petite anglaise

April 12, 2006


Filed under: parting ways, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:56 pm

Mr Frog and I sit in comfortable silence, devouring our Chinese takeaway. Tadpole lies sleeping in the next room. Finding myself at a loose end on my night off, I slipped across the road for a chat. Inevitably, he and I start comparing Tadpole anecdotes, as we are wont to do. We generally end up trying to outdo one another’s stories, which brings my naturally competitive streak out to play.

For my opening shot, I describe the picture Tadpole drew of a tortoise that morning on her magic drawing board. “It was fantastic – totally lifelike, with a patterned shell. Even if it did have six or seven legs…” I wish I had omitted the last part, but it’s too late now. Mr Frog silently reaches for his new camera, a victorious smile playing about his lips, and proceeds to show me a photo of Tadpole’s perfect rendition of Brian the snail from the Magic Roundabout, complete with antennae poking through hat at the required jaunty angle.

Mr Frog: un point
petite: nul points

I skip the yellow teeth anecdote, which still smarts a little, and instead recount how Tadpole reacted to the sight of blossom drifting down from the trees which line the park on Monday morning: “Mummy,” she cried, “it looks just like confetti!”

“Oh that, yes, she said it in French this morning too,” Mr Frog replies, “on dirait des confettis…” Then, with a faux casual air: “Did I tell you that my mum taught her how to recite the whole alphabet last week?”

I wince, knowing that there is no way I can top that one without inventing something. And even I wouldn’t stoop so low as to fabricate a Tadpole anecdote.

Mr Frog: deux points
petite: nul points

I opt for a change of tack. “It’s such a shame you couldn’t make it for lunch in Belleville on Sunday,” I lament, “she got sooo excited watching a Chinese boy – he must have been about her age – eating with chopsticks. She fiddled around with hers for ages – they were massive, and the slippery kind that even I have trouble with – and I couldn’t believe it when she actually managed to pick up some chicken holding them in one hand. Half the restaurant applauded…”

The only innocent little embellishment in that sentence was the applause. Honestly. I mean, I clapped, but I’m not sure whether anyone else actually noticed.

“Yeah, I was really sorry to miss that. The photo you sent me on my mobile was really cute,” he replies, bashfully, “…but I really was far too hanged over when you texted me on Sunday…”

Tadpole competition forgotten, I quiz Mr Frog about where he goes on these long nights out of his, and with whom. In the process of easing myself back into the Paris social scene after a prolonged absence, I am curious as to which bars and clubs he frequents with his friends. I felt so out of touch the other day when I realised that the Pariscope magazine no longer has a miniature “Time Out” section inside (and probably hasn’t for several years). My confidence as a seasoned Parisienne was severely dented and hasn’t yet recovered.

Mr Frog namedrops several places I have never heard of, and I grow wistful. Just in time, I manage to prevent myself from asking whether I couldn’t tag along one evening. We are so at ease in one another’s company, that sometimes I forget that it might actually be weird to witness the father of my child flirting and chatting up girls.

And even if he didn’t mind, imagine how it could cramp his style.

“Yeah, I have a two year old daughter. Her mum and I are separated. Actually, that’s my ex over there, chatting up the dark-haired guy…”


  1. If it makes you feel any better, it can’t have been long since the mini-Time Out was in Pariscope. I still thought it was there.

    Comment by Kerry — April 12, 2006 @ 9:04 pm

  2. Hello again. I’ve just come back from an evening with my ex- and our nine year-old daughter. We’ve been split up for three years now, but still do family holidays, Christmas and one evening meal a week together. I take my daughter to school every day, and although so much contact does has its problems, sometimes, they are worth it for our child, who sees her parents together frequently. Both of us are in other relationships (not co-habiting ones though) so all between us is relatively well and even-tempered.

    But, like you, I never know how to refer to my ex- in public. Sometimes we see the occasional concert together (her bloke doesn’t live near, mine doesn’t like the same music) and then without our daughter to define us, what exactly are we ? Hopefully good friends is the answer to that one, but it does take time.

    One thing though, I would think about the “slipping over the road” concept. Boundaries do need defining – I live 6 miles away from th ex-, which gives us both space. After all, if Mr Frog “slipped over” would you be happy ? Just a thought and forgive the un-asked for opinion…

    Comment by xtrapnel — April 12, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  3. It was more pre-arranged than I implied, actually. We don’t drop in on one another unannounced. God forbid.

    Comment by petite — April 12, 2006 @ 10:05 pm

  4. Dropping in unannounced can lead to very red-faced situations…

    Comment by Gruntled — April 13, 2006 @ 4:04 am

  5. I’m so glad you have the opportunity to have such a nice relationship, take it as a pure gift, it does not happen that easily! My ex, would never ever be able to be able to make nice chit chat, let alone genuine conversation..I had hoped for that, but alas, not a chance in hell was his sentiments!
    I’m happy for you and tadpole, it is the best for her! :)
    I love your posts, you have such a way with writing, why can’t you just write a book, it would be a bestseller for sure!!!

