The Young and the Restless: A Nemesis Story

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Mark, April 2016

Mark, April 2016

At the door of Mark’s first daycare was posted a daily digest of our little snowflakes’ highlights of the day. “He pooped!” “He peed!” “He had two spoonful of rice!” I guess that for $1600 per month (!), the least they could do was to provide proof of life and a topic to discuss during the ride home. In case you were wondering, sexy topics like your kid’s bathroom routine does NOT bring a couple closer. However, because Mark wasn’t speaking much then, it was the only way we knew what happened between these golden walls during the day.

Now that Mark is a pre-schooler, practical matters are almost second thought. I know whether he ate well when I quiz him in the car and when I open his lunch box. I assume he uses the bathroom at school—if not, his bladder control is commendable. I assume he went outside when I pick up a coat caked with mud and I suspect something happened with green paint when I find remains from arts and crafts under his nails and on his toes (?).

But mostly, I’m clued in on the unforgiving social world of pre-schoolers, a place where “mine!” is the growup equivalent of “fuck you!” and where “you’re mean!” means “oh you bastard!”.

In this world, Mark has a nemesis: Nicholas.

I first heard Nicholas the first day Mark started at this daycare. The kid was running around the room, screeching, apparently very determined to somehow make a point. “Nicolas! Come here!” the teacher was begging. That kid was so loud I almost forgot Mark was wailing, knowing full well I was going to abandon him in that room full of toys and children.

I first heard of Nicholas a few months later, when Mark came home with several nail scratches on his face. For weeks, we had a major issue with a couple of kids scratching Mark on a daily basis. It stopped when the teacher separated them, putting Mark in another group, which I find is a pretty shitty way to deal with the problem. I suggested telling all the parents to cut their children’s nails short—no weapon, no issue. But Canadians are sometime too non-confrontational for their own good and Mark was encouraged to “play with less aggressive kids”.

Now, Mark and Nicholas are back in the same group. They are a few months older and it’s a whole new story.

Or not.

Mark and Nicolas share the same Asian roots. However, it doesn’t bring them closer. They aren’t holding meetings, planning on taking over factories in the Western world or spying over our telco system. No, Mark and Nicolas are like Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek—ideological enemies.

It all comes down to a transportation system issue, i.e. sharing a Thomas the Tank Engine toy.

Nicolas has trains. Plural. Nicolas comes to school with three prized possessions: a blue Thomas the Tank Engine and two other “Thomas & Friends” toys whose names escape me because I don’t give a damn.

Mark has the same Thomas the Tank Engine toy but he doesn’t take it to school. I have a policy that home toys stay at home and school toys stay at school. Nicolas’s father, however, is apparently more lenient than me and drops off his kid with his trains. No just on Fridays or for “show and tell” events—every freaking day. And every day, you can see Nicolas parading around the classroom, the three trains in his arms. “Mine!”

Apparently, the teachers force Gengis Khan to share them, since the toys somehow made their way to school. And it’s constant drama.

“I didn’t have the train!” Mark complains on the way home. Or some days I pick him up before he gets his turn with the train. Or some day, “I take the train and Nicolas screams. Like that. Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!”

If I were American, I would sue the school and threaten military action. But I’m French and Canadian so I have a policy of non-intervention.

“Oh well, you have your train at home, Mark. And this one is yours.”

What I really want to say is “kiddo, it sucks. Life is unfair and sometime, even if you waited for your turn, you don’t get it. And sometime, different rules apply to different people. And the only reason why I’m not sending you home tomorrow with a basket of new toys you won’t let anyone play with is because I need you to find your way in this world. I’ll always be here when you need me—getting scratched was not okay, remember, I was mad and we talked to the teacher. But I believe you can find a way to deal with Nicholas, who is being a baby by not sharing. I’ve seen the way you beam when you find a solution to a tricky problem. I know how proud you are when you do something all by yourself. And I think you can deal with Nicholas. But we can talk about it together more. I’m here to listen to you.”

At one point, Mark was pretty upset with the damn train—not so much about the toy itself but the unfairness of the situation. Ever night, we would debrief. Bad day, again. Why? The train, the damn train.

Then, one day, Mark announced he played with the train.

“Really?” I asked incredulously, picturing Nicholas holding onto his trains the way I saw him every morning.

