Self Portrait, Toronto, September 2013
Self Portrait, Toronto, September 2013

I’m sitting at the very top of the Mcdonald’s “Playland” structure and I’m watching the sun setting on Merivale Road. This unusual viewpoint offers an almost scenic view of one of the busiest thoroughfares in Ottawa with bumper-to-bumper traffic and old-fashioned neon signs.

But I can’t let my mind wander for too long—Mark is trying to climb down the slide and a little blond girl has been staring at my feet for about three minutes.

“I have the same socks,” she eventually volunteers.

“Really? There are cool socks, aren’t they!”

“Santa brought my socks last year,” she adds. “At my grand-ma’s house. But he also brought the same pair at my mum’s house. Bad Santa!”

I nod in assent. I can’t help feeling sorry for her. I mean, socks as a Christmas gift for a four-year-old, really? That sucks.

Kids like talking to me. Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a little girl about how to use a broken magnifier to start a fire. Don’t worry—I didn’t give her any tips.

Because Mark is still young, I shadow him everywhere, including in places where I’m obviously not supposed to be—inside the tiny house at the playground or at the very top of the Mcdonald’s play structure.

About that… how am I going to go down with Mark?


One of these days, I’m going to get stuck in the slide.

Oh well.

Meanwhile, at least, I don’t have to make conversation with other parents. I only interact with kids. I like it that way because, for some reason, random strangers love doling out advice, solicited or otherwise.

Maybe I look lost. Maybe I look like I need guidance.

Really folks—I don’t.

Old lady in the checkout line at the supermarket: “You know, you should take up a hobby. Knitting for instance. You could knit something nice for your baby when he is sleeping.”

(Yes, of course. I’m not busy enough with a full-time job, the daily chores and taking care of Mark. I could totally knit onesies between 1 am and 6 am.)

The doctor when we went for Mark’s one-year visit: “Oh, you are so lucky your husband is taking time off work to come with you! I bet daddy is very busy with his job and the baby!”

(First, welcome to the 21st century. Second, I have a fucking job too, woman. “Daddy” does his job and I bloody well expect it!)

Cashier at Shoppers Drug Mark: “Oh my! Your son is big! My sister was big too. You should see her now—she is at least 300 pounds. A shame, really. She could have been pretty.”

(This one left me speechless. Should I say it again, my son is not a fucking sumo wrestler? And for the record, he weighs 10.4 kilos, right on the growth curve. Oh, and I bet you are a complete bitch to your sister.)

Two ladies at the supermarket: “How old is he?” “He has just turned one.” “Are you sure?”

(I think I remember the day I gave birth. And Mark has never been away from me long enough to be switched with another baby, so yeah, I’m pretty sure I know how old he is.)

Mother at the park: “Really, his dad is Chinese? That’s so strange. He looks so… non-Chinese. You look Chinese, though.”

(Please, go to Chinatown and check out what Chinese people look like. Me? Nope, I don’t look Chinese. Really.)

My in-laws: “Aya! He is cold! Put more clothes on him!”

(Please, go ahead, and do so. I’d love to see you wrestle with him. Oh, and by the way—three pairs of pants layered is a bit too much. He can’t bloody move. Just saying, just saying…)

Mother at the park: “Can he really walk? I mean, he is crawling right now. Doesn’t seem to walk much, does he!”

(Do we really have to prove to you he can walk? If so, are we getting a gold medal at the baby Olympics? Or are we just competing for no reason?)

So yeah, chatting with other kids is strangely relaxing compared to that. Now if I could find a way out of Mcdonald’s “Playland”…

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  1. Alice in Quebequie November 6, 2013 at 8:33 am

    AH AH AH AH AH 🙂
    When I read the title I thought you were speaking about blog comments (but I forgot you were such STFUP material :)).
    Is it me or people are more and more nosy?
    (and I really don’t think Mark looks like a sumo wrestler)

    1. Zhu November 6, 2013 at 10:21 am

      It’s funny because I never have any trouble with blog comments. Only in real life 😆

  2. Gail at Large November 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Ottawa is a whole different place with a baby/kid/toddler… actually, anyplace is a whole different place with a baby/kid/toddler, I guess.

    It always astounds me how people thinking nothing of thinking out loud. Like there is no filter when it comes to expressing opinions about child-rearing. When my cousin was pregnant with their first, I said “Remember when you got married and everyone under the sun gave you advice? Wait’ll you give birth…”

    It’s probably better that my Portuguese isn’t good enough to know everything that people are saying yet. But from all accounts, my impression thus far (which is in keeping with my impression from my first trip here) is that people are much more reserved with strangers as far as opinions go. People are very good at minding their own business here.

    Sounds like living in Ottawa will really hone your English sarcasm skills, that’s for sure!

    1. Zhu November 6, 2013 at 10:22 am

      French usually mind their own business too… I think. I mean they will judge you but at most they will frown, that’s it. They comment out loud.

      The worst part is, these folks think they are being helpful!

  3. Lily November 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Oh my, I couldn’t stop laughing at the “Aya” thing. I really, really hear it 😀

    1. Zhu November 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      One of my favourite Chinese exclamations 😉 I bet you heard it a lot too!

  4. Vad November 8, 2013 at 2:41 am

    ha ha great post. But I don’t recall Ottawans being so nosy. Maybe it is really the baby factor that brings people to say random things. People really don’t have filters when it comes to children. As for the “you look Chinese” part, I thought it was hilarious! As-tu les yeux bridés?

    1. Zhu November 8, 2013 at 9:45 am

      It is definitely the baby factor. For some reason, when you are pregnant or with a baby, people treat you like a kid. I don’t get it…!

      I don’t look Chinese, really! I look a bit Latina/Mediterranean I guess.

  5. Colleen Brynn November 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Adults are so weird sometimes. Haha this is such a great list of examples. Definitely made me smile.

  6. Patricia November 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    hahaha OMG! I’ve been reading your blog for sometime and I never left a comment, but I gotta tell you it was a great post. You have the gift to write =)
    I feel people in Ottawa are much more friendly than here in Montreal (we are looking for a house over there right now). Mais… on n’as pas d’enfant! haha

    1. Zhu November 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Hi Patricia! For some reason, when you are pregnant or when you have kids, lots of people treat you as a kid yourself. It’s… strange. And I mean people mean well–well, most of them.

      Where do you live now?

      1. Patricia December 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

        Ops.. I thought I answer your comment, but I didn’t.
        I am living in Laval, QC. We are moving to Ottawa (Barrhaven, actually!) in the end of February!!

        1. Zhu December 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

          Oh cool, we will be neighbours!

          1. Patricia December 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

            Cool!! Do you live in that area too?

          2. Zhu December 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

            Not far, in the West End 😉

  7. Christiane November 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

    WOW! I am shocked of the comments ! I mean come on ! Kudos to you to handle them the right way !

    1. Zhu November 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Tey make me laugh, really.

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