petite anglaise

February 22, 2005

breaking point

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:07 pm

I woke up this morning at 6.30 am to the sound of Fun Radio. Tadpole had evidently been re-tuning the radio again. I don’t know which is worse, shouty disc jockeys playing French RnB (pale and rather dodgy imitation of American RnB) or Mr Frog’s preferred news channel. Someone should conduct a scientific study into the long-term effects of waking up to the word “war” or “corruption” every morning.

I realised that Mr Frog was now beside me, although he hadn’t been when I fell asleep shortly after midnight.

“T’es rentré à quelle heure, finalement?” I mumble.

“Vers deux heures trente” he replies, sheepishly.

I open my eyes. He looks terrible: pale and drawn and ten years older.

I choke back tears of pure rage and bury my head in the pillow. I realise this reaction is not going to make the poor guy feel any better, but I can’t help myself.

I have never been introduced to any of Mr Frog’s bosses at the Agency, even if they are English speakers and we could well have a lot in common. This is, I suspect, because Mr Frog is worried I might bare my teeth and growl at somebody. Or launch myself at them, fists flying (ineffectually).

I simply cannot stand to watch the client walk all over their team, making demands which become ever more unreasonable, basically amounting to “can you just bend over a bit more – yes, that’s right, the angle’s just perfect – so I can shaft you more thoroughly”. (Pardon my French, but I did warn you I was angry.) No-one dares to stand up to the client, to defend their right to a life outside work, to say, “no, what you are asking is just plain impossible, and we cannot do a U-Turn this late in the day.” But no, instead they just line up and drop their trousers.

For the last two weekends Mr Frog has worked. Both in the office, and using a borrowed laptop at home. Almost every morning he has been long gone before Tadpole and I awoke, returning hours after Tadpole’s bedtime. The way things are going this week, he won’t see her until Friday morning. Five days later.

It tears holes in my heart when I wake Tadpole in the morning and one of the first things she says is “Va voir daddy?” in a hopeful little voice. I explain, sighing, that daddy had to leave early today. She nods, but toddles off in her pyjamas to check the bathroom and the bedroom anyway. Once she’s sure I am telling the truth, she says flatly “Daddy gone. Office.”

Yesterday she blew some kisses at the front door. For daddy. Wherever he might be.

This morning was the last straw. Mr Frog had worked from 8.00 am until 2.30am. He was taking the 07.55 Thalys to Brussels, to give a powerpoint presentation about strategy to the client. On four hours sleep, after working 16 consecutive days. I heard him coughing this morning in the bathroom in a telltale way . Nerves.

I have to get him out of there, whatever it takes. Forget buying a flat, forget financial security.

Otherwise they will chew him up and spit him out and I’ll be left picking up the pieces of my broken frog off the floor.


  1. Oh man, petite. I’m so sorry.

    I often go into a bit of a “woe is me” with David leaving at 6:20am to get home at 7pm (assuming all goes well with the trains, which can be a rather big assumption), finding it absolutely ridiculous that he spends more time “gone” than at home. When he gets home at night he spends some time to “calm down” in front of the computer or playing guitar or something of the sort, and the time flies by. I feel like the only time I see him is the brief time it takes to eat dinner.

    That said, although my experience is on a far less serious level, I feel for you and hope that Mr. Frog will start sending out those CVs and such asap. I’ll send happy thoughts to the job fairy.

    Comment by kim — February 22, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  2. Oh dear. Sometimes you realise it’s just not worth it. Take care you lot.

