petite anglaise

September 5, 2006

back to school

Filed under: misc, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:27 pm

Monday 4 September was the very first time that the words la rentrée were charged with special significance for me. My daughter has talked of nothing else since Spring, when she first visited her future école maternelle. Aged 3, like all little French children, Tadpole has already started school.

Of course at that age, it’s not about discipline and copying things off the blackboard. It’s more like a playgroup, with different activities going on within the classroom: a reading corner, a (toy) kitchen corner, the teacher doing some sort of drawing or counting with a small group, her assistant keeping watch over the other fifteen or so children who are more or less left to their own devices. But there will be communal eating in the canteen to adjust to, and in a room adjoining the classroom there are toddler-sized bunk beds where the children will have their nap in the afternoon. It’s beyond the reach of my imagination to visualise twenty toddlers going to sleep at once in the same room. Twenty toddlers who are only just out of nappies, and, well, accidents will happen. Rather la maîtresse than me.

Monday morning, Mr Frog rings the doorbell five minutes earlier than expected. Like me, he has been pacing his apartment, feeling rather emotional at the prospect of our Tadpole reaching this important milestone. We take a look at one another’s tense faces and laugh nervously. Tadpole, on the other hand, is impatience personified, scrambling into her coat and shouting “come on mummy, we got to go now…”

As we walk down the hill, Mr Frog and I exchange worst case scenarios.

“You know that thing she does where she she takes a crotte de nez* and holds her finger out, with the crotte on the end of it, and expects us to take it off her?” Mr Frog says.

“Oh my god, yes. I really hope she doesn’t do that to the teacher,” I reply. Trying not to sound like I’m accusing him of teaching her this charming behaviour, I add an innocent “where on earth can she have learnt that anyway? She looks oddly proud of herself…”

We both fervently hope that there will be no toilet incidents. I have a shoebox tucked under my arm with a change of clothes, all dutifully named, au cas où, but still, I’d rather they remained there unsolicited, all term.

Tadpole barely makes eye contact as we wave goodbye and turn to leave her classroom. She is already pottering in the toy kitchen with a really cute Asian girl whose name I can’t pronounce. I look at the other wailing, distraught children clinging to their parents and feel ever so slightly smug at how easy Tadpole is making this for us.

Of course I should have known I wouldn’t get off that lightly.

Because when I come to fetch her, both on Monday, and today, it is upon seeing me that the waterworks and histrionics begin. The long, high pitched scream of doom. The stamped foot. The “No No NO mummy I want to stay at school!” The source of her disappointment is simple: canteen and napping start next week; this week, school is just a collection of three hour morning sessions. Not long enough for my daughter. Adaptation is for pussies, in her opinion.

I put on my best poker face, striving not to look perturbed by her performance, when in fact I’m petrified that every other parent (currently being joyfully reunited with offspring who leap into their arms for bear hugs) is thinking “how awful must things be at home for a child to want to stay at school.”

And to top it off, today I found my daughter in the classroom doorway, arm outstreched, a crotte bejewelled index finger slowly but surely travelling in the direction of her teacher. I pounced with my tissue before anyone was the wiser but clearly, it’s only a matter of time.

So when Tadpole asked me this evening, as she does at least fifty times a day at the moment, “which of the Mr Men are you, mummy?” I answered, without hesitation: “Mr Worry”.

At least I got a picture out of it.

*crotte = a versatile noun which can be used to describe any undesirable bodily by-product, whether it originates from the nose, the bottom, or the corner of one’s eye. In this case, I hasten to add, from the nose.


  1. what a lovely picture! i have a 4 year old daughter and sending them off to school is so exciting. thet are growing up AND you get some me time!

    Comment by melani — September 5, 2006 @ 9:32 pm

  2. zut, flute et crotte de nez ! one ofmy favorite french expressions

    Comment by ann — September 5, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

  3. I cried every morning of the first week that I had to drop my firstborn off at pre-school! I used to feel like you when my kids howled that they didn’t want to leave school. I now find it very reassuring when they tell me they’re not ready to leave in the afternoons – it must mean they like it.

