petite anglaise

February 27, 2006


Filed under: city of light, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:33 pm

We walk, leather glove in pink woolen mitten, up the rue de Belleville towards the Eglise St-Jean Baptiste. The narrow pavements are bustling with Saturday morning shoppers despite the biting chill in the air, and my stomach begins to growl as we pass first an appetising pâtisserie (whose boast is that they have twenty different flavours of macaron), then a tiny, pungently scented fromagerie, our noses alerted to its presence long before we reach it.

Tadpole is busy “blowing clouds” through her chapped lips.

I notice, quite by chance, that the SNCF boutique is unusually empty and seize this opportunity to renew Tadpole’s Enfant Plus travelcard. (A truly wonderful invention: thirteen hours of excruciating labour pain = a 50% discount on all train travel for me, plus a free seat for Tadpole). Soon to be expired travelcard is helpfully stowed in the pocket of my handbag, as a reminder, along with a set of passport photos which Mr Frog obligingly had taken last weekend.

We take our seat at the desk, and I adopt the saccharine tone I reserve for most French fonctionnaires, as it has just occurred to me that I do not have any form of Tadople ID about my person.

“Bonjour Madame, j’espère que vous allez pouvoir m’aider…”

I needn’t have worried, because Tadpole has already launched into a full charm offensive.

“Bonjour Madame,” she trills, smiling winsomely. “Je m’appelle [Tadpole Frog], et j’ai deux ans!”

I feel ever so slightly nervous about how much more information Tadpole intends to volunteer, as she can be somewhat random in what she chooses to share. The day that “mummy made some bubbles in the bath” being a case in point, which was recounted, with accompanying sound effects, to anyone who would listen.

Thankfully she stays on topic on this occasion, and starts telling the lady that it is her birthday tomorrow. (Tomorrow, in this instance, meaning June). We obtain the card, without incident, and I manage to persuade a reluctant Tadpole that it is time to leave. Not an easy feat, as she has taken off her mittens, obviously feeling quite at home, and is now enthusiastically exploring the possibilities of the swivelling chair.

When we finally get home, after lunching on couscous together, on a whim, in a local restaurant, I take out the travelcards and compare Tadpole’s photos. The difference takes my breath away. Casting my mind back to February 2005, I try to remember how many words she could say, or what she enjoyed doing back then, and cannot summon up an image of this smaller, rather hairless, toddler. There is something less definite about her facial features on the older picture, but it’s difficult to put my finger on exactly what has changed. Seeing her evolve a little every day, it is only when I am confronted with hard evidence that I realise just how far we have come.

Tadpole snatches the picture from my hand.

“Look, there’s baby [Tadpole]!”

“Yes, that’s a picture from when you were just one year old,” I explain.

“I a big girl now,” she replies, seriously. “I do all my wee wees in my potty. Just like mummy, but mummy does them in the big toilet!”

I am somewhat relieved that we didn’t have this particular conversation at the SNCF shop.


  1. LOLOL!!! This reminds me of an incident that happened to a friend of mine, whose three year-old daughter had just learned that boys and girls are indeed different in that special sort of way. My friend, (We’ll call him “John.”)his daughter, and another adult friend (Oh, let’s call him “Bob.”) went into a local bakery. John went to the counter to order, and Bob took John’s daughter and claimed a table for three. No sooner had Bob sat down, when John’s daughter, climbing on the seat and with great pride, announces to the throngs of pastry and doughnut stuffing patrons that “My daddy has a penis!”

    Of course, everyone turns to look at the little girl who has just passed her Anatomy 101 exam, and her embarrassed father….whom everyone thought was Bob.

    John, still at the counter waiting to order said nothing, but muttered to himself “Nope, don’t know them, don’t know them at all.”

    Moral of the story? Always travel with a friend that can take the place of you when Tadpole has these moments of total honesty.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — February 27, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  2. When I was about two or three years old my father gave an important business lunch at our house with a rather well known Dutch politician as guest of honor! I decided (according to my father of course) that I wanted to show my daddy what I had produced in the potty and ran into the diningroom holding the potty in front of me! Very proud of myself! At that moment I don’t think my father was very amused! Thankfully his guests thought it was quite funny!
    So prepare, now your tadpole embarasses you and one day it will turn around, and she will be embarassed by her parents…

    Comment by Bebaben — February 27, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  3. ooh let me count the ways that i have been embarrassed by my the time we walked into a mirrored shop and this very masculine women walked by, and my 4 year old exclaims..”mummy, that girl looks just like a guy..(and then) ouchhh your hurting my hands….”
    I love to hear your stories of tadpole, she sounds like she has the same spirit as you!
    good luck with the changes in your life! and good luck with life with “lover”

    Comment by kim Baker — February 27, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

  4. ha ha ha…

    last summer we took our daughter (three) to visit a friends new baby, this is the conversation we had in the car with his mother:

    child: “baby N is a boy, he’s got a zizi, but it’s teeny weeny because he’s a baby”
    mother: “yes that’s right”
    child: “yep, and my papa has got a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge zizi”

    zizi = child word for penis.

    unfortunately her dad wasn’t in the car to witness this moment of glory…

    Comment by croque madame — February 27, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  5. And there was I thinking my (one year old) daughter seems rather grown up. But still, it all sounds better than being embarrassed in a shop by inconsolable wailing (those baby days are still so raw).

