It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Face Value

Z: May I read me a story? (Meaning, in Zach’s pronoun-challenged world, Will YOU read ME a story?)

G: (busy playing with Emma) Yes, you may. Go away.

© 2006, Mary P

August 9, 2006 Posted by | George, the things they say!, Zach | 6 Comments

Time is a Slippery Concept

“Look at that sky!” Haley stares up at the clouds, thick and oppressive, promising a thunderstorm early in the afternoon.

“I guess we’ll be staying in after lunch.” I scoop some broccoli into each bright plastic bowl as Haley flicks on the dining room lights.

“My daddy come soon.” Zach announces.

“Well, not soon, honey.” Dad will be here in about four hours. In toddler-speak, that is a long time. “First we will finish lunch, then we will read some stories, then it’s nap-time. After nap-time, daddy will come.” We measure time by tangibles around here.

Zach hears me out politely. “My daddy comin’ soon!”

“Nap-time first, sweets.”

Now Zach is puzzled. “I be at my house in my bed inna dark.”

“Well, yes, but night time isn’t for a while yet.”

His puzzlement deepens, enriched by a tinge of exasperation. “Is dark NOW! My daddy come NOW!”

Ahhhh! The penny drops. What does he know of the hands on the clock? It’s twilight! Daddy come NOW!!

© 2006, Mary P

July 26, 2006 Posted by | Developmental stuff, socializing, Zach | 16 Comments

In the Eye of the Beholder

Zach holds a scrap of paper proudly aloft. “Look what I made!”

I examine it. “Ooo, a little black scribble. I bet it’s an airplane!” Because this is Zach, after all.

“Yeah! A airp’ane!” His smile stretches past his ears, then he hops down from the table.

“I can’t wanna draw any more, Mary.”

Because when you’ve hit perfection, there is no need to strive further.

© 2006, Mary P

July 25, 2006 Posted by | the cuteness!, Zach | 7 Comments

Choices, choices

Haley is here for the morning.

“Hey, Zach,” she consults with the boy. “What would you like to do today?”

Zach answers with a beaming smile.

“Would you like to… go to the park?”


“Would you like to.. go to the coffee shop and have a treat?”


“Would you like to… go to the museum on the bus?”


“Well, Zach. It seems you’re open to anything. But can you think of something you’d really like to do?”


“What’s that?”

“Go on an AIRPLANE RIDE!!!” Accompanied by much clapping and jumping up and down. Haley considers this carefully.

“How about the park, then?”


© 2006, Mary P

July 19, 2006 Posted by | outings, the cuteness!, the things they say!, Zach | 11 Comments

I’d Probably Make a Good Living as a Translator

…even without a second language.

Zach calls to me from the living room, as I am rinsing the lunch dishes. What with the two rooms between us, the noise of the water in the sink, and the chatter of the other children, and given that at two his diction isn’t all it could and will be, I hear something like this:

“Awiss…mrvigkdl…airp’ane… dkeibgymmble…dkeoppoel…yivvingwomb… mgirlbele…gone.”

To which I respond, “Did Alice take your airplane out of the livingroom?”


One word in ten is all you need, I’m telling you!

May 17, 2006 Posted by | Alice, random and odd, Zach | 15 Comments

Hugs are Contagious

There has been an altercation, and Zach is crying. Darcy stands to one side, looking very guilty. Even had I not seen what had happened, the evidence is clear. Nonetheless, I play dumb in an attempt to coax Darcy, normally a very gentle and taciturn soul, to understand and express what has just happened. I draw the sniffling Zach onto my knee and put one arm around Zach.

Darcy was the aggressor, though, so I’m not about to give him the first and best attention. I speak to Zach, but of course Darcy is really the intended audience.

“I bet that hurt, didn’t it, Zach?”

“Yeah,” a self-pitying whimper.

“It’s not nice when you get hit. Do you want me to kiss it better?”

“Yeah,” a little perkier now.

“Feel better?” He nods. “Darcy is a big boy. Soon Darcy will remember to use his words when he’s upset.”

Then I turn to Darcy.

“Were you upset with Zach?”

“Yes. He sat onna rocking chair, and that was my chair.”

“You wanted him to move?”

“Yes, and he didn’t move!”

“Did you ask him to move?”

“Yes, but he wouldn’t.”

“So then what did you do?”

Long pause. He looks down at the floor, he looks up to the level of my chin. “I hitted him.”

“You hit him. Was that the best thing to do?”


“What else can you do when you are upset and someone doesn’t listen to you?” (All right, so maybe Zach doesn’t have to vacate the chair just because Darcy demands it of him, but we’re looking at it from Darcy’s perspective just yet.) This is not the first time Darcy has participated in, or overheard, such a conversation, so he doesn’t have to be prompted for the response.

