petite anglaise

November 6, 2006


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:31 pm

I hear the unmistakable sounds of Mr Frog and Tadpole approaching in the stairwell and fling open the front door eagerly. Despite her pitifully spotty and feverish state, Tadpole dives enthusiastically into my arms, giggling with pleasure at being reunited, finally, after a long week apart. I scoop her up and carry her through to my bedroom, where we sit on my (scarlet) bed and I hug her needily, in silence, nose buried in blonde corkscrew curls, while Mr Frog starts unpacking his holdall.

“Mummy, I’ve got la varicelle, look!” whispers Tadpole. At this stage, fully clothed, the full extent of her affliction is not apparent, but the area around her mouth and nostrils is red and inflamed with a swarm of tiny blemishes, and a few larger, crispier specimens are clearly visible in her scalp. I scratch my own head, in sympathy. “Do what I say, not what I do” is my motto.

“Do you know what that’s called in English?” I reply, catching Mr Frog’s eye and smiling.

“Chicken POTS!” shouts Tadpole, triumphantly.

The first I heard of the whole fiasco was a text message received while swaying drunkenly in a London pub, in which Mr Frog informed me that Tadpole had been afflicted with “the chicken pots”. Too preoccupied to correct him, I had allowed him to labour under this misconception for the whole weekend, and any attempt to convince Tadpole that this is not the correct name for her illness is now unlikely to be met with success. Once my daughter gets an idea in her head, she will not be swayed.

“I stopped in Boots and got calamine lotion,” I say to Mr Frog, pointing at the bottle of strawberry milkshake like liquid which sits by the computer, proud of my foresight. I notice then that he is brandishing a prescription as long as my arm. Clearly a French doctor has already been consulted.

The resulting prescription:

  • Digluconate de chlorhexidine – a mysterious potion to be used instead of soap to avoid infection;
  • Anti-histamine medicine to counteract itching;
  • An antiseptic spray to be used on any sores which have been scratched;
  • Doliprane syrup – equivalent of Calpol.

“No suppositories?” I remark, an eyebrow raised in mock surprise.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

This morning, after a night of fitful co-sleeping, Tadpole and I make it to the neighbouring pharmacie with our shopping list. My gaze is riveted on the till. Things have been getting tight since I signed off my benefits. For Tadpole, it’s business as usual, but I am mostly existing on Franprix’s own brand packet soup and wholemeal sliced bread.

Which makes it all the more galling when the rest of the day is spent arguing with an ungrateful Tadople who:

  • refuses to have a bath
  • refuses to let me dab on any calamine lotion or use the spray (too cold, apparently)
  • refuses to wee for several hours (it hurts, and feels hot)
  • refuses to take her anti-histamine (the first dose didn’t taste very nice)

Such is her state of distress whenever I mention any of the above, so pained is her “no THANK YOU mummy!” (I note her rare, desperate use of politeness in this context), so immune is she to bribery (chocolate biscuits, cbeebies on the computer, ice cream) that I find myself utterly powerless to do anything to help Her Royal Itchiness.

My unappetising tomato and vermicelli soup simmering resentfully on the hob, I wonder whether to try and administer potions and lotions in Tadpole’s sleep.


  1. Oh the joys of the pots! Mine call it that too – they all had it, all three at the same time…just go for the calamine, is what I’d say; the rest is just money for the Secu!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — November 6, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

  2. yes. administer in her sleep and don’t let her scratch or they will scar… :o)

    Comment by simon — November 6, 2006 @ 11:38 pm

  3. Poor Tadpole, I think a night-time secret administrering (?) of calamine is definitely in order. I thought I had adult chicken pox a few months ago and the dermatologist gave me ‘Gel de Calamine’ – it wasn’t the same as those big glass bottles full of lovely smelling liquid though. Hope she’s feeling Little Miss All Better very soon.

    Comment by Paris Lights — November 6, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  4. Poor Tadpole, I think a night-time secret administrering (?) of calamine is definitely in order. I thought I had adult chicken pox a few months ago and the dermatologist gave me ‘Gel de Calamine’ – it wasn’t the same as those big glass bottles full of lovely smelling liquid though. Hope she’s feeling Little Miss All Better very soon.

    Comment by Paris Lights — November 6, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  5. Dearest Petit,
    I’ve thought of you a lot this weekend… My husband and I enjoyed Paris ,but God, there is a price to pay for having a few stolen hours with each other. For instance: We never paid less than nine euros 40 for a couple of cofees but far, far far far far worse than that our flight home was cancelled – then on calling home my two year old was apparently sick everywhere and I coudln’t get home to her. Paid for another shit hotel. Following morning checked in again – luggage gone, just about to take off shoes – flight cancelled again. Major decision had to be made i.e we had to get home. Left CDG by RER and went to Gare du Nord. Two hundred and forty four euros each to get train back, then on arrival in Waterloo we hired a car, £68 for me to drive back to Exeter to pick up car then drive to Cornwall. Couldn’t wait to see bambinos only to walk into house to odd smell. 11 year old daughter had left hair straighteners on enveloped by her duvet last Saturday and had burnt her mattress, goose down duvet and bedding and school copy of Jane Eyre. Welcome home…………..

    Comment by Welsh Cake — November 6, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  6. My daughter had it over christmas, it was in her ears, nose, throat & a few other unmentionable places. I found a bath with bi-carb of soda in it really relieves the itching & is a cheap solution as well. Good luck!

    Comment by QldDeb — November 7, 2006 @ 12:08 am

  7. I’ll try that – I think you have to buy it from, wait for it, pharmacies here, so probably costs the earth, but still…

    How much would you put in a bathfull of water, dosage-wise?

