent a half-day with this child. So far this morning, we had this…

– Emily plays a game: she hits a hanging balloon with one she found on the floor. Visiting boy (VB) comes along, shoves her to one side, forcing her to watch while he plays the game she devised, and then tells me, “Emily is not letting me play.”

…just for the day, just for the day, just the one day…

– I reprimand VB for some small misbehaviour. He wanders away, scowling, over to where baby Lily is holding onto the chair. Holding on, that is, until he shoves her head violently back, causing her to topple to the floor.

…just for the day, just for the day, just the one day…

– I let VB decide which vegetable we will eat at lunch. He chooses carrots. Then refuses to eat them. When he is cheerfully told he can therefore leave the table, he demands the sandwich he sees the others eating. When it is cheerfully explained he must eat a carrot stick first, he glares at me, then picks up his milk and deliberately upends it.

…just for the day, just for the day, just the one day…

– After he has finished wiping up the milk, he quietly drops the wet cloth on my foot.

…just for the day, just for the day, just the one day…

– VB holds a toy out to Rory. When Rory reaches for it, VB pulls it away and grins. This happens twice, as Rory becomes more upset. When VB sees me heading in his direction, he says, quickly, “The baby is trying to steal my toy.”

…just for the day, just for the day, just the one day…

“I’m faster than you.
I can do that better than you.
My picture is nicer than yours.
My tower is taller.
You can’t do this, because you’re too little.
Fifteen? I can count to fifty!
I have TWO of those.
I’m stronger.
I’m smarter.”
(Yeah, maybe, but you’re not nicer…)

It’s a damned good thing I don’t have to like a child to do my job.

But it sure makes my work more fun.

July 13, 2010 Posted by | aggression, behavioural stuff, manners, Peeve me, the dark side | , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

I’m blaming the pool

“Noah. WHAT have you dropped down there?”

It’s not something I haven’t seen before. I recall Arthur, who made a steady hobby of sneaking small toys home — in his pocket, in the hood of his coat, in a mitten, and yes, down the front of his Y-fronts.

Noah glances down. If he’s trying to be subtle, he’s failed miserably. We’ve spent the morning in the pool again, he’s wearing nothing but a pair of damp tightie-whities, and that bulge is way too big to be…

“It’s my penis.”

It’s his grin, a sheepish combination of embarrassment and utter pride, that convinces me. There really is nothing down there but the boy.

Well, now. The water in the pool is cold, and his damp briefs have to be cool. In my experience — not vast, but not… meager, either — cold has the opposite effect on those things. His hand reaches down, and —

“Hey, sweetie. Snacktime!” Snack time is not for another half an hour, but what I want at the moment is a Distraction.

It works. Though his grin doesn’t quite disappear, his hand falls back to his side. When we’ve finished eating, the … toy is gone. Phew. Okay, not gone gone, but subsided.

Later that evening, Emma returns from babysitting Tyler and Emily. One of the perks of having a mother who runs a daycare is after-hours babysitting work for my kids. Each of them has had their turn. These days, it’s Emma. Who is, unsurprisingly, a kick-ass babysitter.

“How did it go?”

“Fine. They played for an hour, then we read for a bit. Their mum had supper ready, so all I had to do was heat it up, and after they had a bath before — Oh! Mum!” Her eyes widen and she grins. “So, they have their bath together, right? And Tyler has obviously been taught to clean his genitals. He stands up, gets his hands all soapy and starts rubbing. Then he tells me, ‘I have to clean my penis.’ And I say, ‘Yup, you need to clean all of you, don’t you?’ And then he rinses it off… and then he cleans it again, because, hey! He’s SUPPOSED to, right?? It’s not because it, you know, feels good or anything like that. And then he soaps up again, and he’s all set to wash it ANOTHER time, and I say, ‘Okay, buddy. I think it’s clean now. You can stop.’ ”

She giggles. “He’s probably got the cleanest penis of any two-year-old in the city right now.”

Yeah. It’s that damned pool. What else could it be?

July 12, 2010 Posted by | health and safety, Mischief, sex | , | 3 Comments

Of course they do!

On considering yesterday’s post, I realize my thoughts have clarified further. It was an email conversation with a friend, with the further addition of Jen’s comment that brought it all together for me.

Here’s what I think:

Of course they know.

Sorta. See, it depends on who you mean by “they”. In my first post, I was conflating two sets of people. But that’s a misapprehension, and when you realize there are two distinct “they’s”, all becomes clear.

