It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Sleep, baby, sleep

I am soothing a reluctant sleeper as he lies in his crib, protesting. He’s on his tummy, his wee butt in the air, his face flushed with the vigour of his indignation, his eyes closed. He really is tired. He just needs to let go. And so I pat his back (not something I do all that routinely, really), and speak words of comfort and consolation.

Want to hear? Want to hear ‘comfort and consolation’, Mary-style? My voice is soft and crooning, pitched a little lower than normal, a steady thread of soothing white noise. And the words?

“I know, I KNOW! It’s just awful, what we adults do to you. The abuse! Insisting that you get enough sleep to be healthy and happy. Awful! Outrageous, even. How dare we? It would be much better to run around miserable and exhausted all day long, I’m sure. I don’t know HOW you put up with it, I really don’t. I should be ashamed of myself, putting you to sleep in a comfy bed in a quiet room.”

I can keep it up as long as I need to.

It amuses me and, as it’s all said in warm and soothing tones, he relaxes to the cadence, rather than the content, of my words. Because really, the point is that I’m here, right? I don’t have to think he’s being reasonable or sensible. Because he’s not. Not at all. Fight a nap? Is he INSANE? Some days I would kill for a nap. Truly.

Well, okay, I guess I really wouldn’t, since I haven’t yet, and lord knows I’ve had opportunity and motivation.

But when I have a kid who is fighting tooth and nail to resist the very thing I’m craving … pearls before swine, I tell you. Pearls before swine. So no, I’m not particularly sympatico with his position on the matter.

“Oh, the inhumanity! How can we treat you in such a terrible fashion? How do you manage to suffer the cruelty? A nap! How dare I?”

Aaaaand… he’s asleep. And I’m amused, rather than exasperated out of my mind.

I’d call that a win-win.

August 22, 2011 Posted by | sleep | , , , | 8 Comments

Goodbye

Yesterday I said goodbye to Emily and Tyler.

It’s probably my social ineptness, but I find these goodbyes really awkward. You say goodbye, you say you’ll miss each other, you say you’ve enjoyed getting to know each other… and then…

You do it all over again. You say those things again, and the parents don’t leave, and they say them again, and I feel like I can’t go in the house until they do, and maybe they feel like they can’t leave until I go in… and we keep saying all those things all over again.

I know what it is. Nobody quite knows how to turn the page on this chapter in our lives. We all sort of want to say something more, something that will sum up two or three — or in this case, almost five — years of relationship. So we all stand around, each wanting to say the One True and Meaningful Thing that will make it real, sum it up, draw it neatly to a close… and at the same time, we don’t want it to draw to a close.

(Okay, so that’s not 100% true 100% of the time. Once in a while there is a client (usually the parent) I am DELIGHTED to see the last of. In one sense, those are even weirder goodbyes because I still say the same things (because I am a professional who doesn’t believe in burning bridges). I say them, but I don’t mean them. I just want it OVER. However, in those cases, after I’ve said it once, I generally smile, wave goodbye, and close the door. So it’s weird, but at least it’s quick and efficient.)

It’s when the affection is real, and the regrets sincere that it gets truly awkward.

I wish I knew a better way. Now, I’ve let them know they’re invited to the next daycare social event. And they’ve invited Wonderful Husband and me to dinner in a week. But still, that final goodbye, when we know their children will never be coming here again. It’s awkward.

This morning, I peel Tyler and Emily’s names off their storage bin, and off their coat hanger. I peel them off, and put another child’s name in their place.

And I feel … disloyal.

August 19, 2011 Posted by | daycare, Emily, parents, Tyler | , , , | 6 Comments

Some kids really ARE exceptional

Isn’t this amazing?

A thirteen-year-old has a provisional patent on a new kind of solar panel array, which he devised by analyzing how trees interact with the sun.

I’ve argued before that not all children are ‘exceptional’. But this kid? He’s exceptional.

August 19, 2011 Posted by | random and odd | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Toddler Bliss

The neighbourhood next to mine is torn up these days. A bit of an ordeal to get there, mind you, one which changes day by day. One day there’s a sidewalk between two blocks; the next, you’re trudging over gravel. One day the ‘sidewalk’ is wide enough for two to pass, the next it’s single file all the way. Some days protective fencing blocks part of the path… but in those cases, I’ve always found the construction dudes more than happy to shift it to one side with their manly arms. (Construction dudes generally like babies, I’ve noticed.)

So. A bit of an ordeal to get there. But, when we do, there are GAKKERS!!! (And, yes, ‘dumb f*cks‘.) Gakkers and Loaders! Cranes! Bobcats and excavators! It is VERY EXCITING!!!

(Which is to say, I belatedly realize, that it is an ordeal for me, the engine behind the stroller. It is nothing but excitement and FUN TIMES for those who get to ride, powered by my sweating self…)

And even MORE exciting than all that heavy machinery, there is a Toy Store.

A kickass toy store.

Totally worth the trip, wouldn’t you say???

