petite anglaise

December 28, 2006


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:47 pm

I am sitting in bed, watching episodes of Desperate Housewives back to back and feeling sorry for myself. Despite the Christmas tree sparkling winsomely in the corner of the room, I have never felt less festive, or more hungover. That’s what happens when you go to a party for grown up singles on Christmas day, instead of more traditional activities such as watching the Top of the Pops Christmas special in the front room of your parents house, or sulking when your mother refuses to put any alcohol in her Christmas pudding. Grown up + singles = unfeasible amounts of drink. My liver is determined to find me a boyfriend. It’s an act of self-preservation.

The phone vibrates on the bedside table, almost making me jump out of my skin.

“Hi there,” I say to Mr Frog. “I was just thinking about phoning you. I need to think about plane tickets for the February holidays…”

“Already?” he replies. He never did understand my impulse to organise things in advance. “Well, er, that’s not why I’m phoning. My Doctor friend just stopped by to see Tadpole and I have some news.”

“About that little scab on her head?” I ask, puzzled at his rather ominous tone of voice. There has been a crusty patch above Tadpole’s right ear since she caught chickenpox back in November. It was taking a while to clear up, so I’d suggested to Mr Frog that he might want to show it to his friend if he stopped by. “Right, well, what did he say?”

“Well… it wasn’t healing right, and he actually cut off the hair around it and opened up the wound. So now she’ll need to wear a compress and a bandage around her head for two weeks…”

“A bandage? For two weeks? For a scab the size of a one euro coin? Why on earth? Was it infected or something?”

“Well, I don’t think so, but he did prescribe a week of antibiotics. And a special gel…

“Jesus,” I say, choosing my words with festive care. “Why didn’t I take her to the doctor’s earlier? I feel awful now. But it looked dry and fine and I was just expecting it to fall off any day now…”

“Hey, it’s not your fault…”

I replace the receiver.

So, the pictures of Tadpole’s Christmas this year will feature her head mummified in bandages, perhaps with a tiara perched on top to cheer her up.

And the in-laws have just spent the holiday with the gauzy white evidence of my neglect staring them squarely in the face.

Roll on 2007, things can only get better.


  1. Cheer up, you are a fantastic mom.

    Mind you, a three day hangover is overdoing it a bit!

    Comment by JoeS — December 28, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  2. Petite,

    I would suggest not being so hard on yourself. You take great care of your daughter and love her so much, you didn’t neglect taking her to the doctor on purpose.

    I love reading your blog and this is the first time I felt compelled to comment. I think we as women can tend to be really hard on ourselves. I know from my own personal experience =)


    Comment by DP — December 28, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

  3. Oh Petite,
    I think this is the curse of motherhood – and I don’t even have children, but I do teach them so I know a bit of the interactions between parents and children.

    Honestly in the same situation I would’ve done the same thing. And as for your in laws seeing evidence of anything about you – can I just add that I defy any parent to say they’re perfect!

    You have a lovely happy daughter – who sings beautifully and who loves you to pieces. That is evidence enough that you are a great Mum.

    I hope you have a great last few days in 2006 and an absolutely stellar 2007!

    Comment by Kasey — December 28, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

  4. Don’t be hard on yourself. It looked fine, sounds like this is just an extra precaution. We British do tend to be a little stiff upper lip about illness but french can sometimes go to the other extreme. I’m sure Tadpole will be fine & it sounds like you always do your very best for her. I only took my own “tadpole” to the doc yesterday after my ex (French) nagged me for a week as she had a cold.

    Comment by Kate — December 28, 2006 @ 11:34 pm

  5. Hi, I’ve been having the family Christmas watching endless quiz shows and thinking how nice a drunken singles party sounds, the grass is always greener!

    Comment by Paris Lights — December 28, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  6. Sounds like the doctor overreacted to me – surely a scab is better than an open wound.

    Comment by Z — December 29, 2006 @ 12:09 am

  7. seems a drastic measure on the doctor’s part. it wouldn’t occur to me to go to the doc for a scab, either!

