It’s Not All Mary Poppins

These things are relative…

I sit at the dining table, reading, and munching on some illicit almonds. Illicit, because almonds are not something the children can eat, meaning, I can’t share. Meaning, such eating had really best be done under cover of darkness. Far, far from the children.

However, the only child up at the moment is Gwynn. The littles are all sleeping. I made sure that Gwynn was utterly engrossed in her blocks over there in the living room before I quietly sat down here, in the dining room, so I’d say that I’m —

“What you eating, Mary?”

Damn. Busted.

There is no point in lying about it. She can see me chewing. She can hear me crunching. I wonder if the crunching is what drew her attention, in this quiet house? From the other room? Over the clink and clunk of her blocks? With her back to me??? (Seriously. How do they know?)

(More to the point: why do I ever think I can get away with it? After all these years, it borders on delusional.)

But I’m not sharing. First, she’s had her snack, before the littles started their nap. Second, almonds are not safe for a two-year-old. Technically, they shouldn’t be getting whole nuts until they’re four, because of the risk of choking. (In fact, when I was a young mother, my pediatrician said five was the magic number.) I did not wait that long with my own kids. I took into consideration their teeth: obviously, kids without molars don’t get little crunchy esophagus-blocking morsels. I took into consideration their eating styles. Kids who madly cram food in did not get nuts (I had at least one of those). Kids who take little bites and chew slowly (I had at least one of those!) got nuts. So I honestly don’t remember how old they were when they first got nuts, but I do know it wasn’t the five years old my doctor was suggesting.

However. That was my own kids. With other people’s kids, I am much more careful. Gwynn only turned two a couple of months ago. Not even close.

“I am eating almonds, sweetie.” I show her the nuts in my hand. “But you can’t have almonds, my dear, because you could choke on them. They are dangerous for you. You can’t have almonds until you are five years old.” I pause to let that sink in. She pauses, to see if I’m about to change my mind. “How old are you, Gwynnie?”

She grows still as she considers. Her brilliant, pale blue eyes widen, her face is framed by wisps of white-blond hair. She speaks in careful, sincere, measured tones. She knows she just has one shot at this, and she’d better make it good. Her voice rings with conviction and sincerity as she assure me,

“I am old, Mary!”

She didn’t get any nuts.

She did get a giant, laughter-filled hug before being sent on her way, though.

“Old!”

 

November 4, 2014 Posted by | food, Gwynn, health and safety, the things they say! | , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday:
First course: broccoli and dip
Main Course: enchilada bake
Dessert: muffins

Tuesday:
First course: roasted red pepper strips
Main Course: vegetarian lasagna
Dessert: bananas

Wednesday:
First course: zucchini sticks and dip
Main Course: lentil soup and  naan
Dessert: papaya

Thursday:
First course: corn
Main Course: butter chicken and rice
Dessert: muffins

Friday:
First course: garden salad
Main Course: peanut butter sandwiches
Dessert: cantaloupe

November 3, 2014 Posted by | food | , , | Leave a comment

Once Upon a Time

We’ve been singing this story for a while at Mary’s. (One day I’ll post an audio clip of my version!) The children, especially Gwynn, love it. The rhythm! The rhyme! The chanted bits! The sung bits! The overblown hammy-ness of Mary’s presentation!! So much fun!!

However, it had become increasingly clear to me that while she loved all that good stuff, and can even chime in for short bits, little Gwynn had not one single speck of a clue as to the story line. I’m not even sure she knows it’s supposed to be a story.

Right
Over
Her
Head.

So! Visual aids were clearly called for. I thought about it for a while. Finger puppets? Stick puppets? And then, while reorganizing the craft shelf, I found a giant box of felt squares that I’d forgotten I’d ever owned.  Oooo, felt! And I already have a felt board!

Ta-dah! All the elements of the story:

“Once upon a time in a nursery rhyme there were three bears, one, two, three!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“And one was the papa bear, and one was the mama bear, and one was the wee bear — one, two, three!”

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“One day they went a-walkin’ and a-talkin’ in the wild woods. Along came a little girl, and her name was Goldilocks.”
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Fun, huh?

Yeah, I know. You can see the lines of the pen where I sketched the outline. I did it on the back, but it bled right through. Lessons learned. but you know? The tots, they don’t care!

