It’s Not All Mary Poppins

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

All you need is…

A story from Friday. You might recall Friday? This happened late Friday afternoon. I was tired. I was perhaps even a bit giddy. I can get that way when I’m tired. We are singing, as we do in the late afternoons.

“Old MacDonald had a farm!
And on this farm he had a…”

“Grace, it’s your turn. What did he have?” Grace flips over the card in her lap, looks at the picture.

“He had a pig! And what sound does a pig make?”

Grace snorts most realistically. No anemic ‘oink, oinks’ around here. No, we go for full-on, full-nose, open-mouthed snorts, snorts with added value grunting. Because we have been to the farm! We know what pigs sound like!

The song continues. Each child has a card in their lap; I have a pile beside me, ready to hand out for the next round of verses. Rory had a goat. Jazz had a bunny. (No, bunnies don’t make noises — unless you count the “I’m-going-to-die!!!” shriek of terror, which I am not about to teach a bunch of babies — so what we do is twitch our noses. Cutest damned thing you ever want to see, five toddlers attempting to twitch their noses. Assuming you can get them all to twitch at the same time. Generally Grace and Rory manage it while the others give them WTF stares…)

So. Grace had a pig, Rory a goat, Jazz a bunny. And Poppy?

“What did he have, Poppy? What animal is that?”

Poppy looks at her card, considering.

Arse.” Her voice is firm. She knows what she knows. “Arse.”

I quell a giggle. “No, lovie. That’s a cow.”


“Cow, that’s right! And what does a cow say?”

She knows the “moo”, attempts a creditably drawn-out lowing. “Mmmmmoooo.” We’re back on track. Away we go, taking turns through sheep, duck, rooster, dog … and then… this picture hits the top of the pile.

So of course I give it to Poppy. Because I am mature like that. Poppy is pleased to see this picture, because this one? This one she knows!


(HA! Did I call that right, or what?!)

You will recall that I am a wild and weary woman by now, twenty or so minutes from closing on a Friday afternoon. Teachable moment, pshaw! Improve her vocabulary? Correct her pronunciation?


“That’s right! Arse!” I start to giggle. The kids smile tentatively, as they often do when an adult is being inexplicable. “Old MacDonald had an arse!” Now I’m laughing. “In fact,” I say, because I am totally on a SUPER-CLEVER, totally HIGH-CLASS roll now, “Old MacDonald had a whole herd of arses!”

I’m not quite rolling on the floor laughing, but it’s close. Rory, Grace and Poppy laugh with me, though a bit uncertainly. What are we laughing about? God knows, but it must be funny!!! Right? Yeah! Daniel doesn’t often pay much attention to circle time, but my hysteria giggles have drawn him in, and he stands at the edges, grinning broadly.

“Arse! Arse!” Poppy has gathered in some vague way this word is the source of the hilarity. “Arse!”

I attempt to sing, “Old MacDonald had an arse”, but I shudder into giggles partway through. The others are laughing without reserve now. Full-on belly laughs all round. We are a jiggling heap of lunatics right now, even though only one of us knows what’s so damned funny. Laughter being contagious and all.

Jazz, however, appears immune. She surveys the bedlam around her disapprovingly.

“NoooOOO!” her voice is thick with indignation. “HORSE. Is a HORSE, Mary!”

Does this calm us down? Not even close. In fact, and I know this might surprise you — it certainly surprised her — her protests just made me laugh harder. She huffs at us. Poor indignant, over-ridden Jazz. And the laughter rolls on.

Friday afternoon turned out to be pretty good, after all, all things considered.


November 21, 2011 Posted by | Jazz, music, Poppy, the things they say! | , , , | 3 Comments

You mis-heard it here

I tweeted this, but it bears repeating.

Jazz and Grace, chanting the familiar rhyme. Many of you know it, I’m sure. It goes like this:

FIVE little monkeys
Jumping on the bed.
ONE fell off and bumped her head.
Mama called the doctor, the doctor said,
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

Next verse, FOUR little monkeys, etc., etc.

Only yesterday, when Jazz and Grace sang it, the doctor’s prescription was slightly different.

Mama called the doctor, the doctor said…


Well, really.
I should say so.

November 4, 2011 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, the things they say! | , , , , | 4 Comments

Weirdest thing I heard today

Subtitle: I think Rory’s reached the end of his potty-training tolerance.

“I saw pee come down out of the sky.”
Rory’s brown eyes are wide and quite sincere. I must’ve heard him wrong.
“You saw pee come down out of the sky?”
“Yup!” Guess I did hear him right. He’s very sure.
“You did?” I let my incredulity show, just a little.
“Yup. It falled down from an airplane.”