    Welshcake – gracious, how horribly unlucky! I take it we are talking a cheap flight here? Only once have I been caught out, with an easyjet cancellation, and had to buy a gruesomely expensive Air France replacement as the proposed alternative was a day or two after my return flight. Hope you enjoyed your time away up to that point though, even if you found Paris a bit pricey…

    Comment by petite — November 7, 2006 @ 12:11 am

  8. You are so right about French doctors! Have to love them ….

    Once, such a long list of medication saved a fabulous week in Ibiza for me when I had been deathly ill.

    As to poxy, could this just be proxy for something else?

    Comment by Lost in France — November 7, 2006 @ 12:17 am

  9. If I cast my mind back to my last visit to Paris, there is a pharmacy on pretty much every corner of every street in the city, so at least you won’t have to walk far to shop around :)

    Hope Tadpole feels better soon!

    Comment by Ignorminious — November 7, 2006 @ 12:25 am

  10. I hope you’re immune. There’s nothing worse than getting ‘la varicelle’ as an adult. Been there, done that. One of you suffering is more than enough!

    Itching in sympathy,

    Une Fille

    Comment by Une Fille — November 7, 2006 @ 12:40 am

  11. I have, indeed, luckily, in my early teens, and I have a few little scars to prove it.

    Comment by petite — November 7, 2006 @ 12:42 am

  12. Please ignore this advice if it seems way off base but I’m concern for little Tadpole not being able to wee…Is it the pots or is it a UTI. Email me if you don’t know what that is….don’t want to go into details online.

    Comment by Sam — November 7, 2006 @ 12:42 am

  13. Oh, we got past that one, eventually, by sitting her in some cool water. It’s the spots around her nethers. Poor thing.

    Comment by petite — November 7, 2006 @ 12:46 am

  14. Petite,
    Put a cup or two of oatmeal in a sock, tie it off and put it to soak in a warm tub of water. Let Tadpole climb in and gently pour the water over her. That will help with the itching. Then Calomine when she dries off.

    Mary Jo

    Comment by Mary Jo — November 7, 2006 @ 1:01 am

  15. Please correct tadpole right now about the name of her illness. It wasn’t until I was about 32 years old that I was informed by my inconsolable better half that the Cadbury’s Fudge advert song did not go “full of peppery goodness”…

    I found this out while wandering through kitchen unwrapping said chocolate bar, and then wondering why there was a sound of crying from the living room. She is killing herself right now.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 7, 2006 @ 1:16 am

  16. French doctors are notorious for over-prescribing – decades behind on best practice. But their health system is amazing to English eyes tho’ practically running on empty. Get it while you can.

    Comment by andrew — November 7, 2006 @ 3:32 am

  17. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I really like it. I hope Tadpole’s Pot infliction gets better soon, ugh being all scratchy is no fun.

    Comment by Ashlee — November 7, 2006 @ 5:25 am

  18. Poor Tadpole. My son is eleven and hasn’t come down with anything yet much to my surprise. I think my sisters and I went through almost everything by his age when we were kids.

    Comment by Diane — November 7, 2006 @ 6:02 am

  19. I was 6 when I had chicken pox and remember the baking soda and the oatmeal … and I had to sleep with mittens on so I wouldn’t scratch in my sleep. It was Christmastime and my mum decorated the gingerbread men with pink icing spots to cheer me up. It backfired, though – I cried and was deeply offended that my mother would make fun of me! I think it’s pretty funny now, though.
    Good luck to both of you, and one more vote for the secret night-time administration of calamine.

    Comment by Rita — November 7, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  20. the Cadbury’s Fudge advert song did not go “full of peppery goodness”…

    So what did they used to say then?

    Comment by Matt — November 7, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  21. Damn Petite,
    I am reliving my 10 year old daughter’s life vicariously through Tadpole. We too went through the “pockets” illness. I agree with those above, warm bath with some oatmeal then Calamine. I found Calamine a lot more fun it disguised as “body painting” …

    She sounds as cute as mine … kids are about the best education you can get on living life.

    Keep posting, if you get too short I’m sure we all subscribe to keep you both off the bread line (they are long, thin and crusty in France I believe :-)

    Disco is too slack to keep his blog up to date!

    Comment by Discombobulator — November 7, 2006 @ 9:38 am

  22. ooooh i’ve found a new playground…

    is it wrong for me to want to visit another mommy site?


    Comment by Dustin — November 7, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  23. Petite, Things getting tight? I should have thought that with a six-figure contract in the bag (allegedly) your credit rating would be impeccable ;-)

    Comment by Jim — November 7, 2006 @ 10:11 am

  24. The thank-you’s do pop up at the strangest times.

    Comment by BlondebutBright — November 7, 2006 @ 10:57 am

  25. You can buy bicarbonate de soude in the supermarket. I seem to remember finding it either in the baking section, or near the salt.

    I caught chicken pox in (French) hospital when I was 7- in to get my appendix out. Then gave it to my elder sis + younger bro, who woke up on Christmas morning covered in spots…

    Comment by little_bounce — November 7, 2006 @ 11:29 am

  26. I had “la varicelle” aged 15 and the French name sticks memorably because we were on holiday in Northern France, travelling between different centres and my parents had to try to smuggle me into hotels with nobody noticing the spots. It was ghastly. The worst thing was the hallucinations (and thinking about a week had passed when it was in fact only a few hours), so thank goodness she’s got it so young!

    Comment by old school friend — November 7, 2006 @ 11:31 am

  27. Poor Tadpole. Hope she feels better soon. Looking after a child with chicken pox is horrid. It is hard seeing your little one so miserable and uncomfotable without being able to do much about it. It’s just one of those things a mother has to go through.