    Comment by backroads — February 22, 2005 @ 1:50 pm

  3. Makes me angry too. Bastards.

    This might help (a tiny little bit): regarding your radio issues, have you heard of FIP? It’s got cult status here in Brighton, and I’ve heard of people buying a house just because they could get FIP from it (you can’t get it everywhere in Brighton – I’m in Hove and I can’t). It’s a Radio France station and was created specifically to help calm down Parisian drivers. It only plays music, with minimal news once in a while, and apparently it’s an amazing mix of cool and little-heard of tunes, like rifting through a fantastic second-hand record shop. You should try it in the mornings, it might help steady your nerves and M. Frog’s…

    Comment by céline — February 22, 2005 @ 2:01 pm

  4. Not so frivolous, huh?

    Yes, you have to get him out of there. Life’s too short. Tadpole will never be this age again – neither will you and the Frog, come to that. Where’s the security in nerves and exhaustion?

    Lots of luck in refusing to accept this way of life.

    Comment by Jean — February 22, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

  5. FFS. Powerpoint presentations – the most pointless way imaginable to spend ones time (making, giving or listening to them) – and he had to go to Brussels for that? Not good.

    Comment by reachy — February 22, 2005 @ 2:54 pm

  6. I know how you feel. My other half used to get so stressed he would grind his teeth at night.

    He used to work for a music magazine which was under resourced and under staffed. He and the art director would often work through the night. He got no support from the owner, who made one bad business decision after another. In the end the main financier pulled out (due to the inept management of the owner) and the mag closed.

    My boyfriend eventually got a different job, one with regular hours and he is now a completely different person.

    Comment by stressqueen — February 22, 2005 @ 3:16 pm

  7. ugh, that’s really crappy – hope the work situation gets better soon.

    Comment by badger — February 22, 2005 @ 3:39 pm

  8. Yep. Get him out. Stand your ground; don’t give up. And the very best of luck. Take care.

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — February 22, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  9. Sounds like you have your priorities straight.

    That’s the hardest bit.

    Good luck on finding the quieter job!

    Comment by Mathieu — February 22, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

  10. It is horrible that this is the lifestyle we need to lead to live comfortably…good luck. It is fortunate that children are very resiliant about that sort of thing.

    Comment by Sarah — February 22, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

  11. Little Tadpole just knows that she wants her Daddy and there is no paycheck in the world that will change that.

    That being said, I’ve stuck it out before in awful jobs because we needed a paycheck/insurance/a place to live more than we needed me to be home.

    It is an awful situation but it is possible to change it so don’t lose hope, Petite.

    Comment by Bob — February 22, 2005 @ 4:43 pm

  12. This is the solution. Mr Frog nicks some clients and sets himself up as a consultant and works from home. He’ll need more space for his home office so you’ll have to find a bigger place to live. That’ll cost more so you’ll have to move out of unbearable Paris to the leafy western burbs. The RER takes 18 minutes to sprint from Rueil Malmaison to Opera. Act now to save your lives.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — February 22, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

  13. My boy does that too :( Last year he spent three weeks straight working 14-16 hour days, then the day after the culmination of all that work and some really big meetings, he fell in bed, shaking,
    feverish, as sick as a dog.

    Things are getting better now, but there are some times when it justdoesn’t stop. I hope you manage to work things out. :sad:

    Comment by katia — February 22, 2005 @ 5:41 pm

  14. //you’ll have to move out of unbearable Paris to the leafy western burbs. The RER takes 18 minutes to sprint from Rueil Malmaison to Opera.//
    The ‘move to the leafy western burbs’ campaign has officially been launched – Rueil rules!
    The bit about the RER is true, though. Well, most days, anyway. Sometimes it’s less of a sprint than a marathon ;-)

    Comment by Iain — February 22, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

  15. That sucks! I agree that yoou have to get him out. I gave up my pay cheque to raise my kids and it’s the best thing I ever did. Sure, an income would be nice too but money can’t buy the time I get to spend with the boys.

    Comment by Greg — February 22, 2005 @ 5:51 pm

  16. Sorry if this is off-topic, but where do you find the photos to illustrate your posts? They’re always very good.

    Comment by céline — February 22, 2005 @ 5:51 pm

  17. ahem

    I search on google images mostly. Today’s search terms were ‘stress’ and ‘broken glass’.

