petite anglaise

August 1, 2007


Filed under: misc, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:08 pm

Tadpole and I are in a taxi, speeding along the A1 on the way to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. Tadpole is chattering away, nine to the dozen, and I am marvelling at the ease with which she has slipped back into English after a three week holiday spent entirely in French mode with mamie and papy.

“I’m so excited to go to see grandma and grandad,” she says, her eyes sparkling. “Grandad, he does always call me ‘long skinny banana legs’ and ‘curly top’, and he make me laugh…”

The previous day, when Mr Frog answered the door, I was overjoyed to be greeted by shrieks of “mummy, mummy, you’re here… I did miss you!” as a blurry, long-limbed figure with honey-coloured ringlets launched herself across the room and into my arms, nearly toppling me with the force of her hug. Usually it takes her a few hours to acclimatise herself after a prolonged absence, with me speaking English in the meantime, but Tadpole replying in French. Mr Frog, I noted, looked as surprised and pleased as I did to see her plunge into her mother tongue the very moment she clapped eyes on me.

“Mummy?” says Tadpole, putting a hand on my arm.


“When I’m thinking,” she says slowly, “on top of my head there are some clouds.” Her hands motion in the air above her curls. “A little cloud here, another little cloud on top, and then a big big cloud that touches the ceiling of the taxi car… Like in a bande dessiné. Can you see my clouds, mummy?”

I pretend to study the air above her head before I make my answer. “No,” I reply with a frown. “I think they must be invisible.”

“In the big cloud,” she says confidentially, “there is a picture of a teddy. Because I thinking that I would like to buy a new teddy.”

I grin, then lean across the leather seat of the taxi and cover her face with impulsive kisses.

That evening, chatting to my boy on MSN, I tell him about the thought bubbles, knowing that he will be suitably impressed, being a typical Frenchman with a sizeable collection of BD on his well-stocked, slightly intimidating bookshelves.

“If I had a bubble over my head right now,” I write, returning to the subject later, when our conversation has veered onto other, more adult, topics, “it would probably be prefaced with Viewer Discretion Advised!…” This elicits a virtual chuckle. My boy, who has been immobilised for a few days with a back pain of mysterious origin (for which I intend to take full credit in the absence of any compelling medical evidence to the contrary), pauses for a moment before replying.

J’aurais peur de lire ‘previously on the world poker tour’ au dessus de ma tête,” he confesses sheepishly.


  1. Thought bubbles!! That’s cute! it always amazes me what little children come up with :) Then again, they are just repeating what they see in cartoons…

    Comment by Farfallina -Roam 2 Rome — August 1, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  2. My daughter rang me a few days ago to tell me she was thinking of a new Nintendo game.

    I secretly long for the days when teddy bears where her thing.

    Age creeping up on us all.


    Comment by Brennig — August 1, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  3. Tadpole is the epitome of adorable. :D

    Comment by jen — August 1, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  4. Tadpole has a lovely manner about her.

    Comment by Jean-Luc Picard — August 1, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  5. Ta petite est adorable! And thanks for giving us anglo francophiles a voice.

    Comment by A — August 1, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  6. Only nine to the dozen? I thought nineteen to the dozen was the norm.

    Let’s see, Google says

    nine to the dozen: 2 million hits
    nineteen to the dozen: 1 million hits

    My thought bubble is saying “Peuf!”

    As a father of teenagers my days of being greeted with hugs are long gone…

    Comment by Eats Wombats — August 1, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  7. Could the cloud bubble above the mummy’s head also have a vision of a new “teddy” and the thought, ” think I would like to buy a new teddy!”. Perhaps, to get the boy up off his back.

    Comment by Philip — August 1, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  8. why?
    Is he a poking man?

    Comment by Pirate — August 1, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

  9. Bloomin good job we don’t really have thought bubbles. I reckon i would spend a lot of time in trouble!

    Comment by meredic — August 1, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  10. How very adorable of Tadpole. She is incredibly special!

    I suspect my bubble would more often than not be blank….

    Comment by Meklin — August 1, 2007 @ 11:12 pm

  11. I love thought bubbles. Though the name of my blog, incidentally.

    Do you think it’s a French thing?

    Comment by Chloé — August 1, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  12. Petite dear, if Goscinny was to come back and write a bande dessiné of this blog, how would he know whether to suffix your’s and young tadpole’s characters with -ix or -ax for gauls or britons?

