petite anglaise

December 13, 2006


Filed under: single life, Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:53 pm

For Tadpole’s sake, I am valiantly struggling to make Christmas feel special.

As with all treats, like a trip to see grandma and grandad, or mamie et papy, or even just the prospect of a weekend with daddy, I enjoy whetting her appetite, watching her excitement build every time I mention it, until, finally, she reaches fever pitch. Because my own childhood memories suggest that it’s the anticipation of the event which is often the best part.

So, on Sunday, despite a mild hangover, I braved the department stores of the Boulevard Haussmann so that Tadpole could marvel at the Christmas windows. Her little ooh’s and aah’s of delight were almost worth the stranger danger terror each time I lost her pigtails from sight for a few heart-stalling seconds. The windows at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have cunning little boardwalks erected in front of them, you see, and you are expected to dispatch your little darling onto the steps at one end, then wade through the sea of frazzled parents, stacked approximately ten deep from windows to edge of pavement, and intercept your child at the other end. There are some activities which are much more difficult as a single parent, and this most definitely qualifies.

On Monday I heaved a rather soggy Christmas tree home, a fine mist of drizzle making it difficult to see much through my glasses, and causing me to bump into several fellow pedestrians. After some head scratching, I finally remembered that my Christmas decorations had been safely stowed in Mr Frog’s cellar when I moved apartments. Once these had been duly recovered, Tadpole helped me to hang the stars and tinsel – breaking only two paper-thin baubles – and her gasp when I switched on the lights gave me all the validation I needed for spending € 25 at the florist’s for a tree which doesn’t even come up to Tadpole’s forehead.

The presents I cunningly ordered two or three weeks ago arrived from Eveil et Jeux by post yesterday. Or rather, I collected them from the local post office, where unbeknown to me they had been sitting for the past week. I dashed home to wrap them immediately, so that if they were accidentally found, the surprises would remain intact. There are only so many hiding places a 33m2 apartment can afford, and a single game of hide and seek could all too easily throw the whole enterprise into jeopardy.

Our Christmas cards – featuring a festive Tadpole wearing antlers as per usual – were written, signed (both by me and by Tadpole) and posted two days ago. Hopefully the old antlers have a few years mileage in them yet, before Tadpole reaches for a telephone to call the French equivalent of Childline.

It would appear, on the surface, that everything is in place.

And yet, somehow, my heart just isn’t in the whole thing. Whatever we do, it feels as though something, or someone is missing. An extra pair of eyes at the grands magasins, an extra pair of hands helping me to drag the tree home from the florists and hang the decorations, another person to help me choose and wrap the gifts.

There is a Mr Frog shaped hole in our Christmas preparations.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to rekindle the flame with Mr Frog. It’s just that there’s something about Christmas which makes me yearn for his presence alongside us. Watching Tadpole’s delight alone is only half as exciting as watching it with him. Instead of catching his eye and exchanging gleeful smiles, I must content myself with sending pictures and short “guess what she’s done now!” texts to his mobile. It’s not the same.

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that there are some parental pleasures which need to be shared in order to be fully appreciated.


  1. I have no idea what Tadpole just sang but I really enjoyed her rendition of whatever it was! (I guess my goal this year should be to improve my French so as to understand a child under the age of 5!)

    Comment by The Bold Soul — December 13, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

  2. Comptine de Noël

    Cadeaux bien emballés, papier doré ou argenté
    Rubans en tire-bouchon dans mes petits chaussons
    Un hélicoptère pour mon p’tit frère
    Des crayons de couleur pour ma grande sœur
    Des bigoudis pour ma mamie
    Une toupie pour mon papi
    Des diamants pour ma maman
    Un harmonica pour mon papa
    Et pour moi…? je ne sais pas!

    Comment by petite — December 13, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  3. That was adorable (and I don’t speak a word of French). Gave me the warm fuzzies.

    Any reason Mr. Frog couldn’t join you in these holiday activities (platonically-speaking, of course)?

    Comment by quinn — December 13, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

  4. well, he was away when I went to the Christmas windows, and left me five minutes before I went to get the tree… I don’t know, there’s a fine line somewhere between involving him and feeling awkward because, after all, it was me who chose to be apart.. tricky waters to navigate.

