It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Thoughttus Interruptus

I don’t really get a nap time any more. Daniel and Poppy nap, but Grace and Jazz don’t, generally. Still, we do have a Quiet Time, during which the big girls lay on cots, one in living room, one in kitchen. They don’t have to sleep, but they do have to Stay On The Cot … along with a pile of books, a dolly, a few puzzles, a container of blocks.

Really, what they’re getting is an hour of free play. They may not play together, mind you, because then they get loud. But they may play, with — bonus! — no tedious interruptions from me about tidying, putting things away, taking out only one book at a time. None of that stuff. In return for which, I also expect no interruptions from them of my precious quiet time.

They are allowed to use the potty, but it’s carefully placed so as not to allow interaction between the two girls, and to be as boring as possible. No faking out Mary by asking to go to the potty when really you just want to whoop it up with the other gal, or to have a change of scene.

I expect an hour. I get an hour.


Today …

12:45 Quiet Time starts. Both girls on their cots, with their heaps o’entertainment mounded around them. I sit at computer to type long-overdue email.

12:48 Grace asks to pee. I don’t even look up. I’m looking for a word, it’s not quite coming, and this is a no-brainer. “No. You peed not four minutes ago.” I keep typing, leaving PUMPKIN in bold block caps where the missing word needs to go. It’ll come to me if I forget about it for a bit.

(This is a variant of a strategy I learned in teacher’s college for helping young readers develop fluency. Rather than stumble and stutter over each unrecognized word, have the child insert “pumpkin” and keep going. If the sentence still makes sense, you didn’t need that word. If it doesn’t make sense, you’ll have to stop and figure it out … but a lot of the time, you won’t need it! It’s great for reducing frustration and increasing success.)

My slightly different application is enormously helpful for the aphasic tendencies of the forgetful 50-something brain. Never mind that word! Just keep going, and get the thought down. Because we know, we tip-of-the-tonguers, we know that if we stop and stumble over the one particular word, we’ll forget what the rest of the sentence was supposed to be. This is a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario, which the PUMPKIN technique very cleverly sidesteps. Mwah-ha. Me so smart. (Forgetful, but smart.)

12:51 Aha! The word comes to me. I knew it would. I seek out my marker PUMPKIN. There it is! Just as I’m about to drop the correct word in, Jazz’s tower of blocks falls with a resounding crash, scaring the bejeezus out of me. I suggest that from here on she build walls, not towers.

That word? Is gone again. Damn.

12:59 Emma returns from class, chats for a few minutes.

1:12 I return to my email, still with its PUMPKIN poking out of the text. I manage another sentence before the dogs suddenly leap up from the depths of slumber and roar to the back of the house, Daisy barking, Indie yodelling, both tails wagging madly. (Indie’s part husky; she doesn’t often bark, but she does ululate. Most endearingly. And distractingly.) Something wonderful this way comes, evidently.

1:14 The dogs were right! Wonderful Husband enters the house, having cycled to the dentist and then downtown for a chiller. He hands me mine. Aaahhh… And of course, I have to at least talk to the man who brought me an unasked-for treat.

1:22 Grace asks to pee again. This time I give her the nod. I begin another sentence. The last one still has a PUMPKIN in it.

1:23:04 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”
1:23:15 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”
1:23:42 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”
1:24:03 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”

1:24:05 I go look at the dining room table. Wonderful Husband has left his fanny pack there. Which contains, as it always does, a small handful of dogs treats. I put them where they belong.

1:25 Jazz needs to pee.
1:27 Jazz has done enormous poo. I wipe her bottom, empty and rinse the potty, wash my hands. I return to my email. Reread and delete the prior sentence.

1:29 Put that sentence back in. Change three words.

1:31 The phone rings. I check the call display and ignore the telemarketer. Erase those last three words.

1:37 I have written three more sentences!!!

1:39 A knock at the door. Neighbour child has set up lemonade stand. I promise to bring the tots when they’ve woken from their naps. “Right now it’s Quiet Time,” I lie say, delusionally tell her hopeful face.

1:42 I delete half the previous sentence, replace it. Like that much better.

1:45 Quiet Time is over. I am out of time for this email, and it’ll do. I hit send.

“Okay girls, you can get up. Let’s put your toys away, and then we’ll go paint on the porch.”

“Yay! Painting!” As they scramble off their cots and start putting books away, I give the sent email one more read-through.


But of course…

July 5, 2012 Posted by | the dark side | , , | 5 Comments

Oh me too pee too!

Another in the “Peeve Me” series, a series in which Mary allows herself the indulgance of a rant for the sheer pleasure of venting. (Not, note you, for the seeking of advice. Advice, when proferred to someone who’s destressing through the joy of a pressure-easing rant, is sheerest party-pooping.)

One of the tots is a “me-too-er”. Doesn’t matter what’s s/he’s involved with, no matter how deeply they’re involved in it, as soon as this one’s attention is caught by another child’s action (movement, toy, game, play, thought, burp, hiccup, sneeze) THAT’S what they want to be doing, having, experiencing.

You know the type.

Being the calm, collected, loving, warm professional that I am, this does not get under my skin. Not the teensiest little bit. Because I love all the children, all the time. Every bit as much as I love my own children — maybe even MORE, because hey, no one’s ever paid me to look after my own — and we all know that all mothers love every SINGLE thing no matter how pointless and annoying that their beloved offspring do. They don’t get angry, they are only ‘disappointed’. Stimulating their childrens’ tiny minds is so exciting, they never feel a hint of boredom. They don’t find their child’s demands selfish, they take delight in his/her spirit. Motherhood is one long, uninterrupted saga of bliss and fulfillment.

(You didn’t get that memo? Where have you BEEN the last 15 years?)

It is the rare toddler who doesn’t have this magpie tendency (“Oooo! Something shiny! Me, too!”) to some degree, but this one has it to an extreme. This one cannot hold to an activity when something else happens. And around here, “something else” is always happening.

“I want to colour.”
“Oh, me too!”

“Can I have a ball now?”
“Can I have a ball, too?”

“You can be the baby, and I’ll be the mommy.”
“I’LL be the mommy, too!”

Some days Magpie has to get downright dizzy, what with all the back-and-forth-ing. Colouring only until someone walks by with a teddy bear. Teddy bear dropped when another child vrooms a small car across the floor. Vrooming a car until someone starts dancing. Dancing until someone picks up a crayon to colour. On and on it goes. Magpie rarely initiates, primarily imitates, and only until the next thing catches the glittering, ever-ranging eye. When all three “big kids” are playing together, Magpie can stay with the play for as long as any of them, but when there is more than one activity going?

“Oh, me too!”

Mostly, this is just something I note and respond to, no biggie. Depending on certain variables, sometimes I encourage extended focus on the first activity, other times I let M. flit.

Mostly, the other children are happy to have another playmate, and unoffended when the playmate zips off for the next thing. But sometimes the activity that catches Magpie’s attention is a quiet, one-child-only, savour-the-feeling activity. And sometimes, and here’s where the peeved in Mary rises, sometimes it’s an urgent activity that cannot be shared.

“I have to pee!”
“Oh, me too! I have to pee, too!”

And Magpie zips to the head of the line, drops drawers, and settles in. The original child does a desperate pee-dance in front, while Magpie sits. Magpie peers between thighs, puzzled by the lack of piddle, waits for the pee that does not happen. Which does not happen because Magpie doesn’t have to go. It does not happen because Magpie is responding to an urge another child is feeling!

This? This drives me BATSHIT crazy.

Phew. I feel better now. How about you? Any Me-too Magpies in your life?

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Peeve me, potty tales | , , , , | 7 Comments