petite anglaise

October 6, 2005


Filed under: parting ways, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 4:44 pm

Despite the fact that I am experiencing an unpleasantly busy Friday afternoon at work, I still find time to type a hasty reply to Mr Frog’s innocent sounding email about arrangements for the weekend. I let him know where Tadpole’s overnight bag is, and add that yes, I will indeed be in Paris myself.

It doesn’t occur to me that something is amiss, and that his second question is, in fact, a loaded one.

A couple of hours later, the penny drops when I read his next email, in which he tells me that due to a meeting being rescheduled at the last minute, he will not be able to pick up Tadpole at 6.30pm at the childminder’s house. Can I please do it? He is not able to say at this stage what time he will be able to come by and pick her up. Or indeed whether he will make it before bedtime. He may even have to collect Tadpole the following morning instead.

I groan out loud, then look furtively around the office to see if anyone heard me. My first lie in since September 4th is in hanging in the balance. And instead of being able to adjourn to the bar with my colleagues for a beer, or do a spot of impromptu shopping, I will now have to race home, just as I do every other night of the week and collect our disappointed daughter. Field her questions about where daddy is. Cook her dinner. Bath her. Read stories and put her to bed. All the while looking at the clock and cursing Mr Frog under my breath, wondering whether at some point he will deign to phone, or to show up and take over.

We may not be together any more, but he still has the ability to back me into a corner and make me shake with that familiar mixture of anger and resentment.

I call him at work. What, I ask, would he have done had I been away? An embarrassed silence. I tell him that whether I am in Paris this weekend or not should be irrelevant: Tadpole is his responsibility on the days we have agreed. She is more important than any meeting. And I am not some sort of glorified babysitter who can take over at a moment’s notice whenever it suits him.

He won’t budge: “I can’t pick her up. I’m sorry. I need you to do this for me. We’ll talk about it later…”

I swear in a low voice, conscious that my boss’s door is ajar. “J’avais des projets pour ce soir. Tu es en train de chier dessus. Ton boulot passe avant tout. Rien n’a changé. Tu me deçois, mais pire encore, notre fille t’attends. Je lui dirai quoi?”

I’m so upset now that I can barely string two coherent words together. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t feel able to refuse him outright. How can I turn my back on my daughter and let Mr Frog trample all over our good relationship with the childminder (who doesn’t do overtime). He knows I’ll give in. What choice do I have?

“Next time, the answer will be no. And I don’t care what the question is,” I say, then slam down the receiver, noticing for the first time the rain falling heavily outside my window.

With a sinking feeling I remember that my waterproof poncho is at home, and not stashed in the basket under the pushchair as it usually is. I took it out this morning. I wasn’t supposed to need it.

I groan again, and this time, I don’t care who hears me.


  1. You must be stressed. Isn’t today Thursday?

    Comment by Elle — October 6, 2005 @ 5:29 pm

  2. It happened last week. Artistic licence.

    Comment by petite — October 6, 2005 @ 5:35 pm

  3. Ah, that brings back such happy memories ;-)

    Gotta learn to strike a ‘deal’ petite and get a bit of give and take going – I don’t mean to sound patronising, sorry if it comes over like that.

    Tomorrow seems like a good place to start…

    Comment by Martin — October 6, 2005 @ 5:46 pm

  4. In some ways i know what you mean my husband is away alot but when he is at home i get use to him finishing at 5 so between the hours of 5 and 7 (tea time and bedtime) he is there to help me and he reads stories to the kids so in some ways i can switch of when he is at home and do my own thing. He is going away for two weeks so that means i’m not going to have any me time until the kids are settled in bed and there will be no lie in at the weekend either. I think being a mum and i’m a staying at home mum is hard. You need to have me time even if it just means going to the shop on your own.

    Comment by Growing Up — October 6, 2005 @ 5:52 pm

  5. Sounds like Mr Frog had a hot date lined up and wasn’t sure if he was going to score first time.

    Comment by parkin pig — October 6, 2005 @ 6:28 pm

  6. I’m afraid that this is the reality of a few of my divorced friends. It’s really just so easy to give out any excuse when the other person knows that their ex-partner can come running to the rescue at the last minute.

    I wish I had a few words of wisdom for you, but don’t let this make you bitter and angry as he’s not worth it !

