It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A step at a time

“He’s 15 months old. Shouldn’t he be doing that by now?”

It doesn’t matter what “that” is, really. You all know the question. The longer I am in this business, however, the less likely I am to give that a definitive answer. It’s not that I don’t know how children develop. I certainly do, particularly in the first three years.

When I was a new mother, I read all the books, studied the charts in the doctor’s office, and I could have told you, definitively, whether or not something should have happened at a certain time. I could have listed the windows for each developmental phase. I can’t do that any more. These days, in fact, I’m pretty fuzzy on the markers on that timeline.

I know the timeline, mind you. I know the order things occur. I just don’t recall the “official” dates so well… because in almost every case, they don’t matter. What I certainly know is what a certain child, a child I know, will be doing next. What I do know is what (if anything) I could be doing to encourage that development.

But, should he be walking at 12 months? Well, he certainly could be. That would be within normal parameters. But he might not. That, too, would be normal. Should she be jumping at 18 months? I’d say probably not, but you never know! Should they be able to string two words together at 22 months? Usually, but so long as they understand what you say to them, can follow simple directions and can express their simple needs effectively, I wouldn’t particularly worry if they aren’t.

Developmental milestones are not Rules. Your child doesn’t fail if they don’t hit the milestone at the precise moment the charts say he will. (And they’re not “exceptional” if they get there a bit ahead, either. You may of course be quietly happy if your child gets to one early, but you may not make your friend feel badly because her child hasn’t.) Developmental milestones are generalizations. Helpful generalizations, but that is all.

What is more important than when they get there, is whether they’re progressing through them. First they hold up their heads, then they roll over, followed by sitting, crawling, pulling to stand, cruising on furniture, and finally independent walking. They learn to run before they learn to jump, generally. Some children never crawl, but go straight to walking, but there is a general progression in these things. Only if a child is markedly behind — but I do mean markedly, so far behind that it looks like they’ve stalled there — is there cause for concern.

What most parents don’t realize is how broad the range of ‘normal’ is. A child might learn to walk at nine months (unusual, but I’ve seen it), but then, s/he might not start till 18 months (unusual, but I’ve also seen that). Those children are both now perfectly normal little boys, one 12 years old, one 14. The late walker plays hockey and is on his school’s track team… those extra few months crawling have made no difference at all to his physical development.

“Normal” is broad. “Normal” is huge. “Normal” encompasses a whole heap of variability. Think of the adults you encounter in your life, the different types and capabilities, and consider that, with very few exceptions, you probably consider them all to be ‘normal’. Do you know (or care) when they sat up? Or spoke their first word? Or learned to use the potty? Probably not.

In the end, it’s quality, not speed, that matters. Life’s not a race, it’s a long, meandering journey. One to be savoured.

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Developmental stuff, parenting | 12 Comments

Something exciting this way comes…

What could be drawing all the children to the window? (Including the hairy canine one?)

If you’re curious, you have, from left to right, Poppy, Daisy the puppy, Daniel, Grace, and Rory. Jazz was home sick that day.

What has them peering down the street? It’s almost here… It’s almost here…

“Dat! Dat! Ah! Ah!” Daniel spots it! It’s almost here!!!

Our street is being plowed today! And not just plowed, no, today we’re getting the whole deal! Today is SNOWBANK REMOVAL! First, a pass with the grader.

For regular snow plowing days, that’s all you’d see. It would make a pass down each side of the street, and push the snow to the side, making snowbanks. But eventually, those snowbanks get so large that the road becomes a mere track for a single car. So every so often the city sends out ALL THE TRUCKS! (So that we can go from the picture in that previous link to this. Woo!)

So, a pass with the grader first. Those things are so cool. Their giant tires can angle to a good 45 degrees, to pull against the weight of the snow they’re pushing. And this time, preparing for snowbank removal, they don’t push the snow to the side, but push it into a giant rill down the centre of the street.

And then, across the street, the cute l’il sidewalk plow. Awww…

A grader will make a second pass (or some days, they use TWO GRADERS AT ONCE!!!!) to clear the sidewalk snow into the centre of the street. And all the while, the children peer out the window. Waiting, watching, thrilled to bits!

The piece de resistance is this. My porch gets in the way, but what you’re seeing here is a GIANT SNOWBLOWER, with big blades on the front, and a chute which shoots the snow into the DUMP TRUCK that drives slowly alongside. There are other dump trucks lined up at the base of the street, so when one is filled, the next pulls up with nary a beat missed.

(Do you have any idea how exciting this is?????)

All the children love the show. They stood like this on the couch for a solid hour. The trucks were only directly out front for a few minutes, you understand, but it happens in stages: a few minutes on our side, and then, some while later, a few minutes on the other side, and then, later again, the snowblower and dump truck.

There was no running back and forth to the window, however, because between the appearances, they could hear the machinery rumbling through the neighbouring streets, and that was sufficient to keep them there. For an hour.