    Is that one of Tadpole’s drawings? If so, she truly is talented. My little one (3 years 7 months) can’t draw anything remotely that recognisable!

    Comment by LivingAbroad — September 5, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  4. Oh petite, I know what you mean! My son was the same, he loved his school and never wanted to leave! I have to say he is 20 now and turned out just fine! You have to be proud to have raised such an independent young lady. This is a good thing I am sure!

    Comment by Jules — September 5, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  5. “…I found my daughter in the classroom doorway, arm outstretched, a crotte bejeweled index finger slowly but surely traveling in the direction of her teacher.”

    The mental imagery actually made me laugh out loud. I think the rest of my office thinks I’m insane. A welcome break from the work-day indeed. Thanks Petite!

    Comment by Adam — September 5, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  6. It’s Tadpole’s rendition of Mr Worry, drawn while watching an episode of the Mr Men in her bedroom. I’m told he’s scratching his head.

    Comment by petite — September 5, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  7. hehe, aww, how sweet.

    if its any consolation, i loved shcool when i was little too and couldnt wait for the parents to drop me off – and this wasnt a reflection of what life was like outside school, more it was a different environment and one which i was keen to explore[if anyones raising theire eyebrows at this point i can reassure you im ‘normal’].

    Comment by E.A.L — September 5, 2006 @ 9:55 pm

  8. As a child I always enjoyed “la rentrée”, and it was never for lack of being treated well at home.

    Comment by Lost in France — September 5, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

  9. Oh, Petite/Catherine! I’m with you. My DS just started preschool TODAY–only 2 mornings a week, but it’s one of those teary milestones. I must say, DS managed much better than I. When I picked him up at noon, he fussed (mightily) about it, too. In less than 3 seconds I went from jubilation to mortification/irritation.

    My husband and I are currently taking bets on what will be the first ‘Incident’. With boys, you just NEVER know…

    I like Tadpoles picture, she does an excellent job for a 3 year old. Heck, for a 5 year old. I was gifted with a lethal looking apple bearing marshmellow-covered-toothpick arms and legs with red icing dot eyes and smile. Quite Scary, but sweet.

    P.S. Thanks for the email–I know you weren’t ‘American Bashing’. I was actually teasing you. Tongue-in-cheek only works with people one actually KNOWS. :D

    Take care,

    Comment by Laura in Virginia, USA — September 5, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

  10. Kia Ora,

    My 13 month old son sometimes wails when I pick him up from his caregiver at lunchtime. Oh the lure of a mini kitchen and someone who plays the guitar. The first time it happened I was ready to quit my job. Five minutes later I realised that I love working mornings and I love my job and – be careful what you wish for – I love that my son enjoys where he is for the morning.

    So glad I stumbled onto your site – especially as my friend has stopped his bizgirl blog


    Comment by Rochelle — September 5, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  11. …or he has a very large left ear.

    Comment by Adam — September 5, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  12. Awww.

    I remember the first time I walked into my son’s nursery at naptime. This was when he was only two. Twenty two-year-olds, all asleep on mats on the floor! Not even confined in any way! I couldn’t believe how they managed to get them to sleep all at the same time. And when they were even younger – approx 18 months – they got them all sitting at a (tiny) table every mealtime, not even strapped in. And they stayed put! They didn’t wander off! Amazing. (and no, they weren’t using some kind of draconian authority – it was all very calm and pleasant).

    Kids in Manchester get to start school at 3 and a half, so Felix has been at the primary school next door since he was three, too. He loves it. And has been known to do the “No, I want to stay here!” thing.

    He started back at school today. He was knackered tonight.

    OK, I’m rambling now.

    P.S. Awwww.

    Comment by Clare — September 5, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  13. I’m glad to hear Tadpole is an advanced drawer for her age (I mean, person who can draw, not compartment in piece of furniture). Whenever you post her pics they always make me feel insecure, they’re soooo way beyond anything my son – who is at least a year older – can manage.

