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The Quotable Stage

Mark, March 2016
Mark, March 2016

According to the French wisdom—built upon centuries of losing wars, drinking wine and having sex—”la vérite sort de la bouche des enfants”. The idiom is roughly the equivalent of “out of the mouths of babe oft times come gems”. I like to pretend this is not true because Mark did say my butt was big and when he was asked who was prettiest, the Buenos Aires tango dancer or mommy, he didn’t even hesitate before blurting out a painfully honest answer.

There was the primal scream stage, a binary mode where Mark was either sleeping, either screaming. Then came the communication stage where he added gurgles and other meaningful sounds to his repertoire, the “mama” stage, the first-words stage that took a lot of guesswork to figure out what Mark was trying to say based on a single word like “moon”, “another” or “bateau”. Fast forward a few months and now Mark makes complete sentences. To me, this is amazing. Mark makes sense!

… well, not all the time. But this may not be a language issue.

Mark used to cry a lot. He still does occasionally when he is very tired or frustrated, but I encourage him to speak up and explain what’s going on. And most of the time, I find his concerns perfectly legit in the mind of a 3.5-year-old kid: he wants to draw a perfect star, he is afraid to get a toy wet after he washed his hands, he doesn’t like to go get a ball that rolled down the stairs to the basement. If he can express himself, we avoid drama and it’s also a chance for me to explain him how things work, why people react like this or like that.

I like this role.

I want to remember all the funny things Mark says, the highlights of this “quotable stage”, a mix of bluntness, perceptive insights and silliness. Kids are worth listening to—they have things to say.

Category “sounds legit”

“Did you nap at school?”

“I couldn’t. My eyes were open.”

Category “perverted mind”

“Mommy… Becca sleeps with Nono…”

(I checked and yes, after investigation it turned out that indeed, Rebecca, one of the pre-schooler at daycare, sleeps with Nono, her comfort blanket).

Category “not-so-adventurous gourmet”

“What does Charlie eat at school?”

“Charlie? Mmm… fish.”

“Oh, really? That’s good. And Nicolas? What does he eat?”

“Nicolas eats fish. Molly too!”

I felt super inadequate with my pasta lunches until I realized the kids weren’t eating gourmet fresh fish but munching on these infamous goldfish crackers. Phew.

Category “math skills”

“I give you the chocolate if you pass the test. Count to ten!”

“One. Ten. Chocolate, please.”

Category “self-punishment”

Picking up Mark at daycare with the usual small chocolate egg.

“Small accident pee-pee pants, so no chocolate, thank you.”

Category “I am Canadian”

“Charlie hit me.”

“Oh no! What did you say?”

“I’m sorry.”

Category “hazardous grammar”

“Mommy… Why are you brush-teething?”

Category “international diplomacy”

“Mommy fights, daddy fights, Mark fights!”

“Mark… I’m not fighting. I don’t like fighting. And I’m certainly not fighting you.”

“Mommy… we don’t fight. We fight MONSTERS! I am not a monster. You fight MONSTERS!”

Category “forgive him; for he does not know what he is saying”

“This is too loud in my ears! I don’t like this music!”

“Mark, this is Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. Mommy likes it. I like it. And I hate to break it to you, but your middle name is ‘Floyd’.”

Category “vegetable slurs”

“You’re… just a giant broccoli!”

Category “heartbreaking”

“So Mark, do you remember when you cried a lot when you first started school? Why did you cry? Why were you sad?”

“… Because mommy was here, and then I couldn’t see mommy anymore. You weren’t there!”

Category “sounds legit #2”

“I don’t want to jump on the bed and get hurt because mommy doesn’t like blood.”

Category “let’s cancel the exorcist”

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