It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Empathy takes time, don’t you know

Daniel is an explorer. Daniel is a cause-and-effect guy. He’s fascinated by what happens when you do stuff. “Can I find out what happens when…” is a prime motivator in his little life. I predict a fine career as an engineer one day.

Some of his discoveries are happy, some are scary, but all are interesting. The alarming discoveries do not put him off. Not in the slightest. This is a compulsion people. He.Must.Explore. Must.

“If I throw my Cheerios off my high chair, the puppy will eat them!” (Happy!! Until we were out of Cheerios, and he’d only eaten, oh, four. The it was Very Sad.)
“If I pull on this lever, that thing there will move!” (Happy! He did that one at least eleventy-gazillion times.)
“If I blow into my water, I can make bubbles!” (Sooooo happy! And since it’s contained in a plastic drinking box, no mess, so I’m happy, too.)
“If I push that button, the music gets WAY LOUDER!!!” (Which was a little alarming, true, but SO INTERESTING!)

Sadly for the other children, Daniel’s explorations don’t stop there. He has no malice in his happy, bubbly little soul that I can see, but he’s an explorer. Cause-and-effect fascinate him. You can make things happen with things, and you can make things happen with PEOPLE! Yes, you can!

“If I pull Jazz’s hair, she makes that great noise!!!”
“If I shove Poppy, she sits down on her bum, fast!!”
“If I shove the enormous tower of blocks Rory’s been working on for the past twenty minutes, they scatter all over the kitchen!!!”

Yes. No malice, none at all. No discernable empathy yet, either. Boo.

You’ve all seen my stroller. You have not seen this view, however. Let us stand behind the stroller with Mary, and peep under the sun canopy to see the array of little heads, shall we?

Isn’t that cute?? That’s Daniel’s head in the rearmost seat. Then an empty seat, then Grace with a wee top-knot. You can’t see Poppy in the very front, but she’s there.

Because the rear seat has the narrowest spacing, I put the smallest child in there. The smallest child is not Daniel the Tank. It’s not even Poppy the Dumpling. No, the smallest child is skinny-minny Jazz. The order of children in the stroller used to be, from front to back: Rory or Grace; Poppy; Daniel; Jazz.

You will note the hole in the back of Daniel’s seat? The one through which you’re seeing his blond-blond mop? Yes. That hole, Daniel has taught me, is a distinct design flaw.

Rory/Grace, Poppy, Daniel, then Jazz used to be the order of the children in the stroller, I say, until Daniel realized that he could stick his hand through the hole in front of his face! And really, what baby worth his salt wouldn’t be doing that? You can stick your hand through that hole, you can reach around, and you can feel stuff! Too fun! And really, tots have been doing that since I bought the stroller. A firm word, a few firm grips-of-a-wrist and an equally firm plopping it back in a lap has been all that’s required to put a stop to that.

(Brief parenthetical tangent: Now that I’m thinking about it, there was that child a few years back who was so compulsively determined to remove the hat in front of him that I ended up tucking his snowsuited arms under his seatbelt and reefing that sucker in tight. And then I covered it all with a blanket so any squeamish Earnest Mommies we passed wouldn’t see that I had TIED THAT BABY DOWN!!!

I’d forgotten about that until this very moment. Hmmm…)

Back to story: So, if you’re Daniel of the massive hands, you can GRAB stuff! Grab and pull! You can pull hats through that hole, which is SO COOL. And then? Where most kids are content to wave the hat around and maybe throw it out of the stroller, Daniel, Mr. Explorer, he has to go back again. You can pull hats through the hole! Is there anything else you can pull through?

Hair. Hair!!! When you pull a hat through the hole, you get a hat. That’s interesting. But when you pull hair through the hole, you get hair (though, for some reason, not all of it, hm), you get resistance (because it seems to be stuck on something, hm), and you get NOISE. That’s really interesting!

Yeah. And with the old seating, Daniel was two seats ahead of where I stand. I couldn’t reach him in time to save poor Poppy’s head.

So now, Daniel is in the back, where I can grab him restrain him monitor him. When possible, there is an empty seat in front of Daniel. When it’s not possible, though Daniel will certainly protest the curtailment of exploratory possibilities, I think I may resort to plugging that hole with duct tape. (Duct tape, the caregiver’s friend.)

And Poppy?

She is very grateful that Daniel no longer sits right behind her.

Truly.

October 12, 2011 Posted by | behavioural stuff, Daniel, health and safety, Mischief, Poppy | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Chatter, chatter, how they do chatter…

For your entertainment. A visual representation of the wall of sound that surrounds me as I push the stroller. One of the many reasons people grin as we pass…

UPDATED TO ADD: Okay, you guys. You all found Rory’s contribution. Kind of hard to not notice the f-bomb when dropped by a two-year-old, I know, even if that’s not what he thought he was saying. But it’s time to move past that. Hunt up Emily in there. It’s too adorable. 🙂

A couple of entries there are recognizable. Can you find Emily’s words? And Rory’s? Oh, wait. Grace is identifiable in there, too!

