petite anglaise

March 11, 2007


Filed under: good time girl, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:37 pm

Tadpole sniffs heartily as we trot along the pavement in the direction of home. I feel around in my coat pocket for a tissue, but draw a blank. Permanently unprepared for any eventuality whatsoever, that’s me. No wipes for if she dives head first into a crotte, no umbrella should it rain, no tissues for sniffles or tears, no spare clothes for accidents, and my mobile phone battery is resolutely flat. My fingers are permanently crossed instead, but somehow – touch wood – we seem to get by.

“Mummy” says Tadpole in her ‘I’m about to say something extremely profound which changes the way you see the world around you’ voice. “When my nose gets sniffy. That’s because the winter, it does get stuck in my nostrils.”

Well that’s one way of looking at it. And not a worldview I feel equipped to challenge, as my powers don’t extend to explaining airborne viruses and bacterial infections to a three-year-old. That little pearl of wisdom doesn’t top my favourite quote of the weekend, however. Which I love, even though I don’t really understand it. “I had a dream,” said Tadpole that morning. “Not a dream in my eyes, but one inside my head. We can have two different sorts of dreams, can’t we mummy? Head dreams and eye dreams.”

I glance at my watch. Six o’clock. Plenty of time to get ready before the babysitter arrives at eight, as long as Tadpole shows some mercy and remains moderately compliant throughout. Although the check-list of “Things to Do Before the Babysitter Arrives” is long. Going out on a non-Tadpole free night can be something of a military campaign.

In no particular order, I must:

  • Feed Tadpole (cook nutritious meal and somehow ensure fruit and vegetables are eaten using carefully dosed combination of distraction/persuasion/coercion/threats)
  • Bath Tadpole
  • Tidy flat (abridged version involving throwing piles of things into wardrobe and closing doors)
  • Wash up and empty decidedly whiffy kitchen bin
  • Log out of my profile on computer and put it into guest mode to avert possibility of snooping and cookies inadvertently taking sitter directly into bank statements/blog backend/gmail
  • Hide manuscript
  • Put away Tadpole’s toys
  • Hide my toys
  • Agonise over what to wear to vagina-themed birthday party (don’t ask)
  • Supervise Tadpole’s making of home-made (non vagina-themed) birthday card
  • Write down contact numbers and dig out spare house keys
  • Get changed
  • Apply make up
  • Text door code to sitter who always forgets it

7.45 finds me at the end of my tether. Every single familiar gesture of our evening routine has been a battleground. Tadpole ate precisely four forkfuls of dinner. She splashed water all over the bathroom floor while I hastily applied make-up. She is now running around naked, refusing to have her teeth cleaned or don her pyjamas. I am dressed, and in between yelling threats and promises I am fiddling with my hair, spraying on perfume. My shoulders are sagging. I wonder how I will muster up enough energy to take the métro and actually spend four hours making small talk at a party before the clock strikes one and I leave before my carriage turns into a pumpkin/my babysitter’s bedtime.

At 8.00, when the doorbell trills, we are ready. Tadpole is sitting on her bed with her library book, the only French book in the house, her mouth minty fresh, patiently waiting for the babysitter to come and read her a story. I am ready, my bag packed with drink, present and card, money for taxi/babysitter. I did it! Against all odds. Cinders shall go to the ball.

I glance at myself in the full-length mirror and do a horrified double take.

Those tights, those magic tights I pounced on in Monoprix which make slightly wobbly tummies disappear, with their “control top” panel? Bad idea. My tummy is flat as can be, there’s no arguing with that. My bottom is also reined in to great effect. But where the controlling part bottoms out and my thighs begin? Oh dear god. I now have saddlebags. Second hips located halfway down my thighs as though there has been some sort of subsidence. It’s too late to re-think my entire outfit. And I don’t have any other black tights to hand.

There is nothing for it but to haul my two pairs of childbearing hips out on the town.


  1. Unfortunately, few of us have a choice of outfits suitable for a vagina-themed birthday party … DON’T ASK? Of course we’re asking.

    All my years of motherhood, I’m still permanently unprepared for life’s little crottes. Corkscrew in the handbag, though.

    Comment by Z — March 11, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

  2. OK, you just KNOW I’m going to ask about the vagina-themed birthday party at lunch. So have a good story prepared.

    And I hate tights (or what we Yanks called “pantyhose”). I’m convinced they were invented by men as instruments of torture. Like childbirth isn’t enough.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — March 11, 2007 @ 11:04 pm

  3. Vagina themed birthday party. The mind boggles. Is this where you dive into something wet and slippery, complete with the right buttons to push? My imagination is running riot.
    As for the control tights, I can see a definite market requirement for tummy AND saddlebag control.
    Your getting out of the house regime sounds as though it would well equip you for a career in military logistics.
    Hope you had fun!

    Comment by AussieGil — March 12, 2007 @ 1:19 am

  4. This must be a Meg party…yes, we are all going to ask!

    Comment by NicoleH — March 12, 2007 @ 1:37 am

  5. “Les reves dans la tete et les reves dans les yeux” ? Ton petit tetard m’a tout l’air d’etre une poetesse accomplie. Paul Eluard ne la renierait pas…
    Give us more of Tadpole’s pearls !

    Comment by amelie — March 12, 2007 @ 1:46 am

  6. Your toys? ;)

    Comment by bart — March 12, 2007 @ 3:48 am

  7. magic pants, magic tights, magic beans? c’mon – it’s GOT to go somewhere. and maybe, after all, childbearing hips were the right accessory for the party …

    Comment by mad muthas — March 12, 2007 @ 8:21 am

  8. god I hate tights… have yet to find a pair that are comfortable and don’t squeeze in the most unflattering places. Wolford’s are the best I’ve found but even those are suspect.

    was so sorry to miss meg’s party! I had to be on top of an Alp. à la prochaine…

    Comment by maitresse — March 12, 2007 @ 10:01 am

  9. ‘Permanently unprepared’? You’re too hard on yourself, Petite! Don’t forget the plastic bag, originally wrapped round a bottle, I think, that came in very handy for a techni-coloured yawn incident not so long ago…..was it around Valentine’s Day?! I seem to remember a heart-shaped cornflake!! Anyway, I was impressed by your lateral thinking at the time.

    Glad your mum is back on the case as your proof-reader extraordinaire – I was amused by her comments, as I have to act as my journalist son’s proof reader too…not so easy!

    Comment by Lindy — March 12, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  10. I’m relieved to read that your preparations for a night out are exactly the same as mine. My final appearance takes a back seat to actually just getting everything done for the “deadline”.

    Comment by Jenny — March 12, 2007 @ 10:55 am

  11. Well, you made me laugh, and that was quite an achievement at the minute.

    What I’d really love to know, though, is whether Tadpole really says things like that in English, or whether she said it in French and you provided comic translation. I know — poetic licence and that, but please enlighten me as I want to know what my son will do when he gets to maternelle.

    If you’re wondering which post to submit for Comic Relief, I’d be voting for this one.

    Comment by Claire — March 12, 2007 @ 11:07 am

  12. I’m having horrible eye-dreams of a subsiding vagina.
    What a crotte.

    Comment by claire — March 12, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  13. I’m as intrigued as everyone … what’s a vagina-themed party? And is there a male equivalent?

    You cannot escape this Petite, so ‘fess up! What goes on there and what is the normal attire? Mohair jumpers spring to mind.

    Comment by Jez — March 12, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  14. Did you go as a monologue?

    Comment by Damian — March 12, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  15. Spanx. They will suck in whatever childbearing body part is protruding and do it discreetly and efficiently.

    Comment by Jules — March 12, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  16. Excellent post. It has brightened up an otherwise dull day in the city.

    I nearly bought that book in your sidebar at the weekend… “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. Instead I bought “God Invented Integers”, and am still wondering why.

    Comment by Jonathan — March 12, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  17. Ah yes, the forced saddle bags. I know them all to well. Of course I find that they are a lot nicer to look at than their counter part…

    The Muffin Top

    … Much better indeed than the huge roll of belly and back skin/fat that comes up over the top of the control top tights, making you look like a large muffin that is ready to be pulled from the oven.

    The joys of aging and childbirth.

    Comment by SaltyCracker0 — March 12, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

  18. Saddlebags are a pain. I like to call mine donkey baskets. But really they are womanly curves.

    Comment by day in bed — March 12, 2007 @ 5:45 pm

  19. Yes, I did experiment with pulling the tights lower, and didn’t like the results of that much either.

    I suppose it’s inevitable that there will be artificially created bulges at the edge of such constricting garments, which may be worse than just opting for a normal pair of tights in the first place.

    I think I’ve learnt my lesson.

    Comment by petite — March 12, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

  20. Repeat after me…diet and exercise, diet and exercise, diet and exercise…

    Comment by chupa — March 12, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  21. Can I just say, I adore child-bearing hips … and so does every guy who’s got past the female image forced on us by today’s media …

    Comment by Andy — March 12, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  22. Hmm! How about dressing as a “hymen”…perhaps a t-shirt with a play on the word…Hymen i.e. “Hi Men!” for the single girl that you are nowadays.
    Sorryyyyy. That was so corny I know.
    I thought this post was very funny and witty. Loved it. :-)

    Comment by Karma — March 12, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

  23. So how was the party, was it worth the effort, and how exactly did you all play out the theme?
    Not that I expect answers…

    Comment by andrew — March 13, 2007 @ 1:30 am

  24. Three cheers for Andy!

    Comment by ExAfrica — March 13, 2007 @ 2:30 am

  25. I love how you make even the most mundane things come alive with your words. Anticipating your book!

    A personal question here, how has it been for you to know that your life is out there for anyone to see? How do the people around you feel about it? You mentioned that Mr Frog is ok with it. Mine isn’t sadly, and I am contemplating if I should continue… you can reply on my blog in the latest entry if you wish. I’d appreciate that.

