It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Bye, sweetie

Noah is leaving at the end of next month.


I’ll miss that little guy, and his wonderful parents, too.

I have, however, found a really cute idea for a going-away present. A sweet t-shirt from “Thumb” of his Friends. Adorable!

And yes, you’ll see picture when we do it, because ours won’t look quite like that.


June 16, 2010 Posted by | crafts, Noah | , , , , | 2 Comments

Noah’s train of thought

…is more like a roller coaster.

“We had POPCORN last night! My daddy made it, and I ate popcorn, and Emily, too.”

The children are playing in the drive as I weed my front garden. Tyler has popped over to share this Important News. I don’t even blink at the implication that Emily was consumed along with the popcorn. Grammar comes slowly.

“That was nice of daddy,” I note with appropriate levels of enthusiasm, dumping an armful of weeds into my green bin. I think they’re weeds, anyway. I’m not the world’s most competent gardener, and I am handicapped by the world’s worst memory. So those plants suddenly appearing all over the rear half of the garden: Were they the ones I planted, or are they interlopers? I’m not sure. Not wanting to pull intentional flowers (I have still not quite gotten over the trauma of realizing all those vines I trashed the first year were lovely, lush, purple clematis), I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and some time.

Two months later, they’re a full metre tall, they’re ALL OVER the yard, and they have yet to flower. Tall, shaggy leaves, dozens of plants, and no flowers. My poor hostas are being strangled, and the little stone path is vanished. I strongly suspect them to be weeds. Weeds of the particularly invasive variety. I’m not going to remove all of them, just in case, but they are being thinned out. Severely.

Even if they were intentional, I don’t like their character. Pushy things, brash, un-subtle and aggressive. They have another month or so to prove themselves to be things of beauty, but in truth I am not optimistic. For now, I’m content to give the hostas some air and find my flagstones again.

“We were going to have popcorn,” Noah comments at Tyler, “but we didn’t have any milk.”


“You don’t need milk to make popcorn, sweetie.”

“Yes, you do.” He’s not argumentative. He’s just stating a fact. “It is garbage day today.” Another fact. Equally misguided.

“No, that’s tomorrow. Tomorrow is garbage day.”

“Tomorrow,” he agrees, seemingly oblivious to his 180. “You are putting weeds in your green bin. And tomorrow we will put out our white box.”


Here in Ottawa, we have a terrific and comprehensive recycling program: weekly garbage collection, of course, but also a black box (for paper and paper products), a blue box (plastics, some glass, tin foil), and a green bin (organics).

That’s black, blue, and green, mark you. No white. Unless he means his garbage can? Is it white? He gives me The Look.

“Our garbage can is BROWN, Mary.”

Okay, then. “What do you put in your white bin?”

The Look, redux. “The white bin stuff.”

I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of this. And I’m feeling a tad disoriented.

“Are you throwing out those plants, Mary?”

Another wild change of direction, but this one I’ll take with thanks. At least it makes sense.

“Yes, I am. At first I thought they might be pretty plants, but now I think they are ugly.”

He nods in agreement.

“I think they are ugly, too.”

Thanks for the support, little bro.

“And my mummy thinks they are ugly.”

She does?

“And my daddy thinks they are ugly.”

Somehow I just can’t picture Noah’s super-sweet parents standing in my driveway, sneering at the horticultural blight I am passing off as a garden.

“And my baby sister is going to be coming next month.”

I’m dizzy. Roller coasters have that effect on me.

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Noah, Ottawa | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fartlek. Who knew?

“Can we climb on the rocks?”

On one side of the quiet, dead-end street that ends at the park, there are several modest homes with lovely gardens. On the other side of the street there are no homes, just a grassy verge which, after a metre or so, slopes down to the reeds which edge the river. On the grassy side of the road, some cranky, anal-retentive civic-minded soul has placed a line of large rocks. I’m sure they are there to prevent cars from parking on the grassy verge, but when the tots see them, they are not thinking “damned cars, churning up the grass and obstructing my view of the river”, but “Hoo-boy! Rocks to jump on!!”

