You know how I’ve said that Daniel is a tank? Built on the square plan? Obviously likes his food?
He is. He does. All that. A boy as solid as he is does not turn his nose up at food. Put food on his tray, his big blue eyes light right up.
FOOD! He knows what to do with FOOD!!!!
Throw it on the floor! (Of course. Why? Did you have a different idea?) And then my job, see, my job is to pick it up and give it back to him! So he can throw it again!!!!
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
Much as he loves to eat, he loves to toss even more. Doesn’t matter what it is: cheerios, apple slices, bottles (toys, books, a jar of cherries) … put it on the tray, and within a second or two, it’s on the floor.
Isn’t this FUN???!?
Wellllll… no. Not when you’re over two years old or so. I am a loooooong ways past two years old or so. So very long past that this game is fun precisely… never. Not even the first time. Because I’ve seen this game so very, very, very, very, very many times in my life, you know? And I know that for the child, it just never gets old. I’ve tried indulging them, doing it for a while, assuming that eventually the child will decide it’s time to eat. It just never happens. Well, maybe it would, but I sure don’t know how long that would take. I’ve never had the patience to find out. This game, it does not grab me.
I do remember playing fetch with my eldest. I was a new mother, this was my much-beloved first child, and for a while, it was fun! It wasn’t the game, of course, it was my Love For My Child. Her eyes just sparkled with glee! And that chortle, when I dipped down below the high chair tray and popped back up again with whatever it was. So cute!!! I loved it! Her excited flapping when I plonked the item back on the tray. Beyond adorable. I laughed, awash with fond maternal adoration. My.Child.Was.SO.CUTE!!!!
I loved it. For about six repeats I loved it. Maybe ten. And then (proving that adult attention spans are woefully inferior to that of a 7-month-old, or at least mine is) I got bored. I had wrung every morsel of fun out of this game, and now? Now it was just tedious. Yeah, she was still sparkling, chortling and flapping. But me, I’d had enough of bending and stretching, dipping and plonking. Bored. Bored, bored, bored.
You know what? This game doesn’t get any more exciting with the passage of time.
She’s 25 now, so I think I can safely say that the last time I enjoyed Mommy Go Fetch was 24.6 years ago. Moreover, I now have five under-threes ringed around my table. Do I want them re-discovering the joys of flinging food? I do NOT. Can you imagine? Lunch times five all over the floor? The dogs would love it, but me? Not such a fan.
Not all kids play this game, of course, but Daniel, he LOVES it. Loves it, loves it, loves it. It is pretty clear that in Daniel’s wee mind, high chair trays were specifically designed with that game in mind.
Yeah. Whee. Fun.
His level of persistence and enthusiasm suggests to me that his parents are not attention-challenged like me. I suspect they play this game and love it, right along with him. Isn’t that so cute? (Really. I think it is. His parents are lovely people, almost as adorable as their son, and the picture of them all laughing together with delight at this
mind-numbing simple game is truly a lovely one.) Sadly for Daniel, the game that is delight and love for the three of them makes my brain melt.
So here, when food is tossed to the floor, I sing-song, “No-no, Daniel! Food stays ON the tray. ON,” as I pop it firmly back on the tray.
Of course, Daniel greets the return of the food with glee, because I AM PLAYING THE GAME!!!! And then he dumps it on the floor again. Of course. And then, oh, poor, poor Daniel, then I say, “Oh, I guess you’re not hungry!” in the cheeriest of tones, and I lift him down and set him on the floor. “Away you go and play!”
He stands there, puzzlement turning to confusion morphing into dismay, as I continue feeding the others. You can see the thought process.
“Wait! That’s not supposed to happen! What’s wrong with her? Doesn’t she know the rules?!?! W.T.F???”
I give him a minute or two to wallow in all this before I pop him back in the high chair for round two. So far, round two goes pretty much the way round one did. Food on tray, food tossed from tray… only this time I don’t plonk the food back on his tray, not even once. No, this time we go straight to “I guess you’re not hungry after all!” No second chances on round two. Round three? There is no round three. After round two, he’s done with the high chair until the next meal or snack.
He’s still not quite sure what the hell is going on… except that it’s wrong. Just, just, just WRONG!!! The boy is flabbergasted. Gob-smacked, even. (And that? THAT I find entertaining.)
But, confusing or not, you know what? When you’ve missed out on morning snack because it was more exciting to toss it on the floor… by the time lunchtime rolls around, you’re much TOO HUNGRY to even think of tossing it on the floor.