    Comment by P in France — October 6, 2005 @ 6:46 pm

  7. It is exasperating for you but I suppose it happens to all couples, not just single or seperated mums. Let’s hope Mr. Frog understands the situation and never crosses the line again. Yes, people can be flexible with the chilcare, etc. arrangements but it is about give and take and respect (including for Tadpole, herself).

    Do not use Tadpole as the piggy-in-the-middle (not that I am accusing either of you such) but it is easy for kids to pick up on bad vibes – I did from my parents.

    But remember, when you have an urgent appointment or need a favour from Mr. Frog, he should have no qualms about helping you out in return.

    Keep smiling (through gritted teeth!)

    Comment by Lorna — October 6, 2005 @ 8:13 pm

  8. How do you translate “Tu es en train de chier dessus” in English?

    Comment by vonric — October 6, 2005 @ 8:15 pm

  9. I guess this transitional phase is never going to be easy. It does sound like he is trying to pull a fast one though. At least he is still involved in her life – there are many men who are denied access once a split has taken place – just look at the Fathers 4 Justice group in this country.

    Comment by Universal Soldier — October 6, 2005 @ 8:16 pm

  10. You should be upset. He shouldn’t get in a habit of pulling this kind of thing.

    Comment by yayaempress — October 6, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

  11. ATTN Vonric:

    “You’re just shitting all over it” is the best I can come up with right now in the way of translation for “tu es en train de chier dessus”… :)

    Comment by Kiora — October 6, 2005 @ 8:54 pm

  12. And, by the way, I’m so sorry for this and I can relate to the seething anger and frustration…oh boy can I!

    Not being able to talk about it until later is just typical. TYPICAL. It makes you want to scream, “NO! NOW! Tell me right now and it better be good!”

    I agree, it does sort of ring of an important date doesn’t it….

    Comment by Kiora — October 6, 2005 @ 8:57 pm

  13. Kiora>Thanks. My girlfriend has suggested “you are pissing on me”…
    Anyway, the positive point on seeing Petite Anglaise using those “colloquial” expressions is that she is fully integrated ;-)

    Comment by vonric — October 6, 2005 @ 9:02 pm

  14. Tosser!

    Comment by Laura — October 6, 2005 @ 9:12 pm

  15. Maybe he suddenly had a hot date. Perhaps he was trying to make a desperate lunge at some happiness of his own. We don’t know.

    But still, you don’t ever break a promise to a child. They never forget, do they?

    Comment by Tim — October 6, 2005 @ 10:25 pm

  16. Tim: very valid point about not knowing. I purposefully didn’t say whether his track record has been good until now. Or not. So I don’t think this one slice of life is a basis upon which to judge either of us. This post was not written with the aim of making everyone sling mud at Mr Frog and feel sorry for me.

    The thing which concerned me was that separating hasn’t necessarily meant escaping from the things I didn’t like about our relationship. Like being trapped at home watching the clock and seething inwardly. Or being made to feel like Tadpole and I came second, and a job first.

    Comment by petite — October 6, 2005 @ 10:42 pm

  17. I have no experience on which to base this suggestion, but next time you might try, “Either you pick her up as scheduled, or you don’t pick her up at all this weekend, and if you choose the latter when I pick her up I will not make an excuse for you. I will tell your daughter the truth, that you had something more important to do.”

    Comment by Postmodern Sass — October 6, 2005 @ 11:24 pm

  18. Postmodern Sass> The best way to alienate the daughter is to talk badly about the other one (mother/father). You certainly do not want to do that.

    Comment by vonric — October 7, 2005 @ 1:05 am

  19. You need two things: (1) a firm and clear strategy for communicating to him that in the future, short of an ACTUAL emergency (as in “My mother was just run over by a Paris taxicab”, or “I have a highly contagious illness and don’t want to give it to Tadpole”; not “I have a late meeting”), this will NEVER happen again – if it’s his turn to spend time with his daughter, then he needs to honor that for her sake. After all, you BOTH had a child, not just you as the female. And (2) you need to make it o.k. with yourself that you take a strong stand for yourself, and not see it as abandoning her if you don’t give in to him. This is going to sound a bit extreme, but what would happen if you got hurt or sick or worse, and he had no choice but to care for her? He’d work it out, wouldn’t he?