    But he’s an incredible communicator. He just can’t draw.

    [oh god, shoot me before Competitive Mother takes me over entirely]

    Comment by Clare — September 5, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

  14. Yeah, I get that feeling. Imagine if you ever get like me and end up leaving three at the start of every year.

    My smallest one couldn’t be bothered with naps — the very first day of Kindergarten he took an accomplice and slipped undetected out of the classroom and onto the playground. They found them outside, completely unsupervised and simply ecstatic.

    I followed in your footsteps recently, Petite: I left blogspot and discovered wordpress. ;)

    Comment by Gimp's World — September 5, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

  15. i listened to bbc4 today it was to short

    Comment by p — September 5, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

  16. Dear Petite,

    As this is a time for new beginning, and I’ve become a regular reader of your blog, which I’ve also featured on my own blog, I thought this was a good time to invite you and your friends to the first ever global blog party!

    At least this is my first blog party. And maybe it’ll be your first, too.

    WHEN: Sunday, September 10, 11 AM EST, 4 PM London, 5 PM Paris
    WHY: Big surprise, theme is “Making the impossible, possible.”
    DRESS: Pyjama is fine.
    FOOD: You buy and eat while you read.

    Check out who is coming so far on my blog AND what they are saying. We’ve got people from ages 17-70 attending, from L.A. to London and Stockholm. Would love to add Paris!

    Mon francais ne pas tres bien, malereusment, or somthing like that.

    See you!

    Comment by Peter — September 6, 2006 @ 12:17 am

  17. hehe, you know you’re popular when you’re bullied into providing a glossary

    Comment by Hugo Carr — September 6, 2006 @ 12:24 am

  18. P – if you want long, look no further.

    Comment by petite — September 6, 2006 @ 12:26 am

  19. Petite, dedicated soundtrack: “Here, there and everywhere” – Rita Lee.
    If U can’t find it just ask.
    Maybe last “soundtrack intervention” as, as addicting your blog is, and it is, I do not belong here…


    PS: Susannah, if eager to get into neil diamond, get “hot august night 1” live concert.

    Comment by Aymardo — September 6, 2006 @ 12:48 am

  20. :o) reminds me of my kids going to school for the first time. The boys (I have 2), coming home looking like they had rolled in something, and the girls (I have 2) looking mature beyond their years….

    I sit in front of my work computor with a smile at the memories.. ta.

    Comment by simon — September 6, 2006 @ 1:06 am

  21. I still remember my kindergarten class where we napped on brightly-colored mats AND had a big (it seemed then) wooden slide right in the classroom–to be used on special occasions, of course.

    Hey, I wish I could catch a nap at work at around 4:30pm. Would be nice…..

    Comment by jersey girl (that's New Jersey, USA) — September 6, 2006 @ 2:10 am

  22. Thanks for this beautiful story. I would like to have a child to live those kind of moment.

    PS : but perhaps there’s some drawbacks eventually…

    Comment by NBC — September 6, 2006 @ 2:45 am

  23. Petite,

    Children generally handle transitions better than the parents. My son is in his fourth week of starting middle school. Hubby & I are still stressed and freaking out about a host of issues. The transition has been trying and difficult for us.

    Tadpole will be fine. She’s adjusting well. The teacher will learn about each student and will handle it. At this age, I am sure that the teachers are used to a variety of issues.

    Comment by Diane — September 6, 2006 @ 5:02 am

  24. What a useful French phrase! I love a blog that has my laughing my ass off while I can learn more French at the same time. This kid is a riot… just like her mum!

    Comment by The Bold Soul — September 6, 2006 @ 7:06 am

  25. [Note to self: proofread before posting] That should have been “a blog that has ME laughing my ass off…”.

    Also, my sister’s kids were the same way: totally independent, never cried at all when their parents left them at school or went out for the evening or even for an entire weekend (I often got babysitting duty and loved every moment). They were just perfectly secure tots who didn’t seem to worry about anything. Now they’re 19 and 14 and just as secure. So it’s a good thing Tadpole is starting out so well, so young!

