It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Making My Statement

I was browsing about on Pinterest, as one does when one has a few spare minutes nothing better to do is putting off stripping and waxing the kitchen floor. Because stripping and waxing a kitchen floor is something that can best be done at 10 p.m.  OBVIOUSLY!! But it is not 10 p.m. yet. So, right now the best use of my time, the very best, is looking at pictures of Statement Walls.

Statement walls have been around forever, of course. I didn’t just discover them. Neither did you. People were doing statement walls 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, but they called them ‘accent walls’, or ‘the rogue’s gallery’, or “our holiday souvenirs”, or “all my favourite stuff, arranged prettily”.

Still, they’re fun. Here’s a nice peaceful one for a bedroom:

statement1Or a cheap, rustic one for a tiny bathroom:

statement2

Or this one for a kitchen. (Actually, though this is cool, what I really I covet are the penny-tiled countertops I’ve seen. Too bad we don’t have pennies in Canada any more! Also, for some reason I find this kitchen bleak. But the wall is interesting.)

statement3

You know how it is. You see these things, and you think, “Hey! I could do that! I could be all cool and slick and organized and design-y!” You don’t? It just makes you feel hopelessly inadequate? Oh, dear. I’m so sorry. I hope I haven’t made you feel bad. See, for me, this stuff energizes me! Thrills me to the core! Inspires vast outpourings of wannabe creative juices! Because, really! I have walls, right? And I have pictures! I could do shit like this!

I could! I just know it! And then I, too, could live in a slick, clever, designer-y home that just screams “SOPHISTICATED, INTELLIGENT, WITH-IT WOMAN LIVES HERE!” (The observation that sophisticated people do not pepper their writing with BLOCK CAPS and exclamation points!!! is well taken. I will try to rein it in, and thus up my sophistication quotient.)

Pallets are cheap. The fact that I have no idea where to get pallets, that they’re probably full of nasty preservatives and absolutely Ground Zero for splinters doesn’t ruffle my consciousness. Because that wall in that bathroom is cool!

And pennies? Pennies can be had for, well, pennies!! Well. Not no more, here in Canada. Okay. So no pennies. But oh, my happily creating little mind says, how about buttons? Buttons would be just perfect for a craft room! I bet I could make a wall of buttons in a craft room!! No, I don’t actually have a craft room, but just think what a bright, fun, playful statement a wall of buttons would make!!

You can see why Pinterest is such a bad bad fun fun place for me!

So I start looking around my small house. Surely there’s potential somewhere.  I wander through my home with an eye to a spot to Make My Statement.

I find rooms that have essentially no walls. (How does the ceiling stay up with all those doors and windows?) I find rooms that are too small, too damp (ew, is that mold in the bathroom?), too full of other stuff, walls that are hidden behind shelves and closet rails.

All I need is one wall. Just one. Should it be so difficult to find?

I wander into the dining room. There it is! My long, clear, un-doored, un-windowed, un-obstructed, potential Statement Wall. Right on the main floor! Only there’s a lot of stuff to be taken down first. Stuff. Oh, the stuff. So much stuff. Daycares, I tell you. They clutter your home, people. It’s outrageous.

I mean, just look at it:

A calendar and weather cards. An alphabet, stretching as far as the eye can see…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Number cards, art work, Hippos preparing to Go Berserk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red yarn for hanging art work, graphs and charts and plans for the day and week. The alphabet even sneaks round the corner and onto the next wall!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How on earth can I make any kind of statement with all that STUFF?

Except…

Could it be?

There is a certain theme here. A playful motif. A whimsical consistency. Internal integrity. I look at the clutter that is my dining room wall. I look at the stuff. ALL THAT STUFF!

And, with a sudden blinding flash of clarity and insight I realize I am looking at a Statement Wall. An inadvertent statement wall, but a Statement Wall nonetheless. I am so happy. I have succeeded without even trying. I am a Design Idiot Savant. It’s very clear. The Statement this wall is making?

“This is a Daycare, dummy.”

