“Boys only want love if it’s torture…”

nbtb-boys only want love if its torture


Snapshot: Flora and I are careening down Deerfoot, singing along to Taylor Swift’s Blank Space.

Now, you might infer from this that I like—the singer. Or the song.

Truth: I couldn’t care less. I live under a pop culture rock. I don’t think I could pick out Taylor Swift from a line up. And, thoroughly unmusical that I am, I can’t tell you whether the song’s good or bad. It just exists.

Fact: Flora, 10, LOVES it.

Truth: I LOVE her enjoyment of it. It thrills me.

I think: She loves that I love her loving it, and she’s thrilled that I’m singing along with her.

Truth: We love doing this silly loud thing TOGETHER.

Bonus: When we scream…

“Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t, I didn’t warn ya”

…the boy children in the back seat make puking-and-dying-noises.

Everyone’s happy. Win-win all around.


Ender’s six-year-old friend Stella is staring with disapproval at Cinder, who’s standing on the kitchen table, in order to reach something way up on the wall.

Stella: Jane? I think you need to come up with some rules for your kids. Like, they shouldn’t stand on the table, and…

I actually have some rules. Such as… You must wear pants at the table—after the horrible penis-in-hot-soup incident—and no vermin at the table after the traumatic “I lost a mealworm… I think it’s in Daddy’s salad” incident.

And also: Do not make fun of things your siblings love. You don’t need to love Barney (gods know I don’t), because you’re a cool 12 year old, that’s fine. But don’t ruin your little brother’s enjoyment. Don’t mock it. Don’t dis it.

Say, “It’s not my thing.” “I don’t really enjoy that.” “Not to my taste.”

Not: “It’s stupid.” “It’s lame.” “I hate it.”

There are so many things my kids love to do that I really, really don’t enjoy.

Playing video games (any).

Watching iCarly.

Playing Munchkin.

Eating Jelly beans.

“Mom, will you play Battleship with me?”

“You know, sweetie, I don’t really enjoy that game. Could we play something else instead?”

But sometimes:

“Yes, I would love to watch iCarly with you. Tell me, who’s your favourite character? Why? Really? Why do you think she acts like that?”

(Just to be sure I’m not misrepresenting myself: Most of the time it’s—“I’d rather not.” But it’s never, “Why would you waste your time watching that stupid show?”)

(yes, sometimes… I really, really want to say that. But I don’t.)


Flora: Are you watching Pride and Prejudice again?

Jane: No. Downton Abbey. It’s like Pride and Prejudice, except without the hot guy.

(Sorry. Dan Stevens can’t hold a candle to Colin Firth.)

Flora: Is it boring—I mean slow—like Pride and Prejudice? I mean, are there any murders and things in it?

Jane: Well… there’s deaths… but yeah, it’s pretty slow. I don’t think you’d like it right now.

Flora: Well, maybe when I get older I’ll like boring, I mean slow, stuff too and I’ll watch it with you.

Jane: I look forward to that.

Flora: Me too.


Jane: Boys only want love if it’s torture

Flora: Don’t say I didn’t, I didn’t warn ya

Cinder: Mooooooooom! Aaaaareeeee you trying to kill us?

Jane: No. Just torture you a little.

Cinder: It’s working! It’s working!

(It’s not necessarily that he hates the song. It might be that I’m a really bad singer. But you know. He won’t say THAT either.)



 PS Want to sing along with us? Do:

Don’t fight with the four-year-old. Just don’t.

photo (21)

It goes like this:

Jane: For Keeee-rrriiiissst’s sake, what is wrong with you guys? Do. Not. Fight. With. The. Four. Year. Old!

But do they understand? No.

Flora: Is it too much to ask to not have him pull my hair?

Sean: Is it too much to ask to not have him screech in the car?

Cinder: Is it too much to want my testicles to be intact?