Mwah-ha. My evil plan is working.
“Oh, my GOD!”
There was a time in my life when that phrase was offensive to me. It was taking the lord’s name in vain, invoking deity in a meaningless, frivolous way. Even though I no longer have that response, I am still far more likely to say, “Oh, good lord!” (Yes, I am aware those two are essentially identical, but the tweak in semantics works for me. Make of that what you will.)
“Oh! My! GOD!”
Though it has been known to drop from my lips, I generally avoid it for a few reasons: out of habit, out of respect for those whom it does offend, and because these days it’s so much the purview of adolescent girls — OMG! OMG!! OMGGGGG!!!!! — at their most shrieky and annoying.
So I have a pretty muted response to it, all in all. Except, I’ve just this moment discovered, when it is being broadcast from the mouths of babes.
Rory, at the front of the stroller, takes a deep breath.
“Oh. My. GOD!!” he declares, in tones of such rich satisfaction that the others are driven to echo. Grace and Jazz pick up the mantra, and now “Oh! My! GOD!!!” is bouncing around the stroller, from tot to tot, and across the road and up the street and round the city and through the province… “Oh. My. GOOoooooDDDD!”
I’m feeling a smidge self-conscious, is what I’m saying.
Rory takes a breath to start the next call-and-response. “Oh, My, G–” Before he can finish, I thrust a word into the air. “GOODNESS!” He picks it up obligingly.
“Oh, My, Goo’ness!” Grace and Jazz pick up the refrain, and I relax. Because, really. Four kids screeching irreverences up and down the street. Where did they learn that? people will wonder. Probably from that caregiver! people will assume. Why else would all those kids from different families be saying the same thing? Only stands to reason. That caregiver who looks so mild. Bet she’s just awful behind closed doors, screaming and yelling, and “oh-my-god-you-kids!”-ing.
And besides. It just tweaks those long-ago lessons. Adults can say that, doesn’t bother me at all. Little kids? It feels wrong, hell, it fells borderline offensive. Babies should not be saying this. I’m a little surprised by my response, frankly. Sunday School is more deeply ingrained in my psyche than I realized. (Train up a child, and all that. Seems I’m a case in point.)
“Oh, my goo’ness!”
“Oh, my GOO’NESS!”
It’s kind of cute, really.
“Oh! My! GOD!!!”
So much for bait-and-switch. What we need is a whole different distractor. Conversation about the scenery is ineffective. Questions about their activities similarly so. How about…
Grace LOVES this song! LOVES.IT.
“Appoos and ‘nanaaaaas!”
And the others join in, “I yike to eat, eat, eat, appools and ananas.”
And this one? It sticks.
Thank you for all your great suggestions! So many, so varied, and all of them considered and interesting. One of you managed to choose the name of a friend of mine, which I found pretty amusing, since he, too, is blond and solid. (I found it amusing. I think he’d find it a bit unnerving to discover I’d named one of “my” babies after him.)
If I were being democratic, New New Baby would be Thor. Obviously So many of you liked the name. I can see why it’s a good name, and I almost went there, but… it just didn’t feel right. Too powerful, too angry for Mr. Amiable. Instead, I’ve chosen a name that was suggested by only one person. It feels a little wrong to be so flagrantly undemocratic, but here I am, doing it anyway.
Baldur was a bit exotic, but fun! ‘Sven’ and ‘Henry’ were given serious consideration, and for a few hours, he was almost ‘Finn’. ‘Buddy’ sort of sums the boy up nicely, but I call all the kids ‘buddy’ at one time or another, so it wasn’t personal enough. ‘Hummer’, ‘Logan’, ‘Peter’, all great names. ‘Puck’? Um, sorry, but that one just seemed like it was begging for trouble! (I can just see myself muttering, ‘You little pucker’ on a particularly bad day…) Luke, Ty, Ruby, Ivan, Brock, Teddy, Lars, Otto… my goodness! You all made choosing sooooo hard!
But in the end…
New New Baby is Daniel. It just feels right for this boy. It’s a good, solid name for a good, solid kid. Daniel, Dan, Danny. Yup. That’s my boy!
So, thank you, Suzanne, for your suggestion.
Our New Babies are named! Poppy and Daniel are both very grateful! Thank you all!
The other day, one of the tots came in wailing. Not sure why on this particular occasion, but this particular child (*cough*Jazz*cough*) has a flair for the dramatic, and I think it’s just dawning on her that drop-offs have ENORMOUS drama potential.
