Delphine (old posts, page 6)

Birth Story

The birth story of Rosalind Yates Reed is great. It was a natural birth, and for a while there it sounds like it was a real pain in the ass, dragging on and on. But the point is that they got through it by trying a whole lot of different things, and they didn't go for any of the standard hospital interventions.

I'm having trouble expressing why this story made such an impression on me. I guess it's because the labour was long and hard, but they stuck to their principles and kept trying lots of different things to move the labour along. So often I get the message that you can only have a natural birth if your labour is easy and progresses well.

Conversations With Delphine: The Tooth Fairy

Delphine: Is the tooth fairy real?
Me: What do you think?
D: I think she is real.
Me: Why?
D: She has wings, and wings are real, so she is real.

Kind of hard to argue with that, but I tried it anyway.

Me: Are fairies real?
D: No.
Me: Is the tooth fairy a fairy?
D: Yeah.
Me: So if fairies are real, and the tooth fairy is a fairy, how can she be real?
D: She's sort of... in between.
Me: In between real and not real?
D: Uh, in between a fairy and real.

She has also taken to saying "Let's run along, and not get into trouble." "I am going to run along, and not get into trouble." You go do that, then!

Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy?

We signed Delphine up for Kindergarten, to start in fall. She's actually ready to start tomorrow -- she can dress herself and write her name and go to the bathroom by herself -- but because her birthday is fairly early in the year she will be one of the older, more accomplished students in her class. Fortunately it's a mixed Junior/Senior Kindergarten class so if necessary she can mingle with the five-year-olds, although by the time she gets to SK she will be like Methuselah.

I wonder about skipping her to first grade a year early; I don't know if they are keen on skipping grades in the Toronto school board, but it seems that if you're going to do it, earlier would be better than later, no? But just proposing that makes me feel like one of those annoying "my kid is so wonderful and smart and she needs special attention" parents. But honestly, if she is ready for grade one after a year of kindergarten -- and I'm not saying she will be -- doesn't it make sense to put her in it?

Speaking of people who think their kids are so special, Dooce (who I normally love) wrote this in her monthly letter to Leta, with respect to a question on a preschool application form: "whoever gets to spend their days with you will be transformed by the experience, and that the only right answer would be: You will not be disappointed." Seriously? You know these people, preschool teachers, get to meet hundreds of little kids, right? You think your little precious is going to be the one who transforms them? Why? What exactly about your kid is so special? Is she the reincarnation of Mother Theresa? No, she's just another snotty, screaming, whining, pooping three-year-old, just like mine and every other on the planet.

Having said that ("screaming, whining"), Delphine and I are getting better at communicating with each other. I read Barbara Coloroso's Kids Are Worth It, and it really helped me figure out a way to talk to her and deal with her which lets us both keep our dignity intact. There's a real art to it, the balance between getting her to do the things I want her to do without forcing her, or just letting her do whatever she wants to. I offer her choices, compromises, I decide what she does and she decides how, but all the while I have to maintain my authority so that when she's running away down the sidewalk I can yell "Stop!" and she will do it right away.

Delphine loves a power battle — sometimes it seems like she automatically defies me on everything: "Toast for breakfast today!" "I don't like toast!" (An out and out lie.) So then it's fun to offer no resistance: "Okay, no toast for breakfast, let's have cereal!" "I want toast!" Okay, toast it is, crazy kid.

My favourite times are when we get to hang out together without Cordelia. Cordelia is still at an age where she butts into whatever we're doing, but she's too young to play board games or sit nicely and be read to, so when we're all together I'm often playing interference, but when it's just Delphine and I we can talk and read and do things together like real people. It doesn't happen very often, though.


This Saturday Delphine broke a lifelong no-Macdonald's streak by visiting the place for a friend's birthday party. The party was enjoyed by all, and Ursa and her mom joined us for the bus ride home.

On the way, Delphine and Ursa amused us with their knock-knock jokes:

Ursa: Knock knock!
Delphine: Who's there?
U: Orange!
D: Orange who?
U: Orange you glad a banana?

And then they laughed. And then they told it again. And again.

Delphine actually managed to deliver the "anita" knock-knock joke successfully, but only once. The second time it went like this:

D: Knock-knock!
U: Who's there?
D: Anita!
U: Anita who?
D: Anita teeth!

