petite anglaise

October 18, 2005

locked out

Filed under: parting ways, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 9:25 pm

As we crossed the park, Tadpole singing “Bla Bla Black Sheep” at the top of her lungs, I brought the pushchair to an abrupt halt, struck with the sudden realisation that my keys were in the pocket of my jacket. The very same jacket which was hanging in the cupboard at work, blissfully unaware of my predicament.

Merde.

For once, my little-used mobile phone was charged. I hastily called Mr Frog, who is in possession of a spare set of keys to our former home. He answered on the first ring.

“J’ai fait une énorme connerie,” I wailed. “My boss was stressing me out when I left work, and I’ve gone and left my jacket at the office with my keys in. Is there any way you could come and let us in with your set?”

The alternative would have been a forty minute round trip to where I work on the métro, or in a taxi, with Tadpole, the pushchair, and the bulky bags of shopping I was carrying. Possible in theory, but braving rush hour with a child is not for the faint hearted.

Thankfully, Mr Frog was able to ride valiantly to our rescue on his gleaming white Vespa. I thanked him profusely, and cast around for ideas. How best to entertain Tadpole for the forty minutes prior to his arrival? It was a mild evening, so we could have idled in the park for a while, but we had already left the play area far behind us, and I was mindful of the fact that it would be awkward to keep an eye on both Tadpole and my bags.

Plus, all I really wanted at that precise moment was a nice cold beer and a sit down.

Bad mummy.

Half an hour later, when Mr Frog arrived, Tadpole and I were seated outside our local café in a leafy, cobbled square. I was draining the dregs of my pression, while Tadpole applied herself to positioning stickers on the pages of a hastily purchased kiddy magazine, tongue protruding from between her milk teeth in concentration.

She looked up, and her expression changed from absorbed to overjoyed in the blink of an eye. The sticker book fell to the floor, forgotten.

“Daddy DA-ddy DADDY DADDY!” she cried, breaking into a fit of ecstatic giggles.

I looked from Tadpole to Mr Frog and back again, tears threatening to well up. For a moment I felt overwhelming remorse. What a cruel, heartless, selfish bitch I was to have left him, separating father and daughter. The feeling lasted only a second, because I know that Tadpole and Mr Frog are closer now than they ever were before, the result of long evenings and weekends spent en tête à tête since our separation.

Mr Frog chaperoned us home, explaining to Tadpole that he would pick her up on Wednesday from the childminder’s and take her back to “daddy’s house”. Tadpole nodded, apparently satisfied with this arrangement, and waved goodbye. Mr Frog kissed me gently on the cheek and went on his way.

Our family unit may have splintered apart, but I can’t help thinking we are in pretty good shape.

39 Comments

  1. We’ve a basket of spare keys at home for when that happens to us – but still need somebody to let us in to get them.
    Glad Mr. Frog takes time with Tadpole. Sometimes it takes something serious for us to spend time with the people we should be with.
    but oh, a walk in Paris in the fall! – Wish I could.

    Comment by joeinvegas — October 18, 2005 @ 10:12 pm

  2. Yeah, it seems that you’re happier now, not that I’ve actually met you… Glad Mr. Frog was able to ride to the rescue!

    Comment by yayaempress — October 18, 2005 @ 10:49 pm

  3. I just found your site today. I know many say it, but I thought I’d also let you know how much I have enjoyed reading it. Your honesty on all subjects is utterly appreciated.

    Comment by amateur — October 18, 2005 @ 10:51 pm

  4. Can I recommend Billy Bragg’s ‘Myth of Trust’ at this juncture?

    Comment by backroads — October 18, 2005 @ 10:58 pm

  5. It seems that just a few weeks ago, there was this big discussion regarding your feelings towards your lover, and the concept of infidelity, amongst other things. It seems as though today’s little affair (pun intended) has fortified your past decision making with regards to leaving Mr. Frog.

    More importantly, it seems as though it is right for Tadpole. So many couples stay together for the wrong reasons, and all too often the excuse used is “for the sake of the children.”

    I had too many friends growing up whose parents did this. In reality, what wwould have been best for the children is if they went their separate ways, but maintaing a close relationship with the children. (Which actually, some did.)

    BTW, we use a small magnetic box to hide a spare set of keys in an unobtrusive place, outside of the house. I don’t know if this is an option for you, but you may want to investigate something similar.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — October 19, 2005 @ 12:04 am

  6. The same thing happened to me the other week, except I didn’t have someone to call upon to get me in. I ended up waiting a few hours till one of the flatmates came home. At least the weather was OK.

    Comment by Andy — October 19, 2005 @ 12:08 am

  7. hi, petite… i just arrived to your blog… and i’ve been laughing like crazy! i’m officialy addicted to this… count me in as a regular visit! ;-)

    Comment by lenia — October 19, 2005 @ 12:15 am

  8. From what you’re telling us, the relationship between Tadpole and Mr Frog seems indeed much better, at least in terms of how much time they spend together. I’m sure it’s been a positive change for her. Good on you two to make it work.