“Yes!” Mark replied. “Nicholas gave train to Callum… and Callum gave me! I got the train!”

Ah AH! Good job, buddy!

Now, can you help mommy with a tiny issue? I, too, found my nemesis at the daycare… I’ll tell you all about it in another post, in another episode of “the young and the restless”.


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. What a cutie pie! He’s adorable!
    One of my friends worked in a daycare and she now works as a nanny. She also wants to open a sugar free outdoorsy vegan daycare or live on a vegan commune (story for another time) . I can’t imagine how hard it is to have a N in your class and being outnumbered by preschoolers everyday.
    I mean, they are adorable, but still
    I’m also surprised they allow kids to bring toys with them everyday. Then again maybe N couldn’t handle being there without it? Like a safety blanket?
    As for your kids, on top of being adorable, he’s clever enough to figure out how to get the toy 😉

    • With all the respect I have for your friend, a sugar-free vegan daycare sounds like my idea of hell 😆

      I don’t think kids are allowed to bring toys in, except for safety blankets and such (a few kids have theirs) but I think teachers just don’t feel like arguing with parents.

      • I know, I kinda told my friend if I eventually got pregnant she could look after my kid. But I don’t think I’d want them to only eat vegan sugar-free food haha
        I’m still getting used to the non-confrontational Canadian thing… Just tell the damn parents already

        • Did you notice that strange non-confrontational attitude as well?

          I’m sure your friend is a great nanny, it’s just that I don’t think we should enforce a special diet with kids (unless they have allergies, of course). Veganism is a political stance to me, one I respect but kids don’t really have a say in the matter. And I also don’t believe sugar itself is “poison”… but that’s just my opinion!

  2. Play with less aggressive kids? How about those kids should be less aggressive? I guess like in adult life, sometimes it’s not the culprit that is forced to change their behavior, but the one they’re bothering who has to avoid them. Too bad though.

    It does seem excessive to bring toys to school when school already has everything you need for the day! Though I’m sure Nicholas would argue that he “needs” his toys…

  3. Wow, this is so much cultural differences from the daycares I know in France!
    Also, 1600 doll?!

    And good job Mark, on the train! You rock!

    • I know… crèches in France, and then maternelle (because that’s where Mark would be at 3.5 yo) are very different.

      Yep, $1,600. Normal price here. Looking back, I’m glad it went bankrupt and we were forced to find another place after a month because I doubt we could have paid that much but we were desperate!

  4. Ugh, loved this post for how it captures the weird politics of school and daycare, but felt for you too. I never know how to handle these kinds of incidents – should we chalk it up to “learning to live in the world”? Should we step in and show them that they need to stand up for themselves sometimes? Should we trust the teacher to handle it? Should we say something? GAH.

    • YES! It’s exactly that!

      I tend to prioritize and I hate to micromanage everything, so we go with the flow outside home and do what we think is right at home, if that makes sense. It’s just funny for me to step into that world that is not that different from, let’s say, an office environment!

  5. Ah ah ah, de notre côté, l’amie qu’elle n’aimait pas (l’enfant la plus difficile du groupe si j’en crois les cris de l’éducatrice le premier jour à son égard) devient peu à peu une amie qu’elle aime et avec qui elle joue souvent 🙂 pr le moment elle aime Bien tout le monde mais il faut dire qu’elle demande peu aux autres : elle préfère jouer seule … C’est un autre pb lol

    • C’est clair qu’à cet âge ils changent beaucoup. Je suis sûre que le p’tit Nicholas est mignon hein, je m’amuse juste de la “gravité” des conflits entre enfants. C’est nouveau pour moi ce côté social, ils commencent peu à peu à sortir du jeu individuel.

      J’ai vu plusieurs fois que tu avais l’air de t’inquiéter (peut-être que le mot est fort!) du côté solitaire de ta fille. Je crois que c’est normal, vraiment… Mark est aussi TRÈS farouche, très timide avec les gens qu’il ne connaît pas bien (genre, tout le monde sauf Feng et moi :lol:).

  6. Ahh daycare woes! my son is obsessed with the play kitchen at daycare and likes to play ALONE!! Talk about drama! now he seems bether at sharing. i guess they grow out of it.

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