(Delphine's go-to word when she needs to say something silly is teeth, pronounced "teef".)

And then Ursa said "You need to learn some more jokes!" Mmm-hmmm! Anyone know any good knock-knock jokes?

Delphine is Three and a Half (and a little bit)

Delphine might be the only three and a half-year-old in North America who has never seen an entire movie. This week her Auntie Morgan tried to get her to watch Finding Nemo but it was too scary for her. I don't know if they made it all the way to the end, but they definitely skipped some bits in the middle.

Delphine is still on the delicate side of the sensitivity scale; she is reserved with new people, and she doesn't like scary or violent characters in movies or TV shows. Books don't bother her so much; we read her Little Red Riding Hood and Chicken Little, and she doesn't flinch at the devouring of grandmothers or the biting off of heads.

Once she gets past her initial reservations she rises to the occasion. At Hanukkah dinner she made conversation with Baba's friends, and just last night she very bravely petted a large, friendly dog. She can even put her face in the pool for three seconds! As long as she gets lots of cuddles and patience she faces her fears admirably.

She is very solicitous of others and loves to be the mummy. When I am scared of something, (or pretend to be) she comes up and pats me and says "It's okay Mummy, I will protect you." She has lots of baby dollies, and she takes great care of them, feeding them and putting them down for naps. We all have to be quiet when they are taking a nap.

She gets into these weird proto-Goth funks sometimes, where she goes all nihilistic: "I don't want any toys, I don't want you, I don't want anyfing! Go away Mummy! I want to be sad!" And then she has a big cry. It's almost like she's picking at a scab, emotionally, like she wants to experience the pain of sorrow in an environment she has created and controls. I'm never sure what to do but mostly I let her go through it and just stay around to administer cuddles when she's ready for them.

Delphine loves puzzles and accordingly got a whole pile of them for Christmas. She's fairly good at them; she needs a little help the first time through, but she can usually do them on her own thereafter. I am looking forward to when she's older and we can all do jigsaw puzzles together properly. For now they all have to be done high up on the dining table, out of the reach of Cordelia the Marauder.

Delphine likes sticking stickers, which is like drawing only not creative. And she spent literally hours playing with a pair of paper dress-up dolls my cousin sent her — you know, the ones with the clothes with little tabs on them? The old toys are still the best.

Delphine's getting better at reasoning, which means we have to have airtight reasons when we tell her to do (or not do) things. This morning she asked for a lollipop; I said she shouldn't have candy in the morning, but somehow she knew I had already had a cookie. She reasoned that a cookie is a treat, and a lollipop is a treat, so she should be allowed to have a lollipop. I couldn't really argue with that without getting into subtle, and frankly dubious, arguments like the presence of flour and egg in cookies rendering them slightly closer to actual food. So she got her lollipop.

The lollipops, incidentally, were also a gift from my cousin. They are little jellies in the shapes of Santa and snowmen and stuff, on a lollipop stick. Delphine is not a chewer of candies, so she sucks these little jellies and makes them last literally for hours, which of course drives Cordelia mad because she's not allowed to have jelly lollipops at all.

Three and a half is great. It's a little psychotic sometimes, but (just like all the other ages) often because she's tired or hungry. And mostly it's great; she can talk, she can think, she can go up and down stairs by herself, she has friends and ideas and opinions. She's a real person, and I quite like her.

Things Delphine Says

Delphine, being only three and a half, still has lots of those little kid speech peculiarities which are so adorable that parents insist on talking about them for years, and even try and teach them to their grandchildren (ask Blake's father about "meemor" and "monsert" some time. Or don't.)

Delphine's most distinctive one is switching consonant sounds within words, for example "bastick" for "basket", or "bistick" for "biscuit". Our doctor's name is Dr Paquette, and Delphine calls her "Dr Pateck". Since she also has trouble with the word "protect" she decided that Dr Pateck is called that because she patecks us.

Delphine Tells A Joke

Yesterday Delphine received her first issue of the magazine Chirp, which is targetted to three- to seven-year-olds. That's a pretty big range, so a lot of the magazine is over her head, including the page of jokes at the end. I read a couple of riddles to her, but she remained characteristically stone-faced; however when I read her the knock-knock joke she laughed. Encouraged, I read it a couple more times, and then we practiced doing it properly, with me taking the lead:

"Knock knock!"
"Who's there?"
"Anita who?"
"Anita cup of hot chocolate!"
Peals of laughter from Delphine.

