It’s Not All Mary Poppins

It was a moist day at Mary’s

Baby Josh reels by. He’s still not walking anything like steadily, that boy. The girls knock him over just by passing too quickly. They don’t even have to pass close, just whip by fast on the other side of the room. Maybe it has more to do with him looking one way — at the racing children — while attempting to continue in a different direction. Or maybe it’s just vagrant thoughts, neurons colliding in his wee head, which are knocking him over. The boy is unsteady, I’m saying.

He’s also, at this moment, foul. There’s a thick green cloud of toxic sludge wafting from his butt end, I’m sure. So nasty in the air you can practically taste it. Gah.

When I lay him down on the floor — all diaper changes happen on my hardwood floor, easy to access, easy to clean — I discover the foulness has escaped the confines of the diaper. Out the legs, up the back pretty much to his armpits. It’s gross, and it’s everywhere. Really, he needs a bath, but that’s very hard to do with four other children toodling around.

(And if you think I could just bring us all up to the bathroom, you have not been around long enough to have heard me note how very small my home is. There is not room, and I do mean that quite literally — there is not sufficient floor space in my bathroom — for four toddlers and an adult.)

So, no bath for Josh. Just diaper wipes. Lots and lots and lots of diaper wipes. Well over a dozen. Five for the butt. Three for the stomach. Six for the back. Oh! One for his left armpit. So charming. They just keep piling up on top of the diaper that lies on the floor beside me, off-gassing toxic fumes into my home.

If you’ve been around for long enough, you also know that Grace and Jazz are poo-vultures. The are drawn to the stuff, in an utterly morbid (and revolting) way. Usually I shoo them away before I begin with a poopy diaper, but for some reason, this time I didn’t. So there they are, peering in and chatting about it between themselves.

“Josh has a big poo!”
“Does Josh have a big poo, Mary?” (This, I ignore.)
“Look! He has poo in his bellybutton!”
“Oh, no! He stuck his foot in the poo, and now his sock gots poo on it!”

Yes, indeed. Rivetting stuff, poo. The fascination never ends. In fact, the fascination of Josh’s shit-smeared body became so engrossing for Grace that she managed to sit in the growing pile of excremented diaper wipes on top of the poo-filled diaper.

“GRACE! Don’t move!” Because there’s nothing I can do about it right now, is there? I have Toxic Boy in front of me, and if I let go, he will immediately make his speedy and shit-strewing way across my home. Immediately.

Grace, however, is capable of sitting stock-still for a couple of minutes. Bless her heart. Not so blessed is the smear of poo on the side of her tights. Urgh.

Josh de-toxified, I turn my attention to Grace. We peel the tights off, thankfully the only item of clothing befouled, and as I lift them away, she pauses, her face twitches, and she sneezes. Directly onto my shirt. A fully loaded sneeze. Yellow snot adorns the black wool.


And if I’d had time to write this post yesterday, that would be where it ended. You’d think that was enough, no? Poo in glorious abundance, with a chaser of snot? I’d say that was enough.

The Fates disagreed.

Later that same day:

Baby Josh discovers the potty. (Poppy is being potty-trained; more on that another day.) There is not much in the potty. With two dogs, three toddlers and couple of 14-month-old babies in the house, I’m careful about these things. But the last pee has not been dispensed with yet.

The last pee was, thank GOODNESS, a small one. (Most of them are. Poppy very quickly registered that if you dispense your pee in many small increments, you get MORE SMARTIES!!!) THANK GOODNESS, I say, because Josh has not only discovered the potty, which he has never really noticed before, but he discovered that “HEY! This inside part LIFTS RIGHT OUT!” Whee!

So he whips out the pee-laced bowl and waves it about a bit. With predictable results. Waves it and, because he’s sitting right there, his kicking feet smear the small puddle around a bit. It is my sudden dart across the room that catches Jazz’s attention, and I’m sure that’s why she had to run in the same direction. Only, starting from a different angle, and a little closer, she got there first.

And soaked one foot of her tights. Happily, Jazz does not have a cold. So I managed to change her without getting further besmirched.

Pee, poo, and snot. All over bodies, all over clothing, all over my living room floor. Guess I should be grateful no one added vomit to the day, huh?