August 18, 2011 Posted by | Ottawa, outings | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Quick! Get the Camera!

This is NOT ALLOWED! Not, not, not! Baaaaaaaad puppy!

However, as I learned years ago from my very wise aunt, it’s often best to capture the misbehaviour before you put a stop to it. (You can click to enlarge the smaller picture.)

Because, really, the picture-perfect puppy (or child!!!) is very sweet, and will make you smile… but it’s THESE pictures that will make you laugh.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | the cuteness!, the dog | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Misplaced children

There was an incident here in Ottawa last month. Parents dropped kids off with a caregiver and headed out for their adults-only date day — at Home Depot.

Oooooo, romantic, huh? A “date” spent choosing ceiling tiles and switchplates at Home Depot. Or maybe it was insulation and plumbing fixtures. It doesn’t much matter.

Can we relate? We can relate.

At this point, I’ve heard a couple of different versions. Either they heard their license plate called over the store’s intercom, or they had actually left the store to see the window of their car being smashed in by police. Why? They had left their baby in the car.

Their three-week-old baby. In a car in a sunny parking lot when the temperatures were about 30 degrees.

What kind of parents would do a thing like that?

Well… In this case, regular, normal, loving parents. Who had made a mistake.

Each thought the other had handed him over to the caregiver, you see. For her part, I’m guessing the caregiver figured that since the baby was asleep, they’d decided not to disturb him. Baby was in the seat behind, in a rear-facing car seat, sound asleep. Easy to miss, particularly if you honestly believed the seat was empty? I’d say so.

They went out to find that police had smashed in the window of their car, the Children’s Aid had been alerted, and they were the centre of a whole lot of nasty attention. (Lest any of you faint before the end of this post, I’ll tell you now that the baby was fine! He was taken to hospital to be checked over, of course, but he was fine.)

Attention which only got worse when, after appropriate investigation, Ottawa Police Services decided that it wasn’t a criminal matter. Suddenly the righteous everywhere were outraged. Outraged and leaping to judgment — because that’s what the righteous do best.

“Those people deserve to have that child taken away!!!”

Wait. They did not knowingly leave the child in the car. They didn’t decide, “Oh, it’s too much trouble to wake him up. We won’t be long, let’s leave him there.” No. They had made arrangements for their children to be cared for by a loving relative. Each thought that’s where the child was.

This wasn’t a bad decision, this was an accident. A miscommunication at worst. An accident which could have had tragic consequences, of course, and had that happened, who would have suffered most? Not the righteous, with all their frothing and fulminating, but those poor parents, blaming themselves for the rest of their lives.

I was talking about this with another couple over the weekend, a couple whose children are all adults, some with families of their own. They shared how they’d been part of a social group not too long ago where the conversation had moved on to just this topic: Forgetting/misplacing your child.

It seems bizarre, just writing that down. Misplacing a child???

And yet, in the rather large group of parents-of-adults, there were quite a few stories of forgetting a child and/or misplacing one for a few terrifying seconds/moments/hours. At gas stations on long car trips, at gramma’s house, at school, and, most bizarrely by me, a baby in a car seat left behind in a cab.

All these stories had happy endings. Parents and children were reunited, nobody hurt (except a few ulcers born, perhaps).

How often, we wondered, does this happen to young parents, and you’re just too scared to tell anyone? Because who loses their baby??? Only loser parents do that, parents who just don’t deserve to have kids, right?

Wrong.

People get distracted. People lose count. People assume the other parent has the child. Parents of young children are often distracted and sleep-deprived.

It happens. Not too often, and not to all of us, but it does happen.

I had a friend whose wife left him with their then 6-week-old daughter so she could go out with a friend. First time since the child’s birth. Dad was in his workshop in the basement, baby was sleeping in her room. Partway through his project, dad realized he needed something from the Hardware Store a couple of blocks away, so off he went.

It was only when he was in line at the checkout that it hit him like a ton of bricks — the baby!!! The baby he was in charge of! The baby he had totally forgotten he even had.

The baby was fine. He got home and she was still sleeping. The marriage survived, too, helped in part by his decision not to tell his wife. (Oh, he did eventually, but I think he waited a good three years…)

But I wonder if more of this happens than we realize. I wonder if we only feel safe to talk about it when years have gone by, when, by virtue of producing healthy, happy adults, we have earned sufficient parenting cred to feel safe to admit to the “time we almost lost one”.

Soooo… How about you? Any ‘baby left behind’ stories in your lives?

August 16, 2011 Posted by | controversy, health and safety, Ottawa, parenting | , , , | 29 Comments

Nostalgia? Not so much.

Just read an old post and was reminded of a former child. Not, as is usually the case when I recall my former charges, with fond remembrance. Not this one. Oh, but I am soooo glad I am no longer looking after Sam.

Goodness me.

August 15, 2011 Posted by | individuality, manners, Peeve me | Leave a comment

What I did on my weekend

Not far from Ottawa, across the river in Quebec, there is a very large, very lovely park. Gatineau Park has different attractions for different people: hardy cyclists enjoy its hills, campers can enjoy a range of sits, from full-service to hike-in and pack-out. There are historic sites and sites of historic interest. Mostly, it’s pretty, pretty, pretty.