Somewhere there is a room filled with designer-types armed with computers, terrific graphic programs… and a wicked sense of humour. THEY know.

Somewhere else, there is an office filled with the marketers hired to promote the product. THEY don’t.

But think about any creative types you know. Do you think, for one second, that Mr or Ms Designer doesn’t know damned well what it looked like? Course they do! Not only do they see exactly what that thing is, they left it in the design because the fun of having zillions of those things… erected… by oblivious parents in back yards across the nation was just too good to pass up.

And zillions of parents are oblivious. The rest of us are just entertained. 🙂

July 10, 2010 Posted by | random and odd, sex | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

They know not what they do

I think.

It has been hot this week. How and unspeakably humid, which is how we do hot in Southern and Eastern Ontario. An air temperature of 28 – 34C, but with the humidity factored in, feels like 40 – 44.

That is HOT.

We’d sought air conditioning daily — Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, Dairy Queen — but I was beginning to feel that the walk to and from negated any benefit of being cool for half an hour. So one evening I took myself down to Zellers in pursuit of a wading pool, where I found two styles of inflatable pool. Zellers being Zellers, they were of course emblazoned with licensed figures.

So our choices were bubblegum pink Disney Princess, and baby blue Action Heroes. Because, you know, it’s important to start your gender stereotyping early.

Now, Disney Princesses make me gag, and since the “Action Heroes” were the far more innocuous Buzz Lightyear and Woody, I opted for them. Even though it’s a “boy” pool.

And when I got it home and inflated it?

Boy, it is a BOY pool. Just take a gander at this:

Holy Hannah. Can you say “phallic”, boys and girls?

And just picture Mary, blowing up the pool — which Emma and I did by mouth, given that our foot pump has gone AWOL — blowing up the pool and having THAT thing arise from the depths.

Wow. Don’t know my own strength.

And what, you ask, IS that thing? Apart from the, ahem, obvious? (The very, very obvious?) I wondered the same thing, but an investigation of the remainder of the contents of the box proved that it’s a MAST.

But of course!!! See the sail ? And a very masterful mast it is, all manly and upright.

The manly mast got me thinking about the other pool, the vulvabubblegum-pink Disney Princess one. Which had, not a phallus mast, but a canopy. A canopy, which not only shields the children from the sun, but makes a sort of a … cave. A nice, wet, pink cave.

People, people, people. This borders on OBSCENE. And you have to wonder… do the makers of these things know what they’re creating? Is this some sort of insidious, subliminal marketing ploy? Or is it simply an inadvertent expression of the designer’s subconscious?

But really. How could they not?

It is possible?

July 9, 2010 Posted by | Mischief, sex | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Just considering…

Two of the four children in the daycare at the moment are in cloth diapers. Cloth diapers, provided by their parents.

Some caregivers are astounded I’ll “do” cloth diapers. Me, I think: “Where’s the inconvenience?” Really. It’s not like I have to wash them. I just take them off the child, put them in the bag (also provided by the parents), and put a new one on the child. How does this differ from paper diapers, except in the receptacle for the used diaper?

Oh, the poo. Of course. Well, I tip what I can of feces into the toilet. Regardless of the diaper that contains it, I put the poo where it belongs. Which, clearly, is NOT my garbage can. Little packages of shit, wrapped in plastic? In the heat we’ve been getting, double- and triple-wrapped? Eew. And from there to a landfill site where, anaerobically wrapped in all that plastic, it will remain unbiodegraded as long as the plastic does, which, I believe, is FIVE HUNDRED YEARS. Several hundred packages of gift-wrapped shit, moldering for centuries.

Now, THAT’s a legacy to leave the planet…

So, really, when people say cloth diapers are gross, I just.don’t.get it. How could swishing a little poo into a toilet be anywhere near as gross as poopy diapers fermenting in my garbage can for a week, and then lingering in revolting, stinky piles for years upon years upon years?


So, as I say, two of four in cloth. And I got to thinking, as I took a particularly revolting paper diaper to the garbage, why not all four of them? Could I arrange a diaper service? How would that work? Would they be able to accommodate shifting enrollment? Would I be required to use a commercial service, and, if so, would that cost more?

I don’t know if it’s feasible, but I’m thinking about it. And then I read a post about choosing cloth diapers, and thought, “I should blog about this, too, and see if I can get some feedback.”

Are there any caregivers/parents of multiples out there who have used a diaper service? Did it work for you? The pros, the cons? What questions should I ask of a diaper service?

