petite anglaise

May 6, 2005

space invaders

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:09 pm

I withdraw my foot from my left shoe with a sharp intake of breath and massage my big toe, before tipping up the shoe to see what the culprit was this time. A sharp, triangular building block falls out.

I slowly pull the washing out of the machine, looking for the offending item which has rattled and clanged insistently for the entire duration of the hot cycle. Behold, a spoon, placed in the drum, or the washing basket, by tiny hands when I wasn’t looking.

I ease my tired limbs between the bedsheets, and then sit up, startled. After the removal of one plastic toy telephone, one TV remote control and one rag doll, the coast is clear. Except for the Miffy book lurking under my pillow, which I only discover the following morning.

When Mr Frog and I decided to have Tadpole, I knew that this meant kissing my pristine, adult apartment goodbye. I’m not sure, however, that I was prepared for the extent of the proliferation of child-related items, or indeed the damage that one child can inflict.

Toys overflow from a box in the living room and lurk under chairs and tables. A family of ducks, a (toy) frog and an octupus line the bathtub, eyeing me suspiciously whenever I take a soak. Soft toys are regularly to be found hidden in amongst the pots, pans and tupperware in the kitchen cupboards. Magnetic shapes adorn the metal stove in the living room fireplace (oh yes, we have original features which would drive Kirstie and Phil wild), and are stuck randomly on radiators and domestic appliances in ever changing configurations. Every time I race to record something on the video, first of all I must extract a pingu or postman pat cassette.

In addition to toys, we also have a plethora of Tadpole-proofing paraphernalia. A gate across the entrance to the kitchen, so that access can be denied if necessary, a measure taken upon discovering an over-ripe goats cheese in my underwear drawer, after a weekend away. Plastic covers, to prevent moist, enquiring fingers from entering the two-pin, no-earth electric sockets which abound in our apartment. We stopped short of putting locks on every cupboard door, however, and refused to be bullied into purchasing the foam helmet advocated by our puériculture catalogue. Oh, they’re clever alright, these marketing people, playing on your inevitable insecurities as a new parent to sell you expensive and completely unnecessary safety gear.

Being of a houseproud, obsessively tidy nature – which may or may not be related to being born when the sun was in Virgo – I have also had a hard time coming to terms with the damage inflicted on our existing possessions. The Ikea standing lamp with its tall, white paper lampshade, which now dangles bedraggled and forlorn in a corner of the room, because, guess what, Ikea don’t sell those lampshades separately. The deep purple sofa cover, washed to within an inch of its life, now shrunk and faded, and despite my best efforts still bearing traces of some of Tadpole’s first puréed meals. Aside from the furniture, the apartment itself has not escaped unscathed. The wood floors, which show every single drop of spilled liquid as a pale stain, are looking far from their best, as I rarely have the time or inclination to wax. Greasy fingermarks abound on the white painted walls.

Now, I can learn to live with all of these things. I have, in fact. I am even mellowing to the point where I actually like all of Tadpole’s colourful clutter.

But, Mr Frog, putting Tadpole’s music on my Ipod – even if, in your defence, you claim it might come in useful when we are trapped in a car with a fractious toddler someday – is taking things ONE STEP TOO FAR.

When I am “shuffling” in the metro of a morning, I do not expect The Killers to be followed hot on the heels by “une souris verte” at full volume. Some things, some precious little things, are SACRED, and as such, need to be declared TADPOLE FREE ZONES.

Is that clear?


  1. Funny! So are you getting a separate shuffle for Tadpole? So that you’ll both be riding the metro with strings oozing from your ears? This week, when riding the subway in NY I noticed that every tenth person was plugged in to her or his little music source. That’s double the number from a month ago. By next month, I expect every other person to be shuffling along. Is the trend as noticeable in France?