And because it is a quiet, dead-end street, I say “yes”. All along that short stretch of road, they trot, step up, stand, and jump off. They step up, using JUST YOUR FEET AND NO HANDS, because we are entering an off-leash dog park, and a LOT of dogs traverse this stretch of road. A lot of those dogs are male dogs, and the thing about male dogs is that if it’s not moving, THEY HAVE TO PEE ON IT.

And if ONE dog has peed on something, then you know that every other male dog (and even some determined females) which passes this way is obliged to PEE ON IT, TOO. This is written in the Doggie Rules for Living somewhere. It is Inviolable.

So those rocks? They have been peed on many, many, many times. And yes, I know that urine is pretty much sterile. (At least, people pee is. I assume canine pee is similarly germless.) That is why they are allowed to climb on the rocks at all. But, if dogs are OBLIGED to pee on anything that doesn’t move, toddlers are similarly OBLIGED to put their hands in their mouths. And their noses. And their friends’ mouths. And sometimes, yes, their friends’ noses.

So. We don’t touch the pee-rocks.

But we do step on them! And jump off! All the way to the park! (About, oh, 30 metres.)

“Can we run to the bench?”

There is a bench along the path about 20 metres inside the park entry. If there are no cyclists approaching, the answer is always ‘yes’. It’s a big treat to be able to let go of the stroller and run ahead, even in carefully controlled segments, 10, 20, 30 metres at a stretch. And off they go, Noah and Tyler and sometimes Emily, running in the jerky, bouncy, up-and-down-y way of toddlers, clumsily constructed wind-up toys wound a bit too tight. They reach the bench, climb up on it, then clamber down and trot back toward me.

“Can we run to the next bench?”

And away they go again, running hard to the next bench. Then they trot back to me. Or trot over to the tree in the field. Or clamber over the bench.

“Can we run to the sign?” Run hard, trot back.
“Can we run to the tennis court?” Run hard, trot.
“Can we run to the bridge?” Run hard, trot.

This is our pattern, three or more days a week, all summer long. It’s about a kilometre from my home to the park, so these kids are running/trotting about half that distance. Not bad for little critters with foot-long legs. (Yes, I do mix my measuring systems. Comes of having been in school when metric was introduced here. Spent a few years learning Imperial, the remainder learning metric, so now I have both. Except for temperature, which is always, only, Celcius. And my weight, which is always, only, pounds. Call it a true Canadian mish-mash compromise.)

So. A decent run/trot for such short little legs. The other day Noah did the run/trot through the entire length of the park, about a km, and then walked the remaining 1.5 km to the mall beyond the park. AND did the same on the way back.

You know, his endurance really is increasing. I’d noticed it, but hadn’t given it much thought. He’s an active, healthy child, he’s growing, he’s getting stronger. That’s what kids do, right? They get stronger.

Well, yes they do, particularly if they’ve been FARTLEK TRAINING.

No, I did not make that up.

But I had not heard of it until this week, when Kristen mentioned “doing fartleks”. (“Fartlek.” Snort. Yes, it makes me snicker, too. Comes of spending too much time with toddlers, I’m sure. Anything that would generally be contained in a diaper is screamingly funny.)

She mentioned it, I googled it, and now I know. That ‘gogoFASTFASTFAST … go slow… GOLIKEACRAZYPERSON … go slooooooow … goGOgoGOGOGOgogogo … sloooow’ thing that toddlers do? They are not trying to drive you crazy. They are not even being inconsistent.

They are fartlek training.

And now we all know.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Canada, eeewww, health and safety, Noah | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Oh, THAT kind of fish…

“Why is there a dog in that window, Mary?”

I hadn’t been aware of any dogs in windows in my kitchen, so I am unable to answer until I turn to see what Noah’s looking at. What he’s looking at is the 15-kg bag of dog food in the corner by the fridge. I’ve never noticed before, but the smiling Irish setter on the side of the large bag is indeed framed in a rustic wooden window.

