petite anglaise

November 3, 2005


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:31 pm

At first, I agonised over how Tadpole would react to the fact that not only did daddy now live across the road, but that there was also a new man in my life.

I was adamant that he couldn’t come to stay in the flat I used to share with Mr Frog, sleep on what had, until recently, been his side of the the bed, on what my daughter still refers to as “daddy’s pillow”. (Although the pillows, mattress and all of the bedding is, in fact, symbolically new.) So, for the first few months we visited Rennes, Tadpole and I, and much as I wanted to, I didn’t invite Lover to visit me in Paris unless Tadpole was away.

I have a vivid memory of our first journey to Rennes together, Tadpole giggling at her reflection in my powder compact, while I hastily applied a little make up, anxious to look my best when we stepped off the train. My daughter, desperate to wear some lip gloss “just like mummy”, had to be fobbed off with lip salve, and was allowed to “help mummy” by dragging a brush, somewhat painfully, through my hair.

Later that weekend, glancing back at my daughter, who was walking hand in hand with one of Lover’s girls and chattering happily, I realised that although this new relationship might seem complicated on paper, it didn’t have to be in practice. And when Tadpole shrieked with delight, seated high above me on Lover’s broad shoulders, I knew that although he would never replace her daddy, she had found a new friend.

Yesterday I reflected on how much things have changed, since that weekend in June. Nowadays, Lover comes to stay in Paris for a week or two at a time, and is a semi-permanent fixture in the anglaise household. When we arrive home in the evenings, Tadpole knocks insistently on the front door, calling his name over and over, until he opens it just a chink, and peeps through the gap. Every day the same routine; every day the same delighted giggles from Tadpole. He is entitled to a kiss and a cuddle at bedtime once the stories have been read. Futile attempts have been made by Tadpole to enlist his support against me when my daughter and I are in conflict over a plate of untouched dinner. Luckily, he is wise enough to take a step back in situations like these, refusing to take sides or to allow the resident manipulator to get her own way by playing us off against each other.

Occasionally Tadpole shows her possessive streak and becomes annoyed at the fact that she is not receiving my undiluted attention every single second of the day. “That’s MY mummy!” she shouted petulantly, eyebrows furrowed, when she arrived home after a weekend with Mr Frog and the In Laws, indignant at being asked to share.

Tonight Tadpole and I will return to an empty flat, the lights out, the laptop conspicuously absent from my dining table. Tadpole will finally have me all to herself, and yet I know that the first thing she will say to me when I pick her up from the childminder’s will be:

“Go see Jim?”


  1. I just read that and it made me want to cry (in a nice way, I should add!). Congratulations to all of you, Tadpole included, for how things are turning out. I am so pleased for you all.

    Comment by Hazy — November 3, 2005 @ 3:51 pm

  2. Gosh, after reading that and smiling for you and your new-found family contentment, I’m left thinking how much simpler it must be to do the separation/new partner thing when children are small.

    Little ones are so much more accepting, and don’t demand truthful, watertight answers to their perceptive questions.

    Comment by Susan — November 3, 2005 @ 4:04 pm

  3. If I was Mr Frog that post would break my heart.

    Comment by P in France — November 3, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

  4. Awww.. so sweet. And wait, did you finally admit who it is? ;)

    Comment by theinsider — November 3, 2005 @ 4:40 pm

  5. How wonderful! You are a beautiful mom. :)

    Comment by Heather — November 3, 2005 @ 4:43 pm

  6. I agree with P in France…. heartbreaking

    Comment by annea — November 3, 2005 @ 4:54 pm

  7. Am I the last person in the blogverse to realise thats who he is?????

    Is it really him????

    or are you playing with our minds again Petite?

    Comment by Joy — November 3, 2005 @ 5:00 pm

  8. merci, un charmant petit blog, agréable etc. Le seul default que je pourrais y trouver, serais votre état d’anglaise, ceci dit nul(le) n’étant parfait(e), peu importe. Continuez de la sorte demoiselle, c’est un plaisir de vous lire !

    Comment by sios — November 3, 2005 @ 5:23 pm

  9. I’ve been enjoying your writing for quite awhile now. I just thought I’d let you know I think that the way you are handling your relationships and your child are beautiful and speak so much of the love you have for Tadpole.
    As a boring American, I must also admit some of my favorite parts of your blog are the words you use. I love childminder, and pushchair and the like. Words I don’t hear everyday. Thanks.