    Comment by The Bold Soul — September 6, 2006 @ 7:10 am

  26. God bless your confident little Tadpole! She’s so brave, marching off to school like that.

    Thanks BTW for the new French word “crotte de nez” which I hope I get to use before I forget.

    (you were on the radio yesterday – uk – !)

    Comment by Peggy — September 6, 2006 @ 7:21 am

  27. Hi,
    learning never is about copying things off the blackboard, and only in parts about discipline. School is, but learning not. Your doughter will never learn again that effective as now.

    Comment by Siegfried — September 6, 2006 @ 8:18 am

  28. Tadpole’s drawings are awesome, I knew it was a Mr Man as soon as I saw it.

    You think it’s bad she wanted to stay in school and not come home? When I was a child one of my brothers had to go to hospital and when it was time to take him home he yelled and screamed that he didn’t want to go! My poor mother was mortified. I guess sick or not, the lure of a huge room full of other children and lots of toys was too much for him.

    Comment by Clare W — September 6, 2006 @ 8:36 am

  29. Oh Petite – been there, seen it, done it and got the T-shirt twice over (once in UK and then in France). Watching them toddle off with their peluche dragging on the ground behind them, with no fear at all. Then there is the transfer from Grande Section to CP when life (and devoir) starts, and then from CM2 to 6eme (which DD did on Monday). I spent Monday worried sick, DD spent Monday enjoying herself.


    Comment by Clare in France — September 6, 2006 @ 9:11 am

  30. Petite,

    My small blondie boy (4 last week) starts school tomorrow in Reception in the UK. The present Mr Jayne and I have spent the last month trying to break him of the habit of appearing from the bathroom, naked bottom thrust upwards, shouting ‘Is my bottom clean?’. We have visions of him doing the same thing at school to his teacher.

    His current favourite expletive is Poo-head or PooPoo-head in cases of extreme annoyance (Thanks to A Bug’s Life – parents beware of the swearing, teutonic caterpillar). No threats, cajoles or bribes seem to be working to combat this and we anticipate many trips to the headteacher’s office and notes home. Tadpole seems an angel in comparison.

    Comment by Jayne — September 6, 2006 @ 10:03 am

  31. Why is la rentrée such a big thing in France?
    For tadpole and other little frogies going to frogy school, fine – but for big and grown ones, I still don’t understand….
    I often wonder if france only works during one specific time of the year: la rentrée

    but don’t worry, I’m sure tadpole will soon realise that staying with mumy is actually tonnes nicer than school : )

    Comment by Annelolotte — September 6, 2006 @ 10:29 am

  32. It’s good she took to it like a duck to water. She’s a lively girl, mine did exactly this. This one brought back a flood of memories. Blending in and the whole adaptation business is important where you are. I think you’ve done better than you know; the important thing is she doesn’t feel betrayed, or stranded. Don’t forget that you-and-her bubble is broken now, and won’t be back. Pastures new. Be very careful about the transition part, the handing over, and the rest will go okay.

    Comment by fjl — September 6, 2006 @ 10:44 am

  33. So Petite’s petite is now 3 years old, exposes proudly her creations, has just started maternelle, and was singing yesterday on BBC 4 (“… moi je dis que les bonbons…”). Isn’t the World tiny and sweet sometimes? Sometimes.

    Comment by 4 roses — September 6, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  34. Petite, you must be so proud. My heart broke when my youngest started school but it was a very proud moment.

    Comment by Jacqui — September 6, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  35. My mother has cheerfully reminded me, all of my adult life, that when I was first taken to nursery school, I was the only one who bounded off into the classroom without a backward glance and howled in despair when they came to collect me. So I think it’s fair to say that it’s pretty common.

    You’ve obviously raised a wonderfully confident daughter. Go you (and Tadpole)!

