It’s Not All Mary Poppins

While I was in the kitchen making lunch…

Haley was supervising the children as they ate their vegetables. Vegetables, as you all know now, are always the first course at Mary’s house. You don’t get those yummy grilled cheese sandwiches till the beans are gone.

Haley’s voice drifts into the kitchen.

“Arthur, it’s rude to pick your nose at the table. Here, wipe it on thi–Eeeeww.”

Do I really want to know?


August 29, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, eeewww, food, health and safety, my kids | 12 Comments

Voice-Over for Living

Arthur is an extrovert. No, no, that isn’t saying it forcibly enough.


Yes, that’s better.

With small children (and not-so-small ones) this often means that they talk a lot. Their every action is accompanied by a running commentary, which would be tolerable, well, mostly tolerable… well, sometimes… well…

It would be kinda sorta tolerable on a really good day with great earplugs IF they didn’t expect you to be paying attention while they did it. They don’t expect you to listen, exactly, because generally the monologue is not for communication, it is for their own amusement. It is a monologue, not a conversation. They don’t want to have to listen to you, but they do want your attention.

Your role is to throw in “uh-huh”s and make sure to be looking at them when they look up at you. If, God forbid, you are looking elsewhere when you say “uh-huh” and they catch you at it, the volume goes UP and you’ll probably get whacked in the leg as they repeat their last critical phrase three times over, just to be sure you didn’t miss it. “I gots a red crayon, Mary, see? A red crayon.” A poke to my upper arm. “This is my red crayon what I’m colouring with. I gots a RED CRAYON, MARY.”

“Yes, yes, I see. A red crayon.”

Let me state that tiny extroverts have many wonderful characteristics. This, however, is not one of them.

Arthur’s life is accompanied by a sound-track. He talks his way through every minute of his day, every action.

“Mary, I’m gonna go pee now. I’m going up the stairs. I’m gonna go up the stairs and go pee, now…” His voice recedes as he ascends toilet-ward.

The voice returns “…down step, down step, down step. Mary, I’m back. I finished peeing and I washed my hands and now I’m gonna go build something. I’m just gonna take out these blocks, and I’m gonna put this block here. These blocks are the gate and the truck will drive through here, and…”

Some days I have more tolerance than others. Many days I can tune it out. Generally by the end of the week, I’m worn a little thin.

“Arthur, you know what? I’m getting a bit of a headache, and I need you to be quiet now. Please don’t talk to me.”

“I’m just gonna-”

“No, Arthur. I mean it. Eat your snack and be quiet. My ears are tired of listening.”

A moment passes in silence, broken only by chomping and smacking. He opens his mouth, looks at my weary yet forbidding eyes, subsides. Chews some more. Takes a breath, opens his mouth. Sees my glare. Stops. This no-talking business is a big assignment. I relax my visual vigilance as he seems to be absorbed in the happily mouth-occupying task of snack-eating. I turn to the kitchen.

“Mary, I’m swallowing now.”

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, behavioural stuff, the dark side | 11 Comments


For those of you who are missing Arthur stories, here are a few from the draft file:

Arthur sits on the floor, reading Calvin and Hobbes with Darcy. The boys discuss the pictures, and every so often Arthur will ask, “What’s this word, Mary?” He never wants to know the plot; he’s disinterested in the dialogue, just picks out the occasional word at random. It takes me a few repetitions to see that there is in fact a pattern: Arthur is asking about all the words that look


Even in print, the boy likes loud.

Arthur: Mary, I want to say something to you.
Mary: Well, Arthur, I don’t want to listen right now.
Arthur: [pause] Well, I’ll just say it, then.

And, for the true Mary’s place afficianado, here’s an Arthur-and-Darcy:

Arthur: I love you, Darcy.
Darcy: I love you, too, Arthur.
Arthur: I love you, Darcy.
Darcy: I heard you the first time, Arthur.
Arthur: I love you, Darcy.
Darcy: Arthur! If you don’t stop that, I won’t love you any more!

© 2006, Mary P

July 14, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy | 13 Comments

Mary Drops the Ball. Or Maybe the Sock.

In the summer, my fridge pees on the floor.

Why not? Everyone else around here has probably done it at least once. Well, everyone under three feet tall, which does not include the fridge.

Generally I take the proactive step of placing a cleaning rag on the floor in the usual spot before I go to bed at night. In the morning, the cloth reminds me not to step there, and has absorbed the puddle, which usually occurs overnight. No idea why.

(Yes, I could take the even more proactive step of having the fridge FIXED, or even of BUYING A NEW ONE!! I know that. But those would cost, like, MONEY, people. (Urgh. Had a house of teens here yesterday. Like, can you tell?) With kids dropping out of the daycare left, right, and centre and two spaces unfilled for September, I am not spending money unless it’s essential. Despite its piddling propensities, the fridge keeps things cold just fine. Thus, money spent here is non-essential.)

Course, it’s been dousing the floor annually for a couple of years now…


The fridge has once more baptized the floor, but this day I have forgotten the cloth. Of course, George steps in the puddle.

We take him to the front hall in which are nested their little storage bins, and pull him out a fresh pair of socks. Off with the wet, on with the dry. As I pull the second sock up, Darcy trots over, a trail of wet footprints behind him.

“Mary, I stepped in a puddle.” Of course he did.

