It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Helping out

We have a new baby!

Baby Tyler joined the ranks last week, and did very, very well. He crawls almost as fast as Noah walks, and will, when he’s solidly upright, be very … solid. I foresee many collisions, with Noah on the bottom.

In the meantime, Baby Noah (on the right) is enjoying having another kid who likes to do the same things he does. Like throw things off high chair trays for the dog, and spin the wheels on the cars and trucks, and make really slurpy spit noises. Like watch the garbage truck.

And the BEST place to watch the garbage truck when you’re under three feet tall, as Noah has long since discovered, is here at the front door.

“See, little buddy? The garbage truck is RIGHT THERE!”

Some days it’s nice to be the “big kid”.


November 10, 2008 Posted by | daycare, peer pressure, socializing, the cuteness! | , , | 6 Comments

No sexism, please, we’re toddlers

“No, Timmy! This is only for girls!”

It’s a shape puzzle, but I don’t need to know that to respond.

“Anna. There are no ‘only for girls’ toys in my house. There are no ‘only for boys’ toys, either. All the toys are for any children.”

Timmy encroaches further. Anna pulls the puzzle toward her.

I understand Anna’s protectiveness. Timmy’s favourite toy is almost always the one the other guy is holding. It doesn’t matter if he has an armful of something completely engrossing. Someone else can walk by with one tiny thing, and suddenly that’s the ONE THING he wants to play with — has to play with.

It’s not greediness or possessiveness in Timmy’s case. The other person’s attention to their thing draws his. I think his mind goes something like this: “I have this toy, this toy is fun, I like thi — OOOO! SOMETHING SHINY!” So no, it’s not greed or anything malicious. It is, however, a royal pain. It is also not surprising the others get a little tired of Timmy’s interest in their toys.

However, there are at least a hundred shapes in the bin, red, yellow, purple, blue, green, triangles, squares, diamonds, trapezoids, hexagons… with a dozen wooden picture plates to put them on. Plenty to share. Dozens and dozens to share.

“No, Timmy, this is only for…” Anna glances up. Probably felt the heat of my Evil Eye burning through the top of her head. She hesitates, a look of consternation on her face.

Then breaks into a beaming smile.

“… only for girls and boys!”

I smile, too. Anna smiles back, more so.

Anna gives Timmy one. red. hexagon. He smiles, too.

It’ll do.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Anna, manners, socializing, Timmy | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sharing, sharing, sha– wait a minute.

“Timmy’s not sharing!!”

Timmy has (yet again, siiiigh) brought a toy from home. Toys from home are, of course!, MUCH more interesting than the toys at Mary’s house, simply because they are Toys From Home. For the other children, they are new toys, novelty items; for their owner they are “MY Toys”, items of proud ownership, badges of cool. Being the owner of the most-sought-after new gizmo has endless appeal to many adults: why should toddlers be more mature than their presumed guides through life?

You can see, however, where this push-pull of appeal of novelty and pride of possession would create somewhat of a logistical/social challenge.

As I’ve mentioned before, sharing is a challenge for quicksilver Timmy, requiring constant monitoring and frequent assistance/reassurance. I’ve been busy preparing the craft in the next room — a whole eight feet away — for an entire three minutes. Clearly, I stretched the limits of civil self-restraint way beyond the bounds of reality.

“Timmy, lovie.” I approach the situation, evaluating as I proceed. He’s brought not one but two teddy bears. Surely we can manage to allocate two bears between four children with minimal uproar? Especially since there are already SIX bear in residence, giving us eight bears between four children? Surely this is not an impossibility?

Except the bears, the entire wooly tribe of them, are scattered here and there across living room floor and couches. No one seems to be interested in them at all.

“Timmy, you gots to share!”

Anna makes a lunge for Timmy, who, near as I can make out, has no toys at all in his possession. He rears back from her.