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — November 7, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  28. Hey Petite, the bicarbonate de soude can actually be bought at Monoprix, too — I used to think you could only find it in the pharmacy, as some American recipes call for it, but then I found it in the “salt” section of a local Monoprix. So just in case you need it in future… Although I imagine the oatmeal bath is just as good!

    Hope little Tadpole will be all better really fast!

    Comment by Alice — November 7, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  29. Matt (20) ‘It’s full of CADBURY goodness’, so very small and neat…………

    Comment by suze — November 7, 2006 @ 11:41 am

  30. p.s I HATE fudge

    Comment by suze — November 7, 2006 @ 11:42 am

  31. Paris Lights: count your lucky stars – when my boy had the pox the docs and chemists claimed never to have heard of calamine and would only prescirbe eosine, without telling me that the stain was pretty permanent – yes sounds obvious, but when it’s an unfamiliar product. My hand were still pink a week later and the bedsheet and bathtowel sill resemble a negative of Mr Blobby!
    Petite, believe it or not, am not the judgmental sort and don’t believe in telling other Mum’s what to do with their kids, BUT if Tadpole is refusing to take medecine…my daughter was similar and I had to resort to tough love – she was moaning about feeling awful, and was told to expect no sympathy until after she’d drunk the doliprane. (Dissolvible tasting ick)Lots of cuddles afterwards, of course.Since then have always ensured a healthy supply of Calpol (prompting some very suspicous questions from UK pharmacists) and lo and behold flavoured syrup now available here too, yippee, but my fussy little beggars don’t like the taste!

    Comment by j — November 7, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  32. PS
    Jim : In France one can only borrow 35% of income. I don’t know how that works when income 0.

    Comment by j — November 7, 2006 @ 11:53 am

  33. Comment 16. Andrew I found the specialist doctors in France way in front of those in Australia. Some of the drugs used here are banned in France. Seems to be about a 12 month lag… FYI

    Comment by simon — November 7, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

  34. You should find Bicarb in the baking section of a supermarket… I would put about 2 tablespoons in a bathful. But I’ve heard oatmeal works too!

    Comment by Linnie — November 7, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

  35. Petite, This is better than “Corrie” or “Deadenders”. I wish we’d had blogs when I lived outside the UK, didn’t have satellite TV during my years on the Continent. Video tapes of the “soaps”, posted from family back at home, was our staple of how mundane life was meant to be lived.

    I must say that this is much more entertaining than any soap I’ve ever seen. I’m so hooked on this site that I now tune into the Archers, while I read about your adventures, running in a separate window from the BBC Radio 4 site.

    Good luck with nursing Tadpole back to full health. I can remember having CPox, but don’t remember the pain, only the hallucinations. I do remember my, now 18 yo, son having adult CPox at the tender age of 5. He did suffer excruciating pain. I hope Tadpole’s is not nearly as virulent.

    As a shingles sufferer, (a leftover from my childhood CPox), I sincerely hope that Tadpole is not going through anything like the pain that can cause.

    Keep up the blog; I’d happily subscribe to keep the wolves from your door.

    Comment by sodomandgomorrah — November 7, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

  36. I had the chicken pox at 22(!) — the oatmeal bath is great, but a couple of stiff drinks helped too… I guess Tadpole can’t do that yet….

    Comment by magillicuddy — November 7, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

  37. Much sympathy for Tadpole – itching is horrid! At 30 years old, I haven’t yet learned to stop myself scratching mosquito bites, so how she’s going to do the same at her age I don’t know…

    Can’t believe that about the Fudge song. I too thought it was ‘peppery goodness’!!! I wonder how many other things I’m saying completely wrong. The best I ever heard was an American who came over when Take That were popular. She thought Relight My Fire was Green Like Papaya. Needless to say, it took us some time to disabuse her of this!

    Comment by Lizzy Eccles — November 7, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

  38. Take some time to check a couple of reputable medical sources online (e.g., merc’s manual, pediatrician association) to get the important do’s and don’ts with regards with varicella treatment. There are a few zingers which you need to know. Suggest shamless use of best bribes to get cooperation with use of medication and home remedies to minimize discomfort, itchiness and associated scratching. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Bon courage!

    Comment by sauterelle — November 7, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

  39. Felix used to call it “chicken pops”.

    Bicarb baths are quite good.

    Comment by Clare — November 7, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  40. Ah yes, Chicken Pecks.

    Comment by greavsie — November 7, 2006 @ 3:10 pm

  41. Nice memories (really !) of la varicelle : mother used to pour “talc pour bébé” on a bath towel, and gently caress my back with that… How soft and calming the itch was it !

    As for the anti-histamine : see why there are suppositories ? ;-)

    Comment by Jar0d — November 7, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

  42. Hi – Poor Tadpole but DO NOT put her in bath with bi-carb soda. I was advised to this when I had c/pox by friend and yes it felt very soothing but it also softens up the scabs making them fall off before they heal properly and leaving the scars … I may as well have scratched at them…. Hope she’s better soon though :0)

    Comment by Sally — November 7, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

  43. The name brand AVEENO sells a bath product that can be added to warm water. It worked wonders for both of my sons. I hope they sell it where you are, because I went through many packages of the stuff. In fact, this company sells a number of useful products for itchy chicken “pots”….(and no, I do not work for them).

    Comment by Cathy — November 7, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

  44. My mum made a game of applying calamine. She had four of us with chicken pox at the same time. She used the calamine to count how many spots we had – a weird sort of competition, but it worked.

    Comment by Sarah — November 7, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  45. My enduring memory of having chickenpox is not the itching or the feeling unwell but of being forced into a freezing cold bath. My mother had somehow got it into her head that cold baths were good for small spotty people.

    In retrospect it may possibly have calmed down the itching but it was a highly unpleasant experience that no doubt involved me screaming the house down and my poor mother being reminded of her cruelty at random intervals throughout the rest of my childhood, teenage years and even adulthood!