Pinterest would be so proud.

 

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October 14, 2014 Posted by | daycare, Mischief | , , | 2 Comments

I was on a train with Jeffrey once…

February 28, 2014 Posted by | Mischief | | 1 Comment

Made me grin

You’ve probably already seen this, but I thought I’d share. I was a little uncertain for the first minute or so, then the point became clear. Hang in there!

(Thanks to my daughter-in-law for the link!)

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Mischief | | 3 Comments

Santa Claus is *hic* coming to town

Santa-Beer1“Daddy says Santa likes beer.” Poppy has been discussing Santa — again — this time with an eye to the treats they’ll be putting out for the merry old glutton on Christmas Eve.

“I’d say Daddy’s right. Every Santa I’ve ever known has liked beer.” Oops. I just said ‘Santa’ in the plural. Happily, she’s on to her next thought and doesn’t notice.

“But the Santa at the mall said Santa likes chocolate milk.”

“Hm. I think he wasn’t the real Santa, then.”

“No! He was the real Santa.”

“Maybe not, you know. There’s only one Santa, and there are lots and lots of malls. Besides, he’s busy at the North Pole making presents. Most of the Santas you see at the malls are helpers. So I think this was a helper, and he made a mistake.”

“Noooo. He was the real Santa!”

“Well, I know how you can find out for sure if he was real.”

“Oh! How?!”

“You can leave Santa chocolate milk AND a beer, and see which one he drinks.”

Poppy’s mother enters at exactly this juncture in the proceedings. I get a quizzical look. I give her the backstory. Mom is all over that. Because, it seems, Mom also has a backstory.

“That’s an excellent idea, Poppy! Because you know what? I really don’t think that was the real Santa at the mall. You know how, when you told him you wanted a scooter for Christmas, he told you that was no good, because you can’t go outside with a scooter in the winter? And then he told you maybe you really wanted a Disney Princess doll?”

My jaw drops. I make wide-eyed contact with mom. Seriously?? He said that?? Mom nods, her lip curled. What an ass, huh? The conversations you learn to have without a single word spoken.

And what? Is this Santa on commission from Disney?

“Oh my goodness, Poppy!” I am the very picture of puzzled astonishment. “That couldn’t be the real Santa. The real Santa would know that you love scooters, and you don’t care about Disney princesses. What a silly Santa he was!”

Mom and I laugh in what is probably a disgustingly smug and patronizing way as we work in tandem to deprogram the sweet tot. Rotten, commercially depraved, corporate minion sexist silly fake-Santa, pushing Disney princess on an innocent tot!!

Poppy, however, remains unconvinced. “Yes, it was the real Santa!”

Mom grabs the lifeline I’ve unwittingly tossed her.

“Well, I know how to find out. We’ll do what Mary said: We’ll put out some beer, and some chocolate milk, and we’ll see what Santa drinks. If he drinks the beer, that Santa at the mall was not the real Santa.”

Poppy nods. “It’s a ‘speriment!”

Mom and I glow in the brilliance of this genius child.

“Yes, it’s an experiment,” I agree.

As mom shepherds Poppy out the door, she whispers over her shoulder. “Tells my kid she doesn’t want a scooter. Where does he get off?” She snorts. “Santa’s going to drink an entire damned six-pack. Just to prove the point.”

December 20, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, Mischief, parents, Poppy | , , | 6 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

Smile, it’s Friday!

caillou-funny

(Thanks for the link, Kate!)

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Mischief | , | 2 Comments

It is Friday, after all

A wail from the kitchen. A very dramatic, full of pathos wail. A wail of utmost tragedy.

It’s Jazz, of course.

“Grace ate my cake, and it was for AZERT!!!”

I look at the toddler table. On it I see a drift of cotton balls and a sparkly plastic star.

“Where is the cake, Jazz? I don’t see a cake.” (Before you all hurt yourselves rolling your eyeballs at me, I know it’s a pretend cake. I have a plan.)

