Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.24.04
Stanstead, Quebec


Take a walk on the mild side

I've just come back from my second walk of the day with Abby. Do not confuse this with a cardiovascular workout. This is the tai chi equivalent of walking, more meditative than exertive.

Three-year-olds don't generally have cholesterol on their minds. They do, however, dig dandelions.

It's been a fall to remember and with snowsuit-encumbered days racing towards us, it's a joy to just say, "Get your shoes on, let's go." Usually this is around 10 in the morning after I've had my e-e-mail and coffee fix and Abby's had her morning dose of toast and Disney.

This does not always come off without a hitch.

Preparing for our first walk this morning, Abby freaked because I would let her bring only one purse instead of two. It's the latest in her long list of obsessive-compulsive behaviors that go by the name of "toddlerhood."

Even if we're just going around the block in the car, she has to bring something, preferably a couple of bags full of abandoned McDonald's toys, game parts, and spare change.

"Abby, stop crying or we're going back in the house," I said at the end of our walkway.

She stifled a sob. We began to walk. The sobbing began again.

"Okay, let's go home."


"Are you going to stop?"

She nodded.

"Let's walk."


"All right, that's it," I said and I picked her up and carted her home as she screamed and tried to head-butt me.

This may seem silly on my part -- what's one purse? Inevitably, though, I end up carrying one if not both of them. I get enough stares being an able-bodied man walking down the street in the middle of a workday without carrying a silver rhinestone purse.

After a session in the time-out chair, Abby's screams died down and the sobs turned to sniffles and at last silence. Finally, we could go for our walk without someone mistaking me for a child abductor.

The crisis forgotten (oh, to be a 3-year-old!), we could now relax as we strolled down the street hand in hand.

Our walk is not without destination. We head first to pick up the papers at the dépanneur, where Abby is pretty much on a first-name basis with the clerk.

"Hi, Abby. How are you?"

"Mom at work," she says in way of an answer, which I try not to take as a slight.

Then it's on to the post office to say hi to Mom and then home. It's only a block or so but it takes some time. There are many distractions en route, for instance hopping on stumps and twirling around signposts.

"You try?"

"Sure," I say and I do.

"That fun?"

"You bet," I say and it is.

And then we have important 3-year-old conversations like this:

"I a girl."

"That's right."

"And you a boy!"

"Darn tootin'."

"I love you, Dada."

"Aww, I love you too."

"An' I love you Mama."

"She loves you too."

"Emily I love you Abby?"

"Yes, Emily loves you."

"James I love you Abby?"

And so on through the family tree. It's pretty darn cute. And don't think she doesn't know it.

We went on a second walk in the afternoon to get some eggs and - please please please! - a lollypop, which Abby stuck in her coat pocket for our stroll back home. About halfway there: "Oh-oh. Pop-pop gone."

So we backtracked. Luckily, Abby had her toy cell phone so she could put in an emergency call.

"Mama. I drop pop-pop."

We eventually found it, right where we discovered it had disappeared.

I didn't mind the backtracking. They're strangely relaxing, these walks. Time tends to slow to a crawl. One achieves an almost Zen-like state of mind:

"That truck lellow."

"No, it's not yellow. It's orange."

"No, lellow."

But what is orange, really? Can orange both be and not be? Are we not all, in the end, lellow?