“I wonder if you could figure that out, Noah? Whose food is in that bag?”

“The doggie’s.”

“Right! And so there’s a picture of a…”

“Doggie! On the bag!”

Got it in one. Bright boy.

“We have a fish, Mary.”

“You do?” I am used to these sudden segues. Besides, I think I see the link here. After months of diligent campaigning for a DOG, Noah’s super-sweet, super-lovely, super-neat-and-tidy parents have probably caved. To the extent of a fish. In a bowl.

“Where did you get your fish?”

“From the fish store.”

Well, that makes a certain amount of sense.

“And did you get a bowl there, too?”

“No. We didn’t use a bowl.”

“So are you putting it in an aquarium, a big, square glass box?” Noah gives me The Look. You know, the blank stare toddlers have perfected for those moments when adults are being completely, totally, inexplicably STOOOO-PID.

“No, we put in on a plate.”

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Noah | , | 1 Comment

Like the adults on Charlie Brown

I pour Emily a glass of milk, and as I hand it to her across the table, Noah opens his mouth. Anticipating what’s about to come next, I interject into his inhalation.

“Emily is having milk because she was not here earlier. You’ve already had your milk. If you’re thirsty, you may have some water.”

He hears me out politely, then opens his mouth once more.

“Mary, can I have some milk, please?”


Except they appear to understand her.

June 3, 2010 Posted by | Noah | , , , , | 1 Comment

This makes me go all squooshety

There is nothing cuter than toddlers holding hands.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Noah, Tyler | , , , | 4 Comments

Endless looping

“Boooob the Builder!” Tyler thunders south, from kitchen to living room.

“CAN WE FIX IT?” Noah thunders north, from living room to kitchen.

“Booooob the Builder!” Noah thunders southward.

“CAN WE FIX IT?” Tyler responds, northbound.

It’s a thunder-footed call-and-response, up and down the length of my house. But…

Booooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?

only those two lines.

Booooob the Builder!

Can we fix it???

where’s the last line?

Booooo the Builder!

Can we fix it?

It’s kind of driving me crazy, a song that never gets to the final note, the first chord of a cadence, but no return to tonic. That lack of resolution, the dangling participle, the unfinished business, up and down my house, north to south, south to north, two gallumphing, bellowing loose ends.

Boooooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?

Like a door hanging open, a book set aside one page from the end, a drawer half-pulled, a telephone call abruptly hung up… It’s rapidly becoming finger nails scraping down the blackboard of my mind.

Boooooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?

Can they not FINISH?

Boooooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?


Boooooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?

I can’t stand it a moment longer. “YES WE CAN!!!”

Two small boys come to an immediate halt. Four very round, amazed eyes rivet on my face. (My smiling face, because, hey, I can see the humour in my own exasperation.)

“That’s the last line, remember? ‘Can we fix it? YES, WE CAN!'”

A moment more stare-age, and they’re off again.

Boooooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?

And… can it be…

Boooooob the Builder!

Can we fix it?

No, they can’t.


March 29, 2010 Posted by | Noah, Tyler | , , | 4 Comments


Once again, daddy is dropping Noah off. And once again, Noah is managing the transition just fine.

Today, dad talked about Noah’s plans for the day, discussed on the way over. And then I could talk about what we were going to do today — making roads all over the floor with wide green painter’s tape, and putting up the little streetlights we made yesterday, so we can drive our cars all over. All part of our “transportation” theme for the month.

And Noah — obviously pre-directed by his skillful daddy — chats happily about what he will play with Tyler when Tyler arrives, and daddy gives Noah a cheerful hug…

…and there! Done!

Daddy’s gone, Noah’s here, without the slightest hiccup. Lovely.

Analyzing it in the kitchen a few minutes later, my daughter Emma put it nicely.

“It’s all about the parents’ expectations, isn’t it? The dads usually manage to convey, “I expect you to be happy, and I know you can do it!” But the moms are often saying, “I expect you to be sad… but please don’t!”

