petite anglaise

March 31, 2008

special k

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:22 am

‘We’re making a “k” for “kite”,’ says Tadpole, her voice a half-yawn. This would be true if her bed wasn’t an extra short lit évolutif from Ikea, which I really should lengthen one day soon, as Tadpole is tall and willowly. My (shorter, stumpier – do I sound jealous yet?) legs are currently bent at the knee, so even if she is lying in a sort of sideways ‘V’ shape, with her bottom nestling against my tummy, we’re making a special sort of K. With a tail.

I glance at the Miffy wall clock, which reads 7.43. Almost half-time.

My morning routine (on weekdays) goes something like this:

7.15: Alarm clock sounds. It’s actually the alarm on my landline phone, and whenever I’m in a shop or restaurant that uses the same ringtone, it sends icicles down my spine.

7.20: I press snooze.

7.25: I press snooze.

7.30: I press stop.

7.32: I get up, walk along the corridor, raise the blackout blinds in Tadpole’s room, then climb into her bed.

7.32 – 8.02: We snuggle. She tells me what she has been dreaming about. Or I guess. It can be one of four things: mermaids, princesses, fairies or unicorns, so the odds are not exactly stacked against me.

8.02 – 8.25: She eats cereal, we get dressed, I drink my first Cloonette of the day.

8.25: We run to school, slipping inside just before the doors close, at 8.30.

I realise that this may not seem like the best time management policy, but try as I might, I can’t bring myself to change any of the above.

‘So, what did you dream about today?’ I ask, my voice muffled by her curls, which are also tickling my nose.

‘I did dream that I was a princess, in a castle,’ Tadpole begins. So far, so predictable. ‘And you were the queen, mummy… and grandma was the maid…’ Chuckling, I make a mental note to tell my mother about her demotion to the servants’ quarters. I wonder whether granddad made an appearance in Tadpole’s dream, perhaps as the court jester, but wisely hold my tongue. We will be visiting England in a few weeks’ time and Tadpole can always be relied upon to repeat precisely those phrases she shouldn’t. (‘Mummy says I shouldn’t eat my spaghettis like that because I’m not a piggy like you.’ Ouch.)

But there is to be no mention of granddad. Instead, Tadpole swivels around so that she is facing me and we (almost) form a triangle. ‘In my dream,’ she says, looking at me intently, ‘my daddy was the king and he did live in the same castle as us.’

‘Did he now?’ I say, reflecting that although my daughter may not look much like me, we’ve both inherited the recessive subtlety gene. ‘But mummy already has a king, doesn’t she? And she can’t have two… I mean, I’ve never seen a castle with two kings in it, have you?’

Tadpole shakes her head, seemingly satisfied with my explanation. I glance back at the Miffy clock. It is only 7.53, but I decide to make breakfast early.

‘So,’ I enquire, ‘did the princess in your dream eat special K with chocolate pieces in for her breakfast?’


  1. Lovely.

    I have missed reading Petite and Tadpole stories.

    Comment by miss london — March 31, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  2. 7.53? Non? The recessive subletly gene for the really serious stuff (clever girl)and the put-your-foot-in-it DNA strand for the less serious but you need to know Grandad and as a friend I’m telling you that your eating habits…suck. My father refused to eat spaghetti for this very reason – being a Brit and constantly being afraid of embarrassing himself. Strangely, my son half Swiss/half Brit, who was only young when he died, also refuses to eat spaghetti so perhaps it is all a question of genes after all.

    Comment by — March 31, 2008 @ 10:45 am

  3. Don’t feel bad about your routine. I have a similar one…I often crawl into my son’s bed when it’s wake up time, just to snuggle and enjoy his early years, before he thinks that mom is no longer cool.

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — March 31, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  4. Not yet a grandmother, it’s not up to me now is it, I still remember vividly both my daughters at Tadpole’s age. I brought them up alone following my divorce.

    For me KT will always be 3 though she’s 36.

    “Would you like a boiled egg Kate?” “Yes please but I only want the yolk because I don’t like the albumen.”

    After she announced “I’m not Kate, I’m a fairy” I could say her name endlessly without response until I remembered to address her correctly.