    Comment by kim — April 13, 2006 @ 6:11 am

  6. Any chance that you’ll be back with Mr Frog again ? That would be a very happy ending for all of us….and for Tadpole of course !!!

    Comment by Carole — April 13, 2006 @ 7:39 am

  7. The Time Out section has been gone at least a couple of years. I have never seen any explanation. I really liked that part of the mag. Now us poor expats have been forgotten…. TG for Fusac.

    It is great to have such a good relationship with Mr Frog. I can’t imagine keeping in touch with my exes. They/I would drive me/them crazy, just like the old times…

    Comment by Cheria — April 13, 2006 @ 8:43 am

  8. What a lovely story…!

    I must admit i am thinking along the lines of Carole -although we only know part of the story….but perhaps you need to be apart to return closer toghether again!

    Yes, am quite the romantic at heart….but would it be a lovely ending indeed!

    Comment by anne — April 13, 2006 @ 9:19 am

  9. No No NO! We get on well now precisely because we are not in a relationship. All those things that made us fight are no longer an issue, as friends.

    Comment by petite — April 13, 2006 @ 10:21 am

  10. Ah yes, those were the days. I can just about remember scouring Pariscope for films, shows, restaurants etc.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — April 13, 2006 @ 11:10 am

  11. Help me out here people.

    You have a relationship with someone.
    You like them.
    You get on with them.
    You have things in common and have fun together.

    Then, for whatever reason, the relationship comes to an end.
    But the things that held you together, sometimes for a lengthy period, remain.
    Okay, there’s an initial period of hurt, rejection, whatever; but once that’s passed, why wouldn’t you be able to be friends?

    Comment by Miss Nomer — April 13, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

  12. Hmmm, Miss Nomer, I’m always deeply suspicious of people who are “friends” with their exes WHEN they don’t have to be i.e. when there are no kids involved. I always suspect them of being afraid to finish things. but maybe that’s just me. Cut your losses and move on, I say. Firm but fair. Re: Paris listings for anglophones, try

    Comment by rhino75 — April 13, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

  13. ah yes, I’ve seen the magazine, they have the most hilarious comedy horoscopes…

    Comment by petite — April 13, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  14. Hmmm. And I note that that expression “having fun together” has popped up again on this site.

    Comment by Trevor — April 13, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  15. Rhino, that’s just you. Some people can be friends (children or no children) and some can’t (children or no children). I have a very cordial relationship with one of my most significant exes and his new wife that extends to my visiting for a couple of days now and then. We DID finish things in one area and began afresh in another. There are no rules — save the ones about behaving like civilized adults, which is what Petite and Frog are doing.

    Comment by Passante — April 13, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

  16. BARMY!

    Comment by Trevor — April 13, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

  17. I’m not allowed to get in touch with my (married) ex, his new wife, even when she was his girlfriend, disallowed any kind of contact with other women! “She’d go ballistic if she knew I was even writing you an email” was the one thing I remember most clearly. Strange choice of woman.
    Petite, you’re very lucky to have an ex and a good friend in one, who sounds like a great father too. Keep him like that, it doesn’t happen often. I hope you find it easy to be as reasonable as he was, when he has a new lady in his life.

    Comment by Paris Lights — April 13, 2006 @ 7:58 pm

  18. THAT’S more like it, Paris Lights. Not only was he stupid enough to leave you but then he went and married a psycho – MY KIND OF EX :) Trop fort!

    Comment by rhino75 — April 13, 2006 @ 8:16 pm

  19. I regularly listen to the Women’s Hour on Radio 4. Never to they refer to people as ‘having fun together”. They talk about “one having sexual intertocourse with one’s partner”. They’re very open and ad-lib. It’s a very good show and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in matters related to wimmmin.

    Comment by Trevor — April 13, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

  20. What kind of people “compete” over ‘anecdotes’ about their child ??? For god sake put the child before individual egos.

    Comment by Dr Analyst — April 13, 2006 @ 10:17 pm

  21. er, sense of humour failure?

    Comment by petite — April 13, 2006 @ 10:32 pm

  22. To have a sense of humour failure, one has to have had one in the first place, n’est-ce pas?

    Comment by J — April 14, 2006 @ 7:14 am

  23. Yes indeed, I say keep competing and give us all good laughs! I have adored the anecdotes you’ve provoked in your comments box here Petite.
    Dr Analyst, I challenge you to give us a funny child anecdote yourself without competition of any kind.
    If children can’t make us laugh we’ve no chance.

    Comment by Paris Lights — April 15, 2006 @ 12:35 am

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