July 8, 2010 Posted by | daycare, health and safety, potty tales | , | 14 Comments

Though they crawl through the valley of the shadow of death

The children run the loop in my house. Living room, front hall, dining room… round and round and round and round they go. They’ve been at it for, oh, about 12 minutes so far. Non-stop.

It is currently 28 degrees, with a humidex of 39. (That’s 82 and 102 respectively for those still in the 19th century.) Yesterday it peaked out at 44.

Ye gods.

Twenty-eight, which feels like thirty-nine, and the children have been running and running and running and running.

My house has no AC.

We will be going to the park shortly, but I had a few small tasks to complete first. And while I do this and that, they run and run and run. But you know, the longer this goes on, the more my attention shifts from “Ye GODS! How can they STAND it?” to something else entirely. After another four or five minutes, I have to say something.

I pause as I wipe down the dining table and catch their attention.

“Hey, you guys! You have been running and running and the babies have been crawling around and getting in your way, and you haven’t knocked them over even once! In fact, you haven’t even bumped them! Way to go! You’re really being careful!”

Because really, it’s entirely remarkable. The babies, oblivious to their near-mortal peril, are crawling directly in the path of the thundering hoards. They are meandering, they are tottering, they are making odd changes of direction. They are not, in any way, shape, or form, taking any account of the speeding pre-schoolers who are whipping past.

And yet they are unscathed. Uninjured. Untrammeled.

If that doesn’t call for some commendation, I don’t know what might.

“You guys are GREAT! Okay, off you go again, and keep up the good work!”

The thundering recommences. The babies remain unsquooshed.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | health and safety | , , , , , | 4 Comments

It only counts if they see you

Parenting Tip #29462-7b. If they don’t see you leave, they are less likely to cry.

I am not talking about the morning drop-off. The politics and psychology of that issue are an entirely different matter.

(My opinion? Do what works. Some kids need you to say goodbye, others are much happier if you don’t. Corollary: this is about your child, not you. If it breaks your heart to sneak away without an official goodbye, but it makes your child happier … sneak. And no, it does not damage their little psyches to look up in ten minutes and see you gone. Children are simply not that fragile. People are not that fragile, or we’d all be gibbering blobs of traumatized goo by now.)

But that’s not what I’m talking about!

No, it’s those occasions when your baby/toddler is mucking about in the same room as you — because of course that’s where they prefer to be — and you need to pop into the basement to toss in a load of laundry, or pop upstairs for a pee. You don’t want to take your child with you, but when you go to leave, they will want/demand to go with you, and cry if you say no. And really, all you want to do is vacate for a minute, a literal minute, and be right back.

Solution: Don’t let them see you leave.

It was this morning, as I headed upstairs to the bathroom, that I realized this is so ingrained in me I don’t even think about it. I was heading upstairs, and I heard baby Rory (new baby boy has a name!!) tottering toward the base of the stairs. If he saw me on the stairs, he’d holler. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WHO SAID YOU COULD LEAVE??”

I’ve seen this sort of thing played out with sweet and kindly parents many, many times. They hear their child coming, they know their departure will cause him/her anxiety, and so they pause. They wait for the child to appear. They calm and soothe and explain. And then they usually end up taking the child wherever they were going. (And you know what? If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine. But if you’d prefer to do your small task on your own, it’s not.)

So, when I heard those little footsteps staggering in my direction, did I pause? Did I call down words of calming reassurance? “I’m just going to the bathroom, sweetie! I’ll be right back!” No, I did not.

I sped up.

Because if he doesn’t see me leaving, it won’t bother him that I’m gone. What goes on in their wee heads? Why is seeing the departure anxiety-producing, while having me gone (for a brief period) is perfectly fine? I dunno. I don’t know, but this is how it is for 98% of babies/toddlers.

I do know that if he’d seen me on the stairs, I’d have ended up peeing with him at my feet in the bathroom. But that would have meant stopping, soothing, back-tracking down the stairs to get him… and by the time I’d done all that, I could’ve had my 23 seconds in the bathroom and been back down again.

This is NOT an efficient allocation of energy. With four or five toddlers in my care, I am all about the conservation of (my) energy.

I sped up. He toodled on past the base of the stairs, I had my few seconds upstairs, I returned, we resumed hanging out together.

Quick and quiet, I tell you. Quick and quiet!

July 5, 2010 Posted by | Developmental stuff, parenting | , , , | 5 Comments