The boys, all three of them, were playing together in the kitchen. Darcy saw George step in the puddle. You’d think someone would have learned a lesson here. Vicarious learning, she ain’t happening this morning. Of course, I’ve been doing this for years. You think I’d have seen this coming – learned my own lesson, in fact! But no. Two boys have wet socks.

It gets worse. Darcy is here with his wet socks, and — I GET HIM DRY SOCKS! WHAT am I THINKING?

Peel off the wet socks, and find new socks for Darcy. Am just pulling on the second dry sock, when… you know this is coming, don’t you?

Arthur appears, a trail of wet footprints behind him.

“Mary? Mary…”

June 30, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy, George, Mischief | 7 Comments

Gotta Bust out Somehow

Emma: Arthur, it’s time to be quiet now.

Arthur: All this being quiet is making me want to sing.

June 28, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, the things they say! | 8 Comments

Arthur Fixes the Cars

“Work, work, work, work, work, work. Fix, fix, fix, fix, fix. I’m working on the car, Mary. Mary? I’m under the car and I’m fixing it. I put it up on the chairs so I could get to the underneath and now I’m fixing it. Mary. Mary? Mary, you have to get under if you want to see what’s on the underneath, and so I’m under it, and when I’m down here I can see and I will fix the car. Fix, fix, fix, fix, fix, fix, fix…It’s okay if you get dirty when you’re under a car, because there’s lots of grease and oil down here, but I will just wash off when I’m done and that will be okay, just to get a little grease and oil on my hands. Work, work, work, work, work…I’m working Mary. Mary? Mary, I’m working down here. I’m a busy guy, and soon the car will be all fixed and ready to drive again. Mary. Mary?”

June 27, 2006 Posted by | Arthur | 18 Comments

So Who’s Who? Take a Guess!

Me: Where is Boy 1?
Boy 2: He’s sleeping on the kitchen floor.
Me: He IS? [looking into kitchen] Um, no he’s not.
Boy 1: Here I am!
Boy 2: Are you awake?
Boy 1: Well, what do you think? I have my eyes open and I’m standing right here.
Boy 2: I think you’re sleeping.

June 23, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy | 11 Comments

My Fall from Grace

“Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you.”

“What a good runner you are, Zach!” I call to the boy leading the pack.
“I’m a good runner, too,” says the boy walking at my elbow.

“Boy, you sure love your beans, George,” I smile at the boy who’s asking for seconds.
“I like beans, too,” says the boy who has managed to down two and a half so far.

“I love to see you boys playing together so nicely.”
“I play together nicely. I played together the nicest.”

“Good job picking up all those puzzle pieces, Darcy and George! You sure worked hard.”
“I can clean up, too,” says the boy from the middle of a demolition of blocks.

“What a nice picture you drew, Arthur. So many colours!”
“Yeah. Mine gots more colours than Zach’s.”

“You each pick a book, and we’ll read them all.”
“Read mine first.”

And on and on and on. All day long. And each time, I respond politely, sometimes telling him that I was speaking to another child, or explaining that I meant all the children, or telling him that right now, it’s so-and-so’s turn to hear something nice. And sometimes I simply opt not to hear him. But my heart, she is weary.

At snack time in the afternoon, we are having oranges. Now, I don’t much enjoy peeling oranges, and for snack, I’ll peel four or five of the wretched things. These ones peel readily enough, in fact, but then one of them just won’t pull apart neatly into segments. The damned things keep tearing in the middle, and my fingers become sticky with juice.

Sensitive George notices my face. “What’s the matter, Mary?”

What a sweetie. I make a dramatically disgusted face at the orange for his entertainment. We share a grin. “Some come apart more easily than others, and this one just doesn’t want to come apart.”

“I can peel them apart easily,” says Arthur.


“You’re the child who can’t pull up his own socks, Arthur. Give me a break.”

Bad caregiver. Bad, bad, bad, bad caregiver…

June 20, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, the dark side | 14 Comments

Mr. Liberality

The children surround the table, each with a lump of yellow playdough.

“I’may-en pagutti, I’may-en pagutti.” Arthur has the garlic press. Multiple strands of yellow playdough ‘spaghetti’ appear as he squeezes.

“I’may-en pagutti, I’may-en pagutti.”

George looks at his spaghetti, comments positively. The others join in with talk about their creations.

“I’may-en pagutti, I’may-en pagutti.”

Zach pokes the spaghetti with his finger. He giggles; Arthur grins.

“I’may-en pagutti, I’may-en pagutti.”

Darcy looks up from his playdough, a steadily increasing pile of tiny yellow playdough nubbins under his plastic knife. “Arthur, you only need to say that once. I heard you.”

“Yes, but I’m tellin’ Mary.”

“And she heard you, too.”

“And I’m tellin’ Katie, and I’m tellin’ Zach, and I’m tellin’…”

Oooooh! No need to share, we get one sentence apiece. He’s not repeating himself, merely making sure everyone gets their fair share.

Such a generous boy.

June 8, 2006 Posted by | Arthur | 4 Comments

Today’s Snippet

D: I will be Jesus.
A: I will be da Mother!
G: I will be the Were-Rabbit!
A: He’s not in the Jesus book!
G: No, he’s in Wallace and Gromit.
D,A: Okay.

May 31, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy, George, the things they say! | 5 Comments