    Comment by petite — December 13, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

  5. The build-up is definitely the best thing. In fact, I used to dread Christmas day itself because of the inevitable fight my parents would have (all that pressure I guess). But the build up was always magic.

    Comment by Annie Rhiannon Atkins — December 13, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

  6. Damn, I every time I leave a comment on your blog it sticks in my full name. It makes me sound so bloody pompous.

    Comment by Annie Rhiannon — December 13, 2006 @ 10:30 pm

  7. You must have entered it the first time, just clear the cookie…

    Comment by petite — December 13, 2006 @ 10:33 pm

  8. My youngest asked me several years ago when I first seperated from their Papa, if he was going to be included in Christmas dinner. I have included him every year for this holiday and any others that come along. We both have other partners now, but the kids enjoy it and so do we. It is definatly worth it…

    Comment by Mary Jo — December 13, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  9. I have been reading your blog awhile yet never commented. You always seem to have plenty of people commenting. I could not resist today though. Tadpole’s song gave me the warm fuzzies. It was very sweet. I have two daughters of my own. I am rushing home to record them singing something, anything, even if it is in English.
    Thank you for that…

    Comment by Nikki — December 13, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

  10. every christmas day at about 8pm my mother would be found at the front door, shouting “thats it i’ve had enough i’m leaving” although she could usually be coaxed back with a bailey and some more christmas pudding…..

    christmas just isnt the same without an irrational and hysterical argument, usually involving food…i remember the frozen lettuce incident like it was yesterday….happy days

    Comment by katie — December 13, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

  11. Wow, you are so much more organised than me! I’ve only hot one present so far, and cards, tree, wrapping paper etc are a long way off yet. Mind you, when I get home on the 21st I guess I’m going to have to work pretty hard to get it all done, so maybe your approach is best.

    Christmas has always seemed like a family time for me. However well you cope, I can imagine there will always seem like a bit of a gap where Mr Frog used to be. Hope it doesn’t put a dampener on your Christmas :)

    Comment by Ignorminious — December 13, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

  12. Definitely tricky waters to navigate, but I have to say, I had the same thought as quinn, as per some sort of joint time with Tadpole on the holidays. However you both sort it, however, it sounds like it promises to be a brilliant time for the little one. ;)

    (I know the reality no doubt feels a lot rockier, but reading your accounts, I can’t help but be continually impressed at how smoothly the two of you have made this transition. I think there are a lot of separated couples with children who could take a note from you both.)

    Comment by jen — December 13, 2006 @ 11:28 pm

  13. The Winter festival is a most glorious pagan occasion. And children make natural pagans – they do so enjoy a celebration. I absolutely understand your wish to share her happiness with her father, it’s the most natural thing in the world. Ahhh, you’re such a wistful creature – and you do write beautifully!

    Comment by andrew — December 13, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

  14. It’s quite grey here in New York, and despite the fact that I’m hosting this year’s festivities, I just can’t get into the preparation that needs to be done. I spent my entire day off watching dvd’s and eating truffles. You’re far more prepared than I am.

    Comment by Sam — December 13, 2006 @ 11:49 pm

  15. Never mind all this Christmas malarkey, have you phoned the pharmacist yet?

    Joking aside, I can empathise with Mr Frog and how he’s probably feeling right now. I’m an absent father and this time of year is still difficult after several years apart; liaising with their Mum over the gift lists and stocking fillers, arranging the days they’ll spend with me etc, whilst all the time knowing I won’t be there to witness the excitement of the actual day. Mr Frog may well be longing to be more involved but unsure of the boundaries. If it’s what you’d like, perhaps you could give him a little encouragement – whilst be totally transparent as to the extent of your intentions, of course. Although, reading between the lines, I’m unsure as to whether you know them yourself, right now ;)

    Whichever way it goes, you all have my sincerest wishes for a Very Happy Christmas.

    Comment by Martin — December 14, 2006 @ 12:05 am

  16. There’s something magical about watching someone love your child as much as you do. Any loving mother would miss it. You had me welled up with tears today. I’m not sure how I feel about being so greedy for these updates with little peepholes into your life.