    Comment by Molly — December 29, 2006 @ 12:10 am

  8. It isn’t Christmas without TOTP, that’s for sure, and there was also a rather magnificent Dr. Who special and a feelgood film about an autistic kid and his dog. But at least you avoided the mega-tins of Quality Street and whatever those ones are called that are shaped like mini-chocolate bars. Death to the waistline but horribly addictive. I’ve let myself go to such an extent that I even bought stollen – and marzipan-stuffed stollen at that, for Christmas’s sake – in Monoprix this evening. I shall be putting in for a gastric ring, or whatever they’re called, before January’s out. I think Tadpole will look sweet with a bandage + tiara combo – it’ll be a change from those bleedin’ antlers lol xxx

    Comment by rhino75 — December 29, 2006 @ 12:14 am

  9. Look on the brightside, hangovers can’t generally happen unless some kind of drunken fun happens first, which by itself sounds a lot better than my life right now.

    As for Tadpole, I agree with the others, you can’t blame yourself. If you hadn’t noticed the scab at all then you might have reason to be kicking yourself, but no one can be blamed for not realising that something that appears in all respects to be minor is in fact more significant. It does sound to me (a very layman type when it comes to health care) that the doctor may have reacted a little strongly, although I’m sure he had his reasons.

    Hope all is well for both of you soon :)

    Comment by Ignorminious — December 29, 2006 @ 12:15 am

  10. Okay, call me crazy, but where’s the neglect here? You NOTICED that Tadpole had a wound that wasn’t healing quickly enough which caused you concern…you recommended that Mr. Frog ask his doctor-friend to look at it.

    He looked at it and had the AUDACITY to open it up! (If I were Tadpole I would NOT be having it! I was a handful as a child-patient…) He prescribed medication.

    In my book, that equals responsible parenting and intuition. Seriously…give credit where credit’s due.

    In the meantime, the visual of her “head mummified with bandages” complete with a tiara was hilarious. Now give yourself credit, damnit!


    Comment by Mlle Smith — December 29, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  11. Petite – don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember you live in France, where they subscribe untold amounts of medicines for the smallest of cuts. Tadpole will be just fine, I’m sure!

    Comment by teeweewonders — December 29, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  12. But that is always how it goes- when you rush into the doctor, he looks at you like a crazy person because its absolutely nothing but whenever you brush off their cough, your child ends up with walking pneumonia. Its almost like they do it to you on purpose… Do you think that is what they are teaching them at garderie?

    Comment by Nicole — December 29, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  13. You really seem to enjoy writing about your many hangovers, ever thought that you might have a problem? Otherwise from the bits of your life you choose to share with the world at large you seem to have it pretty good. So the job loss was stressful for a relatively short time before your great book deal turned it around in a positive way. Your daughter’s father and his family seem to do their fair share in raising her, you have a lot to be thankful for, quit complaining and develop an attitude of gratitude for the good life you enjoy. Bye Bye I will not be reading your blog anymore you are too depressing for someone who has so many blessings.

    Comment by suzette — December 29, 2006 @ 12:42 am

  14. Hi Petite

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and am not sure if I’ve commented before. I thought that I had better introduce myself.
    During my spare time this Christmas I read the posts from the start (am now up to end of 2005) as I really enjoyed your writing.
    I too have had a love affair with the French language since I started learning it many years ago. I also left school with my only clear aim being that one day I wanted to spend all my time immersed in the language. That fell by the wayside, while I focused on earning a degree and then a living.
    I recently renewed my love of French by taking the step and visting Paris in June. C’était super!

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate reading your blog.

    Thank you!

    PS And I thought that being in a town with a distinct shortage of *eligible/intelligent/appropriate/clean* men was my excuse for continued singledom…guess the problem exists in Paris too! Comforting :-)

    Comment by black cat — December 29, 2006 @ 12:51 am

  15. From other posts, it sounds like this might be a typical French prescription for something as serious as a scab.

    Comment by Hywel Mallett — December 29, 2006 @ 1:15 am

  16. Misplaced my reading glasses before linking to what seemed your improbably named ‘Bondage’ blog and thought for maybe a second you’d got involved in some torrid Christmas party scene. Sadly not. So, glasses on nose, I see no bondage while Boxing day reduces you to feeling a terrible mother wracked with guilt-attacks about BANDAGES?

    Relax, it’s normal to get remorseful after boozing. Just cut down on it a bit, right? It’ll make an OK mum a better one. And by the way, the French are a naion of hypochondriacs. Hadn’t you got that, or is it contagious?

