It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Inverse Definitions 1

Thomas and Arthur have a tussle over a toy, which suddenly escalates into violence. I had turned quickly enough to see Arthur shove Thomas, just before Thomas roared his disapproval and turned to me for justice. “Arthur hit me!”

“Yes, I saw him push you. Well, talk to Arthur about it. Tell him what you think.”

Thomas approaches Arthur, puffed up with righteous indignation. “Arthur, I don’t like it when you hit me. You don’t hit. Hitting is bad. You never hit! Even when I hit you!”

June 29, 2005 Posted by | aggression, Arthur, socializing, Thomas | 3 Comments

She’s Got to be here Somewhere

Hide and seek is a great game to play with two and three year olds. Great, that is, if you’re not too hung up on rules, and make sure your bladder is empty before the game begins.

Darcy, Thomas, and George were the seekers. They would lurk in the kitchen, diligently counting to ten by various and sundry routes (“one, two, free, sebben, free, nine”) while Emma (my eleven year old) hid. She would then call out to tell she was hidden, at which point the boys would thunder around to find her. Yes, she had called to them, but with tots this age, that doesn’t constitute either help or cheating, since it has less than no effect on their strategy, which generally amounts to looking wherever she hid last time.

For a while the boys hid while Emma counted. This is where the “not being too hung up on rules” became important: I would tuck each of them into a hiding spot – where they would commence to count loudly to ten, and then bounce out into the room!! “Founded me!” They loved it.

After a few rounds, they wanted to be the seekers again. In the kitchen, the three little boys line up. Thomas puts his two hands over his eyes and counts; George put his hands over his mouth. All we needed was for Darcy to cover his ears as he counted, and we’d have the three little no-evil monkeys…

Emma decided to hide in the front hall, between the internal wooden door, and the outside screen door. Naturally, this meant the inner door couldn’t quite shut. When the other three came to hunt her out, speedy Thomas was in the front (surprise!). Strangely, she was not crouched beside the couch where she’d been last time. Hmm… He darted out into the hall. Being an observant little guy, he immediately noticed the front door was ajar. Aha! He dashed over to it, shouting.

“Hey! The door’s not shut! We need’a shut the door!” he declares, and gives it a mighty shove. Of course, with Emma tucked behind it, it doesn’t shut. “Mary!” he bellows, looking for assistance. “The door is stuck!”

Having given me my task, he races off to continue his. Wherever could she be?

June 28, 2005 Posted by | Darcy, Developmental stuff, George, my kids, the cuteness!, Thomas | 5 Comments

The Eye Has It

Poor Thomas! I have no idea how he’s managed it, but thus far, knock wood, he does not have a black eye.

A howl of protest draws me to Thomas and George, who had, till that moment, been happily playing with a large exercise ball. (You know the type: also called “therapy balls”, designed for adults to torture themselves upon.) Made of some sturdy vinyl/rubber stuff, bouncy, and brilliant red, it’s attractive and lots of fun. For them, at any rate. It comes a little past my knee – pretty much the height of most of the children in my home. However, the game seems to have devolved a bit. Thomas is trotting down the hall exuding indignation. “George took the ball from me and poked me inna eye!”

My concern is first for his eye, and only secondarily with the territorial dispute. His eyelid is a bit red, showing signs of having been properly poked, indeed. “What did he poke you with, Thomas?”

“The ball.”

An hour later, it’s a wail of genuine distress. Thomas very rarely actually cries. He’ll howl, fuss, and foment like none other, but real tears of anguish or pain? Hardly ever. He’s a resilient little dude. His tears are always genuine. His eye is quite red, above and below, and he’s almost unable to open it. No matter how he tries, it keeps twitching involuntarily shut. Ow,ow,ow. Oh, dear, oh dear. As I apply ice, we debrief.

“What happened, love?”
“George kicked me inna eye!” *

Another howl, this one of outrage.

“Goodness, you’re having a rough day, Thomas! What happened this time?”
“Arthur poked me inna eye – wiv a book!”

It’s nap time now, and barring a sudden bout of sleepwalking, I think Thomas’s eye is safe for the moment. The boy is on some kind of a roll, though, and I will count myself very lucky if he manages gets out my front door this afternoon without a black eye!

* In defense of poor George, who is a largely peaceable little man, I hasten to explain that this happened while they were rough-housing, head to toe, on the couch. I am quite sure it was inadvertent.