“I can talk to you.”

“That’s right. You can come get me for help. That would be a good thing to do.”

Time to wrap up. Zach is ready to move on, and Darcy has walked through the process with me. I smile warmly at the two of them, snuggled within my arms. “Okay, Darcy. I think Zach is feeling better now. Now tell me, what are hands for?”


“That’s right. Hands are for hugging. Much better than hitting!”

“I can hug Zach.”

“What a good idea!” Darcy wraps his arms round Zach, and they share a smiling hug. I give Darcy a hug, and then he trots off to play.

Zach is unwilling to give up such a good thing. “I hug Arthur now?” he asks, the first time he’s spoken since he was walloped.

“Sure, if you like.”

They hug and laugh into each other’s faces. Arthur looks down at Zach, playing the kindly big brother to the hilt.

“Did that make you happy, Zach?”


April 18, 2006 Posted by | aggression, Arthur, Darcy, Developmental stuff, manners, parenting, socializing, Zach | 10 Comments

A Trip to the Museum with Darcy

…and Zach and baby Nigel, but mostly Darcy. (Zach’s contributions are in italics.)

Why are the sidewalks so dirty?
Why doesn’t the bus come down our street?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why did you tell Zach to sit on the bench?
Why is the bus taking so long to come?
Why does the bus make that noise when it stops?
Why does the bus beep when we get on?*
Why is there a white line on the road?
Why did you lock the wheels on baby Nigel’s stroller?
Why do some people ride their bikes in the street?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why did we take a bus to the coffee shop?
Why do we need to keep our blood sugar up?
Why does that machine have all those chocolate chips in it?**
Why does that man make so much noise when he drinks his coffee?
Why do we have to walk to the museum?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why are they lifting up that thing?***
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why did you went onto the other side of the road?
Why are you reading the sign?
Why did the lady not take your money?+
Why is they speaking in French?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why does that giant dinosaur have his mouth open?
Why is the squirrel dead?
Why is the toad sittin’ there?
Why do they not move?
Why are all those kids yellin’ and screamin’?
Why is that door shutted with wood?++
Why is there a toilet not in a baffroom?
Why does that man gots only half his face?+++
Why is it time to leave now?
Why are we goin’ back to the museum?
Why did you forget the coats?
Why is that squirrel lying on the sidewalk?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why are there cracks in the sidewalk?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
We goin-a see the dinosaurs?
Why is Zach askin’ about the dinosaurs when we already sawed them?

* It’s a bus that lowers so that strollers and wheelchairs and the frail can get on more easily.
**Sadly, they only were coffee beans.
***The museum is undergoing extensive renovations. A large crane was lifting a load of something or other to the roof.
+Because of the renovations, half the museum is closed, and so admittance is free. No tickets required.
++One of the boarded-off galleries.
+++A display, showing the musculature of the face.

March 30, 2006 Posted by | Darcy, Developmental stuff, outings, Zach | 17 Comments

Making Lemonade

Zach loves his little airplanes. He brings one or two every day, from a collection that must number in the dozens. They are not big and fancy. Most are simple plastic types, many have the look of dollar store items. All have little plastic wheels, many of which do not actually roll.

This is a problem, given that Zach loves, loves, loves to race his little airplanes along the long wall of my dining room. The dining room which is painted some sort of creamy country yellow. No idea of the shade: it’s what was there when we moved in and I liked it enough to let it stay. From the living room to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the living room, Zach zips and zooms those airplanes. Back and forth, forth and back. Bambambambambambambambam go the little feet. (Pitter-patter, my aunt fanny.)

Creamy country yellow and tiny, immobile wheels do not get on well. Last week I took a critical look at that wall and realized it had a dingy grey swath along its length, about 50 cm wide, and a metre or so up off the floor. I tried to take a picture for you, but the flash had the flattering effect of making the dingy wall look clean and bright. Flattering, yet inaccurate. So, no “before” pictures.

“Before”, because there will be an “after” picture. Not because I am going to repaint the wall creamy country yellow, even though the last owners kindly left cans in the basement. Nothing so mundane happens around here! Besides, the threat continues. Zach still brings his little planes, and still loves to pound up and down that wall. I could forbid airplane-driving on the walls. It would even seem reasonable, I’m sure, and yet… This is a small house. It is a long, cold winter. They spend a lot more time indoors than they will in a couple more months. It might be reasonable, but it seems cruel to make him cease such a satisfactory activity.

But what of the wall? Well, if your wall is being used as a road, why not make a road on the wall?