“It’s right here!” Jazz lovingly taps a piece of empty air about a centimetre above the table top.

“It is? I don’t see it!” I affect great puzzlement. I get down on my knees, tip my head at a dramatic angle and peer intently into the space. “Where is the caaaaake?”

Jazz giggles. “You’re silly, Mary. It’s a pretend cake!”

AHA!!! My plot is working!!! a) She’s slipped off her high dudgeon, and b) she’s admitted it’s imaginary. I let the puzzlement leave my face, and burst into a beaming smile of comprehension.

“Oh! It’s a pretend cake! Well, if it’s a pretend cake, it can be anything you want! So you can pretend it’s still there, for dessert, and Grace can pretend she’s eating it, and IT DOESN’T MATTER!” Because, while yes, it would be nice if they were playing a cooperative game, and I could guide Grace into playing along with Jazz’s game, this little dynamic happens far too often. Jazz, you see, is Queen of Making Rules, but not so good at following them. She’ll set up a game for other people to play, but go with the flow? follow someone else’s play thread?

She! Thinks! NOT!

So I’m playing with her world view, just a bit. Indirectly, in a way deliberately intended to bemuse. Because it’s Friday, and I feel like being a little radical. Mwah-ha.

Jazz’s face grows cloudy again. Grace can have a different idea about the game??? Clearly, I am not with the program.

Ignoring the threatened return of High Dudgeon, I proceed, cheerfully oblivious. “Grace can eat it, and you can still have it! In pretend you really can have your cake and eat it, too, Jazz!” (Yes, way over her head. I am entertaining myself here.) I grin at her. “Grace can pretend it’s green, and you can pretend it’s red, and you’ll BOTH BE RIGHT! Isn’t that cool? Grace can have one pretend, and you can have another pretend, and they’re both right! That’s the fun thing about pretend!”

Jazz is slowly coming around. She’s not convinced, but she’s not complaining any more. I proceed, like the kid on Mulberry Street, snowballing this thing for my own (and, increasingly, Jazz’s) amusement.

“Grace could pretend a chocolate cake, and you could pretend a strawberry cake! And you’d BOTH BE RIGHT!”

“Grace could pretend to have cake for dinner, and you can pretend to have cake for dessert and … ” I pause.

“We’d BOTH BE RIGHT!!!” Grace gets it, at any rate.

“Grace could pretend take her cake right away, and your pretend cake would still be there!”

Jazz is reluctant to give up her dudgeon, but I don’t really care. I’m not coaxing her, I’m playing with the idea.

“Grace could set that silly cake on fire and PEE on it, and it would still be a good pretend cake for YOU!”

Well, now. Fast forward ten minutes. Four toddlers, Grace, Jazz, Daniel and Poppy, thunder from one end of the house to the other, all joined in THE VERY SAME PRETEND!

It goes like this:

THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD!

“Fire! Fire! Fire!”

BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM!

“Pee! Pee! Pee!”

Shrieks of hyterical laughter pound their way into the kitchen.

THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD!

“Fire! Fire! Fire!”

BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM!

“Pee! Pee! Pee!”

Shrieks of hyterical laughter pound their way into the living room.

“Fire! Fire! FIRE!”

“PEE! PEE! PEE!”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
“Fire! Fire! FIRE!”

“PEE! PEE! PEE!”
SHRIEK! Gigglegigglegigglegigglegiggle!!!
“Fire! Fire! FIRE!”

“PEE! PEE! PEE!”

And me?

I laugh. Because, hell, I started it.
And they? Are too damned cute.

February 1, 2013 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, Mischief, power struggle, socializing | , , , | 4 Comments

There are no secrets

Three-year-olds are fascinated by genitalia.

What they have, what the other guy has. It comes up in conversation, casual conversation, all the time. I don’t get flustered, I just deal in facts. Well, facts and appropriate social boundaries. Truth be known, I actively enjoy these conversations. They’re funny and sweet, charming and utterly innocent.

