There is a Tadpole shaped hole in my life at the moment.
She has now been staying with her French grandparents for ten whole days and I’m starting to ache a little. I miss waking her up in the morning, watching her stretch and pout and roll over to face the wall, murmuring, in protest, “[Tadpole] elle fait dodo!” I miss burying my face in her neck and inhaling her soft, warm scent. I miss brushing her tight, golden curls. I even miss holding her down with my knee as she squirms and objects to having her nappy changed.
Last week I had to bite the bullet and call the ex-in-laws, so that I could hear Tadpole’s voice for a few precious moments.
It was my first contact with belle mère since I took on my new role of homewrecker and adulteress, so I felt a little awkward and had to prepare myself psychologically for the ordeal by doing lots of pacing around the apartment prior to the appointed hour.
Tadpole answered the phone. Except she didn’t sound like Tadpole. She sounds like a little French stranger, somewhere far, far away.
“Allô! [Tadpole] elle a un bobo!” she announced proudly.
I wasn’t sure she even knew it was me she was talking to.
Mother-In-Law hastily grabbed the phone, anxious to explain that the bobo in question was just a minor scrape on her knee, and that I was not to be alarmed. As an afterthought, she said hello, and asked how I was.
“Very well thank you,” I replied, gaily, and then cursed myself for not dampening down the happiness in my voice. I have no idea if she knows about my Lover, or indeed that he is keeping me company in Paris while Tadpole is away, but it seemed indecent somehow to sound too happy, when her own son clearly isn’t right now. Which is, of course, my fault.
“Right. Well. I’ll put [Tadpole] back on…” she said, her voice taut with embarrassment. Or indignation. I couldn’t tell. Telephones are not good for conveying mood accurately, I find.
I resumed my conversation with Tadpole.
“So, what have you been doing darling?” I enquired.
The garbled reply included the word “piscine” so I presumed the paddling pool was involved. The only other words I could decipher were “les cloches”.
Tadpole has an inexplicable obsession with bells. Whenever we stay within earshot of a church and hear bells ringing, Tadpole invariably gets very excited and shouts: “T’entends les cloches? Ecoute! ” while running to the nearest window and attempting to see where the noise is actually coming from.
It’s endearing the first time you hear it. Less so when the bells in question chime four times every hour.
“Can you sing mummy a song?” I venture, desperate to hear more of her distant little French voice.
I am treated to a very accurate rendition of “une souris verte”, in which a green mouse, when caught by the tail and dipped in oil and water, miraculously turns into a hot snail.
Tadpole loses interest in the telephone after that and MIL and I say our rather tepid goodbyes.
I miss Tadpole even more after that.