It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Menu Monday

Monday
First course: raw veggies and dip
Main course: Singapore noodles
Dessert: applesauce

Tuesday
First course: ratatouille
Main course: Fish provencale and rice
Dessert: cantaloupe

Wednesday
First course: Vegetables with peanut-butter sauce
Main course: Cheesy vegetable galette
Dessert: clementines

Thursday
First course: Vegetables with sesame sauce
Main course: lentil-rice cakes
Dessert: apples

Friday
First course: beet-carrot salad
Main course: stuffed green peppers
Dessert: peanut-butter balls

As always, if there are any recipes up there that interest you, just ask in the comments, and I’ll post them.

December 9, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 1 Comment

I confess: I am a toilet-roll hoarder

Because it pays off! Just watch:

Busy, busy hands.
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Lots and lots and lots of toilet rolls. 72, to be exact. Which I just happened to have in a giant bag in the back porch.
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Lots of paint.
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Add a judicious amount of clear packing tape, spatter-painted paper, card stock, and ribbon…
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and you get advent calendars!!
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Ta-dah!

Simple. Assembling them, which I did after hours, was a little time-consuming, but was done while I visited with my children — specifically, my eldest, visiting from Missouri with her lovely boyfriend — so that was fun. Each tube is stuffed with a chocolate or two scrunched up in a poof of tissue (just to keep it in the tube).

Pretty, effective, simple — and cheap! My kind of craft.

This used perhaps half my stash. Perhaps. Whatever shall we do next?

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, daycare | , , | 2 Comments

Soft Heart and Brick Wall

I have two dogs. The older is a largish (about 60 pounds) husky-lab mix with gorgeous amber eyes and a gentle demeanor. The younger is a mid-size spaniel mix of some description, with long feathers and a feistier disposition.

Little Ms Feisty gets in trouble a whole lot more than Ms. Biddable. You would not know that from their respective responses to the scolding.

The big one (Indie) snoozes on the window seat in the living room. The small one is counter-surfing in the kitchen, tip-toeing on her hind legs, nose at the edge of the counter, trawling for crumbs. Someone was making a ham sandwich there earlier, and maybe they left some in reach???

“Daisy!” I bark. “Down!”

Daisy immediately gets down and slinks away looking guilty. Indie slumbers on, unperturbed.

HA!

Nope. Not like that. Not at all. What really happens is this:

Daisy gets down, yes, but fixes me with a “What’s YOUR problem?” look, and casts looks back at the counter that indicate that the second my attention is diverted, she intends to be right back up there. If she had a middle finger, I’d be getting it. Indie, on the other hand, slips down off the window bench (where she is absolutely allowed to be) and slinks away. Her whole body radiates: “I’m so sorry, I’ll never do it again! Please don’t hate me!”

Pssht. Dogs…

Dogs … Dogs, and toddlers. I have precisely the same dynamic with Daniel and Poppy.

Daniel slams a car into the table leg again, dinging the wood and making an unholy racket. “Daniel, I’ve told you before not to do that. I told you if it happened again, you would have to stop playing with the car. Now you need to give me that car and find something else to do.”

And we’re off. By the age of three, with two years of Mary-training under his belt, any other child in the daycare would hand over the car. Reluctantly, perhaps, but they’d hand it. But this is Daniel.

“Give me the car please, Daniel, and we’ll find you something else to do.”
“I don’t want to.”
I hold out my hand, he hides the car behind his back.
“I know you don’t want to, but I didn’t want you to keep bashing my table, and you did anyway. Give me the car.”
“No.”

“Daniel, you can either give me that car on your own, or I will take it from you.”
“I don’t want to! I don’t want you to have the car!”
I pull his arm out from behind his back. He tightens his grip on the car.
“Then I will have to take it.”
I take the car from him and send him to the quiet stair — for defiance, not for bashing my chair.
“When I tell you to do something, Daniel, I expect you to do it on your own. If I have to make you, you sit on the quiet stair.”

Exit Daniel to the quiet stair, howling. (Where, surprisingly, he stays. The one rule he keeps without resistance. Weird, I know.)

So Daniel is Daisy — feisty and defiant.

And Poppy? Poppy is poor Indie, slinking away to hide in a corner. When Daniel is being scolded, or suffering some natural consequences, or howling in outraged indignation that Mary actually followed through on the promised consequences (which should not come as a surprise, geez) … Poppy suffers. Daniel is probably suffering too, in his own way, but that doesn’t bother me. That’s self-inflicted and well-deserved. But poor Poppy? She doesn’t deserve this level of stress and angst. And no matter how calmly I deal with the situation, it’s a conflict, and Poppy is stressed.

Nor am I always calm. Most times, I manage all this calmly. But some days, if it’s been the 47th repeat of this pattern in a single [expletive deleted] morning, my intensity cranks up jest a titch. Yesterday afternoon, I actually shouted.

If you knew me in real life, that would tell you a lot. I never shout.

I shouted. Daniel howled. Poppy ran to the far corner of the room, yipping out a strangulated, “O-oh, dear!”, and burst into tears.

Oh, the guilt.

I leave Daniel howling on the quiet stair. He’s had all the attention I have any intention of giving him for a while. It’s arguable he got more than he should have. His howls are not distress, anyway, but astonished and angry regret at having lost the battle. I take Poppy gently to another room where Daniels roars are somewhat muted. We snuggle. I comfort and soothe.

I promise her — and, more importantly, myself — that there will be no more shouting.

Tonight, when I have time and space, I will strategize.

For Poppy’s sake. For my own.

And, whether he believes it or not, for Daniel, too.

Oof.

December 5, 2013 Posted by | aggression, Daniel, Poppy, power struggle | | 4 Comments

Quick! Where are you, right now?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably female. (Most of my readers appear to be.)
You’re probably reading this on a laptop (or a tablet).

