Toddler Seasons

You can mark the seasons by date, but in Canada that is generally of little value. Snow is on the ground in most of the country well before the “first day of Winter” and is usually still on the ground well past the beginning of “Spring”.

Some areas don’t really experience Spring at all. Somehow it goes from snowing to scorching hot, or vice versa, in the space of a week or two. My sister was living in Edmonton when her daughter was born. I went out to visit and was lucky enough to catch the “four days of Fall”, AKA the second week of September. “Fall” meaning yellow leaves, sun and sweater weather during the day, flurries and -4°C (about 25 °F) at night. Flurries. Though, according to the calendar, it was still summer.

I know similar patterns occur in parts of the US and other countries as well. Thus, many of us mark the seasons by weather, and/or states of road construction, rather than date.

I’m here to tell you, there is another way. You could also mark the seasons based on what is required to get your toddlers out to the park. Toddler seasons are as follows:



What it looks like:

Parent: “Ok, time to go to the park. Sit on the step so we can get your shoes on.”

Toddler: Sits on step, sticks feet out.

Velcro sneakers applied (always velco). And we’re out the door.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – three to ten minutes (depending on which park).

Time spent at park – one to two hours.

When it occurs:

One week (sometimes two) in late September/early October and (maybe) another week or two in late April/Early May. Unfortunately, any or all of Sneaker Season might be consumed by…



What it looks like:

Parent: “Ok, time to go to the park. Come here and get your rain suit on.”

Toddler: “No.”

Parent: Maybe we’ll just stay inside today…

Toddler: “Puddles!”

Parent: “You want to play in the muddy puddles like Peppa?”

Toddler: “Muddy puddles!”

Parent: “Ok, let’s get your rain suit on.”

Toddler: “No.”

Squealing, squirming…get foot out of the arm hole and into the leg hole…zippers (why does this thing have two zippers?!)

Parent: Dripping sweat, “Now, sit on the step so we can put your rubber boots on.”

Toddler: “No!” Runs for the kitchen

Parent: Glances at watch, Two hours, eight minutes and fifty-two seconds ‘til nap time.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – fifteen to thirty minutes (depending on time spent circling the kitchen).

Time spent at park – thirty minutes tops (may or may not include time jumping in every puddles along the way)

When it occurs:

A week or two around mid-October, most of April, and sometimes May.



What it looks like:

Toddler: “Go down slide.”

Parent: “You want to go the park?”

Toddler: “Slide, park!”

Parent: “Ok,” reaches for sunscreen.

Toddler: “Nooo sa-scree”

Parent: “Yes, we need sunscreen.” Applies it to half of Toddler’s nose.

Toddler: Ducks and runs (literally).

Parent: Look I’m putting on my sunscreen too.” (There is no way to make this look exciting that I have discovered.) Toddler is unimpressed.

Scoop up toddler, pen him in with knees and coffee table, apply sunscreen to one arm…Toddler climbs over coffee table. Grab his foot and haul him back, sunscreen second arm. Apply sunscreen to face and neck while toddler turns head back and forth, up and down, and screeches. Finally sunscreened, both parent and toddler are in tears…

Parent: “Ok, sit on the step so we can get your shoes on.”

Toddler: Sits on step, sticks feet out.

Parent: Phew

Velcro sneakers applied, sun hat on (then off, then on again), and we’re out the door.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – twenty minutes.

Time at park – one to two hours. (Unless foolish parent forgot to bring water.)

When it occurs:

May to September.



What it looks like:

Toddler: Looks out window, “Snow!”

Parent: “Wanna go play in the snow?”

Toddler: “Play in snow!”

Parent: “Ok, let’s get your sweater and snow pants on.”

Toddler: High-pitched screech, “No snow pants!”

Parent: “Then we have to stay inside.”

Toddler: “Outside! Snow!”

Get one squirmy arm in sweater, then the other, zip. Get one kicking toddler foot into snow pants, then another kicking foot into snow pants, repeat with first foot which is now out of the pants again. Re-zip sweater. Pull up snow-pant shoulder straps, grab mittens, pull up shoulder straps again.

