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Keep Wicked Calm and Carry the Hell On

Parliament Hill, May 2015
Parliament Hill, May 2015

Until a few weeks ago, Mark only had a mild case of the famous “terrible twos”. Sure, he threw the occasional tantrum and he was saying “no” a lot. But eh, who doesn’t feel frustrated once in a while?

I didn’t mind Mark’s protests so much. I chalked them up to necessary “productive interactions” where precious snowflake was “developing his personality”. When I was truly annoyed, I kept on reminding myself that it was better to know why he was crying (i.e. I said it was time to go home, I didn’t let him jump from the bench, etc.) than having to guess what the problem was, like when he was an infant.

But now, Mark somehow morphed into Keith Richards at the high of his drug-fueled years.

It’s not fun.

The key words are “I want it!”. Unfortunately, Mark doesn’t just want toys at the store or an ice cream, like normal kids. Mark wants:

1) To go to the beach at 10 p.m. Unfortunately, there are no beaches in Ottawa and it’s bedtime.
2) To go to the moon. Even though I’m often tempted to send him there myself (just for a few revolutions, time to take a break, clean the house and watch the new Mad Max), I lack connections at Cap Canaveral.
3) To go on the roof. The roofers working next door declined Mark’s help, not my fault on that one.

Mark also wants to walk barefoot in the street, ride shotgun in mommy’s seat, eat hot sauce (he keeps on trying it and complains it burns. Duh.), watch TV all night, jump from the coffee table to the couch and wear my jewellery.

Then, there is a long list of things he doesn’t want. He doesn’t want to put his shoes on, doesn’t want to wash his hands, doesn’t want to go to bed, doesn’t want this t-shirt, doesn’t want mommy to do whatever, doesn’t want to eat at the table, doesn’t want to STOP FUCKING ANNOYING US!

Can anything be simple, easy and quick?


Mark’s shopping list of demands is a way for him to test limits—ours and his. I know that. Parenting 101. However, it’s not a fun job to be in control. I don’t have a passion for order and I don’t like being an authority figure. Yet, most evenings, I feel like shouting orders like a drill instructor: “Room, now! Strip down, shower and sleep!”

I have yet to hear Mark reply “Mam, yes mam!” and obey.

I used to be able to predict Mark’s reactions, but now, drama can start anywhere, anytime and over anything. The other day, I washed two of his stuffed animals. “Let’s check how they are doing in the basement,” I said. “I think they are dry. They smell good now! You can take them back to the room. Oh, let me help. You’re going to fall in the stairs if you carry them both.”

So I grabbed dog and rabbit, climbed the ten steps from the basement to the living room and put them on the couch.

Mark collapsed on the stairs and started screaming “no no, I do it, I do it!”

Just because… I don’t even know. I sighed and let him cry for a bit. There is no reasoning with him. See, if I give him back his toys and let him climb the stairs with them, he is going to find another reason to rebel five minutes later. It’s a no-win situation.

It’s very hard to stay calm after the fourth or fifth tantrum of the hour. We are both exhausted because there is no “sleep time truce”. If Mark decides he doesn’t want to sleep, he makes life at home miserable. Short of patience, Feng and I start arguing and it goes downhill from here.

In parenting, there is theory and reality. In theory, I’d keep my cool, be firm and consistent.

In reality, I rarely engage in shouting matches with Mark (I usually step out, I’m a French coward, remember?). But he wears me down pretty quickly and I’m split between “fine, whatever, I don’t care, I’m ignoring you” and grabbing him, putting him in his room and closing the door, perfectly aware that I didn’t solve the problem but at least, I can breathe for a minute.

For everything else, there is Feng, of course. We have different triggers. For instance, I can’t stand Mark “taking advantage” of us:

“I want bread, I want bread!”

“Sure. What do you want on it, jam or butter and cheese?”


“There you go.”

“I don’t like it.”

“Mark, you asked for it, you eat it.”

“I want jam. No, chocolate. Candies. CANDIES! I WANT CANDIES!”

See, this drives me nuts. Bonus if if plays with the food and makes a huge mess.

I’m not quite sure what makes Feng mad—other than Mark not sleeping—but we are discovering it little by little because yes…

“Moooommy! Daddy mad.”

“Oh yeah? What did you do?”

“Daddy mad. Mommy hug.”

“Uh uh, buddy, you solve your problems with daddy. I ain’t taking your side.”

One blessing, though, is that for now, drama mostly happens at home. Mark is usually fairly quiet and non-disruptive outside.

And this is why we spent the last two weekends at the movie theater. At least, it keeps him entertained… for a bit.

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