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My Day with Google

Ottawa, October 2013
Ottawa, October 2013

“Weather + Ottawa”: “AM showers, 9°C, feels like 5°C”.

Thanks Google. Way to start the day. Rain. What the hell am I going to do with the dragon toddler?

Mark is banging on his bedroom door again. “Mama, dada, mama, dada!” By the sense of urgency in his voice, you’d think he’s been held captive for years—in fact, Feng has just fed him and I’m about to go to his room. He’s been alone for five minutes top.

I climb the stairs with the laptop under my arm. Mark is behind the door and still doesn’t understand that I can’t push the door and come in if he stands there. Yet he is apparently desperate for company. Toddlers aren’t the most logical people.

I open the curtains—yep, it’s raining—and set Mark beside his “treasure chest”, an empty box of diapers filled with toys. He empties it loudly, climbs on the box and two seconds later starts crying because… because of what, actually?

“Why do toddlers scream?” I Google. Twenty results. “Why do toddlers cry?” yields 8,000 results and the first one is encouraging “Why do toddlers cry and how to deal with it.” I bookmark it for later—it’s hard to focus when… well, said toddler is crying on top of his lungs.

“Alright, let’s get dressed.”

Wrong option. Mark hates getting dressed. I’m sorry but there is nothing I can do about that. Canada is a progressive country but I think child protective services would give me a call if I took him to Walmart naked.

I stall, knowing damn well that putting his pants on will be a wrestling match. I just don’t have the energy for that yet—or ever.

“How to teach a toddler to…” I’m about to type “get dressed” when the list of auto-complete suggestions catches my eyes. “How to teach a toddler to talk” Seriously? I’m happy when Mark is quiet. Okay, the occasional “mama” is nice. “How to teach a toddler to skate” Again, seriously? Not on my list of priorities. I would have to Google “How to skate” before I can teach him this… ahem, valuable skill. “How to teach a toddler to hold a pencil”. Ah! I’m sure the mother who typed that one regretted it—kids love writing on walls. Well, at least I did. “How to teach a toddler to ice skate”. Okay, that’s it—I’m on Google.ca and it shows.

Phew. Let’s get him dressed. Sounds easier than ice-skating right now.

Predictably, Mark cries, wrestles with me, kicks and gets his head stuck in his t-shirt.

That makes me think I should shop for baby clothes, he outgrew many outfits.

“Cheap baby clothes Ottawa” is rigged. The results point to a few boutiques in Westboro, the kind where a onesies is $50 “because it’s like, you know, like, so natural, like, made in Bangladesh by exploited babies, like, see?”

Yep, I visited these boutiques when I was pregnant and innocent. I left empty-handed feeling very guilty over my selfish decision not to spend my savings on a $150 diaper disposal system (hint: supermarket bags work just as well, as we found out).

“What to do with a toddler in Ottawa”

One result. Unbelievable. What am I doing wrong? Come on Google, give me something, I’m running out of ideas!

No time to refine my search. I head outside with the stroller—Mark and I will figure it out.

At lunchtime, I’m getting seriously annoyed with Mark’s latest trick: throwing stuff. And he does it deliberately, looking at me right in the eyes as I say “Mark… give it to me if you don’t want it.”

Google is my friend. “toddler throw things stop”.

About 47,000,000 results (0.32 seconds).

Phew. I feel better already, knowing that we all go through that. Well, 47,000,000 of us, anyway. Thank you Google for the morale boost.

Unfortunately, the suggested solutions are “tie the toys to the stroller” (duh) and “limit what your toddler throws” (gee, so my Blackberry and an open window are not a good combination?). The article eventually suggest to “try to keep some perspective about it.” Yeah, thanks. I have a sense of perspective too. I’m just too tired to think right now.

For an hour or so, I get to talk to Google professionally. I go through my to-do list. I search for information about travel coverage. “Synonym of purchase”. “complimentary vs. complementary”. “invoice template”. I still use old-fashioned paper dictionaries but for a quick search, there are tons of great online tools for word nerds like me. Termium, Webitext and Word Reference are my best friends.

I’m so into my work that I ignore the familiar banging on the wall for a few minutes before snapping back into mommy mode.

Playground time. Again.

“Mark, non!” What kind of baby eat sand, seriously? “Baby eat san…” The auto-complete function is quite scary actually: “baby eat salamander” “baby eat sanitizer”. I look at Mark who still has some sand on his upper lip. Well, at least he doesn’t eat salamanders. I almost feel proud of him. Thanks Google for boosting my parental ego.

At nighttime, I need a last reinsurance. “Why do I always feel like…” Once again, Google reads my mind: “… a bad mum”. “… a bad mother.” “…a bad mom”. “a bad parent.” There are literally thousands of results for every imaginable case. Some women feel bad for not breastfeeding or not breastfeeding long enough, for not buying enough toys, for losing patience, for feeling tired, for yelling or screaming (even in a pillow!).

Yep, we are pretty normal after all. Google said so.

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