Undercover Picniker

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tonight, I led my daughter from the path of righteousness.

Yes. I secreted food and beverage in her backpack and had her carry it into the movie theatre.

The movie being Harry Potter, of course.

I lay out the plan in the car after stopping to pick up sandwiches. I mean, in my defense....Summer Camp ended at 4 p.m. The movie was downtown on St Catherine. It started at 4:30 p.m. The next showing wasn't until 7 p.m. - and I knew that she could not eat dinner that late - nor was she making a massive tub of popcorn her meal. Plus going into the movie at 7 would get us out at 10...and home by nearly 11 p.m. No way I was handling the exhausted puddle she would become by that time of night.

So, we ran into the sandwich shop and got a couple to go.

"Look", I tell her in the car. "The movie people don't really want you to bring food in - at least not food that you haven't bought THERE in the movie - so we have to be kind of ....not Obvious about bringing it in..."

The truth of what I am saying sinks in.

She weighs this. "What if they find them?", she asks.  She is, after all, a rule follower.

"I don't know, but I don't think they will take our sandwiches - I mean they're just sandwiches!"

I begin to feel kind of bad, inducing my child into being my accomplice in the illegal transport of bread and meat and vegetables. And a couple of bottled waters.

I look at my purse. I wish I had brought a bigger purse. I look around and see her backpack.

"Ah", I think, "the ubiquitous child's backpack...."

Being opening week, they will undoubtedly search my bag. Montreal is, apparently, a hot bed of illegal taping in theaters. Indeed, a security team is at each of the doors of the  screens showing  Harry Potter. You show your ticket, they check your bag...and then they walk up and down the stadium seating, making sure no one has whipped out the video-phone to capture Old Harry in his 5th year.

I sigh. This moral dilemma is bigger than I wanted at 4:22 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon.

I decide to go with the "Don't ask, Don't Tell" Policy. I pack her backpack and carry it down the street. I suppose the worst they can do is take our sandwiches.

We get our tickets at 4:32 and race up the escalator to the FIRST theater. I present our tickets to the security team. They look in my bag....and completely ignore her backpack.

We walk in past the doors and Emily,  in true nine year old fashion says (loudly):

"WOW! They didn't even look in my backpack!"

Mata Hari, she's not.



July 13, 2007 Gimlet Eye

Storm Front

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The storm arrived fast. There had been no tell tale clouds in the sky. No predictions of rain in the forecast. In fact, until the moment the storm arrived, you would never have guessed that there was even the vaguest possibility of foul weather.

It started with some mild howling. She didn't want to do her reading, she said. There was a law against kids having to do homework in the summer, she said. This progressed into precipitation - tears rolling down her cheeks as she is sent to her room, foot steps thundering away as she stomped off, muttering loudly about fairness.

Moments later, like lightening setting a meadow afire, she returned to curse at her mother. She hated her, she said. She wanted to live with her grandmother.

The mother, calm and passive until that moment, is struck by the lightening of her daughters fury. It passes from body to body, the smell of ozone lingering in the air.

The mother gets up and leaves the room for the kitchen, beginning to make dinner. The storm follows her. Upon opening the freezer, a water bottle falls out and cracks  - the plastic shattering into jagged shards. The second crash follows on the heels of the first, as the glass coffee carafe falls into the sink and breaks.

The mother now storms from spot to spot, trying to clean the glass and plastic and cook at the same time. The daughter returns, rumbling about the choice of dinner as the thunder cloud of her mother moves from mess to mess.

The storm cloud expands, mother and daughter echoing the thunder back and forth...

Until , like all storms, it passes. The child is fed. The mother cleans the mess. The quiet is restored.

You would almost not know that the storm had rolled through, save for the melting ice bits, slowly melting on the kitchen floor.

July 11, 2007 Gimlet Eye

Cannibal

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The old cliché is that the shoemakers kids are the ones walking around barefoot, right?  Well, kids of early childhood professionals are the ones who fail to adhere to developmental timelines. They are also the ones on whom all the advice their parent has ever spoken will be guaranteed to NOT work. They will talk late, be constipated as exclusively breast-fed babies, and get chronic ear infections. They will also become biters in their classroom.

Yes, I was the Mom of the Biter. That Biter – you know the one who took a chunk out of your child’s face? Then followed that up with the bite on the back the next day? Yep – That was my kid.

What doubled my pleasure, so to speak, was my dual role as point person for the angry parents who wanted me to “do something” about that Biter.

Logically, I could tick off the reasons for Emily’s biting. She was small. At a year old she weighed a whopping 13 pounds so her classmates were behemoths in comparison. She used her teeth when she felt threatened or unsure. She also bit people when she was overcome with love or happiness. Knowing her life long struggle with the modulation of her emotions and her eventual diagnosis of ADD, it doesn’t shock the Me watching seven years later. But try to explain to another’s mother that your child loves her child so much, that she bit them. Not a popular sell.

For Emily, she was also dealing with a significant language delay. Having experienced chronic ear infections from the age of 3 months on, she was a very late talker. She would get frustrated with a friend, and since the word or objection couldn’t be quantified as a word – the teeth were handy and fast.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The day that another child bit Emily, I fought back my urge to punch a 14-month-old child in the face. I also knew that my husband was going to go apeshit when she saw the marks on her cheek. “Who was it, Who was it, Who was it” he grilled me over and over.