    Comment by Cal — November 7, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

  46. Have stumbled across the site and I am now hooked!! The pox grrrrr! My eldest had it at 3 and it was not nice (well for her gran as she was on holiday to hers for a week!!)
    It seems now to be something to brag about in the playground with her friends – I overheard them one day gabbing like little old ladies “oh chicken pox is great (apart from the scratching!) you get to eat whatever you like and watch a lot of tv!”
    Bless Tadpole and wish her a speedy recovery and wish you a restful nights sleep soon

    Comment by Fee — November 7, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

  47. I am SO glad tadpole has the chicken pots right now. I had them first time at 25 years old, and 8 months pregnant. I thought I was going to die I swear it. I remember my husband coming home with the calamine lotion and my throwing off a sheet, exposing my,,,,,,um,,,,,”nethers” did you call it? and just begging him to SQUIRT IT EVERYWHERE. I can’t believe I just typed that, and am actually going to click submit. Still, it’s why I’m happy she has it now and not some questionable time as an adult.

    Comment by beaunejewels — November 7, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

  48. You know you’ve got too much time on your hands when you start making playdoh animals with chicken pox…

    Meet Poxtopus.

    Comment by petite — November 7, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

  49. I can not believe I was foolish enough to ever type on the internet, for public viewing the phrase “”just begging him to SQUIRT IT EVERYWHERE”. I promise petite, to never try to arrange a meeting with you in person. I will spare you that suffering of my blurting out whatever I happen to be thinking, WITHOUT thinking. Sigh.

    Comment by beaunejewels — November 7, 2006 @ 7:03 pm

  50. Get well soon Tadpole,

    Put the lotion on at night.

    Does the French Calpol equivalent taste nice?

    If yes, mix half and half with the anti-histamine.

    Trust me, I’m a doctor……

    Comment by Insider — November 7, 2006 @ 8:59 pm

  51. I too had the chicken pox when I was 8 months pregnant. *just like beaunejewels*
    I was miserable. But the good news is that my son never got the virus…perhaps he had it in the womb!Just keep trying to coat the calamine on, warm it up if you need to!
    Keep her nails cut short so she won’t scratch and make scars..and don’t forget to take some pictures! It is always easier to remember when you had a childhood illness when there is documentation!
    Good luck! This truely is a right of passage!

    Comment by Kim from California — November 7, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  52. have you had the mums from school bringing their kids round to get them infected yet…it’ll happen..hands up who’s held a “pox party”!

    Comment by paulcatbells — November 7, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  53. “You know you’ve got too much time on your hands when you start making playdoh animals with chicken pox…..Meet Poxtopus.”

    …….or “chicken pox pie?”

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — November 7, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

  54. When kid, Mum had a recipie, giving just a sweet sirup based on brown sugar melted in water. The first effect was to reduce itching, and the second one (even more interesting) was to get bad-taste pills absorbed.
    Not so long ago, reproduced the scheme with the 5 years old babygirl of a good pal. Luckily, in addition to convincing that for each pill a dozen spot’d vanish, it worked…
    For the pastes and sprays, two single males (with a couffin) had to play with bass tone voices to explain that if her dad could apply it, she’d gain a 5mn extra playing on computer before getting to bed, and that it was good for her. Mother was grateful when catching daughter back, even if a little bit astonished.
    If any male friend that she already knows and worship is available around, it may be worth givin it a try

    (A la guerre comme a la guerre)

    Comment by Mardo — November 7, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

  55. Been there too. Taking care of a sick 3-year old is tough. Don’t forget to sleep when you can.

    Under the circumstances, I am impressed by your ability to add this much humor in your post. Hats off!

    Comment by ontario frog — November 7, 2006 @ 11:47 pm

  56. Petite, what unmistakable sound does Mister Frog make? Does he have a croaky throat… Or does he like messing about in boats?….or does he make a kind of sloshy sound…

    Comment by simon — November 8, 2006 @ 12:19 am

  57. The specialists are brilliant. Always the way, everything French is like that, a nation of experts. It’s the equivalent of the English GP that remain in a bubble (don’t know about the Aussies). But hey, it’s what the locals wants.

    Comment by andrew — November 8, 2006 @ 12:44 am

  58. #15 Jonathan…
    So what kind of goodness was Cadbury’s fudge full of? Because I always remember hearing “peppery” too. But I , having not been living in the UK for the last 12 years, have not been taught better (then again, I don’t think the ads even crossed my mind in the last 12 years – not until I read your comment!)
    Petite – nasty, nasty illness. But, having had it myself in my late teens you must look on the bright side and be glad to get it over with. Hope Tadpole’s feeling better (very) soon.

    Comment by LaiLou — November 8, 2006 @ 12:52 am

  59. Oh poor Tadpole. I hope she gets better soon. How long does it last??

    When I picked up my daughter from school today there was a notice up saying ‘1 cas de varicelle déclaré en PS’. So since we are supposed to be leaving for Australia in 2 weeks to go to my brother’s wedding what do I do? Keep her off starting tomorrow so she doesn’t get it? Seems a bit excessive but don’t want her getting it, passing it on to baby brother and one or t’other of them stopping us from leaving on time. Don’t know what to do.

    I always thought it was ‘full of PEPPERY goodness’ too and NEVER knew what it was supposed to be!!

    Comment by kjr — November 8, 2006 @ 1:00 am

  60. To be honest, the infected child must be off school now already, and was only infectious for a couple of days prior to getting sick (i.e. during the holidays) as the incubation period is long, so it was caught before the holidays.. I don’t think you’ll gain much by keeping her away. She’d probably have developed it by now if she was going to.