Gwynn hasn’t seen this yet, but I tried it on the wee ones while they were having their lunch. They were rivetted… though I’ll admit that it could have been the biscuits which really held their attention. I doubt, though, that it was the biscuits that had Daisy laughing so hard she spewed them out all over the table! That was entirely my doing.

I am so proud.

October 29, 2014 Posted by | crafts | , , | 3 Comments

Foiled by Biology

“Okay, guys. Naptime!”

“Not me!” says Gwynn. She has said this every day for the last three weeks. Every day, she denies that naptime applies to her just-turned-two self, and every day I say, “Yes, you, silly,” and escort her to bed. Where she falls asleep. Every day.

Today I take a different approach. After I have put the babies down in their cribs, I return to the kitchen, where Gwynn sleeps on a low to the floor toddler cot. She is sitting on it, playing with a small toy. Her pillow is at one end, her sheet folded neatly at the other.

I stand beside the cot, so she has to look up, waaaaay up, to see me. “So, Gwynn. You think you don’t need a nap?”

That catches her attention. I haven’t spoken in a challenging or derisive way.

Note: I am never sarcastic with the kids. In my own head, I’m often ironic, but that’s in my own head. Once in a while I say something wry that I know will go shooting wildly right over their heads, just for my personal entertainment. But sarcasm? Sneering? Mean-spirited humour? Nope. I feel very strongly that using sarcasm with a small child is simply unkind. They don’t understand sarcasm. It confuses them. They certainly understand the emotion behind it is negative, but they are not yet cognitively capable of processing that kind of duality. Besides, it’s just mean.

So when I ask that question, I am playing it straight. I am confirming that she thinks naps are unnecessary. That is not all I am doing, but Gwynn doesn’t know that… and doesn’t need to.

From her seat at the edge of the cot, she tips her head waaaay back to look at me. “No. I don’t want a nap.” Now, any adult knows that ‘want’ and ‘need’ are two quite different things. Gwynn doesn’t want a nap, no, but I am quite convinced that she still needs one. Gwynn makes no such distinction, of course. She doesn’t want one. She doesn’t want one, and that’s that. ‘Need’ is irrelevant. She, however, is pleased to be having this conversation. Maybe Mary is finally going to be reasonable about this whole nap thing!!

“Well, here’s what I was thinking,” I begin. Gwynn, finding this head-tipping thing a bit awkward, lies back with her head on her pillow to better see me. “What I was thinking was that, since you are a Big Girl now, maybe you don’t need a nap. So here’s what we’ll do.”

Gwynn’s eyes are riveted on mine. Big Girl? No nap? This is all very hopeful! She lies very still, hanging on my every word.

“What we’ll do, from now on, is, instead of naptime, you will have quiet time. You can have a toy or a book. You don’t have to sleep, but you do have to stay on your cot. You can play quietly. Does that sound good?”

She nods. She blinks. I keep talking, quietly, steadily.

Hypnotically.

“You can stay awake and play quietly. You can go to sleep if you want. You just have to stay on the coat. You have to stay on the cot. You have to use your quiet time voice. But you don’t have to sleep. So long as you have a quiet time, I don’t mind if you stay awake. It will be all right. You can just have a rest. You can rest and play quietly and not get up and just be calm and …”

Aaaaaand that’s it. Gwynn is out for the count.

The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Naptime reins.

Mwah-ha.

October 28, 2014 Posted by | sleep | , , | 2 Comments

Monday:
first course: cooked carrots
Main course: chicken and rice
dessert: bananas

Tuesday:
first course: garden salad
Main course: quiche (with mushrooms, grated zucchini, onion, cheddar, feta)
dessert: cantaloupe

Wednesday:
first course: corn
Main course: beef stew, biscuits
dessert: bananas

Thursday:
first course: braised collard greens
Main course: black bean enchilada bake
dessert: papaya

Friday:
first course: grilled zucchini
Main course: tortilla soup
dessert: cantaloupe

October 27, 2014 Posted by | food | , | Leave a comment

‘Cute’ doesn’t eliminate ‘Rude’

The Wonderful Husband and I have a date night each week. Thursday evenings we wander over to our local pub, sometimes just for a drink, most often for dinner. The server knows us, we often see people we know, but though we may wave a greeting to a neighbour, we don’t stop to visit. We go there to chat with each other. It’s quiet, it’s friendly, it’s our style.