“Are you asking me as the mother or as the Director?”, I responded

“The Mother”, he said

“I don’t know, as the mother. Staff doesn’t tell you the name of the biter.”

I braced myself for the follow up.

“Then Director. I am asking you as the Director.” His eyes were widening, mouth tightening.

“As Director, I must tell you that we don’t release the name of the child. It is a matter of program policy and confidentiality. I can assure you, however, that the parents have been notified and are working closely with the staff.”

I took a deep breath. I braced myself, for the gale was a-coming.

“What!!! You will tell me Dawn. You will tell me who bit our child! You will tell me …or I’ll sue you. I’ll sue the Center! This is a matter of health! What if that child has something?” He paused, panting and huffing.

After several more threats to my professional well-being, he desisted. The tables turned soon after. WE became the parents of THE BITER!!!

Her reign was not mercifully brief. She had a long and glorious stint as the top shark in the pond. It persisted through the Two-year-old room, off and on.

The crowning moment in my title as “Mother of the Biter” came after one of Emily’s best beloved friends transitioned into the classroom. 

Now, Early Childhood people worth their salt will tell you that groups of children behave in some very predictable ways. In groups of Toddlers, new children are often targeted with a bite. This may come from the last child to transition into the group – or may come from the “Top Toddler” so to speak.  I wasn’t kidding when I referred to my groups of children as “Wolf Packs”. They have very, very similar characteristics.

J was coming into the Ones and Emily was overjoyed. She was her buddy in badass behavior. In fact, this group of Mom’s and I often joked that there must have been a streak of Bad Ass in the water, since we had produced some of the most Bad Ass group of little girls to grace the center in quite a long time.

Day One, Emily greets J and Bites her on the right Cheek. The bite takes up about 70 percent of J’s cheek. It is a nasty thing. Purple and swollen. I want to cry when I see this other child. It is bad. It’s a bite that, as Director, I have to call the Mother about. A mother whom I considered to be a friend. As with my husband, I am going to be questioned. As with my husband, I am going to have to hold the professional line.

This Mother was actually OK. This was her second child, and she was a bit more relaxed when it came to life in the child care center. Her husband, predictably, flipped out. I believe that she later told me that he had wanted to come beat up the Toddler who had bitten his child. I understood.

No, the beauty of my tenuous situation came from another mother in the group. Mother of the very first child who had bitten my own child, in fact. Having observed J’s bitten face, she approached me in the hall.

Her: “Boy, J has a bad bite!”
Me: “Yeah, It is a big one”
Her: “You know, I’ve been thinking. The parents of that Biter have got to do something about this. I mean, they can’t be very good parents if their child keeps biting, right? What kinds of parents have a child that bites like this?

Me:” I can tell you that the parents are very aware of the situation. They are working closely with the staff and they feel just terrible about the biting.”

Her: “Still, if they were better parents, their child would stop biting.”

At age one, Emily taught me that while she is Of me, she is not me. She has to make her own way, as hard as that is for me to watch and experience. So what kinds of parents have the biter – or the hitter, or the pincher, or the pusher-downer? Ones just like Terrance and I, apparently.

July 9, 2007 Gimlet Eye

River of Tears

Sunday, April 07, 2019

In keeping with our theme of "ways to make Dawn and Terrance uncomfortable and/or annoyed" , we can safely add the persistent and unexpected crying that our child has taken to unleashing at any time or place.

Flat Stanley left at school?

Can't find the pair of socks she wants to wear?

Can't decide if you want to go on a bike ride with your father? 

Refuse to wash your hair, and then cry when you are ordered out of the tub before your hair is washed? 

Demand to have the fan installed in your room and then insist that it be turned off because you are too cold?

FLOOD OF CRYING. And screaming. Let's not forget the screaming. For it ties it all up in a lovely package of pre-adolescent angst. 

If ever there was an effective form of birth control, I would say that living with a hormonal nine year old girl would pretty much do the trick.

Oh, and her father just added this tidbit of nervy-ness.

This morning, after demanding that he get up and make her pancakes and bacon, she criticized the crispiness of the bacon, for she likes her bacon a bit chewy and he failed to achieve the chewy texture she desires.

Seriously.

June 12, 2007 Gimlet Eye

Deep Thoughts

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

As part of my "Let's do anything to keep a child busy during two rainy in-service days" campaign this week, Em and I went to see Pirates of the Carribean.

I like watching a little Orlando Bloom and J Depp as much as the next lady and Em LOVES the Pirate/fantasy/mythological aspects of the movies.

However, producers and writers of the P of the C movies, my nine year old has figured out a major weakness in the plot point of this last film, which she addressed to me this morning.

If all of the crew on the Flying Dutchman are in effect Dead, but immortal - as evidenced by their gruesome sea creature like appearance as well as the premise of the entire second movie - How can they all be killed so easily during sword fights?

Chew on that Hollywood writers.

June 7, 2007 Gimlet Eye
 
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