Thursday, October 29, 2009

A different perspective

As art class was winding down today, it was clear that Will had developed a bad case of ants in her pants. We decided to go to the closest mall to run off some energy before lunch.

She ran. She jumped. She played with some cats at the satellite animal shelter. We tried a misguided trip into the dollar store and she climbed on a bench to touch some fake pumpkins in a mall flower bed.

At some point, Will decided to crawl. I'm not sure whether she was pretending to be a baby (which she loves) or a cat (meow!) or if she was just reacting against my attempts to navigate us towards the exit.

It was gross and unsanitary, but I had a bag full of wipes and hand sanitizer, and since we weren't in a rush I decided to not to make a big deal out of the situation.

I told her she needed to walk, and I would wait for her at the next bench (a few feet away).

She crawled a little more, making doe-eyes at me. She put her head down on her hands and then peeked out at me. Finally she got up and sauntered over, saying she was ready for a smoothie.

An older lady pushing a cart circled us and then stopped in front of me. "Do you need some wet wipes? I have some in my purse."

"No thanks! I have some in my bag too." I thought it was cute, amid all the flu panic, that she was concerned about the state of my daughter's hands.

But the woman kept looking at us, before finally asking "Is she okay?"

I glanced over at Will, now bouncing beside me. "Um, yeah. She's fine."

"Really though. Is she all right? Just energetic? But she's okay?"

I was suddenly very uncomfortable, and took Will's hand. "She's fine."

As we walked away, she continued. "Well, she's just an adorable child!"

I have no idea what the woman was implying. Some sort of delay that would make a toddler act like a baby (or a cat)? Some sort of attention deficit or hyperactivity? Some sort of bad mothering that would allow such terrible behaviour?

When I get compliments on my daughter from perfect strangers, I have to admit that I don't think too much about it. It doesn't seem particularly strange or invasive (except when they ask for her name). Yet I cannot get over the audacity of this woman, that she would feel entitled to ask whether my child was "all right." What if she wasn't, at least according to this person's understanding of "okay"? What must it be like to have a child who is different in a visible way, and have people feel like it's all right to comment on something that is just a part of that child?

Monday, October 26, 2009

How I thrilled the world (or at least Ontario wine country)

I decided to learn and perform the "Thriller" dance based on several premises:
  • I have a long history as a Michael Jackson fan, including attendance at the Victory tour in Toronto (with my dad, as a gift for my tenth birthday)
  • I was once responsible for choreographing the first few bars of "Thriller" (for my elementary school folk dance team in 1984, but still)
  • I used to be a dancer (it may have been years - even decades ago - but dance is like riding a bicycle, right?)
Perhaps most important, my husband volunteered to learn and perform the dance with me. So I set out to learn the dance from the youtube instructional videos, and by the night before the performance I had all the sections down. I wouldn't say I could perform them with more than minimal grace or skill, but really? I'm supposed to be newly undead so I was quite sure it wouldn't matter.

By Saturday morning, my husband announced that he couldn't possibly learn the dance in time. Reluctant to drop out of the performance, I instead recruited my sister (Will calls her "Aunt Pisho") to join me. She began learning the dance 90 minutes before we were due to check in at the park.
Clearly, we are both quite concerned.

But we work on the choreography.

The wind-tunnel sequence. Notice I am working so hard that I have had to remove my sweater. That's dedication.

Will knows the moves better than we do.

Zombies for the win!

Rehearsing with the other participants. I will spare you the video of the actual song. We look much more composed in the pictures.
Even without a costume, Will performed along with the rest of us, only getting nearly trampled twice (and more accurate than we were in much of the choreography). ROAR!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CSI: Dead Turkey Edition

Date: 25 October 2009

Time: 12:35 am

Location: Ceramic tile floor between the kitchen and the family room.