    Lucy, of the sticky out tummy and bum which enhanced her flouncing, because 5 years younger than her sister she couldn’t achieve the same goals so flouncing was a daily occurrence. Would say, “Pardon me I erped” and on returning from a holiday with their father “Mummy, Daddy hired a car it was a FLAT Panda”.

    Thanks for sharing your Tadpole’s charms with me.

    One thing, your last post brought out some rather pointed personal criticism from people who claimed not to be critical (from my perspective they seem to think they are perfect). You’ve made your life public to a certain extent by sharing thoughts and actions and some people delight in telling others that they are selfish or flawed. Does it hurt or are you able to distance yourself?

    More please, am going to start Petite Anglaise again, for the joy of it.

    Comment by ookymooky — March 31, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  5. I love the cloonette video. I love the way George doesn’t mind portraying a loser in ads. As if!
    Tadpole sounds a very astute little girl – keeps you on your toes no doubt. That’s the good thing about having a blog. If you forget all the delightful things she comes out with – and sadly Mums do – all you have to do, when you are in your dotage, is browse through your blog.

    Comment by Pat — March 31, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

  6. @4 – it often hurts, to a greater or lesser extent depending on whether I’m feeling strong and resilient, or weak and filled with self-doubt. Luckily I get many, many emails of encouragement, behind the scenes, and the positives have always outweighed the negatives, thus far.

    Comment by petite — March 31, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  7. Thanks for the response Petite……much as I would feel I guess. I always wonder when people say they are untouched by the criticism or comments of others whether they are super human or maybe not as introspective as me.

    In addition to the personal criticism I was irritated by the comment(s) that Petite Anglaise (PA) was an OK read but not a great work of fiction. I read voraciously and always have several books on the go at the same time. While reading PA I also had Germaine Greer’s Shakespeares’s Wife, Paris & the Surrealists, and a chick fiction my daughter lent me. The latter I’ve had to abandon because it wasn’t a good read for me but if SK has a website/BLOG I wouldn’t have gone on there and told her it was crap.

    You strike me as an honest and plain speaking kinda gal and I’m so glad and relieved that the positive outweighs the negative. xx

    Comment by ookymooky — March 31, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  8. I wonder if Tadpole wouldn’t like you to read her that story, written by another mother who divorced her daughter’s husband. It’s in French, but that’s not a problem, right ?
    Link to the first part :
    And the second part :

    Comment by Anna — March 31, 2008 @ 2:06 pm

  9. Ooops, there’s a third part :

    Comment by Anna — March 31, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  10. Yes, I always enjoy the Tadpole stories.

    Have reviewed Petite Anglaise on my new blog.
    As I said in the review, you do write well. Simple, clear accessible prose isn’t half as effortless as it looks.

    As I also said, the odd negative review and comment can only help sales. Just tough them out.

    Comment by Susie Vereker — March 31, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

  11. Aw. That took me back to the time when my children would creep into my bed in the mornings for a cuddle before school. If they didn’t come into my room by 7a.m. I had to go and wake them up, otherwise there’d be tears.

    Comment by sablonneuse — March 31, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  12. It’s funny what aspects of a post different people pick up on.

    For me the line: “my daddy was the king and he did live in the same castle as us” I found so sad, not for you Petite but for your daughter.

    I being very nosy but do comments from like this from her make you sad, guilty, fill in the blank . . . or do you just accept this part of the package/fall-out of the decisions that you have made ?

    Comment by Pauline — March 31, 2008 @ 4:42 pm

  13. Sounds like an idyllic scene… those little ones sure don’t beat around the bush, do they? They know what they want, and they aren’t afraid to use metaphor to ask for it! ;) I can’t wait to have my own wee Tadpole. Sigh.

    Comment by filmfangirl — March 31, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

  14. When you’re a single girl and you read a post like this, it feels like you have so much to look forward to.

    I hope someday I’m the kind of mom who will put chocolate in cereal and loll about in bed, talking of princesses and castles.

    Beautiful post.