    You’re a loving and committed mother. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just set some boundaries and stick to them.

    Comment by Lisa — October 7, 2005 @ 1:17 am

  20. After this kind of thing happened to me a couple of times, I resorted to a stern “When it’s your night to be the parent, it’s your responsibility to sort out alternative arrangements if something ‘comes up’, without backing out and leaving it to me. After all, that’s what you expect me to do”. I also find it is the things that I didn’t like about our relationship that come back to annoy me.

    Comment by Sarah — October 7, 2005 @ 2:03 am

  21. I had children later in life, so I had the opportunity to watch my sisters and friends raise their children. I love children, but I also knew that I would go bonkers if I never had alone time. I can relate to what Growing Up said.

    Both of my sisters were their children’s entertainment committee. They never had alone time. When I would visit, then I would be the entertainment committee. It was ok since I wasn’t there all the time and theoretically leave whenever I wanted.

    So, when I had children I taught them from an early age that sometimes mother has to have some time to herself. No one had to take a nap per se, but they had to stay in their own rooms and play quietly. As a result, my children have always been wonderful at entertaining themselves. Often they choose to retire to their room for their own alone time.

    Please don’t misunderstand. I am a very attentive and involved mother. But I knew that in order for me to survive motherhood that I had to have some alone time every day, even though it meant within my own house.

    My sisters and friends all wanted to know my secret. How did I get my children to go off by themselves so I could have some adult conversation, read a book, take a bath, etc.? I started “Mother time” when they were very young. They never knew anything different.
    I think you could start it at any age. Some children might test the limits, but if you are determined I think they will adapt.

    Comment by Elle — October 7, 2005 @ 2:54 am

  22. I have absolutely no comment to make regarding the actual situation described, none at all.
    (Well, errm, actually I do, but speaking as a (still) unattached almost 40-something who therefore cannot truly relate to your situation or say “I know what it feels like”, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself on that score).
    What I wanted to say is that, even though I cannot relate to your situation through my own experiences, I can’t recall the last time that twelve paragraphs of “weblog” journalism managed to conjure the scenes and emotions so vividly in my mind. I was there in that room adjoining the boss’s office. I felt that rain falling!
    If you ever wish you were in a position where you no longer needed to rush frantically between home and work, worrying about babysitters’ fees, hell – anyone’s fees… it is glaringly obvious to me that it is within your grasp (or should I say, on the tips of your fingers) to “make it so”. That’s the most solid conclusion about anything that I’ve arrived at all day.

    PS: I hope I have not offended you by ignoring the personal aspect of what you wrote about, as if it didn’t matter at all, as long as I was enjoying its prose. I didn’t mean to imply that.

    Comment by Tom (Northants, UK) — October 7, 2005 @ 3:06 am

  23. A brilliant post as always but don’t write about this too often. When you’re famous and your early blogging is a best selling book you wouldn’t want Tadpole reading about her Dad blowing her out. Keep an eye on the future.

    Comment by claire — October 7, 2005 @ 3:09 am

  24. “Tu es en train de chier dessus. ” I did not know you spoke french so well.

    Comment by Miss Pink — October 7, 2005 @ 3:20 am

  25. I am a Dad first and will always be. My son does and will always come first. No one in the world will ever change that. It’s always been my promise to my son and I’ve always made sure I that I always keep my promises to him. If he can’t trust his parents, then who else?

    I have often left meetings early, or skipped/cancelled them in order to pick up my son from childcare, and I am still employed. So work is not and cannot be an excuse.

    Short of a life-threatening situation, Mr Frog should have advised his colleagues that he wouldn’t have been able to attend the meeting. Full stop, work mates and boss happy or not. Stuff them. Out of respect for his daughter.

    But he didn’t.

    Mr Frog is a wanker.

    Comment by Mr B — October 7, 2005 @ 5:30 am

  26. Poor Tadpole. Unfortunately for Mr Frog, if this type of situation recurs, she is going to be asking him some questions which will be very difficult for him to answer, and doing it sooner than either of you might think. Woe betide the daddy who breaks his daughter’s heart once too often. And Mr Frog, as we could see yesterday, is missing out on some priceless moments with his daughter. I know it’s small consolation, but one day he’s going to realise that his little girl isn’t so little anymore, and it’s too late to do anything about it. We should feel sorry for someone who has problems with priorities to this point.