The cutesy-prudery that is endemic in our society irritates the ever-loving crap out of me. We cringe at the thought of having “The Talk” with our kids. We wince when they mention their genitalia. We moan together about how embarrassed we are about our children’s perfectly normal (and perfectly innocent) curiosity about their own bodies.

“Oooooo!” some mommy-blogger writes, “My little boy asked how long it takes to make a baby!” (The child, elementary school age, I gather, had enough of the facts that he wasn’t asking about gestation, you understand. He wanted to know how long The Act took.) This mother dedicated a thousand words (some of them, I admit, kind of funny) to describing how she didn’t answer her son’s honest question, but did manage to convey a whole lot of embarrassment, unease, and shame.

Oooooh, lovely.

Or the daddy-blogger who waxed lyrical (and, yes, he was funny, too) about how HIS precious angel is not going to be allowed to have a boyfriend until she’s 30, and that all prospective suitors will have to run the gauntlet of his protective manliness to achieve their virgin princess in a tower.

Irritates the SHIT out of me, people.

Because God forbid we produce children who grow up into ADULTS. Adults who have the information, attitudes and resources to have, among other things, a healthy adult sex life. They don’t get there because we had one squirming, cringing, stilted conversation, aka “The Talk”, or, worse, just had a leaflet thrown at them when they were thirteen or so.

Do we want kids who have confidence and self-respect? Teens who will see us as trustworthy resources, and come to us with questions and concerns? Adults who choose loving and nurturing partners? Then get over yourself and talk. to. your. kids. Talk sanely, calmly, sensibly, respectfully. Your children is much more likely to achieve healthy sexuality when their parents answer straight questions with age-appropriate information. When their parents are relaxed and matter-of-fact about this topic.

Our children stand a far better chance of getting to be healthy adults with healthy sexuality if we act like adults ourselves, instead of sniggering 9-year-old boys or simpering 9-year-old girls. Grow up, people!

So when the topic of genitalia comes up here, and it does, routinely, we use medically accurate terms. No “pee-pees” in this house. “Down there” means “on the floor”, not a body part.

Boys have a penis and testicles. Girls have a vulva and a vagina. Those are the words we use. We use them quite a bit these days, because there are two three-year-olds in the house.

Jazz and Grace stand over Josh, who is being changed.
“He has a penis,” Grace observes.
“Yes, and tessacles,” Jazz adds. They nod, sagely pleased with their observations.

When Poppy is being changed,
“Her vulva gots poo on it.”
“Yes, Jazz, it does. I’m cleaning it now.”
“And you gots to be careful and not get poo in her vagina,” Grace adds.
“Smart girl! You’re absolutely right. I have to make sure her vagina stays clean.”

See how easy it is?

I have done my best to put this exciting vocabulary in the appropriate social context. These are private areas of the body, and so we don’t talk about them just anywhere. I’ve explained that it’s okay to talk about these things with me and with mummy and daddy, but not just anyone.

This morning I had some wiring replaced in my basement. The electrician is also a friend, so he stopped to chat with the tots. Being a sensible man, he admired Grace’s dress.

“Yes, I have a pretty dress, and Mary has a skirt!”

“So she does,” he nods.

“Mary has a skirt and she has a shirt and she has a sweater and she has tights and she has unnerwears, and”

Uh-oh. “Unnerwears” was already too much information, and my electrician friend is snorting into his beard. He thinks that’s the punch line. He thinks the joke is over, but I know better. I can see the trajectory here, and it’s not heading in a G-rated direction. I don’t interject quickly enough, however.

“… unnerwears and she has a VULVA!” Grace stops, pleased to have gotten the Topic of the Month into conversation.

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Only a three-year-old could put you in the position of encouraging your electrician to consider your nether regions. (Is it better or worse that he’s a friend, I wonder?) So much for “private things talked about in private”, huh? Except, from the perspective of a three-year-old, we’re IN THE HOUSE, and he IS A FRIEND, so we’re discussing private things in private, amongst friends. What could possibly be wrong with that??

