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Mark flying a paper airplane, Ottawa, September 2015
Mark flying a paper airplane, Ottawa, September 2015

Many moons ago, one day, Feng and I came home to find a one-meter tall potted tree in the living room.

No, it didn’t spring out of the wooden floor, obviously. Feng’s parents had brought it here. I’m not sure what thoughts crossed their minds when they were buying and delivering the tree (“Eh, let’s buy a small tree today!” “Yes, I think Pan Feng and Zhuli need a tree”) but they had brought us strangest and more impractical stuff over the years, so we just shrugged and rolled with it.

And by “roll with it”, I mean that we kept the tree. We did all the stuff people with potted tree are doing—or so I suppose, because I never actually Googled “what to do with a tree your in-laws bought you”. Nonetheless, we watered it regularly, we put it close to a window for maximum sunlight exposure and we cleaned the dead leaves.

And there were a lot of dead leaves. Way too many for a healthy tree.

The tree was… not doing so well, to put it kindly. We resorted to extreme decisions, such as carrying it outside whenever it was raining (“look tree, fresh rain just for you!”). We debated what to do with it, fully aware that we had just given my in-laws one more reason to think we were unreliable and irresponsible.

And then, we went backpacking (like irresponsible people do, that’s us!) and when we came back, the tree was gone. My in-laws had taken care of it. The tree has gone full circle. I never asked what they did with it but I like to believe that it is now living with other tree friends in a nice forest somewhere in Canada.

When I realized I was pregnant, the tree immediately came to mind.

“What tree? What are you talking about?” Feng asked.

“The tree your parents brought! We couldn’t even take care of a tree! How are we going to deal with a human being?”

Well, I’m happy to report that we are better at growing a human than a tree.

And the human is turning three today.

Please, don’t say “they grow up so fast.” Some days, they don’t grow up fast enough. Trust me.

So, what is Mark into these days?

He loves trucks (“fixin’ roads!”), planes (“I take planes with mommy and daddy”), taxis (“I take taxis with mommy and daddy”) and boats (“I take boats with…” “No, Mark, we never took the… oh wait, we did. Okay, never mind”). He likes dinosaurs (mostly the T-rex, surprise surprise), he is slightly obsessed with the Minions and he is scared of “the big guy” in the movie. If we want a break for an hour, Jurassic Park, Up or the Wizard of Oz (the 1939 version, my dad got him into it last summer) are a safe bet—and he can manage the tablet better than me.

Mark likes fixing stuff (“Yes, mommy has a hole in her jeans, this is fashion man, you’re not helping me fixing it!”), running fast, jumping and pretending his cars and trucks get into massive accidents. He loves books (Did you know that the people on the bus go round and round? And yes, you now have the song stuck in your head). He counts, sings to himself and can’t sit still for more than a minute.


“Ooooh… that’s funny!”

“What is this thing?” (usually when finding something he is not supposed to touch)

“What are you doing?”

“After school, after eat, after bath and after sleep… I want five candies.”

“I don’t want iiiiitttt!”

“I don’t like this one!”

“Mommy not nice. Daddy not nice. Mark… not nice. No, nice, nice!”

“I do it ALL BY MYSELF. Oh no! Okay, mommy help.”

“No! Can’t do that! Leave it!”


“Daddy? Daddyyyyy? Feeeeng!”

Happy birthday, Mark. Yeah, have a candy. No, not five.

EDIT on October 12:

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