Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.20.09
Stanstead, Quebec


When you're almost eight, your train of thought is an express

In May 2007, I transcribed a conversation I had with Abby, who was just about to turn six. Two years later, the conversation continues. The scene: The kitchen, Sunday noon. Abby is having lunch before heading off to a play date. I'm washing dishes. Everyone else is out.

"Where's Mom again?"

"She's gone shopping, remember?"

"Oh yeah. I didn't want to go because she might buy me birthday presents. When's my birthday?"

"In about a month."

"How many sleeps?"

"I don't know, about 40. June 17. Did you know you were born on Father's Day?"

"What? How?"

"Because Father's Day fell on June 17 in 2001."

"I don't remember. I saw a picture of me when I was just born and Mom looked like she was going to cry."

"Abby, you've got to eat if you want to go to Melanie's."

"I will, I will. Why was Mom sad?"

"Because when you were nine days old, we had to take you to the hospital because they'd diagnosed you with tyrosinemia. Mom was scared and sad."

"Did we have to sit in a chair and wait for a long, long time?"

"I can't remember."

"Did you cry?"

"I don't think so. But I was sad and scared too."

"Show me what your face looked like.... That's not sad, that's a grumpy face. See? Grumpy. Sad. Grumpy. Sad."

"Abby, have a bite."

"When you were married, you looked young. How come Mom didn't wear a white dress?"

"Mom likes to be different."

"If she's different, that makes her a cra-a-a-azy mama!"


"I am, I am! I had a dream that I was a cowgirl and my friend Jack was in it and I had cowboy boots and I rode a horse and then everyone sang. I play tag with Jack but we don't throw rocks at each other any more. We just play tag. All the time, Fanny wants to play with us, and I say, 'You can play with us but you have to play tag.'"

"That sounds kind of bossy."

"No, I say it in a nice way. And Fanny says, 'Tag is my favourite sport,' and I say, 'Tag's not a sport, it's a game.' Basketball and baseball, those are sports. Do dreams come from your head?"


"Well sometimes my brain gives me bad dreams. Once there was a man with a spider and it tried to eat me. Bad dream, bad!"

"Do you want to go to Melanie's house or not?"

"I do, I do. Sometimes Fanny says bad words. It breaks my heart when she says them. She says the F word, the S word, and the A word. Do you know what they are?"


"I don't say them. Once Kate made me say the B word. She said, 'Say the B word, Abby,' and I did and she said, 'Mom, Abby said the B word!' and Mom said, 'Abby! Go to your room!' But she was just joking. I'm talking a lot. Am I talking too much?"

"No, it's fine. I just want you to eat your lunch. Do you talk this much at school?"

"No. Sometimes I'm quiet and sometimes I'm crazy and my friends laugh. I want to be a clown when I grow up. Actually, I want to be three things: a lobster cooker, a cheerleader, and a clown in a circus. Fun, eh? But it sure is a lot of work cooking those lobsters!"

"Eat your lunch."

"It's cold."

"It's potato salad. It's supposed to be cold."

"Do I have to eat the pink things?"

"The radishes? No."

"I only like the potatoes and the stuff on them. Actually, do I have to eat any more? I'm full."

"Have you had enough?"


"Then go brush your teeth and let's go."

"Hooray! I'm going to bring a Bratz."

I guess it's progress. Two years ago, she was asking how much fifty one-hundred was. Back then, she didn't even know what a lobster cooker was.