Parent, put on your own snow pants and boots.

Round up wandering toddler, place on steps. Toddler boot one on, toddler boot two on.

Toddler Mitten one: attempt to match thumb with thumb hole, fail, pull on mitten. Mitten two: Don’t bother with ƒµ¢ʞing thumb hole, just try to get it on before toddler removes mitten one, fail. Finish with mitten two, wrestle on mitten one again.

Parent puts on own jacket.

Toddler arm one in toddler jacket, toddler arm two in toddler jacket. Marvel that toddler didn’t fight the jacket. Attempt to zip jacket while toddler makes for the door. Grab toddler hat, parent hat, and parent mitts on the way out the door.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – Let’s be honest, we never make it out of the yard. Yard snow is just as good as park snow, and no one cleared the sidewalk.

Time outside – five to thirty minutes (depending on temperature—positive correlation to total outdoor time, and depth of snow—negative correlation to total outdoor time.)

When it occurs:

November to March. And sometimes April. Pretty much any of the seasons can happen in April.

I have no idea how anyone makes it out of the house with more than one kid under the age of four. Here’s to waiting (and hoping) for the next Sneaker Season to arrive in Ontario.




What’s the Deal with The Twelve Days of Christmas? In Case Anyone Else was Wondering

Every year around this time–surrounded by Christmas carols including The Twelve Days of Christmas–I wonder, how can there possibly be twelve days of Christmas? My thought process generally follows a similar path as Bob and Doug McKenzie:

You’ve got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And you could count Boxing day, so that’s Three. New Year’s Eve plus New Years day makes five. But even if you count all the days in between that only brings it up to nine. How do you get twelve? The traditional school break is two weeks, but that’s more like sixteen days if you count weekends, so that doesn’t work either.

Then I listen to Bob and Doug trying to sing Twelve Days of Christmas, I laugh, and forget the whole thing for another year.

This year I finally decided to solve this problem the way we solve all our problems in the modern world. I took eight seconds to Google it. It turns out the Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, officially starts on Christmas Day and ends with the Festival of Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, on January 6th when, traditionally, king cake is consumed and Christmas decorations are taken down.

Mystery solved. You’re welcome.

You may notice counting the days inclusively brings the total to thirteen, but I think it’s actually the number of nights that’s significant. The timing for taking down Christmas decorations is the only part of this that resonates with my personal experience, but even that ‘tradition’ seems to be fading. We’ve been known to leave our lights up until March, and we’re not the only ones. I can’t deny a thread of laziness here, but it’s also an attempt to make darkness at 5pm and freezing cold a little less depressing.

I will leave you with a link to Bob and Doug’s rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Lots of gift ideas in there for your Canadian friends 😉

Food Logic: A Toddler Perspective

My son:

Will not eat avocado…but will eat play-doh;

Will not eat any leafy green…except grass;

Will not eat green pepper…but will eat olives;

Will not eat shepherd’s pie…but will eat dirt. And will pick the individual peas and corn out of the shepherd’s pie to eat. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect other kids pick the peas out and eat the rest;

Will not eat potato…unless in the form of a french fry (ok, no big mystery there);

Will not eat salmon…but will eat lemon. Happily sucks on a straight-up lemon slice. Husband’s perspective: At least we don’t have to worry about scurvy :-/




Cat vs Kid Round 3

When we first moved into our current house, Kiddo was 13 months old. Not quite walking, but he could motor when he wanted to. And here we were surrounded by boxes and disassembled furniture. The first thing I did, the night before we moved in, was put up a long baby gate (This one. Not the prettiest of the gates we’ve used, but great for a large area.) across one end of the basement.  It was the ‘safe zone’ if I had to leave Kiddo unattended (even mom’s have to pee) during the move-in, unpack chaos.

