It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Quintesssential Childhood Moment

It was Jazz who thought of this. A small stick, a long stretch of metal fencing. Ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-TINNNNGGGG! (The large support uprights make a different, more resonant sound.)

That’s Poppy ahead, in the hat, Jazz second. All the children but NBG were doing this, but as soon as they saw the camera, they would not stop looking at it! Big cheesy — and identifying — grins all round. Little hams.


As I watched them trundle along the ping-ping-ping-ping fence, I realized I was watching an absolutely quintessential kid thing. What child has not done this when presented with a fence? A metal fence gives you a lovely ping-TING!, but a wooden slatted fence produces a nice clickety-click percussive effect, too. (Mary is very auditory. She notices this stuff.)

Little kids, short sticks, a long fence to make music. Some days my job provides me with little moments of absolute contentment. This was one. THIS is exactly what should be happening. Right here, right now. I hope your day, today, gives you one moment like this. When you see it, pause, and savour. You might even take a picture!

Aaahhh…

September 27, 2012 Posted by | Jazz, outings, Poppy | , | 4 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

Reality? What’s that got to do with anything?

“I want to trade dollies with Grace,” Jazz informs me. Grace is right beside her on the kitchen floor. Jazz has a baby doll, Grace has a Groovy Girl. Seems Groovy Girls are the doll to have today.

“I don’t want to trade,” Grace responds, calmly playing with the dolly of desire. Neither girl looks at each other. I could transmit Grace’s response to Jazz, but I would rather teach Jazz to deal direct with Grace. I have no desire to be the intermediary in all their encounters, and why should Jazz want one?

“Well, I don’t have the dolly. Grace does. You need to ask Grace if she would like to trade.”

“I don’t want to trade.” Grace is not alarmed, she is just informing us of her position. She continues to play, not bothering to look up.

Given this, it’s rather surprising when Jazz goes along with my pointless exercise. “Grace, do you want to trade dollies?” Jazz asks, in her best, perky, friendly, let’s-DO-this voice.

“I don’t want to trade.” (Surprise, surprise.)

I look at Jazz, who is standing, staring at Grace as if she’s expecting something more.

“Well, Jazz. What did Grace say?”

Grace answers the question, yet again. Her tone of voice is level and not particularly interested, same as it’s been throughout all this. Her position has not changed. “I don’t want to trade.”

Jazz looks up at me, her face happily alight.

“Her said YES!”

Why fight reality when you can just re-write it?!?

(Her didn’t get that dolly. Mary is such a poop.)

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Grace, individuality, Jazz, power struggle | | 2 Comments

That damned stick has two ends

…and Grace, she has such an affinity for the wrong end of it.

Grace. My sweet, gentle, dippy Grace. What is happening to you?

If I had one word to describe Grace, it would be ‘gentle’. She has spent much of her small life so far ‘in the world but not of it’, her big blue eyes not quite focussed on the activity around her, staring off into the middle distance. When she does enter the play or the conversation, she’s most often three beats behind. She has a beautiful, ready smile.

Mostly, Grace is a joy. She’s quiet, peaceable, content to play on her own, content to play with the others. She’s gentle with the other children, she’s affectionate, she’s happy. Grace Plays Well With Others. Three beats behind, perhaps, but well!

Until this week.

There are two armchairs in my living room. One easily fits two toddlers, the other can only fit one. Typically, when the tots pay them any attention at all, Grace and Jazz sit in the big chair, Poppy sits in the other, and Daniel runs back and forth between the two. Up onto Poppy he blunders. Poppy shrieks and shoves him off. Okay, then. Over to Grace and Jazz he goes, attempts to scale the wall of flailing arms and legs and shrieks.

Once in a while Grace or Jazz will feel particularly gracious, however, and one will slide down and let Daniel clamber up. Where he will wriggle and twist and flail and twitch for all of twenty seconds … before sliding down to find something more interesting to do. Because just sitting? In a chair? Is BORING!!! Chairs, Daniel very shortly discovers, are no fun at all.