    Comment by amy — November 3, 2005 @ 5:24 pm

  10. P in France, Mr. Frog does not need to be jealous or have his heart broken. You can never have too many people who love your child, and trust me, Tadpole will NEVER confuse Jim with Daddy. It’s not an either/or situation. My kids love their stepdad, but he does not replace Daddy. My ex is relieved that his children get along with the man they live with much of the time and that he loves them.

    Smile Mr. Frog and be thankful!

    Comment by small town diva — November 3, 2005 @ 6:10 pm

  11. Thank you small town diva.

    Coming from me, that might have sounded like I was trying to convince myself that what I was doing was for the best.

    I do think that having a boyfriend who has been through a separation involving children, and whose ex wife lives with someone else, means that he is very aware of what his role should and, more importantly, should not be.

    Comment by petite — November 3, 2005 @ 6:16 pm

  12. C’est mon prémier temps visiter ta petite anglaise. Je l’aime bien parce que tu es très interresante. J’èspere j’ècrire toujours comme vous – de le coeur. :)

    Mon français est un peu mal. :) J’étudie le français aux Etats-Unis à l’université (Ohio State).

    Bon chance!

    Comment by Rachel — November 3, 2005 @ 9:50 pm

  13. I’m really pleased for you, its great that your daughter has taken to your boyfriend i’m sure its a relief for you. Good luck with your relationship.

    Comment by Growing Up — November 3, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

  14. You made me cry… it’s the hormones!
    This proves once again that you made the right decision and that all people involved being intelligent and loving, you’re making the best out of your new lives. Chapeau bas.

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — November 4, 2005 @ 12:46 am

  15. I know there are a lot of studies out there on what divorce does to children, but my personal opinion is that it depends on how the adults behave during and after the break up.

    When all the adults play by the rules…(not fight over the child, don’t try to make the child take sides, allow the child to love both parents and stepparents freely, etc.) then I think the child turns out very well adjusted.

    Sounds like petite, Jim, and Tadpole are doing very well! I don’t know about Mr. Frog, but hopefully, he is also prioritizing his daughter’s needs over any jealous or bad feelings toward petite. It is always harder being the one who is left vs. the one who does the leaving for someone else….even when both have agreed that breaking up is best. So, I do have a soft spot for Mr. Frog.

    Comment by Elle — November 4, 2005 @ 1:54 am

  16. “Le seul ‘default'” with Sios is that he can’t spell ‘defaut’ without reverting to the Anglo-saxon spelling. Clearly, he is more English than he thinks.

    Comment by dan — November 4, 2005 @ 10:06 am

  17. So,who is enjoying Mr.Frog’s company now?Here’s hoping YOU are as accepting of his new Lover and Tadpole’s becoming “good friends” with her when she begins to talk of the new “friend” all the time.It will be interesting to hear your emotions on this when it comes to pass.(Or maybe it already has happened and you just haven’t written about that situation?).Has to “sting” a bit…?But seems everyone involved is very “evolved” and that’s a good sign..

    Comment by beth — November 4, 2005 @ 10:23 am

  18. beth – well, of course that’s something I’ll have to accept one day, and I don’t expect it to be easy. So far I think there has been only a short lived fling, but I sincerely hope Mr Frog finds someone lovely who enjoys spending time with Tadpole too.

    Comment by petite — November 4, 2005 @ 11:17 am

  19. Oh how your writing style improves when you’re being bright and positive (this post for example) than when you’re darkly berating other people (e.g. previous post).
    Incidentally I’m glad to see you’ve dropped this “my Lover” nonsense in favour of “my boyfriend”.
    If Jim has never seen a parkin pig either, it’s too late now. I had a litter delivered by Royal Mail but I’ve scoffed the lot.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — November 4, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  20. I’d just like to point out that you did it again – the whole story in just three words: “Go see Jim?”.

    Great post.

    Comment by Iain — November 4, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  21. Off the topic completely — but what exactly does Jim do for a living that he can take off a week of two at a time to hang out in Paris? I’d like that job…

    Comment by magillicuddy — November 4, 2005 @ 2:21 pm

  22. She kind of had to say Jim in that post though. If she had quoted Tadpole as saying “go see Lover?” then I think that would have been a little worrying for all.

    And I am so not complaining as we all know my opinions on calling him Lover…..

    If only all separations could be this simple. Although am sure that tere are complications we don’t hear about.?.