I heard the wailing a couple of minutes before she arrived. She arrives, coincidentally, with Grace and her mummy. Goodbyes are said, and I whisk the children to the far end of the house, far away from the Evil Parent-Eating door. Within a
couple of minutes a minute and a half 45 seconds about 20 seconds seconds of the mummies’ departure, all is cheerful again.
Until we go out to the living room ten minutes later, that is, and Jazz spots her mummy standing in my drive, chatting with Grace’s mummy. Now instead of four happy children, I have two crying children (Jazz, because, duh, and Poppy, who is an extreme and hair-trigger empathy cry-er), I have one uncertain child (Grace, who is wondering if she should be upset, too, because her mummy is also still out there), and one happy child. (Rory, bless his heart, generally remains cheerfully oblivious to the sturm und drang around him.)
I cast an exasperated look out the front window at the two nattering women before shepherding the children back to the kitchen. Honestly. You know your child is having a tough transition, and then you position yourself in view but out of reach? What are you THINKING?
Frankly, I’m not surprised by Jazz’s mum. It’s totally in keeping with her hale-and-hearty, no-sentimentality, and, if we’re honest here, teeny bit… oblivious… outlook on mothering. Once Jazz was dropped off, mum would work on the assumption that her daughter would be fine, just fine. (And she’d be right, of course. But she’d be finer if she couldn’t SEE HER MOTHER OUT THE FRONT WINDOW!!!! Gah.) I am a little astonished by Grace’s mum, who usually has more emotional sensitivity.
Oh, well. It’s another matter of seconds before Jazz (and by default, Poppy) is calm again. It’s over 15 minutes before the Oblivious Mummies finally leave (and yes, I’ll be talking to them about it this evening, yeesh), and I just make sure to keep the kids out of view of the window until the mothers are safely vanished.
We have our morning outing, we have our lunch. It’s only when everyone is settled down for nap that I see the message light blinking on my phone.
It’s Jazz’s mum, passing on her number for today, not the same one as usual. “Because Jazz was so sad when I left this morning, and I just thought you should have the number in case she needed to phone me or anything.”
Wait. You were worried about the tears? Really? So that’s why you tantalized her for 15 or more minutes this morning, staying in sight but out of reach? Really?
And your solution is a phone call? Which will render you in hearing but out of reach???
Okay. This could just be me, but to my mind (and in my experience), phone calls do not help toddlers. What a distressed toddler wants is mummy’s (or daddy’s) physical presence. They want the arms around them, they want the lap to sit on, they want the hugs and kisses. Words are secondary to the physical. While I always talk to a distressed toddler, I know that I don’t need to say anything at all to them. Just hold them. Hold them and kiss them and rock them. Murmur soothing noises, but it’s the comfort of my arms and my touch that they crave. It’s the soothing of touch that speaks most. Words are secondary. I use words when I comfort a child, because I want them to learn to associate words with comfort, but I am scaffolding here: I am using the reality of physical comfort to teach them that words can comfort, too.
And really. When you are truly, truly distressed, don’t you find yourself craving a hug? The comfort of the physical never goes away. For toddler’s, it’s primary.
But a phone call? Which is only verbal and no physical at all? For the vast majority of two-year-olds — and I am quite sure that Jazz falls into this group — phone calls are… are… just as comforting as seeing mummy through a window, but not being with her.
I read a story, can’t remember where, about a man who was worried that his puppy was at home alone all day. He worried that his puppy would be lonely and anxious. So his brilliant solution to this was to phone home and talk to the puppy via the answering machine!!! Anyone who knows anything about dogs can guess how well that worked. Dog heard the voice, couldn’t find the person, went INSANE, chewing everything its poor, stressed-out puppy teeth could find. (I’m gathering he was also one of these sentimental, anthropomorphizing folk who thinks crates are ‘cruel’.) Yup. Helpful, all right.
Dogs are not toddlers. However, I have two dogs and a whack of toddlers, and I can tell you that they have a number of striking similarities. One is this: when they’re stressed, they want a body, not words. Words are just the soothing sound that accompanies the REAL comfort: a body.
(Oh, and treats — liver chews or ice cream — they help, too…)
Perhaps that’s another conversation we need to have. Sigh. For now, I think I’ll stick with “If you want to socialize after drop-off, could you please do it out of sight?”
… at last.