So there. YOU tell him he didn’t. Me, I just let it go…

October 7, 2011 Posted by | Rory, the things they say! | , , , | 5 Comments

Little Miss Echo

Rory, little Rory, is not so little any more. From being a solemn watcher from the sidelines, he has become far more engaged. Not that he can’t play happily alone for long stretches, but he now knows how to interact — and he enjoys it. His language has taken a ginormous leap forward, too, which undoubtedly assists (or perhaps originates) his social efforts. He has turned from my wide-eyed Silent Boy into Word Boy. He chatters, chatters, chatters. Not a steady, unceasing narration of his life (which, I tell you now, in the hands of the right child, can drive you INSANE), but a cheerful conversation whenever he has your attention. He’s not just talking to make noise, he’s actually seeking the answers.

And, since he has a curious mind, he asks a LOT of questions. I don’t mind. I like answering the questions of a genuinely curious child.

“Mary, where are we going today?”
“We’re going to the park.”

“Is there snack at play group?”
“No. Some playgroups give you snacks, but not this one. That is why I am making a snack for us to bring.”

“Does Daniel have a green jacket?”
“Today Daniel has a black jacket, but you’re right. Yesterday, he had a green jacket, didn’t he?”

It’s not quite incessant, but Rory’s questions provide a steady thread through my day. And as I say, I don’t mind. This week, however, Grace has joined in, and Grace…

now, I want you to understand that I love Grace dearly. She is gentle, she is sweet, she has a nice disposition, and she is growing into a very pretty girl, to boot. (This despite the constant drizzle of drool suspended from her lower lip, even.) But — and I realize it’s early to make this judgment, and I’ve been wrong before (though not often) — but with all those caveats and cautions acknowledged, my gut feeling is that Grace…

isn’t the brightest crayon in the box.

And we can’t all be, can we? In fact, most of us aren’t the brightest.

Besides, I’ve been wrong before! I recall one young man who I was convinced was just a little sluggish, mentally. His dad agreed. Not that we spoke of it directly, but one day, dad was watching his son do something or other, shook his head and ruefully commented with a loving smile, “You’ll never be a rocket scientist, son.”

And you know what? He’s about eleven now, and he’s BRILLIANT. So there. What he isn’t, is verbal. To this day, he’s a quiet child to whom words come slowly. Give him numbers, give him science, give him engineering, and just step back for the brilliance. He’s very, very, very, very bright. He could feasibly be a rocket scientist, this boy. But he’s not brilliant with the words, and so much of our evaluation of very small children is, whether we’re aware of it or not, a judgment of their verbal skill.

So, when I begin to suspect a child isn’t too bright, I keep it to myself for any number of very good reasons, not the least of which is that I could very well be wrong.

But you guys don’t know me, and you guys don’t know Grace, and to you, my little collection of nameless, faceless friendly internet strangers, I will confess my suspicion that Grace is not going to burn up the road intellectually.

And that’s okay. We can’t all be rocket scientists, and the world only needs so many brain surgeons. Even if my gut is right on this one, she’ll have a happy, productive, fulfilled life, doing whatever suits her best.

If she lives that long.

Because lately, when Rory asks his question, Grace will wait quietly and politely — because Grace is generally a quiet and polite girl — she will wait, I say, until Rory has asked, and I have fully answered the question, and then…

she will ask it again. Word for word. Every.Single.Time.

Rory: Where are the muffins, Mary?
Mary: They’re still in the oven. We can take them out when the timer goes “beep!”
Grace: Where are the muffins, Mary?

Rory: Are we going to the park?
Mary: Yes, we are.
Grace: Are we going to the park?

Rory: Daniel is coming today?
Mary: No, he will be here tomorrow. Today his gramma and grampa are visiting.
Grace: Daniel is coming today?

All. Day. Long… Every. Single. Question.

For a while I was answering her, too, thinking she just hadn’t heard, but too often she was right beside Rory when I answered, so that couldn’t be it. Now I’ve taken to saying, “You know whether he’s coming, Grace. I just told Rory. Is Daniel coming today?”

I get the long, steady stare from those beautiful blue eyes, the drop of drool pooling on that pretty pink lower lip.

“Can you tell me? Is Daniel coming today, Grace?”


“Is Daniel coming today, Rory?”
“No, he’s wif his gramma and grampa.”
“That’s right. He’s at home, visiting gramma and grampa. Is Daniel coming today, Grace?”


“He’s at…” I prompt.

Blink. “He’s at…”

Mary: “hooome, visiting…”

Grace: “hooome, visiting…

Mary: Waits.

Grace: Stares.

Mary: Waits.

Grace: Stares.

Mary: Waits.

Grace: Stares. Blinks. “At home, visiting… gramma and grampa!”

Mary: That’s right! Daniel is at home today, visiting gramma and grampa, just like I told Rory.


And that is why sometimes, when Grace mindlessly echoes Rory’s question, instead of getting her to focus on the answer that was given, instead of going through that long, drawn-out process of winkling from her mind the information that’s ALREADY THERE… I totally ignore her. La la la, I didn’t hear that! And now I think I need to be in another room, right now!!

