It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Sleep, baby, sleep

I am soothing a reluctant sleeper as he lies in his crib, protesting. He’s on his tummy, his wee butt in the air, his face flushed with the vigour of his indignation, his eyes closed. He really is tired. He just needs to let go. And so I pat his back (not something I do all that routinely, really), and speak words of comfort and consolation.

Want to hear? Want to hear ‘comfort and consolation’, Mary-style? My voice is soft and crooning, pitched a little lower than normal, a steady thread of soothing white noise. And the words?

“I know, I KNOW! It’s just awful, what we adults do to you. The abuse! Insisting that you get enough sleep to be healthy and happy. Awful! Outrageous, even. How dare we? It would be much better to run around miserable and exhausted all day long, I’m sure. I don’t know HOW you put up with it, I really don’t. I should be ashamed of myself, putting you to sleep in a comfy bed in a quiet room.”

I can keep it up as long as I need to.

It amuses me and, as it’s all said in warm and soothing tones, he relaxes to the cadence, rather than the content, of my words. Because really, the point is that I’m here, right? I don’t have to think he’s being reasonable or sensible. Because he’s not. Not at all. Fight a nap? Is he INSANE? Some days I would kill for a nap. Truly.

Well, okay, I guess I really wouldn’t, since I haven’t yet, and lord knows I’ve had opportunity and motivation.

But when I have a kid who is fighting tooth and nail to resist the very thing I’m craving … pearls before swine, I tell you. Pearls before swine. So no, I’m not particularly sympatico with his position on the matter.

“Oh, the inhumanity! How can we treat you in such a terrible fashion? How do you manage to suffer the cruelty? A nap! How dare I?”

Aaaaand… he’s asleep. And I’m amused, rather than exasperated out of my mind.

I’d call that a win-win.

August 22, 2011 Posted by | sleep | , , , | 8 Comments

Though they crawl through the valley of the shadow of death

The children run the loop in my house. Living room, front hall, dining room… round and round and round and round they go. They’ve been at it for, oh, about 12 minutes so far. Non-stop.

It is currently 28 degrees, with a humidex of 39. (That’s 82 and 102 respectively for those still in the 19th century.) Yesterday it peaked out at 44.

Ye gods.

Twenty-eight, which feels like thirty-nine, and the children have been running and running and running and running.

My house has no AC.

We will be going to the park shortly, but I had a few small tasks to complete first. And while I do this and that, they run and run and run. But you know, the longer this goes on, the more my attention shifts from “Ye GODS! How can they STAND it?” to something else entirely. After another four or five minutes, I have to say something.

I pause as I wipe down the dining table and catch their attention.

“Hey, you guys! You have been running and running and the babies have been crawling around and getting in your way, and you haven’t knocked them over even once! In fact, you haven’t even bumped them! Way to go! You’re really being careful!”

Because really, it’s entirely remarkable. The babies, oblivious to their near-mortal peril, are crawling directly in the path of the thundering hoards. They are meandering, they are tottering, they are making odd changes of direction. They are not, in any way, shape, or form, taking any account of the speeding pre-schoolers who are whipping past.

And yet they are unscathed. Uninjured. Untrammeled.

If that doesn’t call for some commendation, I don’t know what might.

“You guys are GREAT! Okay, off you go again, and keep up the good work!”

The thundering recommences. The babies remain unsquooshed.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | health and safety | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why it’s called “home” daycare

“What is that baby doing in here?” Her middle-aged brows draw into a scowl of puzzled disapproval as she eyes the lone 16-month-old amongst the dozen 4-year-olds. She is an Inspector, and this is my first post-baby job. The baby is my daughter. My boss steps in adroitly.

“That’s the teacher’s daughter. Sometimes she comes in for a visit.”

Ooo, slick. In fact, she didn’t ‘visit’; she just stayed with me. (This only happened after my boss had assured herself of my ability to care for them appropriately. This was her policy with all staff with children; and no, not all staff were permitted to have their child with them.)

Fast-forward twenty years or so, to an interview in my home with prospective clients. The mom is a daycare-centre worker.

“How do you keep the toddlers and the babies separated?” she wants to know.

Short answer: I don’t.

Fast-forward to today. Composition of the household on this particular day: Emily, age 4; Tyler, 2.5; Noah, 2.75; Lily, 18 months, and New Baby Boy, 13 months.

“It’s okay,” Emily reassures a frustrated Noah. “Baby Lily can’t help it. She’s just a baaaaybee.” She pats Noah’s back, her voice rich and soothing. “She doesn’t know that hurts. I will kiss it better, okay?”

Noah beams. “Okay!”

“When you’re cleaning up the blocks, let the baby have one. That way he won’t take them out of the bin as soon as you put them away. When you are all done, then you take that last one away.”