So. I have two new babies, who remain un-named. So far I’ve been resorting to “Old New Baby” and “New New Baby”. A tad cumbersome.
Time to Name that Child!
And — yay, me! — I’ve come up with one for Old New Baby!!! She’s fourteen or fifteen months old. She is calm, and, so far, calmly cheerful. In keeping with her age, she’s a watcher. She is also the perfect Gerber baby — round cheeks, teeny rosebud mouth, round blue eyes, dusting of blondish hair. She blows kisses with a “MAH!” sound. She is, in short, too flipping adorable for words.
In the way of my mind, I thought “Gerber baby… gerbera daisy… let’s call her Daisy!!!” It would suit, too, but it would be too confusing, what with the puppy already having that name. Well, damn. But how about another flower name?
“Rose”? Nah. Too elegant. She’s not elegant. Cute, but not elegant. We’ve already had a “Lily”. “Violet”? Mmmm, no. She’s not shy, she’s not delicate. “Iris”, for me, is reminiscent of a rich, but disapproving old woman, so, no.
So. Old New Baby is Poppy.
Now for New New Baby. And me? I’m tapped out on baby names. I need suggestions for names for New New Baby.
He’s a boy. Blond, hearty, snuggly, friendly, with a ginormous beaming smile. I haven’t had enough time to take any meaningful measure of his personality. But so far, his defining traits are:
- he’s a tank. The boy is SOLID.
- blond. Really, really blond, with the skin and eyes to match
- cuddly. He likes to be held. A lot. I assume this will recede as he becomes more comfy at my home, but he does love his snuggles.
- he loves singing. Not that he sings, but it mesmerizes him.
- though he’s still getting used to us, I get the impression that his default setting is “amiable”. He just has that look.
“Oh, look at all the babies!”
“Are they all yours?”
“Wow! That must keep you busy!”
“Oh, good god.”
“YOU are one brave woman!”
“Are they all yours?”
Just another outing with my mega-stroller filled with tots. I’ve talked about that before, of course. We simply never slip under the radar, much as I might like that some days. Recently, however, there’s been a change in peoples’ responses to us. It’s not because of those hats, though they certainly garner their fair share of attention. It’s not because I have two newbies, and thus the average age is younger than usual.
“Oh, look at all the babies! Isn’t that cu– OH! Oh, looook. Isn’t that adorable?”
“Wow! That must keep you — oh, my lord. That’s beyond cute!”
“YOU are one brav — Awwwwww… sooooo sweet. “
And what’s the difference? It’s still a stroller filled with small children. They’re just as cute as they’ve ever been.
They still wear cute hats. They still stare solemnly, or beam beguilingly, depending on their personalities.
Nope, it’s not the kids.
I think I have sufficient data that I can safely declare that, for the bulk of the population, ONE puppy outweighs the cute factor of FOUR babies/toddlers. Any day.
“Look at the cute babi — OH, my word! Look at the puupppyyyy! “
Every so often, while out shopping in an upscale dress shop (or, in my case, just passing by), you’ll come across a pair of girls — excuse me, young women — or a whole group of them, with that certain spark about them. They’re not just hanging out and having fun, though there’s a lot of fun in the air. No, there’s something more to it.
And if you watch them a little longer (and I generally do, because they’re just so damned appealing, somehow) you will pretty soon deduce that the special something about these girls is that they are Wedding Shopping. One of them is The Bride, the other, her Maid of Honour. Perhaps there are some bridesmaids along, too. They radiate joy. They are blooming in happiness and excitement. They’re just so lovely.
They always bring out the “Awwww” in me. You young mothers, you probably do that, too, when you see a bridal party out together, only you’re probably remembering your own wedding. You’re thinking of how it was for you, how excited you were, how fun it was. When I watch those young women, the “awww” has quite a different source. My own Big White Wedding is so far back in distant history that it doesn’t figure in my response. I’m not thinking of my hours spent poring over bridal magazines, the comparing of patterns with my Maid of Honour, the shopping for just the right accessory. I did all that, and loved it, but that’s not what’s triggering my “Awwwww”.
No, when I look at those young women, I see girls. I see someone’s daughter. And it’s just so damned sweet! You say “awwww” when your toddler mangles the language and says something so freaking adorable by mistake you just melt into a puddle of maternal goopiness. That’s exactly the “aww” I feel for these girls.
I see those young, vibrant, joy-filled, excited girls, and I see my own daughters, and I go “awwww, aren’t they just so sweet? and young? and happy? and hopeful?” Maternal goopiness overwhelms me.
