It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Solomon’s Choice

Jazz and Grace are painting toilet roll tubes. Each of them securely bibbed, their brushes seeped in green paint. They are making Frankenstein’s monster heads, which will become napkin rings for our Halloween party later this week. Each of them has several tubes in front of her, but it is not until we reach the last tube that I realize I have provided them with an odd number of tubes.

Oops. Nine tubes for two girls, means that one girl will get to do ONE MORE tube than the other! This, as you all know, is a toddler catastrophe.

In this case, though, it has an easy fix. We’re going to be cutting the tubes in half anyway, so I’ll just cut the last one in half. Then they can each have one!

“I don’t want you to cut it in half.” Jazz, who finished her last tube before Grace, eyes the now-intact tube. Obviously, she’s working on the “first come, first served” principle, so close in mindset to the other toddler favourite, “finders, keepers”. Neener, neener to you, Grace. That’ll learn you to be so contemplative and careful, immersing yourself in the experience. Serves you right for putting quality above SPEED!

I set a long, level stare on Jazz. “Okay. I won’t cut it in half. I’ll give it to Grace. I’ll give it to Grace, and you won’t get anything. Is that okay with you, or shall I cut it in half?” My tone isn’t hostile, pushing, or sarcastic. Nor am I trying to coax or wheedle. I’m just stating facts. This is What Will Happen, missy.

Jazz recognizes Implacable when she sees it. Her eyes widen, she smiles and nods. “You can cut it in half, Mary!!”

Good on you, kid.

October 24, 2012 - Posted by | crafts, Jazz, power struggle | ,


  1. Not quite the same, but reminds me of the trick of getting two people to agree on how to split something: put one person in charge of dividing it, and the other person in charge of deciding who gets which piece.

    Comment by Matt C | October 24, 2012 | Reply

  2. Hey Mary, Just wanted to wish you a Happy Child Care Worker/Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day! It’s a bit late but I wanted you to know that I think you are one of the really good ones. I’m sure that the families of the children in your care think so too. My daughter and I love reading your blog and we just wanted to say, keep up the wonderful, meaningful and life impacting work that you do!

    Comment by Carrie | October 24, 2012 | Reply

  3. In my family when I was growing up my brother and I were subject to a “one cuts and the other chooses” rule (usually for cake or dessert). The only choice was to cut as fairly as you possibly could!

    Comment by Laura | October 25, 2012 | Reply

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