August 10, 2011 Posted by | Emily, Rory, the things they say! | , , , , | 10 Comments

My stroller

Gillian asks, “What kind of a stroller do you have?”, and you know, I love my stroller so much, I thought I’d do a little commercial rave. NOT because I’m being paid in any way for this, but just because I’ve had one of these beauties for ten years now, and I love it.

This is my stroller:

I also have the sun canopy and premium rain shield, and of course (I am North American), the cup-holder. In my case, a water-bottle holder.

I don’t buy retail, but order straight from the manufacturer, Berg Design. Even with shipping (from Oregon to Ottawa, about $180), and customs fees (another $78), AND the exchange on the dollar (not so much right now), it still ends up being several hundred dollars less expensive than buying them locally.

And besides, Roger Berg is such a nice man! I’ve spoken to him twice, and he is ever friendly and helpful. Chatty, too. (I wonder if that phone call is a tax deduction?)

These things are light-weight (okay, not so much loaded with four children, but you can’t blame the vehicle for the payload!). They are manoeuverable. I can turn this thing with one hand. They are slim: I can fit it through any door I’ve yet come across. I won’t go slamming the competition, but I’ve had several other makes and the Runabout is by far the lightest, easiest-to-handle machine I’ve ever run. I currently have a two-seater other brand, and it’s not as easy to steer as my four-seater Runabout.

And durable. As I said, I’ve had one for ten years. This one is brand new, so my last one lasted… TEN YEARS. Ten years of 75-pound (plus) haulage. Ten Ottawa winters. Hundreds and hundreds of kilometres.

(No, I don’t store it inside. Nor do I have a garage. That baby winters under a tarp. Though this winter will be different: my old, rusted Runabout will be brought out, all greased up and ready for winter’s rough handling. My shiny new baby will come inside, and stay shiny and new. I fully expect my old Runabout, once equipped with a shiny new set of wheels, to handle another ten winters.)

There are downsides, of course. The seats are a little close together, particularly in winter when heavily-padded Canadian children are 30% thicker! Changing the angle on the seats helps a bit, but doesn’t eliminate this problem. It can be a little awkward, but there’s a knack, and it’s not that difficult… though the occasional boot does end up being removed in the extrication process!

Downsides… I did put an ‘s’ on that word… um…

No, that’s really about it. Just that one little thing.

Oh, unless you’re kind of introverted (like me), and you find the laughter and the pointing and the stares a bit much. That’s a downside — but more of my job than the vehicle! (And on other days, my extroverted days, I love it, and join in the smiles and the laughter.)

There you go, Gillian. More than you ever cared to know about Mary’s stroller!

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Canada, daycare, Ottawa, our adoring public, outings | , , , , | 5 Comments

“Peekee boo!” Nissa pulls the coffee shop napkin away from her face, and giggles as the other children laugh in excitement. “Peekee boo!” She loves playing to the gallery, and she really loves making the others laugh. Depending on whether she uses her powers for good or evil, she’ll either be her future teachers’ delight, or the bane of their existence.

Right now, she’s delightful.

“Oh, they’re so sweet!” The elderly fellow leans over from the next table. His eyes sparkle as the children laugh again. “The expressions on their faces are so vibrant!” Much like his, I might add. His hair is white, his face wrinkled and the skin on his hands papery, but he radiates life and positivity. I warm to him immediately.

His equally delightful wife agrees. “That’s sure a lively little crew you have there, and so well-behaved! How old are they?”

I tap small heads as I identify them. “Emily is four, Noah is two and a half, Nissa is eighteen months, and the baby is eight months old.”

Her eyes widen. “Goodness! We didn’t even notice the one in the stroller!”

“I’ll bet you’re done now!” he chortles. And you know what? I join right in. I am done. No need to point out I’ve been “done” for sixteen years… I’ll take it as a compliment that 1) I look young enough to have an 8-month-old baby (!!!) and 2) I’m doing my job well enough that I can be mistaken for their mother, not a hired gun, and 3) they commented on the childrens’ excellent behaviour, which, unlike many women out there, I take as a direct tribute to my hard work.

The fellow drapes his napkin over his face, then whips it away.

“Peek-a-boo!”

The children shriek in glee, the wonderful couple chortle along with them. Faces light up around the room.

Some days? Some days I cannot believe I get paid to do this.

October 26, 2009 Posted by | our adoring public, outings | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments