petite anglaise

September 24, 2006

on the menu

Filed under: miam, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 11:08 pm

Tadpole and I walk hand in hand up the rue de Rebeval, bound for home and, as usual, I try to extract some meaningful information from my daughter about what she has been up to that day.

Our conversation goes something like this.

Me: “So, what did you do at school today sweetie?”

Tadpole: “Er… something nice”

Me: “Something nice. I see. Did you draw some pictures?”

Tadpole: “No.”

Me: “Read some books?”

Tadpole: “Yes.”

Me: “What were the books about?”

Tadpole: “Er… I can’t remember.”

Me: “And what did you have for lunch?”

Tadple: “Chips. And chocolate.”

It is like extracting blood from a stone, pulling teeth or trying to establish whether Mr Frog has a girlfriend. A meeting with her maîtresse last Saturday was enlightening: we were told that all children tend to be reluctant to discuss what goes on at school with papa and maman. Maybe the school day is so action packed that it all becomes a blur in her tiny head. Or she so enjoys having her own little jardin secret that she resents my trying to peep over the top of the hedge. Whatever the reason, it is clear that nothing more is forthcoming.

I have a fair idea of what a typical day comprises: play, some supervised activities, lunch, storytime, sleep, a stint outdoors, and the fascinatingly named motricité sessions held in the school hall. This appears to be a typically French, scientific sounding word for PE, which includes circuit training and teetering about on stilts made from upturned buckets with string handles.

There is however one part of Tadpole’s day that I can spy on from the comfort of my own home. Canteen lunches are detailed on a very helpful website. There is week 38 in all its glory. Accompanied by an illustration of a dragon flying through the sky with two suitcases in his hands. Chips and chocolate indeed. On the day in question the menu was, in fact:


Betteraves (beetroot)
* * * * *
Rôti de dinde (roast turkey)
Gratin de blettes (gratin of ??????)
* * * * *
Petit-Suisse (sort of fromage frais thing)

The mind boggles. My very own Little Miss Fussy has been busy eating things I don’t even have the wherewithall to translate. My first thought on “blettes” was cockroaches – until, happily, I realised I was confusing “blettes” with “blattes”. Extensive web research yielded “Swiss chard”. Now let me see, I may have tasted it once, in Nice, in the filling of my ravioli niçoise, but until I looked on google images, I couldn’t have told you whether it takes the form of a bean, a root vegetable or a leaf. Tadpole eats Swiss chard? Swiss chard gratin? My daughter, the same child who refuses to mix peas and carrots (canned) in the same forkful? Who invariably turns up her nose at any item she has never tasted before? And which sadistic dinner lady dreamt up the idea of feeding beetroot to 3 year olds? Clearly one who won’t have to wash their clothes afterwards.

I suppose I should be thankful that Tadpole appears to be getting a balanced diet, something Jamie Oliver would no doubt work himself into a lather of enthusiasm over.

Later that evening, I decide to give the interrogation one last try, fortified with this new information.

Me: “So, did you have some beetroot for lunch? Some little purple squares? Some betteraves?”

Tadpole: “No, I had chips and chocolate. And cereals. And after, I had a strawberry milkshake!”

I can’t help giggling. Not only is she maintaining her barefaced lie, but now the little monster is embroidering around it, adding increasingly implausible embellishments.

Tadpole: “Mummy! Why you laughing?”

I snort apple juice out of my nose.

Tadpole: “Is it because I talking rubbish?”

98 Comments

  1. Lucky Tadpole, Swiss chard stalks are delicious, but it has a delicate flavour, so never let water near it. Usefully, the leaves can also be used, as spinach. I usually stir-fry, but au gratin sounds good.

    No good to you in your flat, but it’s really easy to grow and overwinters before going to seed in late spring, just as the new season’s crop is ready.

    Comment by Z — September 24, 2006 @ 11:34 pm

  2. Luv it

    Unemployment is certainly not cramping your prose.

    Please keep it up!

    Martin

    Comment by Martin — September 24, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  3. Ah… she’s got the storytelling gene! She can help with your future projects, whatever those may be ;)

    Comment by Meg — September 24, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

  4. Trying, cute and delightful. I find Tadpole incredibly amusing. She has her own sense of self and at such a young age; even when she’s caught not telling the truth.

    Finding out what the child did all day in school is a common complaint for parents. I hate to tell you, but it gets worse. Often, we are lucky to hear what was for lunch, who he sat next too and who he played with at recess.

    He’s 10 and we’re trying to pull more information out of him. Quite often he tells me that nothing happened all day.

    My hubby insisted on him having to tell us 3 things everyday at dinner that happened at school. This works generally, but we’ve gotten out of the habit with summer break and the crazy transition into middle school.

    Comment by Diane — September 25, 2006 @ 12:08 am

  5. I like your site its great!

    Comment by krista — September 25, 2006 @ 12:09 am

  6. Ah, the fascination of the French for cataloging the year by the number of the week … at least in academic circles! I somehow believe that your Tadpole is learning to keep to herself in preparation for a life of (gasp!) secret societies in the future!

    Comment by Lost in France — September 25, 2006 @ 12:21 am

  7. this by far is the cutest story i’ve ever read on this blog :)

    Comment by henning — September 25, 2006 @ 12:58 am

  8. First on??? Surely not.

    I doubt even if Jamie Oliver could find it in his heart to approve of beetroot.

    Comment by Tim — September 25, 2006 @ 1:07 am

  9. I guess if she eats at the canteen it precludes the curiosity factor amongst the kids if she were to bring lunch. Yes, those one/two word responses to questioins are all too familiar. Hmmm, used to be that bedtime was a good time for me to ask those kind of questions. Thanks for the post :)

    Comment by Terry — September 25, 2006 @ 1:11 am

  10. She’s as cute as buttons!

    Comment by BLC — September 25, 2006 @ 1:24 am

  11. Cockroaches…snorting apple juice…. Tadpole “is it because I talking rubbish?”

    This made me laugh this morning (as I crank up the computor for monday-itis..)

    I love it how kids will eat foods at school or at friends places that we cannot even get them to try at home..

    I asked the same question of my 9 year old.. he said ” nah I just had a couple beers” I fell through the floor…

    The apple does not fall far from the tree Petite ;o)

    Comment by simon — September 25, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  12. Sounds like a very creative and independent little girl who knows exactly what she wants. The question you have to ask yourself is if this is the first time she has tried to pull the proverbial wool over maman’s eyes.

    Comment by Sam — September 25, 2006 @ 1:30 am

  13. I miss talking to 3-year-olds. Thanks for the nudge to some favorite memories of my own.

    Comment by John B. — September 25, 2006 @ 2:13 am

  14. Isn’t it amazing how little they give away about their day? At least she admitted she was talking rubbish about her lunch though. My little darlings will tell me all kinds of porky pies about their lunches – and I’m the one who packs them!

    Looking ahead on the menu – ‘Rôti de lapin aux pruneaux’ for vendredi le 29. Can’t imagine them ever serving that in the UK or the US for school lunch! I had to think hard about ‘Colin à l’aneth’. Sounds very exotic, but the reality is much less exciting.

    Comment by LivingAbroad — September 25, 2006 @ 3:06 am

  15. Hysterical – I loved this dialogue. Your daughter is a riot.

    I happen to think blettes are totally marvelous, but I could see how a three year-old wouldn’t necessarily agree with me on that. Apparently, however, not a three year-old who eats French cafeteria food.

    Comment by Luisa — September 25, 2006 @ 3:13 am

  16. When my best friend’s youngest was about Tadpole’s age, the outright lies she’d come up with about her daily activities were astounding. We chalked it up to a very creative imagination and her mother only hoped she wouldn’t tell her pre-school teacher something shocking that would result in childen welfare services making an impromptu home visit. Fortunately she outgrew that early lying stage and kept her imagination intact.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — September 25, 2006 @ 3:17 am

  17. Such a precious child! Seriously? That is what the children eat? That is absolutely fabulous!

    Comment by Jules — September 25, 2006 @ 5:31 am

  18. So cute!!!

    Comment by Anali — September 25, 2006 @ 6:29 am

  19. that photo above is too cute for words… is that from tadpole’s school?