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — October 19, 2005 @ 12:16 am

  9. I am always forgetting keys, so I have a touchpad lock on my door. You do have to remember the code though. : )

    Comment by Elle — October 19, 2005 @ 1:08 am

  10. Ah, fantastic. It made me feel hopeful for the future.

    Comment by maria — October 19, 2005 @ 1:37 am

  11. I won’t even being to go into details but I have been exactly in your shoes and felt similar feelings… still do, occasionally, after 3 years apart. But- we have 2 happy children, with 2 happy parents, and lots of love. Not sure it would have been so bright a future all together!

    Best of luck to you!

    Comment by Dawn — October 19, 2005 @ 1:59 am

  12. How wonderful that you are able to see that Mr. Frog and Tadpole aren’t really “separated” but closer than ever. I can’t help feeling wistful, remembering how my father, after my parents’ divorce, sort of “divorced” my sister and I at the same time. He never quite got into the rhythm of how to BE with us on “visitation days” and he really botched it up so badly that after a few years, we (my sister and I) bid him adieu.

    I love hearing that other children sometimes have much more positive post-breakup relationships with their parents. That’s the way it ought to be. Thanks for continuing to share your story. And maybe get a few extra sets of keys made, just in case?

    Comment by Lisa — October 19, 2005 @ 2:06 am

  13. Me, I just loved the way you recounted the story. I happened to be traveling through Paris yesterday — the weather was gorgeous. The little episode entirely made sense.

    Comment by nina — October 19, 2005 @ 2:32 am

  14. The man has Class.

    Comment by Iowaslovak — October 19, 2005 @ 2:57 am

  15. My son used to sing it Bla Bla Black Sheep too.

    Comment by jen — October 19, 2005 @ 2:59 am

  16. Just wanted to say hi as I found your site for the first time just now. Love your honesty and the design. I’ll be back! :)

    Comment by LB — October 19, 2005 @ 5:40 am

  17. Qui a volé la clef des champs ?

    L8R,

    Comment by Chicago — October 19, 2005 @ 7:02 am

  18. I’ve blogrolled you, I hope you don’t mind. (If you do, I’ll take you off, no problem)
    I really enjoy reading your blog!

    Comment by Deana — October 19, 2005 @ 9:48 am

  19. I’m pleased for you that you all get on so well because a lot of families fall apart after a seperation. The good thing is that Tadpole gets to know who her father is. In these situations you have to think of the kids, they have to come first. And it was a good job he still had a key to your home.

    Comment by Growing Up — October 19, 2005 @ 10:32 am

  20. Thank God for Mr.Frog because if you had had to call out the ‘serrurier’ you would have had to pay the price of several crates of wine. Or the alternative is doing something strange with an old X-Ray like my neighbour did once, it takes a while but it does work !

    Comment by P in France — October 19, 2005 @ 10:39 am

  21. I know nothing about raising kids but I loved that line about the Vespa.

    I always imagine Mr Frog to look like a swarthier version of Richard Hammond (the short one from Top Gear), am I anywhere near?

    Comment by Homer — October 19, 2005 @ 11:26 am

  22. I am convinced that, had my ex and I stayed married, my kids would know their father only from pictures and newspaper articles. Our divorce had a silver lining fo the kids—he became a DAD. I really don’t think it would have happened otherwise.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — October 19, 2005 @ 2:54 pm

  23. It sounds like an excellent shape. I am crazy in love with your blog, by the way. Crazy.

    Comment by Heather — October 19, 2005 @ 3:48 pm

  24. Mr Frog kissed me gently on the cheek and went on his way.

    The whole post is beautifully captured in that one phrase.

    Comment by Iain — October 19, 2005 @ 4:05 pm

  25. Iain, I’ll go along with that. Like you, and so many others, I’m always trying to identify what it is that makes Petite’s writing style so ‘special’ and appealing. That ability to encapsualate a gamut of experience in a well-turned phrase is one aspect. Perhaps another is her frequent, gentle ‘teasing’…. I wonder if her present lover’s heart skipped a beat when it reached that phrase?!

    Comment by fella — October 19, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

  26. bla bla blacksheep – so cute! so happy for you this is working out! it is meant to be!

    Comment by jan — October 20, 2005 @ 10:19 am

  27. Loved the bla bla black sheep. I have heard of a 2 year old girl caught singing “baa baa black sheep, happy at the mall…”

    Comment by the_editter — October 20, 2005 @ 10:22 am

  28. your 33 things link is pointing to thirty-two

    Comment by pww — October 20, 2005 @ 10:28 am

  29. My three-year-old boy sings “Old Fat Donald had a farm…”. And his current favourite toys are his big brothers’ “Underbirds” – as in “Underbirds are Go!” I just love all that cute language development stuff!

    Comment by Helen — October 20, 2005 @ 10:43 am

  30. 33 things link has been fixed.

    “Bla Bla Black sheep” continues

    “…have you you any MORE,
    yes sir, yes sir, three bags full
    one for the NIPPLES ”

    *Tadpole tweaks my nipples at this juncture – v. random, v. painful*
    *pause for lots of giggling*

    “one for the dame
    and one for the little GIRL who lives down the lane.”