    Comment by andrew — December 29, 2006 @ 3:29 am

  17. Deep breaths. Just think, it’s not nearly so bad as when I buckled my son into his seatbelt. No. Really. I buckled him into his seatbelt and, as he hated the car at that time, it took a couple of seconds of pure joy until I recognized that there was a real problem and the nature of that problem. The net result of that particular adventure in high-stress problem solving was much volume but (blessedly) no lasting hurt. I’m sure ‘Mothering’ magazine has a special medal designed just for me.

    Comment by Susan — December 29, 2006 @ 4:25 am

  18. Ancient Chinese wisemen taught us that liver is the human soul’s location. They had probably reasons of their own for thinking so.

    How’s Tadpole feeling about her newly-bandaged head? She’s probably already made up a personal opinion about this, and will not be (or is it hasn’t been?) long to share it with you!

    Comment by Géronimo — December 29, 2006 @ 5:41 am

  19. Sorry the end of 2006 has been so difficult. I hope that 2007 is better!

    Comment by Anali — December 29, 2006 @ 5:53 am

  20. She’ll love the extra attention/sweets she gets.

    Comment by Suze in NL — December 29, 2006 @ 7:50 am

  21. At least you didn’t lock her in the car while it’s still running and have to call the fire dept to come jimmy the lock open for you as you desperately try to entertain her through the window with silly faces.

    Comment by Lux Lisbon — December 29, 2006 @ 8:08 am

  22. Poor Tadpole. I hope she’s not too uncomfortable with the bandage on her head and not too upset about the unexpected haircut.
    French doctors can overdo things at times can’t they?

    Anyway, many thanks for your entertaining writing throughout 2006 and all good wishes to you both for 2007.

    Comment by sablonneuse — December 29, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

  23. Hi petite, don’t take it so hard on you, you’re a terrific mom! Kids, they should come in bubblewrap, but then, where’s the fun in that! But Hey, you’ve got my vote for supermom of the year :) and I’m sure 2007 will be a fantastic year for the both of you. All my best wishes.

    Comment by natacha — December 29, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

  24. It happens to every parent to feel a guilt someday for something we think we should have paid some special attention. I’d like to add, only the caring ones feel that guilt.

    Comment by Rog — December 29, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  25. Don’t worry these things happen. We are on first name terms with the staff at our local urgence. Thanfully we have not been for a little while (touch wood).

    Shit happens.

    Comment by Billyboy — December 29, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  26. Never less festive? Dressed up in a gorgeous red paper package of a coat, bearing homemade mince pies and foie gras?

    I can’t wait, then, to see what festive looks like.

    Comment by Meg — December 29, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

  27. Ah, don’t beat yourself up. As long as it doesn’t kill her it will make her stronger.

    And most important, you got your Christmas photo with her before the bandage went on.

    Comment by Damian — December 29, 2006 @ 1:46 pm

  28. So you’re not a hypochondriac – that has to be a good thing.

    Comment by Susan — December 29, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  29. Poor boo boo! I join the other posters in saying – “take it easy on yourself”….Your little one will be fine; all the more so as she has a mom and dad who both clearly treasure her. Take good care of yourself…… you and Tadpole snuggle up and enjoy the the countdown to 2007!

    Comment by Laurie — December 29, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  30. Hey Petite – glad you are back – I’ve been missing your posts.

    I am sure Tadpole will be fine and it’s *so* not your fault.

    If it’s any consolation, I always find that the tendency to beat myself up over everything goes hand in hand with a stinking hangover. In fact, my personal trainer told me that there is actually a scientific explanation as to why we feel so wretched mentally the morning after lots of alcohol – even when we have been well behaved. Mind you I can’t actually remember what the explanation was – I was too busy staring at his biceps at the time :-)

    Comment by Elisabeth — December 29, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  31. PS (to comment number 30) – *please* tell me Suzette’s comment (number 13) is a wind up?!

    Comment by Elisabeth — December 29, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  32. “My liver is determined to find me a boyfriend”

    Your liver talks to you too, huh? Mine has been doing that since the transplant…..;-)

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — December 29, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  33. I’m guessing the reason for the extreme bandaging is that Tadpole is very young and children that age tend to pick at scabs and tear off band-aids (plasters). Maybe he over-bandaged her to keep her from messing with it so it WON’T get infected?