December 4, 2012 Posted by | eeewww, Grace, Jazz, Joshua, potty tales, the dark side | , , | 9 Comments

And an ‘Amen’, too

Josh, as you know, is a heavy little bruiser. Solid as a rock. Weighs a ton, and lifts like a ton.

Which is heavier, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?

Neither, obviously. They’re both the same: One Pound. A pound is a pound is a pound. Physics, and your kitchen scale, are clear on that.

Except… There’s physics, there’s fact, then there’s experienced reality. There are kids who just lift easier than others, you know? Of course you do. It’s the weirdest thing. The number on the scale might say the same thing. They’re both 25 pounds, yet Child A surges up into your arms, whereas Child B drags on your lower back like a bucket of sludge. We’ve all experienced that.

What’s with that?

Josh is a charmer. Largely cheerful, with a wide, square face most often wreathed with a big, wide smile. Josh weighs over 30 pounds. And Josh?

Lifts like a bucket of sludge. Every time I pick up that kid, I feel that “Ooof!” of effort. My back feels the strain. My arms start to quiver. Josh is 13 months old, he weighs 33 pounds and he


Reasonable enough. Thirteen months is not too late to be still crawling. He is not delayed in any way.

But he is heavy. Damned heavy. Crushingly heavy. Thank GOD he’s not a needy little clinger who wants to be carried all the time. I’d be in hospital in traction if I’d had to carry that lump for more than a few minutes each day over the past month. Lordy.

Still, a non-walker needs to be carried a certain percentage of each day. It’s unavoidable. And every time I pick that child up, “oof!” goes my lower back. (I know how to lift, too. No bent-at-the-middle swoops into the air for poor, deprived, bucket-of-sludge Josh. This kid gets the proper, back-straight, lift-from-the-thighs hoist, most often accomplished by a pretty neat arm curl. My back is going “oof”, but I’m developing great biceps.)

So you will understand my reaction when Emma, who was in the kitchen, called out to me in the front hall, getting kids ready to go out. I looked down the hall and saw Josh’s shadow in the kitchen door, though I couldn’t see him.

“Hey, mum! Look at this!”

And Josh rounds the corner.


The boy has achieved bipedal!!!

He was WALKING!!!

I looked, I laughed, I punched the air with both fists, and I shouted out an exuberant and utterly grateful,


Have you ever wondered why your kids always pick up swear words, far quicker than they pick up PG vocabulary? It’s because anything said with sufficient emotional fervor, something shoots out of mummy or daddy’s mouth with some force, that catches their attention. It makes an impact.

I just did that. (And I wasn’t even swearing! Which I never, ever do in front of the daycare, nuh-uh.)

I don’t think any of the daycare tots had heard that word before.

Poppy grabbed it first.


And I laugh. Of course. So then everyone else grabs it, too. “Halleljah!” “Hah-la-loo-lie!” “Hoe-la-loo-lah!”

It was a revival meeting, right there in my front hall.

Thing is, the kids know what provoked it. So every time Josh staggers by upright, he leaves a trail of “HALLELUJAH!”s in his wake.


At the end of the day, Poppy was the last to be collected. I was chatting with her mother (a favourite of mine amongst the daycare parents) about the day, and happened to mention Josh’s new skill. As I described seeing him lurch through the kitchen door, Poppy, who had been industriously snarling my shoelaces into a rich tangle of mayhem, stood up, threw both hands into the air, and shouted



Josh is upright, and the whole house celebrates, world without end.

Hallelujah and Amen

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Joshua, Poppy | , , | 7 Comments

Off to a Roaring Start

New Baby Boy (hereafter called Joshua) has now been in my care two days. (He’s part-time, three days a week. Daniel has the other two, and this week started with a holiday Monday. So.)

Day One, the day on which I had braced for reality the worst reality, turned out to be …

spectacularly wonderful.

Really. What are the odds, I had asked — rhetorically, sarcasm dripping from my fingertips — that I would get a second easy transition, immediately after Rosie’s supremely trauma-free induction to the mob? Very good question. The more pertinent question turns out to be: What are the odds that after Rosie’s super-easy transition to daycare, the next baby in would have, not just an easy, but a TOTALLY PAINLESS transition?