I’ve camped here, I’ve gone to the beach here, I’ve taken in an historical site, I’ve visited the cave… (which, no, I did not manage to enter. But I saw it!!) The place I’ve visited most often, though, is Pink Lake. This past weekend, with my aunt and uncle in town, we decided to take in Pink Lake yet again. (Click on the smaller picture for a large version.)

It’s not a difficult hike around the lake, though there are a fair number of stairs and up-and-downing. The frail and elderly might not be able to manage it, but I’ve seen small children and pregnant women make the circuit.

Here’s a view from the lookout off the highway through the park:

And here’s one from water level, after making our way gradually down from the level of the highway:

We got there using some of these:

Wildlife:

More wildlife:

More View:

A lovely outing.

August 15, 2011 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Smitten and smashed

Poppy toodles about the living room, doing the usual Poppy things. She picks up a toy, looks at it, drops it. She picks up another toy, sticks it in her mouth, drops it. She pats the dog, and laughs when the dog lifts her head to see who’s patting her. She thumps the cushions on the couch. She thumps the cushions with a toy. She stuffs the toy under the couch cushion. She opens and shuts a book twenty-three times, then drops it. She is quiet, focussed, contentedly exploring. Typical 13-month-old baby.

And in the midst of all this concentrated busy-ness, Daniel enters the room. Daniel is 12 months old. Daniel is an affectionate little dude in general, and Daniel loves Poppy.

Loves her, loves her loves her.

When Daniel loves something, he wants to show that love. He wants to hug and squeeze and kiss. He sees Poppy, his face lights up with glee and adoration.

“GLAAAAH!” His arms open wide and he trundles toward her. “GLAAH! GLAAH! GLAGLGLGAGLAGLAAAA!!!” He could not be more delighted. He chugs as fast as his stocky legs will carry him, a small blond tank bearing down on the object of his affections.

The object’s eyes widen. Her mouth drops open into a perfect O as he barrels ever nearer. She backs up, and, in the jerky way of the newly-upright, attempts to turn and make a run for it.

For Poppy, poor thing, has been the recipient of too many of these barrelling hugs. Daniel’s arms fling wide, he churns toward her, gaining momentum as he moves… momentum which he just can’t quite turn off in time. As his arms curl around her chubby form, Poppy knows, from bitter experience, that he will still be going full tilt. Around here, these full-tilt, crash-smash-and-hug manoeuvres are called “commando hugs”.

Now, Poppy is no lightweight. She’s a pleasingly reubenesque little dumpling of a cherub. But Daniel? Our boy adds “square” to “solid”. In short, he is built like a brick shithouse.

And the Brick SH is about to flatten her yet again.

“GLAAAH!” Daniel’s carol of joy is matched by Poppy’s cry of terror. Her feet stamp in alarm. She’s in fight or flight mode, but she knows she can’t escape. Poor sweetie. Daniel is going to love her to a pancake, right here in my living room.

Immediate intervention is required. I kneel between the two of them, sweep Poppy into one arm and absorb the jolt of impact as Daniel thuds into my other arm. Thuds, and halts. If he were a bonier child, I’d have a bruise, I’m sure. Thankfully, he has enough padding for both of us… not that I’m so lacking in it myself…

“Oh, what a nice hug!” I say to both of them. Poppy smiles, probably with relief. Meantime, I’m thinking up strategies for teaching the boy to desist with the commando hugs.

It’s nice to be adored, I’m sure, but poor Poppy! She may not survive all this lovin’.

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Daniel, health and safety, individuality, Poppy, the cuteness! | , , , | 3 Comments

Stomping on imagination

Emily and Tyler sit on the dining room windowsill. Emily is making a bizarre, very fake, very falsetto giggle, repeated frenetically.

“Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-EH-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-EH-EH-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-EH-eh-eh-Eh-EH-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh…”

I cannot imagine the game that requires that as its sound track, and I don’t much care.

“Gah. Emily, please stop making that noise. It’s awful.”

“We are being pirates,” Tyler explains, matter-of-fact, “and window this is our boat.”

Under what circumstances, my adult mind wonders, would a pirate make that noise? Post-castration springs to mind, but he’d hardly be giggling about that. Pirate ships not being the most egalitarian of places, it’s unlikely they’ve hired a vacuous Valley Girl as one of the boys. Okay, so they’d undoubtedly have other uses for her, but she’d hardly be giggling about that, either…

Not that either of these things would occur to Emily and Tyler, of course. Not that it really matters, because “Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-EH-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-EH-EH-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-EH-eh-eh-Eh-EH-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh…” can’t continue.

“That’s fine, you can be pirates. But guys, I can guarantee you, pirates do NOT make that noise.”

“Oh.”

There are just some things you don’t have to put up with, you know?

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Emily, Tyler | , , , , | 5 Comments