    Comment by The Window Seat — March 31, 2008 @ 5:54 pm

  15. “special K with chocolate pieces” WHAT!! … and there was I think you were the perfect Mum ;-)

    Comment by Nick Carraway — March 31, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

  16. to Pauline #12, I can see what you are getting at but I don’t think Petite should feel at all guilty.
    My children needed lots of reassurance when their dad and I split up. When they were little they would have preferred it if we had stayed together but now that they are grown up they understand that we weren’t compatible. It is great that Petite and Mr Frog are on good terms and work together for Tadpole’s wellbeing.
    The children who really need our sympathy are those whose parents use them as pawns in a broken relationship.

    Comment by sablonneuse — March 31, 2008 @ 6:44 pm

  17. I don’t feel guilty. I feel a little sad sometimes, but I’ve also come to realise that it’s something she says almost to test my reactions. She never actually sounds sad about it, and it’s forgotten two minutes later.

    I really do think she can’t remember a time when we all lived under the same roof (it’s been almost 3 years now, she was 2 when we parted). And so it’s more of a fantasy along the lines of “wouldn’t it be cool if my two favourite people were on hand at the same time..?”

    Comment by petite — March 31, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  18. Un des grands charmes des rêves est d’être des rêves…

    Comment by marie-hélène — March 31, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

  19. I recognise the sadness. My daughters were 7 and 2 when I divorced. My 7 yr old’s world was destroyed and 30 yrs later there is still a residual sadness for her of a daddy who was close, who saw them every week, but who became distant. She feels it was because his second wife didn’t like her very much but I feel he should have tried harder. Sadly she has never had as relaxed and trusting relationship with her father as her sister.

    Tadpole will no doubt be more like my 2 yr old who grew up not remembering when we lived together in one house. Her relationship with her father has been very successful.

    One has to remember it’s not just what has happened but personality too. Siblings are never going to react in the same way whatever their age but I agree one should not feel guilt. I did punish myself for a long time but my daughters purged this guilt when they were 19 and 14 and I thank them for it.

    Comment by ookymooky — March 31, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

  20. Beautiful post – lucky you that she’s still in a snuggly phase – such a sweet morning ritual. Long may you both fit into the starter bed together!


    Comment by Marianne — March 31, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  21. I feel the same with my two Albions who are leggy (englsh genes)I am always in a state of comparison with my short legs(greeks gene) and theirs..But I feel also proud for them, having this secret thought “At last I changed the flow of the genes at least in my own little family”

    Comment by penelope — March 31, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

  22. So sweet and Tadpole is just such a cute name

    Comment by Babycakes — March 31, 2008 @ 11:08 pm

  23. I agree with #14… I cannot wait until Clementine and Sebastian are actual real little children instead of made up children in my head, for moments just like that!

    G.I.M x

    Comment by girlwiththemask — March 31, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

  24. Did you see the fake ad alluding to you on Eolas site ? You should hurry, I don’t think it will survive April’s Fools day !

    Comment by Yogi — March 31, 2008 @ 11:24 pm

  25. What a wonderful post. And what wonderful memories you will have of morning spent cuddling together.

    How do I get a copy of your book in the US?

    Comment by Randi — April 1, 2008 @ 2:55 am

  26. Amazon US – available June or any of the bookshops in the link to the right.

    Otherwise you can obviously buy it on Amazon UK in the meantime…

    Comment by petite — April 1, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  27. #14 – i think you just expressed what i’ve felt without realising it.

    Comment by jacqui — April 1, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  28. Enjoy these moments. They pass quickly. And Tadpole will be just fine. It is what it is. You and Mr. Frog have done far better than most “no longer together” couples. As long as you remember that Tadpole loves both of you and respect that, you’ll be JUST FINE.

    Thanks for returning to the kind of writing that made us all love your blog in the first place. I am happy for your success, but quite frankly getting tired of reading an “infomercial” everytime I came to your blog.

    Comment by Small Town Diva — April 1, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  29. Ouch — I am allergic to mornings — I don’t know how you do it!