    Comment by cheria — November 4, 2005 @ 2:38 pm

  23. @ magillicuddy: trust me, you don’t.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 4, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

  24. Is Jim a famous novelist?

    Comment by Aeogae — November 4, 2005 @ 2:54 pm

  25. tut tut, do pay attention!

    Comment by petite — November 4, 2005 @ 3:19 pm

  26. Once again, your post makes for great morning reading. Thanks petite.

    Comment by ontario frog — November 4, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

  27. I wish the wonderful G and I had it so easy with her daughter – we’re hoping G’s ex will start dating so that E will finally realise (after 3+ years of separation) that mummy and daddy were never going to get back together.

    There was much excitement a while back when G’s ex phoned and the caller ID said “Sandie Moshos” – calling from a girlfriend’s house, perhaps? Who is this mysterious Sandie?

    Hopes were dashed a few days later when he mentioned he was working at San Diemos Hospital! Goshdarnit!

    Comment by GeekBrit — November 4, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

  28. Jim– I don’t? Because you think advertising is fun?
    : ) : )

    Comment by magillicuddy — November 4, 2005 @ 5:45 pm

  29. The best qualification to work as a freelance translator is a *substantial* private income. And I don’t have one. Which makes it a very flexible – and even more unreliable – profession! At least I know that Petite doesn’t covet my impressively proportioned wallet.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 4, 2005 @ 9:00 pm

  30. My two-and-a-half year-old niece (so many hyphens, so little time) went through a phase of wailing “MY [insert person/object here]” with eyebrows furrowed exactly as you describe.

    I think you are lucky that Jim has the flexibility for you to be able to conduct your relationship in this way. I remember the early days of Big and I – weekends were just too short…

    Comment by anxious — November 4, 2005 @ 9:35 pm

  31. WHEN will it be alright to see Jim’s blog?

    since we all know now that ‘Lover’ is Jim, wouldn’t it also be ok to be able to click on his name and go to his blog?

    i know i am one of the few laggards who don’t know his blog already.

    but Petite has boasted about his brilliant mind and large vocabulary and, well, i’d just like to see for myself.

    i shall be woefully frustrated until permission is granted.

    kindest regards!

    Comment by isabel — November 4, 2005 @ 10:15 pm

  32. Jim doesn’t have a blog. I’m trying to get him to do a guest post here. We’ll see…

    Comment by petite — November 4, 2005 @ 10:17 pm

  33. Yesterday I couldn’t spell blogger. Yet tomorrow I are one. Apparently.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 4, 2005 @ 10:29 pm

  34. Ooooh – Jim in Rennes – sounds so, I don’t know, not French?
    But happy for Tadpole – can never have too many big friends, even if they don’t take your side.

    Comment by joeinvegas — November 5, 2005 @ 12:20 am

  35. as a longtime mostly-lurker, i have to say that this is the post i’ve been waiting to see. as eloquent as always, petite — i am so happy for all of you. and it’s jim in rennes after all. guest post, guest post!!

    also, as a complete out-of-the blue question, i’m curious what petite’s thoughts are on the rioting going on in paris and environs. from over here, it’s just so surreal.

    Comment by franko — November 5, 2005 @ 12:54 am

  36. Jim, as a freelance translator, let me assure you that *substantial* income is not completely out of reach. Of course it depends on what you translate. Literature, unfortunately, is not lucrative. I assume you translate French into English?

    And as a freelancer, you can work ‘on the road’. All you need is a laptop and an Internet connection, which obviously petite has got!

    How lovely that you two have found each other, BTW :)

    Comment by Alda — November 5, 2005 @ 1:45 am

  37. ohhh. so he’s not got a blog.

    i only searched every bloody blog in France!

    hope you post here soon, Jim.

    best wishes to both.

    Comment by isabel — November 5, 2005 @ 2:55 am

  38. Freelance…tantalising word, isn’t it, Susan in Rennes?? Gotta be more than the SMIC, which is what you get on a CDI here…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — November 5, 2005 @ 11:14 pm

  39. Whatever you do, DON’T get Jim to do a guest post. Remember, Jennifer Aniston got Brad to guest star in Friends, and look what happened to them afterwards…

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — November 5, 2005 @ 11:35 pm

  40. Lucy Jane – I wouldn’t be so sure… not once the taxman and social security have taken their cut.

    But it’s okay, I play the loto on line twice a week. We’re covered.

    Comment by petite — November 6, 2005 @ 12:22 am

  41. Hope all is well with you this weekend. Foreign news reports cause me concern about the unrest in France.
    Good thoughts are with you.

