It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Another Reason to Love Darcy – the boy can cut to the chase

George and Darcy are sitting side by side on the couch, reading. Arthur bounds into the room.

“You gotta be joking, George! You gotta be joking!” he proclaims. George looks up at him briefly, then returns to his book.

“You gotta be joking, George! George, you gotta be joking!” This time, George doesn’t even bother looking. His equanimity is impressive.

Undaunted by the lack of response, Arthur merely tries harder. Moves in a little closer, leans towards George. Speaks a little louder (who knew it was possible?).


This time it’s Darcy who looks up. “Arthur. Why do you keep saying that, ‘You gotta be joking’, all the time?” He’s not angry, he just wants to know.

“I dunno.”

“Well then, stop it. We’re trying to read here.”

Arthur toddles off.

May 23, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy, George, individuality, quirks and quirkiness | 7 Comments

Houston, we have a Problem

The boys are inspecting the chimney. They had been getting themselves some books, but they got distracted.

“No, we can’t, or Mary will be mad.” George seems to be worrying a lot recently about making me mad. As far as I can tell, I haven’t done any serious amounts of frothing at the mouth these days, but it’s a frequent theme in his conversations. I think it’s more about the four-year-old who has figured out Rules than about ranting Mary.

“She won’t be mad. If we don’t move them, how will Santa get down?” The fact that it’s mid-May doesn’t seem to in any way dissuade Darcy from the urgency of his task.

“But this is where the books go! If we move them, how will we find them again?” I like the way this boy thinks. Is it true some children are just born neat?

(I need explain. Ours is, as I have said oft before, a small house. No space may go to waste, the neatly closed-off fireplace in the living room being no exception to this rule. Because it is, in essence, a painted box set into the wall, it is used to store the daycare books. Board books in the basket on the left, paper books in a pile on the right. So yes, there are books in my fireplace.)

“When Santa comes down the chimney, he will hurt himself on all those books.”

“No, it’s okay. Santa wears elbow and knee pads.”

“He does?”

“Uh-huh. My daddy told me. Because chimneys are scratchy inside there because of all the bricks.”

This satisfies. The boys return to their literary pursuits.

May 18, 2006 Posted by | books, Darcy, George, random and odd, the things they say! | 12 Comments

You Have the Power

Three little boys pound by, one at each end and one in the middle of a long strip of fabric. Round and round and round they go. Dining room, living room, hall, dining room, living room, hall…


You tolerate these things when toddlers have been stuck indoors by the rain for three days. It’s only fair.

Oh! The child at the end is shouting in distress!

“Hey, guys!” he shouts. “Stop! Stop! Stop!”

“What’s wrong?” I ask the distressed one they pound past me where I stand in the living room door.

“I’m tired of running! I don’t want to run any more! Stop! Stop! STOP!!!” His voice trails into the distance down the hall. I wait. They’re in the dining room. They’re back in the living room. Yell at distressed boy as they pass,

If you don’t want to run, then let go!

Child vanishes into the hall, his cries trailing like a banner behind. “Stop! Stop! Stooooop!” Dining room, back to living room. He calls to me, “WHaaAaAAaat?”


Child drops his arms. “oh.” The other two thunder into the distance. There is peace.

April 28, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy, George, random and odd | 5 Comments

Couth? You Want Couth?

Well, you won’t find it here.

George and Darcy are skipping round in small, thunderous circles. Skipping is the wrong word, really, belonging as it does in the same category as “frolic”, “lyrical”, “diaphanous”. Brings to mind fields full of buttercups inhabited by fluffy bunnies and those ladies all dressed in white from the sanitary napkin commercials. The boys’ version of “skipping” is more related to “thud”, “gallumph”, and “ponderous”, and conjures up something entirely more earthbound than ladies in white eyelet.


The boys are skipping, and as they skip, Darcy, showing remarkable ability to fit music to event, sings:

“SWING your partner round and round!
BLOW a fart and knock them down!”

Apropos, no?

April 27, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, eeewww, George, Mischief, the things they say! | 10 Comments

It’s a Simple World

George and Darcy are jointly digging to China. They’re at least a foot on their way.

George: I was singin’ a song when I was lying down about knocking down a tower. Did you like my song, Darcy?

Darcy, quite calm and matter-of-fact: No. No, I didn’t like your song. (There is no insult intended, he’s just answering the question.)

George, equally calm and matter-of-fact: Oh. Well, I did.

The excavation continues.