Noah and Tyler carry the block bin together over the baby gate and into the kitchen.

“We are coming in here to play so baby Lily won’t keep smashing our building. But we left some blocks for her to play with.”

Emily carries the bin of playdough and playdough toys to the table. Baby Lily clutches one end and staggers with the bin. It looks a little awkward for poor Emily.

“Do you need help, Emily? Is Baby Lily being a problem?”

“No. She thinks she’s helping me.” She leans closer and stage-whispers to me. “She isn’t really helping, but I’m letting her think she is.” She nods wisely and smiles.

“I need that! Here, baby Lily, you can play with THIS!”

“Mary! Mary! Mary! Baby Lily said ‘DOWN!!!”” Noah’s small face radiates delight. “Did you hear? Her said ‘DOWN!!!’ ” He claps his hands. Baby Lily claps, too, and they laugh together.

Noah scoops a spoonful of stew into his spoon. New Baby Boy watches carefully, then picks up his discarded spoon and starts poking it around in his bowl. He doesn’t quite manage to capture anything on the spoon, but it’s clear what he’s trying to do… and equally clear what encouraged him to try.

“If you shout at the baby, you will frighten him. Tell him in a calm voice, ‘Those are my socks’, and then take them gently away from him… Good. Now you give him something else to play with… That’s it! Good for you! Now you are both happy!”

And THAT, Madame Inspector, is what that baby is doing in here…

May 11, 2010 Posted by | daycare, Developmental stuff, individuality, manners, peer pressure, socializing | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Every good gift needs a card

We did two Mother’s Day cards today. One, using construction paper, pipe cleaners and pastel-coloured muffin papers, for the older children.

Here, four-year-old Emily carefully traces over my lightly-pencilled “Happy Mother’s Day”.

Tyler’s finished product. Tyler, being two, doesn’t have the fine-motor control to trace letters. But he can glue! And tape! And splash stickers about!!

And for the babies, who can do none of the above? Baby hand-prints are always a favourite amongst mothers of babies, so why not turn a few into flowers?

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 7, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Busy days

Sorry I wasn’t here yesterday.

We AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! have a AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! new baby AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA in the AAAAAAAAAAAA!!! ranks. She’s coming a couple of AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! days a AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! week, and I think AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! it’s safe to say AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! that she is AAAAAAAAA!!! less than AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! impressed.

The one thing she does enjoy is being in the stroller. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of putting a stroller up in the house — though Thursday, when the forecast is for rain all day may be the first — but we have been OUT a lot. Taking nice, soothing WALKS. Lots and lots and lots of walks.

I sit her so she’s facing me, and she can see my face as I chat, and I make eye contact with her and smile, smile, smile.

See? I am a nice lady! Haven’t eaten any babies this week! No axes in my cupboard. Nice, nice lady!!

The first few days are the worst, of course, because the baby has not yet learned to look to you for comfort. A younger baby would, but an eight-month-old knows mummy from NOT MUMMY!!!!, and prefers the real deal. If she misses mummy but will take comfort in my willing arms, she’s soothe-able… if my arms are as comforting as… oh, tree branches (right now, I am a tree)… she will be inconsolable.

So we walk.

Yesterday we walked to Tim Hortons (coffe to go for Mary), we walked past the toy store (and window shopped), we walked past the kids bookstore, we walked past the park and the bank and the Seven Eleven and the bridge. We saw people and books and toys and doggies and pretty leaves. We talked about everything we saw.

And throughout it all, new baby girl was wide-eyed and calm. We’ve done this for three days. Two-hour walks every morning in blissful, peaceful companionship, before returning home AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! for lunch. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Yesterday, however, we had a breakthrough. We went for our walk, and then, when we returned? She cried, yes, but she didn’t shriek. She cried, yes, but she paused to take in her surroundings.

And then, when the others had had their lunches and I could focus on her… she sat on my lap while I jiggled and sang… she looked at my face, she watched the toys I held in front of her, the reached for the toy! She was calm! And interested! And then?

Then… she SMILED.

And just then, her dad came to the door. Right when his baby girl was smiling!!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have Turned the Corner.

Phew.

October 20, 2009 Posted by | daycare | , , , , | 3 Comments

If Mohammed can’t come to the mountain…

crawler…you move the damned mountain…

Awwww. Lookit the baby! I mean, really. Just look at that little fella. Isn’t he cute, crawling off on some little baby adventure? You wouldn’t think something so small could be capable of mass destruction. (All that debris in the hallway? All his. Every crumb.)

And today was a Big Day in Baby Tyler’s life at Mary’s. Today, baby Tyler learned to climb onto the dining table benches!!! (Can you hear the excitement in my voice? Because it sure was exciting, oh gracious me, yes!)

