It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Persistence pays off

goulash“Would you like some goulash?” Anna tips the ‘pot’ (aka cowboy hat) which she has been stirring with a ‘spoon’ (aka rhythm stick) so that Timmy can see the ‘goulash’ (aka wooden puzzle pieces). Timmy loks up from the puzzle he’s completing, peeks into the pot and makes his decision.

“No, thank you.”

“Would you like some goulash?”

“No, thank you.”

“Would you like some goulash?”

“No, thank you.”

She’s hearing him just fine. Nor is there any misunderstanding. He’s answering cheerfully and very clearly, each and every time. But he is also giving the Wrong Answer. Anna tries yet again.

“Would you like some goulash?”

“No, thank you.”

Repetition is not working.

“Okay, I’ll make you some goulash!!!”

Because, come hell or high water, this boy is going to get some GOULASH, dammit! Timmy’s head come up from his puzzle yet again.

“Oh, you’re going to make me some goulash?”



Toddlers are just plain weird.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Anna, Timmy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Adding to the mythos

1144994_floral___The fumes in the room are eye-watering. I dispense with the foulness under Noah’s small bottom as quickly as possible while the crowds gather.

“He gots a giant poo!” Timmy is impressed, even exultant.
“Who does?” Anna races to see. “Nissa?”
“No. Noah.” Timmy is reproving. “Nissa doesn’t poo. She is a girl.”

My husband’s voice, deadpan, from the adjacent room: “No. Girls don’t poo. They don’t fart or sweat, either.”

Timmy nods sagely. “No, they don’t.”

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Anna, eeewww, the things they say!, Timmy | , , , , | 3 Comments

Someone has a smart mommy

bananas“I don’t like this banana now.” Anna wrinkles her nose at the brown bit toward the bottom. “I’m done.”

Now, I’m not going to let her get away with that, but before I can draw breath, Emily interjects.

“You has to eat that part, Anna! It’s the candy part!”

“Candy?” Anna is dubious but intrigued. Candy is good…

“Yeah. The parts that are brown are sticky and sweet like candy!”

The banana disappears in two bites.

“Yum!” Anna declares. “Banana candy!” Gales of toddler-giggles.

“Banana candy?!?!” Emily loves it.

“Banana-candy!” gigglegigglegigglegiggleSHRIEKgigglegigglegiggle

“Hey, Mary! Can we have some more banana candy???”


May 20, 2009 Posted by | Anna, Emily, food | 2 Comments

Little girl-ness


Sussex Drive. Downtown Ottawa. Very pretty (except for that plug-ugly American embassy brooding over the environs, blocking the formerly lovely view of the Market from Major’s Hill Park, AND taking up HALF the damned street besides), very tourist-y, nicely artsy.

The kids have been full of lookits the whole trip. The bus! The tractor! The geese! The tall building! The Peace Tower! The mountie!

And now? Now Anna’s little girly, frou-frou, bling queen heart is overflowing.

“Oh, MARY!” Her breath is a sigh. “Lookit that beeeeyoutiful dress!”

She doesn’t know it’s a wedding dress. She’s not dreaming of her future groom, nor even that breathless Walk up the Aisle. It’s just a dress, but so… beeeeeeyoutiful…

gallery 006

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Anna, Ottawa, outings, the cuteness! | , , , | 5 Comments

It’s all in the eye of the beholder

One learns, in this business, to make no assumptions. None. Adult perceptions are not toddler perceptions. Bear that in mind as you gaze upon Anna’s artwork:


Completed only 20 minutes ago, and I just had to share it with you. Because I am generous that way. I am also UNflappable. Not a tremor of the voice, not a single snigger escaped me as I spoke to her…

“Well, now. That’s an interesting picture, Anna. Can you tell me about it?”

(‘Can you tell me about it?’ The all-purpose, non-judgmental, non-directive kids-art question. And said, I might point out, in a quiet, gently enquiring tone of voice.)

“It’s my new nightie. It has a fluffy thing at the bottom, lots of pieces of shiny blue dangling stuff.”

“I think that’s called a ‘fringe’.”

“Yes. That’s right. It has a fringe at the bottom. And the shoulders are big and puffy.”

Fringe at the bottom? Big, puffy shoulders? Aha! I was looking at it upside-down!


It’s a nightie! With a fringe and puffed sleeves. Of course!

What else could it possibly be?

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Anna, crafts, Mischief | , , | 9 Comments


“Ow!” Anna’s voice is rich with indignation, and a small measure of actual pain. “Timmy, you hurted my elbow!”

“Sorry!” Timmy doesn’t look up from his pile of tiny plastic bears. “Sorry, sorry.”

Perhaps noting a smidge less than genuine concern in his voice, Anna ups the ante.

“You need to kiss it better.” She waves her elbow near his nose. He leaps up and starts dancing around it.

“I don’t want to kiss it. I only want to say ‘Sorry’. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!” He sings the word as he dances around her. He isn’t seeking to tease, he’s just having fun.

And he’s not at all sorry.

“You know what, Timmy? I think Anna’s right. I think you do need to kiss it better. You hurt her elbow. It was an accident, but you still need to pay attention to Anna when you say sorry. Stop dancing and look at Anna’s eyes.”

He complies. And kisses the elbow.

“There!” He says, looking into her face. “Is that better?”

Ah. Success! Because that genuine attention and concern? That’s the point of a “sorry”. Anna knows it, too.

“Yes, it is. Do you want this blue bear now?”

And the play rolls seamlessly on…

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Anna, manners, socializing, Timmy | , , , | 3 Comments

Sweet mysteries of plumbing

down-the-drain“Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?”
“Yes, sir; yes, sir,
Three bags full.
One for the master
and one for the dame,
and one for the little boy
who lives down the lane…”

Anna bursts into laughter.
“Silly Mary! Not the lane, the drain!”