    Comment by Nina — May 6, 2005 @ 3:36 pm

  2. There are a lot of people with dangly wires here too. Many are lo-fi USB key things. Real ipod owners look at each other knowingly, with the smug look that comes of knowing that you have 10,000 songs in your pocket.

    Comment by petite — May 6, 2005 @ 3:43 pm

  3. Hysterical! And it doesn’t get better as they get older. I was going through some old photos last night and came across one of my oldest son, now 7, who at the time of the pic was 2. He was standing in front of the washing machine,with a pair of my knickers on his head (freshly-washed but wet) and was busy stuffing his Duplo blocks into the drum. I had the same experience with things going clunk in the machine.

    Now, it’s a bit different in that things mysteriously disappear. Much needed things – like the satellite remote control, the USB from hubby’s PC, a ciggie lighter, my cell phone – sometimes reappearing a month or two later in a bizarre place – like behind the tupperware, right at the back of the cupboard. Sometimes gone forever.

    We’ve had toast posted into the video machine, coins into the PC’s floppy drive (rendering it forever dead), socks into the toilet…the list is virtually endless. I wonder when they grow out of these mad ideas that seize their little brains.

    Comment by Sea Urchin — May 6, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

  4. ah yes, those things which go missing. I have come close to thowing out valuable items which she had decided to stow in the kitchen bin…

    Comment by petite — May 6, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

  5. Ah, messing with the music is just WRONG. While our first child got to listen to kiddie music in the car, I had learned my lesson by the time #2 came along. I think I convinced her that my car doesn’t play kid songs.

    Comment by Bluegrass Mama — May 6, 2005 @ 4:44 pm

  6. And sometimes they don’t grow out of it, either. My 5-year-old is ALWAYS stowing/abandoning things in inappropriate places, instantly forgetting where they are. I have found a lone sock in her cassette player, her ballet leotard in the back of MY wardrobe, and her much missed copy of “The tiger who came to tea” folded into her pop-up tent in the garage. And hair accessories scattered absolutely EVERYWHERE. My 7-year-old is, on the other hand, now impeccably tidy and always knows where all her belongings are, despite leaving trails of destruction everywhere she went as a toddler.

    Maybe your tidy gene will win through as Tadpole grows up?

    Comment by l'autre — May 6, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

  7. Those helmet things are stunning, aren’t they? They do actually have a legitimate use, I believe – my Mum is a teacher, and a little girl who started at her school this year has to wear one of the helmets because she has no balance and can’t lift her hands to protect her head if she falls. But it’s Just Plain Daft for a baby. They are crawling or else standing up but very short, hence they don’t have far to fall; and if anything did fall on them (unlikely), the feeble hat would be no use. Having said that, all power to the word puericulture. It makes it sound like all you have to do to grow a baby is water it.

    Comment by Rhiannon — May 6, 2005 @ 7:40 pm

  8. We spent all weekend searching for my daughters’ only unbroken pair of glasses. Eventually located under the piano – her 3 year brother is the main suspect. Which reminds me – I must take the toy motorbike out of my pocket before my clothes go in the wash…

    Comment by rae — May 6, 2005 @ 10:04 pm

  9. Sorry, Petite – this is another of my hijacks… L’autre, if you want to let my 10 and 8 year-old girls teach yours advanced vandalism behaviour – or something, let me know. I’m sure at the very least they could nurture a baffling and ultimately expensive interest in all things equestrian. Are you in central Rennes?

    Putting anything on another person’s iPod? What WAS Mr F. thinking? Your iPod is an external hard drive to your very mind. You don’t mess with that! And have you noticed how much criticism your music collection comes in for when someone browses your ‘pod? Hardly going to improve when “Wheels on the Bus” or “Bob the Builder” appear under the click-wheel scrutiny, is it? Not much better, I have allowed McFly and Christina Aguillera temporary accommodation on mine. But my main aim is to get THEM to like MY music. Limited success so far.