    It doesn’t always feel real when you’re the one creating the magic. At the same time, it’s as real as it gets. Keep enjoying her. Thank you for sharing.

    An aside: I threw up a link to your blog in mine, I hope you don’t mind.

    Comment by Tammi — December 14, 2006 @ 12:35 am

  17. Mr Frog sounds pretty good to me.

    After all he IS your child’s father. And from everything you’ve written, he still loves both of you.

    How many other men out there can say those things?

    Comment by Sedulia — December 14, 2006 @ 1:02 am

  18. Very touching post… actually. Kindda makin’a bit cry. Where and how are you gonna spend christmas period regarding all this?

    Comment by Mardo — December 14, 2006 @ 2:21 am

  19. I played Tadpole’s song, and my four year old came flying over to the laptop and placed his ear at the speaker to hear her better. Then, he asked to replay it and started trying to repeat after her. So cute!

    Merry Christmas to you & the Tadpole.

    Comment by Abba — December 14, 2006 @ 2:28 am

  20. Oh, petite….it would be very gracious of you to have Mr. Frog share in the holiday with Tadpole and you. Tadpole would be delighted, wouldn’t she? Why not allow her to have special memories.

    I know you keep saying you don’t want to be with Mr. Frog, but sometimes I wonder if I detect a bit of uncertainty in your writing? I am not for people being miserable, but if there were any chance at all…it would be marvelous for Tadpole. I guess I am old-fashioned and like happy endings for the children.

    Comment by Elle — December 14, 2006 @ 3:24 am

  21. The thing is, Christmas has been carved up: one week of the school holidays with daddy, mamie and papy, the second week with me and my family in England. There won’t actually be time for a Christmas together in Paris, as such, and that’s something I’m starting to regret a little.

    Comment by petite — December 14, 2006 @ 7:59 am

  22. I too feel an uncertainty in your writing about Mr. Frog. Feeling like something’s missing, that your heart’s not in Christmas preparations because Mr. Frog isn’t around is a huge declaration. Maybe you don’t just miss him because he’s the father of your Tadpole but because he’s him.

    Comment by Izzy — December 14, 2006 @ 8:11 am

  23. Tadpole sounds absolutely adorable…AND, I actually understood some of what she said. Yay for me…


    Comment by Mlle Smith — December 14, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  24. Loving the tadpole – she’s ace!!! Petite, my 4.5 yr old is also gearing herself up to a whirlwind of excitement – and we’ve still 11 days to go!!!

    Comment by Sam — December 14, 2006 @ 9:16 am

  25. No way you can set-up a lunch/diner by the time Tadpole is in transit between her two families? Or when you come back from England, to have a “This is not Santa but mum & dad wanted to have a diner with you. Maybe Santa will pay a visit while you’re asleep, tough” or anything of that kind?
    Would you ask Mr Frog for that kind of thing…?

    Comment by Mardo — December 14, 2006 @ 9:58 am

  26. What a beautifully honest post. I’ve been reading for a long time, but this one really touched me. My parents divorced when I was three, and we did Early Christmas with Mom (Dad and his family came too) two weekends before, and then Christmas with Dad’s family (Mom came for a short morning visit, but was usually working evening shift as a nurse). None of them got along all that well outside of the holidays, but their efforts around Christmas really mean a lot to me now–even if I didn’t know to appreciate it then. Happy holidays to you and yours!

    Comment by sognatrice — December 14, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  27. aww how adorable! She sounds so French!

    Comment by Maxi — December 14, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  28. You’ve brought a tear to my eye. I hate missing people at Christmas.

    My mum is the most festive Christmas person on earth. Until she was eight she lived in her Grandmother’s very adult house – grandmother, uncle, her parents, her older brother, housekeeper, and a lot of being seen and not heard: except at Christmas when the whole family pulled out all the stops to make it extra special for the children.

    So she has reinforced the, “taste has no place on a Christmas Tree” ethos for us with too much food, too much tinsel, too many presents, too many visitors and too much love for anyone.

    Now I live on the other side of the world. God I miss her. A phone call is just not enough.

