petite anglaise

March 21, 2005

the counting game

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:09 pm

I put on my powder blue mac, because spring has well and truly sprung. I find it hard to believe that not two weeks ago there was snow on the ground and the park was closed altogether. Now the trees are covered in delicate white blossom, the birds are singing in a cheerful chorus and I am woken up every morning by sunlight filtering through the shutters.

I stop the pushchair to reach up and pick a blossom for Tadpole to study. She sniffs it cautiously and then sneezes. (Atishoo – an English sneeze. France: nul points, Angleterre: dix points.)

“Knees and toes!” she pleads. Meaning that I’m supposed to sing ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’, her new favourite song. I sing, a little out of breath from pushing uphill. I don’t really care who can hear me, because this exchange takes place inside the little bubble where only Tadpole and I exist, and I see no further than the sparkle in her grey-blue eyes. But I doubt any of the passers by understood the words in any case. Except maybe when I stopped the pushchair and did the actions.

“Encore un! Encore un!” (Tadpole’s way of saying “do it again!”)

I sing it one more time, and then cast around for some other means of entertainment. Deflecting her attention seems to be the only way to get around her stubborn streak and love of repetition. It’s the only solution I’ve found anyhow. I stopped reading books about child rearing the day Tadpole was born and my brand of parenting can best be described as the “instinctive hit and miss technique”. Whatever works, goes.

“I know, let’s do some counting, [Tadpole].” This is something we’ve been working on for the last few days. We count apples in the fruitbowl, toys in the bath, fingers and toes. Most of the time she just smiles while I count. Then, out of the blue, when I’m only listening with half an ear, she will suddenly count all the way to ten on her own. The only sticking point tends to be the number four, which she always says twice for good measure.

“One,” I begin, pointing at a parked car, as we have now exited the park and are on the pavement approaching the town hall.

“Toe, free, four….” continues Tadpole, pointing downwards, I’m not entirely sure at what.

“Four,” she repeats, “five, six, sefen…” She pauses, as though she’s run out of things to count.

There is no shortage of parked cars, so I decide that maybe she’s got stuck, and I prompt: “Eight..”

“Et, nine, ten!” she finishes, triumphantly. I stop the pushchair so I can clap my hands and show my appreciation of her counting prowess. Her finger is still pointing downwards, at something on the floor.

It dawns on me that it was not the cars that she was counting, but the dog poos I was swerving to miss along the way.

The joys of city living.

postscript: Jim from Rennes, who seems like a nice sort of chap, asked me to plug the new single by his chums ‘I am Kloot’ today, Over My Shoulder. Jim, I am flattered that you think I have the power to influence people and make them buy records. Personally I haven’t bought a record since I got cable broadband access in 2000 (apologies to struggling artists!) But I don’t see any harm in recommending that you follow the link above and give it a listen… Oh my goodness! Spot the cute little Tadpole clone in the video!


  1. Fantastic post…

    I spent most of my weekend singing the aforementioned song, plus another gem “wind the bobbin up” to a friends child to placate them…

    We also had several verses of “the wheels on the bus” and “five little speckled frogs”

    Think my brain has turned to mush!

    Comment by Chick — March 21, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

  2. Bilingual and environmentally-aware? Chapeau, Tadpole!

    Comment by Iain — March 21, 2005 @ 1:21 pm

  3. You could surely have got beyond ten, petite? :roll: Or maybe yours is a particularly clean quartier…

    Comment by suziboo — March 21, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

  4. My youngest still can’t get used to the fact that in English we really don’t have “eleventeen”. Her French counting is pretty good though…

    As a diehard no-baby-books Dad, I have to say that “Toddler Taming” is the ONLY publication that I gave houseroom to, and my friend is finding it equally useful with her 1-year-old. If you ever feel the need, I thoroughly recommend it.

    Lovely post, almost made me nostalgic…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — March 21, 2005 @ 2:08 pm

  5. Oh she’s a city gal through and through.

    Comment by Katia — March 21, 2005 @ 2:12 pm

  6. about the baby books, no bady is the same, so no book can deal with all situations. Your method seems the most effective.

    Comment by Andy — March 21, 2005 @ 2:21 pm

  7. A really really great post – hope you don’t get tired of reading this kind of flattery.

    Comment by ontario frog — March 21, 2005 @ 4:44 pm

  8. never. It’s what keeps me going!

    Comment by petite — March 21, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

  9. Today’s trivia fact: Kloot means bollock in Dutch. You gekke klootzak you.

    Comment by Ria — March 21, 2005 @ 4:57 pm

  10. It’s true, I am indebted to Petite. Thank you very much! Your reward may be in Heaven, or possibly in Paris on 11th May.

    Yes, Kloot does mean bollock, it sems to be a unique selling point for the band in Belgium and holland…

    Hijack over, I promise…!

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — March 21, 2005 @ 5:45 pm

  11. 11 May?

    Comment by petite — March 21, 2005 @ 5:58 pm

  12. The mighty Kloot’s Paris date on the European Tour…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — March 21, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

  13. At least Tadpole didn’t say ‘eleven’ when she saw the poo. That would have been too confusing.

    Comment by sammy — March 21, 2005 @ 7:03 pm

  14. Petite, I see you still haven’t applied the Mozilla Brown Nose extension. The flattery filter works a treat – no one’s had a nice thing to say about my blog for weeks.
    What do you mean there’s no such thing?!

    Comment by Ria — March 21, 2005 @ 8:23 pm

  15. That picture with the blooms and the roof made me happy the moment I saw it. Thanks for posting it. And thanks for living the life I want to. Someone has to. I’m glad you let us all along for the ride.

    Comment by Kelly — March 21, 2005 @ 11:26 pm

  16. i thought you could be fined zillions or euroids for poop in paris. god. you should try valence. that really is the brown squelchy carpet.

    Comment by ruth — March 22, 2005 @ 11:57 am

  17. My own personal tries to count, but she invariably starts well (until 3 or 4), and then follows with random numbers (she knows all of them), with a slight preference for douze or neuf. Never tried with the crottes de chien, maybe it’s a good way to teach counting until twenty, every time we go to the nounou.

    Comment by versac — March 22, 2005 @ 3:13 pm

  18. Gotta love the crottes de chien. Merde!

    Comment by Emily — March 23, 2005 @ 8:06 pm

  19. […] * Petite Anglais celebrates the joys of a Paris spring, including white blossom, cheerful birds, sunlight filtering through the shutters and a toddler learning to count. […]

    Pingback by Friday femmes fatales No 2 - Philobiblon — April 26, 2006 @ 12:37 am

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