And, therefore, you’re PROBABLY IN BED!!! (Go, read. It won’t take long. Then come back and take my poll!!)

Are you back now? Am I right? I bet I am! Marketers wouldn’t steer us wrong!

So, just to test out this theory, I have comprised a little poll. Feel free to vote. Vote early, vote often! (If you choose “other”, you could leave a comment telling what otherness you’re up to!)

There. Wasn’t that fun?
And, moreover, are you suitably attired in pretty little tank top and underwear?
On a big, white, poofy comforter?

Because that’s HOW A LADY BEHAVES.

Mwah-ha.

December 4, 2013 Posted by | memes and quizzes, Mischief | , , | 24 Comments

Santa Claus, Enforcer

mean-santa“And if you’re not good, you won’t get any presents at Christmas.”

Poppy is explaining the mysteries of Christmas, and Santa Claus in particular, to a very interested Rosie and Daniel.

“No presents? If you’re bad, you doesn’t get any presents?” Daniel digs a bit deeper. I think the boy realizes he has some cause for concern here.

Poppy is firm. “No. No presents for bad children.” She lifts her shoulder and crouches a bit, places her hands beside her cheeks, spreads the fingers, her eyes wide and shifting from side to side, the very posture of sneaky watchfulness. As imagined by a three-year-old, at any rate. Poppy tells her stories as much with her body as with her words. It’s a treat to watch her in action. “Santa Claus watches you aaaaaalllll the time, and you got to be good, and if you’re not?” She stands up suddenly, straight and tall, and slaps her hands together, cleaning imaginary sins and misdemeanors off her palms.

“You don’t get ANYTHING AT ALL!”

I work in a daycare. I have worked in a daycare for closing in on two decades now. I have heard about Santa each and every year. Now, when I was growing up, Santa brought one present. One modest present, at that. The rest were from identifiable people in my life. The big present? The one I’d been waiting for with bated breath for ever and ever? THAT one came from my mother, thank you so very much. I’m thinking she wanted the credit for her efforts. And whyever not?! Let some imaginary dude steal your thunder? Pfft.

So, Santa was part of my childhood Christmases, but not a big one. Lots of other things stood out more.

Thus, I didn’t ‘do’ Santa much with my own children. It didn’t rob us of the joy of the season. At all. In fact, I’ve argued before that shifting the emphasis may even have improved it. (Not, of course, that you can’t shift the emphasis and still have Santa.)

Not that I’ve ever once even considered disabusing a daycare tot of their belief in Santa. That’s totally their parents’ call, and I support whatever decisions they’ve made.

But…

This year? It’s because of Poppy, I know. That “nothing if you’re bad” conversation has happened routinely over the past couple of weeks. The message is obviously being hammered home hard from someone in her life, and there is no doubt it is being absorbed. And the more I hear it, the more it rings in my ears like a really obvious — and not very kind or loving — form of manipulation.

“Be good or else!”

Behavioural blackmail, emotional blackmail. A threat.

Not, I confess, that Poppy seems traumatized by it. She’s more excited, far as I can make out. Excited and intrigued. And, of course, there is no worry at all that her tree will be barren of gifts come Christmas morning.

(Which makes it a completely empty threat, doesn’t it? This is a good thing for her tender little psyche, but, as we all know, bad parenting strategy. Technically, anyway. I give this one a Bad Parenting pass, because it’s more a game than anything, and most kids figure that out soon enough. Has Poppy figured it out, or does she just not see how awful the reality would be, were the threat to actually happen? The latter, I’m quite sure. She doesn’t really get it, for all it intrigues her.)

There’s no worry at all, even if it were a real threat. She’s three, of course, but she’s cheerful, cooperative, friendly. She is in no way a ‘handful’. (*cough*unlike Daniel*cough, cough*)

Down through my daycare years, pretty nearly all the kids have heard about Santa. And let me underline, that though I’m not a huge propagator of the Santa myth, I’m not opposed to it. I’m neutral, I guess. I’m sure most children get the “better be good!” warnings, too, but no one has made as much of them as Poppy. No child, ever. In close to twenty years. Is this a function of her character — does she like the mystery, does it tweak her (greatly reduced) tendency to anxiety, is she duly impressed by the need to behave? Has she taken a mild suggestion and just run with it in a big way? Or is someone in her life really, really working this idea?

I think it’s the latter.

And, for the first time in my daycare career, Santa Claus is making me uncomfortable.

This week, I let a little wry humour peek out as I stepped into that conversation.

Daniel was looking a bit worried. “Santa won’t give you anything?”

I ruffled his hair. “Well, you don’t get anything from Santa, no. He’s sort of fickle that way. But the people who know you and really love you? They love you even when you do bad stuff. You will get presents from them.”

I tap Poppy on her nose. “And you, missy? You are not a bad girl. Of course there will be presents for you!!”

And if I’ve thereby completely undermined the Family Child Control Strategy for December?

I. Don’t. Care.

December 3, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, parenting, parents, Poppy | | 9 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday
First Course: SW bean salad
Main Course: Spinach pie
Dessert: Muffins

Tuesday:
First Course: Vegetables and dip
Main Course: Black bean soup on pasta
Dessert: honeydew melon slices

Wednesday
First Course: lemon-braised kale
Main Course: Meatloaf (I make mine with a veggie layer, for added nutrition/fibre)
Dessert: clementines

Thursday
First Course: cucumber raita
Main Course: Tandoori chicken on rice
Dessert: muffins

Friday

First Course: red pepper slices
Main Course: Singapore noodles
Dessert: cookies

December 2, 2013 Posted by | food | , | 1 Comment