    Comment by Lost in France — April 1, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  30. hi peite, finished reading your book last night and loved it,i myself am just going through a divorce. many of your experiences and feelings seemed so familiar, i’m still at that fragile stage so it was so good to see you turn the corner at the end. thanks xo

    Comment by irish lass — April 1, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

  31. Freud would have had a field day :-)))

    Comment by Cheria — April 1, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  32. #28 Small Town Diva – ” Thanks for returning to the
    kind of writing that made us all love your blog in the first place.”

    Fat chance, I’m afraid, STD! Haven’t you all wised up yet? Petite’s getting married, like she’s on the road to respectability and Tadpole is growing ever nearer to her realisation of how she’s been exploited across the web.

    So, no more illicit seeking out of FBs to ensnare, an end to those drunken nights out with the boys & girls clubbing ’til dawn and shaking like a wet collie for days afterwards. No more office to attend to pick up juicy bits of gossip with which to regale you.

    No more toyboy/pubescent lovers for whom to undress & tell you all how it all went subsequently. Time marches forward, never back, so from now on its all about the book(s) & Tadpole & introspection & Tadpole & then Tadpole songs/rhymes especially when there is a need to divert attention from unwelcome posts!

    But do keep reading! The fan club is an essential prerequisite for the book sales after all.

    Comment by gonzales — April 2, 2008 @ 1:02 am

  33. Well, shoot me for getting on with my life rather than living it in a way which would make it more interesting for readers of this blog.

    I’m choking on my coffee at the idea that marrying the boy is going to magically confer on me some sort of respectability. I doubt it, not with the sort of party I have in mind…

    Comment by petite — April 2, 2008 @ 8:40 am

  34. Not wanting to start a “lets all jump to Petite’s defence because someone said something mildly critical” but Gonzales I hope you are being ironic because if not, was that really necessary?
    Life is an adventure in itself and I’m sure that there will be plenty other interesting posts from Petite about Tadpole and the trials and tribulations of organising a wedding and what ever else may come round the corner.

    Comment by laroseanglaise — April 2, 2008 @ 9:10 am

  35. Mmmm, I love the line

    So, what did you dream about today?’ I ask, my voice muffled by her curls, which are also tickling my nose.



    Comment by lindsey violet — April 2, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  36. I loved the bit about your alarm clock. I use my cell phone as as alarm clock, and the ring is a standard Motorola ringtone, I believe it’s called Continental. I swear every time I hear that ring on someone else’s phone I jump a little bit out of fear that it’s time to wake up. I’m glad someone else shares those shivers too.

    Comment by Jasmine — April 3, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

  37. MMmm Special K with chocolate curls :) Why oh why do Kellogg’s think this wouldn’t go down well with the great British public?? We only ever get to indulge when we go back to France. Loved the story of your morning routine. Can’t do that any more with my 5ft 10in 17-yr old daughter!
    Gonzales, I agree with no.34 – that was a rather unnecessary comment :(

    Comment by Jen — April 4, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  38. I envy the snuggle time you have with tadpole. I have a 2-year-old daughter. She seems to be hyperactive as soon as she wakes up every morning. There is no time for me to snuggle her or probably I am at fault for that because I am too tired to wake up early before her.

    I am a working mom and it sometimes makes me feel bad not to have enough quality time with her because I am either away working or sleeping in bed. :-(

    Comment by 21stcenturymom — April 7, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  39. Lovely tale. And who is the decidedly bitter Gonzales? One wonders why one reads that which they obviously have issues about.

    Comment by Kimberlee — April 13, 2008 @ 5:05 am

  40. HI! I have just read Petite Anglaise and have only just discovered your blog. Wonderfully inspiring. I am the antithesis, a French woman lost in a provincial English town, maried to Mr Roastbeef with two potatoes in their teens. I am on myspace where I have started a blog quite recently, enjoying my friends’ comments but frustrated by the lack of audience. I am a bit of a show-off! IHow do I get a blog like yours started?
    In the meantime I will keep reading yours. Your descriptions of Paris made me nostalgic as I am a parisienne (born there, moved away but went back at 15 and did all the Sorbonne and Quartier latin bit). I miss Paris more and more as I am getting older.
    All the best with the Boy

    Comment by fabienne — April 17, 2008 @ 1:00 pm

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