Generally, when a parent comes with a child, a new child who has never been in my home before, the child stays in the security of the parent’s arms until parent has to leave. Not Josh. When it became clear that his mother and I were going to talk interminably (like, oh, 3 or 4 minutes), he wriggled down out of her arms. Wriggled down and scooted away, using that half-hitch scootch that’s about the third most popular way of pre-walking locomotion. Wriggled down, scootched away, and went clear out of sight. (Around a corner less than a metre away. I could see him, but his mother couldn’t. More to the point, nor could he see his mother. Let me repeat that: he’d never been in my home before, he couldn’t see his mother, and THIS DID NOT ALARM HIM FOR A SECOND.


Mum and I came to the end of our conversation.

“I’ll just sneak out now, while he’s occupied,” she said, peeking around the corner to take a quick look and ducking back before he caught sight of her.

An aside: To sneak out, or not sneak out? This is a Raging Debate in some quarters, and of course there are Schools of Thought on either side, each firmly convinced of the soundness of their reasoning — and of the inferiority — nay, the child-damaging, psyche-crushing cruelty — of other perspective.

To which I say … Meh.

Firstly, children are JUST NOT THAT FRAGILE. You are not going to destroy your child psychologically because you called attention to your departure. You are not going to destroy your child psychologically because you vanished like the mist while he was otherwise occupied. You have to work a whole helluva lot harder than either of those to destroy your child psychologically.

Secondly, different children respond differently. One child might genuinely need to wave bye-bye to feel safe and secure. A parent who sneaks off causes more anxiety, not less; the child, concerned that the parent will vanish, clings and refuses to enter into his day. Another child, however, might find your carefully announced departure disruptive to his transition and needlessly anxiety-provoking. He was playing just fine, thanks, until you make a big deal over going!

How do you know which is right for your child? You can’t, because you’re not there after you leave. You can’t evaluate the effects of each style of departure, because you don’t see them. The only people who see the results are the ones who are there after you leave.

If your caregiver observes that your child is happier when they see you go, then make a point of waving bye-bye with a cheery smile. If your caregiver observes that your child is happier if you just slip out, then that’s what you do.


What you don’t do is decide what is the Right and Proper and Emotionally-Psychologically Superior Thing and then do it, no matter how it distresses your child.

That’s just dumb.

Aside over.

Josh turns out to be in the “don’t need to see mama leave” camp. Did he ever notice that she wasn’t there any more? Well, if he did, it didn’t alarm him one teeny little iota. Not a speck of anxiety. In fact, within the first half-hour of his first day in this TOTALLY STRANGE environment, he had bestowed an ear-to-ear grin on every person in range.

And so it continued. Cheerful exploration, friendly interactions, beaming smiles. He ate his food with gusto, he slept like a log at naptime, he ate dirt at the playground, he pulled books off shelves, clothes out of bins, papers off tables. A busy boy. A busy, happy boy.

Did he cry at all, on his first day? Yes, he did. He cried because I wouldn’t let him pull the dog’s ear. HOW DARE I?!?!! He cried because the food did not get to the table fast enough. And he cried because Jazz moved away when he (weighing in at a hulking 33 pounds) was pulling himself to stand using 27-pound Jazz as his prop.

All those are perfectly unexceptional reasons for a 12-month-old to cry. What was exceptional was that not once did he cry from disorientation, anxiety, uncertainty, separation. What was exceptional was that when he did cry, all it took to soothe him was a hug and a cuddle from me. Me, who he’s met all of twice in his little life. What was also exceptional was HOW LOUD HE CRIES. Lordy. The boy does not weep and wail, he ROARS.

I am thus very grateful, very, very grateful, that he cries so little and soothes so readily. Because hours of that ROARING would have me clawing my ears off to escape. If a few minutes of ROARING per day is the only downside to sunny little Joshua, though, I have NOTHING to complain about. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Also, I know. Anything could happen yet. It’s only one day. The very first day. But WHAT A DAY!!!

So far, so good?

You betcha!

October 11, 2012 Posted by | daycare, Joshua, parenting | , , | 11 Comments