“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“Yes. Where is my sandwich?”
“Er… in your stomach? You’ve just said you ate it.”
“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…”
“I’m a GIANT MONSTER!”
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.