To say that Tadpole rarely shares insights about her secret life in the moyenne section of our local maternelle would be something of an understatement. Invariably, on the way home from school, we have a conversation which goes something like this.
Me: “So, what did you do today?”
Tadpole: “Just some things.”
Me: “What did you have for lunch?”
Tadpole: “I can’t remember. But you can look on the computer, mummy, can’t you…?”
Which is why I was rather taken by surprise when she randomly launched into a playground anecdote over dinner yesterday evening. An anecdote which concerned a boy who was in her class last year. I am still at a loss to understand what caused the memory to surface just then.
“Mummy?” says Tadpole between mouthfuls of canneloni (from which I have scraped all trace of bechamel sauce, at her behest). “When I was three years old and I was in the other class at school…” – she holds up three fingers in case I need help understanding the concept – “…one day I did go in the playground with Youssouf while the other children were doing music.”
“Mmhm?” I repy, stabbing several green beans onto her fork, because for some reason, even though Tadpole is perfectly capable of feeding herself, she generally loses the will to eat after approximately five mouthfuls in the evenings and I have to step unwillingly into the breach.
“And I did ask Youssouf ‘tu es mon amoureux?‘ and he said ‘oui‘ and we did hold hands for a little while,” Tadpole continues.
I like the word ‘amoureux‘. The Boy often uses it when introducing me to a friend of his for the first time. I like to think of it as a combination of ‘beloved’ and ‘lover’ – literally it means ‘the person I’m in love with’. It’s so much nicer than ‘ma copine‘ (too impersonal, it could designate any female friend) or ‘ma petite copine‘ (even if I am used to answering to the name ‘petite‘). What the term ‘amoureux‘ implies to a four-year-old though, I’m far from sure.
“Is Youssouf still your amoureux now?” I enquire, setting down the fork for a moment.
“No. He did have the nez coulé and it wasn’t very nice,” Tadpole explains with a grimace. I freeze. Just how close did my daughter get to that runny nose of his?
“And, um, do you have an amoureux now?”
“I play with Dinah now,” Tadpole replies. “And Youssouf, he plays with Hicham.” This, I surmise, could mean one of two things. That their short-lived relationship was so traumatic that it drove both of them into the arms of a same-sex partner, or that amoureux, to Tadpole, simply means ‘best friend’.
“So, who is mummy’s amoureux?” I ask, keen to test my theory immediately.
“You have two,” says Tadpole, with a triumphant smile that means she is convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt she knows the correct answer. “Daddy… And Meg.”
I heave a sigh of relief.