June 24, 2005 Posted by | random and odd, Thomas | Leave a comment


Walking home from the library, a routine and normally uneventful stroll. Thomas is holding onto the left side of Mia’s stroller, Darcy on the right. Suddenly musical Thomas bursts into song. Every line Thomas sings is echoed by Darcy:

“I wuv Georgie!” carols Thomas.
“I love Georgie,” echoes Darcy.
“He’s my best boy.”
“He’s my best boy.”
“Best in the world.”
“Best in the world.”
“I miss Georgie.”
“I miss Georgie.”
“Best boy inna world.”


A paean! And antiphonal, to boot! Talk about Culture.

May 24, 2005 Posted by | Darcy, outings, the cuteness!, the things they say!, Thomas | Leave a comment

Who’s on First?

Talking to Thomas can be a dizzifying experience. We have stopped at a downtown corner to investigate the raised relief map on the concrete pedestal. You know the sort – it shows brass models of historically and touristically significant structures in the few blocks around you. I hold the boys up so they can touch the figures on the map, and try to relate these representations to the real landmarks around them. One of these is the War Memorial (aka “the statue”), only a few blocks up the street. We decide we will walk up to see it.

Thomas: Where we going?
Me: To see the statue.
Thomas: We’re going to see the statue?
Me: Yes.
Thomas: Where is it?
Me: We can’t see it quite yet… Wait a bit. You’ll see it soon.
(Repeat the above ten to twelve times as we walk two blocks at toddler pace.)
Me: There it is! See it?
George: Yes! I see it!
Thomas: Where is the statue?
Me: Right ahead of us. See it?
Thomas: No, I can’t.
(Now, the War Memorial is a large-to-huge structure, dominating the confluence of three streets, right at the top of a hill, and we are by now right across the street from it…)
Thomas: I can’t see a statue!!
Me: stopping, squatting beside him, and aligning his head so that the memorial must entirely fill his field of vision: “There! Right in front of you.”
Thomas: Where? I can’t see a statue!
(He’s upset now, knowing he’s missing out on what everyone else is enjoying. I have a sudden insight.)
Me: Thomas, do you know what a statue is?
Thomas: No.

May 19, 2005 Posted by | individuality, outings, the cuteness!, the things they say!, Thomas | 2 Comments


Only three boys this morning: Zach, Thomas, and Darcy. We’re off to the park, but as a special treat, I decide to hit the Second Cup first: a chiller for me and blueberry muffin – one is big enough for three – for the boys. They have their drinks with them, and with a few library books strewn about, we look to be settling in for a comfortable outing.

Between sips of my drink, I dole out chunks of muffin, one bite each, round the table. Darcy is a slow and methodical eater. He’s not reluctant at all; the boy likes his food, he merely savours every bite. Thomas and Zach, however, are of the more typical toddler school of food appreciation: If you like it, cram it in and get more, fast!! Thus, if I simply give as each child is ready for their next bite, poor Darcy ends up with only half what the others get. Besides, I am in the business of civilizing them: I want to discourage wolfing and encourage savouring.

Therefore, when Zach crams, chews once or twice, and then somehow manages to squeeze “Mah, pee” out past the wads of muffin still in there, I tell him he’ll have to wait. Clever me, I’ve thought of a brilliant and simple way to make Darcy our Good Example. By uttering one simple sentence, the other two will have to pace themselves, and Darcy won’t be short-changed:

“When Darcy is finished, we’ll all have more.” Masterful, huh??

All eyes lock on Darcy. He chews peaceably for another moment or two, then suddenly becomes aware of the attention. He stops mid-chew, stares back, and then, clearly feeling the pressure, stuffs the rest of his piece in his mouth. His cheeks – and eyes – bulge under the strain. His eyes water a bit as he tries to swallow a portion of his mammoth mouthful. Tiny drops of muffin-laced drool trickles from between his lips, which can’t quite close when he smiles triumphantly. He’s done his part, and he knows it!

Brilliant and simple, indeed, and masterfully undermined!

May 17, 2005 Posted by | Darcy, manners, Mischief, outings, peer pressure, Thomas, Zach | Leave a comment


Thomas, we all know, is a boy in a hurry.