    Comment by petite — October 20, 2005 @ 10:52 am

  31. My kids don’t talk about Le Pere Noel – he’s known as ‘Le Pour Noel’!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — October 20, 2005 @ 11:04 am

  32. My kids used to talk about some character called Pierre Noel. My younger daughter used to insist I carried her on my soldiers.

    Oh, and in answer to fella’s point, the heart-skipping was one of the main reasons I applied for my current position.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — October 20, 2005 @ 12:31 pm

  33. the heart-skipping was one of the main reasons I applied for my current position.

    It would seem as if we’re collecting great lines today :-)

    Comment by Iain — October 20, 2005 @ 2:34 pm

  34. Oh, if only somebody had ever or would ever feel that way about me… :( *sigh*

    Comment by Katherine — October 20, 2005 @ 3:41 pm

  35. *ATTN* Dave of the Lake who said:

    “More importantly, it seems as though it is right for Tadpole. So many couples stay together for the wrong reasons, and all too often the excuse used is “for the sake of the children.””

    I was in that boat, a boat that did definitely end up “chavire”….I stayed with my ex for years “for the sake of the children”…I knew I couldn’t leave the Iranian B*stard and take my children with me at the risk of being hunted down (literally)… It’s just too easy to simplify things Dave. The end result is: I fled one day in 1998 due to domestic violence and got on the first plane back to England (we’d been living in Burundi, Central Africa) – WITHOUT my flesh & blood, my 4 children whom I adore, FOR MY SANITY & safety. I never got them back. It was a sacrifice – one which many would condemn due to incomprehension of the situation and the vile human being I was married to – and I have had to live with that choice every day since. I haven’t seen 3 of my 4 children since 2000…5 long years. Distance, lack of funds to pay for airfares, resistance of the ‘ex’ who refuses even to send me photos….*sigh*…I could go on & on for hours. All this to say that sometimes I wish I could’ve stayed for “the sake of the children” if this heartache, pain, grief and depression was the price to pay.

    It works if the split isn’t acrimonious. It works if the couple still live geographically close enough and agree to share custody….There are so many factors to take into account….

    However, having poured my heart out here a bit (sorry), I am sooooo very happy for you Petite and for those of you who have made it “work” and have happy, healthy, well balanced children as a result. I can’t even bear to think of the psychological scars my children have.

    We, my ex and I find it literally ‘impossible’ to communicate despite my cool, calm, collected and detached phone manner. He finds a way to feel insulted by whatever I say and slams the phone down or is blatantly passive-aggressive…

    Comment by Kiora — October 20, 2005 @ 6:06 pm

  36. Katherine….. I expect that was nicely tongue in cheek to flow with the tide but,if not, you know that special somebody is out there looking & waiting for you. You just need to find the right connection. But have another read of Kiora’s post while you are waiting!

    Comment by fella — October 20, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

  37. “It’s just too easy to simplify things Dave.”

    Kiora,

    I was not “simplifying things” as you suggest. Your situation, (as hellish as it was) is not something that the majority of divorced couples find themselves in. Yes, there are many circumstances where custody fights ensue, and many couples lose sight of what is best for their children. Certainly, what happened to you borders on the more horrific end of the scale. I have a good friend, a college buddy of mine, who went through a similar thing with his now ex-Aussie wife. He wound up moving there (Australia) so that he would be able to retain joint custody, even thought the Aussie court ruled against his wife for stealing the kids and taking them back to Australia. Fortunately for him, he still has contact with the kids. He did however choose to move to a foreign land, and give up everything he had here in the States, most notably his close relationship with his family.

    I am not trivializing or minimizing your situation in any way. I was only speaking from my own expereince, based on what I saw growing up with friends who were faced with parents who argued, fought, and maligned each other on a constant basis. This made for situations so unbareable, that I cannot count how many times my friend Willie slept at my place, just to escape the din of the 200 decibel arguments in his house. He got away eventually by enlisting in the Navy at 18.

    His parents should have split years beforehand. Part of the reason my wife and I chose never to have kids is that we KNEW we could never be effective parents. We knew ourselves well enough, and what we wanted out of our lives and marriage, that bringing a child into it was not the way to fullfill our lives, and would not be healthy for the child. I have heard the conventional wisdom that you cannot be fulfilled without raising a child. I beg to differ. Having children is simply one way of mainting a fulfilling life.

    I wish that more people would think hard about this before undertaking the role of parent.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — October 20, 2005 @ 9:55 pm

  38. Dave,

    I hope you didn’t take offense….it was merely my making use of an opening to say a few things about my tragic experience. :)

    Life is complex…relationships….*sigh*

    Comment by Kiora — October 20, 2005 @ 10:55 pm

  39. Kiora,

    No, I didn’t take offense at all. I just wanted you to understand where I was coming from. I fully understand why you wrote what you did. I am a writer, so I understand how writing about these experiences can be very cathartic.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — October 21, 2005 @ 3:16 pm


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