    Comment by suziboo — October 7, 2005 @ 8:55 am

  27. Postmodern Sass” I’d have to agree with “Vonric” criticizing and telling your child the “truth” isn’t the way ahead IMO. I can imagine that Mr Frog could play this game too ( e.g. Tadpole darling the reason that we aren’t together as a family anymore is that Mummy prefers to be with Lover than with me OR Mummy doesn’t want to look after you this weekend as she wants to be alone with Lover) I’m not saying that Mr. Frog would do this or that’s what Petite thinks but this type of manipulation is immature and can only lead to more tears for the 3 parties concerned.

    One day Tadpole will be old enough to see things for herself. Now she’s only 2 and far too young to think anything other than that Mummy and Papa’s only purpose in life is to make her happy.

    In the meantime Mr. Frog needs a good talking to so that he accepts his responsibilities as a father and make arrangements for the next time. Arrangements that include perhaps a babysitter and not sending an e-mail to Petite.

    Comment by P in France — October 7, 2005 @ 10:16 am

  28. hi,

    i can relate, but just a small word of advice, dont let strangers tarnish the Mr Frog – whatever may have happened between you both, he is still Tadpole’s Dad, and its not up to your readers to belittle him.

    by the way, your writing is fantastic, you should write a book!

    Comment by anne — October 7, 2005 @ 11:13 am

  29. I will hazard a guess that maybe this isn’t the first time Mr Frog has done this since the split, hence the rage he provoked.

    Comment by Smartie — October 7, 2005 @ 11:17 am

  30. Well…

    I have to say that Tadpole had never spent as much quality time with Mr Frog in her entire life as she is now spending (alternate weekends, one week night) and that has been really positive for her. It would have been unheard of a few months ago for her father to leave the office at 5 or 6pm.

    Once Mr Frog has got his head around the concept of saying “no” when things crop up at work at the last minute, things will be better.

    Comment by petite — October 7, 2005 @ 11:28 am

  31. Well my blood boiled a bit after reading your post – out of symptahy for you and Tadpole. How very very very irritating.

    And then after a few moments I started to reflect a bit. My wife and I (still together)have young children and we have been in this position many times. We both work and there have been times when we have had to turn to the other to meet a childcare need, and, yes, break a promise.

    We love our kids very much. Part of that love is providing for them, and the kind of job we both do (in a service industry, with clients) means that the agenda we work to isn’t our own. We have no fall back, it’s just us in our business together – if we don’t work, we don’t get any money, and we don’t eat (thankfully it’s never come to that!) Naturally we try as much as we can to not let this interfere with commitments we have made to our children, but regretably it does happen sometimes.

    The thing is – we muddle along – as do our children. Life, family, work, self can feel like spinning plates. And our plates hopefully stay aloft because my wife and I love each other and there is some give and take.

    The situation you describe seems more about the breakdown of the love between you and Mr Frog than strictly about Tadpole’s care? When love goes I guess so does the willingness to compromise and the commitment to work together to solve mutually held challenges(like Tadpole’s care). This is replaced by resentment (not that you don’t have the absolute right to be pissed off about this). But inequalities are laid bare in a way they aren’t in a (good) marriage (partly because of a good marriage is characterised by more equality and responsibility I guess)because the trust and the love has gone.

    What kind of terms are you on with him generally? After a separation I guess we tend to cut each other much less slack. He knows this so he will take as much as he can…unless you get some kind of commitment from him – not based around the effect of his behaviour on you (which clearly has little leverage, he has no investment in you) – but on the effect he is having on Tadpole, and himself even.

    Comment by Jo — October 7, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  32. Just a thought, totaly unrelated to the personnal content of the post; I am amazed people can find it surprising that Petite speaks French so “colloquially”. After all, what do you expect after so many years in France, a relationship with a Frog, and having a bilingual genius baby? Moreover, as far as I am concerned, it’s the “colloquialisms” I picked up first.

    Comment by Mimile — October 7, 2005 @ 11:40 am

  33. Anne says :”dont let strangers tarnish the Mr Frog”

    I don’t think Petit needs stangers to do that she’s doing a pretty good job herself.