We’ve been here over a year and I still don’t have pictures on the walls. At this rate I figure we’ll be entirely kid proofed and decorated in time for Kiddo to start high school. But, over the last year, the upper level of our house has evolved into a much more kid-friendly state. Kiddo is also old enough that it’s no longer catastrophic if he makes a break for the stairs when my back is turned.

The gated part of the basement has remained, however. Partly this is because ‘safe zone’ morphed almost immediately into ‘toy zone’ and the gate keeps the duplo blocks and train cars somewhat contained. It still serves as a safe zone on occasion too. It keeps Kiddo out of the yet-to-be-kid-proofed parts of the basement (ahem, Husband’s den) in the event he’s happily playing down there and it’s time for me to go make lunch. As was the case on this particular day.

I told Kiddo I had to go upstairs. Usually, he wants to be wherever I am. Well, actually, he wants me to be wherever he is–not quite the same thing. But when I gave him the choice between coming with me, or continuing to play with his trains, he chose his trains and didn’t fuss when I left and closed the gate behind me.

From the kitchen I can hear the train wheels running on the tracks along with other happily playing kid noises. Unless I hear a crash and/or scream, I can generally assume all is well. Still, there was something about those squeals of delight, and the accompanying thumps, that made be pause in the midst of lunch preparation. It was one of those ‘I think I’ll just go check’ moments.

I returned to the basement to find the cat cowering in the middle of the toy zone while Kiddo jumped up and down shrieking in front of her face. He wasn’t hurting her, but she was clearly not enjoying this game as much as he was.

I can only assume the cat was already within the gated boundary when I left. This cat, capable of reaching the dining table, kitchen counter, or the top of my 5-foot dresser in one leap, has not yet realized she can jump over the 32-inch baby gate. I find this bewildering and wonder, if I left them be, how long she would remain confined with an exuberant Kiddo before making the attempt.

I decided against leaving the cat to her own devices (this time) and opened the gate. With her spine as low to the ground as it could go, the cat bolted past my legs. Kiddo tried to follow but, alas, his legs are no match for a frantic feline.


Ghosts, Pumpkins, and Snowmen

For most of October and November pumpkins and ghosts (“ghostez”) have been major topics of interest in our house. Kiddo pointed to every pumpkin he saw, image or genuine article, and shouted “punkin!” And his criteria for what can be considered a ghost is quite broad. The passage of Halloween did nothing to diminish his enthusiasm. The gradual disappearance of pumpkins from doorsteps post Halloween was a source of some distress.

Finally, when we were the only ones left in the neighbourhood with Halloween decorations remaining, and a few houses on the street had Christmas lights up, I decided it was time to make the ghost and pumpkin stickers adorning our front window disappear. I did this while Kiddo was sleeping (cowardly, yes). It took him about 30 seconds to notice this the next day.

To soften the blow, I had Santa, snowman, and snowflake stickers at the ready. Luckily, Kiddo has a love of snowmen that has carried over from last year. (A pair of snowman figurines never did make it back to the garage, even in July). To solidify the transition from Halloween to Christmas, we put up the Christmas tree. This was a huge hit, and Kiddo immediately announced the tree needed a star, “Up there,” with much emphatic pointing). My old Father Christmas tree topper was on its last legs anyway, so Kiddo even got to go and pick out a star for the tree.

We stopped watching the Paw Patrol Halloween episode: Pups and the Ghost Pirate, and started watching Pups Save Christmas instead. We added some Thomas & Friends Christmas specials for good measure. Pumpkin talk has been successfully supplanted by all things snowman. However, Kiddo’s new favourite Thomas episode is Diesel’s Ghostly Christmas (aka Thomas’s Christmas Carol). Thus, the ghost fixation is still going strong. I suspect we will still be talking about ghosts–or at least ghost trains–come Valentine’s Day. I’m also a little worried the Christmas tree will still be up.

A Moment in Parenting: Spoon

Kidd0: Sticks hand in yogurt, pulls out blueberry, eats it. His expression turns to one of great distress as he holds out yogurty fingers, “Wipe it off? Wipe it off!”

Me: “Wipe my fingers, please?”