He uses the potty, then comes to me, quite distressed. “Mary, my pants is hurting me!” I can’t see anything wrong on the surface, so I check underneath…

The broad black elastic waistband of his teeny white spiderman briefs sits neatly on his hips at side and back, but is firmly wedged underneath his apparatus at the front. Ouch! You know, little man, there are times when it pays to take things slowly…

April 29, 2005 Posted by | potty tales, Thomas | Leave a comment

Cop Talk

George and Thomas play a very involved game involving the play house and two ride-on toys. During this game, Thomas backs into baby Alice. George observes this and notes, very matter-of-fact:

“You are a terrible driver.”
“I am?” Thomas is not offended, only interested.
“Yes. You just bumped into baby Alice.”
“I did?” He pivots to look at Alice, who smiles at him.
“Yeah, and now I will go call the police.”
“The police?”
“Yes.” This with great authority. “That’s what you do when you bump someone in a car.”

April 29, 2005 Posted by | George, the things they say!, Thomas | Leave a comment

Toddler Support Group

Today’s meeting of the Potty-Training Support Group, Sunnyside Branch, took place in part at one of our favourite parks.

While at the park, George felt the need for an emergency meeting, and, informing Nona of the situation, repaired to the shrubbery. Members present included George, Darcy, Thomas, with one guest, Zach (who must needs come along so as not to be left unsupervised on the play structure). One might consider this his early induction to the art, but Zach appears largely oblivious of the point of the exercise. While one little boy pees, the other big boys lean forward and peer at the stream, making observations and offering encouragement all the while.

“There it goes! Your pee is coming!!”
“Look. His pee gots that pine cone all wet!” (This is very funny.)
“Don’t get that pee on your pants!”
“Don’t stand there. You might get his pee on your foot.”
“Are you done? Is it my turn?”

Darcy is wearing yer basic training pants: little pale green underwear with the padded section in the middle. He largely ignores his audience, focussed as he is on the engrossing task of producing and aiming. (I have them sit down. It’s simpler.)

Thomas has on his teeny tiny grey briefs – of which he is overwhelmingly proud, because they have Spiderman on the backside!!! Thomas revels in his audience. After he’s watered the shrubbery, he makes a point of ensuring that everyone sees and appreciates his posterior artwork, wiggling that little bum for all to see. “I gots Spiderman back there, Darcy! George, see my Spiderman?”

And George? George, too, prefers production over playing to the audience. He doesn’t at alll mind that they stare at the stream of pee, but he’s quite modest about his undergarments. In my position as overseer of the event, however, I can clearly see that George, who prior to this had worn sweat pants over nothing at all, is wearing…… boxers! Eentsy-weentsy plaid cotton boxers!! How delightful! Who knew they made them so small?

Everyone considered themselves highly satisfied with the outcome, and thus this meeting of the PTSG, Sunnyside Branch was called to a close.

April 27, 2005 Posted by | Darcy, George, potty tales, Thomas, Zach | Leave a comment

Diaper Maelstrom

Now that she is mobile, Alice has discovered the nice little wooden end table in which I store diapers. Two shelves, each with three stacks of, oh, twelve or fifteen diapers. (In behind is another such stack, so I can tidily store a couple weeks’ worth of diapers in there.) Normally when she’s here I pivot it so that the solid back faces out, but today I forgot. I stepped into the kitchen for a moment to stir a pot, and when I return, my livingroom is a maelstrom of white! Diapers fly left and right, shrieks of delight puncture the air — and my eardrums.

How, you might wonder, could such a tiny child strew that many diapers in the nine seconds my back was turned? (Though you all have tiny children. You probably aren’t wondering at all…) Because GEORGE was helping her!! Three-year-old, responsible George, is merrily flinging diapers all over the living room!! Woo-hoo!! This is what happens when energetic toddlers stay inside all morning…

Of course George must help clean it up. He’s a little miffed that baby Alice isn’t expected to put any away, but is mollified when Thomas volunteers to help. Yay, Thomas! What a good friend you are! In fact, this task is right up Thomas’s alley. He’s absolutely terrific at puzzles, and what is this but a giant, practical, super-absorbent puzzle? The diapers must be sorted by size and brand – which means sorting them by the pictures on their waistbands. The plain white Sesame Street ones are Alice’s; the Sesame Street with the green stripes round the legs and big bird on the back are Zach’s; there are diapers with bears and diapers with flowers, all to be stacked and returned. Thank goodness for branding, say I!

It takes almost twenty minutes, but they are twenty happy, productive, and most importantly, quiet minutes…

April 26, 2005 Posted by | Alice, George, Mischief, Thomas | Leave a comment