    Comment by Elle — November 6, 2005 @ 6:25 am

  42. To be honest, Elle, you probably know as much about it as I do… Paris is cut off from its suburbs by a huge ringroad, and I never venture out there.

    Which is of course the root of the problems out there – these people are out of sight and out of mind most of the time.

    Comment by petite — November 6, 2005 @ 12:26 pm

  43. I was concerned because it was the weekend and thought you or Jim might be traveling between Rennes and Paris. I heard that Rennes was having problems, too, and people are advised not to take the trains. But I am not there, so I wasn’t sure how accurate the mainstream media reports in the US were.

    Comment by Elle — November 6, 2005 @ 1:26 pm

  44. I believe there have been a few cars burned out in the suburbs here. But curiously mostly in the student area of Villejean from what I’m told. A friend was driving home that way last night and said it was quite like Guy Fawkes night…

    But you’d be hard pushed to find 900 cars in Rennes, in total!

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 6, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  45. This set of comments is like a little forum on its own. I see that you are slowly revealing little personal bits. Good for you. Happy that it all continues to be working out for you Petite.

    Comment by Anne — November 6, 2005 @ 1:59 pm

  46. Come on, Jim, in a town of 250,000 like Rennes, there has to be more than 900 cars! I read in Ouest-France this morning that 10 cars were burned in the quartier le Blosne in Rennes, and that several fires were started in Nantes, St Malo, Quimper, and Brest….looks like it’s spreading to our corner of la belle France too.

    Comment by Samantha — November 6, 2005 @ 5:43 pm

  47. Cheer up, Samantha. Nothing like a bit of copycat arson to ward off these chill winter nights. Think of it as a bit of boisterous high-jinks. I bet a lot more fires than that were started on the night of November 5th in the UK. Although I’m obviously aware that there *are* more than 900 cars in Rennes, it would be a sterling night’s work to find and torch that many around here. Take a moment to think what 900 cars would look like parked next to each other…!

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

  48. They’d just have to head to the outskirts of Rennes to the peugeot/citroën factory – there must be 2000+ cars parked there!

    And you’re not by chance un traducteur assérmenté, are you? I’ll be needing someone to officially translate my birth certificate soon. (Please forgive me for getting so off-topic, petite, I sincerely do enjoy your posts!)

    Comment by Samantha — November 6, 2005 @ 7:48 pm

  49. Off topic – Am thoroughly amazed at the difference between french written media coverage of the riots, and the foreign papers. has almost nothing, and certainly less than what you could find on CNN or NYTimes alone. Very very strange. Almost as if it’s more important for Americans to be shocked by what’s going on in Paris… or is it that the moderate left is staying out of the immigration question? In any case, the whole thing is weird. While I do agree the periph separates the 75s from the suburbs, I don’t think this physical separation is the main issue. Obviously, these are people who were feel marginalised for reasons other than their address.

    I agree, in part, with Jim. I think it’s becoming a series of competing youth gangs copycatting each other. Of course, this kind of thing has a tendency to touch off deeper issues. I think the ’68 revolts were started by a small student strike.

    Comment by nardac — November 6, 2005 @ 8:09 pm

  50. Right, well I think I’ll make Jim the official moderator of my comments, seeing as he has everyone’s attention.

    (insert feeble joke about letting a man into my box here)

    Comment by petite — November 6, 2005 @ 9:03 pm

  51. Right, you lot, pay attention, this is your moderator. As a consequence of this power, I’m looking forward to being corrupted. Absolutely, for preference. And that’s enough of your smut, Ms Anglaise.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — November 6, 2005 @ 9:18 pm

  52. Soudns like the U.S is making a load out of nothing AGAin (e.g mad cow, Afghanistan, Iraq, London…); seems that they want to make sure Americans don’t want to venture off U.S s oil to me!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — November 6, 2005 @ 10:18 pm

  53. The French riots have featured in the headlines of the Los Angeles Times for the past 3 days, according to my husband. Someone said to him that he’d heard there were 50 dead already…

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — November 6, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

  54. Lucy, I wouldn’t called all the riots going on “nothing” – this has been going on for 10 days now and has spread throughout France. 1295 cars were set on fire just last night across the country, and things look to be continue along the same lines tonight. Obviously there are some deep underlying problems that need to be addressed by the French gov here – however, unfortunately, things will probably just be swept under the rug again as soon as this all dies down.