    Which is probably naughty if you don’t credit your sources.

    Perhaps someone could enlighten me on the netiquette involved?

    I took the Da Vinci/pyramid one myself with a USB key camera.

    (And my masthead picture is my own work, taken from balcony, as is the railings shot in the sidebar.)

    Comment by petite — February 22, 2005 @ 5:57 pm

  18. First, I am thanking my lucky stars that my hubby is a teacher. My dad is/was an executive, and I know extremely well the lifestyle you’re talking about. And not to freak you out, but it really did damn near kill him. I really hope you have success with this and I’m pulling for you!! :)

    Comment by ViVi — February 22, 2005 @ 7:33 pm

  19. Can’t think of anything supportive to say, but just wanted to register my sympathy.
    Good luck on getting this resolved somehow.

    Comment by Tim — February 22, 2005 @ 8:01 pm

  20. That’s a really crappy situation. I wish you all the best riding it through.

    Comment by Dan — February 22, 2005 @ 9:05 pm

  21. -ooooh God, Petite Anglaise .. you are breaking my heart with your words …. Please don’t put up with this shit for too long: you’ll end up being resentful and he will too …. find a solution to suit you both and make the most of the time you have with Tadpole together, because these times will never come back … take it from me — I made a lot of mistakes in that respect and am now wishing I’d done things differently … I really wish you all the very best … Alles liebe aus Wien (Vienna)

    Comment by Lotusflower7 — February 22, 2005 @ 9:49 pm

  22. Good luck to you convincing Mr. Frog to reprioritize. He doesn’t know what he’s missing with Tadpole.

    Comment by Bluegrass Mama — February 23, 2005 @ 1:37 am

  23. Just curious, but does M Frog like what he does? If so, does he face genuine opportunities for professional advancement? If he’s going to be stuck at his current rung, then you’re absolutely right: he should get out soonest. Otherwise, however – my wife, a Wall Street attorney, is still coming home for dinner at ten o’clock after twenty-five years. At one point last year she spent the night at a midtown hotel across the street from a financial printer to spare herself a forty-block taxi ride. We have no children, and she doesn’t get to see her friends as much as she or they would like, but we honestly can’t imagine what she would have enjoyed doing half as much. And I think that enjoying your career is every adult’s dream.
    Don’t think I haven’t blasted demanding clients over the years, though.

    Comment by R J Keefe — February 23, 2005 @ 2:19 am

  24. :cry: Poor petite, poor tadpole … nothing worse than a little one wandering about asking for someone ….

    I think R J is right … regardless of how awful it all is, and the damage it’s obviously doing to his health, does the Frog loooooovvvvvveeeeee this job with his whole being?

    Because if not, (and I don’t know the employment sitch in France, sorry) haul out the Employment Vacancies and get circling with that big fat red texta!

    Work to Live, not Live to Work has been my motto for the last 10 years at least – and it’s a good one!

    Prayers for you all :smile:

    Comment by Miss Lisa — February 23, 2005 @ 3:03 am


    good luck

    Comment by ontario frog — February 23, 2005 @ 3:48 am

  26. It sucks to hear that Mr Frog is having a hard time. This sounds really odd, but I can really empathise with you and Tadpole. You see, when I was six months old, my dad (an auditor back then) was run of his feet with work and was really close to a nervous breakdown (and my mum says suicide as well, but I’m not sure whether that’s gross exaggeration or truth). I’m almost twenty now and I didn’t know exactly what happened until my mum told me about 7 or 8 years ago, but before I knew what had happened, I was always afraid of losing dad, and I never had anything to base that fear on until I knew what had happened.

    Get Mr Frog out of that situation before things get even worse. For your sake and Tadpole’s, you’ll all be so much more happier and settled. Hope thing get better for you!

    Comment by milchfrommler — February 23, 2005 @ 9:30 am

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