(He discovers this umpteen times a week, yet it comes as a surprise every time.)

Our story begins at one such moment of generosity. Jazz and Daniel are in the one chair, Poppy in the other. The requisite three beats have passed, though, and Grace, who had been contentedly colouring, notices. Normally, that would mean that Grace would go over and stand by the chair. She would watch and stare. She might whine in my direction, hoping I’ll come and rectify things for her. (The less-attractive extension of Grace’s gentleness is passivity, a tendency to whine about problems without making any effort to resolve them herself.)

Normally she would not charge up to Daniel and say, in a loud and strident voice, “I want to sit inna chair, Daniel. You get down!”

This week has not been normal.

“I want to sit inna chair, Daniel! You get down! Get down, Daniel!”

Of course, in that instant, the chair, the boring chair, becomes the only place in the world Daniel wants to be. Forever! Of course it does. Because Daniel is two. Because Daniel is two and Grace is being rude, rude, rude. His little chin comes up.

“No. I no get down. I stay here.”

Grace leans into his feet, which just clear the edge of the cushion. Leans and thrusts into his face.

“SHARE! You have to SHARE, Daniel!”

I sigh at the cosmic unfairness of it all. Grace’s passivity has been a thorn in my flesh for two years. For two years I’ve been working with her to get her to “use your words”. “If you have a problem, talk to the person, don’t just stand there and cry.” Over and over I’ve encouraged her to take action, to think of solutions, to try alternate approaches. To just stop being so damned passive!!!

“SHARE! You have to SHARE, Daniel!”

No passivity there, no, no, no. Also no manner, consideration, politeness, constructive options, alternative approaches…

…sigh…

I see his legs start to twitch. Purposefully this time. Grace is about to get an almighty kick in the chops if she doesn’t back off. Which she’s not about to do. Though one might argue Grace is currently earning an almighty kick in the chops, it would be unprofessional of me to allow it.

I put one hand on Daniel’s shins, the other on Grace’s shoulder.

“Grace. Daniel does not have to share. It is nice to share, but he doesn’t have to. If you want Daniel to share, you must ask nicely, then wait.” And I walk them through the script. Ask, wait, respond, resolve.

Now, take that event and multiply by eleventy-gazillion. All week, she has been doing this. All week she’d charge up to another child, rip a toy from them, burst into their activity, crowd their space, and otherwise be intrusively obnoxious, and every time they objected, she’d go all, “SHARE! You have to SHARE!!!”

And every time, I’d say that no, while sharing is nice and good, they don’t have to, but what Grace HAS TO DO is ASK NICELY AND WAIT.

ASK NICELY AND WAIT, Grace.
ASK NICELY AND WAIT, dammit.

Every time. How much of that did Grace absorb? How much made it into that pretty little head?

Grace is sitting in the big chair. Jazz approaches and asks nicely to sit with Grace. And then she waits for Grace to speak before climbing into the chair! Jazz has this “ask nicely and wait” thing pretty much nailed. (Well, right now, in this one perfect moment of time she does. Right now, in this one perfect moment of time, I am pleased.) Ask nicely and wait. Well done, Jazz!

Grace says, calmly and with absolute confidence, because hasn’t Mary said it over and over again all week …

“No, Jazz, I don’t have to share.”

July 24, 2012 Posted by | aggression, Daniel, Grace, Jazz, manners, power struggle | , , | 5 Comments

Does she or doesn’t she?

“I stole your chair!” Jazz is triumphant, wickedly gleeful.

I have not been sitting in that chair for at least five minutes. At the moment I am sweeping the dining room floor. Clearly, the dogs are not on the job this morning. Too flayed by the heat, poor beasts, lying in panting heaps on the hardwood floor. I don’t need the chair, I don’t care that she’s in it … but I don’t have it in me to disappoint a child so cruelly.