    Comment by epikuryooz — September 25, 2006 @ 6:50 am

  20. Hello from California –
    I have a little girl about the same age and the same problem extracting meaningful responses. Just this week I read that it’s better not to ask a question in a direct way. I guess it’s sort of oppositional to them. So you have to try to be oblique, like “I heard there was a pink flamingo in the classroom today teaching spelling”. Then they can correct you – after imagining what you’re saying and comparing it to the reality they remember. It’s a fun way to get them to engage. Don’t know if I’m actually hearing a truthful reply but it’s nicer that “what did you do” Nothing.

    Thanks for the nice stories.

    Carolee

    Comment by Carolee — September 25, 2006 @ 7:23 am

  21. Just as long as you didn’t plant yourself between them and embarrass her greatly.

    Comment by fjl — September 25, 2006 @ 7:37 am

  22. haha, i suspect this is just the start to Tadpole’s amusing tales!

    Comment by E.A.L — September 25, 2006 @ 8:06 am

  23. Is tadpole watching Ali G on the sly? sounds supiciously close to his line of fire….

    Comment by sas — September 25, 2006 @ 9:16 am

  24. Hmmm, this little lady is on her way to having her own blog, isn’t she?

    Comment by alcessa — September 25, 2006 @ 9:25 am

  25. Perhaps she thought beetroot was chocolate?

    Comment by Murphy — September 25, 2006 @ 9:29 am

  26. if it helps..
    blette (à carde): Beta Vulgaris, or common beet. “Swiss chard” is the white specie in which roots and leaves are comestible.
    I didn’t say tasty or any good, pretty much tasteless in fact, but comestible.
    What tadpole had as starter was the red specie.

    Comment by aymardo — September 25, 2006 @ 9:35 am

  27. Jamie Oliver would indeed approve. This is a fantastic reason for you and her to stay living in France even if there were no other good reasons (and of course there are plenty). We feed our kids absolutely crap in schools over here, and it’s shocking to see the difference with what they’re fed on the continent. Jamie Oliver’s Italian series showed that school kids eat pretty well there too. I bet they have fewer behavioural problems in France and Italy too…

    Comment by old school friend — September 25, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  28. Wow. French school food rocks. Both nutritionally and gastronomically (if one judges from the recipes, at least, I wouldn’t know about how they are cooked).

    Comment by Loxias — September 25, 2006 @ 9:53 am

  29. This is the cutest one I read so far – and that is since your issue with that company.

    regards,
    wjl

    Comment by wjl — September 25, 2006 @ 10:35 am

  30. I love reading about Tadpole – she reminds me of my 3 and 5 year old. When the oldest first started in nursery the parents were taken to one side and told “if you promise not to believe everything they tell you that they get up to at school, we promise not to believe everything they tell us that they did at home”. You can be sure it is a two way street!

    Comment by Josephine — September 25, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  31. Oh, they are so good at lying at this age – they really believe it! Just wait till she tells the teacher she never went to sleep at all, all weekend, and mummy gave her birthday cake every meal.

    Comment by katie — September 25, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  32. I went to school in France from the age of 10 to 18 and we had chips about 3 times a year and chocolate at Christmas only. A “gendarme” used to watch us to make sure we ate everything….

    Comment by Hannah Banana — September 25, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  33. Now this is something very familiar to me too.
    It appears I am the daddy of a Frenglish little girl whom the name is Molly.
    Even though she’s reached the age of 7 now I still have as many difficulties to know what she had for lunch or what she exactly did at school.
    I think our kiddoes don’t see things with the same perspective as we do. We tend to understand detailed things when their days seem to be made of a sort of global activity
    Example:

    Me: “how was your day today?”
    Molly: “great”
    Me: “ahem, but what did you do at school?”
    Molly: “been playing with my friend [name] ”
    Me: “oh alright, that was nice then”
    Me, trying not to give up so easily: “did you have maths today? So what did you learn?”
    Molly: “no, maths is not today”

    And so so.
    I end the talk by never knowing what they did today but I know what they will do the next day as now she has entered the world of homeworks.

    Comment by Rog — September 25, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

  34. Have you seen the French Jamie Oliver clone on M6? I first noticed Cyrille a couple of years ago doing a French version of Jamie’s Fifteen restaurant project… fair enough I suppose. But I found out while channel-hopping the other day that now he’s doing his own version of Jamie’s School Dinners as well!

    I can’t imagine what his life must be like – just following Jamie Oliver around and ‘becoming’ him in French.

    Also, given the generally higher standard of French cuisine, you have to wonder how far they had to search to find similar “problems” to solve.

    Comment by flechesbleues — September 25, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

  35. I snort apple juice out of my nose.

    LOL! Oh thank you! I thought I was the only parent in the world who ever let the side of the adults down!

    Comment by TryingTimes — September 25, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

  36. This was hilarious and rang so true to my own son…I had precisely the same experience last year.

    Comment by Cathy — September 25, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  37. I would have loved to play on stilts made from upturned buckets with string handles. They never had that at my school.

    Is the good food part of a concerted effort to educate French children about cuisine, or is it just that the French would not consider eating in any other way?

    Comment by Damian — September 25, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

  38. Lesson for Tadpole today:

    “Never BS a BS artist………”;-)

    This was a prceless story…………..

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — September 25, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  39. I got tired of the What did you do today? Nothing conversations. So now we do worst, best and funniest thing that happened today.

    Oh and there’s a scene in the film Au Revoir Les Enfants where the entire school is outside hopping stiffly about on stilts. I always wondered what the heck they were doing. Now I know. Motricite! Thank you.

    Comment by Suse — September 25, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  40. I found this link which may shed some light on the mystery of blettes. I sort of remember them from the “cantine” in my own school, but they do not seem to have left any lasting souvenir, good or bad.It could simply be because they were just bland or more worryingly, this memory lapse could be put down to mispent youth accompanied by its array of alcohol & recreational drugs… Oh well !
    Here is the link anyway :www.cuisine-vegetarienne.com/index.php?in_id=17

    Comment by Christophe — September 25, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  41. Looks like very much the same sort of menu my daughter has in public daycare in Montreal. The kids don’t always like it (but that’s part of life, isn’t it?), but they seem to appreciate it more than you’d expect. Mealtime IS treated as a lesson, not in fine cuisine, but in the experience of different things, being able to describe, compare, etc.

    Chips and chocolate is an occasional affair at our garderie. I’d attribute Tadpole’s “rubbish” to either 1. it being something that occurred hier (which for my almost 4-year-old means sometime between an hour ago and the day she was born), or 2. she’s quite a joker.

    Comment by Isabella — September 25, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  42. Tadpole’s chocolate lunch claim reminds me of a packed lunch I was given by the host family when I went on a school exchange trip to Grenoble.

    A baguette, containing simply a large bar of chocolate. I was stunned. Provided much amusement to my school chums…

    ***

    Her final line is a cracker – shame about the wasted apple juice, though…

    Comment by anxious — September 25, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  43. I can relate to this – have also had the “I can’t rememember” answer – my daughter will only talk about school in random comments when she happens to feel like it… Strangely she also often seems to have “frites” – hmm, starting to wonder now. As for blettes – berk – standard canteen fodder in France. I defy even Jamie O to get excited about them !

    Comment by Kate — September 25, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

  44. PS – flechesbleues, I too have spotted the dreaded Cyrille, the gallic Jamie. Oh dear. Have you noticed how the French are always copying British TV shows ?

    Comment by Kate — September 25, 2006 @ 4:37 pm

  45. Imagine my surprise to come across this blog (thanks to your friend at the Telegraph). I too am a single-mom struggling with a little ones antics and unreceptivity. Vive la difference!

    Comment by SW France — September 25, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

  46. Congratulations on your books deal and possible film (as I’ve just read about in Colin Randall’s D.Telegraph blog) but even more praise for hanging in here with your blog, delighting us all still for free.

    Comment by Tim — September 25, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  47. Chocolate and strawberry milkshakes for lunch! I love the fanciful imagination of small children. And how she owns up to the fibbing at the end is adorable. Sounds like a self-aware little tyke.

    Comment by Broady — September 25, 2006 @ 5:55 pm

  48. This is a funny story I remembered this morning when I read some of the comments. My younger brother was Tadpole’s age when he got up before everyone else, pushed a chair against the stove, put a pan on the stove, turned on the burner with an empty pan on it, and started to add spices, until the smell of burning herbs permeated the house.

    When he was caught, he told my father point blank, “The kitty did it.” and pointed at the poor hapless cat whose only guilt was that it watched my brother do it.

    Comment by Sam — September 25, 2006 @ 5:59 pm

  49. You’re sure she has not eaten only the fat white sauce around the leaves with bread and the petit suisse ?

    I suggest to all those that imagine that French school food is so delicious and balanced to have lunch there. The cities have to pay for school lunches, and they also want to save money (for brides etc). So they have all asked catering companies like Sodexho to make the school meals. They tell the parents that a dietetician makes the menus and it is healthy. Pure BS. If that was healthy, there wouldn’t be over 30% of the cantine fed kids becoming obese. The dietetician doesn’t check the recipe and even less the freshness and quality of ingredients. Also, there are probably 1% of the 3 yrs olds that eat plain beetroots out of the can. There is no C vitamine at all left in the meal of the other 99%. The cantines have cut costs on ingredients and preparation. Veggies are systematically frozen or canned. Some are twice frozen (the vegetable is frozen at the farm, then used to prepare a dish that is frozen again).

    I have seen the last days of the *good* cantine, where they’d prepare meals with fresh ingredients. Then they replaced farm chicken by cheaper industrial chicken, then by hormone fed turkey, then by frozen turkey, and now by frozen ground meat of turkey (+flour, fat, sugar) to which they give the shape of a “roti” and cover with industrial macdo flavored gravy.

    A friend is a chef, specialised in management of cantines, in Paris. Last week he resigned from his job again. That’s the 5th time in a few years. Each time, he left because the budget for ingredients is so limited that now the food becomes worse than crap.

    Comment by Kuri — September 25, 2006 @ 6:01 pm

  50. I’m under no illusions about the quality of mass produced canteen food, I remember seeing a programmes on French TV about canteen food made my hair curl. I’m just amazed at the varied contents of her plate/tray… Compared to what she’ll deign to taste at home. But I still think the meals are pretty balanced – plenty of veg, nothing too sweet, far better than the sausage, baked beans and chips I used to eat…

    Comment by petite — September 25, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

  51. “Is it because I talking rubbish?”

    I actually laughed out loud at that line. I’m amazed that she recognized that you were laughing at her embellished stories. Very intelligent indeed.

    Comment by Adam — September 25, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

  52. How adorable! Although I think I should avoid your blog in the future—everytime I read a cute tadpole story it makes me want to have one of my own (tadpole that is!!)

    (I saw you were reading “On Beauty” a while back, I *loved* that book. How did you like it?)

    Just Dazzle

    Comment by Just Dazzle — September 25, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  53. You’re in Colin Randall’s blog again. Congratulations on your publishing deal.

    Comment by sk — September 25, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

  54. Thank you. I feel a bit odd talking about it, which is why I haven’t. I think I need time to get my head round all the things which happened in 2006 so far…

    Comment by petite — September 25, 2006 @ 7:20 pm

  55. Felicitations!!!!!!!! As a genuine ‘book-worm’ I eagerly anticipate them!

    Comment by Ellie — September 25, 2006 @ 7:27 pm

  56. Could it be that she doesn’t know the name for these foods (either in french or in english)? They may not explain to them what they are eating and if she doesn’t get it at home then she probably won’t know the word– hence the chips and chocolate response.

    Comment by Robyn — September 25, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

  57. When Tadpole is older and really won’t tell you anything, just offer to be the mom that drives or chaperones her and her friends places. It is amazing what all you can learn as the “invisible chauffeur”. Even little boys have exciting lives!

    Comment by Mary Jo — September 25, 2006 @ 8:08 pm

  58. Publishing deal? Spill more beans please.

    Comment by meredic — September 25, 2006 @ 8:22 pm

  59. Kate (“Have you noticed how the French are always copying British TV shows ?”) – yes! I suppose at least Cyrille is a bit less of an out and out clone than the French Supernanny or those dreadful Kim & Aggie (How Clean Is Your House) copycats! The originals were bad enough!

    Comment by flechesbleues — September 25, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

  60. Get me … I grow the stuff! Next time you’re over in my world I’ll take you on a guided tour of my swiss chard beds (well to be honest I’ve got some growing in a pot) It has the most magical colored leaves – the vascular system ranges from bright reds to acid yellows so it’s also grown for it’s foliar interest – they even grow it on the roundabout in the way into St Albans!
    Your horticultural Prawn Cocktail Crisp x

    Comment by prawn cocktail crisp — September 25, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  61. Kuri’s comment certainly gives food for thought.

    And another thing to beware of. Tadpole may be getting all these varied vegetables and stuff on her little tray. But that does not necessarily mean she is eating them. I have come to realise that none of the adults on cantine duty give a damn about whether they eat it or not. And if the child is a slow, daydreamer eater like mine (and like most 3/4 year olds), no-one will chivvy them along and it’s just tough shit if they haven’t finished by the time the sitting is over.

    Also, like you, in “petite section”, my littl’un’s school life was a complete mystery to me and every question was met with an impatient “je ne sais pas”. However, “moyen section” is a different matter altogether…

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — September 25, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

  62. Thinking of what happened? What if 2006 is not over… yet. Thinking ? Just enjoy ;)

    Comment by Aymardo — September 25, 2006 @ 10:33 pm

  63. Oooh, caution is here to be taken in huge mouthfuls…French school food sounds incredibly healthy and scrummy on the menu, but just try eating it; at the end of the day it’s all mass-produced by Sodexho or equivalent or out of a can…I’ve eaten with the kids at the canteen. This is not something I envy them.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — September 25, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

  64. hi petite. i find the same thing. my son will eat all kinds of “exotic” food at daycare but only wants hot dogs and chicken nuggets at home. very amusing story. and congrats on the publishing deal.

    Comment by Hammers — September 25, 2006 @ 11:00 pm

  65. Well done & congratulations ! And another congratulations for keeping your blog true blue too !
    I look forward to your book .. although it will certainly be a long wait. And sooner, to the next delightful post on this blog.
    Quite obvious where Tadpole gets her deliciously creative mind.
    Your former employers actually did you and the world a favour by pushing you off in the direction of your true talent, however unintentional it may have been.

    Comment by Cat — September 26, 2006 @ 12:33 am

  66. My mom likes to throw beet leaves in the salad! Don’t try it. Its awful.

    Comment by Julie — September 26, 2006 @ 1:01 am

  67. I think there is more strategy to Tadpole’s lunch than she is getting credit for. Convincing mum that she has chocolate and strawberry shakes for lunch at school means she should have the same at home. At least that is how the story ended here.
    Still love the blog, you are a fantastic writer and I can’t grasp the amount of discipline it must take.
    And when you figure out how to tell if the ex has a new girlfriend, let us know.
    Conitnued success to you and your sweet girl.

    Comment by Heather — September 26, 2006 @ 3:27 am

  68. flechesbleues, it would be hard to find a true clone of Jamie, he is so British bless him… Supernanny was pretty awful in both incarnations, although she does offer good advice on occasion…

    Comment by Kate — September 26, 2006 @ 7:55 am

  69. Sam:
    That was hilarious, I fell off my chair!
    And I don’t even have kids… Thank you!
    -e.

    Comment by eric — September 26, 2006 @ 8:12 am

  70. You’re scaring me! Will you wear Prada and leave us
    xx

    Comment by fjl — September 26, 2006 @ 10:32 am

  71. Yeah Petite, fantastic news about the deal. Are you by any chance going to end up being a new JK Rowling, with your loyal readers waking up one morning to a report in the Telegraph (obviously) announcing that you’re worth $1bn (due to a highly succesful series of books about a French schoolboy with magical abilities)??!

    Comment by David In London — September 26, 2006 @ 10:39 am

  72. Prada. I wish. I’ve been doing my sums and I think I’ll still be buying my clothes in Topshop for the forseeable future. On the other hand, taxwise I will probably own my daughter’s school.

    Comment by petite — September 26, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  73. Just checked out Colin Randall. Congratulations Petite! This really put a smile on my face.

    Comment by redlady — September 26, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  74. Hmm, my 3 year old is just as communacative. 2What did you have for lunch today?”
    “Pasta.”
    “Pasta with what?”
    “With a fork.”

    Comment by nicki — September 26, 2006 @ 11:59 am

  75. What a great school to send you an illustrated menu – I cant see that happening in England!. I love your blog….read it at work on my tea break. Tadpole is the cutest and her stories are tres amusant!!

    Comment by Marie-Louise — September 26, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

  76. 400k is a good start in Paris with a child. It costs 180 k to bring uo a child on a budget- people don’t think of that. I had to have alot of help- it’d be foolish not be open about it. Use it wisely and have a sequel, and you’ll be safe. How wonderful, I’m delighted. :-)

    You’ve already thought of this, but, go deeper than in Petite, and keep them buying.

    Comment by fjl — September 26, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

  77. At the age of 3, a day may be a very long journey, an odyssey full of discoveries, new sensations, strange encounters, daydreams and experiences, and the past does not really exist. I suppose reflexion is a very difficult thing and non natural at a very young age.
    It’s funny how children play with both their super-powers of creation and invention, and our “credulity”, it must be a kind of revenge upon the terrible powers of adults.

    Comment by 4 roses — September 26, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  78. fjl – that figure is pure conjecture, of course. But yes, with advances coming in dribs and drabs over the next few years, Tadpole and I should be more than okay. And in the meantime I won’t have to be a secretary, which is a BIG plus.

    Comment by petite — September 26, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  79. Yes, that’s true.

    Now that the contract is here and the plane’s taken off, might you drop that lawsuit? Lawsuits are misery and time consuming even when they’re winners. You’ve already won it by making your point publicly, I don’t think the lawyers could do better.

    Shake the dust off your feet, and walk to pastures new, I would. Don’t let anyone steal time.
    x

    Just a viewpoint. :-)

    Comment by fjl — September 26, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  80. Congratulations on the book deal. I have read every word on your blog and I know that you will be very succesful. Best wishes.
    Richard in Atlanta

    Comment by Richard in Atlanta — September 26, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  81. Congratulations, Petite, you deserve success and demonstrate well the maxim that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

    I thoroughly enjoy your dialogues with Tadpole and your blog in general.

    Sorry to be a pedant, but The Secret Garden was definitely walled….not hedged – remember?!

    LS

    Comment by Lindy — September 26, 2006 @ 4:32 pm

  82. How very French, gratin of swiss chard..we could do with some of that over here. I sometimes make gratin of courgette. Butter Gruyere cheese and courgette its delicous.

    Comment by heather — September 26, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

  83. Kuri and Lucy-Jayne are right.My kids used to have very good cantine lunches,prepared in our village by the chefs at The Foyer Logement (old people,s home),for the residents and both the private and public primary schools.Now it is mass produced rubbish which even the dietician thinks lacking in fruit and veg.Now a huge kitchen at old folks home stands empty and even they have to eat the same as the kids.All to save money, Isuppose.

    Comment by Carol Bouvet — September 26, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  84. What exactly is Swiss chard? And what does gratin mean?

    “I snort apple juice out of my nose.”

    Brilliant. I have on one occassion done that in the middle of burger king.

    Comment by Whisper — September 26, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

  85. ..here’s why you’re different: you get notice of a 400k contract and you write ‘on the menu’.

    What other blogger behaves like that?

    You are to bloggery what Thomas Moore was to Chancery Lane!

    :-) Lots of luck with it.

    Comment by fjl — September 26, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

  86. One of the best tricks ever taught to me was to ask kids “On a scale of one to ten, how was your day?” Then you can ask why. I think it must be healthy for them to have a separate life if they must be separated from their parents.

    I live in Paris and my college age kids are in the states, and it’s still the same!

    P.s. Part of the 3 or 4 year old developmental necessity is telling fibs. They learn at that age that there can be a difference between the spoken word and reality, and they practice it with GUSTO!!

    Keep up the excellent blog, Petite. C’est merveilleux.

    Comment by Wog — September 26, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

  87. F E L I C I T A T I O N S ! ! !

    Even though I am a jaded Hollywood studio attorney, I knew that this was going to happen for you, and would have bet big sums of money on it! I have followed and enjoyed your blog for quite some time. You have tremendous talent.

    I hope that my studio purchases the rights so we can be the ones to bring the Petite Anglaise & Tadpole story to the silver screen.

    All the best —
    CJ

    p.s. I have a 6 year old girl (a fiery redhead with a LOT of personality) so I can relate to all of the tadpole stories! It sure brings back memories.

    Comment by Carolyn — September 27, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  88. Hi Petite.
    I can understand why you’re reluctant to enter discussion on your book deal. It must be a total headspin to find that you’re now being paid megabucks (or in your case, megapounds) to do something that you used to do to stop yourself slashing your wrists from boredom at your previous employment.
    It’s going to be hard to show economic loss from your dismissal. They did you the biggest favour of your life.
    The biggest problem you may now have is keeping your feet firmly planted on terra firma, which I’m sure you’ll be able to do.

    Comment by Gil — September 27, 2006 @ 1:34 am

  89. Beets are a lovely purple color. I could see them appealing to kids. I would like some in eensy weensy cubes right now.

    Comment by srah — September 27, 2006 @ 2:06 am

  90. Salut, “petite Anglaise”

    I’m one of the many who love your site. I’m French, but I have a British mother. I grew up seeped in both cultures: a little, perhaps, like your “têtard”!

    I left my country 28 years ago to live in London. So in a way, I did the reverse of what you did…

    Re: the school canteen menu, and “blettes”. Ah. If anyone gives you a correct translation please let us all know. I’ve only found one, the rather lame “beet”. And I suspect it’s incorrect.

    It seems to refer to the healthy, leafy wotsit you find in Chinese supermarkets. This is what the vegetable looks like.

    Bravo pour votre blog. Il informe, distrait aussi, et apprend à vos visiteurs à mieux nous connaître. Vous contribuez donc à assurer une meilleure compréhension entre deux cultures et deux mondes, et pour cela vous méritez notre reconnaissance.

    Bien à vous,

    Xavier Kreiss

    Comment by Xavier Kreiss — September 27, 2006 @ 2:42 am

  91. It’s not really about Swiss chards I’l like to comment (even though it’s usually considered a delicacy for French children if topped with a lot of Bechamel and gruyere cheese…), but about “motricité” at school. My mum used to be a teacher for young children … and as a teenager I’ve read all her books about it!! It’s an amusing way to prepare children to writing a few years later: they learn to make a difference with their whole body between right and left, up and down, and all sorts of curves in between, when they are still too young to control their hands to write. PE is just icing on the cake!
    Yes, keep up the blog, we love it!!

    Comment by Bessac — September 27, 2006 @ 3:02 am

  92. Jim,
    (Hope you are reading this in Japan). I will be at the airport 9.50am on friday to pick you up…
    Looking forward to the trip outback.

    (hope you don’t mind this message Petite…)

    Comment by simon — September 27, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  93. I join the chorus to say congrats to your book deal – a book I have alrady put on my wish-list.

    Another book that I think you should write privately for Tadpole is a notebook with those little lies and intelligent comments of hers. My parents did it for me and it is one of my most cherished belongings.

    Comment by Kajsa — September 27, 2006 @ 10:16 am

  94. Uh ! Oh ! “Ketchup” tomorrow! Beware!

    Comment by Aymardo — September 27, 2006 @ 9:21 pm

  95. Gosh, what’s she going to be like when she hits her teens?! Still, she’ll probably be over the Swiss chard phase by then.

    Seriously tho, she’s a real cutie and sounds like a bright little spark.

    Congrats on the good news.

    Comment by Julia — September 27, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

  96. Okay, I can exhale now. You have an advance and more writing will be forthcoming. Very cool!
    Congratulations. In the meantime I’m glad your blog has resumed your voice, many thanks.

    My daughter is now 25 and I get the same monosylabic responses. They always have the Secret Garden and “no parents allowed!”

    Comment by Danna — September 28, 2006 @ 3:29 am

  97. Have 4 girls ranging from 6 to 10 who routinely give me the “Fine” “Nothing” and “ok” answers to “How was your day?””What did you do?” and “What were lessons like?” …take heart from the fact that mothers around the world go thru this..Perhaps we should drill their best friends…..:-)

    Comment by Shila — October 1, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  98. Can’t wait for little tadpole to start her own blog heh heh :)

    My little Lily has already aquired a rather sophisticated tastes (for 3 year old), she prefers auhthentic Italian Grana (parmisan cheese) and once at kindergarden when they asked the kids what their favourite food was, and they replied chocolate cake and pizza, she says that her favourite was sushi!

    Comment by David Giorgi | Click here for Expat France — October 2, 2006 @ 2:27 am


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