Thursday, October 27, 2011

It All Makes Work For The Workingman To Do*

As noted a few days ago, Margaret is becoming quite interested in leaf management.  The bags of leaves have been taken to the fence, but does that stop the wind from blowing more down?  No, of course not.  But Margaret is there to do her bit.





Of course, it didn’t make much of a dent, because she did that 6 or 7 times, and then decided that she would rather take a walk.  But it’s a good beginning.  After all, she’s only 21 months old, and that’s probably too young for complete responsibility for yardwork.

Also, Caty, if you read this, Margaret COMPLETELY ADORES that hat.  I think it’s the strings.  But she wears it around the house all the time.

*For the uneducated among you, here is a link to the song from which this quotation is taken.  The lego animation is not original, but makes it more accessible to children, and this is Margaret’s blog, after all.

Hint, Hint

I mentioned that Margaret likes to push the swing as a suggestion.  She does this a lot, and she’s been doing it more and more.  Considering that I usually often take her outside so that she can run around and burn off energy so that she will nap properly, this fascination with the swing, lovely though it is, is somewhat counterproductive.  She seems to be unaware that the swing is for late afternoons, when she is bored with me but also winding down towards nighttime. 




You can see her quietly making her point.  There is a swing.  Things can go in the swing.  Margaret is a thing.  Ergo, Margaret could be in the swing.

Here it is again, a day later:




I’m beginning to feel that she may be too much a creature of habit.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I think that Margaret is going to be a good big sister.*

Today, after her nap, she took her doggy outside.  And she put him in her swing, and pushed him for a while.



Sometimes, at the park, she pushes the swing when she wants up in it, as a way of suggesting to me that perhaps she could get in on this swinging thing that seems to be going on.  I thought that she was subtly suggesting that I could put her in the swing.  So I asked her if she wanted up (or, as I find myself saying more often now than I would like to admit, “uppy”).  She said “No.  Doggy.  Whee.”  (Whee is her word for swing.  Just go with it).

And then, in case I hadn’t quite grasped what was going on, she offered me a synonym:  “Woof,” she said, and pointed at the dog.

I’m taking away from this experience two things: she really is getting that words fit together to convey complex concepts (the dog is in the swing, dummy.  See?  The dog.) and she wants to share things she enjoys with others.

I’m not ridiculously keen on the idea of her putting the baby in the swing, since it will be the middle of the winter.  Also, her method of getting the dog in the swing was to cram him through the leg hole, and it took some shoving and some bending.  But the impulse is good.  So we can hope.

*Provided her little sister does what she’s told with a minimum of fuss and thinking for herself.

Working Hard

Leaf collecting is so much fun, you know?


And then, after you’ve done ALL THAT WORK, they make you carry the bags of leaves all the way to the curb ALL BY YOURSELF.




The real problem, actually, came when we tried to convince Margaret that she needed to leave the bags of leaves at the curb.  She was planning on taking them for a walk to see the neighborhood.  I wasn’t particularly optimistic that the bottoms of the bag would last that long, so I forcibly detached her fingers from the handles and abandoned them.  It was a very traumatic experience.

She did, however, forgive me, and on our walk, she gave me something that she called “flowers.”


It was very sweet of her, but I am afraid I left them outside when we got home.  I’m not sure that putting them in water would have helped them at all.

Margaret In Charge

The development of language is doing much for Margaret’s ability to shape the world around her.  I think that she’s being very careful to develop enough language that she can tell us what she wants, but not enough that we can expect her to understand what we’re trying to tell her.  It’s actually a very clever system she’s worked out, because it leads to her getting her way more often than is good for her.

This morning is a good case in point.

She was playing in the living room, and she happened across one of her sweaters.  It is a very cute sweater, and  I can quite understand her desire to have more to do with it.  She came over to me, held it out, and said “Cold.  On.”  Pausing only briefly to be happy that she had come so far in expressing herself (two words!  Strung together!  Meaning something sensible!), I put the sweater over her head.

Not.  What.  She.  Wanted.

She howled “Nooooooooooooo!  Mommy on!” as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. (Again, let’s pause for the brief swell of pride that she is combining words to make more complex concepts.  Also, that she has learned to say Mommy, because she was avoiding it for a very long time).

But here is the problem.  She has no sense of size relation.  But I do, and I know that her sweater would not fit me.  But she was insistent, and does not have the vocabulary to comprehend “too small” and “Mommy will stretch it out” and “This isn’t going to work” and “I’m already wearing a sweater” and “Your Nana will crucify me on the back lawn if I destroy that sweater she made you.”

So we compromised.


And this apparently satisfied her.

I actually blame her Uncle Ron, who taught her that non-hat things can be worn as hats.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Entertaining Adults Is So Tiring

This afternoon, Margaret and I were playing that fun game where I try to pick up her toys and she tries to play with all of her toys at once, but with special focus on the ones that I have just put away.  We were at an impasse.  It felt a little like the Somme Offensive, but with less mud and fewer casualties.  Also less trenchfoot, as those of you planning on visiting me will be pleased to hear. 

At any rate, we were not progressing very fast at all, and I was beginning to think that I was going to have to declare an Armistice and wait for Spring to come and cover over the destroyed carcasses of Margaret’s toys,* when Margaret’s Uncle Ron appeared on the scene, like the Americans.**

He took her outside, and the cleaning progressed.  Not horribly quickly, since picking up Margaret’s toys involves bending at the waist, and my bending at the waist capabilities are a little compromised at this particular moment.  And before anyone wonders where Leo was, I can assure you that he was occupying the Dardanelles of the kitchen.