    Comment by petite — November 8, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  61. The sock full of oatmeal in the bath worked for my two when they had the ‘chicken pops’ . . . until they started socking each other with the soggy sock! . If the bath is cool-ish, it will help with any fever, and make other ‘too cold’ lotions and potions feel warmer.

    Comment by canuck — November 8, 2006 @ 2:55 am

  62. Hello Petite,

    Sorry to learn Tadpole has to go through this. Just in case it can help anyone (see #59), there is now a vaccine against chickenpox. Not “remboursé” by the French Secu, so it will cost you approx 45 EUR to spare your kids the pain (I’m still amazed somebody can make this kind of decision – spit out the cash or let your kids endure lingering pain – or am I getting sissy here?)
    For more info, French speakers can take a peek on

    This probably gives a sense of deja-vu, but congratulations to you Petite for this lively, witty blog. It’s a pleasure reading you. How long till your book’s out ?


    Comment by Joe — November 8, 2006 @ 2:59 am

  63. Okay I may be missing something in the translation since I post from across the ocean, but does it make sense to ANYONE that chocolate would be described as “peppery”?? What am I missing??

    Speedy recovery to dear Tadpole.

    Comment by Heather — November 8, 2006 @ 5:51 am

  64. A UK voice from Los Angeles says: wasn’t it Cadbury goodness?

    Comment by David — November 8, 2006 @ 6:48 am

  65. I think I might have been the only child in America NEVER to have contracted chicken pox. This, despite deliberately sneaking over to my best friend Claire’s house and having her rub her poxy arm on mine through an open window, so that I could get it and we could be off school together. Despite my friend Angelo catching it in senior year of high school. And despite my own sister finally getting it herself when she was in college (she also got mono, which I never caught either). By the time they developed the vaccine a few years ago, I decided I’d better get it just to be on the safe side since everyone I knew at that time was having children — who were going to school and catching it. And getting “poulet pox” as an adult is supposed to be VERY nasty.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — November 8, 2006 @ 8:50 am

  66. Ouch I had the pots in my 30s and ended up one summer peering from the window at the world like some survivor from the Black Death.

    Was the Poxtopus a Hippo or Duck Billed ?

    Comment by Mark — November 8, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  67. Joe – the vaccine is usually used for adults who work with children a lot or women who do not wish to catch the infection when they are planning to have a baby. It’s not generally used for children – in fact the immunity it generates can last as little as five years, whereas catching the illness protects you for life.

    Comment by petite — November 8, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  68. Petite

    When my 2 year old had the dreaded “chicken pops” (like coco pops but with less sugar) the only way I could get calamine lotion on her was to play “dot to dot” – we both had a paintbrush, dabbed the lotion on her spots and then tried to see what picture we could make by joining them all up (best attempt was a giraffe – stretched from neck to buttock!). The lotion really helped as it seemed to dry up the spots.

    Good luck, poor old Tadpole, it is a really nasty one.

    Comment by Josephine — November 8, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  69. It’s good, even though painful and uncomfortable, that Tadpole is getting ‘chicken pots’ at a young age. Contracting childhood diseases as an adult is so much worse.

    Comment by AussieGil — November 8, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

  70. Things have got worse here. Stranded in Paris, then daughter burning her bed, now my two year old is vomiting every ten minutes and has done for the last three hours. No fever, no spots. What do I do? any advice out there? After every vomit I’m giving her 5mls oral syringe of boiled water. She did this back in March. It’s very scary.

    Comment by Welsh Cake — November 8, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

  71. I had ‘chicken pots’ THREE TIMES as a child. Unpleasent in the extreme. I’m sure Tadpole won’t be that unlucky though! Hope she gets well soon.

    Comment by Emile — November 8, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  72. Hi Petite,

    My daughter had the “pots” when she was 16 months old, Calamine did the job.

    She was lucky, most spots under her clothes where she couldn’t get to them and she didn’t have many on her head. Only lasted 5 days !!! Did have some friends bring their toddlers round to catch the pox !!

    Hope Tadpole gets well soon !!


    Comment by Neil — November 8, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  73. #50 Insider

    In the UK you can get “Medised” which is a paracetamol suspension with anti-histamine in it. We use it a night when my daughter is ill as it helps her to sleep ( thanks to the anti-histamine ) as well as bringing a temperature down.


    Comment by Neil — November 8, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  74. I remember having chicken pox. I was only little – 4ish perhaps? My siblings and I caught it one by one.

    I don’t remember feeling particularly unwell at all – I do remember counting the spots as my mum daubed me with Calamine. 252.

    Much better that she gets it now – like you say, lifetime immunity.

    Although that didn’t seem to work for Emile!

    Comment by anxious — November 8, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

  75. Good luck Nurse Petite.

    Please post a photo of your octopoxasaurus. I have a picture in my head of a green creature with purple pox.

    Comment by Damian — November 8, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  76. Foolish me – I just noticed it at the top of the post.

    I’m having one of my inattentive days, obviously.

    You, like Anna, may ask why I bother reading at all sometimes.

    Comment by Damian — November 8, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

  77. Nice playdough! Very smooth.

    Comment by Damian — November 8, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  78. Regarding comment 67 on varicella vaccine.
    Info from US Center for Disease Control (CDC)web site:

    Is the vaccine effective in preventing chickenpox all the time?
    No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing disease. For chickenpox vaccine, about 8 to 9 out of every 10 people who are vaccinated are completely protected from chickenpox. The vaccine almost always prevents against severe disease. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually a very mild case with fewer skin lesions (usually less than 50) lasting only a few days, no fever or a low fever, and few other symptoms.
    Is the chickenpox vaccine required for child care and school entry?
    Yes, more than 20 states have passed such requirements – children entering child care and school must have a history of chickenpox, serological (blood) evidence of immunity or evidence of receiving chickenpox vaccine: Many other states are in the process of enacting such requirements
    * No disrespect to the French healthcare system, which is excellent and universally available, as opposed to the US where 40 million individuals have no healthcare insurance and childhood vaccination rates for the urban poor are abominable.