    Comment by Damian — December 14, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  29. Hi its difficult I’ve been there. I also left my daughters father for another guy four years ago. She was four at the time. Fortunatly time has passed and made things easier and we too have managed to maintain a good relationship. As each year passes you will manage to work out a better way of dealing with it. It’s good if you can still keep up some traditions such as visiting school plays together. Maybe you don’t miss Mr Frog as such but just someone being there and it’s always easier to imagine being with the father of your child. I still have times when I think I regret what I did re splitting up a family but deep down I know my relationship with my ex is now what it is because we don’t live together!!

    Comment by Amanda — December 14, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  30. I am old-fashioned and like happy endings for the children too..just like Elle. Reading your post today I come ,de nouveau, to the conclusion that I HATE THE DIVORCE…certainly it comforts adults but bring so miserable times for kids.
    Every year me and my sister had to split up the holidays season in two when my parents lived separately…now, thanks God, they are back together!

    Comment by Momo — December 14, 2006 @ 1:17 pm

  31. Can’t you share Christmas together? What’s wrong with that?

    Comment by fjl — December 14, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  32. The hardest part must be to let Tadpole go during this holiday season. I would not like to be without my children either.

    I liked Izzy’s post. (Please don’t throw tomatoes!) Maybe you do miss Mr. Frog…at least the good things about that relationship? I have read quite a few good things about him in your blog over the past few years.

    Sometimes taking a break from one another can be a good thing…and if the couple tries again, they can work at avoiding the pitfalls that plagued them before. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, but then it turns out not to be true. Sounds as if neither you or Mr. Frog are blissfully happy.

    You wouldn’t have the stress of working at the office. I know you have a job now, but the stress is different than the stress from office politics. Stress can wreak havoc in relationships.

    I used to think when I was younger that there was a “perfect” soulmate waiting for me out there. But old age makes you realize that no relationship is perfect. Partners can get a bit bored with each other. You have to know when to get away alone…or do something adventurous together to rekindle the flames.

    As I grow older, I am glad that my mate and I have stayed together. There is something nice about having a history with someone…having lots of fond memories, especially of raising the children together.
    We both had opportunities to be with others, but chose to work through the difficulties. Hindsight is 20/20, but I am glad that we did.

    I always wonder to what extent cultural differences play into relationships. Mr. Frog is Italian and French…and you are English. I am married to someone from another culture, and it took us awhile to understand those differences. Sometimes they can be quite subtle and yet cause a great deal of tension.

    Tadpole’s song is so sweet. I always love it when you put audio of her talking and singing on your blog.

    Comment by Elle — December 14, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  33. Was at the Vitrines de noel myself last saturday at …. 7.30 am .. Only way to feel more confortable and actually getting shots of my 2year old daughter alone in front of the windows ,)

    First time her getting up early is actually useful ,)

    She enjoyed it a lot even after 35m car ride ….

    Comment by Thierry_J — December 14, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  34. Poor P’tite – you should have Christmas holidays in Australia instead, then there’d be more time to do stuff – 7.5 weeks at least!!!

    Comment by Rachel in Perth — December 14, 2006 @ 2:26 pm

  35. Thanks for this post Petite. I stumbled onto your blog a few months ago and make a point to visit every now and then, but this last one will make me a regular.

    The reason is because in a few short paragraphs you managed to remind me of how fortunate I am to still be the “Mr Frog” in my kids lives. Every year, I bitch and moan about how my wife and I overspend on them, yet to see their faces on Christmas Day makes that cost a bargain.

    Again, thanks…

    Comment by Johnny — December 14, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

  36. Well…. attractive pharmacists aside, you know my thoughts on this already, from my previous comments. I am perhaps inclined to agree with Izzy and Sedulia…. and perhaps it’s not too late to change your plans. It is a week and a half til Christmas yet….


    Comment by Sally Lomax — December 14, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  37. I know all too well this feeling of navigating tricky waters…

    Possibly what you need presently is your faithful crew breaking into some heartening chanty, the kind of:
    “C’est un fameux trois-mâts fin comme un oiseau.
    Hisse et ho, Santillano !
    Dix huit nœuds, quatre cent tonneaux :
    Je suis fier d’y être matelot”…

    Don’t you think Tadpole could do a striking rendering of the faithful crew’s part?

