petite anglaise

April 16, 2006

role-playing

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — bipolarinparis @ 10:31 pm

I am having another identity crisis. My tenth of the day so far. At various junctures I have been required to pretend to be Big Ears, Sly the Goblin, a Gruffalo, Mrs Goggins, Tinky Winky and Sleeping Beauty.

“No!” says Tadpole, firmly, “You’re Boots and I’m Dora l’exploratrice.”

“Okaay,” I reply, “well, if I’m Boots now, and not a fairy princess, maybe I should take off my tiara?”

We have been wearing our matching hers and hers plastic tiaras for quite some time. Mine is actually quite a useful device for keeping my hair out of my face whilst doing jigsaws.

“Yes, put this on now,” Tadpole concurs, handing me more suitable headgear.

We practice our high fives, apparently something which Dora and Boots do in every episode, and I try to muster up some enthusiasm and join in with her cries of “we did it! C’est gagné!” Only the initiated will understand the power of that godforsaken cartoon and its ability to brainwash our children. Quite frankly, it scares me.

Tadpole’s attention thankfully turns to her box of books, and I slink quietly off to the kitchen to do some washing up. It’s funny how attractive housework can become when the alternative is play doh. Or fuzzy felts.

There is a drriiiing at the doorbell. I grab my purse and peep through the spyhole. It is the pizza delivery boy bearing our nutritious dinner. And I note, to my satisfaction, that they have sent the tastiest one. Handsome, but a little on the young side.

Under the circumstances, I am very impressed with pizza delivery boy’s stoic professionalism. Attempting to seem unfazed, despite my extreme discomfiture when I catch sight of myself in the hallway mirror, I hand him an extra large tip to buy his silence.

April 13, 2006

en veille

Filed under: navel gazing — bipolarinparis @ 8:29 pm

Every day I don my mask and go about my business. On good days, the happiness is not merely skin deep, it wells up from the very core of my being. I smile with my lips, my eyes and my heart.

On bad days the cheerfulness is forced and brittle, a thin veneer so easily shattered, my smile almost indistinguishable from a grimace.

On in between days I flit between the two states, one second positive and confident; the next casting around for something, anything, to break my fall.

People tell me I’m supposed to be revelling in this single state. Making the most of the time I have alone to form deeper friendships, give more of myself to my daughter, to learn how to be simply me. Undiluted, uncompromised, no longer bending to the will of a partner.

There are days when all this rings true and the world seems such an intoxicating place. When uplifting music on my iPod will make me smile in the métro at no-one in particular; when I want to hug myself with childish glee. Ahead of me lie inviting blank pages just begging to be covered with lurid, bold strokes.

There are days when everything feels utterly pointless if there is no special someone to share things with. Someone who hangs on my words. Someone who holds me tightly and buries his face in my hair. Someone who cares deeply about what is going on inside this head of mine. Someone to whom I can entrust my soul for safe keeping.

The mad social whirl, the party clothes and negligent new underwear are just pathetic ruses. I use artifice to try to trick myself into forgetting what is really lacking. I feed on superficial pleasures to fill the void.

I may be fooling everyone else.

“Switch me onto standby mode,
Until someone presses play”

Happy Violentine – Miss Kittin

April 12, 2006

one-upmanship

Filed under: parting ways, Tadpole rearing — bipolarinparis @ 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…”

April 11, 2006

flattery

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — bipolarinparis @ 12:22 pm

I hear the creak of a door, followed by a pattering of bare feet on the floorboards. Pulling the bedclothes up to my chin, I snap my eyes hastily closed, as per the usual morning ritual, to preserve Tadpole’s illusion that she is responsible for waking me.

A hand softly grazes my cheek, and I prepare myself for the habitual “WAKEYWAKEYMUMMY!”, the volume of which never ceases to amaze me. Such a loud voice from such a small pair of lungs surely goes against all the laws of physics.

Today however the ritual appears to have changed. Instead tiny fingers are exploring my face. My mouth twitches, involuntarily, but I keep my eyes firmly closed, hoping to prolong the moment for as long as I possibly can.

A finger traces the curve of my eyebrow.

“Mummy got lovely eyebrows,” a Tadpole voice mutters, softly.

There is a feather light touch on my lower lip.

“Mummy got beautiful lips,” she whispers.

I bask in the glow of her unconditional love. Even if I know she is only repeating things I say to her on a regular basis, because I simply can’t help myself and refer to her as my beautiful princess at least ten times a day, her flattery is still music to my ears.

My mouth is slightly ajar, and a digit ventures inside to probe my front teeth. I deliberate about whether to make Tadpole jump by gnawing on her finger, pretending to bite.

“Mummy have very pretty yellow teeth,” she continues.

“YELLOW?” I splutter, the spell irrevocably broken, all pretence of sleep brusquely abandoned. “NO! Mummy’s teeth are white!”

Tadpole is unconvinced. “Nooo. Not white, they yellow,” she maintains, stubbornly, “just like your hair.”

I resolve to give up tea and coffee and invest in some heavy duty whitening strips. The truth hurts. Especially, it seems, from the mouths of babes.

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