“N-n-n-n-no! Is-is-is-is my-muh-muh-muh-my-my-my-mine!” Poor tyke. A stutter is quite the handicap, particularly in moments of stress. Which is when, oh cosmic injustice, the stutter becomes much more pronounced. (He’s on a wait list for speech therapy.)

But what is the problem? “Anna. What do you want? What does Timmy need to share?”

“Dat!” She lunges once more. More rearing-back and jackhammer declarations from Timmy.

“Anna. Stop grabbing at Timmy. Use your words and tell me what you want. Or you can point to it. Timmy, Anna’s going to point, but she won’t grab.”

“Timmy gots to share dat!”

And she lays one non-grabbing finger on his vest. A cute grey wool vest embroidered in South American style with colourful people and vibrant geometrics.

Ah. The nuances of sharing.

“Anna, sweetie, that’s Timmy’s vest. A vest is clothes. We don’t have to share our clothes.”

“But I WANT it!”

“I’m sure you do. It’s a very nice vest, isn’t it? Timmy, we like your nice vest. But it’s Timmy’s vest, lovie. He doesn’t have to share his clothing.”

Anna is singularly unimpressed with this reasoning, but acquiesces with moderate grace. Which is about as much as you can reasonably expect from a fashion-thwarted two-year-old.

And Timmy is still wearing his vest.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Anna, manners, Timmy | , | 4 Comments

Sharing, sharing, sharing

For those of you not in the know, that’s the motto of the Beavers — little Canadian wanna-be Cub Scouts, for boys around the age of five. They wear these cute little vests and have adorable hats, all in pale blue and brown — and the hats? They have beaver tails hanging down the back. You haven’t see adorable till you’ve seen a troop of kindergarten-age boys with beavertails hanging off the back of their hats. Heh.


The little-girl equivalent is Sparks. They wear pink T-shirts emblazoned with their motto: “I promise to share and be a friend.”


Girls: “I promise to share and be a friend.”
Boys: “Sharing, sharing, sharing.”

Methinks the standards for the non-verbal male are just a tad lower. Or perhaps we’re just cutting to the chase: SHARING, boys. It’s about SHARING, and will you please just Let. Go. Of. That. Damned. BALL and THROW it, please???

Oh, no. That was at my house. I dunno about the Beavers. Timmy brought a ball to “share”. Timmy is a sweet and eager little guy. If I say he’s “full of energy” you won’t get a picture of Timmy. Timmy is … twitchy. He doesn’t walk, he springs; he doesn’t sit, he sort of vibrates in place. His movements are bird-like in their quick jerkiness.

You know how a hummingbird’s heart beats at a phenomenal 180 per minutes? (Or so. I have 22 minutes to write this post; I will not take time to fact-check. Those of you who Need to Know can go Google it now.) In fact all small creatures run at higher speed. My private feeling has always been that they experience life like that, too. Just as Terry Pratchett describes his Carpet People: they live only a tenth as long, but they do their living ten times faster.

So, when Timmy comes with something to “share”, I know my day is going to be intense. Because, though he’s willing to share — oh, he is! He’s a friendly and essentially cooperative little guy. He likes to hand the toy over; he likes to share a smile with the recipient as he passes it to them. And then, having shared it, he likes to get it back. Of course.

Thing is, in Timmy’s revved-up, fast-living world, “sharing” lasts about 6 seconds. Six seconds and then HEWANTSITBACKNOW. Now. NOW!! Not in an angry way. He’s just desperate. The anxiety is intense. Because, like, six seconds is a LOOOOONG time in a Timmy world, and we expect him to let the other guy have it for TWO MINUTES???

TWO MINUTES? He will DIE in two minutes. In TWO minutes he will grow old and EXPIRE, right there on the floor, because TWO MINUTES is an ETERNITY. So, just about the time the receiver child has noticed that there’s a ball in his/her hand, Timmy wants it back.

This makes for a lot of adult intervention. “Here, Timmy, let’s set the timer. You push that button. When it goes ‘beep, beep, beep’, you can have your ball back.”

