Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Helena has been Super Amazing Toddler the last little while. (Except for the part where she wakes up at 5:10. Every. Effing. Morning.) She's well behaved, attentive, patient, affectionate, funny, and really funny — all round sweetness.

At daycare, she's Little Miss Sociable. When I picked her up yesterday, she was decked out in a velvety shawl, one glove, and glittery heels. (How'd she get so girly?) She'd been hosting a tea party all day in the corner; her playmates would come and go as they pleased, while Helena served tea, coffee, juice, your choice.

Helena says hello to all the other parents. She waves or offers her hand in greeting. They all stop to chat with her. In the cloakroom, to their little snowpants-challenged terrors they point out Helena, good-natured, cooperative, and patient. (She can be a handful to dress in the morning, but at the end of the day she seems bemused that anyone would put up such a fuss.)

Helena certainly knows something about "dealing" with people. Something skipped a generation.

Her eye is healing, but she still looks like she's been in a fight. (We know better.)

Scrappy. Posted by Hello

We're reading Bootsie Barker Bites, illustrated by Peggy Rathmann. Although it's recommended for ages 4—8, it's perfect read-aloud material.

This book, a delight. The narrator — a five year-old would-be scientist — is tortured by Bootsie, who keeps claiming she is a dinosaur and will eat the narrator. Finally, our heroine thinks of a new game: paleontology. Dinosaur-Bootsie is frightened, and runs away, hopefully never to return.

I love how unapologetic it is. You don't have to play with kids you don't like. You don't have to understand where they're coming from. You don't have to learn that they are human and really nice on the inside. What you have to do is stand up for yourself.

Helena loves it. She says "Bootsie" with a charming French accent. My only concern is that Helena seems to identify more with Bootsie than with the intended protagonist, the terrorized narrator. (Our fault, I guess, for encouraging Horrible Noisy All-Devouring Monster games.)

The pictures of Bootsie's out-of-control menace for the time being elicit puzzlement from Helena. How to explain that it's not "sad," and it's more complicated than "angry"?

This book is recommended for helping youngsters resolve conflicts and deal with bullies. I don't believe Helena will have issues on either side of that coin. Regardless, Bootsie Barker is lots of fun.
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