What’s a little genital consideration amongst friends, anyway? We do it ALL THE TIME around here!! Hee.

Thankfully, my friend the electrician is, like me, a grown-up about these matters. He also has children of his own (children old enough to be producing grandchildren, but still, children). He’s been here. He barely blinks. Well, unless you count the wink he threw my way.

“Medically accurate, huh? Good job!” He raises two thumbs as he heads out the front door.

Me and my vulva, we go make lunch for the children.

November 15, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Mischief, parenting, Peeve me, sex, the things they say! | 12 Comments

Personal space? What is this thing?

Poppy fondles my right breast.

Of course she does. Are there any mother-type people out there who have not been fondled by their little one? Or someone else’s? It’s happened to all of you. I’m quite sure of it.

Put a baby or toddler on your left hip, and sooner or later their little hand just creeps across your body, reaches the slope, rests there and … enjoys the softness. Cups it, caresses, fondles, whatever. I’ve been groped by more small hands in my life than I can possibly recall. I don’t even have to think as I grip their wrist and place their hand gently-but-firmly down at their side. The fending-them-off motion is almost entirely reflexive.

Could I be so very inured to it that I let it continue without noticing it’s happening? Well, given that I notice and stop it in one half-conscious action, with my brain only ever half-engaged… Could there have been times when I simply haven’t noticed at all, when my brain never did engage, not one little bit? Entirely likely.

Has it happened in public? It happens all the time, after all, and I scarcely notice when it does. Happened in public? It is, I am darkly afraid, pretty near a sure thing that I’ve stood in line at a coffee shop while some teenage barrista tried not to notice my breast being stroked and squeezed right before his pimpled face. It’s a wonder my husband’s indulging in pretty much the same activity has any impact on me at all any more, poor man.

But today I noticed. Because today Poppy started with the generic fondle but quickly moved to a precise and painful pinch. Of the nipple. I yelped.

“Ouch! Poppy! Don’t pinch me there! That hurts!” Yes, I said she’d pinched a nipple. She bloody well had, and hard. There is no way, however, I’m giving her that word in context of my body. She knows she has nipples, of course. She knows her mummy and daddy and the other children have nipples, too. But you know, I just don’t want to be there at the end of the day when she tells her daddy, “I pinched at Mary’s nipple!!” as if it’s some sort of Terrific Accomplishment.

Because Poppy? That’s exactly what she’d do. With an “aren’t-I-just-so-smart?!” look on her round face. Poppy’s poor dad, unlike his chattering, decisively enthusiastic daughter, is a very quiet fellow. You could assume he’s unfriendly, but that would be unfair. The man is shy. Shy, shy, shy. Presented with a) his daughter, declaiming about Mary’s nipple and b) Mary, complete with nipples … he just wouldn’t know where to look. Not in my face — the eye contact just then would be excruciating, but — NOT DOWN! DON’T LOOK DOWN! AVERT EYES FROM NIPPLE AREA!!! Must look, um, UP! Yes, UP!

Poor man would try to exit while staring unblinkingly at the ceiling. He’d probably end breaking an ankle, tripping over the door sill. So, no use of the n-word in front of Poppy.

“Ouch! Poppy! That hurt! Don’t pinch me there!”

If I can be fondled and only be half-aware of it, so can toddlers half-consciously fondle. Poppy startles a bit and stares at her hand on my breast. “Oh. I sorry, Mary.”

And then, in a burst of sweet empathy and compassion, the wee toddler on my left hip cups my breast in both pudgy hands, leans forward,

and plants a kiss,

right on the nipple.

“There! All better!”

YOU try telling her that was inappropriate. I dare you. 😀

October 10, 2012 Posted by | manners, Mischief, Poppy, quirks and quirkiness, socializing | , | 6 Comments

Dodge and weave for the win!

“Grace is TALKING to me!” Jazz’s voice soars in indignation. Talking to her? How DARE she!? We are walking to the park, the little girls trotting side by side on the grass. I have no idea what preceded this. They seemed to be getting on just fine.