Kiddo: “Wipe fingers pleeeease?!”

Me: Wipes fingers. Hands Kiddo a spoon (the colour of his choosing, naturally), “Use the spoon and your fingers won’t get sticky.”

Kiddo: Picks up spoon, takes one successful bite of yogurt…drops spoon, reaches hand into yogurt, grabs blueberry…”Wipe it off. Wipe it off!!”

Me: Deep breath…


Toddler TV Time

I heard the recommendations everywhere. No screen time, except maybe Skype, for the first two years. My family doctor brought it up. It seemed every parent I met had something to say on the subject of TV and ‘screen time’. (Usually, they were checking their phone while talking about it.) I read the studies for myself too (the few I could find) and, though I found them underwhelming at best, I was left with a nagging terror that my child would have some kind of social or language delay. Notwithstanding the underwhelmingness of the studies, I would then spend the rest of my life wondering if I could have prevented all his problems with just a little more eye contact and a little less TV.

Thus, to avert disaster, I would be the world’s most interactive parent. We would play on the floor together, I would talk to him, read to him, make as much eye contact as possible. I would not turn on the TV…I had the best intentions.

I lasted, maybe, a week.

We were very lucky when it came to the first nine months with Kiddo in that we both got to be home. I was not working when Kiddo was born, so Hubby got to take all the parental leave that would otherwise have gone to me. These things are never flawless, however. In those first few weeks Hubby had to go into work here and there to tie up some loose ends.

The first day I was home alone with Kiddo I soon had Gilmore Girls playing on TV.

By this time, I had already seen every episode of Gilmore Girls (more than once). This was not about my entertainment. It was more like my sanity depended on having something familiar and reasonably upbeat going on around me. Before long, Gilmore Girls was regular background noise, even when Hubby was home. To this day, Kiddo will stop and look if he hears the theme song.

At first, my husband was resistant to the TV-in-the-background trend developing in our house. Then curling season came around.

Matches from the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts quickly replaced Gilmore Girls as the constant background feature and will forever remind me of Kiddo’s first winter. Eventually, (around the end of curling season that year) the TV stopped being on quite so much, but we never did put strict limits on it.

Kiddo is now old enough to have some opinion about what he watches on television. Alas, the days of one Gilmore Girls episode after another are gone. Now it’s Paw Patrol, Puffin Rock, Thomas & Friends, and Dinosaur Train.

Trains, cars, and trucks of all shapes and sizes are a hit, but mostly Thomas comes out on top. Lately, though, Kiddo has developed a love not of the fully-animated Thomas & Friends episodes, but of the many youtube videos people have created with their basement train sets. Some of which are over an hour long. Did you know people do this with their time? I sure didn’t.

I’m left with two questions:

1) Who decides to spend that much time not only setting up these elaborate sets (I knew there were plenty of train aficionados out there), but also creating, acting out, and narrating their own storylines with those train sets? Whoever they are, they are clearly onto something. The video I linked to above has over 7.5 million views.

2) What is it that makes these videos so much more captivating to Kiddo than the professionally written and produced animated Thomas & Friends series? The folks making the youtube videos must have this answer. Personally, I would much rather watch animated Thomas.

You might also be fascinated to learn there are hours worth of videos available depicting the activity of (real) fire trucks, ambulances, excavators, and…wait for it…garbage trucks. Kiddo likes the fire trucks best, of course, but is also perfectly happy to watch 30 minutes of garbage collection–no narration or anything, just garbage trucks doing their thing. Again, who thought to create such a video and took the time to film, edit and upload it to youtube?

All that to say, there’s a fair about of ‘screen time’ in our house. There’s also lots of outdoor time, colouring time, reading time, Lego time, Play-Doh time, and (real-life) train table time.

In case there might be any other guilt-ridden, TV watching parents out there: My son is fine. His language is great. He is social. He is not fat (despite eating more than I do most days). Thus far, it would seem TV has not melted his brain cells or turned him into a flabby sloth. Phew.