She’s very wise for sixteen, Emma.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Noah, parenting, parents | 7 Comments

Why I love dads

A while back, Noah started showing some reluctance at drop-off. It doesn’t matter that he’d been coming for well over a year and has been just fine for all but the first month. No, there’s no reason for it. It’s just one of those two-year-old things.

There probably was a reason, initially. Maybe he’d had a bad dream just before waking. Maybe he was coming down with a cold, or had had a squabble with a fellow-toddler, or was sprouting yet another tooth, or hadn’t eaten breakfast, or was under-rested, or, or, or…

There are any number of reasons for a sudden change of attitude, and you know what? Nine times out of ten, it doesn’t matter what the reason might be. One time in ten, it does: on that occasion, you deal with the issue — maybe another child is routinely picking on the reluctant one, maybe the parents are too often fighting in his presence on the way to daycare, maybe a child is chronically under-rested. All those things can be dealt with direct, but generally the adults involved do the figuring. We grown-ups put our heads together to see if there’s a preciptating cause, and, if so, to see if there’s something we can do to eliminate it.

There is almost no point at all in asking a two-year-old “Why are you sad?” They don’t know. They just are. If you press them, they get confused, and it makes the anxiety worse. If you try to help them out by making suggestions, they’ll either just wail harder, or latch onto something at random. “Yes! I’m sad because gramma went home! Yes!”

Is that really it? Who knows?

And really, it rarely matters. What always matters is how you respond.

And Noah’s dad, GOD BLESS HIM, responds well. So well. This guy is a master of managing the drop-off uncertainty that Noah was evidencing for a bit there.

After getting his customary good-bye hug, Noah was not trotting off to see what the others are up to — which used to be customary. Now he was turning back to daddy.

“Nuther hug,” he said, a tremor of anxiety in his voice.

“I get ANOTHER hug?!?” daddy exclaims, with great enthusiasm. “Boy, am I lucky!” And he would scoop his son up into a wild and happy embrace, swinging Noah’s wee body from one side to the other, laughing all the while. And Noah laughs, too. How could he not, with dad injecting such positivity and fun into the proceedings?

And then, when dad set Noah down the second time, he cheerfully announced “Have fun today!” — and left. Immediately. He didn’t wait to see what Noah does next, he didn’t make eye contact, he didn’t linger to see Noah settled. He just left.

And Noah? Noah was now in my arms, off to get a book. Which we read on the couch, and by the time the book is done — and it always involves at least three enthusiastic verses of Old MacDonald — Noah has made his transition. He is here, and he is happy.

In fact, the second hug/book/sing-song has become such happy part of our morning ritual that I’d forgotten it orginated in drop-off anxiety. It’s just what we do. Noah hasn’t shown any concern for several weeks, but he’s still getting that second, swooping, laughing hug. It’s just adorable.

And then, today, Mummy did the drop-off.

And when Noah evidenced that tiny smidge of anxiety, which hadn’t been obvious for five weeks or more, mummy squatted down and made eye contact, stroking her son’s shoulder, calming him.

“It’s okay, Noah. You know you have fun at Mary’s.”


“It’s okay to be sad, sweetie, but I know you’ll have a good day.”

Whimper, sniffle.

“Oh, honey. Come and give mummy a big hug, and then try to smile, okay?”

And the dam bursts. There are tears everywhere. He is clinging to mummy, wailing. She is patting and soothing.

And I am wishing Daddy had done the drop-off this morning…

February 23, 2010 Posted by | daycare, Noah, parenting, parents | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Just another day

Noah lies face-down on the couch, twitching slightly.

“Noah. Leave your penis alone. You don’t touch it in the living room. Your penis is private. You can touch it in your bed, or in the bathroom, but not in rooms with other people. Understand?”

Noah removes his hands from his boy bits and sits up.

“Okay. We sing Old MacDonald now?”

From masturbation to Old MacDonald in less than a breath. It’s a funny old world I work in, but I like it.


January 25, 2010 Posted by | Developmental stuff, health and safety, Noah, sex | 4 Comments