Report: My sister and I were sitting on the couch in the family room when we heard a loud crash. Looking up, we were surprised to see both cats lounging nearby. We got up to see what had happened, and we saw this:

Our beautiful Thanksgiving centrepiece had imploded, its rotten core no longer able to hold itself up on the little iron legs.

The smell was just . . . oh my god, it was awful.

Look at the fluids pooling underneath him, spreading towards the stairs.

When I tried to transfer the pumpkin to a garbage bag, it started to disintegrate in my hands. The insides were almost completely black. And did I mention the horrendous smell?

The Lesson: Once you pierce a pumpkin with decorative iron stakes, it will rot. Now you know.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Miss Leslie and the film projector

I've been taking Will to our main library's free kids' programs since she was 8 months old. I cannot say enough good things about "Books and Babies" and then, "Toddler Time." The pace of the programs, the age-appropriate activities, the mix of songs and stories and now, a craft. I have always been impressed with the quality of these free opportunities for early literacy in the community.

But the central library is not the same as a nearby branch of the same system, it seems.

Half the fun of the program has been hanging out with my mom friend and her daughter after each class. We bring the girls a snack and they have a chance to run around while we chat. So when her teaching schedule interfered with the fall toddler class, we decided to sign up for the session at a different library branch.

Well. Apparently, my friend was the thirteenth person to sign up for a twelve child class. She was put on a waiting list and asked to wait upstairs until they saw if there were any openings. She and her child were ushered in when a couple of kids didn't show up, but as they settled in beside me and Will, we heard an unearthly shrieking sound.

"You hoo! Excuse me? Hello! You there!"

Suddenly we realized a woman was directing her bird-calls in our direction.

"Move into the middle! I need to be able to get down the sides of the room in the dark!"

We herded the girls and ourselves away from the edges of the group as she strided towards the front.

"I have been running these programs for over thirty years," she announced proudly. "Somewhere along the road the children started calling me Miss Leslie, and it has been Miss Leslie ever since."

Gazing around, I saw that the room was set up as a kind of shrine, covered in bulletin boards with "Thank you, Miss Leslie!" and "We love you, Miss Leslie" cards and posters.

Miss Leslie - who was at least 60 years old - continued. "I have set out a pile of red paper apples at the back of the room. Take one every week and write down the titles of the three books you read to your child. Then bring them back, and at the end of the session this tree--" she pointed to one of the bulletin boards,"--will be literally overflowing with apples. The children love it."

My friend leaned towards me: "Three books? We read seven just waiting to be called in."

Miss Leslie then proceeded to have one of the children - "oh, angel!" - help her match two of the same cut out leaves on the floor in front of her. Then each child was given a leaf and had to go up to the front of the room in a mad rush to try to match her leaf. Will, who can match 36 different paintings in a game at home, would only put her leaf next to the nearest one, while her friend refused to go up to the front alone.

"This is very challenging for the children." Miss Leslie tried to soothe us in case we were panicking because our children couldn't complete the task. "Very challenging for the little ones!"

After that chaos, Miss Leslie pulled out a felt board and told a story completely unrelated to leaves or fall; instead, it was about a little duck trying to make the sounds of the other animals in the barnyard. Then she picked up the picture book from beside her chair - covered in pictures of autumn leaves - looked at her watch and tucked the book under her arm.

I knew that the craft, at least, was about leaves, as I could see the photocopies of trees and the cups full of crayons set out on the side table. But instead of directing the children to the table, Miss Leslie shushed them and announced it was time for the movie.

"Movie?" I raised my eyebrows at my friend and listened to Miss Leslie gush about their collection of old Disney films - the only library to have them - and how the children loved the films, just loved them. Then she walked to the back of the room, turned out the lights and turned on - wait for it - the film projector.

And the room full of 2 and 3 year olds watched this for seven minutes:

Nothing to do with fall or leaves or early literary or even 2 year-olds. But Miss Leslie has been doing this for years, and boy, was Miss Leslie proud.