Every day, around 5 p.m., I fall into a black hole.

It’s not a hole filled with sadness or despair. It’s not a “petit 5 à 7” either—the time of the day French supposedly visit their mistress (note that in Canada, a “5 à 7” is the happy hour, during which sex is entirely unplanned and completely optional, yet another cultural difference).

It’s a where-did-time-go hole.

So, one minute, I’m saving the world, adding commas and hyphenating compound adjectives, and next thing you know, I’m trying to remember whether the daycare centre’s door opens after typing *1234 or *4321. Then I’m surveying a room full of pre-schoolers, trying to remember which one mine is. Hey, don’t judge, mother instinct has limits. After a long day, the radar is off. They are all the same age and they are all playing with trucks on the carpet, alright?

Mommy meets Mark, mother is matched with kid. Yeah, that’s the deal, you have to go home with the same kid you dropped off in the morning. That’s too bad though, a few little girls look very proper and quiet, some days I wouldn’t mind trading a moody and overexcited Mark for a couple of hours.

Eight hours earlier, Mark and I were both fresh-faced and bright-eyed. Well, him, mostly. I was half asleep. Now I’m sweaty, my hair is a mess and if I have been wearing sandals, my feet are dirty. Mark wears a different pair of pants (I pee my pants mommy!) and he smells of pesto (lunch) and sunscreen. He must have played outside because he has sand in his eyebrows. Sticky sunscreen and sand, the dreaded mix—it feels like I’m picking up a cupcake with sprinkles.

We gather Mark’s shoes, lunchbox, water bottle and dirty clothes and walk to the car. Well, Feng and I walk. Mark screams because he wants to be carried.

“So… ahem… what do we do?”

None of us really wants to do anything, it’s the end of the day, after all. Yet, bedtime is still a distant perspective and I’d rather Mark run outside than in the living room.

“I go movie!”

“Nope.”

“I go museum!”

“Nope.” (unless it’s Thursday, it’s free after 5 p.m.)

Playground?

Sure, why not. Easiest and closest option.

A seven-minute drive later, Mark spots it.

“I go play. I go play! I GO PLAY! WATER! WATER!”

Fuck. The splash pad is on.

I sigh.

I sound like a killjoy, I know. Look, I love water and I believe in free-range parenting, making messes, having fun and all.

But guess who cleans up the mess?

This is pretty much what I told Feng last time. So Feng decided to speak to Mark:

“You can play with water. Just don’t get wet.”

The look on Mark’s face was priceless. Yeah, that wasn’t going to work.

So splash pad it is. Mark is barefoot, he already took off his shoes in the car for reasons only known to himself.

Water is fun.

The walk home won’t be as cool. Mark will be soaked, cranky and full of sand.

I strip him, leave the dirty clothes at the door, carry him upstairs for a quick rinse, dry him, put on clean clothes, do a load of laundry, bring the lunchbox to the kitchen, clean it, prepare another lunchbox for the next day while Feng and Mark eat dinner, then I do the dishes and clean the kitchen, put the clothes in the dryer, give Mark a bath and then it’s the whole frustrating and time-consuming bedtime routine.

Then, then I climbed out of the hole. Several hours have gone by. “Me time”? Not quite. I have work to finish, I need a shower and I haven’t eaten yet.

Oh fuck, the laundry is still in the dryer and I forgot to check the mail.

Tomorrow is another day.

No time to pause for a "before" picture, Mark runs to the "shower"
No time to pause for a “before” picture, Mark runs to the “shower”
Feng catch up with him and tries to save his pants
Feng catches up with him and tries to save his pants
For some reason, the first thing Mark wants to do is to rinse his pacifier
For some reason, the first thing Mark wants to do is to rinse his pacifier
Then the fun begins...
Then the fun begins…
He just saw the water canon was on
He just saw the water canon was on
Using the water canon better than a French riot cop
Using the water canon better than a French riot cop
Already soaked
Already soaked
Okay, hopelessly soaked
Okay, hopelessly soaked
Okay, hopelessly soaked
Okay, hopelessly soaked
Things are getting muddy...
Things are getting muddy…
Ooooh...!
Ooooh…!
Apparently, the water is cold
Apparently, the water is cold
At least, he is happy
At least, he is happy
... and curious...
… and curious…
... and surprised...
… and surprised…
... and happy again...
… and happy again…
Trying to convince him to go home
Trying to convince him to go home
And failing miserably
And failing miserably

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21 Comments

  1. Bianca June 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Haha such a happy fun post thanks it totally made me smile:)

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  2. Holly June 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Ha! You are busy and I was thinking – wow, so tough to be a parent, but then there were those smiling photos of Mark – pure happiness – and I thought oh yeah – that’s why I want to do this!

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      The happy moments make it worthwhile, for sure! That and a healthy dose of masochism…

      Reply
  3. Lexie June 22, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Ah ah ah j’ai ri! J’ai le même pb à la garderie, je ne vois jamais ma fille, à croire que je suis bigleuse. Heureusement je suis sauvée par les gardiennes qui, elles, me reconnaissent et clament “Billie, regarde maman est là” et je n’ai plus qu’à attendre (et à supporter les remarques des educ qui me disent tous les jours “oh ben vous avez pris du ventre”) (entre nous, ça va pas aller en s’améliorant)

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      J’adore les gens qui font bien remarquer aux femmes enceintes que leur ventre s’arrondit. Genre dingue, on ne s’y attendais pas DU TOUT! 😆

      Reply
  4. I Say Oui June 22, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Ha ha you are a master at coming up with blog titles.

    Is the “petit 5 à 7″ a real thing? I never know what to believe when it comes to the French reputation and affairs.

    Joyous photos. And that is so funny that he rinses his pacifier.

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 22, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      I never had the pleasure to be someone’s mistress, so I can’t confirm… but the expression is widely used in France 🙂

      Reply
      1. Martin Penwald June 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

        I’ve never heard that for French, but for Spanish.
        In France, we have garçonnières and baise-en-ville.

        Reply
        1. Zhu June 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm

          But you use your baise-en-ville from 5 to 7 p.m., no?

          Reply
  5. Cynthia June 23, 2015 at 6:58 am

    On a completely unrelated note, it seems almost unreal to see him play in the water outside! It’s so cold here, I’m still wearing my spring coat!

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Is it? Here it’s hot and stormy.

      Reply
  6. Gagan June 24, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Alright, so I don’t know where this came from. So I am reading your article and I feel man parenting is a tough nut. Then your words end and the photographs start, and truly my heart melts, I really said this “I wanna have a kid” 🙂

    By the way the photo titled “Appar­ently, the water is cold” is by far the best photo I have seen of Mark, it is EPIC!

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      He is very expressive, which is funny. Yes, parenting is tough… and the minute after your heart melts… and then it’s tough again… it’s a constant roller-coaster. Much like being in a relationship actually. I mean, life can be so much easier when you’re single (eh, let’s face it!), but being with someone also lead to amazing moments, and many compromises 😉

      Reply
  7. Christiane June 25, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I love his T-Rex shirt 🙂
    Sooo i have never been to a splash pad before…it looks fun

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 25, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Bought the shirts at College Square, there is a Carter’s shop. They have great stuff for kids when on sale!

      Reply
      1. Christiane July 2, 2015 at 8:39 am

        ok i’ll have to check it out

        Reply
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