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The Young and the Restless: A Nemesis Story

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”.

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