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Did He Just Say That Out Loud?

Walk under the rain, Ottawa, May 2015
Walk under the rain, Ottawa, May 2015

“No. No shoes, no jacket.”

“Mark… come on, let’s go.”

“Eh, did you hear that? Mark said ‘shoes’!” the daycare teacher notes enthusiastically.

“Uh… yes.”

I’m puzzled. I mean, yes, Mark says “shoes”. He has a love/hate relationship with them, he takes them off when he isn’t supposed to and keep them on when I need him to take them off. Mark also says… well, many things. Including “fuck” and “shit” a couple of times, and I totally pretended it didn’t happen—he said “stuck” and “shut”, right, people?

But apparently Mark doesn’t say much at school. He  must save it for us, because as soon as I pick him up, he turns into a chatterbox.

Last weekend, barely awake, I put him in the stroller to go for a walk. I was kind of hoping to just push him, go somewhere fun, get a nice tan and a workout out of it (the stroller is heavy now) and daydream along the way.

Not a chance.

“Mommy, what’s this?”

“The farm.”

“And this?”

“The… road?”

“Ohhhhh… birds! Birds fly. Tall. Plane! Plane! PLANE!!! Oh. Plane gone. What’s this?”

“Uh… farm buildings? Offices.”


“Yeah, people work here.”

“People work here.”

Four hours of this. I actually enjoyed it after a while (read: after a coffee and a smoke). We were having a conversation, it was fun. And he didn’t mind the occasional lull (I was pushing the damn stroller, needed to keep some energy!), he just read numbers and letters aloud. Or sing “happy birthday” to himself—that’s the one song he has mastered so far.

So yes, Mark can talk. He is just shy at school, I guess.

Mind you, sometime I don’t mind him being shy because when he talks… let’s just say that context and grammar are everything—I wish I could provide subtitles, or at least an explanation, to people overhearing him.

Like when I introduced Mark to crackers, also known as the acceptable junk food option, because I had ran out of ideas for his lunchbox.

The other day, on the way to the park, we saw a lady walking her dog. Like most kids, Mark is curious about animals, so he broke free and ran off to see the puppy. The lady was one of these pet owners who are really into their pet—I could tell just by the way she winced when Mark walked up to the dog (he won’t touch them unless I allow him to) and by the fact the poor dog was wearing pink slippers. “It’s okay,” I said to both Mark and the owner. “I think the dog is nice. And he is usually gentle with animals, he won’t touch them, just offer his hand if the dog wants to sniff him.”

And this is when Mark smiled and said loud and clear: “Mark eat dogs.”

I glanced behind my shoulder. At least, Feng wasn’t around. Not that anyone believes the stereotype of Chinese eating dog meat… right? Oh, never mind.

Oh, if you’re wondering, Mark meant that he wanted to give the dog something to eat. The dog owner left before I could translate.

I guess this is only fair that I have these moments with Mark because I was that kid embarrassing my parents once. When I was in kindergarten, I told everyone that my dad was in jail. He was. At least every Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, when he taught art to inmates. I’m sure my parents had fun clearing up the misunderstanding.

Kids say weird things at weird times.

I find it very entertaining.

We took Mark to the National Gallery of Canada recently.

“What’s this?” I asked Mark, pointing to a painting of Virgin Mary and Jesus.

“Mommy and baby sleeping.”


“A monster.”

Ah. Yes, this is a way to describe the Cubism avant-garde movement and PIcasso’s artwork.

“Mommy… what’s this?”

“A sculpture?”

“No, this.”

“… A penis. The man’s pee pee.”

“Mark’s pee pee?”

“Yes, the same.”

Then we had a long discussion on whether the girls in his class had a penis as well, before I finally dragged him to the modern art section where he was able to name Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made objects, although I’m not sure he elevated them to the status of art through intellectual consideration. To Mark, a shovel is, well, a shovel. To me as well, mind you.

And then you have the cute moments. Like when Mark noticed one of the few “beauty mark” that I have.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a… wait, let me show you. You have one too, on your leg. There. It’s a beauty mark.”

As soon as I said it out loud, I realized it was funny. Mark’s beauty mark. Mark somehow misheard and later, I heard him calling it his “birthday Mark” and singing “happy birthday” to it. Why not… after all, he also says “baby button” for “belly button”!

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