It’s Not All Mary Poppins

“Catch” by any other name

Jazz has found a beanbag! Not one of the ones I made eons ago. (Where did those go, anyway? Huh. Vanished, completely and utterly. I wonder how long they’ve been gone?)

The beanbag Jazz discovered came from Daisy’s bin of doggie toys. It is not a doggy toy. It is not one of the beanbags I made. I do not recall ever having seen this beanbag before in my life, but here it is. In my home. A dog-toy. Now being played with by toddlers.

One of life’s little mysteries.

So Jazz and Grace decide that they are going to play catch. A respectable beanbag game. Now, I am quite aware of the ways this can go wrong. (We used to have beanbags, you know. I made some. No idea what happened to them.) If I allow this game, I am letting uncoordinated and enthusiastic small people hurl a projectile around my home. It is not a thought I consider without some consternation.

Still, I am a sensible woman, a clutter-phobe, and a daycare provider. My home is not awash in knick-knacks and pretty little mementos. Even so, there are things that could be broken by a renegade beanbag. Things that could be knocked askew, tipped over, spilled. I cast a leery eye over the pictures on the mantle and (more alarmingly) the two hurricane lamps, each prettily half-filled with green oil.

So of course, I let them play catch. It’s a very small beanbag, maybe half the size of the ones I made years ago. (Where did they go, anyway?)

“Okay, Jazz! Here it comes! Catch!” Grace swings her arm in an uber-girly overhand thrust, and the beanbag flies…

straight onto her left foot. Grace’s left foot, that is. Not Jazz’s.

Jazz looks at it, uncertain. Grace clarifies the situation.

“There it is! I frowed it for you, Jazz!”

Jazz’s confusion is replaced by delighted enthusiasm. She runs over and picks it up, steps back three paces and tosses the beanbag. She swings underhand, but launches miles too soon. The beanbag trickles over her fingertips and…

lands maybe six inches in front of her.

Grace runs forward, picks it up, backs up three paces.

And so the game continues.



Run, run, run.

Pick up.

Back up.



My mantlepiece is safe. None of these beanbags are achieving more than a foot of altitude. The game goes on for quite a while.





And in all the time they play, it each girl remains blissfully oblivious to the fact that they are not playing catch. That neither one of them has even attempted to actually catch the beanbag. That what in fact they are playing is “fetch“.





Mind you, they play that a whole lot better than either of my dogs. (Indie is disinclined; Daisy’s a bit intellectually challenged for something that sophisticated.)

The game continues until Daisy, belatedly aware that that is her beanbag they’re playing with, decides to switch it up a bit and turn catch fetch into Keep-Away. Now there’s a game she can really sink her teeth into!

April 26, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz | , , , , | Leave a comment

The games we play

… are not quite the games as they are normally played.

Daniel is big into Ring around a Rosy these day, or, as he prefers to term it, “Hush-a! Hush-a! Hush-a!” With that as his rallying cry, he gathers the others around him. If I’m part of the group, holding hands in the circle, the game looks reasonably standard. I perform a number of Very Useful Functions in games of Ring Around A Rosy, including (but not limited to):

1. Singing the song. (There are more to the lyrics than “Hush-a!”, much to Daniel’s surprise.)
2. Keeping the circle as a circle. (“Hold Rory’s hand, Poppy. Hold on. Don’t let go. Atta girl.”)
3. Keeping the circle moving in a circular motion.
4. Keeping everyone upright until we “All Fall DOOOOOOOWWWWN!”
5. Encouraging everyone to get up, hold hands again, and start over.

If I’m not part of the game, but am only singing the song… Why do I sing? Well, I’ve found it useful to, you know, remind them of why they’re standing in a circle holding hands. If I don’t sing, they tend to forget, and a number of things happen.

1. Poppy forgets, drops hands and wanders off.
2. Jazz forgets and gets offended that someone is HOLDING HER HAND!!! “Why are you holding my hand? It’s MY hand! I can’t move my hand!!!” She tries wildly and angrily to get them to LET GO!!! (Huh. Writing this, I realize I should put her next to Poppy. Seems to me they have complimentary interests.)
3. Rory doesn’t forget, but gets upset that the others are NOT PLAYING RIGHT.
4. Daniel continues to hold hands in a grip like a vice, beams at all and sundry, and continues with the mantra. “Hush-a! Hush-a!”
5. Grace drops hands and stands still, watching the bedlam around her with wide eyes.

It devolves into chaos, is what I’m saying. Of course it does. Five toddlers? A structured, cooperative game? No adult assistance? Could you expect anything different??

So. Even if I’m not actively playing with them, I sing along. Which keeps it relatively game-like, and less bedlam-ish.

Because Ring Around a Rosy, as anyone with toddlers can tell you, is a WILDLY EXCITING GAME!!! It is not the singing, though that is fun. It is not the holding hands (which is a bit of a pain and a nuisance, frankly, to most toddlers). It is not the moving in a circle (challenging, but fun). No! It is the SUSPENSE!

Ring Around a Rosy, people, is a game of TENSION and SUSPENSE.

You gather round, you form a blob circle, you hold hands with your friends, you start to sing and shuffle around and around, “Hush-a! Hush-a!” (Not yet, Daniel.) and all the while you do this, you know what’s coming. “Hush-a! Hush-a!” (Not yet, Daniel.) You know what’s coming… that moment of peak excitement… you know it’s coming, “Hush-a! Hush-a!” (Not yet, Daniel.) and you can hardly wait!!! As you gather, hold hands, shuffle and sing, the suspense is intense, and builds to near-unbearable level of excitement as you approach that defining moment…

“Hush-a! Hush-a! We ALL! FALL! DOOOOWWWNNN!!!!!


It just does not GET any more exciting.

Toddlers, as we well know, are not big into “deferred gratification”. If something is good, they WANT IT NOW. All of it. Right away.

So, without an adult propping this game up and moving it along to its climax, you get a seething mass of toddlers. Some might be holding hands, some might be shuffling in a sort of circle, some might be singing bits of the song, but they are ALL FALLING DOWN ALL THE TIME.

Let’s all hold han– FALL DOWN!!! — make a circ — FALL DOWN!!! — sing the “Ring arou — FALL DOWN!!!!” — Hush-a! Hus– FAAAAAAAALLLLLL DOWWWWWNNNNN!!!

It would be more efficient just to line them up and shove them over, I swear.

Efficient, perhaps, but far less fun.




November 3, 2011 Posted by | Developmental stuff | , , , , , | 13 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.


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