“Well, love, I am sweeping the dining room, so I don’t need it.” Her face falls a bit. How mundane! How predictable! How boringly adult! But I know what I’m doing. “And that’s a good thing, because if I did need it, I would have to come right over there and drop you right on the floor — on your HEAD!” I make a cartoon-fearsome face.

Jazz pauses. Stands and peers at me, and uncertain smile on her face. You can see the thought bubble. “She’s joking, right? Is she joking?” I thought my mock-scary face would have conveyed the joke, but seems it was too subtle, because God knows, Mary is JUST the sort of woman who goes around dropping toddlers on their heads!

My laughter reassures her. “I’m teasing, lovie. I’m just being silly. I would never drop you on your head. Never, ever, ever!” The relief on her face, in her whole body, is palpable.

“You go on the chair, Rory! She won’t drop you on your head!” Now that she’s in on the joke, she has to share it. Gleeful laughter — perhaps slightly hysteria-tinged for Jazz — all round. Toddlers loooove ‘silly’. Heeheehee.

“No, I won’t. No dropping children on their heads. Why, I hardly ever even think about doing it. Hardly.” Making private jokes in the presence of small children, knowing that no one will get it but you, is one of the perks of working with small children, I figure.

Except …

there’s a scream of laughter from Grace.

And I wonder.

Is she just three beats behind the conversation? Entirely possible. Grace lives in a sweet and puffy little cloud-world of her own. Her voluntary visits with us here in our shared reality are intermittent. Generally, you have to call her name to switch her from her private, happy world to the one the rest of us are in.

But that laugh. Was so perfectly timed. Its tenor so perfectly suited to the irony of my comment.

Is it possible?

Did she get my joke?

Grace is one of those kids. One moment I think that, sweet as she is, she’s not the brightest crayon in the box — and that’s FINE! Popular opinion to the contrary, we are NOT all ‘exceptional’! It’s not an insult to be average. But then there are those moments where I’m almost convinced that the child is brilliant. Not just ‘average’, but brilliant. I feel a growing conviction that she’s not the space cadet she so often appears to be, she’s just working out the secrets of the universe. Those blue eyes are vague not because she’s vague, but because they’re focussed on wonders unimaginable …

Could be!
Who knows?

Only time will tell …

It’s stuff like this that keeps the job interesting.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz | , , | 2 Comments

I couldn’t script this stuff nearly so well

Grace: I have a flower in my hairclip.

Jazz, her tone bright and interested: Oh. You have a flower in your hairclip?

Grace: Yeah. My mommy put it in there.

Jazz, her tone regretful: I didn’t got one today.

Grace, after a pause, with great sympathy: Oh. Well, that happens.

Jazz and Grace, together, nodding sagely: Yeah.

June 22, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, the things they say! | , , , | Leave a comment

Out, Damned Spots!!!

“JAZZ IS IN MY SPOT!!!”

“GRACE WON’T GIVE ME MY SPOT!!!”

“THAT’S MY SPOT!”

I never used to have Spots in my home. Now, suddenly, I seem to be rife with them. And they are all VERY IMPORTANT spots. Vitally so. So very precious, that one person can stake a claim on one which will last IN PERPETUITY. Like gold mines or some damned thing.

There is a particular chair in the living room. It, in fact, has two Spots on it, which is a problem given how often the child in possession of said chair positions her tiny butt so as to cover BOTH! OF! THEM!

Outrageous! Insupportable! Untenable!

I say “her” tiny butt because only Jazz and Grace are inany way concerned with Spots. I pray to whichever gods oversee such things that none of the other tots are infected with Spots, because they are a damnable nuisance.

I never know quite where a Spot is going to manifest. There is the grey chair in the living room. It’s consistent. (Strangely, the chair across the room from it contains no Spots, possibly because it usually contains a dog, and dogs do not concern themselves one whit with the pleadings of small girls re: Spots.)

