petite anglaise

August 15, 2007


Filed under: misc, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:43 pm

Tadpole scowls at me across the dinner table. She hasn’t touched her food, despite the fact that I let her choose the dinner menu. Instead she pushes it around her plate listlessly, scattering baby peas and grains of rice onto the tabletop. Every few seconds, it seems, I have to ask her to refrain from pushing with her legs against the wall (after an incident earlier in the day when she ended up on the floor, howling, with the chair on top of her).

My patience, if I could see it, would probably resemble the ketchup on the table in front of me. A few dregs remain, coating the sides of the squeezable plastic bottle, but they are congealed and almost impossible to reach.

I spent the best part of the afternoon standing on a stepladder and scraping paint off the bathroom ceiling with a kitchen spatula. Flakes of slightly soggy paint collected in my hair, fell down the front of my dress, and welded themself to my arms as I scraped. Occasionally, when I pierced a water bubble, a trickle of water ran along the spatula, down my arm, and into the crook of my armpit, making me shiver.

The upstairs neighbour didn’t even have the good grace to look sheepish, let alone apologise, when the plumber sent by the copropriété concluded that a leaking tap in his apartment was the cause, and not the communal downpipe which runs through our bathroom wall. It will probably be months before I manage to get the requisite quotes to fix the warped window and fill in the pitted ceiling and have them approved by his insurance company. The drip drip drip had gone uninterrupted for two whole weeks while Tadpole and I were away in Yorkshire. Perfect timing.

Now my head is throbbing, an insistent dull pulsing which echoes the drip drip drip in the bathroom as the last of the water works its way through the ceiling, and the glass of wine I poured myself a few minutes earlier does not appear to be helping.

I heave myself out of my chair and curl up in a ball on my bed. Tadpole appears by my side and puts her face close to mine. I open my mouth to ask her to sit back down again, then close it. She has begun stroking my forehead, ever so gently, and it is so soothing, I don’t want her to stop.

“What’s matter mummy?” she says softly. “Are you ever so slightly extremely tired?”


  1. I remember being a very little girl, and stroking my mother’s forehead when she had a terrible headache. She always seemed to love it when I did that, and I remember feeling proud that I could sort of be the mommy for a moment. I’m sure it didn’t last long – how brief the small child’s attention span. But a sweet memory for me, the “child”.

    And the French can never admit they’re in the wrong. Even when the evidence is staring you in the soggy, stained ceiling.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — August 15, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

  2. Ahhhh…. so sweet! Not having any children myself, I’ve never experienced such a moment, but I do feel loved – in quite a tragic way – when I’m having a tired/sad moment and my cat seeks me out and curls up on my tummy with much purring. Each to their own, I suppose!

    Comment by Hails — August 15, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

  3. oh bless her cottons, even now i always want to mae my mum feel better, isn’t she adorable?

    Comment by Eliza — August 15, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

  4. Awww, I may have to go and find Charlie & Lola on some children’s channel even though I am in my mid 30s and have no good reason to watch it apart from…CUTE! Either that or I’ll have to go and borrow a small child from somewhere.

    Comment by featherduster — August 15, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

  5. Awww… What a sweetie. And I’m awfully sorry about your bathroom. How utterly frustrating!

    Comment by sprite — August 15, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

  6. This all sounds grim ‘like up north’ not like Paris.Hope the kid cheers you up some and hope to hear cheerful blog to follow.

    Comment by Arnold — August 15, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

  7. Tadpole’s so lovely!

    Comment by Emily — August 15, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  8. That is so sweet. Lucky you.

    Comment by sablonneuse — August 15, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  9. what a lovely way to let you know she understands you must be exhausted. “ever so slightly extremely tired”! i hope you get a good rest tonight. everything looks different with a delightful cup of tea in the morning after a refreshing sleep.

    Comment by sak — August 15, 2007 @ 6:40 pm

  10. A kitchen spatula!!!!?!
    Actually, having thought about it, that’s a good idea – long handled and angled. OK, I’ll forget the torrent of abuse I was going to spew.
    I wish I had someone to sooth my ravaged brow.
    [Oh no – cursor in eye again]

    Comment by Daddy Papersurfer — August 15, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  11. Tadpole is beyond adorable.

    Comment by susie — August 15, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  12. Tadpole is a sweetheart. She must have an excellent mother and father to be so compassionate at such a young age. Hope you’re feeling “ever so slightly extremely” better.

    Comment by Kaycie — August 15, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  13. Bless little Tadpole’s heart. She’s a sensitive little mite, isn’t she? I hope the fecker upstairs gets moths in all his favourite jumpers.