Anyway, it appears that all of that anti-cleaning had tired her out.


*Yes, this metaphor is not going to really have a lot of staying power, and I probably need to drop it pretty soon before something disgusting happens.

**Who, as my mother’s Uncle Ron was fond of pointing out, had a habit of showing up late to world wars.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Margaret the Non-rhotic

I gave Margaret a fork yesterday.  It was a mostly successful operation.  She seemed to find it easier than a spoon, because once you’ve speared the thing on the fork, you don’t have to hold the utensil level as it comes to your mouth.  I don’t think that it’s going to help her eat yogurt, but it will probably make some things easier.

I gave her apple chunks to work with, and Margaret employed a very efficient fork and hand system to convey as many as possible to her mouth as fast as possible.  She has immense cheek storage capacity.





Notice how she very politely puts her fork on her plate to signify that she has crammed her mouth as full as she possibly can.

The real difficulty came when I was teaching her to say “fork.”  She was very excited by the concept, and so entered into learning the word with a will.  Unfortunately, she has difficulty with compound consonant sounds.  Luckily, when she tries to say “shirt,” she omits the t.  We we not so lucky with “fork.”

So we’re going to be using “utensil” until she figures out the r.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bad Hair Day

Slides can be very difficult, when one has to maintain a certain elegance of one’s coiffure.




Also, Margaret is getting very self-sufficient on the playground.  She climbs up the stairs, sits down, and does it All By Herself.

Mommy Gets a B-

I think that I really need to stop grading when Margaret is in the room, because she seems to be getting ideas above her station.  She picked up a notebook of mine this morning, found a pen,*and gestured imperiously toward the high chair.

I lifted her in, and she commenced her critique, though she spent some time thinking first.


She’s very intent on her job.


And then, it appears, she offered her criticism to me.  Because Margaret is a firm believer in the necessity of conferences, where she can explain her commentary.


This is good, because her commentary is somewhat opaque.**


She also pointed out that there were holes in the paper, though she thought they were buttons.



Of course, her word for button is “butt,” which meant that I spent a moment thinking that she was actually commenting on the quality of my lecture notes, and being remarkably rude besides.

*Which, by the way, I find offensive, because I can never find a pen when I want one, and so why she should be able to, when we go to such lengths to keep them out of her reach is beyond me.  And deeply unfair.  The obvious explanation of this problem is that she has some secret pen stash somewhere at ankle level.  I would not put this past her.

**That said, I have frequently wanted to scribble all over student papers.

Our Morning

A photo essay.  (Not a good essay, mind you.  I mean, it was taken on a cell phone camera, facing into the light.  So it’s as if I misspelled a bunch of words, and decided to use Comic Sans, in an attempt to look professional.  But it’s an essay all the same).






Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sheep Busting

One of Margaret’s uncles has been asking, since shortly after her birth, when we were going to get her up on a horse, and we have been not answering.  Because it’s the sort of nonsensical question that doesn’t need an answer, and besides, he’s only doing it to be irritating, because he doesn’t like horses himself, and is merely trying to inflict the same sort of childhood trauma on the next generation that he himself had to suffer.

But I digress.

Margaret would probably think that riding a horse was a great idea, but we’re trying to keep her from real horses for a while, and sometimes this involves letting her ride concrete sheep.


Which she thinks is pretty fun.

Though sometimes, after riding on the sheep that she can get on all by herself, she does notice that there are bigger sheep in the sea.*


When this happens, she requests aid, which is usually promptly delivered.


And then, once on the big sheep, she decides that what she really wants is the phone. 


Margarets  are frequently fickle.

*Her knowledge of idioms and habitats is a bit limited right now, so it’s a perfectly understandable mistake to make.

Sciurid Exegesis

Margaret is very taken with her Beatrix Potter books, because they are Exactly The Right Size for being carried around as if she were important.*

She doesn’t take kindly to being interrupted when she’s hard at work on a paper on The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, which is, as she will tell you, about an owl.  It’s an interpretation that goes somewhat against the grain of current scholarship, but she came to the conclusion after long study, and not just because she can say owl and not squirrel.


And now we’re going to let her go back to work, because she is very busy.


*Which she is, of course.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Margaret Meditates on the Tropes of Toddler Experience

Leo took Margaret out for her nightly constitutional this evening – or rather, Margaret took Leo out for her nightly constitutional, but the effect is the same.  I went out to join them, and found them on the side of the house, engaging in highly stereotypical behavior.  I mean, it was so stereotypical that even Margaret was aware of it, which is my explanation of this look she was giving Leo.


Anyway, she frolicked in the autumn leaves, as is expected.



She seems, though, intent on doing the job properly, rather than over the moon with excitement.




Some of the time, she was concentrating so hard on the task at hand that her tongue came out.


Anyway, she is now happy that she can cross this off her list of necessary childhood experiences.

I think that she was actually having fun, but the pressures of being photographed do, of course, weigh on one’s mind.  She was not, however, so bowed down under the stress that she didn’t have time to note passing dogs.


Margaret is quite dedicated to cataloguing those members of the canine species that pass our house.