So I thought I would get her to go and tell Daddy the joke as a surprise. I coached her a little bit, and sent her off.

Here's how it went: "Knock knock! Who's there? Daddy! Daddy who? Daddy cup of hot chocolate!" And she laughed and laughed, and Blake was bewildered. Still funny, but not in quite the same way.

Hallowe'en Princess

This year was Delphine's first real Hallowe'en — last year we skipped it altogether because Cordelia was only a month old, and the year before we dressed Delphine up and dragged her out to a few friends' houses, but she was tired and not too pleased with all the strangers.

This time she was into it; she dressed as a princess (her idea, and "coincidentally" her two best friends at daycare were also dressed as princesses). I went all out and bought a fancy costume; previously I have sworn that buying costumes is lame, but since then I have realized that a Hallowe'en costume doubles as a dress-up toy for year-round play, so it isn't so ridiculous to spend some money for a quality ensemble. Plus this will fit her for years: fairy princess, medieval princess, punk princess (after it starts to get ragged).

We started the night at Delphine's friend Ursa's house, where we were met by their friend Azale (thus completing the trio of princesses). We all went out: Delphine, Cordelia, Blake and I, Ursa, Ursa's mum, Azale, Azale's mum and grandmother, and we were joined later by Morgan and Baba. The girls really got into it (with some coaching: "What do you say?" "Trick or treat!" "What do you say now?" "Sank you!")

We got a good half-grocery-bag full of candy, including some Lindt squares, two full-sized candy bars (which we had to confiscate on the grounds that that's far too much chocolate for a three-year-old — for her own good, of course), and some of those fruit bars, along with the usual assortment of fun (fun!) sized candy bars, Nibs, Tootsie Rolls (does anyone eat them when it's not Hallowe'en?), hard candies and Rockets.

Delphine was exhausted by the time we got home (but not before stopping at Starbucks to beg a free kid's hot chocolate with two helpings of whipped cream and chocolate syrup) so she only had a couple of pieces of candy before collapsing.

I had decided that she could have a piece of candy every day for the month of November, with any leftovers probably going to Blake's office, but as it turns out she's only asked a couple of times. Good thing, too, because Blake and I have been stealing her loot shamelessly.

We also dressed Cordelia up for Hallowe'en; it was Kathryn's idea to dress her as a garden gnome because of her rosy round cheeks and pointed ears. I bought her a red hat and a white beard and she looked adorable, but perhaps not surprisingly, she hated the costume. We got some pictures of a very sad little gnome, which I will post, but we didn't manage to keep her suited up long enough to take her out. That's okay, since she can't have any candy anyway.

Conversations with Delphine, Telephone Edition.

Yesterday I was talking to Auntie Morgan on the telephone. Delphine wanted to talk to her so I put her on. They talked for a while and then Delphine told Morgan about her new balloon.

"It's over there," she pointed. "I will show it to you."

Then she spent some time trying to figure out how to get the phone out of the kitchen (where it is attached to the wall) into the living room where her balloon was. Finally I asked her if she would like me to hold the phone for her while she went to get her balloon.

"Yeah, you hold it. Don't talk though! Don't talk! Just hold it!"

So Morgan and I had a secret whispered conversation while Delphine went to retrieve her balloon. Then after she had "shown" the balloon to Morgan she started playing with it and got distracted from her telephone conversation. After I said "Don't forget to talk to Auntie Morgan!" a couple of times, Morgan said "Should we say 'good-bye' now?" and Delphine said "Bye." and handed the phone back to me. She's a charmer, that one.

She just came running out of the bedroom, said "You're not my friend, Cordelia," and ran back in.

Conversations With Delphine

Blake and I usually tidy up the living room every night after the girls are in bed, but last night we were just too tired and couldn't be bothered.

This morning Delphine was appalled when she came into the living room.

"It's so messy! It was messy ALL NIGHT! You guys were supposed to tidy up!"

I think 4:30 has just officially become "Tidy-Up Time". "You guys" indeed!