Well then. Shows you what I know.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | Anna, the things they say! | | 2 Comments

I just work here

caution“FAAAAATTY-CAT!!” Timmy aims a two-handed shove at the substantially larger Nigel, and manages to set him back a pace. They grin gleefully at each other.

“FAAAAATTY-CAT” Nigel charges at Timmy, back arched, and they slam into each other, belly to belly. They both shriek with delight upon impact, staggering like a pair of miniature drunks around the living room.

“FAAAAATTY-CAT!!!” Nigel waits, tense with thrilled anticipation, for Timmy to take another almighty shove at him. They careen into a couch.

“Mary, we’re playing ‘fatty-cat’!!!” Timmy hollers at me.

Evidently. I have no idea what “fatty-cat!” means. Neither do they. (“Wherever did that come from?”, asked a bemused parent later that day. Only the depths of their imaginations, I’m sure, and the fact that “fatty-cat” is a collection of sounds that bounce nicely off the tongue, perfectly suited to a game where you bounce off your friend. Things don’t have to “come” from anywhere. A three- and a four-year-old are perfectly capable of making stuff up!)

(And who but a three or four-year-old could make this one up?)

I scan the room, assessing risk. The only sharp edges accessible to the kids are those of the brick fireplace. I shove a (soft, upholstered) chair in front of it. The worst that’s going to happen now is that they’ll fall over. I let them have at it.


Attracted by the uproar, the girls join in. Within 90 seconds, Anna is in tears.

“He pushed me, Mary! He pushed me and I fell dooooown!”

“Well, that’s the game, lovie. If you don’t want him to push you, don’t play the game. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. But if you decide to play, you’re going to get shoved.”

Well, that settles that. Anna trots off to the kitchen.


Twenty-three more seconds, and Emily approaches, wailing.

“I fell down and hurted myself!”

“I see that. You landed with a bump on your bum. But you know what? That’s what kind of game it is. If you want to play that game, you’re probably going to get bumped. If you don’t want to get bumped, you don’t have to play. But if you want to play, you can’t complain about a bump.”

“I want to play.”

“Okay, then, but no complaining about a little bump.”


“FAAATTY-CAT!” Emily belly-bumps Timmy right onto his butt.
“FAAATTY-CAT!” Timmy hip-checks Nigel.
“FAAATTY-CAT!” Nigel shoves Emily who dominoes into Timmy. They cling to each other, teetering, and land in a heap.

And Emily laughs into Timmy’s gleeful face.

It’s a seriously weird game, but they’re having fun. And learning to assess a small risk while they’re at it. (In case you’re wondering, Babies Noah and Tyler stayed with me. Gravity alone is enough of a challenge to their powers to remain upright just yet.)

I figure the Big Kids can play fatty-cat for another 4.3 minutes until I just can’t stand it any longer. Not the risk. Not the falling down. Not the crashing to the floor. Goodness, it’s only a bump or two at issue. No, no, it’s the NOISE. My LORD, the NOISE!


Because, worthy as it is to let them evaluate and experience risk, the risk to my sanity is even more real and immediate.


Four point two minutes…

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Anna, Emily, health and safety, Nigel, Timmy | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m so proud

blocksNigel is visiting this week. Nigel, Timmy, Anna and Emily are building with blocks in the kitchen. A howl of protest from Timmy surges into the dining room, where I am setting up a craft.

“Nigel! Don’t knock down my tower!”

“Oh, sorry Timmy. I didn’t mean to!”

“Nigel, you shouldn’t knock his tower down.” Emily is concerned with The Rules.

“Yes, but I said I was sorry.”

“Okay.” So long as protocol has been observed, Emily is satisfied. Timmy, however, is NOT.

“Nigel! Don’t knock down my tower!”

“He SAID he was sorry, TImmy!” Anna is concerned with the social facts.

“I said I was sorry!” Nigel is concerned with justice. And freedom from the indignation. Mostly, he’d like to get back to building, thanks.

“Nigel! Don’t knock my tower down!”

“I SAID I was sorry!”

“Nigel! Don’t knock my tower down.” Timmy is not letting go.

Anna has had enough. She lays an authoritative hand on Timmy’s shoulder.

“Timmy. It was a accident. He didn’t mean to knock it down, and he said sorry already. That’s all he can do. This conversation is over.”

(Heh. ‘This conversation is over’ is not something I say. I hear her father in that sentence. I’m sure it’s a sentence she’s had cause to hear a great deal. As measured as our Anna is being here, she’s more than capable of great heights of righteous indignation and equally vast depths of hard-headed self-pity.)

“But he –”

“Timmy?” Her tone is full of warning. “This conversation is O-VER.”

“Oh, all right.” He picks up a block.

Play continues, towers are (re-)built, there is the hum of happy conversation. All without a single interjection from me. They didn’t even know I was listening.


March 11, 2009 Posted by | Anna, Emily, Nigel, socializing, Timmy | , , | 6 Comments

When silence is not so golden

436456_red_plastic_scissorsLittle voices waft up the stairs and into the bathroom, where I am… Where I am. With the door ajar. Of course.

Timmy: “Those are paper scissors.”
Anna: “Yes. I am cutting paper.”
Timmy: “They are not for cutting hair.”
(One presumes this is the Voice of Experience speaking.)
more silence, perhaps a little shuffling

Me, from above:
“They are not for cutting hair! Put them down on the table!”

Noah: “Uh-oh.”

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Anna, crafts, Mischief, Noah, Timmy | | 6 Comments