    Now, about this liver-choosing-boyfriend thing… I don’t know that I’d trust my liver to make the wise choice.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — December 29, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

  34. Petite, you only have yourself to blame!

    Comment by Carruthers — December 29, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

  35. oh ducky,,,,,you’re a hard working, worrying, loving, sometimes puzzled like us all, mom. My daughter has had stitches in her chin twice as a toddler. My son had stitches near his eye after taking a tumble down stairs sleep walking. After which I had to defend myself against abusing him, when in reality I had never been more scared or sickened by his accident! I was terrified. I guess I’m the Britney Spears of my town. I do however hide my nether regions. I think the gauze is because it would be terribly difficult to adhere any bandage to that area. Imagine a sticky bandage in the hair. Owie. Take photos, it will be a memory you will share with her when she is a mom, and she is frightened sometimes herself. Try as we might, mothering is never perfect. You are doing well.

    Comment by beaunejewels — December 29, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

  36. come to remember, I *did* actually once lock my newborn son in the car with the motor running and have to hysterically beg the aid of a pimply faced brand new fire fighter to jimmy the door open. Trust me, the actual story is even longer than that. All’s well as ends well, that’s the important thing.

    Comment by Susan — December 29, 2006 @ 5:56 pm

  37. Thank goodness she has a caring father who can give her the attention she so evidently needs.

    Comment by Ken — December 30, 2006 @ 12:25 am

  38. I agree with Ignorminious. Sounds like it could be a bit of an overreeaction from the Doctor really.

    Did Mr. Frog’s English tell the story correctly though. Is it a bandage or a band aid???

    Agree with number 30, re number 13. Perhaps number 13 could tell us her life story? I suspect though that the crossness that comes across in the comment of 13 MAY just also come across in any article about herself, and as such people may find that depressing too!!!

    Perhaps no 13 needs to go to a sense of humour clinic…..


    Comment by Sally Lomax — December 30, 2006 @ 1:14 am

  39. Could it be the scab wouldn’t heal because little Tadpole was picking at it when no-one was looking? The bandage will keep it clean and away from prying fingers while it heals properly. No ‘bad mum’ de-merits on this one!

    Comment by canuck — December 30, 2006 @ 2:07 am

  40. you are a dear, as is your sweet little tadpole. ignore negativity such as presented by suzanne. i’m glad she’s moving that bad energy elsewhere. you present nothing but good here. i always look forward to your blog entries.
    have a very happy and healthy new year.

    Comment by chris — December 30, 2006 @ 5:47 am

  41. Kids get over everything, it’s no big shake, so don’t beat yourself up over it.
    Sounds drastic taking a scab off, won’t it just scab again? What do I know!
    Get out and find your dream fella!

    Comment by des merrion — December 30, 2006 @ 8:45 am

  42. Happy New Year from Sweden


    Comment by Timo — December 30, 2006 @ 11:44 am

  43. It’s a large compress with a couple of lengths of elasticated bandage around her head. Obviously that is only because you can’t stick a plaster/band aid onto hair, and so that is the only thing which will keep it in place, making it all look far worse than it is.

    I’m experimenting with various different hair bands and tiaras over the top to sugar the pill.

    Hours of fun guaranteed.

    Comment by petite — December 30, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  44. Oh dear, Petite. So hard on yourself! If only you took as good care of yourself as you do little T…

    Comment by Woodstockgurl — December 30, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

  45. I loved that song … “Things can only get better”, and I love your sense of hope for 2007. As Raffarin used to say (who ever thought I would quote him?), “tenez bon”.

    Hope is what this season is all about, as one of my commenters reminded me.

    Comment by Lost in France — December 30, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

  46. c’est plus facile a 2 – l’un voit ce que l’autre n’a peut-etre pas vu…..mieux que ce soit son pere que la belle-mere!

    joyeux noel!

    ps – you seem to have a lovey relationship with tadpole’s father….

    Comment by anne — December 30, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  47. sorry — can i edit my earlier comment (#40) so it reads Suzette rather than Suzanne?
    Thank you.

    Comment by chris — December 30, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  48. Parenthood is loaded with opportunities to see our inadvertant failures. It happens to all of us. It will happen to Mr. Frog too. Try not to be too hard on yourself. You were doing what you thought was right. It’s a fine line between being the hysterical parent who runs to the doctor at every little nothing and appearing cavalier, in retrospect. It will fade, darlin’.

    Comment by Sophmom — December 30, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  49. Oh… every bandage becomes invisible with tiara. Don’t sweat it Petite. I only say this because MY tadpole is 25 and as of yet hasn’t entered into psychotherapy.