April 20, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, George, manners, the things they say! | 11 Comments

Hugs are Contagious

There has been an altercation, and Zach is crying. Darcy stands to one side, looking very guilty. Even had I not seen what had happened, the evidence is clear. Nonetheless, I play dumb in an attempt to coax Darcy, normally a very gentle and taciturn soul, to understand and express what has just happened. I draw the sniffling Zach onto my knee and put one arm around Zach.

Darcy was the aggressor, though, so I’m not about to give him the first and best attention. I speak to Zach, but of course Darcy is really the intended audience.

“I bet that hurt, didn’t it, Zach?”

“Yeah,” a self-pitying whimper.

“It’s not nice when you get hit. Do you want me to kiss it better?”

“Yeah,” a little perkier now.

“Feel better?” He nods. “Darcy is a big boy. Soon Darcy will remember to use his words when he’s upset.”

Then I turn to Darcy.

“Were you upset with Zach?”

“Yes. He sat onna rocking chair, and that was my chair.”

“You wanted him to move?”

“Yes, and he didn’t move!”

“Did you ask him to move?”

“Yes, but he wouldn’t.”

“So then what did you do?”

Long pause. He looks down at the floor, he looks up to the level of my chin. “I hitted him.”

“You hit him. Was that the best thing to do?”


“What else can you do when you are upset and someone doesn’t listen to you?” (All right, so maybe Zach doesn’t have to vacate the chair just because Darcy demands it of him, but we’re looking at it from Darcy’s perspective just yet.) This is not the first time Darcy has participated in, or overheard, such a conversation, so he doesn’t have to be prompted for the response.

“I can talk to you.”

“That’s right. You can come get me for help. That would be a good thing to do.”

Time to wrap up. Zach is ready to move on, and Darcy has walked through the process with me. I smile warmly at the two of them, snuggled within my arms. “Okay, Darcy. I think Zach is feeling better now. Now tell me, what are hands for?”


“That’s right. Hands are for hugging. Much better than hitting!”

“I can hug Zach.”

“What a good idea!” Darcy wraps his arms round Zach, and they share a smiling hug. I give Darcy a hug, and then he trots off to play.

Zach is unwilling to give up such a good thing. “I hug Arthur now?” he asks, the first time he’s spoken since he was walloped.

“Sure, if you like.”

They hug and laugh into each other’s faces. Arthur looks down at Zach, playing the kindly big brother to the hilt.

“Did that make you happy, Zach?”


April 18, 2006 Posted by | aggression, Arthur, Darcy, Developmental stuff, manners, parenting, socializing, Zach | 10 Comments

Rules, Principles, Empathy – and a little waffling thrown in at the end

“Leave me aloooone!” Arthur’s voice rises above the steady buzz of play.

Two little boys hover around the loveseat upon which Arthur wriggles, black purse on his lap. He scootches further back into the cushions, his whole body a wail of protest.

“Leave me aloooonnnne!” George and Darcy look at each other and crowd even closer, giggling.

Hmmm. This is bullying, and I have no tolerance for that. The boys may not be doing it consciously, but the impulse is the same, and it needs to be stopped.

“George. Darcy.” My voice is calm but forboding. They stand back a pace and look at me solemnly. “What did Arthur just say?”

“He said to leave him alone.” George offers.

“Exactly. He asked you politely to leave him alone. Please listen to Arthur.” That was the rule. Now for the principle: “If you do something that makes someone sad, you need to stop if you can. Do you have to be with Arthur?”

The boys have the grace to look chagrined. “No.” Good. Rule and principle accomplished. Now for some empathy.

“If you said ‘No’ to me, and I kept doing it, would you be happy or sad and angry?”

“Sad and angry,” offers George.

“Scared.” This is Darcy. Pretty aware for a three-year-old. Good lad.

“That’s right. So Arthur asked you to leave him alone, but you kept crowding him. Do you want to make your friend sad and angry and scared?” (All evidence indicates the answer is “Yes”, but let’s move them past that, shall we?)


“Well, then, you need to say sorry to Arthur for not listening, and then you need to go off and find something better to do with yourselves, all right?”

“Okay.” The boys offer their apologies, which in this house are accompanied by hugs. They move to play with the blocks in the next room. Arthur pops up on a spring, throws the purse to one side, charges down the hall.

“Hey, guys! Wait for me!”

April 17, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, behavioural stuff, Darcy, George, manners, socializing | 14 Comments

Tact and the Daycarista

“Darcy, my father made this for me!” Arthur chirrups. The boys are playing with a toolbox filled with toy tools, many of which are handmade from wood. Arthur’s father, you see, is a carpenter as well as a contractor.

