It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Daycare, Mr. Tax-man. Really

I’m not sure why this memory sprang to mind today. It could be that I’m diligently tallying receipts for my accountant’s worksheet this week. It could be the lesson I gave Emma in how to record any cheques written. It was certainly the My Life is Average post she read out loud to me this afternoon.

Some years back, I had in the crew a very energetic, cheerful, hockey-obsessed little boy. Even before these two (remember George and Darcy?) and their hockey obsession, there was Liam and his. Liam came equipped with a father, an energetic, cheerful, hockey-playing dad. Both of them, father and son, shared an impish grin and a lively sense of humour.

We were about seven months into our second year of our association when I, for reasons I cannot recall… heck, there probably was no reason; it was probably totally random… about seven months into our second year as a team, I looked, really looked, at that month’s post-dated cheque. (All parents, upon signing the contract, provide me with a year’s supply of monthly post-dated cheques.)

At the bottom left of the cheque. On that line where you write what it’s for? The line that most parents ignore, but, which if they use at all, they write “Childcare”?

HA! Not “childcare”, not “daycare”, nor even the less-pleasing “babysitting”.

No. At the bottom of that cheque, as had been at the bottom of every cheque that year, it said…

“for sexual favours”.

It’s hard to kill someone when you’re falling over laughing, but I gave it a damned fine effort.

And yes, we’re still friends.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | daycare, Liam, Mischief, parents | 7 Comments


I don’t tend to get a lot of tattling in the daycare. This is not because the children are such kind and giving types, nor even my extraordinarily well-honed child-rearing techniques. It’s a developmental thing. It’s about Rules. Tattlers understand about Rules. Generally, children are four, or very close, before they become aware of (and noxiously devoted to) Rules. Whereas two- and three-year-olds are quite capable of understanding that they are not to jump on the couch, it takes a four-year-old to grasp that this is A Rule. Rules can be applied to others: ever wondered why your previously delightful three-year-old has suddenly become so damned bossy? And, aha! They can tell on people who break A Rule. Hence the tattling.

George, at three and a half, has just begun to experiment with it. It isn’t getting him very far, and I know that, unrewarded, it will fade. Liam, though, is five-almost-six, and a tremendous tattle-tale. It must be paying off somewhere in his life. A dozen times a day he races to me with urgent news of someone or other’s petty misdemeanor. My response is always the same, a low-key acknowledgement of his proclamations, and a direction to go back and play. I make a point of NOT going to check on whatever he’s tattled about. This works well with children in whom tattling is not well-established. It lessens the likelihood of it becoming entrenched.

However, when a child comes with the tattling firmly established, direct communication can’t be beat. The best way to approach a child in the Rules-and-Tattling stage? I have some Rules for Tattling!! Brilliant, no??

Rules for Tattling:

If someone is bleeding, tell me.
If someone is in imminent danger, tell me.
Otherwise, don’t.

We had the chance to try this out on Friday afternoon. Liam came charging over to me, the desperate importance of his message and its earth-shattering urgency broadcast by every quiver of his stocky little body.

“Mary!! Arthur’s taking the couch-cushions off the couch!!!!”

I respond in as bored a tone as I can manage – which is pretty convincing, because I am bored, bored out of my mind, with all the tattling… “Liam. Is anyone bleeding?”


“Is anyone in danger?”


“No one’s going to get hurt?”

“Ah, no.”

“Then you’re just tattling, and I don’t need to know.”

With each question and answer, the dissatisfaction and astonishment increases in his face and voice. Am I not going to do anything? Am truly I not going to Enforce a Rule?? (This isn’t merely a power thing: it really does bug them when rules are flouted.) He tries once more to get me to see the horror of the situation.

“But Arthur’s taking the couch cushions off!!”

“Liam. Liam, listen to me. Liam: I. Don’t. Care.”

Oops. I was doing just fine until then. “I don’t care” was a tactical error, and I knew it the instant it fell from my weary lips. It was entertaining, though, to watch Liam wrestle with this idea. His expressive face was a riot of conflict: astonishment, dismay, horror, exasperation, and then increasingly, wonderment, a sense of possibility, and enthusiasm. Suddenly he reached his conclusion, the only sane and natural one when presented with an inert adult who’d just said she didn’t care, and erupted, his fists in the air, bellowing out as he races down the hall to the couch:



July 25, 2005 Posted by | Developmental stuff, George, Liam, manners, Mischief, socializing | 16 Comments


Liam: You can’t hitch-hike to Alberta because there are tornadoes there, and there won’t be any TV.

July 22, 2005 Posted by | Liam, random and odd, the things they say! | 3 Comments

News Flash

Liam zips into the kitchen, where I’m preparing lunch. Leaning toward me, he bounces a bit as he speaks, so intense is his focus.

“Mary, can I tell you something?”


“Tenandtenistwenty, andIsawHarryPotter 3!!!!”

And before I can respond – zip! – he’s gone again.

July 21, 2005 Posted by | Liam, Mischief, the cuteness! | 4 Comments

Anything But That!!

Liam is a bit weird about food. He didn’t used to be: after the standard toddler tussle about the issue, it ceased to be an issue. However, in the intervening years since he’s been in my full-time care, he’s developed some anxiety about the subject. First thing through the door in the morning, he asks what we’re having for lunch. His eyes are wide and intent, his demeanor worried. I am a seat-of-the-pants woman when it comes to meal prep. At 8:30 in the morning, I generally have no idea what’s for lunch. I see his anxiety, though, so I’m ultra casual about it, “Liam, it’s 8:30. I have no idea. But don’t worry, you’ll like it.”

Generally he does. As far as I can make out, he likes most things, and his dislikes are few and pretty standard. If he doesn’t like something on his plate he eats it with no fuss, except for the doleful expression on his face. That’s how he is with me. One wonders what has occurred in the intervening three years.


The other day, Liam and Emma were playing The Sims on my computer. Emma had, at Liam’s instruction, created a family comprised of Liam, Emma, and Liam’s dad. Partway into the game, he had another thought.

“Emma! Let’s make Beryl! We need a Beryl in our family!” (Beryl is dad’s live-in girlfriend.)

“I’m sorry, Liam, but it’s too late in the game to add another person into the family. The game won’t let us do that now.”

Liam is disappointed. He is not deterred, though, and seeing another character walking down the street, he points her out.

“What about her?”

“Hey, what a great idea! That’s Mary, Liam! She lives over there,” Emma explains, indicating another house, where Emma has created a model of her own family, “but we can invite her to visit, and if we’re real nice to her, in a while we can ask her to move in with us. Do you want to do that?”

Liam’s little face radiates delight. “Yeah!!!”

Split-second pause.

Liam’s little face radiates horror. “No, no, don’t do that!”

Emma is naturally curious about this schizophrenic moment.

“Why not, Liam?”

“She’ll make us eat ONIONS!”

July 19, 2005 Posted by | food, Liam, my kids, the things they say! | 5 Comments