“Beep, beep!” He smiles, his incredibly expressive face radiating joy. Timmy likes beep-beep. His face crumples with anxiety. “Ball?” Total time elapsed: three seconds.

A long, intense day…

April 2, 2008 Posted by | socializing, Timmy | , , | 6 Comments

Enough is enough. At least for today.

Timmy arrived a few days ago with two toys clenched in his slender fists. In one hand a bulldozer that, with the press of a button, would chug its way industriously across the room. In the other, a perfectly respectable, but non-motorized loader.

Guess which was the preferred toy?

The children are allowed to bring toys from home. Toys from home are an even greater challenge for sharing than Mary’s toys, of course — which is exactly why they’re allowed to bring them! It does complicate my day, however.

We have some ground rules:

1. When someone walks in with a toy you may NOT swarm them.
1b. Or grab the toy.
1c. Or verbally grab the toy.
1d. Or shove an inferior toy at them and demand a trade.

In short, you must exercise … patience. PATIENCE??!? Good lord. And as if that isn’t bad enough…

2. The toy-owner does not have to share. However, if they don’t want to share, the toy is put away for the day. Toys which are not share-able (apart from very specific lovies) are not allowed at Mary’s.

3. The toy-owner gets to decide who plays with the toy first.

4. The toy-owner gets to set the timer for 2, 3, or 4 minutes. (We don’t always use the timer, but some children really like it.)

5. After everyone in the daycare has had one turn, the toy-owner gets it back.

6. After this, they are not obliged to share it any more, though they certainly can if they wish. Knowing they are assured of getting it back, and that they determine how long they are to be deprived of it, they very often do. This varies from child to child, of course.

They are empowered in that they get to choose who and how long. They may even choose not to share. What they may not choose is to wave the toy under the other children’s noses and refuse them a try.

Okay. So them’s the rules. And Timmy was reeeeasonably willing to share. He didn’t want the toys in his bucket all day, so he complied with the expectation that he share, but it was a bit of an effort. Every.Time.

For him, and, by extension, for me.

The next day, we got to practice some more! Because he brought them again! And the next day, MORE practice! And then even MORE!!

I am weary, boys and girls, weary, weary, because Timmy is not getting any better at this. Every day is a long, tedious series of reminders and reassurances and “when the timer dings, it will be your turn”, and “Anna hasn’t had a turn yet. In a minute, she will want one.” And more reassurances that yes, the toy will return to his anxious arms in just a minute.

My encouragement that sharing can be fun, because TWO people get to play instead of just ONE fall on deaf ears. My ideas that you can play WITH the other person playing with your toy is equally unwelcome.

So. Long days. Not frustrating, because I know it will come. Just Boooooring. The same thing, over and over and over again, waiting for comprehension to dawn, waiting for maturity, waiting for him to “get” it. I know, having done this with dozens of children down through the years, that he will get there, that it just takes time, that each of us grows into it in their own way.

I know all that.

But gracious, it can be tedious.

And today, when he brought those dratted things AGAIN? I waited till mummy had departed, and then with cheerful and implacable firmness, I put.them.away.

I’m NOT going to help Timmy learn to share his toys today. And do I feel any guilt about this? Not in the slightest.

See, I’m allowed to cut myself some slack once in a while. I’m allowed to say, “Not this, not today.” I’m allowed to give myself mental health breaks. And so are you. It’s a sound parental strategy called Conserving Your Energy. (Hoarding your Resources? Saving your Sanity? Stepping back from the Brink?)

They spent the morning playing; dancing Ring Around the Rosy; marching teeny plastic teddies through a castle; stomping about with blankets over their heads, pretending to be ghosts; building block towers and knocking them down; building long meandering tracks of Brio leading nowhere; playing Hop, Little Bunnies and Three Little Monkey; playing, laughing, playing, squabbling, playing, dancing, playing, playing, playing …

And not a single dozer in sight. Thank God.

March 4, 2008 Posted by | behavioural stuff, manners, parenting, power struggle, socializing, Timmy | , , , | 5 Comments