    Comment by morgalou — September 6, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  36. A lovely story. I wonder if, in general, girls are independent sooner than boys. My daughter (Catherine) was very much like Tadpole – not a backward glance at mummy on the first day – but my son was much more reluctant. He started at the school where I taught the seven year olds. His teacher brought him over to my classroom several times during the first weeks ‘to reassure him’ or else sent a message for me to go over to her class if he was tearful. Not a good idea really but I think she was desperate at times!!
    One day when I went into her room ‘officially’ she said to her class, ‘Today is Mrs —‘s birthday. She’s twenty-one.’
    ‘No she isn’t’ piped up my son, ‘She’s thirty four!’

    Comment by Sablonneuse — September 6, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

  37. It sounds like a lovely preschool (or what we would call a preschool) and she sounds happy and well-adjusted. Don’t feel badly that she cries when you come to pick her up. Those other parents are just jealous. I remember those days so fondly. All of the off to school benchmarks, including taking them off to college, are so sweet, happy and sad at the same time. Excellent post, dear.

    Comment by Sophmom — September 6, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

  38. Just listened to your interview while working.

    I am so glad you did it- it was a real insight into who you are.

    Tadpole has started school! Time flies! I remember my first day at school. Seems like yesterday.


    Comment by David In London — September 6, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

  39. I think you’re doing an excellent job Petite. Although I can’t speak from experience, I think that the fact that she’s so confident when she goes out into the world says it all.

    Comment by Sam — September 6, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

  40. My son, now 8 11/12ths (his precision) had to be physically prised off me, kicking, screaming, and to my shame occasionally trying to bite the poor (and very nice) teacher who was trying to get him into class. Now if it was just the first day it wouldn’t have been quite so bad, but this was for the first two weeks of every term, three in September! The first time he didn’t cry was at big schhol – CP age 6 – mind you I had told him that all his new friends would laugh and call him a baby, and that he was allowed a quick hug but ANY histrionics would resukt in my not coming to fetch him. Sometimes, just sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, and YES I did hate myself for doing it. However, he got masses and masses of treats after school for having been such a brave boy. It wasn’t separation anxiety – babysitters and sleepovers no problem whatsoever. Some kids just seem to be allergic to school. He still hates it, despite regularly being top of the class – something I’m sure Petite will post on in future years. One teacher actually reads out everyones marks and sends the poor kid with the lowest mark to the front desk to do it again. Her given reason for such sadism is that she doesn’t want any child to fail her year. But I thank my lucky stars every day that my kids are fairly bright. I would hate to be the mum of the poor little sod who is kept in most breaktimes to repeat work. Not to mention a life-long hatred of any learning (She teaches CE1).
    As for the question about la rentree, going to school in France requires parents buying all the material, and it has to be right, often from specialised shops, and often only available between 15th and 28th August. Last year we had to buy 4 different sorts of cahier de texte before finally hitting on the one teacher wanted! Paperwork is required in triplicate. And any out of school clubs have to be joined on one specific day, also with paperwork in triplicate, the only getout being to have demonstrably moved into the area during the school year. When I went to primary school, many aeons ago, the only kit required was a satchel, a gymslip and a clean hankie.
    Sorry for the ‘meme’?, just brought back so many bittersweet memories.

    Comment by j — September 6, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  41. Excellent! For my first rentrée my mother let my 2 eldest sisters taking me to school.
    I cried as if I would never see them again. They felt miserable and left 3 pages on the Minitel explaining WHY they would never do that again, and how brave our mother is…4 children means X4 tears and that’s tough! I’m 24 now but at every single rentrée my family tells me the story all over again :) It traumatised everyone!

    Just to explain why mother let them go to school with me: she missed the rentrée of the third one, it was the 6ème and they arrived 3 hours late! She had to make up for that the next year. :)

    Comment by Vanessa — September 6, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

  42. Ah, how wonderful. I smiled all the way through, especially about the “No No NO mummy I want to stay at school!” and the outstretched index finger. Ah, but cherish those memories. smile. dawn

    Comment by dawn — September 6, 2006 @ 7:20 pm

  43. Tadpole is trying to reassure you, Worrymum. She’s just taking care of you, because you are very important to her well-being.