    Comment by sauterelle — November 8, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

  79. Hi Cath. Lost your track a few years ago when you closed the pictures page you had…
    Good to hear you’re fine. And famous, now, huh ? :) Hope you’re all well anyway.

    Comment by Yann — November 8, 2006 @ 7:42 pm

  80. Oh my.

    Comment by petite — November 8, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

  81. Hi from Canada Petite. I enjoy reading about your life in the city of love. Maybe you would enjoy reading about life in Vancouver. at
    I hope Tadpole is over the pox soon. My man-child of 19 gave it to me when he was 3 and I was 31. Oh my God it was miserable!

    Comment by spindrift — November 9, 2006 @ 2:00 am

  82. Bold Soul: about 3% of kids who get chicken pox are very lucky – they don’t get the rash or the itching or sometimes even the fever (I suppose this makes their parents lucky too!). So they happily stay at school, infecting everyone else they come into contact with. And to top it off, they have great immunity at the end of the ‘illness’. I was one of those kids – perhaps you were too?

    Comment by Milk & 2 Sugars — November 9, 2006 @ 8:06 am

  83. Re vaccinations, Sauterelle, Jo – I wouldn’t trust ANY info from a Government-run/State-sponsored site, from whatever country esp. regarding health and vaccines in particular – they make a fortune out of them. Latest independent research is that vaccines do not do any good at all as lower immune system drastically and can cause all sorts of problems later in life. None of mine have been vaccinated (8,6,3), wrote letter to school saying we took responsibility for that and was not a problem at all. Childhood illnesses are important for them to go through! It’s against EU law to insist on vaccination and to make it a requirement for school entry, or any childcare facility, and if the same doesn’t apply in the US – well, humanitarian track record is not top, is it? ;-)
    Try some *independent* vaccine information sites…
    BTW – French healthcare system is not what I’d call fantastic. Any treatment that actually works is not reimbursed, doctors tend to be patronising dinosaurs, and attitude to any non-chemical based treatment is regarded as either sectarian or some sort of charlatan placebo. My daughter’s allergic to penicillin and other antibiotics, so when she had a UTI recently we tried all sorts of things; when we went to see a doctor he told us we were irresponsible and promptly prescribed…a course of penicillin!!!
    Long comment, but v. important subject…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — November 9, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  84. In reference to Lucy-Jane’s advocation for not vaccinating children, I’ve written my own post, rather than spoil the lovely tone of this blog with a debate! Lucy-Jane, I’d be genuinely interested to read the independent research you’re talking about, if you have any references. Cheers!

    Comment by Milk & 2 Sugars — November 9, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  85. Re comment83 “I wouldn’t trust ANY info from a government run site, especially regarding health and vaccines” I think it’s irresponsible to suggest the government are showing an interest mainly for financial reasons, the health of the country is of paramount importance to them. It’s well researched and documented that any risk a vaccine poses is usually substantially less than the risk of the disease itself.

    My daughter had measles and rubella before she was a year old (so she was too young to have had the vaccination) and when she was 18 months old I discussed with my GP whether it was worth going for the MMR vaccine and she said “Yes, definitely, mumps can be a very nasty illness indeed.” So she ended up having the MMR vaccine to protect her against mumps only (this was in the days before separate vaccines were available)and I think it was the right decision.

    Comment by Susannah — November 9, 2006 @ 11:58 am

  86. Lucy-Jane

    I’m not going to tell you how to bring up your children, but your comments about vaccinations not working are so completley wrong that I can’t let them go unchallenged.

    Vaccinations do not weaken the immune system – they rely on the immune system to work, and they give it the resources to fight the illness in exactly the same way as exposure to the illness does. They do not cause autism, or attention deficit disorder or Asperger’s syndrome. Not immunising your child does your child and your community a disservice. Smallpox would not have been wiped out, but for the vaccine. I imagine there were nay-sayers who rejected vaccination at the time, but they died.

    I understand your resistance to antibiotics, and there is evidence to suggest that they are overprescribed. But go and talk to an elderly person who was around before antibiotics were invented – they can tell you about people dying in tragic paper cut accidents, and from shaving cuts and other tiny afflictions that became infected and escalated without challenge untill they killed the person carrying them.

    Your allegation that Governments make lots of money from vaccinations (they don’t) is not a rational basis for refusing vaccination. I am sure the health care companies that produce vaccines make money from them, and why shouldn’t they. If they can’t make a profit, they won’t stay in business and their products would no longer be available.

    If you don’t like commercial vaccines, you could opt for the natural version by taking your kids over to Petite’s for a play date.

    (Sorry to get political in your comments box Petite, but I couldn’t let this nonsense go unchallenged.)

    Comment by Damian — November 9, 2006 @ 12:03 pm

  87. Lucy Jane, do you believe the TV gives off harmful rays as well? How about hospitals being centres of mass extermination, probably linked to exta-terrestrials?

    Comment by Dan — November 9, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

  88. I don’t think this is the place to get into a debate over whether to vaccinate your children or not is it?

    Tadpole is poorly and the important thing here is sending our best wishes to hope she gets well soon

    As for Play Doh! I think I love it more than my daughters! Bravo Mr/Mrs Playdoh inventor!


    Comment by Fee — November 9, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

  89. I second Fee. We are not experts, we are all entitled to our opinions, and quite frankly I don’t know (or care) who is right. I did some reading before I vaccinated Tadpole with the MMR, got mightily confused, and ended up deciding that in a world where most kids are vaccinated and there aren’t many people to catch these things off any more, she ran the risk of catching them in her teens when they were most dangerous. So she had the MMR.

