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Under the Weather – When Nothing Goes As Planned

Mark’s drawing on the first day of school

The night we came back, my pre-sleep thoughts were positive. I even congratulated myself on a smooth transition from France to Canada. “It all went pretty well, after all,” I mused. There had been no tears (not in public anyway, and my mascara is waterproof), no last-minute urge to not board the plane, and no deep regrets since everybody was going back to school or to work.

I drifted off to sleep counting the number of items on my to-do list.

The next morning, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and squirrels were squirrelling around. Birds may have been singing too, but I wouldn’t have heard them because Mark was watching TV.

I took a deep breath and organized my thoughts. Right. Empty backpacks. Do laundry. Fill up the fridge. Open the mail. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho… It’s home from work we go…

That’s when I started losing hours.

I lost hours putting clothes in the washer, the dryer, and sorting them, I lost hours buying basic groceries and I lost hours doing… stuff. Said stuff didn’t include sitting down and relaxing, that much I remember. Fuck. Apparently, the trip to France didn’t solve my time-management issues. Has the supermarket always been that far? Has yogurt always been that expensive? Why did everyone feel the need to ask how my day was going when it was obvious no one gave a fuck?

Okay, maybe I hadn’t readapted to Canada quite yet and I was possibly a bit stressed out.

By the evening, I was feeling completely overwhelmed. There was still so much to do… and it was apparently time to sleep.

The following day, it was pouring rain and I’m pretty sure the damn squirrels in front of the house were mocking me—stupid creatures. I had a sore throat and I felt feverish. Feng was dealing with a toothache and we both realized Mark wouldn’t start school before another full week (which is, in parenting time, two eternities of chaos and darkness).

It went downhill from here. I developed a full-blown cold (probably a virus I picked up on the plane) and I could barely function. Feng was coughing and dreading the dentist’s verdict on the tooth. More rain was forecast for the Labour Day long weekend.

That’s when the fridge we had just filled with groceries decided to give up on life and on us—in a loud, last middle-of-the-night attempt to alert us to a hidden pathology we didn’t suspect, it buzzed and vibrated to death. We woke up to a watery freezer and a warm fridge.

We lost ice cream, fish sticks and chicken nuggets in the battle. One pizza was saved and cooked for dinner. RIP, uneaten food.

“No, Mark, no hurricane here!” I stated. “The house won’t be destroyed, promise. We are safe!” I added as cheerfully as I could, completely under the weather.

On Thursday, Feng dropped us off in front of the school. The day had come, Mark would officially be a senior kindergarten instead of a junior kindergarten which may not be a resume-worthy achievement but was nothing short of a miracle for an almost five-year-old who has been counting down the days to his birthday since March.

That is, if Mark was actually going to step inside the schoolyard. He was dragging his feet, his gaze down. You can’t fool me, buddy, I know this walk—I invented it when my dad used to take me to school because I was secretly hoping he would completely forget I was there and walk past the building (it wasn’t much of a stretch to hope, my dad occasionally did forget he was taking me to school).

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Er… can I go to school like, tomorrow? Not today?”

“Oh, Mark…” I looked around. The schoolyard was mobbed with parents and kids with too-big-for-them backpacks. “Sorry, you do have to go today.”

Mark nodded gravely, holding back tears, so I did the mature thing and I started to cry real tears. I couldn’t help it. I can deal with Mark crying (hell, half of the time, if he cries, it’s because I infringed on his “rights”) but watching a five-year-old being stoical is possibly the saddest thing in the world.

Eventually, we dried our tears and he agreed to go.

I spent another day running around and accomplishing apparently nothing while Feng was at the dentist, then we picked him up at three.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“It… went by fast,” he acknowledged.

“He sounds like me when I’m doing something I hate,” I told Feng later. “I’m not sure ‘it went by fast’ is the expected comment for a first school day.”

Feng shrugged, still worried about the fridge issue, which added to the tooth issue the dentist had just discovered.

“And that painting he did at school… I mean, it’s dark, isn’t it? Looks like a Picasso Período Azul, when he was depressed.”

Honestly, I feel a bit down myself as well. I can’t help wondering what the hell I’m doing here.

I’d better find my purpose again, and fast.

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