    Sorry, I think I should stop now.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — May 6, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

  10. [QUOTE]I ease my tired limbs between the bedsheets, and then sit up, startled. After the removal of one plastic toy telephone, one TV remote control and one rag doll, the coast is clear. Except for the Miffy book lurking under my pillow, which I only discover the following morning.[/QUOTE]

    I think thats rather sweet. She’s obviously trying to help you sleep better. You need the phone in case she wants to call you at night time, the remote in case you wake in the night and cant sleep and the ragdoll because no doubt tadpole has enough dolls in her bed and would like mummy to have one too. The book is incase you wake up early morning and dont see anything on tv and want to expand your mind a bit by reading Miffy. Just a thought :)

    Comment by beckyjsbx — May 7, 2005 @ 10:42 am

  11. (apologies to Petite)
    Jim – very kind, would be fun! We’re just outside Rennes on the western side. How can we get in touch without broadcasting email addresses to the entire virtual world?

    Comment by l'autre — May 7, 2005 @ 12:10 pm

  12. Its been said before but your blog certainly strikes a chord!!

    The use of Ipods for storing children’s music “just in case” is a very recent devolpement in our household. Following a recent holiday my Ipod now also has various nursery rhymes to trap me when shuffling. So far as the disappearance of important items is concerned, our 2 1/2 year old has developed an uncanny knack of making keys (usually the only set of car keys) disappear in to thin air. Very impressive unless location of said keys require a 3 hour search and recovery mission (on the very thin ledge between the outside letter box flap and the inside letter box flap since you ask).


    Comment by Em — May 7, 2005 @ 2:09 pm

  13. l’autre – chuck us a mail to this address, with a Rennes-related subject line.
    God, this feels like subterfuge!

    Anyway, Petite, while YOU’RE away…! Won’t happen again…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — May 7, 2005 @ 6:05 pm

  14. My DD watches enough cartoons (Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, & Spongebob) that there was no way I was going to continue to turn her mind into sludge with that craptastic kids music.

    She now prefers “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day. She also likes the rock music from “Shrek” & “Shrek II,” and Evanescence.

    We listen to rock music in the car, period, end of story. Heh.

    Comment by cass — May 7, 2005 @ 6:09 pm

  15. I would like to say, at this juncture, that the comments section of this website may be used in a similar way to expatica date, on one condition : you get it on, I get a hefty ‘facilitator’s fee’.

    And cass, welcome back! You were one of my very first commenters, and it’s lovely to see you still stop by!

    Comment by petite — May 8, 2005 @ 10:12 pm

  16. Sorry petite, but I won’t be subsidising your friends’ business as I am allergic to wearing headphones/sound-transmitting earpieces outside work. It had never occurred to me until I read this post that the true sign of my son growing up was my purchase of a Zanussi fridge in gorgeous blue (exactly my favourite shade), a magnet free zone. Before that we had the standard white affair with those large coloured letters and numbers jumbled randomly or with messages. It is only a matter of time and everything will go back to normal (and you will feel the inevitable twinge of nostalgia for the mess), unless, of course, you succumb to Tadpole Two, in which case you will discover that the chaos does not merely double, but increases exponentially (or so I am reliably informed by parents of multiple offspring).

    Comment by Chameleon — May 9, 2005 @ 10:12 am

  17. does iDoll have a website? Those are cute.

    Comment by lux — May 9, 2005 @ 11:37 am

  18. My little brother is 15 years younger than me — we ALL got used to finding the odd high heel in he refridgerator (Mum didn’t tie it shut with rope, which is what she did when I was Tadpole’s age).

    I love the iDoll snakeskin! Luvverly! Like Lux said, do they have a web address?

    Comment by deanne — May 10, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  19. I’m afraid there is no web address as yet, they are just selling a test batch before setting up their company and trading properly, but I might be able to obtain one for you (cost is about € 30, they are made out of real leather I believe) if you are willing to pay price + postage.

    Drop me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

    Comment by petite — May 10, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

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