    So while people are free to disagree with LucyJane, I won’t tolerate anyone being rude to her. Understood?

    Comment by petite — November 9, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

  90. And I will post again soon but,

    a)we are quarantined at home and nothing very exciting is happening
    b)I have two colds, at once, if this is possible
    c)I like to leave posts until the comments get to 100, as this makes me look devilishly popular

    Comment by petite — November 9, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

  91. OK Petite will try not to be rude.
    Whilst the majority of children are vaccinated, those whose parents choose not to, for whatever reason, enjoy communal protection – less people to catch it off. Whooping Cough and measles can kill,and frequently used to, and you don’t want to see the effects on babies whose mum’s caught rubella while pregnant. The problem we face is needing more vaccines not less as the nasty lurgs develop resistance, i.e. TB. Also it is not illegal to insist that kids are vaccinated, the French as you know insist on BCG against TB. The only people I know to have gotten past this are some Americans with sympathetic doctors who are prepared to issue exemption certificates on the grounds that the child will face difficulties on going back home. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and to voice them, as I am entitled to voice mine that Lucy-Jane’s is plain wrong.
    Hugs to Tadpole, and have you found a way of getting her to take the medecine yet? Just how devious did you have to be?

    Comment by j — November 9, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

  92. Hi, Petite. A word of wisdom from my mom. Take good care that Tadpole dosen’t catch a cold after she recovers form the varicella. As she will be prone to various infections afterwards. I suffered from pleurisy after a varicella I was 3, but I remember the pain and the 3 month stay in hospital vividly.

    Love your blog, by the way.

    Comment by Marina — November 9, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

  93. I would like to disagree with LucyJane without being rude. Her comment: “Childhood illnesses are important for them to go through!” staggered me. Are we talking polimylitis, tuberculosis, cholera, smallpox – what exactly? Even ones considered fairly “mild” like measles, chicken pox, mumps etc. have their annual death toll. Of course you should vaccinate and Petite is exactly right in going for the MMR for Tadpole.

    This comment brings you one nearer that century :-)

    Comment by Dr Jim — November 9, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

  94. Hi Petite

    Definitely “CADBURY” goodness, and bad luck with the pots. Two of my children had it when I had just given birth to number three, then I got it (aged 32 at the time, just a few days after giving birth) and then number three got it at ten days old. Horrible time! Try Aloe Vera gel on spots to avoid scarring.
    Just read through about you being sacked too, but was unable to leave comment there as after the ten day period – of course. I think that you were treated abysmally.
    Enjoy your time with Tadpole though, and who knows maybe it will actually be the best thing that ever happened to you and your writing! Keep it up!

    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 9, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

  95. p.s it sounds like “Peppery” because of the ovaltiny style accents with which the song is sung!!


    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 9, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  96. Sally, that emind me of the first line of the Australian national anthem when sung at a rugby match sounds like: “Australians all eat ostriches….”

    Comment by Jim — November 9, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  97. My intention was not set off a firestorm on childhood vaccination, rather simply to provide a perspective on use of the varicella vaccine from the US based Center for Disease Control (CDC). Check information the World Health Organization (WHO) for a more global perspective or check online peer-reviewed medical journals. Knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and therapies for the care of your children, and the choices may not be simple. Execution of the chosen therapy may be even more difficult as evidenced by Petite’s struggle to obtain acceptance by an albeit sick Tadpole of various potions. Thank goodness for all of the wonderful parents like Petite and Mr Frog who take such care with their child. Hope both mother and daughter are feeling better soon. Rétablez-vous vite!

    Comment by sauterelle — November 9, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  98. 96

    Comment by greavsie — November 9, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

  99. Just posting a comment to bump you closer to 100 so we get another installment.

    Comment by Damian — November 9, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

  100. Also, I remember when I had chickenpox as a child, several of the neighbours did too. I have fond memories of of sitting around the house in jammies with the other spotty kids when our mums got together for a cup of tea.

    Do any of Tadpole’s friends have chickenpox too?

    Comment by Damian — November 9, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  101. will I be the 100 one ??? anyway : “oh my” c’est quand meme un peu court…

    Comment by Yann — November 9, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

  102. Whay – am number 100!

    (unless of course petite hasn’t moderated recently in which case there will be a lot of us out there thinking that we are number 100!)

    I’m one of those people who tried to catch these diseases as a child and never did – hopefully I am one of those who picked them up without knowing, otherwise I could have anasty time as an adult!

    Comment by Kingston Girl — November 9, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

  103. 100th!

    Comment by Pete — November 9, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  104. And here is another one!

    Comment by Kirsty — November 9, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  105. Sorry to hear about your combined discomforts. I hope you will both get better soon. Is the new target 120?

    Comment by Pierre L — November 9, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  106. Jim

    We do all eat ostriches. We just change the words when we write them down so foreigners don’t get the wrong idea. (And so Americans will still let us visit without being afraid that we will eat all their ostriches.)

    Also, “We’ve golden soil, our wells fart oil” and “Our friend is girt by sea”, named after Girt, a lady who lives by the sea and who is friends with everyonein the country. You may remember the referendum in 1974 to decide between Girt, or Duncan, who everybody liked to have a beer with, because Duncan is our mate. (Slim Dusty, if I remember, was firmly in the pro-Duncan, anti-Girt camp.)

    Comment by Damian — November 9, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  107. Come on Petite, we’ve cracked the tonne.

    Comment by Damian — November 9, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  108. Petite, of course we are not all experts and it goes without saying that we are all entitled to our own opinion and none of us knows for sure who is right but when it comes to such an important issue as vaccination I’m surprised to hear you say that you don’t even care!!

