It was Jazz who thought of this. A small stick, a long stretch of metal fencing. Ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-TINNNNGGGG! (The large support uprights make a different, more resonant sound.)
That’s Poppy ahead, in the hat, Jazz second. All the children but NBG were doing this, but as soon as they saw the camera, they would not stop looking at it! Big cheesy — and identifying — grins all round. Little hams.
As I watched them trundle along the ping-ping-ping-ping fence, I realized I was watching an absolutely quintessential kid thing. What child has not done this when presented with a fence? A metal fence gives you a lovely ping-TING!, but a wooden slatted fence produces a nice clickety-click percussive effect, too. (Mary is very auditory. She notices this stuff.)
Little kids, short sticks, a long fence to make music. Some days my job provides me with little moments of absolute contentment. This was one. THIS is exactly what should be happening. Right here, right now. I hope your day, today, gives you one moment like this. When you see it, pause, and savour. You might even take a picture!
Grace has a new dog! Not a puppy, but a large, fluffy, golden-retriever mix. He’s three years old, and absolutely gorgeous. Got the wide, friendly golden face, and the easy-going disposition. They’ve had him a week.
Two days after his arrival in their home, this game started happening. That green mesh ball is one of Daisy’s dog toys. Tied to it is one of the laces from our lacing cards. But really? It is not a ball and a lace! Silly, silly people.
It is a DOG on a LEASH. Of course.
It follows her everywhere, it comes when it’s called. (A quick jerk on the
lace leash ensures prompt arrival.) And it has an EVEN MORE IMPORTANT doggie feature!
Let’s look more closely. See, inside the ball? See that slip of paper? That slip of paper which Grace has carefully coloured, then torn to the right size? That slip of paper that fits inside the ball, but will sometimes, particularly when the doggie is running, it will sometimes fall out?
That is not a slip of paper! Silly, silly people!
And then, being the responsible dog-mommy that she is, Grace picks up the poo. With another piece of paper that she has carefully folded, to be the “poop bag”.
This game is such fun! Mary laughs and laughs and laughs every time Grace plays it. Grace, and now Jazz, who, like any self-respecting toddler, will play any game that gets an adult’s so-rapt and joyous attention.
They make poo so they can pick it up. Hee.
Now I’m thinking. We’re out of playdough. Perhaps the next batch I cook up should be … brown?
I forget where I got this. One of the Jean Paré cookbooks, I think, most likely the pasta one (which I no longer own), and tweaked some since then. I’m 110% sure it’s nothing like authentic, but that’s all right. It’s tasty, easy to prepare, and nutritious. That will suffice!
This is one of those recipes which works best if you have all the ingredients chopped beforehand. Really. Chop everything first. You’ll thank me.
a tablespoon or three of oil. Any kind, but sesame is particularly nice for this.
4- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons slivered fresh ginger
1 – 2 cups protein (see notes, below)
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 cups reasonably finely chopped vegetables (see notes, below)
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon soya sauce
vermicelli rice noodles
1. Fill a medium-large pot 2/3 full of water, and set over high heat. You’re giving it time to come to a boil, but for now just ignore it. If it starts boiling before you’re done sauteeing the meat/veg, put a lid on it and turn it down so it stays at an gentle rolling boil. (But you have everything pre-chopped, right, so the rest of the meal will come together very quickly.)
2. In a wok (ideal) or good-sized saute pan, saute garlic and ginger over medium-high heat in oil until tender. This takes about 30 seconds. Don’t overdo it. Garlic burns quickly. What you get here is a nice, scented/flavoured oil base for the rest.
3. Add protein, cook till done.
4. Add onions, pepper flakes, and vegetables. Toss lightly, till everything’s cooked. How long this takes depends on the combination of vegetables you’re using. You’re after tender-crisp, not soggy.
5. Drop vermicelli rice noodles to the boiling water. Turn heat off immediately. Remove lid and ignore. (The noodles are so fine they need only sit in the boiling-hot water for 4 or 5 minutes to be ready to eat.)