    It will be up to you, captain, to decide if the crew goes all the way to the last couplet:
    “Un jour, je reviendrai chargé de cadeaux.
    Hisse et ho, Santillano !
    Au pays, j’irai voir Margot.
    A son doigt, je passerai l’anneau”.

    Comment by Géronimo — December 14, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

  38. I discovered your site a few months ago…and everytime I take a stroll away from what I should be doing, I visit here. I guess your site is like a great vitrines de noel of what my life should be…

    Comment by Delphine — December 14, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

  39. Ahh… those “fine lines” and “tricky waters” rear their ugly heads again. I know about them. Of course, my boys are much bigger than your little Tadpole and I was married to their Daddy for a long time (oh, yeah, I still am), but we’ve lived apart for over two years now (thank you, God) and I still schlepp him around to holidays (and a few other special events), because he’s their father. It is sometimes awkward, but at least it provides the entertainment value of completely horrifying my mother. *sigh*

    Hang in there, Petite. You will find a rhythm with this. I promise.

    [I’ll have to listen to her song later – blogging from work – ;)!]

    Comment by Sophmom — December 14, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

  40. Petite,
    just do what you want to, to make your and Tad’s Christmas special. Your focus should be on Tad’s happiness, but don’t lose sight of your own. If you thinnk it appropriate to share the experience with Mr Frog, invite him and change the holiday plans (sod the collateral damage and upset grandparents). It’s all about Tad.

    I hope the pharmacist works out, your really should call, if only to let him know that his cure worked.

    Happy holiday!

    Comment by sodomandgomorrah — December 14, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  41. A great pleasure to hear your daughter’s voice. Thank you. It brought me back to when my own daughter was that age–warm memories.

    Joyeux Noel

    Comment by alexd — December 14, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  42. Hi Petite

    I too have been reading your blog for a while now, but only felt compelled to post from today’s writing.

    It seems that many are sharing their experiences so I hope you won’t mind mine, nor object to my intrusion in to this well established extended family that have adopted you.

    I split with my partner over 7 years ago. My son was 2 at the time. The first two years were very difficult as I met another lady. I split from her but started to rebuild my relationship with my son’s mother. We eventually managed to become civil to each other again, even sharing outings and family events.

    Whilst I am NOT an advocator of Christmas, I do love bestowing presents on people and always made the effort for all to enjoy themselves. For many years I have gotten away with doing the “Santa’s footprints from the chimney (my boot dipped in flour and pressed in to the carpet – the look on my son’s face was priceless).

    My ex and I always worked to ensure the whole day was special for my lad and we actually enjoyed ourselves too.

    And now …… we got back together in November 04, bought a house and are getting married next month. You are the first to hear, so if anyone knows me or my family, please keep it quiet. This is for me, my lady and my son …. so hush you doubters. Have faith in your own wants.

    Enjoy these precious moments Petite. 10 years have flown by so quickly for me.

    Comment by JNH — December 14, 2006 @ 6:37 pm

  43. Looks like your Christmas is sorted! You’re very well organized, and it’s touching to see your effort to make things special for your daughter. I know exactly the “there’s something/someone missing”, though. That’s the price we pay for moving on. I really really hope you somehow manage to borrow some of your girl’s happiness and excitment and that you two have a lovely christmas together. :)

    Comment by Lolla Moon — December 14, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

  44. Strange – I was teaching that very comptine to my kids at school today (last week of term and all that). They weren’t very enthusiastic – but are 15 year old boys enthusiastic about anything?

    At least now I have proof that a small child can indeed sing it better than they did.

    Next time I’ll stick with yet another rendition of ‘vive le vent’

    Comment by Une Fille — December 14, 2006 @ 6:45 pm

  45. …been following your wonderful blog for months, Petite….and absolutely love it. I have been keeping my big mouth shut until now….but after this post I cannot help wishing you and yours (obviously including the most delightful Tadpole and — – Mr. Frog, too…) a most joyous holiday season and all good things….always!!!