    It’ll all change, once she knows you’re coping ok ….

    That’s what mummy’s do.


    Comment by Andrew — September 6, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

  44. I have always wondered how to say booger in french! Thank you! I can’t wait to find a french person to horrify with my new word. You know, crotte de nez kind of sounds to me like “nose crust” which would be a good definition. There must be a correlation between the words crotte and crust, but the french have had enough sense to not use the same word for pie crust as bodily crust, right? You couldn’t say crotte de tarte could you? It’s pate. Sorry, I know this is disgusting, but I’m American. Forgive me.

    Comment by Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds — September 6, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

  45. Oh, it sounds like Tadpole is going to be quite a handful once she becomes a teenager. Do you think you might still be blogging then?

    Comment by ellie — September 6, 2006 @ 9:17 pm

  46. Hmph. I never got to have an afternoon nap when I went to playgroup. We had “colour” days,though,when we each had to bring in something of a certain colour. I remember spending the whole of yellow day just sitting beside the table of blinding yellow items because I was scared that one of those mean boys might touch my rubber ducky.

    Tadpole does appear to be a very good artist (her picture brings to mind the complete collection of Mr Men books that currently reside in my cellar, from my own childhood.) I remember being about 3 years older than her and drawing a picture of my mum on my first day of non playgroup school, but because the onlycolour i could reach was navy it basically looked like a mutated blueberry. I forget why it was so important to me that the skin was coloured in. Anyway, great post today, very well written.

    Comment by Whisper — September 6, 2006 @ 11:00 pm

  47. I am with you, Petite! My son started preschool yesterday, and was extremely pissed when I showed up at the door to pick him up. How dare I interrupt his coloring. He continued to ignore me until his teacher practically shoved him at me. What is so undesirable about us moms?

    Comment by Neila — September 6, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

  48. We have all this to come… I can’t help wondering what on earth we’re letting ourselves in for (we’re adopting early next year).

    Comment by Jonathan — September 7, 2006 @ 1:13 am

  49. Ah, happy memories…apart from the crotte which I’m afraid i find a bit distasteful (I’m rather squeamish like that). I still think that the best part about having children is when they are grown up and you can look at them with wonder and think just what lovely people they are, that is when you really do glow with pride and satisfaction.

    Comment by Susannah — September 7, 2006 @ 9:14 am

  50. OFF TOPIC: I finally got to listening your interview – I found it as beautiful as your writing…

    Comment by alcessa — September 7, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  51. Hi petite, I’m coming to Paris again in Nov with Friends, can you recommend anywhere good to go. Is that Fleche D’or place still there? Missed your interview, however saw you in the Times.

    Comment by heather — September 7, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  52. Neila – made me chuckle ‘cos in British English ‘pissed’ means he’d been at the bottle some…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — September 7, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  53. Petite – did you have the ‘blouse’-searching problem? (To clarify – French pre-school kids sometimes have to wear a sort of cotton, sleeved apron for want of a better word in French a ‘blooz’; b*ugger to find and one of those Aug 14-31 or never items).

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — September 7, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  54. Saw the article on you in this weeks Grazia magazine. One of my favourite magazines running a feature on my favourite blog = result! Keep up the good work :-)

    Comment by Camille — September 7, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

  55. Hmm, yes. I didn’t actually speak to them or anything, so I’ll be very interested to see it.

    Comment by petite — September 7, 2006 @ 6:38 pm

  56. I absolutely HATE when they want to stay at school. My youngest is in daycare and she wants to stay with “My Shauna” and “My Laurie” and I try to keep a brave face but it just pierces my heart! I too wonder if everyone is thinking her home life must be horrible. If only they knew that she is the star of the show at home just as much as at “school.”

    Comment by Geeky Dior Girl — September 7, 2006 @ 9:03 pm

  57. Petite, now that an autumn breeze begins to whisper little sweet nothings through the parting leaves of the Parisin trees, would you yourself, by any chance, be interested in a bit of hanky panky.