6. In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, soya sauce, and curry. Pour over meat/vegetables and toss well.
7. Drain pasta.
To serve, you can either add pasta to the wok, and toss everything in (traditional, I believe), or you can put pasta on each plate and put the meat/vegetable mix from the wok on top, letting each person toss their own with a couple of forks. (Or chopsticks!)
You may garnish with peanuts (salted is nice here) if you wish.
This is deeeeelicious.
1. Protein: I use about one cup per three people. It’s up to you, of course. Protein can be just about anything: thinly sliced meat, extra-firm tofu cut into fingers or cubes, soft tofu crumbled in, shrimp, scrambled egg.
2. Vegetables: Again, just about anything works. This is a great way to use up leftover cooked veggies. Soft vegetables (zucchini, mushroom, eggplant, onion, etc) go into the wok raw. Some people prefer to steam firmer vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and the like) first, but I rarely do. If they’re cut up small enough, they’ll heat through, and a little crunch is nice. Because I love mushroom so very much, my mixture is always half sliced mushrooms, and the rest whatever I have on hand.
Grace asked for a nap today.
She doesn’t nap any more, but she did look tired, so when she said she was and asked for a nap, well, she took a nap. Because she looked genuinely tired, I opted to put her in a room, on a bed, with real curtains that could be drawn. So she could have a nap in a quiet, dim environment.
She peed in the potty right before she went up.
I woke her after 45 minutes. She may be tired, but I don’t want to mess up her bedtime, if possible.
And in 45 minutes, starting with an empty bladder …
she managed to pee the bed.
My son’s bed.
Thank goodness I’d pulled his upper sheet, blanket and comforter aside so as to cover Grace with a daycare flannelette sheet.
But the lower sheet and the mattress? Big soggy spot. Ick.
I admit I emitted a dismayed, “Oh, Gra-aace!” when I realized the damage. I may also have muttered rather darkly to myself as I stripped the sheet off, pressed a towel into the wet spot on the mattress, and sprinkled it with baking powder. (When it dries, I’ll vacuum it off. Then the Febreeze.)
Grace stood to one side, watching the sopping-up and the sprinkling-on.
“Yes, love?” I glance up. Grace is smiling, and, very obviously trying to comfort and reassure, she presents me with my silver lining:
“Mary, I didn’t pee on the pillow!”
It made me laugh. I wonder if it’ll work on my son, who has to sleep in that bed tonight?
I am not a sentimental person. I don’t save many mementos and souvenirs. I don’t have overflowing folders of my children’s art work cluttering up my home. (And that’s a telling word, isn’t it? “Cluttering”, rather than, oh, “enriching”, or “filling me with happy memories of wonderful ages and stages”.) I rarely get weepy when a daycare child moves on.
But once in a while, I understand the urge. I get what drives it. Or perhaps this is only my version of the sentimental drive, I couldn’t say.
AKA “Fatfish”, the name carefully inscribed on the bottom of this little gem. What is it? Well, it’s a fat fish. A fat ceramic fish, made at a lovely local DIY ceramic place. What does it do? Collects dust, mostly. It’s hollow, and so too light to be a paperweight. What is it for?
GOD ONLY KNOWS. It’s a fat fish, people. Just a fat fish.
And it sits in a place of honour in my kitchen, because … because it was made for me, by one of my children. And I keep it because …
Not because it reminds me of her when she was a sweet and lovable 7-year-old. (Much like the charming and affectionate 19-y-o she now is.)
Not because I remember how she gave it to me, her blue eyes wide with love and excitement. Because I don’t remember, not at all. When did she give this to me? Was there an occasion? Was this a birthday gift? A Mother’s Day offering? Christmas? I have no idea.
No, I keep it because when I consider throwing it out … It’s as if that 7-year-old is standing right in front of me. I could no more toss this odd, sorta ugly, utterly useless fat fish than I could tear up a crayon scribble in front of the toddler who lovingly gave it to me. (Would I sneak their artwork into the recycling bin when they’re not looking? Absolutely. I do it every day, pretty near. Without a second’s hesitation, without a particle of remorse. Because I’m not sentimental.)