    Comment by Laurie — December 14, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

  46. I’ve just realized I haven’t even decorated the Christmas tree…

    Comment by MAD — December 14, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  47. I’d risk it and feel you should ask Mr. Frog if perhaps starting next year, the three of you could trim the tree together or do something mutually agreed upon that involves the three of you.

    You seem to get along well and it would be wonderful to share part of this wonderful time of year together with Tadpole.

    Comment by Diane — December 14, 2006 @ 11:30 pm

  48. Oops. I have no clue what Tadpole sang, but it was beautiful as always.

    What was the song?

    Comment by Diane — December 14, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

  49. Petite,

    Just to say thanks for another vintage post – touching, honest, and funny.

    Comment by ontario frog — December 15, 2006 @ 4:16 am

  50. I must admit the only reason I put up a christmas tree every year is because of my son. We also braved the crowds to visit santa recently. I’m sure it’s these little things he will remember.

    Comment by jen — December 15, 2006 @ 4:22 am

  51. “There are some activities which are much more difficult as a single parent, and this most definitely qualifies.”

    A little device – Helix Child Alert – costing a few pounds can keep Tadpole within range. One section sits in the child’s pocket the other with the parent, once the child moves out of range the alarm sounds………..

    It is better than fastening one of those helmets with a red flashing light on her head – which always gives children adult nightmares as they dream of having been considered slightly odd

    Comment by Voyager — December 15, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  52. “The thing is, Christmas has been carved up: one week of the school holidays with daddy, mamie and papy, the second week with me and my family in England. There won’t actually be time for a Christmas together in Paris, as such,”

    What about visiting the Christmas Market in Strasbourg……….is that an economical possibility ?

    Comment by Voyager — December 15, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  53. Hi Petite,
    Again, lovely post here. Very touching. Even more touching are the comments that your post has provoked from your readers. I enjoyed reading all of this. Thanks

    Comment by Girl on a Train — December 15, 2006 @ 10:40 am

  54. Dear Petite,

    I knew that I’d written that I would no longer post a comment again in your Blog, but after reading this latest post of yours, I’ve changed my mind.

    The main reason being that with this post and some of the comments, you have all touched a very easily identifiable cord in my own lifes experiences (twice divorced but now with a wonderful partner). I hope that whatever happens during the coming Christmas celebrations, you, Tadpole and Mr. Frog have a wonderful time.

    Also, I must add the best of Christmas wishes to Damian, Elle, Trevor…and all of the other, too many to name, wonderfully entertaining Commentators.

    All the best to you all

    Comment by JP — December 15, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

  55. On special occasions like christmas, birthdays, etc it might be nice to not stand on ceremony and let bygones be bygone. What a silly cliché, and yet to a child it could mean so much. Maybe next year it could be planned differently…
    I think it’s going to be “bright lights” for Tadpole down the road.

    Comment by ParisBreakfasts — December 15, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

  56. This blog is great my mate’s blog véloman is great too but on the whole we should all go out and RIOT or MAKE LOVE instead of blogging all day long…

    This innernet thing has really been doing me ‘ead-in.

    I been in London longer than you have in PAris…I miss Paris…but then again after three weeks spent there I wanna piss off somewhere else…

    London’s dire…in a sort of Dickensian way…plus England is AT WAR and that I really can’t stand …but then again Ye olde Blog’s great…and pink…and by the looks of it people like it going by the volume of the letters you receive…

    have a good chrimbo/ Bon Noêl


    Comment by fabs — December 15, 2006 @ 2:40 pm

  57. The Christmas photo is ridiculously cute. Next year I want one of you in those antlers…

    Comment by Meg — December 15, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  58. “Des diamants pour ma maman!”, eh!!!
    Did you bribe her?

    Comment by cream — December 15, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

  59. I hope you can sort out these tricky waters sooner rathan than later. You may ‘feel awkward’ now asking him to be a part of your daughter’s christmas, but I’m sure you will feel awkward in years to come when you try to explain why you and Mr Frog get on so well but couldn’t spend time at Christmas together for your daughter’s sake. I have only one regret in my life, and that is that my dad wasn’t there at those times of my childhood when it would have been most important (for me) for him to have done so. Christmas is for children, not their emotionally fragile parents! These are the memories she will have to carry with her – you should try to bear that in mind at all times. Put your differences aside and share.