    Comment by Rilly Super — August 2, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  13. Thought bubbles exist – I have them. Either that or people can always tell what I am thinking. So, is it my thought bubbles or my gurning face? Kids are so perceptive…

    Comment by Ariel — August 2, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  14. As the clouds above inspire my thoughts
    My bubbles shift in shape and shade
    Whether fluffy white or spitting forks
    Their fate remains to melt and fade

    Comment by Ajay — August 2, 2007 @ 6:14 pm

  15. Tadpole is so clever and imaginative. Must take after her mum.

    Comment by sablonneuse — August 2, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  16. Petite, thanks for keeping us living vicariously (telling us titillating hints about new things starting up with your “boy”) even while you are still working away at your book.

    But I bet you can find a better noun than boy; it makes me think of an African water-bearer in the Colonies, especially when Philippe Noiret was in “Coup de Chiffon” on Arte tonight…

    The oddest thing happened (odd in my memory, which is very very short-term, because I can’t figure how we got onto the topic) – the ophthalmologist who works in my research lab in Toulouse knows that you exist, that your book will be coming out soon, and was dead convinced that it was already in print! (Obviously he’s not a regular reader). But, my, living proof you’re famous! I suppose he saw you on TV. Darnedest thang.

    Oh, and I confirm the lusciousness of pasteis de Belem. Did you have some of those thimblefuls of rocket coffee they call “bica”? Boom. Yum.

    Comment by Alethea — August 3, 2007 @ 1:11 am

  17. Rilly Super (#12), Gaul women’s name end in “-ine”.

    Except for Petula, who is the only briton woman whose name I can remember.

    Comment by Chloé — August 3, 2007 @ 1:27 am

  18. “back pain of mysterious origin (for which I intend to take full credit in the absence of any compelling medical evidence to the contrary)”

    What on earth did you do to him? Have you been practising spinal surgery on him or is it of a more athletic nature??

    Comment by Jester — August 3, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  19. Children do indeed come out with the best things sometimes. My nephew (7 at the time) once pleased with his mother not to call his teacher to check on his behaviour…

    “Please don’t call her!”

    “Why not?”

    “Because she’ll probably say I might have been naughty”

    Comment by Jonathan — August 3, 2007 @ 11:18 am

  20. Thanks Chloé, bit rusty on those books it seems. I just remember Anticlimax; story of my life, sigh

    Comment by Rilly Super — August 3, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

  21. You always make me smile. :-)

    Comment by Anna — August 4, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  22. Just a thought, but is it not something of a cliche to call your daughter Tadpole and her father Mr Frog? Them being half-French/ French and all? I dunno.

    Comment by nobby — August 4, 2007 @ 11:49 pm

  23. Oh how you take me back with that lovely writing on the little one, back to when Veronique was the same age with the biggest smile on the planet and would snuggle in my arms and we’d read together or listen to music or just be with one another when I got back from university for the day: the shouts of joy and the hugs and the sloppy kisses on my cheek and I thought then that I could never be again that happy and joyous. And you know I never have–oh I have seen happy and melancholy times since but never like those times when she was so young and growing and long-blonde haired and happy with us. If only I could get that back but the ghost of it is always there in my memory.. Thank you so much P’tite.
    Beau in Seattle.

    Comment by Beau — August 8, 2007 @ 1:47 am

  24. Your words give me hope that the Bambina will not start babbling to me in French or Italian when she comes home from school every day.

    Comment by Caroline — August 8, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  25. Right, then. What the fuck is BD?

    If it’s what I think it is, they have shots that will clear that up nowadays, you know.

    Comment by John Bullshit — August 10, 2007 @ 4:42 am

  26. I know this comment doesn’t necessarily BELONG here…but I just had to ask what you think about Steven Hall’s the Raw Shark Texts….

    Comment by Buffy — August 10, 2007 @ 5:19 am

  27. @Buffy: I LOVE TRST. Absolutely head over heels with it, and have been resisting the urge to buy it for every single person I know.

    And the good news is that my agent tells me it has been translated into thirty odd languages… (We share an agent, Steven Hall and I. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d be able to write!!)

    Comment by petite — August 10, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

  28. I swear to God, every time you post something about your daughter, my uterus skips a beat.

    Comment by Jenny — August 23, 2007 @ 12:43 am

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