This week we weren’t able to go on Thursday, so we deferred till Friday.

Well, now. Our quiet neighbourhood pub is a totally different place on a Friday at 6:30, let me tell you! We had to wait in line! Okay, only for maybe 4 minutes, but still: that never happens! And when we were seated, there were no tables in the front of the upper half. This means we had to sit in the back of the upper half. The section where they sit families with children.

My heart sinks, a bit. Are you surprised? You wouldn’t be alone. Lots of people assume I’d enjoy that. “You work with kids! You must love them!”

Well. I do love them, of course. But while it isn’t like many other jobs — it’s one of the few jobs where falling in love with one’s clientele is considered dedication, not a faux pas — it is also a job, like any other. Who brings their work to date night?

But you know, that’s not the key issue. Nope. It’s because they tend to behave so badly. And it is so hard, as a pro, not to be watching the bad behaviour and say oneself, “That? Is so UNNECESSARY!” Every time I see poor behaviour being ineffectively addressed, or, even more often, not addressed at all, I itch to get over there and FIX IT. Which I can’t, of course. So I sit there and twitch.

My expectations are reasonable. I’ve been working with kids for close to thirty years (if you include my own, and why wouldn’t you?). I know what one can reasonably expect of a 2-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 10-year-old.

I wish more of their parents did…

So. Friday night. Date night. Which also appears to be Family Dinner Out night in my neighbourhood. Now, I am not one of these people who says restaurants are for adults only. It depends on the restaurant, of course. Unless your child has absolutely impeccable manners, you don’t take them to a quiet, upscale, expensive restaurant, and spoil other diner’s evening. But a place like this, a casual, friendly, neighbourhood pub? Of course kids can be there.

Rather than refuse them entry, I think it’s important to get kids out and into the wider world. In fact, I take my tots out to lunch at a local restaurant about once a month. I do this for our enjoyment, of course, but also — perhaps even primarily — so they can learn and practice the expectations of dining out. We talk about the rules and regs on our way in. “Sitting still”, “inside voices”, “please and thank you”. All those things are reviewed prior, and practiced during. In a cheerful, upbeat, aren’t-we-so-BIG way.

They love it. And the other diners? Well, first, there aren’t a whole lot of other diners. I have Tiny Tots in Training here, so I choose times when the restaurant won’t be busy. But, the other diners, because they can see us cheerfully practicing, even when we don’t quite hit the mark, even when someone’s volume creeps too loud, or someone tries to slip out of their chair, or forgets a please… because they can see the calm, cheerful (and at least momentarily) effective reminders, because they can see a whole lot of social training going on, they generally cut us the necessary slack. And, we keep it brief. We go in, we order, we charm the server, we eat, we leave.

So, unlike the children at the pub last week, my tots do not leave their chairs to dance in the space between tables. (Any attempt to leave the chair is caught mid-slither!) They do not swing on the backs of other people’s chairs as they pass. They speak — at least, are consistently reminded to speak — in quiet voices.

Two tables down, two families were sharing a large corner table. Their two little girls, about 5, were obviously excited to be together, and excited to be out. They were very cute. They were also appallingly LOUD. They did not speak to each other, they shrieked.

I was annoyed, but not at the children, but their parents. Have you people never heard of INSIDE voices??

One little girl saw someone across the room that she knew. Grabbing the back of the chair of the diner at the next table — not one of their group — she slithers from her chair, and skitters across the room to say hi. A server does a quick two-step to avoid her sudden dart. No adult stops her, no one reminds her that “we don’t touch other people’s chairs”. Nor do they intervene when the other little girl joins her, similarly using the adjacent diner’s chair to steady herself. Nor do the parents at either table anything at all when the girls go back and forth between the two tables several times.

This is not the fault of the children. They appear to be good-natured, happy little people. But they are not being taught the parameters. No adult of the three families now involved took it upon themselves to give an elementary Civilization/Socialization 101 lesson.

But that wasn’t as bad as the family at the other end of the room, who had two adorable little boys, about 5 and 2, I’d say. It seems that the little boys had come to the end of their main course, and had decided upon ice cream for dessert. So dad sends them after the server.

Do you catch the inappropriateness of that? If you want something from a server, what is the protocol? Do you get up out of your seat and hunt her down? Well, perhaps, if the service were absolutely, utterly execrable. But under normal circumstances? You flag her down with eye contact, or a raised hand and an ‘excuse me’. And that is what he should be teaching his boys.

Dad, however, does not call the server over to the table. He does not call her over so as to have his little boys ask politely for their ice cream. So they can see how one gets food in a restaurant.

No. He sends them over to where the server is currently interacting with another patron. Me, as it happens. They tug her sleeve. Her sleeve, which is holding a pitcher of water. “Hey! Hey, over here!!” says the adorable 5-year-old, cheerful, lively, loud. And let me underline: these children were seriously cute. Which is why, I think, doting daddy thought their behaviour was cute, instead of what it was: abysmal.

The server looks down into his excited, smiling, face. “I would like ice cream!”

She smiles back. “You would? Well, sure. I will bring some to your table in just a minute.”

The boy beams up at her. “Thank you!” he chortles. I wish that were true. No, he did not. Instead, he looked at his little brother. “Ice cream! Ice cream!”, he bellows. Little brother, being two, thinks this is great. So now the two of them are leaping up and down in the middle of a crowded, busy room, screaming “ICE CREAM!!!” into each other’s faces. From his table at the far end of the room, Dad grins at them. Aren’t they just so cuuute?

Eesh.

Cute, maybe, but far from civilized. And, you know? You can be adorably cute and unutterably rude all at the same time. These two have that nailed.

But is it their fault? Of course not. How can they know, if they’ve never been taught?

I look at the server. “Excuse me. May I have some ice cream, please?” I say. The server knows I’m not asking for ice cream, and grins all over her face, grateful to have someone voice her feelings. Wonderful husband chimes in. “I can? Oh, thank you!” We all grin at each other.

It is entirely possible to take a 2 and a 5-year-old out to a casual restaurant and have them sit in their seat, not shout, and ask for things politely. They won’t manage it all the time, for the whole duration of the meal. That’s normal. They’ll need reminders. Those reminders? That’s called ‘parenting’.

October 22, 2014 Posted by | manners, outings, parenting, Peeve me, socializing | , | 7 Comments

Teeny tiny talker

Daisy is a seriously cute baby.

Now, all the children in my care are gorgeous, of course. They all share the requisite round cheeks and big eyes. Some have curls, some have adorable baby-fine wisps. Most have dimple instead of knuckles — and if that doesn’t make you go “aw” every time you see it, you have a hard, cracked lump of coal for a soul. They have round knees and bellies, and the best collection of laughs you’d ever want to hear.

In addition to all that, however, Daisy is tiny. She’s 16 months old, but is in the 10th percentile for height. TEENY! (She is perfectly healthy, she’s just small. Her parents are not big people. Neither are her grandparents. She comes of petite stock, and will be a tiny woman, likely.)

So she does get a significant amount of cute factor from her sheer teeniness. People see her, think she’s 10 or 11 months old, and just LOOK what she can DO! They are amazed. (You see? ‘Tiny’ can be an advantage.)

She’s also got a quirky, mischievous, gregarious little personality. She’s friendly, she’s an imp. So there’s that.

But what gets her the cute award this week is that she has begun to say the names of her peers. But it’s not that she’s saying them, it’s how.

Liam comes out as a short, sharp burst of “Lee!” Never just once. A rat-a-tat of them. “Lee! Lee! Lee-lee-lee-lee Lee!” Makes me chuckle almost every time. She raps his name.

Zoe, however, gets an entirely different treatment. No rapping for Zoe. No. Zoe gets a long, lyrical sweep of a song. “Zooooooooooooooooo-ee!” Sometimes that first syllable is so elongated that I fear she’ll run out of breath before she gets to “ee!”, but she always manages it.

While she sings the name, her mouth is a perfect O, of course. So are her eyes. “OOOO”, says the mouth. OOO go the lips. OOO are the eyes.

Adorable, I tell you. Drowns me in cuteness every time.

Zoe’s dad saw it for the first time Wednesday evening. Saw it multiple times, because Daisy likes to say that name. Dad laughed, every time. Of course he did. Because it’s so damned cute! “I don’t think that will ever get old,” he says. Thursday morning, he drops her off, Daisy does it again. He laughs again. “Yup! Still funny!”

It is. Funny and adorable beyond words.

Congratulations, Daisy. YOU win Cute of the Week.

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Developmental stuff, individuality, the cuteness! | , , | Leave a comment

Making My Statement

I was browsing about on Pinterest, as one does when one has a few spare minutes nothing better to do is putting off stripping and waxing the kitchen floor. Because stripping and waxing a kitchen floor is something that can best be done at 10 p.m.  OBVIOUSLY!! But it is not 10 p.m. yet. So, right now the best use of my time, the very best, is looking at pictures of Statement Walls.

Statement walls have been around forever, of course. I didn’t just discover them. Neither did you. People were doing statement walls 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, but they called them ‘accent walls’, or ‘the rogue’s gallery’, or “our holiday souvenirs”, or “all my favourite stuff, arranged prettily”.

Still, they’re fun. Here’s a nice peaceful one for a bedroom:

statement1Or a cheap, rustic one for a tiny bathroom:

statement2

Or this one for a kitchen. (Actually, though this is cool, what I really I covet are the penny-tiled countertops I’ve seen. Too bad we don’t have pennies in Canada any more! Also, for some reason I find this kitchen bleak. But the wall is interesting.)

statement3

You know how it is. You see these things, and you think, “Hey! I could do that! I could be all cool and slick and organized and design-y!” You don’t? It just makes you feel hopelessly inadequate? Oh, dear. I’m so sorry. I hope I haven’t made you feel bad. See, for me, this stuff energizes me! Thrills me to the core! Inspires vast outpourings of wannabe creative juices! Because, really! I have walls, right? And I have pictures! I could do shit like this!

I could! I just know it! And then I, too, could live in a slick, clever, designer-y home that just screams “SOPHISTICATED, INTELLIGENT, WITH-IT WOMAN LIVES HERE!” (The observation that sophisticated people do not pepper their writing with BLOCK CAPS and exclamation points!!! is well taken. I will try to rein it in, and thus up my sophistication quotient.)

Pallets are cheap. The fact that I have no idea where to get pallets, that they’re probably full of nasty preservatives and absolutely Ground Zero for splinters doesn’t ruffle my consciousness. Because that wall in that bathroom is cool!

And pennies? Pennies can be had for, well, pennies!! Well. Not no more, here in Canada. Okay. So no pennies. But oh, my happily creating little mind says, how about buttons? Buttons would be just perfect for a craft room! I bet I could make a wall of buttons in a craft room!! No, I don’t actually have a craft room, but just think what a bright, fun, playful statement a wall of buttons would make!!

You can see why Pinterest is such a bad bad fun fun place for me!

So I start looking around my small house. Surely there’s potential somewhere.  I wander through my home with an eye to a spot to Make My Statement.

I find rooms that have essentially no walls. (How does the ceiling stay up with all those doors and windows?) I find rooms that are too small, too damp (ew, is that mold in the bathroom?), too full of other stuff, walls that are hidden behind shelves and closet rails.

All I need is one wall. Just one. Should it be so difficult to find?

I wander into the dining room. There it is! My long, clear, un-doored, un-windowed, un-obstructed, potential Statement Wall. Right on the main floor! Only there’s a lot of stuff to be taken down first. Stuff. Oh, the stuff. So much stuff. Daycares, I tell you. They clutter your home, people. It’s outrageous.

I mean, just look at it:

A calendar and weather cards. An alphabet, stretching as far as the eye can see…

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Number cards, art work, Hippos preparing to Go Berserk

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Red yarn for hanging art work, graphs and charts and plans for the day and week. The alphabet even sneaks round the corner and onto the next wall!

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How on earth can I make any kind of statement with all that STUFF?

Except…

Could it be?

There is a certain theme here. A playful motif. A whimsical consistency. Internal integrity. I look at the clutter that is my dining room wall. I look at the stuff. ALL THAT STUFF!

And, with a sudden blinding flash of clarity and insight I realize I am looking at a Statement Wall. An inadvertent statement wall, but a Statement Wall nonetheless. I am so happy. I have succeeded without even trying. I am a Design Idiot Savant. It’s very clear. The Statement this wall is making?

“This is a Daycare, dummy.”

Pinterest would be so proud.

 

October 14, 2014 Posted by | daycare, Mischief | , , | 2 Comments

Keep your distance! Really, *really* distance!

Liam sneezed on the floor today.

“Meh,” I hear you say. “He’s a toddler. They get colds. They don’t cover. So he sneezed on the floor.”

And you know? Normally that would be my reaction, too. I’d wipe it up with a tissue or a baby wipe and think nothing more of it. But this month? Oh my, oh my. This month…

As you know, we have two newbies here at Mary’s house. When I interviewed with the parents, I warned them, as I usually do: “When a child starts group care, whether that’s daycare at a year old, or grade 1 at six years old, they will get, on average, about one cold a month for the first year.” I think it was my aunt the chemist who gave me that figure, years ago, and it’s proven over the years to be about right. Certainly for the first six months.

It’s a nuisance, but nothing more. Since maternity leaves in Canada are a year long, you’re not looking at poor wee, 6-week-old babies with stuffed noses. These guys can manage sippy cups, they don’t suffocate in snot while trying to suck a bottle (or a breast). I certainly don’t make parents keep a child with a cold home, unless there’s a fever along with it, which would indicate something worse than a garden-variety snotfest, anyway.

But this month.

First there was a cold. Of course there was. One cold  a month, no biggie. Entirely to be expected. Except … except this was The Cold that Ate Ottawa. This thing was virulent. There are 4 children in my daycare now, each with two parents, two with siblings. Every single child got this cold. Every single mother got this cold. All but two dads got this cold, and those who escaped were travelling for work at the time it swept through.

I got this cold.

I hardly ever catch anything from the tots any more. When you work 19 years with these small, adorable, cuddly little vermin-ridden petri dishes, you develop a killer immune system. If the children experienced the same symptoms I did, it went as follows: 2 or 3 days of a sniffly nose, but otherwise feeling fine. Day four: not feeling so fine. Tired. Lethargic. Energy bursts followed by absolutely none.

Day five: you think you were snuffly in day three? HA! I was blowing my nose, I am sure and without exaggeration, 4 times a minute for two days.  Also: cough. Particularly bad in the evening, but pretty much a 24-hour a day thing.

Day six: add to snotzapalooza, a headache.

Day 8 – 10: lose your voice. Now, this wasn’t so bad, since there was no sore throat accompanying it. But no volume, either. Lose your voice, headaches recede, nose-blowing only once every two minutes. Oh, and that cough? Every single inhalation in the evening of day 8 makes you want to cough. Gadz. (But given the nadir of the whole thing, at about day 7, we’ll call this an improvement.)

It was a solid two weeks before I felt well again. It was almost three before I could sing again. (I sing a lot. Really a lot. I honestly hadn’t realized how much I sing in a day until those days when I’d open my mouth and have nothing but air emerge. Or a frog’s croak. Or a witch’s cackle. Or all of the above. If I ever mocked a 12-year-old boy for the crackling voice, I hereby apologize. Lord, what a damnable NUISANCE it is. And also, I couldn’t sing, dammit!)

So. There was this cold. Which I worked through, of course. I’d caught it from the kids, and they ALL had it. I didn’t need to worry about infecting them now, did I?

And then there was the bowel excitement. Two of them got that. Lots and lots of loose, watery not-really-poop-but-should-be.

Ew.

And then?

THEN we got hand, foot and mouth virus. (Which is not, I reminded my husband multiple times, hoof-and-mouth disease. Different virus, but mostly? Toddlers don’t have hooves, dear, remember? It only sounds like they do, some days…) One of them got a case so mild we only realized after the fact she’d been stricken (and now we know how it got in to the daycare!), to poor little Gwen, who had a high fewer, who slept about 4 hours a night for four night, and who had the blisters everywhere, including not just her hands, feet, and inside of her mouth, but the back of her throat, so badly she was afraid to swallow water. For a week the poor child subsisted on nothing but Jumbo Freezies.

By now, I was about ready to hang out the PLAGUE sign on my door.

I upped my sanitary precautions. Now, instead of disinfecting the toys on a casual, one-category-of-toys per week schedule, I was disinfecting them ALL. Every.Single.Day.

ALL OF THE TOYS. EVERY DAY.

Think about that, for a moment.

It’s not really difficult, really, but it’s a damned nuisance. Every day. Several times a day, really, because ALL THE TOYS can’t be disinfected all at once. They are done in shifts. Eesh.

The ones that weren’t readily disinfectable, I put in bags in the back porch. I don’t know when they’ll be allowed back in. In April, after 6 months of an Ottawa deep-freeze to kill the rotten little fuc– er, bugs? (Probably. And I hope they SUFFER as they die.)

I am now wearing surgical gloves for all diaper changes, not just the poopy ones.

I have a spray bottle with 2 tablespoons bleach in a half-litre of water, with which I spritz down the table before we eat, the floor after I do a diaper change, and anything else that moves or threatens to move. (Not the children, though lord only knows they could probably use a good spritz right on their snotty wee faces.)

I am washing my hands a gajillion times a day.

So. Liam sneezes on the floor. After he’s done, I see a sparkling array of large (LARGE) droplet circles of sputum/mucous/saliva/gawdknowswhat glistening on the hardwood. I make an exclamation of disgust, drawing my son’s attention. My son, who is on his way to his studies at university. His bio-pharmacology studies.

The son starts describing “Spill Containment Protocols”, as practiced in a Level One Bio-Safety lab. (I am beginning to wonder if we’re not up to Level Two, at least, but I defer to his lab expertise, of which he has a few years.)

And you know what?

I don’t laugh. I don’t take it as teasing.

At the end of this Month of Ick?

I listen.

Want to know what it is? Here. Just slip on these surgical gloves, grab this bottle of spray bleach-and-water, and take this roll of paper towels. I’l show you.

Urgh.

October 9, 2014 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety | , , , , | 4 Comments

The new crew

There’s been a big turnover here. Poppy, Daniel and Rosie are off to other adventures — JK for Poppy and Daniel, preschool for Rosie.

(An aside: Preschool, to “get her ready” for Junior Kindergarten, don’t you know. Silliest thing ever. As I recall, JK was intended to ‘get them ready’ for SK, which, at its inception, was intended to ‘get them ready’ for Grade 1. Honestly. What’s next? Intercom to the womb, so we can ‘get them ready’ for life outside?)

But, a secret here? The only one I truly, truly miss is Poppy. Daniel, though a charmer, was also more than a handful. I could manage him, him with his aggression and defiance. Over the course of the three years he was with me, he improved tremendously, but even so, he was a lot of work. And Rosie? Sweet little Rosie came with parents who were, increasingly, a lot of work. So, while I do miss Rosie, I’m pleased to have mom and dad gone.

And in their place?

I still have Daniel’s little sister, Gwen, who is now two. She’s dawning into an absolutely lovely child. You know how some people are just naturally positive? Gwen is one of those. Now, like her brother, she is very strong-willed, but unlike her brother, she is not self-destructively, reflexively defiant. It’s probably an exaggeration to say she can be ‘reasoned with’ very much just yet, but it is fair to say she is amenable to reason. She’s two, and perfectly capable of unreasoning contrariness, but negativity is not her default. She’s sunshine, mostly. Thunderstorms are occasional, and fleeting.

I still have … Oh, gracious. Did I ever give Poppy’s baby sister a blog name? I think not. Hmmm… I think I’ll keep the flower theme in the family, and go with ‘Daisy’. Bright and sunny, but also a bit of a weed. Yeah. Daisy. Good name for this one. (And yes, I’ve given her the same name as my dog. They share a goodly number of character traits…)

Daisy is now 16 months old. She’s got a killer sense of humour for such a wee one, is bouncy and resilient — cheerfully feisty, too. She’s tiny for her age, often taken for 10 or 11 months old, but make no mistake, she’s a powerhouse, this one.

And we have two new tots, Liam (18 months) and Zoe (14 months).

Liam is a hoot. He’s got the most beautiful, engaging smile. When Liam beams at you, it’s because he’s seen something wonderful and he just knows you’ll share the joy. From time to time, he recalls the evil, parent-eating door, and has a moment of sadness, but he’s quickly distracted. He’s a big, solid boy, but gentle with it, gentle in spirit and in actions. He does charge around like a tiny moose, yes, but manages, for the most part, to avoid knocking the others over like ninepins. He’s not a blunderer. And I have yet to see him use his size to push the other children around, which he manifestly could.

Zoe is a cautious one. Though she’s capable of some lovely smiles and has bouts of good cheer,  those are not her default. Zoe, sadly, is a whiner. Zoe’s response to life’s little setbacks is to cry. And Zoe’s definition of ‘setback’ is both exceedingly broad and endlessly specific.

Did you know that toddlers fall an average of 17 times an hour? True fact. That’s an average, too, meaning a bunch of tots fall more often than that! And did you also know that in Zoe’s world, an unexpected sit-down on her well-padded butt constitutes a ‘setback’ of scream-worthy proportions? Followed by long minutes of low-intensity grizzling? The girl seems to have no other response to a setback, no matter how insignificant, but to wail. No resilience whatsoever.

She’s cautious, so she probably falls less frequently than average. We’ll say a mere 10 times an hour. Oy. And that’s only the start. She will cry for … gracious. What won’t she cry for? I say again, Oy. Someone walks by too close. I put her in the high chair. I lift her down from the high chair. Another child laughs. Another child looks at her. Or at her toys. Or doesn’t look at her. She’s offered food. She’s not offered food. I put her in the stroller.

And let us not speak of diaper changes, which she greets with screams that would have the neighbours thinking (had I not pre-emptively shut the windows) that I was removing her toenails with pliers. Rusty pliers. Lord only know what will happen should she ever get a diaper rash!

Now that I am sure she’s adjusted to the new environment,  and equally sure that the grizzling is more bad habit than genuine unhappiness, I am beginning some basic behavioural training. If I am playing with her, helping her stack blocks on the floor, say, and she begins to grizzle (because someone walked too close? because a dog scratched itself across the room? a dust mote settled on the top block?), I spin on my butt so I have my back to her. Then I ignore the wails. She is passive. She won’t crawl around to the front of me. She sits and wails at my back. *sigh*

But, after a little while, there will be a pause.  Now, I doubt she’s tired. This girl is a marathon-calibre grizzler. No, not tired of whining, but puzzled. This is not what grizzling is supposed to do. So there’s a pause, and in that pause, I promptly turn back, smile, and continue with our game as if there hadn’t been a two-minute Grizzle Hiatus. I play with her until the next dust mote offends Her Delicacy and the grizzling starts again. Without saying anything at all, I once again turn my back.

And so we go, in sessions lasting 5 or so minutes, two or three times a day. I’ll use the quick-turnaround strategy at other times when the grizzle is being used instead of communication — this happens many times in a day — but I’m making a point of squeezing in these more prolonged, specifically training sessions.

It’s only been three days, but I can see improvement. On this, the third day, I will first sit back to increase the distance between us, and then pause a moment before I turn my back on her. About a third of the time, that pause is sufficient to make the whining stop, and then we resume our play.

If she can make that much progress in three days, I’m confident that we’ll train the Default Whine out of her. She’ll probably always be the first to whine when she’s tired or hungry. That’s okay. She may never be Miss Suzy Sunshine, but, give me a couple more months and we’ll get her to Polly Peaceable, at least.

It’s a largely pre-verbal group. Gwen chatters up a storm, but she’s only here three days a week, and she’s the only truly verbal one in the bunch. Daisy has some words, her absolute favourite being “Do-GGY!”, said at least 400 times a day, always with the accent solidly on the last syllable. Liam doesn’t offer words, but will occasionally echo, or give one up if prompted. And Zoe? Zoe goes in for vowels, in a big way. A serious dearth of consonants in Zoe’s ‘vocabulary’ just yet, though I have heard an enthusiastic “BA!” when she sees her bottle.

And now Daisy has woken from her nap, and I need to bring her downstairs for a diaper change and a story.

It’s nice to be back. Even if there isn’t anyone out there any more!

:-)

October 8, 2014 Posted by | individuality, socializing, whining | | 21 Comments

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