They would have stayed longer, except that lunch was served. Even the Call of the Plows couldn’t outweigh the Call of the Bellies.

All except… Rory. Rory loves trucks and tractors above all things. Except perhaps ducks. And worms. And skating with daddy. And tobogganing. And why snow melts. And how colours blend. And that prism in the window. And why Daisy will eat poo. And that his baby sister gets milk from his mommy. And that when you’re old, you get white hair like nana. And…

Okay, so Rory is just a smart, curious boy. Who LOVES TRUCKS. Who loves trucks EVEN MORE than he loves lunch. (And he generally has a couple of helpings.)

You know what? Is that not just so sweet, the little boy glued to the window by his intense enthusiasm? His driving interest? Doesn’t he just look so wee, standing there on the couch, peering out, all by his lonesome?

This was just so damned adorable, I actually broke a house rule, and let him eat his lunch standing there at the window.

Because snowbank removal, that just doesn’t happen every day!

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Canada | , , , | 6 Comments

Because maybe it changed in the last 10 minutes?

Two little girls colour at the dining room table. One pauses and looks at the other.

“Grace? What is your name, Grace?”

The second little girl pauses to give the question due consideration, then answers.


“Oh. Your name is Grace?” This said in tones of so-polite enquiry. Just checking that she heard it right.

“Yes. And your name is Jazz?” An equally polite question, its inflection oh-so-genteel.

“Yes, I am Jazz.”


And they continue colouring, both under the apparent impression this was a perfectly rational exchange. Between, I note, two elderly Edwardian ladies. All that was missing was tea and crumpets and white lace gloves…

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, manners, quirks and quirkiness, the things they say! | | 2 Comments

The new model’s detachable

“Hey, Grace! Hey, Jazz! Wanna see my uh-yer-wears?” Rory, our last hold-out, is potty trained!

“Wanna see?”

“Okay!” The girls are loud in their enthusiasm. Big Boy (and Girl) Underwear is THE topic of conversation these days. Well, THE topic, challenged only by pee, and, perhaps even more fascinating, poo. Potties and their contents. Good times.

We are all very, very proud of our underwear around here. Generally, we show it to each other, unworn, folded neatly in their backpacks or their storage bin, but it’s not at all uncommon, however, for one child to flash their panties to the group.

It is, however, much, much easier to flash your panties if you are wearing a dress. When one is wearing elastic-waisted jeans, it is much more likely that —

“Rory! Dat is not your panties!” Jazz is indignant. “Dat is your penis!” Indignant and disparaging. Who wants to see that stupid thing when there are underwear in the offing?

Oops. As Rory struggles to disentangle underwear from jeans (no, I’m not helping; this is way too entertaining), the girls continue to chat.

“My daddy has a peanuts,” Grace informs Jazz.

“Hey! My daddy has one, too!” Jazz is delighted by this remarkable coincidence.

“My daddy has one,” Grace expands, and then, giving Rory a meaningful look, “but he keeps his at home.”

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, potty tales, Rory, the things they say! | , | 5 Comments

It’s magic!

our theme for January was Fairy Tales. Last week, we made magic wands. It was an entire week’s activity. Gather your supplies:

The blue on the left is Bristol board, the bowl is a flour-water paper mache paste. Roll the Bristol board up into wand-size cylinders. Secure with duct tape.

Add the cardboard disk to the top.

I made a couple of slits in the top of the handle to insert the disk, but I doubt it was really necessary. You have to secure it with duct tape, anyway.

Cover it all with paper mache. I did two layers of paper and paste one evening after work, so that the wands would be sturdy. The next day, the kids got to put on a third layer. That way it could be all about process and fun for them, and no one would have to be worrying too much about whether it would actually, you know, work.

Dry overnight…

…in a place where your puppy can’t reach them. I figure we’re lucky we had any left at all. Paper, flour, and water is YUMMY!!! Happily, it’s also easy to fix.

We did one coat of white on all of them, before they chose their final colours. Daniel chose turquoise…

Grace chose red. Then we decorated! Stickers, glitter, ribbons, beads… (On another evening, I sealed them all with a couple of coats of Podgy before we commenced to ribbons and beads, so as to seal in the glitter. I rather like glitter, sparkling up my house. I understand this feeling isn’t universal…)

Grace focussed for a looooong time, putting star-shaped beads on the ribbon. Beading is a most excellent activity for developing fine-motor control.

Ta-dah!! We were so busy playing with them I forgot to take pictures, and only remembered to snap one picture of the last one before it left the house. We had two reds, two purples, and one turquoise, all of them beautiful!

February 3, 2012 Posted by | crafts | , , | 3 Comments

I have the best husband

in the world. Just sayin’.

Why? Just a ‘thank you for everything’.

February 1, 2012 Posted by | commemoration | 1 Comment