And if you’re going to make a road, why not, oh, a river, and maybe some mountains, and maybe a mountain forest?

Especially if you have cans and cans left over from painting a certain door last August.

Emma puts the finishing touches on the mountaintops.
Stage one, complete. River at the bottom, the brown bit is both beach and road, a forest and majestic, snow-capped mountains.

Tomorrow the tots will get a chance to cobble the road: sponges dipped in grey paint and applied to the top two-thirds of the brown band will produce cobblestones. The rest of the brown is beach. The next day, the road complete, we will blur the too-distinct line between blue river and brown beach with some sponged shrubbery and potato printed cat-tails.

And we will, of course, paint an airplane in the sky.

February 28, 2006 Posted by | crafts, daycare, Zach | 16 Comments

Election Day, the Sign Mans, and my Dessert

It’s Election Day here in Canada, and for the first time in years, I went to cast my ballot without my little parade of toddlers. Generally I hit the polling station in the morning, in part to avoid any congestion that may occur in the busier after-work hours, but mostly because I like the idea of taking the tots along, exposing them to this aspect of being a grown-up. It’s the teacher in me, don’t you know.

Today I didn’t. Today I went after work hours, so that I could be chauffeured to and from – taking the car, when the polling station is six blocks from my home! I’m mortified. What kind of a fat-ass wuss am I morphing into?? I’m also incapable of walking six blocks, so I can swallow my moral outrage at using a car for a six-block outing. It’s embarrassing, true; it’s also merely necessary.

A canvasser for one of the parties came to the door earlier today, “getting the vote out”. I assured her of my intention to go to the polls this evening, and she gave me a little bookmark with the candidate’s picture and the address of our polling station. Just so’s I’d know who to vote for and how to get there. Six blocks from my home.

The tots were interested.

“Dat’s the man on the signs on the lawns!” Darcy exclaimed. “Why did the lady give you the sign man’s picture?”

I explained that today all the grown-ups would be deciding who got to be the boss of the country. This was one of the men who wanted to help. He didn’t want to be the boss, but he wanted to be one of the boss’s helpers. I’m talking to three-year-olds: it pays to keep it simple.

“Don’t we have a boss already?” George asks. It would be clever George who thinks of this.

“Well, yes, we do.” (I will suffer no snide remarks about Mr. Martin’s efficacy or lack thereof in the position; fact is, at least technically, he is the boss.) “We do, but now it’s time for someone else to get a chance. Even the boss of the country has to take turns.”

This they understand, and it’s on to more pressing matters, like can Zach eat the Smartie that rolled under the potty and looks just the teeniest bit damp. They took a vote, and Zach ate the Smartie.

A few years back, less experienced and more eager to enrich, I attempted a more detailed explanation.

“Say that your mummy said you could have either a brownie or some ice cream for dessert, but you all had to have the same thing.” I explained to little Kaleb, then four years old. “So everyone in the family would get to say what they wanted. That’s voting. Each person would be voting for the dessert they want. Whichever dessert had more people wanting it, that’s what everyone would eat.”

He seemed to grasp this, and then I very skilfully made the connection between voting for something like dessert and voting for leadership of the country. We all troop into the polling station, I take my ballot, mark it, drop it in the box, then back out into the sunshine we go. (Because generally we are sensible in this country and do NOT hold elections in the WINTER!)

“Did we voted?” Kaleb asks.

“Yes, we did.”

He scrutinizes my face carefully, puzzlement all over his. “So, when do we get the dessert?”

So this evening I went and cast my ballot. In another hour I’ll turn on the television and start watching the returns. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get the dessert I wanted.

January 23, 2006 Posted by | Canada, commemoration, George, the things they say!, Zach | 11 Comments

Bait and Switch

Little Zach has an airplane obsession. All day, every day, planes, planes, planes.

Imagine his excitement, when, during our Christmas party with all the mommies and daddies right there in my house, his dada pulls out this great book with several pages, in the very first volume, dedicated entirely to airplanes!!! “Mary, Mary, yook! Ah-panes! Momma, dada, ah-panes!” I mean, really! How thrilling is that???

So thrilling that he decides it would pay to investigate that particular shelf of reference books, hitherto completely ignored, a little further. Who knows what delights might await? He grabs another book, waves it under daddy’s nose. “Read me dis one, dada! Dis book!”

Dad takes a look, snorts his wine elegantly out his nose. “Maybe in a few years, sport”, and hands it off to me. Quick like a bunny, dada grabs Volume A once more. “Hey, how about let’s look at those airplanes again!!”

I did mention that all the mommies and daddies were there, right?

December 27, 2005 Posted by | books, Mischief, random and odd, sex, Zach | 10 Comments