“My father made this for me!” Arthur is pleased and proud. Darcy leans over the block he is “sawing”. “My father made this for me!” Arthur repeats.

“Uh-huh,” Darcy nods.

Evidently Darcy’s response is lacking the requisite enthusiasm. Arthur looks up at me. “Mary, tell Darcy that my father made this for me.”

“You’ve already told him three times, bud. I’m sure he knows.”

Not good enough. Arthur tries again. “Darcy, my father made this for me!”

Darcy just looks at Arthur. He said “uh-huh”. What more does this kid want? I decide to see if I can reassure Arthur that he has indeed been heard.

“Darcy, do you know who made this for Arthur?” I ask.

Darcy gives me a long, steady, “are you kidding me?” look. “His father made it.”

“See, Arthur? Darcy knows.”

“Darcy, my father made this for me! Did you know that my father made this for me?”

Tonight, I will tell Arthur’s dad, “Arthur is so proud of that toolbox you made for him, he just can’t say enough about it!”

March 31, 2006 Posted by | Arthur, Darcy, parents, the dark side | 15 Comments

A Trip to the Museum with Darcy

…and Zach and baby Nigel, but mostly Darcy. (Zach’s contributions are in italics.)

Why are the sidewalks so dirty?
Why doesn’t the bus come down our street?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why did you tell Zach to sit on the bench?
Why is the bus taking so long to come?
Why does the bus make that noise when it stops?
Why does the bus beep when we get on?*
Why is there a white line on the road?
Why did you lock the wheels on baby Nigel’s stroller?
Why do some people ride their bikes in the street?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why did we take a bus to the coffee shop?
Why do we need to keep our blood sugar up?
Why does that machine have all those chocolate chips in it?**
Why does that man make so much noise when he drinks his coffee?
Why do we have to walk to the museum?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why are they lifting up that thing?***
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why did you went onto the other side of the road?
Why are you reading the sign?
Why did the lady not take your money?+
Why is they speaking in French?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why does that giant dinosaur have his mouth open?
Why is the squirrel dead?
Why is the toad sittin’ there?
Why do they not move?
Why are all those kids yellin’ and screamin’?
Why is that door shutted with wood?++
Why is there a toilet not in a baffroom?
Why does that man gots only half his face?+++
Why is it time to leave now?
Why are we goin’ back to the museum?
Why did you forget the coats?
Why is that squirrel lying on the sidewalk?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why are there cracks in the sidewalk?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why is Zach askin’ about the dinosaurs when we already sawed them?

* It’s a bus that lowers so that strollers and wheelchairs and the frail can get on more easily.
**Sadly, they only were coffee beans.
***The museum is undergoing extensive renovations. A large crane was lifting a load of something or other to the roof.
+Because of the renovations, half the museum is closed, and so admittance is free. No tickets required.
++One of the boarded-off galleries.
+++A display, showing the musculature of the face.

March 30, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, Developmental stuff, outings, Zach | 17 Comments

Sorting it All Out, 2

It’s a big ol’ complicated world, and it takes some sorting out.

George and Darcy have arranged the couch cushions on the floor. Darcy was hopping from one to the other – not allowed, as it happens – while George sat on one. His hopping curtailed, Darcy approaches George. Turns out George is being a police man, and the cushion is his car.

Darcy is intrigued. “What are you doing in your police car?”

“Just sittin’ here watin’ for terrible drivers.”

“And what do you do when you see one?”

“I honk my horn and I chase them and I book them.” (This boy has been watching too much television.)

Darcy’s a little concerned. “Police cars don’t honk. Fire trucks honk their horn when they come to a corner, to say, ‘9-1-1! I’m coming through! 9-1-1!! Get out, cars!'”

“But I’m talking about police cars.” George is wrestling with the implications of Darcy’s assertion, and fears he’s losing out somehow. Darcy, however, sees no problem, and hastens to reassure.

“Yeah, you’re a police car, and police cars don’t honk. Only fire trucks.” This is not as comforting as Darcy had hoped, but in a second, George’s face lights up.

“Police cars go, ‘Woo-woo-woo’!” George is thrilled with his brilliance. A siren outranks a horn any day.

“That’s right!” The boys nod in satisfaction. Bit by bit the pieces fall into place. We’ll worry about the sirens on fire trucks some other day…

March 29, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, George, health and safety, socializing | 3 Comments