    I personally think there has been plenty of coverage by the French media – it made up the majority of the news tonight on TF1, France 2 and 3. has also had extensive coverage since it all started. It’s only in the past few days that it has made the news in other parts of the world.

    I do agree with the copycat theory though – they interviewed a couple of teens bragging about how many cars they had lit on fire the night before and asked them why they were doing it. They replied it was because of the death of the youths in Clichy-sous-Bois, however when the reporter asked them their names or ages, they had no clue and were kind of stunned into silence.

    Comment by Samantha — November 6, 2005 @ 11:23 pm

  55. What a load of hooey. Nobody’s dead except those two boys..

    However, I wouldn’t say it’s a load of nothing either.

    ugh… I just hate the media. They’re like little drummer boys these days.

    Comment by nardac — November 7, 2005 @ 1:18 am

  56. I agree, it’s not ‘nothing’ – what I meant is that it gets blown out of proportion over the pond; I had a look at the U.S papers online and it was, to say the least, surprising…I do think though that the media tries to make us frightened and it’s important to keep things in perspective and a cool head ;)

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — November 7, 2005 @ 11:11 am

  57. I do think it terribly sad that people in the banlieu are setting fire to cars and schools.
    These cars belong to poor people like themselves- anyone with money (a) don’t venture into the banlieu; (b) has parking in garage/ underground, etc.

    The schools they are burning are where they themselves were educated, where there niece and nephews, sisters and brothers and soon to be sons and daughters are educated- not exactly helping their long-term prospects for improvement through education.

    Having lived in Paris, and felt perfectly safe walking around at midnight in the arrondissements, I have to say I would never venture beyond the periferique alone (other than to ikea/CDG).

    I do find the French police (and indeed hierarchy) incredibly racist. I have stood at a bus stop next to an african gentleman in full 3 piece suit and briefcase, who was hassled by 3 extremely tall and burly gendarmes for his papers, demanding to know where he was going, why he was hanging around (erm- dur- it was 8.15, he was at a bus stop for a bus heading into the city in a suit- where do you think he was going????)

    On a return journey from Paris, to UK by coach, our coach was boarded by the Douanes, and only 2 people on the coach were questioned- an Algerian on the back seat, and my partner (whose papa was middle eastern) “where are you going?, where have you been?, have you got any cigarettes? Have you got any alcohol? Why were you in France? etc.

    Politlicians like Sarkozy do not help improve racist attitudes in French society.

    Sorry about the length…. :(

    Comment by Joy — November 7, 2005 @ 3:00 pm

  58. I agree with all your points Joy. I feel a little naughty for not having written anything about the situation, but quickly get out of my depth where politics are concerned.

    Comment by petite — November 7, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

  59. After writing my post about “how” parents get along after a breakup, someone sent me this link to a new study about divorce. Thought I would pass it on. I guess the person was chastising me for implying that divorce doesn’t have consequences.

    Comment by Elle — November 7, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

  60. Well Elle, I’ve read it and it makes sobering reading. I am still hoping that the fact that Tadpole will not be able to remember a time when we were together will make the break less tangible for her, but the point about two different worlds with different sets of rules is still valid.

    Comment by petite — November 7, 2005 @ 4:46 pm

  61. When my husband and I first started seeing each other my daughter, from a previous marriage, would cry and sobbingly tell my husband that he was stealing all her kisses. Today all is well and she calls my husband Papa just like her two sisters and little brother.

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — November 7, 2005 @ 5:08 pm

  62. I never did mean to imply there weren’t any consequences…just meant that one could minimize the consequences to a certain extent. And yes, I also thought it was a sobering article.

    I agree with you that the 2 sets of rules would still apply. Again, I don’t mean to be a Pollyanna or anything, but I think the differences between the two households can be a positive. Tadpole gets to experience two cultures, two languages, 2 sets of doting grandparents, etc. She may end up having more quality time with each of her parents than if you and Mr. Frog had stayed together.

    My husband’s father was in the military. They moved every 12 to 18 months. Everyone told my in-laws how damaging this was to their children. But it turns out that it was a wonderful life, and the children turned out just fine.

    My mother-in-law said she would take out the map and talk about all the fun things they would do, people they would meet, etc. in the new place whenever they were getting ready to transfer. They lived all over the world, and because of that experience my husband is much more international in outlook. (A good thing in my book.)

    Comment by Elle — November 7, 2005 @ 9:14 pm

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