    Comment by Lucy — November 9, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

  109. Good grief, didn’t realise I’d provoke all that! Just to make it clear – I would not ever dream of criticising how anyone brings up their children, and would *never* tell someone they are irresponsible for doing what they believe to be best for their children, which we all do as parents. There are some things though that are important to challenge…and I love being Devil’s Advocate!
    Hope everyone’s feeling better, Petite…nothing like zillions of comments to boost morale! ;-)

    Comment by Lucy-Jane — November 9, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

  110. Jim

    So what should the line be?


    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 9, 2006 @ 6:40 pm

  111. Oh yes and Jim

    How can ANYONE have Ryanair as one of thier hobbies???

    Do tell. Why not wrtie a blog about it!!


    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 9, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  112. Does “Oh my” refer to a French boy you wrote about some time ago ? I just wondered.

    Comment by landrellec — November 9, 2006 @ 7:01 pm

  113. Sally

    Avoiding Ryanair is one of my hobbies.

    Comment by Damian — November 9, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

  114. To maybe help speed the home quarantine along, you’re in this month’s Marie Claire. “The Secret Lives of Women Bloggers – How the Internet is Giving Women a Voice”. Cameron Diaz and David Walliams are also featured in the magaine( although not in the blogging article) so there you are – 3 well known people together!

    Having had chicken pox in my early 20s, I know it’s miserable for T and you but at least she won’t have to stay in bed for 2 weeks and have more spots than could be counted. I dodn’t need to join the spots with calamine lotion, they joined themselves.

    Comment by H — November 9, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  115. Aha. It seems to be the time for interviews I gave months ago to suddenly surface. Right. I don’t seem to have received my copy, so anyone who is able to scan this and pop a copy to my email would make me very happy.

    Comment by petite — November 9, 2006 @ 8:07 pm

  116. Sally: “Australians all let us rejoice…” (for we are young and free).

    The last line goes: “G’day no worries she’ll be right: Advance Australia Fair”. Alternative: “My Sheila’s rooted, so am I: Advance Australia Fair”.

    Ryanair? Best thing that ever happened! Have had over 20 trouble-free excursions into Europe in the last couple of years. A long weekend in Copenhagen for 6 pence return – can’t be bad :-)

    Comment by Jim — November 9, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  117. I hope little old Tadpole is feeling better, malheuresement or however you spell it my two year old is still puking. Someone please help me!!! I’m going crazy with anxiety. She seemed so much better today and now she’s just spewed in her bed gain – in tandem with her four year old sister who made it to lean in a waste paper basket. I’ve done the teaspoons of water thing. What now???

    Comment by Welsh Cake — November 9, 2006 @ 9:56 pm

  118. To #110 Sally

    I wondered, too, so here’s what I found on Google:

    Australians all let us rejoice,
    For we are young and free;
    We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
    Our home is girt by sea;

    Damian’s and Jim’s version is almost as good as chicken pots, except we don’t get to imagine Tadpole shouting it!

    Comment by PJ Carz — November 9, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  119. In truth, nobody every knew more than the first verse of the Australian National Anthem until the 2000 Olympics, when suddenly we were faced with the prospect of having to sing both verses in front of an international audience. (I was performing in the opening and closing ceremonies so learned it for the two weeks, and forgot it promtly.)

    Next time you see an Australian on a podium – there’s usually one very few weeks or so – watch closely to see if they actually sing the words to the last verse, or just flap their mouth open and closed in time to the music.

    Comment by Damian — November 10, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

  120. #117 Please call a doctor or other competent medical professional in your area instead of seeking advice on a blog. Hope your children are better soon.

    Comment by Annie — November 11, 2006 @ 4:02 am

  121. I love this post… so sweet about chicken pots ;)

    Hope she feels better soon!!!

    Wish you good health :)

    Comment by Stjernesol — November 11, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

  122. I’m a bit late here I suppose,,,,but I did want to add my two cents on the Lucy-Jane subject without being unkind to anyone.

    “It’s against EU law to insist on vaccination and to make it a requirement for school entry, or any childcare facility, and if the same doesn’t apply in the US – well, humanitarian track record is not top, is it? ;-)”

    I live in the USA and I’ve made the very personal decision to not vaccinate my children within the first 10 years of life. I already know ahead of time, that I would get plenty of dissenting comments about this. I’ve had the doctors lectures. I just wanted to say that we apparently do have a humanitarian track record, because it is not legal to keep a child out of school in the states because of a lack of vaccination. I just didn’t want someone to assume anything due to being uninformed.

    Comment by beaunejewels — November 12, 2006 @ 3:00 am

  123. When I was 19 or 20 years old, I got the chicken pox and ended up in the emergency room. I had them ALL OVER my face (it looked hideous) and ALL OVER my body. I thought I was going to die…

    The doctor’s first quarantined me of course, and then they prescribed an Aveeno Oatmeal Soak. I used it that evening and the blisters began to dry out and heal within hours…the oatmeal relived that ridiculous itching. And within about two days, the blisters began to go away.

    I don’t know if you can get Aveeno Oatmeal Soak out there, or if you even need it since Tadpole’s so young. But if it’s bad, you should invest a good ten dollars in it. It really works…

    Comment by Mlle Smith — November 13, 2006 @ 5:39 am

  124. I am actually rather impressed by poxtopus. Tadpoles reasons for not wanting to bath etc. are causing me endless amusement. And I need to know: did you actually try putting “potions and lotions” on her while she was asleep?

    Comment by Whisper — November 13, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

  125. Come on now peeps don’t you think we’ve flogged this oatmeal sock and calamine lotion thing to death yet….poxy this, poxy that :=(

    Comment by Toby — November 14, 2006 @ 12:16 am

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