“Grace is TALKING to me!!”

If you have more than one child, or have been responsible for more than one child, you’ve heard this sort of thing before. You’ve probably joined right in the dance. Even though you hate it. Even though it’s silly and petty beyond belief, and ooooooooooh, sooooooooo tedious. Because there’s a pattern here, a tried-and-true, oh-so-familiar call-and-response, and it’s hard to avoid it. But tedious? Lordy.

Boring. I know people told me about the sleep deprivation of parenting an infant, the lack of privacy, the conflict and power struggles of parenting, but I don’t know that anyone ever warned me that great tracts of it are so UTTERLY BORING.

Different parents will be bored by different things. Some parents hate reading the same book over and over and over again. Hearing the same song, watching certain television shows, changing diapers, the constant battle against clutter, cooking meals, soothing a not-quite-sick, not-entirely-well child, helping with homework … Maybe your particular tedium thing is on that list, maybe you’re bored to tears by something else.

For me?

Squabbling. Some parents find squabbling enraging. It drives them INSANE. Me, I find it boring. Boring, boring, boring beyond belief.

Not a real conflict, mind you, where honest-to-goodness problems are being addressed — more or less constructively, perhaps, but a genuine issue is being addressed directly. That’s necessary, and necessary conflict doesn’t bore me. Done properly, necessary conflict is interesting, and, ultimately, constructive. No, it’s the petty, frivolous, pointless, MORONIC bickering that is really just jockeying for power, control, and/or attention.

So, the automatic, obvious response to:

“She’s TALKING to me!” can go a few ways, depending on the personality of the adult involved.

1. Annoyance.
“For heaven’s sakes. Why shouldn’t she?”
“Oh, don’t be silly!”
“What’s wrong with that?”

2. Coaxing.
“But Grace would like to talk with you. Grace is your friend. You can talk with Grace, honey!”

3. Sweet Reason.
“Is Grace saying anything mean? No? Then you can talk to her. You’re friends, remember?”
“If you don’t feel like talking, just tell Grace, politely.”

4. Arbitrator
“If you can’t even talk together, then you can’t walk together. You come here, you stay there, and not another word till we get to the park.”

5. Mockery.
“NO! Really? How DARE she???”
“TALKING to you? How will you ever survive?”
“So, what? You want me to tape her mouth shut, now?”

So what do I do? Well, not 1 or 2. Because I find the mindless squabbling so mind-numbingly boring, I don’t want to do anything to prolong it. If I respond in annoyance, I’m not discouraging the squabble, I’m joining in. Yawn. Coaxing? Coaxing is almost as boring as squabbling. Besides, it puts you in the place of supplicant for your child’s good behaviour, a truly bad parenting strategy.

Sweet Reason is laudable, and were I a more worthy human being, I would do it most of the time, but, oh, the brain-bleeding boredom.

I have been known to indulge in some gleeful mockery. Self-indulgent, I know, but it amuses me. And divide and conquer? Certainly.

Today, though, I simply deviated entirely from the script. Any of those scripts.

“Grace is TALKING to me!!!”

The indignation is profound, the expectation that I DO something about it clear. And imperious. Jazz does ‘imperious’ extremely well. I know what my role is … and I refuse to perform. Instead, today I pretend that Jazz is a normal human being instead of a toddler. A normal human being, interacting with her best friend.

“She IS? Well, isn’t that nice? What a good friend she is!”

The look Jazz shoots at me can only be described as nonplussed (definition 1, obviously). (Victory! Keep ’em off-balance, that’s my motto.)

Nonplussed, confused, off-balance, bewildered … it’s all there. I keep smiling. “You’re a good friend, Grace, talking to Jazz. It’s fun to talk with our friends, isn’t it?” I beam at both of them.

Jazz looks at Grace, who beams along with me. Grace has no idea what’s really going on here, but she loves all the smiles and happiness!

And Jazz … talks to Grace.

We continue our walk to the park.

September 7, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, Mischief, potty tales, whining | | 7 Comments