Apart from the grey chair, Spots seem to shift. So far, we have had Spot sightings on both of the benches in the living room, on the chairs at the dining room table, and particularly those at the ends of the table, for some reason. There’s a small end table that is a Spot. This despite the fact that they are not to sit on that table. Because it is a table, not a chair. Matters not. It harbours a Spot.

There is a Spot on both of the chairs that accompany the New Toddler Table (VERY EXCITING!!! HIGHLY PRIZED!!!). Not too surprising, those. Rather more surprisingly, the Quiet Stair has on at least one occasion been a Spot. A sleeping cot, a blanket, a particular corner: they have all been Spots.

How do I recognize a Spot? Well, to be honest, I can’t tell a Spot from any other, perfectly innocuous, part of my home.

Grace and Jazz, though? THEY KNOW SPOTS!!! And, from what I can make out, a Spot is always, always, AL-F8#@ing-WAYS inhabited by SOMEONE ELSE. Someone else WHO MUST BE EJECTED from that Spot.

What makes a spot a Spot, far as I can make out, is that YOU DON’T OCCUPY IT. If someone else is in that spot? It is a Spot. And you MUST HAVE IT! At all costs! Accompanied by great squawking, squabbling, shoving and indignation!!!! EVERY! DAMNED! TIME!

For EVERY! SINGLE! SPOT!!!

Spots, if I can be so blunt, are a royal pain in the arse. I am thinking of making a new rule: There are NO SPOTS at Mary’s house. Corollary to that rule: If you see a Spot, you will spent the REST OF THE DAY on the Quiet Stair.

Because, really?

Out, OUT damned Spots!!!

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, Peeve me | , , | 4 Comments

You only think I’m patient

It is Quiet Time at Mary’s house. Daniel and Poppy are tucked into their cots for an actual, closed-eyes sleeping-type nap, while Grace and Jazz, big girls now that they’re three, are placed on mats with books and toys, where they play quietly.

Now, Daisy has been making a pest of herself during Quiet Time, hopping onto their mats, chewing their toys, even pulling their socks right off their feet. (On a day like today, when Grace is wearing tights, sock-tugging creates even greater than normal levels of consternation …)

I decide that the simplest measure is to put Grace’s cot in the kitchen and close the big wooden gate between kitchen and dining room. Jazz will be in the living room, where I can supervise from my desk in the dining room. In truth, Jazz needs less supervision: she’s feisty and resilient, and overall pretty adept at dealing with Daisy.  It’s Grace who wilts and wails, so it’s Grace who gets the firm protection of the gate.

However. I have two diaper-free girls. I have one potty. It is in the dining room. Jazz has easy access, but Grace will be on the other side of the gate in the kitchen. This will require preparation.

“Grace, you are going to have Quiet Time in the kitchen today.” Grace gazes wide-eyed into my face. “You’ll be in the kitchen, so Daisy can’t bother you.  Now,”  I walk over to the baby gate and rest my hand on top of it, “the gate is shut. If you need to go pee, you can just come over here, and push it open, like this.” I push with two hands, as Grace will need to. “Don’t touch the latch.” I indicate the latch, so she knows what I mean, then shake my hands in a ‘no’ movement in front of it. “You don’t need to move the latch. The gate is not locked. If you need to use the potty, you just push the gate open, and away you go. Okay?”

She nods, hesitantly. Hm. I’m not sure she gets this.

“Grace, come here.” She trots over. “The gate is shut, right?” She nods. “If you need to go pee, you can push it open.” I take her two hands and help her shove the gate. It swings open. The potty is in clear view. “That’s right. You push it open, and then you can go to the potty. Understand?”

She nods with greater confidence. Okay. I think she’s got it. One more thing to double-check. “Grace, do you have to go pee or poo right now?”

“No.”

Right, then. All details seen to, I send her back to her cot with her books and her puzzles, and retire to my desk. (And why do I not put the potty in with Grace? Because Jazz would have to pull the door open, a much harder task than pushing it, when there is no handle, and the top of the gate is above her head.)