    Comment by Jude — December 15, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  60. People who say that divorce is hard on the kids.

    It is, but I’ve been a child of an unhappy marriage, and later, a child of divorced parents. The latter is better. Wierd, and a bit hard to adjust to, but better and happier over all.

    Comment by Damian — December 15, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  61. yes, I have to say that I prefer diamonds to the “bigoudis” (rollers) that mamie gets in the song or Mr Frog’s harmonica…

    Comment by petite — December 15, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  62. With this post you made a grown man cry, well almost. I did have a lump in my throat. Very moving.
    You’re really at your best when you write like this.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — December 15, 2006 @ 5:12 pm

  63. Petite, I’m so jealous! I split up with my husband nearly 3 years ago, and we haven’t exchanged a civil word since. I have few regrets – our lives are better and simpler without him. But I do so wish we could be civil enough to share time on the children’s special days. It’s never going to happen (I don’t think it will ever be safe for me to be in his company!)but in my heart of hearts, I’m sorry for that.

    Comment by Silver Lining — December 15, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

  64. I think that was the first time in 20 years that I’d heard “des bigoudis” mentioned!

    Do women still use them?
    Come on, nous sommes au 21ème siècle!!!

    Personally, I’d like “les crayons de couleurs”.

    Comment by Cream — December 16, 2006 @ 12:56 am

  65. You perfectly captured the special empty feeling that single parents feel at Christmas.

    It doesnt get easier either.

    I love your blog, you paint such a vivid picture that I feel like I have known you for years.


    Comment by nbfiddlehead — December 16, 2006 @ 1:12 am

  66. Oh Petite, this post brings tears to my eyes. As a newly single parent spending a “last christmas” with my husband this year, so much of this is exactly what I’m feeling, even with him here. Quite honestly, it blows. My heart goes out to you.

    Comment by Jenny — December 16, 2006 @ 3:20 am

  67. I translated with Babel Fish your French nursery rhyme. I don’t speak French, so I have not fixed up the syntax, and I don’t know what papi is.

    Well packed gifts, paper gilded or silver plated;
    Ribbons in corkscrew in my small slippers;
    A helicopter for my little brother;
    Of the colouring pencils for my big sister;
    Of the hair-curlers for my granny;
    A spinning top for my papi;
    Of diamonds for my mom;
    A harmonica for my dad;
    And me…? I do not know!

    Comment by Peter G — December 16, 2006 @ 3:33 am

  68. good god do you realise what a HUGE moaner you are?

    Comment by kate — December 16, 2006 @ 6:59 am

  69. I’ve been reading through your blog from March 2005 and it strikes me that if I was looking at your life from outer space/ heaven/ a great distance of space and time away, the man who would show up as the one who was really there for you was, of course, Mr Frog. I noted as I was reading that you sincerely believe he does not read your blog which if true – considering what you both have been through – makes him an extraordinary human being. And if it isn’t true, and he has succeeded in convincing you of this because he does not want to close the window on your heart it provides, then that would probably make him an even more extraordinary human being. Either way I admire his forbearance and his ability to sustain hurt without lashing out. I have known and been a part of couples who have had much more bitterness over much less than you two have been through. Given what I have read, I suspect he cares very much about you. Wouldn’t it be a sad irony if the almost paternal restraint he has shown on occasions – a quality that seems to have buttressed your relationship since your split – was translatable as the sense that he was undemonstrative and disengaged when you were a couple? Tricky fellows these Frenchmen and no mistake…

    Comment by U-man Bean — December 16, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

  70. Papi means grandad. (Grand Père)
    (Of the) Colouring pencils for my big sister.
    Not bad for an online translation!

    Comment by cream — December 16, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

  71. That’s a lovely post. I can almost feel the atmosphere over in Paris. Here in my part of Sicily I miss department stores.
    I do feel for you: I think there’s just “something about Christmas” – full stop. At this time of year, we all miss whoever we have loved.
    You’ll get through it and have a great time with Tadpole – I know you will.
    Auguri from Sicily.