And last week, my youngest daughter (just turned 18) went to visit her big sister (now 25). Her big sister, who got engaged this spring. My youngest daughter will be her maid of honour. And while they were together, they went wedding dress shopping!!!!
My babies are not babies any more. And it’s wonderful!
They are also kind and thoughtful young women, and made sure that mum, stuck back home in Ottawa, got to see the top few contenders. Wanna see???
Oooooh, chiffon!! (Or is that tulle? Pretty, either way!) Sort of quasi-Grecian thing going with the layering on the bodice, too. Nice.
This one suits her figure. (She’s inherited her mother’s curves, I say, modestly.)
Finally, the top contender so far. (Lookit that teeny waist? Aren’t you all so jealous? I’m a smidge wistful. I said she’d inherited my figure. I didn’t say I totally still had it any more… sigh…) I loooove the lace on the overskirt.
Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty!
My baby is going to be a bride.
Table Manners for Safety!!!
I am all about the education of children. Thoroughly invested in the formation of young minds and characters. It is, you might even say, my life’s calling. Healthy bodies, healthy minds.
I teach kids to eat their veggies, to use their words, to sleep, to share, not to hit, bite, scream, kick, nor eat their friends’ boogers. I keep them safe from injury, both accidental and intentional. (cf above, ‘no hitting’.)
I have spent years of my life not feeding nuts to toddlers. I have created untold miles of apple peels. I have cut food into mountains of bite-sized morsels. I have taught children to take one bite at a time — ONE! And to swallow the first bite before they cram the next one in there.
And yet through all of this care and caution and training, I have never once found it necessary to let my children know that eating is serious business. Never once.
One pictures the children of the parent successful in this eating-is-serious-business training, sitting very quietly around a table, staring nervously at the potentially deadly items mummy has so lovingly dished out on their plates.
Um. Except… Food is fun. Eating is pleasure.
Oh, but that’s not all! You can “create fun placemats with [your children] that contain key choking prevention messages.”
Fun… choking prevention messages. I don’t know that those words belong in the same sentence. Call me crazy, but I don’t see any “fun” in “choking prevention messages”. Can you just picture the visuals an 8-year-old would draw? Whee, fun. That’s what I’d like staring me in the face with each lift of my fork, uh-huh, uh-huh.
(Mind you, they mightn’t be bad strategy for any adults around the table who are trying to lose weight.)
It’s important to teach our kids how to eat safely. It is. But you know, I really think that good manners — don’t wolf your food, take small bites, chew thoroughly and with your mouth shut — pretty much cover ‘choking prevention’ … and without the disturbing visuals.
Polite eating is safe eating! Polite eating isn’t nauseating! And mealtimes can still be fun, even…
It took two muslins, a couple of false starts and a certain amount of colourful language…
But I think it was worth it! (Note the face. They had just been dissuaded from a giggle-filled game of “let’s dump buckets of sand on our friends’ heads!!!” I am such a party-pooper…)
Aren’t they cute?
They are so cute, and that’s a good thing. Because those hats? They were a bugger to make. The blogger who posted the instructions said they were ‘easy’. HA! An ‘easy’ pattern would be something that could be tackled by a beginner sewer. Capes are easy. Pillowcase dresses are easy. These hats were NOT easy.
I’m an intermediate sewer, I’d say. I’ve spent lots of time at a sewing machine over the years, though not at super complex projects. These hats were a stretch for me. Now, I got better at it the more I made. I made one significant adjustment to the instructions to make it easier for me. (The inside doesn’t look as good as it could, but the outside looks waaaaay better.)
So. A challenge, they were … but worth the effort! Cute, cute, cute, cute, cuuuuuute. (The ruffle-butt doesn’t hurt, I know.)
More importantly, aren’t they IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO SEE? We’ve been wearing them around town for a couple of weeks now, and no matter where we go, parks, coffee shops, library, water park… I always know where all my kids are. I always know not only because I can SEE them, not simply because those hats STICK OUT OF A CROWD, but because, no matter where I go, people comment on them, if not to me then to each other. If someone is grinning and pointing these days, it’s almost certain to be at one (or all) of THOSE HATS.
I love it.
“Look at those hats! They’re great!” (Followed almost inevitably (and meaning the kids, not the hats) by, “Are they all yours?” Of course.)
Seriously, though. I’m proud of these things.