    Comment by Paola — February 27, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  6. Hi, I love the tadpole interludes, very funny and most definitely a “charm offensive.”

    Comment by fjl — February 27, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

  7. And then there is my son, who at the tender age of 7, on a trip to Key West,Florida, has this conversation with the cashier at Fausto’s food store as I am approaching the checkout:

    Son: “Are you a guy or a girl, I can’t tell?”

    Cashier: “Well I used to be a guy, but I was really unhappy, so now I am turning into a girl.”

    Son: “You can do that?? Wow–when will you be done?”

    Cashier: “In about six months.”

    Son: “Cool, I’ll see you then.”

    It was an interesting day, to say the least.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — February 27, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

  8. Along the lines of the bakery incident…my daughter at age 3 in the local A&P, riding along in the cart merrily counting out other shoppers as follows: ‘Penis, Penis, No Penis, Penis, No Penis, No Penis’

    Comment by JoAnne — February 27, 2006 @ 7:28 pm

  9. When I was a girl with a baby (he’s grown up now) I went through every bit of this. I was in Aix En Provence, I’ll blog it soon. We were completely bilingual French/English ( still are!) If you ever need a shoulder to cry on … :0)

    Comment by fjl — February 27, 2006 @ 8:34 pm

  10. “cannot summon up an image of this smaller, rather hairless, toddler”

    I look at photos of Felix when he was one and I can barely believe it is the same person. Indeed, I often mistake him for his cousin. I don’t remember him looking like that! How can this be? I shared my whole life with this tiny person, with every little advance assuming huge importance, and yet I hardly recall a thing about it.

    Most disconcerting.

    Comment by Clare — February 27, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

  11. Oh my, looks like you soon can put together a toddler quote book. Sorry I have nothing to add to it.

    Comment by joeinvegas — February 27, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

  12. Of course, Tadpole is just a bit too young to express HER mortified embarrassment when her parent(s) misbehave from time to time …. but just wait a few years until she is in full voice!

    On a different note, & this might be relevant to others too, is there any way of making a ‘discreet’, well-deserved donation to your site costs other than a Paypal remit which would appear on credit card statements? Small & insignificant as the contribution might be, I just have this fear that if ‘she who surveys all and must be obeyed at all times’ was to spot any payment to ‘an exotic-sounding french bird’, all her deep and brooding suspicions about the time I spend surfing the web would be instantly justified…. I would be construed as being under the spell of an expatriat enticer and, doubtless, be about to flee the marital home to the fleshpots of gay Paree. You see, you young singletons do have some advantages to compensate for your stress-filled lives!
    Perhaps a collection box strapped to lampost in Rue Belleville, which sounds to be not too far from home just now…. later to be replaced by a jam jar next to the milk-churn at the end of the lane in Rennes? It would be well worth the trip just to tip in the odd few euros, assuming of course, it could be done quickly to escape detection and subsequent damnation.

    Comment by fella — February 27, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

  13. er, fella, calm down? I presume your credit card statement would say “A Small Orange” and the only thing your good lady friend would have to worry about would be your fruit fetish?

    Alternatively, can I suggest you purchase books/DVDs or expensive electronic equipment from Amazon using my referrer link in the reading section, which will entitle me to a small and utterly anonymous commission.

    Comment by petite — February 28, 2006 @ 10:15 am

  14. who’s stalking who now? you’re creeping into my home turf. ;p

    Comment by nardac — February 28, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

  15. Oh…dear….I’m gutted now. My Natasha and Tadpole are the same age and she STILL won’t make a deposit in the porcelain bank. I’ve tried and tried. Seems like the potty is only used as a step to get to the fruit on the kitchen island or to brush her teeth. I’m mortified….I just don’t know what to try. Do you take full credit for the potty training or does the childminder have some part in it all? If so, please share tips/advice. She just seems to be so resistant to it all and holds it in! :(

    She knows what is expected and pretends with her teddies and dollies etc. She just won’t make the transition….SIGH!

    Oh here’s a little tidbit I found about lift/elevator dreams:

    Dreaming that you are ascending in an elevator means that you will quickly rise to status and wealth. You may have risen to a higher level of consciousness and are looking at the world from an elevated viewpoint. Descending in an elevator indicates that misfortunes will crush and discourage you. The up and down action of the elevator may represent the ups and downs of your life go emerging out of and submerging into your subconscious. Dreaming that the elevator is out of order or that it is not letting you off, symbolizes that your emotions have gotten out of control.


    Comment by Kiora — March 4, 2006 @ 2:36 am

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