    Comment by Peggy — August 15, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  14. That’s an understatement by Tadpole; a sweet girl.

    Comment by Jean-Luc Picard — August 15, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

  15. Hye, I love this….. i laugh when my small cousins put alot of very long words together but with a really baby-ish start so it sounds really cute.
    Nice blog, i look forward to reading more!

    Mwah XXX

    Comment by Steven — August 15, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

  16. Oh, how often has my patience looked like the dregs in a ketchup bottle. Thanks for the analogy.

    Comment by Paola — August 15, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  17. Into every life a little rain must fall. . . but why must it come through the bathroom ceiling?

    Comment by Peg — August 16, 2007 @ 12:03 am

  18. Once – when living in a mediterranean country whose reputation I wouldn’t want to tarnish – I had a leak through the ceiling of my basement flat that flooded the whole place for days. The lawyer who lived and had his office above had left his washbasin tap on with the plug in, and had cheerfully gone off for a (very) long weekend. When he came back he claimed loudly and repeatedly to everyone who enquired that the source of the leak was in my basement flat, and it had simply been forced up through my ceiling into his flat, and had ruined his lovely floor.
    I wanted to kill him, but in a way I admired his flair for stubborn mendacity.

    Comment by Horatio — August 16, 2007 @ 2:48 am

  19. How lucky you are to have that sweet Tadpole! Feel better sooner.

    Comment by ~Tim — August 16, 2007 @ 3:35 am

  20. Your neighbor is a shit, that is for sure. Can’t imagine what that must be like when the fully grown adult living in the apartment above you doesn’t take responsibility for themselves, causing you both undo time and angst. I’m sure tadpole is wondering what she can do so mommy will be happy again. Take her somewhere special. Let her know it will all be okay.

    Comment by Samantha — August 16, 2007 @ 5:38 am

  21. How ever so slightly extremely sweet!

    Comment by kitikat — August 16, 2007 @ 8:03 am

  22. Oh so sweet!

    Comment by Naomi — August 16, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  23. I’m beginning to enjoy poking you in the eye.

    Comment by Daddy Papersurfer — August 16, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  24. Ugh!

    Don’t you just want to kill! This “dégats des eaux” in France is horrible. I have 2 from the same neighbor above in less than 6 months. I had the whole hallway wall redone beautifully in May and in July “rebelote” And of course with summer vacation, forget about making progress in getting an insurance estimate etc. What really takes the cake is the lack of some type of mea culpa or acceptance of responsibility by the instigators of these leaks. Well what can you say.

    So typical

    Comment by rocket — August 16, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  25. So where’s the boy when you need him? You should know by now that you can’t get anything done in Paris in August.

    Comment by parkin pig — August 16, 2007 @ 11:42 am

  26. Can’t believe none of your readers have offered assistance? Can I help? I have tools!

    Comment by Jester — August 16, 2007 @ 11:54 am

  27. We had a flood too while we were away. The dripping tap syndrome is more common than foot and mouth.

    Comment by annathetoddler — August 16, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

  28. The joys of communal city living – fortunately in the US most housing is stand alone single family houses, so any damage I cause is just to my stuff. But to live in the big city means neighbors upstairs.

    Comment by joeinvegas — August 16, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  29. Just a detail, but you should sort this out with your insurance, not your neighbor’s insurance. After that insurance company have their own deals.

    Comment by Yeti — August 16, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  30. Oh my, she does sound like Lola…

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — August 16, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  31. George Santayana wrote “Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.”

    With the exception of a) ownership of anything b)working life and, of course, c) houses/apartments I would have to disagree.

    Good luck with the ceiling!

    P.S Help comes with the second glass of wine. Always.

    Comment by Flowers On A Friday — August 17, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  32. What happens next? T/Pole drags you up off the bed to play with her? Or you fall into a stupor and wake to find T/Pole has finished scraping the plaster, hung the ceiling paper and cooked dinner (all in her own ineffable way naturlich)? Or you knock back the whole bottle of plonk, and Frog comes around to rescue TP from the devastation that was your apartment. Bad mummy?

    Come on, you can tell, this is real life you know…

    Comment by andrew — August 22, 2007 @ 12:46 am

  33. The Bambina has just started getting into those Lola and Charlie books, although I question how much of it she really understands (She is only three). And my mother complains to me that those books teach bad (i.e. grammatically wrong) English. But her other books can be so boring!

    Comment by Caroline in Rome — August 28, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

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