So I try to explain. Of course it’s not too much to ask to have him not pull your hair. It’s a perfectly reasonable request. But how about you just move your head like so, so it’s not within grasp of his crazy little fingers? He’s restrained in the car seat. There’s only so far he can reach. Just… move more to the right.

Flora: But I want to rest my head on the car seat!

Jane: Then he will pull your hair.

Flora: Because he’s evil?

Jane: Because he’s four…

I re-coach Sean through this, again. Yes, it sucks when he screeches in the car. But he’s at this awesome phase that the more of a reaction he gets from you, the more he will do it. Ask him to stop, once… if it doesn’t work, zone out. Don’t pay attention. The more you ask, the more—and with more glee—he will do it. That’s the phase. It should be over in four-to-six months.

Sean: But it’s driving me crazy!

Jane: But you will never, ever win that kind of argument with a four-year-old.

Sean: But you hate it too! I saw you—when we stopped at that red light, you clicked open the door and your hand was on the door handle. I know what you were thinking!

True. I almost leapt out of the car and walked the remaining 4 km home. And there was a blizzard happening, and I was NOT wearing sensible shoes. But it wasn’t just the screeching. It was the combination of screeching-and-counter-screeching… because, see, it always takes two.

Which brings me to…

Cinder: I can’t wait to see how you justify Ender’s incessant assault on my privates.

Jane: Cinder, you do everything to provoke him but tape a “kick me” sign to your groin.

Cinder: A “kick me” sign on my groin? Now there’s an idea…

Jane: I have absolutely no pity or sympathy for you. And I’m becoming resigned to the idea that you will never give me grandchildren. Thank Zeus I have two other children who may continue the genetic line…

I own this: the four-year-old is… exhausting. He is such an amazing combination of exuberance, glee, joy—and utter chaos, destruction, self-centredness and irrationality—that… well, exhausting. There’s no other way to describe it. Chaos personified, joy personified. Love personified, too, but energy draining more often than energy-giving. The mantra that gets me through his most intense moments is pretty simple:

It takes two to fight.

So I don’t.*

Ender: I’m going to pee in my potty, and then I’m going to put it on my head and dance, dance, dance!

Jane: I’m going to start the bath running, then.

And look for the mop.

Caveat: I don’t always succeed. Of course not. Them four-year-olds are wily creatures. And sometimes, they crave the conflict as much as I crave peace. They—or the Ender, at least—will work tirelessly and methodically to elicit a scream. To arouse the Evil-Mommy-Within. To evoke The-Voice-of-Cthulu.

Cinder: Jeezus, Mom, what the hell was that?

Jane: Um… sorry. That was the crazy, I’ve lost all control voice.

Cinder: Wow. Did you ever yell at me like that?

Jane: I can honestly say, No. But, you know, I don’t think it’s that you were any less annoying. I think I had more patience.

Flora: Mom? I don’t think the crazy voice worked. Ender just ran out the front door.

Jane: But it’s -10! And he’s naked!

Flora: He’s also holding a pair of garden shears in one hand and a drywall saw in the other.

Send chocolate. Wine. And the business cards of some good therapists.


P.S. I still want to know what your totem animal is. I’ll collect all the answers in this Friday’s post. The things you will learn about yourselves and your friends… Hashtag #whatsyourtotemanimal if you’re tweeting the answer or respond in comments below the original post, It’s a game: what’s your totem animal? And what’s mine? Email me at nothingbythebook@gmail.com if you want to play but keep it all undercover.

P.P.S. I want to ensure none of you construe the above post as parenting advice. To that end, I direct you to Rachel of Tao of Poop’s recent post, Can’t you just stop the parenting advice?

P.P.P.S. For the bloggers in the crowd: last week, my Twitter feed introduced me to Shane Prather, from Whispering Sweetly and her Bloggers Coast to Coast map. It’s a fun idea: you list your blog with her and can use the resulting interactive map as a way to meet local bloggers. Have a peek:

*I will also own that my conflict-avoidance powers are legendary. For better or worse.