    Comment by P in France — October 7, 2005 @ 12:02 pm

  34. Mimile>I just think that is brilliant however. It is not the colloquial word itself that is good, it is to know “exactly” where and when to use it, at the right time. The amazing thing is that I do not think you learn that in books or can get lessons… it just happens when you have been long enough in a country…

    Comment by vonric — October 7, 2005 @ 3:03 pm

  35. Vonric – I totally agree. You can only pick these things up by living and immersing yourself in a country. In Italy there are lots of different dialects and words that are distinct to each area or even town. I don’t notice I’m using them until I go to another area of Italy and people comment on it – a very obviously non-Italian girl swearing in fluent Tuscan (with a hint of an English accent) always raises a few laughs.

    Comment by Hazy — October 7, 2005 @ 3:40 pm

  36. Well, the thing that would have really pissed me off, and I’m surprised that no one else has commented on it (unless I’ve missed it) is the way Mr Frog trapped you with his disingenuous initial e-mail about your whereabouts that weekend. Big black mark for Mr Frog. Hope he is suitably chastened by your colloquial French, but in case not, best to have an “Out of Office” “auto-reply” ready for future use…

    Comment by Cornelia — October 7, 2005 @ 4:25 pm

  37. Oh, I am looking at a future of exactly that :^( and it is terrible, but, tadpole will realize what’s what for herself. In the meantime, set some rules, if he can’t make it, he should have a sitter arranged for the purpose, not “trick you” into it. And no, there should be no guilt over wanting time for yourself. You are a wonderful mum, know that.

    Comment by maria — October 7, 2005 @ 5:50 pm

  38. ATTN Vonric:

    translates something more like “you’re fucking it all up!”.

    Comment by anne — October 7, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

  39. It’s frustrating to say the least when we have to deal with old issues with an ex all the while attempting to maintain “happy families even though separated” game for the child.

    Not sure what arrangements you initially made with Mr. Frog but was it that you have Tadpole Monday to Friday and he is to have her each weekend? If it was every other weekend but access any time during the week, then he was being a jerk. Late meeting really sounds like late date and likely going to get lucky. He should arrange to get lucky on his “off” weekends or make arrangements himself.

    Now this is where I risk getting jumped on. If you insisted that he have her every weekend so you can be available for your lover and and have your sleep in and freedom every weekend, then really, that isn’t fair. Or do you want to get back at him for trapping you in the house so you want to trap him and sabatoge his freedom to date and do as he wants?

    Comment by audreyanne — October 7, 2005 @ 7:12 pm

  40. audreyanne – as I said above, it’s alternate weekends and one weeknight.

    Comment by petite — October 7, 2005 @ 7:23 pm

  41. OH my god, your post brought up so many similar memories for me. It is NOT bashing Mr. Frog to expect him to put some effort into figuring out his own problem. We wome have juggled this type of thing for years.

    However, he may honestly not know how to think about being a single parent, rather than “a parent who has visitation.” It’s such a paradigm shift for most men.

    So you will have to help him a little bit in order to be sure you get what you need–some free time!! For example, you might want to be sure he has the numbers of Tadpole’s playmates’ parents so he can develop some reciprocal relationships. You might want to encourage him to have a playfriend over for Tadpole when she is at his house, so he can meet the parents. He might need to “get some credits in the bank” with other parents so to speak, so that when he calls them needing help they are more inclined to do so.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — October 7, 2005 @ 11:22 pm

  42. Hmm. I guess I should relate on the level of behaviors of “ex-es” since I am in the midst of a divorce. But it’s more than that. What is difficult to accept is when someone, anyone, manipulates you and you feel trapped into certain behaviors. Some people, good people even, cannot participate fairly in the game of human relationships. It’s just the way they are. It’s frustrating, evil sometimes, benign at other times, but really — no threat, no pleading will change this fundamental aspect of their personalities.

    Comment by nina — October 9, 2005 @ 12:52 am

  43. I think M. Frog had a lot on his plate. At the end whatever is Petite’s frustration at the point, it’s not an earthquake. Things like that can happen even (!) when you are partners/married ;-). As Lorna said above, it happens with all couples.