    Comment by Trevor — September 7, 2006 @ 9:07 pm

  58. BOOOGERZ!!!!!
    and everyone here is right, that she digs school is the best, and it means you have done well, tho it also meansshe has a vv independant personality, which iwll serve her well :) Lovely petite, do not fret. Wahts next for you? the States cannot wait to know :)

    Comment by Jezzie — September 7, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  59. I’ve just dicovered your blog! It’s really funny to see France with your eyes!!! (I’m french)! I had a lot of fun … Thank you!

    Comment by Adèle — September 7, 2006 @ 10:30 pm

  60. Listening to the full tape – all 40’24” of it – Mark Savage has a remarkable, skilled manner: gentle, probing, painless, like a really good dentist. I thought the full interview every bit as interesting as the best of the blogs, which is saying something.
    Fascinating listening.
    Thank you, both.

    Comment by Andrew — September 8, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  61. I’m a bit miffed because I’m missing these interviews as I work on Tuesdays. Also when my son moved in to a house of his own a few months ago he took his computer with him which had sound on it. Can anyone tell me what I need to buy so that I can get sound on my computer (I realise this might sound a bit stupid but I’m not very technically minded I’m afraid.)

    Comment by Susannah — September 8, 2006 @ 11:58 am

  62. Susannah – just a pair of little speakers and leads, for nearly no money. Plug them in to the back and, Presto!
    You also need to get eg realplayer off the net but it may be already loaded onto the computer.
    I’m sure your son will set you straight and may even get you a pair of speakers in exchange for cake and laundry.
    But if you like music you’ll want a bass unit too. Don’t stint. Make the room rock!

    Comment by Andrew — September 8, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

  63. Susannah,
    Most fairly modern computers have sound chips built right on the motherboard, and there should be a plug on the back of your computer for your speakers … which are a must for having sound on your computer. If there isn’t on-board sound, you can get a sound card at any place that sells computer parts. I don’t know what country you are in, but here, I go to Staples or Circuit City or Best Buy, and they are available for pretty cheap. Unless you go top-of-the-line, in which case it could cost you a couple of hundred dollars US. Then you just plug the card into the motherboard, plug the speakers into the card, and you should be good to go. Hope this helps!

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

  64. Ah, Petite, enjoy it! Your daughter’s love of school shows that she is secure in your love!

    Sounds like a Montessori type school. They are the BEST and both my kids loved it.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — September 8, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

  65. can also just plug in a set of walkman earphones into the computer, for free..everyone has a pair lying around :)

    Comment by Jezzie — September 8, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  66. Read about your blog in Grazia, well done. Used to be a secretary in Paris, you’re well out of it.
    Does your daughter’s maîtresse actually say hello to you (or her)in the morning ? If so, you’re lucky. Maybe I’m invisible ?

    Comment by Kate — September 8, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

  67. Happily, I don’t think I’ll ever have to work as a secretary again.

    This little cloud just may yet turn out to have a platinum lining.

    Comment by petite — September 8, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

  68. Have DW taken sensible advice and made you an offer? Tax free? If so, make sure you get an agreed reference too.

    After all, you are perfect!

    Comment by Andrew — September 8, 2006 @ 10:54 pm

  69. Your’s is about the second blog that I read. I came across it from A Day In Paris’s blog, in preparation for my trip to Paris. I remember that within a few days you were leaving Mr. Frog. This was my first realization that you were writing, in REAL TIME!

    I come out of lurking to tell you that I still enjoy your blog. It’s odd how one can become emeshed in someone’s life virtually.

    Many thanks for your sharing of tidbits of life. My “baby” is 25 but I can remember her at Tadpole’s age.

    Lurking no longer.

    Comment by Danna — September 9, 2006 @ 2:56 am

  70. Ahahaha that was so funny to read! She is obviously so ready for it. My little one does that at the local gym’s free daycare centre…and we just laugh!