Baby Noah, three months older and walking, has not once even contemplated this feat. Baby Noah can climb onto the couch, mind you, but he scrambles cautiously (and competantly) up and down on his tummy. No real danger there.

Tyler? No soft, cushy couch for this boy! He yearns for more challenging terrain. The dining table is good: wooden table, wooden benches, wooden floor beneath. No sensible belly-scrambling for him, either. Once he’s breached the bench, he kneels up there, bouncing his triumph.

So, the dining furniture. Not only is the terrain suitably hard and bruise-inducing, with the bouncing ritual providing the right level of death-defiance, the table is also the motherload of non-baby-friendliness: a bowl of polished rocks, just the right size to fill a breathing passage; a small pile of pom-poms; a camera; a box of beads; a cup of hot tea; and, oh glory be, a butter knife!

A butter knife just right for bashing into the table, ‘bam! bam! bam!’, such a lovely noise, the end of the knife (round and non-serrated, thank heavens), waving about in the air next to his ear. (And to think I honestly thought I couldn’t fly.)

My dining set now looks like this:

table

(Table at top. The wooden plank facing you at the bottom is the bench, on its side.)

And it will stay that way until he’s overcome his will to self-destruct. Or develops some common sense.

Which could be a while…

December 4, 2008 Posted by | health and safety, individuality, Tyler | , , , , , | 4 Comments

At least he’s consistent

Noah’s little personality is getting clearer. I’m getting a window into his little world, understanding how he ticks.

My diagnosis?

Paranoid schizophrenic.

He laughs, laughs, laughs at the dog, at the other kids. He laughs when a tower of blocks falls over, when a car crashes into a wall, when someone spills a tray of marbles. (Don’t ask.) He laughs at the food falling off his tray. Which the DOG THEN EATS!!!

THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!

The children laugh and he laughs with them. The children clap, and he squeals for joy. The children run in mad circles around the house, and he bounces and flaps his arms.

THIS PLACE IS SO EXCITING!!!

Sounds good so far, I know. Hang in there.

The children laugh, he laughs. I laugh… he stares. Long, steady, Who-The-Heck-Are-YOU (And What Did You Do With My Mother?) stare.

The children clap, he squeals. I clap, I get the WTHAY(AWDYDWMM) stare. The children run in mad circles around the house… well, I don’t do that. (Racing to the kitchen to run on the spot (HARD) while letting loose a long, silent, “AAAAAAAAAAA” does not count. Besides, I don’t let them see that. It does not do to traumatize your livelihood.)

(No, it’s NOT a tantrum. Not either. It’s “stress release”.)

When he’s sad, he reaches short round arms up for me to pick him up. (Awwww. That’s so sweet.)
I scoop him into my arms.
He leans out and away and gives me the WTHAY(AWDYDWMM) stare.
I put him down, he puts up his arms and cries.
I pick him up.
More WTHAY(AWDYDWMM).

Something makes him happy. I comment and smile.

WTHAY(AWDYDWMM)

He reaches for a cracker. I hand it to him with a smile. He takes it.

WTHAY(AWDYDWMM).

He cries to look out the window. I lift him so he can see.

WTHAY(AWDYDWMM).

I put him on my lap for a story.

WTHAY(AWDYDWMM).

Mostly, he prefers to be left alone. He’s perfectly content. So long as he can pretend I’m not here, life is good. So long as he doesn’t have to acknowledge my presence, he toodles about, he plays with toys, he eats, he drinks, he sleeps, he watches the other children, he follows the dog around. Mostly, he ignores me.

I am the woman who lifts him into the high chair. I am the woman who provides the food. After that, I can just pis… er, tend to my own affairs.

Paranoid schizophrenic. Well, it’s got to be that. If not, he just plain doesn’t like me! I’ve been weighed in the balance and found wanting. The place is nice, the toys are good, the other kids are great, and the dog is terrific… but that Mary-woman? Dubious, at best.

But I have hope. Because there’s a crack in his WTHAY(AWDYDWMM) armor, and I get to see it 10, 14, 20 times a day. The bathroom is upstairs, and I drink my 8 – 10 glasses every day. Some days more. (WATER, people. Stoppit.) And between three recently-trained tots, the potty gets filled umpteen times a day. I race it upstairs to dump it Every.Single.Time. So I go upstairs A LOT.

And every time I do, he stands at the base of the stairs, bereft. Utterly bereft. “DOOOOON’T LEEEEEAVE MEEEEEE ALL ALOOOOONE!!! I NEEEEEEEED YOOOOOU!!!” (No, he doesn’t say that in so many words — in any words at all — but I can read between the howls.)

See? He does love me. I scoop him to comfort him, and, once again the long, steady, solemn…

WTHAY(AWDYDWMM).

We’ll call it progress.

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Noah, socializing | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments