Saturday, October 10, 2009

Deconstructing the Lullaby

I sing to Wren at bedtime. I used to sing "hush little baby, don't you cry" but Wren stopped liking that. Instead, for the past month I have sung The Unicorn. It is almost the only song I remember from listening to as a child. We used to have this record of Des and Dawn Lindberg singing the song and it was memorable but disturbing. Every time I heard it I was sad because the song is about the Flood and explains that the reason we don't see unicorns is that they were disobedient and played in the rain so they missed the ark and all drowned:

"the unicorns was hidin'
playing silling games.
They were kicking' and a splashin
while the rain was pourin'
oh them foolish unicorns."

then later...

"And the unicorns looked up
from the rock and cried.
And the water came up
And sort of floated them away
That's why you've never seen a unicorn to this day."

I started singing the first verse:
"A long time ago
When the Earth was green.."

"What?" said Wren. "How is the earth green. Earth is BROWN! Was the animals eating green earth?"
"No," I explained. "I think they mean that the land had green grass on it. The animals could eat the green grass."

I continued singing until a few lines on:
"The loveliest of all was the Unicorn."

"Why they are singing about a horse with wings when there IS NO HORSE LIKE THAT??"
"Well, um.. they are singing that there was a horse like that but it didn't get on the boat with Noah."
"Oh, but there IS NO HORSE with wings."
"Not now, no."

Then we reached the line "there were green alligators.."

Wren:"Why are alligators green?"
Me: "So they can hide in the green river water to catch animals. They like to be camouflaged."

Song: "There were cats and rats and elephants."
Wren: "wait wait. There are no cats and rats here in the zoo!!"
Me: "It was on Noah's ark. All the animals in the world had to get on."

Song: "The lord said ... stand back, I am gonna make it rain."
Wren: "How is he do that magic. How is he make it just rain?"
Me: He is a god so he can just do that.
Wren: "How is he do it?"
Me: "lets just sing it"

I sang it.

Tonight Wren has a cough. I gave him a homeopathic honey cough syrup and he liked it. I have also given him a pillow for the first time. He is proud of his pillow and showed Daddy when he came in for his lullaby. He is still in there. I wonder if he is being similarly interrogated.

NatureBoy vs The Small Screen

Today Seattle Public Schoolkids have a day off. This is the day where we can catch up on quality time with our kids (or panic about babysitting). Of course, seeing the cool sunshine I thought it would be a great opportunity to take the boys Outdoors. My first suggestion was Discovery Park but Frost was worried that would take too long so we compromised with Carkeek.

My first inkling that things were not so hunky dory was Frost's attempt to make me promise that we would be no longer than an hour. Since part of my motivation to go to Carkeek was its proximity to Swanson's Nursery (where I needed to buy some bark chip and heather for the front yard) I wasn't going to promise a short trip. INstead I promised a cookie at Swanson's Cafe.

As soon as we arrived at Carkeek the boys were thrilled. There was a log smouldering in the firepit which Frost poked and prodded. A train came by and we waved and the drivers SAW US AND WAVED BACK. A crazy man was walking along with a satchel filled with bread pieces and appeared to be training a vast flock of wild crows to follow him (he walked off up the trail ahead of us dropping bread pieces like Hansel and Gretel. The crows followed him through the wood eating the pieces. It was quite peculiar but quite scenic.)

We could hear seagulls, Frost slid down the big cement salmon-slide (and tried to persuade Wren who felt it was "too scary because that is a dark place").

I was just settling into congratulating myself on getting the Kids Out into The Open Spaces when Frost told me it was time to go. We had been there half an hour. "I have TWO HOURS of screentime and I want to get home."

I suggested we climb a trail. He headed up moaning about the trail. Wren felt anxious about the moaning and moaned too. He was worried a train might come through the forest because the big fast train had scared him.

I said it would not.

Frost said I didn't UNDERSTAND: "Daddy, Wren and I are inside people, we like to be at home and relaxing and doing screentime things. You are a person who likes to be outside and do active things."

I reminded him that we used to call him Natureboy and that he loved coming hiking and looking for mushrooms and seeing salmon and walking in the rain.

He seemed confused. "Well, I like that sometimes but now it is completely freezing and I am boiling hot from climbing this hill."

I let that puzzle be but suggested he try and run down the trail like cross-country training. Frost loves PE at school and was interested in the idea. He headed off fast. When we returned to the field I said we could go home now (we had survived one hour in the wild local park) if he did some exercise running around the field. He jogged around the field and then checked his pulse as he has learned in PE. It was not accelerated.

Frost said "I need to run fast for muscular conditioning and cardio-respiratory endurance. At least that is what I think it is."

I suggested he jog and then sprint across the field. He did. That made his heart thud so he felt he had achieved his exercise goal and got into the car.

All the way home from Swansons the boys bickered. Would Wren get to watch a Diego before his nap or would Frost have screentime first to play Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Wii?

I am contemplating all out screentime blackout days to reduce nagging and increase appreciation of my unstimulating nature jaunts.

PS. The picture is courtesy of Shirt.woot

Friday, October 9, 2009


You have had a long day. It started at 5.45am and you've been busy running errands, building trains and making meals. You know you're frazzled because when the Physio called to ask why you missed an appointment you thought it was Monday and its obviously Thursday. Anyway, you made it through and you're in the bath.

Its a great bath. It started off limed with a strange dark sediment but you washed and and made sure it was HOT. You and the toddler are both happy IN THE BATH TOGETHER. "It is a very nice" he opines while bobbing his duck and capsizing his playmobil boat. You slide down in the bath to chin level and its just great. The bath salts rise up in a sweet haze and you know you can be a good parent again.

Then the toddler notices that his boat has no "guys".

"I need guys" he says.

You're not getting out so you say "Frost?" There is no response but you know he's out there. He's in a reading whiteout so you ramp up the volume :

"Wren needs a guy for his boat. Will you get him a guy?"
"I need one-two guys" Wren adds.
"Just one or two guys please."
"No, ONETWO guys."
"Frost, he needs onetwo guys. Not lots."

There is a clattering noise and Frost comes in with about 15 playmobil figures which he dumps in the bath. The toddler becomes frantic as the guys are drowning "the boat is sinking, I CAN'T HOLDEM ALL!!"

You have to sit up to save the guys and insert them in their boats. The toddler is freaking out about this. Frost walks off down the hall saying "I am hungry. I am going to find something to eat."

The playmobil guys are drowning and you are warm but your mind is whirring somewhere. You think its 5.45pm. You eat dinner in half an hour. That kid must not eat. You know that if he DOES eat it will be Halloween Oreos and just then you hear a loud crackle from the kitchen as he rustles the packet.

"Frost" you squeak. "Frost. Frost. Frost." There is no acknowledgment. He's playing I can't hear you so its not his fault if he eats cookies at dinnertime. So what do you do? Do you leap out the bath and run naked through to the kitchen? Do you bellow like a wounded bull? Do you resign yourself to letting him eat?

You decide not to risk it and bellow very loudly about not eating now at all anything at all. It flashes across your mind that a friend who had to shout a lot as a coach got laryngeal cancer and you wonder if you are going to get voice cancer too. As if messing with your bath is no big deal the hungry kid says "oh, ok. I'll wait."

Meanwhile, the younger one is startled out of his dramatic control issues and you give up on peace and invent a new game with him in which you say "snigger-booger" and try and tickle and splash him in the bath. Do not tell your friends to try this at home because the toddler falls over a number of times and has to be rescued in deep water. However you both love the game and water is splashing up and around and you get hairwash done without incident.

Later, at dinner, you tattle on them to The Father. You explain you can't ever have a peaceful bath without one kid having a mass casualty and another trying to eat cookies from the pantry.

"Oh," says the bigger kid, "that was a prank. I was just rustling the top of the Lucky Charms packet to make you think I was eating stuff." [laugh laugh]

An interesting NPR Report showing that the charge for procedures skews medical treatment to detriment of patient outcomes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yellow Leaves

Wren went to preschool this morning and had a fun time. He didn't even need to be really "brave" to stay on his own. He made a picture of a spiderweb using marbles dipped in white paint which he rolled around on a tray covered in dark blue paper. Then he glued a black spider t the web. He likes these a lot.

After preschool Wren likes to "go bagel shop" as he has done with Heather on many occasions. I used to be allowed to buy a bagel and leave but apparently HEATHER sits down so we have to sit down and eat his bagel and chocolate milk.

After bagel we walked around the neighborhood. Its a startlingly lovely day - the sky a vivid blue but the air chill enough to give you energy. The weather reminds me of England - that bright peppy sun and chill air of autumn.

Here, we can see some pictures from our walk:

The Sky, the sky.

The yellow tree.
Wren, looking UP UP

A short walk down the road we came across some other smaller trees which Wren wanted to "not climb I hang on". I lifted him up and then left him hanging while I took the picture. He was yelling "AAAAH" at this point. It was not more than a foot if he let go but he thought I he might be dangling over the Niagara Falls and hung on tight. I thought it was ok to let him hang a bit as payback for all the bossiness he has been displaying.


We went to the library before lunch but it wasn't open. Our local library is being remodeled and I find it very inconvenient. We are quite dependent on our library for new books. Perhaps I shall have time to go tomorrow. I am now the Librarian for our preschool class and am due to take out some books for classroom use before Thursday. The theme for October is Fall ad Families.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flying Kites

This Sunday was very windy and Josh suggested we head up to the local playground to fly kites. The wind was so strong that all our kites whizzed up into the air and it was a bit of work to hold the octopus one steady. The box kite which is rated "for light wind" broke bit by bit until Joshua declared it could not be fixed and put it away. While we have taken Frost kite flying before we have never had such a strong sustained wind and it was quite exciting for him and all of us. Wren was very brave considering his recent fear of things that move and make noise (like wind). He talked about the wind but didn't panic or demand to go inside.

Here are some pictures of the boys at the field.

Here is a video I just uploaded. It may take a half hour to process and become available so if it doesn't work, please try again later.

I know that some of you, like me, have been trying to interpret Wren's use of NATING in my prior post. I haven't had any success myself but I don't think it matters. I think he is willing to simply contradict anything I say. He probably misheard me saying something and thought I said NATING and so was going to deny the nating by putting away the game.

A bit later this morning I tested this theory by talking gibberish. I said "I am boggling the herp" and Wren said "NO, YOU MAY NOT BOGGLE the HERP". I asked if we could "Fribble?" "NO," he said. "We are NOT Fribble."

See, its just about control. Not sense. Never about sense.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Imperious. Authoritarian. Almost 3.

Wren and I are playing blocks. I have finally woken up enough to build a little city of towers and battlements. As soon as I get absorbed by the game Wren says:
"Now put it away. It is too NATING."
"Do you mean frustrating?"
"NO NATING. You build the towering and they are TOO TOWERING so it is NATING and we are going to put it away."
"Ah, ok. Can I keep that one?" I ask, gesturing towards my favorite tower that has a nice red turret. Its on a slab of wood we got in Vancouver - the piece we call "dead bunny." The tower is pretty.
"No, they go in the box. I do it." He breaks them all down and dumps them in the slim cardboard box.
"You need to get them flat in the box or the lid won't fit."
"Well, lets see, if I put the lid on it does not shut now."
[another demonstration and a sleight of hand in which I flatten the offending blocks. The task is completed quietly.]
"Now we play candyland."
"Ok, first let me go and pee and I will come back."
[I try and re-enter the room which involves opening the door.]
"Do not open the door! I NEED to pee."
"But I am trying to come back in to play"
"I am doing it. I am coming out."
"Ok, I will come back in a minute."

It is 6.59am and I have been ordered about for 45 minutes already. I am feeling 'RATED and 'TATED and wondering where my compliant little toddler went to.

When I woke him in the morning Wren told me that last night Kitty Haiku visited him in the night and came to look at him and he thought she was a scary Halloween cat and so he hid his face in his soft toys and then she couldn't SEE him.