    Ironic also that before I read your blog today, I had also written a little post about my daughter Natasha’s first ‘open day’ at Preschool. Quite a different attitude mine had is all I can say! I’m sure she’ll adjust. Tuesday’ll be the actual starting day and only twice a week here in the US (isn’t that bizarre?) for about 2.5 hours. My other 4 went to a French ecole maternelle (in central Africa) from 8 to noon, Mon – Fri. I wonder why they don’t do that here? Is it that they think it’s too much for toddlers? I’m stumped.

    I also wonder how many ‘preschool’ and other school posts people wrote about this week? Talk about a common theme!

    Let’s hope Tadpole doesn’t do what one particular 9 year old I happen to know did to her taunting classmates: essuyer la crotte de nez sur ses camarades de classe! YUCK! :(

    Comment by Karma — September 9, 2006 @ 6:24 am

  71. whoops! “She is obviously so ready for it. My little one does that at the local gym’s free daycare centre…and we just laugh” meant that she cries when we come to pick her up too!

    Comment by Karma — September 9, 2006 @ 6:26 am

  72. You tease, you! So book deal? Sorry to be voice of doom, but advances don’t last for ever – good for paying off mortgage though, then buying another flat to rent out. Time to take off the IFA hat. Or has Tadpole’s singing landed HER with an agent? Wishing you well.

    Comment by j — September 9, 2006 @ 8:10 am

  73. Bonjour Catherine,

    un plaisir de vous lire et de suivre vos peripeties…
    Having been an expat for most of my life, I quite enjoy and relate to your stories. By the way saw the following page and just wanted to pass it around, the tiltle is “les entreprise debloguent”….
    Keep on writing

    Jean Philippe

    Comment by jp — September 9, 2006 @ 10:41 am

  74. Well I hope you make the most of it & don’t look back. Also good to know there are other working single mums out there in Paris, makes a change from smug expats !

    Comment by Kate — September 9, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

  75. Now then, the Grazia thing. The sister of the boyfriend of an old mate is the deputy editor, so I knew they were up to something. (My mate was pushing to get TD included, but then the last time I checked, I didn’t have the right lady-bits.)

    I’ve not seen it myself, but the article features you, Girl With A One Track Mind, Go Fug Yourself and What Could Happen, by Julie Powell. My mate read me the bit about PA, and it says all the usual stuff. There’s a photo of you standing by the glass pyramid at the Louvre, apparently. So there you go…

    Comment by mike — September 9, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

  76. excellent, i read about you in Grazia, im now a fan !

    Comment by lisa — September 9, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  77. Petite,

    Tadpole is doing so well and so mature and clever. She seems like she might be 4 and a half, not 3.

    I very much think that your days of worry are about over. Your situation all depends on your point of view. I think that you are in a good position to find the success you deserve.

    Comment by John K — September 10, 2006 @ 1:41 am

  78. His Holiness, my three year old, just started kindergarten here in Germany …

    Comment by Richard — September 10, 2006 @ 7:42 am

  79. I bet that the days at the ‘maternelle’ are never dull with Tadpole around… Glad to have you ‘back’, Petite, with all those little ‘anecdotes du jour’…

    Comment by Sophie — September 10, 2006 @ 8:37 am

  80. haha. Vive la rentrée !
    J’ai fait les mêmes crises à ma grand mère, même si j’adorais être avec elle.
    Je te rassure si besoin est, c’est juste que les tétards sont des monstres comme les autres ^_^

    Je decouvre ton blog (pas à cause de ton ‘doocement’ ; )), et j’adore.
    Tu écris formidablement bien, c’est un régal : )
    Ce subtil mélange anglais-français dans certaines de tes notes me tue, c’est trop bon.

    J’ai une petite discussion récurrente avec mon ami au sujet des doux noms que tu donnes à ta fille et à son père.
    Je trouve ça super super mignon et trés drôle.
    Il trouve que c’est quand même un peu vache.
    Je suis française, il est anglais, Je sais pas s’il y a un lien…^_^

    keep up the excellent job ^-^b

    Comment by flo — September 13, 2006 @ 4:07 am

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