    Comment by Welshcakes Limoncello — December 16, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

  72. I loved the song. I love listening to little children speaking (or singing) in French. This always makes me smile, it is so cute. I will miss that when I leave France but I can always listen to Tadpole here :-D

    Happy holidays to you and your family, no matter where and how you spend it. Enjoy it.

    Comment by Tina — December 16, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

  73. Hiya!

    I first heard about your site from my french teacher a while ago as i’m studying french here in wales =] It’s brilliant of course and even though i’ve only been to Paris once I’d love to go again, and someday hope to move there myself. Just thought you’d like to know how much you’ve inspired me to do this and I really hope someday to start something like you have. I’m 17 and on my way in the world!!! It would be totally cool if I’d could do something like you have. Any suggestions how i can start?! So thankyou I guess, and…well your site is awesome!!

    Merci pour ton influence vraiment importante sur mon avenir!! Il est toujours fantastique de lire les histoires de ta vie, et j’espere d’etre un peu comme vous! Desolee si mon francais est un peu faux, mais je suis seulement un pauvre etudiant!

    Merry Christmas!


    P.S Tadpole is so sweet! =]

    Comment by Bethan — December 16, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

  74. In the card shop this evening, the salesgirl smiled and pointed: ‘We only have all those cards left, the ones that say ‘Happy Christmas, Dad’.
    ‘Because they’re all somewhere else? And the kids don’t know where or can’t be bothered?’
    She shrugged her shoulders, laughed in complicity, nodding her head.

    Comment by Horatio — December 17, 2006 @ 2:29 am

  75. I find that very hard to believe, Horatio…certainly in my family “Dad” is thought of as probably the most important person, everyone’s hero and rightly so and most people know where their Dad is.

    I can’t stand these cards that say “Happy Christmas Dad” or “Happy Christmas Great Nephew” anyway, they’re just so naff, I think it makes it so impersonal, surely people are capable of writing that on a card themselves.

    Comment by Susannah — December 17, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

  76. I agree with Izzy, I feel that you miss M. Frog too. Sometimes it is impossible to live together even though people love each other, but that’s another story…

    Comment by Laure — December 17, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  77. A touching post! I hope that you don’t make a mistake in getting back with Mr. Frog just for moments like this.

    Christmas, you are right, is best experienced with children. This year I will have guests for the holidays, including their two children. It should be interesting. Stay tuned to see if I survive ….

    Comment by Lost in France — December 17, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  78. Christmas, even in the most beautiful of cities, can be blue-sy. Without a child to keep one honest, one could flounder aimlessly in those blues. Completely makes sense to be missing the representative of Tadpole’s other side of the gene pool at this time of year. xx, c

    Comment by clarissa — December 17, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

  79. That was the cutest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

    Comment by Vita — December 17, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

  80. Wait. I’m just navigating all this. Can someone direct me to the posts that explain what happened to Mr. Frog?

    Comment by Vita — December 17, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

  81. May 2005

    Comment by petite — December 17, 2006 @ 6:29 pm

  82. This will be the third Christmas I’ve spent without my own Mr Frog…the children are teenagers now and not so easy to please (I can’t get away with bubbles and crayons in their stockings anymore :-)) but I do miss giving him presents and forcing him to eat sage and onion stuffing and Christmas pudding…
    Joyeaux Noël, Petite Anglaise et…Tadpole (“le têtard” doesn’t sound as sweet somehow!)

    Comment by Gigi — December 17, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

  83. Appropos of nothing in particular for some reason I feel inspired to use this strand of comments to advertise to the world in general that “all things are possible” and a great many people have given up in pity and exhaustion before they have managed to convince me otherwise.

    Joyez Noel

    Comment by U-man Bean — December 17, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

  84. A woman loves the promised child in a man. When she has that child, she has realized the promise for them both. Then it is up to the man to make her want him as much as the child.
    How many men can pass that test? I didn’t…

    Comment by andrew — December 19, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

  85. I love the way that N°68 just got ignored. Rightly so.
    Christmas is different every year depending on who’s around, and I’m sure this year will be great for all of you. You’re a lot more mature than some couples, in fact you never seem to have arguments (that you document on here anyway)..
    Merry Christmas!

    Comment by Paris Lights — December 21, 2006 @ 7:58 pm

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