For his part, Rory also totally ignores her. He doesn’t seem to register the echo, not in the slightest. Until…

Rory: Where is my yellow loader truck?
Mary: It is in the bucket of the stroller, so we can take it to the park this morning.
Grace: Where is my yellow loader truck?
Grace: Stare. Stare. Stare. Drool.
Grace: [face crumpling]
Grace: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!


September 28, 2011 Posted by | Grace, individuality, Peeve me, Rory, the things they say! | , , | 10 Comments

I guess they’re born with it

I live in a lovely neighbourhood. Older homes of varying sizes, from small (mine!) to large. There are one or two monster homes, recent (and unfortunate) additions, but for the most part it’s a nice, tasteful mix. Homes have porches, so people sit on them in the evening and chat. There are young families, families with older children, a few retirees. There’s a river nearby, complete with grassy verge and footpath. Though my drive remains car-free, there is a fair smattering of nicer cars, beemers and such, mostly the quiet, understated kind.

And then there are the less understated. Some vintage, some brand-spanking-new. Now, I notice a nice car, sure, but I don’t NOTICE. Not like some of my charges.

A while back I had a little boy who was a true Car Guy. At two, he could identify a few cars by make, and had a clear eye for the good ones. The regular cars he didn’t much comment on, but let us pass something high end, and he NOTICED.

It wasn’t the colour that drew his eye. There are a few bright red and brilliant blue regular cars in the vicinity. No comment when we passed those. But when we passed the subdued grey vintage soft-top Mercedes? The one whose owner is outside, lovingly hand-buffing his beauty?

“Wow, Mary! That is a FANCY CAR!”
The owner doesn’t appear to notice. Probably too engrossed in the fondling.
“Yes, it sure is.”
“He’s making it all clean!”
“Well, when you have a fancy car, you want it to look nice, I guess.”

Tyler, wanting to be part of the conversation, interjects.
MY daddy has a fancy car!”

I look at him. One wants to be kind. One doesn’t want to quash such sweet family loyalty. One doesn’t… oh, who am I kidding? I’ve been handed this one on a silver platter. But before I open my mouth, my small Car Guy speaks.

“No, he doesn’t. Your daddy drives a Volvo.” Junior is not being mean. He’s not intending to insult. He’s just stating facts. Educating Tyler, who is clearly in desperate need of guidance. “Station wagons are not fancy.”

Car Guy snorts into his shammy. And shoots Junior Car Guy a big grin. Because Car Guys, they know stuff.

August 26, 2011 Posted by | the things they say! | , , , , | 3 Comments

Chatter, chatter, how they do chatter…

For your entertainment. A visual representation of the wall of sound that surrounds me as I push the stroller. One of the many reasons people grin as we pass…

UPDATED TO ADD: Okay, you guys. You all found Rory’s contribution. Kind of hard to not notice the f-bomb when dropped by a two-year-old, I know, even if that’s not what he thought he was saying. But it’s time to move past that. Hunt up Emily in there. It’s too adorable. 🙂

A couple of entries there are recognizable. Can you find Emily’s words? And Rory’s? Oh, wait. Grace is identifiable in there, too!

August 10, 2011 Posted by | Emily, Rory, the things they say! | , , , , | 10 Comments


The kids love silly play. I love that the kids love it. And together, we often get silly. With words, that is. I tend to discourage silly physical play, because you can pretty near guarantee someone will get hurt. But silliness with words? No one gets hurt with word silliness!!!

Lunch is ready. The little ones are in their high chairs, the big ones are scrambling into their chairs, I am placing the food on the table. When I go to place my butt on my chair, however, it’s occupied. (The chair, obviously.) With Tyler’s butt.

“Hey, you! You’re in my chair!”
“Yeah, Tyler!” Big sister Emily chimes in. “Do you think you’re Mary?”
“That’s it! For a minute he forgot, and he thinks he’s me. Does that mean I’m Tyler?”
“Yeah! You’re Tyler and he’s Mary!”

Tyler, who to this moment has been limiting his participation in the conversation to one of his full-voltage grins, shakes his head.

“I can’t be Mary! I have the wrong skin!”
“The wrong skin? What does that mean?” I’m genuinely puzzled.
Emily doesn’t quite “tsk”, but you can hear it in her voice.
“YOUR skin is old, Mary!”


“Yeah, and it gots lines on it.” Tyler pokes my face beside my eyes.
“Those are called laugh lines. That’s because I’ve laughed a lot in my life.”
“And you’re laughing now!” Tyler is pleased. “So I can see them even more!!!”

Yeah. That’d be correct. But better than frown lines, right??? In truth, rather like my laugh lines. I figure I’ve earned them, and they say something of how I’ve leaned into my life. No ‘ouch’ there.

