I Asked You a Question… Mark

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Ottawa, September 2016

Ottawa, September 2016

“MOMMY! You came back! Mommy always comes back.”

That’s right. Mommy always comes back. Mommy also barely made it on time at school because at 3 p.m., my day isn’t finished at all—not even close.

Every day, I curse our new schedule. At 2:30 p.m., we drop everything and go pick up Mark. From then until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., it feels like a long annoying commercial break during which I try to keep up with Mark’s needs, tackle the most pressing chores and deal with my phone that won’t stop buzzing. As a freelancer, I receive most of my assignments in the afternoon, when 9-5 people realize that whatever landed on their desk—a document to translate, an editing or a proofreading job—won’t be done by 5 p.m. “Sure, I can take it!” I type while cooking macaroni. Then, once the lunch box and dinner are ready, I work again, while Mark does algebra and calculus problems and elaborates strategies to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just kidding—he watches one of his favourite movies, some of them not 100% age appropriate. The only task he works on is sprinkling cookies, chips, and cereals all around the living room.

“Did you have a good day?”

“… Yes. I had a good day.”

“Awesome. So what did you do today?”

“I didn’t pee in my pants.”

“That’s… commendable.”


“Nothing. That’s good, I mean.”

“I peed in the toilet.”

“That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. So, what did you do at school?”

“…I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? But you were there for… like, six hours.”

“Maybe I… oh look! My shadow! That’s funny! Look, mommy, my shadow!”

“Er, yes. Your shadow. Did you play with friends?”

“Yes. Oh, what’s that?”

“A school bus? You know what it is! What did you do in the classroom?”

“I don’t know.”

“Of course you know!”

“A bug!”

“A bug?”

“Yes, right here, a bug!”

“Dude, if you were your dad, I’d say you are skillfully changing the subject of the conversation. In fact, you sound like your dad when I’m trying to have a serious and open chat about our relationship—”

“Mommy! Can I have a present?”

“A present? Why?”

“Because I want it?”

“Nice try, but no. So please, tell me what you did at school.”

“I played with Callum.”

“But Callum isn’t even in your class!”

“I played with Emily.”

“Emily? Is she in your class?”

Mark sighs and looks at me as if I was really slow.

“Emily. From DAYCARE.”

Great. My four-year-old son has friends from his previous life at the daycare centre. The fuck? Did they keep in touch on Facebook or something? I mull over it for a minute while Mark chases… what the hell is he chasing, anyway? And what’s with boys and sticks? I mean, could it get more Freudian?

“What’s the name of the other kids in your class?”

“Uh… I don’t know. Léo and Adèle.”

“Mark… Léo and Adèle are my brother and sister, your uncle and aunt. They are most definitely not in your class. Did you find your water bottle, by the way?”


“Your water bottle, the one that’s gone missing? Oh, never mind. What did you eat today?”

“I ate a lot of bread.”

“The sandwich?”

“Yes. Where is my sandwich?”

“Er… in your stomach? You’ve just said you ate it.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Where is daddy?”

“Parked over there. Mark, slow down! Please… I’m tired.”

Mark stops and looks at me.

“Your eyes are tired, mommy. Maybe… maybe you didn’t sleep enough. Maybe you should sleep more.”

I pause. Touché.

“You’re right, I should…”


And he moves on to something else.

Maybe I’ll fit him with a spy cam to check on his school day.

And he is right. I need more sleep.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Ils finissent l’ecole beaucoup trop tot ici!
    And everytime I babysit I wish I could get 100th of a toddler’s energy 🙂 It’s like with ovaries (since we’re on the subject of sticks lol), we’re born with a limited quantity and the older we get the less energy we have.
    Sounds like he’s taking after his dad anyways 😉

  2. Je vis ça pis ça m’épuise. Zero concentration sur la question posée. Heureusement qu’on a encore le cahier de liaison à la garderie.

    • Nous on a des TONNES de communication de l’école, mais c,est très générique et une fois sur deux, ça s’applique pas aux petits (comme je le découvre au fur et à mesure).

  3. All sounds pretty exhausting! I feel like boys are worse than girls at communicating about their day. I don’t even know what kind of job I will need to be able to cope with children and work. It worries me actually. Goodbye work-freedom!

  4. Martin Penwald on

    For the sleep trouble, I have a solution : get some steroids, you won’t sleep anymore. I had a minor dental surgery (and long overdue, like 15 years) last week, and the doctor prescribed some to avoid swelling, and it messes with my sleep for the week. But I am not tired during the day.
    But I guess it would be a bad idea to use more once I finish it. Amphetamines could work too.

      • Martin Penwald on

        Wow, even an Advil? Yeah, avoid anything stronger, then. The doctor give me codeine pills to ease the pain, and it was effective, but I use only 3 pills, because in my family, my mother react badly to codeine, my father too, but in a different way, and one of my brother both ways as my mom and dad. He had a miserable time after his wisdom teeth removal.
        Fortunately, I am not too sensitive to it, it just eased the pain the first day.

        • Anything, Tylenol is the worst. I’m tripping on Tylenol. And not in a good kind of way…

          We also have a family history of not reacting well to (prescribed) morphine or codeine. And I don’ react well to anaesthetic. Fun fact: I woke up during surgery when I was a kid 😆

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