    Best wishes to you and tadpole. Happy New Year!

    Comment by Danna — December 30, 2006 @ 10:49 pm

  50. Petite, easy to feel bad and do your head in for it, but of all people, you know only too well how the French love to make a medical emergency out of nothing much at all! (And before anybody says it, that’s not French-bashing, it’s fact, and I’d still much rather be treated in France than anywhere else.) Cheer up duck and have another glass of festive port or summat. Hope you’re doing something fun tonight?

    Comment by redlady — December 31, 2006 @ 9:48 am

  51. Strangely the whole not-calling-the-doctor-sooner thing bothers me a lot less than the missing apostrophe! You sound like a great mother to me – Happy New Year!

    Comment by Cath — December 31, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  52. Yes, the French are notoriously over the top when it comes to medical matters. I’ll never forget when my sister had a French exchange student to stay (this is going back a bit because we were still at school.) We came into the bedroom on the first night of her stay to be greeted with the rather macabre sight of Marie Laure sitting up in bed munching on a mouthful of crunchy black stuff with it all dripping down her chin. We frantically called my mother who after much reference to a French English dictionary managed to establish that she was eating charcoal to aid her digestion. She proceeded to carry out this bizarre ritual every night of her three week stay. By the end of it I think my mother had become a bit paranoid about her cooking but Marie Laure assured us that the rest of her family also had the charcoal habit and practised it every night too!

    You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about but I would have had to ask why the doctor had thought it necessary to open up the wound.

    Comment by Sue — December 31, 2006 @ 2:15 pm

  53. Happy New Year! Besides, what’s Christmas if it’s not memorable?

    Comment by BlondebutBright — December 31, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  54. Hopefully the bandage doesn’t cover her head too much, as headscarves are banned in France (at least in school).

    Anyway, I agree with Redlady. If you go to a French doctor with a splinter in your hand, you leave with a perscription for 2 weeks of antibiotics, a Tetanus shot, 2 types of antiseptic washes and a large bandage.

    Comment by Robert — December 31, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  55. Happy New Year, Petite !
    and a cup of kindness yet…

    Comment by en.marge — December 31, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

  56. happy new year to every one and gros bisous

    Comment by jeff derichemont — January 1, 2007 @ 7:54 am

  57. It sounds like they’re making a mountain out of a small scabby mole hill. Don’t buy into it!

    Have a Happy New Year Petite!

    Comment by Peggy — January 1, 2007 @ 2:36 pm

  58. Happy New Year, Petite!
    I was told, in a cosy, drunken moment at a pre-Christmas party by a mother who was more drunk than me that when her tadpole was about 6 months old she actually managed to go shopping to the baker’s, come home with the bread but not the baby… HAS to make you feel worse than looking on the bright side about an ol’ scab.
    Thanks for the posts of 2006, the year I found you, got inspired and found that blogging was my own drug of choice.

    Comment by Livvy U. — January 1, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  59. Happy New Year, Petite. Regarding your story about Tadpole, well, welcome to motherhood. I can’t tell you how many times in my years of raising my children and now helping with my grandchildren that I was right and the doctors were wrong. They aren’t infallible and the fact that the doctor went to such extremes and opened up the wound, shows that he was dead wrong! Opening the wound, only opened it up to more infection. He could have given her a round of anti-biotic and applied some anti-biotic gel to the wound (they have some now that will go through the skin or scab, no need to open the wound). Doing those simple steps could have saved little Tadpole the anguish of having a wound re-opened or having her hair cut.

    The one thing you can say about children, they will have plenty of boo-boos as they grow up,but the only thing they will remember as they get older, are the kisses from mommy to make them better.

    Comment by Mary Ellen — January 1, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

  60. I must say, I love your writing. I am from America, and love the look into lifes elsewhere. I probably can not ever have a child. So you are very lucky indeed. I sympathize with you over failure and success, as I have had quite a few of my own. I like to write too. But I write usually more in a broad view of things, than in the mi-nute day to day conversations. I would like to be able to. You do it very well, and are unusually charming. Yes, some people may hate you simply for jealousy over your success. But you also allow us to feel your experiences in a way, that helps to minimize that type of thing. It is beautiful. Thank you. Good luck with your daughter. Greetings.

    Comment by Kat — January 3, 2007 @ 3:09 am

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