It is not fifteen minutes later that I hear the wailing from the kitchen. I investigate.

“I have to go peeeeeeee!”

It should not matter, but this child is the world’s ugliest cryer, and when I’m already exasperated, it’s the last straw on this camel’s back.

“You have to pee?”

“I have to peeeeeee!”

“So why don’t you?” Yes, I confess, there is some irritation showing in my voice.

“The gate is yocked!”

“No, Grace, it’s not. Remember what I said? Remember what I just showed you?”

“The gate is yocked!”

“Grace, come here. Come on, we’ll do this again. Come to the gate, and push it open.” And she’s through. “That’s my girl. Now go have a pee, and when you’re done come here so we can wash your hands.”

Two minutes later, she’s back on her cot, playing happily. I do my best to shake off the annoyance. I’ve yet to decide whether she’s just exceedingly passive, or not too bright. Either way, I find these sorts of episodes tedious in the extreme, but what can you do? She’s not setting out to annoy. She was genuinely distressed. All is quiet once more. I take a deeeeep breath, relax my shoulders, and go back to my bill-paying.

Jazz sets down her train game and trots over to the potty. She pulls up her skirt, turns … and pauses.

“Mary? The potty is all wet.”

It’s wet?

It is. Grace has managed to pee on, over, and around the potty. In the potty? I don’t think so. Just on, over, and around. The seat is well-sprinkled, the flood liberally puddled. My recently-relaxed shoulders resume their climb ear-ward.

I smile as I clean it up, though, because it’s none of Jazz’s doing, and at least she had the sense not to sit in it. This is NOT to be taken for granted, and I am suitably appreciative. So I’m cheery with Jazz. I say nothing at all to Grace, oblivious and happy in the other room. (I may be missing a Teachable Moment, but I’m just not sure I can do it without undue ferocity. The idea is to teach, not scare the crap out of them…)

I may have ground some enamel off my rear teeth, and my shoulders are pretty much adhered to my ears, but I’m smiling and outwardly calm.

Maybe I am patient, after all…

?

May 3, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, Peeve me, potty tales | , , | 4 Comments

“Catch” by any other name

Jazz has found a beanbag! Not one of the ones I made eons ago. (Where did those go, anyway? Huh. Vanished, completely and utterly. I wonder how long they’ve been gone?)

The beanbag Jazz discovered came from Daisy’s bin of doggie toys. It is not a doggy toy. It is not one of the beanbags I made. I do not recall ever having seen this beanbag before in my life, but here it is. In my home. A dog-toy. Now being played with by toddlers.

One of life’s little mysteries.

So Jazz and Grace decide that they are going to play catch. A respectable beanbag game. Now, I am quite aware of the ways this can go wrong. (We used to have beanbags, you know. I made some. No idea what happened to them.) If I allow this game, I am letting uncoordinated and enthusiastic small people hurl a projectile around my home. It is not a thought I consider without some consternation.

Still, I am a sensible woman, a clutter-phobe, and a daycare provider. My home is not awash in knick-knacks and pretty little mementos. Even so, there are things that could be broken by a renegade beanbag. Things that could be knocked askew, tipped over, spilled. I cast a leery eye over the pictures on the mantle and (more alarmingly) the two hurricane lamps, each prettily half-filled with green oil.

So of course, I let them play catch. It’s a very small beanbag, maybe half the size of the ones I made years ago. (Where did they go, anyway?)

“Okay, Jazz! Here it comes! Catch!” Grace swings her arm in an uber-girly overhand thrust, and the beanbag flies…

straight onto her left foot. Grace’s left foot, that is. Not Jazz’s.

Jazz looks at it, uncertain. Grace clarifies the situation.

“There it is! I frowed it for you, Jazz!”

Jazz’s confusion is replaced by delighted enthusiasm. She runs over and picks it up, steps back three paces and tosses the beanbag. She swings underhand, but launches miles too soon. The beanbag trickles over her fingertips and…

lands maybe six inches in front of her.