    You’ve got a lot of positive things on this post, including Petite saying: “I have to say that Tadpole had never spent as much quality time with Mr Frog in her entire life as she is now spending”. And do not forget (you, readers ;-) ) that Petite said: “So I don’t think this one slice of life is a basis upon which to judge either of us.” and “This post was not written with the aim of making everyone sling mud at Mr Frog and feel sorry for me.” Words such as “Tosser” or “I will tell your daughter the truth…” should be prohibited.

    Comment by vonric — October 9, 2005 @ 2:19 pm

  44. Throughout history, I only manage to carry an umbrella on the sunniest, blue-skied days.

    Comment by Sarah — October 9, 2005 @ 5:32 pm

  45. It’s obviously a complicated situation. It amazes me how many people seem to think they know the answer. I think you’ve done a great job in conveying your frustration.

    Next post: something funny or sexy, please. You deserve it.

    Btw, got the thong. American Apparel too! Nice.

    Comment by nardac — October 9, 2005 @ 8:14 pm

  46. I don’t think anyone has answers, though blogs invite reflections on your own experiences with similar situations. Petite certainly doesn’t need advice — she appears to me (who doesn’t know her at all except from the blog) like a totally together, competent human being.
    Why is it that I (and others, I am sure)keep coming back here? No matter what the story, it always is full of charm and extraordinarily well told.
    Ultimately, the success of a blog (in my opinion) depends not on the content of the experiences but in the skill of the writer.
    Petite, you are an incredibly talented writer.

    Comment by nina — October 9, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

  47. Having a choice between having his boss or his ex shouting/sulking at him, I can’t say I envy his position .
    I mean, you of all people should know standing up to your patron is easier said than done.

    Comment by reachy — October 10, 2005 @ 1:41 pm

  48. What are the chances of him springing this on you again if, the next time that he is due to have her for the weekend you leave your office a few minutes early and take her to him yourself?

    Once his colleagues see an adorable and adoring (“SURPRISE,DADDY!”)Tadpole waiting to be with her daddy,what self-respecting Frog can succesfully worm his way out of THAT?

    I’ll bet he’d never expect you to make him accept his responsabilities like that and it will definitely put the kabosh on his revised “plans”, hot or not!!

    Comment by Belle — October 10, 2005 @ 8:59 pm

  49. Claire – why should Petite worry about Tadpole reading what is, after all, the truth when she’s older? Tadpole is very unlikely to think that one instance of Daddy blowing her off = Daddy doesn’t love Tadpole, even if she’s still a child and not, in fact, an adult. Most fathers, even resident ones, behave like shits to their children from time to time. I certainly have. I’m not proud of it, and to the extent they never found out or have forgotten I’m happy (usually they were all too aware): but I’d never expect my wife or anyone else to lie about it to cover up for me. I yam what I yam, as Popeye said.

    Oh, and AFAIK they still love me.

    Comment by Rob — October 11, 2005 @ 4:09 am

  50. Maybe Mr. Frog had very good reasons. That said, he is probably still trying to adjust to the new lifestyle – one he didn’t choose, mind.

    He should probably invest in a good nanny.

    I can’t feel very sorry for Petite. You were with Mr. Frog for a long time before having Tadpole. You knew what you were in for.

    Now the most important thing is not to make Tadpole pay for your own selfishness.

    Comment by anon — October 11, 2005 @ 4:51 am

  51. Sounds like one of those games people play, and one they don’t when the other party doesn’t play. If you’re agreeable consider paying for babysitting services when on person should have tadpole but let her stay with the other. Unfortunately for Tadpole, this is the time that her and mom will really bond as she starts to see Mr Frog getting flaky. So Enjoy these special times. Au revoir..and nice blog:)

    Comment by ManNMotion — October 11, 2005 @ 7:52 am

  52. If petite is the custodial parent, then the ex-husband(boyfriend, whatever) can blow off the child without regard or remorse. After all, I am sure that he is paying for the right to do so, or will be soon. Perhaps the reason petite isn’t blogging recently is that she has realized how truly selfish and self-absorbed she is. Maybe putting Tadpole up for adoption would free up petite’s time to go and drink with colleagues or have trysts with her lover.

    Comment by Benetton — October 11, 2005 @ 11:55 am

  53. Petite hasn’t blogged for a couple of days because she has a heavy cold and has been off work sick.

    What a lovely father the charming Mr Benetton would make. Mr Frog looks saintly in comparison.