    Comment by petit_litchi — March 13, 2007 @ 8:27 am

  26. Childbearing hips?
    I have those, too.
    No children, though.

    Comment by alcessa — March 13, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  27. great site I enjoy reading about your experiences.
    On avery different note i have 2 tickets for AYO this evening at l’Olympia, really can’t go and it’s a pity to waste them! Do call on 0139200414 or 0699289864

    Comment by autefault — March 13, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

  28. “And I hate tights (or what we Yanks called “pantyhose”). I’m convinced they were invented by men as instruments of torture.”

    No Bold Soul…….We men invented the breast x-ray machine-a perfect cross between a Guttenberg press and a Belgian waffle maker……

    However, there is a company here where I live that is attempting to rectify that situation….

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — March 13, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  29. Pah, think of ’em as extra pockets of gorgeousness adorning your hips in a symetrical fashion. Either that or purchase one of those enormous belts that are can somehow disguise your extra, erm, gorgeousness!

    Comment by Ariel — March 13, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  30. Oh, bless you, Andy!

    Great blog as usual, Petite! Keep us laughing.

    Comment by Kuukie — March 13, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

  31. Ah, the things we sacrifice (and gain) as mothers. It’s a good thing I adore my child so much or I might become bitter when I behold my reflection in the mirror and realize that I no longer have breasts. No, now I’m only left with the sacks they came in. Ha ha!

    Comment by EmilyAnne — March 13, 2007 @ 6:41 pm

  32. Damian – very witty! Made me chortle.

    Comment by Welsh Cake — March 13, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  33. US “Spanx” = UK “Slim N Lift” ebay or QVC
    They do them higher for muffin tops AND saddlebags.
    Two kids.
    That is all.

    Comment by Jem — March 13, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  34. But Jem, where do the extra bits end up? I suppose if they travel north, a bit of extra cleavage wouldn’t go amiss…

    Comment by petite — March 13, 2007 @ 8:16 pm

  35. Petite, your very name implies that you are at least, petite. I don’t stand a chance but have bought knickers that resemble jhodpurs – tight everywhere and go down to the knees. Yes they make you feel sick and no you can’t go out to dinner in them as the food literally has nowhere to go. I also bought a strapless bra the other day and went to a ‘posh’ naval dinner – not posh enough that I was able to surreptitiously secrete said bra into my napkin. The ‘stewards’ removed napkin very discreetly and I collected my bra before I left!

    Comment by Welsh Cake — March 13, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  36. I agree.
    Control top panty-hose always make me feel fatter. Sort of like a roast-beef encased in string. I always buy them and end up taking them off.

    Comment by OntheCusp — March 14, 2007 @ 12:29 am

  37. I see trevor is in the sidebar but not in the comments. Has he been a bad lad again? To be fair, it is very hard to make tasteful comments about a vagina-themed party outfit and reference to ‘saddlebags’ is likely to evoke images of riding.
    I must say that you have had a light ride on the tease on the party theme. Presumably we will have to buy the book to find out what went on.
    The obvious comment is ‘don’t go as a clitoris because (1)if you are single – the men will never find you or (2) you’ll have to spend most of the night hiding in the curtains’ but the first is too too PC and the second makes me look sad.

    Comment by laurence — March 14, 2007 @ 11:56 am

  38. Sorry trevor and pa – I see the comment is on the Morocco posting and not all that naughty.

    Comment by laurence — March 14, 2007 @ 11:59 am

  39. I like women!

    Comment by me — March 14, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

  40. I love Andy


    Comment by Di — March 14, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

  41. Eye dreams and head dreams eh? I wonder if she means the sort of dream where things happen and you are a kind of spectator (eye) as opposed to the dreams (often when you are on the verge of waking) when you have a certain amount of control over what goes on (head)?
    Maybe when Tadpole reads all this when she’s older she will be able to enlighten you.
    Hope the party went well, by the way.

    Comment by sablonneuse — March 14, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

  42. Hilarious!! I guess the extra stuff needs to go somewhere…………..

    Brilliantly written!

    Comment by Sally Lomax — March 14, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  43. I’m sick of the drink!

    Comment by Trevor — March 14, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  44. With cleavage candy like that, my dear, no one was looking at your haunches.

    Comment by Meg — March 14, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  45. A cute cartoon about dreams can be found here:

    Comment by Kali — March 15, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

  46. Dreams while sleeping and daydreams…

    How about having the babysitter arrive half an hour before you go out,giving you that bit of peace you need to finish getting ready and you’d be more relaxed about it. I like the idea of paying the sitter to actually do more than read a story and enjoy the rest of her quite evening ! I understood this a bit late,just when my kids didn’t need sitters anymore but recommend it vividly, after all it’s only once and a while !
    Bon courage

    Comment by Jane — March 15, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  47. I couldnt comment on one of your previous blog entries but i just wanted to say how very couragous and brave you are for venturing on holiday on your own…i know i couldnt do it, asian and all.

    Comment by Sofi — March 15, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

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