Grace runs forward, picks it up, backs up three paces.

And so the game continues.

“Toss.”

Thud.

Run, run, run.

Pick up.

Back up.

“Toss.”

Thud.

My mantlepiece is safe. None of these beanbags are achieving more than a foot of altitude. The game goes on for quite a while.

Toss.

Thud.

Toss.

Thud.

And in all the time they play, it each girl remains blissfully oblivious to the fact that they are not playing catch. That neither one of them has even attempted to actually catch the beanbag. That what in fact they are playing is “fetch“.

Toss.

Thud.

Toss.

Thud.

Mind you, they play that a whole lot better than either of my dogs. (Indie is disinclined; Daisy’s a bit intellectually challenged for something that sophisticated.)

The game continues until Daisy, belatedly aware that that is her beanbag they’re playing with, decides to switch it up a bit and turn catch fetch into Keep-Away. Now there’s a game she can really sink her teeth into!

April 26, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz | , , , , | Leave a comment

A slip of the lips

What do you call that circular toy, a round piece of rigid plastic tubing that you set to spinning around your hips and try to keep up there by just the right timing of hip-swaying?

Yes, that’s what I’d call it, too.

Jazz, however, mangles pronounces it slightly differently. She spots the kid-sized one in the back porch as I go out there to retrieve some spring toys so that we may play outside in the (freakishly) warm weather. (Twenty-seven degrees! In MARCH! For five days now! Though the record-breaking hot spell is broken now: today’s high is 17, and for the rest of the week we’re back to more seasonal 0 – 10C temps. But has it been WONDERFUL? Aaaaahhhh…)

Jazz spots the thing in the back porch as I’m lifting the back of buckets and shovels, sifters and tractors.

“Oh! A hoo-er hoop! Mary, there is a hoo-er hoop!”

Snort. I’ve heard lots of weird mispronunciations in my time, but they usually make intuitive sense. I had a (much younger) cousin who used that exact same pronunciation for “squirrel”. Made for entertaining streetcar rides through Toronto, I’ll tell you, and excited two-year-old bouncing on the seat beside me and pointing out the window. “Look, Mary, look! A whore!!!”

You get quick in those situations. Before everyone on the car can be horrified that ‘my’ two-year-old not only knows the word, but can use it properly, I would leap in and ostentatiously point past the young woman on the sidewalk to the tree behind her head. “Yes, Jeremy. There is a squirrel. Squir-rel.”

“Hooo-er.” Yeah. See, all you people on the streetcar, he really is talking about the rodent! But ‘squirrel’ to ‘hoo-er’ isn’t so much of a stretch. Those initial esses are hard to pronounce, and so are ells and ‘qu’s. And there is an ‘r’ in there. Somewhere. So it’s weird, but you can see it. Sorta. But ‘hoo-er’ from ‘hula’??

Nope. How she gets ‘er’ from ‘la’ is beyond me. However, I don’t really want her bellowing that across the playground. Let’s send some other children home with a shiny new word which will sound much, much worse at home than if their earnest mommies had the visual to explain the joke.

“That’s hula, sweetie. Hooo – lllla.”

Her blue eyes fix on mine earnestly, little pink lips form the word carefully, carefully.

“Hooo-ER.”

“Hu-LA.”

“Hoo-ER.”

“Try this, lovie. La, la, la.”

“La, la, la.”

So far, so good. “Hoo, hoo, hoo.”

“Hoo, hoo, hoo.”

“Hu-hu-hu-la.”

“Hu-hu-hu-er.”

Okay, it’s clear she’s just not capable. She’s really trying, but it’s just not going to come out right. Goodness only knows how her mind/lips/tongue turn a ‘la’ into an ‘er’, but that’s what they do, and there’s no changing it today. But, just for the entertainment:

“Hula, hula, hula!”

“Whore, whore, whooore!”

We don’t take the hoop to the park.

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Jazz, the things they say! | , , , | 10 Comments