    For your information, our arrangement is a purely amicable one, as we were never married and have not involved any courts. It is based on the amount of time Mr Frog wants to spend with his daughter, and what he can afford to give me basically covers half the childminder’s salary and nappies. I have no money, but am not complaining about that, I knew what I was getting myself into.

    I am happy with the 4 weeknights and 2 weekends per month that I have to see my friends and have a social life. I don’t think it’s selfish to want this, and it’s more free time than I ever had pre-breakup.

    “Trysts” would be lovely, but in actual fact one or other of us usually has our children at weekends when we spend time together. And they come first.

    Comment by petite — October 11, 2005 @ 12:29 pm

  54. Having a child does not mean that one is no longer entitled to a life. From what I gather, Mr Frog has Tadpole one night a week and alternate weekends. From this, I assume that Petite has Tadpole the rest of the time. I don’t think anyone can begrudge her a drink with colleagues or time with Lover. Mr Frog has chosen to take an active role in Tadpole’s life and with that should come consistency and respect, but perhaps this was a one-off, an oversight, a stupid error of judgement on Mr Frog’s part we all make mistakes. However, you cannot ‘turn-off’ your parent role as and when it suits you, which is what he appears to have done that Friday, leaving Petite to sort out the mess. If you have chosen to have a child with somebody, then you have chosen to raise it with that somebody, whether together or apart. Whatever happens between the parents, that cannot (or should not) be taken back. So I hope you manage to get some free time this week Petite and that you enjoy it, we all deserve a little now and then.

    Comment by Katherine — October 11, 2005 @ 12:38 pm

  55. I’m sorry to hear that you’re ill, Petite. Get well soon – I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we’re missing your updates!!

    Comment by Hazy — October 11, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

  56. I hope you are feeling better, petite! I, too, wondered why we hadn’t heard from you.

    On another note….Mr. Benetton’s post reminds me of a book by Paula Caplan about mothers. Caplan and her associates analyzed a decade of psychological research to determine the nature and extent of mother blaming. Of four categories–things that mothers do, things that mothers fail to do, things that fathers do and things that fathers fail to do…only ONE regularly turned up to be viewed as problematic— things that mothers do. (Elle says, “Gasp!”)

    Mothers were blamed for causing more than 70 different kinds of problems in their children, including bedwetting, schizophrenia, inability to cope with color blindness, aggression, learning problems and “homicidal transsexualism.” Fathers were rarely blamed for their children’s woes.

    Even though you are not in a legal custody battle, I thought you might want to know that custody battles are described by Caplan as, “The justice system and the mental health system provide a double whammy of mother blaming.” Good mothers, she reports, have been denied custody both because they have paying jobs (“they care more about their careers than their children”) and because they don’t have paying jobs (“they don’t love their kids enough to support them well”). They are denied custody if they are living with a man (“they are promiscuous”) and if they aren’t (“they can’t provide a stable heterosexual environment”). If women provide evidence of the father’s sexual abuse of the child, they will be accused of lying, man-hating or being sexually cold–which many experts claim is what drives men to commit incest. Even when fathers are shown to be violent, irresponsible or disturbed, they are praised for caring enough to sue for custody.

    Another words, you may be damned if you do and damned if you don’t concerning how you deal with Tadpole and Mr. Frog.

    Comment by Elle — October 11, 2005 @ 1:42 pm

  57. Sorry to hear you’re sick Petite. If it is the same bug that has been plauging people here, I am sure you are quite uncomfortable.

    As for Benetton, he sounds like a disgruntled divorcee who needs to learn not to judge others. Having a life outside of children is something that I wish some of my friends could learn. Enjoying oneself is not selfish, provided it does not interefere with the overall well being of the child.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — October 11, 2005 @ 3:04 pm

  58. if he’s punishing you through her, i’d put a stop to it now. i hope you have legal custody arrangements in writing.

    Comment by jeannette — October 11, 2005 @ 8:03 pm

  59. Not to beat the proverbial dead horse… and I did qualify my first comment by saying I’m not qualified to comment (I have no children myself), but…

    I did not mean to suggest that Petite begin a war with Mr. Frog and place Tadpole in the centre. I only meant to suggest that she should not be manipulated into making excuses for him.

    Comment by Postmodern Sass — October 12, 2005 @ 12:19 am

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