Throw out fatfish? It would hurt her feelings!
It wouldn’t, you know. My kids are about as sentimental as I am. “That weird old thing? You don’t need to keep it for my sake!” Because, see, she isn’t that 7-year-old any more. She doesn’t remember that seven-year-old, at least, not nearly as well as I do. She doesn’t feel the need to protect that little girl, because, for her, that little girl is ancient history. No longer exists, really.
Factually, that’s true, of course. But in my heart, that seven-year-old is alive and well … and gave me this beautifully hand-crafted piece of, er, art with all the love in her little-girl heart.
Looks like I’m stuck with the damned thing.
I couldn’t be happier.
How about you? Are you sentimental? Even if you’re not, is there a particular thing or two you couldn’t part with?
“I have a runny nose.”
She does indeed. Two thick yellow streams descend from Grace’s nose toward her upper lip. As they have done all day long for the past three days. Ick.
“You certainly do.” I turn my attention back to the book I’m reading to NBG and Poppy. (Poppy will now sit right beside NBG!! Only if she’s in my lap, but it’s all progress!)
“But Mary, I have a runny nose.”
I look up again. “Uh-huh. It’s pretty gross.” Back to the book. Grace stands in front of me, looking at bit at a loss. What to do when the adult is being inexplicable?
Why, repeat yourself, of course. Endlessly, if need be.
“I have a runny nose.”
Now, I shouldn’t have to give her a clue. We’ve been through this endless times over the past two or three days. Each time it goes the exact. same. way. I shouldn’t have to give her a clue, but I do.
“You have a runny nose.”
She nods, expectant.
“Is there something you want me to do about that?”
She nods. I wait. She waits. I wait some more. And then…
I wait some more, an encouraging smile on my face. A smile which masks the moan of boredom in my brain. How many times? How many, many times?
“Mary … would you wipe my nose, please?”
And then, as if I hadn’t had to pry the phrase from her reluctant lips with a crowbar, I reward her with a warm and delighted smile. NOTHING could please me MORE than to get my fingers oh-so-slightly damp with the gallons of yellow snot pouring from her nasal cavities.
“Sure I can! Bring that little nose here!”
I object, I really, really object to a child imparting what is in fact information, and expecting me to leap into action.
“I have a runny nose.”
“I did a poo.”
“I can’t get my shoe on.”
It’s the sort of thing you often step in to solve without even thinking about. Maybe I’m persnickety. Maybe it’s because, with four or five of them doing this to me all day long, it’s harder to be oblivious. But, really? To me they feel like orders, orders which display a fundamental lack of respect, that the orderer can’t even be bothered to ask politely.
Of course, that’s not it. I know that. These little ones intend no disrespect, they just don’t know the polite forms. Nonetheless, it’s a bad habit. If they don’t learn manners now, they may never learn them, or at least, they may not become second nature, which is the goal. It may not be disrespectful now, but it will be when they’re 12 or 22 or 42, and people will be less and less likely to cut them any slack for it. They’ll just be that obnoxious person who expects everyone to serve them. The person people avoid or, if avoidance is impossible, they’ll resent.
Good manners start NOW.
It’s like driving a car. At first, you have to consciously think of every single action. In time and with practice, many of the tiny decisions involved become second nature, and your driving becomes smooth. Beginner drivers get into more accidents not just because they make poorer decisions, but because their reflexes are unpracticed, slowed by the split-second of hesitation. I’m striving to produce smooth social drivers, who can manoeuvre the trickiest situations aided by their second-nature reflexes. (Kids who, if I’m entirely honest here, are more skilled than me. Sigh.)
So the rule is, “If you want me to do something for you, you start, ‘Would you’ and you finish with ‘please’.”
“Okay. Would you wipe my nose, please?”
“Sure I will! Here you go! There, feel better?”
“Yes! Mary? I’m thirsty.”
One step at a time. One step…