Emily, however, is a stickler for accuracy. “”Those are wrinkles, Tyler. She has lines on her hands.”

I do? Tyler and I look at the hands which are currently doling out their lunch. “Those blue bumpy lines?” he asks.

Oh. Ouch. Veins. Veins which, I might add, have been visible since I was sixteen or so, a result of playing the piano since I was seven. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The fact that they are now visible even when I’m not playing the piano is… is… is reality, dammit.) Laugh lines are pretty. Veins? Not so much.

Time to grab hold of this conversation before it becomes too totally demoralizing.

“Tyler does not have my skin, so he’d better shift out of my chair, or I’ll sit on him!” I make threatening motions with my butt. “Look out, little boy! Move that little bum of yours!”

“Yeah, Tyler! Look out or she will squash you with her big bum!!!”


August 3, 2011 Posted by | Emily, the things they say!, Tyler | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

In which Mary discovers and unexpected thinness of skin

“Oh, my GOD!”

There was a time in my life when that phrase was offensive to me. It was taking the lord’s name in vain, invoking deity in a meaningless, frivolous way. Even though I no longer have that response, I am still far more likely to say, “Oh, good lord!” (Yes, I am aware those two are essentially identical, but the tweak in semantics works for me. Make of that what you will.)

“Oh! My! GOD!”

Though it has been known to drop from my lips, I generally avoid it for a few reasons: out of habit, out of respect for those whom it does offend, and because these days it’s so much the purview of adolescent girls — OMG! OMG!! OMGGGGG!!!!! — at their most shrieky and annoying.

So I have a pretty muted response to it, all in all. Except, I’ve just this moment discovered, when it is being broadcast from the mouths of babes.

Rory, at the front of the stroller, takes a deep breath.

“Oh. My. GOD!!” he declares, in tones of such rich satisfaction that the others are driven to echo. Grace and Jazz pick up the mantra, and now “Oh! My! GOD!!!” is bouncing around the stroller, from tot to tot, and across the road and up the street and round the city and through the province… “Oh. My. GOOoooooDDDD!”

I’m feeling a smidge self-conscious, is what I’m saying.

Rory takes a breath to start the next call-and-response. “Oh, My, G–” Before he can finish, I thrust a word into the air. “GOODNESS!” He picks it up obligingly.

“Oh, My, Goo’ness!” Grace and Jazz pick up the refrain, and I relax. Because, really. Four kids screeching irreverences up and down the street. Where did they learn that? people will wonder. Probably from that caregiver! people will assume. Why else would all those kids from different families be saying the same thing? Only stands to reason. That caregiver who looks so mild. Bet she’s just awful behind closed doors, screaming and yelling, and “oh-my-god-you-kids!”-ing.

And besides. It just tweaks those long-ago lessons. Adults can say that, doesn’t bother me at all. Little kids? It feels wrong, hell, it fells borderline offensive. Babies should not be saying this. I’m a little surprised by my response, frankly. Sunday School is more deeply ingrained in my psyche than I realized. (Train up a child, and all that. Seems I’m a case in point.) 😀

“Oh, my goo’ness!”


“Oh, my GOO’NESS!”

It’s kind of cute, really.

“Oh! My! GOD!!!”


So much for bait-and-switch. What we need is a whole different distractor. Conversation about the scenery is ineffective. Questions about their activities similarly so. How about…

“I like to eat, eat, eat…”

Grace LOVES this song! LOVES.IT.

“Appoos and ‘nanaaaaas!”

And the others join in, “I yike to eat, eat, eat, appools and ananas.”

And this one? It sticks.


July 27, 2011 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, Rory, the things they say! | , , , , | 7 Comments

Word girl

“Look, Mary.” Emily points, interested. “That cyclist is standing up on her pedals.”

‘Cyclist’, she says. Not ‘bicycler’ (incorrect but common amongst pre-schoolers), ‘bike-rider’, or even ‘girl’. But ‘cyclist‘. The best, most accurate word. The English teacher in me is thrilled.

“What a good vocabulary you have, Emily!”

“What’s that?”

“‘Vocabulary’, you mean?”

“Yes. What’s a vo-ca-blue-airy.” She frowns. She knows it’s not quite right, but not sure where she’s gone wrong.


“Yes! What’s a vocabulary?” She enunciates slowly and carefully. And accurately.

“It’s all the words you know. If you know lots of words, and many of them are big words, and if you can use them properly, you have a good vocabulary. YOU have a good vocabulary. There are lots of interesting words in your vocabulary, and you use them well.”

“I have a good vocabulary!” She’s quite pleased with the notion. Her eyes widen and sparkle. “And it’s even better now?”

“It is?”

“Yes, because ‘vocabulary’ is in my vocabulary!!”

Love that kid.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Emily, the things they say! | , , | 4 Comments